Eva Knott 4:04 a.m., May 23
Jamul and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch
Second-Place Winner of the November 2009 Neighborhood Blog Contest!
“In the face of contemporary pecksniffian anesthesia we'll erect a whole gallery of forebears, heroes who carried on the struggle against bad consciousness but still knew how to party, a genial gene pool, a rare and difficult category to define, great minds not just for Truth but for the truth of pleasure, serious but not sober, whose sunny disposition makes them not sluggish but sharp, brilliant but not tormented. Imagine a Nietzsche with good digestion. Not the tepid Epicureans nor the bloated Sybarites. Sort of a spiritual hedonism, an actual Path of Pleasure, vision of a good life which is both noble and possible, rooted in a sense of the magnificent over-abundance of reality.” -Hakim Bey, Temporary Autonomous Zones
Jamul is a little-regarded and gravely misrepresented speck of San Diego geography. Those in the Know will drop names like "The Greek Sombrero," "El Campo," and may occasionally lend an esoteric nod to "The Haven" or even "The Hideaway." Some may see the place as the last bastion of civilization to be found on outbound 94, that mysterious nexus where the event horizon of suburban San Diego ends and the untamed cosmos of East County truly begins.
Jamul is a magickal place - an alchemical fusion of foggy creek-side oak groves, rattlesnakes, upper-rung retirement estates, poison oak, feed stores, middle-class families, granite hills, Border Patrol agents eating California burritos, horned toads, and expansive cow-dotted countryside.
A google search on the name produces images of strange artifacts from earlier times: http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc23456.php
Scenic reprieve: http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc36499.php
And perhaps the most revealing merit of all: http://www.jamul4h.org/images/Buckle.jpg
Many simply pass through on the way to a fish fry in Barrett Junction, the train museum in Campo, or a rave on the outskirts of Jacumba. Some come with fancy visions of Getting Away from It All. Others live here simply because that is who they are, what they do.
The True Jamulian is a rogue breed.
This story is about them.
The sun has barely set and already the Doverson house is flooded with drunks. In a single, spastic motion, James, the older Doverson brother, turns up the stereo to full volume on his trailer-bound speed boat, shoves one of his best friends over the starboard side, grabs his grinning topless girlfriend with one hand, and cracks open a can of beer with the other. The air smells of summer - that unmistakable Santa Ana edge of desert wind, Bud light, and chaparral burning somewhere in the distance.
In the backyard, next to a sizable monument of beer cases, Cole Doverson drains the fuel from his brother’s dirt bike so as to facilitate the fire-starting process. A squabble breaks out when a dim-eyed friend grabs the cup of gas and insists on lighting the fire himself. The blast of high-octane bike fuel singes eyebrows and Cole laughs uproariously as he stumbles off, knowing he should have just lit the damn thing himself.
The atmosphere is hard to pinpoint – a clash of belligerence, merriment, machismo, lust, and nihilism, all tempered by a grassroots sensibility. Reckless abandon with the best of intentions, a strange sense of soul.
You may be punched in the face, but so what? Hug and chug, bro.
We’re in this Weird Boat together.
James emerges from the house in a leopard-print thong, ever-grinning girlfriend in tow. They climb to the top of the ice plant hill in the backyard, which is covered with plastic tarpaulin. “Sex!” he yells as they plummet down the homemade waterslide, thirty feet at least, before being sent off a ledge into a newly-dug pond where the begonias used to be.
The Sporting Mood is amplified by Fox Racing and Monster energy drink banners hanging from the chain link fence.
Around the fire, someone strums Woody Guthrie on an acoustic guitar, the sound of which finds an eerie synchronicity with the Eminem track pumping from James’ speed boat. Singed Eyebrows lurches around with a huge plate of carne asada and a look that says, “try it and like it, or I’ll break your nose for no good reason” while Cole makes strident assertions about the best sources of alternative energy in case of an apocalypse, diesel to veggie oil conversions, and the importance of community solidarity. He doesn’t want any carne asada and, in that singular hermetic motion known only to the Doverson brothers, suddenly head butts Singed Eyebrows and immediately grasps his skull, coos in his ear like a mother to a baby, carefully inspecting the fresh lump turning purple on his friend’s forehead.
A different sort of camaraderie prevails amongst this inner sanctum of the Jamul elite – one of dominance, boisterous one-upism, a Macguyver brand of intellect coupled with unrestrained brute strength. A modern-day Guevara swilling tall cans on a 250cc bike, inverse Abbie Hoffman shouting right-wing slogans and conspiracy theories to the vacant desert night, William Wallace bumping Linkin Park from a lifted vegetable oil pick-up. Because the tougher I get, the tougher we all get, and the future rushes in with smug certainty, while we’ve got certainties of our own.
The fire burns low as the night turns late. Singed Eyebrows and others pass out in lawn chairs with cigarettes still burning between lips and fingertips. The feminine melodies of drunken coitus float down from open windows as Cole demonstrates to a few semi-conscious friends how to make a battery from a lemon, a nail, and a penny.
In the distance, a coyote yips an appraisal of the moon and one senses some sort of revolution lurking in the common psyche like a Kundalini serpent, ever-poised to strike beneath that eternal, cloudless Jamul twilight.