Freak Zone

Now into some twisty fifty mile an hour curves, the traffic breaks up. Semis in the slow lane Jake braking and a few hot shots zipping by- way over the speed limit- then cutting into slack spots before doing the same move again. It’s the law in Colorado. Fast lane is only to pass. Also, if a vehicle is obviously stopped on the side of the road, State law says you have to get over to the left. Mile after mile of smoothed out, red-streaked rock formations everywhere since the road drops you two thousand feet in about five miles. Coming out of a tunnel into bright sunlight, Rick spots the red sportscar that had the truck from hell on its ass. In a long sweeping left banked curve, I too see her. She’s tucked in between two semis like a chick between a hen and a rooster.

I pass, on the right is our former enemy. We look down from way higher in Tegan’s Dumptruck. She just looks straight ahead. The psycho with the twin flat beds is nowhere in sight. This gal wasn’t chancing it. She was staying right where she was, thank you very much. After a few miles we forget all about her.

Every one worth a damn in Colorado drives a Dodge pickup of some sort. New ones- or close to it. Flat beds, set up for towing fifth wheel horse and stock trailers, service bodies. The big grills and frame make the three quarter tons look like three ton jobs. I’m a Dodge man to the core, but these new Dodges are half tons on steroids. Pull any new pickup into a materials yard and start loading scoops of gravel with a short bucket loader. On any of them a real ton of material will have it looking just like a great Dane looks hunched bent over taking a dump on a lawn. Driving said loader for Jessie, first owner of the Acton hardware, I witnessed many a sad faced owner frantically shoveling sand or gravel out of his bed to get the shocks off the overloads.

I’m at the Boulder DMV with my son-in-law and Scout, my four year old granddaughter. She’s a big deal. A six grandson streak was finally broken. As Jason, Scout’s dad, waits his turn the man about four people ahead of him is heard to say, “I’ll be back in two minutes!” I’m sitting down in one of two dozen wood chairs that line one wall. Scout and I watch the man go past a bunch of busy windows then past the security guard and out the double glass doors. As soon as the doors closed everyone had something to say about what had just gone down. This buzz-headed, inked up bozo in his late twenties, has just slunk out in his low slung shorts and flip flops leaving a kid in a removable car seat on the DMV desk. Hey, it’s Boulder. The license gals have wooden desks you sit down in front of. Pretty laid back. Not this laid back though. You leave your kid? An infant? It was pretty damn funny what everyone in line had to say about it.

This chubby black gal next to us about three chairs over breaks the ice. “You have to be kidding me. Is this dude a friend of yours?” Directed at the fifty or so Latin looking woman wearing a nice shirt and sweater circa 1980’s. Looking dazed at the front doors then scanning everyone staring at her from the closest lines and chairs behind them she pops right out of her daze to defend herself. To anyone who wanted to listen, CLERK: “I’ve a good mind to have the man arrested. I’ve never seen such behavior in 21 years of working here!” OK, she’s now off the hook. The outrage pours out in machine gun burst from all over the room. Even the clerks on each side of her and the people being helped get some shots in.

This cowboy had a couple of good ones. Since he was about six four and three hundred pounds, he could say any damn thing he wanted. In this atmosphere, he had a lot of latitude anyhow. COWBOY: “Were all thinkin’ it. Poor white trash has now reached a new low point!” Now two women approach the baby. One spins the car seat around and tilts it. A cute little white trash baby is asleep. It has a tiny, too-small shirt on that barely covers the top of its chubby tummy. Someone had written. WHITE POWER on its tummy with a felt pen mimicking a tattoo. Swell. Many more comments poured out, then the father was spotted coming back into the double doors. He’s smiling and sort of strolling. His flip flops clapping on the linoleum floor as he comes back to his desk and clerk.

He smiles and starts to say something and gets his legs cut off at the knees by a now enraged clerk. CLERK: “I don’t want to hear anything from that mouth of yours except goodbye. If I hear anything different I will not hesitate to have security arrest you!” All said straightforward and well modulated. This zero made the mistake of looking back for some support. No way. Stone cold silence and frozen glares. I glance down at Scout and see she looks concerned. I whisper, “Don’t worry, the guy’s an idiot being taught a lesson!” She smiles and nods her head. Picking up the car seat, he puts on his sunglasses in defiance and leaves the premises.

Our next stop was GREAT! A really old, really big used book store and vinyl record warehouse. My first stop on the Freak express. I buy my grand kid Simon a six foot backed cut out of Boba Fett, the bounty hunter from Star Wars. Simon is the thoughtful insightful sort. Rare for a Fahey spawn. He says a dejected, “Too bad he died in the Pit of unspeakable horror!” Huh? What bullshit is this? As I fork over ten bucks for the original but beat up display I fill Simon in. Boba Fett kicked in his back pack thrusters, dropped two sonic grenades and was blown free about three minutes after Jabba the hut was choked out by Leia!” No wonder our country is falling apart. Kids don’t know any of the important things that bind us as a society. He perked up at this bit of news. Also, Boba built a ‘Slave Two’, intergalactic bounty hunter ship, but, another time.

If you think I’m off base ask any kid fourteen or younger who John Wayne is. They have no idea what you’re talking about. I have an old movie that has John Wayne asking for war bond donations. He was dressed in his cowboy gear sitting with a high back chair backwards. A lit smoke in one hand. His Stetson was pushed back as he wrinkled that broad forehead of his and said, “I don’t need to tell you who I am, so, lets get down to what I’m on screen for!” Sorry Duke, not any more. I once fixed the phone jack on his ship at the Balboa Island Marina pier off his house while working for Pac Bell. It really was a ship. It had formerly been a U.S. Navy minesweeper. About sixty five foot long with all steel frame and hull, quite a ride to hit the ocean on. It was called, ‘The Grey Goose’. I wish I could have gone on it. Alas, I fixed the phone problem at the pier jack connection. As soon as I replaced a green pitted connection, the phone started ringing on board.

