Life above the Bridge: Some Observations, Part 2

I recently heard a tourist mumble at someone at her table about all the “white trash up here.” I later saw that the speaker’s vehiclel It had  an Indiana license plate.

According to Nancy Isenberg (LSU) in her 2016 book WHITE TRASH: THE 400-YEAR UNTOLD HISTORY OF CLASS IN AMERICA, the term “white trash” originated in the colonies as “waste people.”

Eisenberg contends that there is  lot of ignorance about class in the country and a lot of anger. She says this all tends to grow out of British attitudes about the poverty. She writes, “In many ways, our class system has hinged on the evolving political rationales used to dismiss or demonize (or occasionally reclaim) those white rural outcasts seemingly incapable of  becoming part of mainstream society.” She tell how the original ‘waste people’ (later ‘white trash) were marginalized Americans stigmatized by their inability to be productive, to own property, and/or to produce healthy and upwardly mobile children – the sense of uplift on which the American dream is predicated. America’s solution to poverty and social backwardness was not what we might expect. Well into the 20c, expulsion and even sterilization sounded rational to those wished to reduce the burden of “loser” people on the larger economy.”

The attitude that nails the poor as a burden, persists, and not a few people believe that the poor are in their state because they are lazy, or mentally lacking, or genetically inferior.  Back in the mid -19c, language attached to  attitudes about the poor gravitated  toward referring to poor rural whites as  somehow less than white, their yellowish skin cast and diseased and decrepit  children marking them as a strange breed apart.” Writes Eisenberg, “Throughout its history the U.S. has always had a class system. It is directed by the top one percent and supported by a contented middle class.” The lowest class is largely ignored, vilified and seen as stagnant, hopeless, and expendable, which is not thought of as part of the collective American national self-identity.

“The poor, the waste, the rubbish, as they are variously labelled have stood front and center during America’s  most formative political contests. During Colonial settlement, they were useful pawns as well as rebellious troublemakers, a pattern that persisted amid mass migrations of landless squatters westward across the continent.” Remember, [This note from me, not Eisenberg, the American Revolution was not bottom-up, but directed top-down.]

Eisenberg continues, “The southern poor whites figured prominently in the rise of Abraham Lincoln’s  Republican Party, and in the atmosphere of distrust that caused bad blood to percolate among the poorer classes with the Confederacy during the Civil War. White trash were dangerous  outliers in efforts to rebuild the union during Reconstruction; and in the first two decades of the 20c, when the eugenics movement flourished, they were the class of degenerates targeted for sterilization. On the flip side, poor whites were the beneficiaries of rehabilitative efforts during the New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society. “

Writes the historian, “At all times, white trash remind us of one of the American nation’s most uncomfortable truths: the poor are always with us. A preoccupation with penalizing poor whites reveals an uneasy tension between what Americans are taught to think about the country’s promise – the dream of upward mobility – and the less appealing truth that class borders almost invariably make that dream unobtainable. Of course , the intersection of race and class remains an undeniable part of the story.”

She continues, “…rationalizing economic inequality has been an unconscious  part of the national credo; poverty has been naturalized, often seen as something beyond human control. By that measure, poor whites had to be classified as a distinct breed. In other words, “breeding was not about the cultivation of special manners or skills, but something far more sinister, an imposed inheritance. The language that class that America embraced played off English attitudes toward vagrancy, and marked a transatlantic fixation with animal husbandry, demography and pedigree. The poor were not only described as waste, but inferior animal stocks.”

The result, Eisenberg contends,  is that,  “Over the years populist themes have emerged alongside more familiar derogatory  images, but never  with enough force to diminish the hostility projected on to impoverished  rural whites.”  She then points out an irony. “We have seen in recent decades the rise of tribal passions through the rediscovery of “redneck”  roots, a proud movement that coursed through the late 1980s and 1990s (My note, not the authors — and continues in certain places today.. Eisenberg points out,  “More than a reaction to progressive changes in race relations, this shift was spurred by a larger fascination with identity politics. Roots implied that the class took on traits (and allure)  of an ethnic heritage, which in turn reflected the modern desire to measure class as merely a cultural phenomenon. But as evidenced in the popularity of the “reality TV” shows DUCK DYNASTY, and HERE COMES HONEY BOO-BOO in recent years, white trash in the 21c remains fraught with the older baggage of stereotypes of the hopelessly ill bred. A host of well-known and lesser known figures contributed to the long sage of America’s embattled lowly breed. These include Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Davy Crockett, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jefferson Davis, Andrew Johnson, W.W.B Du Bois, Theodore Roosevelt, Erskine Caldwell, James Agee, Elvis Presley, Lyndon Baines Johnson, James Dickey, Billy Carter, Dolly Parton, William Jefferson Clinton, and Sarah Palin – to name  a few.”

The Book WHITE TRASH, the author says, “Tells many stories. One is the importance of America’s rural past. Another, and arguably the most important, is the one we as a people have trouble embracing, the pervasiveness of a class hierarchy in the U.S., (which) she contends, “begins and ends with the concepts of land and property ownership.  Class identity and the material and metaphoric meaning of land are closely connected. For much of American history, the worst classes were seen as an extension of the worst land: scrubby, barren, and swampy wasteland. House ownership remains to today the measure of social mobility.”

This may be changing among certain groups, I suspect, but Eisenberg’s point remains valid for the time being. Here we depart from Ms. Eisenberg and vault over into that scrubby,  swampy wasteland that is the Upper Peninsula, what the late Jim Harrison once quipped is “Wilderness by default.” There is, of course, agriculture up here, but unless you are in one of the southernmost UP, counties your growing season is shorter than the NHL playoffs, and compared to just about anywhere from the middle of the Lower Peninsula southward, it is mahk mahk meager. The population up here is aging visibly, and shrinking, and there are not  surplus of jobs of any kind beyond basic minimum wage. Now follows some observations and opinions of things seen and experienced up in these parts:

(1)  Up in our neck of the U.P. we buy fresh brown eggs, bird seed and suet, and plant seeds, at the auto parts store. [FYI: Eggs are available only when the chickens are “in the mood,” which thus far this spring and summer, they have decidedly not been.]

(2) If we need new hiking or work boots,  we shop for them at a pet store in Marquette or at the surprise – the local auto parts store– which carries Irish Setter and Muck Boots.

