Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Would Be Island

Which is what I called it when I was a kid ... in the kid way of getting things wrong, assuming it was probably one of those islands that 'would be' an island if it didn't have a small land bridge or what have you. Anyway, Whidby Island has no such land bridge, never did, and is a real island, and thus we understand the human penchant for delusion, and of course, the American electorate.

the ferry dock

Mt. Baker in the distance

I came out here to see Michael Ferri and Jim Sherman who hosted me for a lovely little afternoon book party/reading where a great group of gay folks showed up and a grand time was had by all. We polished off 8 bottles of wine in fact. These kinds of events are the best...intimate, friendly, interactive, and where I was able to include my poetry as Michael is a big fan of it. I sold every book I had and even ran short, which doesn't happen often.

Jim on left; Michael on right

Michael and Jim's house is a Japanese style bungalow with a guest cottage/garage where I stayed.



the guesthouse where I stayed

The view from my doorway out onto Penn Cove

These guys are both super interesting. Both were seminarians in their youth, but soon left as the 60s exploded around them. Michael became an activist and got involved with the Civil Rights Movement, Peace Movement and Women's Movement, and ultimately the Gay Movement, which are/were part of the one larger liberation movement. There was homophobia in the movement as you can imagine, and Michael pointed out that the Black Panthers were one of the first groups to welcome gay activists. I was unaware of this and didn't realize that Huey Newton spoke about it at length: http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/looking-back-at-huey-newtons-thoughts-on-gay-rights-in-the-wake-of-obamas-endorsement/

Huey looking very Panther

Huey looking like a gay twink

Yet another comandeering of El Che's image (though there were never any pro-gay comments from Senor Guevara, who sent queers off to concentrations camps or death, dogmatic communist zealot that he was. I love the boy Che who had a big heart, but he got lost in orthodoxy as I see it, which has been the downfall of many)

Back in bourgeois America, Michael microwaves his dog's food, which is homemade and includes green beans, basil, thyme, garlic, brown rice, turkey and of course a dash of kibble (they are finicky pure breed Cavalier King Charles spaniels). 

Another friend of mine here keeps her red wine in the frig and then microwaves it to room temperature. While we're on the subject of strange counterintuitive energy use, I miss candles, and my landlord in LA--who is a fireman and doesn't allow candles as he says the vast majority of house fires are caused by candles and extension cords--would certainly be hip to these, which I ran across on Easter at the neighbors' house (gotta get me some):

I chanced across a restaurant with a name oft-mentioned in my novel, Faun, as Gilberto is suspected of being said creature:


Chupacabras aren't the half of it. The Native People up here are/were very superstitious, or conscious, of forest spirits, depending on your orientation to such things. The people stuck to the beaches as the forests were dense and dark and full of malignant spirits. One such spirit is Land Otter Man, who as you can see from this painting, steals the souls of humans. I had a dream where a young punky girl was trying to seduce me (she was so boyish, she almost succeeded, but I told her that if she wanted my soul, I couldn't give it to her, so she'd only get a quicky from me). Maybe she was Land Otter Woman. I liked her, but I'm glad she didn't get my soul.


As it turns out, the seasonal fishing villages on Whidby were the largest Native American settlements on Puget Sound, one of which was right on the beach across the road. Sadly, the natives were all forced to relocate to a rez. But their culture is still alive and vibrant, and includes the annual Penn Cove Water Festival each May.

Cedar bark lodges for gatherings

The longer I was on the island, the more interested I became in the native culture. Below is Komokwa, 
god of the undersea, who would send his seals up to shake boats until they spilled their booty which would fall into his palace, the columns of which were made of sea lions....his head was so big, that he sometimes surfaced and was mistaken for an island......http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komokwa

Then there's Sisiutl, the sea serpent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisiutl

A modern interpretation

Meanwhile, back in western religion, we had an Easter miracle. Michael simply dyed these eggs and the crosses just appeared.

We went to a great restaurant called Oystercatcher for an Easter lunch. Michael and I talked about people we have known that have passed away, and that we had great times with: Duncan Campbell, Gary Powell, Charles Swaringen, Jim Preciosa. I guess I like to think of Easter as a sort of Day of the Dead, rising lost friends back up to remember them.

