|544> Autobiopsychogeographical landmarks of holographic earthquakes (California/Baja, 1989)|
« July 11 [1989, Santa Cruz]
Went up to Shasta for the weekend. Could barely stay awake driving 95 mph the whole way, got there in the dark. Sure enough, mom sleeps in a tent with a TV/VCR and electric blankets. Meanwhile we slept on the raft on the pond. Fed the bluegills and turtles by flashlight and listened to the bullfrogs. Slept without waking. Got up at 5 a.m., ate some pistachios then Chato [a sort of in-law cousin of ours] took me fishing. We drove out on this trail that's not even a road, thru rolling meadows and forests. He gave me a coke can with crickets to tie to my belt. I only had shorts and t-shirt and was freezing at first, thinking it would get warmer, but it never did. Spaced out watching the swirling stream, the bait sinking, when strike! Pole with 8 feet of line, pull up little trout, but about as big as they get in this stream. Caught a few more. Made for a good breakfast, with potatoes. Then swung out on the rope swing all the way from up on the porch letting go way out over the pond. Amiel + Arely [Chato's kids] were in awe. Cool little kids. Took the raft around the pond exploring and fishing. Caught a turtle with my bare hands underwater. Walked around the garden. Made bluegill ceviche. Fell asleep on the raft looking at the stars.
Got up even earlier the next morning, Chato calling out to me in the dark. The feeling of not knowing where you are. The humid smell of the air, the sounds. The air was chilly and dewy, my eyes sore. Chato virtually runs thru the woods. Meanwhile i stumble behind, tripping over fallen trees and rocks. Got snagged on a tree over the river, hopped precariously to the middle, stood on one foot and somehow managed to get unsnagged. But the next cast it snagged on a log and i had to wade in to the ice-cold water. I could see the fish, but couldn't catch any. Chato caught a big brook trout. Still not enough for a batch of ceviche, so caught more bluegill (it was either that, or eat beefsteak). Filleting them is a real drag. A lazy stray cat waited for the leftover bones. More swimming and swinging out over the pond, and then the long drive back to S's house. Had another week until her parents got back. Went to the marina [in San Fran] one day. I forget what else. Started my human sexuality class [a requirement at UCSC, must've taken it as a summer class]. Teacher is an ex-hippie, now reformed family man trying desperately to cling to his cool liberalism. He puts us in small groups and makes us discuss embarrassing things. Some results: everybody masturbates and almost everybody is into kinky shit and bondage of some sort (being tied up, etc.) except me. We see cool movies though, one on transvestites and another about the sex lives of Mehinaku Indians in the Amazon.
I got my drums from mom's place (the main reason we went up there). Got them set up in the chicken coop. Everything recorded live now, raunchy real drums, guitar feedback, ambient noise i have no control over, etc. sounds nice. Jake [S's dog] sings for me, unprompted. Screaming Jake Hawkins howls like you wouldn't believe. Steps up to the mike, lip quivering, and earnestly belts out the blues. He seems to like E minor. We covered "The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore" [here's the finished track, that we put on a subsequent tape that we'll put in the next post]. Last night i met some guy that talks like Tom Waits who played the piano for me, William. I gave him my tape, hope he likes it cuz he seems cool. Lives with Phil, math graduate who was in some of my classes. Now that he's graduated, he spends his days getting drunk. Today i'm going to San Diego with S and maybe we'll go up to Venice & see Kevin.
July 19, 1989.
(5 days later)— July 24
Next day we were bums again, ran into Marcus on the beach, got a frisbee and had a great time diving and flipping in the waves catching the frisbee. Lost my shoes though, so now barefoot. Another beach BBQ, this time fish tacos. Next day we had to leave, almost missed the plane cuz we went back to the beach and lost track of time. Back just in time for S's chemistry class but then she ended up not going. And we could've stopped at Bangkok Station [our favorite Thai restaurant in San Jose] to get our fix, but she was rushed to get to class. Silly girl. So now i'm finishing up my take-home final for human sexuality and it's a week later. Saw Camper Van Beethoven last night and they were awesome. Great show, tight, talented. At one point David Lowry threw off his guitar and jumped into the audience and punched some annoying guy. Yesterday did some grungy work, clearing weeds and coyote bush. Dirt, sweat and all these annoying flies that wanted to get in every orifice. Today i rode my bike from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz in 2½ hours (since Sara was in Santa Cruz). Not that hard, but i was freezing. Sweated up skyline then got chills going down the backside in the shadowed forest of Hwy 9 at 45 MPH. Then i got my "deed of sale" for 5000 sq ft in Baja! Ha! What a fraud. My concept is developing for the next tape. It will have to do with fishes, dark blue, caverns, hollow pain, you know... the crackling dark noise, the sound in dreams, a wood log falling in a waterfall, splintering, crackling like a sore throat, the root-ripping sound when you get your wisdom teeth pulled, primordial shit, the soup of life....