(3) 60-80 percent of the males up here sport facial hair and long hair. I can’t cite an estimate for women with facial hair; I can only opine that it is somewhere north of zero.

(4) There’s high probability that if you are 50 or younger up here, you will be copiously, densely, and visibly tatted.

(5) A huge proportion of men 70 and younger tend to eat meals with their ball caps on. Those under 30 wear them bills-backward and those 60 and more wear them at a farmerly tilt to the right, which might have political implications but no carefully controlled study has yet been done to look at this phenomenon.

(6) People travel to the U.P. to run their dirt bikes, motor-cyles, boats, ATVs, wave runners, snowmobiles and other toys and many come here under the impression that restrictions an laws which exist BTB don’t exist up here. They are somewhat peeved tolearn this isn’t so.

(7) Many people over 70 move about with canes or walkers and many over 80 carry portable oxygen. Some of the equipment is in questionable repair as you can hear the devices mechanically hissing and sighing.

(8) Like elsewhere in the country, fewer and fewer people over 50 here  smoke, but the young seem to embrace the habit as staunchly as younger generations have. Male and female. Interestingly those who do not smoke (especially those who’ve never smoked) see smoking as a public issue but they huff and puff at offenders as if it were a moral issue, equivalent to flashing your package in public.

(9)  People who move here from other parts of the state and world seem to be truly in love with the U.P, which is great, but it is also pretty standard for the more ambitious among new arrivals to be eager to teach locals “how to do it.” This sometimes aggravates folks, but mostly the locals just smile, knowing that the local way will prevail. There is a presumption of instructing the  bumpkinry in such efforts from new arrivals, and extension of the white trash thing Eisenberg talks about.

(10) Table manners, a class marker, show themselves here with a large percentage of shovelers. As many of these are tourists as locals.

(11) We do not have “food servers” in most of the restaurants. We have waiters and waitresses and they are not offended by the terms and we tip at 20 percent, which is far more than most pass-throughs do.

(12) Outside of Marquette, Escanaba, and perhaps a few others, most rural community hospitals here are small and live on the precipice of financial insolvency. Without the boosted Medicaid funds that came with the American Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) many of these facilities will close, leaving patients in this area with the choice of 45 minutes to Houghton or 80 minutes to Marquette – in summer. In winter the times vary with road conditions and weather. The situation ahead reminds me of words from Lewis Carroll’s, “The Jabberwocky.”

 

One, two! One, Two! And through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead and with its head

He went galumphing back.

(13) Most restaurants where have salad bars – circa 1970s.  Friday fish fries are popular and there is huge competition, not just among restaurants but among organizations like odd fellows, eagles, American Legion, and VFWs.

(14) The winters are not as tough and the summers are different and people who’ve been here for 60-70 years say it’s not anything like the past, but the change is just cyclical and climate change is a hoax be environmentalists and foreign governments to put an economic strain on US-based businesses by forn competitors to make them less competitive. Ask the difference between climate and weather and the answer you most hear is: “There isn’t any difference.”

(15) A great number of people up here, of all ages, wear sneakers during winter and only don winter boots when the new snowfall gets “serious,” which is approximately a foot or so.

(16) Thirty below zero, Fahrenheit? You will not hear a word about it.  80 degrees F and muggy as a sauna? The world is ending, eh?

(17) Many here heat with oil but augment it with wood and wood pellet gizmos. Many here chop and split and stack and store their own wood during summer. They call this “making wood.”  Up here weather has to be a consideration  at all times.

(18) Snow scoops, not snow shovels here.

(19) Many Yoopers born and raised here seem to be genetically immune to troublesome insects. They rarely use bug  juice or even comment on the bugs.  They even take their babies to the beach when biting stable flies are out and the kids have them crawling on them and never whimper or cry. We have seen this numerous times. Meanwhile, I’m in shorts and I can last 10 minutes max. Wimp. Or perhaps culture and environment create a higher pain threshold in folks up here?

(20) Sign: SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK is for tourists and visitors. Locals know we always live at our own risk,  that it’s on our shoulders, not some cosmic lifeguard’s or a government agency.

(21) When ambient temps climb over 45 degrees, the uniform-of-the day is flip-flops, T-shirts and shorts.

(22) Ask for bakery up here and you’ll be asked, “Holes or no holes?”

(23) The local vocabulary is a tad different than other parts of the state. Binoculars are far-lookers, toast is “hot bread,” and sitting next to each other is “side by each.”

(24)  Native Americans are Indians, not Native Americans. EG the local tribe is the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Indians often refer to themselves as “tribals.” Indian is not an insult.

(25) Guns are everywhere in these parts. I don’t know what percentage of people up here have concealed carry permits, but most people I know claim to have them and sometimes pack. Guns seen by local folk as tools with no inherent evil or good in them. They are seen as solutions to practical life problems, like acquiring food. Most people lock them up,  but many do not and we have been in many homes and camps with loaded weapons all over the place. Frequently-seen sign on shops: THESE PREMISES PROTECTED BY HIGH-SPEED WIRELESS DEVICE (GUN). (See No. 20.)

(26) Locals will stop vehicles side by  each in narrow two lane roads, and chitchat.  And if you’re in a hurry, well…just be patient. What’s your hurry?  This is the U.P. eh?

(27) We can’t garden safely until after the first full moon in June. In June 2016 we had two full moons and the plants couldn’t go in until almost July. Lousy results last fall. Our growing season is 80-110 days, but we are right on the edge of the 60-80-day line so our real season is closer to 80 than the higher number. Rocks grow great of their own volition. Not much else. I believe August may be the only month that has never seen snow.

(28) Daily coffee klatches in the local towns around us are either all men or all women, no mixing.  The relationship between male and female remind me of the first hour of high school sock hops in the late 50s and early 60s.

(29) DEET keeps bugs off most of us. When it fails, we mix a paste of Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer and water, and put it on bites until it is thick and dry like a scab. This will take away the itching immediately, but you will wake up with powder in your bed. Allow this poltice to dry.

(30) The pasty (PASS-Tee, not PAY-stee) came here with Cornish miners, not with the Finns. You never-ever use gravy. The real thing is made with lard. There are many claiming to make the best.  Come on up and decide for yourself.

(31) There is a local homemade sausage call cudaghy (KOO-da-ghee). Many people love this stuff. I am not one of that lot.

(32) Newspapers carry ads inviting the public to attend wedding receptions, birthday and anniversary parties at VFWs, and American Legion Halls.  It’s not necessary for you to know the celebrants.

