Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bedminster New Jersey's Super-Centrality: Meaning Rainbow Warrior


March 28th seems a long time ago; ever since then, feels like I've fished non-stop: for the fun of it, for the friendship, for the wider fraternity, and for the fuel to power my writing. Readers of this blog are privy to a tip of a very complex and complicated iceberg, and most of what is underneath may never see the light of day, but there's hope that some future editor will pick and choose the best of what I've written by pen. And in the meantime, I have my ambition to get significantly published, not only before I blast off the face of the earth, though most people would say pass away, but significantly published before I will officially retire--no one knows whether or not I'll reach this goal. The effort hurts like hell sometimes, because I invest so much hope--energy, value, effort, and time. Without the vigilance of this attempt, my life would go out to the trash with the bad vegetables at the supermarket.

I think of Jim Morrison and his writing. Not because he was any great writer, but partly because he might have been, had he not fallen into a glut of celebrity. I discovered Morrison in the fall of 1980, long after all of my friends had become familiar with his Doors rock band without clueing me in, perusing the biography No One Here Gets Out Alive in a Manahawkin, New Jersey, shop. I lived alone on Long Beach Island, harvesting clams self-employed while studying literature, mysticism, and philosophy. I learned within five minutes or so--without embarrassing myself before the shop proprietor, not interested in actually buying the book--that Morrison was serious about becoming a poet and very much influenced by Aldous Huxley and William Blake. At the time, both of these writers were two of my favorites as it just so happened I stumbled upon Morrison. Morrison would have named the band The Doors of Perception, a line of William Blake and title of the very influential work by Aldous Huxley, the book I had finished reading a day or two before coming upon the Morrison biography, but I believe it was the band's guitarist Robby Krieger who insisted the awkward wordiness for a popular act needed to get cut.   

Mike is like a lot of us who fish: clued into myriad details of rock culture. But of all the performers and acts, Morrison is most significant to him, as Morrison is also to me. Of all these recent trips, going back to Round Valley Reservoir in February, I've played music as we have traveled here and there hundreds of miles only twice. Conversation fills the time instead. Now three months since I played Ambrosia's "I Keep Holding on," it seems like last week. Mike had never heard the song. Coming home from the Pequest, about halfway back, I put on the Grateful Dead album, "American Beauty." Mike hadn't heard these cuts either. I told him "Box of Rain" was one the most influential pieces for me during my teens.

As a former choral artist, I'm familiar with music of long tradition: from hymns, chants of the Middle Ages, 17th and 18th century anthems, to many great masterpieces such as Handel's Coronation Anthem #1 and Mozart's Requiem. A huge repertoire in total. Difficult to reconcile differences between sacred and classical works taken together, against a complicated plethora of popular modern forms and particular numbers, I suffered a hell of a lot of conflict because I neither rejected high forms nor popular. By fits and starts I would assert the value of classical and sacred against the popular, but as I aged, all this wealth of contradiction in my consciousness began to settle where it belongs. Space within me large enough to hold it all together.

I could have played Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Shake for Me" a week ago. Last May, that was my theme song for the hybrid striped bass trolling pursuit. No fish shakes like a hybrid striper hitting a trolled plug. And a big one will pull on forward with the power of a cable winch.

Fishing is absurd compared to the grand stability of serious art forms, but this is the very clue to fishing's value. The highest art achieves immortality: Moby Dick remains with us, for example. But Ralph Waldo Emerson understood that the past is a dust bin, despite the presence of spirit captured millennia ago capable of life yet today. This begs the question. Assuming such life long after death is possible--to realize life of ancient Athens, for example--how?

