Page Sixty-four

Wednesday 28 July 2010         Turners Fools

My teeth are clenched…  my face is wrenched up in a grimace… I’m snarling…

RiverCulture is a Turners Falls concept and an idiocy and a promotional scheme that makes my blood boil. I first found out about it in 2008, when I was living outdoors in this burg, but I don’t know exactly how long it’s been in existence or exactly who hatched it. I saw it on the tube one day when I was hanging out in the laundromat, watching the local access cable station. On comes this show, starring as host a homely woman who is a recent incomer to Turners. Pseudo-yuppie, pseudo-progressive, pseudo-“community” rah-rah girl. Everything about this female is pseudo, with the exception of her vacuousness. That’s plenty real.

She and her guest were discussing murals painted in the town over the last several years, and then they start blabbering about how it’s all part of RiverCulture, and they uttered this word as if they were saying the rapture, or maybe the holy grail. The word had an enormous gravitas, as if it were sacred.

So it turns out that it is this campaign to emphasize to potential tourists that TF has a river running through it (and a big one, at that: the Connecticut), and that that is special, and that that river, and its attendant culture, is a mighty big reason for all you out there to come to Turners and spend your bucks here.

And what is the yuppy (and pseudo-yuppy) idea of river culture? Fishing, perhaps. Strolling along beside the water on this tar-scar they laid down in 2005 or so, or rollerskating, or bicycling, along this scar of tar. Spending money is the main thing, and spending it right here in Turners. After you’ve traversed a piece of the scar, maybe gone to the fish ladder, you are hungry and thirsty and will spend in local eateries. Shop in local stores. Perhaps you’ll take photos, show them to all the folks back home, and become a living ad for RiverCulture.

I lived beside the canal for five and a half years, and beside the river for four and a half. I walked the canal all those years with my cats, and the river with my dogs, at all hours of day and night in all seasons, and in the days when there were NO tar-scars ruining the natural state. I’m not a yuppy, but I have more education than any yuppy whose butt is now firmly planted in this town. I also have a much greater sense, apparently, of what it is to experience the culture of a natural space.

Here’s my take on what the culture of the river-space is: Watching the sun go down or the full moon come up over the water; meeting a young moose running towards you at five in the morning; meeting a beaver on your path at ten at night, watching deer move ahead of you beside the water, keeping a safe distance from your dogs; watching the leonid meteor showers (hundreds of them) in the dark at five a.m. in 2001 (my dogs and I were the only ones out there — no one else in downtown Turners got up early to watch the show of natural fireworks over the river); listening to snowflakes sish as they hit the water’s surface; and bard owls and bats and bald eagles, cormorants catching fish, geese, gulls, otters hissing at you as they swim past you in the dark, their heads and necks above the water. All of these things that you only see and hear if you are out there to catch them when they happen, at odd hours and in all seasons, and if you go peacefully, without arrogance or aggression. You catch damned few pieces of the flux and rhythms of the water and the wildlife, not to mention the many wild and cultivated flowering plants, if all you do is skate or bike or walk along a scar-tar once a day, and only in good weather.

I know what real river culture is, and my dogs and cats knew it, too. And the animals I have always fed beside the waters of this town (squirrels, land birds, water birds) know it too. Yuppies know squat about being real, about moving with nature’s rhythms, about getting dirty or wet or cold in order to hear those snowflakes hit or listen to the ice-floes creak. Yuppes know only superficialities, and the joys of spending, and the ease of keeping nice and clean and warm and dry by “drinking in” river culture from the seat of a bicycle for ten or fifteen minutes on a nice day.


And the geese?  ~~~~~~~  website  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(owls at www.signals.com)

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  1. Babs said,

    July 28, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    It is true that American “culture” is invariably about consumption and never about reflection and experience. Don’t forget to buy the RiverCulture T-Shirt to show your support!!!

  2. sehnen said,

    July 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    If anyone tries to sell me such a garment, I will strangle them with it.

  3. OtherpeoplelivehereToo said,

    October 11, 2010 at 2:58 am

    It’s spelled “yuppie.” Regardless, thanks for degrading the work of people committed to making our community a better place. Much easier to ignorantly bitch and moan than actually contribute yourself.

  4. sehnen said,

    October 12, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    To the offended “OtherPeople”: Yuppies and their ilk are only committed to making TF a better place as THEY define better, and only superficially. Believe me, I am well aware of the other humans who dwell in this place, as I’ve suffered at their/your hands many times over 25 years. No amount of cosmetic bullshit and pumpkinfest bullshit is going to make these people any better INSIDE. And your obvious state of pique only gratifies me, as I owe the denizens of Turners Falls many years’ worth of hurt.

  5. sehnen said,

    October 12, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Also for OtherPeople: Your cowardice in hiding behind a pseudonym is typical of Turners-ites. At least I have my real name available, and I don’t hide when I report my opinions of this place, or any of the ugliness I’ve experienced here. This hiding you are doing has the same sickening aroma as the silence of the people in this pit who know what happened to my animals and will not tell me.

  6. Babs said,

    October 13, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    To “other people” – why do you label it “ignorant” when someone points out how the development and gentrification of natural spaces spoils it’s raw beauty? It is in fact a well thought out and erudite criticism.

  7. sehnen said,

    October 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks, Babs. Surely it’s true that NO ONE from Turners will ever come to my website and use a pseudonym to say: I’m sorry for the conduct of Turnersites that has hurt you so much and made you so bitter against them. No, they apparently will only come under false names to whine and say how unfair I am to them.

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