Column #396 “Beware the Vortex!”
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
“Beware the Vortex!”
That was the message my old traveling buddy, Richard Sobol, sent me as I prepared to head to a business retreat in the Coconino Forest at an old cabin nestled among the stunning red and orange rock sandstone formations that surround Sedona, Arizona.
“Beware the Vortex!”
But I wasn’t worried. I knew all about the Vortex.
Back in 2002, I tested a Vortex darts machine – the brainchild of the late Glenn Remick – with Philadelphia’s Mike Broderick at the Nutty Irishman, long one of the darts pubs of choice in the City of Brotherly Love.
As we stepped to the line, before us loomed a colorful six foot tall robot-like apparatus with a bristle board recessed slightly into the top. It was almost alive…
From around the perimeter of the board emanated an invisible radio wave-like electro-magnetic force. The unseen energy swirled like a tornado (like a vortex) across the face of the board at a furious 20,000 times per second pace. Just as the antenna of an automobile collects a radio wave, the constant wash of the Vortex’s force was picked up by the tip of our darts as they intersected the electro-magnetic swirl and pierced the sisal.
Then, PRESTO, our score was tallied. Mike threw a 140. I threw a 26.
So apparently the Vortex had a short in its wiring. This was confirmed not long afterwards when the Nutty Irishman burned to the ground.
It turns out the vortexes in Sedona have nothing to do with darts. They have nothing to do with tornadoes, whirlpools, or desert dust devils either.
The Sedona vortexes are “spiraling spiritual energy” – spiritual locations, if you will – where the energy flow exists on “multiple dimensions” such that they interact with a person’s “inner self” to facilitate prayer, meditation and healing.
For thousands of years, since hunter-gatherers wandered the area and since the ancient Sinagua civilization built cliff houses among the magnificent rock formations, the spectacular beauty of the landscape has inspired a sort of natural spiritualism.
It was on the weekend of August 16-17, 1987 that what was natural became unnatural, when what was wonderful became whacko. From far and wide people – particularly New Age adherents like Shirley MacLain – ventured to Sedona to experience the great Harmonic Convergence.
They believed that on this specific weekend Earth would begin to slip out of its “time beam” and risk spinning off into space. They believed that only by the “concerted, psychic efforts of the human race” could it be willed to remain where it was supposed to be. They believed that “if enough people would simply gather at sacred places around the globe and concentrate enough, the New Age would begin, the Earth would remain safe and a new era of harmony and love would be inaugurated.”
Sedona was a sacred place. So they gathered.
I guess there was something to it since you and I are not tumbling around in space today.
Anyway, besides its incredible natural beauty (certainly the drive from Flagstaff is one that must be experienced) the vortexes are what Sedona is famous for. From daybreak until dusk, from my cabin just across the way from the awe inspiring twin spires of Cathedral Rock, I watched people pick their way along a dirt path towards what is touted as one of the strongest vortexes in the area. The Cathedral Rock vortex is in or on or under a cone shaped pile of lava rocks somewhere between the spires.
Some of the hikers periodically sort of waved their arms in the air, presumably to “feel” the energy as they trudged closer. It looked like they were swatting mosquitoes.
I felt nothing. I saw nothing. I heard nothing. I did have a nightmare but I’m sure this had to do with the time I spent at PJ’s Village Pub.
Located at 40 West Cortez in the Village of Oak Creek just outside of Sedona, PJ’s is the only place to find a game in the high country. In Sedona proper there are no bars, just restaurants that serve bean sprouts, galleries that sell paintings of rock formations and shops that sell jewelry made out crystals.
So PJ’s is where to go. It bills itself as a “Cheers-like local place for local people” and that is exactly what it is. This incredibly friendly joint has almost everything – outstanding food, fifteen different draft beers, more than twenty vodkas, and thirty kinds of tequila (with the worms). They celebrate everything – St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Halloween, Cinco de Mayo, the World Series, New Years, the Super Bowl, and more. They have a chili cook-off. They have a fish fry. Weekend entertainment comes in from as far as Michigan. Best of all, once each year Coyote Ugly girls show up and dance on the counter tops!
There are pool tables, video games and, yep, darts, kind of, sort of… well, okay, not really. This is why I say PJ’s has almost everything. And this, I am sure – not some weirdo vortex force field – is why I had a nightmare. There are two dartboards – but they are Valley electronic dartboards.
They are old and they are crap not that, were they brand new, it would make any difference. Installing soft-tip machines in a primo pub like PJ’s is like stringing a band of fake diamonds around the neck of the Queen of England.
But I threw for a bit. I screwed some plastic tips onto my darts and then picked most of my tosses off of the floor. I’m not complaining though since bounce outs score in the electronic game.
Mostly I drank. Several PJ’s Pale Ale micro brews. A vodka or two. A couple of shots of tequila. I think I sampled everything. I don’t remember much of the taxi ride back to the cabin. But I do remember my nightmare…
Dancing on the counter to Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell was a buxom blond Coyote Ugly girl in short-shorts and a leather halter. I was throwing triples, non-stop. The darts machine was blinking to the rhythm of the music. I was in the groove. My darts were awesome. People were ignoring the girls and applauding as I set the machine on fire. From somewhere Phil Taylor appeared. He challenged me. I left him whimpering with 264 points on the board.
Winking at me – unmistakably interested – was the Coyote Ugly girl. She was smiling, wiggling and gyrating with her arms high in the air and motioning to me.
The set ended. Smoke swirled toward the ceiling fans, sort of vortex- like. Glasses clinked. I set down my darts and swaggered over. I’m no dummy…
“Hey. What’s your name? They call me the T’oid.”
“No thank you.”
“I’m not interested.”
“What do you mean?”
“You play soft-tip darts. That’s for wimps.”
“Oh come on. You were waving at me with your arms – asking me to come over…”
“I’m sorry. You misunderstood.”
“Beware the vortex, buddy. It’ll mess with your mind. Go home to your wife. I was swatting mosquitoes.”
From the Field,
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