(33) Pork pies are the real pies with crusts, not hats. The Catholic Church in L’Anse makes great ones and has fund-raising sales every few months. They are made with lard and minced pork and they are fatty and tasty and rich.

(34) This is a place where one sees strange out-of-context sights. We call it randomland. For example there is a parking lot at the intersection of US-28 and US-41. This lot is 12 miles from L’Anse and 15 miles from Michigammee. It is never full, yet there are two slots saved for handicapped parking. This is either the epitome of inclusion and putting yourself in the other guy’s shoes – or bureaucracy run amok. This lot is in  Ultima Thule (Nowhereland).

(35) You see six-foot-high fire hydrants and mail boxes. These are not jokes. This is snow country, folks. Think BIG SNOWPACK.

(36) The air up here is really, truly genuinely, categorically clean and pure.

(37) Many of the two tracks and gravel roads up here are superior to any paved roads BTB. This is a statement of fact, not an exaggeration.

(38) Sauna (SOW-na, not SAW-na) is a steam bath without which no hunting camp is complete.

(39) People around here have camps, not cottages.

(40) Baraga County is beset by loose dogs that chase vehicles in packs.

(41) There is weak to no cell phone coverage in many areas of the county. (If you have an emergency, see No. 20)

(42) If you have a roadside emergency, Yoopers will stop to offer help and not excpect payment in return. They do  hope you will  to pay it back, but won’t be surprised if you don’t.

(43) The local golf course parking lot is filled with pickup trucks and few automobiles.

(44) If you go into the clubhouse  you will see are wall ads for sandwiches and such, but the people on duty will swear it is not a restaurant.

(45) We pack down snow with our boots (pank).Then we walk on the panked surface. We only get out the snow blower when the snow is serious (over a foot is the minimum to qualify for serious).

(46) Many hunting camps from the EUP to the WUP mark hunting camp roads with bicycles on pedestals. Nobody can explain the history of this practice.

(47) You will see a lot of people waving vigorously  on the side of the road as you drive by. They are not waving at you. They are swatting insects. This is called the Yooper wave.

(48) There are no signs for LSD on Lake Superior beaches, but there should be. (LSD means Lake Superior Dick. Think about it.)

(49) There is a sign in front of an old copper mine shaft: YOU ARE FREE TO ENTER AND EXPLORE MINE SHAFTS. MOST WHO DO SO ARE EVENTUALLY RECOVERED. The parking lot is invariably full. (See No. 20.)

(50)  Many people up here love trees but do not hug them. They cut them down, use them to build things, or chop them up and burn them for heat in winter.

(51) Many here trap fur-bearing animals and have been trapping as long as their families have been here.

(52) First there were Ron Paul signs. These were replaced by Donald Trump signs. Next?

(53)There are more than a few Vietnam vets up here who have never worn a uniform and have never seen Vietnam. They couldn’t find Vietnam on a map if offered a fiver.

(54) Lots of “old hippies” up here. Drug use is high among many age groups and this includes opioids, weed, heroin, meth, coke, various pills, LSD, roofies, angel’s dust, and the full assortment of headed-for Dutch recreational drugs. There are drugs all over up here, all races, all ethnic backgrounds, all age groups, all socioeconomic categories.

(55) People still drive with road beers. Some habits are impossible to break.

 

(56) Tourists are identified by racks with expensive bikes, kayaks, Thule and Yakima carriers and driving foreign vehicles. Locals smile at these people and graciously accept their money.

(57) A surprising number of Yoopers are discerning foodies.  In our experience, many U.P. restaurants are far ahead of Kalamazoo establishments in gluten free choices.

(58) The teams of choice up here are Packers,  Tigers and Red Wings. Few pay attention to the Pistons. Nobody roots for the Lions.

(59) Couple of weeks ago I was in a restaurant and an old man asked the waitress if the cheese on his cheeseburger was American or foreign cheese,  because he didn’t  “want no foreign stuff.”

(60) By the way, I went to high school up here (Rudyard, Class of 1961) I never heard the term Yooper then.  After college I served for four years at K.I.Sawyer AFB (south of Marquette). Again, never heard the term Yooper. Not sure when it was born, where or why, it came into vogue.

(61) To those who’ve lived here most of their lives, Detroit & Surrounds are considered foreign and somewhat hostile territory.

(62) There is animus between White and Indian. Hard feelings and prejudices emanate from both camps. The comments may be made in half-joking tones, but make no mistake there is a problem here . The cause from the white side goes a bit like this: all our tax dollars go to supporting the Indians who insist they are a sovereign nation. If they’re sovereign why don’t they take care of themselves? The last figure I saw for  aggregated federal fiscal support of Native Americans was just under $20 billion. And if Indians are citizens of a different sovereign nation, how come they can vote in U.S. elections and serve in the U.S military? The Indians put casinos on their reservations where there were no casinos when treaties were signed, and how is that possible?  Indians are allowed by their rules, guaranteed by treaty to hunt and fish in certain ways and at certain times and THIS probably bugs people more than anything else, even those locals who don’t hunt and fish. Well, you get the picture.

(63) It is assumed that one can “find one’s way” in the woods, fish, hunt with rifle or bow, operate a boat, four-wheeler, motorcycle, snowmobile, cross-country ski, snowshoes. It’s also assumed you can fix things that are broken and run a log-splitter.

(64) Many (not all) Yoopers insist they hate their government but love their country – yet they will be first in line to make sure they get their share of government funds from various programs. Welfare seems to be a coded word for black. When it’s pointed out that far more  whites area on various forms of welfare and assistance one is usually given a derisive snort and two words, “white trash.” But white trash in the U.P. said by a Yooper doesn’t apply to white people up here. It applies to white trash elsewhere, as in Indiana or Tennessee.

(65) So-called Picnic Rock in Marquette is a place some people go to watch folks drown (See No. 20)

(66) As part-time residents of this hard-scrabble place we carry four-season weight clothes and gear in the vehicles at all times.

(67) Children here rarely wear helmets when riding bicycles or skateboards. (See No. 20)

(68) Summer is the time for motorcycles, which travel in costumed packs. They are driven largely by older-than-middle-age white men and women.

(69) Yoopers will tell you they like tourist money and they want it, but they don’t like tourists. They’re joking, sort of. Some businesses place out-of-order signs on their rest rooms so they don’t have to clean them. Since most summer tourists are older, this is not in the visitors’ interest.

