A few years ago I was in Moab, outside of Arches National Park. Arches is one of the most striking places in America, in fact it’s where I ate two hits of acid one morning, threw on Axis Bold as Love and put pen to paper with the intent of music for the first time. But by that point I had the Arches experience, and as gorgeous as it is, it feels trafficked in the center of summer, like a mall with red rock majesty. I figured I’d find a health food store in town and ask some hippie where one could go and get off the beaten path and avoid drowning in the tourist sea. I found a gal with a hemp necklace that looked like she dropped a hundred dollars on it in a 97 Phish Parking Lot, thick enough to support strange fruit, but with crystals. I asked her where the secret scenic spot was where I wouldn’t get run over by an obese Nebraskan in a golf cart. The first half of her response was somewhere between Mushmouth and the teacher from Peanuts, but by the tail end of her sentence she segued seamlessly into English. “(*&^**^%* Bill’s Canyon” she said repeatedly. After three looks that said “what the fuck are you saying” she finally said Negro Bill’s Canyon. She was red as the Kool Aid man, perplexed as to why the one black man in Utah at that moment was asking her to say “Negro”. I think she expected backlash, but all I wanted was directions. The real name of the canyon is Nigger Bill’s Canyon, though they changed it in the late 60s along with a number of other Parks that probably had names like Lazy Mexican State Beach and Asians Are Good at Math National Wildlife Refuge. It was a different time. I brought Nigger Bill’s Canyon up to my dad and he had an interesting take on it. He wished that they never changed the name of it. His point was that it was history. Changing the name we doesn’t negate that there was a place called Nigger Bill’s Canyon, nor a lengthy time where such a place could exist. We need those reminders of a not too distant past, better to face them head on and acknowledge them rather than pretend they didn’t exist. I didn’t think of it that way, not sure that I do now. If my guardian granola angel told me to go to Nigger Bill’s Canyon, I would have simply left Utah in a flurry of middle fingers at 95 mph back to civilized California. I think of this regarding the confederate flag hanging in Carolina, the streets named after confederate generals. I doubt that changing them really makes any difference. Though I do know the distinct panic induced the second I see that flag as a bumper sticker or in the air. But regardless what flag fights against the wind in any locale, the tension is time tested and in the veins and bones. If anything the flag is symptom, removing the symptom only creates a false and fleeting comfort while disease spreads in silence. Bill certainly had a beautiful canyon.