After thirteen years of absence in the world, Bordertown–that awesome shared world of punk rock and elves that surfaced in the 80s and 90s–is coming back. It’s coming back on May 24th, to be exact, and those of us writer types who were invited to play in the new anthology have been holding contests leading up to the big event. And it is a big event. The book is big, and it’s beautiful, chock full of poems and stories and even a graphic story to boot. You won’t want to miss it.
For my contest, I’m asking readers of my blog to watch this book trailer for Welcome to Bordertown, and to maybe do a little research (for those who are unfamiliar with the Borderlands) to get acquainted with the place. Then, come back here and answer this one question in the comments of my blog:
How would you get to Bordertown?
It’s an important question, because Bordertown is a magical place, and all magical places have to be gotten to by particular paths. Wendy and Peter go to Neverland by flying on a celestial road called the High Way. Dorothy goes to the Emerald Kingdom by following the Yellow Brick Road. Alice tumbles down the Rabbit Hole to Wonderland. In Bordertown lore, it’s said that anyone wishing hard enough to be there will find a way. So what’s your way, if you wanted it bad enough? How would you get to Bordertown?
I’ll be picking one of the answers on May 24th, and will announce the winner here on my blog. The prize? This really cool Bordertown pendant fashioned by artist Mia Nutick:
So who’s first? By hook or by crook, I expect to see some fancy travel plans.
(Don’t forget to leave your name and email address in the info for comments.)
I don’t know how, but I managed to find a copy of the Tough Guide to Bordertown sitting in the gutter. Photocopied, though lord knows how they managed to get a photocopier to work; I wish I could find whoever-it-was that managed to copy it, because I owe them a meal at the very least. The quality was god-awful, but it didn’t matter: I knew I needed to be there.
I packed up my stuff, bought as much junk to trade as I could carry, and headed out. I tried everything. I hitchhiked, following the threads of rumors that I managed to hear. I tried a dowsing rod and made myself look like an idiot in the process. I asked the hipsters mimicking Border style before it hit mainstream. I checked rabbit holes (as a note, rabbits bite. Hard).
Finally, I bought an old bicycle out of a junkyard – I know well enough by now that buying an unaltered motorcycle is a great way to get myself stranded out in the Nevernever – and rode off in the direction I’d tried six times already until I got good and lost. It wasn’t so much a plan as a way to vent some frustration.
I biked until my legs burned and didn’t see anything. I gave up. I pulled out my map (where the Hell was the highway?) and glanced up to try to find a road sign. Instead, I saw a spindly mess of towers off in the distance.
That was it.
I was off. By the time I got there, my lungs didn’t want to function. Neither did my legs. My head hurt, and I needed a drink. Bad.
Well, Hell if I didn’t head down to The Dancing Ferret as soon as I had caught my breath. The first beer’s on the house, I hear.
I would take my seabag and my violin, and hop aboard the nearest passing schooner. On the first clear night outside of port, I’d play my violin to the sounds of the lapping waves. With eyes closed and full attention to the music, I would bow until exhaustion toppled me, and pray that I would wake in Bordertown.
First off, I would read every book I could about the world of Faerie and cross-reference how people get there in the first place. The most common hypothesis found would most likely be the most accurate. But you want to go BETWEEN this world and that. Not hop from one into the next. You would have to find a way to do that.
Fill your head, heart and soul with dreams of otherworldly things. As an artist, I would pack my bags with my favorite art supplies and book, then wait for the right day and time to go. There are days throughout the year, where the veil between both worlds becomes thin. Hollow’s Eve, may the 1st, etc. etc. You’d have to time it just right. find a way to the veil, and not to the next world. The veil is Bordertown. The In-Between.
I believe, if I wish and hope hard enough, and follow the golden light of the setting sun to the last place the golden beams touch right before twilight, I can get to Bordertown.
But you do know, we sometimes visit Bordertown without even realizing it? We sometimes cross a bridge of dreams as we are sleeping, and there, we sometimes find Bordertown.
