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August 19, 2005

"Wade in the Water"

It was 1995, late in the afternoon on a beautiful, hot day in early September, and I had just escaped Cody, Wyoming, with a new engine block in my '89 Honda Prelude--and a new timing belt, which was the cause of it all. I'd spent the last six days alone in a downtown hotel, walking the streets, watching television, and keeping 40-ounce beers cold with ice in the bathroom sink.

It's foolish to be "in a rush" about a hard two-day drive, but my vacation was over, I needed to get back to work, and I wanted to get back to Cindy. Add the paranoid fear that my car had basically gotten the equivalent of a liver transplant, and what if those guys in Cody hadn't fixed it right? Breaking down had sucked, but it had happened a few miles east of Yellowstone's East Entrance, right in front of a dude ranch/tourist camp; I'd had to walk the equivalent of, like, a block to the phone in their office. Now I was preparing to cross empty South Dakota.

I was climbing through the Bighorn Mountains west of Sheridan. I was listening to one of my friend Bill's lounge/exotica/ephemera mix tapes, compiled from his collection of thrift-shop LPs. There was road construction on the pass, so traffic was stop-and-go, creeping and winding for miles while we gained elevation. It was hot, but I didn't want to run the air-conditioning. I wasn't making any time, and if my car was going to overheat or some other such thing, it would happen under these conditions. Everything was fine, but in my head things were threatening to go very wrong any minute.

Finally we crested the pass. "END CONSTRUCTION." The road down opened into two lanes, and traffic spread out and started gaining speed. The Wyoming sky stretched panoramically east over the prairie towards Sheridan and the Badlands. As I exhaled and started driving with the brake to control my accelerating descent, a trumpet fanfare I couldn't quite place began the next song...and then I recognized, picking up steam, that trademark Ramsey Lewis groove. From the bottom of my heart and guts, I let out a spontaneous whoop of joy and freedom. I was going home.

Posted by pk at 11:24 AM

August 4, 2005

History repeats

...within that large majority there was a small cell of bombers who wanted to wreak maximum destruction. These extremist and violent religionists, disowned by the majority, were motivated by a far deeper attachment to the supra-national structure of the church than to the state. Some of them had been trained abroad.

They were English Catholics, in 1605.

A tolerant, multi-layered, and in many ways subtle approach to cultural diversity was quite suddenly and for a very long time thrown into reverse by an attack made on the majority culture by a tiny, partially unhinged group of murderous maniacs. They represented no one but themselves, but their actions were frightening enough for the majority culture to close down on them and any one who looked like them.

Surely this is the kind of history we should all be hearing about?


Posted by pk at 11:24 AM