Back In Goldfield, Out of Oakdale and Out of Wal Mart

I love it on the road. The mind races as the scenery swooshes by. Ideas coagulate.

If you read my last blog, you’ll already know that my Dad came to visit in Goldfield. After here for a couple days, my Dad left Zak and Alison behind and we went on the road to visit some national parks.

It’s good to be back home. It was good visiting, Death Valley and the Sequoias were inspiring, but now that Dad’s gone, it’s nice to get back to life here in Goldfield.

I have to tell you, while putting on some hefty miles, father/son bonding, on my mind was fishbowling. Touring highways and lonely routes, I got hours to explain my ideas to my Dad and I relayed how successful I feel my performance art was. One part of me feels that that chapter of life is over, but another part of me -especially while on the road -feels that fishbowling is not a done deal for me. It’s a more interesting thing, for most, than paintings. Fishbowling is about intimate exposure.

Do you know what it is, fishbowling? In simple terms, I’ll say this: fishbowling is living in public spaces and blogging about it. That’s what my business cards said. I would broadcast interviews with artists and creatives in return for meals. I saw alot. I lived simply.

Now that I’m established here in my little town, I still think about the road. It means so much to me to be traveling like a rolling stone, day dreaming about those like me that came before me. It’s good to be out there in the world, forgetting who you are and taking it all in.

Since moving to Goldfield, I’ve become the President of the Chamber of Commerce, but since then, just a month ago, I resigned from that position. It was for the best and I truly mean that: it was for the best. It was a moment of enlightenment for me to realize that I needed to extract myself from that spot in this microcosm of the world. Without the title, I wish to act on the consensus of this town.

I don’t want to embarrass anyone or make this sound negative, because it all worked out the way it was supposed to -I hate when people say that, as if the future has all been recorded before we ever lived it. I’m not a fatalist and I don’t believe in ‘destiny’ as a prescribed thing where we’re just mouthing the words or marching rote paces prescribed us. I feel our daily decisions make a difference.

Anyhoo, I wanted to recount some points from a conversation with the hotel clerk, Brianna, who I had a late night conversation with in Oakdale, CA, population of 15,000, at the base of the Sequoia National Forest. She had asked me what I was writing about there as I sat in the lobby with my note pad. I was writing about ideas of how to involve our locals to help Goldfield’s commerce.

She relayed to me that, as a “chubby girl”, she was fond of the idea that her town could get a Wal Mart, as the store’s selection of plus sizes is amenable to people of her size. We had been talking small towns and my personal experience with the Chamber of Commerce.

Oakdale is only a town and had recently voted down a bill to make it a city, I was told. A politician, new to town and unpopular, had been pressing the matter.

My little town of 200 deals with related issues. Here, we continually question whether we’d like to open ourselves up for higher levels of commerce or not. We like our streets with no names. We like the quiet.

In the end, I shared the book I had with me about my town of Goldfield by Sally Zanjanni. Brianna was interested to know about how our fires were put out in the 20’s with beer. I explained that only liquor is flammable but not beer. She was impressed with our historic population of 20,000. She understood our unique position as an all-but-dried-up little town.

Wal Mart, it seems, is a very divisive subject that can separate people into groups. The moment I realized I needed to resigned as President, I was listening to a TV program about the store’s insidious practices in America and beyond. In Reno, I had shopped there out of necessity. People like me created Wal Mart. I am the problem.

Goldfield is different and at that moment of clarity, I had decided that if Goldfield saw me as a Wal Mart type, I should not stand as a leader. I would agree with their impression and step down. Only time will acquaint my townsfolk with the real Chad Sorg.

So I told Brianna to form a chubby coalition and talk to the small businesses in town that supply apparel. “Show them the buying power of local chubby girls; Wal Mart is a rapist,” I suggested.

Brianna believes, also, that if the town becomes a city, they’ll get a 24 hour hospital of their own instead of having to travel 60 miles to Modesto for medical emergencies.

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I appreciated our momentary connection, though.

3 thoughts on “Back In Goldfield, Out of Oakdale and Out of Wal Mart

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  1. Hi Chad,
    This is James in Trinidad. I enjoyed reading this post on the actuality of small cities. For me, I don’t like using the term of small town, because a city is any urbanization imaginable, even it is only a small general store, a saloon, a few homes and a mill. I found myself agreeing with the overall tone and message of the article: small city life and survival is difficult and especially with any new changes in town. Traveling puts everything in perspective.

    I see the same thing here in Trinidad, Colorado. I moved here about 13 months ago. I liked the town’s history and American west culture of its gun heritage, (the famous gunsmithing school and the Whittington Shooting range over in Raton, N.M.), the tales of the shaman-shipwrecked Spaniard, Cabeza de la Baca, the colonial Spanish slave raiders, the actual wild west history of numerous outlaws, gun fights, corrupt sheriffs and hanging judges, poisoning priests, the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy Spanish nuns, legends of the Ute and Apache warrior nations, the New Mexican morada shrines, white adobe churches, bulto altar sculptures, retablo santo paintings, and penitente brotherhoods, the big cattlemen that settled in the region before the mining companies. I liked the fact that Spanish was the regular language on the streets during the 1860s when the town was funded: Trinidad had a downtown in the 1970s that possessed over 50 bars and saloons. There was the southern Colorado class war of mine workers versus the Rockefeller trust that owned the mines, and then the murderous tragedy against workers’ families in the now ghost town of Ludlow, 1914. Finally, there was the Hippie-Artist movement of the Sixties that bought some land in Trinidad and created Drop City, and the famous doctor of sex change operations. Trinidad is a town that still shows a little bit more tolerance for transgendered folk – unlike other towns out west where they could easily end up murdered on a ditch road after walking back from the bar.

