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Spy Rock Memories, Part 9

Everything did change, not all at once, not in an obvious, visible way, at least at first, but the wheels were already in motion. Life on Spy Rock unfolded peacefully and quietly through the rest of 1988 and into 1989. I barely noticed winter that year; spring was bright and full of promise. The Sweet Children record was nearly done; they’d gone into the studio at the end of the year, and by March we had the pieces in place for a four-song EP.

Then they casually informed me, just as I was about to print the covers and labels, that they’d decided to change their name to Green Day. I blew a gasket. It was too late; there was no time to change all the artwork. Besides, I insisted, it was ridiculous to expect me to sell a record by a band no one had ever heard of. “Green Day?” I sneered. “What’s it even supposed to mean?”

But as was often the case with my best bands, they had decided what they wanted and that was that. Thanks to my copy shop connection, we were able to throw together a new cover, and the record came out on time. It didn’t sell much at first, but I’d expected that; Sweet Children/Green Day were a slight departure from the usual Lookout Records fare: poppier, more melodic, almost, dare I say it, a little mainstream.

Although I loved the record, it was far from the only thing on my mind. The long-awaited, much-delayed album by our most popular band, Operation Ivy, was finally ready. Closer to home, I was putting the final touches on a new album by the Lookouts.

Four years earlier, with people threatening to burn down my house for bringing too much publicity to the area, calling our record Spy Rock Road would have seemed near-suicidal. In 1989, it never crossed my mind to call it anything else. It wasn’t just the name: the cover art, by the Anderson Valley Advertiser’s cartoonist, the mysterious “M,” simultaneously lampooned and paid tribute to our little corner of the world, replete with rampaging lumberjacks, CAMP cowboys dangling from a low-flying helicopter, a punk rock band plugged into a pine tree, and a bullet whizzing through the Spy Rock sign.

If my neighbors had opinions about the Spy Rock cover, they kept them to themselves. Times had changed. They really had; who could have imagined, back when the reaction to our fledgling band had run the gamut from indifference to hostility to outright threats of violence, that not so far in the future our songs would be echoing across the hills of the Emerald Triangle over the airwaves of a powerful homegrown radio station?

KMUD, which in 1985 had yet to advance beyond the crazy dream stage, was now consuming as much of my time and energy as the band, record label, or magazine. In addition to my Saturday afternoon slot with Chris, I was sitting in for other DJs, hosting public affairs and call-in programs, attending staff meetings, and becoming an avid fundraiser.

Chris and I were no longer KMUD outliers, it seemed — we were actually named “Programmers Of The Year” for 1989 — so I thought it was time I showed that punk rockers could help support the station, too — not just culturally, but financially. I organized a benefit concert, and when KMUD management questioned its viability, volunteered to finance the entire event myself.

The lineup I had put together would, I was sure, easily draw a crowd big enough to cover expenses and produce a substantial profit for the station. The main reason I was so confident was that Operation Ivy had agreed to headline. Their popularity had spread beyond the punk scene; even Humboldt kids who’d never been to a punk show in their lives had heard of them.

I rented the Vets’ Hall in downtown Garberville; we’d packed the place in February when the Lookouts had played there with MDC, my old San Francisco flatmate’s Pope-terrorizing band. Despite it being an unusually snowy night, the show had been a roaring success, even if Tre did dislocate his knee showing off for some girls and wound up in the hospital (he was considerate enough to wait until after we’d already played). That night had convinced me that the blue-eyed rastas and terminal Deadheads might finally be losing their stranglehold on the local music scene.

My optimism was unfounded. Two weeks before the benefit, Operation Ivy broke up. I begged them to put aside their differences long enough to play the show, but they’d decided to say their goodbyes where it had all begun, at Gilman Street, and suddenly my star attraction had vanished.

Two years later, either of my opening bands — Screeching Weasel and Green Day — could have filled any Vets’ Hall in the land, but on June 10, 1989, this was not yet the case. Especially in Garberville. I had replaced Operation Ivy with the Mr. T Experience, who had a decent following in the Bay Area but were largely unknown up our way.

Still, I was cautiously confident. Musical events aimed at young people were infrequent enough that you could count on a crowd for anything that didn’t involve Scottish clog dancing or an all-day klezmer fest. Sadly, my confidence was misplaced; maybe 100 or 150 people showed up, a turnout big enough not to be embarrassing, but nowhere near enough to make any money for KMUD. Instead, the event actually cost me a few hundred bucks.

