Saturday, August 17, 2019

From The Pen Of Peter Paul Markin-Scenes From The Search For The Blue-Pink Great American West Night-The Ghost Dance-Late 1969

From The Pen Of Peter Paul Markin-Scenes From The Search For The Blue-Pink Great American West Night-The Ghost Dance-Late 1969

Scene Nine: Scenes From Search For The Blue-Pink Great American West Night- The Ghost Dance-Late 1969</b>

Damn, already I missed Angelica, road-worthy, road-travel easy, easy on the eyes and easy getting us a ride Angelica as I traveled down Interstate 80 onto the great prairie Mid-American hitchhike road after we parted at the Omaha bus station, she heading home East, at least Indiana east from Nebraska, and I to the savage search for the blue-pink great American West night. And I will tell you true that first ride and every ride after that, every miserable truck stopped or sedan ride, it didn’t matter, made me utter that same missed Angelica oath.

Right then though I was on my first connection ride out of Omaha and as luck would have it this big bruiser, full tattoo armed with snakes, roses and lost loves names, truck driver who was obviously benny-ed, benny-ed to perdition and was talking a blue streak was driving right through to Denver, my next destination. All I wanted was the ride but I knew enough of the road, enough of the truck driver come-on part of it anyway to know that this guy’s blue streak was a small price to pay for such a lucky break.

See, some guys, some guys like Denver Slim, who left me off at that long ago (or it seemed like long ago) Steubenville truck stop and Angelica (hey, now I know who to blame for my miseries, if I ever get my hands on that damn Denver Slim… Yah, yah, what are you going to do, big boy?), wanted to talk man to man. Back and forth like real people, especially as I reminded him of his errant (read: hair growing long , full-bearded hippie –swaying) son. Other guys are happy for the company so they can, at seventy or seventy-five miles an hour with the engine revved high and where conversation is made almost painful and chock-filled with the “what did you says?”, spout forth on their homespun philosophy and take on this wicked old world. With these guys an occasional “Yah, that’s right,” or a timely “What did you mean by that?” will stand you in good stead and you can nod out into your own thoughts.

And that is exactly where I wanted be, as old Buck (where do they get these names out in Mid-America anyway) droned on and on about how the government was doing, or not doing this or that for, or to, the little guy who helped build up, not tear down, the country like him. Thinking about what Aunt Betty, sweet Neola, Iowa grandmotherly Aunt Betty, said as she left me off at the Interstate 80 entrance still rings in my ears. I was good for Angelica. Hell, I know I was. Hell, if I had any sense I would admit what I know inside. Angelica was good for me too. But see certain times were funny that way. No way in 1962, or ‘64, or ’66, let’s say, that I would have run into an Angelica. I was strung out, strung out hard on neurotic, long black-haired (although that was optional), kind of skinny (not thin, not slender, skinny, wistfully skinny, I say), bookish, Harvard Square, maybe a poet, kind of girls. If I said beatnik girls, and not free-form, ethereral, butterfly breeze “hippie” girls you’d know what I mean.

As a kid I was cranked on pale, hell wan was more like it, dark-haired, hard Irish Catholic girls, and I mean hard Irish Catholic girls with twelve novena books in their hands, and unrequited lust in their hearts. So, I swear, when Angelica’s number turned up I was clueless how to take just a plain-spoken, says what she means, means what she says young woman who had dreams (unformed, mainly, but dreams nevertheless) that also were plain-spoken. Ah, I can’t explain it now, and I doubt I ever will. Just say I was stunted, stunned, and smitten, okay and let me listen to old Buck’s drone.


I have now put many a mile between me and Omaha and here I am well clear of that prairie fire dream now in sweet winter desert night Arizona not far from some old now run down, crumbling Native American dwellings that keep drawing my attention and I still want to utter that oath, that Angelica oath. Sitting by this night camp fire casting its weird ghost night-like shadows just makes it worst. And old now well-traveled soldiers turned “hippies”, Jack and Mattie, playing their new-found (at least to me) flute and penny whistle music mantra to set the tone.

Hey, I just remembered, sitting here wrapped up in Angelica and ancient primal tribal memories out of the whistling black star-filled night that I haven’t filled you in on where I have been, who I have seen (like John and Mattie), and how I got here from that star-crossed Neola night, at least the past Denver part. Jesus, and here we are only a few hundred miles from the ocean. I can almost smell, smell that algae sea- churned smell, and almost see the foam-flecked waves turn against the jagged-edged La Jolla rocks and mad, aging surfer boys from another time looking for that perfect wave. Yah, another more innocent time before all hell broke loose on us in America and crushed our innocent youthful dreams in the rice paddies of Asia, our Angelica plain-spoken dreams, but not our capacity to dream. That only makes the Angelica hurt worst as I remember that she had never seen the ocean, the jagged edged, foam-flecked ocean that I went on and on about. I was to be her Neptune on that voyage west to the rim of the world. Well let me get to it, the filling you in part..

