Gainesville-Charlotte Camping Reviews: Holton Creek River Camp

Overall, Holton Creek Camp is more than I ever expected from a free campsite: electricity, heated water, and a roof over my head. I was really pleased to have such facilities, especially after having to navigate the dirt paths for about forty or so minutes in the near-dark. I am glad certain Floridian wildlife offices are putting the effort and time to make the Florida Trail a real destination rather than a half-assed thing to do “‘cause every other state got it”.

On the first night of the “Blue Ridge Trail” biking trip (self-coined), I stopped at the Holton Creek River Camp, motivated by its proximity to Gainesville, FL as well as its free-ness, which I have prioritized during this trip (though it will become apparent that these priorities don’t seem to hold sway in Georgia). The camp is specifically for Florida Trail hikers and Suwanee River tubers, placed just a few dozen feet from both the river and trail – it also has a sign that deters overnight parking nearby; you will have to earn your way to this area in some shape or form.

Reservations

Reservations were very simple: I just had to call the Suwanee River Water Management District (800.868.9914) and ask if there are any availabilities for the day. Being a Monday, there was absolutely no one looking to reserve either the platforms or the tent sites, so I could easily snag one of the former. For more information, you can also check the WMD’s site out.

Don’t always trust Google.

Google Maps has an issue with directing to the camp: while it identifies exactly where the camp is located, it does not take into account the unpaved roads required to get to the campsite via bicycle – nor the Florida Trail, which would be a huge bonus if it were included in the future.

Google assumes that there is a magical bridge that goes from the south side to the north side; there isn't, just private property.
Google assumes that there is a magical bridge that goes from the south side to the north side; there isn't, just private property.

It was already past 19:30 when I arrived at the southern end, also called the “Sheriff’s Boys Camp” or something similar. I didn’t realize until then that Holton Creek Camp was located north of the river, not south. For the next hour, I rerouted myself to the 249, adding another 18 miles to the bike trip, and causing me to arrive at the camp after sun had set.

Feeling as if I was gonna get Blair Witch’d

It was a stressful experience to go further and further into the Floridian woods from 20:30 to 21:00. The sunset occurred at 20:36, and I was already past the highway and a mile or so into the forest. I did not want to be stuck in the forest, in the dark, alone, and without something already set up to sleep in. As a child, I put the covers over my head when I’m afraid that someone is in my room, or even as a teenager, camping alone. “If you can’t see them, they can’t see you.”

For the last fifteen minutes I had to turn on my bike light so I can see along the dirt path. The worst horror is to seek the image of something; my light flashed through the trees and into the distance, and the reptile-part of my brain just waited for some darkened silhouette to appear.

But moving along.

Holton River Camp is all that and a bag of chips

I was really suprised by the handicap accessibility.
I was really suprised by the handicap accessibility.

I had seen images of the platform online, and had assumed the five structures were simply well-made bug nets. However, when I arrived, I also found it (and all other buildings) to be handicap accessible, with internal and exterior lights, as well as a ceiling fan. The platforms could comfortably fit three small tents, or up to six people with only bivy sacks or sleeping bags (which I would not recommend: the weakest part of the structure are the small perforations in the otherwise high quality platforms, allowing for a few small bugs to find a way in).

Sleeping bag in the Holton Creek River Camp platform - the wood floors were even well-sealed, but I set up the tarp as a barrier anyway.
Sleeping bag in the Holton Creek River Camp platform – the wood floors were even well-sealed, but I set up the tarp as a barrier anyway.

The rain and the platform

The fifth of June had erratic behavior with regard to weather; earlier in the day I had been soaked by thirty minutes of rain, and then clear skies for the next seven or so hours. But by twelve in the morning, a pattering of rain had started, and would not stop until the afternoon of the next day (which dampened my mood and cycling speed). I worried that the “splash back” of the rain drops would get in through the net, but the roof had covered most of the ramp entrance, keeping drops far enough away from the site – perhaps I take this note because of the possible issues that tarp tenting can produce: torrential rainfall will bounce into the enclosure, causing things to get wet regardless of the roof over one’s head.

The bathrooms and showers

It was only a small trip to the bathrooms, which are segregated into disabilities/non-disabilities and men/women.
It was only a small trip to the bathrooms, which are segregated into disabilities/non-disabilities and men/women.

Only the next morning did I check out the bathrooms, which had lit up at night when I passed them; I thought they were small, rentable houses at first. But to my surprise, the bathrooms were fully furnished: working toilet, hot/cold water shower, and a sink with a mirror, with toilet paper already in place. Also cooled by A/C! I don’t know why they put so much effort into this place, but the Holton Creek River Camp had gone way beyond normal expectations of a free campsite.

Conclusions

Overall, Holton Creek Camp is more than I ever expected from a free campsite: electricity, heated water, and a roof over my head. I was really pleased to have such facilities, especially after having to navigate the dirt paths for about forty or so minutes in the near-dark. I am glad certain Floridian wildlife offices are putting the effort and time to make the Florida Trail a real destination rather than a half-assed thing to do “‘cause every other state got it”.

