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We woke around eight in the morning and the sun was shinning, a bit chilly so we all wore thick jackets that Danny had on board. Motoring out of the harbor we spoke about the right of public space, a theme that would continue through our time with Danny. Apparently the port authority attempted to charge the boaters that moored in the bay, some refused to pay rent, we cursed the those that did; the weekend sailors that gave any validity to such blatant extortion. The ever present updates of the marine radio station informed our rout and we took off under sail and motor out of the beautiful bay, the early hour meant the tides would carry us with ample room through the narrow passages. Soon we had turned the motor off, packed a bowl of hash, kept keen eyes on the markers, sipped whisky and sailed off into the straight of Gorgia. Bliss was a fair description of how we were feeling. This brand new relationship with Steph had such flow it was if we'd spent ages together in previous lives. After two days of hanging out, she readily agreed to "go on an adventure" and suddenly we found ourselves in ideal circumstances; Danny was as jovial a singing sailor could be, the boat was sound and constantly in a chaotic party state, we were learning sea shanties and all the practical knowledge necessary for navigating a 45 foot sailboat. Into the channel, civilization slipped away, we settled into a slow but steady pace and marveled at the passing landscape of Gabriola Island. Danny's plan and general lifestyle revolved around popping into bars and markets with his guitar, doing some busking and meeting with managers and owners for the purpose of booking shows later on. The music life is what brought us together and would carry us onward.
The B Fuller is a ketch, meaning it's fore mast is higher then it's aft, it's Danny's home, means of transportation and party vessel. He'd come from a big family in Alberta, had been a social worker, a TV repairman, was provincial delegate for the NDP, headed a Nanaimo house boat association, was married twice, had a number of adult children in various states of communication and had left the conventional life for one of excitement on the open waters. For the last few years he'd traveled around the gulf Islands, mostly based in Nanaimo, performing wherever he could, receiving a small government pension; living the Bacchus life through and through. Fascinated by history and politics, his 65 year old mind was sharp and seemed to get keener after he cracked the daily bottle. "Sailing just isn't the same without whisky." A husky build he moved around the limited space with the grace of a young man, scraggily hair blustering when the wind picked up, his blue eyes were crisp, constantly gagging the water and wind. Steph and I were transformed those first few days on the boat, we'd both sailed before, she's even worked on a ship yard, but suddenly we were in a new realm; attention and balance had to be sharp, suddenly we were a crew. The Be Fuller had sat on blocks after being owned by a celebrity in Malibu, Danny bought it for the price of a house in the seventies and never looked back on his old life. Stability was the reason he'd liked it, quite wide, easy passage along the sides, the cockpit fit 6 comfortably and inside ten could party while being just a bit squished. The back deck was covered with roped-down paddles, an extra generator, crab-trap and various things found on a live-in sail boat, behind was towed two dingies, one a small wooden sail boat, the other a fiberglass rowboat. The cockpit had milk crates filled with food in various stales of decomposition, without refrigeration, innovation was imperative and sour milk pancakes proved delicious. On the cockpit benches sat long cushion which were a constant negotiation; more comfortable then the bare wood, but tares in the seam meant water would seep in, soak up and disperse at the worst of times. We were having so much fun that it didn't really matter though.
The Aluminum steering wheel was about four feet across; we used our feet and hands to maneuver while on the bench. My sailing experience had been on day sailors, never bigger then 18 feet, but guiding the course of that ship came quite easily. Sailing is a constant negotiation between a desired destination and the direction of the wind, the centerboard acting as leverage between the two. Occasionally we'd put the boat on autopilot, the radio, ignition and electronic navigation systems being imbedded in the wheel stand. If the coast was clear, we'd set the course, listen for the mechanical whirring of the components and amuse ourselves by reading, playing guitar and banjo, pouring more drinks, smoking Danny's bunk shake, catching some z's or preparing food in the cabin.
Pulling into the southeast corner of Gabriola Island, the small harbor was alive with boating culture. I though back to my friend Dave the police officer talking about living in or out of "the system" because here as everywhere, the system and society, is entirely hypothetical and fluid. As the sun set, a cluster of boats of every fashion and form dotted the naturally protected harbor, much smaller the then one we'd left that morning. An ancient Chinese looking vessel floated proudly by and just a bit further a single mast was covered with all the accouterments of a happy pack rack. Further, someone was busily cleaning a fancy looking yacht, beside it a stream of smoke floated from a cozy looking double mast. Further on a black cat encircled the wheels of bicycle perched on the stern of houseboat. This was a hub, people from all over stopped to refuel, reconnect and head back out onto the great vastness of the natural landscape. Before heading to shore, Danny was engrossed with internet chess on his laptop, the connection kept going sour, causing him to curse out loud, it was the only time I'd seen him mad. Apparently the lost connection meant a loss would be on his record, he got over it and ventured into land to check out the bar with hopes of a gig. Steph and I decided to stay on board and clean up the place, which we viewed as a fun challenge.
Sliding back the teak and aluminum cover, four ladder steps brought you to the center of the boat. To the right was the kitchenette, complete with two small sinks, draws, a small stove that rotated on hinges as the boat rocked, some cupboards and storage spots. To the left was small passageway leading to the back of the boat and two navigation tables along the outer wall with a rotating chair in the middle. That spot was haywire; maps, gadgets, clothes covered the area. Down the passage, on right, outside wall, was a workbench, covered with grimy tools of every manner, (however, there weren’t any tools scattered in the rest of the boat). Above the workbench were small cubbyholes that let some light in, but water as well. Danny had rigged an electrical panel and generator from the outside and ran the cable through the window, preventing its closure. On the left of the passage was storage, the control panel and access to the engine room; that half door opened to a cramped space which housed the two engines and generator that allowed us movement when there was no wind. The control panel was used for cabin lights, water pressure and propane. At the back of the boat was the big bedroom I shared with Steph It was a big double bed that ran parallel against the back wall, it had far too many blankets and was quite cozy. Small drawers everywhere had contained Danny's method of organizing his clothes; each one had a one set of underwear, socks and a shirt. The starboard side of the room opened to the rear "head" aka bathroom, it consisted of a tiny sink and mirror, bathtub used for storage and pump action toilet. As Steph tore through the front end of the cabin, I focused on the back, after a few hours the navigation tables were bare and there was some semblance of order throughout the boat. Danny came back clean with his hair combed back and we had fire in the propane tank sized wood stove next to the four by two foot, foldable table, past the kitchenette. We sat on the benches that ran along either outer side, which were lined with history books, trinkets, novels and picked country, traditional irish and rockabilly tunes. Broken down cardboard boxes sat soaking in the oil, which we tossed in the burner. Soot flew all over the over the cabin and a bit of water dripped in through the crack where the tin chimney went through the ceiling; the boat was beginning to feel like a new home. The right bench and table ended in the front wall of the main room, the main passage on the left led into the front cabin, which narrowed considerably, houseing a narrow bunk at waist height on the left and a wider one on the right at the shoulder. When Danny sailed alone he slept in on the cushioned benches next to the table, that night he slept in the front cabin. He said he'd prefer to have company when sailing, easier to keep control of the great boat.
In the morning we sailed by Valdes Island through the channel by North Galiano Island, we were settling into a rhythm, taking turns at the helm, enjoying the cruise. Pulling into the Pender Island that afternoon, more boats of all kinds represented the many types of people who live, explore and enjoy themselves in many different ways. We rode into the docks on the dingys and took in the slower attitude towards time and living that exists outside cities. I had been to this harbor once, the year before while a member of a Vancouver Island Hillbilly band, Kinfo. That band orchestrated personas of buffoonery, debauchery and alcoholism and when we hung out, it usually felt like a performance. The band had found me while waiting for a ferry, they asked me to play with them that night and afterwards I became a member. I'd moved to their studio space, done some quite amusing gigs, but I knew that the general air of idiocy would impede Kinfo's success and evolution. Temper tantrums were reoccurring, the year before we'd come all the way out to Pender, while stopping at a few bars along the way, only to discover there was no gig booked. During much drinking and hollering in the middle of the night by one of the members, I decided to disregard the yelling of my name, and the screeching of tires, only to find my possessions on the ground in the morning . It didn't bother me, the adventure continued as always, it was nice to come back to this lovely corner of the world.