"Anxiety is pepper for pleasure" [...all we wrote on the next page, followed by this next pg, to give u an idea of what the original journal looked like, launching into a Baja travelogue:]
[... more like a junkyard for mobile homes.] By this point the road was not paved and off a sandy texture like washboard, sending the truck into violent shakes. Max speed was 20 MPH, which was fine because we were enjoying identifying cacti and looking at the strange landscapes and ocean views. Only saw 3 other cars the whole way. Came across this roadside shack where lived this old man by himself with a cat named Kid and some pinecones that some Canadian gave him. He had a small tongue and vivid whiskers and was obviously lonely so we talked a while and drank refrescos. Then we pushed on to Punta Bufeo where there was a bunch of dudes getting bien borracho but one of them managed to fix us quesadillas. The lady of the house came out and asked if he did the shopping and he said por su puesto. She looked into the fridge and asked if got anything besides cerveza. "Pues, un montón de camarón!"
San Luis Gonzaga is one of the main points on the map, in big bold writing. But we couldn't tell where it was. No signs, nada. So we ended up here, wherever here is. [not on googlemaps neither, but it's probly near Alfonsinas]. We stopped to look at some strange unidentifiable animal and got stuck in the sand. I got out and pushed and dislodged it, but S kept driving so we wouldn't get stuck again so i had to run and catch up and then sit in back the rest of the way cuz it stayed sandy. By the time we got here my legs were bloody from some big bumps that sent me flying onto the woodpile [we'd bring wood from her house since it was hard to come by in Baja]. This man Francisco lives here by himself. He's got 9 kids who are lawyers, teachers, a truck driver, skipper of a fishing boat, an accountant, a govt employee and others i forget, and another he had 15 years after the others... a regular beachmaster. He used to be the skipper of a tuna boat and told us what happened with the dolphins. We spent hours talking to this guy and his 6 or 7 dogs and a few gatos. He had a whale vertebrate and some jawbone which he offered to us. How can we refuse such an offer? We ended up trading it for a sea creature identifying book which he enjoyed. He let us pitch our tent on his property.
The date? who cares [written in red ink, barely legible]
8 Aug 2017 | DC> So that's a brief snapshot of the late '80s from our p.o.v... 1 of the few journals we have from those yrs. Around this time we took a bunch of trips to Baja, San Diego + up north to our mom's place near Shasta, so again, not sure if the photos correspond to these trips or who took 'em... we dint own a camera in them yrs. On this particular Baja trip we did try to smuggle the mentioned whale vertebrate home in the back of S's truck, that much we remember, but the custom's officials took it away. We abruptly stopped writing @ this pt in the above journal, xcept this 1 scribbled page 3 months later in October where we question the point of keeping a journal + ponder the virtues of being vague (w/ edges characteristically chewed by Nestor the parrot):
+ then this dream we logged on Nov, 28, 1989, in Santa Cruz:
This dream found its way into Poste Restante as "The Inertial Weight of Our Internal Lake" (embellished to turn this 1 paragraph into a 2-pg "story").
