5cense Space Cowboys jamming hands + hexes in cracks in the cultural doldrums of the '90s


[5 July 2020> Flashing back to 1993, still in the brown "bee" journal, picking up from March, getting into the height of our climbing dayz:]

April 3, 1993— Tucson
I'm at the sports park at Ina road hanging out waiting for [C] to finish her softball game. I was inside watching the Michigan-Kentucky game and it occurred to me i was in Tucson. I mean, this particular town in America. Went to Rupley Towers today and did R-1 (5.8+, 2 pitches). The 1st pitch is short with that weird traverse under the roof. The 2nd pitch was a lot of fun though there are tons of bolts next to the crack now. After that we did R-4 (5.9), a long climb with one bolt at the beginning and the rest crack. The roof was a blast traversing underneath, hand in birdshit, reaching and trying to get a jam and finally grab the jug but then you gotta hang and make a placement and haul yourself over. There was a few more roofs and a cool crack that i slotted 3 hexes identically one after the other. C was in her weird party mood and not feeling like climbing. She didn't show up at my place til 10 a.m. and hadn't slept so i studied and let her sleep. So we quit after R-4 and ate at The Coral, god what a disgusting experience. Pastey old Americans chowing on ribs.
     Got a call from Benmo Schoenborn this week, looks like i might get a job at Los Alamos probing protein structures via neutron scattering! I'm psyched. Now i've just gotta see if it's for real and when i find out for sure, shit I'll be siked. New Mexico. And doing cool shit. The guy seemed nice enough and mellow. I've been way into studying all week. Well, don't have much more to say though i feel inspired.

April 5
I'm on the #8 bus cruising Broadway down to the El Con mall. It is Windy and on the verge outside. Tumbleweeds blowing through the dirty city streets downtown filled with graffiti... far cry from University life. Yesterday did jack shit. One of these days where i set it aside for studying but C and I ended doing nothing except see a Jeremy Irons film at El Con and that's why i'm going there cuz i dropped my checkbook in the movie theatre. Well i guess i shouldn't say nothing's going on, last night something happened between C and I... this is getting serious i guess but i don't feel hindered. God, this bus is so slow. Haven't heard from Benmo about the Los Alamos thing but i've got my fingers crossed. I can't stop thinking about it.

April 11 (Easter)—between Sedona and Phoenix
Going over the mountain that Sean, Gary, Michelle and i got hailed on massively whilst returning from the Grand Canyon. The sun is about to go down. When we get to Phoenix—Thai food! Ends up my checkbook wasn't at the theatre so i took another bus to Grant and Swan and it was there. Most of this week was spent running around like a chicken with its head cut off, having to spend more time at my T.A. job cuz i have to design the lab and write the handouts. Starting my research for the Chaos project. Still no call back from Los Alamos. Bruce Lee films... anyway, the typical shit. Thursday night C and i decided to go to Flagstaff to climb so i got a new rope and the guide to N. Arizona. I had to spend ½ of Friday dealing with Bowen trying to set up a neutron radiation counter and i was all excited about climbing. C got off work at 5 and we were off. Got to Flagstaff around 11 pm. Had breakfast with C's parents and their 2 friends, Chris and Linda, lesbian school teachers that lived in page and had this adopted Navajo kid with developmental disabilities. C and I climbed in Paradise Forks on Saturday. About an hour south of Williams on a dirt road. Beautiful Ponderosa pine forests. There was this beautiful canyon lined with basalt cliffs. Paradise forks, they were like smooth columns separated by cracks. The cracks were the only features that get you up the rock. The guidebook didn't have hardly any routes in the 5.7–5.8 range. We went to go do this crack near Super Crack. The 5.8 looked lame so i figured we'd try the 5.9 next to it. Classic hand crack with no features on the face. Just verticalness. I got 3 pieces up and said fuck that. I wanted to see what it was like first on top rope (Grievous Angel, 5.9). C did it first and got real discouraged and hang-dogged. I barely made it up but it was sick and heinous. Definitely not the 5.9 we're used to. It may have been cuz i was weak from some virus i got on Thursday night. But it was cool jamming, C didn't want to try Super Crack (5.9) but what the hell, the T.R. was set up. All these climbs were on this big pool appropriately called Golden Pond with a waterfall going into it. To do Supercrack you had to do a traverse out over the pond... very cool, then up this crack that started off as fingers and eventually to an off-width. Classic. We wanted to try something easy after that so we found the only 5.7 in the place, Pillow Book (5.7), pretty cool i guess. There were some annoying people next to us. First the guy dropped a camalot on lead, kept acting like he was all cool then somehow knocked his glasses off and then he couldn't see so he had to back off. The woman on the other climb sounded familiar, yep, Judy from J. Tree. The one that freaked on that epic crack. After that i started to do this other 5.8 crack, Pillow Talk. But i came to my senses, coming to the conclusion that this place was sick. We TR'ed and i fell a few times before i realized maybe you were supposed to stem to the other crack. We TR’ed the crack next to it and C got frustrated. I did Pillowcase (5.9–) on T.R. which wasn't that bad than the crack next to it, Geekus Amongst Us (5.9) which was very heinous. Finger jamming, well, hand jamming but not quite... too small for hands, but too big for fingers. Twilight in Phoenix now, too dark and too near Chars.