While walking up the ramp from the docks a sign caught my eye, "If entering Canada, please call immigration at 1-800, ect." It made me realize that all borders are like this, ei, fictional and fluid. If anyone wanted to invade or terrorize the vastly porous "border" area of this or any massive geographic reason, they would have no trouble doing it. They don't simple because they don't want to. Bad people don't exist and if anyone tells you different, they're trying to take advantage of you.
So, Danny did some asking and found out that we could play in the bar that night and put out a hat. We had some time before the show would start so we ventured into the island and came across the town center. The market was quaint, tourist traps and toy stores, we met a lovely girl of Japanese decent who was covered in specks of paint, she wouldn't be able to make it to the gig that night but did invite us to play pickup baseball the next day during the farmers market.
Back at the large rustic restaurant/ bar, we played our hearts out. It was a Thursday night and it happened to coincide with an international disk golf tournament. The game is the same concept as normal golf, but with various sizes of Frisbees instead of clubs, aimed towards metal baskets rather then holes, usually played while drinking liquor and smoking pot. It's the type of innovation that's mirroring the greater complexification of the world these days. A bag full of disks for different distances, just like golf, but the course is covered with trees and other impediments, so other people can use it like any other natural space, unlike golf. Playing music in that bar was redemptive, I got my chance and took full advantage of it, we rocked hard for hours, swapping instruments and songs. I backed steph up on a tune that my sister had introduced to me a few years earlier, "baby, I'm an anarchist" a compelling love song about the divide between progressive ideology and radical anarchist beliefs. "Cause baby, I'm an anarchist, you're a spineless liberal, we marched together on the eight hour days, held hands in the streets of seatle, when it came time to throw rocks through that Starbucks windo, you left me all alone, all alone". We'd do that tune a number of times on our journey together.
We would talk about the idea of spiritual anarchy. Anarchy, as far as I understand, is another abstract thought, just like democracy or “the market”, but it’s more of a non-thing; it is the absence of arch or power relationships. Anarchism is the theories, concepts, philosophies, ideologies, cultures and means of existence that have grown out of that notion, sometimes cohesive, often not. An arch means one thing over another, so Anarchists are people who feel their existence authentic enough to not be governed, if at all influenced, by exterior forces. We asked ourselves, what is it about law that makes it worth following? Our means of living without plans or expectations seemed to deliver us a much richer form of life then we'd ever experienced before. I had the feeling things would just get more interesting.
That night we had multiple guests come up and perform with us, on a break I interviewed a German man about the brilliance of disk golf. He loved the meandering around outside drinking, all the while improving skills and taking part of a supportive sporting environment, rather then a competitive one. Observing the play, it looks like quite a bit of skill; concentration and practice balance well with camaraderie and sheer joy. One of the unexpected performers did an uncanny Willy Nelson impression; his devotion to the red haired stranger was compelling. He pulled out a songbook and we jammed away until they kicked us out. It turned out that that our new friend worked for a company that designed state of the art vaporizers, (that a way of using pot without the carcinogens). Apparently there was a party somewhere, following the crowd we got into a camper van and were greeted by ganja and cold beer. The ride was smooth and soon we found ourselves at a beautiful house in the woods, a cottage apparently. I heard second hand that the owner grew large quantities of pot, and meeting him, he seemed to be slightly on edge. The paranoia was understandable, such work is important; there are many people who rely on marijuana for medicinal and spiritual purposes, but the overhanging police presence would have detrimental effects on any one's psyche. Steph tore into some of her original songs and impressed the pants off the crowd. There was an artist/musician there, a fellow who was carrying around a book of poetry that he'd written, and was trying to sell. He had all the markings of unbridled alcoholic; he was a sweet man with a great smile, cleaver songs and good stories, but too self-congratulatory, plus slurred speech. He was an extreme reflection of our own existence, bouncing from gig to gig to party, a genius in many ways, he songs were witty, I saw a great troubled beauty in him.
When the night reaches it's pinnacle, Danny would no longer use his guitar, it was all about the drum, the rhythm. We'd bang out simple two chord songs and his wild hair would be flying in every direction. " Can you pass me the pot and the pipe" he asked me at one point. Fetching it for him, our host glanced at me and was taken aback. "Hey that's my pot", "I'm sorry I thought it was Danny's" I replied, "Still, there's an etiquette". "Sorry, now I know". I passed it along. We all seemed to pass out where we sat on the couches, and while up to take a leak as the sun was coming up, I spotted an empty bed, in the morning I woke up with steph in my arms. After a pancake breakfast we took a stroll though the extensive vegetable garden, our host had an incredible green thumb, a strong connection with the earth. Aparently, he and the artist had joined steph for a walk the night before, and their energies had aligned, out in the garden the artists was quite and contemplative as our host regaled them with the subtle mastery of a dedicated gardener.
We went back to the bar and took a stroll along the beach. Along our journey to the Island the marine radio was constantly spouting out weather condition, tide progressions and warnings, we'd heard numerous reports about a sail boat that had been cut loose and floating somewhere in the area. Steph was collecting shells as Danny came up to us, apparently the Tiny Dancer was being held by a friend of a friend and it was possible that we might be able to swing by and pick it up if we wanted it. The details of the story were unclear. The boat had been docked in Vancouver, owned by someone transitioning gender, that was currently in jail. This did not dissuade Steph who'd wanted a boat and felt she could take on anybody, Transvestite or not. Steph was a tough girl, after all.
We’d met the week before at Danger Bay, the biggest gathering of longboarders (extra long skateboards) in the world. Some two hundred racers gather to compete in a long distance race, a speed course, longboard hockey, a parade, free ridding, camping, partying and live music. The year before I'd ended up at the festival by random chance and somehow finagled my way onstage between sets of metal and punk bands, this year I'd been asked back to play, it was the reason I'd flown to the west coast. Steph and I hit it off right away, cruising around the camp site scrounging liquor and food, we'd crashed in the same tent for two nights in a row and as I was offered a gig in Nanaimo, she welcomed the invitation to come along for the adventure. While onstage I asked the audience what was the next step for us, Danny hollered out, "come sailing!" and voila. Steph had been steeped in pirate vibe since we met. She'd been experimenting with the use of an eye patch. They were used by pirates not only to cover up nasty, empty eye sockets, but to train their pupils; while covered in darkness, the pupils expands, ready to be used should the pirate rush down to the dark cabin. Steph had gone on an adventure with her sister, down to Mexico and ended up in Montreal, where she'd started a new life. The busking life was treating her out east, but she's come back west to race, now it seemed the west wanted her back. For the most part of our journey we kept on the same clothes, Steph wore skate shoes with cutoffs, a t-shirt and a jean vest. Around her brown head she wore a black velvet band. I wore my “magic pants”, which looked like cacki slacks, but were actually of stretch spandex material, skate shoes that looked like mockasins and a striped button up shirt. Our styles of loving the simple things in life worked well, she was self assured, an expert with tools and drinking. Our relationship was a strong camaraderie, an instant bond of love and respect, with the added benefit of physical forms and spirits that polarized each other.
Evening was setting in and it was time to go treasure hunting. Waste is an illusion that benefits the clear-sighted. With my dollar store flashlight we took to the village and filled up two grocery bags with produce, bread, cold cuts, chips and mustard. We also helped ourselves to a few gallons of lightly used fryer oil. There were black cats everywhere in those back alleys, a colony apparently, "don't feed the cats", we disregarded. Back at the bar karaoke was in full swing. Danny was at the helm and instead of choosing a song from a list like the other patrons, he faced the crowd and sang a sea shanty with easily repeatable lyrics "Will the lord above, send down a dove, with a beak as sharp as a razor. To cut the throats, of them there blokes, who'd sell bad beer to sailors". The entire audience was singing along, Danny can be quite commanding. I took that opportunity to further hype the crowd and started break dancing. Later, sitting on a bench outside, we enjoyed some good grass and acoustics tunes with the poet from the night before and Danny's pal Frank. An RCMP officer walked up and frank hid the joint. The officer asked us to be a bit more quite, then agreed when frank asked him for a ride home. Island life.
