Back from Camping

12 Jul 2006

Back from my West Virginia camping trip. While I haven't updated the blog in several days, I was certainly tempted (though lacked the time). The death of Syd Barrett, for example, reminded me of how profoundly influential Pink Floyd was on me during the mid-1980s. I owned everything from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn through The Final Cut -- all on cassettes. I may occasionally reference new music on this blog, but I'm also old enough to tune into a classic rock station and, on a rare "deep-cut" day, remark, "Hey, that's Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict."

How could I ever forget arriving at my friend Alec Baldwin's house that night? It was the night of his infamous party -- early in 1985 -- the one in which he and his peanut gallery friends initiated me into a world of drinking and general debauchery. I was baptized in a thick bath of Floyd. ("Sit here," they said. "On the floor between the loudspeakers.") I did shots of CrA¨me de Menthe, and Alec cranked One of These Days on his mother's brand new rack-mounted stereo system. It was a religious experience not to be matched until perhaps my first hearing of The Great Gig in the Sky.

On a healthy foundation of the old sound (classics like Fearless still echoing in my head), I explored and really latched onto their mid-70s material -- Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and Animals.All masterpieces of rock, in my humble opinion, even though it's been going on two decades since I've cued up any of them. Each album fed my naturally pensive disposition. Between The Wall and The Final Cut, both vortices of depression and morbidity, I'm surprised I didn't have to be committed. However, I listened to little else until around 1987 when my tape collection was stolen.


On to other topics ... The picture, above, is Mr. Oakley. At our annual camp site a few years back, I found a pair of Oakley sunglasses along with some various other stuff. My wife invented a whole complicated scenario to explain these items and passed her theory along to the other families with whom we camp. The mystery man would come to be known in our circle as Mr. Oakley. I won't go into the whole story here, except to fast forward a bit in order to explain that picture.

This year, the kids took it upon themselves to have a little fun with whatever group of campers follows us at the site. One girl is now old enough to have seen the Blair Witch movie. She decided to make stick figures similar to the ones in that movie and hang them all around in the nearby woods. The creative and admirable goal, of course, was to freak out the next people.

So, I was sitting there watching them attend to their mischief and had an idea.I could help them out in a big way, I thought. There's a huge tree in the middle of the clearing near some of the tents. It shoots straight up about 40 feet, and then branches off to the right for another 30 or so. It occurred to me that one of their stick figures would look fantastic if attached to the top of that tree. So, I went to work. This would be my contribution, I figured.

My idea was to tie a string to a rock, throw it over the branch, and then hoist up the stick figure. Luckily, I had some kite string (thin, strong nylon cord) in the car -- about 100 feet worth. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I managed to loop the branch properly and achieve the pulley action I was hoping for. The kids made up "Mr. Oakley" and they chanted and carried on as we raised him up high into the air. I tied off the string on another tree across the compound. The cord is so thin, it's going to be extremely difficult for anyone to notice.The thing seems to be floating in the air, don't you think?

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