Cascades Compression


I was among those who thought building a roundabout in Sisters was a good idea. I still do—they work–though some of the motoring theatrics I observed this weekend might cause one to have legitimate second thoughts. For a moment, tourist-watching from my favorite surveillance hidey-hole in the Rays parking lot, the roundabout sounded like lower Manhattan: horns ablaze, tires squealing, and wild oaths being issued as touring cars bristling with kayaks and canoes–and jammed full of vaping hipsters–barreled relentlessly into our very own theater-in-the-round.

We will have some wrecks there before people figure it out. Let’s hope they aren’t serious.

In other news, I’m very excited about the crush of visitors for this eclipse bonanza, which will, no doubt, add another layer of derring-do to the “roundy-run”. Tens of thousands of them are coming, and if you listen closely you can almost hear the determined swarm, like a cloud of locusts, buzzing somewhere just over the horizon.

I confess that I don’t understand why the eclipse is such a big deal. Without trying to be humbug about the whole thing, I just don’t get it. But then again, if Moses were making a surprise appearance at the Les Schwab amphitheater, I probably wouldn’t go. Not because I have anything against Moses, it’s just—you know—the behavior of crowds.

The other swell development in summer compression will be the Rainbow Family gathering out near John Day. A hippy flashmob of some 30,000 people chortling bongs, and banging on drums will—if they stick to tradition—spend a week or two trashing large portions of the National Forest, stealing from local stores, aggressively panhandling, and leaving environmental ruin in their wake. A more intrepid journalist than I did the math on the sheer tonnage of human waste left behind by the Living Light crowd, and the numbers are staggering.

I’ll spare you the truly disgusting details.


Rainbows in a Meadow

They are, of course, free to assemble, and because they are allegedly a leaderless group—though they do have a marvelous role for more disciplined hippies known as a “focalizer”–no one can, or will, force them to do what the rest of us have to do for such a blowout, which is to get a permit.

The Forest Service usually budgets about a half-million dollars to monitor these gatherings, so not only do they not pay for a permit, at the end of the day, it’s you and I who are paying for the big peace-party. Which any focalizer will tell you, is appropriate for us Babylonians.

In fairness, the record on Rainbow behavior, and the damage they do to forests, is mixed, and depends entirely on who is doing the talking. I hope for the best, but I’m fairly certain that if a rancher—who grazes on a permit—tore up a forest meadow the way 30,000 hippies and their cars are going to do it, he would be filleted by everyone from Greenpeace to the National Cattleman’s Association.

The big rhinocerous in the room, of course, is that there are just too many of us. We’ve done a bangup job of overpopulating the planet, and there are fewer and fewer places to escape the crush of humanity. Particularly when the weather is good.

In local business terms, that’s good for what the Chamber and others refer to as “sticky dollars,” but it means we have to endure the seasonal invasion of people who don’t care about our community as much as we do. They are, uniformly, too lazy to even walk their shopping cart back to the cart corral.



A photo from Michael Wolf’s collection, Tokyo Compression

Which brings me to Michael Wolf, the celebrated photographer, who by recording daily life in cities has become a kind of prophet. Born in Germany, raised virtually everywhere else, and now based in Hong Kong, Wolf’s images of the daily commute on the Tokyo subway—a series he first started in 2010, is a disturbing glimpse into the future that we are building for our descendants, and yes, even in places as lovely as Central Oregon.

Invariably, the photographs are tightly constricted in the frame, and present the face of a hapless commuter, face, hands, ears, pressed into the glass, earbuds in, dread written in the eyes, and the condensation from so many tightly-packed humans obscuring the image ever-so slightly. It’s virtually raining inside the subway car, and the people are contorted into what can only be described as “stress positions”, of the kind generally reserved for extraordinary renditions and Gitmo interrogations.

The series, known as “Tokyo Compression”, reveals a kind horrifying desperation, an almost trancelike embrace of misery. Perhaps the most important element of the photographs, what makes them so intensely and uniquely disturbing, is that these are, after all, every day events–just regular people like you and me, trying to get to work, or to get home.

We aren’t there just yet. But a temporary dip into any one of our big city neighbors—even Bend, where the traffic now resembles many of the places people fled from to begin with—can give us all a taste of what is most certainly coming this way.

this post originally appeared in The Nugget News, 27 June 2017


  1. Having experienced Tokyo Compression first hand 20 years ago, I can only imagine how it is now. I also found the GIS coordinates of the Rainbow gathering if you’re up for a road trip – it seems like a great place for us to set free our collections of ticks. Mine have been particularly hungry and not fond of the Mason jars.
    In all seriousness though, it would do my heart good to see the FBI, USFS and BLM provide an equivalent level of surveillance (albeit, maybe less firepower) that they flaunted in the Fincicum case.



    1. Indeed, although I strongly suspect they bring their own collections of fleas and ticks.



  2. Chrisitne DeForest June 28, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    They, the Rainbow Family, came through here years ago on their way to gathering in Modoc County. What a joy that was! Leaving a wake of crap, trash, and interesting visuals. They do seem to be attracted to beautiful places like butterflies to nectar. I like the flea and tick idea, although they might not realize they have been infected.



  3. Glad the rainbow tards moved there show north out of Lassen county. Sorry they picked your back yard.



  4. Live and let live – unless you disagree with us. Having just finished our 2643 mile loop (Northern California, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada) which included Sisters, I was reminded to the benefits of actively protecting your local culture and winters that if not properly prepared for, can kill you. Hopefully they visit in the summer, freeze in the winter, then move away. Your winters are a blessing in many ways. Don’t get me started on the “travelers” – see costal California for reference. The right minded Californians and others do the best they can, but when the majority of your laws are influenced by the coastal mob, Sacramento and the great state of Southern California, it’s an uphill battle. My aunt is a 40+ year Idaho resident and they are feeling it in numerous unpleasant ways. California borders some of the most beautiful geography on the planet, however there are too many humans and the inhabitants started eating each other long ago. The majority of California’s problems stem from over-population. Depending on which climate map who you believe, the 45TH Parallel could be the big weather winner in a few generations. Hopefully not for their sake……



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: