We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, May 29. 2013
Beautiful Camp Elmwood
Gather 'round, friends, and let me tell you of the most wonderful, relaxing three months I've ever spent in my life.
It was at beautiful Camp Elmwood.
Ah, friends, therein lies the mystery.
I now invite you to take that clever little noggin of yours and decide, as you're reading this post, just why I'm telling you about beautiful Camp Elmwood in the first place. Just rattling on about some cute camp really isn't much of a story, I admit, so you have to figure there's something else going on. And you'd certainly be right. You have until you hit the bar running across the page to figure it out.
And then there were the peacocks.
Now, I went to a few camps and communes and retreats back in the day, and many of them were quite beautiful, but they sure could have taken a lesson from Camp Elmwood. A peacock in full
And you want to talk about idyllic? Consider that for three months:
— I had three completely balanced, nutritional meals a day. In all fairness, I'd have to say I've never eaten so well in my life. Even at home growing up, we still crammed down a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch. At Camp Elmwood, every meal was a full tray of meat, starches, fruit, vegetables; all topped off with an ice-cold glass of milk and, at dinner, a scrumptious piece of chocolate cake for desert.
I gained ten pounds.
— We had a fresh change of clothes whenever we wanted and fresh bedding twice a week. We kept everything spotless and I don't ever recall anyone getting sick. It was a very healthy, upbeat atmosphere.
— We were allowed personal items but nothing electronic, so all the rat race of modern gizmos was left behind. No phone calls, no one hounding you about this or that, no one banging on the door. Our indoor entertainment resorted to simpler, more community-spirited games such as cards and dominoes, checkers and chess. People yelled, whooped, laughed, got angry, got happy, came to know each other and basically acted — for such a brief period — as people have acted since the dawn of time.
— I also had one of the greatest 'jobs' I've ever had. I got to be the one to give the fresh-faced campers their 'Welcome to Beautiful Camp Elmwood' speech. It was a riot. I'd make up stuff on the spot, scaring the hell out of the lads. "Oh, and one other thing, kids. Don't listen to any of those stories about wild bears roaming the camp grounds after dark. Hey, Shirley! Did they ever find Jimmy's foot?"
— And with all our electronic trinkets gone, we finally had time to pursue quieter, nobler interests, such as art. Some of us painted, some worked with their hands, I rediscovered how much fun it is to work with colored chalk. A dab of spit can really create some dazzling effects.
So, does that sound idyllic, or what?
No, there weren't any girls. I'm not so sure I'd be using words like "tranquil" in this dissertation if there had been. They were on their half of the camp with this big field and two fences between us. We'd stare longingly at each other from afar until the camp counselors shooed us away. They didn't want crude, baser thoughts interfering with our meditation classes, or whatever we were into. And understandably so.
The only other "negative" — if that's the word — was that we couldn't just take off. Private cars weren't allowed on the grounds and the buses only ran so often.
And why would anyone want to leave? Terrific food, clean clothes, fresh bedding, gorgeous scenery, big sports area, big library and, overall, a great bunch of guys to hang out with.
Yes, there were a few bad eggs, but you're going to get that in any crowd. You'd certainly have to expect that at least some were being sent there against their will. One of those, "But I don' wanna have fun!" stories. Sure, kid, anything you say.
And even the counselors were great. They weren't stuffy 'professional' counselors, as such, more like rent-a-counselors, and all they wanted us to do was have fun and stay out of trouble. And, being stuffed like pigs three times a day and sleeping like babies in our fresh bedding, it was kinda hard not to.
Again, I have to say, it was undoubtedly the most relaxing, fun, entertaining, healthy and downright invigorating three months I've ever spent.
I think how wonderful it would be to have a permanent invitation there, one that would last a lifetime. It would be hard to imagine a more serenic, peaceful way to live out one's days.
Hence the name.