The author of my misfortune was Jerry Garcia, who, unbeknownst to us, was performing a few miles down the road. Our audience had deserted us in droves in favor of the Grateful Dead frontman. That was Humboldt for you: kids were happy to check out something new, like a punk show, but Jerry remained first in their hearts. Apparently the rastas and Deadheads still ruled the roost after all.

For those who, unlike me, didn’t have to worry about money and logistics, it was a pretty good show, despite a few hiccups. Mike Dirnt, Green Day’s 17-year-old bassist, had been drinking heavily (I got the impression it was something he wasn’t used to doing), and when it came time to play, he was outside puking in the bushes.

We had to half-lead, half-carry him to the stage, and once there, help him find his bass (he’d failed to notice that it was already strapped across his shoulders). Assuming his being blind drunk would prevent Green Day from playing their normal set, I was ready to cut it short, but the minute the music started, it was as though he’d been transported to another world, a world where it was impossible for him to play anything other than note-perfect renditions of every song he knew. As long as he didn’t fall over, that is, which always seemed like a possibility.

Screeching Weasel didn’t fare as well. Ben Weasel, their acerbic frontman, had a regular schtick of trying to provoke and insult his audience, but the hippie-tinged punks of Garberville weren’t buying it. Or even getting it, for that matter.

Ben’s material consisted mostly of in-jokes that would only make sense to MRR-reading devotees of “the scene.” The sunny-faced Humboldt kids stared blankly back in the face of his vitriol, as if to ask, “Dude, why is that guy having such a bummer?”

Ben’s bummer did not diminish when he and his band had to follow me up to Spy Rock to spend the night. They were city people, driving a city car, and the concept of miles of precipitous unpaved roads, devoid of streetlights or Burger Kings, did not compute. His next MRR column began, “What kind of asshole lives nine miles up the side of a goddam mountain?”

Green Day made the trip up Spy Rock, too, without complaints or comments, except for the next morning when Billie and Mike complained that my “ferocious” dogs had kept them prisoner in their van all night. “Ruf Ruf and Kong?” I marveled. “The worst they could have done was lick you to death.”

We drove down to Berkeley the next morning, after, at my insistence, a stop in downtown Laytonville. I wanted the visiting bands to see a little of my world, a world they’d heard me talk so much about, but I also had a not quite so honorable motive: I knew it would drive Ben Weasel right up the wall.

It was the weekend of the annual Laytonville Rodeo, and our normally quiet little crossroads was abuzz with life, the kind of life, I was sure, that Ben was not going to have encountered back in Chicago. We found ourselves sandwiched in between half a dozen cowboys and a flatbed truck hauling a similar number of hill muffins in dazzling day-glo and tie-dye. In front of us was a crowd of jugglers and clowns from Camp Winnarainbow.

The camp, whose founder Hugh “Wavy Gravy” Romney is best known as the disembodied voice advising Woodstock attendees against the brown acid, was situated on land just north of Laytonville owned by the Hog Farm, a long-running hippie commune dating back to the 60s. The idea had sounded highly questionable when first broached — who was going to entrust their children to a bunch of legendarily stoned-out acidheads? — but Camp Winnarainbow had proved to be a resounding success.

My niece and nephew had spent time there, and so, to the everlasting shame of the Lookouts, had our drummer, Tre Cool. We hated to admit it, but he was still summering there well into his teens, which meant that when we had a show we often had to stop and retrieve him from whatever drum circle or mime class he might be engaged in. “Aren’t you getting a little old for camp?” I’d ask, to which he’d retort, “Never too old for having fun!”

Ben, as I’d anticipated, was not enthusiastic about hanging around Laytonville to take in the sights and sounds of the Rodeo. He was the kind of guy who had very fixed, sometimes quite arbitrary ideas about how the world should be ordered, and within this scheme of things, there was little room for clowns, hippies and cowboys, especially not jumbled together in a single place. I could see him fuming, could tell he assumed that the town of Laytonville, with myself as co-conspirator, had deliberately cooked up this concoction of clashing cultures for the sole purpose of tormenting him.

