The Scruffman in Europe

Old Jan 21st, 2010, 12:01 PM
  #161  
 
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I've been lurking about this thread for a while, but you can now add me to your list of readers, artsnletters. Don't know why I'm exicted about Scruffman and kerouac's dinner...but I am! Looking forward to kerouac's report!
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 12:13 PM
  #162  
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Post-Scruffwoman and I (the mom) are following this further episode in Scrufftales with great interest.

We are doing a blog of our own now...Mother Daughter Can Can. This may sound as if it has something to do with Paris, but is actually the true-life adventures of two innocent broads in a kitchen, divided only by a generation,60 miles and massively different personality types. Yes, we are learning about canning and preserving, the gentle arts my mother (who screwed up boiled potatoes) never taught us.

Even Scruffpeople eventually come home and get hungry.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 02:44 PM
  #163  
 
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Dinner was excellent.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 02:52 PM
  #164  
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kerouac, I certainly hope you have more to say about it that that!
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 02:59 PM
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Yea, Kerouac...we want details.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 03:04 PM
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actually, it was only that 'dinner was excellent'....

I think the qeuestion we are all interested in is...

'how was the company ?'
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 03:55 PM
  #167  
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surfmom, I had that thought too - maybe it was only the food that was great?

I'm sure kerouac will be back tomorrow or shortly thereafter to tell us at least a little more.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 09:31 PM
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Yes, please, you must be patient for, say, about 12 hours.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 11:46 PM
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I am waiting with bated breath also!!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:22 AM
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where are the spelling police ? they should be giving nelsonian a blue ribbon ? most people used 'baited breath' and I got this horrible visualization of worm breath. well done!

I think kerouac will purposely be 'busy' today and not poste for a awhile since he knows all these cyber-followers can't wait for the gory details.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:22 AM
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I have been reading this aloud to my almost 17 year old son. We both are anxious to hear how dinner went!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 05:27 AM
  #172  
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I second the blue ribbon for nelsonian and LOL surfmom for worm breath!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 06:20 AM
  #173  
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I received a long e-mail this morning from the Scruffman, and because I've got to go to work but this piece belongs before his dinner with kerouac, I'm going to copy most of it in with minor edits and a bit of commentary for you. Also, I'm feeling a bit emotional about it.

<i><b>“I found myself in the trees”

Leaving Holland was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I didn't get any sleep the last night because about thirty or forty people kept flowing through the Couch to say goodbye. Honestly, I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive to have such a good home in [our hometown] and so many good friends and family alike, but when I walked out the door of the Couch it felt like I had left home for the second time</i></b>

Earlier this week, one of the Scruffman’s great Leiden friends drove him to the Lappersfort Tree Occupation on the outskirts of Brugge, Belgium. The Occupation is a collection of 20-30 treehouses and a massive fortress built mainly out of pallets, all designed to be near impossible to get people out of.

<i><b>The tree occupation is in protest not only of the destruction of the forest in which it resides, but also the landowners’ plans to build the second largest “damn,” as the Scruffman put it in probably Freudian terms, in the world in Brazil which will flood an area of the Amazon lager than Belgium. Needless to say, this will displace many local indigenous tribes, fishermen, and of course endangered species and trees.

Thus I learned to climb trees with harness and press-hooks and slept about 100 feet up in an oak tree for several days. The world looks much different from the top, and this was a village seemingly suspended in air. Bridges and zip lines connected the houses. I couldn't help but draw comparisons to the Ewok village of Star Wars fame. Lappersfort has 0existed on and off since 2002 but is expected to be evicted in the coming weeks. I can only hope that somehow it will live on, truly a special place....

A few days ago I woke up in a tree, rappelled down, picked up my bag, headed to the road, and raised my thumb. That evening I was in Paris. How strange it was to re-emerge into reality after a month of squat and tree dwelling!</i></b>

In Paris, the Scruffman did <i><b>“the normal tourist circuit,”</i></i> Notre Dame, Ste-Chapelle, the Eiffel Tower, the Orsay, <i><b>etc.</i></b> - whatever that means to the Scruffman. He’s normally not a museum kind of guy, so it’s hard for me to guess what else he might have been persuaded to spend his money on. When I took him to Italy when he was 12, we saw only three museums: the Accademia in Florence because it is small, a walk-through of the Vatican Museum in Rome because at least the lavishness of it all can be absorbed quickly, and the Museo Archeologico in Naples – the last a sop to mom who wanted to see the Pompeii mosaics, but he enjoyed it because of the air conditioning in steamy August!