Here's one of everybody's favorite jawbreakers:
From a sociological perspective, it was just fascinating watching it in action. The entire situation just begged the question, Why, on God's Green Earth, would anyone want to give up a luxury of creature comforts like this? There's not a word in this post that deviates from the truth in the slightest, up to and including the peacocks. It was, by any definition you'd care to use, a great big fun camp for male adults. With, as I said, the only two limitations being you had to do without females screeching and yelling at you all the time and demanding this and withholding that and-, well, anyway, no girls. And you couldn't leave.
Like anyone would want to.
I gained ten friggin' pounds!
The 'camp counselors' were 'Correctional Officers', not actual cops, so they weren't on any kind of power trip and didn't treat us like dirt. All they really wanted us to do was not fight, and since the place got put in lockdown for a day whenever a fight broke out, the inmates, themselves, tended to keep that under wraps. This was jail, not prison, so it was such a transitory mixed-up bunch that there weren't any gangs or racial tensions.
And since this was basically set up for short-term sentences, most of the people there were just regular ol' slobs like you and me, caught up in some nuance of the law. One guy was there because he'd sent his ex-wife a birthday card which violated the restraining order against him. There was a whole pisspot full of people there for driving without a license. Just regular guys who didn't want to rob anybody, didn't use a weapon; all they wanted to do was get from Point A to Point B, but because they did so without some precious piece of paper in their pocket, they were sent to jail.
To put this another way:
Hello! Welcome to America! Thinking of stealing a car or robbing a store? Well, watch out! Here's what's going to happen to you if you get caught!
(insert above 'idyllic list' here)
That's right! If you get caught doing a crime in America, you'll be sent to beautiful Camp Elmwood! Hope you like chocolate cake!
It was, by any sane standard, thoroughly reprehensible.
Not only did it make a blatant mockery of deterrence, itself, but it goes the completely opposite direction. The institutionalization created by this heaven-on-earth environment actually sucks them in. Come to America, throw a brick through a window and get clean bedding and three hot meals a day!
It wasn't a jail. It was a hospice.
And I'd note that it's only getting cushier and cushier. There was an article just the other day on prison inmates getting high-speed Internet, laptops, TiVo, etc, all at taxpayers' expense.
Come to America! Break a window and get three square meals a day. Shoot somebody and get TiVo!
When you hear of "soaring crime rates", and yet you see harsher and harsher penalties being enacted like the 'Three Strikes Law', you just have to wonder why criminals take such chances.
Wonder no more.
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:40 | Comments (22) | Trackback (1)
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Chuck - Too true!
The B - Alas, time ran out before I could get one of those cool 'Mother' tattoos with the big lightening bolt through it surrounded by a heart, the ace of spades and "Born to lose". "Iconize me!", I implored the resident tattoo artist, but he answered not.
As a small side note, all in all I hated every minute of it. Idyllic as it was, I'm a computer geek and wanted my baby back. But most everybody there was having the time of their lives. That chocolate cake was delicious!
Well...I never!...realized I was communicating with a person of such supposed nefarious character!
"You're known by the company you keep!" seems to be a cliche (c'est francais) that rings with a perceived truism (n'est pas?).
Actually, you touch upon an interesting part of our legal system:
A year later I had a lawyer submit a petition to the court and the crime was removed from my record. A judge reviewed the case (there weren't any drugs or paraphenalia found in my room) and wiped the slate clean. Of course, it would have been nice if the courts had done that before I spent three very interesting months at beautiful Camp Elmwood, but better late than never.
So, at least the system works. If an employment application asks if I've ever been arrested, I can answer 'no' with impunity.
But, interestingly, even though I was exonerated and my record wiped clean, there are still a few restrictions that apply. I can't buy a gun, for example, and can't run for public office. Unfortunately, that ruins my plans to run for mayor of Key Largo using my "An assault rifle in every household" platform, but those are the breaks!
Key Largo's loss and our gain!! Would that be considered 'poorman's pardon' ? When the POTUS grants one, I expect there are no lingering conditions.
"When the POTUS grants one, I expect there are no lingering conditions."
Well, except for that part about "having to vote for our party the rest of your life".
There must be a record if you are subject to voting and gun restrictions.I've heard a judge can restore voting rights,not sure about the rest.