In the morning we went oyster harvesting, a delightful experience done in the months any don't have R in them, so not the summer months. We found a beach and started collecting fat oysters; the abundance of life was all around us. We spoke about self-sufficiency and economy of emotion, lifestyle and intention. It seems like the more you know, the less you need. Without shoes we waded in the chilly water, finding crabs and clams and a starfish named Patrick that Steph kept to send back to her friend Fish in Montréal. After collecting about four big buckets worth, we paddled back to the boat and took off in search of the Tiny Dancer.
Cutting back along the inside of Galliano Island, I began to prepare the oysters. Attempting various means of extraction, eventually settling with a thick and solid plank of wood, two works gloves, a hammer and a strong chisel. Skills from my time as a line cook at a seafood restaurant prepared me for the experimentation, being free in the open water with a full set of tools perfected the skill. A small oyster knife can't compare to the rapidity and ease of a hammer and chisel. Propping the oyster with the nerve ending facing upward a swift knock would crack the seal; thrusting the blade around edges with a turning motion unhinged the shell without damaging it the body. Wipe away the broken bits of shell, cut the attaching tendons and scrape the flesh into a clean bowl. The first few were fried straight in oil, delicious, then we realized the leftover sour milk pancake batter would be perfect. The recipe kept evolving as I went along, always scrumptious, the perfect ones were dipped in milk, then flower, then a spiced batter and fried in hot oil deep enough to submerge the whole thing. With a honey mustard sauce they were incredible, gifts from the goddess. Frank pulled up in his 56 foot racing sailboat, the Amber. His approach to sailing was more structured then Danny's. As I was tying the boats together, he briefly went into hard-ass instructor mode, and describing the proper way to use a cleat. Once around the bottom, once around one end, then lock it off on the other end. I appreciated the lesson, often in life there is one logical, primary way to do something. Now I had a skill for life. We cruised along slowly, boats parallel, and munched on deep-fried oysters.
Pulling into the small bay where the tiny Dancer was tied up, steph took the wheel and cautiously backed and the Be Fuller in next to the Amber, with assistance from the older guys. There beside us was the famed Tiny Dancer; it was a steel boat painted green, with large dents, speckled with rust. The mast was down and the boat was ugly, but Steph was bursting and couldn't wait to get on board. The hull was water-tight and it felt stable, but there was certain sick and dark energy aboard. As we descended into the cabin, the chaos had progressed far beyond the state of the Be Fuller. It was dark in there; there were some portholes but covered with green dirt and slim. Scattered everywhere were hints of being in transition, sticks of incents and all kinds of spices where scattered about, hypodermic needles, mostly in the packages, covered one corner of the room. Along one side was a bag of clothes exploded in a pile, in another section was cooking stove long since burnt out. A skateboard sat next to a dirty bong, more needles and random garbage seemed to grow out of the depths. My skin was crawling in that space. I think of sailboats as escapes, and maybe it was, but there was a hellish, tortured feeling in the air. I took the electric clippers found sitting on the floor; I was getting pretty shaggy at that point and needed a buzz.
Onto the Amber we brought instruments and all the food we'd rescued the day before, this meal was all about chopping, lots of veggies, a bunch of sweet potatoes, a big wok inspired the stir fry. We sat in Frank's relatively spacious dinning area, sipped and drank away. We attempted to watch a hitchcock movie, it was the time I'd peered at a TV screen in some time. We grew tired of an Englishman poorly attempting an Irish accent, so we broke out the instruments. That was the first night I'd played much guitar for my new family, a skill I've been enjoying for a decade, and they quite appreciated it. We played and ate and drank and smoked in utter merriment as the night wore on, big yawns coxing us to bed.
In the morning it was off to the city of Vancouver, at one point we were stuck, the tide was going one way while the wind, and our intentions were going the other. There was one white marker on our left side, in the middle of the channel, that despite our best efforts would not fade away into the background. The sails were full of wind, the computer said we were doing 2 knots, it felt like we were moving, but alas no. After a few hours of steadily going nowhere, we turned on the motor and released ourselves from the grip of the moon's pull. Presently we found ourselves emerging into the city world, it was a bit of a culture shock. Mountains and trees became massive tankers and traffic. The first night I stayed in, although the memories are hazy because at this point Steph and I continued experimenting with sleep deprivation.
From what I remember, we took a long paddle in French creek in order to get to a suitable docking place for the dingy, there every inch of water front was taken up by businesses and homes, eventually we made it to the small public docking spot and started our stroll around Grandville island. We boarded the back of the b line bus (the "free line") and made our way to a house called, "the shack", where member of Steph's gang Wolf Pack lived. Popping into a music store along the way, it was evident acoustic music was a striving part of the cities’ culture, banjoes and ukuleles everywhere. " Wolf Pack" spray paint tags adorned the alley as we walked on up. The girls were ecstatic to see her, not having hung out since she moved to Montréal. The gang came together out of necessity, all young folk who'd had no one else, they came together to look out for each other, partying, causing trouble, and had the reputation as deviants, banned from bars when they showed up en mass. After a delicious group meal we collected our packs that had been dropped off there after Danger Bay and went back to the boat, on our walk back Steph mentioned her boyfriend for the first time. A fellow back in Montreal who'd she'd been quite close to and was thinking about again, it meant the probability of less romance for us, which didn't bother me, companionship was all I was after.
It must have been Sunday because the streets were packed with tourists looking for entertainment, and they found it. The street performer was a beautiful expression of a giving economy, he was boisterous, funny, and quite talented with his eleven foot tall unicycle. We waiting in the docking space as a number of Steph's friends gradually shuffled in to join us. Larry in particular was a funny chap, intent on texting to other friends about our sailing journey, while manning the wheel, we kept going off course. "I'm so ADD I need to tell everyone about what I'm dong!" We swapped jokes for hours and cruised around the massive bay. I did another batch of deep fried oysters, while teaching our friend Solomon the technique. It was trickier then I'd though, especially since we'd all been drinking. We passed a massive Chinese tanker waiting to go into port, wearing grey jumpsuits a few sailors waived to us, one was fishing and was able to pull a flounder up the sixty feet to the deck. This was a pleasure sail day, we had vague aspiration about directions, which kept changing due to the wind. The constant negotiation of direction was misevaluated a few times by first time sailors on the healm, going to far up into the wind meant a loss of momentum, forcing us to turn 270 degrees. Danny fit seamlessly in the group spanning the ages 19 to 25 or so, he was a kid at heart, one that love to be in a constant mode of party.
It was my turn on the wheel and I thought I saw a small orange marker coming up on the left side in front of us. I did my best to steer right, and the thing disappeared, checking back to see if we'd cleared it, there was no orange ball in sight. With in a few moments the wheel was restricted to about twenty degrees of motion and I new we had trouble. "Danny, we've got a problem, something's caught in the rudder". He bounded up from the cabin and took the wheel, "oh shit, drop the main". Untying the main sheet and yanking down on the sail, it was our first emergency procedure since we'd been sailing together. "Get in the dinging and start pulling on that rope". Steph and I both hopped in and started pulling away, as the small party waited with tension in the air. Passing the rope back up to Danny, the walked it around the side of the boat and unhooked it from the centerboard, crisis averted.
Eventually we dropped anchor outside of Jericho Beach and broke out the instruments. "What I Got" by sublime was staple of that journey, getting played almost every time we sat down to jam. The whole boat was singing along, Larry blessed us with some rap and Steph fell asleep in my arms, as I was playing the banjo. In the two dingys the party rode to shore said goodbye, I rowed and towed them back to the ship where Danny and I had one last quiet glass of whisky.
