...This book is dedicated to Carlos Mose, for not letting me fall...
The Freewheelin’ Troubadour presents: Freewheelin’ In Monument Valley & The American Offerings
A Whole New World The breeze it blows like no one knows, the spoken word of all my foes, is washed away now by the wind, whilst their faces frown, mine seems to grin. I suppose it’s a shame, but i’m not to blame, I left for a reason, ‘cause things ain’t the same, and I can’t maintain being down, that’s not me, whilst you’re stuck there rotting I’ve got to get free. There are plenty more places that I’d rather be, than at ‘home’, getting stoned, all alone, feeling low. There’s a plethora of places, to which we can fly, find highs under a different sky, or sit to watch the world roll by. Monotonous as living and working can be, I don’t know why people keep roots like a tree, when you can just up and go, y’ know, you don’t have to wait for the sun through the snow. I’d say that i’m tired, but I can’t complain, it’s night on the beach and there’s no chance of rain. I’d try not to cry, if I was still feeling blue, but instead i’m sat wishing that you were here too.
Oh, Sweet Death Oh sweet death, you pop into the dark depths of my mind at the first sign of beauty that I see. A telling tale that i’m somehow undeserving of such a majestic sight. This high water mark may never be reached again, but the pure, sweet nothingness of the dark days is guaranteed. Death, my only salvation from monotony except, of course, to win the lottery. Am I not deserving of these eyes? Eyes that delve deep into the souls of survivors. Regardless, I’ll take what i’m given. Every extended glance shared, a gift from the Gods which I’ll savour, as I travel alone and unknown through these strange streets that feel like home. Time seems to fly when you have no plans. When you’re not trying to go anywhere, man do you get to go places, and see things you thought were invisible, from the vista of your miserable world. This trip is a constant trip, this train is insane. Moments almost daily, I step back, look upon myself and wonder what i’m doing here. How do I find myself under these distant stars, engaging eyes with this beautiful sky? Am I deserving of being myself, the witness and creator of beauty, the lover of all and everything around me, which I know, when I see it through these eyes?
Stream of consciousness Let me dance, for now I am free. The ridiculousness of everything seems so apparent now. The waves of light across the cardboard city, watching it slowly simmer, all that is unholy and impure, packed in, towards the fire. People lining up, waiting for their time to burn. My time is now. I will not wait in line. No need to push me towards the fire, i’m already burning inside. This one man band is about to expand into something so grand, so magnificent, that even death, with all its sweet soaked glory, will have to step back and say “Shit, that kid just painted his masterpiece”. My Cisteen chapel only has a capacity of one, and I ain’t goin’ nowhere. A one way ticket every time you close your eyes, thrown into yourself and finding what’s true, what is righteous, the power to create anything you deem fit for your world. Wicked flashes cast aside, no space for that on this hell of a ride. Still, it’s hard to escape sometimes. Every individual human being is its own unique primate, with unique tweeks which make it tick. So many meaningless ideas indicate insignificancy to me; it’s all foreign when i’m speaking the Queens.
Things tick and they tock and they EXPLODE all around me, but my face doesn’t change, because nothing is strange. Everybody is out for themselves in this world, but is salvation found in the solemn prayer? I don’t care, as I stare at every individual stroke of genius that their parents created. A voyeur, if you will, with a skill of detailing every inch, with my thumb, then through the eyes and into the soul, eating the fleeting thoughts, which are nothing to me, and finding the core, the life within, the realness, in one second or less. Where are the stars and the moon when I want to howl? The fog and the darkness loom above the rooftop where I stand, alone in this crying city. The bridge isn’t far, if you feel like jumping. The ocean is where I need to be, washed away in sweet sleep, every particle dissipated equally into the slip stream, becoming the ocean myself and letting the ocean become me. One. Again, the fire within the city walls calls, blood boiling, I can hear its beating heart. I yearn for the desolation that I never find, as we are all alone, together. Lights flicker in the waves of the city, the paper skyscraper, insignificant after all. Who cares if I spit upon the roof of the rich? The rich? Well, they have no reason to bitch. I’m sure they’ll find one anyway, after all, they do know that what they have is hollow, and me? Well, i’m not even really here, invisible in the city terrain. No fanfare to make you aware of the party, but it’s happenin’, right here and now, this is the spot where the flames get hot.
Music is created within the thin air, everywhere; strange ringings which seem unreal seem to send you off. Then they stop. Then they start again. Then they stop, and the creaky floorboard welcomes a stranger, who wants to make sure I don’t work here. “I don’t work anywhere”, I respond, then off he walks, happily into the furniture, and becomes a chair. Still, I sit, and semi-stare, a voyeur, if you will, a voyeur, if you care. Unedited and in print, it’s here for all to see, *drum roll please*....