My impression of California(been there twice) is that anyone can do anything they wish if they are a Democrat.lol.
Being as innocent as a newborn lamb, I had my record 'expunged' a year later. I can now vote and check 'No' for the "Have you ever been arrested?" box on an employment application, but I can't run for mayor or own a gun, both of which have been lifelong dreams.
To test it, a few months after the expungement I walked into the local police station, handed the cop my driver's license and asked, "Have I ever been arrested?" He checked the log and replied, "Nope, clean as a whistle!"
Camp Elmwood? Hmmmmm.
Let's see, Mendocino, Milpitas, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, computers.
Yes, "Dr. Mercury", we have got to talk. We have either crossed paths before or are setting a new standard for statistics.
Please send an email to me when you have a minute to spare.
Michael - Actually, we can't look for a common link because I wouldn't have been "Dr. Mercury", heh. That's an old Usenet handle only used on the web recently. Back in the BBS days, I ran "The BenchMaster's BBS", located right in the heart of Silicon Valley. So I was "Benchie" as far as handles went. While I had a PC and Mac section, it was primarily an Amiga site because that's where all the action was back in those days, graphics- and game-wise.
Dr. Merc ... Is the illustration of Camp Elmwood one of Maxfield Parrish's glorious idealized paintings?
Just asking.... And by the way, peacocks have a downside. They make the most godawful noise -- like shrieking little kids fighting on a school playground. I wouldn't have them around if you begged me. What's so important about a gorgeous piece of tail, anyway?
As to the painting, danged if I know. I was probably just doing a Google search for "elysian fields" or something, trying to conjure up exactly what I got.
I don't remember the peacocks squawking, particularly, but we weren't around them most of the time.
"What's so important about a gorgeous piece of tail, anyway?"
A question that answers itself.
I am pretty sure the painting is by Gage Taylor.
Ha! I knew it had to be a jail or an insane asylum, that I didn't discount either possibility ought to worry you. And me.
Reminds me of the time I tried to send my teen age son off to summer camp. It is on the ocean and has camping, swiming, shooting and wonderful food. It's beautiful Camp Lejune. I really gave it a good sell, but he didn't buy.
Not to mention all the beautiful scenery you see on those daily 20-mile jogs.
How could he pass up such a thing??
Now that was fun. I was on the right track, thinking "mental institution" or "prison", but the simple truth is, neither have peacocks. Were they actually walking around, or just off in some cage somewhere?
I also liked the "Halden" post. I love surprise endings. :)
Uh-yup, just struttin' around like they owned the place. I don't remember the exact punishments, but it was something like get caught with cigarettes, drugs, weapons, porno, etc, and get a week added to your sentence. Get caught with a peacock feather and it was a month.
It did, however, as I noted in the post, make the whole thing pretty goddamn surreal.
I read this holding pen in hand, checkbook at the ready, hoping the "secret" would be that they weren't actually "kids" at the "camp", but that it was actually a retirement resort that they only took us oldsters!
And you're right, Doc, "reprehensible" is the word. "Disgusting" also works. Great post, great insight.
Whoever the painting is by, the school is the "Pre Raphaelite" i'm thinking.
"Painting"? Ah, you obviously aren't a photographer. That's a #8 Kodak 'Soft-Glo' filter, commonly used by Pre-Raphaelite aficionados everywhere. I came back to the camp and took the snap a few days after I was released. You can see one of the peacocks down in the corner. It's always beautiful in CA in the spring, when all the hills turn a lush green.
Well, I found it. I found the ultimate retirement home, and the most amazing thing is that it's free. Yes, it's state-subsidized, but so what? It's one thing to claim, "I don't take no handouts, I'm doin' it all on my own!" wh
Tracked: Jul 27, 12:04
These are what I consider my better pieces: "Do these genes make me look fat?" — As these things go, this is probably the most official 'exposé' on the site. It's amazing how we're being lied to. Beautiful Camp Elmwood — I just lov
Tracked: May 22, 08:10