Monday, June 25, 2007

who's in nebraska?

The work of the thing - I suppose, could be part revisionist history,
part badly-gone affair of the heart, part super-nov(ell)a, part brown
sugar melting in the pantry. Perhaps summer is the time to air out
the underroos.

Bruce Springsteen's album by the same name is brilliant. Asbury Park
(pictured) what a mysery, and a mystery. It is not, however, a placeless
place, and could very well come back.

Friday, June 22, 2007

we're going streaking.

Below find the text from an article on today's Baltimore Sun
regarding naked hiking on the first day of summer. It is more
cautionary than judgemental, which I appreciate. More on nudity
some other time. I'd rather go frolick than sit in front of my
computer screen.

Naked ambition of hikers on the Appalachian
By Abigail Tucker
Baltimore Sun Reporter
Originally published June 22, 2007
Along the Appalachian Trail // Dave Odorisio unzipped his tent flap yesterday, peered out and stretched; a halo of gnats quickly formed around his tousled head. It was just another morning on Maryland's leg of the Appalachian Trail. But this particular morning, the 25-year-old hiker had an important decision to make: Namely, would he get dressed today?
Hike Naked Day marks the summer solstice on the 2,000-plus mile trail and gives the boldest adventurers a chance to walk -- not to mention scale boulders and gain summits -- on the wild side. The bad news for us is that the solstice falls at the time when backpackers are passing en masse through the Maryland area. These thru-hikers, trudging from the trail head in Georgia to its finish in Maine (a journey that typically starts in early spring and ends in late summer), are the most likely to shed their smelly regalia for the solstice ritual, making the 41 miles of in-state trail potentially perilous for Girl Scout troops or day hikers whose tour buses have paused there briefly on the way to historic battlefields.

The good news is that, although the nude hikers' flesh may be as brilliantly white as the blazes that mark the trail, they make themselves quite scarce.

It didn't take long for Odorisio to decide no, he definitely would not let the sun shine below the timberline, as it were. The morning was chilly, and the bugs were out for blood.

Besides, in the next tent over, 24-year-old Ian Russ of Chicago was yelling: "You better not hike naked! I've got my 11-year-old brother with me!"

Even setting aside the obvious examples, there are many strange activities that can be undertaken sans clothes. Naked bull roasts and naked chili cook-offs. Naked scuba-diving and naked sky-diving. Nude Texas hold 'em tournaments, beach cleanups, 5K runs, blues concerts and "shine 'n' buff" car shows. But naked mountain climbing ranks among the more hazardous options.

Think of poor Pus Gut, who hiked naked a few years back. All thru-hikers who attempt to complete the trail are given nicknames, but Pus Gut truly earned his, said Todd Berezuk, who works at the Outfitter at Harpers Ferry, a hiking equipment store near the Maryland segment. Suffering a fit of modesty in the midst of his solstice celebration, the young hiker attempted to fashion himself an undergarment out of leaves he found growing along the trail.

Poison ivy? He wasn't quite that dumb. It was poison sumac.

"His stomach was blistered, inflamed, broken out completely," said Berezuk, also a nursing student, who examined him when he came into the store. "So everyone called him Pus Gut."

Rather than devising natural-fiber loincloths, many trekkers prefer to "just keep a bandana handy" on the heavily traveled trail, said Al Preston, an assistant manager of Western Maryland's South Mountain State Park, which the trail runs through.

"I really don't know why they do it to begin with," Preston added. No one really does. "It's been passed down. When I got here in '92, I was warned that on the first day of summer people hike naked. And they do." Technically, it's against park rules, Preston says, but on the solstice officials "tend to grin" -- and bear it.

Of course, it depends on which park you're in. Stark-naked hikers who don't make it as far north as Maryland on the longest day of the year may encounter patrolmen to the south who are less tolerant of the holiday. Bare hindquarters are given no quarter at Virginia's George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, according to Woody Lipps, a patrol captain there who is not afraid to fine the naked. Penalties range from $75 to $5,000 or six months in jail, he said.

"Once someone called and asked if we would look the other way if they hiked naked to the Cascades on Hike Naked Day," Lipps said. "If you are in a public area nude, you are going to get a ticket."

However, Lipps admitted that tracking down nudes on the move is neither an enviable nor an easy task.

"It's like a needle in a haystack," he said. "How are you going to find one naked person in 1.8 million acres? You could hide a hundred naked people out there."