But be careful about Google Maps and attempting to read the official websites PDF map, as the former completely throws you off the correct street, and the latter is not to scale and can be confusing to figure out the actual entrance to the Holton Creek area (you can go along the Florida Trail, which I could not find a trailhead, or via the Northwest entrance).

Review: The Blaze – Territory (EP)

But that is where the EP may falter for putting so many tracks in one basket: do these tracks hold up without their visual counterparts? Could “Juvenile” and “Spark & Ashes” be heightened by accompanying music videos? I would answer yes: in an age where the single track is worthless, set upon algorithms and passive consumption playlists (exercise), the emotional resonance of all music requires more, and perhaps the music video continues its role of expanding the thesis first introduced by the track; from dance into reflection.

The Blaze - EP
The Blaze – EP

It’s a wonder that the modern dance music producer even comes out with an album, let alone an EP containing over three tracks. The dance music market desires the hit single, and likely some substantive remixes of that same single. The single will then be transported into Spotify/Apple Music to be inserted into various modular and algorithmic playlists that could not care less that one track or the other exists within.

For better or worse, Territory ignores the pitfalls of throwing several tracks into one collection (Pitchfork/Resident Advisor can’t cover several EPs spread over months, but rather offer only one brief piece of coverage in April; quick discoverability of the “B-side” tracks when offering the standard two track EP with possible remixes to sweeten the bargain; simply having several identifier names for several EPs to better establish the producer’s “brand”) and throws in four full tracks and two “texture” tracks for the listener.

Track Breakdown:

“Prelude” (3.5/5) feels as if it could have opened for a bizzaro-The XX album. Pulsing synths, a tinkling piano; this is not the typical track to open for most dance music producers. This opener establishes that while The Blaze may not be “heady”, they are not simply banger producers.

“Territory” (4/5) is crystalline clear, with sparse instruments over a very familiar-sounding beat; it is the prototypical rave song for dudebros and molly’d up life-lovers. It’s austere yet celebratory; the extremes in tone turn what would have been a very stereotyped sound into something with surprising substance (for a dance song). Determination and a tempered happiness makes “Territory” definitive to the tone of The Blaze.

“Virile” (4/5) is how I first discovered The Blaze months ago. Admittedly, I was particularly interested in the album cover: a man embracing the face of another, as the latter takes in the smoke of what may be a cigarette or (revealed in the music video) a joint. Here one can discover an important aspect of The Blaze (or at least what they are trying to project): that the dudebro music produced is looking beyond the typical “straight, white” dudebro, but also the assholes of many other races, nationalities and sexualities. The building synths and once-again familiar dance beat of the track drives a pitched down voice that is found throughout the EP; the ambiguity of the voice pushes the visuals and overall thesis of The Blaze: there is more that straight, white dudebro raving.

“Interlude” (3/5) still feels as if it was taken out of the B-sides of The XX. I can almost hear Romy’s voice echoing over the piano and the synths.

“Juvenile” (3/5): beat feels weak, seeking that “driving” motion that producers might emulate in order to get their song in a Nike running playlist. But the vocals tend to make up for these issues; the simple line by the pitched down voice, as well as the repeated whimpers in the last half of the track produce a positive emotion that I appreciated after a rough beginning.

“Spark & Ashes” (3.5/5) was my least loved track for the first couple weeks of listening, but after a few listens, this approach to the “driving” beat was wholly complementary of the great vocals and sidechaining effects that occur throughout the track. The halfway point has a build-up that feels better each time I listen to it; the looped vocal combined with the organic-sounding percussive melody became again very The XX.

Conclusion

The Blaze has found differentiation in their dance music through their visual process. I personally discovered them through their album cover for Virile, and later became very interested in their official album cover for Territory. With these two images in a vacuum, there is something very modernist in their depictions of masculinity; a type without protestant shame, comfortable in one’s skin and comfortable with those around them. The images of Virile and Territory tell two different stories of this comfortability (the latter may be more exclusionary than the former), but it is a story worth telling, and worth modernizing.

The music videos expand on these images (the covers are taken straight out of the videos like a screenshot), with “Territory” expanding EDM beyond Western borders into Algeria, juxtaposing the pleasure of dance with Islamic images, familial relationships, and back alley antics. “Virile” is more personal, depicting the relationship between two friends. If masculinity is not being eradicated by feminism, then it is evolving beyond the dated presuppositions of the 20th century.

But that is where the EP may falter for putting so many tracks in one basket: do these tracks hold up without their visual counterparts? Could “Juvenile” and “Spark & Ashes” be heightened by accompanying music videos? I would answer yes: in an age where the single track is worthless, set upon algorithms and passive consumption playlists (exercise), the emotional resonance of all music requires more, and perhaps the music video continues its role of expanding the thesis first introduced by the track; from dance into reflection.

The Blaze - Virile (Single)
The Blaze – Virile (Single)
By Benjamin Loyseau
Jonathan (left) and Guillaume Alric (right), a.k.a. The Blaze – Photo by Benjamin Loyseau

Bullet: Kong: Skull Island

Unique

Feels as if it was written by a non-American and then translated into English. Jilted dialogue, “Vietnam War” soldier archetypes, generally an apolitical “anti-war” message, Kong’s interaction is zany rather than forced “awe-inspiring”.

