Dave Olson pictured, right
Summary: Woke up to the news, quit my job, went to a candlelight vigil, passed one around, talked to some geeks from Pacific Daily News newspaper, learned about the Internet, signed up for class the next day, started making websites about hemp in Japan, got a new job, quit, went to Palau and Yap, went to Olympia, met some Internet hippies… somehow its today.
Where were you?
In 1994, back in Japan for the second time (after the mushroom farm incident), I made a go out of living the “back to land, hustling crafts and gigs along the way” lifestyle.
This meant selling flower sticks (more to come on this project eventually), hemp bags (ditto), imported Bob Marley T-shirts (so good!) and the like.
Made a little catalogue, got some media exposure, had friends ship vintage goods from Canada and USA and rambled around to various craft fairs, flea markets in the lake in a Mazda Bongo van.
For some of this time I lived in, Hamamura, Tottori and later worked way to Nagano where the van broke down and started a whole other part of this adventure.
Anyhow, in that stretch of time in almost-forgotten Tottori-prefecture, i lived in a small apartment with no bath so took bath at the natural hot spring “sento” public baths nightly, rambled mountains (around glorious Daisen) sometimes with a Shiba-inu dog named Tantan, played music (including a psychedelic jam sessions in a farm hut in a pear orchard), swam in the warm Sea of Japan, cook-outs on beach. There were some hardships in this time which won’t be discussed at this time.
Instead, a few slices of evidence (note: the photos were snapped with early generation “panorama” camera but developed/printed conventionally hence with the black letter box style):
Bonus: in scavenging artefacts from this summer, found this from brother Andrew who came to stay and worked making prefab log houses with a bunch of grown man while he was a young teen. He wrote this lovely memory of this glorious stretch of coast which, I hope to visit again soon, and a hazy snapshot which sums up the feeling of humid summers snorkelling and eating cold ramen so well.
“After work, we would go swimming until dusk and watch the squid boats out in the distance. Afterwards, we would go to this nice place for a bowl of fresh ramen and then go soak in the sento (public bath)”
Note: also have Seabus 1st day certificate, will update this archive upon finding
Note: there is a chance i wasn’t actually on these rides…
After arriving in Japan for the first time, i began exploring Japanese poetic forms – realizing that the didactic 5-7-5 structure *wasn’t the point* / Then combining with impressionist colours seen on a recent ramble in Europe, Read it a series combining, in a fashion, Japanese forms with European colours and “new-world” themes.
Then with brother Bob’s upcoming wedding, compiled a bunch of these creations into a little book and read (with translation) at his wedding (mostly to blank stares of bewilderment.
A few years later in Guam, did a proper layout and production run (maybe 50?) and mailed the chapbooks out around the world. Used hemp/cereal straw paper from China (ordered from Paul Stanford in Oregon) which was rough going through copy machines of the day –especially my complicated double-sided / zigzag layout with topstitch binding – of course sewn with hemp twine.
I don’t have one of the “finished ones” in my archive, but do have the original layout production master / will eventually dig out > in the meantime, here is the cover (not hemp paper) + Pay special attention to my proto-Creative-Commons non-copyright on the erstwhile colophon and the pseudonym (do you know the origins?)
While I have few delusions about my poetry chapbooks being “popular” this one especially seems to have disappeared into the wind with nary a sound (despite it being one of the projects of which i am most proud).
Note: a few of these poems were used/re-mixed in a collection from 2004 (assembled in Olympia) called “Hotspring and Stubbed Toe” which was distributed digitally and will be available shortly in this archive as part of #daveo50 series.
Somehow, somewhere between my first couple trips to Japan (frankly it’s a little bit foggy after a plan to go to Mexico and live on the beach didn’t materialize, hemp fests, Dead concerts, flower sticks & hemp bag selling), I was in Logan, Utah (where i had spruced-up my Volkswagen bus “the Earthship” only to abandon it) where my Mom rented a rambling old polygamist house in the shadow of the LDS temple which she rented as a boarding house for various students plus a few randoms living in the backyard in a sort of tent/van village.
Logan isn’t my favourite place (so many cops and rules!) but, here I was and as such, I put together a party to reunite with old friends, share stories, collect lent items, play some music and hit up hot springs.
I designed this “aerogramme-inspired” invitation (meaning the paper was both an envelope and a letter), including various snippets of haiku art, doodles, maps and intentions, and floated them out into the world. The party was called “Far Far West” in homage to a Gary Snyder poem about going to Japan and my westward facing, Pacific centric geographic mindset.
Wasn’t sure what to make of it all as addresses were stale, friends were transient, memory scare, but, as it goes, worked out just wonderful as dozens of people came throughout a few days with folks camping out in the backyard to the chagrin of the neighbours who tried to poison the dogs (seriously!) as well as called the police who stealthed into our backyard campfire while we were singing along to Larry’s autoharp and Marty Kendall’s ceramic drums and, surprisingly, the police were rather chill about everything / they asked us to play a song, we did, they told us to have a good night, they left, we laughed and we sparked up another one and kept on going.