NOTHING! Hope you enjoyed the show.
Deserted in the Desert Where is the world when I am nowhere? A grain of sand in the vast, immaculate desert, nonexistent until it touches your feet, forming holes in this new beginning before it has even started. No one around, but shadows in the distance. Maniacal laughter rings out. A creation of nature, you put it down to, but you know life is out there, reminded by the flies flying freely around your face. A crater within the moon-like dunes creates a new home for me to roam, and I make it my own. Eyes closed, the trance begins. A festival of festivities, an opening guides me in. Baying broads and bearded bears creating a rumpus in the streets. Two dark fellows led me to a door which read â€˜Salvationâ€™, but inside it was empty. I remained seated for the duration of my stay, whilst so-called pleasures of life were brought in for me to feast upon, and I ate. I ate until my belly was full but still I was unfulfilled. I kicked the table over, into the fire, and set the building ablaze. Bearded broads burning as the streets followed. Now a festival of fear, screams rang out all around, and the town crumbled behind me as I walked away. I open my eyes to the doors of the desert. Back to peace, for now at least.
Freewheelin’ In Monument Valley Part 1 BEHOLD THE VALLEY OF SAND AND STONE “My howls echoed across the vast sands for miles…” I rolled into Monument Valley with the nine other members of the trek group that I was part of, as the Sun shone down upon Great Basin’s desert sands. We parked up and awaited the arrival of Carlos, a Navajo Indian guide that we were told would be picking us up for a jeep tour around the monuments. Arriving about thirty minutes later than expected was a rickety old truck, with a trailer on the back, and three metal bench seats attached to it. Carlos got out and introduced himself to the group. He stood with long black hair tied back under a black leather, brimmed hat and looked like a younger, bespectacled version of Carlos Santana. We all jumped onto the trailer and sat down with our sleeping bags to protect us from the chill of the 4pm November desert air. We drove around the bumpiest dirt tracks known to man, the unforgiving seats acquainting us with every rock and pot-hole on the path, going from monument to beautiful monument, stopping often for pictures, and to be told the history and stories behind the amazing rock faces that rose from the ground. Each one seemed like its own separate entity, rising powerfully from the ground, laying claim to the land below. at a place called ‘The Hidden Arches’,a
huge cave with a wide, open front and an eye shaped hole in the ceiling, we laid back on the sloping rock wall whilst Carlos told us the tale of a man and a woman; how the man was poor and had nothing to offer his intended lover, so he created this instrument, an Indian flute, and wrote the most beautiful song in order to woo her. Carlos played a dreamy tune on his Indian flute as an accompaniment. I closed my eyes and drifted into the story, visualising their adoration growing, note after love-filled note. We continued on, visiting most of the monuments, including the Echo Cave ruin, which echoed my howls across the vast sands for miles, and the Ear of the Wind, ahuge rock face with an ear shaped hole cut out of it in the middle, another breath-taking natural phenomenon. Everywhere looked amazing, and an hour after the sun came down, with the tour complete, we were driven to the Navajoâ€™s camp where we would be spending the night. Our trek guide, Vern, was waiting with some of the Navajo, who were cooking us a traditional dinner of sliced steak and vegetables, with Native Indian style flat breads. As we jumped off the truck I was told dinner was ready, but Iâ€™d already decided that this situation was more than worthy of a mushroom trip, so I ran to the porta-loo with a small bag of joy in my pocket, and consumed the contents before my meal, thinking that if I ate them after it would take a lot longer for them to kick in. I rushed out to calls for me to join the group, echoing within the rock walls around us, got my plate of dinner last, and joined the others sitting around a huge log fire, burning high and blowing wild in the frequent gusts of wind. After dinner, I walked off into the pitch black darkness, just far enough away to smoke a joint in relative peace, whilst staring at the clearest night sky and brightest stars I had ever been fortunate enough to witness. I came back in time to find Carlos introducing
two fellow Navajo Indians, wearing headdresses and full traditional regalia, who danced around the fire and told us about their performance and why it is part of their ceremony, to dance for the dead. I was feeling the effects of my earlier intake, blissedout, watching these two guys going at it to the beat of Carlos’s drum, their tiredness mounting with every step that they took. They then invited us up, ladies first of course, and married us into pairs. We held hands and danced around together, following the lead of the Indians around the fire and back, through each others arms and around in ways that would confuse the sober, but it was fun, and the river of bodies flowed naturally, like the path was written in their souls. Back at the fire I returned to my position between Anna and Louisa, two of the eight others that were part of my trek group, and Carlos started telling more of his stories, many of which featured a silly, almost cartoon like Coyote character always getting his comeuppance, with a moral attached somewhere to each of them. Most of these I didn’t grasp too strongly, due to the feeling, as with most religions’ fables, that they are just tales created in order to make you act a certain way; which, although they usually are meant well, I don’t feel I need in order to know how to be righteous. I appreciated the sentiment nonetheless, and laughed at the ridiculousness of them, like a kid being entertained by stories from his grandfather. I would drift in and out of the tales, and lay back on the ground, staring up, enamoured by the untouchable brilliance of the stars in the sky, hoping that no one would clock on to my possibly odd behaviour. No one else in the group was of the mind-expanding kind, let alone privy to the fact that I had over an ounce of dried magic mushrooms stuffed in my back pack’s box of tricks, that I had acquired from my pal Mikey