Bad

  • Quite archetypical, “been there done that” dialogue. It almost seems like a parody of the exact type of movie: “70s cuckoo scientist proven right by a discovery, but leading to the strife of the expeditionary crew – one of them snaps, causing a divide in goals for the group’s survival in the face of this discovery.”
  • Acting was distinctly not good, if not bad. Only John C. Reilly seemed to putting effort in the performance.
  • Micro-editing was really off, cutting at the wrong times. Felt very rushed and unrefined.
  • Characters seemed to be excessively, passively killed off. Kinda half-assed.

Good

  • The introduction set a good precedent for the rest of the film: it’s not Kong’s appearance that should impress people, but the creative action that occurs between Kong, the humans and the monsters it fights.
  • The fights weren’t particularly great, but some beats during (Jackson staring into Kong’s eyes as it destroyed soldiers, the initial “scientific bombing”, the fight with the squid) made up for what could have been a humorless, style-less depiction of a CGI monster beating up other CGI beings. There was a physicality.

micronotes: Colin Stetson – Spindrift

micronotes: Colin Stetson – Spindrift

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  • “Colin, what if you put a beat on your music?”
  • I think the beat is still derived from those unique microphones he places near the fingers, but unlike the earlier, more organic clacking sounds, it sounds just like some DJ found a Stetson track and was compelled to transform it into the most chill dance track ever.
  • The track seems more referential to Stetson’s qualities rather than invoking those qualities directly i.e. it’s unfortunately a hollow representation of his great skills.

Released on Spotify February 15, 2017

Re-Review: David Lynch’s Lost Highway

Re-Review: Lost Highway dir. David Lynch

Mystery Man (played by Robert Blake) in David Lynch’s Lost Highway

  • Patrica Arquette is like a vacuum of energy. Maybe it’s just the soft spoken-ness, but I don’t know if her range goes beyond indignation and whisper-talk.
  • Robert Blake’s face on Arquette would be the sole reason Lynch should George Lucas the movie and make weird-ass edits with modern day CGI – at least we’ll get a non-hilarious visual in that scene.
  • Only Lynch can finds so spacious, so modern, and so depressing.
  • Pre-recorded mass media tech is only 25 years old by the time of Lost Highway, right? VHS/LaserDisc is nearly the equivalent of comparing the differences between 1992 and 2017. (In response to Pullman/Arquette watching the tapes and Pullman’s subsequent remark that he doesn’t like them.)
  • The look of VHS is always great with mutilated bodies.
  • Fade ins and fade outs galore. Nowadays we just knock characters out and have a hard cut to black with a bass sound.
  • And then she looks like a ghost when blonde.
  • It’s a great beginning and ending, and just a tiring middle.
  • The “cabin in the middle of the desert” scene is great.
  • Lost Highway does give enough concrete stuff to the audience while also maintaining a lot of ambiguity to allow interpretations to branch off into unsuspected places. I like to approach it from my previous ideas on VHS and camcorders.

For You: Thundercat – Drunk

03-07-17

For You: Thundercat – Drunk

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Dear Garrett,

So you weren’t familiar with Thundercat when we spoke about it a few days ago. That shouldn’t be entirely surprising: Stephen Bruner has mostly made his reputation working with giant alterna-mainstream hip-hop acts like Flying Lotus, and through Lotus, Kendrick Lamar. Thundercat’s great though: he has this kindly falsetto that is indie and poppy, sincere and ironic all at the same time. His debut album, Thundercat, was a great postmodern ode to the television show and a generally “IDM”-y sound that included hugely virtuosic basslines and percussions, leading up to a type of sound that a weed smoker would have been quite content with.

His second album Apocalypse seemed like a distraction from real playfulness. 2013 was a defining year for alterna-mainstream hip-hop and modern soul: Daft Punk intermeshed with Lamar, #GrammysLessWhite, and things like Tawk Tomahawk were taking over the Australian airwaves. But Thundercat comes in with a near soul-less rendition of pop, and we were sent into a largely idiosyncratic and hollow world that Twin Shadow was also attempting to carve out, but to no avail. The tracks were strong but they lacked what made Thundercat Thundercat, so it passed through the ears of Pitchfork/mainstream indie and settled into oblivion.

Drunk is hugely imaginative, and the lyrics are plain fun and funny. Rather than the reverential Thundercat, this album chases its own tail into the abyss, celebrating its complex basses and percussions just as Bruner did six years prior. It’s twenty-three tracks! Yet it’s packed with interludes and transitions that it feels as though we are met with ten largely substantive tracks that meld into a dozen other sounds through the course of each segment. I think you’d actually like some of the funk/soul/IDM stuff found throughout, even if the rest of this letter was as directionless as the album itself.

Love,
Aleks.

Track Highlights

  • Captain Stupido
  • Walk On By (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
  • Inferno
  • Friend Zone

2017, Brainfeeder