Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is Fake the New Real?

                                Evidently the plastic Barbie Doll look is popular in some circles

                                        Life in 2013 America is increasingly strange, I think.
                                            "Fake" is becoming more popular than ever.

                                These fake tree cell towers are popping up all over the place

       Then there are the fake married couples. Extreme examples like 90 year old billionaire J. Howard Marshall and 25 year old stripper Anna Nicole Smith personify the fake marriage. I'm not saying that they didn't have affection for one another. But in my opinion, unions like this are not a marriage in the traditional sense as much as business arrangements.

    In exchange for travel, jewelry and a lavish lifestyle, Anna Nicole must take off her shirt and let J. Howard come in and poke around in the playpen a little once a month or so.

   Everybody's in denial, but when it's done properly, I suppose, everybody's happy (except J. Howard's 65 year old sons, who weren't too thrilled to turn over their billion dollar inheritance to Miss Anna, who perhaps justifiably felt that she had "earned" the money).

   In this scenario,  J. Howard convinces himself that she loves him for his hot body (while she's off boinking the hot pool boy during J. Howard's afternoon nap), and Anna Nicole convinces herself that he loves her for her fascinating observations on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

    Anyway, say what you will, but the point is, the marriage, by all intents and purposes, is fake.



    We all loved it in the 90's when Mark McGuire hit home run after home run for the St. Louis Cardinals. We now know he (and apparently half of major league baseball) was (and still is?) totally juiced the whole time.

   But the question remains: were his home runs fake? We certainly enjoyed watching the baseballs explode out of the park. But were they real? Does it even matter?

        We learned after the fact that many of the spectacular fireworks at the Beijing Olympics were holograms. They were fake. Wow! No kidding...what to make of it? I guess we should have been mad, right? On the other hand, if we couldn't tell the difference, they what's the big deal...right?

       Despite the fact that Britney Spears notoriously lip synchs her concerts, millions of youngsters willingly pay hundreds of dollars for tickets. When I told my nieces who had attended the concert about the lip synching, they sort of shrugged their shoulders in apathy.

They're young enough, I guess, that for them, fake is the new normal.

  A few weeks ago, our friends invited us to go see a fake Oingo Boingo band play in Lake Arrowhead. Since it was free, and we loved the band back in the day, we figured: Why not?

                                The fake Oingo Boingo guys gave it the college try,
                                         but in the end it was "Just Another Day."

                            The audience at fake Oingo Boingo was pretty uninspired,
           except for this one superfan in the yellow. It was 1982 all over again for this lady.

      A couple of weeks later, our friends wanted to see the next tribute band (free again) -- this time, "Joshua Tree," a fake U2 band. Oh, boy. This is gonna be painful, I thought. But what else did I have going on? Not much, so once again we headed across the mountain.

                      I was pretty cynical. "This should be good," I said with a wink and a nod


                              Fake U2 took the stage. They had the look, and they had the sound.
                                                           Wow. I was pretty impressed.

    I had seen the real U2 in concert back in the day with Chris' brother Kevin. Except for the fact that there was no fancy light show, and instead of 90,000 people there were a couple of hundred people at a shopping mall, the experience was pretty damn similar.

                                      Everyone started getting into it, including Ron and Donna

                                  The fake U2 -- Even Better Than The Real Thing?

                             Pretty soon we all just let go and started rocking out,
                                        even the most skeptical of the audience

                             OK. The fake U2 totally won me over. They were amazing.

     I left the night feeling several conflicting emotions. First of all, the musician/snob part of me felt completely ashamed that I let myself get strung along by this fake U2. I mean, I knew it wasn't really Bono and The Edge up there, but they were so good that by the end of the concert, it was like: "Who cares if it's fake?"

   I did some research, and these "tribute" bands are a huge thing now. At first I felt bad for the actual artists being impersonated. But in a neat trick, if you're a popular enough band that someone actually forms a tribute band of you, then you are rich and famous enough that this makes ZERO impact on your bottom line.

   So, "Joshua Tree" makes a good little living touring fairs and shopping malls, and working class fans who could never afford a real U2 concert get a pretty good performance for free. Also, Bono and the boys get a tiny stipend every time theirs songs are performed live. So everybody's happy, I guess.

  Which left me more confused than ever. If fake is the new real,  what's a girl whose seeking "authenticity" to do?

