Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Requiescat of OiNK.cd


Early on the morning of October 23rd, 2007, the second largest private BitTorrent tracker, OiNK.cd was shut down by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). The site's owner was arrested when IFPI, in conjunction with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and both the British and Dutch police, raided the admin's home and seized the site's servers.

It drives me mad to really think about this in depth. I harken back to the heyday of Napster and all it's rampant success. However, when the RIAA caught on, did they take a step back and say, "Hm, is there some way we can turn this into profit?" No, of course not. They just shut it down. They came down like tyrants and did everything in their power to crush it.

However, like in old cartoons where the dog would get a big lump on his head, so he'd hammer it down, only to find that it caused a larger lump to appear elsewhere on his bruised scalp, the end-result of shutting down Napster was the increased growth of and research into new peer-to-peer technologies to take it's place. We all know about Kazaa, LimeWire, Gnutella, WinMX, the list goes on. The RIAA crushed Napster, but the illegal downloading didn't stop.

When Diamond Multimedia released their "Rio" MP3 player, again the music industry didn't attempt to find a way to turn the device into profit; instead they tried to crush it. That lawsuit failed miserably, which gave rise to the portable digital music player and these days iPod sales far exceed CD sales by staggering figures.

The RIAA, IFPI, and all the other organizations collectively known as "The Record Industry" continually prove their sheer ignorance and lack of understanding of the current situation even eight long years after the launch of Napster and the birth of P2P file-sharing.

Fast forward to 2003 with the launch of the iTunes store. Here we see a business model that is reporting exponential growth each fiscal quarter. Apple, the company has been seeing immense returns from the iPod, iPhone, and iTunes music store ever since their respective launches and it doesn't really look like it's going to slow down any time soon.

BUT WAIT, in the same year, Napster (or the name at least) returned after a multi-million dollar acquisition by Roxio as a pay-service which, in 2007, reported earnings of over $111 million.

Go back to when the RIAA tried to crush Napster. Doesn't it seem, now, that the smart thing for them to have done would have been to say, as I mentioned earlier, "How can we turn this into a profit"? Had the RIAA approached Napster back in 1999 and said, "Listen, what you're doing here is illegal. No questions about it. However, we're willing to make a deal that will benefit all of us in the end." They wouldn't be running around with their tails between their legs over the 20% decline (between 2006 and 2007 ALONE) in CD sales. They would have launched the Napster store four years before iTunes ever had a chance to see the light of day and Steve Jobs wouldn't be the ire of the recording industry. Instead, they would be claiming those $111 million profits and leading the way in digital distribution.

The same principles can be applied to OiNK. Here you have a site with an immense library of songs. Practically every album you could possibly think of at your fingertips. Not just at your fingertips, but DRM free, and available in every format from high-quality MP3's to AAC's to OGG's and FLAC's. The devout membership, coupled with the need to maintain a ratio requirement guaranteed reliable download speeds, and an incredible community to discuss music with and get recommendations from. I was floored at the Music forums on OiNK. I could make a thread asking for a type of music similar to artists x, y, and z and they would give me a, b, c, d, e, f, and g. Not only that, but I was right there on OiNK. All I had to do was download the albums. No risk, no hassle. If I didn't like it, I could just delete it, or hell, keep it for seeding purposes. Either way, I pretty much won.

The issue with the record industry is what I usually refer to as, "old man syndrome". These companies are comprised of crotchety old men who remember a time when the only thing they had to do to make a million bucks was wake up in the morning. It's easy to understand the industry's reaction when you examine where they were before all this happened. They had a very simple business model:

1. Sign band
2. Record album
3. Promote album
4. Sell Album
5. Profit

Granted, this worked, on average, 10% of the time, but that 10% made more than enough to cover for the other 90%. And this model worked for decades on end. From as early as the late 50's (even earlier in some cases) on through the mid 90's, this model worked very well for the record labels. It's easy to see why such a massive threat like "free music" would cause them to react so...violently. Let's face it, you can't compete with free, bottom line.