After grabbing that straight ride from blue streak talkin’ old Buck I did tell you about, and a short but scary two day delay by a serious snow squall hurricane-wind tumult just before the Rocky Mountain foothills leading into Denver I got there in good order. If I didn’t tell you before, and now that I think about it I didn’t, I was to hook up with my now traveling companions, Jack and Mattie, there for the final trip west to the ocean and serious blue-pink visions. If you don’t remember Jack and Mattie, they are two guys that I picked up on the Massachusetts highways heading south in the days when I had a car in the early spring. We had some adventures going south, that I will tell you about another time, before I left them off in Washington, D.C. so they could head west from there. We agreed then to meet up in Denver later in the year where they expected to stay for a while. My last contact with them in late summer had them still there but when I arrived at the communal farm on the outskirts of Denver where they had been staying I was informed that they had gotten nervous about being stuck in the snow-bound Rockies and wanted to head south as fast as they could. They had left a Phoenix address for me to meet them at. I stayed at the commune for a few days to rest up, doing a little of this and that, mostly that, and then headed out myself on what turned to be an uneventful and mercifully short hitchhike road trip to Phoenix to connect with them.

And so here we are making that last push to the coast but not before we investigate these Native American lands that, as it turns out, we all had been interested in ever since our kid days watching cowboys and Indians on the old black and white 1950s small screen television. You know Lone Ranger, Hop-along Cassidy, Roy Rogers and their sidekicks’ fake, distorted, prettified Old West stuff. Stuff where the rich Native American traditions got short shrift.

Earlier today we had been over to Red Rock for an Intertribal celebration, a gathering of what was left of the great, ancient warrior nations that roamed freely here not all that long ago but who are now mere “cigar store” Indian characters to the public eye. The sounds, the whispering shrill canyon sounds and all the others, the sights, the colors radiant as they pulled out all the stops to bring back the old days when they ruled this West, the spirit, ah, the spirit of our own warrior shaman trances are still in our heads. I am still in some shamanic-induced trance from the healing dances, from warrior tom-tom dances, and from the primal scream-like sounds as they drove away the evil spirits that gathered around them (not hard enough to drive the marauding “white devil” who had broken their hearts, if not their spirits though). Not only that but we scored some peyote buttons (strictly for religious purposes, as you will see) and they have started to kick in along with the occasional hit from the old bong hash pipe (strictly for medicinal purposes).

So right now in this dark, abyss dark, darker than I ever saw the night sky in the East even though it is star-filled, million star-filled, in this spitting flame-roared campfire throwing shadow night along with tormented pipe-filled dreams of Angelica I am embedded with the ghosts of ten thousand past warrior- kings and their people. And if my ears don’t deceive me, and they don’t, beside Jack’s flute and Mattie’s penny whistle I hear, and hear plainly, the muted gathering war cries of ancient drums summoning paint-faced proud, bedecked warriors to avenge their not so ancient loses, and their sorrows as well.

And after more pipe-fillings that sound got louder, louder so that even Jack and Mattie seem transfixed and begin to play their own instruments louder and stronger to keep pace with the drums. Then, magically, magically it seemed anyway, I swear, I swear on anything holy or unholy, on some sodden forebear grave, on some unborn descendent that off the campfire- reflected red, red sandstone, grey, grey sandstone, beige (beige for lack of better color description), beige sandstone canyon echo walls I see the vague outlines of old proud, feather-bedecked, slash mark-painted Apache warriors beginning, slowly at first, to go into their ghost dance trance that I had heard got them revved up for a fight. Suddenly, we three, we three television-sotted Indian warriors got up and started, slowly at first so we are actually out of synch with the wall action to move to the rhythms of the ghosts. Ay ya, ay ya, ay ya, ay ya,…..until we speed up to catch the real pace. After what seems an eternity we are ready, ready as hell, to go seek revenge for those white man injustices.

But just as quickly the now flickering camp fire flame goes out, or goes to ember, the shadow ghost dance warriors are gone and we crumble in exhaustion to the ground. So much for vengeance. We, after regaining some strength, all decide that we had better push on, push on hard, to the ocean. These ancient desert nights, sweet winter desert nights or not, will do us in otherwise. But just for a moment, just for a weak modern moment we, or at least I knew, what it was like for those ancient warriors to seek their own blue-pink great American West night.

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