in San Francisco. Carlos asked if we wanted to hear a really scary coyote story, and I called out “Yeah, give us some dark side stuff”, goading him to go further than tales of this daft creature juggling and losing his eyeballs. Yves, my Swiss friend and only other male in my group, aside from Vern the trek leader, said “no more” from across the fire. I laughed, saying “Yves’ over there shitting himself”. Yves asked Carlos if he had ever fought a coyote, and Carlos said no, and that they would never usually attack humans, as they scarper when approached. He asked Yves if he had, and Yves, in a sombre tone, replied “yes, three weeks ago in Canada”. At this point I drifted off into some thought of Yves fighting this cartoon like coyote, then rejoined reality and laughed at the continuation of Yves tale, which I thought was an elaborate wind up of some sort. “Don’t laugh you idiot”, whispered Anna, “His friend died!” ..................................... “WHAT THE FUCK!!!” I thought, the realisation of realness ripping me back through a vortex, from an amazing wave of high and happiness, to a dreadful, screaming low of torment within my brother. I didn’t know what to say. The ultimate embarrassment, and worry, that I had put my foot in it, the ‘it’ being Yves’ weak spot, and ‘my foot’ being this trouble-making mouth of mine. Automatically, I started thinking the worst. “There were meant to be three guys in this trek group, but one never showed... That must be Yves friend! (He’d told me previously a friend of his had booked but couldn’t make it)... He’s lost his best friend that he would have been sharing rooms with, and has instead got me, staying up all hours of the night and taking nothing seriously....”. I couldn’t concentrate on anything around me but the rank feeling in my gut, so I got up
and walked back to the porta-loo. Once inside I took five minutes and straightened my mind from all the dark thoughts and worries that were now tearing away at it. I walked back, and over to where Yves was standing, now visibly shaken and weakened by his own thoughts, popped two Benson and Hedges Silver cigarettes from out of my crumpled pack, and asked if he was ok, torching both our coffin nails with my Zippo lighter, and quietly saying “Sorry, man, I thought you were joking”. “No, no joke”, he replied in a hushed tone, almost not wanting to tread the water we were already drowning in. “What happened? Was it a close friend?” I asked, as inquisitive as always, but hoping to help by knowing exactly what I was dealing with for the next two weeks. “No”, he replied, “just someone we found”.
PART TWO THE BALLAD OF TAYLOR MITCHELL “Mystic evil spirits of some sort… powerful enough to bound at superhuman speed across the desert… steal your skin and kill you…” Yves told me his story. He was walking on a hike called ‘The Skyline Trail’ up in the Canada Highlands at a National Park, with two guys and a girl that he had met and was travelling with, when they came upon a set of keys, dropped on the path. “We thought it best to leave them, in case the owner came back to look for them”, he explained in his cracked Swiss accent, and they continued down the track. “After a minute or so walking, we saw sunglasses and a camera had also been dropped on the floor, and realised that something must be up. We called out ‘HELLO...........HELLO..........’ as we moved further down, and heard “Help”, being quietly called out from beyond some trees and bushes”. The three guys ran down, and were greeted with the site of two ravenous coyotes, beside a young girl, eating her alive. “They looked strange, at first I thought they were wolves, but they were much bigger, and their faces looked different, but they didn’t look like coyotes either”, perhaps inbred, or some kind of demented crossbreed. “We had a huge rush of adrenaline, in spite of all the danger, and the three of us ran towards the coyotes screaming, but they didn’t move”. The coyotes just stared up at them, with rabid, bloodthirsty eyes, as the girl, who turned out to be a 19 year old Canadian folk starlet named Taylor Mitchell, lay half dead on the dark and bloody ground. “They were chewing at
