Take Me Back To Tulsa
by Joe Don Mooney, September 1, 2011
My after action report on the annual Rockabilly in the Redwoods Festival is tardy this year since I was taken back to Tulsa right after the festival to help my frantic kid sister, Eunice, deal with her indolent, entitled, parasitic, sociopathic 22-year-old daughter, Blubber Butt, whose father flew the coop on the day she was born.
I rented a chainsaw, forklift, flatbed truck, extracted my not so nice niece, and hauled her to the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey sideshow at the edge of town. There won't be many paid lookers though, since people her size and much larger routinely waddle through America's shopping malls like gelatinous herds of hippos squashing all in their paths. America is a 24/7 three ring circus with free admission. Tulsa's retro circus is a pathetic attempt to revive the past.
I spent a sweltering month in Tulsa and vicinity visiting family and old friends, including my high school sweetheart, Muffy, who won the Miss Tulsa beauty pageant at age 18. It was great to hook up with Muffy again since she still looks great and is now a successful businesswoman with a chain of medicinal herb dispensaries throughout the Southwest — “Muffy's Medicinals.” She graciously hired me to supply her with some interesting indigenous weeds from Mendopia.
The sixth annual Rockabilly in the Redwoods Festival at the miniature livestock Arena in Scotia, Humboldt County, was held during the weekend of July 15-17 deliberately coinciding with the Ka-Ka in the River Festival at Bongbow on the South Fork Eel, thus avoiding thank jah infiltrators who have a missionary mandate to sanitize and neutralize rockabilly and absorb it into the world pop music movement — the One True World Music for the One True God — Jah.
This year's headliner was “Patty Donahue and his Rockabilly Plowboys” from Shannon, Arkansas, featuring lead singer, Snooky Lansom, and steel guitar virtuoso Twangin' Tommy McAuliffe, the son of a steel guitar legend, Leon McAuliffe, of the famed “Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.”
Surprise performers were the novelty act Snow Bunny and the Seven Dwarfs” from Beaver Creek, Colorado, and interpretive dancer, Daisy Mae Yokum from Peel, Arkansas, on Lake Bull Schoals.
My route to Rockabilly was unique this year since I wanted to avoid Stunktown (Willits) and the Highway 101 gridlock of stoner caravans heading north to the annual Ka-Ka in the River Festival. Skunktown is now so depressing that I avoid it like the plague. It's become a virtual Potemkin village money laundering pit for local pot growers with the local High Time pot grower supplier buying respectability by throwing blood money around town for “worthy causes.”
Having agreed to take my 800-pound stud-boar razorback, Sharpy, to provide security at the festival, I towed him in a plowhorse trailer behind my 1943 turbocharged Chech Tatra V-8 and drove north from Hopland to Redwood Valley, then north through spooky pot country via Tomki Road to Hearst-Willits Road, then northeast to Hearst on the Eel River near the confluence with Salt Creek — the home of Emandal Farm, a self-sustaining agricultural enterprise which provided me with some tasty vittles. “Hearst” no longer exists as such, but I hear that it was once a vacation compound for the Frisco Hearst Family.
Friends from Covelo had warned me to stay clear of the Mendopia National Forest because a “big” multiagency pot sweep was imminent — the infamous “Full Court Press” which confiscated over half a million pot plants, tons of crap, garbage, multiple weapons and vehicles, while arresting over 100 perps.
Unfortunately, the catch and release perps will reoccupy eradicated sites thanks to tractor-trailer loads of growing supplies cheerfully delivered by the High Time folks in Stunktown.
The arrested foreign nationals will be deported to Modesto where they will chill for a while then head north again to cache grow stuff in the forest for next season before winter sets in.
The arrested local yokels will have their charges reduced to misdemeanors and infractions in exchange for paying hefty fines. Full employment for cops, lawyers, growers, suppliers. Pot, the magic drug.
I had arranged to meet my old river rat body from Moab, Utah, Ken Hite, at Hearst where he provided a nifty river catamaran made with four Grand Canyon dories spanned by a large wooden platform which carried my vehicle, stock trailer — with Sharpie — and essential gear and supplies, including several jugs of Kickapoo Joy Juice.
