Monday, February 21, 2011

Russell Platt and the Cabin

It's been a long time. I dug this up and cleaned it up in Photoshop for a friend, who now owns the old site. It's a very large pic; I am not sure the site manager will let us view the whole thing in high resolution. Old Russell left not much of a trail on the internet, having died before its main onset. Here's a story in which he is mentioned.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Odd Bird

So I'm sitting in my living room with the door open to the world. And believe me, I've had to hustle and pull a few strings. I searched long and hard for my little secluded apartment backed up against the woods and the creek. God knows the crap I've taken from my totally inept landlord.

But I like nature. This I tell myself. I think of my little secret woodsy neighborhood right smack-dab in the middle of Charlotte with smug glee.

Yet now the mockingbird right outside sets out to entertain me with his song. We are looking right into each others' eyes. He's singing to me. At least, that's what I anthropomorphise its intentions to mean. But slowly the horror grows as I realize the mockingbird's song consists of imitations of car alarms, cell phone ring tones, the walkie-talkie beeps the construction people use, and the curious sounds of brakes and tires squealing and motors growling or purring from a distance. I realize this is now what he knows.

Today it's just this one odd bird. But more birds will soon fly into my yard, and repeat the sounds of the city to me; the sounds I have tried so hard to arrange not to hear.

"Listen!" this one says: "This is my song for you!"

Written by me, Jumper. First appeared in QZ magazine, June 2005, in slightly different form, under the byline of Paavo.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ropes and Cords

I should pass along a handy tip: Don't coil your ropes to store them, simply feed one end in a bag and hand-over-hand the rope into it steadily. And by bag, I mean a burlap bag, or even an old pillow case. You want a good cloth bag, though. (Or a woven plastic bag. Whatever livestock feed comes in should work. I don't know if potatoes are still shipped in burlap.)

Without cramming loops into it; instead just feed it in straight. Any which way it lies after you feed it in is okay. It will not tangle, or acquire a twist such as coiling will do. It is also better than "figure-eight-ing" your rope, which tends to acquire tangles thus requiring time-consuming hand-ties with string or whatnot. I guarantee it will come out of the bag as easily as it went in. No tangles and easy to store.

The funny thing is, I worked for a third generation timber man for a while, doing tree work, and we always had a hard time with storing the ropes. The "good way" took time, and even then tended to tangle when uncoiling the ropes.

We parted company, and I went on to start my flooring business. There, I had the same tangling problem with my electrical extension cords. I tried every way I knew of, including the famous "chain stitch" method, coiling, tying, and figure-eight-ing.

None were ideal. Either I'd spend far too much time stowing them, or else they'd get tangles. I finally came up with the idea to store them in four- or five-gallon buckets I would find for free and clean out.

When packing up, I would retain one plug end, then feed the straight cord in hand-over-hand letting it curl up any which way it wanted to in the bottom of the bucket. Takes practically no time at all. And comes out of the bucket completely straight. You can store one cord right on top of the other, or stack your buckets if you have several, nesting them so they take up less space. Often I'd just leave part of the cord in the bucket next to the receptacle and only take out the length I needed.

I saw my friend a few years later, and told him of my discovery, at which point he mentioned he had, in that time, discovered independently the value of storing his climbing ropes in a bag.

Needless to say, it seems one could use either buckets or bags for either one.

Here's a YouTube video of someone storing rope in a rope bag. A bit hoity-toity in that he uses a special-purpose, needlessly expensive bag for this, but his willy-nilly technique seems the correct one.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Post-Election Cruising

Here we have another piece from the archives, written in late 1994, by me, Jumper, under the byline "Paavo Dekker," for Lost Dog magazine. My mother might not want to read this. I'm re-printing this today because I'm avoiding writing about Beverly Benninghoff.

by Paavo Dekker

"I did what I was supposed to do, and I would do it again." - Thomas Ferebee, the N.C. native who, as bombardier of the Enola Gay, dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

"You don't want to know, you don't want to see. You want to hide it 'cause it is a can of shit. Everything they told us... 'go fight, go kill'... It's all a lie, a fucking lie... we killed women and children... With all your God and your bullshit dreams... Fuck you. Tell them all, they told us to go... Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not kill women and children, remember? Is this what you taught us?" - Tom Cruise, as Ron Kovik, paralyzed Vietnam war veteran, in Born on the Fourth of July

I like Luther, although he does go off a bit. I saw him late the other night, just like he always is, as long as I've known him, reeling down the gutter, shouting and mumbling in another of his drunken, monstrous fits of loathing and hopelessness. "Turning on the tube, man, opening the paper... it's finally happened," he mumbles.

