The Wild Life

It’s 1967. The Hart High lunch line. I just stole 10 hamburgers to sell on the hill later. I’d lean over with my right hand inside a tear in my bomber jacket to boost food from the microwaved catered food trays. Next to me is Frank Angelostro. He has a flowing Hawaiian shirt and some sweat pants since his Levi’s were stolen in gym class. He puts his stolen burgers and cheese burritos in the front of his pants. As I start to pay for a milk and a bag of Fritos, Frank suddenly screams out in pain as he leaps around like a madman while jerking his sweat pants off. I watch in horror as my best pal starts clawing at his testicles covered in molten hot cheese from an exploded burrito cover.

ITEM: Doing Sheriff work camp during the summer Angelostro, Carl Winager and myself are shoveling and raking fire zones around large white buildings at Special Devices Systems off of Placerita Canyon. An explosion about fifty feet away scares the crap out of us. It’s over before we can jump for cover. The entire side of a sixty foot warehouse is blown away. Three men in lab coats are staggering around with blood coming out of their ears. As we drop our tools to help, the Sheriff lead flunkie tells us to pick up our tools and keep cutting weeds.

ITEM: When they shut down Bermite in Saugus, they did no clean up. They just shoved everything into a wide valley in back and covered it all with a zillion tons of dirt. We took lumber from huge stacks at the old site as soon as the security man fell asleep in his trailer. We dragged the wood to three huge oak trees near the train tracks and built a connected tree house. It was the first thing I built the County tore down. The start of a tradition. After they tore it down, they left our Playboys next to the middle oak tree under a big rock. On top was a short note on a torn lunch bag. “NICE JOB KIDS!”

ITEM: After some heavy rains the Soledad wash is careening out of control all the way to the ocean 30 miles or so away. We take a military raft for ten part of the way down it before a Fire Department helicopter is hovering over us as we’re paddling like crazy past Denny’s off Sand Canyon. We turn it over and swim for our lives across from Whites Canyon. Still raining like crazy, one of the O’neal brothers and I escape. It takes me four hours to get home. As I climb through my bedroom window, my overhead light snaps on. A Sheriff is sitting on my bed drinking a Coke. My mom screams, “JUST TAKE HIM!”, as I’m led downstairs to his car.

ITEM: Working at Ace Cains cleaning trout ponds, we find five baby great horned owls in the top of a shed we’re supposed to tear down. I take one home with me. To save time, Johnny M., a proud owner of an M. 40 military truck, drives it through the shed. A 2×6 splinters and goes through his radiator. He’s so pissed he quits. I end up hitchhiking with a baby owl in my jacket biting and clawing me. Later, my step dad comes home from a drinking bout (this was just before he rolled his Half-ton Chevy Pickup off of Placerita, getting thrown through the windshield, then having the truck roll over him- TWICE, and lived!) I had a large cage built in the garage with a perch outside. Owls are nocturnal so night time is their time. The owl, Apache by name, is out on his perch. Bill comes in the garage side door because it’s pretty late. As he take his jacket off, my owl flies to his arm like I had trained him on my own. Not good. Bill Burtis tore that garage up in the dark fighting to get that owl off of him.

ITEM: Bill Burtis was a cement man. Foundations, cantilevered slabs, swimming pools, driveway, tennis courts. All sorts of stuff. He did a park for Canyon Country up Bouquet Canyon. Angelostro and I were hired to strip all the twenty foot 2×4 framing off, pull the cement double-headed nails and clean the cement off before stacking the wood. We get bored and start up a D-6 Dozer sitting near the wash. I tell Frank I can drive it no sweat. I back over one of the new slabs. Not good. We also can’t shut it off. Bill Burtis pulls up with some burgers in sacks for our lunch. He slams them into the ground and looks to the sky with his arms out, silently begging for lighting to strike us most likely.

