Patrick Dodd

///The Word of Dodd

Songwriting is Work.

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Writing is work.  Moreover, the better you write the harder the work.  I worry as an artist when people try to convince young artist that writing is easy.  If it was the people who say things like that would be making their living selling songs, and almost universally when you examine the person who is saying that writing is easy, you will note that they do not make their living doing it.  Almost all art forms look easy when someone who has spent their life in the honest pursuit of something performs them.  All it takes to find out how truly difficult any art form truly is, is to attempt it.  There is one other way, though I am probably going to piss off people who don’t take it seriously but for the sake of the young lets take off the gloves and step into the ring.   (I was just told by someone who understands public debate much better than I shall ever understand it that I will put my friends on the spot if I write what I am about to write, if that is so I can only ask forgiveness and say that I have spent my life trying desperately to pass on what meager gifts I have been blessed with and I will not allow someone to tell young writers they do not have to work at their craft, and I know of no-one who works harder than my songwriter friends; take David Rovics, for example,  examination of nearly any song David writes reveals the depth of understanding that someone like David brings to his task.  Let us face it the man works harder than anyone except the late Howard Zinn at making certain his history is honest.  Then you have the honest and obvious work of melody and verse, which is both admirable and astounding in its consistence and it, depth, traits that only come with work.  David, like me has spent his life in pursuit of the unattainable.  We spend hours sweating over melody lines, endlessly practicing and revising just to make certain your fingers will be in the demanding place you order them to be at just the right moment, all to place your melody in just the right way so that people will remember them with little effort on their part.  Then there are the endless rep’s you must endure as you attempt to both find the poorly written line and correct your failing.  I often perform songs I wrote one day that night or the next day, but I have usually spent ten or twelve hours on the song by then, which is something I will confess at sixty is extremely physically painful.  In addition, those who know me know that early public performance is part of my editing process; the song you hear in the beginning is never the finished product.  I need the audience reaction to tell me if I got it right.  If I do not get the reaction, I was after I go back to work until I get it right.  Work, work, work, that is simply the name of the story.  You are only as good as the sweat you apply to your task.  People who don’t work at songs, well I didn’t start this odious discussion, but young songwriters are a big part of my life and I will not let them be lied to by someone who is throwing sour grapes at those who play by the rules of their union, attempt to leave the world a better place, and keep their noses to the grind stone, so let me put it this way; songs don’t sell unless they have been edited and edited over and over again.  In other word they person worked to get it right.  Thus, people who do not work hard do not sell songs, they may sell a song, since anyone can catch lightning in a bottle once, but to make a living at it is something else entirely and like any other task to do it well takes work, dedication, and intellectual and artistic honesty.  If it is not right, you do not let yourself get away with it.  I work with young songwriters as often as I get the chance and I count those hours as some of the most stimulating and rewarding of my day, but I will not be dishonest with them and tell them they are not joining a profession that is difficult in many, many ways.  The travel is brutal, the odds are long, and most importantly the competition is working like a dog to write something that is as good as they can possibly make it.  Either you work your ass off, most often for years while no one notices or supports you, or you stand on the sidelines in some artistic backwater and spout things that are simply untrue concerning any art form, or any of life’s important or stimulating work.  You do not save the world by working a little bit, you do not change a great wrong by committing yourself a on a once over basis, and you do not achieve the level of perfection that you are capable of without giving it your all and your complete honesty.  Michael Angelo once said that he carved an elephant by finding a chunk of marble and knocking off everything that was not an elephant.  Funny, but that is all it was intended to be.  If you think it is easy, grab a hunk of marble and try.  Moreover, if you think song writing is easy, take an unedited song, and a well edited and professional version of the same song and see which one turns heads in somewhere like Nashville and Austin.  Nuff said, and I am certain enough people pissed off.  Then again education is always de-centering, and the job of the elder has nothing to do with being liked; it has to do with being honest. 

DEMOCRACY FIRST!

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   The fascist corporate intervention of Big Pharma, Hospitals, A.M.A., and insurance industry in the health care reform effort has made it emphatically clear that recovering our Democracy must precede any other efforts at progressive reform.  The American public has made it clear that they want affordable, accessible, quality health care.  The politicians are giving us unaffordable, inaccessible, poor quality health care.  We the people will be paying more, be able to afford less, and can expect no improvement in quality of health care given the current health care reform proposal. 
With current reforms, politicians receiving big bucks from medical industry corporations will force Americans to give big dollars to insurance companies for inferior coverage.   Current reform will not guarantee these insurance companies will keep premiums, deductibles, or co-pay rates at affordable levels.  Our health insurance premiums may well exceed our mortgage payments.  There is no guarantee that you will not pay in and then have benefits denied.  Restrictions against denials will be fazed in at best years from now, providing enough time for further revisions that will leave us with the mandatory payments/taxation with no effective (accessible and affordable) access to care.  Given the way things have gone so far, and the reasons they have gone the way they have, leaves us with no reason to believe that “reconciliation” efforts with  operate to serve the public interest. 
    There is no reason to expect that any other effort to serve the public interests over corporate profits will fair any better than health care reform.  Rather than health care, we get mandatory health insurance.  As went health care reform, so we can expect every effort at reform to go so long as corporate interests shares greater influence over our “elected” officials than the public interests. 
Without the influence of corporate interest, changes such as health care reform would serve the interest of the voting public, rather than the campaign financing corporations.  If political campaigns were publicly funded, and Corporations were not afforded personhood deserving of “free speech” status, we could get health care reform that serves the interest of public health rather than corporate profits.  If corporations were not provided the rights of individuals, and if individuals were held responsible for the truth of what they say, lies and propaganda would not dominate our elections rather than substance.  If we return the voting machines and sue the manufactures, and make hand counts a constitutional requirement, then we might manage to recoup our democracy, or government by and for the people. 
     Until then, we can expect every effort at reform to take the same path we have seen with health care reform.  Something that as a liberal I can no longer support as it has evolved. 

