Phonehenge North News

ITEM: Been hanging with Oscar the water man. He handles every emergency that comes up for the local water company in my neck of the woods. My neighbors just above me blew a one-inch water line fitting and were out of town. I call the company, they hook me up with Oscar. Now we’re good pals. I’ve been going all over the place goofing with him while he does all the work. I’m learning a lot about Bakersfield and Tehachapi.

In Acton, I tried to find a used tire for the dump truck. Nothing at five places under a $100 bucks anywhere in Whiteville. Oscar hangs with a different crowd. We stop to get a tractor tire fixed at a barrio shop in a rough area of Bakersfield. It takes up the entire bed of a one ton flatbed. As we roll it off I wonder about a used tire with my dimensions. Oscar speaks rapid fire Spanish. A kid from the back rolls out an almost new truck tire. It’s $20 bucks if I can fix the guys ringing on his fax machine. Done deal.

ITEM: We eat at the most extraordinary places. Just outside of Bakersfield, heading back to Tehachapi, we pull off the highway over a cattle guard and into some trees. There’s thirty trucks or more of working guys parked all over under some giant oak trees next to a small creek. Big tow able barbeques are going. Half steers on a couple being tended by some farm workers. Vats of beans of all sorts. Fresh vegetable salads- all organic. These guys are hep to the pesticides that have been destroying their families for years. I’m the only white guy there. All are staring at me. I get in line. I pay FIVE BUCKS for all I can eat. As I pay, the woman speaks Spanish to me. Oscar translates. She wants to know if I have any requests. I have Oscar ask her if they won’t spit in Santa’s chow. Everyone chilled out. I was offered a seat at a bunch of tables. Kids were running all over calling me Santa in Spanish.

ITEM: Mexican Americans don’t like Obama. I’m not political. I vote Peace and Freedom. I vote in case the mother ship only picks up the voters. Why risk it. They say, ‘NoBama’, when they say his name. They feel he hasn’t done one thing he promised. The main thing their pissed about is all their kids serving in Afghanistan and Iraq not getting proper medical care coming home. Plus, STILL THERE.

ITEM: News flash. The economy isn’t coming back. You need thirty-year jobs to pay off thirty-year loans. Until those things come together, forget the lying news on TV and radio. My pal Sack the Jackknife King says he’s seeing a half-dozen machine shops folding and going to the auctioneers every week instead of every month. The cost to retool? Hey, just try finding parts to start to build ANYTHING, let alone start up some sort of manufacturing. You have to get your material from China. Or anywhere else in the world. Not the USA. We broke three two-inch box wrenches from Harbor Freight trying to break down the boom on the UNIT crane to move it. I finally borrowed some old Craftsmen wrenches and an air hammer to get it done. We put six-foot cheater bars on the Craftsmen made out of six inch pipe and they laughed at us.

ITEM: Oscar takes me to Quail Valley lake. Its about ten miles from my place way back in the mountains. Lots of locked gates. Being the nice guy that I am, I get the combinations from Oscar to open the gates for him and save him getting in and out. Half way up a freshly packed dirt road, I look up to our left and see all these Wind Power trucks parked in a holding yard. Oscar fills me in as we head up into the National Forest. Oscar is Mexican/Indian with a long braided pony tail. Thick set and powerful build. About five or six years younger them me. I’d arm wrestle him but never fight the guy. First off he’s too nice a guy. Second. Mexican guys always throw mean left hooks and I wouldn’t like one of those at all. I fight with my mouth until I can find a car to run around to stay away from an opponent. If you want action out of me I’ll sell you one of my old, “BLAZING COMBATS”. Oh man, just the best!!!! Frank Frazetta does the covers. I have one over my computer framed. It has a Marine with just a helmet and his pants and boots holding a wounded buddy in one arm and firing a Thompson with his other. Ejecting shells are arching out into the muddy water. The Marines grimace says it all. “COME GET SOME!” My other favorite of his is eleven Saber Toothed cats gang jumping a Woolly Mammoth. Hector, the artist that paints adds on fifteen-story buildings, is going to paint it on the side of my Blue barn in trade for my wife Pat advising him on Immigration stuff. She’s retired now but still knows all the laws. Plus, since she Pro Bono’ed half her cases anyhow she loves barter. We used to chickens and eggs all the time. I love that stuff.

ITEM: Once past the Wind Turbine truck staging yard, we start climbing into the forest. Around five-thousand feet, we’re in thick trees and undergrowth and some really cool rock formations. Most of the rocks are volcanic. Big bastards. Some are larger then Oscar’s full-sized crew cab pickup. It’s a Toyota Tacoma like my wife Pat’s, but it’s a lot larger. Oscar told me his was the first year that Toyota went full-sized. I think Pat’s is way nimbler. Plus Sack put a custom flat bed on hers that’s easier for her to load and unload.

We climb to some cutouts for the new Turbine towers bases. Holy shit. Each tower has to have a hole that can hold fifty yards of cement. If not even more. Giant forty foot long cages of one inch rebar laying on the ground on their sides are still six foot tall. We get out and check out the surrounding area in a sweeping vista. The tall mountains in front of us are really getting rugged. Craggy rock formations with big trees growing out of the hundred foot calving stone splits are all over the place. We hop back in and keep moving. It’s five pm, and we have about two hours light left. It’s even shady in some of the dips in the small canyons already. This is where we saw our first three bears. Oh yeah. A Cinnamon sow and two cubs are leisurely strolling across the wide dirt road in front of us heading to go down towards the lake off to our right. The mom is losing her winter coat big time. Huge chunks are coming off in large swaths. Patches of beautiful short glossy hair stick out here and there. She looks to weigh about a hundred and fifty pounds. The cubs look about five months old. They’re born in the den and suck super high-fat milk, so they look really good after eating all the juniper berries covering the giant Juniper trees all around us almost obliterating the rock strata.

