MARCH 1- Homer looks exactly, but EXACTLY as it it did on Google Street View... that is to say tiny, with no big buildings at all, and what buildings there are spaced widely apart, like Mugsy Dugan's teeth. I knew where everything was before I got here.
Made it to Anchorage just fine. Flight was a breeze, luggage was
waiting for me. Picked up a polystyrene blue Dodge Vincible and headed out between the mountains and the ice-caked sea. The drive to Homer took 4.5 hours; the first half through some of the most forbidding mountains I've ever prayed would stay where they were. Many signs reading AVALANCHE DANGER 2 MILES DO
I can see why people go crazy when they see this place. There is an inherent challenge in this landscape to come on and learn what you're made of. It's impossible not to think of Jack London in those mountains and all too easy to imagine being driven to the extremity of eating frozen horsehide, hair and all.
The second half of the drive was through indifferent logged land seemingly mostly lying fallow. I had had about enough of that when I came over a ridge and WHAM! There was Homer down below, surrounded by water and mountains in the most staggeringly beautiful array I've ever seen.
MARCH 2- I'm staying at The Mermaid Cafe B&B where I have a really nice apartment... well-appointed, comfortable and roomy. The guy who runs the place with his wife Sally is Andy. He has a great book shop in an old log cabin below the apartment. Terrific books, a great selection. He's very convivial, so anytime I get bored or need a break I can saunter down and talk, books, art, illustration and poetry with him. Thank God!
March 3- I hung my show to day and it looks kind of interesting. I'm getting along well with everyone I've met so far. Being alone in the evenings is strange but I like it. They tell me that at the opening on Friday I'll meet people who will be willing to take me out fishing or flying in their airplane.
Moose abound. They roam willy nilly through the town. They aren't dangerous unless they think you're hassling theeir kids. Their kids are friendly and curious. If a mother moose sees you and her child canoodling she will gallop over and break it (and you) up. Moose are enormous, it turns out, as big as horse and a cow combined.
As for hanging the show, it's mostly prints and some sketches attached to the wall with pushpins and clips along the top edge, so they curl and flap.
There is one wonderful feature here in the person of a strangely calm and well-spoken woman who runs a religious artifact shop near the gallery It's a beautiful and profoundly enticing shop crammed full of really nice devotional art from all the Eastern religions, including Bon, the pre-cursor of Buddhism; she says she has had Bon priests in for ceremonies which is easy to believe, given her, but hard to believe as well, given the expense and logistics of getting monks from Tibet to tiny, remote Homer.
She is incredibly erudite about religion and talks about the influence of Amenhotep on Moses' decision to go monotheist as if she were there. I would not have been surprised if she had, when mentioning Amenhotep, said, "Nasty little man. No sense of hygiene at all, and vicious out of proportion even for a Pharaoh. He'd have a slave butchered on the spot just to see what his fat tasted like. Fortunately for me he liked blondes."
The shop is beautifully set up and maintained. It would look perfectly at home in Beverly Hills. It's really like the opening pages of a W.W. Jacobs or Stephen King story.
April 1- Home again.