Monday, September 20, 2010

i.m Jerry Dixon part two

The Ballad of Tappen Falls.
(to the tune of any generic slow sleazy blues)

Jerry Dixon ran the South fork
With an English friend
He ran some evil rapids
He cheated death again
Then they paddled down the Middle Fork
And were not impressed at all
So the river quietly rumbled
Wait till Tappen Falls.

The river waited patiently
for the best part of a week
Jerry said: “there’s nothing on this river
Half as Bad as Devil Crik
And these things that you call rapids
They are really rather small"
And the river quietly rumbled
Just wait till Tappen falls.

A bozo in his Duckie
He was out to have some fun
He took his cigar stub from his fat lip
Asked “Can I make that middle run”
Jerry tried hard to dissuade him
Said he’d stand no chance at all
If he stuck his rubber duckie
In the hole at Tappen Falls

The right had line looked obvious
Scouted from the bank
But poised above the rapid
Our Jerry’s mind went blank
He did the main drop sideways
To the wonder of us all
And that’s how he got stuffed
In the drop at Tappen Falls.

He was trashed, chewed up, spat out
Rock spotting upside down
He saw God at the bottom
As the boat bounced round and round
And lined along the river
All the bozos said, with awe:
Oh so dat’s de way you do it
When you kayak Tappen falls.

So the South fork of the Salmon
Is white water at its best
You got Rooster Creek and devil creek
To put skills to the test
But underestimate the middle fork
You’ll hear the river call
For a dose of True Religion
Stuff up on Tappen Falls.

Nuannaarpoq: a verb meaning to take extravagant pleasure in being alive.

I wrote this at camp the night it happened. And have resisted the urge to edit it. Even doggerel has its place.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

blurb wars revisited

A statement about Bunting's Collected, quoted on the back of Makin's book:

"Bunting is a great master... anyone with an ear or an eye will immediately appreciate his extraordinary lyric gift and his acute visual sense." Craig Raine, New Statesman (ellipsis in the original)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I.m Jerry Dixon

Some men should have mountains named after them, except in Jerry’s case it would have to be a restless mountain, with ice and snow sheeting off its face in winter and water cascading in spring, and at its base there would have to be a huge, roaring river raging though a spectacular gorge. It would be the kind of place that attracted people like him.

So one story though there are so many:

That summer, he and I paddled the Main and then the South and Middle forks of Idaho’s salmon river system. Coming off the South Fork, which he and I had run with no permits, no back up, and after that first night at George’s place, there had been just the two of us and the bears and the rattle snakes and the river, we met up with friends to run the Middle fork.

We had been comparing the Middle Fork's rapids to the South fork and were unimpressed. It’s always a good recipe for a disaster. Arriving at Tappen Falls we only got out to scout because there was a group of tourists with their bright inflatable rubber duckies looking at the falls.

A fat man with a cigar in his mouth asked Jerry if he could run his rubber duckie through the main hole.
Jerry spent some time dissuading him.

We scouted what seemed the obvious line for kayaks and I took off: hit an eddy line we hadn’t seen, and in my four metre kayak was faced with "water fall sideways" or "water fall backwards". Much to everyone’s amusement I choose backwards, demonstrated the rock splat/pivot below the drop and tried to look like it was all planned.

Dixon, following, did it sideways, flipped, bounced his helmeted head along the rocks, and finally rolled up.

Watters was laughing so hard at our disasters he wrapped the raft on Little Tappen, so we pulled over to have lunch. A very fat man with a thick cigar in his mouth, wallowed past us in a bright yellow duckie.

Hey, he bellowed to Jerry, are you the guy who kayaked Tappen upside down.

No said jerry, waving his hand down river, he’s gone on down stream. Heluvva boater though, helluva boater.

He was. And it was my privilege to have known him.

So: Go light, Go fast, Go far.

And remember: If you need to ask how hard it is; you shouldn’t be there.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Mr. Graves, who read his own obituary, knew about such things:

The Persian Version
Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon
The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.
As for the Greek theatrical tradition
Which represents that summer's expedition
Not as a mere reconnaisance in force
By three brigades of foot and one of horse
(Their left flank covered by some obsolete
Light craft detached from the main Persian fleet)
But as a grandiose, ill-starred attempt
To conquer Greece - they treat it with contempt;
And only incidentally refute
Major Greek claims, by stressing what repute
The Persian monarch and the Persian nation
Won by this salutary demonstration:
Despite a strong defence and adverse weather
All arms combined magnificently together.

Robert Graves

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Reported in today's paper:

"and because of our drawdown from Iraq we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offence" said President Obama.

Presumably a continued offensive against the English language.

Did some highly paid speech writer sit there thinking, Oh god, if we say withdrawal someone might think we're withdrawing, so if we say Drawdown no one will know what the F&&& we're talking about and it'll be smooth sailing at the polls?

In future will we see it conjugated. When we drewdown in Iraq, while we were drawdowning.

What's even more depressing is the journalist who reported on this speech used the word outside of reported speech as though it were a normal phrase and the Australian editor who published this nonsense didn't stop and challenge it.

There again, this is the nation that once said its marines were advancing towards the rear.

Sometimes it's funny...Only sometimes....