I call out to the cubs like the little kid from ‘Old Yeller’. One of the cubs starts to stroll over to my door. No way. Momma huffs and blows into the thick brush. Both cubs take the hole she punched and disappear. Oscar is blown away. “Dude, I’ve worked here for 26 years and those are the first bears I’ve ever seen!” We head on into even thicker forest. Now there’s big pines and really fat mountain oaks shoving the junipers out of the way. Big slabs of multicolored rocks peek out of the gaps of green and brown. Not a half mile up the wide smooth rolling road now climbing constantly, we spot him at the same time. A BIG black bear. He’s easily three times the size of momma bear. He sees us at the same time just up and off the road and he goes right into some thick scrub like a Sherman tank. I’ve driven Sack’s Sherman, so it’s a good metaphor. Oscar and I high five. What an afternoon! We come to some gates that are wide open. I wonder to Oscar if we could get locked in after going past the gates and stuck when a worker locked them not knowing about us. Or even worse. Knowing about us. Oscar shrugged. He informs me he not only has some five-foot handled bolt cutters in his bed, but also a cutting torch and tank. We’re set so we continue up the dirt road.

We end up passing huge cut outs and a giant brand new power substation surrounded by heavy equipment of all types. D-10’s with side blades. Six wheel drive water trucks so tall they have headlights welded on custom bars under their brush guards. Graders. Semi everythings. That was the reason for the new road. Some of the Turbines are two hundred foot tall with seventy five foot long blades. The loud ‘WHOOOMPP’s’ as they spin sound AWESOME! Oscar wonders about thieves. I tell him my kid Tejas puts in security systems with 24-hour infrared tracking by Satellites. They can take your license number no problem. I’m talking about the one in your pocket if you had it out. No lie. Good luck trying to stiff these guys for one bolt. A twenty mile road to get out? Great planning Sherlock. Plus, the GPS tracking gear they install on anything worth taking. We drove past and kept going to the top. We end up not at the real top but close enough. It was starting to get dark so we jumped out to take a quick peek past the safety berm. WOW! We could see all the way to China Lake’s testing base. The one they took Area 51’s stuff to.

Heading back, we slow to take Oscar’s rig out of 4 wheel drive. THREE MORE BEARS!!! Another momma and two cubs. This sow is twice the size of the other mom, but her cubs are only half the size of the other cubs. I start to talk to these cubs and Oscar tells me to shut the hell up. “That bitch can tear our doors right the fuck off!”

ITEM: Coming out near the lake on our way back it’s dim, but some rays of sunlight can still be seen here and there. We’re out of the big mountains and down in a neat valley. The lake looks to be about ten acres. The ends are chock full of ten-foot high reeds. Brush grows all around the side across from us. Some people are fishing. One guy ends up coming over to us. I figured he knew no one was supposed to be trespassing. Oscar is as nice as pie. Not so others on the road. This guy has had a few brews and complains bitterly about a guy named Pat who hassles him all the time. He mentions some problem at the LOVES gas station in town. We check the water pumps and roll. Half way out of the lower hills, we bump into a guy on a quad ATV. Oscar knows him so we yak it up. Oscar had always wanted to see the guy’s place and asks if we can come check it out. Pat calls his wife on his cell. We can hear her say an emphatic, “NO!” Guess they live a mile behind a dormant Volcano for a reason.

ITEM: I gave Oscar a ton of VHS and DVD’s I’m sick of or have three of. Leo has bought me at least fourteen used copies of all the Star Wars movies from Pat’s trips to Salvation Armys and church second hand stores. If you like a town full of second hand stores, Tehachapi is the place to live. They have a church about every fifty yards. As I hand the big box to Oscar before leaving his place, we yakked about Pat telling us his side of the gas station affair against the guy at the lake’s version. We laughed about what a coincidence running into both parties. A voice calling Oscars name makes us turn in the dark towards the gate leading to the dirt road. Into my headlights steps a lost soul. You can see it in her face. She walks like she’s forty and looks eighty. As she steps closer all doubts vanish. Her hair is in knots and her lipstick is around her lips a half inch past her lip lines. Like a macabre clown on meth she wonders if Oscar can give her a lift up the canyon. Oscar lets her know that the Highway Patrol had towed her car at noon from where she rolled it the night before. I think he said it was a Jeep. He also lets her know I’m taking off and would be tickled pink to drive her. Thanks pal.

ITEM: Two corners off of tight dirt roads we suddenly have a llama in my headlights. A tiny little white-haired gal is trying to drive it down the small road to an open gate. Psycho hops right out and starts helping to drive the animal. I use my dump truck as a pusher. Staying away, yet moving it ahead. Once the animal is in the gate, the old lady thanks us. Turns out she has 45 of ‘em in all shapes and colors. Takes care of them all alone. Psycho knew her so they yakked it up for a few minutes. I shut off my truck but left my headlights on. The old woman, “You know that big old Bobcat that’s been around here for years? Well, it’s a female. My big black tom was just a humping the hell out of her the other night outside my kitchen window where I put the cat chow. He looked like a midget screwing a fat lady!” Girl talk. I was still in the truck.

Last Item: I filled out a ‘Welcome to Tehachapi” card at the rental place where we got the 6-ton 4×4 lift to move the steel water tanks. The lady finally calls me and wonders if she can come by to give me her free maps and a lecture on Tehachapi’s past. We had quite the conversation until she asked for my address. I say, “I’m up Sand Canyon Road and then down Umtali!” There’s dead silence on the receiver. Then, a changed voice says, “I live in Bear Valley Springs. I don’t go up that canyon!” CLICK.

When in Rome

It’s one of the oldest sayings around. Good advice, too, say if you were sitting next to a Roman Emperor such as the great Augustus. If at the arena? Cheer when they cheer and shout encouragement when they stand and shout. If you want to stay in favor. It’s the same as today. Now, if you were sitting next to Caligula, double so.

First of all, he was stone cold nuts. Most likely from all the lead in his food preparation bowls and dinner ware. Wine really brought out the lead in the big goblets wealthy Romans favored. Archeologists have know this for a long time. I just read about it in an old National Geographic I bought at Goodwill. Well, back to Caligula.

