Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I really missed a chance to document something unique.

When I first arrived in St. Louis I had nothing but a guitar and a bad back and an old camcorder that only worked if you sprinked mojo dust on it. I wandered down to the river to contemplate the universe and came upon a squatters camp called Hopeville. http://www.ksdk.com/images/300/169/2/assetpool/images/110503081720_Still0503_00000.jpgIt was a bunch of tents and derelict cars. It reminded me of Santa Cruz and I fell in love with it but the temp was around 20 and my arthritis was barking up the wrong tree so I found a basement to sleep in and worked hard to find a ride to Mexico. But in the back of my mind I wanted to go to Hopeville with my camera and a tent and risk typhoid fever to get the story. I mean, this was a rare thing. Anyone could see that. A hundred tents on the river of a major city. lawless. insane. Freezing. Forsaken. Loathed. Drunk. The drama made itself. This is where reality tv needs to poke their noses instead of Jersey Shore garbage. I was a coward and didn't take the plunge even though I am the only person who could sleep in a flimsy Kmart tent during the worst winter ever to hit St. Louis and still record the story and live to see the spring.

And then what happens? One of the guys stabs another guy over a can of beer...in a tent. Was crystal meth involved? Probably, but that stuff is so common that it comes in Happy Meals now at McDonalds. The story of this event intrigues me to no end. I want to investigate but the white wolf calls to me.
Why do I mention it? The city will close it down and that would've been the end of the story.
God give me the courage to ignore my spine pain and get this story next time it is shoved in my face. In this case there is no realistic way for mainstream media to cover this story. Only an independent artist could devote a year to actually translate this into something another person could relate to. I am that artist and I missed my chance. I'm hopeless.

Drove my Chevy to the Levee But The Levee Was Gone

Any of you youngsters out there wondering what to do with your life I say get involved with the Army Corp of Engineers. It's a dynamic position that is not for the faint of heart or desk loving pencil pushers. You will be blowing things up and building where no one thought to build. Need a road to the Arctic? Call the Corp of Engineers. I don't know if military service is required but boot camp is worth it if you can guarantee you will work with these folks. They built the Alaskan Highway. Levees. Etc. Some things are repulsive, like Kenneth Lay's multiple yachts purchased with the loot from utility workers retirement funds, and some things are inspiring, like the Alaskan Highway and my 1978 Vespa Ciao.That is one trip that is next to impossible without a road. Thousands of people did it in 1850 and it must've been horrific. Only the threat of death and promise of gold drove them forward into the maw of the Yukon wilderness. But you and I can take a bicycle up there today, a motorized scooter. Whatever. It's still a difficult trip to make. I've done it 4 times and it's no joke even in a car. I thank the Corp of Engineers since I can't level a cement backerboard floor let alone grade a road through the wilderness and they made that road as unobtrusive as possible, respecting the land and honoring it. I think they knew how special it was and didn't blow up any mountains to make their work easier. It's a very hard road to drive so actually making it must've been mindblowingly hard.

The Mississippi levels rose so high, highest ever and threatened to flood an Illinois town of Cairo about 200 miles south of St Louis. So, the only option was to blow up a levee on the Missouri side so the water would drain west and not east. They did it the other day. Hell, they probably were the ones who built the levee in the first place. I admire their work because it's action that is going to be the difference when the shit goes down.

I'm divided because I suspect that we don't need to do more to protect the climate...we need to do less. Less driving, less buying, less eating, less killing. However; there is a happy medium between living like the Cherokee Indian circa 1802, dying of typhus at 28 and living like the replicant Rick Deckard in Los Angeles circa 2019 Blade Runner, and that happy medium is going to include the army corp of engineers. When Earth is uninhabitable, it will the the USACE that colonize another planet. Give them a job and they will find a way to make it work. Kenneth Lay and Bernie Madoff and Gordon Gekko are TOTALLY WORTHLESS ASSHOLES compared to engineers in the corp. Nothing will move without engineers and machinists but the way things are going nothing is going to live with them. So, something has gone haywire with the programming of the worker ant.

That sewing machine sound is my 1978 Vespa Ciao running. The tug is going south. I watched a Ken Burns doc. on Mark Twain. He was a riverboat pilot. He lived a ways north of here in Hannibal. That's about the only thing I like about Missouri.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.