(70) This year is the first one in 10 where we have seen a fair amount of young people. Prior to this, travelers were white- or silver-haired and over 60. They, of course, are the ones who have money from a time when people worked for organizations that paid pensions. Those times are gone.

(71) This is still a place where lots of locals have nicknames, some given by family, some given by neighbors and friends. The nicknames can stem from physical traits, occupations, behaviors and life events. One fella who ran a local sewage treatment plant for years is called “Ca Ca.”

(73) If you ask a Yooper for directions, you’ll get them, even if they have no idea where it is you’re trying to get to. Some folks do this as a practical joke, some because they can’t admit to not knowing. In some ways this behavior grows out of Nos. 20 and 64.

(74) Any mainstream (fake news) report about gun disasters is greeted here with whining, whinging and derision. Why don reporters report all the times guns save people and  help save lives?

(75) Liberalism is considered by many to be a mental disorder. A liberal is someone with no calluses, too much education, believes all the wrong things, and gives ribbons and medals to kids and people just for participation.

(76) If you flip through your AM or FM radio stations who will find a heap of religious programs, all of them looking for donations, 24-7.

(77) Mackinac Island is not in or part of the U.P. (See No. 60).

Let me close with an anecdote. A week or  ago  we were walking in the morning and came upon   three old gents, one fishing in Lake Superior, two nearby kibitzers. They all spoke  with heavy accents. I saw from a distance the fisherman drop a fish from a hand-net onto the ground. Nobody moved to give whack it with  a priest and give it a fast exit. It  was flopping. I looked at the fish, said to one of the on-lookers, “Sucker.”

He said, “Good fish.”

“Good to smoke,” I  told him.

“Bones, bones, bones,” he said , grinning.

He  could sense I was curious about his accent, declared with the back of his hand to his chest, “Iraqi. We like here. Fish.”

“How long in the U.S.?” I asked him.

“One year,” he said.

So it is this newcomer from a foreign land and I speak an international and very  ancient language: fish. The creature continues to lie on the grass flopping with decreasing energy, and presumably suffering. It seems so strange to think that the only thing that warrants a short quick response about the new country is fish.

There are some days I read the papers or hear the new and that’s just the smell I think I can detect in the air.

I love this place. Over. What follow are photos from last weekend’s 39th Annual Keweenaw
Bay Maawanjii’iding. Enjoy the color. Over.

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Life above the Bridge: Some Observations

Back in my business-suit days I subscribed to a publication called INTELLIGENCE DIGEST (Ed, J.K.C. De Courcy). The publication looked all around the world and paid special attention to emerging hotspots and a wide range of issues. The newsletter dealt with international matters with the specificity and depth that only major newspapers could mount. De Courcy and his people were often ahead of the rest of the media and often ahead of the government too. Here’s a story from 2 August 1996, almost 21 years ago. This is after the Atlanta bombing and after Oklahoma City.

Headline: Taming the Terrorists

Once it became clear that the Atlanta bombing was not the work of international terrorists, the finger of suspicion turned automatically to American right-wing malcontents. Even if proved innocent of this particular incident, there is little doubt that significant parts of white conservative America are now sufficiently resentful of central government as to be capable of throwing up occasional individuals prepared to resort to violence as an expression of their resentments. Given that America is the world’s most advanced democracy this needs some explaining to non-Americans.

The first thing to point out when considering what motivates such extreme action is that it is not the least bit relevant whether the fears and resentments are justified. People are motivated by what they believe to be true, not by what is actually true, and in backwoods America there is a widespread resentment against a central government system that is seen to be overbearing, particularly through the actions of such agencies as the IRS, BATF, and the FBI.

This feeling is exacerbated by the fact that minority groups that are considered less-deserving are seen to be pampered by the system.

The resentment of the conservative outsiders is further fueled by the proliferation of conspiracy theories (at the heart of which there is always more than a germ of truth) about the manipulation of American foreign and domestic policy by powerful but shadowy groups of Establishment insiders.

It is felt that administrators of all colours, certainly since Ronald Reagan gave way to George Bush, are manipulated by these interests and that the normal political process is no longer able to rectify what is wrong with America.

The Clinton Record

To all this is added the widely circulated reports about the misconduct — and  worse — of President Clinton.

It is generally believed in conservative circles  in the United States that President Clinton and his entourage are up to everything from drug-running to murder, including killing White House aide Vicne Foster (who is officially said to have committed suicide) and Commerce Secretary Ron Brown (whose plane crashed in Croatia) in order to prevent the exposure of past crimes.

Against such a background it is not difficult to see how the outsider or misfit is able to justify himself the taking of unlawful action – even to the extent of shedding innocent blood.

The Wider Issues

But motive is not everything. Opportunity plays its part and never have the opportunities for terrorism been better. Importantly, this point applies throughout the industrial world and not just in the United States.

Provided the target is a soft one, terrorism requires neither a great deal of money nor great expertise – and the returns in terms of damage created and publicity received can be enormous.  (The last IRA bomb in London caused more than $150m worth of damage – and it would be almost impossible to calculate how much a commercial operation would have had to spend in advertising to get the amount of media coverage that the Atlanta bomb received.)

Furthermore the downside risk is seen to be outweighed by the potential rewards. Anyone misguided enough to believe their cause justifies the indiscriminate taking of innocent lives would not have trouble  in persuading themselves that  one day they might join the long list of former terrorists now  feted in the White House and Buckingham Palace.
The ambivalence of successive American administrations to the outrages of the IRA has played its part.

So what can be done? Our security sources admit that there is little that the U.S. or any other state can do to make terrorism a less easy option to follow. The access to the necessary materials and knowledge cannot be reversed. And, it is admitted, even increasing security has its downside.

As with football hooliganism in the U.K. where the suppression of violence in football grounds has simply moved the fighting to surrounding areas, so the thwarted terrorist can always move on to a less-well protected target.

Nor, say our security contacts, would draconian new anti-terrorist laws in the United
States do much to solve the problem of domestic malcontents taking violent action in the first place.

The Real Threat

However, taking hard action against the sophisticated international terror groups is an entirely different matter.

The security experts we have consulted say that not only is such action urgent but it would also in all probability have the added benefit of frightening into quiescence the sort of amateur terrorist who is thought to have been behind the Atlanta bomb.