This guy did a lot of weird sexual stuff, but, you can read up on that, my story is about how Caligula wanted to get public support back the fast and easy way. A real big gladiatorial event at the Coliseum. To make sure it went off as planned, he enlisted the help of his favorite drinking companion, Publeus Maxima. The top ‘Beastiary’ in all the corners of Rome.

Now, Maxima was just about the best darn killer of any type animal you could ever want to see. The bigger and meaner, the better. Also, in the later stage of his career, he had his animal assistants drug the animals he was to face, just to ‘make sure’ he would always come out on top. There was a trick to it. You had to keep the animal at bay until you saw the tiger’s eyes glaze, or the elephant’s trunk dip a bit, then, in you went with spear or sword, and the crowd roared. Business as usual.

Oh, almost forgot. Maxima loved to torture his foes, every chance he got. He and Caligula were as two peas in a pod.

Since there could be 210 days of games in a year, the crowd was pretty jaded. Some ‘advisors’ in the Emperor’s crowd, came up with some ‘extras’ to really make the crowd love the day’s events. A day to beat all fights in the arena before it. They had so many games and so many various arenas and stadiums, it was a tall order. Taking in animals from poorer conquests, completely wiped out entire species for fodder for the games. If that wasn’t your cup of tea that day, why, travel to the stadium for the chariot races. A charioteer was the big Kahuna in those days. He could sway an election, just by sitting next to the person needing votes. Next were the gladiators that had won their freedom by various means, yet still fought. It was in their blood. They would retire all the time, but, the roar of the crowd and a boring life always brought them back, ‘for one last match’. Usually for huge bets from both sides in the event. Sometimes cities were exchanged over the outcomes. Last on the scale of all these were the Beastiaries. Well trained. Many tricks. The animals never really stood any sort of a chance against a good one. Maxima was ‘The best’. At the top of his game. He was even being talked about in the same sentences mentioning swordsmen and trident net men. A big honor. He might be a transition. Bring his mates respectable, so to speak.

Well aware of this fact, plus, backed by the Emperor’s wallet, and Pretorian guard, Maxima made sure he had all the best of the animals flowing into Rome daily. A special area was set up for the animal merchants to show their latest acquisitions. Maximus always had first selection. He especially looked for large, impressive looking specimens. They made for a better kill, but even more important, well fed, made for a slow, ponderous opponent. Who wants lean and quick. On one such procuring trip, Maximus spotted a magnificent beast. An older elephant, but quite impressive.

It towered over the other elephants it was herded with in a large plaza. He pointed it out to one of the Mahars. The report was good. “A fine beast. Well mannered. Unusual for an African elephant. Also, it had exceptional scarring. Would look great for a dramatic finish. Maximus bought it, plus all the other elephants. They were big and people deemed them quite dangerous. A bit drugged and against seasoned killers, they stood no chance at all. Comparable to some of the wrestling extravaganzas we have now a days. The animal men had everything under control. The hardest part was to make it seem dangerous and difficult. Not only were they trained killers, they were also excellent actors. Two day before the event, Maximus strolled through his row after row of grist for the mill. Also a showman, Maximus planned to end the day’s events as the last act. It would be him and the ‘Old Man’.

That’s the name all the feeders and handlers had given the old elephant. Coming up to the well-chained beast, Maximus spoke to the animal quietly. Letting him know who he would be facing. The next time they met, the Old Man would be in one of the large cages at an end of the arena. Awaiting their fates. The Old Man would eat well this night. And all the water he could hold. It would make him even slower. At least sixty years old, it might be a tough sell. Maximus knew how to fix that problem.

The games begin. The first event was really starting to piss Caligula off. A huge fake mountain on hidden wooden wheels, had been rolled out into the arena, blocking the view of many in the almost capacity crowd. Hey, even if the arena wasn’t your cup of tea, you had better attend for at least part of them. Tongues would wag. Not today. Posters and criers paid by the Emperors flunkies had promised a game to remember. The crowd was noisy taking its seats. A good sign. The booths for the painted prostitutes did record business. Rows of them filled every spare twist and turn on every level. It was a different world then. Food vendors and fan wavers were for rent. Anything you so desired could be bought, or rented.

Watching this mountain roll in was making the crowd quiet. The Emperor was not pleased. Once the fake mountain stopped, a doorway opened near the top and a Greek poet stepped out, blinking his eyes in the bright sun shining down into the center of the arena. The wealthy had large shade covers pulled down to give them relief. Not so the Greek. Starting to strum his lyre, the Greek started slow, then, feeling a love of his words turning the fickle crowd in his favor, he raised his voice, gaining strength from the response. In reality, the crowd was waiting for the punch line to this fiasco. They had not long to wait.

As Caligula himself rose to say something, more doors opened in the middle of the mountain. From them emanated lions. Also hit in the eyes by the bright sun, and, intimidated by the vast crowd moving all around them, they did what was only natural, they climbed to higher ground. Unaware of his new guests on the mountain, the Greek in a new burst of vigor, suddenly feels something rub his leg. Looking down, his scream of terror brought down the house. The Emperor sat back down, a contented look on his face. The Greek was soon torn to pieces and eaten by the starved lions. It had been a big hit! The day started off perfect!

The day picked up. After an intermission and some heavy drinking, the crowd settled in for the end of the show. Now a bit cooler and their blood lust abated, they were ready for the chaser act, then, off to home and twenty slaves to tend every need. As Maximus entered the arena, the crowd roared its approval. He always gave a good show. The crowd was well aware of his opponent. The Old Man was the last elephant alive. As each of his pen mates went to their doom, the Old Man watched with interest how they met their fate. Now, it was to be his turn.

As Maximus gave the sign, the gate swung up, and the Old Man was goaded from behind by heated metal spikes. Smoke came off of his hide as he trumpeted and tried to spin in the tight confines of his corral. Nope, it was forward or more red hot burns. Time to die. Trotting out into the center of the arena, the Old Man blinked his eyes in the bright sun, then stood still, awaiting his fate. Maximus knew his craft. Trotting around the elephant in tighter and tighter circles, he would then switch direction and run in the opposite direction. His two swords glinting in the fading afternoon sunlight. Like a hundred times before, he made his move. First, hamstring the beast, then, play to the crowd before the thrust into the throat area. A fast, clean kill.