First I would pack my bag with aa little aa possible. Then I would grab my book of poems by Robert Frost and begin my adventure by taking ‘the road not taken’. My muse will guide me on my Hero’s Journey and I know that as long as I listen to my guides I will find my way to Bordertown.
I have been there before and I did not want to come back, but I was told I must.
The Being of Light will open my heart and soul to find the road not taken, because…shhh..that’s the way to Bordertown
Kathy Barreca. 330-720-5218
I am an old fart and I expect Faerie would come to me. Not that I think “they come to me” is a privilege of age, rather that in books Faerie is always sneaking up on people beyond a certain age and sucking them in. The person is too old and jaded and real-world oriented to believe in fairyland anymore, but fairyland has its own agenda.
I imagine it would go something like this event that happened to me a few years ago, but instead of it being the mundane explanation, it really would be a portal.
You can’t make yourself get to magical places. You have to wander around and keep your eyes open for doorways, and then be smart enough to walk through.
My submission is strictly for fun, not for entry into the competition as I have a couple TV credits which sorta kinda makes me a professional writer.
Everyone thinks there is some great mysterious, secret, voo-dooey, sparkly, Glenda-esque, Brigadoonish way of getting to this place – this… Bordertown. Lemme tell you, it’s all about who you know…
See, you have to catch a ride with someone who knows the way – and man, do I have a connection. He lives in the realm of Science Fiction, but every so often – usually when he needs the cash – he crosses over into Fantasy. His name is Mickey Stake, but his friends call him The Mistake. He’s a second-rate stand-up comedian — it was the only night job he could get. He’s a vampire, and the hours suited him. But he’s grown to love comedy even though he has a bad case of stage fright. In fact, The Mistake is afraid of a lot of things – including graveyards. He pees his pants if he even looks at a gravestone. He says he sucks at both jobs. His nerves caused him to take up smoking while still alive, and the nasty habit stayed with him, along with an annoying cough, but he actually doesn’t smoke much – he just likes to flick the cigarette butts and it’s truly an art unto itself the way that vamp makes those unfiltered tips fly through the air. You could say he’s a chain flicker. He calls home a dumpster in an alley just off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood – no coffins for him (plus, more leg room). After he turned vampire, he turned killer. No choice. A guy’s gotta eat. But he only took the lives of unfunny comedians – the ones who got the yellow light, so to speak. Figured he’d do the world a favor and grab a meal at the same time…
But The Mistake eventually came to see the error of his ways (that’s another story) and in his search for redemption, created The Undead Tour 2011. He gathered all the comedians he had turned into undead souls, those who were doomed to forever walked the earth in search of a good joke, put them on an old converted bus (with the windows blacked out, of course) and they are currently on the road, travelling across America playing venues on The Undead Tour.
Every so often, they get a gig in Bordertown which gives them a pass into this illusive community (The Mistake once said the only place harder to get into is the Playboy Mansion). They usually play downtown at Slugger’s, but those elves are a tough crowd – they love the blue material. The Birch Street Bar and Grill is The Mistake’s favorite – though he refers to it as The Birch Street Bare End Girl (the story behind that one, I have yet to hear). They’ll even work in the Scandal District if there’s a good house (beware – the Ogre hecklers are the worst), or Café Tremolo if there’s an open mic night. No uptown joints for these guys – they got booted out of The Promenade – something about a dress code… which led to a fist fight… then, the fangs came out…
Even with the difficult crowds, The Mistake says it’s about doing what you love. Comedy is in his blood – and you can take that however you want. It’s a way to let the undead feel truly alive again on stage – if only for a moment… The Mistake’s motto: “Some old jokes just refuse to die, no matter how many times you kill them.”
