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 email@example.com.
“Do you remember the good old days before the Ghost Town?” – The Specials
It’s still storming. I woke to the wind howling and the rain falling steadily in the primeval forest. I decide not to push my luck of not being discovered by continuing to stay out here any longer, so I pack my camp quickly and push my bike up and over the hill back toward the campground. I try my hardest to hit a happy medium of “making little noise as possible” and still “looking like I’m supposed to be doing this”. On approaching the back end of my original campsite, I see the older guy in the neighboring plot setting up a fire. He glances at me and quickly turns away, leaving me to infer that he knew what I was up to and wanted to show he didn’t give a shit that I slept out in the woods (G-code). I mentally high five him as as I push my bike through the campground and walk it over to the central bathroom. Feeling confident I’m in the clear, I take my time brushing my teeth and cleaning up before the days ride. I considered showering, but not having a towel on this trip would mean I’d spend the entire day soaking wet from the beginning, and having a forecast for rain all day would also negate any personal hygiene stuff anyway. I scratch that idea and press on, backtracking the 2 miles to the fork I took to get out to this campground from the town of Charleston yesterday.
The fork I return to is a turnoff for a road called “Seven Devils”, which if you think the name sounds ominous you should see the rapid succession of drops and climbs in elevation over this scenic bypass. This is another questionable alternate route my map tells me about, and once again I debate the safety of a less travelled but more hilly road to the busier 101 that has potentially less climbs. I decide to stick with Seven Devils since I already rode out here. As I’m standing on the side of the road looking at my map, I glance up and see a fence at the end of a driveway across the street that has “NO CHRISTINAS!” spray painted in huge bright neon-pink across the front. Baffled and extremely curious about this, I bike across the street to take a photo when I look up and make eye contact with 3 very gruff looking individuals standing on the other side of the fence. They all give me a death stare as I raise my camera phone. Well, maybe it’s not worth taking a photo of, even though I’m tempted to assure these people that my name is in fact NOT Christina and that I’m cool. Moments later I pass a banner that advertises a business as now being open on “Whensdays”, displaying a spelling error that sickens me in a way that only the sound of nails on a chalkboard can do. What is it with this town? How can you pay $100 for a banner and somehow no one stops you to point out that mistake? Fuck this, I’m out.
Seven Devils road is the most irritating section of road I’ve ever had the misfortune of getting to know. I spend a half hour climbing a huge hill, only to be flying down the other side and abruptly climbing another hill of equal size moments later. What’s worse, it’s still storming out, with a debilitating headwind and a fog so thick that I can barely see past the first few rows of trees in the forest. If there is a beautiful view to be seen here it’s lost on me, and that only adds to the frustration. What seems like hours later I finally reach the end of Seven Devils, cursing it’s name and vowing revenge. You just made a new enemy, road.
I roll through the town of Bandon, passing a bike shop on my right while first entering town, and debate stopping to true my back wheel once again. As usual I decide it’s not worth it and press on, in search of tea and wifi. Eventually I land at a place called Brewed Awakenings and order a tea from the stoned-seeming surfer kid at the counter. The owner is also present but she is not very friendly, proving once again that the farther south you go on the Oregon Coast the less people give a shit about you and why you’re passing through. After I take my seat the “Hey, I’m not dead” – “Cool, thanks for letting me know” comes and goes once again; so I finish my tea and head on my way. A side route takes me along the coast in Bandon and I have the pleasure of once again seeing some breathtaking and utterly amazing rock formations. I’ve said this before, but it’s the only way I can describe is like something out of a science fiction movie because it’s difficult to comprehend how nature could create such a dramatic landscape. I then think of Star Trek and in a knee-jerk reaction I blurt out “NERDS!” as I’m taking in this view. My housemate and a few other friends love the tv series “Star Trek”, and I jokingly call them nerds only because I don’t understand the appeal of the show. I’m thankful no one is near by as I blurt this out either, as traveling alone for this many days has kind of numbed my self-awareness and my ability to gauge my social surroundings before I start talking to myself. Well, whatever. I have no one to impress really. P.S. Star Trek is for nerds!
