Funnel Web

I read about a spider that makes a web like a funnel. The most deadly of the species lives in Australia. I met one even more vicious in Hollywood.

Usually, the longest tunnel of the tube-like nests invariably contains a female of the species. Like the North American tarantula, the male usually prowls around hunting his meals while trying to get into a nest and get laid. Getting out is the hard part. The female has a living compartment behind her funnel trap. As it fills up with the desiccated and sucked dry former victims the female will house clean occasionally in the middle of the night. Haul out the trash so to speak. I know. A lot about an arachnid. But it’s what jarred my mind into realizing that I knew a female human much, much worse than any spider. This two legged life sucker had a cute five-two high body with perky breasts and a slight camel toe in her skin tight calf skin pants. But her actual funnel trap were her eyes…

Those eyes. They changed color with her mood. I swear to god. Since she was usually laid back and serene, they would be a blue gray. If pissed, they went greenish purple. Like she wasn’t a hundred percent human. Sort of like a weird genetic strain from an illicit coupling with a non-human whatever leaving a bit of evidence in her family line. She had two brothers she talked about when I first met her. One was dead and one was missing. On occasion, I would wonder if they were like her with the crazy eyes. When her missing sibling showed up out of the night one Christmas I never wondered again.

I often think about how I escaped the funnel ending most of her beaus ended up in. It had to be only something she would ever know. Sure there had been numerous near misses and close calls with her various would-be suitors. I’d bow out and lay low until the body was buried then reappear at her beck and call. Having actually slept with her, I was always sucking on a big hook in my mouth with a long, 1,000lb test line keeping me fresh and available just a few fast cranks away. Most likely she found me funny or entertaining enough to stay friends with. Plus, my phone man abilities came in quite handy on occasion for some of her business associates. Before I became aware of the true nature of her ways, it was tough on me when a new fly was buzzing around her trap. She would tell me point blank to buzz off and shut down all communications with me. “Find a life jerk!”, then hanging up on me.

The first time she did it, I was devastated. The tenth time I just rewound the VCR tape I was watching to catch what I had missed during another blow off. After the latest prey was sucked dry of money and property I would inevitably get a call from a sorry little girl voice asking if I wanted to come over for a drink and a nice back scratch. With a dick harder than Chinese arithmetic, I would drop anything I was up to and race for her house at light speed. Sex with her was as common as Halley’s Comet coming around, but a back scratch from those talons of hers working my back to bleeding always worked like a charm. Man. Those nails could be nirvana. Not always though. Some girls screw good. Some scratch. Get one of each is my motto.

She would have some chore lined up for me in return for a good scratch. She would spring it on me as I pulled my shirt off. Usually I would have a lit doob in my mouth as I took my shirt off over my head. As an old party trick I’d roll the doob on my tongue and pull it into my mouth until my shirt was past my face then pop it back out with the cherry still on the end after my shirt was past.

She was wise to this stunt. As I did it for the zillionth time, she punched me hard in the stomach as my shirt covered my face. I burnt the shit out of the inside of my lower lip. I called her a little cunt and she came at me. Not slapping or screaming pal. To kill. She took an easy quarter inch deep layer of skin out of my left forearm with all five fingers or her right hand as she tried to get behind me. She didn’t scratch now my friend. She did it to get a better grip on me. Her attack was a chess game of violence. Going for her left hand coming in from down low for the nut sack I instantly went to block it with my own free hand. It was just what she wanted. Off balance, she spun me back around, then headbutted me three fucking times right in my nose. Trying to stop the battering ram, she made her check mate move. A talon grasp onto my cock a great horned owl would have admired. As I went down off the couch onto the floor following the talons lead she was astraddle of me in a flash. Only a voice on her answering machine saying, “Alice, are you listening? If you are pick up, it’s urgent!”.

I guess I should have told you her name from the beginning. Sorry I’m not the hot shot writer. Big deal. I’ve noticed most writers have nothing ever happen to them so they can kiss my ass if I don’t write correctly. Anyhow, I’m still on the floor while she picks up her phone.

I’m totaled. I have a smashed nose that is still oozing thick globs of blood no matter how hard I pinched it to stop. My arm was swelling like five black widows had bit me where her nails had gouged out long deep holes. One of my testicles had to be flat or exploded. I can hear her yakking away in an animated manner from her kitchen wall phone while ignoring my moans from the living room.

Sensing a change in our relationship, I headed for the door after my nuts stopped aching enough to regain mobility. As I tried to walk straight she peered around the corner from her small kitchen. “Hey big boy, don’t leave yet. I still want to play!” She once again had that cute bouncy smile and neat girl next door demeanor. She never fooled me again after this little episode. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ignoring her, I grabbed up my cycle jacket and helmet. Where’s my new Harley goggles? They were inside of my helmet. It hits me in a flash. Her shit fuck stinking rat crap dog had stolen them again. Brand new. They weren’t as good as the last pair he had chewed up but they said Harley on them. A big deal when you’re a dumb kid. Neither the dog or my goggles could be seen incensing me over the top at this last outrage. Jumping up onto Alice’s brand new sofa I popped the buttons of my worn out 501’s and started pissing into the top of her showpiece salt water aquarium. Since Alice had turned her attention back to the phone call around the corner my calling out, “Gee, I had a swell time!”, got her to look back around the corner into the living room.

At sight of me standing on her new sofa pissing into her pride and joy made her blow a fuse. Throwing the handset from the wall phone at me with all of her might, it almost hit me in the face. Not this time, bitch. The long cord hit its end then retracted back at her with tremendous force hitting her right in the mouth. I laughed as I shot out her front door. Screw her. She deserved it.

