Ruminations From the Western Slope

Ruminations From the Western Slope
Colorado River near Moab, Utah

Friday, February 24, 2012

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Last night’s Judy Collins concert at the Avalon was, for me, another one of life's little connecting consequences that bring us from one point to another. The last time I saw Ms. Collins in concert was when I snapped this photograph of her on February 14, 1969 somewhere in the San Jose area. I was not yet twenty-two and she was probably in her late 20s at that time having just released the "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" LP. At that time the chances are that I was without a source of income of any kind, had very long hair, and was high on something. And, of course, I was stoked on this beautiful woman folk singer who, just months before, had unwittingly gotten me through a bad acid trip.

That previous summer my friend Stan and I had elected to drop some acid at his house while his folks were gone for the weekend. Stan had done the deed first by himself and then, in a fit of anxiety, had called me up to come over and help him through it. But by the time I got to his house, Stan was pretty much in control of things again. Nevertheless, wanting to share in his experience, I decided that I should drop too. So I did. And at first it was pretty wild and fun. But after the fun and games subsided, the anxiety set in and the walls of his house started to close in on me and I was well on my way into a bad trip. Things seemed sinister and strange and I got to feeling even worse. So the two of us repaired to Stan's backyard.

That helped a little bit, but what really got me through the ordeal was shortly thereafter when we came back into the house, turned on the TV, and the Smothers Brothers' replacement summer show with Glen Campbell was on. Judy Collins was the featured guest. She came out all dressed in white and started singing Joni Mitchell's Chelsea Morning and, at that moment, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. And I completely put my anxiety and fear aside, and was just riveted to the music and the lovely sight of this woman singing out with all her heart. From then on, the rest of the evening went really well and I always felt thereafter that she had somehow gotten me through my bad trip.

So there we were last night in the old Avalon Theatre, the very same place where thirty-five years earlier I saw Star Wars for the first time as a young backcountry ranger from Canyonlands. And I had seen this same woman almost forty-three years earlier to the day, singing on a cool February night in the Bay Area. She broke into song and her voice reverberated through that classic edifice of Grand Junction and I was immediately thrown into a veritable maelstrom of thoughts, remembrances, and heartfelt emotions. Her hair is all gray now, of course, but she still wears it long, and still has that strong, incredible voice that somehow pulls together all those years and all of those changes.

And she has connections too. She grew up in Denver. Came over to Grand Junction with her folks as a child to buy fresh fruit for her mother to can. So I sat there like some cosmic observer, trying to fit all the pieces together and feeling a kind of peace and perspective, and a warm re-visitation of the past. In this day and age, it seems more and more like these kinds of connections are what really count for me. These strands of memory and experience and relationship that are all tied together somehow mean so much more to me than the day-to-day meaningless media drivel of fear, anger and despair.

When we walked back out into the cool February air of western Colorado I was once again reinforced as to why I am here and why I love this place so much. Money and time well spent, I would have to say.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Shameless Plug

The older I get, the more fascination I seem to have for old paper or, as it is often referred to, ephemera. It started out with old books which I have collected for quite a long time. That interest grew to include pulp paperbacks which I have expounded upon in a previous blog. But now I find myself inundated in vintage magazines, postcards, train schedules, posters, old catalogs, ticket stubs, autographed photos, and dozens of other oddities from “back in the day”. I cannot really explain the interest other than the old saw that these pieces of paper are from “an older and simpler time.” That may or may not be true, nevertheless they are often quaint, artistic, and revealing of the social and cultural mores of the day.

For instance, a write-up in a 1924 Victor Record catalog says of a contemporary fox trot “light and graceful in style, incentives to good dancing but with enough jollity for the carefree sort.” A 1938 issue of The National Republic admonishes against “The Enemy Within Our Gates” (communists). A cover from a 1930s issue of Popular Mechanics shows fanciful aircraft of the future while the articles inside hint at the possibility of impending war. These are all time capsules of a sort and items that I find it hard to get rid of. Nevertheless, I have recently established a website - - for just such a purpose. So if you are interested in the wonderful world of weird paper, you might want to check it out. You too could get hooked.