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Scattering Doug's ashes in Cali
By Art Goodtimes
IN MOURNING … He wasn’t much on ceremony. Had done his share of derring-do. Spent 25-some years in the Hell’s Angels, for goodness sakes … But my brother had had a change of heart in his fifties. Quit the legendary motorcycle club. Stopping drinking & smoking & lots of other less-thanhealthy things. Got a job driving truck for a steel supply warehouse … He took up weight-lifting & then drumming. Even went to West Africa & brought home some djembes … All our youth, Doug played the rebel to my goodie two-shoes. At 6 he knocked me into the kitchen the first time Dad put boxing gloves on us. As the oldest, I was humiliated. But in school I excelled. I was the honor student. Doug was the one in hot water with the authorities. So we both harbored grudges of one sort or another … But he was handy in a playground fight. Wasn’t afraid of the biggest kids – would square off with anyone if challenged. I admired that. Maybe secretly at first. But in later years, after I gave up the leading role in our familial Christian morality play & left seminary for the delayed adolescence of Sixties’ San Francisco, I realized we’d both become outlaws. He agin the law & me agin straight society. That came home most viscerally one day at a peaceful demo in Berkeley when a phalanx of highway patrol wielding batons came charging down the street after a rag-tag line of protesters & I was forever radicalized. It made me understand that there were lots of ways one gets marginalized, even in a democracy … Dirty Doug, as the Angels knew him, had lots of run-ins with the Man. But he never kow-towed or kissed ass – things I learned to do with bullies & certain “peace officers” -- out of a sheer sense of survival. So, as I evolved into a hippie rainbow countercultural non-conformist, my admiration for my little brother grew. Several times I went to visit him in Lompoc. San Jose. Cupertino. In later years I’d bring my kids (his nephews & nieces) who climbed all over his tattooed arms, hung from his bulldog neck. And he was gentle & loving with them … It became a trope in my offsprings’ childhoods. In the middle of wrestling or tickling or some catch-game in which they’d been-caught, all they had to say was “Uncle Doug” – and open sesame, they’d be released. His name became the “magic word” that would undo what had been done – a game we all loved to play … I guess that’s what I miss most about Doug. We never got to play together much after childhood. Except when we were drumming. And maybe that one night we sat joking & watching the Man burn at Burning Man … And so it’s time to let the fire burn out. That wild rebellious fearless decent brother of mine. Honoring his passing. Letting him go … It’s a lesson those of us elders racing into our sixties are regularly challenged to do – letting go of family, friends, things. Learning to embrace the tornado. The nuzzle of clouds up against the peaks … One of my greatest heroes, Utah Phillips, once said, “Every so often you have to wake up & jump off a cliff.” And, sooner or later, whether we’re dragged kicking & screaming or choose to leap holding each other’s hands, we all do.
THE TALKING GOURD
Darkness & the living water
Let them stay up
When merchants eat their
messengers from the mystery
— Rumi Persia
RAINBOW … I hope you’re considering a visit to the Rainbow Gathering of Healing Light in northern New Mexico during the first week of July. It’s the closest thing Americans have to understanding what it might be like to live in a tribal society … I’ve met two of my four wives at gatherings. And two of my three children have rainbows in their names … For some of us, the Sixties were a great opening in this culture, and the Rainbow Family continues much of the energy and vision of those days … Of course, some of us are no longer young hippies, so I’ve taken to calling myself a “paleohippie” But there’s no age limit upper or lower at a gathering. And it’s free … Hope I see you there to welcome you home.
URANIUM ALERT … Have you heard about Energy Fuels’ bait & switch tactic before Montrose County committees in trying to get their Paradox Basin uranium-processing mill licensed? It appears they aren’t going to only be processing local ores, but are trying to get a permit to bring in other wastes for reprocessing from all over the country … Call your local enviro group and get involved. Let’s not turn Western Colorado into a dumping grounds for other states’ radioactive wastes.
MAMA CAMPAIGN … Midwives & Mothers in Action (MAMA) is a congressional campaign by six national midwivery and consumer advocate groups to get federal certification, and thus, recognition, for professional midwives … Sign up in support at <www.mamacampaign.org> -- I have, having worked with several midwives (including the legendary Bill Dwelley) and been incredibly impressed. The one water birth I experienced near Montrose was one of the most moving moments of my life … (thanks to Janneli Miller of Dolores for this alert).
THE FINE ART OF INSULT … Perhaps the classic example in the British history of wit is the famous exchange between two 18th-century political rivals, John Montague, also known as the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, and the reformist politician John Wilkes. During a heated argument, Montague scowled at Wilkes and said derisively, "Upon my soul, Wilkes, I don't know whether you'll die upon the gallows, or of syphilis"... Unfazed, Wilkes came back with what many people regard as one of history’s best retorts: "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles, or your mistress" … (thanks to Bill Hickey of New Mexico).
Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.