Monday, February 15, 2010

Lobo: An Improvised Field Dossier

There are many of you to whom Lobo is but an abstraction. He is a construct that exists within the pages of this document and nowhere else. That is understandable. There are others amongst you who can with little effort readily conjure a vivid image of the man. You are those who have broken bread with the Wolf. Perhaps you have even drank deeply from his seemingly endless cup. Yet do you really know him? Are you any closer to the flesh and blood of the man than those who regard him merely as myth? The reality is no. Just as Homer never knew the warrior Achilles, no one can truly know the Lobo.

At the same time few argue that without Homer, we might never have heard the name Achilles. Without the poet their would have been no Aeneas, no Odysseus, and no Troy. Yet who amongst us can bring such elaborate detail to the rendering of a man we may or may not know? I certainly cannot. The Badger has no faculty for story telling. We must look elsewhere for the means to understand Lobo.

Fortunately there exists a parallel tale. The author is unknown and it concerns neither Lobo nor Tejon per se, but tells the story of a man eerily similar to the Wolf himself. I have excerpted a portion of it here. Remember that this is not the tale of Lobo and the author is no Homer, but rather the story brings to life the beginnings of a man from which we can all learn much. The hearty readers amongst you will be rewarded for their perseverance.

The public life of the man once known to those around him as Gary Bolin is predictable and well documented. A pillar of regional industry, he ran his construction company prudently and responsibly. He had a hand in much of the development of the northern Idaho area in which he had settled in his twenties and was well regarded around town for the quality of his work. Though he could on occasion succumb to the baser temptation of drink, these transgressions were largely expected and forgiven of the men in his town. He was, by all accounts, the type of man admired and respected in medium sized western communities, a man of conservative nature with just enough recklessness to disarm the natural human aversion to sanctimony. This was who Gary Bolin was.
But then he was gone. Transformed, as it were, into a retired expatriate, living in Mexico and going by the garish handle “Garobo.” The shift was announced in a widely circulated email penned by Garobo himself. Using sparse, cryptic language the communiqué alluded to the fact that Gary Bolin no longer existed. He had started a new life in Mexico under the moniker Garobo and did not plan on returning. It offered no insight as to motive or inspiration. The conclusion stated that communication was welcome but all future inquiries must be made to Garobo in Mexico, not Gary, not Garobo Bolin, just Garobo.
It is easy to imagine the response in Idaho. Speculation rang from every corner of town. The bars and taverns that Gary frequented were awash in rumor and innuendo. Men and women rumpled their foreheads and scowled over cocktails. Some of the more astute among them pointed out that Garobo means iguana in Spanish. None of this, however, brought them any closer to understanding the truth behind his departure.
His town, Coeur d’Alene, was small enough that most were certain he wasn’t fleeing prosecution. They knew he had no debt, were certain his business affairs were in order, and assumed he was of good health. But what then? What would drive someone away from a successful business, from ensured income, from respect and stability? Furthermore, why Mexico? Why a country saturated with poverty and violence? And perhaps most perplexing, why Garobo?
To be certain those who knew him well saw in his past the potential for just such a transformation. They pointed out he had in his early twenties sloughed off the comfort of his middle class upbringing in Chicago and lit out for the west. They noted how when he first arrived in Coeur d’Alene he hid his Jewish heritage and affected the aire of a rough and tumble western cowboy. Even as they acknowledged that these things were true though, there remained a disconnect between the Gary they knew and their vision of a quixotic Garobo gallivanting around Mexico. And for a few nights out of this logical rift poured frenzied speculation and fiercely imaginative tales of the Garobo’s exploits in wild Mexico. The normally banal happy hour banter regarding work and politics and television was replaced with passionate and creative storytelling. Wild theories abounded and many a beautiful and intricate tale was spun in the wake of his disappearance.
Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those tales. The reality is that all but a few residents of Coeur d’Alene forgot about the saga of Garobo shortly after he disappeared. The stories dried up. His employees found work elsewhere. His bartenders served the other regulars. And the stories they told were lost nearly the second they were uttered.

We, however, are not subject to such rumor and innuendo. There lies before us a flesh and blood Lobo. That he is not Garobo is secondary. He may as well be. For we will never understand why Lobo is the way he is any more than those in Coeur d'Alene will understand Garobo's departure. Yet while we may not know why he does the things he does, we know concretely what those things are. And besides, none of this really concerns the Tejon and thus it shouldn't concern you either.

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