At the shack the next day, the constant flow of characters reunited me with two gentlemen who I'd met at the skateboard race on the sunshine coast two weeks earlier, McD and Gregory, it was time to skating once again. McD on his homemade mini deck with Gregory and I on our longs boards, it was a departure from the "new school" style of skate sessions I'd been part of as a teenager. Before the emphasis was completing technical maneuvers off stationary objects, this evening was all about the cruise. Up the alley to a near by street we took off downhill, I followed behind, being unfamiliar with the terrain. Drifting, carving, sliding and bombing, we tore around that neighborhood at frightening speed, I made a controlled slide stop at an intersection, wary of oncoming traffic, the others cut ahead, narrowly dodging a cyclist crossing in front of them. At the bottom of the hill we reconvened and discussed the quality of the road and the danger of gravel, potholes and sewer grates. On the main drag we took a right and headed up a long hill, it sustained heavy traffic during peak hours. We cut down to the beach, flying through unlit passageways, keeping my knees bent and body loose I did my best to anticipate the curves and ground quality. When the beach hill ran out, the possibility of a fire came up. Up the hill again, this time we reached it's pinnacle and waited for a lull in traffic, the late night air had a bit of a chill, but pumping up the hills made our blood warm. A suitable opening came and we launched ourselves down the hill with vigor. In succession, the three of us went into speed tuck position, that's resting one's chest on the front bent knee, arms tight to the sides, a human projectile. We sailed down the right lane, cars keeping up to our speed, and took a sharp right back towards the girl's house, our velocity propelling us uphill 3 blocks.
Back at the pad an anime movie was playing, a warrior princess rode her flying moth/space craft vehicle to find a giant bug which she then killed with care in order to harvest its shell, to make weapons. We gathered a gang interested in a fire and took off for the beach. Boys and girls, about six of us, some with skateboards, made our way down to the water and searched until e fweund a suitable spot. A little bit of "trespassing" (possession, especially of land, is in essence, an illusion) was in order and we found ourselves tucked away underneath the Vancouver yacht club. The ensuing attempts to make fire were comical. Varying techniques, materials and waning degrees of communication made a simple task, complex. Being such a primal skill, it's one that men have difficulty relenting to other men, especially after failing. Eventually a roaring fire took off, low doses of magic mushrooms were dealt and the conversation was roaring. DMT was a central topic of discussion for a good while, at my behest. Made by extracting active ingredients out of the leaves of one plant and the bark of another, each benign by themselves, create the most powerful hallucinogen known to man. Jason, a wise voyager of the psychic realms, and Greagory, climbed the cliff and down the tree.
All plants are sacred, but psilocybin mushrooms create connections and awareness of the mystical energy that makes up existence. Dr. Seuse-esque freestyle poetry began flowing from my mouth, it felt like I was instilled with a greater linguistic power, fantastical subject matter was protruding with ease, witty rhymes seeming to come out of nowhere. It was a lovely feeling, I was going on for decent while, pontificating about the nature of existence, framing it in a playful way, to the joy of my friends. It was another of those, right place, right time moments that were becoming more and more frequent. Following the heart in each moment and being lead to instances of clarity and grace. As the sun was coming up, Jen thanked me for my words; she said I took her out of her realm of existence. Without having used any money in the past two weeks, I still had a wad of cash, rewards for playing banjo at danger bay and Nanaimo. It was time to buy some acid. As the sun began to show itself on the far off sky scrapers, so did the first few waves. Jason, Jen, McD went to find rest, but Steph, Gregory and I were tripping, the next beat carrying us on.
Asking Greagory if he had any good native stories, he said all his stories were native stories, since he was a native. We talked about skateboarding, the freedom, and about crystal meth, which he'd been on for a year, a few years ago, hardly sleeping or eating. On the subject of literature, fantasy was his favorite, I pocked fun, even though I read fantasy, and all of the sudden greagory had had enough and it was time to get some sleep. We piled more wood on the fire and watched as boaters stirred on the docks in front of us. Our conversation that day was some of the most profound we'd engaged in. Ideas on the power of women, the organization of people and mostly the mystical nature of our existence, seemed to grow and shift, radiate back and forth between us. The gentle waves of LSD fluttered through our nervous systems. We'd been adventuring together for about 9 days by that point, living moment to moment made more and more sense. By demanding nothing and giving love, the universe had taken care of us in extraordinary ways. As the sun began to light up the Vancouver skyline, the air warmed up, we kept the fire going for the sheer brilliance.
Then two five-year-old boys popped out of nowhere, they introduced themselves, apparently they were on a play date. They were fascinated by the fire and politely asked before throwing in sticks and pinecones. The father of one of the boys strolled up and we started chatting about longboarding and sailing. We discussed what it was like having kids, it sounded a bit chaotic, he told us about the tricky nature punishing one sibling for attacking the other, or encouraging the victim to fight back. The boys were still around us at that point and I wondered if my parents discussed they're parenting style with other adults in my presents. Five years olds have much unbridled energy, Rob, the father, seemed accustomed to ignoring about three quarters of the attempts at his attention. I decided to run those kids like horses. I'd race one up the beach while the other lost interest, then switch. Feigning exhaustion for the sake of a close finishing was quite amusing. Their socialization and conforming personalities were apparent, one was analytical and tender, the other more boisterous, shaming the first for crying. Every ten minutes the gentler one with glasses with hurt himself, would cry out and run to his father for support, when the other gave himself a good knocking, he gritted his teeth and shook as he internalized the pain. Dad had been laid off some time earlier and was attempting to redefine himself, with little success. I asked if there where any core values or lessons he attempted to impart on his kids. "Well being healthy is important, we don't want them to become smokers or anything", "Is that the best you can come up with" I asked, as Steph and I shared a rolled cigarette. "Well it's tricky, all you can do is live the best you can and try to set a good example". "Fair enough" "There are so many outside influences these days, little boys turn everything into guns. How would you raise kids". "I'd probably treat them like equals, wouldn't impose anything on them, like school, and be constantly playing, doing fun wild physical or artistic things, like I always do." "Well Billy(the boy who wasn't his son) could use some of your life style, he gets so built up with anger, sometimes it explodes out of nowhere, he say 'Bohnny I want kill you', and I guess one solution is drugs, but what are the long term effects." When Billy hurt himself he made it clear to me that he didn't cry. They both seemed like happy kids, maladjusted as we all are in our own special way. Jonny was incessantly calling his father for some reason or another so I strolled down to see how I might be able to entertain them.
Crafting a narrative around a small escarpment, pirate's path, lava ect, they became calm and focused on the interesting challenge at hand. It was rudimentary bouldering, horizontal rock climbing with a degree of the death defying difficulty. Off the top of my head I labeled a particularly treacherous passage "devil's cove", the only way through was collaboration, which they couldn't figure out, but one of them asked me "what's a devil". The question set me back, what is a devil? My response was something like; a magical being that likes playing tricks. It might have been a formative moment, still blazing on acid, I reflected on my own life, by many definitions, I'm a devil; sexual, wild, animalistic; a transforming creature, of pleasure. I also realized it was the first time either five year old has asked me to define a term, and I'd hardly lower the level of my language since we'd been hanging out. These kids were smart, perceptive and cleaver, if slightly uncoordinated at times. Structured notions like age, formal education, capital, nationhood, instill myths of somehow being different or separate from each other and the world. When I was 12 I recognized myself as an adult, I became cynical and jaded because I was expected to jump through countless hoops for the next decade in order to prove myself to the hypothetic notion of "society". Those thoughts passed quickly, as I reemerged myself into the game. Johnny fell and ran to his dad once again, Billy, the angry one, said, "I don't live with those guys".
