Originally pressed in 1996 PROFANE EXISTENCE is bringing this quintessential anarcho punk masterpiece back in circulation.
In 1996 AUS-ROTTEN released their first LP “The System Works For Them” on an unsuspecting punk scene. It spread like wildfire in a pre internet era within a genre that mostly depended on tape trading. (at least is was pre internet for us penniless punks) “The System Works For Them” was the perfect mix of anger and intelligence that the scene needed at the time (and still does today). It was like a wake up call that opened the eyes and ears to many punks the world over. The messages where crystal clear and most us were hooked as soon as the beginning shouts of “Boycott” bellowed over the speakers. I don’t believe any of us ever expected their message to resonate so well within the scene, but even more surprising is how the songs are just as relevant today as on they the day they were written. Which is why PROFANE EXISTENCE has decided to repress this record. We feel that that messages that AUS-ROTTEN brought to the table are to powerful to ignore. We feel that this LP is important and therefore should be highly available and priced affordably.
PROFANE EXISTENCE has worked out every last detail of this release with the members of AUS-ROTTEN whom have been involved from step one. All tracks have been re-masted by Jay Matherson at the Jamroom studios. To be 100% honest we didn’t want to do a complete re-master of what we already considered a good recording. However when we opened the tracks on protools we noticed a few balance issues that required fixing. These fixes resulted in a tremendous upgrade to the overall quality of the tracks. We painstakingly scanned, puzzled, and photoshopped the original artwork to make sure that it was as close to authentic as it could possible be. We then went for broke by pressing in three different vinyl color combinations! Overall to say that we are pumped to release this would be an understatement, we are absolutely ecstatic to bring you this LP on PROFANE EXISTENCE!
To top this all off we worked with AUS-ROTTEN vocalist Dave Trenga on redrawing the classic “What Good Is Money, When There Is No One Left To Buy” design for a T-Shirt to concede with the albums release. This is a fresh take on an old image to create a new and original design.
Vinyl options are…
1. Standard black vinyl
2. “The Battlefield is Still Red” Bloodsplatter vinyl.
3. See through “Smoke”. – Available at SKULLFEST only
Silence are a highly active post-punk/peace-punk band from Pittsburgh, PA. “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” strives (and succeeds) to achieve the perfect balance between peace and post punk. By taking influences from The Mob, Bauhaus, Zounds, Killing Joke, Amebix, Crass, Conflict, Internal Autonomy and Joy Division SILENCE have created what can only be described a brilliant debut LP. At one moment this record is dark, heavy, and atmospheric and then the next moment it makes you want to dance and sing along. Lyrically SILENCE are much closer to the anarcho side of the previously listed influences. Lyrics focus on a variety of topics but often have a strong focus on the way punk and activist communities deal with political struggle in our current political climate.
“The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” comes with a 16 page magazine size zine containing lyrics, personal writings and song explanations. Designed, printed and assembled by the band themselves in true D.I.Y. fashion.
Silence will be having a record release show in their hometown of Pittsburgh PA at the Rock Room Friday April 22nd with SHADOW AGE and SKELETON HANDS. Then later this month SILENCE will embark on a full United States tour to support “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing”. Here is a list of dates. Be show to check in with the bands “bandcamp” or “Facebook” page for show updates.
When all that remains is a world in flames. Is that when they’ll say the wars are finally won? That wars are finally done?
They’re beating on the drums again, they’re fueling up the planes. The congressmen fall into line and sing the old refrain. In the name of peace they’ll burn the land and drop a thousand bombs.
Meanwhile we’ll just stay at home and go back to our sitcoms. It’s the same old song, we’ve heard it before. They’re beating the drums and they’re calling for war. What it’s supposed to accomplish, no one is sure But the victims are always the hungry and the poor.
Once the drums of war begin it’s hard to make them stop. The noise silences the dissidents once the bombs begin to drop. All those who call for peace will be mocked and pushed aside. In 10 years they’ll admit we were right after many thousands more have died.
Finally after many delays from the pressing plant the WARWOUND Demo’s LP “A Huge Black Cloud” is out and copies are moving fast!
Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from 3 sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND, they are a UK band formed in 82. WARWOUND recorded 3 demos in 83 before disbanding and members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form SACRILEGE. These demos never received an official release… until now! Highly influenced by DISCHARGE, WARWOUND is one of the first bands ever to take D-Beat Punk to a raw and intense level. Recently reformed in 2015, original guitarist Damian is now joined by Ian Glasper on bass and Rat Varuker on vocals. After a few gigs in the UK word is spreading fast of the relentless onslaught of a live show these veterans put on. WARWOUND have also recently hit the studio to record for the first time in over 30 years. Needless to say WARWOUND is back with a vengeance!
Yes! Finally, after what turned out to be a gigantic task of moving the PROFANE EXISTENCE distro from Minneapolis to Denver, transferring tons of data, and rebuilding the web store, we are finally set to open back up. To access the new store follow one of the many links from profaneexistence.com or access it directly at http://profaneexistence.storenvy.com
The first official PROFANE EXISTENCE title of 2015 is out and ready for order! We are proud to bring you the RIFLE DIET – “NO SOLACE”LP
Rifle Diet’s No Solace is a 12in 45 that combines the Classic Minneapolis crust sound with Swedish hardcore, D-beat and Epic crust (think somewhere between Servitude and Wolfbirgade, with hints of Tragedy and Fall of Efrafa). The beautiful cover art by Hannah Benoche sets a bleak mood for the dark music within, plus a cover of His Hero is a Gone – Chain of Command (ex-members of InDefence and Garmonbozia) This LP is a joint release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and BLOOD OF THE YOUNG RECORDS
To honor both the opening of the new store and our first release of 2015, we are giving a free copy of the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp to everyone that spends more then $50 from Monday January 12th to Monday January 19th!!! This deal is for one week only. DO NOT MISS OUT!
*Note*Rifle Diet are playing a record release show 1/17/15 at the Dogplex in Minneapolis with Kontrasekt, Aziza, and Fucking. To coincide with that show all orders that contain the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp will be shipped out on Monday January 12th.
The next release in the works is the new full length lp from APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – “We Don’t Need Them”.
We Don’t Need Them is the second full-length record from West Virginia punx Appalachian Terror Unit. ATU have become known throughout the years as being one of the most politically charged bands in the current punk scene. This new record is an all out attack on today’s society that takes ATU to a new level of intensity both lyrically and musically. The combination of the beautiful and thought provoking gatefold cover art designed by Stivart along with the brilliant recording and mastering job by Jay Matheson at the Jam Room take this record even further. Song subjects include the horrors of war, police brutality, destruction of the environment, rape culture, consumerism and much more. Expect a very heavy and much angrier approach from a band that has been around the block and matured their sound. Seven raging new tunes including the epic fourteen and a half minute track “We Don’t Need Them”, a song that will one day be ranked among similar greats as the SUBHUMANS “From the Cradle to the Grave” and AUS ROTTEN “And Now Back to Our Programming”.
APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – We Don’t Need Them will be pressed in the United States on PROFANE EXISTENCE & in Europe on SKULD /RUIN NATION
WARWOUND – “A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983“
Another record we are very excited about is the upcoming WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983. Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from three sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND they are a UK band formed in 82, and released 2 demos in 83. Members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form the almighty SACRILEGE. Warwound are one of the first bands to take the politics and d-beat influence from DISCHARGE and combine it with the blown out sound of CHAOS UK to achieve total destructive raw d-beat ear bleeding chaos!
WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983 will be a split release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and ORGANIZE AND ARISE.
It will be available in the spring of 2015.
Other records and projects we have in the works for 2015 …
VASTATION (pdx formally night nurse) vs WAR//PLAGUE Split EP
KRANG are a new band birthed from Chicago’s DIY punk underbelly. They play a brutally powerful brand of thrashy riff-laden crustcore and have an intense live presence. They have recently recorded for a few vinyl projects, including PE’s own 7″ singles series. Check ’em out!
Interviewed by Brian Poulin (NEGLIGENCE). All photos by Adam DeGross.
PE Who’s in the band and what does each of you do?
AUSTIN: guitars / backing vocals / song writing (synth & keyboard on 12″)
ADAM: bass / backing vocals / song writing
BRENDAN: lead vocals / lyrical content
DEVAN: drums & percussion / backing vocals
PE: What’s a brief history of the band and how did you guys form?