April 12
All in all we got our butts kicked at Paradise Forks. These Flagstaff climbers are insane and, guess i have my work cut out. I guess jamming is a learned technique whereas face climbing can just come naturally. I could say "I don't like crack climbing" but i shouldn't until i learn how cuz otherwise i'm judging what i don't know. I'm pink, therefore I'm jam. We left back to Flagstaff in one of those exhausted states. Fucking virus was still taking its toll on me. After dinner and the usual playing footsy with Edgar and [wrestling with Geezer we crashed early... here's a scan of the next page:]

[C's brother M never showed up so (with her parents) we took] the initiative to go over to his place, take him by surprise. We went in two cars, C and I were on our way out. He was home. Casually answered the door, doesn't smile and just says "hey" turns around and retreats to the couch to watch Wheel of Fortune. Pizza boxes scattered everywhere with chips and salsa and empty beer cans. His friend was slouched on the other couch. A lot of tension in the air. C's parents just kind of walked around observing. C did her best to be enthusiastic, "we haven't seen you in a while." All M said was, "is the Phoenix game on today." Luckily we left shortly, no sense in forcing anything.
     We went the Sedona way and stopped at the Oak Creek canyon overlook. There were lots of tourists parked and "real Indians" selling jewelry. At our feet was a long band of cliffs that looked a little shanty from above. We managed to find our bearings and rapped down. An excellent rappel, from an old sequoia and then over this overhang and another tree rappel into unknown territory and then they’re all these cracks chalked full of chalk. Spiraling into this forest. Ended up doing Mint Jam (5.7) a long series of jam cracks and stemming. I started to go over this roof at the top but C is all no way, maybe you should go to the right more. I had to downclimb to take a placement out so i wouldn't have rope drag. The roof to the right was no better. I found a placement in this loose block. Yech. The move over the roof required reaching high and getting a jam on the roof then committing and swinging out. I had the jam but the move seemed a little crazy. The other way was more chalked so i figured that was he way. I went back and put one piece in. That was my lifeline.  I got this good finger jam in so i could step high and get a solid fist jam and pull myself up and over. Bitching. When C got up to that move she was looking at a nasty pendulum. She got all contorted like a squeeze chimney facing out then was oh shit. Falling than reaches for the hand jam still facing out and pulls through. Phew! We decided to keep rolling after that down through Sedona. We stopped at Slide Rock, parked way down the road to avoid the stupid charge. Slide Rock was cool but packed full of tourists. We tried to go back along the river, we dead-ended under the bridge and we’re forced to do a first ascent of Mickey Mantle (5.6?). We would have had to go all the way back, so i started going up this cliff. I had to remove my flip flops. I figured C should go first. She took off her shoes and went up, doing this weird mantle. Then we had to do this overhang, grabbing a tree root to exit.
     We got frozen yogurt in Sedona and spontaneously stopped at Moctezuma’s castel, hey, after all it's a Natl monument. We had no clue what it was and weren't about to pay $2 so we snuck in. Nestled in these limestone cliffs were some adobe walls. Cliff dwellings for some people called the "Sinaguas," which didn't make sense as a creek ran right under it. It was pretty cool. We stopped at Char's to eat some mediocre Thai food and i drove the last leg home while C slept in her usual neurotic manner waking up in a fright with each lane change thinking we were crashing.