I wasn’t laughing about three hours later when two big black Sheriffs arrested me at my little duplex in Hollywood. I wasn’t hard to find. I lived in the same shit hole duplex off of Beechwood Drive for years. Being easy to find when I was wasted was one of its best features. It was located on the same street as the famous Hollywood sign just up the canyon above me. No matter how blasted I could always tell a cabbie, “Just take me below the Hollywood sign!” I could stumble home from there. Worked like a charm.

It also helped the cops. These two at my front door inform me I’m going to be placed under arrest for assault and battery against a woman named Alice. As I stepped out onto my porch, every neighbor I’ve never seen is looking out their windows and doorways at me. Swell. In a neighborhood of junkies, it’s guaranteed my place will get ripped off with me in the slammer. As I try and show the cops my battle damage I’m spun and cuffed with my hands behind my back.

Heading in the cop car back down the hill we make a left on Franklin. I remark from the back seat, “Hey, the Sheriff’s station is to the right on San Viciente, isn’t it?” All’s I get back is a low, “Yeah, you wish chump”, from the husky cop sitting shotgun. Then, both cops started laughing. OK, so I was scared. I’m no one special. Who looks forward to an ass kicking? Besides, I had already had mine kicked by a broad weighing in at 125lbs. What am I going to do with these gorillas? So, I was being taken for a beating in some dark out of the way spot by two pros. Or, a ride to downtown and the L.A. main jail. If it was L.A. downtown, I’d prefer the beating. Most would happily spit out some perfectly good incisors to stay out of that little splice of hell.

As we hit Los Feliz and rolled past the kids steam train ride at the end of Griffith Park onto the overpass into Glendale, it wasn’t going to be jail. It was the beating. So be it. I already planned my strategy. I called it, ‘the opossum’. Take a couple of shots then play dead. You have to let ‘em land a few or they’ll kick you as you assume the fetal position. I felt better now that I had a plan.

Since it was only eight pm on a weekend night, there was still plenty of traffic and movement on the streets. As we drive past a pal of mines bail bonds office, I remark to the cops that its owner, Jay Jackar, is a good friend of mine. This gets the wrong response. From my chauffeur, “You won’t need to call him buddy!” Swell. At every red light I’m the chicken eating circus geek. Kids are staring at me from the back seats of station wagons. I started making myself look tougher, not wanting to let them down. Scrunching my face and showing my teeth to scare them gets the attention of my driver catching me in the act in his rear view mirror. “Hey man are you on drugs? What’s with all the faces?” I look away and say nothing.

We pull into a arched breezeway that led to an enclosed parking area surrounded by two and three story brick buildings. Some of the rear entrances are lit by covered lights illuminating the almost empty lot fairly well. The usual trash bins near personal cement stairways showed that the complex was almost devoid of tenants. Out of twenty stairways, only two had trash bins. Usually all have their own. When you’re a phone man and put your job trash into the wrong trash bin it gets a call to corporate. The little things are what you have to remember.

My car door opens and I’m helped out and then directed over to some stairs. A big hand guides me as I’m in the lead up to an unlocked rear door off the cement steps. Once inside, it’s up three flights to the top floor. At the floor entry door, the cops stop to catch their breaths. I figure they want to be well-rested prior to my straightening out. Climbing poles all day off of Laurel and Mulholland had me in pretty good shape, not so donut boys. I kept my opinion to myself. Once inside the hallway door we step over to a door that says, ‘Janitor’, on it on a little steel plate.

Past this door, the room inside is a suite. The sign was a ruse. A large suite full of boxes of all sizes with brand names of TVs and the new rage, VCRs stacked from floor to ceiling in spots. Having the ability to play your own movies was a big deal. Past the boxes and some stacked furniture, the next room is even larger. It, too, has boxes and goods. It’s different though because of the floor to ceiling mirrors. Told to stand still, as my hand cuffs come off, it comes to me where we are. Some sort of dance studio. I’d done a few around town. This time I would be doing the dancing. I brace myself for what is coming.

Nothing happens. We just stand there. One cop lights a smoke as his partner goes out of view into another room. Hearing approaching footsteps on the polished wooden floor, the sight of Alice coming around the corner smiling sets me aback. Huh? With Alice is a little guy with a big cowboy hat on his head. He also has the big silver belt buckle and the custom cowboy shirt. Alice is holding onto his arm like he craps gold. She has her “I’m fine, how are you?” eyes back, so I relax a bit. The other cop is not far behind them with an empty four-wheel steel cart.

My driver jerks his thumb in my direction while saying, “This your guy, girl?” As Alice nods an affirmation, the two cops start loading TVs and VCRs onto the cart. Alice tells me to give them a hand, while also warning them to use the stairs- not the elevator. Adding, “You can’t be too careful boys!” The cop who rode shotgun messes up my hair while saying, “Now you can shake that turd out of your pants and carry some of this down for us!” I end up carrying almost all but the big TV boxes. They gave me a hand with those. I wonder how we’re going to fit all the stuff into their car. As we finish the last trip a big stretch van pulls next to the cop car. My job finished, it’s back up the stairs solo.

I tell Alice a joke about the cops and she laughs. Not the midget cowboy. He didn’t laugh. He was a tough guy. Too bad for him. That’s probably why it was no problem for Alice to kill him. Kind of jumped a little there, but not too far. Tough cowboy Greg rode into the sunset about five hours after I first met him. That’s where the funnel web spiders come back in.

