Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Be open to your dreams, people. Embrace that distant shore. Because our mortal journey is over all too soon."

"Spring has sprung. We're free at last, people. Free at last. Thank you mother nature, we're free. Time to toss open that metaphysical window and check out that psychic landscape.

"See lots of possibilities budding out there. Time to hoe those rows, feed that seed. Pretty soon you get a garden."

— Chris In The Morning, KBHR Radio, Minnifield Communications Network
CICELY, ALASKA — I cannot believe I'm here.

Actually, it's so real, that I can believe I'm here.

Even if I am really in Roslyn, Washington.

Today I am sitting at the top of the hill, at the east end of Pennsylvania Avenue, in Roslyn, aka Cicely, where the television show of the 1990s, Northern Exposure, was filmed for six seasons.

This is the view I expected, the one so familiar from the show opening, when the theme music played, with the wailing harmonica, looking down into town, down into the lives, the very hearts and souls of all those great people, those great characters.

I park and look into the very window of KBHR and see where Chris sat to give his morning radio show. Stenciled in the door: Minnifield Communications Network.

There is dust on the microphone. The albums are bending from being in the shelves so long, the photos on the wall have turned blue.

Then I walk over to The Brick.

It looks just right, just like it should, from the outside. On the inside, there is the bar, and the wood stove is putting out a scent of maple honey, but the rest is not quite right. I look around and walk out.

And the bar is really is right over from KBHR, just like Chris saw out the front window of his radio perch.

Down the street I walk into a gift shop that used to be Joel Fleishman's office. A man behind the counter with a thick European accent says this is where it was filmed. He says his son had a part in the series. I can't understand the name.


"Message of the day. Listen up now, because this one's important. Brush those teeth, eat that roughage, pop those vitamins, and wear sensible shoes.

"Man, we homo sapiens carry around a heavy psychic knapsack: consciousness.

"We all know we're going to be asked to get off the merry-go-round someday. Best we can do is keep the corpse beautiful, right? And what is the right stuff, anyway, crossing a double yellow on your hog or looking a thirty-year mortgage flat in the face?

"The long haul. I'm going to need some clean undies; got my toothbrush, got my library card. What did the man say? A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, right?"


There, behind the T-shirt rack is where Marilyn's desk was, and back there, behind the beads and the loose boards is the examining room and Dr. Fleishman's office.

It's like there should be a shrine here, but there is absolutely no ceremony. This is where Marilyn-Effing- Whirlwind and Dr. Joel Fleishman made magic, and it's overshadowed by a postcard carousel and tables stocked with KBHR glasses and moose pencils.

The man in the store gives me a map of the town with numbers and circles to mark Maurice's house and Marilyn's house.

I drive around a big white dog in the road who does not move.

There it is, the Roslyn mural.

I've got something I need to ask Chris, so I look behind me.

I wonder if Holling wants to go hiking. Would he be working at this hour?

I can see Ed and Chris and Maurice up on the roof of The Brick when Chris saved Maurice from falling.

There is the scene from the episode Northern Lights, there is the Running of the Bulls, there is where they dug up Maggie's front lawn looking for artifacts.

Ruth and Sam and Emily and I were living in southeast Minnesota in the early '90s. We were running our newspaper, The Byron Review. The show was on Monday nights, which was our layout night, which usually lasted until dawn. Ruth and I would try to take a break at seven to relax and watch the show.

Now I have all the shows on CD. I watch them over and over. I feel comfortable, at home, with my people.

Fantasy is better than reality.

It's cool to see the town, but it's missing something.

You have to have the people.

There are two guys talking on the street, and there's a young guy sitting on a chair outside Leftie's Bar, strumming a guitar. They look open to starting up a conversation with a stranger. I walk past, my tourist chin in the air, looking around.

And the guy at the gift shop, I could stay and talk longer.

But I don't.

How cool would it be to be a part of all of that when it was happening? To be a writer, a cast member, some guy with water bottles.

That's all I want to think about, the fantasy, the town of my dreams.

I have no time for reality, not today.


"My friends, today when I look out over Cicely, I see not a town, but a nation's history written in miniature, inscribed in the cracked pavement, reverberating from every passing flatbed.

"Today, every runny nose I see says 'America' to me. We were outcasts, scum, the wretched debris of a hostile, aging world.

"But we came here, we paved roads, we built industries, powerful institutions. Of course, along the way we exterminated untold indigenous cultures and enslaved generations of Africans. We basically stained our Star Spangled Banner with a host of sins that can never be washed clean.

"But today, we're here to celebrate the glorious aspects of our past. A tribute to a nation of free people, the country that Whitman exalted:

"The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislators, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people."


Speaking of democracy in America.

Check out these kids, teaching their elders what it's all about.


— Mike


April 2nd: Seattle, Revolution Books, 1833 Nagle Place.

7 p.m.

from ...

"Iowa Terror"
by Mike Palecek

Chapter Eight
Bridge To Nowhere


I mean, ahoy!

It's me!

Out here in the water, in the rowboat.

Me and Carl.

We've got this one oar in the water. We dropped the other one. One should do it.

Homeland Bridge Inspectors, reporting for duty, sir!

At your service.

What we see here, and our report will show this when we find the pen, is that this bridge failed after a truckload of money headed for the military caused it to collapse.

Wait, just a moment, please.

It's my beeper.

"Yes, yes, uh-huh. I don't know. Dropped it. Not me, Carl. Yes. Yes-sir. No-sir. Yes, ma'am. Okay, fine, then. You smell good today, sir-ma'am. Of course, not through the phone, impossible, yes-ma'am. Buh-bye."

Okay, I'm back.

Seems we now have reports of the same types of trucks running into schools in Cleveland and Detroit and Oakland as well. And similar bridges in New York and Charlotte and Denver have also apparently crashed and burned.

Oh, boy, reports are now coming in about sub-standard housing in every major city in the United States, mostly black neighborhoods it seems, that have somehow been run straight through by large trucks full of cash in large denominations, headed for military operations all over the country as well as overseas.

I guess they go to Stratcom in Omaha so we can have missiles in space. Cool. God knows we need that.

And control the world for Warren Buffett.

Ma-an, lucky for us he was there at Offutt that day to meet with George Bush.


... And to Fort Benning in Georgia and Vanderberg in California and Leonard Wood in Missouri.

Lots of insurgent types in California and Missouri.

I guess we need all those because we are so free.

And we need lots of bases and soldiers and money in Germany and Phillipines and Columbia and Japan — and Uzbekhistan and Kadzikastan and Dakotastan and Nevadastan.

And we just cannot afford to buy everything.

Our parents knew that.

You have to make choices.

We cannot have strong bridges in Minneapolis, smooth streets in Cleveland, warm schools in Detroit, and still be able to change the tires on our tanks in Turkey.

We need to pay our taxes for that every year because that is what we have always done.

And we are more than smart enough to decide which is which.

I'm sure we are.

Somebody is.

Thinking about it.

Well, what we are going to do here is to keep rowing, see what we can see, report back, monitor the beeper.

That's kind of what we do.

And we get to wear these orange terror vests.

it's all pretty cool.

It's amazing how our president and vice-president have this whole thing under control, the different ins and outs, scenarios, plans, all those beepers.

Hey, you have a good day, you ol' American you.

Just go another beeper call. Just wait ...

... Seems that we're going to be dragging for our other oar. ... Then either me or Carl will need to put on the wet suit and goggles and deploy to the bottom.

Carl's shaking his head.

Don't you worry about a thing.

Go about your day.

I got this.

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