Today the Scruffman leaves by overnight bus to Florence to re-connect with a good friend who is studying there – hopefully also to reunite with his long-lost guitar - <i><b>perhaps a slight different person.

Upon reflection among the trees I can sense certain transformations within myself. There was a time not long ago I believed that progress could be made by working within the system, but after watching the world's governments meet in Copenhagen and fail to commit to any kind of progress whatsoever to ... well ... SAVE THE F***ING WORLD, my fears have been affirmed. But in a sense I feel much more capable than before to rely on myself and thus live outside the system, and with any luck find more people and places like Leiden where it is possible to live outside the system.</i></b>

I’ll let kerouac fill you in on their dinner, as the Scruffman contributed about it (probably because he knew kerouac would take care of the duties of dinner-reporting), except for some sentiments which are personal to me and a bit that’s personal to kerouac, which I will transmit privately. But he signed off:

<b><i>Love,
THE SCRUFFMAN</B></I>

I think it’s a fair guess that the Scruffman is not going to coming home and graduate with honors from Stanford. But perhaps he has a bigger role to fill.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 07:03 AM
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Thanks for the long update. I've seen some tweets lately about travel as "experience" - it would be hard to think of more experiential travel than this. Go scruffman!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 09:57 AM
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Hadn't checked in on him for a while - glad to hear things are going well for him.

Sounds like he met up with the Belgian cousins of the tree-sitters in Berkeley!

Evidently more people than one might think are still carrying on the hippie “back to the land” philosophy and living “off the grid”, so I think Scruffman can continue to find lots of company among like-minded people. They may not get a lot of attention from the mainstream press, but they are still out there. (Not that the hippies were the ones who invented it either, but it was when it seemed to become more of a sub-culture among middle-class people who intentionally chose the lifestyle.) The local health system that treated many commune-dwellers in the 70’s (when I was living in a community of political activists on a farm with no electricity, no plumbing, and a well for a water and a woodstove for heat) used to call us the “voluntary poor” – because we had quite different health and lifestyle issues than the “involuntary poor” for instance. In our day I guess one of the big motivating forces to leave the mainstream culture behind was the Vietnam War and the attendant alienation – today it is the environmental “war”.

I wish Scruffman the best as he continues in his own personal evolution and development of his values and look forward to hearing about his travels.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 10:16 AM
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It appears that there is a certain interest in how I spent yesterday evening, so I will try to relieve some of your curiosity. It was already somewhat of an ordeal for Greg to call me, since public telephones in Paris do not accept coins and did not accept Greg’s credit card (probably due to the ‘chip’ problem). But he managed to call me not once but twice and a rendezvous was set up in the center of Paris at a café where I would also be meeting the other unknown parties.

I arrived early and sat at the (heated) terrace of the café to keep an eye on the traffic through the pedestrian zone. Five minutes before the designated hour, I saw a hirsute yet elegant young man walking along with hesitation. It just took a very small movement of my index finger to indicate to him that he had arrived at the proper location. His alertness and instant comprehension confirmed to me what artsnletters had told me about him.

He settled in and ordered a glass of Affligem in honor of his recent experiences in Belgium, and we began our conversation. I wanted to know if his mother had really ordered him 15 times to call me. The way he examined the floor confirmed this. “Uh, I figured I owed it to her.”

We then went into a period of minor chitchat about what he had been up to in Paris. He said he had actually spent some money that day, which was a big change from many other days, and he found the city quite interesting in its own quirky way. I received a certain amount of information on the goings on in the Netherlands and Belgium, included a few details not revealed to family circles. “I don’t want my mother to worry.” I assured him that one never reveals all of what happens to one’s parents and that’s the way it should be. Nevertheless, his revelations were so innocuous that it confirmed how young and innocent he still is and that his mother has nothing to worry about.