No one knows exactly how many hikers participate in the informal holiday, said Laurie Potteiger, information services manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Actually, "we really try to pretend that it doesn't exist," she said. The activity violates the sanctity of the trail and often disturbs other nature-lovers. Besides, because of all that extra exposed skin, the naked "are much more at risk for Lyme's disease," she said.

Not to mention for sunburn, snapping turtle bites and pack-strap chafing that even Body Glide, a special lubricant favored by thru-hikers, can't prevent. And "southbounders" doing the trail in reverse better not even think about it, hikers say, because it's still blackfly season up north.

And yet, despite these dangers, the day of nakedness seems an integral part of the trail's kooky culture, which revolves around reducing one's possessions to the bare necessities until a whole life can be crammed in a backpack. To many of the travelers bound for the trail's end at Mount Katahdin, the naked hiker seems to truly embody the principal of stripping down, and everyone seems to hope he exists, even if they've never met him.

Six hours after dawn on Hike Naked Day, no one had passed by Maryland's Dahlgren Backpackers' Campground less than half-dressed -- not even 23-year-old Scott Ames of Massachusetts, though his trail name, Quarter Moon, sounded promising.

"Too many roads in Maryland" was Quarter Moon's excuse.

One librarian from Queens, N.Y., saw the adventure's appeal. Michelle Ray, 30, had posed as a life model for art students during her college days, and she was still contemplating hiking naked herself. "God forbid I run into a pack of Boy Scouts and scar them for life," she said. "A naked librarian? They don't need to see that."

Leaving other hikers with such a startling memory might violate the thru-hiker's vow to "leave no trace" behind in the wilderness.

And yet, Ray said, it could honestly be worth it.
For information about the Appalachian Trail, visit

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I would match up the evils of the self-righteous over-tanned and under-fed American ‘edges’ to god-fearing fatties in the middle any day. Sure, the average Michigan quick-n-shopper will probably be a blissfully unaware iceberg lettuce eating moron, but how is that any worse than the other side of the magazine rack, where the Paris Hiltons of the world can’t survive a single day in the joint and it is, ironically, “in God’s Hands” – a battle cry normally heard in the middle of the country – and any more meaningful? Unlikely. The truth is that most Americans are neither, and they probably think the coffee is bad too. But Starbucks ain’t any better, it’s just on the other end of the spectrum, where they burn it BEFORE they brew it. The 'average' overfed and under-read American is certainly a sad example of one of the many permutations of American life – and being fat in a part of the country where the food isn’t good anyway? Downright depressing (there certainly are well-cultured happy fat people in Europe – where you’d be hard pressed to criticize them in the same way for eating too much world-class prociutto) – BUT not necessarily a recipe for disaster. Certainly not the exact case in New Orleans, one of the fattest places in the country. When has fatness ever warded off investments? If it’s anything, it’s the rusty cars, and the better quality of life on the north side of the lake. There are fat people in Canada, too. Sure, going into the wrong diner can mean burnt coffee. But to suggest that Michigan just suffers from poor or nonexistent marketing? This is short sighted. Today’s mudflap girls could be tomorrow’s hot new thing on the catwalks of New York City. Wouldn’t be the first time the snobby east or west appropriated ‘trucker’ chic and made a mint, ala Ashton Kutcher. The travesty is that no one in depressed Michigan would benefit from the "largesse."

Sunday, June 03, 2007


When yeast refuses to eat the nice organic sugar you carefully put out for it, you get slices of what I will refer to as, architecturally speaking, “walls of wheat.” I could tilt them into place and landscape behind them. It is plenty good with a pound of butter, but I was hoping for some bubbles in the crumb.

It’s a rainy Sunday so instead of building a garden wall, I have baked two loaves of the densest white since Dan Quayle. Maybe I would have had better luck making “potatoe” bread. I could carefully construct a ‘Mr. Potato Bread’ perhaps, with whom I will discuss my lifestyle choices. I anticipate a hefty shelf half-life for this bread-friend. I might just get the band saw out and make 420,000 2-atom wide slices of melba toast…

Just eating it seems trite.

I sure would like to be better at this, and a hundred other things. How could a neolithic tradition be so simple and so difficult at the same time? Certainly scone baking druids and Egyptian boulangers were pulling their plated hair out simultaneously miffed and puzzed at the unpredictability of this persnickety pastime. Or…or! The unknown is what makes it beautiful.