Unfortunately for the industry, the tides are changing. The people have spoken, and they don't like the old model anymore. What the record industry needs now is a new model. I can think of a few ways right off the top of my head how one could easily take a site of OiNK's capacity and turn it into a profit-churning machine. Why these labels can't do the same is utterly baffling. Their first instinct is to crush the threat as if to say that it's within their grasp to "beat the internet into submission" and make a return to the days of yore when CD sales were the norm and no one had free music.

Truly mind-boggling: the arrogance of spoiled old men.

"It came out magical; out from blown speakers."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Artistry: A Requiem

To convey. That's the artist's job; to represent emotions, opinions, whatever. But where does the artist go to find these elements? That's where I lie. Helplessly devoid of conveyance. I have no ability anymore. It's lost, long gone, left of it's own accord. The art doesn't need me anymore. It gave up on me a long time ago, like a lover who's fallen out...and now I'm alone. How typical.

It leaves me with such a strong feeling of helplessness. My inspiration is lost, never to be found again. Perhaps it doesn't want to be found. Maybe it doesn't think I have anything important to say...and maybe it's right. A power so strong would know better than I when it's time to throw in the towel. It's just taken me time to come to grips with it, but no matter how hard I try I simply can't let go. I need art, but the feeling isn't mutual apparently. How pathetic. To love some esoteric force, some...vague epiphany waiting to be realized. Maybe it was my selfishness, my desire to fully grasp it, to have it all to myself, that drove it away. So now it's well deserved, but that's still not enough to ease my mind. I'm left feeling restless, and that's the way it has to be.

I guess I'm not meant to love something so beautiful, so incredibly soulful, like trying to kiss lips that remain ever-elusive. What a temptress. What a whore.

There's a flood coming. It comes to a crest, ready to break, but all it does is sit there. All it's potential, staring me dead in the eye, toying with my heart like a child tormenting a helpless pet. But does it feel any pity? Not a bit. Not one fucking bit.

I've talked about the fine line between logic and artistry. I spoke with such confidence, such blind arrogance, like I could ever possibly understand the true nature of the beast. Two dueling forces, constantly at war inside me, yet outside my grasp all the same.

How fucking typical.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why We Web, Part II: Preservation

Pompeya._Cad├íveres_en_Porta_NoceraLong ago there stood a proud Roman city called Pompeii.  Pompeii was a bustling trade hub situated on the coast of Italy near modern-day Naples.  However, Pompeii sat under the merciless grip of a nearby volcano, Mt. Vesuvius.  One day, the volcano erupted and consumed Pompeii and a few small neighboring cities.  The entire city was lain to waste in merely two days from pyroclasitc flow, ash, and fire.  When the city was discovered again in 1748, archaeologists discovered people’s remains preserved in plaster.  Humans were found in the positions they laid in while their homes were destroyed without warning.


Findings like that are rare and seldom seen.  Scientists would practically kill for remains depicting full body representations of actual humans from the past.  It’s amazing to be able to recall a whole civilization based on their remains, especially from their people’s final moments.


Heather once brought up an interesting idea inspired by the remains found at Pompeii.  She hypothesized what it would be like if somehow our entire civilization was devastated in some way that would preserve us in our final moments.  Had this event come as suddenly as the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, surely some people’s last moments would be spent in front of a box of some sort, unaware of their inevitable and nearby demise.  She went on further to discuss what if many years from that catastrophe, someone (someone’s) came along and discovered the remains of our society.  What would they think?  How would the interpret us and what we did?  These are all very interesting questions and I would really like to examine them further.


The Boxes


I need to dwell on “the boxes” I mentioned earlier.  The one’s we’d be found in front of.  We have lots of boxes these days.  We have boxes that tell us the news; boxes that play our music; boxes that help us watch porn get our work done; even boxes that let us stay in touch.  We carry some of these boxes with us, some of them we keep at desks, or on tables, or mounted to the walls, even.  These boxes might as well be our God’s because we don’t seem to want to separate ourselves from the boxes.  We keep the boxes closer to our hearts than most people in the Midwest keep the bible close to theirs.  We stare at these boxes, we depend on them, we are indebted to our boxes.  If that’s not enough to show that these “boxes” of ours are really our Gods, then I don’t know what is.


