Brief No. 72
Words by Derek Stackhouse, photo (Washougal River) by Daniel Wakefield Pasley
The Saco River winds from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, through Southern Maine, emptying into the sea at Saco Bay. Behind its bucolic banks, though, lies a grim history, one that elicits whispers of an “Indian curse.” Local legend goes that in the summer of 1675, a group of white settlers tossed an Indian boy from the Sokokis tribe into the river to see if native children were in fact born able to swim “like dogs.” Enraged Sokokis chief Squandro swore that three white men would perish in the river’s waters annually for the deed. The tale is such an integral part of life in the region that in 1947, after a summer of no casualties, the front page of the local newspaper declared “Saco River Outlives Curse of Indian Chief.”
Today, on a leisurely inner tube trip down the calm stretch of the Saco between tiny Buxton and Hollis, Maine, one need only scan the shores to see the variety of human uses for such a waterway. The West Buxton Hydroelectric Plant, a mid-century monument to the desire to harness the water’s power, still operates just upriver from sprawling residential lawns and the uniform green of Salmon Falls Country Club. These manicured expanses continually interrupt vibrant green banks of forest. Here, working class families who have farmed the land or moved timber down the river for generations live alongside moneyed retirees and professionals looking for some relaxation. And finally, just across from the golf course’s ninth fairway, stands that ubiquitous totem of adolescent abandon: the rope swing. … More in this Brief
Brief No. 71
Words by Kyle von Hoetzendorff, photo by Daniel Wakefield Pasley
The term Slash Pile is evocative and ambiguous. Context is important.
The Rock and Roll context
'Slash Pile'. It is hard for me to believe this wasn’t a term used by roadies during the Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction world tour. To what specifically it would reference has yet to be determined in an anthology of those times, but I have a few ideas. 'Slash Pile' could easily have been a term used by envious roadies when noticing that once again Slash was buried under a bevy of buxom and lascivious groupies. They could have said for example, “Man did you see that Slash Pile last night? How does that dude even breathe in there?” or, “Hey bud what happened to your elbow?” ”I slipped on the wet spot from that Slash Pile this morning and slammed it on a Marshall cabinet.” 'Slash Pile' could also have been used as a term of pity, one that plays upon Slash’s voracious alcohol and substance use as in, “Did you see that Slash Pile last night? Poor guy lost his top hat when he tumbled down the stairs of his tour bus.” I am confident that a future tell-all will get to the bottom of this mystery.
… More in this Brief
Brief No. 70
Words by Ryan Liverman, photograph from Arctic Red River Outfitters by Daniel Wakefield Pasley
Every now and again I hear someone bragging about how the technology in their newest piece of kit got its start in the space program. Velcro, invisible braces, and solar cells are all fantastic and NASA deserves credit wherever it can get it. Shoot, if astral provenance can reinforce a purchasing decision or dehydrated ice-cream can get another kid interested in science I’m all for it. But it’s worth noting that not all worthwhile inventions have such an auspicious start. For example, I believe the facts will clearly show that nylon has had a dramatic impact on our lives with little to none of the recognition showered on any of the many fancier or more flashy inventions like Velcro which, let's be fair, is ultimately applied to quite a few pedestrian or mundane tasks, like the securing of diapers for feckless parents.
… More in this Brief
Brief No. 69
Conversations with a Black Bear
Oh hello, who is that over that by that huckleberry bush, I didn’t hear you coming!
Silly me. I’m such a silly bear. Me with my head in the clouds, halfway through this dead baby deer I tripped over on the way to the river for my morning drink. I’m crepuscular, that means I like to eat in the early morning and late afternoon, when the light is low and faint, needless to say it takes me a while to wake up. But where are my manners?! What kind of carrion do you like the best, hmmm? You look like the small intestines type, am I right? Why don’t you bring some of those delicious berries over here and visit with me for a minute. There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about, and, well, the whole thing makes me a little bit sad.
Do you know about capital W Wilderness, have you heard of this? I love it. I like big Wilderness and small Wilderness, old Wilderness and new Wilderness, placid Wilderness and vibrant Wilderness. I mean when it comes down to it, I just can’t get enough of Wilderness, period. I just love it so much. But what about you? I mean you are here, and you do have a fawn’s foot in your mouth and berry juice dribbling down your chin, talking to a silly ole bear! But seriously YJ-guy, how do you feel about Wilderness? … More in this Brief
Brief No. 67
Turnagain Mud Flats
Words and Photographs by Jen Kinney
The road south of Anchorage is drawn like a blade between sea and mountain. We were speeding along it, Don grinning as he gunned it through a rain-slick curve and told me his tale. He wound up in Alaska because a friend had told him fantastic stories: land up here for the taking, squatter’s rights to dream of, a lavish minimum wage. Don and this buddy, who in the time it took them to plan the trip had gone and acquired a family, drove up from Nebraska in a full Winnebago, with Don’s BMW motorcycle hitched to the back. A sharp turn, a slick road, and the bike, his get-a-away, was dashed against a wall of rock and ruined. The stories weren’t true. The promises broke. Stunned at a payphone in Anchorage, Don hung up too proud to dial the numbers and ask the favors that could get him home.