Austin: We started circa 2009. We had an additional guitarist: Louis C. He went on to start a blackened crust band called Welkin Dusk, based in Chicago that he plays drums & lead vocals for. We used to have an additional lead singer as well: Hannah B. Hannah was a part of our first two releases: the out of print “Onward Desolation” demo tape, and also the out of print “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″. Hannah is now the front-woman in a band called Despise, based out of Minneapolis. Our original drummer, Brett, is on the two recordings I mentioned before, as well as our “Sounds of Death” 12″. Brett now drums for a Chicago / northwest Indiana band called Asphixiate. Devan is now our permanent drummer and he will have his first appearance on the “Broken Waves” 7″, released by Profane Existence, which is coming out in June. Devan will also be on our next 12″: “Bad Moon”, which we are writing right now. I, as well as Krang, are totally stoked on Devan and really happy to have them. Devan is active outside of percussion as well with assisting in writing, assistance in lyrical content & structure, and the internet stuff. This line up has been solidified for over a year and is totally fucking Krang! It just works perfectly.
PE: You guys are based out of Chicago. What are your favorite parts of the scene there? What are your least favorite things about Chicago’s scene?
Devan: Chicago’s an interesting place. I feel like the pros and cons are often directly related to one-another. For example, the mere size of the city. There are so many people – new to here, young, old, whatever – that there is basically always something going on and a handful of solid DIY spaces at all times, regardless of whether people leave or places get busted or whatever. The downside is that the physical structure of the city makes it difficult and/or terribly time-consuming to navigate. Especially if you don’t have a car. And even if you do, parking sucks. Anyway, as a result of the city being as segregated as it is, people are often inclined to just stick to what’s going on in their neighborhood and it results in a lack of exposure or attention paid to some really cool things. It’s unfortunate. But then there are some events like the annual Black and Brown Punk Show (shout-out to Monika!) or other fest-type shows where the attendance is crazy and bullshit is minimal. It’s rad.
Austin: I used to live in CHI. I reside in northwest Indiana (NWI). It’s really close. You can compare it to how close Jersey is to NYC. The rest of the band does live in CHI. My favorite things about Chicago is the “don’t take shit” attitude that at least me and the scene we’re involved with has. We’ll kick you out if your a piece of shit human or kick your ass if we have to. I also like The Void Haus in NWI for gigs. My personal least favorite things are cliques, hype, division, etc… the things that you see in every rather large city, I suppose.
Adam: I love Chicago’s unspoken rule of everyone being down to get down when shit hits the fan and nobody lets bogus comments or derogatory gestures fly. My complaint for the longest time was how there is the same hierarchy that we all hate in daily life at a lot of the gigs. It seems like those “in crowd” wanks have come and gone though, or maybe I just don’t surround myself with such fools anymore. My main complaint, and I know I am sounding super negative, but for such a large city there is a lack of bands playing what I am into personally. There are a lot of great bands doing great things…but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am into them musically. Haha! I have a particular taste and its not being fulfilled. I usually go to shows to hang out and have a good time and just show support but its rare that I actually shit over a band that I see locally. I do really, really get down to Population though. White boy can’t dance but when I see this band I start doing shit I didn’t know I was capable of.
Brendan: Chicago is simultaneously the best & worst place to live; which I’d imagine is a critique most other big-city dwellers share. There is no shortage of great folks, bands, eats, cool nerd-haunts (comic & record collectors rejoice!), and beautiful neighborhoods/communities in which to live. The same is true for all of the awful yuppies, gold cost bourgeois, & assholes who get your friends hooked on hard drugs. A lot of the time I wish that I lived in a vast expanse of lush nature with no human presence save myself. When I’m not wishing for seclusion, I’m loving how hard of a time I have sorting out which of the 5 awesome punk shows I get to go see any given night. Chicago has everything I love & hate at once; most of the time its worth it.
PE: Musically what are you guys going for?
Devan: I’d say sincerity, first and foremost. In sound, words, and delivery. And the connections we can and have made with people based on that. My musician’s answer would be just to write the best songs we can and perform them at the highest level at all times.
Austin: I just want to stick out and be a little different sounding. I still want to have that essential formula for great punk. I personally believe we found the introduction to our sound with the “Sounds of Death” 12″. We have two formulas: triumphant, galloping crust metal and simplified, pissed off, to-the-point stuff.
Brendan: Initially we formed with the idea of writing over the top odes to crust circa late 80’s/early 90’s; stuff you could flail your overgrown dreadlocks around to. We all fell into a groove with each other over time, where we don’t really need to define what we’re gonna write before we do. We approach releases with general outlines (theme,length, format etc.), but when writing songs I’d say we aim for mean, earnest & impactful.