In all of our philosophical dialogue that day, the underlying nothing was that we were doing it right. Brian, the dad, did seem inspired by us, but we didn't have any specific advice for him, only to follow one's heart. As they were leaving, Billy asked if he could take a pinecone along. I asked Rob if he had any extra dough, and he laid a 20 on me, exactly what I'd spent on the acid hours earlier. Johnny was dawdling and Rob said to Billy, who was about to run off, "Johnny is making a poor choice right now." We stayed on the beach for a while, some working class guys came down to drink and smoke up the beach from us. One of them was overweight and kept boasting about all kinds of things, the kind of boasting which generally comes from people who’ve restrictriced their minds to the identities of straight, white male. Unaware of their favorable positioning in society, they become accustomed to sharing personal glory to excess.
Off about his racing days, the price of the boats, the price of the cottage. Something I’ve noticed about never using it is that everyone talks about it all the time. It’s because it’s the pentacle and it has it’s hold on you. Over and over the in bible jesus makes it painfully obvious that having a lot of money is about the worse thing you could possible do. He had a funny voice, quite large and was furiously dirnking cans of beer and smoking joints, was quite overweight, and loud, I loved him, but it started to get to me and we wandered off.
Joined with the Danny, the three of wandered towards Wreak Beach, the famous nude beach on the west side of Vancouver. Perpetually treasure hunting, we stopped for a few minutes at a grocery store so Danny could get some real food. The bus ride was packed full of people going to an Iron Maiden concert. We talked about Danny's extended family, he was a middle child of about 6, and both his parents had other families before and after. Strolling along the UBC campus, we came across clothing donation bin, always a a wonder spot to score treasure. We all dressed upd in new clothes, Steph a new black jacket, Danny a dress shirt and myself in some ridding pants and a pea coat, all the he sudden our crew had a new swagger and look to it. Down the hundreds of steps towards the beach, we united with the extended wolf pack crew plus others, all in celebration of a pretty ladies birthday. We scrimped some change together and split some magic mushrooms between us. The jams were lovely as the sun set, we shared a few brews and like clock work the RCMP came down the steps to engage in their nightly charade of kicking everyone off the beach at sunset. Every night after they left, people would come back and have fires all night. Their reasoning was that they couldn't get the hover craft on the shores at night, that it was dangerous. A few weeks later, with a bit of questioning, I got the cop to admit that what they were doing was pointless, that the only reason they did it was to satisfy a liability, if they didn't ask everyone to leave then officially the city could be sued if something went wrong. The resulting exodus was a sickening display of bogus power that's been diffusing since the Magnacarta, but sill has a ways to go. As the officers strolled to the far right side of the beach to corrall everyone, many others and we cut left, around the point, which leads to about a few kilometers of rocky but lovely beach. About 60 people headed in the same direction all with the same intention in mind, avoid the asshole's in order to continue enjoying ourselves in peace. We all moved, but the pigs kept coming, so we kept going the swaggering expressions of ownership, dominion and ego following along. I knew that they'd continue their sweep until everyone vanished, issuing tickets to those they stopped before, but the exodus was straggling, and we were getting further away from the beach. I attempted to convince our crowd to hide in the dense wood, knowing that cops, like everyone never like challenge or confrontation. I found a path and walked up around 10 feet, there was a girl peeing there, which I didn't catch on until a few moments, she called me a nasty name and went back to the beach. Unfortunately my friends did not join me. I sat in the bushes and as the cops strolled by and the sun set. On their way back they pointed their flashlights along the bushes with no success. Venturing out, the cops were gone and so was the exodus, the mushrooms were setting in I began to venture forth in search of the party. It was a beautiful walk, but I was a bit dismayed.
The walk lasted about two hours, strumming the banjo along the whole way, little groups had settled around fires, spread out in intervals about 200 feet. At each little fire I'd stop and play some tunes, ask if they'd seen my friends and then carry on. At one point a beautiful girl was spinning poi, that's chains with flaming torches on the end, or in this case plastic balls that were changing colors. She danced and spun to the rhythm of the banjo and I kept on.
Some groups conversed one inane topics, some sat in silence, after coming across the second large concrete tower that had been abandoned some time ago, I got to the last fire on the strip. There, two head bangers and one of their girls friends enjoyed some white wine and the fine evening. We kicked it for a good while and turned back around, hoping that my friends had made it to the main beach. The stroll back was joyous, we skated and sang, skipped and meandered past all the fires I'd seen already and finally made it back to Wreak. At a fire surrounded by folks of Asian decent, my new friends bought some magic mushrooms, I stripped naked (it is a nude beach after all) and went for a dip. One asked about my life and I told him I had no plans or ambitions or expectations and he seemed touched. "You've changed my life" he said. Cavorting around with a banjo can have unexpected results I suppose. One of them took me aside and said my nudity was making the girls feel uncomfortable; we took off to make our own fire. And fire we did! All the while I'd been carrying a bag full of apples, a winter jacket that Danny had found, a bottle of booze and it was getting a bit heavy. Playing the banjo with one hand while holding the bag became an inspiring challenge. We lounged until the sun came up and realized one of the head bangers lost his smokes, we headed back along the path and found them without trouble. Retuning to the beach, the police were back, kicking everyone out again at 6 AM before the beach officially opened at 8. As Danny said a number of times, what is it about night that makes a public place no longer public?
Through the UBC campus we came across a large dangling metal bell. When one stands directly beneath it and make sounds, it produces and eco that only the singer can hear. The resonation of the banjo was sweet. We made it to monks, the famous greasy spoon which offers 3-dollar breakfast anytime of day.
We hung out in a park, did some yoga, and I started to make my way back to the boat. The boots I was wearing were too small, upon observation were rubbing away the skin on the top of my toes. Out came the pocket knife to slice away the restriction, new slits in the front meant my toes could pop right out how satisfying. It took a number hours to get back, a block away, I realized the Danny's bottle of hooch I'd refrained from drinking, had smashed in the bag, luckily it was not a treasured bag. (He thought he'd dropped the bottle anyway) Sleep was well appreciated. On Sunday we took off for Nanaimo around noon, the sun was shinning, the weather beautiful and we were looking forward to the next leg of our journey. At the back of the boat Steph was installing an arm that a dingy could hang from. Her time working on a shipyard prepared her for working with fiberglass. With the autopilot on, being propelled by motor, Danny and I were down in the cabin about to eat more mushroom. In retrospect it sounds like were constantly eating those things, indeed they were frequent during that period, but each time was small doses, so they never took as strong effects as is necessary for a deeply moving experience. With mushrooms, it's best to take a lot, two or three grams all at once, to experience the beauty of this plant. Dolling out the doses, Danny called to Steph to come over. "Danny!" she screamed as an ominous shadow, and then red wall came up on left side of the boat. Danny leapt up the ladder, we lurched to the right and struck the object to all of our horror. Steph had been able to turn the wheel the last moment, but to only a certain degree, we'd tied the wheel down so that the autopilot wouldn't have to work as hard, which had ironically failed at that crucial moment. Under normal circumstances, should a tanker come into radar distance of boat, autopilot would sound the alarm, and even change course. The loss of power and a strapped down wheel was a double error, to be learned from. The few degrees of turn did however make a significant difference, instead of a head-on collision the ten exposed feet of a 30 foot rudder glanced the side, taking a sizable chunk out of the fiberglass bumper. Crew members on the two massive cargo ship laughed at us from the deck as we floated away, dazed.