The need to  move against the sophisticated international terror groups ahs considerable urgency because these are the groups that within a very short period will have the motivation, skills and materials (over 10 of the former USSR nuclear inventory is unaccounted for) to detonate a nuclear device.

In other words, our security contacts say, a concerted Western effort to destroy the major international terror groups is a matter of survival.

With the political will and modern methods, this can be done, but not without reversing current appeasement policy toward such supporters of terrorism as President Assad of Syria, and Gerry Adams of the Sinn Fein/IRA. (JdeC)

This was two decades ago. Now consider the observations on rural America in light of our most recent election. The U.P. is decidedly rural, and once upon a time a Democratic stronghold it has (except for Marquette County) become solid Republican and this time around vociferous Trump country. When Lonnie and I drove south to Portage to spend last winter, we saw a grand total of two Clinton signs over 500 miles. The rest were for Trump and many of them were in places previously occupied by Ron Paul signs.

People up here are great. Doors don’t have to be locked. If you have a roadside problem the chances are those who stop will be locals, not downstate  or outstate tourists. Trust here is given until shown otherwise and this is clearly not Mayberry (nothing ever was), it is  a place where things are slower paced. It is also a place with a dark underbelly.

I’ll continue this and examine life up here in the next blog installment later this week. Meanwhile, Over.

Reading List: Jan. 1 – June 30, 2017

Remember, reading fuels writing fuels reading, ad infinitum. Here it is, my reading list for the past six months: 

 

  1. William H. Gass. The World Within the Word. (1978) [ESSAYS]
  2.  Benjamin Hale. The Wild and the Wicked: On Nature and Human Nature. (2016) [NF]
  3. Alan Bennett. Writing Home. (1994) [NF]
  4. Mary Oliver. Upstream. (2016) [ESSAYS]
  5. Alan Bennett. Untold Stories. (2005) [ESSAYS]
  6. William H. Gass. Finding A Form (1996) [ESSAYS]
  7. John Le Carre. The Pigeon Tunnel. (2016) [NF]
  8. John Osborne. An Autobiography:1929-1956. (1981) [NF]
  9. Christopher Fowler. Bryant & May: Strange Tide. (2016) [FICTION]
  10. William Albracht and Marvin J.Wolf. Abandoned in Hell: The Fight for Vietnam’s Firebase Kate. (2016) [NF]
  11. Ervin Goffman. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.(1959) [NF]
  12. Christopher Buckley. The Relic Master: A Novel. (2015) [FICTION]
  13. A.L.Rowse. The Tower of London in the History of England. (1972) [NF]
  14. Margaret Bourke-White. Portrait of Myself. (1963) [NF]
  15. T.S. Eliot. The Sacred Wood and Major Early Essays. (1998) [ESSAYS]
  16. Catherine Ann Moore. This Precious Book of Love: Shakespeare, Women, and Narrative in the 19th Century. (2011) [NF-Dissertation]
  17. Peter Watson. The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New. (2011) [NF]
  18. George Saunders. Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel. (2017) [FICTION]
  19. A.L. Rowse. My View of Shakespeare. (1996) [NF]
  20. Brian Lamb. Booknotes. (1997) [NF]
  21. Winston S. Churchill. Marlborough: His Life and Times. (1968) [NF]
  22. William H. Gass. The World Within the Word. (1979) [NF]
  23. Howard Rheingold. They Have A Word For It. (1998) [NF]
  24. Willard R. Espy. Thou Improper, Thou Uncommon Noun (1978) [NF]
  25. J.N. Hook. The Grand Panjandrum: And 1,999 Other Rare, Useful, and Delightful Words and Expressions. (1980) [NF]
  26. J. Donald Adams. Copy of Harvard. (1960) [NF]
  27. Larry McMurtry. The Last Kind Word Saloon. (2014) [FICT]
  28. Konrad Lorenz. On Aggression. (1963) [NF]
  29. T.T. Monday. The Set Up Man. (2014) [FICT]
  30. T.T.Monday. Double Switch (2016) [FICT]
  31. Finca Vigia Edition. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. (2003) [FICT]
  32. Adam Sisman. John LeCarre: The Biography. (2015) [NF]
  33. Yuval Noah Harari. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. (2017) [NF]
  34. Nancy Isenberg. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. (2016) [NF]
  35. William T.Vollmann. An Afghan Picture Show: Or, How I saved the World. (1992) [NF]
  36. John Crawford. The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War in Iraq. (2005) [NF]
  37. Tad Taleja. Foreignisms. (1989) [NF]
  38. John Forsyth. The Outsider. (2015) [NF]
  39. H.R.McMaster. Dereliction of Duty.(1997) [NF]
  40. Northrop Frye. The Educated Imagination. (1964) [NF]
  41. Benjamin Hale. The Wild and the Wicked: On Nature and Human Nature. (2016) [NF]
  42. William H. Gass. Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts (2012) [Essay
  43. Jason Stanley. How Propaganda Works. (2015) [NF]
  1. Steven Pinker.Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. (1999) [NF]
  2. J.Bryan III. Hodgepodge: A Commonplace Book. (1986) [NF]
  3. Diane Ackerman. The Zookeeper’s Wife. (2007) [NF]
  4. Jonathan Lethem. Motherless Brooklyn. (1999) [FICT]
  5. Lewis Carroll. Sylvie and Bruno. (1988[1890]) [FICT]
  6. Philip Roth. The Facts: A Novelist’s Autobiography. (1988) [NF]
  7. Thomas B. Costain. The Pageant of England: The Magnificant Century. (1951) [NF]
  8. Stephen Coonts. Intruders. (1994) [FICT]
  9. Douglas R. Hofstadter. Le Ton Beau de Marot: The Praise of the Music of Language (1997) [NF]
  10. Steve Berry. The 14th Colony. (2017) [FICT]
  11. Simon Read. Human Game: The True Story of The ‘Great Escape’ Murders and the Hunt for Gestapo Gunmen. (2012
  12. [NF]Nelson Demille. Up Country. (2002) [FICT]
  13. Nelson Demille. Night Fall. (2004) [FICT]
  14. David Grann. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. (2010) [NF]
  15. Richard Mccord. The Chain Gang: One Newspaper Vers the Gannett Empire. (1996) [NF]
  16. John Leo. Two Steps Ahead of the Thought Police: John Leo Essays. (1994) [NF]
  17. Irving Howe. A Critic’s Notebook. (1995) [NF]
  18. Susan Lambert. Roaming With Rudy: A Walls to 4 Wheels: Living Outside the Box. (2016) NF]
  19. David Grann. Killers of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. (2017) [NF]
  20. Phillip Kerr. The Other Side of Silence. (2016) [FICT]
  21. Phillip Kerr. Prussian Blue. (2017) [FICT]
  22. Joseph Heywood. Upper Peculiar. (XXXX) [SS Draft]
  23. Dan Hampton. The Hunter Killers. (2015) [NF]
  24. Raymond Chandler. Trouble Is My Business. (1992) [SS]
  25. Raymond Chandler. The Simple Art of Murder. (1988) [SS]
  26. Nancy Isenberg. White Trash: The Four-Hundred Year Untold History of Class in America. (2016) [NG]
  27. Martin Hintz. Finland. (1983) [NF]
  28. Alexander Solzhenitsyn. August 1914: The Red Wheel I. (1971) [FICT]
  29. Rory Clements. Prince. (2011) [FICT]
  30. Daren Worcester. Open Season: True Stories of the Maine Warden Service. (2017) [NF]
  31. Marchette Chute. Shakespeare of London. (1949) [NF
  32. Annie Dillard. The Writing Life. (1989) [NF]
  33. Henry Watson Fowler and Francis George Fowler. The King’s English. (2012) [NF]
  34. John Stow. A Survey of London. (1842) [NF]
  35. John London, Ed. Theatre Under the Nazis. (2000) [NF]
  36. Rodney Symingon. The Nazi Appropriation of Shakespeare: Cultural Politics in the Third Reich. (2005) [NF]
  37. Kimberley Blaeser. Apprenticed Justice. (2007) [POETRY]
  38. Nicholas Shakespeare. Priscilla: The Hidden Life of An Englishwoman in Wartime France. (2013) [NF]
  39. Anselm Heinrich. Entertainment, Propaganda, Education: Regional Theater in Germany and Britain Between 1918 and 1945. (2007) [NF]
  40. Gordon Henry, Jr. The Light People. (1994) [FICT]