Adam: I think naturally all being into different types of musical backgrounds, our finished product ends up being a thing of its own, but we all have similar enough interests to where we end up with the result that we initially were trying to go for. I personally am really into trying to sound like the bands I am into. It doesn’t end up exactly that way which is good but I love when bands obsess over old school sounds/bands/records and try to make their contemporary music sound as authentic as possible whether it be tone or style or whatever. At the end of the day we are trying to sound pissed, like we worship the 80s and have our music sound anarchy as fuck!
PE: What bands inspire you the most?
Austin: I listen to EVERYTHING. I don’t know where to begin but musically, keeping personal interest aside, I think we’re inspired by 80’s UK crust and a lot of Japanese stuff as far as writing collectively. This is something me and you will have to nerd out on when we’re in Boston next. Haha!
Adam: For Krang, bands that influence the writing process for me are Masskontroll, Deathraid, Sacrilege, Hellshock, Deviated Instinct, Sodom, Axegrinder and Amebix as well as Instinct of Survival. Personally I am all over the water but my all time 2 favorite punk bands have always and will always be Discharge and the Dead Boys.
Devan: I could go on a long rant about every band I’ve ever loved and how they’ve all stuck with and influence me to this day and blah blah blah, but I’ll spare you the cost of ink and just say Sacrilege, Crude, Amebix and Discharge. That said, we are quite the eclectic bunch.
Brendan: Musically, anything running the gamut from Paintbox to Elliot Smith. I enjoy a lot of soaring Japanese hardcore with that Burning Spirits feel, 90’s screamo, early black metal & hip hop. Any band that has a way with words gets me going, but mostly I enjoy music that you can’t help but feel.
PE: What are most of your songs about? What inspires the lyrics?
Brendan: Lemme preface by saying that Discharge is rad & “The More I See…” could be the soundtrack to my daily tedium… but i think punk rock has much more potential than to rehash our dogmatic & oftentimes simplistic politics. Having been a few places where the punk scene eats itself inside out with depression, addiction, & apathy towards the struggles of those around us, I think its real important to allow ourselves to be more open in the way we express all of the things exploding in our minds. I am not blowing my own horn, or any horn for that matter, but I really enjoy taking the personal route when it comes to writing & am constantly attempting to better address the common threads that run through all of our lives. Our first wave of songs covered some of our political leanings in regards to vivisection, arms manufacturing, rape culture & the willful destruction of our Earth. The “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″ reflects on the weight of stagnation on the “politically motivated”. “Sounds of Death” is the result of an obsession with death and a years worth of hurt; friends making irreversible decisions in regards to their lives & some of us falling into those spirals ourselves. There is absolution in acceptance though & I think a glint of hope in such dark subject matter. Our upcoming 7″ deals with cycles of change in our lives, moments of mania & madness; a counterpoint to our last 7″. The songs we are writing & playing now are an extension of that, focusing on moments of change in our lives, wanderlust & really just form one big, loud, pissed love letter to the DIY community, punk rock & time spent on the road. Inspiration comes from any human I’ve met that has dared to be open, honest & shameless about it.
Devan: Passion in all its forms and extremities is what inspires us. Totally.
PE: You guys have done a few extensive tours. What’s your favorite city you guys haveplayed in? What’s your least favorite?
Austin: I love Boston. Detroit, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis) are up there too. I don’t really have a least favorite. We have had some bad experiences, though. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and not mention them. Hopefully things will be better when we return.
Devan: New Orleans is my favorite city ever, and our most recent gig in Boston totally ruled. I’d have to say, though, that many of my favorite shows have been in non-major cities. Birmingham AL was awesome, Asheville NC, Cincinatti OH, Grand Rapids MI…basically anywhere with a really tight-knit but wide-ranging DIY scene in terms of age, music, spaces, projects, etc. It’s always super encouraging to see.
Brendan: I’ll echo the others in saying that NOLA, Asheville, Cincy, Birmingham, Boston & Baltimore all kick ass. I’m usually super appreciative of all the towns we’ve been lucky enough to play in, though of course we’ve played in towns that seemed to embrace the anti-PC attitude/sense of humor that I am so fucking sick of. Some cities are really 50/50 because you’ll either play an amazing show with bad-ass folks & have the time of your life, or you might end up wanting to eviscerate some fuckhead who only listens to GG Allin & doesn’t get why a confederate flag hanging at a show space might ruffle some feathers.
Austin: We as a band aren’t about making sure we are politically correct all the time, but we definitely are hellbent on showing one another respect and are willing to give respect back to those who are legit. No single city is bad. Like I said before, sometimes there are some bad experiences. Fuckheads are everywhere.