You can start by going to http://www.movetoamend.org/ where they give you many ideas, chances, and means to take action.

The Vertical Range War: Fear and Transgression at the Hobson Horn

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Fear and Transgression at the Hobson Horn The Byzantine madness that passes for forest management in these the final troubled days of our short-lived empire is enough to drive a man to cynicism and strong drink. Those were the thoughts racing through my fevered brain as I barreled headlong down a dark gut tightening mountain road after having survived one more supply run to the hearty souls maintaining the line in defense of mother earth at the place the powers that be have named Hobson’s Horn. It had been another night jitterbugs and jangles, you know, hugs and hellos tinged with fear and loathing. That kind of happy to be where you are, but unable to stop looking over your shoulder in the dark for the steps you’re only hearing in your mind sort of night; that kind of night that seems to happen way to often when good Americans dare to raise their voices against the powerful and mad. Rumored threat and actual threat flowed like thick wine around the meeting place, mixing and mingling with the light of the nearly full moon. Everyone on the hill was a seasoned campaigner, we all knew the drill; you laugh off the rumored threat, no matter how it scares you, plan for the known problems, no matter how crazed and impossible they may be, and hope like hell you get through the next few days without the other side going completely bat shit and doing something truly desperate and dangerous. There are never any guarantees when you work against the weirdness that is this great land of ours. And nobody on the hill was the type to kid their self. We had arrived at camp late because as usual the directions had been forced through many layers of secrecy. They were, to put it bluntly, the usual jumbled mess. Following the convoluted ramblings that had come to us on several strips of paper to anything like a real destination had proven maddening, and I had been reduced to driving up and down myriad twisting mountain roads sweating out every cop car that passed, looking for a spot I was unable to make out even when I was standing smack in front of it with my guide. Some things about the revolution never change. The folks in power abuse the innocent, attempting to discourage courageous resistance, and the good folks on the side of revolution and progress try to keep their plans for action secret until it’s to late for the forces of the dark side to stop them. I keep trying to tell the young ones that I am old, heavily medicated and easily confused; I need simple instructions that I can follow like breadcrumbs on the ground. But it would seem the warriors of camp “Whatever they decide to name it today”, are kept entirely too busy staying one step ahead of the government bulls - in this incarnation Freddies’s or L.E.O.’s - hell bent on pursuing them through the forest as if they were Sandanista’s on their way to blow up a power station, to worry if one old man spends a few hours driving around in the woods trying desperately to ascertain the meaning of a decommissioned road. I probably would have given up if the people we were bringing supplies to were guilty of more than camping on an undeveloped campsite, and trying to stop the rape of an ecosystem we simply can’t afford to lose. Like I said strange weirdness in the woods. Hobson’s Horn. The name may, or may not, live long in herstory. I mean lets get real here, who the hell knows if anything will survive the coming cataclysm? But if anything does survive, it will be because something that resembles a sane ecological consciousness has survived the shit storm the rich and powerful seem so intent on calling down on all our heads. In that world, a world most people only dream about, a world these kids fight for everyday, the story of the defense of the Horn will be told round campfires for a long time. But, that’s only if we win, and sometimes, late at night when I’m far from the mountain, hunkered down over my computer blinking away what passes for darkness in the neon madness that is urbansville I wonder seriously about that winning. But that’s only down here. And maybe that goes a long way to explaining why I keep looking for excuses, even smuggling to go up there. Maybe it’s because up there, where your mind splits it’s time between big trees and even bigger sky, up there where the eyes of the people you are trying to help shine with a faith they are more than willing to put to the test, up there, I can still believe anything is possible. And maybe believing, even for a moment is worth something. Maybe everything. The story of the Biscuit Salvage War is best told as it happened on the ground, a series of protracted battles that have had at least to date there are no real winners. Even the people who think they are winning, maybe who even look like their winning to you, are losing, for all of us, in a much larger reality. The people who believe they are winning, think that by extracting vast sum of wealth from the trees of the wilderness they will be able to elevate their personal status in the far away lands where they make their corporate homes. This is the mad hatter mindset of the lumber giants headquartered in Georgia. They are insane. They are a waste of the good scotch they drink and should be run out of the village by old women bearing sticks. You must believe, innocent reader, these men have the plague. They have reached a state of happy disconnection that allows them to think that leaving their children and grandchildren a planet where the great old forests are nothing more than pictures called up on a computer screen they will be leaving them a good place to call home. These supposedly powerful men live on a totally interconnected planet and see no farther than their next new car, and the next newer, more exclusive home. Were they not such powerful fools they might well be pitied, but their power, and societies foolish tendency to elevate them to God like status regardless of their crimes against us, or our planet, means that we have to fight these greedy soul eaters. We must fight them in the streets. We must fight them in the courthouses. We must fight them on the web, in the coffee houses, in our living rooms, meeting halls, covens, and mess halls. And most assuredly and perhaps most importantly dear reader, we must fight these men in the forest. This story happens in a place where for the most part names hold little meaning, but, Hobson’s Horn for good or ill is a very real place. Hobson’s Horn is the name of a timber sale, or so-called, “salvage sale”. You see good reader, the government thinks it has found something nobody wants in the forest, so, naturally the thing to do is to sell it to the highest bidder and try to recoup your loses. That’s what one of them actually told me when I ask him why they were selling our trees’. (Now, before I describe my response, I think it is time for me to include a little disclaimer: I am not a member of any of the fine organizations or groups of individuals that are banding together to try to stop this madness, though I have, and until I am stopped by this fascist government, will continue to aid them whenever and wherever I can. I attend almost no meetings, planning sessions or committees. I am a half mad old man and must stand apart because of my annoying habit of reacting like a crazed animal when confronted with most any “group think”. End disclaimer.) So, when this idiot in awful green glosses over the fact that the forest itself has always been in great need of the trees he so callously called salvage, and that by acting as if he has found something of absolutely no value, and is thus perfectly within his rights to sell whatever he chooses for a few million dollars, further glosses over the fact that he is committing a crime against nature and therefore all of us, I went from simmer to boil in 30 seconds flat. I thought about his statement reasonably for all of two seconds and then went bug nuts on him. I have always admired the calm collected responses of the Buddhist and half Buddhist that populate hippie politics; but man I was raised in the mean streets, and inner city politics are like inner city police violence; very over the top. I began to hiss and drool. My body twisted, and my hands began to form strange spells shapes in the closing space between our bodies. The hair on the dread headed hippie on my left began to stand straight out like she was being exposed to bad static. Weird shit hung in the air, man. I began a long rambling insult loosely centered on his astounding ignorance, even for a man lost in the woods let alone one employed in them. It was an evil rant, children, a dangerous diatribe filled with half-truths about illegal congress with forest creatures and whole truths about what happens in hell to people who mouth platitudes for fascists. Old women cringed and innocent children stood slack jawed. Several well-centered folks tried to pry me off my prey, but it was like trying to stop battery acid with butter gloves. I mean the smell of burning flesh was everywhere. The entire tone of the event, so carefully choreographed by both sides was brought crashing down in a mere instant. All in all the kind of political moment I always look back on and smile; twisted wreck that I am. But all that was at the beginning, at the Green Bridge. Maybe you know, and maybe you don’t know, about the Green Bridge. I mean the place has already becoming one of those entry points to legend that things like that become. People look at each other differently if they were there. The Bridge was the first battle in this ongoing war to stop the madness that is the largest single logging sale in modern history. For weeks a gathering of brave souls turned away from the siren song of everyday life and stood in defense of something vanishing and precious. They gathered in the cold morning dark a met head on the bulls and the loggers the bulls were trying to shepherd like wrecking balls among the helpless trees. Morning after morning these brave few threw their bodies - and the occasional boulder, log, or old red truck – into the road trying to stop the slaughter, if only for a few hours. Barricades were broken and hauled away, built again and broken again; bodies were drug away in cuffs, jailed, and threatened, only to lead more people to the bridge the next morning, where again they would brave the fog and the cold, finally making the decision that at least in their lives--enough had come to enough. It’s one of those places that didn’t alter the final ugly outcome of that particular heinous plan; I mean it’s hard for mere caring, loving people to thwart plots hatched so far away by faceless greedy fat cat who’ve probably never seen a tree they wouldn’t devour for profit. But the Bridge was one of those moments that committed, cemented and changed forever an entire group of people. They began as a loose coalition of resisters, but by the time the stand off ended, when the bulls closed the gate to the forest and locked us out, those who had stood together, and fought side by side against overwhelming odds and overpowering resources at their own personal Alamo were each marked in her or his own way. Lots of strange magic; lots of deeply changed people. You can see it in the way we look at each other. Something haunted, yet precious passes between us. We fought together. We lost together. And there we buried our greatest teacher. But that’s another campfire kids, and another story. That was the Green Bridge. This is the Horn. There our enemy began to go crazy. Here he is totally bug nuts and beginning to act like it. To be continued....