While Simon took the six foot board out to the truck, I watched him through the storefront glass to make sure he got back OK. With all the displays, it was hard to keep an eye on him. As he came back inside, another kid he knew from school comes in right behind him. Night and day. Simon, hippie throwback followed by a pierced Goth in torn black everything. They seem to like each other. As they say adios, one of the owners of the store says, “Hey, Judas!”, while he comes down a crowded book aisle towards us. For some reason he thought I was with the pierced kid. I smile and nod. The owner looks like a young Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, 1970’s. He accepts me as a friend and says, “You going to the battle of the bands tonight!” I shrug my shoulders and ask Simon if he’s going. Simon says no and heads for the record side of the split building. I go for small talk. “So, kid, did it hurt getting all those pins and studs put in?” He looks bored but gives me a monotone ‘humor the old guy’ spiel. Then I notice the ink peeking out of his shirt collar. I’m stunned. He had to be fifteen if that. The store man is his uncle, it turns out. His uncle says, “Hey, show him how much you’ve gotten done!”

The black hair, streaked with red hair, is exposed as the kid takes off his multicolored Jamaican flop cap and lifts his zombie apocalypse t-shirt over his head. Half of his upper back had a Friday the 13th Jason in an almost colored-in red stripe shirt, stabbing some other gore guy with his scissor fingers up through the stomach. This other undertaker looking guy is coming down with a machete into Jason’s skull in about one second. Muscles bulging with the power he’s putting into the blade’s downward blow. Hey, some lucky gal might marry into this work of art. It can only go up in value. I shake my head up and down and say nothing. My input wasn’t needed for once. The kid puts his shirt down and heads down a book filled isle with his uncle. Not a word said.

Heading back to Tegan’s, I tell Simon and Scout about the special needs kids I talk to all the time at the Tehachapi show and the second hand shop I’m doing my Community Service at. Simon wanted to know what Community Service was. I gave him the short version. “They can’t shoot you after court on compliance codes so they make you clean toilets and scrape gum off the floors with razor blades!” He gave me the thumbs up. Scout once again looked upset. I tell her I also get first shot at all the toys and books that come in from my pickups. This makes her real happy. Back to the special ed kids. Most aren’t kids. Some are in their fifties. All are just like me though. Stuck at sixteen years old mentally. If that. I click with them. On some weekdays, the local theater has half prices. Not only the usual one dollar hot dogs, but breaks on tickets and pop corn.

I go to this four plex all the time. Especially when about twenty of these ‘kids’ have show day. The theaters are really small. Fifty people, max, in each one. I’ve been in it plenty of times sitting all by my self. The last time I went and the kids were there, the new Marvel flick was out teaming up Iron Man, Thor, some kung fu chick, a bow and arrow guy, Captain America, and, the HULK. The doors open late all the time so we were jammed up all in a bunch just like cattle after a stampede. About five groups back all the families are normal with normal kids. Behind them, apart a few paces, are the special kids with their escorts. They just walk down the street from their home at the top of the avenue.

Everyone is well behaved and really excited. In the front of the conga line are two pals I’ve smiled and said ‘Hi’ to before. One is really stocky and looks like a cross eyed, fifty year old Charlie Brown. He’s wearing a HULK sweatshirt that has HULK flying through the air on one of his leaps. His pal is black as black can be and stone cold blind. He has a cane and those rolled back eyes that let you know this kid is really handicapped. The blind kid is attached to his buddy like glue. Arms locked. A matron is right behind them but relaxed. Everyone wants in so the lines start to bunch together. A normal teenager from the front of the line has just broken Charlie Brown’s heart with a statement to his friend in line with him.

It was innocuous enough but a hard blow to hear for the special kid. “You know, the HULK is way over rated. Iron man or Thor could beat him, no problem!” As some vomit came up out of my stomach, I had to put a stop to this kind of blasphemy instantly. I spin and go into attack mode. “First of all, the HULK doesn’t even need these other losers. I heard they forced him to join. Second, the HULK has already bounced Superman like a basketball when they met, running him out of his own town; he destroyed The Thing in three pages of that comic after the fight started; Thor and Iron Man double teaming HULK would just make it easier for HULK to waste them instead of having to hunt them down one at a time. After they’re toast, what is Captain America, some karate gal and Robin hood idiot going to do against a now really pissed guy that gets bigger and stronger the more you beat on him?”

The doors open and in we all go. As I go for popcorn, I pass Charlie Brown and his pal waiting for their tickets. I put up my hand, Charlie Brown high fives me then pulls me over for a huge bear hug. I sat a couple of rows behind them and made comments all through the movie on how HULK was doing all the real fighting, etc, etc. It was fun.

Back home, just last Saturday night, we had bizarre lightening-like flashes coming over the tops of the five thousand foot hills that separate us from the Mojave Desert. Since we heard on ‘Coast to Coast’ that a big solar flare was to be hitting us, we figured that might be the source. We call everyone we can think of in the Antelope Valley and surrounding areas to go outside and report back to us. Except for my sons, no one cared. I was Chicken Little and the sky was falling. Pretty sad. Hey, if the S.H.T.F, we know one thing. We’re calling family and that’s all. Everyone else that thinks the way we do, off grid, own water, self reliant. They won’t need a call. So, we too are pretty much looked on as Freaks. So be it. Queue Hendrix’s anthem for the fade out and let your Freak flag fly.