Though punk rock was still at the center of my personal and professional life, my explorations of the North Coast’s backwoods and byways were bringing me to into contact with music and musicians I previously would have ignored. It’s not that I’d become completely open-minded — there was never a danger of that — but my enthusiasm for local culture led me to at least give a listen to sounds and rhythms I once would have instantly dismissed.

There was Indiana Slim, of course, who’d gone out of his way to befriend me at a time when I most needed it. I’d never cared much for blues or blues-based rock, especially when played by white guys, but Slim imbued his work — and his life — with such infectious enthusiasm that it was hard not to be a fan.

He and his wife — she fronted their band, Baby Lee and the Red Hots — cruised around in a wildly impractical but undeniably elegant gold Cadillac with giant tailfins evoking an earlier, more profligate era. Slim was a walking, talking monument to the age of hepcats and crazy jive, and Baby Lee, well, if anything, I was even more in awe of her. She exuded a star quality that would have been at home anywhere from a honky-tonk roadhouse to the Radio City Music Hall, making it all the more incongruous to encounter in the parking lot of the Laytonville Post Office.

I never learned where or how they lived, though I wondered if Slim ever had to swap his ebony winklepickers and lamé sportcoat for rubber boots and a rain jacket when it came time to dig out a blocked culvert or chainsaw a downed tree. Mostly I assumed that mundane rural realities never intruded into what looked like their magical, charmed existence.

Through Slim I met Michael Ferretta, a singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar and an in-your-face attitude that might have been called folk-punk if that term had existed at the time. He’d become something of a mountain troubadour, especially for the growers and their families. One of his signature songs, “Locked Gates And A Loaded .45,” bemoaning the paranoia and violence that had invaded the once-peaceful pot trade, had becomes something of a local anthem.

He lived with his wife Holly, their three children, and Michael’s dad, in an expanded, updated version of the log cabin his grandfather had built early in the century. They were homeschoolers, and their kids seemed years ahead of their contemporaries, academically as well as socially. I’d met other homeschoolers, most notably the Colfaxes of Anderson Valley, who’d gained national attention when three of their sons were admitted to Harvard, but the Ferrettas were the first I was able to observe in action.

They were dead serious about it, establishing study hours and assignments more rigorous than anything the kids would have encountered in the Laytonville schools. As the kids grew older, the adult Ferrettas were constantly having to brush up on their own studies in order to keep up with them.

A perennial question about homeschooled kids was whether they missed out on the “socialization” process that a conventional school supposedly offers. Based on my own not especially happy experiences, I had my doubts. To its proponents, socialization meant learning how to work, play and interact with one’s peers; for me it had meant bullying, ostracism, and singling out for attack anyone who deviated from the norm.

Growing up, and even once grown up, I harbored the fantasy that I would have been happier and better adjusted if I hadn’t been forced to attend school with dullards and thugs. In that light, homeschooling looked like a highly desirable option. What I didn’t realize, but eventually came to see, was that the Ferrettas put as much effort into their own kids’ “socialization” — by ensuring that they spent quality time with other kids, and adults as well — as they did into the formal educational process.

Sadly, not every parent claiming to be a homeschooler was motivated by the same principles and values as the Ferrettas or Colfaxes. There were some who kept their kids at home merely to save themselves the trouble and expense of getting them down the mountain in time to catch the school bus, while others were indifferent or actively hostile to the very concept of education, and saw it as a brainwashing tool of “the man.”

“Kids are smart, they can learn on their own,” they’d insist, then proceed to smoke, sniff or drink themselves into oblivion while their children effectively ran wild. I know of at least half a dozen functionally and socially illiterate young people who grew up without acquiring any of the skills they’d need should they ever want to leave the mountain and try their hand at civilization.

Witnessing the damage being done chipped away at my anti-authoritarian attitudes; for the first time I began giving serious thought and study to how education should work ideally. This led me to publish the first of several “theme” issues of the Lookout. The cover looked as irreverent and iconoclastic as ever; the headline shouted “HEY STUPID! WERE YOU BORN LIKE THAT OR DID YOU LEARN IT IN SCHOOL?” But inside was some of the most serious journalism I had ever attempted.

I interviewed Bruce Anderson, an outspoken critics of the educational establishment, and, speaking in defense of said establishment, Laytonville’s Superintendent of Schools, Brian Buckley. I devoted a couple pages to an anonymous homeschooling family — I suppose after all these years it’s all right to identify them as the Ferrettas — and rounded it off with my politically liberal, socially conservative 80-year-old uncle, who’d spent half his life as an educator of the strictly disciplinarian old school, whose idealism and devotion had remained remarkably undimmed.