ITEM: We’re doing a swimming pool for Clayton Moore, the original T.V. ‘LONE RANGER’. He signed an autographed picture for me I still have of him and Tonto sitting on Silver and Scout side by side. I’m about ten years old. I say, “Where’s Tonto’s name?” Moore goes back inside his house, then comes out about five minutes later. Its now signed by Tonto with an ‘X’ under Tonto spelled out in block letters. Moore tells me Tonto was taking a nap and couldn’t come out. He then pats me on the head and asks me, “So little man, who’s your favorite cowboy?” I say a loud, “Tom Mix!” He ignores me and starts talking about a driveway with Bill.

ITEM: I have Tom Mix’s Wedgewood stove. Yep. It came from his old film cutting lab off of Franklin across the street from the Magic Castle. It will go in the new barn’s kitchen. Tom Mix ended in a sad way. Homeless and broke. No one would hire him anymore. He ended up living in his big Bentley or Rolls, whatever. Anyhow, he was driving to Vegas and hit some sand sliding him off the road. A large leather bag full of silver dollars flew from the back seat and broke his neck. Yakima Canutt, my kids Great Grandfather, told me that Mix had a mean streak and could be hard on his horses. I never liked him after that. I switched to Ben Johnson. No one could out ride Ben. Even Yakima said he was the best he ever saw. And that was from a guy who had THREE World Champ all-around saddles sitting on saddle stands in his front room in North Hollywood. I’d watch the fights on Friday nights with him on occasion and he would feed these tree squirrels right out of his hand that came in through an open kitchen window. A great guy!

ITEM: I’m at Buster Keaton’s estate near Malibu. I’m supposed to pull some extra phones out of the giant home to make the monthly bill lower. As I step inside the three-story foyer with the elderly lady of the house, I happen to look down at my white T-shirt as I take my tool pouch off to ease the weight of the belt cutting into me. My shirt is alive with tiny black dots hopping all over. FLEAS! I then smell the cat urine and spot about ten cats looking down at me from beds and perches off the stairs and from landings. OH NO! A CAT LADY! I run outside and strip naked behind my truck while putting my clothes in a large plastic bag I then filled with powdered desiccant we carried just for that purpose. She watch’s me from some rose bushes the entire time.

ITEM: I’m ten miles from a security booth at Edwards Air Force Base at a large six-story high locked building made of steel. The windows are glazed. No one is around. The wind is blowing off the vast empty tarmacs around me about sixty miles an hour in snapping gusts. Lulls, then, WHAM, the wind would howl. I’m to disconnect an old pay phone booth. A bad lunch strikes and I have to go. I mean, NOW! No one around so I drop my pants between my Pac Bell truck and the side of the big building and let nature take its course. I complete my job and drive back to security to sign out. Three big black soldiers are laughing their heads off as I sit in my van awaiting the sign out sheet. These guys are just dying they’re laughing so hard. I lean out of the sun and look inside the air conditioned booth to see what they’re laughing at. It was me, on a 24 inch screen, taking a dump while reading a Ring Magazine and picking my nose. Under the eaves of the building was a telescoping security camera recording me.

ITEM: Bob Sharber and I are at an SCC box in front of the Chevron station across from the big church on Highland and Franklin Street. A guy in a monk robe, shaved head and some white finger paint on his forehead asks us if we have any matches. I give his a small box I had from the Whisky. The guy goes out into Franklin and sets himself on fire. A man in a beer truck put him out with a small fire extinguisher.

ITEM: I’m sitting in my truck across the street from the Chinese theater. A bunch of street kids are putting on a show with their dirt bikes for the long line of people waiting to see the first STAR WARS movie. The line was all the way up to Franklin. Eight kids laid down in the street as two kids stopped traffic inching its way around the block looking for parking. A kid I nicknamed Evel bunny hopped at speed over all the kids, then, bunny hopped his bicycle over the two-foot high block wall around Grahmans side parking lot.