Oh, while at a Boulder Café, around ten thousand foot up on the mountain behind Coal Creek, I share my table with three Chinese tourists. Only one spoke English fluently. The others nodded their heads a lot. They looked like Chinese Ozzie and Harriet kids. Very polite. Maybe in their early twenties. The other two are male and a thin, intense looking female with tightly pulled back hair. She smiles at me then ignores me. I notice her quiet companion is missing the ends of two fingers on his left hand. Zeng, the only name I can remember of the more fluent of the group sees me looking at the nubs and says a pleasant, “A panda bit them off!” What? A fuzzy little chubby fur ball did that? I tell him that I had just read a book on Wolverines and could see him losing fingers to one of them, but a panda? The man missing the ends of his digits speaks Chinese to his companion. They have a spirted back and forth them I’m filled in. All three are now looking right at me as their companion speaks.

“He says he once thought the same thing. He was shocked to find out their fur is a hard and sharp as a pigs bristles. They also fight off leopards and kill small animals for food. When he was studying them in Bejing, a man went into an enclosure to hug one and have his picture taken. He had his testicles torn off and almost died on the way to emergency!” Gee. Who would have guessed?

One last thing. On those Wolverines. They have fantastic, life-long connections with mates and offspring. From being studied by radio transmitters, fathers years later will hook up with mates, daughters and sons and spend weeks hunting and playing together. If a male shacks up with a pregnant female, when the usually two or less pure white offspring are born, the male will raise them as if his own. Cool! Pound for pound the Wolverine is the most powerful mammal on earth. Only about five hundred or so left in the continental United States. More in Canada, and some colonies still exist in the colder areas of Europe and the Norwegian areas…

Saugus, CA

Roughly the years from 1965 on. Right about the time I scored my drivers license learners permit. I’ll be jumping around as one story will pin ball into another one. Names might be left out because of lawsuits. If still alive they’ll know exactly what their end of a story is.

Soledad Canyon Road. So many shennanigans almost take an entire book for this street alone. It runs a longggggg way. While stealing ice cream at Whites Canyon from the drug store, caught along with Frank Angelostro by some pissed off parents and held for the Sheriffs. We’re taken from the manager’s office in cuffs to a waiting Blazer-type vehicle. Instead of heading towards Newhall, we stay on Soledad all the way out of civilization and up into the wilds past Rivers End trailer park. Holy shit!!! Rivers End!!! I haven’t thought of that place in YEARS! Have to get back to that joint later.

So, the cops take us to a little spot off Soledad called Aqua Dulce Canyon Road. A bad place for me to be at any time. So many people on that road wanted me dead it was a blessing to have cops with me. Not heading to Newhall had both of us concerned. We also had the ‘quiet’ cops that only talked when answering their radio. Now, Frank was the tough guy of our partnership. Since his dad beat the shit out of Frank and his older brother weekly, Frank could take an adult-style beating no problem. Me? My mouth always did my fighting. That’s why I usually hung with tough guys. Having hot older sisters kept me in a steady supply of older guys who actually had trucks and cars.

As the cops pull over, the sun is now starting to go down. Since the freeway to Palmdale hadn’t been built yet, the odds of some heavy traffic was zero. More like no traffic. Without a word we’re taken out of the vehicle and uncuffed. The taller pot-bellied cop tells us in a low voice, “Start running punks!” Frank is off like a rabbit into the near by wash full of brush and rocks. I run sort of sideways to see the bullets coming after about ten strides. The cops are bent over double laughing. Sure, they could laugh. I was running right towards Tony Epper’s ranch near Vasquez Rocks park. From a little incident at Thompson’s rifle range, not a guy I wanted to run into. He had been shooting trap and I was loading the trap machine in the cement blockhouse along with a nutcase kid named Scott Kingston. No, not the older one with the woody surf wagon. His younger brother Mr. Nutcase magazine cover boy two times already by 15 years old. Epper was shooting against Joe Canutt, Yakima Canutt’s son. I liked Joe since he was my pal Forest’s uncle so I was putting small cracks in Epper’s clay pigeons every fifth round or so making him blow his shots. He ended up charging the blockhouse and threatened to start shooting into the mechanical arms aperture that tossed the discs. I stayed put until Mrs. Thompson showed up in her white pickup to fire me. I asked her how come me? She just shook her head. They usually hired me back.

One time Frank invites me to spend the night at his house. Forest Canutt came over since we were about a hundred yards from his house on Beaver Run Road off of Sand Canyon… Saugus Sand Canyon. Not the Sand Canyon I’m off of now. Two different animals. Forest heads for home and Frank insists I sleep in his bed while he uses his sleeping bag near his closet. Sam, Frank’s older brother, was fighting with Frank’s mom in the front room so we hit the hay early. Frank tells me I’ll be insulting Italians if I don’t accept his hospitality. I say thanks and go right to sleep as Frank hits the light. I’m woken up by someone beating the living shit out of me. I scream for help. The room’s only light is from the TV screen down a long hallway away. My attacker is suddenly off of me and the room’s overhead light is snapped on.

In front of me is a short, wide, half-naked extremely hairy Italian man with a big wide black belt in his right fist. The side of my face is throbbing and my nose is bloody. As Frank blasts out the bedroom door in his boxers, his still stunned father doesn’t even take a swing at him. His father is in a drunken stupor. He finally says a slurred, “Who the fuck are you?” As I jump out of Frank’s bed and start speed dressing. Frank’s mom is now in the hallway screaming at Frank’s old man, “YOU STINKING ROTTEN ANIMAL. YOUR BEATING THE NEIGHBORS’ KID!” That sentence is etched into my mind as if it was said an hour ago. Now he gets the picture.

