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″!
“This is why events unnerve me / they find it all, a different story / notice whom for wheels are turning / turn again and turn towards this time” – New Order
I awake to the sound of songbirds and running water from the creek just a few feet from my head. It’s probably about 8 am or so, and I rise feeling calm and rested as the sun just barely peeks out from behind the trees. There’s not much to do or see in this part of Tillamook State Forest, so I end up making my morning brief by eating a couple protein bars, pack my things up in about 15 minutes time and head on my way.
It’s about a mile walk uphill on this unpaved road before I get back to the main highway, and it is a constant struggle to push my bike up this steep hill with loose gravel under my feet. Last night I was too tired to care about hitting rocks and potholes in the road on my way down, so I stayed on my bike and coasted down; but now on my way back up I’m amazed I didn’t pop a tire or break a spoke in doing so. I need to be more careful about things like that, I’m not used to biking with this much weight and I could ruin my wheels even before I get to the coast; this thing has got to really last me.
I make it up to the highway in about 15 minutes with my arms already worn out and little rocks in the bottom of my shoes, a perfect recipe to drive you completely insane. I stop for a moment to clean out my shoes and socks in the cool morning air, mount my bike and then continue on toward the summit. According to the map I’m just a few miles from the peak, but none of that seems to matter in this moment as I’m met with an immediate and extremely steep grade right out of the gate of the state park. It’s not even 9 am and here I am sweating profusely and greedily gasping for air due to the elevation change. Thankfully traffic is lighter this morning, and it certainly makes the difference on some sections of the hill where there’s no shoulder, or the shoulder is obstructed by debris, or in some cases where the shoulder disappears and drops 100 feet down the side of a cliff. Definitely not nerve-wracking at all… not even a little bit.
After much swearing, pleading and sweating the ground levels out and I approach the summit. I know this because the summit is clearly marked with the elevation by a very official looking sign; something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Though it could be just something I’ve just never noticed because riding in a car doesn’t necessarily prompt you to look for things like that. Even though this is only day 2 and I’ve hardly made any progress on the trip as a whole, this still feels like a considerable victory and I feel triumphant as I pass the elevation sign. This is the highest elevation I’ll need to climb on the entire trip, and it tops out at a massive 1,586 feet. The air up here is so thin that even now that I’m resting for a moment I still feel on the verge of passing out. I stop for an extensive photo op at the sign and then continue on my way down the other side of the mountain.
All of a sudden I’m thrust from making slow and labored progress up the side of this mountain to flying down the other side. Never have I climbed a hill that had such a dramatic and abrupt transition as this one. I’m flying past rest stops, parked cars, over bridges with no emergency lane and even taking the car lane for myself on occasions when the shoulder didn’t provide enough room. I’m nearly matching the speeds of cars on the road and it’s both an exhilarating and terrifying sensation. I don’t pedal for at least an hour, and I’m riding the brakes most of the way down to try and keep my speed at a manageable level. Another promise I made to friends before I left was to watch my speed coming down the capes and mountains here, haha. I consider myself a bit of a thrill seeker so I’m tempted to see how fast I can get this thing down the side of this mountain, but I know I’ll disappoint a couple people back home if I go flying off a cliff at 50 miles an hour. The compromises we make for our friends, am I right?
Eventually I make a stop at a place called “Lee’s camp store” which was marked on one of my maps as being the only convenience store in the state park. This stop is coming not a minute too soon as my water jug is nearly empty and I needed to pick up a couple of small things that I forgot to grab before I left Portland. I get a gallon of water from “Lee”, the proprietor, who is actually not Lee at all. I think his name is Gary or something; I overheard him talking to a regular customer at one point. I also grab a lighter for future campfires (one of the few uses straightedge kids actually have for them) and an impulse buy of a tiny packet of Emergen-C just to ensure that the cold air last night won’t give me a cough. The instructions encourage you to mix these Emergen-C packets in water, but doing it that way tastes horrible, so I usually just eat them dry and let the sand-like granules dissolve in my mouth and foam up like I have rabies. Usually Icrack a goofy smile at someone while doing so as well. It is both childish and delicious, these things of course not being mutually exclusive. I recommend giving it a try.
I get a lot of odd looks from the locals as I’m taking a rest on the bench out front, and I assume it’s not just because I have a mouthful of foam. It’s probably a combination of the foam, my smell, my ancient and overloaded bike and the Conflict “Ungovernable Force” sleeveless shirt I’m wearing that has a photo of riot cops getting their asses’ kicked. They probably don’t get a lot of people biking down this highway and climbing that mountain too often either, which is understandable because climbing that thing was total bullshit.