We have a box that tells us what to think.  We call this box, television.  Television informs us all of what’s wrong with the world, what’s wrong with us, and the products we need to make it all better.  The television tell us that to be truly happy, we need other boxes.  So we set up these new boxes.  These new boxes let us connect to a network, and from that network we can do so many things.  We call this box a computer, and the network: the Internet.  With the Internet, we can go online and buy all sorts of new and exciting boxes.  Shiny boxes, ones with more specific functions.  There are boxes to store music, boxes to store appointments, boxes that tell us where we are, there are even portable versions of our computers, so we’ll never be without that box.


This is our world.  We live and die by these boxes, as if they were an extension of our selves.  As a society they really have become an extension of the self.  The global self.  Of course, not everyone has an iPod, a Palm Pilot, a laptop with Wi-Fi, and a GPS device, but we’re getting there.  The point is, our society has a passion for it’s boxes.  The technological marvels that purportedly make our lives easier, these boxes would help define us should our remnants be unearthed by some future civilization.


The Molds


We don’t have any ancient Romans lying around to tell us all about Pompeii.  We must rely on what those people left behind.  They left behind documents, frescos, paintings, and etchings.  This was how they archived their civilization.


We’re our archiving our civilization, but we’re doing it on a much larger, and more precise scale.  People today can create an online identity in effigy of themselves.  It’s not so much vanity as it is “creating a back up of ourselves”.  That sounds very high-tech and sci-fi and other hyphenated words, but it’s the truth.  Whether people do it consciously or not, by participating in social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook; posting in forums; using Twitter and weblogs; posting videos of oneself on YouTube; these are all repositories of not just our society as a whole, but as the individual people who make it up.


This goes far beyond the plaster molds of Pompeii.  These are molds that recall our faces, our thoughts, our dreams, and our lives.


Taxonomy


It would be difficult, if not impossible, for any future civilization to understand our social taxonomy.  Our culture today relies so much on independent channels of communication that narrowing down our trends and patterns would be an immense task.  The mere collection of all relevant nodes of context with which we respond to stimuli would be so burdensome, I would imagine anyone who were to attempt such a task would easily be scared away from any further pursuits.  We’ve attempted to do similar things with societies we know less about, but for all we know, it’s all wrong…we couldn’t be more off the ball if we tried.  Who knows?  However, it’s safe to say it would be easier to accomplish the task when applied to ancient civilizations which required manual transit against the obstacles of distance and terrain to transmit messages over any significant distance.  Essentially, you would be analyzing small pockets of context in order to understand the local social hierarchy.


Additionally, personalities, and how they were viewed in ancient civilizations is much easier to pinpoint.  For starters we can only know about figures depicted in documents or art, and in cases like that, if someone felt it was important enough to draw him, let alone write about him, he was important enough that at least few choice people held him in high regards.


Stephen_colbertHowever, for us it’s not as easy.  I can’t think of an effective way to explain what some future historians may deduce about us, but I can say this, they may assume “Stephen Colbert” was a very powerful man (which he may or may not be).


Obviously we’ll never know how we will be preserved.  The data is volatile, and in the case of some major catastrophic event that successfully ends all human life on the planet, the odds of it surviving are slim, but who knows?  Civilizations will always archive themselves, ours is no different.  Our methods only change.  We search for new ways to create our identities.  We extend ourselves into a virtual universe parallel to our own.  This universe is made by man for man, and it holds the key to our society.  It is what will define us in the ages.  It is our web.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Why We Web, Part I: Communications

Alexander_Graham_BellI’ve been on the hunt for a new AIM client lately.  I’ve been using Trillian for a while, but the program is such an incredible resource hog that I simply don’t have the patience for it anymore.  On my laptop, which happens to be a Mac, I run a wonderful program called Adium.  Adium is, by far, the most efficient messenger I’ve ever used.  It has a genuine “no-bullshit” feature set and interface.  I get chat logs, tabbed IM’s, no ads, and best of all, it’s free!  I have yet to find such a client for windows.  I tried Pidgin (formerly Gaim) but the program couldn’t recall window positions or sizing properly which made it a huge hassle to use.  I finally came across a new client called Ahoihoi, which is made by a company Versoworks who used to be responsible for an AIM add-on called Messenger:Mate (of which I was a paying user).