The Old man timed him. In the blink of an eye, it was all over. Maximus was grabbed, then crushed by a rolling forehead, mashing him into a pulpy unrecognizable mass. The Old Man wasn’t just any old elephant. He was a former War elephant. Bred and trained for decades by the Romans’ old foes, the Carthaginians, the old man had waited for his moment, then, spinning on one foot in the loose sand of the arena, caught Maximus cold. Unfazed by the crowd, or the smell of the blood seeping out of the raked sand, the Old Man now stood and swayed, seemingly content. At sight of his friend being smashed to death, Caligula ordered five lions to be set loose on the beast. NOW! Rolling in the five most starved lions in steel cages, their trap doors were raised and the animals goaded out. Spotting the elephant, two of the lions raced towards him, then, slowed as a team to stalk. The Old Man backed up against the arena wall, then started swinging his trunk from side to side. The lions sprang at the same time. As the two leaped on his back, the other lions came in on the exposed sides of the great beast. Sinking in their sharp claws and fangs, they suddenly found themselves being crushed to death. Slamming his one side into the cement of the arena, the Old Man then rolled completely over, crushing two more of his tormenters. As the surviving lions backed away, the old man, leaking blood in rivers, and having only one eye, then did something unbelievable.

Ignoring the hesitating lions, the old torn beast, turned, faced the Emperor, trumpeted, then BOWED. The crowd went BERSERK. Caligula was crazy, but not that crazy. Waving for the lions to be driven off the sand, he then tossed down a garland. A special wreath signifying the Emperors favor. From that day forth, no elephant was ever killed in the Coliseum again.


My first riot was when I was 14 years old. I was hitchhiking back from my Uncle Curly’s Naval Dry Dock during some vacation when school was out and got lost in the freeway systems. Heading to Newhall wasn’t a very popular destination in those days. I end up in a juvinile lockdown for pandering. It just happened to be a place called Watts. Having never been around black people before, except a couple at Hart High, I had no concept of being in any danger. I loved watching the Harlem Globetrotters on Ed Sullivan. So, why would any one bother little old me? Boy, did I learn fast. It wasn’t me. It was what I represented. Oppression and already having things in my short life most of my new pals would never have. As soon as the riot got into full swing, I was taken to a long van with bars on the windows, along with a couple of Mexican kids, and driven to Simi Valley. They let us out and took off. The Mexican kids headed for Sylmar…Me? I ended up walking the train tracks until I got to Saugus. Not having a radio, I figured the riot was spreading everywhere and didn’t want to take a chance on getting locked up again. Finally catching a ride in a ‘Bunny Love’ carrot truck with a kid I knew from Hart High’s teen work program, I was stunned he had no idea of the giant upheaval happening not sixty miles away…Segue to about six years ago. When we first took in our Russian kid Leo, one of the requirements was that he attend Russian language school to “keep his heritage.” So, every other weekend, we would schlep down to North Hollywood for his classes. He hated them. Said he was now an ‘American’, he didn’t want to speak Russian anymore. Told him too bad, it was something we had to do for the court. Anyhow, I end up playing chess with an old Russian guy who was bringing two of his grand daughters to the school because they wanted to attend. He was also a former Soviet Navy Sub Commander. After getting bored with kicking my ass three times in a row in lighting fast games, we ended up sitting outside, watching the kids on a recess, running around having some fun. He told me an interesting story. After one of his cruises, playing ‘find me’ with the American Navy, he comes to port to find it’s Anarchy. The Soviet Union was no more. Since his crew was from all the various states that made up the Union, they just took what they wanted off the sub, then walked away. He told me he didn’t have fresh bread for a year. It was back to the old mind set, Blood Feuds. Russians being treated bad by Slav’s two hundred years ago, so, they have to die. Ditto for Ukraninians vs their neighbors. On and on across the country, old hatreds flared up. He also told me another thing. “You Americans will have a much harder time when your revolution comes. Russians are brought up having hard times. Not so your people. It will be a lot tougher. From plenty to nothing can be tough to take!”…Segue to the Rodney King riot. It’s about ten in the morning. I’m in my A.T.&T. phone van with the ladders on the roof, fixing a phone at a black barber shop off Jefferson. As I let the owner know he was all set, he said something to me in a half whisper, leaning towards me as he said it. “You better head above Wilshire, white boy!” I stared at him not understanding, then, heard the gunshots going off all around us. Near and far. The white jury had cut loose the cops that played ‘Wipe out’ on King on video. They weren’t going to take a bite out of this giant shit sandwich. Some black kids started to run across the now crazy streets towards me, the short, stocky barber yelled for them to leave me alone, then waved me off. All the streets were now backing up. No one knew what to do. Neither did I. So, I headed to my next repair ticket. I could then call my dispatch for orders. You see, Pacific Telephone had formerly been military. We were the Signal Corp. That’s why the dark olive green trucks back in the old days with the bell insignia on the doors. I was also Civil Defense. My ID allowed me though any emergency line. I had my duties to perform, just like a mail man. Until I was in contact with dispatch, I went NOWHERE until given orders to do so. Using a pay phone was out of the question. Open up a facility point or climb a pole? Yeah, right. I make it five blocks away to my next repair, a Korean market. As I drove in front, I had no where to pull into their parking lot. All access had been blocked by cars and trucks. An elderly Korean woman shouts some orders in Korean to a man in a truck. He backs up, lets me on the lot, then blocks it again as I park. I glance up on the roof. AK47s wth banana clips are popped out, all along the edges. I go right to the phone protector box on the side of the store, call my dispatcher. I’m told I’m number 14. It’s sort of a party line when a dispatcher says this to you. If you try and talk, your unplugged instantly. Now your number zero. You can listen in though as he talks to all the guys ahead of you. I hear him tell two other repairmen, “GET BACK TO YOUR GARAGES, NOW!” I jump back into my van, the truck backs up, I start to pull out. Two black men and a young black girl run out of the store, ask if I can take them with me. I cram them all in the front seat, putting one on the engine cover. The other man put the girl on his lap. I punch it North towards the Hollywood sign…Not one cop anywhere. I drive right by where they dragged and half beat to death the truck driver. I speed side streets, going right through stop signs and red lights, barely slowing. I drop off my passengers and head up Vermont. Automatic gunfire is coming from the roof top of ‘LEN JACK’ stereo. Lenny had been a door gunner on a B-17. Shot down over Germany, he broke both legs hitting their ground after his plane was shot down. He spent two years in a German Stalag. I knew his store wasn’t going up in flames. Hundreds more did though. I can’t get to my garage on MYRA. I head for my last repair ticket up off of Mulholland to call my dispatch again. Its for the director of the ‘Superman’, movies. He had an industial styled front entrance that you walked into then it spun around, like you were going into Macys dept store. He had an office in his backyard. I go through the house and see all of his employees looking at the view from his overlook. I head over. No one is saying anything. The entire sky is full of smoke from the hundreds of fires pluming up across L.A. and Hollywood…It only took FOUR HOURS. For months after, I had a National Guard escort while replaciing all the Aerial cables that burned along with the buildings…

