Tuesday, December 16, 2008


My wife, who has 3 degrees including an MBA in non profit fundraising was probably more impressed with meeting Earthworm of all the people I have known that she has met. Those of you who are or were alternative enough in the 60s, 70s and 80s might know him or know of him too.

When my wife met him he was wearing buckskin garments and was likely walking barefoot up to Horse Camp. At that time he had Maori Tattoos on his face that he very likely got somewhere from the Maoris in New Zealand, for like I said this is a very interesting man. At one point his lady it is said fell in love with another and he decided to go permanently to India and it took him 2 years of begging to buy himself a ticket back to the states. Though there are many legends about the man(he started River Spirit) a northern California self Sustaining commune on the South Fork of the Trinity River likely in the 70s or late 60s.

My experience with River Spirit was completely organic and unexpected. My friend Anton, and his girlfriend and I decided to walk to a place our Medicine man who was of the Blackfoot and Sioux tradition lived within 4 miles of River Spirit and my friend Anton wanted to walk several miles along the river to Eagle Cliffs where our medicine man lived with his family. So Anton, his girlfriend and I walked along the Trinity around 1981 or 2 toward Eagle Cliffs. We found the River incredibly beautiful. However, all of a sudden we came upon several hundred naked people. I suppose some people would have been scared at this outcome but Anton and I were used to being around Alternative and even commmunal types since he was at UCLA in the late 1960s and early 1970s. So, of the two of us, Anton was probably much more comfortable in this situation. I was mostly just blown out to see so many naked men women and children farming their land naked and by hand. Of course the food was all organic and some of the structures(all wood) were quite beautiful and artistic. We spoke with two younger guys that were playing Hacky sack naked on a large wooden deck attached to one of the buildings there.

My wife told me after she met Earthworm at Horse camp that they had a lot in common as both were raised in families with means. It turned out that Earthworm had sold his fancy sports car and cashed out part of his inheritance and bought river spirit free and clear. He loved the fact that there were no roads even dirt roads to it and that it was so remote and that one of the borders was the Trinity River and that one could only reach the place by trail.

There were rumors that lumber to build buildings was floated down the river and caught in a net and then dried before using the materials for building. However, that was not confirmed ever. However, seeing River Spirit had to be my most interesting experience with a remote commune that I ever had. I had seen many college groups of 10 to 20 living communally on 1 to 20 acres before while going to college. But most of these outfits ceased to exist as the members graduated college with Bachelors, masters or Doctorates and got married, settled down and had kids. However, as far as I know River Spirit is still in existence and still in a sort of nether realm almost unattached to the rest of the world. It is sort of its own Shangri La kind of place. However, that sort of life is definitely not for everyone and definitely not a forever lifestyle for most people. But for a few rare few it might be a voyage of self discovery while looking for ones true place in the world. Like I said, places like this aren't for everyone, not even for me. But still, I'm intrigued by people I've met who came from there like Earthworm, in his buckskin clothes with fringe and Maori Tattoos on his face and stories of a lifetime of adventures that he actually lived and not just watched on TV.

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