Weird thing about that last entry posted Oct 29, 1989 is that we make no mention of the earthquake on Oct 17, 1989... the quake most ppl remember as the "World Series earthquake". [UPDATE: we found some journal pages from 1990 where we recount this event in detail]. What most folks dont know is that the epicenter was sum 80 miles south of Candlestick park, 9 miles from Santa Cruz, where we lived @ the time. We were in a physics lab making holograms when the earthquake struck. To make holograms, u need to mount the equipment on a shock-resistant bread-board thing-a-ma-jig to eliminate any vibrations. We were adjusting the lasers + whatnot, when the stabilized platform started shaking. At first we figured sumpin was wrong w/ the platform or sum1 had bump'd it... til we looked around + the whole room was a'shaking. We were working w/ a Chinese post-doc that barely spoke english + had never been in an earthquake so was sorta freakin' out. Growing up in California we knew the drill... we grabbed her + ducked under a sturdy table but as we huddled under w/ this hysterical Chinese girl clutching our arm, we looked up at the ceiling + cd see bits of concrete chipping off so we was like fuck this, we need to get outta here. So we bolted outside into an open area + even then, a minute later, the ground was still moving, rolling in waves (in the 1st instants, it sloshed more back + forth like jell-o). We distinctly remember looking down @ our feet + the concrete was undulating, like surfing, forming cracks before our eyes. The UCSC campus is on solid bedrock so it dint seem like too big of a deal, all the buildings were still standing (although afterwards the physics bldg was condemned). And on the 2nd floor of the physics bldg there was a lab w/ a bunch of chemicals that all went crashing to the floor so all these weird vapors were wafting out of the windows + students coming from those floors coughing. Since we couldn't go back into the bldg, we went back to our camper + our neighbor was freaking out cuz he had a friend that worked in a coffeeshop downtown that evidently had collapsed. So we drove down in his Kharman Ghia + only then did we realize how serious it was... 1/3 of the buildings downtown had collapsed, reduced to rubble, including the Santa Cruz Roasting company where our friend's friend was working. We started digging through the rubble, removing bricks, searching for signs of life, until the firemen told us to stop because the ruins were unstable + there cd be aftershocks. By now our neighbor-friend had met up w/ other friends of this girl trapped in the coffeeshop + they were all frustrated + angry that nobody was searching. The firemen were just standing around, keeping us from looking, even tho we were willing to take the risk. In the wikipedia entry about the earthquake it says:
Yah, we was 1 of them civilians that was a "hindrance to operations"... we wasn't frantic tho, we dint personally know the trapped/dead girl, but was just trying to be of help to our friend. And when it came to being arrested, we politely declined (in the 3-4 situations in our life where cops have given us a choice of being arrested or stepping aside, we have always curbed ourself... never saw the point of getting arrested just to make a pt.) Our friend got arrested tho. The other weird thing we remember is how many people decided to get shit-faced drunk to cope w/ the situation, it was surreal. After that, we didn't have a "downtown" Santa Cruz. They temporarily housed stores + restraunts in nearby makeshift tents for the last yr or 2 we lived there. Quite a few aftershocks followed... 1 in particular we member was right in the middle of a gamelan performance we were giving in a concert hall on campus (that later we were told was over 4.0)... we looked around at eachother, shrugged + kept playing w/o missing a beat. Those that dint flee out the exits gave us a standing ovation.
Speaking of earthquakes + California, we're reading Things That Happened Before the Earthquake by Chiara Barzini, tho the earthquake she's referring to was a few yrs later, down south in the valley (the Northridge Earthquake in '94). She did however go to UC Santa Cruz thereafter... Chiara + i have led sorta parallel lives, UCSC, then NYC + then Rome (where we met + published her first book, Sister Stop Breathing). Our California yrs shaped us in diffrent ways... ∀ll that new age hippie shit made us cynical + jaded, but Chiara embraced it, or at least tolerated it moreso. We never took much intrest in sexual promiscuity + drug-taking the way Chiara did (if ½ of what happend to Eugenia (the narrator of her book) happend to Chiara). By putting herself in such vulnerable positions tho, Chiara/Eugenia opens herself up to ppl + experiences perhaps not available by other means. Despite her glamorous pedigree (which she downplays in the book... lo so, i know, it's fiction!) she's got a knack for befriending fringe misfits (like us!) + marginalized oddities + giving them voice... then (as a supposed awkward teen) or now (most notably in her recent films). No doubt, this Earthquake book is way diffrent then Sister, published by Doubleday—mainstream reality-based fiction, which we aint so used to reading. Not sure if it's just us, knowing her personally, but the book seems to tip-toe that dangerous tight-rope between memoir + fiction. It's billed as a novel (w/ names of her famiglia + friends (presumably) changed), but if we member correctly, when she first started working on it, she referred to it as "memoir" + we've heard some of these anecdotes 1st hand. Maybe the fiction classification gots todo w/ this recent spat of literary fakers we blogged about a few posts ago... publishers wanting to avoid lawsuits. It's a silly distinction, ∀ll art is autobiographical to sum extent + true stories are hardly reliable, specially in this day + age of fake news. Thing is tho, once u start calling sumthin fiction, seems there needs to be a reason why u make sumthin up or inklewd certain d-tails. We say ∀ll this cuz we grapple w/ this constantly in our own riding, specially since we don't know how to lie nun.... what to show/what not to show, the importance of relevance (the topic of another book we're currently reading), how to not make it feel like "telling" a story, what embellished liberties to take that further the work w/o sacrificing believability, etc...
