Driving Miss Bridwell


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Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 2, 2008 - 10:27pm PT
previously appeared a few years ago, but is effing funny so here:

Driving Miss Bridwell

The VW van was unusual; it had doors on both sides. It was called a Transporter, and had a hell of a lot of miles on it. I recall it was maybe an old 1964 but it was my new bedroom for a few years. What it lacked at first was an 8-track and knowing that music is at the root of it all, somehow I saved up enough S&H Green Stamps to score such a unit, and so greedily installed the booty before another climbing season could try to start without rhythm and textures.

Since Camp Four had very very few sound systems resident, the bus was popular especially with Werner, Klemens, Bridwell, and our other friends who came to drink at the trough, so to speak. Clapton, The Stones, CSNY, The Youngbloods, Mayall were some of the favorites, but I was a jazz fan also, so I had some Coltrane too. Klemens and I shared this taste but the harder work of Coltrane was too much like screaming, for Royal and most other sensible friends. It was very hard for me to tolerate this lack of tolerance on their part. For every climber, there was a chosen musician, who clearly had the secret key for his climbing; for Klemens and I, Coltrane was indisputably why we were the offwidth dragons.

Jim and I were driving around the Valley one time, the weather was crappy, but when you have a master plan, it just doesnít matter. We made do, as we had the 8-track and we had new routes to scope out with our temporary though copious spare time. There was some gas in the tank and the motor hadnít blown up yet. As far as JB was concerned, it was a mellow, wet afternoon in the mid and lower Valley and we were centered. Just like he was happy to belay off of a battery of rurps 6 years later 2000 ft off the talus on Pacific Ocean. But for me, the DJ of the moment, Coltrane was honking at me from way back, loudly too. And I was grinding away inside about how in my life, I was standing on crumbly nothings and that it all hurt and I couldnít find the answer. Kind of like a Higgins edging route that went for months. What I mean was that I was a mess and now looking back, I was not any fun at the moment either.

So JB goes, youíre freaking out again Haan, and this Coltrane stuff is horrible or something to that effect. I think he even used the side of his mouth to tell me this. And it didnít help that we only had about a dozen 8-tracks total to work with for months. I suppose he could have said, ďColtraneís approach, though tossing up huge melodic questions and though not atonal, requires more engagement then I currently want to offer itĒ, but he didnít. While he was sitting next to me on the VW bench, in my 21 year old mindís eye from Berkeley--- which of course, though in brutish turmoil, nonetheless knew everything---was hatefully picturing him as suburban for about an hour (there was nothing worse to be, if you were from Berkeley, even though it is a suburb). He couldnít tell---it was my mean little secret. After all, a year later, he and I are doing Henley Quits with him ripped on acid while he is in ladiesí pink stretch Capri pants from Merced Goodwill and a three-musketeers style shirt and vest he had sewn himself. So maybe I was on to something about this suburban thing.

His slashing comment only made matters worse as I was kind of needing for Coltrane to actually have the answer here and I wanted JB to go with me on this. But he not only didnít, he didnít need to, because the answer was clear: climbing, nothing else---oh and his harem. After all, he was so much older than I---he was 27, practically middle-aged like Royal, older than dirt! I had been bothering the Lion but he could work with it. So obviously the truth was right there and I of course missed it that afternoon and had called it suburban.


Dec 2, 2008 - 10:34pm PT
Such dense content. A novel would be a nice continuance. You wouldn't be able to put it down. So funny. Thanks Peter.
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Dec 2, 2008 - 11:31pm PT
Man Peter, from one north Berkeley dude, Merry Christmas! and do you have any other presents for us?

So Good for this site. A Renaissance of web wonder.

right here, right now
Dec 2, 2008 - 11:32pm PT
The mighty S&H Green Stamps!
Squashed by the Blue Stamp empire, at least in my corner of the 'burbs.
(How young, like in dog years, does one have to be to have no recollection of such things?)

Yes, yes, could we have just one more story before bedtime?

Not here
Dec 3, 2008 - 12:04am PT
Thanks for making me laugh...


