You think I responded?
Friday, October 01, 2010
WIERD AND WONDERFUL CHARACTERS OF EUGENE
MORE THAN SAN FRANCISCO OR NEW YORK---EUGENE OREGON HAS EMBRACED ITS ECCENTRICS---accepting them as part of the fabric of society---framing friendly policy and accomodation to the extent it's possible. I plan to show you lots of them over the next few blogs and my interaction with them. This is Nancy--an old friend and fellow RVer who just happened to be passing through town from a summer long tour of Alaska. Knowing she is an intrepid hiker--I recruited her for a full days walking odyssey around Eugene. She's agreed to catch on film some of my interactions.
Drummers ---quite good actually--drumming for money--note the donation cap--on this lovely pedestrian and bike bridge across the Willamette River. (one of 4 such spans)
And notice this--a hippy (I presume) hammock camping in a very sweet-smelling spot.
And 20 feet away--two more--roughing it on the concrete.
In a nearby park--a camera crew---they want my opinion as to the 3 top issues facing humanity.
You think I responded?
You think I responded?
Of course I did! Telling the world that Overpopulation,Islamic fundamentalism (and other culture clashes) and degraded environment were the three biggies. I elaborated a bit on the dreadful effects of religious pretensions to certainty.
See that big backpack? It's a cross that the homeless have to bear---carrying around their heavy lifestyle----that is---everywhere but in Eugene---The missions here will give him a secure locker for his stuff---a day room for lounging in--television, magazines--a free haircut, showers, food and a bed at night. I quizzed the mission manager and learned that these composite services cost a mere pittance. It is a self-righteous and hateful spitefulness that elsewhere denies these minimal comforts to our fellow human beings. They really do have something to contribute if we can artfully elicit it. And even if they don't ---needless suffering is a scandal to all who allow it.
My second performance of the morning---they are pushing a street newspaper--written and sold by street people. They needed to hear the golden words of Thoreau --the quinticential non-conformist---celebrating the choice to live simply and free. I told them--they paid rapt attention and applauded afterwards. Here's the quote---my favorite:
"As I was bending my steps again toward Walden Pond--my haste to catch fish--to wade in abandoned meadows, sloughs, bogholes and forlorn and savage places---appeared for an instant trivial to me, who had been sent to school and college. But as I ran down the hill toward the reddening west, with the rainbow over my shoulder--my good genius seemed to say: Go--hunt and fish---far and wide---day by day---further and wider----rest thee by many brooks and hearthfires without misgiving----remember thy creator in the days of thy youth--rise thee from care before the dawn and seek adventures---- let the noon find thee by other lakes--- and the night overtake thee everywhere at home. There are no wider fields than these---no worthier games that may here be played----Grow wild--according to thy nature--like these sedges and canes--(which will never become English hay) And let the thunder rumble---what if it threatens to ruin the farmers crop--that's not its errand to thee-----Take shelter under a cloud--while others flee to carts and sheds.---
Let not-- to get a living-- be thy trade but thy sport-----Enjoy the land--but own it not. It is lack of imagination that keeps people where they are---buying , selling, consuming---living their lives like serfs."
Brought a song to mind: "On a summer's day in the month of may---a burley bum come a hiking----down a shady lane neath the sugar cane--he was looking for his liking---as he strolled along--he sang a song--of a land of milk and honey--where a bum can stay for many a day--and he won't need any money............
An earlier engagement---I include because it was intense and enjoyable---He had escaped the irrationality of Mormonism---told me that no sane person would believe their ridiculous tale of golden books and personal visits by God. Said that the attrition rate--those who leave the church is an astonishing 25%---and that's why they must keep on pumping (via missionaries)to sustain themselves.
This was also an earlier engagement----met this guy late at night--walking drunkenly down the street----on a whim, I asked him to play a song for me--right there--right now. He hesitated--and I said---"if you become famous--this moment will be part of your legend---and I will have a picture to prove it happened." He gathered himself and played a song for me. We both went away richer for the exchange.
RANDY PROMISES----YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET: I promise to show you a mind blower--tomorrow or soon. It's tricky--- balancing living and talking about living---but I enjoy the challenge. By far--the most interesting interview of the day was with my friend who recounted her adventures in Alaska.