Bob Paquin on Mon, 18 Jan 1999 21:11:47 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Christmas Trees: Fire Walk With Me


Here`s a lovely response to the recent Christmas Tree beach burning
post, which I forwarded to my friend Dean Visser, an American residing
in Singapore:

I love the story about the Christmas Tree Fire. It does actually remind me of
something my friends and I did. We were driving down the coast to California,
Los Angeles and Mexico, three friends and I, when I was 17.  We had U.S.
$200.00 -- that hardly covers gas -- driving a 1972 Dodge Dart packed with a
lot of gear -- we were sleeping in the car -- two of us -- and the other two
were sleeping in a tent. We were eating Top Ramen cooked on a gas stove and
camping in places where you don't have to pay to camp. We had bought Top Ramen
that had passed the expire date and got a discount besides that because one of
my friends worked in the store where we bought it.  It was quite a trip. On the
second night we had crossed the border into California and were camping on the
beach at Crescent City. It's a vast and massive beach with dangerous, crashing
surf and one of the world's most Tsunami-prone places. It was Summertime but
cold and raining -- really foggy one second and wind lashing off the sea the
next. There were a lot of motor homes and campers parked on the beach -- all
senior citizens. It was geriatric beach. It was a hell of a time finding
driftwood there because it was a free campsite and a lot of campers had scoured
it. It was also wet and howling with wind. By the time we got a fire going it
was dark and thick fog rolled in. We could see the lights from inside the
campers and motor homes -- they had generators -- and we could hear merry music
playing in them and cheery voices. We were out there in the fog freezing our
asses off and wondering how high the tide was going to get and where the sea
was. We couldn't see it but we could hear it. Deafening loud. We had some road
flares in the car which had gotten wet and were old -- we decided to throw them
on the fire and see if we could get a more warm and less bleak fire going. The
driftwood was sopping and we thought the flares might help it catch. There were
about twelve flares in the bundle. They are those red, waxy sticks. You light
one end and it burns like hell for about half an hour. They're for putting on
the road if you have an accident.  Naturally, we threw all of them on at the
same time. Those flares caught fire really quickly and not only lit us up and
our campsite, but the motor homes, the beach and the sky. It was spectacular.
We could see the ocean bathed in the red glow, but not the fire, because it was
too bright to look at. The old folks were coming out of their mobile homes in
panic, some of them in bathrobes. Thought it was the second coming I suppose.
Police came right away. The fire lit up a layer of fog in the sky in bright red
and when people walked near it the light cast demonic shadows on the fog. Giant
human shapes. The police were going to put it out but they took a lot of time
sorting out what to do and the fire had gone out or at least the flares.

We told them the truth -- that we wanted to light the fire with the flares to
get the driftwood going because it was wet. The cops called us idiots and went
back to their homes. I wanted to share that with you.

Bob Paquin
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