As it goes, there was a *loaves and fishes* vibes as my wonderful Mother put on big pots of curry and different stews with ingredients folks brought along, and we kept pots of coffee and exotic teas going in a truly freeform fun for all couple of days.
I recall the 2nd day included a trip out to a derelict hot spring on the side of a forgotten highway which had sort of been roughed in by a dangerous assortment of bricks. Nevertheless, we soaked, we played banjo music… and I have a photo of me and Sensei Larry to prove it (somewhere in the boxes there might be a few more snapshots).
I will say that I was surprised to see this invitation – both the original layout as well as a production copy printed on 50% post consumer recycled “redrock” paper and dutifully printed with some copywriting that somehow makes me smile still. (Note: included the layout and production versions for posterity and archiving).
Note: poetry snippets from “January in Hot Springs” series
There was a time I went to Amsterdam with one way ticket arriving with $220 in a variety of currencies and travellers checks plus an emergency (entirely useless) $100 Canadian bill tucked into my boot, a backpack with an inadequate sleeping bag, butane camp stove (somehow allowed on the plane), a cooking wok (surprisingly versatile), comically coloured outdoor gear purchased at various close-out sales and 2nd hand shops, and other sundry items, but deliberately did not take anything of value including a camera – instead took a sketchbook which is filled with poetry, doodles and other whatnots, and a watercolour pad in which I produced several paintings.
As you might expect, I got up to many adventures by sticking out my thumb and ending up coffee shops, barns filled with drying ganja, a Gwar concert, being a “roadie” who didn’t do anything whatsoever of usefulness for the Bad Yodeller’s ill-fated tour, got deathly ill at Oktoberfest in Munich and related ridiculous campground.
Then down to last few Deutsch Marks (noting pre-Euro), ended up meeting old pal Trevor in Rheinpfalz area where we embarked on fun nights in dungeons, bars and ruins, wandering forest with a giant dog called Bongo gathering chestnuts to sell in the endlessly adorable village of Rhod unter Rietburg and picking grapes – noting we were on different work crews and I fortunately got on the slacker team which included frequent breaks for wine and smokes and abundant cheese and bread and wine at the end of the day – including a couple of bottles to take back to stay warm in the tent/hayloft.
Then, after sleeping in haylofts and tents, partying at new wine festivals #secrets, a visit to hospital for a pal who couldn’t fly over ramparts and a ride with 7 crammed into a Citroen 2CV, we received our pay packets (after some trepidation thinking that any day we would be shook down by black-gloved immigration officials for illegal labor) came a hitchhike back to Amsterdam for usual unusualness, then a bus to Belgian for a ferry to England then a stretch in London which was cold wet and miserable, expensive and prone to bad decisions then via an dodgy credit card, somehow ended up in Miami in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. Following was even more ridiculous adventure of a drive-away car to Dallas, and rather shockingly we survived but, I digress…
All this is to tell you that: I have two photos and one wine label from Germany and one photo from London taken by a lovely Canadian girl we knew from “home”.
There are several wonderful watercolours you can find elsewhere in this archive, as well as a “static montage” collage of ephemera Trevor created for me.
Additional riff, some same as above, posted here anyhow:
Before I went on my first trip to Europe, I only looked at a 1972 version of “hitchhikers guide to Europe“ so everything would seem new and interesting and I could figure it out by myself. This was 1992 and I lamented I wasn’t there 20 years before. I’m no mathematician but a lot of time has passed since that first trip which was pre-Internet, pre-Eurozone, pre-ATM, pre-cell phone etc. etc. yet it all just sort of “worked“.
Worth noting that because I was a broke free-loading hippie rambler, I stayed away from the big cities aside from Oktoberfest in Munich and a couple stops in to Amsterdam (of course) as the countryside was much easier to meet friends, find a place to stay, have a good time with a few deutsche marks.
As it went, ended up in London which was gray, miserable and expensive but, due to a hurricane in Miami, was able to use a dodgy credit card to get a $70 flight to Miami which seems like a good idea at the time but turns out it was not. That’s a whole other story though.
My unsolicited advice: go to the third most famous place, possibly the fifth, make it awesome and weird. Make poems & paintings about it.
While I’m rambling, the most memorable segment of that whole trip (which included being a roadie for the Bad Yodelers, seeing a Gwar concert, the aforementioned Oktoberfest, all nighters in Amsterdam, sneaking onto a US military base, eating all the contraband en route to Belgium…) was time spent in a village called Rhodt unter Reisburg, living in a tent and later a hayloft, making friends with locals and working in the great fields and going home with a couple bottles of wine and a loaf of day-old bread at the end of it all. This was also the infamous “Chestnut gathering“ era #SideHustleOfASideHustle
Received while busking with Chris Sullivan, downtown Salt Lake City, Utah > folded and dropped into guitar case with no comment /
Note: A-Ha is/was a popular Norwegian band with a huge hit “Take on Me” which still circulates widely #royalties