April 20
The stress started coming on last week. Still in limbo from not having heard from Los Alamos. My lab is taking up tons of my time. We did a radiation lab that has never been done here at U of A (Bowen's idea). So Friday and monday afternoon were spent hunting own equipment and trying to get it to work. Ancient equipment from the '50s if not earlier. And Bowen sweating at the eyes and his nose dropping onto the equipment [he was very disfigured + deformed from radiation exposure early in his career]. I was getting really frustrated, and then talking to Lowell which always takes forever, one simple question turns into an hour long monolog about stuff you didn't care to know about. And Tuesday i had to go over to radiation control to get radiation badges for all my students and me. And the lab fucked up anyway. The counter didn't work at first and finally after hitting it and fiddling with it, it worked. So everything's all keen and peachy, the counts are decreasing more or less exponentially... then they started increasing and everyone's like "Derek, is it supposed to do this? Derek, why?" And it kind of jumped around sporadically then stopped altogether. Shit. Everyone's looking me to make it work and it's some piece of shit scalar from the 50s that i know nothing's about. I got Bowen and he said he would find another scalar and never returned. I hit it a couple of times and it worked kind of and i ended up postponing until this week. Barry and Judy came into town on Tuesday or Wednesday and showed up to work. It was weird being around both of them and also Henry and Elaine. My past, my formal job side and (Elaine) my party animal. Elaine's funny when she’s being all serious—i can see right through her. And Dr. Hill is totally stressing cuz Barry is being all joking and he doesn't know how to deal with people like that. I went out to dinner with Barry and Judy real quick like—nervous and wild-eyed, the both of them. And breakfast the next morning. And they're bugging me "you look distraught? Are you happy?" Getting on my case and i have ½ a mind to to say my life is great and you being here is what makes me feel uncomfortable. And they keep prying and they're stressball California over-achievers that seem disapproving of my lifestyle cuz i'm just mellow and don't worry much about the future. But it was relatively painless and i got two free meals and the relief when they're off. And money that's another thing. I'm completely fucked. My credit card is into the $2,700's (with a max at $2800) and last week i had to stinge it til pay day but my check was immediately gone to taxes and bills. And here i am again, i went to get a student loan but it will take forever and i need it now. Shit, looks like I'm gonna call mom, though she implied she doesn't have money. I really hope Los Alamos comes through. Fucking money. I'm starting to want it cuz it does mean happiness cuz it means less stress and freedom. Freedom to do what you want and climb on the weekends and travel.
     And i have the stress of upcoming finals and my chaos project and the weekend comes up and of course i'm all fuck it and tell C to take me away. She's planning this weekend cuz i usually have more to say about what we climb, so now I'm gonna kick back but she spilled the beans that we're going to Hueco Tanks. So we left after her softball game that we went to but decided to bail since they had rotations anyway. C was tired from being up all thursday night, some test on friday and it was making her all horning thursday night. So i drove the whole way to Hueco, while she slept. Just me, coffee, sunflower seeds and the sky over New Mexico and Texas. Pulled into Hueco about 1 a.m. or so. I slept in the car while C got out her cot (we were at Pete's). Woke up, chowed our cereal then dealt with the bureaucracy. Being this was C's weekend she was picking the route and she decided to do some stuff on the East mountain. Started on Dragon Waltz (5.8), a nice crack that actually was maybe 5.8, unlike other overrated Hueco climbs. I ran out of pieces and had to run out the off-width section. We TR'ed "Dog Leg and Arm" (5.10+) crack. Bitching but I'm glad we TR'ed it as it was pretty heinous at top. I thought that there was this 5.9+ TR next to it, so i started going it and it was heinous. I looked at the book and i had already done it as a variation of the crack. We ate some tuna sandwiches then went and did Sea of Holes (5.9), well the first pitch anyway. You go up this ramp about 30 feet then you have to go up 20 feet or so up a vertical face, past the crux, and then clip the first bolt. Luckily i brought my camalots along and jammed one in a hueco below the first bolt. It was real bitching hueco pulling on overhanging face. And only 3 bolts in a full pitch. A little sporty. The second pitch didn't look as cool, more easy stuff then a 5.10 head wall, and we didn't feel like walking off so we rapped. I started to do Lunacy (5.10) a beautiful dihedral with an off-width. Strenuous stemming. I kept moving up my #3 and #4 camalots along with me. Until i had to stem to the outside and couldn't reach them leaving them behind. I pulled myself over this roof on a big chockstone and the next section became exposed to me—70 more feet of a large overhanging off-width/dihedral! It looked bitching but my #4 cam was below me and i had no pro. Shit! Screwed. I contemplated squeezing way into the interior then finally came to my senses after hanging in the strenuous position i downclimbed and kept moving my pieces down with me. Kind of fun. After that C led Divine Wind (5.9), skipping 8 grades from her first 5.1 lead to 5.9! Granted, a Hueco 5.9. She was in control and had no problems. It will be cool when she's comfortable leading and we'll be able to switch leads. The little gnats were unbearable at that point in the afternoon, they were really irritating us so we bouldered around a bit, doing some hue-cool bouldering problems. We decided to get a room (after making burritos and playing frisbee in the parking lot at Pete's). We somehow ended up in a sketchy section of El Paso waiting in line for 20 minutes in some weird market after an hour or so of irritating driving around we found out El Corral motel was the best bet. But we already knew that.
     We got a late start in the morning cuz there was a Star Trek movie on HBO. But we started off on Fast Food (5.8) which i led after C backed off with good reason cuz the beginning wasn't trivial. On the same bolts was a 5.7 crack/dihedral called Short Hands. C TR'ed and put gear in. I rapped off and checked her placements and made a few more. Then she led it, she got a little flustered at this one jam section but was persistent and finished it. After that i led Window Pane (5.10). Classic, 165 feet of relentless vertical face with some overhanging bulges. Just the shit i like. You get into this rhythm, move after move. At the 5th bolt was this armsy move that i didn't want to commit to cuz i was frying so i took a rest first then did it. It was so cool towards the top. It felt really long. I'd look down and see this overhanging face with chalked holds and C way the hell down there. C did it and rested where i did and finished it. After that Cakewalk Direct (5.10a). I did the crack start which ended up being truly heinous, just a finger jam and nothing for the feet. This went on for about 20 feet in which i made 4 placements and was close to peeling off. Then there was this weird traverse move to get out of the crack and onto the face and climb the first bolt. After that it was easy. But fun, overhung with big huecos. And another drive home, and reality check.

