06 October 2009

To a friend, our friends...

(Hi, thanks for breaking my 'writer's block', you...!)

This week has turned inward and 'past-word', thinking of nine fully-remembered years in the rolling, beautifully-wooded hillsides of western New Jersey, the friends that I'd left behind, extracted from a 'volatile' household, a pressure-cooker stirred by one person's alcohol and drug(s) abuse, emotional rages and, as the French say: 'conneries' (or 'idiotic behaviour')

That's enough on the negative...

Our neighbourhoods were safe, wooded, wet and wild: deer roamed throughout our woods, riders crossed boys' and girls' excursions through wooded paths, we romped through a National Historic Park featuring Revolutionary War cabins...

And, of course, we were 'Born in the Fifties'... (Police)

So many memories, of lakes, sports... we were a group of 20 boys, who used to go to Harding Township school before SIX AM, in the lovely months of April, May and June, to play baseball for two or three hours before school started... Touch football, soccer, and cycling to the 'Girls' Lake'... Mt Kemble.

Who said once, long ago: "Home - is somewhere to which you can never return..."?

This ain't home... a short, four++ minute opportunity for 'friends' and readers to sit back and let their ears enjoy the calm images taken from the bank of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva to the English world)...

moon dock clock and WAVES

009 (C) zenmud productions

Some of us were young rebels: this boy, 12 or so in 1969 or 70, was brought by Mom with a brother to see President Nixon leaving the local Morristown Airport... and she caught me flipping him off (a 'middle-finger' salute...): "You should respect the Office, even if you can't respect the man that holds it..."

Momma, I've tried, but some of them have made it so hard... Mr 'Evil Empire'... Mr. 'Jobs Jobs Jobs', Mr. 'Terr-wrist suiciders'... All drove me further away, once I'd left our happy hollows and gladed woods... our integrated High School,
MUCH different from a 'homogenous' primary school, where our basketball team lost (nearly always), our soccer team won (nearly always), and our baseball team batted .500... (in the standings, not in the box!).

1973, the summer of Watergate Hearings and the Watkins Glen concert, to which I hitchhiked with lost friend Eric... four weeks to the day before I abandoned my parents and became a one-boy 'Liberation Army', ready to wage war against antiquated Denver High School hierarchies.

We grew up between the Bay of Pigs and Disco, or between the Deaths of John, then Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the ending loss in the Vietnam War, which fortunately ended within days/weeks/months of this writer's perilous 18th birthday...

(I can do that... :-)

Winters spent in ski trips to Pennsylvania or New York, and a yearly blessing: a Valentine Boy was the only of four brothers, who was roasted at annual birthday parties in Denver or Vail, Colorado, as our annual school vacation coincided with said birthday, and two young brothers flew 'Friendly skies' to two older brothers, emigrants from Minnesota to Denver. If I am fortunate, someone will say "I remember! You came back from your first trip Sunburned, on crutches (broken ankle) and with your thumb in a cast (broken thumb first day...), and smiling!"

If I hadn't skied there four times, or if I hadn't moved to Denver at 16, I probably wouldn't have spent 13 years there, rafting in the summers, skiing in the winters, working in the evenings, dancing until the Tank-n-Tonics were sweated away each evening...

But digression is a bad habit...

Some of us were 'in the Band', at school, were this one was 'famous' for a series of 'sore lips' that prevented trumpet practice. The only song I remember that we played, was 'Exodus'... why block the rest of our repertoire? I remember the boys' Drum solos... they rocked on their individual snares.

We laughed about Laugh-in, launched over STAR TREK, and were dispersed before Saturday Night Live re-united us 'from New York'...

We were crowds who'd met to talk, boys and girls, up at the high-jump mats, or on the swings... and (should I?) were learning to kiss... or were dedicated pre-teen 'BF and GF' as skating partners, on the Silver Lake or New Vernon Pond... knitted mittens were one of two reasons I stopped playing hockey in our unprotected youth... (violent hip checks being the other...).

Banana bikes? Abbie Hoffman's 'Steal This Book' and the Whole Earth Catalogue... and Ken Kesey's fabulous LSD-driven 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'... which was so many light-years better as an Off-Broadway play, rather than a Hollywood movie that stole the plot and dropped half of the book's meaning in the editing-room trash... We were a crowd that went to the play, watching Chief Broom pushing his namesake across a non-dusty stage, while the speakers overhead 'told' us his biting pertinent thoughts...

How did the 'Machine' win? The world that began with the Summer of Love, Woodstock and the vibrant Vietnam War protest movement, died a soft and un-gentle death; Reaganism began the decade that followed deaths of Jimi, Janice and Jim, and Tommy Bolin, a fabulous Western guitarist that many never heard (but DID: His creativity dominated, for short periods of time, the music of Chick Corea, the James Gang (don't dwell on the hairstyles! heh heh) and Deep Purple, until he died shortly after producing his second solo album... after a post-concert party (fronting for Jeff Beck). As was 'heard' then, his autopsy showed 'traces' of six out of ten of the 'most popular' rec-drugs of the era.... it was evident from his music.

I first learned of him posthumously, although I'd probably not realized that I actually could have seen him many times in Denver... such is life. I found him through a close musician-friend from the Unirado of COLOVERSITY (our nickname for the Alma Mater). That was the year that I returned in a visit to my 'home'; it was hard to remember how the 'big roads' we cycled as children were actually scary narrow country lanes, the type that would make a Brit feel at home.

The exit, and the return, were painfully linked: I never really got over how the joys of 'privilege' were not strong enough to conquer the sad memories, of being a 'one-lad army' protecting Mom against a Big Man on alcohol, speed and barbiturates. A man who wouldn't hesitate to scream every filthy word on this Earth, if the garage wasn't swept, or the lawn un-mowed.

And v
isiting ZEN-filled friends was a most beautiful stroke to the ego, yet didn't quash the nausea that returned as I toured my 'grounds' the quite lane on which we lived, perched hillside between the Great Swamp of NJ and the tiny mountain ranges that ringed our villages: the Watchung 'Mountains' were some of those.... I only ever went 'home' once again, bringing my wife, to show her from whence I grew into the man she married (she took this shot, the year we met: that's STATE BRIDGE, the pilings of the first bridge built in Colorado over the mighty Colorado River: famous for being the railroad stop at which Teddy used to go bear hunting. Also famous are the dinosaur tracks that are 'up-river' about 7km from this location. The bridge united roads that led from Leadville or Glenwood Springs, to the north of the state, and especially Steamboat Springs. (The 'statute of limitations' is over, so I can tell you that what you cannot see in my hand is a zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz for sssssssssssssssss (some text missing).


This was a big weekend, full of memories and communion with a friend far away, while on my other blog, articles flew from the fingertips as a war re-emerges, between French anti-doping
Agency and lab chiefs, and the Union de Cyclisme Internationale, regarding the 2009 Tour de France.

Happily from the banks of Lac Léman,

a faithful writing friend....

___çç*******/ ZENmud \*******çç___

© 2009

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