Adam: Yes, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Boston, but most of all NOLA and Minneapolis. New Orleans and Minneapolis…no other city can live up to the debauchery that is expected to happen when we arrive in these two places. We need a week of recovery after being in either place for just a day. Also I love playing Madison a lot. Fuck, I love touring. So many amazing friends are being missed right now as we speak.
PE: What are some of your favorite bands you guys have played with?
Lord Krang: Scum from Detroit, Appalachian Terror Unit, Antisect, In Defense, Nu-kle-ar Blast Suntan, Kontrasekt, Cognitive Dissonance, The Skuds, Coelacanth, WrathCobra, Wartorn, Negligence, In Ruins, and definitely D-Clone; but honestly, it’s great to play with anyone and everyone who aren’t assholes and give a shit about “punk rock”.
PE: What are some of your favorite local bands from Chicago?
Lord Krang: Asphyxiate, Decay After Death (Decay A.D.), Cemetery (RIP), Culo, Die Time, Slag, Escalofrio, Sex Bunker (RIP), Birth Deformities, Gas Rag, Welkin Dusk, Daylight Robbery, Dirty Surgeon Insurgency, The Breathing Light, La Armada, Black September, Kontaminat, Ooze, Tensions, The Busy Sugnals, Population, More that we’re forgetting to mention….
PE: What does the future hold for Krang?
Devan: As Austin mentioned earlier, we have our “Broken Waves” 7″ being released in June, at which point we’ll be doing a small tour with Coelacanth. Also, as previously stated, we are well along in the writing process for our next full-length LP. Look for us around the Mid-west this summer and keep up-to-date and get in touch via the following:
crustardpunx[AT]gmail.com – krangcrustards.bandcamp.com – krangcrustards.blogspot.com
Austin: More touring, more albums, more blood spit nights, more everything! We’ll do a more extensive tour when the new LP comes out.
Brendan: “Bad Moon” 12″ – Skull Fest – Split(s?) – Self-Destruction With A Gusto
Lord Krang: Record labels that are interested in helping us with our next 12″ (which is more than half way written) get in touch with us!!! It will be even more galloping, pist, and triumphant than our still available “Sounds of Death” 12″!
“I’ve looked through all the windows / I’ve gone through all the drawers / more empty now than ever before” – Cursed
My head is killing me. I woke up this morning with a horrible migraine, that and the pile of new-used shirts next to my bed are the reminders of the show I played last night at Hollywood Babylon, a vintage clothing shop in Portland. I have what is commonly referred to as a “bangover” in heavier music circles. Wherein an individual rocks out and “headbangs” so hard that they wake up feeling headachy, disoriented and irritable the next morning.
I have a history of getting really severe migraines on and off since I was a child, so I can definitely tell when one of those is stirring in my head. It’s 10:30 am and I need to make a decision here. Do I spend the day resting, trying to fight off this headache and leave tomorrow morning? Or do I power through it, go with my original plan of leaving today (albeit late at this point) and risk passing out while cycling or making my migraine so severe that I’m stranded somewhere? I rested till about noon, had some tea, listened to some music and finally decided it was time. Today’s the day!
Most of my packing was finished last night, so that didn’t leave me with much to take care of this morning, thankfully. My borrowed waterproof panniers were stuffed with a borrowed sleeping bag, my tent, cookware, bike tools, tubes and an extra tire. On the back rack I used an old bike inner tube to lash my tent poles to the frame, and on top of the poles I tied a plastic, square gallon jug of water with a bungee chord. In my front basket sat my backpack, with a really cool “jungle net” style bungee chord with multiple hooks securing it in place that I got from Starmichael. I considered getting a front rack for my bike and borrowing more panniers, but since I already had a pretty nice Chrome waterproof backpack I figured I might as well use it for it’s intended purpose. The unofficial theme of the tour so far seems to be “work with what you got”, which I guess is kind of the unofficial theme of my life up until the present anyway, so this isn’t much of a surprise. The bike looks a little funny in comparison to a lot of typical touring bikes you’d see, but everything’s secure and the bike rides well so that’s all that matters here. I’m pretty proud of the work I put into this thing and I’m not afraid to admit it, I stood and basked in it’s DIY punk-as-shit glory for a few minutes before I decided it was time to leave.
