LIaDVp.16: “The world isn’t good enough for Stan;” “What’s on your biscuit;” and “There ain’t much to country living.”
September 1, 2004
The other day, this guy Jesse, the dark, rosary-wearing Mexican I sell beer to sometimes, walked up to Rabbit and asked, “Hey man, what’s on your biscuit?” Rabbit was stumped. “I don’t know, gravy?” Jesse pointed at his wrist, “No man, what’s on your biscuit?” He wanted to know the time. Apparently, when Jesse and his wife lived in the south, a black guy asked the wife what was on her biscuit to ask the time. They liked it so much that Jesse took it as his own. “I’ve been living in the south for my whole life, and I never heard a black guy ask what’s on my biscuit,” Rabbit said. Still, it’s beginning to catch on at the park.
I’m having the sad conclusion that I’m pretty much repulsed by 90 percent of the people on the mountain. It may be harsh and arrogant, but there are so many goddamned lowlifes that work at this place. Fugitives from the world. Maybe it’s just a hangover, but today I wanted nothing to do with anyone. And as I realize that I’ve been disliking Stan for his arrogance, it’s occured to me that I may be just as much repulsed by myself, seeing some of my own arrogance in him. Maybe this flat lake, this glassy water is like a big mirror. The whole park encloses it and looks down into it, so you’re stuck staring at your own reflection, and the reflection of the rest of the world. What you see and don’t like, you really don’t like. What you see and like, you cling to. Or maybe it’s like Twain says, and a couple people out on the water is the only way any good can come from people. The lodge, the dorm, the cafe, everything outside of the lake. They’re just more examples of a shitty coming together of people, making people shitty.
Stacy told me about her brother’s first dog, a rottweiler. She was the sweetest pet for most of her life, until one day she jumped through a closed glass window and attacked their neighbor. He had to either put the dog down or turn it over to the pound. So they shot the dog. Fucking Chiloquin.
Chiloquin has varying degrees of Indian blood among its people, and they all sit around and fuck each other and have babies. Apparently there’s a good deal of racism toward less than full-blooded Indians, as well as toward the full-blooded Indians themselves. She also told me that while the tribe won’t always pay for people to improve their lives in various ways like going to college, the elders will pay to raise a young woman’s child as long as she will come forward and tell them the father’s name, to monitor the bloodline. God forbid anyone leave Chiloquin, or the tribe.
Stefanie’s family drove through Prospect when they visited, and she couldn’t believe the poverty. I started going off on that dark side of the U.S., in small towns and the country:
“It really is a horrible way to live. Despite this fucked up embracing of it recently, redneck life is dark and horrible and no way to live. I joke about Chiloquin, but it’s a dark place where bad things happen and you’re extremely lucky to get out….. blah blah … It’s proud ignorance and violence and hate toward anything other than your tiny little world of a small town.”
I don’t know how much of that I believe, but probably a good deal, and even more as I get to know some of the rednecks who work in Southern Oregon. Tales of incest, rampant drug addiction. For a lot of these people, working at this park is the pinnacle of their families’ achievements. The occasional hillbilly is charming, or kind, or unusually enlightened. But a lot of them have never left a 100-mile radius of the town in which they were born. These backwater towns are simple and they know what they like, what they love and respect. But they also grow poverty and ignorance and hate like mold. “There ain’t much to country living: sweat, piss, jizz and blood,” Warren Zevon said.
Dishwasher/van driver Janie has half of her teeth missing, on different halves of each set, top and bottom, so her jaw is like scissors. All four of her ex-husbands beat the shit out of her. Her only goal is to stay at various national parks until she gets benefits so she can get some false teeth. She’d also like some land that she could charge visitors to use or pass through. Cook Gerry’s whole family is either delinquent or addicted to drugs. They all seem to be victims of some kind of rape, molestation or incest. His being at Crater Lake is the only success story they’ve ever had. Fugitives from the world.
I slept until about two today, then stayed in bed for another hour at least. The Dining Room had nothing but meat and eggplant, so I drove to Diamond Lake for pizza. Pizza was good. Diamond Lake is sort of the lackluster, half-retarded little brother of Crater Lake. Still, pretty in its own way. I went to some hot springs north of there and took a naked swim, as is custom. Nobody else was around, and it was nice to strip and be out in the open, sitting in a hot pool of water overlooking a river. I slipped on some mossy rocks and dropped all of my stuff on the trickle of warm water going down the rocky face of the hill. I had to scramble naked down the rocks to get my wallet, watch and clothes out of the water.