Motoring out we clean the boat after the week of partying, the mushrooms were weak, but pleasant. Some poignant conversation came out of that ride, Danny told us about the rift between the hippies and the loggers who used to consider themselves on the same team. A rift occurred when some ecological activists took it upon themselves to "inoculate" some old growth forests. Inoculation in that sense was to take some rebar and hammer it all the way diagonally down into the tree; when a saw blade came into contact with the metal pole the results were disastrous, sometimes resulting in death for the lumber jack. Another fun way of protecting mother earth was to create a sugar brigade, that's mix water and sugar into the gas tanks of the logging trucks. This method sometimes resulted in a few moments of function before seizing the engine, so it was important to slash the tires as to not have an uncontrollable truck barreling down a mountain road. Talk of a sit in at wreak beach came up frequently, with rent prices skyrocketing, having a safe place to camp without being hassled by the authorities would be a major benefit to the city. We agreed on the general flow of society, that kings and gods seemed have more power and as time progressed, that power was spread around to more people. Danny asked about my visions for the future, I told him my post capitalism, spiritual journey experiments are all hinged on the 2012, the reason being that time is speeding up. Technologies and means of organization are becoming redundant moments after they're presented as breakthroughs; things won't slow down and today's world looks very different then the one I was born in. A hundred years ago, and for all of existence before that, people were generally born and died in the same world. However, if university and traditional politics continue to exists in 2013, I've got a back up plan. That's what Danny wanted to know about, I told him that I'd do what was necessary to get the final few credits for that degree and run under the banner of libertarian/anarchy, instilling self support among the populace for the eventual dissolving of government. Danny was interested in resources, as a first step to get market prices for our natural resources and pay off the deficit. Steph's interjection souded the most valid, wouldn't talk about or wound't try to influence that which didn't concern her, amen. Living in the moment is the most important thing one can possibly do, it scares a lot of people because we're stuck to a sense of self that rooted in the vague expectation of others and the notion that happiness lies somewhere around the corner. The truth is that the less you have, the freer you are; the more you know, the less you need. Ideology just gets in the way. I heard something recently, "as I advance my nature, so too does the world." Indeed world peace cannot come until we have inner peace.
That night a great wind picked up and we hurtled along. Something magical was in the water that night, microscopic luminescent creatures were firing off when ever the water was disturbed, our wake caused curtains of green light to ripple on either side as we cut through the darkness. In the morning Danny went to meet his daughter and visit Tofino on the other side of Vancouver Island. Steph and I hung out in the harbor all day long. It was a pinnacle of existence, we had food, hash, booze, each other and to my delight a series of awesome novels about prehistoric people. The first few chapters of this book was all about a journey, that a Neanderthal and a homo sapian couple took to return to his traditional families land. They are constantly connected and aware of the natural world around them, the plants, animals geography meshing with their own minds. There were certainly some parallels to the life we were living.
Tuesday was treasure-hunting day. We scoured the city of Nanaimo looting through garages and going into restaurants seeing if anyone had any food they might otherwise through out. At a Mexican restaurant they agree to let me perform in exchange for a meal, I busted out some tunes on the banjo then we marveled at our luck munching on burritos on the patio. One coffee shop was proud of us for being wanders, the thirsty camel policy to always give food to people who were broke. At the Harvey's the manager politely refused our request so I gladly popped into the dumpster out back. "Please don't go in there" the manager said, " I'll give you some hamburgers". Soon we met up with Jesse, a tattooed lovely girl who invited us to a concert at the Princess Patricia Pub, we're we'd met Danny two Tuesdays ago. We filled up Danny's old backpack with a bit more grub and started on our way to the concert. At the bar a pretty lady sang folk and blues tunes, then a old time rock duo did a fnatastic job, I wound up playing and repeated my bad jokes that were a hit two weeks before. While playing billiards with Steph she told me about her history as a pool shark. She told me about her life growing up, which was quite different from my middle class up bringing. Steph’s mother made a career of managing camp grounds, so steph had the pleasure of living in the woods for much of her childhood.
It was raining that night so
The beach life was raw and beautiful, our friends from nanaimo left in the morning and we seemed to have an on-going assortment of locals and tourists joining our fire. The Tofino town motto is “twice the fun, half the speed” and it’s utterly true. Tonquin beach is known as the local beach, being only one that’s accessible from downtown. Our first friend was a Julian, a classic hippy with sharp intellectual leanings; long hair and scruff, a bandanna and tie die shirt, he’s hitched all the way up to Alaska and all around the North-West Territory's. “Sometimes I’ve waited two days for a ride”, he told me later on. We discussed the possibilities of alien contact, the beauty of mind expanding substances, zen mediation and the various ways to roll joints. Somewhere along the way Steph got a tarot card reading forecasting the coming of a child, he came in the form off Dan, 21 years old, as tall as me, curly blond hair that was dreading in some places, bright eyes and one of the most fascinating mind’s that I’ve every come across. In a fashion known as a “nervous tick” there was rarely silence with Dan around, unless he was listening to his portable CD player, bopping away. Continuously asking if those around him were “okay”, I took it upon myself to come up with a million different ways to say “great”. Dan was a master with words, spewing out such incredible and touching descriptions of the natural world and human interaction that I had much to learn from him and asked him to write down a poem he wrote about space travel. Sometimes he would sit and rock, barking and coughing in a turretsesq manner, I assumed it was these beautiful outbursts that chaffed against the default society of work and school. Two months before he had begun his great solo journey to the West Coast, all the way from a small town in Quebec. We bantered back and forth in both official languages, at times applying thick and silly European and southern-American to both. His genius was best represented in his humor, listening to regular conversation that got dry, he would pick a random word mentioned in the sentence, warp and add to it in order to form a strange sounding name, then interrupt the speaker and ask if they’d ever met “sinterup jaundice” (my poor attempt). He did it whenever someone sounded anything but fascinating and it always got a laugh, it kept the crowd on their tows and it had the effect of constantly prying open which ever paradigm of reality we happened to be enjoying.
Up walked a fellow with a great smile and tatoos on both arms, Scott. The three of us hit it off immediately, sharing jokes, he performed magic tricks and swapping comedy routines. Scott told us about Poole’s Land, a would-be commune that he happened to be managing in the absence of the lands propieter, Mike Poole. The land was legendary on Vancouver Island, the year before I’d heard it was a place where people could camp in exchange for work and there were a number of people living there. Poole’s land was also notorious as place for trouble, apparently it was a just a bunch of people living in the woods. Scott performed some slight of hand magic tricks, the most memorable making the tattoo of tuxedoed men on his forearm dissapear, gave us both some MDMA and invited us to a party at the land that saturday; there was going to be a skateboard ramp into a lake as well as a huge floating fire. Later on that day, Steph and I were sitting around the fire, pontificating, and Dan kept asking no one in general they were okay. Something struck me as decidedly wrong with Rich, even before he joined our party. He had been sitting alone thirty feet from the fire, continuously mixing Jack Daniels and coke. His face was beautiful, short red hair under a cap with dark blue eyes and jovial smile. Stocky and powerful body builder frame with clothes that were crisp, a prominent military looking watch was a window into his psyche. Apparently a fisherman who worked some 60 hours a week, it was imperative he drank with gusto on his day off. He cracked some good jokes and added to the conversation. He caught something I’d said about music and responded “KKK folk songs? I know those”. This caught my interest, inquire about it, he started talking about a Black Panther-CIA drug conspiracy, then Dan asked him if he’d met “Dancer Blackman”, to which Rich replied with joviality, “goodness, what an wild coincidence, I have in fact, not met Dancer Blackman”. “Are you okay?” said Dan. He wasn’t. Instead of ignoring the question after so many times, Rich decided to answer in the affirmative, each time with greater tension and anger in his voice. I asked “are you sure you’re okay?” and he had small eruption of nervous energy, drawing furiously in the sand with a stick as he clenched his jaw and got red in the face. “I’m fine okay, I’m fine, everything’s great”. Silence. “You don’t sound very convincing” said Steph. He had a nervous smile and rocked slightly. “Are you okay?” said dan to the wind, for the 50th time that afternoon . “YES!” Yelled Rich, cracking. He jumped on Dan, pinning him to the ground, “you’ve got a demon in you” he shouted, were gonna get it out, were going to heal you. We froze with shock, “get the fuck off me” said Dan struggling under the greater strength. “I don’t know about this” I said, standing up. “No, it’s okay, replied gary, “he knows what he’s doing”. “Get out demon, come on get out of there” Continued Rich as they rolled around. Dan got more furious, screaming, punching and kicking. “Be calm Dan” I offered, to no regard. He landing a knee and the attacker relented. Rich sat disheveled, breathing hard, “I think we got it”. Dan was checking a buried elbow and was cursing the wind. Steph had wide eyes and gary went back to quiet hippy mode. “Let’s go for a walk Dan” the two of us took off down the beach. “That mother fucking asshole, what the fuck!” Dan’s pain and anger was well understood. Displaying unique characteristics like grasping at his hair as he barked, it probably wasn’t the first time he’d been the trigger and target for those repressing elements of their own personality. Thinking of a million things a minute, always on a new thought, he and the millions of ADD kids are NOT learning disabled, but evolutions and we’ll only starting thinking faster with more chaos, by nature forcing us to think and exist in the moment. I told him that everyone in this life is learning, everyone is evolving and when ever someone is rude or mean it’s because they simply haven’t evolved far enough yet, and we need to treat them like that, like teachers. “Kind of like your doing with me” “Yeah kind of like that, but I’m learning as much from you as you are from me.”
