My Northampton, Massachusetts friends, Meg and Jenn, took me on a cultural tour of the area yesterday beginning with cider donuts. To be honest, they weren’t as good as the ones I had in LA at the Mexican shop called “Yum Yum Donuts,” but maybe that’s because I didn’t have a hangover this time. Jenn was very excited to see these:
I’ve already seen this disturbing tendency for buns with bacon in Palm Springs. My Andy Warhol Friend, Richard Dupont, doesn’t approve. Salted caramel is one thing but I sincerely hope that bacon caramel will never take off. I got excited when Meg told me of a thing called “Hadley Grass,” they grow around here. But then they told me you don’t need a lighter for it. This is what Hadley Grass is:
Meg is on the left and Jenn on the right. Apparently, this area, Hadley, had the reputation for growing the best asparagus in America, before California got in on the act. Luckily I had my asparagus Jolly Lolly with me
Here I am, outside Amherst college, pondering the weighty legacy of the town founded in 1821 by Lord Jeffrey Amherst. He is famous for giving small pox-infested blankets to the native Americans. Until this January, students would wear a South Park-style picture of “Lord Jeff” on their sports shirts at their sports days. They finally voted not to have this mascot any more as from this January. Maybe they need to change the name of the town as well.
Amherst is one of the big liberal arts colleges in America and here I am outside the BDSM Faculty, Coolidge Cage:
Only kidding, as the Americans say. I think it must be some sort of a gym. Although on a serious note, you will have to read Sex Drive to know what a variety of roles this belt has played in my life over the past two years.
Amherst is a famous college although the only famous people I can find who have been here are the novelist David Foster Wallace who committed suicide and, um Dan Brown of Da Vinci Code fame. The poet Robert Frost used to teach here and he is remembered in a statue.
I’m glad to see that the students have provided him with his own Jolly Lolly in the form of alcoholic refreshment. Indeed, My day with Jenn and Meg was turning into quite a poetry- laden day. We drove 10 minutes down the road to Emily Dickinson’s house. Check out where she used to live.
My poet friend, Lisa Luxx, in Huddersfield, doesn’t walk through Graecian-style pillars every time she staggers in from a night out.
This was Emily Dickinson’s family home and it must have been a bit of a nightmare being a poet and living with your parents. I don’t know her work very well. There is a poem about death and a bluebottle (” I heard a Fly buzz -when I died” etc) but I don’t really get it. Here’s the view she saw out of her window every day:
And flowers in her garden
Three of the windows are blocked out, presumably from the window tax. You can see one here.
That is a disturbing thought: a poet deprived of light. When I asked the pretty snotty student types who run reception on this place, one of them told me in that passive aggressive polite American way that she had “no idea, I’m afraid.” If I was Emily, I’d be pretty pissed off that the people who were making bucks out of my old homestead and my legacy and weren’t completely passionate about me and my home.
With no luck on the historical information front I took to making up my own history about the place. Jenn suggested that this coal hole might have been where Emily used to go to make crystal meth (or masturbate) when she got bored of writing about flies and death:
In the driveway, there was a sign with a line of hers for visitors to read:
This made me think of Kevin Carter, my New Mexico felon friend. He’d said something very touching, about how, when he was doing his 3 and a half years in prison, he hoped to make use of the library to educate himself. He said he had trouble reading novels though. “I keep having to go back over the same word. I can’t ‘go there,’ like people say.” Would this be dyslexia? Or does he just have bad concentration? In any case, books and poetry certainly aren’t frigates for him. Luckily he has a Harley Davidson for two more months before he goes to prison in June.
Everything felt a bit stiff here at Emily D’s house, so I decided to give it the Sacred Fool treatment. In shamanism, the Sacred Fool is the weirdo person who comes into a stagnant place and stirs up the energy. It’s like the back beat in a jazz tune – slightly off, but the tune would be boring without it. Here you go Emily, hope you’re turning in your grave: