There is something vaguely organic about being up here at the farm a day doesn’t go by that we don’t buy some goat cheese or milk or hydrangea grown or made exclusively at a farm called Aunt Bessie’s Sheep Ranch or something. This place crawls with homegrown goodness, everything having that cow-poop-mixed-with-pablum smell that reminds you that you aren’t very far from the source of hearty fuckin’ goodness.
The truth is, it all tastes better, and on a larger scale, you feel like each dollop of local sheep cheese consumed somehow makes you Less a Part of the Problem, whatever the Problem might be. We actually have apricots and blueberries up here, which has been a nice re-education for me, since most of my flavor ideas have been long since warped by Starburst chews and sour gummi bears.
Somehow, none of the packaging for these local goods have changed they all sport the stripped-down homey style of 1887, or the ubiquitous green that says “I’m organic!” It reminds of my vegetarian years, roughly 1991-93, when I was besotted with the resurgence of community service amongst us Generation Xers, and got fat eating nothing but french fries. Part of that time I was dating Susan Comfort, and with that came no meat, relentless recycling, and repeated, horrified re-readings of Diet for a New America. I even wrote a couple of environmentally-themed songs at that time that were terrible. I mean, what the hell was I thinking???
One of the good things to come from those dioxin-free days was my involvement in a project called From the Hip, which was our little way of trying to convince the world that the members of Generation X weren’t all Frito-munchin’ scalawags with brainfuls of “Gilligan’s Island” trivia. The project, of course, was doomed from the beginning.
We were never sure what kind of project it would be (a book? a video?) and though 280 young photographers scoured the country looking for “at-risk youths making a difference,” only about three of them could take decent pictures. Most of our schemes in the summer of 1993 ended in humiliation at the hands of book agents and corporate sponsors, but none of that mattered to me: I was having too good a time.
It was then I got to know some fabulous people: Stasia Droze, who has since been like family; Lawrence Lucier, who became my confidante at CitySearch in 1996 and then my East Village roommate in 2000; even N’Gai Wright, who later became the character N’Wal in a little movie I’m working on called The Pink House. Our leader Tony Deifell, was an old Chi Psi buddy who always had a plan I learned a lot from his dogged determination, especially when we went to Washington D.C. to crack a few skulls.
Our project was a failure, as were most public service anthems dedicated to our generation (does anybody reading this remember Lead or Leave? At least those Third Millennium cats are still around). But like any project full of bright, intense young thinkers, we all have tons to say to each other even a decade later. That, and I really miss the “let’s get together and put on a show” way of looking at one’s career; we really did just rent an office in downtown Durham and hope for the best. These days, there’s so much formality and structure that accompanies all our decisions – back then, if you had gas in the car, a paid phone bill and a place to get bourbon & cokes after work, anything seemed cool enough to try for a summer.
detail of the “From the Hip” group photo, showing me (with bouffant), Stasia Droze and Lawrence Lucier, August 1993