ITEM: I’m at Penny Marshall’s house off of Out Post road. I was replacing her master bedroom phone. She never leaves her bed. She works out of it like most do an office. Jack Lalane lived two houses up from her. The guy from WKRP lived right across the street. I mention her neighbors trying for small talk. She looks above her glasses and says, “Tell me something I don’t already know!” I think for a second then it comes to me. “Well, I was at your dad’s house about a year ago repairing a system down. Your mom has so many nick knacks it took me an hour to move one table to get the pull-down ladder to the phone equipment in the ceiling!” Penny just stares at me looking annoyed. I continue a bit faster. “Well, your dad has all of his people in a big meeting and I kept interrupting him. He finally gets ticked. Outside by my truck he says an angry, “Why are you in the ceiling wrecking my meeting?” I tell him rats have chewed his phone cables. At this he blows his stack. “I just paid thirty grand to have that roof fixed. What do you have to say about that?” I think a second then say, “Well, the rats say its nice and dry up there now!” He orders me off his property. As I pick up my orange traffic cone and chock block, he stops, walks back to me and says. “Finish your job. You really pissed me off, but, you’re pretty funny. You should write for me sometime!” Penny’s dad is Carl Reiner. She laughed and told me to shut up a second. She called her dad and told him what I said. He remembered me. COOL!

ITEM: I get a ticked off customer because I won’t run any wire in a redone bungalow off of Sunset. It says on the face of the order, “No wire runs or drilling walls. Phones go at existing jacks only.” I have to call for a supervisor. Dispatch sends O’neil. A supervisor who already doesn’t like me for a bunch of valid reasons. My super was on vacation. O’neil shows up half crocked and its only one pm. Ripping the work order out of my hand, he tells me to shut my mouth and keep it shut. Up the three steps to the front door of the nicely landscaped four plex, O’neil pounds on the door five times. Three gay guys answer. The one who called to complain about me not putting phones in their bathrooms wonders who George is through the still closed screen making George even angrier.

As the largest of them steps out onto the porch, O’neil sticks the work order in the customers face and screams, “IT’S RIGHT HERE SISSY, IN BLACK AND WHITE, NO WIRE RUNS, GOT IT?” As the big guy- nude, but for a towel- starts to stammer out a reply, O’neil ends the conversation. “ARE YOU RETARDED AND DEAF. NO WIRE RUNS!” Shoving the work order back into my hand O’neil then goes across the freshly planted lawn and kicks the little green wire protector into the street on the way to his company sedan. I look at the guys and say, “Well, there you have it from management. Happy now!”

ITEM: I’m in line at the Laurel Canyon Market waiting to pay for one of their custom deli sandwiches. A man in line just ahead of me looks familiar. Its George Harrison, the Beatle. He turns and looks at me. I say, “Hey, aren’t you one of the Beach Boys?” He nods his head and says a cockney, “Yep, surfs up dude!”

ITEM: I’m talking to the real estate man who owns the building the County store is in. He has a big office under it. As we step outside his office to see where he wants me to run some new wire from the pole for additional lines, a gigantic crash is just above us and out of our line of vision on Laurel Canyon. As we turn to the sound of the crash, two blonde haired kids are sailing through the air right into oncoming traffic. Cars are rear ending and going over the curb everywhere. I couldn’t look. Later on I find out their mom had pulled out of the market parking lot and hit an oncoming car head on. The kids were in the back seat of her Jaguar with its top down and no seat belts.

ITEM: I’m at a huge house off of Mulholland, two houses from then Governor Jerry Brown. In the days when he was dating Linda Ronstadt. I can hear some classical piano music coming from the next room as a maid lets me in for phone repair in the kitchen. I glance in the room while the maid gets the woman of the house. A tiny little girl in a white lace dress is playing a grand piano with custom foot pedals. She’s sliding back and forth on her bench to reach the keys. She sees me in a framed photo’s glass and looks over her shoulder at me. Maybe six or seven. Curls like Shirley Temple. I say a low, “Any Jerry Lee Lewis?” She immediately breaks into, ‘Come on over baby, we got chicken in the barn’, in a fast riff. Her mom storms down some stairs and shouts for her to get back to work. As the little girl went back to Bach or whatever the mom tells me off all the way to the kitchen.