   I guess as Fake gets more and more common, all we can do is keep an eye out for the Real. Seek it out. And bask in it's presence when we find it.  Because we don't want to forget completely about the Real.

         The shore of Lake Arrowhead, just a few feet from where the fake bands played

 For us humans, I think, a great way to remember what's real and true is to get out into the wilderness.

         In nature, all of the Fake gets immediately washed away by the Real. By the True.

    So in the end I guess I'm a convert to "Tribute Bands." They can be just alright, in all of their fake glory.

    But let us never forget the difference between Fake and Real. When confused, we can always turn to the classics to remind us what truth is:

       "Ode to a Grecian Urn"

When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 

                                    -- John Keats




Saturday, July 20, 2013

Campin' at 'Coon Creek

                      Campin' at 'Coon Creek in the San Gorgonio Wilderness

       Since Chris and I have returned home to the Southern California mountains from our sailing adventure, we've been trying to practice the principals of "simple living." One of those principals is to get outside and away from the TV, phones and internet as often as possible.

   Fortunately, we love camping.

   We made the hour drive to nearby 'Coon Creek in the San Gorgonio Wilderness and made camp with our friends Ron and Donna.

  One major bummer? No campfires allowed. No fires of any kind, in fact.

There are few activities more enjoyable than gathering with fellow humans in front of a fire

When I found out we couldn't have a campfire, I was so bummed that I almost backed out of the trip.  However, cooler heads prevailed, and we went anyway. Fireless.

Chris and I arrived first and set up camp. Ron and Donna arrived about 2 hours later with a flat tire, courtesy of the extra rocky, lumpy and bumpy truck trail which led to our destination deep in the forest.

I jumped right in and changed the tire for them.

As you can see, I'm a wizard with the lug wrench.

Ha! OK, OK, I'm kidding.  :-) 

Chris and Ron actually changed the tire.

But I helped! Mostly, though, I supervised.

Donna and her pomeranian Bella assisted me in the rigorous supervising process.

After the tire was changed and Ron and Donna set up their camp, we settled in for some serious camping fun. Since we couldn't have a fire (BOOOOOO!) and we don't drink (some people's top two joys of camping), we had to get creative to find other forms of camping fun.

Fortunately, we love playing music!  Hoaky campfire songs (without the campfire...harumpf...I've gotta get over this...I know it's the right thing since the forest is tinder dry...) were the order of the day. 

After dinner we played cards and laughed, gossiped and just talked late into the night. 

Our Coleman lantern wasn't quite as good as a fire...but under the stars, she worked her magic.

The next day we awoke and had a great camping breakfast: 2 pots of coffee, eggs, toast and a pound of bacon.

They haven't forbidden BACON from camping yet! We may not have had a campfire, but for the love of God, we had sizzling bacon. :-)

OK. Time for the hike.

Fortunately, the iconic Pacific Crest Trail passes right through 'Coon Creek

The trail covers the entire Pacific Coast, north to south. We decided to follow it a couple of miles up to the 'Coon Creek cabin. 

As always, it felt so great just to get out there

Moon over the forest

These clouds signal that weather is coming

Mother nature can be deceiving. These tasty looking pea-pod type things we passed on the trail are not peas, but would soon be inedible flowers. 

This Swainson's Hawk flew along with us for awhile

These lenticular clouds also signal oncoming rainy weather

More lenticular clouds

This pine seems to be peeling back her skin to display her core

The sun gives an alarming appearance of a meteor hurtling towards earth

Look closely here: what has the appearance of a water-damaged photo is actually cirrostratus clouds.

Wow. So interesting, I think (spoken like a true weather geek)!

Check this out: enterprising chipmunks took advantage of the flat surface of a tree stump to collect, process and dine on tasty pine nuts, excavated from pine cones. We found dozens of sites like this on tree stumps all along the trail. See? Chipmunks like counter-tops and tables too! :-) 

A giant dead pine still has a sense of majesty about her


Kelly green fern

Finally we arrived at our destination: the 'Coon Creek cabin

It was built several years ago by the Forest Service for public use

We took a look inside. Sadly, graffiti covered the interior.

Oh, my. Looks like that Lisa was quite the heartbreaker

Yikes... :-/

But it wasn't all scary stuff:

DNA strands make unusual graffiti

"Rat Pack Forever." Frank Sinatra was here? 

"Wonder."     :-)

Love.    <3