The State of the Union

I have no idea how its going in other necks of the wood. Around my short horizons? Something stinks. Commercial building after commercial building, block after block, every where I look, empty floors and for lease signs. Some of the gigantic furniture warehouse stores with over 100,000 sqare foot floors, have been empty now for YEARS. Who can eat those kinds of losses? I have friends who haven’t made a house payment in four years. No one has forced them out. Huh? Diesel is cheaper to produce then gas, yet they jerk us around with its cost constantly. Truckers costs go up every day, yet, their jobs are drying up like sandy creek beds after a light sprinkle. A trucker in a brand new rig can be pulled over and ticketed and fined. Yep. BRAND NEW TRUCK. Lets see, “The turn signal is too slow, or, too fast. The trailer lights are to bright or too low. Those mud flaps aren’t wide enough!”‎…I had a former neighbor who recieved a $700 fine for planting roses, “Too deep!” She needed a permit. FOR ROSES. Ditto for trees now. You have to pay for permission to plant a tree. And, only the ones they say you can, and, how many. Every time you plant one, you have to pay….Now, they have the new septic tank laws coming around. Electronic monitored septics. Inspected by the mayor’s cousin, twice a year for $500 a pop, FOREVER. Also, dual hookups are required so you can switch to the new city septic system that will come around in the year 3025. If ever…Density laws to get people off ranches and land parcels held for generations so you can live in some shit fuck condo made out of plastic and staples, then, take a nice stroll past the well dressed Section 8 gang kids waiting to beat the crap out of you for not having enough money when they rob you…High Speed Rail? What the fuck is that? How can you even attempt to call it that when it has to stop at EVERY city along the way, then, end up in San Fransisco. I don’t know ONE person who says they’ll use it. Even if the damn thing did blast straight through, what sort of job is awaiting you in Frisco for crying out loud. Hollywood fruits are way more fun then those stuck up fog haired sissys. I should know. I’ve partied with both clicks. After the last big earth quake when Frisco’s freeways pancaked, I was loaned out from A.T.&T. to do cable maintenance for two months. Loved the people, hated the city. No place to park, plus, my Cherry Picker cable truck loved to pop out of gear and take off on its own. Steep, steep streets if your unaware. Hmm, so, you jump on this train and your competition jumped on his one hour flight that cost one third the ticket cost, and, you have a variety of flights. The rail system? A JOKE! It runs to everyplace you don’t need to go, at times your never going to need. Then, they change their times at a whim. Holidays? Fah-get-about-it! Ditto for stopping for hours because of ‘suicide by train’ investigations, smash ups at crossings, or, just plain breaking down. Let’s see how high speed the bastard is after the big earthquake we’re overdue for. Maybe they can get a couple of years in to rush people even faster to the poor house…I’m no President, but I know this much. For a Thirty year loan, you need a THIRTY YEAR JOB! Oh, I know! Lets all be on the State or Federal dole, or, be a Prison guard! Yeah! That’s the ticket!…

