Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In northern CA, amid the mountains, the redwoods, the beer, bait ...

..& Bigfoot.

"Well how do ya do, young Willie McBride, do you mind if I sit down here, by your graveside?"
— Erik Bogel, The Greenfields of France
LOST COAST BAR & CAFE, Eureka, CA — It's cold, rainy, and the good ol' boys are lining the bar. We are not in Santa Monica anymore.

One of the guys comes up to me and slurs in my ear, seeing me with my computer, "you must be the only intelligent person in town."

I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.

"When we came upon the creature it was standing still by the creek. It immediately turned and walked away."

That's Bob Gimlin describing finding Bigfoot near Willow Creek, California in 1967, along with Roger Patterson.

I passed through Willow Creek today while coming through the northern California mountains on my way from Chico to Eureka.

Yesterday I spoke at Chico State University, then stayed the night up on the mountain with Marylyn Felion in her cabin. Marylyn is an old friend from the 1980s when we were both in Omaha working on various peace and justice projects.

One of the things we did was go to Offutt Air Force Base and "cross the line," which is trespassing, in order to speak out against America's military machine, in hopes of stopping the United States from destroying the world and also in hope that the money might rather be spent on the poor of north Omaha.

On one occasion Marylyn was due to go to federal court along with another friend to face trespassing charges at Offutt.

Rather than show up in court they decided to take sanctuary in the Cathedral of the Omaha Catholic Church, and make it very public, in order to try to get the Omaha Catholic Church and Archbishop Daniel Sheehan to speak out against the targeting of nuclear weapons taking place at Offutt.

So, weeks before the date, the church knew about it, the press knew about it, and apparently the FBI knew about it too.

They raided Marylyn's home at five in the morning and also the home of the other defendant, Kevin McGuire.

Kevin and his family were not home. They lived with Ruth and I and Sam at Greenfields, a resistance community in north Omaha, named after the Irish anti-war song, The Greenfields of France. Kevin and Laura were out at the lake. Ruth and Sam and I were in Norfolk visiting my mother.

At Marylyn's her housemates were able to lock the doors before the FBI could get in, and they thought the feds had departed. But when Marylyn's dog had to be taken outside to do its duty the FBI cars swooped down the street from all directions.

Marylyn's 70-year-old landlady, Jean Petersen, tried to block the way but was shoved to the side. Another roommate, a young man, blocked the steps. Marylyn demanded identification and a warrant, and one agent said they did not need to provide any.

Marylyn then hurried upstairs to call the press and also the Omaha police, saying strangers were in her home claiming they were the FBI.

The police and the press arrived and Marylyn was taken away on camera. It was the lead story on television and radio for days in Omaha. Friends then crossed the line in protest of the treatment of Marylyn — then Kevin, in hiding until a few days later, was able to undertake the
original sanctuary action, with additional press coverage.

So, the FBI and the Omaha Catholic Church were not able to hush up the sanctuary action with their early morning raids. They only served to give it even more attention.

Well, Marylyn's cabin is up in the big woods near Cohasset, outside of Chico. We have a great late-night old-home session, remembering the days of the '80s in Omaha, and lots of old friends.

In the morning I head off toward Redding and then turn east on 299 to go through the mountains.

Around and around, up, up, down, down. It's raining, then foggy.

The puffs of clouds and fog look like dozens of little fires in the forest.

I pass the Bigfoot Campground, Bigfoot Rafting, Bigfoot Burger, and Bigfoot Bait.

Must be some sort of theme.

I see the sign for Willow Creek.

Another I-can't-believe-I'm-here moment.

I think I saw a Bigfoot on two occasions. Once was in southern Minnesota in the '90s driving along the interstate late at night. The other was in the '80s while I was walking up on a hillside in Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota.

Anyway, I love the woods. I think it's the mystery. You can't see what's there, you can only imagine.

I'm following the beautiful Trinity River. At the top the rain becomes snow and ice, then rain again at the bottom.

Off to the left I see some black things on the mountainside. I pull over in a parking area and stare. They are a long ways off, but I definitely see about ten black things on the mountainside. I don't have binoculars. I'm thinking Bigfoot because I have Bigfoot on the brain — but they look like they are on all-fours.

Cows? Cows way up in the mountain? Where is the farm? Why way up there?

As I drive away I think bears maybe. Do bears hang around in packs of ten? Elk? Are elk black? I didn't see antlers, but I was a long way away.

I just don't know.

The mountains and the woods.

Beautiful. Mystery.


— Mike

Here is an excerpt from Looking For Bigfoot, Howling Dog Press, 2006.

Bigfoot is about a man, Jack Robert King, who leaves his Iowa home to go west, in search of the truth about America.

... from Looking For Bigfoot ...

"They shot down or lasered-down Wellstone's plane and they really did attack their own Pentagon.

I see this and I have zero documentation. I don't care. I have all the proof I need from the glazed look in your eye as you struggle to attach the American flag to your car antenna.

I understand America by watching you.

I know it from growing up in the Midwest of America, from playing baseball and football and riding down the middle of the street with no hands eating an ice cream cone. The strawberry drips on my T-shirt and I don't care. Mom will wash it, clean it up, just as she rinses the blood of a thousand Chileans from her hands. A lemony spray makes everything smell fresh.

I see more than I want to in the referee's face as he prepares the jump-ball toss and the smile of the drive-up teller as she helps another customer.

Would evil men and women kill in order to gain absolute power? Pretty darn near impossible to believe when they look just like us and sound like us, tell the same tired jokes and watch the same TV shows.

I do know, because I saw it myself over the top of my SuperSize Diet Pepsi, that while children are being bombed to gooey bits, the mail still arrives at our house at ten, and the garbage is picked up at one, school dismisses at three-thirty and Raymond comes on at seven.

I see the banality of evil old Mrs. Schwartz using her tongs to set another fish square into a slot on a lunch tray at St. Mark's elementary as a child in Baghdad has his nose blown off by a bomb he thought was a toy.

I do not have a leaked file or a tidbit of information or an inside source.

I know all I need to know from seeing your guilty face staring out into the night while you wash dishes, or leaning out the car window to order an A&W root beer, or chasing your children into the school house with one last admonition.

I don't need to know George Bush or Karl Rove.

I know you."



March 26: Eureka, CA
100 Fires Bookstore

730 p.m.

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