Oh, Canada! Home of the thunderbirds & nudists!

alertbaychiefshouseOnce I hitchhiked to Canada

years ago before 9/11, before the border restrictions

no passport necessary

though the Canadians were very cautious about letting me into their country

with a backpack & a skateboard

my ride dropped me off before the border

and the guards interrogated me until they were sure I had enough money

and was going to go home again.

I’ve always been a big fan of all indigenous people

but am particularly fascinated by Indians & in particular NW Coast art and culture

much like some are big fans of sports teams or actors

I’m like this with the Haida, the Kwakiutl, the Tlingit

so I hitchhiked to Vancouver BC

just to go to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia

carrying the largest collection of NW Coast art on the west coast

this after checking out every book I could with NW Coast Art in my local libraries & making a book of photocopies

studying forms and how it all works


What does it all mean?

Like some puzzle

difficult to decipher

perhaps part of the allure of the art

is that it is an abstraction of a real thing

but nothing is meaningless

just randomness

it all represents even in its most abstract form

real body parts in reality

real animals

& by a number of clues that repeat culturally

mysteries of identity are solved in every portrait

in every masterpiece

but only with a lot of knowledge

about what you are looking at

can you truly appreciate it

I spent days in the museum sketching artifacts

without a good camera

only a pencil and a sketchbook I still take ideas from today

though I have never, ever mastered the art

I do know what I’m looking at (sometimes)

after many years of studying

I don’t really know that I would use it because it isn’t mine culturally

for much more than what I do

painting forms on a skateboard

to entertain myself


I just make do with what I get

which ain’t much

but if you just sit there and say you have nothing

life never goes anywhere & you never get to do anything

you got to take your chances if you’re really poor

otherwise you’d might as well just crawl into a hole & die

as much as you’ll see & do

Found out there was a nudist beach right below the museum

had a weird time with a Greek guy who I thought was going to sell me to an Armenian as a sex slave

and ended up sitting on some other portion of the shoreline closer to town

listening to a bum play guitar

as the sun set & I had no idea what to do

but hunker down in some boulders along this park

luckily the homeless bum turned out to be a nice guy

and not actually homeless at all

so I stayed that night at a house worth 4x’s as much as my parents

on the bums brother’s couch

whom I’m sure was a little freaked out

but did very well not to show it

when he woke up to find a total stranger

in the house with his 2 year old daughter & wife

his crazy brother had brought home

nice people really

you always hear of bumsĀ  being scammers

pretending that they are poor, then they have a nicer car & apartment than those they beg from

but this guy had some serious problems

nice guy

but just bent on preaching the gospel to people

not so noticeable while he had a guitar in hand

and he could talk normally

but as soon as we got on a bus in the morning

he was just talking, talking, talking all about God

to all these poor people whose body language and glances said it all:

“Buddy, I’m just trying to get to work here & I’m not at all awake nor prepared for this right now.”

Seriously, the guy could not shut up and just made himself a nusuance

like I do now to people on the internet

but I guess you don’t want to hear

I really

REALLY do have a message from God at this point?

Just want to keep doing whatever you were doing uninterrupted.

Got enough to worry about.

Sometimes it wasn’t about choice

it was about obligation

it wasn’t about giving you a hug

it was about doing the heimlich.

But yeah, made it back home, not a dent in the fender even after sleeping on the nudist beach the next night & being woken up in the morning by cops who pulled up in a hovercraft in the morning to tell me how dangerous it was to camp there. Thank you Royal Mounties!