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…

New Years

It’s New Year’s eve, 1968. It looked to be one of the best nights to party, EVER! My best, and only friend, Frank Angelostro, had just bought an Econoline van with a stretched body, so, we had wheels. Also, invitations to about ten partys. We couldn’t wait to get off work and get to it. I was working at Wes Thompson’s rifle range. Frank was waiting to go into the Army, then, Nam. He went to basic in two weeks. Now, I had plenty of guys to goof with. Frank was a guy who would help you hide a body, then, lie to the cops about it. Our first stop was to be some drinking and dancing at the ELKS club on Sierra Hwy. Just past the Backwoods Inn (I was banned for life there, another story)…Franks older brother, Sam, was awaiting some cases of beer and bottles of Jack Daniels I had spent weeks stealing and trading for. Also, Jodie F. was to be at this dance. She’s a cop now someone told me, so, no last name…Jodie had two things going for her. She was the smartest gal at Hart High in Newhall, plus, the most smoking body in five counties. I actually had hopes of dancing with her, then, who knew what might transpire! Naturally this pipe dream went right out the window after Jodie beat the living shit out of Frank, but, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…Unknown to me, Sam and Frank, both short, wide-shouldered Italians who looked like Nick, Burt Lancaster’s circus side kick, had made their own plans. At eight ten pm, on the dot, Sam was to execute an invention of mine, the grab and run. It worked like this. Sam, slipping outside for a smoke, would hit the side of the ELKS lodge, drop the main power switch, making the dance inside, pitch black, instantly. You would only hear the drummer and the singer for a second or two, while people lit lighters and matches to see what was going on. This gave Frank a tiny window to grope Jodie’s body, then, squat down and back into the still dark room. Me? I’m talking with some girls and trying to impress Jodie. A waste of time. She was accompanied by Fred Debanardi, the state shot put champion. A guy who would stand over his 305 Honda cycle doing doughnuts with it like it was a mini bike in Harts parking lot. Suddenly, its pitch black. A scream is heard in the dark, off to my left. It’s not a woman’s scream. Also, the ELKS had a secret weapon we had no idea existed. Back up floods that came on instantly in a power failure to light the emergency exits. Fucking progress can be a bitch. Frank paid for this inovation. The only reason he didn’t get a taste of Fred’s 22-inch pythons and 20-inch shoes, was Jodie. She had everyone spellbound by the beating she was laying on Frank. Before he could finally break free, she had flattened his nuts with tremendous upper cuts to his crotch with her stout right arm working like a mini sledge. Her left had Frank long black hair in a death grip, bent back, making his screams ehco off the festive bannered ceiling. As she took a breather, Frank broke free and ran for his life. Blood was running down his face and arms, a patch of his hair in Jodie’s hand like an Indian’s scalp trophy. As she wheezed and caught her breath, she pointed at me and said, “That’s the little assholes buddy!” Fred put it in gear right for me as the crowd opened like the Red Sea for Moses. I dove through the kitchen serving window and hit the back door, a girl from my home studies class actually said hi to me as I ran for my life. Once out the back door, I hear a guy moaning off to my right. Not stopping with a six six, 265lb monster on my ass, I hear Sam’s voice calling for me to come back. Sorry. Maybe for Frank, Sam? He was a good man, but, I had to live. Looking backwards, as I start to run across a fairly empty Sierra Hwy, no Fred so I start to slow down. Oh god, he almost caught me. He had changed direction and gone out the front entrance to cut me off. Coming around the front of the ELKS into my sight, urine squirted down my leg as my natural defenses kicked in to lighten my load for faster flight. Dodging some headlights going both ways, I can hear those big gun boats of Fred’s catching up to me. Now, in a panic, I run for a front porch that had a light on. The front door was partially opened about ten inches. I clear the three or four steps at a leap, blast through the doorway, and keep moving. I look to my right. An old man is eating a TV dinner and watching TV in an old easy chair. I say nothing witty. I spot his back door through his kitchen and blow right on out it. A pit bull in the yard? I didn’t care, I knew what was behind me. Nope, just a shitty, overgrown with weeds yard and a short fence just before the wash behind. I clear the fence like a Gazelle and run into the brush, on up into a ravine. All in the dark. Half my shirt was ripped off me. Cuts and scrapes by the dozen. As I dove in a big sage, I bite my arm to stop gasping for air and to listen for pursuit. I can hear Fred shouting with an old man shouting back, then, nothing. My heart takes about fifteen minutes to slow down. The sound of an ambulance, makes me work my way back to the wash. I come out into an empty lot I knew well from ditching Highway Patrol on my dirt bike. I see a crowd, then, an ambulance heads out of the ELKS lot. No siren or lights. I didn’t know Sam was in the back of it. Seems that when he hit the power shut off, he was standiing in a sludge pool of rain run off. He was blown twenty feet and had the soles of his wing tips split. He also lost his eyebrows and the front of his goatee and mustache…I hitch hiked home to Saugus. New Years was over for me…All 100% true…