The program is still in it’s infancy, but I found it rather amusing that the program would be named “Ahoihoi”, a term coined by Alexander Graham Bell, purported father of the telephone.  Back in Bell’s time, the idea of broad communication was only first being realized.  In modern times its only optimized, per se.  It’s interesting to see why after so many years of success, the telephone is being weaned out of society in favor of a near endless slew of “alternative mediums” for broad, global, person to person communications.

Twitterrific_icon

My current favorite platform is Twitter.  Twitter, is described as a “micro-blogging service” that allows users to post short messages of 140 characters or less from virtually any input medium, be it instant messages, SMS, handheld devices, or the nearly endless supply of widgets, desktop apps, and browser extensions available.  Twitter posts on their site that, “[Twitter is] A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: ‘What are you doing?’” and the site is pretty much, just that.  A slew of seemingly inane messages detailing the trite highs and lows of a person’s day.  I speak with a seemingly cynical tone, but as I mentioned it’s my current favorite, and if you look over on the right side of this site, you’ll see I have my little Twitter badge informing you of my latest doings.


So what is the allure of this application?


I feel like the allure of such a tool is the impression it gives the user.  I watched an interview on C|Net where they interviewed Twitter’s founder and asked him the same question.  His response was interesting as he commented that “people are always looking for yet another way to stay connected with each other…”.  That’s a seemingly obvious response considering the levels on which people connect in the modern world.  From weblogs, social-networking sites, cell phones, text messages, e-mail, etc. it’s clear to see that people, for the most part, like being connected to each other.  There’s a comfort, a security, to that knowledge that someone, somewhere, is listening to you; is connected to you as well.  The question then becomes, not why use Twitter, but why use Twitter?  Of all the “instant” methods of mass communication one has available to them (again: weblogs, social-networks, cell phones, text messages, instant messages, etc.) why would someone use Twitter?  I can’t seem to reconcile this one with anything logical, the only thing that crosses my mind is, “it’s fun.”  And that suits me.


However, if I had to fathom a guess as to it’s mass-appeal, I would have to bring up a few of the neat things I’ve seen done with Twitter.  A the 2007 South by Southwest festival, Twitter won the “Web Award” in the blog category.  Twitter had set up a large screen on the convention floor which showed small pop-ups of real time posts (what they refer to as “Tweets”) from Tweeters (Twitter users) at the convention.  This provided guests with a sort-of “real-time pulse” of the convention floor.  Messages saying someone was going over to a particular booth, or what someone may have thought of a performance, other guests were able to make a quick stop as they roamed the halls to get a sense for what was going on at that moment elsewhere on the premises.  Impressive, I must say.  In context, I can definitely see the purpose of this application, but in the simple form of what they dub “The Public Timeline” where every single Tweet is shown in sequence, I fail to see a point.  I can only describe this sequence as chaotic; a true manifestation of anarchy.  One might say Twitter has removed a barricade on a social-construct-cage that has kept this impulse to “Tweet” suppressed until now.


One might say that this impulse was easily satisfied by the weblog (I will NOT call it a “blog”), and for the most part they are correct.  However, as you can see from this journal, I like to write about [what I think] are a topics with some depth, worthy of discussion.  This seems to be a growing trend, especially now with Twitter’s rise in popularity.  People can exhaust their petty thoughts and daily going-on’s with their Twitter accounts, and their weblogs are reserved for more drawn out matters.  This isn’t to say that this will improve the content of these online diaries, as being able to whine about how “Jenny is such a bitch” in real-time can be done in 140 characters or less, explaining in graphic detail why Jenny is such a bitch, cannot.


This is, but one of the many new ways which we communicate.  We create, as I’ve said previously, an online repository of our society.  We are logging our movements, our thoughts, or insights, and our ideas for some unstated purpose.  That purpose, is why we web.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Why We Web, Overture.

http://datamining.typepad.com/images/blogosphere-map-core-min2.gif

In the first of what I hope to be an ongoing series of related articles, I examine the culture, economy, and underbelly of the World Wide Web in a segment I’ve dubbed, “Why We Web”.  In these articles I hope to reach an understanding about the technology we live with and depend on every day of our lives and where we as a society are headed if current trends continue.


Some time back in November ‘06, as a result of the ubiquitous Playstation 3 Frenzy, a short blip on the radar of “old men criticizing technology and blaming young people who use technology for the downfall of western civilization” came up.


Apparently Bill O’Reilly, a popular conservative pundit for the Fox News Network, made a few noteworthy comments on his radio broadcast targeted at young people and the machines they use.  You can read a few choice excerpts in the article I’ve linked to, but I want to focus in on a few particular lines in order to examine them further.



Basically what you have is a large portion of the population, mostly younger people under the age of 45, who don’t deal with reality - ever. So they don’t know what day it is; they don’t know temperature it is; they don’t know what their neighbor looks like. They don’t know anything… because they are constantly diverted by a machine. Now what this does is it takes a person away from reality because they’ve created their own reality…


Now, I’ll admit, I spend a fair amount of time indoors, and that time spent indoors is usually spent in front of a computer.  I’m not a very social person, by nature I generally like being alone.  I’m not very active, but I do what I can to stay…”fit” (though, I don’t know what one expects from a college student).  All that aside, I know what reality is, and so do most people, no matter how much time the spend playing video games or surfing the web.

Clock

The Internet is a means of communication, fundamentally, that’s all it is.  I would imagine someone who spends 80% of their time staring at a screen would be the last person you’d expect to not at least know what day it is.


Knowing the temperature is probably some gutless sub-text as he really means to say, “they don’t go outside”.  However, I’m willing to wager he can’t tell me the temperature just by stepping outside either.



they don’t know what their neighbor looks like.


On the contrary, Bill (can I call ya Bill?), they know exactly what their neighbors look like.  They know what their neighbors look like, they know their neighbors’ favorite hobbies, movies, television shows, and books, and it gets better!  Their neighbors know all the same stuff about them.  They know all kinds of stuff about each other, and they’re communicating on a much higher level than you, Mr. O’Reilly.


Putting the bastard aside (pardon my French, Bill hates the French), this “higher level of communication” is what I want to hone in on.  Advancements in technology, specifically, those made in the realm of the Internet and the new semantic web, is influencing our social patterns in so many ways, now more than ever.  New applications for the web, those impacting the blogosphere, especially by way of folksonomies and mash-ups are released every day.  Repositories like the Wikipedia and blogs provide us with an inexhaustible wealth of information on virtually any topic.  This is the true World Wide Web: a global infrastructure and database of information, ideas, and events all stored and completely accessible to anyone who wishes to access it (and has the proper means of course).  That is communication at it’s finest…but why do we web?


The desire to stay connected at all times is a very strange paradigm and it stems from man’s constant insecurity and inherent fear.  Man fears loneliness.  The mind, by nature, is always lacking something, and so we form bonds with other people in order to fill those gaps.  It is because of this that mankind always seeks to be connected.  Even something virtual like a telephone or a text-message can make an impact.  The simple notion of having access to someone somewhere, is enough to fill the void sometimes.


So that’s the appeal, but what’s the drive?  The drive stems from a number of sources, many of them far more difficult to ascertain than others, but with careful examination and further discussion, I feel we can come to some sort of a resolution on the matter.


