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!
For those of you who don’t know DEADLY REIGN, Its time to get with the program! DEADLY REIGN is a 3 piece D-BEAT killing machine with a legendary line up comprised of members from GLYICNE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, SCARRED FOR LIFE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, KEGCHARGE, CENTURY OF WAR AND TILL DEATH. These guys have been at it for a long time and don’t fuck around when it comes to bringing you punk rock authentic and true to its sound and with their new single released on PE entitled SLAVE! These guys don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. So let’s get to the brass tacks and see what these guys have been up to. (INTERVIEW BY DUTCH WELCH FROM KRIGBLAST)
PE: So what are your names, what do you play, and how did you guys come together?
(RAYGUNN) I MOVED TO AUSTIN AND RAN INTO GUERINOT AT HIS DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. UNKNOWN TO ME, MY WIFE WAS AND STILL IS GOOD FRIENDS WITH HIS WIFE AT THE TIME AND HE AND I KNEW EACH OTHER FROM THE PAST WHEN OUR PREVIOUS BANDS HAD PLAYED TOGETHER. WE GOT TO TALKING AND DECIDED THAT WE SHOULD START A BAND. I SAID, WE JUST NEED A BASS PLAYER/SINGER, AND HE SAID HE HAD ONE. HE CALLED HIS FRIEND GUSHAMMER AND HE WAS INTO IT. THEY HAD BEEN WANTING TO START SOMETHING TOGETHER FOR A WHILE. AND EVENTUALLY WE GOT THE BALL ROLLING (OR SHOULD I SAY, THE BEERS FLOWING?).
PE: You guys have all been in some pretty kick ass bands in the past. who played in what?
RAYGUNN – GLYCINE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, KONTRAKLASE, AND SCARRED FOR LIFE.
GUERINOT – WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, AND KEGCHARGE.
GUSHAMMER – CENTURY OF WAR, AND TILL DEATH.
PE: Who came up with the name Deadly Reign?
(RAYGUNN) I USED TO HANG OUT WITH A KICK ASS BAND IN THE EARLY 80’s CALLED BODY COUNT. THEY WERE AN EARLY D-BEAT STYLE OF BAND (BEFORE THE TERM D-BEAT WAS AROUND) AND THEY HAD A SONG CALLED DEADLY REIGN. SO I TOOK IT FROM THAT. (AND YES, I AM AWARE THAT THERE WAS A BAND CALLED DEADLY REIGN FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BACK IN THE EARLY 80’s, BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE I GOT THE NAME FROM).
PE: The music of DR is furious, in your face politically and socially. Whats the motivation behind your song writing?
(RAYGUNN) MUSICALLY, WE JUST TRY TO WRITE MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. THE KIND OF STUFF WE WOULD LISTEN TO AT HOME. NOT SO MUCH TRYING TO BE ORIGINAL OR GROUND BREAKING. MORE OF JUST PLAYING THE HARD AGGRESIVE TYPE OF MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. WE GET IT ALL TOGETHER AND THEN GUSHAMMER WRITES SOME LYRICS.
(GUERINOT) I’VE ALWAYS SAID I CAN’T AND WON’T BE IN A BAND THAT I COULDN’T ALSO LISTEN TO. WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT OF PLAYING SHIT THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? WE AREN’T DOING THIS TO PLEASE OTHERS, JUST OURSELVES.
(GUS) SOME LYRICS HIT RIGHT TO THE POINT, RELIGION. IT’S FUCKING 2013 AND HERE WE ARE STILL DEALING WITH RELIGIOUS NONSENSE! PEOPLE THE WORLD OVER ARE BEING PERSECUTED, MISLEAD, AND OUT RIGHT SLAUGHTERED OVER RELIGION. RATHER IT’S CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, JEWS, OR WHATEVER FICTITIOUS BULLSHIT SECT THEY ARE IN. RELIGION IN ANY FORM IS UNCALLED FOR AND DANGEROUS! AND THIS COUNTRY USES IT TO PULL OFF SOME SERIOUSLY HEINOUS ACTS OF PURE AND UTTER VIOLENCE AND WAR. WE TOUCH ON THIS OF COURSE ON THIS RECORD, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IT’S DIRECTED TOWARD THE WORKING CLASS FOLKS AND THEIR DAILY STRUGGLE JUST TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THE OLDER WE GET, THE SAME STRUGGLE REMAINS, EXCEPT NOW WE MUST NOT ONLY FIGHT TO FEED OURSELVES BUT FIRST FEED OUR CHILDREN AND LOVED ONES AND THEN WITH WHAT IS LEFT OVER, TAKE CARE OF OURSLEVES. SO WE CAN SLAVE ANOTHER DAY FOR A LESS THAN ACCEPTABLE WAGE. OVER THE YEARS I HAVE WATCHED OUR (PUNK) COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS WORK IN HORRIBLE CONDITIONS FOR SHIT WAGES WITH NO BENEFITS AND NO HOPE OF MOVING UPWARD IN THESE POSITIONS. AT THE END OF THE DAY THEY HAVE A SMALL CHECK THAT IS OVER TAXED AND A SORE ACHING BODY, THAT CONTINUES TO GET WORSE. “TELL ME IS THIS THE LIFE I’M FORCED TO LIVE TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY?”…THE ANSWER IS NO! BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT. WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO POINT OUT THESE CONCERNS OVER AND OVER UNTIL THE POWERS THAT BE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LISTEN.