"No more news. The TV only does gossip, sport, infoid items... they're all just anal-retentive teasers. It's all vacuous horseshit. Anti-intellectual in the worst sense; man, they're against fact altogether. I turn it off before I hurl chunks.. CNN is just the OJ Simpson Network now..." He coughs, leans his forehead against the coolness of the yield sign, and continues in a low rasp:
"Complete informational blackouts. The cold war is over and we lost. 'We the people'... yeah, right. All the various mafias of the world have won. From Russia, Europe, from Martin Marietta to Morton Thiokol, George Bush's boys, Newt Fucking Nazi Gingrich, and Helms and Myrick and Robertson and the DEA and god damned Noriega and Cedras and the cocaine distribution networks... The entire network of transnational business and finance, national governments, the states, insurance companies, communications, manufacturing, banks, it's all corrupt now. When they come to your door, wanting your pound of flesh, your pint of blood, what do you do? What do you say? Man, they're ravaging the world; all the killing, and pollution... extinctions and destruction. The waste." He's sobbing now, the weight of the evening and all the beer just coming on too much for him.

"All the innocent people, man, they're getting fucked. The cops say nobody is innocent, but it's not true, man, it's not true. Like the State Department in their damned policy releases that all our boycotts and blockades -Iraq, Haiti, Bosnia -that it's the peoples' fault when they get no medicines, no milk or baby formula. 'Cause they allow Saddam Hussein or whoever else to stay in power. By the same logic the whole fucking world has a moral right to come and start killing all of us because of the things we allow to occur in the name of the U.S.? Kill us all 'cause we didn't overthrow Reagan... How can we be so blind, man. How can we be so blind? The unspoken thing, man, is that Reagan and the CIA were giving him the fucking nerve gas to slaughter his own people."

I tried to cheer him; mentioned the losses of Ollie North and Rostenkowski, but he'd not hear it. He was on his knees now, far gone into the darkness of the soul that hits after some elections. He shook his head. "Anomalies. Too little; too late. I thought there was no mandate, except for the anti-incumbent sentiment. That people just didn't want the same freeloading bastards in anymore. That there's no real support for the fucking Republicans. I was wrong.

"It's a pro-vengeance vote. Playing on the dark side of the human psyche, the meanness and bitterness of the rednecks and vanishing middle class. They've got the people into total human-sacrifice mode now. They want literal blood, crucifixions, or mass executions on TV. Helms is a sly rat, broadcasting for some lone nut to assassinate Clinton... casting his hate onto the waters of random psychosis, in the hopes of getting Clinton shot...It's typical wicker-man, sacrifice-the-scapegoat stuff. Heathen idolatry. The people aren't satisfied until there are sacrificial deaths, and lots of them, usually their own sons, in war. It makes them feel holy, like fucking Abraham."

His eyes were teary, but I knew he could see very, very well now. "The scarecrow must be burned alive, all that. There's no war now, so the object of sacrificial hatred may as well be the President...after all, he escaped the ritual sacrifice once before.. But they're masters of the psychology. Anything, any crime, to advance their agenda...bastards. Evil bastards!" Spit slowly trickled down his chin, now.

"Their corporate-welfare military rip-off kickback shmooze schemes are bankrupting the country as much as any damned Democrats. Liars, all liars." He was slurring heavily. "It's just like Germany in the '30s. It's all happening again." A spasm passed softly through his frame, and he retched quietly, slumped over, and lost consciousness. I dragged him to the car and, after I was quite sure he had finished vomiting, shoved him in, and we drove off into the dark night.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Are You Experienced? Well, I Yam.

The Mexican grocery is where I went searching for real, authentic yams. As noted below, this is not the American sweet potato sometimes called "yams."

I found them in a bin, ranging in size from the one pictured to almost American football-sized. I got one the size of a big regular potato, seen here. Although not apparent, some of the skins are markedly shaggier than this one was.

It's difficult to find recipes by searching the internet, because of all the confusion. "African yam" turned up some rewarding hits. But once I discovered that the basic dish is known as fufu, I searched for that. Most of the recipes described are pretty similar; it's a simple method: mashed with butter.

When I peeled it, it became very obvious it was not a potato, or sweet potato either. Very slimy under that skin. I decided to not exactly make fufu. I sliced it, roasted it in foil at 400° F. for an hour, and then set it aside. I sliced it up and refried it in some hamburger fat and butter, and then added the extra pat of butter.

A bright taste, if not much to it. Brighter than a regular potato, slightly acidic but pleasantly so.

Certainly good for a hungry person with work to do. It's your basic starchy side dish.

I preferred the malanga.