Dec 3, 2008 - 12:50am PT

I'll never forget your VW van and you letting us blast your tape deck to Cream and Hendrix.

Thanks for being a great guy back then and still now.

East of Seattle
Dec 3, 2008 - 12:54am PT
Great stuff Peter. Thanks.

Tarbuster. I'm a '65 baby and don't have a clue what you're talking about.


right here, right now
Dec 3, 2008 - 12:59am PT
I was born in '60.
In the late 60s, I used to go to those stores with my mom, stamp books in hand.

I never saved up enough stamps for the coveted Dolt pitons though, heh, heh...


East of Seattle
Dec 3, 2008 - 01:10am PT
Now I do remember. Hard jog... Don't think I ever knew what they were called...


Dec 3, 2008 - 12:39pm PT
Very cool. Thanks for the revival.

right here, right now
Dec 3, 2008 - 01:43pm PT
Nice touch there pc!
Okay so you couldn't really get Dolt gear at those stamp stores...
Mostly just household stuff.

Just how many Peter Haan stories are floating around out there?
All running free like wild horses I suspect.

Trad climber
Portland, Or
Dec 3, 2008 - 04:12pm PT
Outstanding. Irreplaceable text.

Boulder climber
Redmond, OR
Dec 3, 2008 - 04:52pm PT
deep, personal, hilarious, brilliant

Trad climber
the campfire just a ways past Chris' Taco stand
Feb 15, 2009 - 12:20am PT
Bump for another awesome tale. These stories are like little treasures.

Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Feb 15, 2009 - 02:39am PT
Pretty good writing Mr. Peter Haan. Well, more than pretty good. Great !

But gotta tell ya..... I get all excited when I read these threads and then I look at the date and see I'm like months or a year too late. ):

What is Taco etiquette regarding old threads ? How can one respond to them if the Poster is not knowing it is a live topic again ? Does it matter ? Jess wondering what to do. Lynnie

EDIT: Well in this case the thread is only a few months old, but some brought back to life are pretty old.

Trad climber
one of god's mountain temples....
Feb 15, 2009 - 04:47am PT
That is the beauty of it Lynn. Unless you are talking sh#t about someone by dragging up an old thread, then there is no reason not to bring these different threads back to the surface. Everyone gets a second chance to view and respond and if the major players of a thread need to respond, usually someone will tell them if they aren't paying attention. I think most active people around here have a few friends who would give them a heads up if something needs their attention.

Thanks for the bump of a cool thread...

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 15, 2009 - 09:50am PT
I am really glad you characters enjoyed this vignette. It was incredibly fun to write I will tell you. And for some reason it went rapidly too, like in a half an hour or so. It was not one of the efforts that was a real sweat-out. Like you, I wish we had more of this kind of stuff on ST. I have about ten of them by the way most of which have been posted over the years.

Lovegasoline, now that was witty as hell. What Wern was going for was bone vibration I think. (G). Actually I have the impression he could hear enough back then so that music worked. Every now and then I have the notion to write Werner's biography; the guy is incredible. I've known him since the very first months he began climbing; an amazing individualist.

By the way, Werner and I did a rescue on Secret Storm one afternoon back in the mid-70's. I wrote about it here years ago. It was a very funny situation. this is the link for that post, part of an offwidth thread. http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=114638&msg=116429#msg116429

best to you all, ph.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Feb 15, 2009 - 11:16am PT
There's good stuff on Super Topo, Peter, but this is really in a class by itself. Evocative and superbly written. I hadn't seen it before, but it is one of a relatively small number of pieces that is worthy of periodic bumping, not only for the benefit of new audiences, but because it is and will be a pleasure to reread over and over.

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Feb 15, 2009 - 11:22am PT
"suburban" - wow! That is harsh. Good thing the internet wasn't invented yet!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 15, 2009 - 12:19pm PT
The adventures of the occasionally less than elegant Gypsy! LOL
Echoing Rgold, every pass through your prose is a pleasure, Peter! Thanks again for the memories.
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