Friday, September 19, 2008

Extreme Wind Possible

September 19, 2008
Jounal Entry:  Greg Pierotti

Yesterday, I drove down to Ft. Collins and met with Rulon Stacey.  On the drive the high plains were quite austere.  A few miles beyond the cement factory, which is one of Laramie's most significant architectural highlights, I passed a sign I had never seen before.  "Extreme wind possible next 5 miles."  It is a very windy edge of town.  This is out by where McKinney lived with with his girlfriend.  Farther on I noticed that the moment you cross into Colorado there are pine trees everywhere, where the prairie on the Wyoming side is bald and full of snow fences.  I don't know if that is because of an altitude difference or what, but since it coincided with the border, I wondered if it had to do with logging laws or something.

Rulon was as warm and kind hearted and dignified as ever.  I got choked up a number of times in our interview.  Before I headed back up to Laramie, Leigh drove up from Boulder - she is teaching at Naropa University right now - and we had lunch and touched base.  It was good to connect with someone from the company, and particularly to see her.  Way back, when we got started, she and I did almost all our work together on the play, so it was feeling weird to be here without her.  

Headed back up and met Marge Murray, who is just as tough and wonderful, in spite of a heart attack and severe asthma and being on continuous oxygen.  She had to quit smoking a few years back.  Talking with her of her smoking, I thought of Amanda Gronich who played her toughness and cough and smoking to simultaneously poignant and comic effect in the play.  It was a sort of Amanda Gronich part of the afternoon because driving to Marge's trailer on Beaufort St., I passed the plain white baptist church on ninth street, where we first heart the Baptist minister preaching his religious hate.  Amanda played him too.

After a quick stop at home to feed Beth's cat, Mason, I went to Jonas's house.  He showed me his and Bill's garden and then we had our interview and organic eggplant parmesan.  Jonas was Jonas.  Candid, articulate, funny and open minded.  He told me he is now totally out everywhere in his life and even that in rural towns in Wyoming when he and Bill are at motels and ask for a single room with only one bed and speak to each other with intimate endearments that couples use, usually people don't bat an eyelash.  A far cry from legalized marriage or hate crimes legislation, but something I found surprising none the less.

This morning I spoke with Moises on the phone.  Then I went to breakfast with Marge and Reggie, and we were joined by Reggie's husband, daughter, sister, and best friend.  They are a boisterous group and there was lots of laughter. I was just trying to relax, not looking for material as both Marge and Reggie have been interviewed, but even as I laughed along at their outrageous family stories, I couldn't shake this strange sadness and anxiety I have felt since I have been here.  I know it has been taken down, but I feel like I need to go out to the fence.  I just can't seem to find Matt in all this, and it hurts.

Going to call Rob DeBree next.  We meet later today.


Gardenmystic said...

Dear Greg and Project Team,
I did not know that the fence has been taken down. I am not surprised. Over the years it has become a place of silent pilgrimage -- made by men and women who, like you, are "trying to find Matt in all this" and open into a sense of healing. The top layer of our culture wants to take the fence down. Wants to rename the Fireside and delete all memory of it. But under the surface, I believe change has taken place and continues to do so. I am an example of that. I am a straight woman and was very unconnected to the event. I didn't understand its magnitude. Didn't understand why Laramie became an epicenter. What was this earthquake that happened here? Over time -- and through friendship with my gay teacher Michael, I began to understand. I wrote a piece about it that appeared in the Wyoming anthology, Wyoming Fence Lines, edited by David Romtvedt. The piece gives a window into the ten years that unfolded since the event.
Here is that piece:


Many of us didn’t know what a buck fence was when we learned that a young man had been tied to one and left for dead on the night of October 6, 1998. Most of us still don’t understand why our quiet community became a Project that plays around the world even still. My friends Michael and Randy offered insights when they stopped by one summer on their way to Jackson. Husband and husband they came and asked if I could take them to the tear-stained site. A pilgrimage, they explained, would mean a lot to them, to touch the place of this crucifixion.

I agreed to take them, even though I did not know the exact location of the ground they called sacred, having never before contemplated its sacredness. A friend offered to show us the way over bumpy tire-track roads and sagebrush. She led us to the place, marked by candles, dried flowers and a faded opening night playbill tucked under a rock. We touched the fence, knelt beside it and offered our silent prayers for the end of fear, intolerance and the violence it brings.

Some years later, another friend came through town, and asked me to show him around.
This friend wasn’t looking for a pilgrimage or prayers, but rather, grandeur and natural beauty. So I took him up to the Snowys where we walked among fall colors and white-capped peaks reflected in the cold clarity of Lake Marie. We climbed the lookout tower at Libby Flats for a panoramic view of the harsh terrain. I pointed to the mountain and spoke a piece of its history, “A jetliner slammed into that peak killing everyone on board. Some say the pilot became disoriented in the clouds.” We walked to the memorial plaque and read it out loud. “In memory of the 66 passengers and crew that perished on Medicine Bow Peak October 6, 1955.”

The date conjured up in me a sense of recognition and dread. It wasn’t until later I realized why. October sixth has shaken Laramie twice. Forty-three years separate the two events; a synchronicity of date, death and disorientation weave them together. Archived news reports tell me that the aftermath of the crash gave birth to new laws for aeronautical safety and new technologies for improved navigation. The aftermath of the murder is not so clear. It did, indeed, focus worldwide attention on our collective confusion around sexuality. But I wonder now what technologies of the mind and heart are yet to be discovered that can free us from the fear that causes us to attack the things we don’t understand.

Diane Wolverton

Paul Locke said...

I would simply like to take this time to say that the wall itself stood for something only as long as people believed in it. That gave the Fence power, and in this particular case, that is not good; you see, the power it had was malignant. Sure, your concious might suggest that you go to the fence to 'find Matt,' but then, isn't Matt everwhere? or at least, he was while everyone was talking about him. But your subconcious will remark upon the starkness of the Fence, and remember the crime that occured.

Visiting the Fence to find Matt is like going to the Antitem Memorial to find your grandfather; he's dead, and as harsh as that sounds, we must face it, especially ten years later. Believe me, as I type this, I know I must sound like an a-hole.

But the Fence SHOULD have been torn down; not to forget Matt per se; we definiteley don't want a repeat on that offense. But it should be down to stop the pilgramage (I know, a-hole alert). But the hurt that is caused by the Fence should not have to continue. Think of the citizens of Laramie, and think of them remembering every time they go by the Fence those horrible days ten years ago.

But hey, I'm just a stupid high-schooler; what do I know?

Camellia said...

Dear Mr. Pierotti and other Tectonic members,
Thank you for your courage and creativity.
I'm a senior in high school, cast as Amanda Gronich in our fall production of "The Laramie Project." I've been having difficulty finding any information about her, and was wondering if you could give me 4 adjectives to describe her.
With gratitude, Camellia