Other than my bike gear I just have my wallet, a couple pairs of shorts, biking shorts, a pair of pants, several sleeveless shirts (essential), rain pants and jacket and some bear mace (obviously not to be used on bears). I worked out a very conservative budget for this trip, only allowing myself one day of eating out, as I’m not even certain I’ll have enough money to finish the trip and eventually get home. On top of that I haven’t had a cell phone for almost a year, and though it’s a liberating experience, not having it for this trip terrifies a lot of people who care about me, haha. I guess people get freaked out when you decide to bike 400 miles with no money, no phone and no backup plan if shit goes south. Who knew?
Only one of my six housemates was home, so I bid her farewell and awkwardly carried my heavy bike down our front steps. I’m not one for big dramatic goodbyes anyway. The sunlight is killing my already sensitive eyes while I start biking down our street, it’s noon and the sun is overbearing. I decided early on that I was going to use my sunglasses sparingly on this trip born out of a mortal fear of getting “reverse raccoon eyes”. I’m going to be seeing a lot of sun on this trip, and whatever I’m wearing will be outlined with a tan for weeks to come.
Ok, first thing’s first, bike across town to the Max stop and board the Hillsboro train. One of the maps I printed at the library explained the easiest way to get from Portland out to Tillamook, and one of the thing it suggests is bypassing the suburbs of Portland by taking the light rail we have in the city referred to as “the Max” to the edge of Hillsboro (a portland suburb). I arrive at the Rose Quarter Max stop and wait a few minutes for the first train. I’m concerned there won’t be enough room on the train to maneuver my awkwardly huge bike, but since it’s the middle of a monday I’m feeling ok about it. A few trains go past before mine arrives, and they were all almost completely empty, so I feel a bit more confident that I’ll be able to fit my bike on the next one. Pretty soon my train arrives, and guess what? It’s so thick with passengers you can’t even see the other side of the train through the windows! Hoards of zombie-looking commuters going to who the heck knows where. Where did they all come from and why are they all seemingly going to Hillsboro? In a panicky fashion I rush back and forth between cars to desperately find a car I can squeeze my bike in, but to no avail. The doors close and the train leaves the station. FUCKERS! I already paid my $2.50 for the ticket, so I decide to wait for the next train. I rearranged my bags and slung on my backpack to make it a little easier to navigate my bike on the train, and thankfully the next train that arrived was strangely, almost eerily empty. I brought my bike on board, lifted it up onto one of the wheel hooks and breathed a sigh of relief as I settled in.
A few stops later a street punk around my age with a mohawk hops onto the train. He immediately rushes over to the handicap seating area, for what I think initially is to take one of the seats, even though there are dozens open all around him. Those seats are technically reserved for folks who find it difficult to get to other parts of the train, so I was pretty bummed. A second later I’m surprised when I look over and realize that a man with a walker is inching his way off the platform and onto the train, just as the punk guy holds down one of the spring loaded seats and offers his arm to help guide the man to his seat. Faith in punk restored! I always have a sense of pride when I see punks helping other folks out, and although it really shouldn’t be a surprise to see somebody treat another person with common decency and respect I was still silently stoked to see someone on my team taking the initiative. The man with the walker had a “Legalize Gay” shirt and after he sat down looked up at the street punk and said “check out my shirt!” and the punk dude responded with something inaudible and smiles. Then the guy with the walker turns to me and points to his shirt, and as he’s too far for me to communicate with verbally, I just give him a thumbs up and a big smile. Good start to my day.
Several miles later the train ends at the edge of Hillsboro, a veritable wasteland in my opinion. It’s been a few years since I’d been out here, but a wave of unpleasant court memories flooded back to me, including the day I spent in jail out here. A few of us locked into lock boxes at an anti-vivisection protest at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and had to be cut out with high powered saws. We were protesting Oregon Health and Sciences University’s continued use of non-human animals in frivolous, cruel and wasteful experiments. It made international news, and we spent the day and most of the night in jail celebrating with our other cellmates who were so excited that they just saw us on TV. They also stuck an informant in our cell with us who tried to bait us into bragging about any illegal activity regarding the animal liberation movement. He told us he was “vegan straightedge” and then proceeded to tell us about his weed growing operation, and how much he loved eating steak. Surely whoever instructed him to say these words to us to build some kind of camaraderie failed to mention what they ACTUALLY mean, but at the risk of sounding tangential I’ll get back to the story at hand.