April 22
This is when it all comes down to the wire. These are the times that cause you to think about and re-evaluate life in general even though you're supposed to be so busy. On the job scene, kept calling Benmo back but he never an answer and it's been 3 weeks, so i call around til i find what group he's with and the secretary said he's been out of town this whole time. So i had her personally leave a note on his desk. He said it looked good for me, but once he offered me a position i would have to take it or leave it, then and there. So i'm basically taking whoever contacts me first, though i'm still trying Benmo throughout the day. The Chaos class was giving me a lot of stress too, cuz there was no way i could pull that presentation off and my other classes. We had the first presentation and it was well-done and professional, we're talking "oh and then i programmed this and gotta hold of JPL so they could run it on their Cray, and well it's been running for 2 weeks now..." But i talked to Sarcevic and she's gonna let me take an incomplete if i finish my paper by the end of May. Phew. One thing off my mind. And the lab is finished so now I have no excuse. It's just me and Quantum Mechanics for the next week, and me and Biophysics for the week after that. And there's the C thing... why do i feel so nonchalant about moving in with her, if we do, whereas in the past i've been so opposed to it? I've gotta face that on a reality check level soon. But that also depends on my job situation which is why i've been putting that on the back burner. I called Jeff on Monday night. He sounds so different. He may come up at the beginning of May. I had to borrow $3000 from mom. The money thing getting out of control. I didn't want that much but she offered. I guess now i can pretty much complete my rack. Saw Minor Threat, shit, what am i saying, saw Fugazi on Tuesday night with C and Mark. That was a trip. How can Ian MacKaye be angry for so long, screaming into a microphone every night for the past 15 years? There was about 1000 people there, at Coyote's. Steve was still putting in on, it's just that all these people wouldn't have fit in the D.P.C. Is the '90s is as happening as the '80s, but we just won't realize it until retrospect? Not that the 80s was hip or anything, but shit, it's 1993. What's going on culturely that's interesting? What defines this era? What will people think looking back on the 90s? Clinton, the Gulf war, all the political events... but what about culturally? It seems everything now is defined in terms of the past, post neo-hippies, post-punk... the whole '60-70s rock'n'roll thing is a niche that has been saturated, nothing's new, all the experimentation was done in the '80s, the likes of Nirvana just commodified it for frat boys. Maybe music altogether needs to be dropped as what defines a cultural movement. All i know is i want a haircut and i should be reading my Quantum Mechanics and maybe another cup of joe would do me good.

