Friday, March 19, 2010


Mannlicher Carcano Radio program, March 20, 2010, in response to sound files received from lok8tr, Alberta, memories of  Alberta, from 1980 to 1985, I lived in Lloydminister, Edmonton and then High Prairie.
I went to the local strip mall in Montreal to claim a free cup of coffee I won after lifting the rim of a paper cup after finishing a cup of coffee there yesterday morning and thought about the radio show, which will happen tomorrow, Guelph University Radio. I connect, as Rock Hill, via Skype.  It will be from noon to 4 PM tomorrow.

I've always enjoyed the north, long winters, a feeling of bleak, stark, desolation and solitude, a kind of no-nonsense landscape. You either survive, psychologically, or leave. Most people can't handle the weather and isolation. The farther north you travel, the greater the challenge. I loved it.

It's a luxury living close to nature, being able to drive down the highway and see wildlife: moose, deer, wolves, fox, bears, hawks, eagles, owls and then sections of farmland. I remember horses standing still at the edge of a field, at minus forty, steam rising off their backs. On long weekends I went back backing in the Rockies, around Grande Cache and Jasper. The best time was in spring or fall, before and after tourist season. I could also drive out to the Jackpines, or take logging roads north of Slave Lake.

Ok, as Porter Hall would say at the beginning of a show, "Let's jam."

Trajectories, travel, worlds, knowledge, certain and uncertain, to know enough to have some idea about the possibility of knowing and not knowing, a trip from north to south, west to east, randomly begun to a haphazard finish, hit and miss in between, compare this to evolution from God-fixated church, school, academy, and agencies, to a set of ideas, or theory of knowledge. The whole attempt to create a central structure or immovable reference point collapsed under the scrutinizing gaze of reason, leaving one to continue without dogma or or a conceptual peg on which to hang one's identity or a platform for ego.

Music lost melody for a while, went into reactionary migraine-inducing dissonance, intensified to breaking point. The audience walked out. Some people stopped going to church. Fewer people seek doctoral degrees. Collapse into pop, or anything, into Mannlicher folk music, Captain Beefheart, Bonzo Space music, Madonna, Lady Gaga, back and forth, dialectic of yick and yack, hum and haw, Oogah and Oorsis, Ooo and Cha.

Road side bar, pickled eggs, steep hills, huge puddles, cattle grazing on recently cleared farmland, bush turned over, roots in the air and then plowed under. Go for a beer in a bar, where a touring band played latest hits and people could dance. A man drove into town, moose strapped to the roof of his suburban. Trucks parked outside the supermarket. Later, guests gathered for a psychic party, featuring a supernatural woman, jaw unhinged, wagging out a flood of cosmic gibberish, which maybe somebody with secret hopes and obvious fears, or maybe somebody with nothing more than a desire for a little entertainment to unwind and soak in vibes of a funky, surreal Friday night could enjoy.

Gossip column, finger pointing, a woman yelled at her husband to get out of town. Don't talk about who did what to whom. Don't talk about jealousy, gossip, slander, mobbing, greed, nepotism and embezzlement, padded travel expense accounts, skim money out of the treasury, set aside a little project grant money for personal use, pilfer small items adn the odd computer and then pretend to be a follower of Jesus.

Saturday, drive down logging roads north of the lake, or a gravel road into the bush, stone guards to protect headlights. It was almost impossible to avoid getting a cracked or chipped windshield.

Death happened during a drunken head-on collision in a freak, late season snowstorm. A man went back to jail, three days after release, after a wild, drunken episode of auto theft, dangerous driving, vandalism and assault. A convenience store shut down because too many people were shoplifting, anything, from coffee to candy. Climb a forestry tower to get a view of the land and watch a bear approach a cabin.

A friend from the Arctic phoned and told me about a polar bear encounter. They were out seal hunting. A polar bear crept up behind one of the hunters. His buddy lifted a rifle and joking said: "Hey, look behind you." That scared the shit out of him. Two bullets dropped the bear.

Here's what it looks like when a polar bear gets too close to people.

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