Upcoming Appearance: June 23, L’Anse, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College

 

My part in this will be a 20-30 minute talk on some of the technical aspects of fiction writing.  

(Not too technical or I wouldn't be able to figure it out...)


All--

You are invited to Minwaajimo--Telling a Good Story, A Gathering of
Creative Writers from 2-9 pm on Friday, June 23, 2017.

The event is free and open to the public, hosted by Keweenaw Bay
Ojibwa Community College with the support from the Michigan Council
for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Copper Country Community Arts
Center.

Our keynote speaker, Kimberly M. Blaeser (UWM Professor, Anishinaabe
Poet, and 2015-2016 Wisconsin Poet Laureate) will present on "Humor
and Disobediance in Writing."

This event also features Michigan authors: Chat Faries, Denise Sweet,
Janeen Pergein Rastall, Joseph Heywood, Rebecca Frost, Russell
Thorburn, and Sally Brunk.

Other events include a public open mic; genre-specific workshops; book
sales and signing; author Q and A; food and mingling; Ojibwa culture;
and tours of Michigan collections.

For more information, see the Facebook event page:
bit.ly/Minwaajimo2017. Click the going or interested button to follow
the event and to get updates. Browse the postings for more info about
the authors, events, and times.

Or call 906-524-8307 or email Jesse Koenig at jkoenig@kbocc.edu.

And, of course, we are always accepting donations to the Michigan
Authors' and the S.R. Covieo Michigan Poets' Collections. Donations
can be dropped off or mailed to MI Authors or MI poets Donations,
KBOCC, 770 N. Main St., L'Anse, MI, 49946.

At Bookbug in Two Weeks

Exclusive First Listen w/ Author Joe Heywood

The promotion of the Book Bug says, “Fans of Joe Heywood: Join us for a VIP preview of some of Joe’s not-yet published short stories. He wants to see what YOU think of some of his new, surprising characters. Joe will also read excerpts from his Woods Cop series and other writing.”

In fact, I  won't   be reading
from Woods Cop stories but material from a new collection called UPPER
PECULIAR,  all stories about Yoopers, not Woods Cops. The stories are
entitled:
"Best Baseball Man Ever"
"Once Through The Spin Dry"
"Hearts of Wolves"
And perhaps I'll read one of two other selections, which have nothing to
do with the UP.
Either,  "La Cabra (The Goat"), which is taken from a new novel called
BROWN BALL. Or
"Bringing Home Sheep, about businessmen sent to an immigrant camp in
California to search for employees from the company's Vietnam operation,
which folded when the North Vietnamese came south, and almost everyone
affiliated with the U.S. was forced to boogie. Many of them ended up in the US in
camps around the country.
Event date:
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Event address:
3019 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Recurring Event:

First Quarter Reading List, 2017

BOOKS 2017 [As of 4-2-17]