April 26
A few more things off my back. I didn't get the Los Alamos thing, but there's some good news i guess... i was stressing after i heard, Benmo finally called me back and said he might be away for the whole summer but wasn't sure he could take on a student assistant "but if i was still interested i could call back in 2 weeks". I took that as a negative sign. All my eggs were in the Pima (sp?) basket and i wanted to clarify things with Thews even though i already talked to him. My reasoning was that i knew the paperwork was on his desk and that i needed to show my face so i was fresh in my mind. Also I found out that morning i didn't get a T.A. slot. So i went to see him under the pretense of saying i didn't get the job at L.A. and that "hey, I'll take anything you'd give me." And he's all "have a seat" and starts asking me about MSLC and acting all cool and busy and likes he's involved in something on his desk. After i look at what he's reading and it's a blank sheet of paper! After giving me the run around he said "ok, you'll be working with so and so..." R-E-L-I-E-F. Employment. Actually in the end i'm happier that i got this instead of Los Alamos, if you take into account the money i'd spend in getting there and finding housing in 10 weeks and 10 weeks is the key, cuz that means 4-5 weeks of vacation time! Utah, here i come. Saturday i went climbing with Shaheen at East Windy Point. Finally did Space Cowboys (5.9+) and it was as cool as i expected. Kept having to do this one type of move over and over, a combination stem/mantle. A few bolts. A few placements. Shaheen led Deranged of Late (5.8) after top-roping the crux. Then we went to Rupley Towers and i led Moving Over Stone (5.10). Classic, but definitely not 5.10. The holds were always there, roofs with positive holds, sustained tho, lots of bolts and a full 165'. I talked Shaheen into doing R-3 (5.8+) after that, plenty of bolts a few feet apart so why not. He did it though he squeezed through the crux. After i followed i was lowered over to Bop Til You drop (5.10)... what the hell, the TR was set up. Nice, though a little short. Left early cuz we both had dates. I went home taking C's car and got dressed. Picked up C in her sleek black dress and done-up hair. We wanted to eat Italian and i remember someone saying Mama Louisa's was good. C wasn't paying attention when i asked if it was good, but when we pulled up she almost puked and acting all pissed saying it was no better than Denny's. She was right to say the least. And we were overdressed. The place looked like a junior high school cafeteria and the food tasted like the place. Seriously gross. Unfresh salad and soup that tasted worse than Campbells and this shrimp "Joe's Style" over noodles that was $13.95 and was uncooked and disgusting. I felt like puking and could only finish about half. And of course we get the most expensive wine and C and i are getting into this intense conversation that was not pleasant but necessary. Maybe i went too far in questioning her in whether she was true to herself (as far as Navajo-ness) and she took it the wrong way. It's probably the closest thing we've had to a fight, though constructive. Once got into Ravi Shankar it was cool. He kind of sedated us. He was in better spirits than last time i saw him. The tabla player was amazing too. Slept at C's again. We went to Middle Earth on Sunday morning. Middle Earth is bitching, a big crag in a valley with lots of pine trees so close to Windy Point, yet so different. It was a little cool initially. C led Earth Angel (5.8) first. Well bolted and low angle, but weird. Definitely dicey at the crux, but she did it. Melissa and her bo were doing Middle Earth (5.10a) and had geared up but were bitching about the cold so it was a while before we got to it. I grabbed a layback at the first bolt and tried to smear on a vertical face and slipped and caught myself. This kind of gave me a reality check and i breezed through until the crux at the top where it got really thin and vertical. Little crystal holds and edges that slanted at funny angles to be stepping on. I kept moving on it and i could see this ledge getting close and slowly worked my way towards it and i could barely reach it and had my right hand on it and right when i grab it  of course i take the weight off my smear and my feet cut loose and i'm hanging by one arm. I recover and (still hanging by one arm) clip the bolt, and then finish it off. When we got though with that my back was killing me. There was nothing easier there so we did Silmarillion (5.10) also a full 165 feet but even more extended with 3 5.10a cruxes. First a balancey barn door layback swinging onto a smeary face. I got a littler off and found myself almost above a bolt but to the right and had to do this weird traverse to get back on route. Followed by a sequence of very thin crimpers. Another classic. We left after that and ate at Mi Niditos. My back has been killing me since then. Ok, now back to business. I've gotta live quantum, breathe, eat and drink it.

