Posts Tagged ‘Puget Sound’

William Blake Month: Prophecy concluded, or, this is the way the world ends

July 1, 2010

William Blake Month ends today (unless I change my mind), and I’d promised that America: A Prophecy would be continued, so here are excerpts from the rising action and “Finis.”


The terror like a comet,
or more like the planet red
That once inclos’d the terrible wandering
comets in its sphere.
Then Mars thou wast our center,
& the planets three flew round
Thy crimson disk; so e’er the Sun
was rent from thy red sphere;
The Spectre glowd his horrid length
staining the temple long
With beams of blood; &
thus a voice came forth, and shook the temple


That stony law I stamp to dust:
and scatter religion abroad
To the four winds as a torn book,
& none shall gather the leaves;
But they shall rot on desert sands,
& consume in bottomless deeps;
To make the deserts blossom,
& the deeps shrink to their fountains,
And to renew the fiery joy,
and burst the stony roof.


That pale religious lechery,
seeking Virginity,
May find it in a harlot,
and in coarse-clad honesty
The undefil’d tho’ ravish’d
in her cradle night and morn:
For every thing that lives is holy,
life delights in life;
Because the soul of sweet delight
can never be defil’d.
Fires inwrap the earthly globe,
yet man is not consumd;


“Laura” by Ryan McGinley, 2010.

Sound! sound! my loud war-trumpets
& alarm my Thirteen Angels!
Loud howls the eternal Wolf!
the eternal Lion lashes his tail!
America is darkned;
and my punishing Demons terrified
Crouch howling before their caverns
deep like skins dry’d in the wind.

They cannot smite the wheat,
nor quench the fatness of the earth.
They cannot smite with sorrows,
nor subdue the plow and spade.
They cannot wall the city,
nor moat round the castle of princes.
They cannot bring the stubbed oak
to overgrow the hills.


“Wrath” by culcha on the d.a.

Who commanded this?
what God? what Angel!
To keep the gen’rous from experience
till the ungenerous
Are unrestraind performers
of the energies of nature;
Till pity is become a trade,
and generosity a science,
That men get rich by,
& the sandy desert is giv’n to the strong

What God is he, writes laws of peace,
& clothes him in a tempest
What pitying Angel lusts for tears,
and fans himself with sighs
What crawling villain preaches abstinence
& wraps himself
In fat of lambs? no more I follow,
no more obedience pay.


“Blood falls” by Ryan McGinley.

And the flame folded roaring fierce
within the pitchy night
Before the Demon red,
who burnt towards America,
In black smoke thunders
& loud winds rejoicing in its terror
Breaking in smoky wreaths from the wild deep,
& gath’ring thick
In flames as of a furnace
on the land from North to South


I think this is the Tacoma Narrows.*

His plagues obedient to his voice
flew forth out of their clouds
Falling upon America,
as a storm to cut them off
Dark is the heaven above, & cold
& hard the earth beneath;
And as a plague wind fill’d with insects
cuts off man & beast;
And as a sea o’erwhelms a land
in the day of an earthquake;


“Extranas formas aerodinamica” by profundorosso on the flickr.

Fury! rage! madness! in a wind
swept through America
And the red flames of Orc
that folded roaring fierce around
The angry shores,
and the fierce rushing of th’inhabitants together:

The citizens of New-York
close their books & lock their chests;
The mariners of Boston
drop their anchors and unlade;
The scribe of Pensylvania
casts his pen upon the earth;
The builder of Virginia
throws his hammer down in fear.


Then had America been lost,
o’erwhelm’d by the Atlantic,
And Earth had lost another portion
of the infinite,
But all rush together in the night
in wrath and raging fire
The red fires rag’d! the plagues recoil’d!
then rolld they back with fury.

(William Blake, excerpts from America: A Prophecy.)

*Along with the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was still a gruesomely hot topic in the overheard adult conversations of my early childhood in the Sound. I didn’t fully understand what happened in either case but my morbid imagination obsessed over the half-described tragic events and I was terrified of taking the car over the spans from island to island. I used to fold my little hands over my eyes as I sat on the couch in our trailer waiting for my dad to come home and pray he would take his car up on the ferry instead of driving over the bridge, and any loud noises from trucks going over the shabbily paved nearby highway were certainly the rumblings of another volcanic eruption which would bury us all in ash. I guess what I’m saying is I’ve always had an acute overawareness and fear of cataclysmic death. I have no idea why.

Valentine Vixen — Cherie Witter, Miss February 1985

February 24, 2010

The lovely and talented Cherie Witter was a seasoned model by the time she posed for Playboy as Miss February 1985, and I’m happy to report she was born in the same neck of the deep dark crick gypsy needleleaf rainforest as myself!


Photographed by Richard Fegley and Arny Freytag.

Modeling takes, as Cherie would say, “a major amount” of dedication. Especially in an area that’s somewhat off the beaten track for the fashion industry. The towns where Cherie grew up — Marysville, Everett, Edmonds, Bellevue — appear only on fairly detailed maps of the hilly farm and forest land, lakes and seashores surrounding Seattle. (“Cherie On Top,” Playboy, February 1985.)