He laughed telling me this, decades later, still in the state of his exile. By the time he had saved up enough dough to buy an alarm clock radio and a guitar, he no longer wanted to leave. The night we met I had just touched down in Anchorage, where Don picked me up at the airport and drove me to work as a waitress in his fish and chips restaurant. I hadn’t thought to ask many questions about him or the restaurant or the town, just took the job and flew, so when I arrived that night, the landscape was clean and unburdened by stories. Don’s, spat wryly from the side of his mouth, were the first I heard. Above us, the mountains were flat, thin sheets of paper. At their feet was the narrow, mud-choked inlet of the Turnagain Arm. It was so named in warning, Don told me, by Captain Cook after his expedition discovered they could not sail through it to the ocean. The only hope of escape was to turn back they way they came. … More in this Brief
Brief No. 66
Bushwhacking in British Columbia
Words and photographs by Daniel Wakefield Pasley
The first day of my summer vacation, in the Skeenas.
We are fanned-out and bushwhacking through a square mile or so of riparian bramble—otherwise known as Grizzly Bear Habitat—in an attempt to locate a yellow and blue bundle, the contents of which are an inflatable raft and a foot locker-sized plastic box in which there are many large golden blocks of discount cheese, Crystal Light packets and cardboard cartons of off-brand/generic/discount Power-type bars. The bramble is thick and sharp, the ground is uneven and hummocky, the mosquitos are Hitchcock-thick, it’s 97 degrees fahrenheit. We beat the ground at our feet with our boots, walking sticks, shotgun barrels, rifle butts, hoping for the sound of an inanimate thunk. The gnarliest sections of bush, the sections through which we’re forced to crawl, tunnel, climb, burrow and fist, are dense like a wall. A hairy/tangled/brushy/bushy wall, but a wall all the same. In regards to height, density and penetrability; the thicker sections of bush are more closely related to the object into which the Crash Test Dummies in the Volvo Safety Centre drive, than say for example a trail on which humans walk. … More in this Brief
Brief No. 65
Words by Richard Ellis, Photograph (Highway 22 headed north to Black Diamond, Alberta) by Daniel Wakefield Pasley
We were rolling along just fine till we hit that plaintive chord change, from F-sharp to G-sharp minor that promises release, but always fails to deliver. Gram Parsons's reverie of brass buttons and green silks is unsteady in the light of day, It was a dream much too real, to be leaned against too long. That was the moment when that seam of misery, fevered with tragedy in Florida and lullaby-ed away by a pharmaceutical Morpheus in a motel in Joshua Tree, rippled out one more aftershock and brought us to a halt. The lights went out, the engine ran down, the alternator firing to a long gone beat. … More in this Brief
Brief No. 64
Bob Dittler et. al.
Yonder Journal received the following correspondence from Mike Cherney on 16 February, 2014.
From: Mike Cherney
Date: Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 10:39 PM
Subject: more gonzo
dudes, this is long and i know your busy. read some a save to read some later. this shit is way out there and right into a very ( i like use this word lots ) interesting space.
so i’m sit’n around do’n the r&r thing this evening and being on the safe side my consciousness goes in search of some rare moments in time. i just found a horde of business cards and notes i took over the past few years. in there was one in particular about a dude i know around here who has a common friend with me named Terrance McKenna. Terrance is an authority on psychoactive and hallucinogenic substances, like a science guru type thing and he lived in the same small village as i and his kids played with mine and we sat and talked some about his work, and he died young. so this hooks into Malcom Terrance of that commune fame and into some more individuals i have come to know over the years. one name pops in hard and i get curious, google the dude and ta da, i get my old buddy Bob Dittler who used to give me a ride down to S. F. from Camp Meeker in Sonoma Co where we both lived and partied when i attended the S. F. Art Institute. the last time i saw Bob was at a party he gave after having taken acid for over 30 days straight. he was into human behaviors and the modification there of. anyway, that’s what he called it. that was the day i found that i was to become a father. … More in this Brief
Brief No. 63
Bushwhacking in the MSOJ
Words by Kyle von Hoetzendorff, photograph by Daniel Wakefield Pasley
We are tired, hungry, and beaten. Around us mountains rise like picket signs to mock our day’s progress. This trip, which trip specifically doesn’t matter, is familiar; you, me, we have all been here before, a day full of motivational derision packed with mind-chiding expletives like “just around the corner”, “this is the last hill,” and “I am sure it's just right up ahead.” The road we're on, our road, has petered out, it’s a dead end stub built by the type of people who knew exactly where they came from and who had no choice but to return there. We on the other hand need to carry on, turning back is an admission of failure, an admission that all those involved had seriously considered and yet none of us were smart enough to act upon.
… More in this Brief