After my brief rest I continue on my way down the mountain, quickly passing the 2 other state campsites on that touch Highway 6 and eventually the grade starts to level out. I can tell I’m getting close to the coast because I can smell the salty air and feel a slight ocean breeze blowing through this valley. I grew up a 10 minute walk from the ocean in Southern California, and whenever I come out to the coast it always feels like I’m heading home. Unfortunately this also means that the headwind starts to increase in strength, but I don’t mind as the breeze is refreshing and cooling me off after a long day in the sun. I eventually get spit out of the valley after following a beautiful and roaring river for miles, with houses on the other side that are only accessible by bridge, and bottom out in some farmland on the outskirts of Tillamook. The wind is now roaring against me, and fighting it is like pedaling through mud. This wind immediately goes from refreshing to irritating over the course of an hour, and what’s worse is that a bump I hit on my way down the mountain knocked my back wheel out of true, giving it a slight wobble. It’s not bad enough to effect the brakes or how the bike handles, but just seeing the wobble bothers me enough to where I obsessively look back at it to see if it’s getting worse every few miles.
Man, it stinks out here too. I mean, it really, REALLY stinks out here, and the refreshing sea air can’t mask it in the slightest. There are dairy farms on either side of this stretch of highway for miles, which gives Tillamook it’s reputation for being such a foul smelling town. The TIllamook cheese factory is out here as well, which I’m sure you’ve heard of or seen their products in stores, and from billboards I pass I learn they offer tours across their production line. I’m sure though that they don’t offer to take you out to the barns where female cows are forcefully impregnated, kept in small enclosures and eventually have their babies ripped away from them as they scream and struggle to protect their young. I’m sure they also don’t tell you that if the cow is born female that they’re sent off to be impregnated as well and live out the same fate as their mothers. Lastly, they CERTAINLY wouldn’t tell you that if the calf is born male they’re sold off to a veal farm or raised as veal right there on the same grounds. It’s truly a despicable industry, but I digress. All I’ll say is the best way to put an end to violence such as this is to go vegan and leave the cheese out of your diet completely. Otherwise you end up with smelly towns, sad mother cows, tortured calves and rich, asshole ranchers. It’s a losing combination, I assure you.
I was in the fight of my life against this headwind, but eventually I power through it and arrive in downtown Tillamook. This town is a lot busier than I expected it to be, but I realize when I arrive in the city center that it serves as a junction for a few major roads, and also is a necessary fly over if you’re going anywhere up or down the coast. Highway 6 deadends at the 101, which will be my Highway for the rest of the trip. I’m thankful for that, as the 101 is one of the most beautiful and scenic highways in the world, in my humble opinion. I coast through downtown for a bit looking at the various tourist shops, but I’m mostly interested in finding a cafe with wifi, tea and a bathroom; the three basic needs I have when stopping in town. I also promised a couple folks that since I don’t have a phone on this trip that I’ll check in with them via email at least once every two days, even if it’s just to say “hey, I’m not dead”. This is actually a responsibility that comes up quite often in my life, if you can believe it.
I spot a Safeway at the edge of town, and across the street from it I see a small cafe with a big “WE HAVE WIFI” sign hanging out front. Business owners – be sure to advertise this fact; you will at the very least be receiving my patronage when I’m traveling. I lock up my bike and decide to visit the cafe first, and while entering I realize that it’s just a single diners table and a few booths in what looks like the hallway of an indoor mall. Kind of an odd set up, but not too surprising as these small towns usually have multiple businesses that share one big room like this. I sit in a booth and order a cup of tea and the only vegan and gluten free thing on the menu – the tomato soup. At first I was a little bummed to only see one thing on the menu I could eat, but the tomato soup turns out to be amazing, and I regret not ordering a bigger portion as soon as I’m done. I check my email and write to concerned parties as to my whereabouts (i.e. I’m still not dead) and try to cool down from the difficult ride I just finished before I get up to leave. I tip the server generously, as she’s the only one working and was extremely helpful with finding me vegan stuff on the menu. Also, as a general rule you should just tip service workers. That’s how they make a living. Seriously. Give them money.
I leave my bike locked up out in front of the cafe and cross the street to make a stop at the Safeway for supplies. While crossing the parking lot I see a red-faced cyclist with two touring bikes parked next to him. I get the impression he’s taking 5 while his touring buddy is inside getting snacks. I give him a wave and he waves back as I drag my heavy bags through the entrance of the store.