Vertical Range Wars Part II

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Ups and Downs On the Yellow Brick Road Here’s how it starts: I’m carrying a load of supplies and one passenger up the mountain; its late, almost sunset. It’s been a good run; the kind of run you can almost convince yourself is simply a nice refreshing drive in the hills. So why are my hands shaking? Why is the wheel slick in my sweaty palms? Suddenly, on the spookiest part of the trip, a one lane road with mountain on one side and Oh-My-God-how-far-down-does-that-go on the other; a road so twisted you get cotton mouth around every other hair pin, there, maybe fifty yards down the road, I see it. It’s stopped, lying almost hidden in its own dust, like the steel skeleton of some science fiction whale carcass. The sight makes my bladder squeeze down so hard I have to bite my lip to keep from messin’ my upholstery. My passenger begins to mutter something that sounded like a Wicca rosary, but I’m way too preoccupied to make it out. She falls quickly silent and we’re both left gap jawed and staring at the giant monster now coming slowly, irresistibly, toward us. On the front is a banner that reads “Oversized Load”; I giggle insanely at the thought that I’ve never seen a more appropriate missive. With no time to think I react instinctively praying that I’m right. I gun the Jeep and dive straight for the only semblance of straightaway I can see, slow to a crawl, and pull hard toward the Oh-My-God side of the road. I can see from the corner of my eye my passenger has taken to staring straight down to avoid even a chance glance out the window; I think it is better that way. I put the brakes on only after feeling soft, uncertain ground under my outside tires; the jeep settles in, no choice but to wait for fate to sort it all out. The trucker, who I can now see clearly, has a cocky evil sort of grin plastered on his face, the kind of grin some men get when too much testosterone gets mixed with a crazy sort of challenge, the kind of challenge only a suicidal, or in my case, half crazed maniac would lay down. From the look in his eyes I can tell I may have made the wrong wager; this man may just be crazier than I am, and I’m certified. But I’m not thinking about that now, I can’t think of anything except the massive vehicle crawling toward us like an Imperial Cruiser from Star Wars. As it approaches, the oversized banner flaps and I’m struck with the insane vision of the bull stealing the red cape and waving it at the dazed bullfighter as he lumbers toward him. The driver pulls to a stop in front of me, almost like he’s giving us a last chance to get out while the getting is still good. The crazed look in my eye must have let him know we were declining his offer, because, wearing his evil grin stuck like stone, he moves to hug the mountain as closely as he can and without a word begins to slide past us at a pace significantly beyond my comfort. My passenger reflexively drops into a duck and cover position leaving me to stare out the window alone as the enormous machine slowly rumbles by. I have an insane urge to moon the driver, but I’m afraid it might push my passenger, or him, right over the edge, and over the edge was not the place my passenger, or I, wanted brought up at that moment. Thus, I’m reduced to rolling an unlit smoke in my hand and wondering if my knees will support my weight when this thing passes so I can smoke it, or if I’ll get a chance to light it at all. The trailer moves closer and closer as it glides by and I know in my heart this bozo doesn’t have the room to make it. Suddenly it’s D-Day; there’s no room at all between the vehicles. Still, the oversized monster moves forward without stopping. I know this is it and I try to scream something insane at the driver, but I can no longer find my voice. Suddenly it’s too late… And just as suddenly, I awake. As I sit up on the side of the bed, sweating even in the cool of the night air, desperately hoping there’s something at hand to wake me the rest of the way up; I keep telling myself that that didn’t happen today, that was another trip. Let it go; it was days ago. Let it go old man; let it go. Focus on today, I think, today is going to be a better day. Today the forces of good will prove the stronger. Today there will be high times on the mountain; big magic and bad craziness are set to duke it out deep in the Siskiyous. Today promises to be a day when polar opposite energies will struggle like hot oil and cold water in the high country air; mismatched lovers caught in a chance meeting on the street after the ugly end of a short and sour relationship. It promises to be a day that will not disappoint. A day of dogfights and astral portents, high spells and dirty low down insults, all rolled up in a shiny ball reflecting the struggle for the upper hand here on the front lines of the battle for the soul of the planet. It promises to be a moment straight out of some warped surrealist theater when Starhawk, wise counselor to generations of Witches, comes head to head with the bull’s security guard at the barricade. Mother Theresa meets Bigfoot. It will surely be a sight to warm an old pagans heart, imagine it kiddies, two dozen Witch’s and more, chanting and dancing, pitting mighty mojo against the shriveled soul of a security guard strapped up so tight with his guns and mean dog he has to disarm to defecate. A strange twisted scene that promises to make me think about flashbacks and what my doctor in the seventies told me about early senility and hallucinogenics. As I think over the possibilities I am struck with an overwhelming urge to just give in to the whole damn image, like a bad trip you just have to ride out. A scene where Warriors and Witch’s fade away into the scariest forest in Oz with Glenda the good Witch their only guide and protector. Harry Potter got nothing on these good folks. But then the feeling passes and I’m left thinking that hey, this is the Horn, the fight where anything can, and probably will, happen, and, all in all, I have to say it should be a pretty good day on Weirdsville mountain. But I didn’t come to tell you about the Witch’s. I’m certain the Witches can tell their own story better than this broken down, cynical old smuggler. Let me instead tell you a little bit about camp “Oh my God, how Far up that Hill Is This Place”, my collective name for the endless camps that have come and gone here at the Horn. Here at the Horn, you see, campsites rise and fall like governments in a Banana Republic. It’s mostly because of a twisted game of hide and seek the protesters are forced to play with the Freddie’s and the L.E.O.’s: the forest defenders move camp in the dead of night, only to rise in the wee hours of the morning to the sight of a Freddie wandering amongst their sleeping forms. They move again. After each move, they have a few days, sometimes very few, before their new hiding place is uncovered and they are left with no choice except to begin the play again; the game goes on. Twisted stuff on more than one level. Now remember, a lot of what I’m relating here is the way it was before the closure. Not that things have gotten better since the Freddies closed the woods, in fact, the real truth is that after the closure the crazy factor went up instead of down. You know, mad dogs accompanied by guards more bloodthirsty than the animals frothing by their sides. But, even before the closure the campsites were Spartan to the max, spread out for miles with only their ruggedness in common. It’s been a hardtack series of camps ladies and gents. Camps that have been the polar opposite of the camp at the Green Bridge. Here every damn walk seems to go uphill; there we were nestled in an emerald jewel on the banks of the beautiful Illinois River; close to parking, close to town, fighting a battle that allowed us to commute. Here, by the time you walk from the kitchen to the work site you’ve already worked up an appetite; there, a professional chef often catered the camp. In fact, the Green Bridge Camp was the only place I have ever eaten Vegan cooking that I liked. Vegan cooking normally makes me want to clean out my mouth with a stick, gargle copious amounts of cheap booze and rub raw meat on my tongue, but this stuff was really quite tasty. I hardly suffered any carnivorous impulses at all while I scarfed it down. The camp at the Green Bridge served as a wonderful base camp, part staging ground, part classroom, and part meeting place for the concerned. It attracted Earth Firsters, townies, environmental scientists, responsible “natural selection” hands-off wilderness loggers, and the merely curious and fretful. People who would have perhaps never thought of going miles for a fight, suddenly found the front lines of a crucial battle practically right out side their door. At the Green Bridge Camp there was time for long rap sessions each night where everyone had a chance to air their feelings and fears; a place where bonds were formed that are even now proving to be trustable and lasting. All in all, the Green Bridge camp was one of the more pleasurable campsites I have ever attended. Of course, there were the small inconveniences concerning the bulls hauling you or your friends off to jail before sunup every other morning, and some morning’s we had to take the expectable ass kicking, but hey, every neighborhood has its downers. But, that was the Green Bridge, a place that, for all the arrests and hassles, seems somehow peaceful and distant from here at the Horn. Like that was the Tunnel of Love, and this is the Roller coaster from hell. This is the ride where the grin on the ticket takers face makes you nervous without knowing why, and the last thing he tells you as you slide into the darkness is: “hold on tight children, this is where the ride gets interesting”. You get the feeling that the camps of the Horn have been to the Green Bridge camp what crossing the Sahara is to crossing the park for a picnic by the lake. I mean, the squeamish definitely need not apply. In this place supreme physical challenges mix daily with high doses of physical sacrifice. No endurance athlete in any sport demands more of themselves than the citizens of Free State at the Horn. Here, in this place where only the committed and somewhat mad dwell, hard physical work and a lean dumpster/donated diet turns the body to pure muscle covered by only by the sparsest layer of flesh. Those hardy few who had the inner fire to be stick it out long enough to be considered longtimers showed the unmistakable signs of protein deprivation. They have literally become spooks in the night–Casper the grimy ghost and friends. The Horn has been a place where, by some twisted magic of the Gods, the paths all seem to go straight uphill. Here, help has been far removed from just around the corner, and sometimes the only people with transportation are the people on the other side. Here, every act of resistance must be constructed out of materials on site, and the willing hands of the campers are often the only tools they have to hold back an enemy waiting to overpower them with bulldozers and hoists. Here in the heat of summer many of the campsites have been over a mile from water, and a site that lasts beyond a few days is a rarity. Here physical exhaustion is the norm. I’ve sat around campfires in the evening here at the Horn, eating with the campers after one of my runs in what they call the Revolution Taxi, and with very little convincing I would have sworn to God I was eating with front line troops from some long ago war. A conflict where the irregulars went to battle wearing the cloths on their backs, and those who returned could be marked in a crowd by the thousand mile stare in their eyes, and the grime on their limbs and faces that only long months of desperate struggle grinds into a body. But there is something else about the Horn. Something every resister should know. It’s something that goes beyond the long hikes, beyond the intimidating drive, beyond even the physical demands and deprivations, you see, there’s something sinister about the Horn. Being here, and listening to people talk about their experiences, I’ve gotten the distinct feeling that at the Horn, not only the less hearty need not apply, but the fearful and easily intimidated should probably take a pass as well. Because here at the Horn the rules of civilized behavior apply about as much for the loggers as they did for white supremacist during the civil rights movement. Here what passes for law enforcement turns its back at convenient moments, such as the loggers verbally harassing, or physically intimidating a protester or innocent bystander. Here the bulls threaten camp supporters while watching the other side bulldozes in the supporter’s car. Here, the norm is illegal arrests, intimidation tactics, threats and abuse. Here, logging company’s find employment for the sadistic creatures prone to creeping about in the night, dog by their side, hunting for “hippies” in the woods. For what? Protecting the machines owned by men who live far away; fat cats happy as hell to pit the guard against the protesters so they can exploit the security guards in the same way they exploit the forest? Maybe the guard gets something out of this, some dark sick gut level sort of rush. I don’t really know, I tried to ask him, but it seems he is about as fond of interviews as our loving commander in chief. But what troubles me most is the fact that since the closure our young warriors have found them selves up against the oldest fascist trick in the book: mind games. At this site Psy-Op rumors are released as often a Presidential denials. Around here a new and evermore threatening rumor seems to crop up every other day. My favorite, and my personal nominee for mind f**K of the season award was the one that had the Governor calling out the National Guard to surround the tree set, thus keeping the evil and dreaded night warriors of the chuck wagon from running supplies to the person at the top of the tree. (It’s odd though, I personally got a much bigger laugh out of it than the Governor’s office or the National Guard Commander seemed to when I got behind some cheap scotch and called them to confirm or deny the rumor. Were they in cahoots with the Bush’s Forest Service and logging companies? Did they intend to use taxpayer money to surround a tree? It was a moment filled with many denials, many: “Oh my God, we would never consider such a thing.” Maybe it was the way I worded the question. Maybe I might have left out the part about the wrath of the people rising up like a righteous tide and drowning the greedy and wicked. People can be so touchy about things like conspiracies and plots). That’s the way the days and nights pass here at the place we call the Horn; attack dogs and late night gunplay; threats and ugly acts. I guess its like the good book says folks: wars and rumors of wars. Some of the folks in my camp think that this rise in the level of lawlessness is a reaction to the amount of money that the protests are costing the state and the companies trying to cut the trees. My personal theory is a little different: I think that the powers that be think they have the Earth Firsters, their few supporters, and anyone else foolish enough to get in the way of the jack-boots loose in the forest, caught, a long way from help. In other words, they have them all to them selves. I think Freddie thinks that nobody in the world is going to give a tinkers damn if they need to rough up a few scraggly looking kids to get the harvest in on time. It’s the oldest range war rule in the book: you do what it takes to get done what the big man wants done. I mean everybody understands the cost of doing business right? So there it is children: uniformed lions and tigers and bears (oh my) loose in the forest, good witch’s casting protection spells, physiological mind games, selective law enforcement, selective protection--all the classic elements of an old fashion American range war. On one side progress is measured in wilderness conquered, while just across the barricade or high up in a tree stands and sit the preservationists, those who believe that progress is better measured in wilderness spared. Someone commented that this all reads like a twisted Greek tragedy, my first thought was I must have screwed up, because it should read like an American tragedy. But remember my despairing reader, not all sad stories end badly, and this will be a long war. And besides, in the end the meaning of life really boils down that for which you are willing to sacrifice. You’ve heard it before: it’s a question of which master you choose to serve. For some people, that means accumulated toys obtained through a lifetime of careful (or not so careful) financial planning; for some it is the adulation of the masses; for others it is life itself. This, in the end, is the simple story of a group of people who have not only decided that the salvation of a planet is a thing they are willing to make sacrifices for, but that suffering for the sake of right is itself beautiful. No attachment to the outcome, only to the process. I guess that’s why beneath the ground in layers of sweat and dirt, I always seem to sense a layer of nobility; something that goes beyond whether they win or lose. Maybe its the beauty of finding something that is pure and noble in a world that has gone so terribly wrong on so many important levels. Perhaps that’s why, for me, there is something compelling that haunts these campfires. Hopelessly out gunned, constantly harassed, lacking the basic comforts of life that you and I, sitting here reading the news in our comfortable homes consider necessary to making life tolerable; these young women and men continue their valiant resistance as if it’s just another day in the woods, just another day in the life. Determined to fight like Gandhi, bearing malice toward none, they demand the absolute of them selves, and by so doing accomplish the unimaginable. Besides, every time I go up into the woods, only to find a gaping hole in the forest compliments of the people you and I hired to protect them; I can’t help but wonder how many holes my grandchildren will find when they grow up, or if they will find a forest at all. Maybe that’s what pushes me to load the car and drive up the mountain one more time, regardless of what spooky shit is coming down the hill to meet me. It’s that sure and certain knowledge that what has started in these quiet mountains is far from over; far from settled. So keep a backpack stuffed and strapped up in your closet fellow babies, you never know when a small mad voice in your head will begin to whisper that there’s a road trip in your future, and that even a hopeless fight is better than no fight at all.

