Friday, January 2, 2009

Butte, Montana

This town dwelled in its own past, which was literally embodied by a series of large holes dug in the hillside above. The mines had never been rich with copper, but they'd made up for it in volume. The result now was a bunch of glorified wounds in the earth. Some also contained uranium, and she read me something in the guidebook about pilgrims who stood on the edges to soak up supposed healing properties. And sure enough, a highway sign plugged "health mines," this exit.

I wondered about the people here. The same two teenagers seemed everywhere, on all the streets. Funny how kids walk and walk when they have nowhere to go. I wondered what they might say to me, who so obviously regarded them from from behind a credit card and a map, and would probably swirl them in the martini glass of subsequent conversations.

Calculating violence, I factored in the boarded-up saloons, town halls, and company headquarters; the old Peregrine Hotel, the Copper Kid lounge, glint street, flint street, boom street, bust street, dust street, meth street, and meth recovery program street; along with the old impossible alleyway that failed prospectors snuck down to feel the last vented warmth from the past, and to awake foaming at the mouth and soiled; before finally considering the impervious sheen of newer corporate entities that had landed on the wreckage like amiably double-dealing extraterrestrials. I concluded, in classic tourist fashion, those kids were trouble.

Still, I would walk with her two or three blocks along the history vacated downtown, that had once been lit solely by the gleam of precious and semi-precious metals.

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