After the cops had split, I showed Alice that I really hadn’t wet my pants, making her laugh again. She leads me into a rear dressing room off the dance floor. Alice is really sweet and friendly. With blood still caked inside my nostrils I’m still on guard. Who knew what this nut case would do next. As we go into a small office, Alice smiles at her cowboy while asking him to wait outside, “This is private!” is all she says as she pushes me in front of her. The cowboy tough guy glares at me. He starts to say something. Alice cuts him off. “Look sweetie just have another drink and we’ll be out in a minute!” Sweetie? What the hell is this bullshit? I never heard her say sweetie before and I knew her for years.

I first met her doing a phone repair for the Mulholland Women’s and Men’s Tennis Clubs. Alice ran the Womens’ side. She had never, ever called a man by such an endearment before, and I’d seen her with dozens. As Alice went through some ledger books, I started wondering about what I was getting myself into. She was a hot sexy babe, yet I was afraid of her now. She was like a chameleon. I was learning on the job, so to speak, on her ability to appear to a man any way they wanted to see her. Scary. Yet really enticing. As she accidentally backed up against me she gets her desired results. As she reached back, I must have jumped five feet. This really made her laugh. The last time we had been intimate was when I ditched a cop in her Cadillac down Willoughby street carrying Coke for the owner of the ‘Starwood’ Club. Since he’s still around, find out his name on your own. I get some baby talk out of her after she closed up her ledgers and locked them into a file cabinet. I ask her why the police escort?

She turned back into Alice the business woman while saying a curt, “To let you know who’s the boss and to never forget it!” She then tells me to take a seat while she lit a smoke and leaned against the file cabinet. She got right to the point. “We’re going to be partners for awhile. You do as I say and you make some money, okay?” I nod my head around like a moron while I get out of my chair and do a Quasimoto hop like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Her eyes start to change. I stop hopping around and pretend to shape up. I then say, “What kind of business? Hustling midget cowboys for Shetland ponies and big hats?” Finally I get a real laugh out of her. Jesus it had been a long spell. Now she loved me again. When your as starved for love like I am, it’s always appreciated to have someone like you. No matter how evil or twisted. In one respect my mom had been great training for my new position. Alice steps closer for confidence while whispering so Greg couldn’t hear, “We’re going to be selling some horses and I need your experience!”

I’m dumbfounded. Horses? Is she kidding? As I stare into her beaming eyes I see that she’s dead serious. Why in the hell would she think I knew a god damned thing about horses? Maybe from all the bullshit stories I had told her about growing up on state boys homes farms and ranches as a kid? I’d also shoveled about fifty metric tons of lion, bear and elephant crap for my Uncle Melvin Koontz. It sure didn’t make me an animal trainer. I did great as slave labor in various boys homes. Horses? I was afraid of them. Flounder in Animal House was a better choice them me. Horses are big dumb brutes. I’d rather deal with elephants. At least they’re intelligent and will let you know if you’re on their shit list.

I didn’t feel it was the right moment to let her in on these revelations. My arm still had unscabbed holes in it from my last error in judgement with the broad. I tell her a slow, “Yeah, so horses huh. Sounds good. Where are these horses, pray tell?” This is where I officially meet cowboy Greg. Think of a guy even shorter then Alan Ladd acting tough.

Alice opens the door and out I go to meet him. Alice wants us to go through the motions of shaking hands. The guy has a look on his face like he would rather stick a pen knife in me. Since he was a little guy, I went with the soft shake then before I let him go I double crossed him and crushed his fingers. An old school kid stunt. He shouts out like a little baby while jerking his hand free. He then calls me a mother fucker. I tell him he would never say such a silly thing if he knew my mom. He doesn’t swing though. Like I had hoped he was all bluff. Just like me. Only one cop is in the parking lot when we come down the back stairs. He wanted some info on the VCRs. They were new technology back then. They were really expensive when they first came out. Not many movies for them either. Alice took him aside and gave him a number to call for some of the latest movies out. Sort of whispering their goodbyes, the Sheriff grabs Alice’s ass with his right hand and gives her a kiss on the cheek. Alice giggles like a school girl. What an actress. The mini cowboy looks really steamed.

After the cop split, we walk out through the dead quiet driveway out to the street. I’m behind Alice and her beau. I start to laugh as Greg has to get up on his tip toes to whisper into her ear as he walked along next to her. I put a blank look on my face when he shoots a look back at me. His face isn’t blank. It says, ‘take care of you later’. Good luck with that…

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.

Hey Mildred

It takes too long to write long hand so hope you don’t mind the typed out letter.

It’s raining here in Tehachapi. Looking out the big picture window, I started ruminating on working as a phone man in LA, Hollywood and Beverly Hills. It rains so rarely in Southern California, the animals seem to be caught off guard even worse than the humans. Once, while working a cable vault in Griffith Park just below the old Zoo, I stroll by a hobo camp wearing my PacBell military-style rain suit, galoshes and an umbrella. Hey, I’m working on cables that have to stay dry, sorry hobos if I’m not sitting in an old animal enclosure getting soaked with hundreds of rats running across my hole-filled shoes.

When I would buy new steel toe climbing boots, I would keep my eyes open for a bum or street person who might get a few more miles out of them. After once again trying to be a humanitarian, this psycho street nut takes the proffered boots and seems miffed. Huh?