Vertical Range Wars Part III

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Vertical Range Wars Part III: Or: When did the revolution sober up? To glean a deeper understanding of the blathering that follows truth seekers, you would do well to understand a little bit about two American subsets: smugglers and hobos. Both are global groups, but have in this case delightful all American traits that make them extra special. Our smuggling lesson, like all advanced classes on the subject, begins at one of the tombs to the Unknown Smuggler. There are several such shrines hidden around this great land; caves, safe houses, hidden and seldom-occupied back rooms that are only accessible via an uninviting back alley. This particular shrine lies half way up, and, oh say, 200 yards into the heart of a mountain side somewhere in the deeps of the forest in Oregon. So trim your wicks, duck your heads, and keep your eyes peeled for bats, the tomb, the shrine and your education await. You see truth seeker, hidden deep within this dusty catacomb, safe from the prying eyes of a non-believing world; unavailable to ex-partners, and tax collectors, tended sporadically by the modern band of gypsies who are political smugglers, lies the Rosetta Stone of smuggling. Do you see it? Don’t worry, first time non-smugglers are bound to overlook. See, there it is, where I’m pointing, it’s that old piece of wood over in the corner propped up on a pile of dirty backpacks surrounded by an altar of old empty booze containers (hey, you keep your shrines and we’ll keep ours alright). Written upon that hallowed stone – which in this case is the back of an old peach crate somebody light fingered off a train and fortuitously left behind – are words that strike to the heart and soul of even the most jaded political smuggler. The words were, according to legend, left behind by one of the patron saints of political smuggling in North America. I don’t personally know much about this person, but legend has it that he, or she, was the first to find this hide-a-way in the mountain, now finding a new hiding spot is, in our line of work, not that big of a deal. But, this smuggler left behind the bulk of the liquor you see strewn about, and trust me, if you want to get your sorry ass elevated in the smuggling world leaving behind several cases of hooch isn’t a bad start. Of course, that was many a case of the good stuff ago, but to this day most of the smugglers who are in the neighborhood stop by. If they are in pocket (always a tenuous bet for a smuggler), they drop off some libations for the next weary traveler in line. Free booze is always a big drawing card for a hell bound smuggler. Everyone I have ever met who would admit to dabbling in under radar chuck wagon work has told me they stopped here more than once. And every smuggler who makes the journey to this shelter invariably spends the bulk of his, or her, visit standing before the shrine staring thoughtfully at the simple words so crudely scratched into that discarded slat of wood with the blade of a pocket knife. Six short words that come as close as any to answering the question that always seems to worm its way into the soul of every smuggler sooner or later – “Why?” Why would a sane person risk freedom and health doing something guaranteed to bring more grief than glory? Why would a sane person shake down strangers on the street to raise enough gas money to push whatever tore down vehicle you are driving at the moment up the side of a mountain on a road more suited to goat traffic than car passage? What manner of whacko spends hours trying to find a road the bulls don’t have under surveillance, just to get “food” (I use the term loosely) to an occupation and/or tree sit behind the boarders of the closure, all this simply to extend a doomed campaign one more day. No matter the cause or circumstances, that lead the smuggler to do their job, sooner or later the inherent hassles of that job will drive them to ask themselves that damning and daunting question – that same question asked by centuries of thinkers--“why?” Quite often the question comes to mind when your hands are bound tightly behind you and a guy with no neck is gruffly helping you into his squad car; or when you are staring at a map after hours of wandering unmarked forest roads, wrestling with the grim reality that if you are lucky you may have enough gas to make it to camp, but you won’t be making it back down. (Good thing a smuggler is always prepared w/pack on hand.) A million reasons, one central question. The simplest of the answers is offered here at the shrine for those who have the insight to see, the will to accept the simple, and the heart to turn oneself loose on the world. For in this little holy of holies, for those with the soul, or the arrest records to inspire understanding, are the words that free them from the awful burden of that nagging question, words that finally lay to blessed rest the haunting. As the smuggler reads the sentence, so simultaneously crude and eloquent, the shrine whispers it release. Written on the aging plaque, colored in with red marker ink, are words that strike to the heart of political smuggling: “Damn, This Shit Is A Rush!” There it is: the six simple words that reveal the soul of political smuggling. The shit is just a rush, plain and simple. You see, at it’s essence smuggling is more than another spin on the capitalist theme; I mean by that, smuggling is more than another way to make a tidy profit by skirting the established channels, regulations and restrictions, all heavily weighted toward restricting competition and ensuring the rich keeping most of the profits. At its purest, the heart and soul of smuggling can be, and more and more often these days is, a sublime act of resistance. An altogether positive way for a joker to pass the time here at the end of civilization – a twisted parlor game for the cynical amusement of the otherwise totally discouraged – a major mental challenge that helps you keep your giggle on while you watch the world spiral down toward it’s dismal and long predicted end. And as God, who I am certain derives His most pleasurable moments watching the ass of your humble servant twisting in the wind, is my witness- political smuggling is an art form. The political smuggler is constantly asked to do everything with nothing, and to be the one person that will go from the jail to the mountaintop and beg, borrow, or steal supplies