I get my backpack situated back in it’s basket, pull out my map and find that I can fit it conveniently in between my backpack and the netting, displaying the map clearly for me as I ride. This makes it easier to just have the directions laid out in front of me for the day so I don’t have to keep stopping every hour or so to reorient myself. As I’m trying to determine what direction is West I eventually ask a kid on a mountain bike. He eagerly tells me where I need to be headed and from the inflection in his voice I get the idea that this town is boring enough that when a strange and sweaty dude on a bike asks you for directions, it’s pretty darn exciting. I thank him and head off.
It feels good to finally just start pedaling consistently. It gives me the feeling that I’m finally on the road and making this happen. I bike through some neighborhoods and eventually get spit out on a road through some farmlands on the way to a town called Banks. I pass a few extremely old abandoned barns and houses and make a mental note to return here at a later time to photograph them with my nice camera. I reach Banks in about a half hour, and finally connect with Highway 6 which is a straight shot out to Tillamook, OR which is the nearest coastal town. The 6 is a small, 2-lane highway much like most of the highways and roads I’ll be taking down the entire coast, but unfortunately the traffic on this one is a bit heavier than most according to the info I found online. It’s not terrible to bike on the shoulder here, but it’s also not my favorite as I’m constantly passed by massive RV’s and trucks going well over the speed limit.
I pull off on a side road a couple hours later to refill my small water bottle from my gallon jug and eat a couple protein bars. The majority of the food I brought for this trip are a variety of different food bars, and these pre-cooked indian food pouches made by a company called Tasty Bite. I’ve had them time and time again on the road, and since they have several different vegan choices and are small and compact enough to backpack with they’re an obvious choice. As I’m standing in this small road about 100 ft from the highway I start to unpack my backpack to pull out a protein bar. Not 3 minutes later a big, lifted truck pulls down the road from a private drive further up the hill. He drives up alongside me and strains to be heard over his diesel engine as he yells “WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE?”. I tell him I just stopped to refill my water and check my map, and he responds “YEAH WELL THIS IS A PRIVATE ROAD. WE’VE HAD SOME TROUBLE OUT HERE.” and then pauses for a considerable amount of time while staring at me through redneck-style sunglasses. “Oh, ok. Well I’ll be out of here in like 5 minutes, tops. Just gotta put my stuff together and then I’ll be leaving” ASSHOLE. He gives me a nod, pops his truck into gear and pulls out onto the highway. What a dick.
After finishing my bar a few minutes later I strap my backpack into place and coast down the side road toward the highway. As I’m about to turn back out onto Highway 6 I see “lifted truck guy” pulling back onto the side road again, giving me a friendly wave. Why were you gone for only 5 minutes? I wave back with all my fingers and not just the one I want to show him and continue on.
This route turned out to be tougher than I thought it would be. I mean, A LOT tougher than I thought it would be. On the map it looks like a single day’s ride due to the distance, but that’s before you take into account the elevation as well. It’s only about 70 miles or so from Portland to Tillamook, but people (like myself) often forget that you have to climb over 1,500 ft in elevation over the course of 20 miles. The ride down the other side I’m sure will be a breeze, but fighting this climb with this heavy bike and a pounding migraine is almost too much to bear. To make matters worse, as I was rounding a turn up an especially steep area of the climb, I almost get hit by an RV barreling up the hill. I was warned about these RV’s, and I hadn’t forgotten the warning either. These giant, semi-truck sized vehicles for some miraculous reason don’t need a special license to drive, meaning that the people driving them have had no training in doing so. Thus creating a lot of deadly collisions, particularly more deadly for me than for them. As I’m rounding a turn, this particular asshole RV driver cut the corner too closely, stepped over into the emergency lane where I’m biking, and comes within about 2 ft of hitting me. I’m already hugging the railing as closely as I can and as the RV passes me I’m temporarily deafened by the roar of it’s engine and the blast of air it displaces as it passes. They must have been going around 65 miles an hour in a 50 zone, while I was maybe doing a meager 15 miles an hour up this hill. Even worse, as they pass they’re dragging a boat behind their giant caravan so it bounds and bounces past me with a horrible screeching noise that rattles me to my core. I was hit by a car from behind a few years ago, and I still get anxious when cars drive past me from behind. “FUCKING ASSHOLE FUCK YOU!” I scream as I give them a finger that they probably couldn’t see even if they bothered to look back. So fucking pissed.
