Vertical Range Wars Part III

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

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