29 Aug 2017> Comunque, back to our "story," that weave bin serializing here on 5cense... the entire '80s relived in the month of August, 2017. Guess the earthquake of Oct 17, 1989 served as a sorta pivotal pt for us, a landmark in our psychogeography. Not that we god a fear of earthquakes now... tho, there is sumping unsettling about their unpredictable nature + probly gots sumpin' todo w/ why we split, aft'r a decade of pressing our luck... only a matter of time before "the big 1" hits + California falls into the ocean. It definitely made us appresheate the stability of the ground for the most part—99.9% of the time—that we otherwise might take for granted. Just like being in a category 5 hurricane the yr b4 gave us a healthy respect for "mother nature" (ok, may'b little bits of the hippie shit rub'd off on us). And Mt. St. Helens was another landmark in our autobiopsychogeography... not dat we experienced her 1st hand, but she marks in our mind when we left the Pacific Northwest for Mexico. And it was weird to go back + see her not there. But this is ∀ll from memory... we dint keep a journal back then. We member going back for our father's funeral + everything in Portland being coated in 4" of volcanic ash, but (googling now) there was no secondary eruption in early January of 1982. And spose if we really dig down to the d-tails of dat memory, our father picked us up @ the airport, in a car coated in ash, the same Ford Torino where he d-sided to end his life, parked in our garage, engine running. For the sake of story, we cd off corse lie, change the dates around, exaggerate the amound of ash, but we're realists at heart + feel things happen the way they do—when + where—for a reason... dreams on the other hand are fair game, perhaps why we write from them primerily. And why personally we prefer Sister Stop Breathing (short stories that came from dream states) to Things That Happened Before the Earthquake. But even when writing from dreams, we feel a need to stay true to them, that u dream things for a certain reason, nothing u can consciously control. Whenever we read or watch movies, we find ourselves bothered when facts don't jive, or find flaws in continuity. Like Chiara talks about going home to a snowy Rome for x-mas in 1992 or '93, but we know it dint snow in Rome b-tween 1986 + 2012, cuz we was living there in 2012 when it snowed + all the headlines said it hadn't snow'd for 26 yrs (+ also in 2010 when it snowed but dint stick). Then again, Chiara's casa on via Cassia is a bit higher up in the foothills of Rome. Comes down to the ∆iffrents b-tween hysterical + historical fiction. When we think of the snow in Rome, we think of David Markson, he captured it to great affect. Can't remember what book it was, where the narrator's sitting in a car in Campo d'Fiori watching the snow come down + google don't help nun (in fact, 5cense comes up as 1 of the top search results (despite us being d-moated for not being mobile friendly) but This Is Not a Novel doesn't sound like the Markson book we're thinking of, we jus happend to be reading Markson during a snowstorm in Bklyn when we was fixing to move to Rome). We have a very vivid image, of the narrator sitting in a VW Combi in Campo D'Fiori in 1986, covered in 4" of snow. We can even picture the fogged up smoking window crack'd to let in fresh air... or maybe we're projecting these d-tales, who knows. Sure we googled it @ the time to factcheck Markson. He likely gave the x-act date. That's the beauty of Markson, he just pieces together all these contextualized facts + anecdotes, if not accepted truths then quotes from other books. He doesn't make nothing up, he just compiles them all into a... we'd say "story," but there usually is no story in the conventional sense.
De todos modos, we're thinking about such things as we shift narrative P.O.V.s from A Raft Manifest to tackle vol 2 of 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY'... mining our own memories (aft'r ∀ll, our life is the sole thing we kin speak about w/ authority). In a biobibliographic sense (books we read in the 80s dat we dint already mention) we dint read a lot of fiction in the 80s. Okay, we admit, we had a soft spot for Tom Robbins, read all his shit. In 1989, when we started to work on our senior fhesis on the mathematics of plant morphology, reading D'Arcy Thompson's On Growth and Forth had a huge influenze on us, as did The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. We do distinctly member dipping into Finnegan's Wake quite a bit, but not sure we can say we "red it." We used to peruse it @ the liebury, as a diversion from our physics + math studies, or we'd check her out for a few weeks, but dint own a copy of our one back then. Meanwhile, our brother-½ Chaulky (co-author of our next book) returned from his world trip in the spring or summer of 1989 + started writing his 'SSES" 'SSES" fhesis, living in Pasadena. And dat folks, perty much raps up the '80s... w/ th exception of our final cassette release, Starfisheye, wich we'll post la prossima volta...
|543 <( )> 545 > Starfisheye, The Loser, monkey-chanting + why we stopped playin' 2nd fiddle|