Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wolf Quest Part IV

 I haven't been writing my Wolf Quest story and it's fading into my senile mental folder so I'm going to try again.

When I left you last I was leaving the West Coast...and I posted an ad trying to trade everything I owned in the van, thus abandoning the van, for a functioning motorcycle. I even tried to steal the motorcycle my buddy Jon had in The Bay Area but it had many troubles and it wouldn't even make it over the Sierras let alone go all the way to Baffin Island.
Composing The Wolf Polka

Fortunately, no one offered me anything for my van. All my tools. All my shit was included in the deal and no one wanted to take the plunge. So that forced me to do some hard thinking because economically I could not get from San Francisco to Labrador paying all the gas when it costs something like $2 to drive a mile and there were approximately 6000 miles between me and Labrador so that would be $12,000 in fuel alone not including food and wolf related propaganda. All van maintenance had to be postponed. This was really desperate because gas cost around $4.00 at this time and the van was getting about 6MPG. So you do the math. I tried to get rid of the van, I really did, but it was impossible. Like renting a washed up Haitian Hooker. So all I could do is drive East and hope for the best.

The trip from coast to coast, which was a savage journey into the depressed soul of mankind, introduced me to a gang of American characters that have their own stories woven into a broken tale.
I forget this guy's name...he was looking for utopia. He woke up with a tarantula in his sleeping bag.

As long as I was in my van then everyone was interested in talking about the fate of the Arctic Wolf. But beyond the realm of my van this topic was rarely dwelled on. If Germans are the adults of the world and Japanese are the Grandparents then Americans are the Teenagers, reckless, optimistic, smiling through storms, testing nuclear bombs that might, or might not, ignite the atmosphere. Americans lack of maturity is our greatest strength and also our greatest weakness. Though the road to Labrador was paved with vitriol and obstacles the general response to my wolf quest was that anything was possible..."go, Young Man, Sow your oats in this spoiled land so that un-poisoned fruit may one day grow....but, no, I can't spare a dollar."

Truck drivers and pimps, drug hustlers and utopia seekers, gas station attendants, undocumented fruit pickers, brewers. buskers and closet masturbators all made up the fabric of the blighted nation, woven together like a handloom silk shirt.

I earned money modeling ugly clothes for yard sales

I don't want to give the impression that I'm going to skip over this voyage across North America because this was far from the end of my journey. As I've hinted at, nothing went as planned. I was harassed non-stop by the police and highway patrol. I could not stop for five minutes without being frisked. The full-scale Police State is in effect, all undesireables are being pushed and taunted until they get stubborn and refuse to comply and then they are shot like dogs. I sensed this years ago in Santa Cruz and now it's nationwide. Of course if you play by the rules, shove the shit off your lawn, pay your water bill, piss in a toilet, then you will probably be ignorant of this underbelly of hate that your sheriff department is revealing. And your ignorance will sooth you and you will have no sympathy for anyone shot down in the street because CNN and FOX feed you the scripted excuses like cattle in a grain barn. They deserved it, they're thugs, they're liberals, they're rednecks, they're poor, they're black. There is always a good reason to get gunned down by Peace officers. Yes, keep telling yourselves that. It must be nice in that cloudless bubble you live in but Oggy does not abide by that kind of bullshit. If it's raining shit somewhere then I want to get dirty. There's a clandestine urban war taking place and I consider myself a combat journalist and that means I don't have fancy Press credentials because the urban war against the poor is not official, it's genocide authorized by state and federal agents and they've opted to eliminate any rebellion, starting with street people, poor, con-compliant. America, as I've said, plays a country that loves peace and freedom on Television but in real life it's pure gestapo tactics for anyone who steps out of line. The best protection of these fear mongers lay in the fact that no educated person in their right mind would ever dedicate their time to live amongst the downtrodden for long enough to see the trends that are really taking place, the rogue security branches, the off-the-books riot police, the trend toward orchestrated domestic street executions. It's a war and it's got all the nasty traits that wars have, deceit, lies, propaganda, bread and circus. Oggy's life is clearly out of line so I'm the wrench in the machine because I don't forget what I've seen and I can read these mayors and city managers like a refrigerator magnet. They don't fool me and their crimes will be documented. Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain: The wealthiest 85 people own more than the poorest 3.5 Billion.

So, I drove and drove, American towns glowed on the horizon and the people were insulated by their regional beliefs. I'm an outsider everywhere I go so a few pitchforks were dusted off to get me out of town. I don't mind. As long as I slept in the Flying J Truck Stop parking lot then I was OK. But try to see a city and I was risking arrest and wrongful conviction. This particular trip was sort of against the clock because I had to get to Ellesmere Island before Winter...and it was around October when I finally reached St. Louis where I did some day labor and musical engagements to save the money to get to the Northeast.

I was so broke I had to sell my color

I arrived in New England sometime in November. I dropped my 1974 Vespa Ciao moped in a basement because the single cylinder piston had finally worn out and I could only drive it by running along side and gunning the engine. It was rough and would do me no good on Ellesmere Island. I had no time to waste so I immediately drove north and told the border police my plan of driving to Labrador and taking a boat to Greenland and then to Ellesmere Island to save the Arctic Wolf, who was imperiled due to climate apocalypse. And the Border Police didn't even blink, he handed me back my passport and said "Welcome to Canada." This would be demonstrably different reception than I would get a year from then. He didn't give me a visa or stamp my passport or advise me that winter snow had already closed the road to Labrador. None of that so I drove on...

