Stumbling in the Dark

I’m barely at the chained-off drive up to the Hollywood Bowl’s main parking area, past the brightly lit fountain, when a man is at my door trying to pull it open. As I step out of the truck he’s in like a flash and putting it in gear. He’s gone without a word. He looked to be from the same village as Alice’s desert friend.

I end up walking down Highland. Just as I reached Franklin, I spot an empty cab. I flag him and hop in. Even this late at night, Highland is jumping. I ask him to head for Beechwood under the Hollywood sign, then lean my head back to rest my eyes. In what seemed like one second the driver is waking me saying, “I’m now making a left up Beechwood buddy!” I point out my duplex. I climb out and give him a twenty while thanking him for saving me a long walk. Once inside, I turn on my wall heater, take a shower then hit the sack. I felt like I had been gone a week. My throbbing arm kept me awake for about ten seconds.

Over a week goes by. I call Alice a dozen times, easy. Alls I got was her machine. I already knew better then to go by her place uninvited. I quit leaving messages after the fifth one so I wouldn’t piss her off. Funny how I was twice her size and maybe three times stronger yet I was the one afraid. She would kill and I couldn’t was the deciding denominator I guess. Even though I wasn’t aware of the big picture on her, since the head butting incident I learned the hard way Alice was a way tougher nut then I had ever imagined. Sure, I always figured her for a sharp business gal. That’s why I hung around her. She had made me tons of money in numerous scams.

Her scams. The worst was her as my pimp to a bunch of old sea hags, but, that’s another story. She usually used me as some sort of prop. Half the time I had no idea what was going on. Usually I was ordered to keep my trap shut and just fill my spot. I would arrive, sit, drink a couple of beers or whatever then leave at her whim. Later, I’d get paid. What did I care what she did after some quick pay days. That attitude would change…

Finally, Alice calls me. She says nothing about my three hundred. She needs me to drive her somewhere. I keep it friendly but go right to the money she owes me. Alice blows a fuse as soon as I mention it. She catches herself and tries the honey route. “Oh, god. Is it just money, money, money with us? I thought you were my friend. How about I mail you your pissant three hundred and we just call our ‘friendship’ over with. I’ll call some one else who wants to earn the money I throw your way from now on!” I fall for it and back off. I tell her I have no wheels. My truck’s registration was five months overdue, and my Honda 500 had a cracked cylinder. My phone truck was out of the question. I was already pushing the limit on using my Pac Bell truck to drop off groceries before taking it to the Fuller garage at the end of a work day. I had been catching rides to and from work with co workers or just walking. She puts on a sweet voice informing me that she’ll come by and pick me up.

When Alice shows up, I’m knocked out. She looked like a Hollywood cowgirl. She had on a spangled blouse with the double row of buttons and some calfskin pants she favored cut like riding britches. Her white, calf skin covered cowgirl boots had silver toes to match the two-toned white cowgirl hat with an eagle feather down onto her shoulder. I burst out laughing. She didn’t like that. I told her I was laughing because she looked so great. A good save. In reality, she looked ridiculous. Well, in my eyes. She looked pretty good to every other guy who set eyes on her; some gals, too.

Being long over the jealousy stage, I had learned to go with the “I’m her brother” persona. No kissy face or hand holding like we were an item. With her trim body and nice ass, all men checked her out. This new outfit was really turning heads. Her one Achilles heel was her scowl. Without it she was out and out gorgeous. Sadly, she scowled a lot. I don’t think she was even aware of it. Well, on occasion I would see her force herself to put a fake smile on when she caught her reflection accidentally, so, maybe she was.

Alice had driven up in an older model Cadillac. It was a few years old, but still looked good. It was a convertible with some custom wheels. It didn’t fit her new look at all. Alice glares at me while standing by the car’s passenger door waiting for me to open it for her. Guess I’m now on the clock. As I slide behind the wheel, the car gave off that smell that let you know a smoker drove it every day. It reeked of stale tobacco. The ashtray was over flowing with butts. Alice didn’t smoke. Maybe a joint once in awhile but not cigarettes. I noticed some of the butts had lipstick on them, but not all. The back seat was full of card board boxes all taped up. I fire up the engine and look over at Alice to get instructions.

She stares back at me with a questioning look in return. I raise my eyebrows and say, “Well?” She starts to get that look like she’s going to go off, then realizes she hasn’t told me where we were heading. Her face changes in a flash to nice girl as I’m told to head towards Bakersfield. Her ability to change from silly girl to homicidal maniac seemed to be getting quicker and quicker. I keep my mouth shut and head for Highland and the freeway going North.