    The western landscape and flora are also real nice to look at: buttes, mesas, high snow peaked mountains, lakes, trails, ravines, thin snake like rivers, little cacti and red-yellow flowers, the dry scrape and scrabble of earth, the massive dust bowls. The fauna is also impressive; bears, elk, wild cats, coyotes, rabbits, deer, snakes, birds both big and small, and yet the bison, wolves and wild horses are no more…

    But this was the history and the land has been scarred by oil drilling and strip mining, the Euro-invaders from America exterminated the bison, the true native nations of the west had to move onto to prison like reservations and wait for mysterious packages of food from the US government – which sometimes never arrived. Chad, I believe you find similar loves in Goldfield, Nevada. We are really out west and we live in small cities.

    Personally, I can’t live in big American cities anymore – and I include Reno in that category, when we both first met each other in the fall of 2004, also when you owned Blue Lion Gallery just off of East 4th St. For big cities, (100,000 people +), I can’t stand, and truly hate, rude bastards, arrogant hipsters with white skin privilege, big city cops with nasty attitudes, shameless scam artists and street hustlers, those free, progressive, Democrap party papers that list the ‘cool stuff’ to do every weekend, bars that add drinks on clients’ credit cards, rude service, vegetarian restaurants that serve crappy food, local non-corporate cafes filled with old men, weirdoes and bored teenagers, and the list goes on… All big cities have these plagues and afflictions, and I have lived in these types of cities for most of my life – even when I lived overseas. I was born and raised in one of the most sinister founders of world, megalopolis big cities: New York City. I only miss a few things from that place. I do not want to go back. Trinidad is fine with me.

    Yet, Trinidad, like Goldfield, is quite boring most of the time. On Sunday, everything is shut down. I don’t go out to the local bars in town because they are infested with nasty drunks, overall losers, old men that can’t’ hold their liquor, young cowboys, miners, oil and construction workers, (many without attached girlfriends), who are looking for fights. And a lot of guys, like myself once and a while, like to walk around loaded up with their side arms. Those types of fights are not worth it because Trinidad has a history of guys never returning home, and I am not just talking about the 1880s, but recently too, men have ended up shot and killed over stupid arguments and rows.

    Still, people say hi to me and wave to me when I walk around. I like seeing the same faces everyday and saying ‘good afternoon’ and smiling to even a few locals that I don’t particularly like. There is nothing like good manners all around. Rudeness really does make me wanna reach for my gun. I don’t mind hearing Country music when I walk into the local post office and most of the stores on Main St. in town. I like some of those tunes. I noticed that Trinidad now has just about as many Bible bumping, Evangelical churches as bars – and yet there are still more liquor stores in town. The locals prefer to drink alone than risk altercations in the local watering holes.

    I now write freelance articles on local sports events for the small little paper in town, the Chronicle-News. Friday night football is big here, but not like in Texas and in Oklahoma. Dogs like to run on the fields, and during intermission they serve little snacks like ‘frito salads,’ which means Frito Lay chips with salsa, beans, cheese and cut up hot dog. The coffee is straight American fare: a gut wrenching, tepid mix of Folgers and powdered, non-dairy creamer.

    Trinidad is trying to bring in tourist dollars and make a name for itself out in the modern west. It still has buildings from the 1880s wild west days, such as the local Opera House, Railroad Station, Water Works, Mason’s Hall, Catholic Church and Convent, Firehouse, and the Bank Building. The problem is Trinidad. Recently, there was some civil conflict on the local city council. There was a lot of corruption, and some of them had to leave due to recalls, while the corrupt mayor had to resign. That still leaves the corrupt sheriff, but cops seem untouchable. And the cops in this town are mean and nasty like they are everywhere in contemporary America. The City Council gave some responsibility to a local artist in town to start some festival that could put Trinidad on the map. Trinidad has the Santa Fe Trail Days in the summer, which was totally lame, and the Trinidadio Blues Fest in August, which is no more.

    He came up with an art car project, like Burning Man meets the ‘vato’ low riders of the southwest. We will see if it works. Trinidadians also enjoy complaining, but they still reside in town. Culture changes, cities change. History and the human condition function this way. The point of this local response post is that we can only contribute what we can contribute. Even small cities are filled with a diverse group. All us artists or travelers can do is suggest and work on our changes and ideas. They could fall flat or become something great, the stuff of local legend. Either way, life is short, death marches on much faster. As long as we keep living and acting, then all is fine. At least in small cities, we will have more of a remembrance.

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