The walk was wonderful and we soon forgot about the trouble of a few moments prior. The path cut over jagged rocks, and we had the opportunity to cut inwards, traveling over steep and rugged terrain. The trails were probably ancient, being the most logical route between the gorgeous natural beaches. The topography of the Tofino coast line is shaped something like half of a pine tree, Tonquin, aka first beach, at the top, with Islands hovering a quarter mile off. Further down was bushing resulting in two great cliffs running perpendicular to the isolated 2nd beach, aka nude beach where the cops never come. Dan aka “Unicorn” as we’d dubbed him, cut through the dense paths, up the escarpments and down the cliffs to the miniature four foot beaches that were created when the tide was up. After a few hours we we came out at McKensie beach, about three times the size of tonquin, it was mostly deserted except for a fire or two and a couple dudes playing botche while drinking beer. Chatting them up I got to talking with a fellow named Jeffro, about 5’5 with the biggest smile and bouncy personality one could meet. Scott had told me about Jeff when displaying his newest tattoo, it was the logo for Jeff’s business, the Tofino Surf School. Scott felt that was he was doing represented the best of tofino, and indeed Jeff seemed like the heart of the city. I told him we’d been traveling without direction or expectation and we became instant friends, inviting me to stop at the shop any time for a free surf lesson. They bocheeed away in on of the most beautiful places on earth. We continued down the road past the uber rich resorts, now jogging, me with no shoes. We came across the entrance to Poole’s land and strolled in, Scott happened to be there and gave us a small tour. The first few hundred feet looked a bit decrepit, a few old camper vans and junked pilled around, but deeper in was lush forest scattered with camping platforms and a variety of campers, trailers, RVs and mini houses. It felt like a new home. Scott mentioned that he didn’t want to continue managing the place, that Poole was in and out for often; after a number of chats with Danny about leadership, it all felt quite synchronistic. Off to the big pond there was a mini van painted with crazy graffiti colours, a dance floor that loomed over the near end of the pond and a cute little house nestled into the hill. A tent full of posesions had burned down the week before and scott had helped build the home out of material found on the land. Back on the road, when ever a car would go by, Unicorn would get visibly stressed out and cough, and stand still for a few moments, I would job ahead with my usual pace, then he would race forward again. I had fun taking the Unicorn for a jog, the run took three or four hours to do the full loop through town and back to the fire. Arriving, the fire was blazing, a few huge logs were casting great heat and light onto the ten or so revelers. A local named piper, was serenading us, playing away, he knew I’d appreciate a mighty burn through that chilly may night.
Living on the beach, shoes became a nuisance, the sand was white and smooth and felt great underfoot. Exploring the near forests for firewood, I started climb on the jagged rocks and into caves, with nothing but bare souls. Cutting over over the coast to the next beach was an experience in archaic travel, some rocks soared up ten feet, with muscles and clams caked on, all it took was a slow and steady aproach and my feet were fine. Poppin out on the other end, there were some nice cuts below my toes, well worth it. The trend was reducing structure with every turn, I knew I’d lose the shoes permanently, eventually.
Sometime late in the week, the local branche of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police did us the honour of gracing us with a visit. Living free seemed to attract those that wish to impose their will on others. The bald headed tall man strolled up with a rather sour look on his face with a outlook and outfit that clearly out of place in such a beautiful place. I started playing the banjo as he zeroed in on the cans of beers, readily supplied to us by the various friends, that were sitting around the fire. My spidy sense tightened up as he started chatting up steph and became visibly agitated by the open alcohol, steph tried reasoning with him, gave him her passport, and was treating like a human rather then a brainwashed automaton. It was going well, until she absentmindedtly took a sip, then the scary black notebook came out and awarded my partner in total bohemian lifestyle a ticket for 250$. All you could do was laugh. We’d made no attempt to make or use money, (except for buying a bit booze) in the last three weeks, when you live in the moment, tickets don’t hurt you. Steph actually appreciated it, we were running out of toilet paper! As he strolled away I tried to cheer him up, “How’s your day going” “Well it was gong well” He’d internalized it. I got him talking about my political career and he got happy again, he promised to read my platform and make a decision later on, he was still a bit miffed though.
This was a trend I noticed among all the cops I’ve seen along the way. Two days ago it was over an old man smoking in a park, “Is that guy smoking?” he yelled out multiple times with utter incongruity and contempt. They react to violations the book they carry, just like anyone clinging to ANY ideology, as a personal affront, they get upset. This is common and expected and it’s also coming to an end. This is how the universe works, going from simple to complex, with simplest of organisms evolving gradually into more complicated ones. For the first 40 thousand years of the creatures knows as humans, we were nomadic, following the slow migration of herds, aware of the simple natural balance of the world. This mindset is still apparent in traditional societies all over the world. Around ten thousand years ago, humans make the connection between sex and pregnancy AND planting seeds and growing food. Before then, women spoke because gathering was complex and men were more silent because hunting is quiet. When the connection was made that seeds and sperm could create such things, all the sudden they became, to quote terrence meckenna, “ my child, my woman, my land “ the myth of possession sprang up. The male ego was born and many people forgot that the goddess, the feminine is the dominant force in this world. Thinking that someone had dominance over any person, place or thing is simply wrong and dehumanizing, all it does is restrict your brilliance. Comfort is important, but trying to get anywhere in life is the wrong way to do it, be calm, find inner peace, and all good things will come.
Anyway, a large group gathered on the beach, playing guitar, smoking and drinking as the best hippies do, and along came an invite to party later at Laird’s house. I got the directions and waited for Steph to get back from her own expedition to Poole’s land. Upon her return a Frenchman, a German and an Italian had joined the fire, they had been working on a vinyard in the Okanagen. They’d all met in BC and had decided to rent a car and explore the coast, English was the only language they had in common. We said goodbye to the beach, piled into the car and headed past the gas station to the Laird’s. Strolling up the hill we spotted a number of characters we’d made friends with other the last few days. There was Jereme, who’d studies avian mechanics back in Quebec and was now living in a houseboat, working on float planes. There was rusty, who;d just bought a chain saw and was cutting fire wood for some of the local businesses. He told us about dear rich after we’d mentioned the situation with Unicorn. Aparently Rich had convinced Rusty to go sneaking around town, pretending to be army. Did I meantion rich was about 35? Lair, our lovely host, was deep into the sauce by the time we’d arrived, he was slurring and stammering, quite unlike his usual composed self. At once point he fell face first into the four foot high blaze, akimbo on the massive pile of burning wood. Without emotion response, Rusty grabbed a hold of his seater and yanked him out with ease, mear moments after the rest of us decifered the situation. The rescue was so quick the fall didn’t seem to shock anyone, there was a brief communal gasp, and things went back into the flow.