It was weird. Now that I was afraid of her, I really wanted to fuck her again. Sad but true. She seemed extra exciting now that she was so dangerous. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been in the same situation, I guess. My being only twenty years old could have been part of it; Alice was an easy ten years older than me- maybe more. Women can hide the ravages of time a lot better then men. Especially if the woman has a good foundation to work with. I would learn this fact the hard way in years to come.

After dropping down off the 5 North, Alice had me pull into a small town called Lebec. It was a tiny off-ramp sort of town I had once torn the front of a motor home off while a kid. I had been shipped off to one more, “We’ll give the lad a home,” after my last lockup from a boys home in Acton not working out so well. After a light snow, another kid and I were supposed to be driving an old five-ton hay truck from one field to another. Once out of view of any adults, another fifteen year old kid and myself decide to take the truck a couple of miles into town to have some adventure. This other kid is a simpleton sort who went along, no questions asked. Heading towards the gas station, we drive past some teenage girls with their mom standing a bit a ways from a motor home stuck in the mushy snow on the side of the half dirt road. A man is trying to dig out under the rear tires to put some wood underneath. As I do a wide U turn to go back and help, I too am almost stuck. I decide to just back up to the motor home.

The grinding of the gears as I tried to find reverse should have made the man a bit more cautious about our offer of help as I stopped about ten feet from his rig. My buddy hops out and takes a thirty-foot double-hooked tow chain off the bed of the truck’s head board then hooks it up as the man gets into his rig to steer it out. How was I to know this idiot had wrapped the chain around the fiberglass body and not the frame. When I popped the clutch on the big dually-wheeled hay truck, the tires spun in the mush then caught. I rip the entire front end of the body off, headlights and all. I kept going. My pal ran after me to surf the unit now dragging behind me. Around a corner past some big oaks, we unhook the chain as it starts to snow again. Finally getting the truck turned around, we blow past the still stuck vehicle with all the people inside trying to stay warm.

This time, there’s no stuck camper. No snow, either, though it was cold enough to. This time, I had my bomber jacket I had scored at the Army surplus store in Burbank off Hollywood Way. It was huge and ugly, but really warm. It also had a tuck away pull-out hood in a little zipper compartment just behind the big collar. We pulled off the highway and waited. I had to restart the car a half dozen times to warm up our feet before the guys we were waiting for arrived. When they did, I recognized Alice’s Indian friend behind the wheel of a truck that looked just like the little cowboy’s, but a different color. It was towing a huge horse trailer full of horses. The front of the cab had faces I didn’t recognize. All looked like guys right off the Amazon river dressed like cowboys.

As they drove past, I checked out the truck a bit closer. Yep, it was the cowboys truck. It had been painted. So had the camper shell. The truck and camper now looked like a complete unit along with the big trailer behind it. On the door facing me a nice logo said, ‘Rocking Horse Ranch’. Cute. It was written/painted on the trailer, also. A nice homey ranching business from all appearances. Just the way it was supposed to. I tagged along a bit behind them as they drove past in case of ‘accidents’. I knew that much about horses in trailers. Driving along next to the freeway we never got onto it. We end up on a long twisty back road into some really rugged mountains. The higher and farther we went, the more snow I could see packed into the tall ridges between peaks. Wisps of fog and low clouds started to grow denser the higher we climbed. As we wound down into small valleys, the world would reappear. Then, back into some twisty climbing curves it became a world of quick glimpses of tree trunks or an occasional mailbox or gated drive.

Finally we just climbed. It was all fog the last ten miles. I had no idea where we were. I just followed the little red circles of the trailer’s tail lights and kept my mouth shut. When Alice was quiet, I stayed quiet. Suddenly the trailer brake lights glow bright red and stay that way. We had reached our destination, it seemed. A short squat man in a multicolored jacket that went down to his knees shot us a gold-toothed smile as he went between the Caddy and the trailer. I had turned our light on a long time ago. He left our view as he went into the thick fog to open a gate on our left. Another truck drove past slowly heading downhill. An older man with a woman next to him in an old beat up pickup looked down on me in the Caddy. I waved and smiled, illuminated by the interior light Alice had clicked on to check her makeup. He smiled and lifted his pinky off the steering wheel in response.