This is when I lost my gas cap and ended up at a French Pentacostal lumber mill/chicken farmer/ devout/junk yard owner who invited me back to dinner to preach, in French, about Jesus as his family of 7 French-Speaking children also preached about Jesus. It was about 5 degrees when I went to sleep, no heat, no stove, no sleeping bag, my worn shorts from Baja California still had sand in their pockets from the Pacific Ocean. And the radiator started leaking, and I parked in the walled Quebec City Fortress and considered turning around. But the wolf was too important, so I drove north from Quebec City. I had no video camera at this time to record footage of the moose and the park ranger I encountered. Nor do I have pictures of my tires, which I suspected were having problems since they were drifting all over the road, but when I finally inspected them about 300 miles past the last tire store I saw the steel radials shredding beneath badly misaligned tires, worn unevenly, rubber flying off, patches missing. They were from a Mexican junk yard, the wrong size, and now I knew why I'd gotten a bargain when I bought them after decades of them rotting in the Baja sun.

I could no longer keep the van going in a straight direction, one headlight broke, the radiator needed to be refilled daily, the transmission was making funny noises, I hadn't timed the ignition the entire time I owned it. And did I mention how cold it was in Northern Quebec in December? Freezing and snowing...with plain street tires and a Mexican Serape and polyester pants that looked like ironic hipster pajamas but had actually come from a vintage clothes store in St. Louis and offered the thermal protection equivalent to thin women's pantyhose. And my wolf quest was further undermined by the fact everyone spoke French. I didn't even know the word for Wolf in French and when I howled at the dinner table to describe my objective they thought I was possessed. How would you demonstrate that your were driving to Ellesmere Island to save the Arctic Wolf if you couldn't speak the language?

Temporary defeat finally was met sometime in December as I found myself driving down a frighteningly steep road with the gigantic St. Lawrence River stretched out in front of me and I wasn't sure I was going to stop in time and when I hit the brake they didn't really slow the van down but I was immediately forced to turn abruptly into oncoming traffic, and at the same time I was scratching the ice that had built up on the inside of the window and was still wrapped in all my clothes with socks on my hands and bottles of fresh urine tucked inside my shirt to keep me warm.

At that time I actually had no money. My credit card debt, I decided, would be immaterial when the apocalypse came, so I might as well max the card out in the name of the Arctic Wolf. I mean I had no cash or savings and was 38 years old with a 15 year old guitar as my most valuable possession, driving north to Labrador to take a boat to Ellesmere Island to raise awareness about the Arctic Wolf and I didn't know if the van would start or stop but I knew I needed 4 new tires, an alignment, a new radiator, extensive servicing/maintenance but Quebec City was the last inhabited area until Nuuk, Greeenland. I hated to give up but it was lunacy so I decided I would turn around and regroup in New England for the winter. Heck, I even told myself I would have time to recruit dedicated wolf crusaders...haha...and so I turned around and drove back South. This may appear to have been the right decision, but as should become this was a horrible decision because the trip had begun when I left Quebec City and by back-tracking innocently thinking I'd be back in 4 months, TOPS, not knowing that even though it wasn't terribly far, I would delay the quest for 19 months and those 19 months would generate more enemies than allies until I was only slightly better equipped to make the trip than I had been when I was already north of Quebec City in December of 2009. God, the hell and desperation I experienced in the following 19 months could never have been worse that what I would've dealt with if I had attempted to survive in Northern Quebec in 2009. I know this and so I must accept the lesson that my survival was at risk, but turning around and retreating to New England also put me at risk. The brave thing to do would be to find shelter in Quebec so that I could immediately continue the quest. By returning to New England I would be returning to a bleak wasteland of economic destitution. See, the grave depression started by the housing meltdown in 2008 finally spawned a river of tears and any company that was going to move to Vietnam to exploit Cambodian refugees for cheap labor took this chance to split. Yes, I went back to the United States but there were no red ribbon parades for my homecoming. In fact I was not even welcome at my old home and ended up trapped in a snowbound Laconia group home/halfway house. The brightest moment was getting a job at an aluminum heat sink plant. All the glory that had been my stoned Los Angeles daydream was thoroughly banished from my life during my time as an aluminum pizza baker. It was an incredibly bleak and vile job environment that could only be tolerated with the dull ache of hangover and heroin sweats, in fact breaking my spirit until only Scorpion Bowl madness would cool my forehead, vodka, crimping, tax desperation.

I'll get to those details in the next chapter, but I want to leave you for now with Oggy turning his back for the Winter on his friend the Arctic Wolf. Up until December 2009 I had lived in a buoyant fantasy where everyone had simultaneous orgasms and no one got pregnant. I was also optimistic that everything would be OK, the wolf would be OK, I only needed to push through all the obstacles. This optimism would be with me as I turned around. "I'll get a job for the winter, maybe a ski patrol or substitute music teacher. I've got skills. I built guitar effects pedals for 7 days a week for two years. I'll find work" I felt empowered up until December 2009. That was the beginning of a 19 month long torture march through a decimated economy, utterly abandoned by everyone, frozen, the van snowbound and undriveable, no jobs, no work, no money, no food, no rent, not a pot to piss in. I will get to those details in the next chapter, but the lesson here is that for 19 months it was a desperate fight to survive, and that had been caused by my flawed reasoning in northern Quebec that I might have a better chance at survival and preparation in New England. I submit to the Jury that this was pure fantasy as I have never belonged in pale homogenous New Hampshire, so it would be much more of an awful chamber of torture than a sanctuary...but I foolishly hoped I could prosper. HA! Prosper? No one prospers in New Hampshire, least of all poor people The liberal elite wipe their asses with rags and hand them out at Christmas as winter coats but the minimum wage was $6.75 and a gallon of milk soon became as dreamy a purchase as the kiss of a Mexican muchacha. The next chapter in this quest was a fierce fight for survival not of the wolf, but my own.

Here's a great song by the old drummer of The Band...kind of sums up my feeling.

Here are links to the installments of the Wolf Quest

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.