PE: You guys did a split with HELLKRUSHER not to long ago entitled Continuous Warfare. How did this collaboration come about?
(RAYGUNN) I HAVE KNOWN SCOTTY (HELLKRUSHER) SINCE THE MID 80’s WHEN HE WAS IN HELLBASTARD, AND I WAS IN GLYCINE MAX. WE USED TO BE PEN PALS, AND WOULD SEND EACH OTHER TAPES OF OUR BANDS, AND OUR FRIENDS BANDS. WE EVENTUALLY LOST TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER AND THEN YEARS LATER FOUND EACHOTHER VIA THE INTERNET. I SENT HIM SOME DEADLY REIGN AND HE LIKED IT. AND WE DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING TOGETHER.
PE: You guys all have family’s now and continue to tour, play shows, practice, record and work. How has DIY punk changed in your lives and how do you make it work?
(GUERINOT) WELL, I HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS BUT HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER IS KEY. HAVING KIDS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE SO IN MY OPINION, THEY COME FIRST. WORKING AROUND THEM AND WORK IS USALLY PRETTY EASY. LATELY IT HAS BEEN A BIT MORE DIFFICULT BUT TRYING TO WORK OUT THE KINKS IN A SITUATION AND PUT PIECES BACK TOGETHER IS PART OF THE PROCESS.
PE: The new single from Profane Existence entitled SLAVE, what can we expect and do you have any future releases coming out?
(RAYGUNN) IT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN OUR LAST TWO RECORDS, BUT STILL THE DEADLY REIGN STYLE. NEXT WE WILL BE WRITING FOR A SPLIT 12″ WITH OUR FRIENDS KONTRASEKT.
PE: Closing comments, any last words?
THANKS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS THE WORLD OVER. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. ALSO, THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW. AND BE SURE TO PICK UP THE NEW DEADLY REIGN ‘SLAVE’ EP ON PROFANE EXISTENCE! AS WELL AS OUR LP AND THE SPLIT WITH HELLKRUSHER. ALSO, WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO EUROPE SOMEDAY, IF ANYONE OVER THERE WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUR BROKE ASSES OUT. HAHA! CHEERS – DEADLY REIGN
WARTORN are a whirlwind of thrash punk goodness hailing from Wisconsin. Since 2004, they’ve been hitting the touring and record release circuit with no looking back. Here’s a quick interview I did to let people know about their two latest releases, Domestic Terrorist 7″ (Profane Existence) & Iconic Nightmare 12″ (Southern Lord). – Andy Leffer
(This interview also appears in CVLT NATION)
PE: You know the drill, just give us the basics on who’s who and what’s changed in the past, in regards to any line up changes, etc. Also, give us some insight on where WARTORN is going. We want to know tours, records, riots, protests, arrests….the whole back story on WARTORN’s origins.
Bitty: (Vocals) The band started in 2004, with Ryan, Hart (on drums) and myself as a three-piece. Within half a year I got a call with an offer for our first tour, which was with Municipal Waste. We did a mini tour with them and ever since then we have been able to go on tours with amazing bands each year such as Los Dolares, ATU, CYP, Krang, In Defence, Pyroklast, Hellshock, and up next Raw Power . We have been to 13 countries and have done lots of releases on many different labels.
Ryan: guitar / low vocals / whiskey enthusiast. Well we started as a 3-piece and over a span of over 8 years, have ended up with 6 members. With 3 of us being guitar players we are able to diversify our songs in ways that we could only do in a studio setting. This obviously makes a difference live as well.
Ela: I’ve been the bass player for over the last 6 years. Recently, we came out with an LP/CD on Southern Lord Records called “Iconic Nightmare” and a 7-inch, “Domestic Terrorist”, released on Profane Existence (which is part of their limited edition singles series).
Toban: (Guitar) I think I might have the most arrests out of anyone in the band. Not like its anything to brag about. I did narrowly avoid another arrest a few weeks ago.
Derek: Guitar as well. I’ve been in the band for a few months and have been on two tours so far.
PE: The music is dynamic, to say the least. You’re not getting any half-assed riffs or mindlessly thrown together lyrics or production with your music. Elaborate on the process and what is the driving force for doing such a band. Punk is a political movement, it’s always been a political movement. Are you a part of this fray as a whole, or is this more of a personal, therapeutic outlet?
Ryan: I definitely believe in the power of the riff. Heavy and raging. Punk is a political movement, but I also see it as a community (full of musicians, artists, writers, photographers, open thinkers etc). A lot of us live/ have lived in punk houses and have been booking DIY shows for years. It’s something we do to contribute to it as a whole.
Toban: Ryan is the riff-master general of the band. He does a great job of coming up with some of the most incredible riffs of anyone I’ve been in a band with. Adding Bitty’s smartly composed lyrics and Hart’s hard hitting/tight drum style makes a great concoction.