Frank’s mom is now in high gear as we all head towards the kitchen. It was my first time in the house and the kitchen had the door out, was all I remembered. Nope. Frank’s mom starts cooking some sausage and eggs while Frank’s pop apologizes over and over to me while trying to give me all the money in his wallet. It was only about thirty bucks so I told him to forget about it, I just wanted to go home. We eat and it’s over and done with. Two years later Frank’s dad once again beat the crap out of me over the Jewel Tea man caper, but, another story.

Ace Cains bar and trout ponds were not too far down Sand Canyon from Frank’s house so we goofed off there a lot. Johnny Rodriguiz, a friend of Sam’s, would chase us off for his dad (the owner) when we got out of control. Frank and I taught these monkeys Ace had in a big cage near the trout ponds how to jerk off and that got us 86’ed from the place for quite awhile. We would sneak in through Brian Thompson’s property that was right up the wash. Not the same Thompson as the rifle range Thompson’s. Brian had rich parents and thought he could buy his way out of anything. After we all had to see the judge from the head on train prank at the Soledad Capra train tunnel, Frank and I get sentenced ahead of Brian since his parents hired a lawyer for him. I get three months Sheriffs work camp. There went summer vacation. Frank got a year since he was over 18. He went into the Army so they dropped his year. But, at the time, it was now Brian’s turn to be sentenced. His Attorney gives a nice little speech. Brian ends up with the same as me. Three months. Brain shouts out to his mother standing just behind him, “This is BULLSHIT!” The judge says, “Right you are son. Six months. Want to try for more?” Boy Brian, that attorney paid off.

I’m taking some cycles to a friend in Lancaster. Ford Canutt cruises by my place in Sleepy Valley, sees I’m having trouble loading the bikes. He gives me a hand then decides to cruise out to our mutual friend’s with me. A mutual friend who later was busted with a bag full of guns at emergency and a bullet hole in his leg. Sorry, no names, remember.

So, half way to our destination, the straps tying down the cycles come loose in the bed of my Crew Cab Power Wagon. It has a flat bed with one-ton shocks and a 16-foot lumber rack welded to the frame. I still drive it every ten years or so. It has stolen Oregon plates so it’s not a good idea to cruise too far in it. The last time I drove it was to Stan Lee’s house in Hollywood to do an emergency phone repair for him. He signed everything my kids put in front of him.

Back to the loose cycles. Ford was just back from some tours as a tank man in ‘Nam, so he liked to party. He was also called Danny, so, I might put that name in and confuse you. Well, Ford tells me to steer the wheel then CLIMBS OUT MY DRIVER WINDOW DOING EIGHTY! I steer with my left hand and try to stay calm. Still sitting in the shot gun seat since I had the ice chest between us. Over the lumber rack he goes. He ties down the cycles, waves and talks with two babes laughing and yelling at him from the fast lane next to us, then he’s back in the window for a fresh cold one.

I end up married to one of his sisters and have three kids with her before the wheels came off. His mom just passed away. I do have a funny story about Bernice. This was while we still had a truce going. I was wild to see Joe Frazier fight Jerry Quarry. I had tickets and was going to bet heavy on Quarry to win. I was using the Beaver Run phone to make my bets. Bernice clucks her tongue and says I had just thrown good money away. She adds, “Quarry won’t last five rounds with Frazier!” I then bet her a hundred bucks at two to one to shut her up. Oh man, she was dead right. I never did pay her that dough, so, sorry Bernice. Hope your in a good place.

Since we’re on a Canutt role, I can’t let Forrest Canutt slide. That guy stuck it to me so many times I lost count. He was one of those guys you like but can never trust. He almost got me killed a half dozen times and I still hung out with him so the fault was all mine I guess. We did have some good laughs in between the screaming roller coaster rides to hell fiascos, so it was worth it.

Here’s the kind of stuff I mean: There’s a big earthquake and all the store fronts up and down San Fernando Road in Newhall are shattered. Walking down the street as it just happened what does Forrest do? He rolls a brand new ten speed out of a now wide-open bike store window and rides for home. He’s busted in two blocks for looting during an emergency. We’re off Vasquez Canyon Road stealing water melons from the pumpkin ranch. We jump in Forrest’s truck to make a clean get away as a half dozen farm workers are running towards us. Forrest can’t find his keys. He takes off as I’m dragged down and held for the cops. As they drag me to the fruit stand register across the road, Forrest fires up his truck and leaves me. Forrest starts hanging with a bad crowd. He robs a gas station and his accomplice hits the clerk over the head with a pistol. A kid I had once been on Hart Wresting Team with in 1967. Our heavyweight, to be exact. Forrest is on the lam in Northern California cutting trees and staying low. He decides to come home for Christmas. Near Mike’s Tires on Soledad Canyon, his old pick up gets a flat. He takes the tire off the truck and rolls it to Mike’s to get it fixed. Who turns around at the counter to help him? Why, the heavyweight guy he had robbed at the gas station with a new job. Forrest took some good shots before the cops came. I saw the dents his head put in the Coke Machine weeks later when I was getting some tires.