A Halloween Story

I’m working at a Witch’s shop off Hollywood blvd. just past Vine. I pretend to believe in this crap to placate the shop owner as I fix her credit card machine. I end up invited to a big Witchs and Warlock Halloween party in about two weeks at her house. As she gave me the address, I laughed out loud. I knew the house alright. It was Errol Flynn’s old place on Flynn Ranch Road. I have the old forties fridge out of it in the blue barn, right now. Anyhow, I end up at Stan Winstons ‘Creature Factory’ near the Van Nuys airport industrial complex, later on in the day. Stan used me on side jobs all the time. He also fired me four or five times over twenty years. Another story for another time. One of his techs of special effects showed me this little item he had been working on for a joke. In short, an enormous, inflateable penis. It inflated by a mini hand pump you hid in your pocket. A small plastic tube fed it, run past your nuts…It took quite the whinning and crying, plus, some trade items, to get this weiner out for a test run Halloween night. I end up having to take the guy from Stan’s with me, to see how it worked…It’s the big night. I wear boxer shorts with my unit taped in place to spring out correctly. I already knew the house, so, positoned us next to the big stone and brick fireplace in the big living room of the forties era house. Finally, it’s almost Midnight. The Witching hour. I had on loose sweat pants, but still, this big dick had chafed the inside of my legs and I was ready to dump it hours before…The head Witch brings about fifty of her inner circle with candles in front of her, sitting down, the rest of the gang, all dressed in various masks and costumes, crowd behind. She does some latin stuff, then says, “I feel your presence, dark one. Let your presence be known!” It was now or never, I slid next to her since she’s in front of the fire, pretend to be in sort of a trance, then, drop my pants and pump like crazy on the hand pump. OH MAN! The gay guys went WILD!!! The viens and the throbing, swelling red head on this sixteen inch monster made it seem to have a life of its own. Sadly, the magic moment lasted about ten seconds. This Witch, rips it off me and starts beating me over the head with it….We ran for our lives, sans the demon dick…

I’m resident repair tech at Cedars Sinai off Beverly in West Hollywood. I did all the repair cases in the hospital and doctors towers, a nice black chick nick named Chocolate did all the installations. If one of us was swamped, they helped out the other tech. Now, big hospitals have big morgues. Cedars has a hundred gurney slots, reached in high rows with mechanical lifts. it took a special key to get down there. The main phone room was right next door. One of the forensic docs tells me in the elevator a paging speaker is out. I tell him I’ll come by before lunch and replace it. One of those round, flush ceiling types. As I promised, I knock on the double steel doors. A doc inside points down a long hallway to the defective speaker. I walk past about a dozen stiffs under sheets awaiting his attention. I set down my three foot ladder, climb up with the speaker. A hand shoots out from beneath a sheet and grabs me. Oh, yeah, they got me. They got me good…

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…

I’m riding my 250 Montessa La Cross home from Hart high. Its 1967. My bike quits off Placerita cyn. I’m pushing my cycle, spot this kid I know from school in a front yard of Sand cyn. I ask him if I can leave my cycle next to his garage and come back for it later. He says ok. When I came back around dusk, his brother and some other guys are riding it off jumps in their back yard. I end up punched in the mouth by his brother before getting my cycle back…A year later, I’m walking through towels at Hart pool. I see this kid dropping his Levi’s to go swimming. Its the kid who punched me. I stroll by after he’s in the water. Steal his wallet. Seven bucks. I kept the wallet in my jacket…A few nights later, I’m tossed over Ace Canes eight foot chain link fence to grab cases of beer for a sisters boyfriend. You can then pull the bottom of the fence out to get away. Before leaving, I stick the kids wallet on the bottom of the fence like it had fallen out…

