Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Beefalo River trip update

Sorry, Buffalo. E-mail received yesterday from trip member "Mingus Eye":


It's raining like hell in Ponca as we speak. They have gotten an inch in the last 30 minutes. T-storms are predicted for several days in the next week, including our launch date. Let it pour mother***. YEAH!!!!!!!!

(Note: the Drunkablog does not condone cussing.) The river level on the Buffalo at Ponca bridge right now (10:08 p.m. MDT, April 25) is 2.85, .85 feet more than we need to launch, so things are still looking pretty good (though the river is dropping again).

The Drunkablog was doing pretty good too until just this minute, when he began to panic at how much he still has to do before he can cruise the river with an easy conscience. The D-blog manse is falling down; the tenants are revoltin'; there's blogging--sorry, serious blogging--to do; and I haven't even started packing or bought supplies (mainly freeze-dried farts) yet.

Mingus Eye will be here Sunday (he's driving the 1000 miles from Phoenix); we'll leave Monday morning for Gilbert, Arkansas (905 miles from Denver); arrive in Gilbert on Tuesday; put in on the Beef--sorry, Buffalo--Wednesday; take out the following Wednesday; drive THE SAME DAY 450 miles to Mason City, Illinois (can you imagine what it'll smell like in that car? We could die) so Mingus Eye can pick up his drum set; drive the next day from Mason City to Denver (1000 miles); and finally, Mingus will weave zombie-like back to Phoenix (1000 miles).

All that driving, of course, with gas over $3.00 a gallon. (Both my non-American and my un-American readers will scoff at this whining, but jeez, couldn't we for once hegemonize (de-hegemonize?) somebody and actually, you know, steal their oil?)

The "Beefalo" Story

Years ago my old friend Mingus Eye attended forestry school in Southern Illinois (a fair amount of the extreme southern tip of Illinois is covered by Shawnee National Forest). Southern Illinois (note capitalization) really is part of the South, closer to Kentucky (or Arkansas, for that matter) in feel and spirit than to the rest of Illinois. It's practically part of the Ozarks.

This means, naturally, that the people who live there are a little peculiar. No more so than people anywhere, of course. But it's impossible to talk about the area (or the Buffalo River area for that matter) without somebody bringing up how friendly such folks were in the movie Deliverance. Call it "you shore got a purty mouth" syndrome.

But honest, they're just normally weird down there. For example, in the tiny grocery store my friend patronized when he lived in Southern Illinois, he noticed a sign in the window one day. It read, simply: "Not baby beef!

Not baby beef?

What the hell did that mean? That they were out of "regular" beef but had scads of "baby beef?" That they had tons of regular beef but were fresh out of baby beef? Or did they mean that they didn't carry baby beef as a matter of conscience? Why, for that matter, did they express their attitude toward baby beef in such an unnecessarily cryptic, not to say oracular, manner?

Who knows. But it was that very opaqueness, that layering of meaning, that multiplicity of transgressive interpretations that intrigued us. "Not baby beef!" became a catchphrase, and "Beefalo" was just a natural extension--

Hey! Pay attention!

Speaking of English usage, have you ever heard the Australian term for an American, "seppo?" I've read Australian blogs for years and seen the term many times but only recently got around to googling it. It's rhyming slang: yank rhymes with septic tank which is shortened to "seppo." Quite creative. By the way, most Australians don't hate us. (Man, I almost forgot: Happy ANZAC Day, y'all!)

(Credits: Editor from fromoldbooks.org; friendly fellow paying you a compliment on your oral hygiene from freepressed.com.)

Update: We used to camp on Lusk Creek in Shawnee forest. Here's (somebody else's) picture of "Indian Kitchen" on Lusk Creek. (Don't tell Vern Bellecourt it's called that.)

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