Forrest and I went to lots of live concerts. I saw Hendrix with him twice. Once in Frisco and once at the Palm Desert blowout where the cops had two hundred of us locked up in the high school gyms for two days to pick up trash before they let us go. Forrest was the greatest man that ever lived at getting into concerts for free. He would swill down some booze then start yelling at the top of his lungs, “RUSH THE GATE, RUSH THE GATE! WHAT THE FUCK CAN THEY DO!” It worked a lot of times. Never try it at the old Forum in Inglewood, though. Those guys hope you’ll rush them. All USC and UCLA football players wired to the max on steroids and coke keeping them fresh and alert.

Forrest comes by one time with an Alligator. A vehicle from the Army that can drive off of land right into the water and back out again. We had some great times in it. Forrest also would start up my 175 Tempo Cycle by bump starting it backwards and drive with his arms behind him and looking over his shoulder.

Chuck Yost lived up the road from Forrest so we hung out with him on some capers. Notably the Deane Homes affair where we threw a party in one of the model homes and Chuck brought a ton of booze. Everyone was blasted. Not one kid over 18. After Frank Angelostro jumped off the second floor landing to swing on a chandelier and it ripped right out of the ceiling landing on top of his knocked out form, Chuck, Forrest and I started pissing on Frank as he sucked air with the wind knocked out of him from landing on his back. Realizing we we’re dead when his air came back we left our trailer park slut dates and took the Deane Homes show van to Newhall. They always left the keys under the seat. One of my pals was a life guard for the club pool and drove it on beer runs all the time once everyone went home on Sunday.

Once during a Halloween night adventure throwing eggs from the back of speeding pickups from Sunland to Castaic, Willie Schmidt is along with us in Dillenbeck’s truck tossing eggs in the old Woodlands off Sand Canyon. At a cul de sac, Don Winterholm runs out with a single-shot shotgun to chase us off from throwing eggs at his house. This was before he set himself on fire burning ants with a spray paint can. I see the gun and shout, “It doesn’t work, nail the bastard!” I had traded the shotgun to him for a baby red-tailed hawk a week prior. It didn’t have a firing pin, nor a working trigger. As Don races for the front door knowing the jig is up, his mom is holding the screen open with her foot as she keeps the door way wide open for his escape. Before he can slip inside to safety a dozen eggs thrown rapid fire nail the door frame, the porch light, the swing and Don and his mom at the same time. AWESOME! Until, a few months later, I see that Don’s mom is the court reporter in Newhall for the throwing oranges from a moving train incident court appearance. Then it wasn’t so great.

Later on that night, Willie knocked down old man Booth who had me in a headlock on his front lawn, holding me for the cops, after an epic egging of his house ending with Dillenbeck’s truck stalling out. Booth walked like a weird spider on his arms and legs back to his house so Willie couldn’t hit him again.

Well, got to run. I could go on for days.

Hold on, proof reading I just remembered Rivers End. It’s still full of drunks, junkies and eighty-year old hookers. Never steal their false teeth. They never forget. The park’s source of fresh water was the stream water from the Soledad wash. They collected it in a stone pool that was about twenty-foot long and six-foot wide, maybe six-foot deep. Nice and cool in the summer. The railroads emergency hoist ran over your head about seventy foot off the ground to get you off a stuck train during a flood. We rode in it all the time after shooting the lock off. After it was abandoned, my oldest boy Tejas went hand over hand to the cart that was stuck in the middle of the wash way up in the air. He gets his finger pinned under the cart wheel and the cable. Oh man did he let out some blood curdling screams. He finally gets loose and drops like a phoney sack person in a silent movie to the wash below. Oh, back to the water source. The manager catches us swimming around nude in it one day. He’s screaming for us to, “GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!” This nutcase kid, Lyslie Shecocks, tells the man to, “Hold on a second, I’m almost done!” A big turd floats up behind him. The man’s head almost blows off like in ‘Scanners’. We run to our dirt bikes and get away…

Mr. Adallini

He was the boys dean at Hart High school back in the early sixties. He was a big powerful guy who had played pro football. He taught science, too. He also dealt with little assholes who needed to be straightened out. Now, in those days, it wasn’t touchy feelie, “let’s talk this out.” Nope. You got swats. Well, the boys did. I don’t know about the girls. Maybe they were talked to. Usually quite clever and cunning, I’m caught red handed shaking the small juice vending machine off the lunch area to get free plastic juice containers to fall into the chute. Frank and Brian, pals of mine, are also apprehended. Some of the janitors grabbed us and took us to the office. Once inside on the long bench outside of Adallinis office, we joked, smirked at the girls helping with the phones and such, and generally being annoying. There was another kid there ahead of us named Scott. No one usually hung out with him since he was a known booger eater. Like the kid caught spanking the monkey in the showers, you avoided them… Snot boy went in first. Mr. Adallini stepped aside to let him enter the small office with the venetian blind shades. Prior to his first customer, you could see him sitting at his desk, on the phone most of the time. As soon as he had company, those blinds were pulled shut. A bad omen. We noticed a difference in the office. As if everyone around us was holding their breaths. Then, the loud ‘SMACK’, and the scream. Followed by two more, even louder. Loud crying emmanated. The door suddenly swung open, a bawling kid snatched a note held out by an office gal, and away he went back to class. The bushy eyebrows of Mr. Addallini seemed on big long brow, as he gave us a quiet smile while saying in a low growl, “Inside, Mr. Thompson.” Brian looks at Frank and I, then back at the Dean. A curt, “RIGHT NOW!” Got Brian’s feet moving towards his fate. Once again, the door shut, some muffled words, then, ‘SMACK’. Brian cried out with each of the three blows. The door opened, a crying Brian gets his hall pass, off he goes, wiping the tears off his face. Mr. Adallini smiles at Frank. Frank Angelostro, a tough Italian just like the Dean, stands up and marchs in like a man, ready for anything. The sound of some conversation, then, once again, ‘SMACK’. The distinct sound of Franks voice shouting, “FUCK YOU!”, brings the sound of four more loud smacks. Holy shit! He gave Frank FIVE! The door opens and out comes a furious Frank, snatching his note and looking right past me. Those big eyebrows are all I can look at as I slip past the Dean to the chair in front of his desk. For the first time, I see the instrument of doom, laying on his appoinment calander, just a foot away from me. Long known from legend, I was about to feel its wrath. It was wooden, shaped like an elongated ping pong paddle, but drilled with half inch holes all across the business part. The hand grip was taped for a better grip. As the Dean told me why I was there, I barely heard what he was saying. My focus was on that well-worn paddle. I made an oath to not make a sound. Like all the heroes in countless comics I’d poured over and movies I’d seen. Now, it was my turn to drop my pants and put my hands on his desk. Having been in some juvenile halls and boys homes over the years, I got out of the habit of wearing shorts or boxers. In such facilities you get them tossed to you out of a big pile as you come out of the showers. I learned to pass on that deal. So, I’m to get mine totally bare assed. I grip the desk, and, ‘SMACK’. So much for being a Sgt. Rock of Easy Company, or, the exact double of ‘The Phantom’. I let out a scream the dopers heard, all the way out on the hill behind the parking lot. Then, falling to the floor, I thrashed around kicking and crying like Adallini had just cut my legs off with a rusty chain saw. I never did get the other two. He was so disgusted with me, he just told me to pull up my pants and go back to class… Takiing my hallpass, the smirks from all the girls made me perk up a little…