Fucking UNIT Crane

Its a micro-cosm of our society today….Originally ordered by William Mulholland in 1946. He gave it to the Cof Los Angeles after the Hollywood dam work. The city auctioned it. George Sack bought it. He loaned it to me. If I could get it to run, he would trailer it over. It’s a yard crane. Two big and gagantuan to drive on public roads. With 12 wheel drive, it’s pretty cool on a dirt lot. A BIG dirt lot. The man who brought it out of its close grave? Dick the Fuller Brush man. I used to blow him off when he stopped by in his worn out old van to try and sell me Fuller Brush stuff, and, his magical cancer elixirs he traded the Gypsies his mechanical abilities to keep their rigs one step ahead of the law. Dick was dead honest, don’t get me wrong. He just believed those Gypsies is all. He was in his seventies when I first met him. He bugged me with his visits. Until the day he fixed my Simon Seventy foot boom lift, saving my ass so huge I will NEVER forget that guy…Dick had served as mechanic for over twenty years for the U.S. Navy on aircraft carriers. Top dog for the last five. He was a tall, bent, worn out old man when I met him. But he could fix ANYTHING. Maybe not for long. But he would get its sorry ass rolling for awhile, no matter what you tossed at him. I know because I watched him fight that god damned UNIT crane back onto its flattened tires, and roll onto a trailer on its own, flat head V-8 steam. Dick once again stops by, just in time to hear me whine and cry about getting that crane, six years ago. He told me he could get it going. Five suppossedly hot shot local mechanics had tried and died. Cost me a lot of dough and all quit on me. None will return a call to me to this day. Mainly because almost all of them are dead. Dick worked on that crane for four hours and had the boom going up and down and the rig steering in a big loop. An out of control loop, but it was good enough. It was quite a feat. I couldn’t believe it. A HUGE day in my life. Dick was the man…A while later, he showed up on foot, his van had blown up on Sierra Hwy. He was soaked from walking five miles. No one would give him a ride. I dried him off then gave him the keys to an F-150 my son Tejas had turned down, free, because it had a five speed stick shift. I then had offered it to a son in law. He turned it down because he didn’t want to have to drive it home to the East coast, plus, he had a guitar lesson. I handed the keys to Dick. It was about the best feeling I’ve ever had. I’m an aloof asshole most of the time. It was nice to crack the ice for once. He snatched those keys out of my hand and ran down the Danny Devito stairs like a kid. As he started it up, I was running behind him, telling him about oil changes and other crap he could care less about. As he turned on the lights and put it in gear, I had just enough time to shout, “THE PINKS IN THE GLOVE BOX!” He was gone down my dirt drive, sliding in the rain slick mud, like he had owned that truck for a decade. He then loses it and SIDE SWIPES THE UNIT CRANE at the end of the main driveway. That truck will go to its grave with a headlight to bed, two inch gash and orange paint all over it. I could care less. It was his truck now…So, here I am back at the beggining. Except it’s just six years later. No machine shops, anywhere to fabricate parts for this 1946 PIECE OF SHIT. No Dick to work his magic. Especially after the owner of Black and White constuction, with no business license, able to get a Demo permit in one day that takes others nine months or more, then, DROPS A FUCKING BEAM onto the UNIT crane while rodeoing his track driven rig, over and over my finally knocked down tower (See front page of the LA TIMES) I can’t even find any of my old welders. All have gone belly up. Steel guys? Gone too. Engineers? Maybe for Lionel…Now, its down to the last hardcore friends I have to move this Bastard and save its life. My pal, off and on between his big CRYBABY FUCKING TANTREMS, my son Noah. His buddy Josh, and Rick the tent boy, now, Rick the Great. That’s it. Everyone else is SICK of hearing me beg. Now, in the snow, after changing belts, having to wait between test starts because BLACK AND WHITE GUY dented in radiator and fan, we still havent moved it one foot…We do have it steering. The crane boom winch spinning, and, the air brakes holding air. Back at it after the storm…I’ll be starting the new Tower and Barn February. If I’m still out of jail. Find out on the tenth. As for our country. Find me one guy that can still repair and run a UNIT crane, and I’ll sleep like a baby and never worry about my grandkids’ futures…

Hopi Prophecy

First of all, they’re not completely sure how it will all turn out, since the rock drawings forecasting what’s to come, sheared off. Part of it’s missing. What’s left, isn’t good. When all is said and done, the ones left will be called, ‘The Termite People’. Since their legends say we came from the inner earth, looks like the ones that go back to their roots will make it…Now, many people think all the Southwest tribes are pretty much the same. No way. I used to travel with my Uncles Curly and Wimpy, delivering Kinnikinnick to various tribes since all used it for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Also, to show hospitality. You smoke it in special pipes, usually made by the person handing it to you. It’s sort of like wine with white people. You have your everyday blend, then, that special blend for certain occasions. Ditto for that Merlot you’ve been saving vs the sale of the month bottle from Trader Joe’s. I even had my own blend at 14 years old…My Uncle Wimpy had close friends with the Navajo. Some were code talkers, who served as radio men in WW2. Since their languages are spoken, not written, the Japanese never broke their code. John Ford, filming many of his epic westerns in Monument Valley, alway hired a lot of Navajo for his movies. They always played other tribes though, which amused them to no end. Harry Carey, Jr., used to live not far from my ranch in Sleepy Valley when he was a kid. His pop brought dozens of Navajo to their ranch to weave blankets for sale and to break horses. No one breaks horses like the Navajo. Excellent horsemen. Now, if you wanted to have some horses stolen, the Cheyenne are the guys you need. Among all the tribes of the West, they’re the best horse thieves. A mark of respect actually in their cultures. Like a good assasin in Europe. Anyhow, Harry Carey, Jr. spoke Navajo, so, Ford would use him to translate to the Indians, what they were suppossed to do for their scenes coming up. When all the Navajo laughed out loud yelling ‘Yut-tah-hey’, Ford would pull out a dirty hanky he always had in his back pocket and start chewing on a corner of it to keep his rage in check. He knew ‘Dobie’, Carey, Jr.’s nickname from his red hair, had added something extra into the translation. Usually something demeaning about Ford. It was to get even with Ford for giving him a hard time. I mean, come on, Ford deserved it. He used to kick John Wayne, right in the ass, in front of the entire crew, calling him a dimwitted moron. So, no one on the set was too upset with Ford getting some of his own medicine. Ford used the Navajo for their horse riding skills. He never used Hopis, Havasupai, or Pima. Hopi live high up on the Mesas. Sacred land to them. The Havasupai herded sheep along the rim of the Grand Canyon, then, spent the winters down in the canyon, hunkered down from the elements. Neither big horse people. The Pima? In the old days, you weren’t considered a man in their tribe until you ran down on foot, an Apache, and killed him. Of all the Indians in the West, not even a Mohawk could hold a feather to a Pima in covering ground. Let that Mohawk see how running in Death Valley goes. Pima would consider forests a Hawaiin vacation…The Hopi do have the edge over all the tribes on spiritual matters. Hands down. Their Kachina dolls and images sure look cool. If you were fully aware of what they meant, you would get an icy chill down your spine. I can’t even talk about them. It can bring the spirits around you. Who needs that. I can say, that many of their ceremonies make science fiction writers in Hollywood, half baked pansies. And their’s are all true. You going to argue with people thousands of years old? When Barringer, a rich millionaire found Meteor Crater, he made a deal with the U.S. government to steal it on a long term lease from the tribes. It was sacred for a lot of reasons, but, it was also their only source for pure metal for arrow and spear heads since it had been gouged out of the ground, three miles around the rim, by a meteor slamming into our atmosphere. Barringer took it over, running off the antelope and sheep, to dig up that meteor and make a tourist attraction out of it. He went bust after digging down, sideways and at five other angles. Too bad he didn’t talk to the Indians. Their ancestors saw it hit. They knew their was no meteor down at the bottom. They knew it had exploded, casting parts of itself over hundreds of miles of desert and mesas. Now, it’s theirs again. Has a pretty cool gift shop on the rim edge…So, to make it through the tough times ahead, do as these guys do. Find a clean water source, store forage for your animals, and get your butt into the ground…