her leg as she laid there semi-conscious, but her head had been cracked open, and the coyotes, they... they were eating her brain.” I don’t know if it was from falling, but he told me that on a spiky branch nearby, there hung another small piece of her brain. The three men charged again, screaming, arms waving, and managed to get the coyotes to back away enough so that they could get to what was left of the girl. “She was so tiny”, his voice now completely broken with emotion, “there’s no way she could have defended herself against them”. They picked her up, and Yves described to me how the coyotes had eaten the whole top part of her head, up to the eyeballs, which were now unsupported by sockets, hanging out on the floor. The lower part of one of her legs was almost completely eaten. They picked her up and carried her away from death’s door, suffering, and she was immediately rushed to the hospital. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived, while the girl was already en route to the hospital, and managed to shoot one of the attackers in the backside before it got away. They later killed another, although they were unsure if it was involved in the attack at all. How very ‘police-like’ of them. It seems coyotes are to Canadian police, what black people are to their American counterparts. “They’re still out there”, he said, with a God stricken fear welling up in his eyes. He explained that in a spot near to the attack was a public toilet, and how that whole area was traced with blood; the toilet door bearing a downwards streak left by a hand print that was clearly going for the handle in a vain attempt to reach safety, but dragged away. So close to salvation, but unfortunately too far. “Fuck, that’s terrible”, I responded, as eloquent as ever, now feeling sober as a judge. We spoke more about his
fears surrounding the events, and how this trip would affect him, throwing him right back into similar situations. “I’ve spoken a lot with my friends who were there, and we’re all suffering from what we’ve seen, but we agreed that we’ve got to be strong and continue with our journeys”. I told him that if he ever needed to talk about it, he’s going to have me there for the next two weeks, and he asked me not to mention it to the girls, as he didn’t want to scare them with the details whilst we were camping out. We returned to the fire to hear Carlos with his instruments, building walls of sound with his drum, playing his flute into the night, and telling other ‘scary stories’ about such things as ‘Skin Crawlers’. He described these mystic evil spirits of some sort, that are human, but powerful enough to bound at superhuman speed across the desert, steal your skin and kill you, just with the power of their thoughts. No more talk of coyotes, of which I was now also thankful.
Monument Valley, 19th November 2009
PART THREE MAN vs MOUNTAIN “The pure, natural darkness, contrasted only by those glittering balls of brilliance that hung from the black blanket of majesty above… guiding our night…” After a while, everyone was lead to where we would be sleeping for the night, an Indian hut called a Hogan. A Hogan is a mud hut of sorts, but this was nothing to shake a stick at, in fact, most of it was built with sticks. It was wooden inside, log after log creating a circle structure like an igloo, but with a fire stove burning in the middle. It was beautiful and warm inside, compared to the desert winds. The outside was covered with mud and sand, and a chimney would pump the flames’ smoke from the middle of the Hogan. We got our sleeping stuff in, and got laid out, everyone putting on their pyjamas, getting ready for bed. I looked at my watch and realised it was only 9.30pm. My group hadn’t been known so far to want to stay up when the easy option of bed was put in front of them, but I knew I still had a good few hours worth of magic left in my tummy. I got myself together, wished everyone good night, and went outside to see what else the night sky had to offer me. As I closed the door I heard a voice. “Ah Dion, man, what are you up to, wanna come for a walk?” “Perfect timing”, I said, as I looked up to see Carlos, hustling around quietly. We set off down a dark path, with our little torches leading the way as we chatted. “Do you smoke weed?” asked Carlos, to which I replied, “Of course, brother, I’ve already got two spliffs prerolled for us in my pocket”. He laughed and we walked along for about ten minutes, and then stopped for a
smoke break, each taking a few hits on Carlosâ€™ pipe before continuing on. I asked lots of questions about the Navajo way of life, how much he adheres to the rules, and how much he believes in the stories he tells. It was really interesting to hear from an insider how similar it is to being a child of most other religious backgrounds these days, in terms of how the new generation seem to be sensible enough to govern themselves, and not fully buy in to the pointless rules set in place. The Navajo Nation is a dry state, so all alcohol is forbidden, but Carlos went to an out of state college, and said that he sometimes drinks. A lot of the Navajo smoke weed, and sometimes delve into psychedelics like peyote. I told him I was on mushrooms and he asked me if I had any more on me (standard response, the whole world over). Unfortunately, they were all in our vanâ€™s trailer, which we had left behind in some hotelâ€™s parking lot, somewhere back on the road. I started digging through my pockets for the empty baggy that I had put back in my jacket after eating the mushrooms earlier, as I remembered I had something in there. I fished the bag from the inside of my dirty mac and picked out a tab of artificial mescaline that was wrapped in a rolling paper, which was given to me by Mikey as a gift when I purchased my other stocks. It was small, green, and almost plastic-like in substance. I broke it in two, gave half to Carlos, and stuck the other half under my tongue to slowly melt away with a strange, bitter vibrancy to it that was unfamiliar to my gums. We walked on for another 20 minutes or so without the aid of our torches, just letting our eyes focus through the pure, natural darkness, contrasted only by those glittering balls of brilliance that hung from the black blanket of majesty above, guiding our night.