along the way on any given day the needs of the revolution call. You see grasshopper, each political smuggling run is a crazed alchemist mixture of the controllable and the wild and wooly, a whirling dervish of a dance orchestrated by a scant few factors you can get your mind around and a vast number of random stabs in the brain pan orchestrated by the afore mentioned deity for no better reason than watching another smuggler bend and retch in the random farts of fate. Now, I know that our holy words might seem scant comfort to a sane person hitched to a cause he doesn’t completely understand but knows in his heart is the right thing to do. He or she might well stand square in the shadow of the altar and still wonder, “Why are people drawn to get involved in such an enterprise? I mean there have to be better was to get your jollies.” Ah my neophyte friend, have you really learned so little to attempt making such sense of it all? First off – sane people don’t get involved in smuggling goods and services for profit, let alone to deliver said items to revolutionaries fighting for a mass that doesn’t even know that there is a revolution afoot. Secondly, those who are crazy enough to get into political smuggling are also the type to have the sort of chaotic history that leads to an understand of the need. Every revolution must have smugglers, a live bridge to supplies. Still, if you are to understand the smuggler you must understand that necessity is only one factory in this equation. Oh, don’t get me wrong I am not trying to stereotype or essentialize the nature of the smuggler into stone. Just as in any other movement of resistance, in the war for the woods, smugglers come in all shapes, sizes and approaches, but with one thing in common—they all seem to be the types who like to take a good buzz where they find it, be that in mind games with the police, or in a bottle, and therein lie the seeds of addiction. You see grasshopper for some people doing good works for good people, all while drinking deeply from the cup of chaos keeps every moment filled with the most deliciously shivering rush. No matter the success or failure of the larger enterprise one captures the essence of carpe deim when stealthily moving through deep woods dodging L.E.O.s, rouge loggers, and half drunk security guards with guns. Which leads me to tonight’s first pop quiz question: Do the people I have just described; people willing to go through hell and high water – literally – to get food to a camp squatting thirty miles up the godforsaken side of a mountain, where hungry and quite often surrounded outlaws fight for the life of a planet against the overwhelming and ruthless locust people intent on devouring everything in their paths; do these smuggler types sound like people who are brimming over with the warm fuzzy feeling that all people are basically good and mean well in their daily interaction? You know the type of people I’m talking about: the ones who show up at an action with their rosy tinted glasses firmly stuck to their finely chiseled profiles, the type who seems to derive endless pleasure setting around the fire and talking for hours about how polite education, and setting a good example for the masses, is the only truly worthy goal of the new consciousness. Or, and please be honest here, remember by this point in a smugglers life there are no feelings to hurt, do smugglers not sound a tad bit more like Viking sorts who like to get at least a touch blasted before going off into a battle, especially when they know they are going to be outgunned, out moneyed, out manpowered, hell, just about out everything. Smugglers, not unlike like riggers and sitters who are also seekers of the thrill of chaos, aren’t the type to shirk the call of duty as they see it, while leaning on the rationalization of protecting their reputation or public image. Now follow me here, having given up all pretenses, why face the inevitable without a good belt or two on board, huh? I personally believe that the greedy assholes the forest defenders and social justice fighters are trying valiantly to stop must be attacked head on, and I refuse to feel guilty if one of my favorite hobbies is to get a buzz on and confront some earth raping profiteer with the truth, *uck tact or manors. In my opinion this desire to impose moral restraints upon the behavior resisters, is an internalization of the bourgeoisie values of those who in the name of freedom for religion insist we all live within the confines of the polite behaviors commanded by their deity. I mean really, “turn the other cheek?” They spend their lives adhering blindly to whatever lame wisdom this divine being has purportedly granted to his followers, never realizing this is precisely the anti-revolutionary opiate of which Marx speaks. I’ll take my intoxicant over theirs any day. I sober up from my binges, and neither insanity nor addition has lead to self-delusion about the matter. So all you “self- controlled”, or rather over sedated types, quit pushing your opiate and leave us true revolutionaries to our own morality. Now, I know that there is a theoretical possibility that some runners are tea types, but for the most part, the road rats who have smuggled with me are mad as hell, don’t tend to find many redeeming qualities in the human species; thus, they tend to intoxicate themselves and, “rage at the machine”. These insightful rebels, in spite of their hope for victory, know in their hearts that this struggle we are engaged in is going to end in defeat so dark it will make hell look like time off for good behavior. They know that even if they win the battle they are engaged in today, tomorrow will bring defeat. Not to put to fine a point on it but, the smugglers I have known seemed to lean more toward the “oh bloody hell, by tomorrow I’ll probably be in jail anyway and I always hate to face that gig sober” type of warrior. Which nearly brings us to tonight’s hammered bedtime story, which begins with Hobo and I trying to come to grips with a sober revolution. Now for most people that may be a passing matter, something to take note of, adapt to, and move on, but for Hobo and I this trifling revelation was a truly ugly moment in our lives as rambling revolutionaries. I mean it’s bad enough to be born in the hay day of the twisted religious icon, now they tell us we’re not “decent” revolutionaries if we don’t face these challenges sober? I mean how many grim