So… if you can hitch a ride with The Undead Tour 2011 (groupies welcome), you can get to Bordertown, no problem. But remember, you won’t know the way back home since the view from the bus is “obstructed”, so make sure you don’t miss the ride back to Hollywood! Sometimes, the vamps get thrown out of town for drunk and disorderly conduct, so get ready to run. The Mistake owes me one, so just tell him the blond who whooped his undead ass at poker and let him give her an I.O.U. sent you — and it wouldn’t hurt to slip him a pack of Camels. Bon Voyage…
Well, I’ve got a little time before I go, but I’m out of here tonight, or early morning, as soon as my travelling buddy gets here. I hear it’s been 13 years? It’s felt like less somtimes, or that many decades at others.
Long story shorter: I left my daughter and my guy there. I went as a teen (“of course”, right?). And just before coming back to the World, met My Guy. And one thing and another and I stayed for almost five years, until I got a I got a letter saying my mom was on her death bed. She was only effing 53. I packed a bag and kissed my girl – she was only just 4 at the time – and I kissed my guy and headed back to the World, only expecting to be gone a short time, just hoping to get home “in time”. I did, but I by the time I turned around, the Way I knew was closed.
I’ve been looking ever since. I wasn’t worried at first. Then I grieved. I’ve come to some acceptance but…
Anyway, I met someone via the Bordertown Wiki years ago, and we’ve been a team, planning and planning. She left a girlfriend there. Even if our loved ones have moved on with their lives, we have to go, connect, check that they’re all okay. One of my guy’s folks is a Halfie, so maybe he won’t have aged as much as me. I mourn that I’ve missed seeing our girl grow up. With any luck time hasn’t moved as quickly. Oh! Oh gods, I hope she isn’t older than I am! Oh. I can’t think on it any more. We just have to go.
Dang, I’m rambling! And I’m leaving so much out. Anyways.
We’ve saved our money, and will travel a few places if need be. We have passge for the Elflands Express if that’s still running and we can find it first. Otherwise, we’ve money to travel some places in the World. You have to look for the transition places, right? You know? The places a forest meets a meadow. Foothills. Culverts on the edge of town. We think we found one of the places where the River crosses into the World, but that might be too crazy. And one likely spot on the road out the back side a small village in the Schwarzwald – who’d’ve thunk? Really weird.
Where is she? All these years I’ve managed, but these last hours are killing me. Right. So, we’ve learned some skills in the meanwhile, and saved a few items to trade when we land – books & baubles. I know how to knit and bead, I’ve got stashes in my pack. And my gal pal has learned all the ballads she can. I’m hoping Elsewhere and The Gambel Cafe are still open. I think we’ll ohas! nevermind! wOOOO hoOO! she’s hear! g otta scram! oh gods! Wish me well, sir. Maybe we’ll see you there.
How would I get to Bordertown?
I’d accept that your way is not my way and neither of us can use the way that other guy swears worked before for some girl he knew.
I’d start over. I’d read the stories and look up the wiki and search out the songs. Like Inanna descending I’d peel away the layers of all the things I wrapped myself in when I realized the way was shut.
I’d put away needing to fit in. I’d give away the grown up sensible things I never really wanted anyway. I’d unpack my invisible backpack and take out all the supposed-to and settling-for and dreams-delayed. I’d rummage around in my heart and head and find whatever corner held the faded carefully folded away wonder and I’d wrap it around myself again.
I’d wear sturdy shoes and take dry socks because I’m not a fool. I’d take my little bag with my knitting and crafting supplies because making things, even clumsily, is better than not at all. I’d wear or carry the jewelery a friend made because things made with love carry a bit of it forever after.
I’d take my walking stick because my knees aren’t what they used to be. I’d take things for trading- hand tools and wire and that bag of buttons I’ve been collecting forever and probably fill in the corners randomly because you need to leave room for happenstance to work.
I’d ask if anyone had any letters or messages they wanted carried. I’d wrap them in oilcloth and carry them inside my shirt.
I’d close my eyes and take a deep breath. I’d tell my self and the world goodbye. I’d ask the letters and the trade goods and my heart which way we needed to go. I’d let go. I’d lay my house keys on the table and lock the door behind me.
I’d start walking. I’d tell the stories- to passersby, to birds overhead, to myself. I’d keep walking until I got there, because believing is the only magic I know.