  1. William H. Gass. The World Within the Word. (1978) [ESSAYS]
    2. Benjamin Hale. The Wild and the Wicked: On Nature and Human Nature. (2016) [NF]
  2. Alan Bennett. Writing Home. (1994) [NF]
  3. Mary Oliver. Upstream. (2016) [ESSAYS]
  4. Alan Bennett. Untold Stories. (2005) [ESSAYS]
  5. William H. Gass. Finding A Form (1996) [ESSAYS]
  6. John Le Carre. The Pigeon Tunnel. (2016) [NF]
  7. John Osborne. An Autobiography:1929-1956. (1981) [NF]
  8. Christopher Fowler. Bryant & May: Strange Tide. (2016) [FICTION]
  9. William Albracht and Marvin J.Wolf. Abandoned in Hell: The Fight for Vietnam’s Firebase Kate. (2016) [NF]
  10. Ervin Goffman. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.(1959) [NF]
  11. Christopher Buckley. The Relic Master: A Novel. (2015) [FICTION]
  12. A.L.Rowse. The Tower of London in the History of England. (1972) [NF]
  13. Margaret Bourke-White. Portrait of Myself. (1963) [NF]
  14. T.S. Eliot. The Sacred Wood and Major Early Essays. (1998) [ESSAYS]
  15. Catherine Ann Moore. This Precious Book of Love: Shakespeare, Women, and Narrative in the 19th Century. (2011) [NF-Dissertation]
  16. Peter Watson. The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New. (2011) [NF]
  17. George Saunders. Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel. (2017) [FICTION]
  18. A.L. Rowse. My View of Shakespeare. (1996) [NF]
  19. Brian Lamb. Booknotes. (1997) [NF]
  20. Winston S. Churchill. Marlborough: His Life and Times. (1968) [NF]
  21. William H. Gass. The World Within the Word. (1979) [NF]
  22. Howard Rheingold. They Have A Word For It. (1998) [NF]
  23. Willard R. Espy. Thou Improper, Thou Uncommon Noun (1978) [NF]
  24. J.N. Hook. The Grand Panjandrum: And 1,999 Other Rare, Useful, and Delightful Words and Expressions. (1980) [NF]
  25. J. Donald Adams. Copy of Harvard. (1960) [NF]
  26. Larry McMurtry. The Last Kind Word Saloon. (2014) [FICT]
  27. Konrad Lorenz. On Aggression. (1963) [NF]
  28. T.T. Monday. The Set Up Man. (2014) [FICT]
  29. T.T.Monday. Double Switch (2016) [FICT]
  30. Finca Vigia Edition. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. (2003) [FICT]
  31. Adam Sisman. John LeCarre: The Biography. (2015) [NF]
  32. Yuval Noah Harari. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. (2017) [NF]
  33. Nancy Isenberg. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. (2016) [NF]
  34. William T.Vollmann. An Afghan Picture Show: Or, How I saved the World. (1992) [NF]
  35. John Crawford. The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War in Iraq. (2005) [NF]
  36. Tad Taleja. Foreignisms. (1989) [NF]
  37. John Forsyth. The Outsider. (2015) [NF]
  38. H.R.McMaster. Dereliction of Duty.(1997) [NF]
  39. Northrop Frye. The Educated Imagination. (1964) [NF]
  40. Benjamin Hale. The Wild and the Wicked: On Nature and Human Nature. (2016) [NF]
  41. Willim H.Gass. The World Within the Word. (1978) [Essays]

43.William H. Gass. Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts (2012) [Essays]

  1. William H. Gass. Finding A Form. (1996) [Essays]
  2. Jason Stanley. How Propaganda Works. (2015) [NF]
  3. Steven Pinker.Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. (1999) [NF]
  4. J.Bryan III. Hodgepodge: A Commonplace Book. (1986) [NF]
  5. Diane Ackerman. The Zookeeper’s Wife. (2007) [NF]
  6. Jonathan Lethem. Motherless Brooklyn. (1999) [FICT]
  7. Lewis Carroll. Sylvie and Bruno. (1988[1890]) [FICT

 

 

 

 

Poem For The Day Breakfast at Tiffiny’s

Girlfriends Out For Breakfast at Tiffiny’s With Cell Phones

We have no lives, live on our screens

One day we hope we shall be weaned.

 

Our kids aren’t up, we’re eating out,

Let’s hope they don’t interrupt with Tweets and shouts.

 

Tap tap tap our fingers fly,

Sending electrons across the sky.

 

Ching-jinka-jing our smart phones ring,

Kids are up, and about! Let’s eat up fast & get on out!

 

Dip my bacon in s’uth’n gravy, better chow here than home (or in the navy).

Hurry hurry, clean our plates, gotta get back to our maternal fate.

 

[Portage,  March 19, 2017]

Poem For the Day: Mall Walking

Mall Walking

Tiny gray birds flit ceiling to floor

As old peeps shuffle along,

 Pushing contraptions

With squeaking joints,

Leaning forward as into the wind

Of the twilight of life, white hair

Soiled pallors, shiny sneakers

Adidas and Nikes, Air and not.

All hugging the walls of shops,

Edge of the Pale,

Shoes squeaking like manic  mice,

Space-age slaves in horse-buggy bodies,

Slogging their way,

Day after day,

Fueled by java and joe

Their progress

Steady, slow, definition of go.

Motion the goal

Of thin-blood, thick will.

Mantra in the air like birds

Use it or lose it, use it or lose it.

[Portage, 3-18-17]

February in Michigan, Temperature in the 60s (?)

Sheesh, this weather seems like a fantasy so why not go whole hog… YO!, ALERT! THIS IS NOT REAL, THIS IS NOT REAL….!

“By the Book”
New York Times Book Review

Joseph Heywood

This weekly feature appears in the New York Time Book Review and features either authors of hot books, or writing greats and their latest offerings.  Interviews do not include we of the Rus Tribe.  The pub does not seek people like me in part because as I like to put it “outside New York is China.” New York has minimal interesting in rust-country scribblers, or in news from out here, UNLESS said report is written by some New York-based individual who travels out in these parts for a period of time (like hiking beyond the Pale) and imagines it to be terra incognito (Beyond here Dwell Dragons) where this stout individual has barely escaped with life and limb. But are they interested in  one of us who lives IN terra incognito, Nosiree Marie.

Let’s be clear on reality: My writing  career has gone from internationally unknown to regionally obscure and in that capacity this obscure author would tell them sure, you betcha, okey doke, wah! Seriously, who turns down the Failing New York Times (as it is termed in Presidentialese).

Okay, this isn’t real, but, as an author, I get paid to make things up — but here we go–

What books are currently on your nightstand?

The Farmer’s Almanac in large type.

What’s the last great book you read?

Out loud or to myself (without moving my lips)? The last great book I read was Stephen Greenblatt’s The Curve.

What’s the best classic novel you recently read for the first time?

Classic Comics, or classics without pictures? If the latter: Marcel Proust’s  À la recherche du temps perdu. And Lawrence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Sterne’s work has some drawings. Does that eliminate it from the classic definition? I  read both last year. Plus Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. Amazing read.

How do you organize your books?

Inside my home, in rooms, on shelves, in rows, tallest to shortest and (port to starboard). I have a library in excess of 25,000 volumes. Do you guys  have a better approach to organizing them?

Tell us about your favorites short stories:

My favorite was written by my late father in a high school class around 1937. The title was “The Game.” The narrative consisted of four words. “Rain, game called off.” Talk about flash fiction. I also like the stories of Stu Dybek and Bonnie Jo Campbell.

What moves you in a work of literature?”

Opening the book and finding a complete world I had not anticipated and probably could not imagine on my own.

What genres to you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

I especially like bathroom and public graffiti, and cereal box promotional copy. I rarely read conservative Horatio Alger stories or the Federal Register, which is like reading  substandard pidgin-Klingon.