The issue was surprisingly well received. I was reaching new, previously undreamed of levels of respectability. Local organizations and institutions sent me their press releases and announcements as though I were a bona fide media outlet, and I suppose, in a way, I had become one.

Records, books and magazines also came flooding in, and no longer just from punk rockers. I seldom had time to give them the attention they deserved, but one cassette, from a singer named Darryl Cherney, quite impressed me. I Had To Be Born This Century was a well-crafted collection of tunes, some pleasant, slightly hokey (I liked slightly hokey) stories about local places and people, others serving as rallying cries for the environmental movement and its new, ultra-militant manifestation, Earth First!

Most people thought of only one thing when they heard the name Earth First!: tree-spiking. In reality, the loose-knit organization — so loose-knit that it was almost more of a concept than an actual organization — advocated a whole range of tactics.

Only some involved ecotage or “monkeywrenching” — pouring sand into a bulldozer’s crankcase, for example — while at least as much emphasis was placed on traditional civil disobedience techniques like picket lines and sit-ins. But nothing struck fear into the hearts of forest workers — or evoked their anger — like the threat of driving spikes or nails into trees to make them unharvestable.

There were few instances of this actually happening — it had always been more a threat than a reality — until a Sonoma County mill worker was almost decapitated when his saw hit a nail that looked to have been deliberately placed in the log he was working on. Tensions ratcheted up between environmentalists and loggers, to the point where violence often felt imminent.

I drove up to Piercy, a barely inhabited hamlet at the north end of the county, to meet Darryl Cherney, who was living in a cabin a stone’s throw from the then-placid Eel River. It was as he’d described it in his song about the great flood of 1986:

I was living down in Piercy, a hundred yards from the river’s edge

But when I woke up on Sunday morning I found its waters on my doorsteps

It was my favorite song of his; I liked how the chorus namechecked the towns scattered along the course of the mighty Eel, turning ordinary place names into something like poetry:

And if you lived in Myers Flat or Benbow

Miranda or Phillipsville

Sprowel Creek or Weott

Scotia or Rio Dell

Redcrest or Redway

Or by the bridge down at Sylvandale

His folksy manner and easy-going drawl belied the fact that Darryl was not exactly a local boy. A master’s degree-sporting product of New York’s affluent Upper West Side, he’d come to California to re-invent himself, and done a pretty convincing job of it. He’d recently teamed up with another East Coast transplant, Judi Bari, who I also met that afternoon.

I liked Judi immediately; she was outspoken, almost a little strident at times, but her uproarious sense of humor softened the effect, and made her a lot of fun to be around. Among my favorite — and certainly most vivid — memories of her is the time she, Darryl and I were hanging out on the porch of the Boonville Brewery after some meeting or other we’d attended.

Admiring her t-shirt, which was an intense, pulsating green punctuated with a black fist and the Earth First! Logo, I asked if she knew where I could get one like it. “I’ll trade you,” she said, and before I had time to think about it, she was standing there topless, waiting for me to hand her my shirt in exchange.

I did love my Earth First! shirt, but was seldom brave enough to wear it during my comings and goings around the county. Having spent several years learning how to fit in, I wasn’t ready to start making a whole new set of enemies. Besides, I rationalized, I was a journalist now, and had to retain at least some semblance of objectivity in dealing with the diverse elements of our community. But mostly I didn’t want to get punched in the face.

Looking back now, I can see where I should have tried harder to understand where the loggers were coming from. Until the arrival of marijuana, logging had completely dominated the North Coast. The industry paid well — or at least better than anything else — and almost no one doubted that there was a never-ending supply of logs to be cut and milled.

But by the 1980s, the landscape had changed dramatically. The trees were still being cut — faster than ever — but instead of being sent to local sawmills for processing into lumber (which was where most of the jobs were), raw logs were shipped en masse to Asia and other parts of the world. Corporations like Louisiana Pacific and Georgia Pacific, run by outsiders and committed only to maximizing profits, had embarked on a race to liquidate what was left of their forest holdings.

The Pacific Lumber Company, Humboldt County’s largest employer, had not joined this cut-and-run orgy, but instead continued to log at a sustainable rate, as had been the case for decades. Its integrity became its downfall: by keeping its most valuable asset — its old-growth redwoods — in reserve, Palco made itself an attractive and vulnerable target for a hostile takeover.