 


It’s not your money that they’re after, boy it’s you.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Logic in Artistry

 

GuitarMarianne came down for Heather's graduation party last weekend.  She spent a night with us down at the shore and we had a nice discussion of all manner of things.  It turns out her father is apparently, to an extent, “an audio dude” who both she and Heather insist I meet.  Somehow in the discussion we got to talking about the balance of art and logic in our lives.  I brought up how I feel like audio harbors a nice balance between those two aspects of my mind.  There is a definite separation between the minds creative instincts and it’s desire to be logical.  Obviously there are many out there (far too many) who live in a haze of one extreme, ignoring the other almost entirely.  I feel as if the ability to find a balance between these two is a key step in finding one’s true balance.


I would like to examine this further.


Before we discuss the keys to balancing these two forces, I think a quick examination of each force is necessary.  The mind is composed of an endless list of conflicting forces.  The studies of rivals between homeostasis and transistasis in the human mind (let alone all natural systems) is one such example, but another worth examining is that between one’s creative impulses, and his logical inclinations.


The artistic side of the mind is easily linked to man’s primal state.  Reckless and unfettered, man’s internal animal acts without second thought or rationale; it simply does. Art is very deeply rooted in this instinct.  Art, for all intents and purposes, is reckless.  It’s a means of expression, and because so many people find so many different ways to express themselves, art is really difficult to define.  Without getting too far into a totally separate argument, I find true art to have some sense of, what can be best described as “heart”, in it.  This really means that the artist has put his/her self into their piece, whether it be a drawing, a song, a poem, an action, or some other esoteric medium, expression must come from the heart.  Everything else is just junk.


I liken this animalistic art to the works of Jackson Pollack.  Abstract and completely illogical, his expressionist impact rings of art’s impetuousness and the artist’s ability to completely lose sight of any rules of borders.


Conversely, on the other side of the spectrum, we have the ever-present force of reason, logic, structure, and order.  Humans reason on a higher plane than animals.  This gift has propelled mankind into the technological advancements we live with every day.  If nothing else good can be said about man, he certainly knows how to build things.


Our logical faculties have, technically, been with us as long as our creative ones, but they were, for a lack of better words, less evident.  Large strides were taken in the early days of technological pioneering.  Fire, the wheel, all early inventions.  Ones which without, civilization as we know it would cease to be.  But there were no astrophysicists in these times.  No computer technicians, no medial research scientists.  Just men with ideas.


The ideas themselves merit a short discussion of their own, but I’ll come back to that.


This force, unlike the artistic side, is guided by rules.  They justify the rules as well.  This is the side of the brain that desires control.  It is because of this side, we as humans agree to abide by laws.  We enforce them with pens, guns, signs, and other things you can buy at Wal-Mart.  Humans are the only species on this planet which needs to enforce laws of any kind.  Giraffes don’t hold weekly city-council meetings, bunnies don’t “click it or ticket”.  Humans are the only species on this planet that explicitly defines it’s laws in writing and enforces it…at all.  That is the crux of our logical side, but at the same time, our greatest asset.


I call it an asset, because so few people ever attempt to make effective use of this side of their heads, simply relying on other immutable human impulses to propel them through life.  I can’t possible relate to any human who can survive this way, but I see it…a lot, so it can be done…it would seem.


There is a point at which these two forces must intersect.  Where this lies is uncertain, but I wish to expound upon the concept in an attempt to define it that way.


 I started off by mentioning that I, personally, find this balance in my work with audio engineering.  I find that there’s overlap in everything I do, but audio especially.  Anyone involved in this business will tell you it’s creative.  There’s a goal in the process of audio.  It’s to record sound in a way that best represents the sound itself.  That’s a quality issue, and quality is not guided by logic or creativity alone.  It must have both!  There is an artistry to the methods of an audio engineer.  Without going into detail, I can bring back another point I made earlier regarding the “ideas”.


To accomplish a task of any nature, there must be some sort of plan.  This plan may be something as simple as, “Get up.  Go to bathroom.”  Or it may be far more complicated.  In the world of audio, that plan is a bit more esoteric.  It can’t be easily defined with words.  What drives an engineer to put a mic somewhere, while inspired by scientific principles, is really a creative decision in the end.  Masters of the recording studio have very few qualms with pointing microphones in odd places just to see what kind of sound it will pick up.  It goes well beyond microphones, but the example is the easiest to swallow for people not familiar with the process.