We reached The Hidden Arches, and went back inside. This time as I lay, back against the wall, I could see the incredible twinkling of those beloved stars, through the eye shaped hole in the ceiling. I pulled a joint from my cigarette box and shared it with Carlos, telling him to have more than a just few pulls and smoke it casually, rather than hurriedly two pull passing it, like how a lot of Americans tend to smoke. We took a while to relax, comfortable in the amazing monument. Carlos played his harmonica, and asked to hear one of my poems. I read him ‘The World Turns’, my thirteen verses, favourite poem, off the top of my head. It was somewhat of a struggle in parts due to my flickering brain, which kept zooming off with my words as they echoed across the valley. He seemed to really like it, and quoted, “as the sun may rise and suddenly fall”, saying he enjoyed the metaphor of time going by, whilst the world still turns, regardless. After a while, we discussed where to have the final smoke of the night and got up, Carlos saying he knew a good point about thirty minutes walk away. We carried on, and finally reached a point, where he said, “we’ve got two options here, there is a nice spot we can go to over there” - pointing to my right - “or there is a great view across the valley if we climb this mountain, but it’s a really tough climb”, pointing left and upwards. The mountain was called Hunts Mesa, and looked huge and wide, though somewhat conquerable to a Freewheeler like me. I looked down at my Converse sneakers, which I had bought to replace my battered shoes whilst again on mushrooms, in Las Vegas, before going to watch The Beatles ‘Love’ Cirque Du Soleil show. “How long will it take to climb?” I asked, and didn’t really believe him when he said “only half an hour, or so”. “It’s gotta be the mountain really, hasn’t it?” I said rhetorically, after a short and not very well thought out moment of decision. Here I was, having never
hiked anywhere until Zabriski Point in Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon’s Kaibab trail a few days earlier, high on weed, mushrooms and mescaline (although still very held together mentally), thinking that climbing a notorious mountain at 11pm would be a good idea and not at all too gruelling. I was mistaken. We set along, walking up, and after a while we came to a rope ladder, which had a one hundred and fifty foot climb, up to a ledge. We decided to bypass that and walk up, which I thought would be less difficult, but at different points it seemed like the angles or gravity would change, leaving me walking one minute, and crawling along the rock face on my hands, knees, and chest the next. It was a complete trip, being that you had to constantly judge how you’d take each step, in order to reach the next area where you could feasibly stop and break for a bit, tired from pulling yourself up and up, during what I was realising would obviously take more than half an hour. After what seemed like an eternity of ascending, we came around a ledge near the top of the rope ladder that we’d seen earlier, to a vertical rock face that had no pathway built underneath it, and very little in terms of footing and hand holes. Carlos went first, slowly shuffling his way across without incident, and then it was my turn. He told me not to look down, and, brave but nervous, I started sideways across the cliff, doing my best to get a footing whilst laying my weight flat across the wall and sliding myself along. Out of nowhere, like a flash of lightning in a summer nights sky, my foot slipped, jolting my whole body sharply downwards and leaving me clinging to the side of the mountain, my wooden crosses cutting into my chest, thinking, “SHIT, I’M GOING TO DIE!” I reached out to a hand hole that was in front of me
and grabbed at the rock, but it just crumbled away in my fingertips, along with the hope that the sight of it had brought. For a split second, which seemed like a short black and white film from the 50’s, I could see myself falling from above, legs kicking at the air whilst my beige mac blew upwards at my sides like wings. I imagined learning to fly just as the bottom approached, and with a snap, came back to the reality of the rock face in my shocked face. “You’re gonna be fine, just hold still”, I told myself, as the potential danger shrieked up at me from below. I knew that I only had one or two foot between me and a one hundred and fifty foot drop, and that if I didn’t die from the fall, the level of damage I’d suffer would make me wish that I did. Carlos told me to hold tight, came back along and beside me, and managed to stabilise me, but I slipped again. He somehow supported me as I regained footing, then he helped me along, holding my hand as he led us out. “Ah man, that was close”, he said, and I thanked him for saving me. I was shaken, but at the same time felt infinitely lucky not to have fallen to my doom, and arguably more alive than I’d ever felt. I pulled a Benson & Hedges Silver from my box, deciding against having another spliff until I’d made it down alive. I sat atop the mountain, looking down at the huge drop that I would have suffered had I not been protected by the force which guides me, and laughing at the ridiculousness of my situation. I could barely climb a hill, let alone a notorious mountain at night, but somehow, I had made it. I didn’t want the cigarette to end, every cloud of smoke a gift, which I was lucky to receive, however when it did, we decided to start our descent. “I’m not going back along that fucking death ledge,” I said to Carlos, who then told me of the only other option- the rope ladder that we had passed on the way up. Fully aware
and fearful of the fact that one slip could mean I fall, we made our way cautiously down to this plateau, where the top of the rope ladder started, and Carlos descended first, showing me how to do it. He told me to grip the rope as tight as possible, whilst hanging my legs over the side of the same drop that would have killed me 30 minutes previously. “This is your lifeline”, he said of the rope, “do not let it go, whatever you do”. Holding onto it with my cracked, weathered hands, I kicked my long legs along the wall, jumping myself downwards like a true mountaineer, whilst Carlos encouraged me from below. “That’s better than any Navajo I’ve ever seen”, he shouted as I approached ground level. “You’re definitely crazy”, he said, as my feet finally felt the floor. I asked why and he said, “Well, you’re here with me...” I couldn’t argue.
