Western Video Market, by Johannes Thies

Western Video Market

Well, better to be keepin’ it with the Sage Woman, roll with control and keep the pubic bone rising.

It’s the second time we’re running into Hotchkiss on a morning like this. The diesel truck wouldn’t start after this first frost and there’s no breaking of that chain, I guess.

Boys’ a bit nervous for a change. It never happens, although we’re always running late, on this tight schedule, always just making it, somehow. Just today’s a little different, the other guy called already, and our meal’s all ready to be picked up. The laid back attitude is to be put on hold, otherwise untouchable.

He’s a Mennonite man, Boys say, selling chicken feed, they’re quite numerous out here in the West, it says.

Like a Mormon, I ask.

No, Boys say, more like Amish-ish. Like they don’t quite believe in technology or media, or they do, but they dress in old fads or hold on to some old things, or, I don’t know. They just sure like to be on time, those German-type guys from the Fatherland, it’s just for that.

What’s her name, I ask, after we finally got her going.

She ain’t got one yet, Boys reply and push the pedal down. We mostly take her for dump runs, you know, and the last one is more’n two weeks past.

What should we name her then, Boys want to know.
I don’t know, I say. It’ll come up.

It comes up after just a moment, Dienstwagen, I say, upon the next turn of the back country road. I mean, you know that Dienst is Schnaps and Dienstschnaps all day every day and everything, so what you want is a wagon for all your Dienst. So here it is, I don’t know if it stands.

Usually she’s just sitting there, the old Ford Lady, left to the Rocky Mountain elements, but besides not starting, she’s running pretty well on such a solid diesel engine. It’s just that the windows won’t be turned back up. And there’s no rear view mirrors any longer, but who’s to look back in all this haze, when there’s nothing there to see.

Fifteen miles and fifteen hundred feet down the hill on one of those weightless wee October days, the clear blue sky that we usually see after the first cold night. Past the Saddle Mountain Fellowship, where they hang out with Jesus, because he hung out for you.

I guess it’s just an out-here thing, like waving at the drivers we meet every now and then. There’s a whole lotta solitude and loneliness given out with two gentle too brutal hands. Those golden days of plenty will not last all winter, that much is sure. So they read the books and sing the songs, they talk about a growing relationship with the anagram of dog, and they put out those frail road signs for us drivers to see have our faith restored.

Like I was going to waste but Jesus recycled me, or that body piercing saved your life.

Boys phone to ring again as we’re going up the hill on the other side of town. Regular old houses, fine manures and Rokie with us finally, Girls too, and all of us with their sterns up and every little thing freely set up in its own little space. Kind of the All-American morning it is, same as it ever was, same as they might keep it even and ever. All those Amish-ish and Buddhist-ish, The People in The Valleys and The Fellows up on The Mesas.

Where all that gasoline comes from, they usually don’t know and don’t want to really, and it’s fully irrelevant which continent they dwell upon.

Now that’s a universal out-here thing.

This is not my home. I’m just a passer through. It’s another sign, on the house of the Mennonite man and something we all could believe in. His place is a lot bigger than ours and looks better organized, including a nice collection of heavy machinery and agricultural technology on big wheels. So much for not using any modern-day technology.

Edwin’s coming right along, all properly dressed and well-disciplined, sticking to the facts and easy-going all the same. There’s not even the faintest hint of him being restless or impatient. WESTERN VIDEO MARKET says the writing on his hat with the visor well worn in and bent into shape. He’s stretching out his hand for a warm welcome without further ado.

His beard is trimmed in the old fashion, mostly grown from the chin down and out, while his hands are comfortably tugged into his jeans work pants. Just in the exact right way to be talking shop for a while now. He turns out to be Swiss, or of Swiss descent, and he’s never even heard a single word of Cologne or any other news from the old world.

My eyes start wandering back across the valley. It’s wide man, much too wide to be bound by pages and words or letters and such things. October is such a young month still and its noon-time sunlight makes everything look peaceful and prosperous and eager to be passed through.

Once a week, Edwin’s going to Nevada in a big truck of his, some ten hours one way. He’s taking US-50, loneliest highway of the American west, and the most beautiful, if you ask him. A hundred miles and more in a straight line, with only jackrabbits to meet, or avoid hitting; there’s just too many of them, big and quick and dumb.

Edwin is buying bean meal for some hundred and twenty-five thousand birds, organic chicken feed to turn into organic free-range eggs, to be sold at all the Whole Foods and Alfalfa markets on the Front Range. Fifteen thousand birds in his warehouse alone, with the remaining one hundred and ten spread all over the Mesa, and Edwin knowing all their exact numbers and farmers by name.

Nobody really knows what’s all so organic about fifteen thousand birds in a single barn, once they’re fed the Nevada organic bean meal. And nobody will know such things without asking a lot of out-of-place questions in the here and the now. And of course nobody really knows why it is Edwin, who has to go to Nevada every week, in person, drive right into this temple of vice, with nothing going on but gambling and drugs and prostitution. But once and again, who am I to judge in my jaded mind. Go bulk or go home, they say on those weird turns of the clock.

Now like I said, Edwin doesn’t pay too much heed to the news from the old world: he’s a true man of the American West and all of its markets. What it comes down to now is the rail-in, the chartered freight train hauled into Göndya’s central valley for his tens of thousands of birds sprawled all across the enchilada. I’ve seen those freights along the vale, virtually endless worms of boxcars, the kind that hobos like to jump. It takes a full couple of minutes to ride past them in a car.

Edwin is talking a million dollars in bean meal, probably more, and all that’s missing really is the station and the facilities to haul it down. In fact, the big apple cider man has it all, right down there in the friendliest town around. So I guess there’s a few well-leveraged conversations due up.

So yeah, here we are, right back at it in the never-changing picture of the wild American West, the can-do attitude and the big scales in the unchartered land of many uses. Every little big idea is just so much closer to its reality, for as long as you’re in touch with the raw power of this crazy land or at least hang out with the right fellowship or secret society.

Edwin’s weekly hangout is taking place on a Sunday morning, of course, and it’s called service, held in Pennsylvania Dutch, some ancient hybrid of molecular language I would sure like to hear one day. Boys are puzzled by this, but it’s a normal thing. They wouldn’t waste half a thought on going to a Mennonite service. All-American Hippie Boys are all about the Tibetan Buddhists and the traveling monks; they have always been that way and they pretty much know all the reasons why.

On our way back home, Boys will admit that they never before talked that much to Edwin and it’s clear to see why. Two worlds colliding, everybody could see that, the dreadlocks and the ritually trimmed beards, and both sides probably feel weighed on such an occasion, even judged.

Trading the lore with German-type craftsmen is usually a solid common ground, be it in Pennsylvania Dutch or Tibetan Molecular. In this Schlauraffenland of Göndya, some things are forever.


ritual nomade

This is an excerpt from Johann Thies’s upcoming book The Grotto. Learn more at www.gonzomode.com.

Submit to Punch Drunk Press!



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