Arm wrestling, Hollywood style

We phone guys from the field, shared a watering hole with the Edison guys after work called, ‘Barneys Beanery’. Their matchbooks had, ‘NO FAGS ALLOWED’ on the covers. They won a lawsuit trying to make them change it. The owner testified it meant English firewood. He won….Anyhow, the Edison guys ruled the pool table section. We we’re considered little brothers since we only climbed phone poles. I had a job at Le Gage Follies on La Cienega one Friday. I ask the guys to come down to Barneys and I’ll get them all free drinks if they pretend to be phone guys. These guys danced dressed in high heels all night long, so, legs of steel. Oh, I forgot, they had leg wrestling at times, and, the vicious Hollywood style arm wrestling. I handed out Pac Bell hard hats to a pack of them in Barneys parking lot. The phone company RULED that night…I was ten wins in a row arm wrestling Hollywood style. Some guys twice my size!!! First, you must choose your competition carefully. The more wasted, the better. Also, macho and loud is good too. As you grab hands together and get into position to match arm to arm, you suddenly say in a lispy voice, “You win honey”! Then, you kiss the back of the guys hand. Now, here’s the tricky part. Most guys in such a situation, want out of it, FAST. Here’s the ‘win’ part. You don’t let go of the guy. I usually let go when the laughs die down. Use discretion. Like I said, choose your mark. Some macho drunks have no sense of humor…

While on memory lane at 3636 Beverly

Dan Snowden, our Second level boss, received the Vale award for heroism in the garage of said building. He saw an Elephant care taker at the San Diego zoo being knocked down by one of the elephants in a side yard. He leaped over a cement wall, then yelled and swung a tree branch at it to make it back off. Dan suspended me twice. My first suspension was the baby pigeon incident. I copped a key to the last door on the top floor to get onto the roof. The roof borders had big curved tiles as finishing crown trim. Underneath, hundreds of pigeon nests. Some of the chicks fell onto the tarred roof. I find one that’s just getting its feathers. I take it to our lunch room on the second floor, buy a burrito from one of those sliding door deals. Put the chick in the empty spot. Closed the glass door. The gals from accounting went out of their minds until it came around again. I thought I was away clean…caught on video…three days off…My second suspension? I arrive at 3636 early. Across the street was a Mexican joint management got blasted in everyday after work. These guys were putting down new black top for the parking area. They had signs that said, ‘Closed, parking on 3rd street’. I slid one off their black top trailer, then, took it across the street to the main, 3636 parking lot. I then slid the fifteen foot, wheeled chain link gate shut. I whistled a merry tune as I hit the up button to coin box….Dan Snowden watched the entire caper from his office window, right above the gate…Just before I die, I’ll tell the Eugene Smith story. The day of the national strike slugfest at 3636 Beverly. 1969. I was seventeen. After that day, I was a phone man for life…

Today at four pm is the big, ‘Locals only’, meeting against the gigantic turbines coming into our hills and valleys. Picking out what shirt I want torn off and spit on. Last meeting was a huge clusterf–k. Last meeting covered the knocking down of two towers with cordless sawzalls, sugar in dozer fuel tanks, and, shooting blades with high powered rifles. People, people, people. Haven’t you heard of dynamite? Just kidding. Rick the tent boy and I are going to wear tear away shirts saying, “BIG TURBINES FOREVER”. Nothing like a big slug fest to start off the festivities. I’m also going to wear my fake Billy Bob teeth so it will look like I had them knocked out as I run for the exit. A good ruse I’ve found from starting prior riots. While I’m being beaten to a pulp, Tent boy will be putting bumper stickers onto all the pickups in the parking lot…