PART FOUR AIN’T DEAD YET, BUT I’M GETTING THERE “My mind was still spinning off of the circular confines of the room and taking in everything that Monument Valley had offered up to me… as a sacrifice to my soul…” I had made it, and was happy at the thought of a peaceful process getting back now, just a long walk which could have been made an hour or so shorter, if Carlos had been willing to take a shortcut and potentially wake up the dogs that reside at the closer entrance to the camp. Nevertheless, he didn’t want to disturb a fellow Indian that was staying there as “he gets moody when he’s woken”, so we set back upon the path in which we came, different to the men who had earlier walked the opposite way, and spoke about interests of the heart, and how ours both came to be broken. We stopped to smoke the final joint from my now mutilated packet of smokes, in a monument called ‘The Big Hogan’, which is one that a family actually used to live inside. The hole in its ceiling would create a small, pond sized collection of water at the bottom whenever it rained, which they would use for drinking water. It was lovely, and I imagined happily living there myself for a while. Carlos told me how he once had a tour group in there whilst he was telling a fable and playing his flute, and just as he came near the end of the song, a wild horse walked in and started drinking from the water. “It was the perfect ending to the song, and people cried over how beautiful a moment it was”. We carried on walking in the darkness, speaking about my near death experience, and I asked
Carlos what he’d have done if I’d fallen to my demise. “I would have buried you”, he said, deadly serious. I laughed and asked why, and he replied, “Do you know how much trouble I’d be in if people knew I’d taken you to climb Hunts Mesa at night?” “Yeah, but it wouldn’t have been your fault if I’d fallen, whereas burying my corpse in this desert and denying we were out here together would make you guilty”, I argued, which he contemplated for a moment, then agreed with. He asked me not to mention that he’d taken me there to our trek leader Vern, saying “even he wouldn’t have hiked this one before”, at which point I finally realised just quite how notorious Hunts Mesa was. At some sudden drop in ground level, I tripped, but stopped myself from fully falling with my right hand. Unfortunately for me, it was by putting said hand right on top of an extremely prickly, dried cactus-like plant. I shined a light at my now stinging palm, to find over a hundred of these clear, little thorn type bastards that Americans refer to as ‘stickers’, all sticking out of my unusually large looking palm. Carlos and I stood there for about ten minutes in the darkness, pulling out sticker after sticker, whilst a spastic twinge pulsated in the ball of my hand, spreading its numbness up into my fingertips. After dislodging all that we could get to, we marched on, finally reaching our campsite at quarter to two in the morning, after four hours and about five miles of walking and climbing. I thanked Carlos for being my guide, and he said “I hope you enjoyed your vision quest under the stars”. I walked into our Hogan, unable to see anything in the darkness except the mushroom static, and somehow fell upon my bed space next to Anna.
“Are you ok?” she tiredly asked. “You were gone for so long, I was worried”. I told her I was fine, and she said that she was dreaming, then consciously thought to herself, ‘I wonder where he is?’, and just a moment after, I opened the door. Asking inquisitively where I’d been all this time, I whispered, “I’ll tell you in the morning”. I struggled a while to fall asleep. My mind was still spinning off of the circular confines of the room and taking in everything that Monument Valley had offered up to me, as a sacrifice to my soul. I stared up at the tiny window, wishing my view offered more than just a boxed-off assortment of my beloved stars, and fought the urge to go back out and lay with them until morning. I knew I only had a few hours potential sleep before going to watch the sunrise, like I had done two days prior whilst sitting on a rock, dangling my legs off of the edge of the Grand Canyon, listening to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles. Thinking of this, I drifted off into the sandman’s arms, and he flew me back around the valley’s desert, which was now mine.