Charles Hurwitz, a Texas corporate raider who’d enriched himself by buying healthy companies, selling off anything that wasn’t nailed down and looting their pension funds before driving them into bankruptcy, swooped in to give Palco the same treatment. The only way to pay back the junk bonds he used to finance the takeover was to immediately start clearcutting the last major stands of privately owned old growth redwoods.

It didn’t take a genius to realize that at this rate it wouldn’t be long — perhaps as little as ten or twenty years — before the cathedral-like forests would be reduced to spindly stands of what the loggers derisively called “pecker poles.” But in the short term, there was an upsurge of logging jobs, and the mistrust of hippies and environmentalists shared by most workers — and cynically nurtured by their employers — ensured that few heeded the warning posed by Darryl Cherney’s song, “Where Are We Gonna Work When The Trees Are Gone?”

In late 1989 press releases began to appear for something called “Mississippi Summer In The California Redwoods.” Based loosely on 1964’s “Freedom Summer,” when activists from across the land descended on Mississippi to challenge its Jim Crow laws and register African-Americans to vote, the idea was to invite thousands of protesters to spend the summer of 1990 defending the last of California’s great redwood forests.

The idea had potential, but I questioned its chances for success. The “Mississippi Summer” name felt awkward and unwieldy; it would be next to meaningless for many young activists who might not even have been born by 1964. I argued in favor of calling it “Redwood Summer:” it would be catchier, as well as more succinct and to the point.

Darryl and Judi, who’d assumed a leading role in planning the protests, agreed with me, but thought it would be too difficult to persuade other coalition members, many of whom framed every political action in the rhetoric and tactics of their beloved 1960s, to consent to a name change. Exasperated, I took matters into my own hands by referring to “Redwood Summer” at every opportunity, in print or on the radio. It still seemed like a losing battle until I collaborated with the AVA’s “M” on what would become a semi-official poster for the event.

While I can barely draw a rudimentary stick figure, I can occasionally come up with concepts that an actual artist — and “M” was an especially gifted one — can turn into reality. I don’t remember how much if any of the picture was my idea, but I did produce a tag line —“This Is Where The 90s Begin” — and, most crucially, persuaded “M” to scrap “Mississippi Summer In The California Redwoods” in favor of “Redwood Summer.”

I circulated thousands of copies of the poster by way of Lookout magazine and Lookout Records mail orders, at Bay Area punk rock shows, and in bookshops, food co-ops, and wherever else my travels took me. I can’t claim to have single-handedly turned the tide in applying a more sensible and user-friendly name to the summer’s action, but I’d like to think I played a part.

Did my publicity campaign bring in any additional bodies? I have no way of knowing, but Redwood Summer did attract a significant sprinkling of punk rockers who previously wouldn’t have come within miles of anything perceived as “hippie,” the heading that saving trees and embracing nature would have traditionally fallen under.

The ensuing cultural interaction may have helped produce a new hippie-punk hybrid, something I took note of when Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra, introduced to Mendocino County by friend and collaborator Winston Smith, began touting the medicinal and economic values of “hemp,” aka marijuana. I too had been toeing the party line, recommending marijuana as a panacea for society’s ills.

Someone, somewhere, claimed that hemp oil would replace fossil fuels as our chief energy source? I unquestioningly repeated it as fact. Could it cure cancer, depression, AIDS, practically any other disease known to man, physical or mental? I didn’t see why not; after all, “everyone” knew the government was only trying to eradicate it to protect the profits of the giant pharmaceutical companies.

Personally, I had become less and less fond of the stuff. I hadn’t given up smoking it by any means, though I often thought I should. After a couple decades — I’d smoked my first joint in 1967 — of believing that it heightened my consciousness and made me a more spiritually and morally elevated being, I was beginning to suspect that most of the time the drug was doing me no favors.

Having seen far too much of my time and energy vanish into a dope-inflected haze, I tried harder and harder to curtail my usage. I’d be successful for a while; then, like a classic amnesiac, forget everything I’d learned and start reasoning that putting a little “edge” or “buzz” on the morning would make it more enjoyable and productive. Ten minutes later, often before the sun had cleared the trees and with the clock still lumbering its way toward 7 or 8 am, I’d be cursing my stupidity and accepting that another day had disappeared irrevocably down the drain.