It’s freezing out in the middle of December in downtown and this guy is barefoot with purple feet. I say to him, “Hey, I have some new socks here in the back of my van somewhere, let me find them!” As I open up my rear phone van double doors, a boot sails right past my right ear just missing my skull. I drop, and look back, just in time to see the other boot coming at me. I partially deflect it. I get a lump in my right arm where it hit me. Now I’m steamed.

I go for him while shouting, “OK, asshole, you want crazy, I’ll give you a fucking maniac!” As he starts to run up the wheelchair ramp into the front entrance of the Denny’s on Sunset Boulevard, across from the Tuxedo center rental store, the manager of Denny’s has been watching the entire scenario through the large glass window in the booth he always sat at to chase hookers out that wanted to use the bathrooms and payphones all day. I could do an entire chapter on Denny’s hookers and waitresses. Hey, maybe some other time; let’s get back to street nut.

I leap onto his back like Tarzan would and the guy, who’s twice my size, goes down onto the wet sidewalk. As I hop up and get ready for action, the bum is also getting up. He’s ready for action, too. Except for one little problem. His pants, that were in bad shape to begin with, are now torn off and around his ankles.

Oh my GOSH! His ‘unit’ was FILTHY and covered in what looked to be black grease. I thought he was Latino from all the dirt and stains on his face and hands. Nope, just a run-of-the-mill white trash nut case. As he starts to bounce in a boxing stance, that flopping unit made me start laughing out of control as I backed away from him. This really made him mad. I look around for some backup. No dice. Everyone inside of Denny’s is now in the formerly empty booths facing Sunset, watching me about to get my ass kicked by a semi-erect crazy man with no pants on. His bush looked like you could hide a small mammal in it quite easily.

Now that I’m backing up, crazy man really starts a show. Grabbing one of The Times newspaper racks in a bear hug to most likely smash me in the head with, I once again start laughing since I know they’re bolted to the cement from being stolen so many times by druggies. As he strains and shouts curses, he begins to defecate. That was it for me.

I run for the front door of Denny’s, waving for the manager to open them up pronto. The manager stalls with the keys, making me start to go into a rage. I shout out I’ll have fifty pay phones installed all around his dump if he doesn’t give me succor. Once safely inside, I find a spot next to the Ms. Pac-Man machine to hide, but also to watch the show outside.

It didn’t last much longer. As expected, if fifteen minutes goes by and a cop or two hasn’t cruised Sunset, it’s a small miracle. Two cars converge on Hercules, still fighting that paper rack like a steel marlin…

Random Thoughts

It’s four a.m. The school bus recording telling us about no school from snow woke me up. Once I’m up, I’m up. I hear something heavy on the roof. Already dressed for an hour, I take the spotlight outside. I almost break my neck on the piece of shit ramp the Navajo Longrifle built and I haven’t replaced yet. I step away from the house and shine the spotlight up onto the roof. A big bobcat stares back at me. Guess I know where our missing cats have gone. Through his digestive system and out his ass most likely. He’s only in sight for a brief second, then gone into the dark. Sitting back inside warming up, a lot of things went through my mind. Especially this FaceBook deal. Who really cares about what I write? I figure if even one of my grandkids gets something out of my experiences, then it’s not a big waste of time. When I was 14, Frank the Navajo’s medicine man pal told me I was, ‘Many men’. I was to tell the stories… How many times do you just take it for granted there will be a tomorrow?… I’m standing in the middle of Outpost Drive with a warning sign in my hand. I’m bored stiff. I’m working one part of a street safety team to make cars stop or slow for a series of manhole trucks surrounded by orange cones and safety racks, working on installing a new cable from manhole to manhole. I can just see my partner down by the next curve. This part of Outpost is really dangerous because of a natural spring, weeping out into the street off a crack in the natural rock facing, just past the narrow sidewalk. In the winter, cars slide in the green gook, all the time. It’s summer, but some of the green slime is still prevalent. Especially the curve I’m directing traffic on. I hear the sound of a car coming towards me just above the sharp curve. Not much traffic since it was after ten a.m. and all the commuters trying to avoid the snarled traffic on Highland, just down the mountain, the usual route. Nope, Outpost was for the hot shots in the know on a back way into Hollywood. The sort that pass over double yellows and in the parking lanes. As the convertible sports car comes into view, there’s no traffic coming up the hill, so, I give them the ‘SLOW’ side of my paddle. The driver smirks at me, shifts down, then blows on past, not slowing at all. His passenger smiles at me as they shoot by. I hear my partner shout a warning. I see everything at once. The brake lights of the sports car as the driver spots a huge moving van coming up around the bend below. The sports car hits the green ooze, slides into a dozen or so bright orange cones, then, takes out the metal security gate around an open manhole. A tire goes into the open hole, flipping the sports car upside down. It goes the rest of the way on its journey, sliding wheels up. It hits the far curve, flips back to rightside up, then stops against a mailbox, just next to a driveway that headed up to a house out of view. I was glad another car had come down the street. It forced me to keep my position. I really didn’t want to look into that wrecked car. I didn’t think they would be smiling anymore… I’m leaving Formosa garage in my Pac Bell repair van. I’m stopped by Bill Granger, a forman I really liked. He asks me to come along to check on one of his techs who hasn’t called in for two days. I’m the union rep, so, it was company policy if a foreman was going to a tech’s home unannounced to have a union man along. I park my van and hop in his sedan. We find Tom’s triplex off of Willoughby and knock on the front door. Tom’s yellow El Camino is parked in his narrow driveway. No answer. I go through his side gate past his overflowing trash cans, then open the unlatched screen door to knock on the half glass wooden door. No answer, but, from the half opened glass window, I smell death. Granger slits the screen, opens the lock from inside, we go in. We find Tom in his bathtub with most of his head on the wall and the ceiling… I’m pulling off my helmet at work, hear some guys talking about Mike Brummet being dead. What? I was just with him at Dodger stadium, installing pay phones and riding around on the field with the electric cart the maintenance guys had loaned us. He had been out in the desert shooting with some friends. Setting his .45 on the lowered tail gate of his friend’s truck, someone tossed some gear onto the tail gate. The gun went off, hitting Mike in the chest… I’m on a pole just up the alley from another tech, Eric D. We’re replacing a bad drop line to a big party house up the street. The wind is blowing like crazy. I can see Laurel Canyon from my pole, so, I shout to Eric, “Lets have lunch at the Laurel store!” ( I once was in line behind John Lennon of the Beatles buying a sandwich. I say, “Hey, aren’t you one of the Beach Boys?” He smiled and replied, “Yep, surf’s up mate!”) Before Eric can answer, a gust of wind blows down one of those big toothed palm fronds off one of the sixty foot palm trees all around us. It comes down in one of those lazy back and forth deals, then, nails Eric in the head, cutting his right ear right off. I take him to Cedars emergency. They sewed it back on… A drunken supervisor is going home from work. His car breaks down just off the Los Feliz off ramp near Traveltown. He steps right into a fast moving car which knocks his leg, right off. I worked for this idiot once. He was later fired after all the surgeries for stealing on the job… Hmm, stealing… We’ll call him Williams. Mainly ’cause that was his name. He was going to be fired for selling phone equipment out of his van. Chief Special Agents for the phone company HAD HIM ON FILM. Williams walked. He told them it wasn’t him on the film, it was his identical twin brother who had escaped from a jail in Ohio, taken his truck while he was eating lunch at his aunt’s in Crenshaw, sold the equipment, the parked his van again while he was unaware. They found out he did indeed have a twin on the run. Williams was shot three times in a phone booth off Washington later on, so, he was retired early. Sort of a win win for him… Oh, Williams told me a neat story from when he was in the Navy. While on the air craft carrier Enterprise, all hands were excited about getting shore leave in Tokyo. They’re all made to stand at attention for five hours until the armory got back two stolen .45’s. He told me there was so many pissed off guys standing by their opened lockers, the pressure broke the thief…