Kids Like Me

We would buy a giant bag of dried peas, 21 cents, for our pea shooters, then, knock down our plastic soldiers with ’em, for hours. Do your paper route, then, roll by Winchells and get a bag of day-old donuts for a buck, sell them for a quarter a pop at the Slot Car tracks… Slot cars. Every small town had one. You would ride your bike to one with your pals, your box of cars and parts rubberbanded on your rear bike rack. Put up quarters on lap bets. Put a penny in the other guys track when hes not looking and make his car flip in the air. Get chased down the street by his pals. No one ever got hurt. We would have BB gun wars in the orange groves at Villa Cabrini. Toss oranges at the giant hogs they would slaughter. Make forts in the trees. Climb down into the dried up storm reservoirs at De Bell golf course, with flashlights and packs, plus, plenty of kid weapons. Twenty five pound bow and target arrows… Wrist rockets. A good shot with a wrist rocket is equivalent to Kirby with his B.A.R. on the show, ‘COMBAT’, with Vic Morrow. I talked to the Second unit director on ‘The Twighlight Zone’, location, when the out of control chopper, cut off Vic Morrow’s head, and the two kids he was running with for the scene… Another story… Always had a good pocket knife. Boy scout multiple if smart. The ones with the tiny fork and spoon you tried once, then, never pulled out again. A special pocket for your ball bearings, collected in the alleys behind the machine shops while taking your pop bottle returns to Bill’s Ranch Market. A ball bearing made a hobo see god once as he chased me down some tracks in Sylmar. I missed his melon by an inch. You can put a bearing right through a stop sign, no problem. Oh, and walking sticks, like little John in ‘Robin Hood’. Sticks are a must. Poke snakes, fight each other, make you feel confident. Anyhow, once into the water works basin, a short climb to the cement overflow lip, then into the abyss of black, the start of an L.A. storm drain system. As you head downhill, sometimes there’s a small stream of water going down the middle of the fifty foot wide, thirty foot high cement drain. As you leave the sunlight, it becomes green with algae. If really young and scared, you would be left behind by the bigger kids to catch tadpoles and frogs, then, go home with the dogs that always followed you. In my day, dogs sort of belonged to everyone. When you camped out at a pal’s in his backyard, your dog did too. Ditto for them… As you proceed down into the black of the unknown, the square light aperture behind you grows smaller and smaller. As your reach your first bend, it’s suddenly stygean black. On come the henflashlights. NO CANDLES! Even a kid knew these tunnels had gas in them. Duh. No lighters or cherry bombs in the sewers. Usually the upper parts were fairly clear of obstacles. Some smaller rafts of sticks and gravel, an old boot, tree branchs. It wasn’t until you had gone farther down, then, into a tributary, that things got really interesting. My stories of the giant Alligators were always laughed at. Up in the blue of outside. Five miles into the getting smaller and smaller tunnel, with your footsteps echoing off the dank, gooey walls, made them seem possible. Just before you came to a tributary of the L.A. River, the big game appeared. Animals chased into the tunnels for safety by counterparts like us from their parts of town, playing in the vast cement drainage systems, would be caught between a rock and a hard place. As we got closer, we could see their silhouettes in the bright sun behind them. A deer with antlers was easy. Coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, tons of big Norwiegan wharf rats, opposums, fox, all of ’em at one time or another. We would hear the other kids shout as the animal broke for the outside. Once we came into the sun, your eyes had to adjust. Fights or trouble for being on other guys turf? Never once. Not even close. Sure, we would have ick fights. You pick up a handful of the green slime in the slower currents, then, nail the kid closest to you. Since you got nailed back, no one gave a crap. We would end up playing them football. Your team leader would pick a kid, any kid from all of us, then the other captain chose. No fights. It was all normal… When you hit your early teens, you moved to the big time. Sneaking into the L.A. Zoo through the backs of the animal exhibits, or, the Holy Grail of all scary places, the creek under the old Pasadena bridge, into the land of evil things where kids bikes had been found many a time, but no kids. And that was no bullshit…