The Eel River was still running nearly bankful so we embarked on the journey downriver to Dos Rios at the confluence with the Middle Fork Eel, then north through the Eel River Canyon to Alderpoint with pleasant stops along the way where we were able to catch some giant sturgeon for festival chow, view some ancient petroglyphs, and observe the rosy-bottomed skinnydipper in its native habitat.
With the exception of Island Mountain Falls and Kekawaka Falls, we had smooth floating all the way. It's encouraging to see mother nature reclaiming her turf along the river canyon as the abandoned railroad bed is gradually obliterated by erosion and landslides. The choo-choo honchos who still assure the gullible public that the railroad will once again run through the Eel River canyon are perpetuating a cruel hoax and assuring themselves of permanent employment.
At Alderpoint, after offloading my rig and stowing the “ratamaran,” we climbed west over the hill and down to Ganjaville for the annual breakfast at Woodrose Cafe which was packed with self-described Thank Jah vegans pigging out on eggs, bacon, ham, sausage and pork chops. I had the Greek omelette since Sharpie has a vicious intolerance for pork-eaters. He was so pleased to gobble a tall stack of flapjacks that the pork-breath vegans wobbling out of the cafe avoided his wrath.
After a depressing run through the drug a gauntlet of Ganjaville, we motored north on Highway 101 through the Avenue of the Giants redwoods which always brightens my mood.
Approaching Scotia arena grounds, a retro rendezvous emerged — classic cars and vintage teardrop camping trailers with mellow folks charring meat and guzzling beer.
Front and center was a mint condition 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible coupe like the one I had in high school until it wrapped itself around the only tree in northeast Oklahoma. The 1957 Chevy was the primo babe-magnet during the doo-wop era at the Nite Owl Drive-In.
One weird vehicle caught my eye. The owner had crossed a Humvee with a Volkswagen beetle and called it a “Humbug.”
The festival's paper mache ticket booth this year had a medieval theme including a machicolated roofline — a term I learned in medieval history at the University taught by regal professor, Arthur King.
Master of ceremonies duties were once again handled by the massive “Buddha Bud,” the human beer keg on stilts who holds the all-time champion record at Hopland's historic bar, the Keg.
Buddha Bud took Sharpie into custody for security detail where he immediately nailed an infiltrator — a World Pot Music commando who tried — and failed — to stuff his dreads into a 20-gallon cowboy hat. Get 'em, Sharpie!
After chow and chugging, the opening festivities fired up at dusk as Snow Bunny and the Seven Dwarves performed a series of wacky, lurid skits best described as Homer and Jethro meet Alvin and the Chipmunks. It defies description. You had to be there.
Then Paddy Donahue and his Rockabilly Plowboys invaded the stage and opened with a set of rockabilly standards including “Be-Bop-a-Lula.” “Ooby Dooby,” and “Wild Wild Women,” followed by some roots-style Irish and Scottish folk tunes popularized in the film “Songcatcher.”
The final set was a rousing tribute to the King of Western swing, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, including “Osage Stomp,” “San Antonio Rose,” “Roly Poly,” “Ida Red,” “Boot Heel Drag,” “Ding Dong Daddy,” “Big Beaver,” “Bring it on Over to My House,” “Stay All Night,” and “Faded Love.” Then Twangin' Tommy McAuliffe closed with a stunning rendition of his father's signature tune, “Steel Guitar Rag.”
After a prolonged standing ovation the whole ensemble including Bunny and the Dwarves returned to belt out Bob Wills signature tune, “Take Be Back to Tulsa.”
Saturday morning a bleary-eyed crowd stumbled into the arena after breakfast for a well-deserved day of fun and games starting with strip tiddlywinks using poker chips, followed by the firehose mosh pit monokini tank top contest and leaf blower lawn hockey. The Slinky race was a bust because it was held on level ground.
The main event, held in early afternoon, was the dwarf tossing contest which was apparently won by Sister Boom Boom, a defrocked nun and former Sutro wrestler from Frisco. But her 50 foot toss was disallowed because the dwarf was pumped up with helium. Runner-up, Rooster Canard, a chicken rancher from Jackpot, Nevada, took the trophy with a legitimate toss of 28 feet.
Conspicuously absent this year was festival legend Big Mama Mia, the Flatten 'Em Blonde who is now managing her family's pig factory feedlot in Iowa. Big Mama Mia is now known as the “Fatten 'em blonde.”