Once I calm down I take a look at my map, and see that it indicates 3 state parks that touch this Highway in the Tillamook State Forest. I assumed I would get at least to the 2nd or the 3rd state park on the route, but as I’m nearing the summit the pounding in my head and the rapid loss of sunlight are both telling me to cut the day short. I started late in the day as it was, and I made a promise to some folks back home that I wouldn’t be biking at night. When I start to see signs for Gales Creek Campground I decide that will be my home for the night, might as well play it safe this evening since it’s my first day out. I follow the signs down a gravel road that drops into a valley about a mile down. As I’m coasting down the hill I’m approached by a lifted truck leaving the park, and instead of pulling aside and letting me pass he continues on unabated and I almost fly off into the ditch as I swerve into a thick gravel patch to avoid him. What is it about driving a lifted truck that just immediately makes you an asshole?
I roll into camp just as the sun is dipping beneath the trees. The shade is a welcome relief from the sun, and this campground is pretty near empty. Just the way I like it, and not surprising for a Monday night. There’s a guy and a dog off in a corner who look like they’ve been here for a while, with a big stack of firewood and a large, well maintained tent. There’s a family about a 1/4 mile up the road (I can tell because I can here the kids yelling and screaming) but at the site I eventually pick I have almost complete privacy as I can’t see anyone in any direction I look. It’s a pretty rugged campground, no bathrooms in our camp circle and the only running water is drawn from a well with a hand-pump: the liquid that comes out tasting strongly of metal. I fill out one of those little “honor system” forms for campsites with my name and site number, drop a $5 bill in the envelope and put it in the little box that the ranger comes by and collects. In my experience the ranger rarely ever comes by on weekdays, and I wonder if I’ll regret paying for the site tomorrow if I end up never getting checked in on. I justify not paying these fees in my mind by saying that giving the state park money empowers them to sell off public lands to logging companies out here (which they do); but in reality, and more immediately, I’m just on a razor thin budget and find it difficult to justify paying money to sleep in an empty lot where I clean up after myself and leave no trace of my presence. Whatever though, I won’t lose sleep over it. And sleep right now sounds amazing.
The back of my camp pushes up against Gale’s Creek, the water from the stream only about 4 feet from where I pitch my tent. After I get everything set up I strip down to my shorts and take a quick dip in the freezing cold water. This passes well enough for a shower in my opinion, so I soak for a bit and climb out when I start to get hungry for dinner. There’s no left-behind fire logs in my fire pit, and I’m too tired to search for dry wood in the forest, so I end up eating my Chana Masala and Punjab Eggplant cold out of the frying pan I brought along to cook with. Even though it’s luke warm from the sun it still tastes like a dream, and I’ve never been more thankful to be eating than I am in this moment. Dear me, this is delicious! I scrape the pan clean and wash it with the metal-water from the well, careful not to get any food residue in the camp and attract wildlife. Not that I don’t enjoy being around wildlife, but I’m not stoked when people feed wild animals, then those animals get used to being fed by humans, they then eventually become aggressive toward humans and then end up getting shot or poisoned by different humans. It’s a horrible, human driven cycle and the only ones who really lose are the non-human animals. So yeah, clean up after yourself.
I make sure all my gear is put away properly and that all three of my bags are in my tent for the night. I lock the frame of my bike to the metal chain rooted in the ground that locks the picnic table in place and I climb into my tent. Who would steal a picnic table? The ground under my tent is extremely rocky and jagged, and I didn’t bring a sleeping pad, but I am so tired that I hardly notice. I listen to the Game of Thrones series on audiobook for a couple hours to see what all the fuss is about while the light fades out of the sky. The fading light then gives way to glowing stars that are perfectly visible through the ceiling of my tent. I’d be amazed if it ends up raining this evening, so I don’t bother putting on the plastic rain guard over the top of my tent. It’s deadly silent and beautiful up on this mountain, and it’s exactly what I was hoping for. Even though my head is still throbbing from this morning’s migraine I feel peaceful and content in my sleeping bag. It’s cold up here, especially for June, and I’m thankful to have brought a low-rated mummy bag along with me thanks to my housemate Lif.
I finally start to drift off once the darkness fully envelops the forest, and I start to doze thinking of Dire Wolves and Valerian steel, with the sound of the Gale’s Creek babbling in the background just a few feet from me. I recognize the potential here for strange nightmares, but I have nightmares every night, so this doesn’t necessarily concern me. I’m just glad to be out in the world right now and to be experiencing the wild places of Oregon, which I still maintain is one of the most, if not THE most beautiful state in the US. With that to be debated amongst yourselves I’ll leave you to your night, and I’ll be left to mine. Sleep well my friends.