What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?

Easy. Bear with me here: I grew up in a USAF family and we were flying back to the States after a 3 yr tour in Europe, and I came down with measles and the crew offloaded (dumped)  us in the Azores and I was hospitalized. The measles then passed from me to my brother and by the time we were healthy enough to travel again,  three weeks had passed. At one point in this stay, a MATS MedEvac came in from Germany, loaded with Section 8  and sundry psychiatric cases. One of the passengers got loose and the flight had to be delayed three days while the manhunt went on. The fellow was eventually located under a thick bush not six feet from the entrance to the hospital.  Meanwhile we had psych patients wandering all over the place and one came into my room and saw me doodling and next thing I knew he showed up with a book on how to draw cartoons.  He had gone to the PX and bought if for me, to encourage my drawing interests. I still have the book (though I couldn’t lay my hands on it with dispatch.  I also still draw cartoons. By far this was the best book gift I ever got.

Second best would have been Peyton Place, but by the time it reached me from my pals, it was pretty tattered from heavy teenage “reading.”

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, would you invite?

Well, no croaked-folk… putrescence does not  positively stimulate my appetite. But okay, I’d either invite James Salter, Mike Delp, and Bonnie Jo Campbell and we’d talk rivers and trout and all that romantic and savage outdoor stuff. Or I’d invite, Wm Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, and A.L Rowse, so I could sit  back and see if the Bard would bug out after suffering Rowse’s legendary arrogance, or if Churchill and the Bard will gang up on the big-headed professor. Talk about a great dinner party! I can’t wait. Will you guys set it up or do I have to ask some reporter from a press conference to do it?

 

Next up I’ll be fauxinterviewed by the retired Brian Lamb for  C-Span’s Booknotes.

Mike Delp Licensed Michigan fisherman and poet.
The late James Salter, fighter pilot, combat vet and the Writer’s Writer.

Dinner party guests:

Author Bonnie Jo Campell, country girl.
The Bulldog, Winston S. Churchill, adventurer, soldier, journalist, politician, war leader and author.
Wm Shaksper, Author.
Al Rowse, Oxford Prof, expert on Elizabethan England.

Fishing In-On My Mind

This is the introduction to a poetry collection called Fishing With The Famous. It is unlikely it will ever find a publisher, but the introduction is a good reminder that the 2017 fishing season is out there in front of us and most trouters will find anticipation building as we move from snow season to melt-down. Mostly I fish alone – physically speaking. Yet, more often than not I am accompanied metaphysically – in the astral plane — by someone most of us wouldn’t immediately equate with trout fishing. It started with imagining an outing with Mother Teresa and has gone on from there. Fishing alone is for a write a normal condition. The work we do doesn’t take place in committees or in groups. It can’t. Neither can fishing.  I fish when I writ,e and write when I fish. Here’s the first poem in the collection:

The late Mother Teresa

FISHING WITH THE FAMOUS #1

I ask Mother Teresa if I can
Call her Mother T,
And if she’s related to Mr. T,
Both known for their tenacity,
Wearing bling,
Twinkling their eyes, seeking spotlights
Etcetera.
Tiny as she is, I have to
Place her carefully in shallow riffles,
Her habit absorbing water like a sponge.
Naturally she wants to work the
Deepest, blackest holes,
She calls Calcutta-ish,
Wants to wade deep in the murk and mud,
Solve problems.
We catch no fish this day,
But coat the river with compassion.
(2002)

Fishing is not in the least bit an important activity – unless of course you are fishing for food to keep you and your family alive, in which case it becomes paramount. It’s the unimportance of fishing that creates it’s appeal, and ironically,  it’s not about actually catching fish; it’s about being out there in places where trout dwell, which are almost always remote and beautiful.

Personally I’ve never had one of those 100- or 200- fish days alleged by guzzlers in bars, fly shops and next to camp fires. At Six-and-Sixty I remain content catching and releasing seven-inch native brook trout from cramped and remote brooks and cricks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

As an author I’ve gotten numerous offers from folks to fish with them, even to wing away to places in Canada, Alaska and South America – or even more exotic destinations. I have only accepted one time – from a modest fellow who just wanted to show me where his dad taught him to fish for trout. We went, and treated it like church.

My basic personality is that of a loner. I participated in all sorts of group and team activities over my life and enjoyed and learned from them all. But I like doing things alone, which may help explain the reading, writing, and painting.

Usually main fishing partner has been God, not He Of The High Above, but Loosianian God, the former professor and corporate flack, a genteel gentleman of the old south (Baton Rouge) who fishes with an intensity and focus that borders on the rage of a Berserker. Me, I’m a  butterfly-watching meanderman of rivers, and because of this I tend to see a lot more of my surroundings than God, but since he made all the stuff it probably doesn’t hold the same allure it holds for me.

Some people, those who consistently catch fish, manage to stay fully focused on the task at hand. Me, I lean toward fey and easily entertained/distracted. Fishless days, of which I have many, are neither failures, nor wastes of time.

Most “real” trout fishermen  probably prefer to fish alone, not out of some sort of psychological disability, but because we like to be in our own little world, whether it’s daydreaming or fishing with intent. As you get older though, you realize it makes more sense to have a partner nearby – to give searchers a place to start looking for your body. (HINT: Always paint the bottoms of your wading boots bright orange. If you float your hat and die, this will help the divers find you faster.)

But finding partners is not easy. A fishing partner is in many ways far more important than just a close friend, and God knows’ they’re really hard to find.  You generally need to know someone pretty well before you take them to a river with you, and especially well before you take them to your secret places. It helps if your fishing partners are geographically challenged and easily disoriented and lost. My main fishing partners over the years have been God,  Bob Linsenman,  Steve Burton, Freddy Lee. Big Bo & his son Dano, my sons Tim and Troy, Robochef, Reginald the Yank-Canuck, and most recently Jambe Longues. I’ve fished with others on occasion, but these five are the ones I know, trust, and can rely on.

Fishing with a partner is in a lot of ways a misleading phrase. Rarely do you actually fish WITH your partner. You drive to a river and you say, you wanna to upstream or down, and your partner picks and you take the opposite and you agree to meet back at the truck at o-dark o’clock.

The great thing about imagining partners in verse is that you don’t actually have to fish with them.

In any event, the imaginings are mine and like fishing of no great overarching social value other than to keep me out of bars.

Tight lines in your minds. Over.