Depleted Uranium

Huh? Who cares! You better start. Zombies are the craze right now. My kids and grandkids spend hours battling them. They’re not real zombies though. They’re made up phonies. A real zombie was made into one by someone who wants to control them, hence, zombie. Unable to be capable of thoughts of its own. We now have over 300 THOUSAND real zombies coming into all of our towns and cities. Yours too buddy. Who controls these crazies? Well, no one pretty soon. Right now, the Military has them in check. They know it’s not for long though, so, they’re unloading ’em for us to deal with. Aw, not OUR military. Oh yeah. Here’s the low down, TV and reality followers. Our troops have been firing Depleted Uranium in enclosed military vehicles. For quite awhile now. How can you know which ones actually have? Well, all of them. You see, radioactive particles don’t just get brushed off and blow away…Going back to nature. Nope, those particles have a 200 thousand year rem life, 100 thousand at half, past that. It’s in the giant laundry machines that clean all those uniforms. You think they send out? Ditto for refilable ammo cases, water trucks, cabs and sealed environments in the Humvees, trucks, tanks, choppers, and worst of all, our men and women. How can you tell if they’re contaminated? The first sign is all the dead people. The person who just commited the heinous crime is sitting right next to them, sipping a cold one and watching the game. Covered in the family’s blood. Why would anyone do such a thing? Their REAL FUCKING ZOMBIES, GET IT!…That radioactive particle can settle just about anywhere in the human body. If in the reproductive system, hello two-headed babies and cyclops babies. Some aren’t still born. Deal with that. Oh come on, get real you say? Better check the FACTS. It’s rampant all over the middle east, where we’ve been firing it off like everyday is the fourth of July. Research birth defects in Iraq alone. Why would our big shots allow such insane things to happen? Because Depleted Uranium on our Ordanance makes our shells go through a tanks armour like a hot knife through butter. And, they have a lot of it to get rid of, so you have that end of it. Let’s give it to those dirty Muslims through a cannon barrel. Swell. And for the next ten thousand decades coming up, to any one else there. Animals too. Camels or goats eat the contaminated grass, presto, it’s in them. Humans eat their flesh or eat the milk or cheese. Ditto. But let’s not forget the real plus. No PENSIONS for all those military heros who humped all those hills and took all that incoming fire for all those years. They make it through that, and now, zombies. Soon, out of control zombies. No more military telling them when to shoot and when to shit. Nope, the zombies are without masters in the civilian world. As the little specks of insanity move through their systems, the best case scenario, for us, is it to settle in a major organ. Ten years at best, goodbye. Horrible deaths too. Unbelievably bad. Worst? A little voice whispers, “Kill them all. It’s what you do best!” And they obey. Maybe no voice at all, maybe it just seems like a good idea. When your brain is FUSED, who knows what that person will do…So, now, the military is DONATING vehicles to suburban police departments, ALL OVER THE USA. For FREE! Hey, thanks you guys, real pals. Any Depleted Uranium hiding in nooks and crannies in any of them? Nah, they wouldn’t do that…

To the victors

Rome and Athens. Lots of battles. Lots of heroes. If you’re unaware, the Romans ended up on top. Sure, there’s the saying, ‘Pyrrhic victory’. That’s about all the Greeks ended up with. It’s when you win all the battles but lose the war. Now, one particular Roman general took as a slave after Greece fell, one particular Greek Architect, renowned for his work in stone and marble. Naturally, since they hated each others’ guts, the Roman needed a good ‘carrot’ to make the Greek do his bidding without any heartaches. You see, he wanted this Greek to build a monument to him. Etched into stone, all the scenes of Rome vanquishing Athens, the General leading his army on a giant horse, the usual. To pull this off, the General took into custody the Greeks’ entire family. Even his goldfish. They were ensconced at a private villa, where abouts unknown to the Architect. If the man’s work production satisfied the Roman, the family would prosper. The Greek did as he was told…To test out his new slave’s dedication, the Roman put him to work on a great villa, just outside of Rome’s very walls. On occasion, the Roman would take his chariot out along with fellow Roman statesmen to see how the work was progressing and to show his superiority over their former foe. Eating his humble pie, the Greek surpassed all expectations. Pleased with the job well done, the Roman put the Greek to work on the real project, the great temple and library in Rome’s very center. It would surpass all structures standing in the great city for all time. As the years went by, the great building became reality. Hundreds of slaves worked on it seven days a week. Artists, stone masons and others of the trade, worked under the supervision of the Greek master. Never in all this time did the Roman let up on his constant belittling of his now well-known slave. He was allowed to visit his family on occasion, but usually it was just work, work, work. Now in its’ eighth year and nearing completion, the Roman’s health began to fail. He made dire threats to his Greek slave to complete the project, ‘Or else’. The Greek doubled his efforts. Soon, the final touches would be completed and the great edifice would stand as a monument for all time to the great General. Over the entry way was the crowning achievement. A great marble mural, seventy foot long and fifteen foot high was ensconced over the great pillers of the entry way. All of the Roman’s achievements had been carved by the master Greek himself. Now crippled and barely able to stand, the General was brought to the opening ceremony in a garish wagon, filled with friends and family. A giant covering was pulled away and all were filled with admiration at the fantastic detail and beauty standing before them. As a reward, the Greek and his family were put to death…Hundreds of years slipped by. The building had been surpassed many times in those many decades. No one barely noticed it any more. Then, a big earth quake struck in the 1800’s. Rome was hit hard. Many a structure fell, or was so stressed, it had to come down. Engineers were hired from all over Europe to repair- or dismantle, as needed-buildings all over the city. Now, one engineer noticed something odd about a particular library he had often admired on vacations he had spent in Rome over the years. Picking his way backward through the still rubble filled avenue, he looked for signs of cracking or failing. Something just wasn’t the same. No, it was still sound. What the hell was it? Suddenly, like a light going on, it came to the engineer. It was the mural. No longer a mural of a General and his army, it now showed a frolicking Greek family, with the personage of the Greek slave staring down from dead center, over those giant white columns. The Greek had made the mural of his family out of marble, then, had cast what the Roman demanded out of PLASTER AND CEMENT. The quake finally brought it down, just like the old Greek had figured. It still stands…