Although it’s a picturesque area, it hasn’t been a center of fashion since the boom days of the Klondike gold rush. Of course, few people today wear miners’ boots. And with the gold all but played out, people in Seattle have been forced to build ships and planes, catch fish and harvest timber. (Ibid.)

Erm, that’s a fairly inaccurate depiction of the history of the Pacific Northwest (did they seriously leave out Lewis and Clark? and how on earth was any part of the Klondike Gold Rush to do with fashion? it was dudes in flannel and gumboots, my friend, and whores in eight layers of clothes against the cold — read Call of the Wild, dumbasses), but I’ll take it.

The rest of my family being born where our deep roots lay, in Northeastern Washington and the very far north woods of Idaho, makes me very smug and proprietary about the Puget Sound — I believe only my cousin Richie shares the coast of Washington as our birthplace, among the, like seventy of us cousins and our kids. Rich was born in Marysville and I was born in Bremerton.

I found a very dicey and suspicious fan tribute page to Ms. Witter on the myspace which looked too scammy for me to link to, but I found her legit facebook and will share only that she now lives in a really gorgeous town further up the Puget Sound called Mukilteo. I’ve been through it only once in my grown-up memory, but it’s beautiful country — a lot of the landscape cinematography and ferry scene stuff for the American film version of The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2003) was shot around the area.

Knowing the proximity of Mukilteo to Bremerton, up in that there ol’ Sound, I decided to test Google’s ability to use the ferry system in its directions. The Sound consists of dozens and dozens of peninsulas and islands connected by a spotty system of bridges which span the “narrows” —our colloquial term for straits of water slim enough across so you can see one another’s buildings but deep and riptidey enough that if you drove you’d sink and if you swum you’d drown— but it’s often quicker to shoot around on the reasonably efficient ferry transit system.

Also, you can see orca whales. I’m not kidding. It’s amazing. They come right around either side of the boat in good-sized pods and circle and flip and do all kinds of shit. They are kind of show-offs. They scared the heck out of me when I was a kid because of their teeth, though.

So I typed in a query for directions from Mukilteo to Bremerton in Google and … FAIL. Google maps and driving directions, on the first shot out of the gate, told me to drive a crazy-stupid-lengthy route around I-5S to 16-W, the lonnnng way, from Mukilteo to Bremerton. This is extra stupid, because anyone who lives in the area will tell you Mukilteo is a pretty popular transport hub for the ferries.


If Ms. Witter weren’t so beautiful, this would hecka just look like one of those cheap Glamourshots from the mall, yes?

But I will give the site credit for eventually recommending the way I would’ve instinctively gone, which is to drive down to Lynnwood and Edmonds, take the Kingston-Edmonds ferry, get to the Kitsap Peninsula, then drive 104 to 3 into Bremerton. Duh. (Sarcasm.) Look, I don’t get to be “smarter” than google very often, so give me my moment! Speaking of smart, Ms. Witter had this to say about people’s perceptions of her intelligence based on her looks, an important lesson in not judging, no matter whether the subject of your judgment is, in your estimation “a dork,” or a beautiful idiot:


Oh my saltines, so dang adorable.

“I feel as if, at times in my life, I’ve been fighting what I have on the outside. I feel that, when people meet me, I don’t really have a chance to let them know what I’m about, or to prove that I’m worth knowning. And I don’t like having to prove that to people.

“But a lot of people who meet me are surprised. And they tell me they’re surprised; that’s what’s funny about it — they’re honest. They say, ‘I’m surprised, really surprised that you have not only your looks but you have something upstairs too.’ I like that.” (Ibid.)


What? She has a slicker on. Get off her back. Totally de rigeur apple picking attire. Perfectly normal.

In one of those great little coincidences that somehow abound in the small world of Playboy (the more you investigate the playmates, the more fun connections pop up), here’s a brief cross-pollenation note about the cover of Ms. Witter’s centerfold issue:


Also, please note the interview with then-29-year-old Steve Jobs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “the articles are interesting” is more than just a timeworn excuse for ogling titties.

The brain-asplodin’ly cute model posing in the chaps and spurs is the lovely and talented Julie Michelle McCullough, who appeared in the “Girls of Texas” spread in this issue of Playboy and returned a year later to headline her own spread as Miss February 1986. And guess who was on her cover that February issue one year later?


(you have already seen this picture but I’m posting it again for comparison’s sake)

Cherie Witter! I guess they have each other “covered”? Cherry pop tarts, I sure hope for all our sakes that’s the worst pun I make today. But no promises. Anyway, how about that? Pretty great. Stand-up comic and good-time gal Julie is one of my all time faves, so here’s another link to the feisty “funny bunny,” who, just like Ms. Witter and so many of the great playmates I’ve gotten to highlight this month, is walking and talking proof that beauty and brains aren’t mutually exclusive.