The evening feast was vintage rockabilly chow — beans, Bud, spuds, char-grilled Eel River sturgeon, and corn on the cob from Shively followed by hand-cranked ice cream made from ingredients donated by Ferndale milkmaids.
With bellies full and spirits high, the rockabilly mob gathered for the grand finale when a demure Daisy Mae Yoakam pranced on stage wearing a spandex emerald green sequined leisure suit, black spike heels, and a white cowboy hat. Backed by the Rockabilly Plowboys, she slowly began her ecdysiast interpretive dance revealing the Celtic Irish roots of rockabilly — shamrockabilly. Like Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils, Daisy Mae slowly, erotically, performed a dance of the seven leisure suits.
Her stunning, tasteful performance brought the house down — hoots, hollers, whistles, flying money, airborne clothes. After her hat was passed through the crowd, over $2000 was raised for Daisy May's Dance School of the Ozarks.
Sunday, the day of recuperation, opened with a high noon sunrise service led by Reverend Billy, pastor of the Church of Stop Shopping, who admonished the congregation to just say no to consumerism — an easy thing to do in these downer days of the not so great depression when America's lower echelon is flat broke and maxed out on credit.
The festival crowd was smaller this year even with a lower entry fee and most campers chose downsized teardrop trailers or pup tents over snazzy Airstream rigs. But the crowd was upbeat because no matter how sad you feel, rockabilly and western swing will cheer you up. Rockabilly is a better antidepressant than pot. That's why the music will live forever. Rockabilly music is for dancing. World pop music is for trancing.
After an early afternoon loggers breakfast at Fortuna, I hitched up the rig and drove south on the Redwood Highway hoping to get ahead of the Kaka on the River traffic jam. Tulsa was calling me home and I needed to make time.
As we passed Bongbow, I wondered how the festival went this year since the promoters had pitched an Adriatic rather than Caribbean theme: Tuscan reggae by angel hair pastafarians with garlic breadlocks.
At Richardson Redwood Grove State Park a few miles south of Bongbow we were slowed to a crawl crawl by a big protest led by Mendopia's Code Pink contingent, “Torpedoes Not Bombs” who were presenting their bona fides to make a political point — protesting Caltrans plans to widen and realign the highway through the grove to allow smooth passage for monster big rigs hauling megaloads of industrial pot to the big markets in Frisco and Los Angeles. The mom-and-pop growers are against the plan because they'll be squeezed out by the big-time growers who can afford to export large shipments of pot. A classic dustup between Big Pot and little pot.
The Caltrans plan would remove several redwoods and damage the root system of many others. I offered myself and Sharpie to help man the barricades but the sisters screeched, “No male chauvinist pigs!”
I guess they'll have to bring back Julia Butterball Hill for an encore, but since she's significantly bulked out on rich Hollywood vegan chow, they'll have to hoist her up a giant redwood on a structural steel platform suspended with case hardened anchor chain.
Passing through the torpedo gauntlet, we headed south to Laidbackville, home of Lumpy Gravy's Camp Winnacashflow, and the famous Hog Farm. Traffic was light and we made good time through town but I was dreading the unavoidable trip through Stunktown ahead. To bypass the main drag, I took the scenic detour east along the edge of Little Lake Valley via Reynolds Highway and East Hill Road.
Little Lake Valley is still a bucolic treasure that will eventually be trashed by the Caltrans half-assed Skunktown Bypass which will destroy significant amounts of endangered wetlands. To “mitigate” this loss, Caltrans has purchased equivalent acres of lower quality wetlands from local ranchers who are now pissed because they thought their cattle would continue to graze the land. Now the ranchers will have to raise water buffalo which are wetland-friendly grazers.
The trip past Stunktown was distinctfully bittersweet. I miss my fun days there, particularly my massage sessions with Trixie Treats. But she's gone big time now having purchased a fleet of stretch limos for her tactical move to Sacramento where the big bucks are.
Driving through Ukiah was another downer seeing the abandoned Masonite site and the old Thomas Pear Orchard now being converted to winegrape vineyards. I hope the new owners are planning to grow “organic” grapes, since the entire area is contaminated with lead arsenate which was used in the good old days before so-called “regulations.”
I popped in a cassette of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys to brighten my mood. At home on Duncan Peak, I off-loaded Sharpie to service his harem, arranged for a neighbor to watch the ranch, then started packing for my trip to Tulsa.