The balance is in the idea’s impact on the logic.  It must be in this order.  The creative mind sets the logic in motion.  It creates direction for the logic to flow in.  I have an idea, it’s creative, weird, and other adjectives as well.  How do I realize it?  With logic, order, science, planning, science again, and other words said in a commanding tone with your index finger pointed rigidly outward while wearing a lab coat.


That is the balance.  It’s within this balance, a zen of sorts can be found.  A perfect match for the classically minded and the romantically minded.  Creative and logical patterns working cooperatively to realize the pinnacle of invention.  It’s this middle-ground where our minds should lie.  Neither extreme can make a mind whole.


 


…stay in bed, float up stream.

Friday, June 1, 2007

My Enchanted Forests

DSCN0089At some point last summer, while Bryan and I were sitting on my porch admiring the fireflies in the woods beyond my yard, he remarked that I had an enchanted forest in full operation in front of us.  Truly the forest must be enchanted.  It certainly has enchanted us.  So if one has the ability to enchant, surely they must themselves be enchanted, correct?


The woods are enchanted though.  These particular woods are new to me, however.  When I was a kid, I had a bigger enchanted forest.


It sat behind my neighbors across the street.  I lived on a hill, and to enter the forest I had to cut through someone else’s lawn.  The terrain was unsafe and steep.  After most of the back yards ended, the slope simply dropped off and created a small creek in between an ascending peak on the other side, not far away.  Once you got down to the creek safely, it became much easier to explore, as you had a complete view of both sides of the canyon, and you were walking on flat terrain.  If you saw something that piqued your interests, you could easily spot it and climb up the sides to investigate further.  Within this enchanted forest, I found a number of enchanting items:




  • A car (yes, a whole car)

  • $10

  • a Beanie Baby

  • two tires, 15" tires


and some of the most incredible bugs you’ve ever seen.


Filthy?  Probably.  New Jersey?  Definitely.  Enchanted?  Completely.


The enchanting properties of such a fantastic place should be evident.  Being so small in such amidst such a vastness in a suburb that almost seems devoid of any such place is truly an enchanting experience.  I have many good memories from that forest.


One that distinctly comes to mind was a time back in middle school.  School was cancelled mid-day due to snow, so I got home significantly earlier than my mother for a change.  I went to take my dog, Sadie, out back to play in the snow.  We had to tie her onto a tether out in the back, and for whatever reason, she managed to escape before I managed to attach the leash.  I had to chase her deep into the forest without a leash and in no way dressed for the weather to get her back.  I managed to catch up with her atop the far range of the canyon, further up the hill than my house.  By this point the snow had managed to cover the ground with several inches, making the terrain that much harder to navigate.  Having finally caught up with Sadie, I grabbed on to her collar and immediately noted a serious problem.  I had no way of leading her back while crossing the canyon.  Sadie was a big dog, and very strong for that matter.  She had the power to lead me, especially at that age, whenever she so desired.  Leading her down such a steep slope seemed very dangerous when maintaining my grip on her collar.  I had no desire to choke her but I couldn’t afford to release my grip of the collar, not even for a second, or I’d lose her again.  I somehow managed to convince her to “slide” down the hill with me into the center of the canyon.  Getting back up the other side was much simpler, and once we were out of the woods, she ran right for the house and in the back door.


The entire experience seemed like such a hassle and caused a lot of immediate frustration while I was out, but once I got back, I felt the enchantment.  The scene was so still, untainted, and white.  I felt energized and invigorated by the action, the landscape, and just getting out and playing with Sadie.  It’s those memories I cherish, and it’s what enchants the forest for me.


Now I’m in a new house, with a new enchanted forest.  I have no memories here, but I don’t need them.  These woods have their own way of enchanting me, and that’s what makes them new.


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I've had just about all I can take, you know I can't take it no more!