I end up following the trailer down a long winding dirt drive. We follow the trailer through the thickening fog in a big sweeping circle that sounded like it was gravel based under our wheels. Ending up like a mini wagon train looking to camp for the night, I shut off our engine as the lights go out ahead of us on the trailer. Alice told me to give them a hand. She was staying in the car. She was freezing even with the heater on. Now with the engine off she would really feel the cold. I climb out and instantly zipped up my coat then fumbled with my hood in my pouch. It was really cold and the wind was whipping the moist foggy air through every gap in my clothes. From a constant twenty miles an hour up to larger gusts, it seemed like near night with the fog getting denser and denser.

Alice’s Indian friend and his two helpers didn’t need me, so I faked helping by moving around a lot and calling out once in awhile. She didn’t seem that interested. I could see exhaust coming out of the Caddy’s tailpipe, so I knew she had the heater back on again. I went back to faking work, then follow the last horses unloaded out of the long trailer up a steep drive into a good sized all metal horse barn. It was a one story job with the taller bay in the middle. About ten or so stalls on each side of the bay. Some tack and saddles here and there. A working barn. Only half of the stalls had occupants. I don’t know these other guys at all so I just smile and pull out a fat doob and fire it up. I’m instantly a good pal as I pass it around. We smoke it down saying nothing. Juan, or whatever the boss’s name is, is nowhere to be seen. I leave my new pals with the half a joint and head back out to the car to see what the story is.

Slipping and almost falling in the loose gravel, it was tough to find the truck and trailer in the still thickening fog. Once at the truck, I follow the side of it to Alice’s car. I could just barely make it out past the trailer. As I came within an arm’s length, I realize the car is shaking. Putting my face closer to the passenger window to get Alice’s attention I see she’s being fucked doggie style with her ass in the air parked over the front seat as her hands try to keep her up on the rear seat. A loudly grunting Juan has his hand over her mouth and is pounding her with short jackhammer thrusts. I head back to the barn to wait it out.

As I come back into the barn, the two workers stare at me with weird looks on their faces. I mimic fucking a chick with my hips and give ‘em a wink while I nod my head towards the rigs outside. At this they both start laughing, then ignore me while they spoke Spanish to each other. I walk around and look at the horses to kill time. They looked big and pretty. What more can I say? I don’t know a damn thing about them as far as buying and selling goes. What I know about horses you can put in a thimble and rattle it around. Juan finally comes in. He goes right to his boys then comes over to me. He looks at me with a big grin while he says an almost unrecognizable, “Hey, she’s a hot piece of ass hey compandre!” Not wanting to make any gaffs I just smiled and put up a hand to high five him. That seemed to be a good move. He high fives me back, then spoke rapid fire to his two workers. Since I was being ignored, I head back out to the car a second time.

Coming around to the drivers side I knocked on the glass since I couldn’t see Alice inside from all the glass being steamed over. With no response, I opened the door to get in. The interior light showed a horrible sight. Alice had been fucked. I already knew that. She had also been beaten. Her attempts at damage control were a waste of time. I instantly wanted to kill, yet, I had the sense to know I could do little against the three ass holes in the barn. Just one of them could have kicked my ass, no problem. Real life isn’t like the movies. I was pretty much helpless. Alice already had it all figured out.

At my hesitation at starting the car, she said a low, “Let’s just get the fuck out of here, alright?” I try and comfort her and get cut off. “Don’t make it any worse!” I fire up the car then end up back tracking over our original tracks back to the paved road. At the top, I pulled down the road a ways and asked Alice what I should do about what had just gone down. Alice said nothing. I head for home.

Once off the mountain and within sight of a gas station, Alice informs me we’re not going home. It was the first sound out of her for the last hour or so. I had tried numerous times to try and make her feel better while driving looking straight ahead to try and see through the dense fog. It was no use. I tried the, “It’s OK, I think nothing less of you!” , to, “We’ll have to tell the cops!” No response to my efforts. No sobs. No tears. No shaking or hysterics. Dead silence.

With her seat as far back as it would go and her coat up around her, it was like driving with a mannequin. A faceless mannequin, at that. So, to hear her voice emanate from the void of her jacket hood sounding like it usually did made me get a cold rush chilling me. That voice alone told me Alice wasn’t your average woman. Another man I did phone work for once hinted at Alice being something else past normal, and I hadn’t paid it much mind. Now I knew what he had been trying to convey to me. As I come up on the gas station’s three all-glass phone booths, Alice tells me to pull next to them…

The Mighty Atom

Only weighing in at 145lbs, he could stop a plane from taking off with his hair, bite nails in half with his teeth, bend heavy iron bars with his fingers, break heavy chains by inflating his chest, defied cars to break away while he holds them with a rope, merry-go-rounds six people off his hair, drive heavy spikes through 2 inch planks with just his fist. Only a few of the things my hero, Joseph L. Greenstein, did throughout his life. Even into his 80’s. Doubt my word? Look him up. There’s film on him doing everything listed above and more.