realities is one man supposed to stomach? You see I’m the civilized sort of fellow who has always believed that Irish poets and revolutionaries such as Hobo and I are by rite and custom, required to be at least occasionally loaded when we vent our spleens into the wind of the grim facts of life. I mean these people have the nerve to ask me to (excuse me if I stop for a shudder this is difficult to put in words) be polite, and sober, in a midst of all this shit? But, as I said, to come to grips with the true pain of that moment, and the reaction that led Hobo and I into the very jaws of the beast, you also need to know a bit about Hobo. Now there is truly a man after my own heart, or at least any semblance of my sobriety. Hobo is a life member of that band of exquisitely exotic creatures who learn early in life that while being born on one side of the tracks doesn’t mean that’s where you are sentenced to spend your life, nor does it mean you are doomed to spend that life trying to up the ante to get to the other side. It also, and perhaps more importantly, does not mean you are a failure if you do not cross those damning and daunting tracks. No, there is another option; one that breaths’ freedom and life, call it the unmapped road, or more accurately the track. That option, sublime and illuminating in so many ways, opens up when you hop your first train, settle into your ride and for the next few hours feel nothing beyond the rock of the boxcar and the wind blowing through your hair. For many people that moment is simply a ride and nothing more, a form of transport forced upon them by the misfortune of twisted fate and the poverty of their purse, a curse to be bourn in shame and hopefully never to be repeated again. But, for a blessed few riders those winds reek heavy with a blessed perfume that smells exquisitely of freedom. At some point, they realize they aren’t just hitching a ride to a point on the map; they have become, in the flash of a moment, part of an ancient and venerable society. As they inhale deeply of this new and heavily intoxicating brew, smelling so deliciously of equal parts burned diesel fuel and freedom, they understand to the depths of their hearts they have been granted the delicious and liberating pleasure of riding squarely and forever right down the center of the world. What follows is a sublime Zen moment, a liberating viewpoint that imparts a form of wisdom most of these tried and true road warriors clearly understand – those who ride the sacred rails hobo style are allowed to give equal amounts of hell to the lost and wandering denizens on the ground on both sides of the track. An internal fun and frolic takes root in every hobo when they discover the hidden enlightenment of the ride. As for Hobo he found his Zen moment a few miles into his first ride and he has never lost it. Since that day Hobo has heard in every new train whistle the song of a lover he has yet to meet, and found in every good soul he encounters a fellow rider who just hasn’t hoped a train in a while. Now Hobo has been a wonderful assistance to this fledgling revolution, though most of his exploits will have to wait until the statue of limitations expires to share. He has in all ways attended himself as a true friend and a stalwart companion during good times and bad. But, like myself he suffers from the curse of the grape. I think it’s the natural result of the struggle here at the ragged beginning of the twenty first century where even knowing that you are fighting the good fight, and that you have a train waiting at the end of your time in town, is not necessarily enough to keep a man from a over the top sense of cynicism towards his fellow countrymen. Yet for or all his rowdiness I think the worst you can say about Hobo is that he started living out the grimmer parts of our national decline here at the dawn of the twenty first century a bit earlier than the rest of us. Maybe somewhere in his teens, or perhaps the first time he was thrown off a train by a man who has spent his life doing everything he could to keep alive the worst aspects of the gunslinger legend, a figure carved of throw away ideas: the town bully, complete with big belly and visible ass crack. You know the type, social retards that give rednecks like your old smuggler buddy a bad name, men whose only role in life seems to be strutting around town waiting for the new sheriff to come riding in and dust his punk ass, saving the good towns people from the bad guy, and from having to get their lily white hands covered in blood. Now, I will admit that I’m the type to think in crude and low brow terms, I grow tired of waiting for the good guy to come riding into town, and vote to drop the son-of-a-bitchin’ bull down the nearest well, but Hobo is the more mellow sort, the type of friend who helps keep fools like me in line. When he encounters these types of throwback mentalities Hobe always smiles, tips back the bottle and lays down a toast to this or that good Railroad bull he has met in his rambling, and how a few good bulls can make the whole ride easier. I guess that’s part of the draw for Hobo and I, I keep him focused on the present and the reasons for stopping for a bit and getting a few things done before moving on; and he keeps me remembering that it is not nice to have a gypsy friend lay a curse on the ass – hole who has foisted himself as the enemy of the moment. Though I still long for a gypsy flame thrower, someone who can really bring the heat, ready on the mound with a real juicy type curse on the ass’ of my enemies, one that causes their testicles to swell up and choke them for being the giant pricks that they are. You might say that Hobo and I are cosmic bookends; each bringing to the table talents and the helpful ability to be able to quench the fire in the other when he is about to go a bit too ballistic for the movement. It’s good to have someone you trust standing next to you when everyone else is clearly worried you might go bug shit at any moment. Which brings us, finally, to the tale at hand, which is, as you will see a tale of near doom and destruction, and the gifts of the dark Gods of the Portland night. A sordid saga of the State of the Union, two weary drunks on a mission, one awfully large shopping mall, and how havoc can rain upon the righteous and the sinner alike. This is fiction, the stories nor people are real, but rather are products of my imagination no more than inspired by