This arm break of Leo has done some major altering to his conciousness. He’s never thought about repercussions since he’s been with us. He’s pushed all the horrors of his early years in the Siberian psycho wards as a child, then, he gets this major reality check. Last night while walking back from the barn on a kitten check, Leo asks me about what happens when you die. What? In the nine years we’ve had him, he has NEVER asked me about anything as deep as this. Pretty neat, yet, I’m not the best person to handle a response. But, I gave him my thoughts, while trying not to freak him out… My first encounter with a spirit was fairly mild. Another tech kept seeing a little man with a bowtie in a basement we were running phone lines through. I never saw it. Since he wouldn’t go back down to complete the cable punching, I kept my eyes peeled while I completed his part of the installation… I never saw anything. I finally just turned up my radio and dedicated cables. One odd thing I did witness at this house was actually funny. The home, converted into a real estate office, had been built in 1926. Really thick walls and that heavy tile roof popular in that era. As I went to mount a 10 button wall phone in the kitchen/new break room, I drill out some one inch holes in the wall to bring up a 50 pair cable, plus for the phone anchors. Before I can do anything, I’m dodging bees flying at me. The kitchen is suddenly live with them. Turned out, the wall was filled with a hundred year old bee hive. I taped the holes and went to the next room. Found out later they had to take the entire exterior wall off, then, removed hundreds of pounds of comb and honey… I’m in another basement in Beverly Hills off of Wilshire. It’s for a commercial building, so, it’s big. Really big. Corridors and causeways shooting off in every direction. There’s boxes and containers six foot high on each side of the cement passageways, full of records and files. I shinned my flashlight on some. Dated 1956. Sheesh. Feeling something weird, I shine my flashlight down a long, black walkway to my left and say, “Anybody down here?” A stack of files on the left of the walkway just falls over into the walkway. Then, opposite it, falls another. Hmm… Working for a Korean college off La Cienega, I end up in a maze of basements, interconnected with cement tunnels that run underneath La Cienega itself. Some had steel blast doors blocking them off since they had been built for bomb shelters during the cold war. Tons of old buildings throughout L.A. have them. Going down one dank, dark tunnel, I feel something. A presence. I keep following the cable above my head clamped to the ceiling, trying to be professional. I follow it to a steel ladder going up. I take the ladder, lift the steel cover plate. I’m behind the nine foot, ivy covered walls of the oldest cemetery in L.A. All around me are THOUSANDS of vaults and crypts. Into infinity they went… I’m in the Griffith house in Griffith Park. It’s sort of a park that the general public can’t access. It has a full time securtiy guard. The guard unlocks the front door then stands back. I say, “Aren’t you coming in?” He shook his head no, then said, “It’s full of ghosts pal. I’m never going inside!”… I’m talking to a forensic pathologist in the morgue at Cedars off Beverly. I asked him if he had ever seen or felt anything. He looked me right in the eye and said, “It’s why you have to be extremely proffesional in this line of work. You’re being watched all the time!” Hmm… A friend of mine in Riverside has a cabin up in the foothills. He wanted to enlarge his back walkway and repair a chimney so he had a crew break apart a large granite boulder to pull it off. In front of five people, the fractured rock exposes a 16″ long, solid pewter spoon. One edge of its handle had been repaired with a tiny weld. I’ve held that spoon and read the eye witness statements. I have the book, ‘Forbidden Archeology’, but, had never actually had it in my own hands… I end up telling Leo that he has to make up his own mind. It’s part of becoming a whole person. Seeing he was perplexed, I told him not to bet too upset about it. That he had a LONG time to go before he had to worry about death. Except for another shooting out of car windows again with his BB gun. In that case, he would die a lot sooner…