I was watching the street and spotted the other people and motioned to them. It was to be a strange evening, because I had never met them either but knew them from other internet sites, and it just happened that their overnight stay in Paris before flying to Greece was the same as Greg’s last night in Paris. Both are major world travelers with even more experience than I, so I had figured that it might make a useful encounter for Scruffy. The man is an author of international spy fiction, so perhaps we have a chance of appearing in one of his future works.

After finishing our drinks, we took the metro to Chinatown, which had no secrets for Greg, because that was exactly where he was staying, and he even showed us the building when we passed it. We settled into my personal canteen “La Lune” on Avenue de Choisy and ordered various items from a waitress who radiated unexpected hostility. There was a certain complication in finding the appropriate dishes for Greg, who is a quite hardcore vegetarian, and who claimed that he didn’t mind going hungry sometimes if there was nothing suitable to eat. I think that we other three may have avoided exchanging glances when he said that because they would have been along the lines of “oh, the folly of youth!” when we actually all admired his idealism.

During dinner, the conversation was animated and universal, with a certain travel orientation. The waitress had also suddenly become jovial, to the extent that we were wondering if it was the same person or if the first waitress was the evil twin of this nice one. The writer was able to give European hitchhiking tips to Greg which still sounded valid even if his experiences dated from… 55 years ago. Meanwhile, Greg showed us that not all of his research was totally accurate when he said that he was probably planning on staying in northern India after his flight from Italy because “I want to see the more relaxed part.” That caused all three of us to exclaim “but that’s southern India, not the north!” The author went into a vibrant defense of Goa while I concentrated on the joys of the region of Madras. This has perhaps caused a possible revision of Greg’s plans, but in any case we all agreed that the main thing in India is to go with the flow and to join anybody else with reasonable plans. The author's wife concentrated on the fact that the main thing about one's arrival in India the first time is how it totally overwhelms all of the senses in a way that one would never think possible, not all of it pleasant. (This is absolutely true.) In any case, I will certainly be fascinated to hear news of the Indian part of this adventure.

It was known by the others that I am not able to travel much these days due to a certain Dr. Alzheimer who is involved with my mother, even though she is in a nursing home, because of the fact that I have been unfailingly loyal to my obligations. So a few comments were made about the situation and the unexpected events which I must sometimes face. (Often they are hilarious, all things considered.)

This brought on a stunning panegyric by Greg regarding his loyalty to artsnletters and his undying devotion to her for a myriad of reasons. Firmly locked in his heart are all of the sacrifices that she has made over the years and the unfailing support that she has given him. It is she who has sparked his desire for justice and a life of discovery, and he knows that he would not be able to continue if he did not feel her love. Both of the others being parents, I think that their eyes may have become moist upon hearing this.

Totally satisfied with the meal, we left the restaurant and took a brief stroll through Chinatown. We took leave of the Scruffman at the relevant intersection and wished him the best in his future travels. (I confess that I did reveal to him his moniker because I knew it was inevitable that he would learn it sooner or later and it seemed better to bring it up in pleasant circumstances. His cheeks may have flushed briefly, but I think he found it amusing in the end and he said that he would tell his friends where to look for news of his adventures.) I certainly believe that he is a fine young man, and I know that the others felt the same.

His head is firmly on his shoulders, and there is nothing to worry about. At the moment, the most perfect place that he has found in the world is Leiden, but he is still discovering new things and looking forward to Asia as long as his travel funds hold out. When we asked what his next trip might be, he said “Leiden…. or South America!”
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 10:51 AM
  #177  
 
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kerouac, that's a beautiful description of your time with Greg and of Greg himself (and his mother!). Thank you for satisfying our curiosity.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:01 AM
  #178  
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kerouac, now that's done it. I was already feeling weepy after reading what Greg wrote me this morning, and now you've started me up again!

Thank you so much for meeting him, and for writing such a kind and thorough account.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:08 AM
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Boy, has this thread ever hit home! My two sons are blood brothers of Scruffy; both having "dropped off the grid", traveled the world from dumpster to squat, and are Vegan.

Sigh --

I love them both, and they have each carved themselves a valuable place in this world. I'm certain that your Son will do the same, Artsnletters.

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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:56 AM
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This thread has evolved into a charming and beautiful story, which equally describes the participants and those who tell it.

AandL and Greg are a credit to each other.

Lets raise a glass to mothers and sons !

Safe travels on his further adventures.

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