August 11, 1999
|OK I rode my bike all around
town today and checked out many places.
In the evening, I met Klondike Jeff. He is a good friend of the artists and looks like an old Alaskan gold miner. Jeff has a very long white beard and wears suspenders over a t-shirt. The evening was spent listening to many of the stories of him and his partner Yukon Charlie (refer to photo of the two). The artist and Jeff also discussed many of their moneymaking ideas in an effort to capitalize on the tourism industry here. One concept is for gold panning where everyone would definitely be guaranteed a gold nugget. They would offer bags for sale to be panned and inside with all the dirt and gravel, there will be some gold. A great way to let people practice panning and be guaranteed to take some Alaskan gold home for a souvenir.
The big story of the night was when the artist (whom was definitely drunk by this time) told Jeff about their latest entrepreneurial undertaking. They are buying the scrap ivory from the carvings made by Alaskan natives. Alaskan natives kill Walrus for subsistence living. Not only do they eat the walrus meat, they use every part of it, and the ivory tusks were used to make tools and now used mainly for artwork. My only hope is that they are not sport hunting for the tusks. Anyway, the small pieces were not big enough to do much with but since the artist also plays guitar he decided ivory guitar pics would be a great item. The thing about ivory is that it is not allowed to be imported into the US, and the only people that can use it are Alaskan natives. So apparently anything ivory that is legal in the US has to from an Alaskan native only. That makes it a rare commodity I suppose. I remember the problem they had when I biked through the Indian reservation in Montana, some of the natives were sport hunting elk for the 2 or 4 ivory teeth they have, so it must be that those Indians are allowed to use and sell ivory as well? I just hope this isnt happening, killing with greed as the motivator. But that is a whole different tangent :)
So to make a long story short, ZZ Top was in town and played here in Anchorage on Saturday. Well last Saturday the artist met with Billy Gibbons and presented the ivory pics to him for sale. After some discussion, Billy Gibbons agreed to pay the $200.00 each but insisted that he would have them custom made to match the finger imprints he will mail to the artist. He went on to say that he will get imprints of his friends in the music industry and have some made for them as well.
After the meeting, the artist felt like he should have offered something to Mr. Gibbons in thanks for placing an order. The artist is indeed a very giving person and freely gives without ever asking for anything in return. The next day, he ran into Billy Gibbons and asked him to come outside to his truck. The artist pulled a small ring box from atop his dashboard and gave Mr. Gibbons 2 pics, "freely given". Apparently, Billy Gibbons was moved by the kind gesture. He removed his sunglasses and said, "all my life people have always tried to take from me. No one has ever given me anything, especially something of value." Billy got on his cell phone and made a call for 4 passes to their concert and asked the artist to come to the concert.
At the concert, Billy used one of the ivory pics during the second set. So this was very exciting for the artist to know that, not only did he make someone else happy, but also has potential for his new venture in ivory guitar pics.
After Jeff left, the artist talked about some of his unusual experiences. He was abducted by aliens, saw an elk stop in the middle of the road and then lift up into the sky spinning around then disappear into the clouds, and his experience working for a doctor that was experimenting on him without his knowledge. The doctor was invading his dreams with a group of other people. The artist has narrowed the many experiences like this down to 13 to write a book about them. I heard many of them in great detail and I will have to say that the artist is an excellent raconteur. Even though I do not believe in UFOs and ghosts and many of those weird things, Im sure it would be a great book to read. It was crazy the way he described how the aliens in the ship would put their hand like appendages into the console, and then seemed to melt into it. By doing so it was as if the aliens were becoming one with the craft and controlling it through thought. This is just one small bit of many very unique and crazy stories he had to tell.
I don't think he quite exists in this reality.
update 5/03/2010: Klondike Jeff passed away a couple of weeks ago, he was 60
more details about Jeff here