April 28, 1993
[Dream not yet logged in our dream log]
Blackberry bushes were growing across the road between i'm not sure where, but C and I lived on one side. We were trying to figure out how to get them to grow across without blocking the road and concluded that you had to put them through the drainage ditch but then they wouldn't grow (no sunlight).
     I also dream i was playing softball, bases loaded and all that so i walk up and grab a big bat. The first pitch was a strike cuz i could barely swing the bat. So i switched to this small one. I was totally ready to smack the next one, but the next 4 pitches were balls. Walked. Someone hit a single then i was leading off from 2nd base with both hands and the ball hits me in the back. They all walk to the dugout like i'm out. I couldn't believe it. Neither could anyone on my team. I went back and told them that if anyone should know it would be me. I experienced it, and i was clearly safe. Then i said i played to have fun and wasn't having fun cuz of them so told them i was quitting and they would have bad karma.
     Then i was with C and Matty fishing. He caught a squirrelfish then i saw this alligator fish and hooked it before i caught it (does that make sense?) and wanted to throw it back so i could catch it for real, but there was no water in the "river". (C told me she dreamt she was going across a tightrope and alligators were biting at her feet, which is weird cuz of the alligator fish in my dream).

[...May 1993]

764 <(current)> 766> 2520 soft zen iterations zeroing in on i point zero (i.0) by a.I.
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