Bitty: As far as what I write lyrically, I mainly write about personal experiences or historical events. I don’t tell people what they need to think, that is for them to figure out on their own. Also, I could not label myself as more than a realist and a situationalist.
Ela: Well in my opinion, I would say that we are a part of this as a whole, but it also is a personal outlet for me. We have all contributed to the movement in one way or another, but I think of punk as more than just a political movement. For me it is also about a unified community… where people come together, whether it is for political reasons, to share a passion for music, a hobby, art, etc. … and we definitely have that in Appleton, which is awesome.
Hart: I honestly wouldn’t say punk’s always been a political movement at all. The fact that DK, Meatmen, and the Germs, for example, all existed during one heyday suggests more of a harsh musical and broad social changeover than anything to me. For me personally, punk rock, metal and hardcore have always been a therapeutic and vindicating way of life that has consistently solved a lot of my life’s most harrowing, fucked-up times. It had a total bottleneck effect on how I raised myself mentally and emotionally. It was a really great thing to find out about when I was trying to figure out how to express myself when everything just infuriated or bored the shit out of me. Later, after I was free as an adult, I quickly found out it came replete with its own sense of community, and a totally viscous following I was never aware existed at all. This band is fucking great, cause we never throw a blind rhetorical blanket over our lyrical ideals, or even necessarily our instrumentation for that matter. We have a rough format that we’ve stuck to, but we all come from slightly different scenes and upbringings, and I’ve always thought it showed at least a little in our styles. I honestly don’t think the excitement of being in this band has worn off for any of us. Sure, growing pains have slowed our progress a couple of times, but whenever the next lightbulb goes on over our heads, it’s all go no slow!
Derek: For me, this is definitely a personal outlet. That’s what music has always been for me. Being the young’n metalhead in the group, I’ve kind of just been exposed to the world of punk houses and DIY shows recently. From what I’ve gathered so far I can at least say that the sense of community is beautiful.
PE: Your latest singles release on Profane Existence “Domestic Terrorist”. There’s no beating around the bush on this subject matter. Once again, can you elaborate on this specific release and the intention behind the subject?
Bitty: There have been a few times where I had local law enforcement “protect and serve” the shit out of me. As a kid in the 80’s from a small hometown, I’ve had guns in my face from the cops, hammers pulled back and screaming in my face. I have also had an off-duty cop put a gun in my face and ask me if I thought it was funny while he was wasted. You know of all the times I was ever robbed or assaulted, at least I knew if I fought back I stood a chance; I even survived an attempted homicide! But, it’s not so easy when you have to fight back against law enforcement. They just beat your ass and lock you up, even if they are totally in the wrong. I’ve witnessed so much personal corruption; to me it seems to be an extension of an abuse of absolute power. Now that, to me, strikes terror in any citizen.
PE: Bitty, you’re straight edge…maybe not self-proclaimed, but you don’t consume drugs or alcohol. Considering the genre of punk and it’s history of abuse with these elements, has this hindered your views on the movement?
Hart: Total interjection here! Dude, Bitty’s optimism actually astounds me. He’s seen more friends either die or completely lose their vitality as humans due to drug and alcohol use than I’d like to ponder. He’s remained pretty fucking pragmatic in his attitude toward his friends’ choices in that sense. I myself get pretty fed-up at times about my own friend’s use of drugs, especially certain ones. I’ve had plenty problems controlling my drinking in the past. I do believe I have a fairly good idea these days of when to dry out, but it can pull me into a real bad place. I start questioning what even matters anymore, and I start fighting everything that means the most to me. However, that’s where that community comes in again! I’m learning to seek out the right punks or no one at all when the time feels right, and I’ve been keeping up on it for a while now.
Bitty: Not at all. You don’t need to be like me in order for me to like you. The real moment that reinforced my decision was when I came home to a friend that lived with me and I found him in a pool of his own blood. He had tried to cut his hand off with a butcher knife while he was completely wasted and ended up with more stiches then an average shark attack. It really put a bad taste in my mouth about how substances can amplify bad decision-making skills. Although I am aware that most just use it to have a good time, truth be told, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t my thing. But as long as you’re not hurting me or others in any way shape or form it’s your deal not mine. This is just a suggestion, have fun and do what you need to do to deal with things or get by, but try not to destroy yourself in the process. You might end up missing out on some good things in life.
PE: WARTORN is a great band, so with that….does WARTORN have anything they’d like to say to the world, it’s listeners or the masses in general?
Toban: In the words of country music legend Kris Kristofferson “Don’t let the bastards get you down”. Ryan: Thanks for the interview.
Ela: Thanks for all the support. We can’t wait to hit the road and tear it up again in a couple months!
Derek: May the force be with you. But seriously, I can’t wait to hit the road and I hope to see everyone reading this there.
Hart: As always, start 4 bands tomorrow and eat your fiber!
Bitty: Thanks for the interview Andy and everyone that helped us out and we’ll see you on the road. If you’d like to help us out with booking or have any questions, feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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.