With my business concluded at Safeway I return to my bike and follow my map to the state park I’ll be sleeping at tonight, a place just South West of here called Cape Lookout. “Cape” on the Oregon Coast is just a fancy word for “huge hill next to the ocean that you have to climb on your bike”, and that’s exactly what lay in store from me as soon as I leave town. Having already had a pretty strenuous day due to the headwind, this was a challenge for my leg muscles. There are a lot of little side routes posted on my map that are deemed safer and more scenic for cyclists than some sections of the 101, but in this moment I start to doubt the decision to take this route and the added few miles it requires. My cares drift away though as they usually do when I start descending the other side of the cape, and after I leave the more populated areas of Tillamook behind I enter the state park, where the view of the ocean is breathtaking. I mean, it is so unbelievably beautiful out here that I can hardly describe it, so I might as well spare you in hopes that you’ll travel out here on your own to experience it for yourself. It’s late in the day, so the sun is starting to drift closer to the ocean, soon to be entering what us photographers like to call “the magic hour”. In this hour, with the wind blowing past me as I’m descending the cape, I have a view of the most dramatic landscape my eyes have ever had the privilege to be laid upon. My only regret in this moment is not making enough room for my SLR camera so I could take photos.
As I’m enjoying myself and bombing the cape down the other side, I slowly start to feel the wind sweep underneath the brim of my hat and begin lifting it off my head. Before I can get a hold of it, it goes flying off me and sails through the air as my hand comes down on the top of my hatless head. FUCK!!! I gently apply the brakes and dip to the left to make a u-turn and start the climb back to where my hat lay in the road. Upon arrival, and as I’m trying to set my bike on the kickstand in just a way so it won’t tip over, I see an SUV climbing up and over the hill and approach my hat at a considerable speed. I decide it’s all or nothing at this point, so I ditch my bike and bolt out into the road, grab my hat, and frantically run back to the other side again to dodge the car without looking back, thinking looking over my shoulder would only slow me down. I realize how foolish this act was as I look up and see that the guy had slowed and then completely stopped on the side of the road to allow me to grab it. I then remember hm, sometimes people stop for you when you run out into the middle of the road, since (and I don’t know why) I just assumed this person would run over my hat for whatever reason. The guy then pulls up alongside me and rolls down his window, just as I notice a “Bike Portland” decal stuck to the side of the car. I’m not sure what that company is exactly, but I agree with the sentiment. YEAH! BIKE PORTLAND! He asks if I’m from Portland as well and I respond that I am. He takes a glance at my bike and says “interesting set up!”, which is both a nice way of saying “what were you thinking when you made that thing?” and also what I imagine to be a common phrase I’ll be hearing on this trip from this moment on. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a fancy bike setup, and I hope that people realize that as I’m kicking their ass climbing these capes with a beat up old Schwinn while they’re on their $1,000 bikes.He seems nice enough though, and I’m sure he didn’t mean any offense, so I remain polite. We have a pleasant exchange, aside from the awkward pauses between topics of conversation where we either just kinda stare at each other or a car squeezes past us, irritated that we’re in the road. He’s apparently taking a group from PDX on a bike tour down certain sections of the coast. He drops them off and they bike down the 101 and then meet up with him again at the campsites. Seriously? People pay for the privilege of doing that? Do they not know how easy it is to get a map and do it yourself? I finally end the conversation as I’m eager to get to the campground and wish him a good day and a “maybe I’ll see you at the hiker-biker sites!”, which is another exchange that I think will become very prevalent on this trip.
I roll into Cape Lookout with a fair amount of daylight left, and I seem to be the only one here so far. The hiker-biker sites are cheap here as usual, $6 as opposed to the expected $5, but I can’t complain as the campground is really well maintained and the biker sites are far away from the the inane conversations and horrible country music being blasted over in the RV area. There are also free showers here, which are the two sweetest words one can hear after biking all day in the hot sun. Soon after I get my camp set up, I’m joined by two other guys claim the spot directly across from mine. I recognize one of the guys as the fellow I said hello to at the Safeway back in town. They seem like nice dudes, so when I head out to take a shower I ask if they can keep an eye on my stuff for me, since the showers are a 5 – 10 minute walk from this section of the campground. They give me the thumbs up and once I reach the bathrooms I have the most exhilarating and refreshing shower of my life. The water is only one temperature, which is luke-warm, but I feel like the luckiest guy in the world in this moment.