I continue along the rim of the ocean on this side route, seeing a handful of the most luxurious abandoned houses I have ever laid eyes on. One of them was literally on the rim of the cliff with an ocean view, a big “NO TRESPASSING” sign taped to the front door. I make a mental note of it’s location, in case I ever care to open a yuppie-style squat in the near future. A few minutes later I’m back on the 101 and fighting against the headwind once again, giving me, again, the mental image of pedaling through thick mud. As I enter the countryside the light moisture in the air gives way to heavy rains that pound me so hard that I have difficulty seeing my surroundings. It’s unbelievable how hard it’s coming down, so I decide to pull over at a convenience store I spot about a mile up. As I get closer I see a sign advertising something called “Jo-Jos” and “homemade mustard”. Curious about both I pull into the parking lot and set my bike against the ice fridge out front. Upon entering the store I realize “Jo-Jos” are in actuality just potato wedges with a weird name. Excited at the prospect of eating warm vegan food (and only for 99 cents!) I buy a small tray of them and when asked if I want regular mustard or the homemade mustard I of course say “homemade, please”. As I’m enjoying them under an awning out front I get several friendly nods and hellos from the locals who are making their rounds. The potatoes are burnt to perfection and this house-made mustard is packed with sugar and has the consistency of playdough. So all you wealthy fools who brag about eating fresh made pasta at some lavish coastal resort near the Mediterranean, or eating fresh baguettes and drinking wine in some parisian cafe, just remember that I got something pretty rad going on too. I got fried potatoes to eat in the pouring rain in some small, random town in Southern Oregon, so you all can bite me.
A few miles up the road I come across what looks to be an abandoned elementary school. I give it a double take when I realize, and see that the playground is now buried under 6 ft tall weeds and the building itself is shut up with boards. Never missing an opportunity to explore abandoned places I bike over to check it out. The building itself looks empty, minus a sketchy looking mattress leaning precariously against one of the school windows. I snap a few photos and continue on down the road, only to find an abandoned highschool a little more than a mile away. This school had an epic whale mural painted on the outside, which somehow made the whole building look even spookier. The facilities were locked up tighter than the elementary school, and entering the grounds would require me to lock up my bike and scale the fence, a lot more effort than I was willing to exert. I another mental note of the location to return to later and continue on my way.
More wind, more rain, more struggling with massive hill climbs. Every day I consider my “hardest day” always seems to be outdone by the following one. I feel numb, both emotionally and physically, and I just trudge along up the highway because that’s what I’ve always done and what life has seemed to sentence me to always do. This my existence now, I just have to accept it. I take a few breaks at some beautiful rivers and streams along the way, so mentally and physically exhausted that I forget to even take photographs of the things I see. They’ll live in my memory forever, but unfortunately for you you’ll have to go see them for yourself, which maybe isn’t so bad.
I stagger into Port Orford in the late afternoon, my left knee starting to ache a bit. I’ve been fortunate enough to have good knee health for almost all of this trip, due in part to the glucosamine and MSM I routinely take every morning, but eventually the strain catches up with you. I did absolutely no “training” in preparation for this trip and the result is a typical one. I coast through town and stop at a pizza place, the only business that seems to be open at 5:30 pm on a friday evening, oddly enough. At the end of the road I can faintly make out huge letters painted in the road on a slight incline. The 8 foot letters spell out “VIEW OCEAN” with an arrow pointing South into a neighborhood. Instinctively I laugh and say out loud “OKAY.” in a robotic voice, again glad no one was near enough to hear me laughing and talking to myself. I enter the pizza place and once again order tea and routinely request the wifi password for the hundredth time in my life. One thing I love about small towns is you go to cafes that sell nearly every food you can imagine. This place has espresso, burritos, pizza, milkshakes and homemade beef jerky – something for everyone apparently. I ask the cashier how far Humbug Mountain is from here, and like most of the people I’ve met out in the country she relates the distance as how long it takes to drive there in a car. I have to mentally calculate how far a “10 minute drive” would be for me on my bike, and she’s shocked when I tell her I intend to ride out there. She says “it’s probably like, 10 miles or something!” and her distress is only eased when I tell her that I biked down from Portland and she replies “Oh, well, never mind then”. She then adds “it’s also really windy today though”. Well, duh.
As I leave the pizza place I’m tempted to explore this town more thoroughly despite running low on time. As I’m biking across it I see only 3 other people, and all the businesses are shuttered tight for the evening. So bizarre that a town shuts down at this hour on a weekend. I was hoping to find some of the town’s youth to get their perspective on growing up here, as they’re usually the most reliable and honest source of information about what their town is like, but this place is pretty much a ghost town. I eventually find a parking lot with a gorgeous view of “Battle Rock”, a formation just off the coast, and a little placard explaining the history of the town. Apparently, Port Orford is the oldest town on the Oregon Coast, first “discovered” by European colonists in 1851. Amazingly, the history on this placard is pretty honest about the fact that this “discovery” threatened to existence of the Tututni people who originally inhabited the area. The original colonists were attacked and driven out by the Que-to-mah tribe, who pushed them farther North. The colonists then returned later on with more people to “secure” the settlement. The only part of the placard that omitted what some may consider “key” information is that “securing the settlement” meant murdering and driving out the indigenous people in the area, contributing to the genocide of Native Americans already in progress across the continent. But you know, accurate historical accounts are overrated, right?
