The Road To Overlook

photo (22)One of us had a question. As the fire burned and the shadows danced and a tribe of sorts was gathered about as humans have since time immemorial, since there were tribes, since there were questions, since the first ape with a stone tool asked “why” or “what” or “how” or “Shelia, why are you with him?” This question differed from those early ones, in content, language, and tone. But it was the same attempt to uncover the knowledge in the group rather than individual. However, times have changed and we were in a dead zone. The lake was still other than the murky sounds and dank mutations crawled about, the bugs made their sounds of pleasure and pain and the trees knocked a little in the light wind. Our question was more difficult than than those of long ago, since we no longer remember answers. We could not rely on our iDevices. We were disconnected from The Googles. The Wikipedias. The Ask.coms. It was as if he tribe had at once lost all its elders, shamans, and that one always naked hot babe willing to do anything.
The trail to the Overlook hotel is not picturesque.
It is not a quaint journey up to the top of the mountain since the trail is a hard open gravel road and built at angles to the specifications of whatever commercial trucks are needed to maintain the microwave tower at the top rather than provide a gentile incline for a horse drawn carriage or the hiker. The pathway is but an after thought, a byproduct to whatever industry maintains the tower and the humming lines of electricity that service it. The way up is popular with the city crowd – more so in recent years – the Garden State refuges looking for some looming beauty away from their segregated and polluted garden cities and skyways. On a warm day the hike is somewhat an exodus of Pilgrims from The City as it has for now centuries since there was once a grand hotel at the top, now in ruins. Along the way there are ample moments to call home, to take stock of the weather or check one’s phone-of-i. At the top, one is rewarded for the dearth of view along the way by a grand vista. First, the old ruined hotel, cement and drab, no less imposing and full of ghosts as the stories Tintern Abby or Whitby Castle or as dangerious as the Bannerman Castle that is currently propped up with timbers and the largess of whatever donors take an interest. There apparently are no donors, no caretakers of this structure that each passing year gets ever more dangerous – one of these days some chunk of this grand facade will brain someone. A great place for Selfies as is the bluff overlooking the Hudson Valley and Catskill range and still on to the fire tower, a great place to call mom. From there we turned our happy party down the other side of the mountain, down the old carriage path that had some attempt at restoration by the Forestery Service some generations past. It is a hard trail and uncertain in footing at times. The Catskill Mountains are deceptive and to many appear tame. They are not.
photo (23)Down we hiked in heavy pack to the lake and our camping spot, and with each step we ere robbed a bar on our phones. Tower be damned, we were entering a dead zone. No emergency calls in case we twisted a foot. No emergency calls for beer from those joining us later. Just Failed Calls, Failed Text, Cannot Load The Page.
This silent space becomes rarer with each passing communications company merger. On the trail, the sweat was rolling down my back and I thought that just a scant few days prior, I had been in the glamour of Internet Week and technically… no pun intended but I’ll run with it… It still was Internet week and here were were with the looming prospects of a weekend away, far away, from all things digital. Were this out in some far reach of the American Empire, I would understand the disconnect. Even 10 years ago there was “no service” beyond the confines of some of the more bourgeois villages and certainly not expected in the woods, this lack of service then would be normal, expected, planned for. In time, these islands of tranquility and disconnect are growing ever smaller, melting as fast as our ice caps and we are perhaps soon to weekend with the same barrage of content and clever clicking as were we reclining in our favorite chair of self indulgent behavior.
Lough and score these many years ago there was a boomtime in America built on bits and bites and new launches of an online this and that to pave the way to our Future and change the world for good. Things were taking down brick and mortar everything, digital kids who had never lifted a hod in their lives were working up blisters and carpel tunnel syndrome in order to launch ne websites, list serves, message boards, and AMII farms. This was a long time ago, way back in 1998 when the Internets was new. And so this current blogger with scant experience in life and no access to technology did somehow wheedle and connive and huck my way into many a launch party, IPO, or upgrade 2.O for these affairs were stocked with drink and sup and I needed the later being in graduate school and required the former since it was cheaper than any therapy I could ill afford nor prescriptions unobtainable. It seemed that by 2001 we would be swimming in digital potential.
photo (24)And as we know, in the lore of our age, this bubble burst, and tech was replaced by war and real estate and war again. And then…. the tech of the late two thousand-ties was revived and this and that was a silicon valley, alley, way, center, tit or whatever was available in order to gather the kids born at the last crash, themselves unable to remember the fist time The Googles failed and born with scant ability to formulate a memory outside of Snapchat(tm) and get them stuffed into new offices, open, airy, white walls that you could draw on since drawing on walls is cool now (take that mom and dad), and Asian art in order to represent the core workforce, new games… Nerf 2.O. Ping pong tables regrew in old lofts, sprung up and infected the workers like some entomopathogenic fungus and got inside their heads so that they again believe their new App will bring down not just the BrickandMorter(r) companies, but these new Apps are to vanquish the Old Economy of 2000and5 of Content, Commerce, and social Connectivity. Anyone remember Friendster? Didn’t think so.
And to this an open bar today. The venue is the same as years past, a clubish space which in Gothem is ever more rare. One cannot find an open space to afford if to live, sup or quaff let alone host a bash, party or affair, so to those who do not remember Centrofly, Cheetah, Body and Soul, it was the makings of an affair to remember – that night in Gothem where Ohmygawdihadablast. I collected free drinks and took one sip of each until I had a stack, a real collection, in front of me. This was an OK affair, but smacked too much of content, the reward for underpaid Creatives and coders sent out to play as a reward for doing their homework on time.
photo (25)There are still new Apps to make, new code to write, and bandwidth is no longer so much the issue. Even in the short time I have been attending this Intertubes bacchanal the times are changing with more faces on their iScreens, more Intertube connectivity that I wondered if the attendant in the restroom was perhaps live blogging all our movements, and trending what brand of soap we were using yet. Other than the party I brought, I did not talk to a single individual outside of the bar tenders. It was a feed within a feed, everyone posting, texting, and selfie-ing, all projected on to the walls of our faux-club cum party rental space event wedding palace. And in a matter of a few days, I was thrust into another world. The world that exists when the generator dies.
On the trail as I tossed a branch onto the fire. We sipped our wine. That hard question we considered. One of us poked the embers and the branches lit up against the rock we had built our fire next to. Somehow we planted ourselves behind a rock so that the entire view of the lake was obscured. We may as well have been in Brooklyn, one joked. We watched the fire project shadows onto this ancient stone. We pondered. This would be so easy if we could call someone who knew. Or The Google it. Our question was not about the forest. Nor the old and rotting hotel. It was not inspired by the rolling green mountains of the Catskills, the large reservoir that had been hand dug and under which the spirits of old towns still burned blue deep lights to lure back inhabitants to a water grave, it was not the valley, the mighty Hudson River.
We were wondering something like what film Christian Bale first starred in.
Something like that. Still, upon the rock by the fire, it was an open bar for us, and that too clouded our minds. We were alone again with just the stars and far adrift from Youtube and all the wonders of our age.
The night was cool and dark.
Somewhere in dreams, I saw a man in Google Glasses emerge from a party at Bungalow 7. And in dreams…. I punched that fucker hard. Yes, I guess I would hit a man with glasses.
photo (26)
Editor’s Note: To learn more or donate to preserving Bannerman’s Castle please visit the Trust Webisite http://www.bannermancastle.org/

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