With limited prodding the banjo came out from it’s hanging spot under my arm, a tall and thick dread locked fellow named Mark had a djembe, that’s an African hand drum, and we took to jamming. When communication with rhythm and textures with an experienced rhythm player, freedom of exploration becomes the norm. We pushed and pulled sounds, beats, noises, words into an expression of life that seemed to grow and fade, pause and jump, transfix our audience and ensnare each other. The energy bounced back and forth with vigor, Mark played the drum in every direction with every party of his arms, was balancing on one leg and rolling around on the ground, felling the ongoing vibrations which inspired us and pushed us along. I couldn’t say how long the jam lasted, only that it was surprisingly long, it stayed fresh and mutating and exploded in it’s natural expiration a good while after the banjo was put down, along with all my clothes. We drank and smoked a few more cigarettes and the party toned down. Mark invited Steph and I back to his camper, a huge green motor home that can comfortably house the 7 people usually part of Mark’s band. It was everso cozy after five cold nights and just one blanket, he had loads of food for us and plenty of goodies. The talk was about lifestyle, rhythm mostly, that it’s not about what you do in life, just about how you do it. Finding that beautiful flow of doing what you want, not needed very much and enjoying yourself with cool people at every turn. We slept extremely well and woke even better.
The first thing in the CD player that morning was a guided meditation, I’d recommend that to anyone. Brining awarness into the toes, then bringing it all the way up with the breath, it started the day by instilling the listener with a deep seated sense of inner joy and radiance. Next came a couple big joints, then the best pancakes I’ve ever had, filled with nuts and fruit, covered with jam. Conversely, someone had written “move freak” in soap, on the middle window of the van. There was only one house in the distance, some ways away, I assumed it was an employee from the industrial park nearby, jealous. Stepping outside, the beauty of the van revealed herself in the form of a gorgeous painted goddess and psychedelic images painted on the outside. Crapping in the woods, there was a small discarded camp site, much like those nestled into the path along the beach path. There was something quite comforting about that sleeping pad and cans of food, it made me think that along every well used road, in each patch of wood, was a blanket, comfort, another little patch of safety to help along the way. After a few more pancakes, we took off for town.
Then it was Friday, being at the other party, we hadn’t made it to Poole’s land, but it sounded like it was quite the to-do. Steph had arrived at Poole’s Land a few hours before I did and was already engaged with the lovely people from all over the world that made up the community. Scott wasn’t around, but a lovely fellow named Alex, with the air of a pixie, graciously lead me around town, speaking in a a beautiful french picked up from all the Quebecois and French who frequented the area. After the string of Vans in the front passage, the right veared off into a communal area. It featured a one story house with a big porch, a large kitchen, a bathroom and an outdoor shower around back. Behind it was Poole’s house, which at one point was a bus, I think. In front of the communal house was a work tent-smoking shack, that was in total chaos. Behind that was the begining of the boardwalk, it ran about 500 feet deep into the property. The first side walk was to the sauna and treefort and the next few connected to isolated camping platform in groups of about three or less. At every turn there seemed to be limitless opportunity, the magic in the air was palpable, I’d been dreaming about his wonderous places for years. In all my travels, which at that point had been more extensive then most, it was by far the coolest place I’d ever sene. Around ever bend was another magic bus, a pyramid, a rope course, more ponds. It was fairy land, through and through, people living quietly and in relative peace in the woods. Alex showed me the community gardens that were welcome work in, the garlic leaves where delicious, chomping on some kale in the same bite was delicious. I could taste the freedom, connection with the world, and love that went into those plants. The sixties counter culture was still alive and well, everyone still dreams of that calm, simple place where people work together, with the earth, living in harmony. Poole’s Land had it’s problems, but it was a hell of a lot closer to that reality then every I’d seen, or even heard about, any where from Ottawa to BC. I wanted to get dirty, to wear out my muscles and dig deep into that place, that mecca for freaks and lots children.
At the kitchen and on the deck people were gathered, they were making art, giving massages, cooking, playing music, heaven. Someone offered me a plate of stir fry with rice and it was just so damn good. Once again, I was home. On the wall someone had written “Je me trouve perdu” which might be interpreted as, “I’ve found myself, lost.” It was the perfect descriptor of my existence. Until you’ve fully immersed yourself into pure chaos, by only saying “yes” to each new opportunity, you can’t know yourself. Cory, a tall Australian with a keen mind, dreadlocks and tattoo of a dragon that seemed to go in and out of his forearm handed me a “lung”, his preferred to way of smoking pot. He made it by lighting a packed bowl, then pulling on a string that was attached to a bag. The pressure from the bag drew the smoke up and there was a handy balloon filled with smoke that Cory passed to anyone that wanted a toke. It put me in a coughing fit, but was delicious and well appreciated. Out came the banjo and the room started to rock. Circling the middle table, folks started banging on cups and glasses with spoons and forks, a veritable kitchen jamboree. The energy in that room was breathtaking, it was if I’d whipped up a hurricane, no concert could ever compare the glory of a commune jam. Steph played baby I’m an Anarchist, on the banjo, for the first time, our harmonies had folks in tears.
As the scraggelers shufffled off to bed at around 3, I got to cleaning. One corner of the room was known as the “free corner” every week a bag of clothes showed up and the results were some clothing strewn around in every direction. This wouldn’t have been of much interest to me, but on the other side of that big pile of clothes were two large glass swinging doors. On the other side, was a pile of drift wood and lawn tools, waist high, I had my work cut out for me. Folding the clothes and putting them in the random backpacks that had been abandoned by years of campers, two drunk guys named paul started cooking pasta. They were joking and laughing a lot, mostly at the expense of Poole’s land. They mostly ignored me as I packed up the clothes and deposed the packed bags in neat piles behind the house, however occasionally the shorter, older (45ish), fatter, drunker, Paul, would occasionally grumble about how I should know better about touching other people’s stuff. Disregarding him, I opened the rusted, broken, hardly sliding door that people came in and out to get to the side porch. In front of the big doors, I moved the big pile of artistic looking driftwood to safety under a shrub, it took about an hour, there was lot’s, and the two Pauls eventually disappeared. It must have been around 5 30 AM when all the clothes and wood was gone, all that was left a long strip of red tap that ran between the two and a chunk of wood screwed down, holding the two doors together. Making quick work of the tape and wood, the doors opened perfectly, there was no latch to close, but they weren’t broken in the least. As the campers started to come down to use the kitchen, they were in awe. “Oh my god, the doors”. It felt good, another of those right place right time moments, as the sun came up and I sipped a warm drink, not feeling the least bit tired, but fairly smug, the amazement just kept coming. These were the front doors of the main house, frequented by 30 or so people, that had previously just been windows. Grandiose visions filled my head. I seen it before in my dreams, involving a lot of rope courses, that’s still to come though. Talking with Danny about leadership on the boat, then chatting with Scott about that same subject, it felt like things were coming together in a beautiful way.
And the first few days were some of the most gratifying and fulfilling of my life. Still not tired I sat with nervous energy, the room had been transformed by the new door and I wanted to keep up the vibe. I went to go see if Scott was home, he was staying in an orange van near the entrance and woke with pleasure. Popping in, we shared a smoke a talked about ladies. These days it seems like tradition relationships don’t really exists any more, just friends hooking up; I’m all for it, marriage is just a power relationship. I suggested we go talk to Happy, a fellow who’d just moved to the Land, although had been living on Vancouver Island for some time, managing camp sites, but had never heard of the place until recently. Happy was a shinning individual, always with a big smile on his face, entirely deserving of his name. We strolling over to his site, there was Steph, the two of them had struck up a strong bond already, and she was working away at camp platform adjacent to his. The four of us stood around Happy’s fire and talked about what we wanted to accomplish, namely the creation of a functioning community.
I spent the day informing everyone in camp about the fire that afternoon, a rush of purpose flowed through me. Being an inspiring member of a community that lived and worked with the wilderness has always been a fantasy of mine, it seems like a much more “normal” means of existence. However the dynamic at Poole’s land was tricky, attempting to guide a diverse group of people, is in of itself challenging. The people at the land were the best part, most were in there 20s, coming from all over Canada and the rest of the world. Tofino is knows as one of the coolest places in Canada, poole’s is the coolest spot in Tofino. Poole’s land is a vortex though, it get’s teh best or worlst out of you.