Director John Waters is known for centering all of his movies in Baltimore, Maryland, his hometown. He got his reputation making “transgressive”(i e intended to outrage) films, and “Pink Flamingos”, the one cited above, remains one of his classics. If it doesn’t outrage you, you ain’t paying attention. But for our purposes, it’s his concept/fixation with location we address, and its specific application to the Boise State University Broncos football team. It will be something of a stretch, although not quite as extreme as the one depicted above.
In the abstract, we borrow from Waters the idea that all things in the universe relate to the Boise State team. Viewed properly, everything is on a continuum (ref Aldous Huxley “The Doors of Perception”) , and if we expand the lens far enough we see the connection, however attenuated and obscure. In this frame of mind we are able to discern the tentacles of reality as they stretch here and there, both departing from and leading back to Boise State. Our stage thus set, the universe is available to walk upon it and play its part. It’s refreshing to get a handle on the Universe; It usually has Its handle on us.
Now to the hard part. One of the best and most frequently asked questions about Boise State is why did this successful program happen here? As with a lot of very good questions, the answer lies within it, in the last word to be precise: “here”. I propose nothing less than that the actual physical location of Boise State’s stadium and University contributed in a significant way to its rise to eminence. In this John Waters and I are joined by James Michener who’s oeuvre includes “Hawaii”, “Centennial”, “Poland” “Texas” and “Alaska”. In these novels he begins with the very formation of the earth itself in the locale where his stories take place, and suggests that the random, haphazard arrangement and configuration of the earth is anything but, and that precise coordinates of geography, the magnetic pull in proportion there, the alignment with the sun, moon and stars, the rivers, oceans, volcanos, strata, the soil itself-all inform the place with a destiny that the human players will funnel into, unknowingly committed to a script written before they were born (ref “Slumdog Millionaire”.)
I knew it the my first full day in Boise. I was staying about 1 mile from Bronco stadium, at the intersection of University Avenue and Capitol Blvd. I was drawn eastward; I briefly went into the old Music Hall, where a young man was practicing the organ. He and I had along exchange, part of which was when he explained that music was more than notes, that there was a French minimalist school where practically no notes were played but nonetheless music was made. He showed me. His last words to me were to the effect that he didn’t know where he’d be without music. He looked lost just contemplating it.
I went to the “stadium”, or what there was of it. It reminded me of what someone said about an Indian village: “I see their dump, where’s the village?” (Thomas Berger “Little Big Man”)Chain link fence, on the ground, encompassed some sort of sundrenched bleachers, hard to tell what it was signifying. I’d come to find out this was very near the old runway that United Airlines sprang from, that Charles Lindbergh had used. It’s also near where Broadway rides over the Boise River and as the crow flies, about a mile or so from Table Rock, the summit of which was used by Native Americans to send signals throughout the Treasure Valley (Table Rock is discernible before you reach Ontario, Oregon, 60 miles away). I believe this area is infused with some type of ceremonial magic, left-overs from those Native American days which ain’t so far off if truth be known. Less than 100 years ago tribes still camped out less than 4 miles upriver from that site. I live on that same river, 3 miles upstream, and I can attest that the spirits of flora and fauna that have utilized its waters (see “Centennial”) are still influencing events taking shape there now. We attempted to use the river for the Boise River festival; after years of thunderous rainstorms postponing it, we gave up.
So we’re back to magic, the magic of place, the universe infusing a spot with significance and the spot returning the favor by allowing the universe free reign to write its name writ large on this portion of the surface of the planet. Jim Morrison of the Doors believed the spirit of a dead Indian entered into him and their energies fused, allowing him to achieve his greatness. This land right here in River city did the same. How long it will last and what it will mean going forward no one can tell. It won’t be always and may not be forever. Last week, against TCU, we discovered what Chief Dan George said: “Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t”. (“Little Big Man”-the movie). But when it doesn’t work it’s just as real as when it does. L’chaim!