Pretty darn good for an infant expected to die at any minute. The local doctors had a pool on his hour of death. They even asked his mother for his little body once he expired since he was so tiny and frail. As a child he really did walk through snow with rags on his feet. His father was a rabbi. The head of the poorest family in Suvalk, Poland. Every year was expected to be his last.

In 1903, the circus came to Joe’s town. Like most of the other kids he, too, snuck in. Circus roundabouts caught him and half beat the tiny waif to death. Found by the circus strongman, ‘Champion Volanko’, after he could stand up, Volanko made every circus worker say these words at the top of his lungs: “YOU DIRTY JEW, I’LL KILL YOU!” When the small boy flinched at the correct voice, Volanko grabbed the man by his lapels and hit him a blow so hard, the man’s jacket came off in his fist. When the circus left town, so did Joe. He became Volanko’s valet.

The first thing Volanko taught him was how to breathe correctly. “Joseph, breathing is the key to everything you’ll ever want to accomplish!” Volanko also told Joe to stop listening to doctors. Doctors were bloodsuckers and liars in his book. Next, food. “If you eat like a dog, you will live like one!” From then on and for the rest of his long life, it was grainy foods and plain hot tea. Opening up the back of his pocket watch, Volanko showed Joseph the fine gears and wheels. “Inside your body it’s the same. What would happen if I ground dirt into those workings? Your body is the same. Don’t put bad things into it!”.

Throughout the time Joe spent with Volanko, a mantra was driven into him. “Breathe deeply. Refuse to be weak. Refuse to be sick. Refuse to die. Think strong and you will be!” The very first morning on the road, Joe began the buckets of sand routine. Ten times with each arm. Only a little sand in the fire buckets, but it was a start. Every week, a bit more sand was put into the buckets. Along with the buckets came his time to read. Mostly Jewish prayer books and teachings. Volanko only pretended to be a wild Russian Cossack. He, too, was a Jew. He, too, had once been just like Joseph. He felt it was his turn to give some pay back as another long before had helped him.

After a few months on the road, the buckets now had a lot more sand. It was also time to teach Joe how to break chains with his chest. Not wanting to break the boy’s spirit, Volanko used a piece of string around Joe’s tiny chest. The boy couldn’t do it. Volanko had him pick a chain out of many hanging on a wagon wall to prove it wasn’t trick chain. Putting the chain around his chest, Volanko then took in as much air as he could hold then transferred the air to where the chain wrapped around him. The thick chain burst apart. Joseph never forgot it. From then on, he worked on busting the string. After the string, some cord, then, a small chain. He only got better.

Once he started to put on some muscle, it was time to learn how to wrestle. Volanko gave him some more advice. “To be a man is not just muscles. It’s strength of character. No matter how much sand is in your buckets, you have to build character by living life as a good person!”.

It’s now 1908. The circus has toured all the way to Poona, India. Everyone chewed the narcotic red betel nut, then spit the juice. Beggars of all sorts were everywhere. Armless and deformed they would follow after Joseph crying for charity. He always tried to give them something. If only a kind word. Something to acknowledge their existence. Volanko nodded his head to himself. Joseph had a kind heart.

In Poona, wrestling was king. You wrestled with only a breech cloth. After watching the locals, Joe was introduced to, ‘Gama, the lion of the Punjab’. He was the Poona champion. He was also Volanko’s best friend. Joseph asked Gama how he became champion. “I would wrestle a tree in my backyard, twice a day!” Gama had read about the Spartan boys in ancient Greece. When they got a bit too full of themselves, the Spartan soldiers training them would make them strip naked then, ‘Fuck the tree boys’. Smashing into the big oak in rows, they had to push with all their might to try and shove the tree out of the ground by its roots. If you were caught slacking, you were whipped until you fell. Some never did fall. They were whipped to death and fell over dead. Too proud to give in.

