March 01, 2010

A belated chinese new year... spent chasing the dragon in an old mining town

It's posts titles like this one that remind me what propelled me out west...
Like many a wonderful adventure, the day began by driving...
 I just love mid-century motel design. In fact I've been hoping to own my own (norman bates style of course) since I read that angelina jolie and billy bob (back in the day) wanted to get one instead of having a house with guest bedrooms...

Jacksonville itself,  the "queen city" of southern Oregon back in the (mid 19th century) day is super charming and has lots of brick, not such a common sight out here.


Old signage: we must protect it! Especially when it's this fabulous. Shout out to Jville!
 
Sadly the best shot I could  get of this amazing Free Mason signage. 


Why doesn't every town have its own historic barber shop? Reader submission time:  send me photos of historic barber shops and I'll post a special blog, historic research thrown in for free.
 
I wish I was a less ethical person. Then I would have no problem robbing this place.



  
A brick Italianate jewel.

The highlight of the day was an amazing talk by the remarkable Chelsea Rose, probably the most badass archeologist in the western world. Loyal readers of the blog will remember a rant regarding a certain persona non grata who had the audacity to claim one simply could not take a tattooed, pierced person seriously as a professional or academic. Well, Ms. Rose is the perfect example of why stereotyping is truly ridiculous because she is both tattooed and a brilliant type A personality. But I digress...
Her talk "Chasing the Dragon: 19th Century Chinese Opium Use, Reality and Misconception" delivered exactly what the title promised. Opium was a diversely prepared drug used for diverse purposes by diverse people. The romanticized notion of the Chinese opium den fully of languishing fiends makes for great staged (period) photos and style inspiration, but it's a misconception. The Chinese comprised only about 20% of opium users in America. Opium was used medicinally as an appetite suppressant, pain reliever, and sleeping aid as well as recreationaly much the way a 6 pack of pbr is today. And yes, there was the occasional den which actually served as an important meeting place for marginalized individuals in society. And also the birthplace of the modern day drug trade. As xenophobia towards the Chinese grew, their practice of smoking the opium  was stigmatized by normative society who preferred  far more respectable ways of ingesting the drug, like in laudanum and the newly invented hypodermic needle. History is myth, but the artifacts do not lie. We don't find lots of evidence of highly localized opium use (tins, ceramic bowls used in pipes, special opium lamps). Instead, the artifacts are fairly spread out, indicating that use of opium was widely distributed. Bet y'all didn't know archeology could be so thrilling, did you now?
And on that note I'm off to... uh... busy myself....

1 comment:

looking forward to hearing from you!