I live in a neighborhood on the Berkeley/Oakland border. It’s lined with mom-n-pop shops selling fresh fruits, baked goods, confections, and various miscellany. Old men linger still trying to figure out what the hell happened to their acid laden souls. They sip black coffee and smile nervously at some invisible perpetually suspended funny bone mallet. They are what is left of a pre-Starbuckian era. In the middle of it all, the fashion whores neatly organize the pain of yesteryear into a new shoe, new clothing line, coffee drink, or neighborhood development where you can window shop ghetto. The indigenous tribes are no dummies and feast upon this new harvest with bittersweet resentment. They realize they represent some yearning for hardship, so they play into the tattered $200 dollar designer jeans, junkie wannabe, rockstar, no luck persona. It is a bit pretentious, not unlike the valley where I grew up.
In the Roaring Fork valley, yesteryear is the 110th Mountain Division, coal miners, and cattlemen. It’s birthing a calf at 3 a.m., sub-zero freezing, shoulder deep in mothers blood; cowboy, wind, and animal moaning low. It’s double pay if you stay more than 8 hours in the pitch black mine on a Sunday–always darkest and coldest just before dawn. Somehow, the designers have artfully blended these unlikely ingredients. Mix the west with Europe and sell it in cabin/chalets, ranch/polo clubs and Ralph Loren panchos (nothing really to use from the coal miners, other than eye-liner, hard body, and a five o’clock shadow x 2).
My hat is off to Calvin Klein, Dolce&Gabbana, and cowboy Ralph for their uncanny ability to seek out humanity and figure out a nice way to package it for those who want to be wild and adventurous without ever having to risk more then credit card debt and a fashion faux pas.
The further west you go, the weirder it gets until you hit the next big piece of water, which is the Pacific. We sit on the first big drop on the west slope as it runs east. But to us, the west side is this side that matters and an opportunity to protect these drainages that did not exist for sweat-drenched kaki laden idealists who never saved a dime and spent everything they had, because they loved the water from their home court. From the glassy barrels of the south Pacific to the Bahamas and beyond, but always back to trout streams–freestone trout streams where anything can happen. The mighty Colorado survives in spite of the rolling gas fires smoking the canyon walls and truckers who ran the wrong way. It’s counter intuitive too run into fire. If you don’t feather the oars constantly, you have to resort to deep strokes, which always is a rookie move. My friends, you don’t toy with gravity. The Colorado is not to be screwed with. Wade carefully and know your sections, especially if you’re floating. People come from all over the west to surf its waves. There is a new wave just outside of Palisade that tempts me, but what if one of those errant gas trucks is tumbling down river? The biggest trout I have ever scene have been in the lower Colorado–both times, on the first part of a back cast in riffles; once a BROWN, once a RAINBOW too big to even guess. Biggest fish I’ve seen in fresh water. It’s not an easy river to fish, and it eats boats every year. I’ve come close more than once, and it scares me more than big surf in the Pacific. But between it, the Fork, and the Crystal, there’s enough water to explore in five lifetimes. I’ve been on these drainages my whole life and would be a liar and a cheat if I said I knew them well.
Live from the World Headquarters
Kea C. Hause