Along with wrestling everyday, Joe also studied Yoga. He also started fasting one day a week. He never wavered. Even keeping it up into his 80’s. Taking on all sizes, Joe learned to endure. To ignore pain. He also started to win. After another year and a half Volanko left Joseph on the side of the road not 100 feet from where they had first met. He never saw Volanko again. As the wagon rolled away Volanko shouted back, “NEVER FORGET WHO YOU ARE!”

Now 16, Joe was back with his family. Not even settled in, Joe watched a Russian soldier kill an old Jewish man with his saber for fun. Joseph followed him into the woods, fought with him, then killed the Russian soldier with his own broken sword hilt. No one in his village ever mentioned it. The soldiers body was never found.

At 18, Joseph married Rachael Leah. A table cloth and two candlesticks was her dowery. Joseph was now responsible for their success. He informed Rachael he was going to America. To Texas to be more exact. Only married 8 weeks, he took ship to Houston. On board the steamer ‘The Frankfurt’, he found work peeling potatoes. Not much in pay, but he ate well.

Finding a job loading and pushing a peddlers wagon, Joseph discovered wrestling was also huge in Houston. The rules in America were a bit different though. After shaking hands, as long as you didn’t leave an opponent deaf, blind or sterile, you we’re good to go. Soon he found work with the Southern Pacific Railroad. While eating lunch one day he met the heavy weight champion of the world, Jack Johnson. Noticing Joe was Polish from his accent, Johnson told Joe a story about a Polish fighter he once fought. “Boy, I’ll never fight that Choyski again. He could hit. He once hit Jim Jefferies so hard his lips were plastered into his teeth. The ring attendants had to cut them away with a knife!” Johnson told Joe to keep wrestling. He was only going to get better. The words boosted Joe’s spirits. Soon with his saved pay and money from wrestling, he sent money for Leah to join him. He also was to be a father soon.

After many adventures, Joe settles in to a nice little gas station business with a small house in the rear. Heading for a nearby hardware store, one of his more famous incidents occurred. Already well-known for his handling of hecklers, one such incident put him on the front page of no less then 7 newspapers.

NEW YORK JOURNAL: ‘Mighty Atom proves power to crowd’. In less then two minutes, Joe had tossed five men through plate glass windows, knocked cold, flattened a dozen more and taken a stab wound during the fracass.

NEW YORK WORLD TELEGRAM: “When the police arrived one officer stated to the newspaper reporter that the Mighty Atom didn’t need no help!” The officer added, “We saved the crowd from him!”

Not long after this incident, Joe was in the German part of New York on business. He stopped in his tracks when he saw a large banner over a storefront that said “NO DOGS OR JEWS ALLOWED.” He asked a passerby, “What in the hell is that?” He was informed that it was the Nazi headquarters and that a big ‘Bund’ was taking place. Going across the street to a paint store, he rented an 18 foot ladder, then stopped at a sporting goods store for a ‘Hank Greenburg’ baseball bat. Now up the ladder, Joe tore down the banner then waited on the sidewalk for whatever was going to unfold.

As the building emptied, Joe took up his bat and played some Nazi baseball. As he told the judge in court later, “It wasn’t really a fight, your honor. It was a pleasure!” Joe took on the entire Bunt. He put 18 in the hospital. He came out of it with a black eye. Hauled into court on a charge of aggravated assault, mass mayhem and so forth, a surprisingly cheerful Joseph Greenstein stood before the bench. The white haired judge could scarce believe his eyes at the tiny man in front of him with just a small mouse under his eye, then, past him at the crowd of badly beaten men filling the courtroom with arms and legs in casts and missing teeth.

Not able to believe it, the judge turned to the police officer and said, “This little guy did all this damage?” The officer responded, “Well, your honor, deese here guys is just the ones that could gets out of the hospital for court!” The judge asked Joe if he had anything to say. “Well, your honor, every swing was like a home run!” The officer leaned and whispered in the judges ear, “These here guys is Nazis your honor. They comes after him, see?” The judge banged his gavel, “Not guilty, case dismissed!”

I could go on for hours. Do yourself a favor. Research this man. He’s one of my favorite people of all time.

Now, the time he was over 80 and would walk the alleys at night hoping street thugs would jump him. Those are some great stories!