The wrong tool for the job is a good place to start. Once I drew an accident scene for a supervisor, I was soon the official accident investigator for Pac Bell from then on. It segued into teaching pole climbing and tool safety for awhile to new hires. I liked it. Especially the meetings and interactions with other companies while attending safety seminars… Otis Elevator man: “While repairing a stuck elevator off Wilshire, two of us were at the very top of the third shaft, using a mini electric winch to free up a jammed cable. It wasn’t working. Also, the cheap, crummy two way radios we were using, kept cutting out, or, not working at all. I kept arguing with my supervisor about the faulty communications between us and the guys working on top of the jammed car. He told me they had a big work load and to just live with it. He sends me down to our step van to get another electric winch. While I’m pulling out the winch, I hear sirens!”… It turned out, his supervisor, being in a hurry, had his head taken off in a split second, by the cable failing, then whipping back up the shaft like a steel anaconda, right into the cubicle the repairman had just been working in. For want of a good two way radio, a guy is dead. Plus, disregarding common sense… Ladders maim and kill more people then any other tool, in all trades. Ninety percent of the time, it’s the fault of the person using it. Once while I was fixing an elderly Jewish lady’s phone off Beverly Blvd., she wondered if I could use my six foot folding ladder to fix her drape loops. I get my ladder off my truck roof, set it up safely, start to fix her loops. She grabs my privates as my hands are busy. I fall off the ladder and land on my butt, the back of my head putting a nice dent in her drywall. I say to her, “What the hell was that all about?” She just shrugged her shoulders, then said, “Aw, you’ll get over it!” I didn’t write that one up. I also rode a 28′ ladder down a cement wall at a Coca-Cola distribution center iin Sylmar, just like in a cartoon. I only pinched a pinky. A small miracle. Some Coke truck drivers applauded as I jumped up, checking myself for broken bones. I had set up in a hurry and my rubber footings on the ladder were worn out. All my doing. I went down the face of the two story wall in about three seconds, then, bounced off the cement floor… I’m once again on the top of an extended 28′ ladder off of Fairfax and Hillside. A supervisor, Warren Hayes, is shouting instructions to Jeff Vaugn on the pole across the street, and to myself, balanced on the ladder top, working a two ton come-a-long winch to pull slack out of a six pair drop, attached to the balcony of a 1920’s two story house. I say down to Warren, “I don’t know Hayes, this house is pretty old, maybe we should back off!” Hayes, “Just winch it up, I’m already late for lunch!” I give it two more ratchets, then, “CRAAACCCCKKKK!” The entire top of the veranda roof, tiles and all, shoots out over my head, landing inches from Hayes feet, just below my ladder base. Jumping backwards, Hayes loses his feet, rolls backwards head over heels down the steep lawn, then, goes through some six foot high rose bushs, to land five feet farther onto the sidewalk. We kept that one quiet too… Ralphs store on 3rd street. I’m a cable flunky for senior techs, running 25 pair cable through the attic of Ralphs. I’m doing what I’m told. The attic is a good thirty foot up. I’m told in no uncertain terms, first thing on the job, “DO NOT WALK OFF THE RAFTERS!” In between the widely spaced rafters was insulation with dry wall below. Just like what happened to Chevy Chase in ‘Christmas Vacation’, happened to a supervisor. Off the attic entry you have a wood area. Anywhere past that, rafters. The ceiling is five feet over your head. It’s not well lit past your drop lights, plus, it’s hot and muggy. As the super is walking over to check our progress, he starts to wipe sweat off his face. Since he was talking to us, we were looking right at him as he stepped off the rafters, fell through the drywall, then plummeted thirty feet onto an empty cash register check out area. Luckily, he only broke his wrist… A tech nick named ‘Bullet’ since he worked so slow, always went gah gah over street hookers and hot babes. While taking his 28′ ladder off his roof rack (Not extended, its 14′) a girl roller skates past him in a skimpy out fit. With the ladder over his shoulder, he spins in a hurry to catch a look at her ass. The ladder spins with him. The end of it catches an elderly lady walking her dog down her front walk, knocking her out. The company paid a lot of dough for that one. Oh, on that same street, Hightower, just below the Hollywood Bowl, I once saw some Edison guys touch power to a strand wire between two feed poles, electrocuting about seventy pigeons that had been bugging them. The ones that didn’t fall onto all the parked cars and sidewalks, hung by their curled feet like odd upside down toys off the stand they had been roosting on, just seconds before… When guys fall into the giant meat rendering vats, they never stop the machines, EVER. They just hope no one gets parts of the guys wristwatch or shoelaces in their sausage. Ditto for guys getting wrenched into the industrial sized mulching machines for tree maintenance. Those suckers will shred a man in two seconds… Miscalculating weight causes many an accident. Once, some cable theives backed a one ton dually pickup to a cable truck left on a job overnight, put down the tailgates of both trucks, then used a sledge to knock out the blocks of wood, chocking the big steel cable reel in place. The cable reel, about seven foot high, slowely rolls onto the duallys bed, just as planned. Then, fully in the truck, it crushes the truck bed to the ground. The tires blowing, kill one of the thieves instantly. Gee, guess they didn’t notice it was sitting on a TEN TON truck bed… Big drills can lay the hurt on you, real fast. The first time I used a one inch chuck Milwaukee HOLE HOG, was almost my last. Like an idiot, I told the lead tech I was trained on the drill, so as not to look like the kid that I was. He took me around this huge mansion that once belonged to Charlie Chaplin, showing me the little yellow stickies stuck to the baseboards, letting me know where to drill. I’m using a four foot, two inch around bit, off this two handed giant drill. He turns me loose after doing the first hole for me. I do about three, no problems at all. I wake up with four guys shaking me and looking concerned. When I finally stand up, I see the blood all over my shirt, then, see where my face had slid down the white painted wall after the drill bit hit the cement subfloor, spinning me into said wall at about a hundred miles an hour. We didn’t write that one up either…