Emergency Rooms

Kids can say the darndest things. Especially with bones sticking out of their skin from compound fractures. My daughter Sage was about seven years old when she experienced her first run to emergency. Having bought all the kids new bikes for Christmas, naturally, they all wanted to ride them. I tell all the older kids to watch out for her. They ditch her. She was, “too slow.” Trying to keep up, she crashes on the dirt trail across the way. Hard. Off to emergency. Nothing like an emergency room on Christmas day. I’ve spent a couple there. So Sage has severe facial lacerations on her forehead, chin, inside her mouth, and lots of scrapes and rocks rolled under her skin. Daddy gets to hold her as two docs stitch her up and do clean up to ascertain any other injuries. With seventy two stitches going in, it took awhile. As the one doc stitches the inside of Sage’s mouth, he’s patering away on how, “It’s not that bad now, stay still!” The other doc is doing his thing inbetween the other doc swabbing blood of Sage’s lower face between long passes with the stitches. He has a stretecher deal in her mouth to gain access and see better. Sage’s eyes are rolling around like a great white shark’s. When they occasionally stop and look into mine, I whisper, “Tons of ice cream in your future, as soon as were out of here kid!” Finally, the doc is taking off the nibs of all the sutures and removing the mouth expander cage. All of the other inhabitants of emergency had been watching the proceedings. An expectant mom, a skate board kid with a broken knee. The usual. As the cage comes out, the doc says to Sage in a condescending tone, “Now, that wasn’t so bad!” Sage stands up and screams at him, “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE, YOUR ONE GIANT PRICK!” I get a stunned look on my face proclaiming I had no idea where she had heard such language. All the nurses were biting their arms to stop from laughing out loud… It’s cold and drizzily. We had a long, two inch around rope I’d brought back from my Uncle Wimpy’s dry dock for the kids to Tarzan on off tower one. I tell all the kids, mine and the neighbors, to stay off the rope. As the sun was going down, ice was forming. Once again, as I take off my boots to relax, a wild eyed Tegan runs into the house, screaming that her brother Tejas had done a flip off the rope and hit some rocks. Adding for effect, “His bones are sticking out of his arm!” Hmm. Might have to take him to the doc pops into my head. First I had to catch him. He had a theory that if he ran long and hard, the pain wouldn’t catch up to him. We chase him down about a mile away, following the blood trail. That compound fracture was one of those gifts that just keep on giving. Ended up having to have it reset, THREE TIMES, over the years. On the ride to emergency, I’m in the back of a Jeep Cherokee, holding a struggling Tejas in a head lock to keep him from running off again at the red lights. I shout to the driver to go around the backed up traffic and get to emergency. Some guy gets pissed and trys to road rage us. He chases us down the side of the road to teach us a lesson. As he catchs up at another red light, he gets out to confront me. I had the back window up so Tejas wouldn’t kick it out with all his struggling. The tattooed guy sees me covered with blood and a screaming kid going out of his mind. I say a calm, “You really want some of this pal?” He got back in his truck… I’m dead tired. Just did a rock garden and pond for a side job on a Sunday. I fall asleep on our outside swing. A bunch of dirt bikes roar to a stop in front of my gate. Frantic boys are tossing off helmets while they run towards the house. I almost didn’t say anything as they ran past me. I’m informed that David Phillips had just rolled his Blazer with the brand new giant tires and custom paint job, off the side of Kirpsies mountain. Oh, and they can’t find Tejas in the wreckage. It’s now pitch black. Up into the wild rolling hills we go. A fog comes slinking in. It kept getting better and better. The kids find the wrecked truck. Oh man. Look up ‘wrecked truck’ in the dictionary. There’s a picture of Phillips’ truck. All the other guys from the truck are already rolling in pain waiting for the pills to kick in. No one could go to the hospital because of warrants and such. Fine. We go back, once again to find Tejas. Now the Sheriff’s search and rescue arrives. Horse teams arrive. I head home around midnight to get another flashlight. I see a light on in Tejas’s house off bridge tower two. I shout out, “HEY, ANYONE UP THERE”? Tejas’s head pops out his door, he yells back, “THERE’S LIGHTS ALL OVER KIRPSIES MOUNTAIN, SOMTHING IS GOING ON!”…He was never in the truck.

Christmas Cards

Receiving one of those,’How great our family is doing’, cards from rich acquaintances, makes me vomit. No one in my family can even spell vacation…Its once again the holiday. I’m changing some film in a cheepo camera. Just as I set the new film, a slugfest breaks out between Tegan and her brother, Tejas over a video game. Its to the death…Tegan has height, reach, power, and a vicious kick to the groin as a finisher. Tejas? A close your eyes, swing from the floor brawler with no chin. I decide to let them work it out between themselves. I tell their brothers and sisters to make some popcorn. It could go a few rounds. At one point, just before the dramatic finish, I took some shots with the camera…On our X-mas cards, I put the best shot. Tegan, eyes wide open, is landing a right to Tejas’s jaw and a knee to the nuts. Tejas, eyes tightly shut, has his head popped back from the blow, but, has landed a left to Tegan’s belly. Both are in the air…


Leo has been sneaking out of his room at night to meet up with some dubious characters from down the road. I took the pins out of his door while he was gone. In the morning, I knock on his door, get him up for school. As he opened his door still half asleep, it comes out of the hinges and he falls backwards with the door on him. Its a shitty, hollow piece of crap, so, no way was he going to be hurt. Oh man, the look on his face peeking out from under the door as I hit his light switch….Teenagers. How I love to torture them…My oldest girl, Tegan, was my best opponent. Her greatest pleasure in life was to hit our one and only bathroom first thing in the morning, then, listen over her radio as her siblings pounded and wailed outside the bathroom door, just prior to exploding from extended bladders. She also heated the bathroom with her blow dryer. I put a six inch cord on it to twart her…She took the extension cord off our X-Mas tree…

Some of my kids came by for a visit Sunday. Brought some grandkids along. The kids were sort of restless. One of my boys suggests I do what I used to do when they were small and bored. I’m at a loss. He reminds me of how I would tape a rolled twenty dollar bill onto an arrow, then fire said arrow into the National Forest that bordered our ranch. While searching for the prize, it was also a treasure hunt for cool stuff. Kids would usually find the arrow. Not right away though. They would also bring back deer antlers, trap door spider burrows (No good if the lid is missing) odd rocks, old bottles….Prices have gone up it seems. My grandkids asked for forty bucks. I said, “Well, ok”! Off went the arrow….When they came back, boy, were they pissed. I had swapped arrows when the weren’t looking and fired off the arrow I had taped a one onto…

My Uncle Mel told me this bear story…

Seems Hal Roach wanted Spanky from the ‘Our Gang’ crew to do a finishing close up for one of their latest shorts filmed at Toluca Lake with a bear. The bear was to give him a nuzzle or lick to fade away with. Spanky told his mom he didn’t want to do it. Roach approaches Alfalfa. He didn’t like that bear either. Even Buckwheat said no. My uncle was there as the dog handler, watching this all go down. The bear trainer was furious since he was losing money. Grabbing a jar of honey, he yells at the kids, “Look, here’s all there is to it!” He then puts a gob of honey on his cheek to let the bear lick it off. The bear tore the entire side of the mans face off with one quick click of its jaws…