I continue on and notice that the shoreline is now beginning to get that distinct “Northern California” feel to it and I know then that I’m nearing the end of my trip. Eventually I roll into Humbug Mountain State Park and as usual a wave of relief and satisfaction washes over me. I bike the few miles down the side road, find the check in station (that thankfully allows you to pay with a credit card) and start filling out my camp information. As I’m filling out my card two guys pull up on bikes and I say hello and point in the general direction of the hiker/biker sites since it’s not listed on the map. I immediately like them as one of them points to the “BEER SUCKS XXX DRINK WATER” patch on my hat and says “right on man! I fully agree!”. We strike up a conversation and it turns out that they’re both from Portland, but they both have been living in San Diego for the past several years. They talk like typical so cal surfer guys and it makes me feel a bit homesick. There names are Tanner and Steven, and we walk back up to the hiker/biker area where I see folks who now feel like old friends. Tristan, the Australian guy who’s riding solo, is in the camp across from me, and tells me that he had a hell of a day with 2 flats and a broken bike pump that he had to replace back up in Bandon. A half hour later both Zach and Dan roll into camp as well and it’s good to see them once again also. I meet a Brazilian couple who’s been bike touring for a solid year all over the world, and I’m embarrassed to admit how short my trip is in comparison.
I set up my camp and decide that I needed a fire this evening. I bought a box of minute-rice a few days ago and I’m really, really sick of having to carry it around. It having rained constantly the past 3 days has restricted me from cooking, but I’m not going to let the light rain this evening stop me again. I start collecting the left-behind but very wet firewood across our respective camps, inviting anyone to warm by the fire later, and decide to buy one of the “starters” from the camp host for a dollar. They’re essentially little hockey pucks made out of cedar dust and wax, but they burn intensely hot for a long time and can light pretty much anything. I walk over there and realize I don’t have enough change, so I ask for some from a couple eating sandwiches in a regular camping area and they give me 50 cents. I thank them and head back to my camp after buying the starter, starving and eagerly wanting to eat and end this day. I get the fire going and break out my cookware. Tonight’s dinner is rice, chana masala and bombay potatoes out of my last 2 Tasty Bite packets that I brought along. Tristan comes over to toast a bagel and pretty soon both Steven and Tanner walk over to hang out at the fire as well. We all share stories from our trips and Steven and Tanner both have hilarious ones. They tell me about a day they were at a laundromat in Brookings, OR where a woman in a trenchcoat with a really intense gaze tried to convince both of them to come home with her. These kids are both probably in their early 20’s and were understandably freaked out by this encounter, which they laughed about when they confessed this part of the story. They also told us about a night they spent on the sand in Northern California, which they thought to be legally allowed. They picked a spot hidden between some cliffs on a secluded section of beach, and awoke the next morning to a coastguard helicopter hovering just 50 ft above their camp. Freaking out, they packed up their stuff and managed to run down the sand and off the beach with their bikes as the helicopter landed on the shore! We all howled with laughter at that, and both Tristan and I promised them both that we’d be careful and watch out for the woman in the trenchcoat when we got to Brookings.
The fire begins to die out, normally a signal that the party’s over. I say goodnight to everyone, adding to Steven and Tanner that I hoped to see them around Portland when I got back. I truly meant it, they were both super nice guys. I also said goodnight to Dan and Zach, who had a long night of drying their wet clothes by the fire ahead of them. They bought an entire cart of firewood to do so, and by the size of it it looked as if they were going to be up all night. I laid down in my tent, curled up in my sleeping bag and continued on with my Stephen King book. Even though it’s still raining, life is starting to feel ok again, and my mind drifts to my day in Brookings tomorrow. I originally was going to stop just south of Brookings for the night, rounding out a decent ride, but looking at the map it saddened me to think that I’d be that close to the California border and not continue on. I decided that I was going to go for it tomorrow and try and get to a state park just outside of Crescent City called Jedediah Smith, since that was also on highway 99 which I’ll be transferring to. This would make almost a 100 mile day, which would be my longest since the trip started, but I feel confident that I can make it happen. It will potentially be my last day riding, so even if my knee gives me trouble again I’ll be able to stay off it while I hitch back to Portland. Chances are also that this will be my last night with all the people I’ve come to know on this trip as well, since the state park I’ll be staying at is a few miles off the route that everyone else will be taking farther south. I’m sad, excited and enthusiastic all at once as I think about accomplishing the goal I set for myself tomorrow. Now I must sleep, as tomorrow will be the longest day yet and is filled with unknown pitfalls and challenges. Sleep well my friends, I’ll be seeing you soon.