Hart Island

It’s a small island. Not to be confused with ‘Heart’ Island, the one built by the ‘man with the broken heart’. Nope, totally diferent. Hart Island is the one with over 850,000 buried in it. Most in giant mass graves. Some since the Civil War days. It housed Confederate prisoners for a while. They moved those guys’ graves, though. But don’t worry. They more than made up for ’em. Still put over 2,000 new ones in the ground there every year. Some graves have ten coffins stacked in one hole. I’ve never been there, but, a former New York Detective known as ‘Joe Bus’ (aka Joe Carbone) told me many a story about that island. None of them good…

Now, why would I hang with an ex-cop? To make my friend, Alice, happy. She owned an after-hours cop hang out in West Hollywood that Joe spent most of his waking hours in. He was a stalker of Alice, but, a nice one. He never went over the line, and, he spent a lot of dough at Alice’s house. It was tucked up at the end of Shoreham, not far from where I had a head-on in my AT&T truck. Another story.

Lots of cops drank and made book at Alice’s. On and off duty. Joe still had connections to Brooklyn cops, so, he was the guy L.A. cops went to for guys they were looking for that skipped town. Now, Joe Bus always sat with me, since I would play Backgammon with Alice. In close proximity, the guy literally panted like a Yorkie in a hot car. Joe never stepped over the line, though. His old lady owned a sports bar called ‘Strike Four’ in Silverlake. Alice hated her, so, she kept Joe on a big hook. Some chick deal I tried to stay out of. Since Joe bought me rounds, I was always nice to him. Plus, its better to have cops like you in my world.

So, my pal, Ira F., deals high end jewelry in Las Vegas. He changed his name legally to something so ridiculous, I burst out laughing just thinking about it. Anyhow, back when he was just plain Ira, a Detective from New York shows up at his mini-mansion, wanting to ask him some questions. Ira tells him to go fuck himself. No warrant. No talkie. I found out about this little exchange six weeks later when Ira calls me from the Burbank airport, needing a lift. It seems this cop came back three nights later with a cute little warrant. An arrest warrant for stolen diamonds…

Ira is cuffed, taken back to New York, ensconced in a Queens jail. From there, he gets lost in the ‘system’ for six weeks. Never did see a judge. Just a lot of jails. He lost 45lbs. Also, 20 grand. His wife put money into the accounts of all the guys that he buddied up too, to stay in one piece. Gee, he sure told that cop off.

Now, Joe Bus was this sort of cop. On occasion, other ex-New Yorkers would sit with us and tell stories about the East coast. One night the conversation came around to Hart Island…

Since the 50’s, only law enforcement was allowed on the island. Whenever they went over with a load of deceased, there was always a priest on board the barge-like vessel. Joe said there was only one rule. Never be on the island at night. Everything was to be completed well before dusk. One of Joe’s buddies expounded on this. Looking like an extra from ‘On the Water Front’, Bobby was about seventy, but looked like he still had one more fight in him. He had a brother-in-law that worked the ferry doing fill-ins for other harbor guys every once in a while. He said he always felt sad going out to the island. “All douse unwanted. Just piled all’s in a heap. It’s heart breakin!”

Now, a complete opposite island is ‘HEART’ Island. These guys also knew it well. I did research on both places after they got me interested. Heart Island was a creation of George Charles Boldt. Now, Boldt wasn’t a from a rich family. His father would work their garden at night so the neighbors wouldn’t know how broke they were. George made his way in the world as a Hotel man. One night, in a modest Hotel he owned and operated, a family with a sick child requested a room. With no rooms available, George gave them his own apartment and slept on a sofa in the lobby. This family was related to William Waldorf Astor. The owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. When they told him of the deed George had done, George finds himself the new Waldorf manager. From there on it was all up hill.

From here, the story is usually of George finding his true love after a long series of disasters with women. He takes possesion of his island, has thousands of tons of dirt brought in to shape the island like a Heart, then tears down the modest vacation house and begins construction of the gigantic manshion in honor of his new bride. On her death, all work is halted. Boxed furniture stayed boxed for 80 years. It was abandoned. Check out pictures of it. Boy, it is really something. It’s now being restored and has tours. My New York friends gave me another side of the story. They say that George’s wife Louise spent all the dough on his house, ruining him. Then, she left town with her chauffeur and was never seen again. I like both versions…