Another favorite of Jim Morrison was Friedrich Nietzsche. I have grown to hate this philosopher. If he were reduced to working in a supermarket for low wage, as I am, he would not implore his readers to let many of us be slaves--he meant slaves literally, in the 19th century--so that the upper crust, our 1% today, can be happy. Every time I hear that phrase "upper crust" or think of it, a joke from choir camp in Black Mountain, North Carolina, 1971, is lurking not far behind. About caked excrement in the pants of a na├»ve journeyman. It's not that I hate the rich, it's that I hate their folly, their unwitting going along with ideas they are not conscious of, and refuse to become conscious of; Nietzsche's notion of exceptions, for a particular example. I used to believe--trenchantly--that I was one of the exceptions, but I've grown up enough to at least hope to believe in democracy. Really so. And yet, Nietzsche understood that the only to way generate such power as to realize spirit of any age, and especially of the future--is to unify with nature. "Remain true to the Earth!"

I'm also a birder. And as a birder, I know delicacies having a fish on a hook can't conjure. But I also know birding is less involved with equipment and bodily acts such as the difficulties of wading, fighting fish, removing hooks, etc. Fishing is more involved in nature than any other outdoor activity, perhaps. Obviously. It has to do with food. That's also a plus, I realize, for my supermarket job. Nothing is more basic to economics than food. Nothing is more basic to ecology, either. And nothing--actually--is more basic to philosophy and art. Franz Kafka wrote The Hunger Artist. But no starving artist can escape the implication of that denial--food itself.

Mike told me a Califon tale today. During the 1930's, a grocer in town sold a loaf of stale bread; presumably this was an innocent mistake. The buyer discovered the staleness at home around lunchtime, stormed back to town and beat the grocer to death.

Food is at the root of passion. This must be why so many chefs bear a Napoleon complex.

Mike showed me more of the South Branch Raritan River today I'd never before seen. And more of Califon culture. Only some 15 miles from Bedminster, Califon is another world. Bedminster, of course Bedminster is all over the news now. This "little" town is actually rather large, considering the wealth contained. We live in "The Hills," and these condos and townhouses are not in the least run down or occupied by miscreants, but they're not as expensive as the traditional estates elsewhere throughout the Township. We're just about right in the middle of the former Supercontinent Pangaea. I had already committed hopes to writing an epic poem, vaguely modeled on William Carlos William's "Paterson," which I named "Crossroads," when I learned of this Bedminster Super-Centrality about 12 years ago. Having conceived the poem a year or two before it crystalized distinctly at the foot of Passaic River Falls in Paterson on a New Jersey Audubon geological outing, it must owe some its inspiration to Allen Ginsberg, also. About a year before "Crossroads" came to me, I contemplated a photo of Ginsberg standing on the walkway over Passaic River Falls with his mother, looking into the camera lens with an expression of greeting. I have not written this poem, but I hope to write it. Califon people we encountered weren't miscreants either. We drove by quite a few standing about where the river is dammed in town, gazing on us with the sort of open curiosity you may find in many rural places, rather than the implied contempt of urban disregard. One older man chatted with us at our most upstream destination, where any further, according to this man, involves a club membership fee of $3000.00 annually. He spoke ebulliently, with very local feeling I simply gave up on, not out of any dislike, but knowing I wouldn't have the patience to try and connect, though Mike continued talking without my sort of difficulty. (William Carlos Williams might shame me for copping out, since he was all about American idiom, and that, of course, is very wide ranging.)

As my time this morning came near closing, Mike's friend Jesse showed up. I've heard a lot about Jesse's fly fishing, and soon he showed me his RS-2 and Rainbow Warrior dual presentation, keeping pace with my salmon eggs. He's good. For a beginner--real good. The man studies fly fishing constantly. Mike and I caught only rainbows. Jesse caught his first brook trout, of around 14 inches or so--and how it wound up in Califon, don't know; the state hasn't stocked any brook trout for years, and I've heard nothing of Shannon's Fly Shop stocking but browns, tigers, and rainbows. And Jesse caught one of the tigers of 12 or 13 inches. I really like his self-tied Rainbow Warrior especially.

Looks like a psychedelic zebra midge.

"Size 20 is best," Jesse said.

All told, between the three of us today, we caught 75 trout. 
  
 We fished two spots in High Bridge, and we caught trout at all spots.






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