The Urban Fronteirsman’s Key to the City

Illustration: Willy Nevins

This rabid dog consumed by an insatiable appetite is fat.  This old growling, foaming beast is dying.  In painful death throes, he holds with conviction the world he has created.  The gurgled mumblings of incoherencies have become utterly cruel.  To let such a creature continue to live is sadistic, but is it wrong to enjoy this Black Death?  It has been said, ‘every dog has his day,’ and I can assuredly say on my mother’s grave, this old pup has seen its last.

I awoke in the year 2011. Nothing had changed.  However, I seemed to remember a trail just outside of the city up a hill in the Avenues.  I decided to make the trek to these kilns I had visited before.  Apparently the Mormons built these magnificent chimneys 50 feet high on the mountainside.  My imagination ran wild while gazing at these relics of early pioneerism—it has been suggested that this is where they burned Indian bodies as sacrifices to their bearded white god.  If anything can be said about this place, it’s that early Mormons definitely were mystics, using fire and the unpolluted night sky in their rituals.  I climbed atop the giant rock fireplace and lay across its rebar grate.  Hovering above the abysmal drop, I was quickly overwhelmed by darkness.  Like a force pushing down into my very soul, my body became paralyzed with death pangs.  Very well. Being familiar with the paranormal, this feeling was an old one.  I quickly summoned the energy to cry out the word, which is the “lord,” to make it pass.

Soon after I spoke it, I was visited by a spirit.  Crazy as it might sound, this derelict from a different dimension looked somewhat like Jesus.  It was crystallized and prismatic, like an intricate snowflake, with the vague form of a human face, unmistakingly that of the living Christ almighty.  As the blackness washed away, I was given peace as it gave me this message:  “I am the fire universal radiant energy.  I am the water fluid plasticity of the cosmic mind.  I am the air vibratory life energy.  I am the earth tangible materialization of the stars.  Behold the crystalline divinity from which thou came and to which thou returns.  The meek shall inherit the earth.  Spread my word, and my word is ‘vagranteeism.’” 

The apparition disappeared as quickly as it came in a puff of cloud-like smoke, and she left me to decipher her cryptogram. My mind wandered the mysteries, as did my body down the trail and back into the reborn cityscape.  In need of sanctuary from all the hustle and bustle, I made the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Bible Jesus’ home.  With peace, quiet and psychedelic motifs engulfing me, I was able to meditate.  A feeling stirred me to stand and walk to the altar. I placed my hands on the marble and looked up—the first thing I beheld was the good Saint Job holding a skateboard.  

This had to have been the final piece of the puzzle.  We are the street urchins set to claim the throne.  As misers clasp tighter to their meaningless possessions, giving up personal freedom in the name of capitalism, I can patiently wait for the corpse of a once-mighty empire to crumble so we can lay waste to the remnants of the cement playground currently dubbed ‘civilization.’  If you’ve ever walked about Temple Square, you’ve realized that it is a far better skate spot than Love Park itself.  Its cold cement sits lonely, longing for the warm stroke of a skater’s wax and passionate grind. Yet we wait and learn the necessary traits to survive society’s impending demise.  And so, as the vision said, the best I can tell is that the greatest skills we can master going into this new decade are those of ‘urban frontiersmanship.’ Survival of the drunkest! It has something to do with waterproofness.  I, like most skaters, have spent some time on the streets and would like to share a survival guide. To those who have ears: let them hear.

It’s cold half of the year, and you may wonder why a hobo would stay in such a frigid environment as Salt Lake.  I asked a man of the land and he muttered, “I feel more at home in the inversion than I would on a sandy beach in sunny California.”  Cheers to that. We share a dark vision that is soothing to share with the gloom of the outdoors.  I met a man wearing rolled-up thigh highs on a bitter evening.  He explained that “life’s a trip” and once again, I agreed.  It became quite clear that some of my fellow frontiersmen are slightly more evolved than most: relying on a simple philosophy of mind over matter.  To the less evolved, I would advise layers of synthetics (polyester, etc.), as moisture-absorbing cotton kills.  Also, a total waterproof shell is vital, I shan’t need to explain.  Next matter of importance I would say is sustenance, which is the least of our worries. Plenty of full dumpsters from the wasters, sack lunches at the Cathedral plus city game can fill our bellies.  “Strays and pigeons have meat on ‘em don’t they?” Advice offered from a true urban frontiersman. He told me of pine nuts, and how the early pioneers under direction from divine revelation planted edibles all over town, everything ranging from apples and pears, to grapes and blackberries–pickable pickin’s for a humble belly.  Next, there is the necessity of relationships with fellow understanding dwellers of deprivation. We have special places of refuge and sociality.  The homeless man’s home is set up as such: our living rooms are coffee shops where we divulge theories and play games. Dice, dominos, cards and chess: learn these games well and you’ll be king of the street beat. The library is our den. For a little down time next to a warm fire, this spot can’t be beat.  The bedroom’s a trade secret, but with a little luck you’ll have a street harlot over at your back ally or bush in no time.  And finally, there is the situation of much concern presented by becoming a vagrant, that being dealing with the majority of society.  We now see a herd of retarded sheep, clinging to the tradition of keeping a dying dog alive. The illusion is dead and all that is left to soothe is a bottle of gin.  After a heavy buzz we are able to deal with the sober monkeys who are busy conforming to superficial social structures, although most likely they will not be able to deal with us.  Apparently being loud is a threat to everyone’s well-being. That and acting out.  So be warned that the bum’s rush is alive and well.  Being skaters has given us the advantage of being able to play in traffic and other intense environments, making light of any use of force from the authorities.  We find entertainment in the most mundane of situations.  Leisure is what bums do best, lying about lazily as the rats race to a moldy block of cheese.  It’s no wonder they hate us as we make living look so simple.  Again be warned: living so lackadaisically and drunk, you’ll probably find yourself wandering into moving cars without a care. I can personally bear witness to this, seeing as how I was blindsided by a yellow cab.  I was as a drunken circus performer, albeit a clown.  A clown with a certain knack for acrobatics, rolling completely over the hood and like an alley cat landing safely on my feet.  Bruised knee and a limp aside, I was totally unscathed.  After this incident, I felt the Lord Jesus had my back, and will, just as long as I spread his word.  His word being “peace, love and vagranteeism.”   I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Illustration: Willy Nevins