WHO THE PEOPLE? WE THE PEOPLE

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 wethepeople.jpg
We have a deep and abiding belief that the powers that be have gotten us used to listening to "them" talking about "us", to keep "us" from getting together and talking about "them." Powerful cultural and political influences have driven wedges between us that would not stand through a single cup of coffee; if we just sat down and had that cup of coffee. We are first and foremost neighbors, all across America and the world. We can work our way through damn near any difference if we realize one simple fact, we are in this together. We need each other if we are to transcend destruction. While it may sound odd on it's face, we are convinced the powers that be do not want us to be nice to one another, because nice people really listen to one another. They do not want us helping each other mend fences, because we may come to see that some fences do not need to stand and some should have never been built at all. They do not want us to comfort each other’s children, because we might hear the sound of children crying in places we cannot see and ask ourselves if those are not our neighbors and feel the need to comfort those children as well. They do not want us to dance together, because dancing people touch, they feel each other, they move together to one rhythm. They do not want us to sing together, because we might behold the majesty of our harmony. They do not want us to walk side by side because we might see that the color of our skins or the gender of our bodies does not change the direction of our steps. They fear most of all that we will begin to help each other over the challenges and the dangers along this mighty and mutual march. They fear we all might remember that at the core of this grand experiment is a path, and that path, that ancient and revered path, a path died for, is worth defending, for at the end of that path grows a tree, a tree we must protect above all others, that is the “tree of Liberty”.
We must remember what our forefathers and mothers knew. We must remember that it is we who ultimately guard, water, and care for that most sacred tree upon which all other forms of justice branch. When we remember, and we will remember, then is when we will raise our fists as one, and pound upon that Iron Gate they have arisen to keep us from feasting upon the fruit of that tree. It will be a sound that will awaken the sleeping ghosts of our better dreams and we will ask - "Why? - Why these years of separation when we were one people all along? - Why this slicing and dicing of the body politic? - Why have you taken what was a sacred trust and burned it on the alter of profit and power?" You see these men, grown fat, insatiable, and mad by their immersion in raw power, know that come the true judgment day, the day when "We the People" come to collect the due on promises made in the blood and sweat of our forefathers and foremothers we will find our national treasurers empty, spent not upon the future of our children but instead looted in the name of nothing more noble than baseless greed. That my friends, my neighbors down the block and around the world is why they will never let us become "We the People" without a struggle, and why no matter how difficult the struggle, we must overcome! Power, as always, to The People!
Patrick Dodd and MC - Who the People? We the People (Nov 11, 2007)

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