Michael and Jim have a lot of art on the walls, which includes native work by Roger Purdue:



They also have lots of Japanese art (Jim does flower arranging) and various poster art from around the world


Jim's flower arrangement for the reading, complete with fungus..so beautiful

Could it be the Pied Piper appearing again?

Across the street, where the fishing village had been along Penn Cove, is one of the largest mussel fisheries in the U.S. There are platforms scattered around the cove with ropes that hang down into the depths. The mussels attach themselves to these ropes so they're quite easy to harvest. I had some at a local restaurant, and they are much better than the Chinese mussels that are common in California. These weren't orange and overly rich...their flavor was less fishy, their color white like clams and all in all they were quite tasty to this jack vegetarian (people always ask me what this means. 'Jack' means someone who cheats, is nondogmatic, or 'flexible'--a jack catholic fornicates and misses mass; a jack mormon drinks and wears BVDs).

Back to Seattle, and what great public transportation..I took a ferry, two buses and the light rail and never waited more than 5 mins for any of them:

Les in West Seattle

You can support bikes with your car license plate...very NW

These guys are playing a game called Foursquare where you bounce this ball onto a small trampoline and then sort of spike it or whatever...sort of like volleyball?

Never seen this sign before. Overservice means serving already drunk people. Seattle has overserved me with beauty and connection, and so I'm being ejected

Chau Les

Chau Dawn and Joanne, who told me about their amazing families. Both are raising sons. Dawn's is her bio son and Joanne's is here ex-lovers son, and the father is her best friend from high school, so they triple-parent :)

A Horse Named Sorrow on the shelf at Elliott Bay Bookstore

Yet another street library offering free books

This one for Tin...yes, a pho restaurant is capable of naming itself anything. Is it a mountain or a bowl of soup?

The holy mists of the Northwest.....
I feel really at home up here as I lived so many years in this ecosystem. And that's the key thing...it's the clouds and dark fir trees and water, the big ferry boats, the moss-riddled sidewalks, the smell of mold and seashells. Jim grew up on a farm on this island as his family were some of the earliest white settlers.  No one ever thought he'd come back, himself included. But people always go back to where they first met the world. Everytime I come here, I consider it. It's strange for me as I'm a schizoid little animal, who spent my formative 'critter' years here, but returned to SF every summer, knowing it was the family place of origin, with all the relatives and myths of 100 years  of ancestors. I felt like an exile then and used to sing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and eat Rice-a-Roni and french bread (SF was the great Irish-Italian-Chinese imperial city to us as kids and Seattle some grim outpost..in the 60s it really was. Even Jimmy Hendrix had to leave for the holyland to the south as we hoped one day to do, and did in time). But that was my child's mind; now reality is a hologramic kaleidoscope hall of mirrors, and home is a state of mind, and one I seem to create quickly. I miss Buenos Aires like home already and I was only there a year. The world is our home I suppose, and the more we get that, the better we become because the wider our perspective. Still, I feel sad to leave the Northwest--not just these trees and water, the everpresent clouds, and the little glimpses of my childhood world, but the people as well. I've really bonded with my friends here: Les and Michael and Jim, Tombiehl, Libby and Hugh, Joanne and Dawn who I'll see one last time tonight. Maybe home is the people we love and feel connected to.

Michael and I had a good final chat on the drive back to the ferry as we both have an interest and connection to Native American spiritual ritual and practice. Michael was one of the shamans of the GMSR (Gay Mens Spiritual Retreat, where we met in 1990), for want of a better word, and was always a visionary and a person who created healing ritual, which was especially important and profoundly affecting during the worst years of the AIDS crisis. We've both had a lot of amazing experiences with sweatlodges, etc., which is why that is a big part of A Horse Named Sorrow.  So much of my time here seemed to be in the flow where everything is connecting all around you. Suffice it to say, Michael is someone I am really glad I renewed my connection with, and I think I will be back here in the future to share more with him.


1 comment:

  1. Trebor, I heard your ruminations about home. Your thoughts clarified the definition of the word for me and made me relax about defining where my home is. Thank you.