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

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....

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