Was the solitude finally getting to me, as I’d seen it do to so many others who lived alone on the mountain? What with the record label, the band, the magazine, the radio station and my new political work, I was meeting and interacting with more people than ever, but I always came back alone to my mountain redoubt, convinced that a hermit’s life must be what I had been fated for.

There might have been something in that, but looking back now, I think it was mostly the marijuana. Not only was it making me lazy and stupid; it also encouraged me to hang out in my own private universe, a fine place to be when you hanker to reign supreme and run roughshod over reality, but a very lonely place if you’re hoping to meet another human being who isn’t you.

At any rate, I was soon going to have to give up growing marijuana, which would in turn cut off my smoking supply. The record label was becoming too big, too much of a legitimate business. If, God forbid, I should ever get raided, the authorities would assume that its finances were intermingled with the proceeds from dope growing — in reality, they were not; the record label was now completely self-sustaining — and confiscate everything.

Until now I’d addressed this problem by having my partner, David Hayes, be the legal owner of the company, but he’d told me he was quitting at the end of the year. It had become “too much like a job,” as he put it. The upshot was that if the label were to keep going (I had my doubts), I was going to have to go “legit.”

These were the sorts of things running through my mind as the achingly beautiful autumn of 1989 slipped softly away. On one hand, I’d never been happier with Spy Rock and its way of life; on the other, I had a nagging suspicion that something was not quite right, that everything was coming undone. Such was my mental backdrop on that exquisite October day, as I cut firewood and listened to the World Series until it suddenly broke into a play-by-play of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

As was often the case when natural disasters struck down below, I felt as though I were floating safely above it all. Why, I often asked, would I ever want to leave this wonderful world? And, just as often, something told me that a time might come when I would have no choice.

Angst and feelings of unsettledness aside, there were also moments of sheer magic. One morning, ferrying a truckload of kids down Salmon Creek Road, I slipped the cassette of the new Lookouts album into the tape player and my favorite song came blasting forth.

I’d written it a couple years earlier while visiting the UK; it drew a parallel between Celtic tribes driven into the west country by invading Roman armies and our own “tribes” of hippies and back-to-the-landers striving to maintain their way of life on one of the last frontiers of America’s modern-day Rome:

And the rain still falls on the green hills of England

And the sun beats down on our California home

And the wind blows free across all your borders

Why must we be always on the run?

There are writers, gifted and visionary, no doubt, who can effortlessly turn out classic lyrics and soaring melodies whenever they set their minds to it, but most of us ordinary mortals have to content ourselves with an awesome line here or there, or maybe, if we’re really lucky, one perfect chorus. This was mine, or at least as close as I was likely to get.

In every direction, as far as I could see, the green hills of Humboldt were transfixed upon my eyes and transfigured in my soul. This was my home, my heart, my destiny. I could no more leave it than it could leave me. It was a moment, I knew, that would become a touchstone for all that mattered, for all the rest of my life.

The year glided to a gentle conclusion. On New Year’s Eve, the Lookouts spent the afternoon at KMUD, clowning around and playing soft, acoustic versions of our usually abrasive punk songs. They felt well suited to the day, which was mild and swathed in a not unpleasant cloud of melancholy and nostalgia.

Midway through “That Girl’s From Outer Space,” Kain’s upright bass “exploded,” as I put it. In reality the bridge had just broken loose and sent the strings flying every which way. Instead of cursing our luck or feeling our performance was ruined, we laughed almost hysterically while the bass was reassembled, then played some more, until we’d all but run out of songs. Chris, who’d been manning the control board, faded into an extended version of “Disco Inferno,” and we spilled out onto the parking lot to say our goodbyes.

It was only then that I remembered it wasn’t any old New Year we were celebrating, but the turn of a decade. At the beginning of the 1980s, I’d been fearful, almost despondent, about the direction I saw my life going; ten years down the line, I was almost brimming over with optimism and excitement.

1990. It really felt like the future now. Like science fiction, almost. Who would have dreamed I’d live this long and still have so much to live for? I knew before it began that it was going to be a banner year, and that proved to be true in almost every way. What I didn’t know, what I couldn’t or wouldn’t have wanted to know, was that it would also mark the beginning of the end of my time on Spy Rock Road.

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