Classy Freddie Blassie

World Champion wrestler. He was the best, ‘HEEL’, or, bad guy, in the history of the business. He told me at the Califlower Ear Club, the first time I met him, nothing beat being a heel. Blassie: “I got so much pussy as a heel, I gave a lot of it to charity!” Before wrestling Italian Bruno Sammartino, a god to Italians all over the U.S., but especially at Madison Square Garden, Blassie took over the mic at a news conference: “This spaghetti eater knows nothing about wrestling. He’d never amount to a hill of beans if he didn’t have the promoter in his back pocket, always picking him weak sissies for opponents. Before he was a wrestler, he worked in a garbage dump, but got fired for eating on the job. He was on an escalator one time and they had a power failure. The thing stopped. But this pencil neck is so stupid, he waited until someone said, “You know Mr. Sammartino, you can walk down!” He’s the only person I know who moved onto a houseboat and built a basement!”… I’m putting some cable into my telephone truck in an alley, just off the beach in Venice, California. It’s a hot day and I wanted to watch the roller skaters and fortune tellers for awhile before heading back to Downtown L.A. A beach job is the best job you can get. I remember asking a supervisor my first month on the job, about how long it would take to get a transfer to Hawaii. Years later this guy would start laughing whenever he set eyes on me, be it a retirement party or a funeral, thinking of the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. Pretty soon I found out Burbank was even harder. Once Downtown and Hollywood, no garage Second level in his right mind would want you. You’d ruin his gravy train… So, back to the alley. A voice coming up behind me sounding like gravel being shaken in a coffee can, growls, “Hey, you pencil necked geek, how about a long phone cord for an old man!” Before even turning, I knew the voice was going to get anything thing he wanted from my truck. I grew up with that voice. My sister Wendy would give me an epileptic seizure, changing the channel, just as the Great Blassie, started to go off on his next opponent. Now, no remotes in the fifties. So, to guard the set, you had to block your nemisis with your body. It was that voice I heard. I turn and start laughing. He was in a tight swimsuit, wearing those flipper sandels, still a great physical specimen, shocking white hair and a fantastic tan. What made me laugh were his hands. He was holding them out in front of him like a mummy from a movie. In between his fingers were chess pieces. It was just so weird. He notices my eyes on his hands. “Hey, moron, I like an even tan. Now, how about that cord?” I had a big box full of disconnected phones that belonged to another company. I told him he could take his pick. He took the entire box. As he carried it to his apartment, I shouted, “Don’t you remember me from the Cauliflower Ear Club?” He shouted back, “You don’t have one, so fuck off retard!” As I’m leaving after lunch, Blassie is talking to some kids by my truck. He wants my phone number. “None of those pieces of crap will work!” I tell him about the control unit. To call me about it later. This begins my time spent with a god. I also became his personal phone flunkey. Hey, he made me laugh so many times, I would have shined his shoes. Turns out, Blassie was a sweet heart in real life. He gave off this aura of invicibility. Hell, everyone felt it. He made Regis Philbin. Regis was a nobody, until he booked Blassie on his fledgling T.V. show. His show went number one after Blassie tore up his script, roaring, “NO ONE TELLS BLASSIE WHAT TO SAY!”, then, tearing off Regis’s jacket arm while berating and insulting his other guests. One a pro football player. Blassie told the guy football players regularly kissed his ass so he wouldn’t pound them into the ground for fun. TO HIS FACE! No one had ever said such things on T.V. Ever. He caused full scale riots to break out when he hit the Southern circuit arenas. In those days, blacks had to stay in their own section. Blassie, coming into the ring to start his match early, to make ‘Heat’. To sell the bout. The more heat, the more money in fueds and such, so, he’s on the announcer’s mic. “I’d like to say a big hello to my fans here tonight. And not you white trash, grit eating pencil necked geeks. I’m here tonight for my Negro fans!” Bedlam. The heat is on… Leaving a match under a hail of bottles, rotten oranges, apples and even bags of shit, Blassie is followed by a large elderly woman, fighting with security to get to Freddie. Keeping an eye on her since he’s been stabbed and shot at, he slows to let her have her say, screaming fans along the tunnel watching. “Blassie, you no good, rotten stinking bastard. You filty, miserable son of a bitch!” Leaning towards her, Blassie shouts out, “For the last time MOM, go home!” Once, I told him I did Sinatra’s phones. His reply? “Sinatra will pass gas and 15 guys pass his fart around!” Heading for Japan to tour, Blassie was at the top of his game. Getting off the plane in Tokyo, the reserved Japanese press didn’t know a volcano had just landed. Asked about the Japanese champion’s rein, Blassie filled them in. “What? You call Rikidozan a champion? HE’S A BUM!” T.V. being scarce in those days, crowds of Japanese would watch shows on the sidewalk in front of the stores selling them. People would actually die of heart attacks from stunts Blassie pulled. Later on in life, he felt bad about it. He thought they were just selling the matches with stories. He never dreamed it was for real. He made fun of Yakuzas with missing digits, kicked two of their asses for blocking his cab, then, ended up partying with the mob boss… He also told me that ‘Judo’ Gene Lebell, was the most dangerous man he ever knew. Over Andre the Giant? I wondered. Blassie nodded, then told me that once Lebell got you in a arm or leg hold, it was all over. You quit or that part of your body would never be quite the same again… Freddie said the greatest day in his life, was when he was stopped by a man on the sidewalk in Santa Monica, then begged to come over to a car hurridly parked. The great Blassie said he would. At the car, an old man shouted with glee, “IT IS BLASSIE, I TOLD YOU IT WAS HIM!” Blassie yakked it up, gave an autograph, then begged off. The man’s son chased him down, then told him quietly, “That’s my father. He has advanced Alzheimers. He hasn’t spoken a word in months. He saw you and he was lke a kid again. I have to thank you so much!” Freddie Blassie, King of the Heels, started crying as he finished the story… God bless you Freddie, I think of you all the time…