Heavy Metal

Well, to the few listening, the party is now officially over. Five years ago, I would attend heavy equipment auctions regularly with my pal George Sack. Lots over two hundred acres of machinery, awaiting the auctioneer. Row, after row after row. THOUSANDS of machines of all sorts. An indoor stadium with comfortable seating made the wait for the particular bidding item you were waiting for, a sort of party feeling. Everyone around you would turn their heads to the right as the parade of equipment came into view. Small stuff first. Riding lawn mowers, then, small tractors, leading into the really big boys, ‘dozers and cranes. In between, giant six wheel drive water trucks, graders with six foot tall tires, rollers, snow plows, chippers, welding trucks, fleets of vehicles from bankrupted companies all over the South West. The Richie brothers had their act down pat. To make it all go, hundreds of lot men and drivers…O.K. Kim, swell, but, why would I even care, sitting with my latte and watching the news in my little piece of America. Well, because, soon, they will be coming for your little piece too, my friends. Now, five years later, the bidding crowd is not the gang of builders and construction people looking for deals to keep building going. Nope, now it’s all VULTURES. Are they looking to buy a D10 Bulldozer to grade some new road? Nope. For its’ weight in SCRAP. Ditto for all the row after row after row of machinery to MAKE THINGS. Screw machines, punch presses, metal bending, welding rigs, ALL FOR SCRAP. Well, why not. No one is using them any more, plus, THERE’S NO ONE COMING ALONG TO LEARN. And where do you think all this metal is going? Not here. All overseas. To be used there, or, rendered into usable metal for brand new units, for the other guys’ kids to learn trades on. Look around. Most of our kids are in the military. Machinists? Carpenters? Metal fabricators? Plastic formers? Heavy Equipment Operators or Repair people?…Even if we started to turn things around, TODAY, it would take five years to see any results. Involved in moving my 1948 UNIT crane, it all came into focus like a bright light switching on suddenly. Having parked this beast five years ago, then bolting it as a flying buttress for my tower, I was relieved to not have to drive it again. It was just too much work. You have to do everything by hand. No warning horns if you exceed a weight limit or extend the boom too far. No safety anything actually. Only your own common sense and experience kept you and your co-workers alive. Now, this prick had been sitting for FIVE YEARS in the rain and snow. My son Noah charged the big battery, we pour some gas into the old 1948 carb, hit the starter. IT FIRED RIGHT UP AND PURRED LIKE A KITTEN! No special electronics that takes a NASA scientist with a laptop to program. Good thing it did. Otherwise, the county would have scrapped it. Still has five flat tires and needs to be broken down to be put on a low boy dozer trailer to move it. I went on the internet to see about parts if I need them. NONE. I have the ONLY ONE LEFT IN THE WORLD. All have been junked for the scrap value. This brings us full circle to my first paragraph. Who could even fabricate a part? NO ONE…Extend this to all of our farmers and people who make this country run. Voting for a Ron Paul saviour then going to the mall days are over. Wake up and actually DO SOMETHING…

Uncommon Valor

I used to take Leo into North Hollywood every Saturday for his Russian language school. Before our adoption of him was completed, we had to jump through hoops and over all these hurdles placed before us to make it official. It went from no one wanting him, to, ‘You’re too old’, or, “He needs his culture!” Huh? A culture of starvation and hospital stays in unheated homes? O.K., if they said so, we did as told…Now, at this ‘school’, I did meet an interesting fellow. A former Soviet Nuclear Sub commander. He had one of those screwy eyes that worked just fine, but, seemed to be looking off to the right. Also, his eye brows looked like he brushed them. A very bright fellow though. I played him about fifty games of chess and never came close to beating the guy. Not that I’m any sort of great chess player. I’m a Scrabble man. He told me a couple of interesting stories…When the Soviet Union collapsed after Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ broke their backs financially, he told me he didn’t eat fresh bread for almost a year. All the formerly ‘Friendly’ states, were right back in the 1800’s as far as getting along was concerned. Long suppressed hatreds and fueds that had been simmering but hidden, popped out everywhere. He said it was like you lived in Burbank, but you had to go to downtown L.A. then up the coast, then, over to Newhall, then, down to Sylmar, just to get past the goons in Burbank wanting to shoot and rob you. It was like this everywhere…The worst thing of all, was the stealing of equipment and black market moving of radioactive cannisters and handling gear. No one was getting paid and it was all the officers could do to not get shot themselves once in port and docked. It was everyman for himself…Now, he also told me another story of a Russian sub accident. I can’t remember the Captain’s name, but, I remember the gist of what happened. Oh, it was a sub with just a number. K-19? Look it up, it has to be on the internet somewhere. Anynow, this sub was captained by a former class mate of his, so, he heard the lowdown from the cat’s mouth so to speak…His story: “There had been a fire in the cooling system section of the sub. No cooling, you have a good shot at a nuclear event. All subs are sectoned off in case of such emergencies to the crew members in these portions of the vessel. The Captain himself went to the section experiencing the ‘accident’. It was bad. Way worse then anyone would ever know past the propaganda machine writers’ lies and untruths. What they never told, was when the Captain asked the fifty or so odd men in the section for volunteers to go into the nuclear spill area to shut down some valves and reroute the cooling system, ALL STEPPED FORWARD. It was a death sentence to go inside that room. All were young men. Each man that went in, staggered out after doing as much as he could, then, another man took over, until he too collapsed. Seven died within days, twenty more died in less then two years. All horrible, painful deaths!”…He broke down in tears and sobbed so hard, his daughter came over to take him into the bathroom…