Her name on her drivers license was Susan, but everyone who knew her called her Sue. For the first part of her life she was an ordinary gal, working an ordinary job as a waitress, in a day to day life most live. Being a single mom with two little girls. She did what she had to. So did her youngest girl. This particular little girl wanted to hunt for some dinosaurs. Fossils, actually. Finally, she broke her unsinkable mom. She pestered her into going camping, and, fossil hunting. Now, I’ve had little girls pester me. They can be real little shits. Especially when they are right…So, here they are on a two week vacation with borrowed gear. Enough to get by. Plus, a big box of canned food of all sorts. They head for the town the little girl had read about at school with all the fossils. Off they go Wyoming way, or, maybe time for Montana? In a couple of days, their at the outskirts of that very same town. Sue spots a nice ranch…She told inquisitive people later on, she had slowed because it looked friendly. They hadn’t opened their tent yet, or used the sleeping bags. They had splurged on some inexpensive motel rooms. Sue drove down the long dirt driveway since their wasn’t even a gate. That also impressed her. No one here was afraid of anything. She spots Frank, an old Indian fellow, sitting on his porch. In fifteen minutes, she has Franks ok to put her tent just up past his barn. A small creek ran by the back and he told her they would be just fine their until morning. They might find a nicer spot after hiking around in the new light. With just a couple of hours of daylight left, Sue feels she has time for a couple of shots of the girls by their freshly set up tent and campsite. Her little instamatic needed all the light it could get. Stepping across the small stream in her new hiking boots, she climbed a little knoll, to get downward shot of her smiling ear to ear girls, now waving. Sue stumbles a little as she stepped back for the shot. She takes some shots, then, looks down to see what had tripped her to avoid it on the way down. It looked like a big cow bone, sort of. She took a couple of shots of it, then, headed on down for leftover McDonalds from the station wagon stock bag. The girls all looked at their photos on the small, instant picture cards the camera spit out. From the start of their adventure, to the new campsite. They finally hit the hay. Not even a real fire. Sue had just lit the Coleman. The girls didn’t mind…..In the morning, Frank calling from the house to see if she wants coffee, brings Sue on a trot, The girls ended up sleeping in the car. The coyotes were to thank for thank for that. Sippiing some coffee, she wakes the girls up by starting the car engine. Still in their bags, she lets them know their eating pancakes and eggs at a nice cafe Frank told her about. It was full of fossil hunting college kids, so, Frank figured she could ask them where a good spot to look was located. Plus, it had good chow. Inside the packed coffee shop, some guys with back packs offer to split the end of their long bench table with Sue and her little girls. They slide right in. After ordering, Sues little girl shows one of the young men across from her, their new campsite photos. As the young man looks at the second photo, he calls his friends over from another table to take a look. Sue and her girls lives changed in that one second. Sue’s cow bone was the eye socket of a T-Rex….Lets cut to the chase. Now, in that fifteen minutes where she first met Frank, he had said an interesting thing. “Oh, there’s fossils around. You can have any you find”! In their brief first encounter. The college kids moved their entire dig site, to Franks house. They also knew in less then a month, that they had something unbelievable, An ENTIRE FEMALE T- REX! The females are largest, by the way. They hump when THEY fell like it. They put teams to lay it out. They find the tip of its tail about 47 foot from the now, half exposed skull. Mayber eight foot long if I remember right. Look it up if so inclined. I like the stories, not all the stats and long names that put me to sleep…Anyhow, the Dept. of Forestry steps in after they find it also has the tiny fore legs and lower jaw. Never seen before. Most musuems faked those. They dispute her find claiming it was actually Government land. Frank called them god damned liars. Forestry got pissed. They called their big brother, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The Army takes over the site. While its bulldozing an entire ROAD to Franks place through every type of terrain, they have another division, cutting the gigantic fossil up into three section, then, plastered and prepared the pieces with their own Paleontoligists. Using huge Govenment military tank recovery vehicles to convey the giant hunks of stone, they get their booty to the train station, to ship to a place of their choosing….In a real last second move, Sue and some new law school friends of her scientest friends, file a legal paper to keep the T-Rex under the care of the Railroad. It worked. Saving you the long legal blow by blow, Sue and Frank won! Thanks for the road too, morons. Put back together, it auctions at a world bidding craze, to the highest bidder. THIRTY SIX MILLION BUCKS! But that was just the start. While Sue is now on her way to being Prof. Susan, millions more are made from all the PLASTIC , life sized models of Sue, now all over the world in other museums…Just from one pestering little kid…