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…

John Lilly

I met him after an odd set of circumstances. While working some cable cutovers off Los Feliz in Griffith Park, just across from the Train Guy’s kiddie ride train, an elderly woman limped up to my wide open cable box. You could see she was in quite a bit of pain. She wondered if I could be so kind as to call a friend of hers to give her a ride. She had twisted her ankle while on a stroll around the train area. Since I was about to go to lunch, I offered to take her home in my Pac Bell cable manintenance cherry picker (a five ton truck with an aerial basket). She got a big kick out of riding in it. I end up at her house, a gigantic parcel, half covered by a large, two story house, obviously from the 1920’s. You can tell the eras by how large the trees surrounding the homes are. Trees are a big deal to phone men. They’re a big reason we had so many cable trucks. Big trees take out a lot of big cables and poles…We became pals. One thing I loved about that house was its large, curved driveway. I could fit my big cable truck in it, no sweat, then, park at the end of her circular drive and be completely hidden from the street traffic. Even when she wasn’t home, I could take a nap in my cab, or read away in privacy. Lots of people will rat you out to the company, so, it was pretty cool. If she was home, it was even better. She had a maid who lived with her who fixed fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches, or, anything you wanted. Even better then the cook at Jack Warner’s estate. The house was a multi-generation museum of the families past. Her husband was a world famous Archealogist. He had discovered the ruins of Machu Picchu, and a bunch of other, ‘Lost cities’, in South America. She gave me some outstanding framed photos I still have on my wall, right now. On every big marble table or huge bookshelf, were artifacts from her husband’s trips. Stone bowls, carved totems, stuff like that. In one room was a weapons collection. Some of the arrows had black on the arrowheads which was some sort of toxic poison made from colorful frogs’ skin secretions. The Indians revered these amphibians. Only using them, never harming them (I read up on them. Scientists here, tried to raise them for our military. Turned out, you had to feed them their jungle diet of poisonous insects or their mucous wouldn’t be toxic. They gave up). On one such goof off day, Caroline, the old lady, had her best friend over for lunch. I was invited to entertain her with Hollywood star stories. During lunch, I’m invited to a book signing of this friend’s husband at a local book store, ‘BOOK SOUP’, across from Tower records. I knew it well. All the clerks hated my guts for hiding books I couldn’t afford in other parts of the store until I had the money for them. It was a game, sort of. They would try to catch me in the act, I would try and hide books. I also knew its location from having the biggest head on truck wreck, just past it on Sunset Boulevard, but, another story….I attend the book signing and meet the author, John Lilly. He signs my book, then, wonders if he can have a chat with me in about 15 minutes. I hang around. Turns out, he needed a phone man. His office was up the coast a ways. It was called the ‘ISALIN’ Institute. He was a big shot there. It had all these connected buildings, filled with fellow egg heads, working on paranormal stuff and things like that. I met Robert Monroe there, but, once again, another story. I end up spending some weekends up at the complex, repairing cables and trying to pick up egg head chicks. Which never happened. Anyhow, I would stay at a cheap motel on these weekends that also fed me from their coffee shop. It was fun. One evening after doing some phone moves for an added office, I’m invited by Mr. Lilly to watch an experiment he’s been working on. Inside a large, barn sized steel shed, are two pods, connected by dozens of cables and lines. Gist of it? Inside one isolation pod, floating in a solution, was a dolphin. The other one? John Lilly. They were connected to these huge, old seventies’ style computers that had the looped tapes spinning on the fronts. From the small, slit windows, a dull red light glowed. Once in position, the inhabitants were given doses of LSD. Listening to his fellow egg heads while trying to stay out of the way, the object of the experiment was for Dr. Lilly to communicate on some other plane, with the dolphin in the other pod. With just the hum of the tapes and the egg heads in the white smocks whispering to each other over their clip boards, I got bored and headed for my room down the highway…The next day, while finishing up my phone duties, I hear what had gone down. After about ten seconds, the dolphin was as bored with Lilly, as an adult would be with a newborn. Having to keep its entire history of its race in its mind, the dolphin was light years ahead of the puny mental midget in the adjoining pod…I have a lot more on this for some other time…