After I return to the campsite, I scrounge up the wood left behind in my fire pit and build a decent sized fire to cook my dinner. After I heat up my Masala and a small box of quinoa pasta I got in town, I wash out my bike shorts at the water tap and hang them on a stick over the flames to dry them out. I sit and enjoy my food while keeping an eye on my shorts to make sure they don’t fall off the flimsy and stick and into the fire. After I’m done eating I head next door to chat with the two guys across from me, feeling like it’s important to familiarize myself with other folks I’ll be sharing spaces with. Their names are Zach and Dan and they’re both from Seattle, and it turns out Zach is vegan as well and knows some folks that I’m familiar with from California. They’re both friendly guys, but as I fear more and more that I’m encroaching on someone’s personal space and their private vacation I head out and take a walk around the grounds to see the sites. There are some pretty awesome sand dunes on the other end of the park according to this map I got at the front desk, so I hop on my bike to ride to the other side of the park and check them out. After riding with so much weight on the front, riding my bike like this feels awkward and my arms uncontrollably shake from side to side. It’s the strangest feeling, almost as if my arms are flailing about as if independent from my body. Thankfully I don’t crash and I make my rounds before returning to my tent. My tent itself is actually only about 10 steps from the beach, I realize I forgot to mention. On my return to my site I notice a few new groups of cyclists in the campground; 3 people, who I find out are Canadian, taking the spot off to my left and a group of 3 women set up just behind me. I can hear the waves crashing from my tent site and it’s a familiar and well appreciated feeling, so I grab the Townshend’s Kombucha (my favorite brand of botch) I bought at Safeway and decide to drink it on the hill overlooking the ocean just down the path from me. As I’m enjoying my beverage and watching the sun sink below the horizon I think that I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world right now; this is where I want to be today, and any care I have in the world has instantly dissolved, if only temporarily.
Pretty soon the quiet is broken by shuffling behind me, and I see Dan and Zach hopping a fence I’m sitting near with a frisbee in hand. They tell me they’re going to go toss it around on the beach and invite me to come with, I agree and tag along down to the shore. We have a fun and rambunctious game of catch with the frisbee, which Zach tells me he bought at the thrift store back in town for a quarter. We all joke about how when we see other people tossing a frisbee around we typically make fun of them, but like most things you don’t realize how awesome it is until you start playing. We’re zipping it over our heads, catching and throwing from between our legs, making dramatic running catches, and daring each other to really go for it and dive hard into the sand. We all keep reminding each other repeatedly that whoever chucks it into the ocean has to swim and get it, and we have a few close calls and some wet shoes when the disc lands in the shallows and starts getting dragged out to see with the tide. We all also get thoroughly covered in sand by the time it gets dark, even though none of us dove headfirst for a catch, but we decide to call it as the sun drifts further toward the horizon. Afterward I return to my perch on the hill to watch the waves, and Dan (who tells me he’s an Arborist by profession) climbs a very dry and extremely tall tree a few feet behind me to get what he claims will be ultimately a better view. He gets probably 40 ft up in the tree, and he’s even so far up that it’s impossible for me to photograph him with my little ipod camera in this rapidly dimming light. He shouts down that to his dismay the tree branches are blocking what he expected to be an amazing view. We both sit in silence for quite a while, and as he begins to climb down I spot a couple walking down the beach far off in the distance. They’re walking just along the edge of where the water touches, when they both stop for a moment and face the ocean. I assumed at first that they were just taking in this glorious view we were having. But oops, no. Wait. No, he just dropped his shorts and is peeing on the sand. He’s pulling the “I’m just looking at something” move while he pees with one hand on top of his head and the other clutching a beer can. Meanwhile, the woman just stares off in a random direction until he finishes, not convincing anyone that nothing weird is going on because she’s not even looking at the ocean. He then zips up his fly and struggles to pull his shorts back on properly with one hand, not wanting to let go of his brewski even for a second. What a precious moment.
After they leave I decide I’ve had my fill of both beautiful sunsets and people urinating on public beaches for the day, so I head back to my tent and start getting ready for bed. Zach and Dan are still up so I chat with them for a while, but as yawns start to spread around the circle we eventually call it a day and wish each other goodnight. Last thing I tell them I say before heading off to my tent is that if we’re leaving at the same time in the morning and they wanted to roll down to Lincoln City together that it could be a lot of fun. Even though I’m doing this trip solo it’s always nice to meet cool folks, and there will be plenty of opportunities to have time to myself when I need it. Plus, they told me they have a pretty rad stereo they blast music from as they ride.
I finally climb into my tent, change into the basketball shorts I like to sleep in and unpack my sleeping bag from my pannier. Another night of being pleasantly and thoroughly exhausted, so I’m thinking I won’t have any trouble falling asleep. The sound of the waves and the salty air are a soothing presence as they drift through the mosquito net of my tent, and it’s a gentle end to a difficult but fulfilling day. Goodnight world, I hope you’re all as happy as I am in this moment.