PART FIVE ONWARDS AND UPWARDS “I savoured every sweet taste of morning air… filling my heart with a place and time that I would never forget…” I awoke to a stirring of sleepy souls, stretching their limbs in the chilly morning air. It was 5.30am and Carlos was outside waiting, so we all wrapped up warm, grabbed our bed covers and crammed into one of the other Indians’ van, with Carlos driving like a loon. The track seemed even bumpier this time, and the girls screamed in pain and annoyance as we bounced into every crater in the road, with me shouting at Carlos as I was thrown about like an old boot in a tumble dryer. After a fifteen-minute drive that was sixteen minutes too long, we hobbled out one by one. We ran up a sand dune, and down another, reaching a lovely vista point that Carlos said he rarely takes people to, but he wanted this sunrise to be special. Although not as poignant as the Grand Canyon’s sunrise, it was definitely special to me. I felt, as I had done at many points in my first month away, almost undeserving of such beauty, such deep breaths of life that fill up my lungs and cleanse my spirit. Regardless, I savoured every sweet taste of morning air, filling my heart with a place and time that I would never forget. On the ride back we stopped where a stall had been set up, with a Navajo lady selling various pieces of handmade Indian jewellery. I looked for something special to bring back, and came upon a long necklace made with turquoise ghost beads (which Carlos had told me to get the night before, to protect me from the Skin-Crawlers) and brown juniper berries, which had an ivory feather hanging from it. Upon closer in
spection, also noticed a small marijuana leaf hanging just above the feather. “This was made for me”, I thought, handing the tradeswoman twenty dollars. We arrived back at the campsite, and had a breakfast of various cereals and cakes laid out for us, which we ate before being driven back to the hotel car park where our trailer was waiting. We said farewell, and I hugged my brother Carlos, who invited me out on another escapade should I ever find myself back in Monument Valley, with me offering him a bed in London should he ever fancy seeing the sickness. I got on the coach, claiming the back seat, and explaining that I needed to sleep more than ever after all, we were on our way to Betty and Rusty’s Cowboy Camp, in another Arizona desert, where a dark horse was waiting for me...
Unique New York New York streets are unique, on every corner cats speak, in tongues that tend to wagger with a different kind of swagger. Some folks drawl like they never went to school, other brothers talk direct so you know what to expect. What you see is what you get, when you ain’t seen nothing yet, but Brooklyn blocks tend to rock, and roll when you stroll, at night the homeless cats still seem all right, a couple of quarters lead your young lamb from the slaughter. For now, at least, we have safety and peace, but when it all kicks off i’m set to unleash the beast, and take happiness home, ‘cause though I stand on my own, we’re all together, together, alone.
Whatever doesn’t kill me Whatever doesn’t kill me will make me higher, as I step upon the street feelin’ super-fly, I think twice and blink once at thoughts of just how many blunts that I have been smokin’, and how many dark souls have I been provoking, at the witching hour when things get sour, just how will I sleep, when the knights of the night in my mind begin to creep? I weep, for my poor brothers sleeping rough, New York city’s pretty, but the winters are tough, no love, from their stupidly elected idols, they’re all on the take but no body’s providing food or shelter for the strangers in danger, their stomachs are rumbling but the sound’s out of range, away in a manger, my dreams were deceived, the realities I’ve witnessed you would never believe.
If Everything’s Alright (Why is everybody crying) Well it happened in the dreary night, The tears in your eyes intensified, That thing that you had on your mind, The words you now are saying. Came to my ears, like a kick, When I was down and it made me sick To feel your heel upon my head, and know that you weren’t playing. You said it wasn’t up to you, So who’d you have to answer to? To do the things you want to do, Not cast me to the side now Outside alone, the plain to Spain, The heavy thoughts upon my brain Come hailing harsh, like winter rain A plague upon my house now Well I knew that I had to go. I knew ‘cause you told me so. But if everything’s all right, Why is everybody crying? I had to go, I had to leave, The thing’s I was told you won’t believe Still even now I feel deceived, ‘though I haven’t missed my life there. I got up straight from off my back, and took my books out of our shack, hopping the rocks, skipping the cracks,that had already been formed there.
Everyone says everything’s good, It’s me that’s deemed misunderstood, But if everything’s all right, why is everybody crying? I don’t know why it felt so bad, to say goodbye, and be so sad, when your wish was my command, and all I did was follow. Well I hope you don’t feel incomplete, when your table has an empty seat, for I realise it means nothing now, a home should not seem hollow. You said that you loved me, still. Your eyes looked red, your face it looked ill. So if everything’s all right, why is everybody crying? If everything’s all right, why is everybody crying?
