Turn Away from the Light: Califone Contest Results

Tim Rutili, songwriter and singer for Califone wanted to know how close you’ve come to the light. So we asked you to tell us about your closest near death experience and the best story wins a copy of Califone’s new album, Quicksand / Cradlesnakes. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Here is the winning entry.

October 1991. Aragon Ballroom. Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili

Peppers. Mosh pit. Suddenly, the crush gets a little too much and I’m stuck

about two layers of people behind the gate in front of the stage. I can’t

move. I feel a bit light headed. I pass out. After an undetermined amount of

time, I come to in the space between the gate and the stage, staring directly at

Anthony Kiedes’crotch. I dust myself off only to find a boot print square in

the middle of my chest and a lot large bruises on my lower legs. All signs of a

good show I guess.

Susan will receive a copy of Califone’s new album. And here are some of the runners up…

When I was a freshman at the Michigan State University, I enrolled in an

“overseas” summer class to The Canadian Rockies (I’m not sure what sea we had

to go over, but I must have slept through that part of the drive). I shared a

ride out with two other students in one of their Pontiac 6000s. Shortly into

the journey, one of my two companions announced she would not be driving at

night, and since we had a 6-day plan of driving, this was not the best news for

myself or the other driver.

To make a long story longer, the car was grey, and the interior sort of smelled

like… no, no, just kidding. The car wasn’t grey, it was silver. Right. So

anyways, there we were, during the 4th night of driving, and I’m behind the

wheel somewhere in North Dakota, or perhaps Montana. Wherever it was, it was

dark and very lonely. My companions were asleep, it was around 3 in the

morning, pitch-black, and we hadn’t seen another car for hours. I’m driving

down this seemingly-perfectly paved two-lane highway that never ended, and the

terrain starts to get a bit hilly. Up ahead I see the first headlights I’ve

seen in a while, and as the car shoots by on my left I think, “What would

happen if you broke-down out here, or God-forbid got in a serious accident? Who

would help you, a moose? Hmm, scary…” thought I, and continued to slap

myself to stay awake.

Not less than 20 minutes later, as we came bounding at 90 mph over hills so

steep you couldn’t see what’s on the other side, for whatever reason that I

still don’t know to this day, I decided to casually coast into the on-coming

traffic lane. As I came flying over the next hill, there, standing motionless

in and completely filling the lane I had just unexplicably left, was a gigantic,

stoic, humungous (and did I mention Gigantic?) moose, the kind that makes you go

“Wow! That’s what a moose looks like? They’re so much bigger and more

dangerous looking than I thought!”. Only, instead of thinking that, there was

this movie-moment where (and this Could be because I was tired) I swear the

moose and I looked right into each other’s eyes and time stood still for a

split-second and the moose calmly implied, “Yes young one, I almost just flew

through your mid-sized sedan, destroying both of us in what surely would have

been a spectacular accident had you been in the lane you were supposed to be in,

but I did not, and we are both still alive, and now I must return to my forest

until a casting agent comes calling for a wise moose, and you are destined to

repeat this story whenever someone asks you if you almost saw the light.” Only

it was over before it even happened and I was immediately back in the correct

lane, sweating bullets, and re-evaluating what being an atheist is all about.

Time may have erased my memory of my two companions, what state we were in, and

everything I learned in college, but I will never forget that massive, beautiful

moose, and how he almost stuck his antler through my face.

When I was a stupid 14-year-old, I was scaling a rock quarry in Oregon, IL, and

was at least as high as a second story building, when all of a sudden, the place

I chose to put my foot had a spray of pebbles. Down I fell, and as I was going

down, I was strangely calm as I thought, “This is it, I’m gonna break my neck

and kill myself”. The thought at the time didn’t instill abject horror in me

weirdly enough; it was almost more like, “Well, here’s what your stupid ass

got yourself into.” Luckily, I escaped with only scraped palms. And that,

dear GloNo readers, is the closest that I’ve been to death so far, barring any

psycho ex-girlfriends who may have had murderous intentions that they hid from


On a night commute from Pittsburgh in a puddle-jumper, my family and I flew

through a huge thunderstorm. The plane flew as if a toy in the hands of an

infant, the worst turbulance in my 40?-flight career. My 10-year old brothers

cheered as if on a rollercoaster. When we landed, my mom commended the pilots.

One replied, “I didn’t think we were going to make it.” Yeah I know that’s

pretty weak, but it was scary as hell, and I really want that damn CD…

Well this probably won’t win me the prize, but I was snowboarding at

Tuckerman’s Ravine in New Hampshire when I fell on a very, very steep slope and

was plummeting towards a large, boulderous cliff which would definetley done me

in had I tumbled over it….oddly and amazingly a small branch was sticking out

of the snow and stopped my fall. I was injured but safe and 5 feet away from

what could have been my doom.

Will Kraft and I were driving his parent’s mini-van at 78 mph down extremely

curvy dirt roads outside of Clarkston, MI. We found out firsthand that Dodge

Minivans were clearly not meant to do 180’s at excessive speed. We found this

out the hard way as the vehicle spun out of control and smashed into an old oak

tree. Backwards, fortunately for Will and myself and you lucky stooges who are

reading this. As the rear window shattered all over the back of the driver and passenger

seats (we had folded the back down, to transport a drum set) I found myself

thinking “Woah! This copy of the Who’s Meat Beaty Big and Bouncy really

rocks!” True story.

I came relatively close to “beefing it” when I was driving my van out in the

country. This is Northern California, like the roads you see in the Ford

commericals. Little piece of heaven up there, man. Well, I’m not going to get

into this too much but I rolled the van and I was tumbling down this embankment,

and I fell into a creek and hit my head on a rock. Saw some stars, man, I will

tell you what. I had a vision of Luke Skywalker and he said, “Dagobah”, then

I woke up. Slept really well that night.

Thanks again to everyone who participated.

2 thoughts on “Turn Away from the Light: Califone Contest Results”

  1. I knew I should have turned in my harrowing story of opium/automobile shennanigans -I would have so won the contest!

    Sigh-it’s too late now…

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