Gone, Gone, Like the Snows of Yesteryear

“The ugly fallout from the American Dream has been coming down on us at a pretty consistent rate since Sitting Bull’s time — and the only real difference now […] is that we seem to be on the verge of ratifying the fallout and forgetting the Dream itself.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

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Turn around, puppy, she’s standing right there.

If you’re lucky in 2016, maybe you’re better off than your parents or grandparents. Maybe you got a better education, or are able to own a home. Maybe you’ve got a pension (ha, Google it). Maybe you’re simply able to negotiate a stroll without being harassed, beaten, tazed, or straight up shot dead. And maybe your own kids will be better off than you are. That’s what most parents hope for, anyway, but look at the rising costs and disappearing opportunity for nearly everything, and that hope might feel increasingly desperate.

Those of us lucky enough to be U.S. citizens have a heritage that’s the envy of the world. Millions of acres of wild land and clean water are bequeathed to all of us as a happy accident of birth, or the fortunate benefit of negotiating a long and costly immigration process. And in the absence of property or money or opportunity, we can at least pass this inheritance along to our kids, as long as we’re vigilant and the well isn’t poisoned.

And, you know, if it isn’t stolen by greedheads like the American Lands Council and their pet politicians, who are attempting to force the divestiture of our public land and water to the states, where they can be, or in some cases must be sold off to private interests who can keep your kids’ dirty feet from soiling it ever again.

Screw that. Start here, and here, but don’t stop there. Raise hell. Don’t be forced to tell the kids that you’re sorry, but you just didn’t do enough. It’s easy to type words about heritage and the home of the brave, but that doesn’t amount to a hell of a lot when they’re willing to set the dogs on you.

Good Wholesome Head Wounds

There was a day when some of us scampered at the rusty, toxic, helmetless edge of the void, turned out there by our parents with just a few instructions, most of which amounted to “shut up and don’t monkey around.” We formed feral bicycle gangs, waded in storm drains, blew up stumps, set things on fire, built tree forts and fell out of them. We were targeted by Mattel and the like with colorful happy diversions, some of which turned out to be highly flammable and/or bad if you swallowed them.

After a few squealers suffered Thingmaker burns and wrecked the fun, the grownups finished their drinks and put out their smokes and decided to look out for us. Let’s see where we are now, shall we?

Jarts

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The Danger: skull piercing, and your brains will squirt out and I’m not cleaning that up.

Result: BANNED

Clackers

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The Danger: whacking yourself in the face or the crotch. Also sometimes they shattered and shrapnel went everywhere. Big whoop.

Result: BANNED

Sticks

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The Danger: blunt force trauma, eye injury, gun/sword/lightsaber wound (true, ask any kid).

Result: not BANNED, but it might just be a matter of time and blood loss. Still the integral component of a game of Stick Quiz.

Rattling Around in the Back of a Pickup at Highway Speed with an Iron Rake and Some Loose Firewood

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The Cordwoods head home after Family Fun Day at Broken Bottle Park

The Danger: occasionally a kid or two would bounce out and you might not find them again. Make some more.

Result: mostly ILLEGALED

Fishing

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The Danger: drowning, skin cancer, hypothermia, fire, dehydration, tetanus, unemployment, bottomless pits, lightning, shark attack, bear attack, tweaker attack, misanthropy, salmonella, choking, chafing, gunfire, stabbing, swamp ass, stank foot, alcohol poisoning, strangulation, blindness, marriage failure, road food, terrible coffee, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, leeches, lampreys, bats, rabies, rabid bats, poison ivy, potty mouth, criminal prosecution, lies, exaggerations, terminal smartassery, low self-esteem, butthurt, blogging, slack, and general sketchiness.

Result:

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WELP!

Free the Collect!

“On the lower end, two fair-sized streams drained the interior. One rose from a series of springs that poured forth from hillocks around today’s 20th Street and Fifth Avenue. The Saponickan band living there called it Ishpetenga. It flowed southwest into the Hudson near the mouth of another trout stream. This one had its origins in a deep, fair-sized pond where Worth and Centre streets now cross. It flowed northwesterly, almost in a straight line, and became the course for today’s Canal Street. The pond was known as The Collect. The Dutch name for this trout pond was derived from one of its beaches, which they which they called Kalk Hoek – Chalk Point or Chalk Hook. It was given the name because the early Dutch settlers came here to collect the shells of freshwater mussels, which were ground and added to the mortar used to build their homes. When the English took over management of Manhattan in 1664 they assumed many of the Dutch words already in use for geographic features. Their inelegant pronunciation of Dutch turned the monosyllabic word “Kalk” (or “Chalk”) into the dissylable “Kal-leck”- hence, “Collect.” The pond’s name had nothing to do with collecting water in the area, as some writers have suggested, although it did have two small feeder streams. For decades, in the 1600s and 1700s, it was the source of drinking water for all of lower Manhattan’s residents. The Collect and its associated streams contained brook trout as late as 1740.”

– from Brook Trout by Nick Karas

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…and a shovel and a fly rod!

Oh Lithgow, Bring Me the Parker

Coolness courtesy of the Library of Congress collection, the Works Projects Administration, and Lithgow Osborne, Commissioner of the New York State Conservation Department, 1933-1938.

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Crop Ass, a Gamey Community