Poison Poison, such a sweet delight, crawling up my arm each night, married to another world, my Joan of Arc that I once held Penetrated by a tooth, a venom of which I am proof, that forgotten souls can be reborn, by the lips which graced my face ‘til dawn Who was I to be so bold, seeking heat when I was cold, helpless, to this flamed desire, dove head first into her fire Oh what warmth which waited there, my longing strokes throughout her hair, at home, her eyes, entwined with mine, a hunger builds, ‘til feeding time That’s where things turn slightly strange, a direct pierce of my pumping vein, I drop to her mattress with a thud, for a longing kiss, where she drains my blood.
War The marching men are marching on again, the desert is their new home. Thousands of soldiers souls are being sold, for reasons still unknown. Enlisted and missed by mothers and sons, families speak with such pride. Shot down by some other brothers with guns, then the news is sent home that they died. Create your own downfall if you will, my friend, just sign on the dotted line. Fear not for the bullets that will come your way, but avoid getting hit when they fly. Left, Left, Left, Right, Left, Every step you make is a risk you take, leading yourself into death. Write your letters home, dear boy, and tell them the things that you’ve done, the bombs dropped near the enemies’ school, and the kid you shot down with your gun. Fall and Fall and Fall again, pick yourself up from off the ground. Zero to hero with the stroke of a pen, now for four years they’ve got your hands bound. Run, and hide, and try to escape, but do not close your eyes. Haunted by the hell that you helped create, when you chose to stand by their lies Left, Left, Left, Right, Left Slowly you trudge through the river of mud, ‘til you cannot catch your breath. continues...
The British Empire, and the United States are leading us all to the cemetery gates. Manifest destiny is being reborn, and they’re leaving your life up to fate. How many innocent people will die, how many fools will be blamed, when the mushroom clouds consume the sky, and leave all these corpses, unnamed? You’re only a pawn in their game, my son, you’re fighting for things you won’t find. If you make it home safe, it will be a great gift, from the Gods you created, in your mind Left, Left, Left, Right, Left, Hold your head high, for later you’ll cry when you ain’t got nothing left.
Add your own art...
The First Illustrators of The Freewheelin’ World: A Whole New World - Lemmi Eaton firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh, Sweet Death – Laura Hyde
Stream of Consciousness – Alfred Charles Vincent Smith email@example.com thevictoriae3.com
Deserted in the Desert – Louis Michel aka Masai firstname.lastname@example.org flickr.com/photos/louismichel/
Unique New York – Matt Clark
Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me – Kris Cook email@example.com behance.net
If Everything’s Alright – Alice Strutt firstname.lastname@example.org
Poison – Saskia Mullins
War – Michael Brennan
Book Design by Laura Hyde email@example.com
All words written by The Freewheelin’ Troubadour
firstname.lastname@example.org myspace.com/thefreewheelintroubadour thefunpowderplot.com Facebook: The Freewheelin’ Troubadour
With Love and Kind Regards First of all, I would like to thank God (ha ha), and everybody that donated anything towards the creation of this FREE BOOK which has been ‘published by the people’. Your art, time, money and faith have allowed an idea to manifest into something i’m infinitely proud of. Special mentions go to: The 9 illustrators of The Freewheelin’ World; Lemmi Eaton, Laura Anne Hyde, Alfred Charles Vincent Smith, Louis ‘Masai’ Michel, Matt Clark, Kris Cook, Alice Strutt, Saskia Mullins, and Michael Brennan for reading, then bleeding their thoughts into visions. My Freewheelin’ Family who donated their time and talents at the fundraising event; Alfie, Jim, Octavia, Mitchell and all the staff at The Victoria, The Bodells – Credence and Hugh, Chaz John Ross of ‘The Coolness’, Three Black Eyes, Ben Bailey, Bruno Wizard, The Tricks – Ash, Eliot, Joel and John, The Enchanted Hunters - Hannah and Madeline, Jean ‘Genie’ Graham, ‘The Funpowder Plot’ - Ashley Cooper, Ammr Khalifa, Kris Cook, and Jared Woods, Rebecca Leggett aka ‘Airyfairie’, Kiah Loizides, Ama Doe and Ben James. Leonie Cooper, Joel Hodge, Lindsay Lights and Zachary Stephenson for proof-reading the pudding. I would also like to thank everyone I met on my journey across the States, for taking in a brother in some way or another, and inspiring the life back into
me by sharing a part of yours. This book would not exist in the same form, without you being on the path that I travelled. Mother Earth, of course, for providing me with what I needed to receive, in order to survive. Lastly, I would like to thank you, the reader, for this tree wouldn’t make a sound if you weren’t here to hear it fall. Love forever, to everyone. The Freewheelin’ Troubadour October 2010
Freewheelin' in Monument Valley and the other american offerings