Dead men do tell tales

I just read a news story on how L.A. morgues are doing mass cremations to open up some badly needed spots in their coolers. Gee, no kidding. I’ve been in a hundred, easy. The worst are the small ones in the out of the way convalescent hospitals. Sometimes the bodies are just rolled into corners for days at a time, awaiting pick up. Remarking about some of the things I’ve witnessed, brought out some comments from Rick, aka, Tent Boy. He informs me he worked as a pickup man for various morgues, in more then one city over two decades. Huh? I never knew this about him. I thought I had stories. Rick had me beat, hands down. He was on call, 24 hours a day at times. Now, I had hung out and watched some autopsies and yakked it up with a lot of forensic lab types. Rick was out running through the mine fields, every day. Mentioning the news story brought out quite a few memories for both of us…First of all, sparkling clean working areas are NOT the norm. In a large hospital such as Cedars Sinai, yes indeed. Chrome and lots of cleaning solvents make them almost sterile. A clinic in Watts or somewhere in East L.A.? No way. Also, the mortuaries themselves have mini morgues. All over town. Some in former homes, turned into mortuaries. No one regulates them. Don’t even get me started on cemeteries. I’ve talked it up with many a cemetary man at Forest Lawn while doing phone repair. They can curdle your blood with what they do EVERY DAY. From routinely disposing of older plots’ inhabitants in the crematorium, then, reselling the now empty spot, to digging graves intentionaly deeper so they can put another coffin on top of it. One graveyard in Compton was just busted for handing out any old remains from the cremation process, regardless of whom it may of been. Also, for dried up corpses stacked in storage rooms because people didn’t pay their bills. Some of the problems of running out of room are because of pending trials. They keep the body on ice so to speak until the trial is over. This can take years in some cases. Some of Ricks loo-loo’s: “I would say the hardest body to move is one with an arrow sticking out of its’ chest. Try it sometime with rigor mortis already well settled in. The cops want nothing changed, so, you do the best you can. Hmm, oh, people seem to die on the toilet more then any other place it. Depending on how long it’s been since they checked out, that makes for problems. Getting stiff 400 pounders onto a gurney in a sitting position can be quite a challenge. Or, even worse, the soul-mate who attacks you as you try to remove the guy they just stuck a knife into about forty times and are now sad about it. Off Wall Street on a fourth floor walk up, you open the door there’s a cop with his gun in his waist band, sitting on a dirty bed reading a paper with a dead transvestite laying next to him with a syringe in his arm, staring at the ceiling. The cop has his ash tray on the dead man’s chest. The absolute worst are what are called in the trade, ‘Blobs’. Once you touch them, they can explode into masses of maggots and glop. On one of these it’s adios wardrobe. You just toss your clothes, the stench never comes out. If you even try to wash them, they contaminate your good clothes. Oh, lazy assistants. I’ve had guys ready to retire, just drop a corpse halfway down some stairs and let the head bounce all the way down, making up a song to the thumps. Now, I would prefer a stiff on the can, over the one that’s sat in the bathtub for three days. Don’t even go there. When our regular van broke down, we still had to make those pickups. We once had five bodies in various stages of decay, stuck in plastic bags in the back of a Toyota pickup all the way to the camper shell!”…Rick says he’ll make a list and I can do about ten pages on things he’s witnessed. Save ’em for later…

Go see the new CONAN flick. The new guy is a hundred times better that Arnold. He follows the character Robert E. Howard wrote about. If you want the best rendering of Conan, check out FRANK FRAZETTA. Oh man, he’s the BEST! When my som Noah had a Frazetta done on his leg, I wanted one. Its of Tarzan and the Golden lion in battle. AWESOME! Nah, I wouldn’t really get one, but, if I did, it would be a Frazetta of this Whooly Mammoth doing battle with nine saber toothed cats. The story is from, ‘Tarzan at the Earths Core’. A great book…By the way, no one has ever done Tarzan as he is in the books. He was a stone cold killer. Before he learned to kill the natives for their weapons and accounterments, he would stalk them through the jungle pathways in the ancient tree ways, then, drop on the last man in the traveling string of warriors. To keep his prey quiet he would tear their throats out with his teeth…Read, ‘The SON OF TARZAN’. Oh man, its the best!!!

Update on UFOs

If these deals are from another galaxy, far, far, away, it has to be a pretty boring galaxy. They do the same things EVERY night. I say they’re military. Most likely some of those new surveillance drones I read about in Popular Mechanics. They also have engine sounds. We couldn’t hear them the other night because of the wind, the crickets, and our former cast members of the movie, ‘Deliverance’, arguing about who drank the last beer. Yep, voices really carry across out valley. These people live at least a half mile away and I could hear their complete conversation last night when the wind stopped. They ended up being a lot more fun then the light show. Since they are quite profane, I can’t actually give a blow by blow. Lets just say, the female voice runs the show. He must of begged to be let back in for a good half hour. Who needs tv…