Pearl Harbor

It was a big event in my family. We’re either Circus, or U.S. Navy. I talked to a blind man who lived in the guest house of Orson Welles. He was Welles’s best friend. He was also a total drunk. It took me a couple of repair visits to realize he smashed his phone up, just to get me out to argue with him while I repaired it. If dispatch sent someone else, he had a fit. He was on the medical ship across from his ship, the U.S.S. Arizona, getting over a hernia operation, when the Japanese first wave came in. He wanted to get out of his bed when they heard the bombs hitting and all the firing started, but was unable to unhook all his tubes. He told me it was a good thing, since everyone that was able to make it to the windows were blown backwards, killed instantly by shards of glass when a string of bombs from the Jap planes hit a mine sweeper at anchor right next to them, sending part of their blasts right towards the medical ship…Now, a lot of people blame Admiral Yamamoto for the attack. Sure, he planned it and gave it the go ahead, but he was under orders. When they asked him his opinion of his own plan, he told them flat out they would have about a year to kick our asses completely, or it would be the end of them. His superiors looked at us as lazy clowns who made movies and good home appliances. They were sort of right. Yamamato knew different. He spent a lot of time in the U.S. as a young man attending our universities. He was blown away at how large our country was and our assembly line production of machinery. Especially the Ford plant. He was also a big time gambler. He would come back on board ship after leaves and his men would wonder if he had won or lost. If he had lost, he would do a handstand on a guardrail, showing he had no money left to fall out of his pockets. He had to stay on the Yamato battleship for over a year, hiding from the assasins of the Japanese Army. Killing off rival military rivals was quite acceptable in Japanese society. Just like in John Carter of Mars by Burroughs. For a surprise attack, it was really successful. Too bad they didn’t make a second sortie. They missed the MILLIONS of gallons of aviation and oil tanks sitting right out in the open. Also, they missed their primary targets. It’s the reason they pulled out and didn’t put in that second string. Our carriers were not at anchor. One of the Japanese spies had made a radio message that they were indeed there. He lied to save face. He had been out drinking and just made it up. Halsey, our carrier chief, had kept all our carriers out on a phony search for a downed flier story because he smelled a rat. One of our destroyers had fired on a submarine trying to slip into Pearl in between a tug boat and its target bouy it was towing behind it from some firing exercises. Sure, they killed over two thousand of our boys, most still in their racks. One bomb went right down the forestack of the Arizona, detonating in its’ 12 inch gun armory. It blew the entire Battleship, clear of the water, before putting it down for good. Concussion killed most of the men. They all went instantly. I guess its as good a way to go as any. Going out with your mates in a millisecond…More people were killed on the islands by spent ammo then from the bombs. The first attack was made by dive bombers. When the second wave came in, it was torpedo bombers, coming in low since Pearl was a known shallow harbor. The dive bombers had a field day. Not so the torpedo crews. They reported back on landing that the flak and return fire was so thick, you could climb out and walk on it. Doris, a black cook, and heavywight champ of the Pacific fleet, shot down two Jap planes in his underwear from a twin fifty with a dead crew laying all around it…Years later, while at Orson Welles’s house, I noticed a new person sunning themselves off the pool near the guest house. Welles informed me his navy buddy had died. He also told me one other thing. His buddy was cremated, then buried with his buddies on the U.S.S. Arizona…We don’t have those big battle wagons anymore. Most of our big ships are nuclear. All the old ships are docked as museums or scrapped long ago. Oh, we do have one left. Its still carried as an acitve ship on the line, ready for duty if needed. It’s name? The ARIZONA. It’s NEVER BEEN RETIRED!!!


Gave the best Christmas parties of ALL TIME!! Halloween a close second. EVERYONE got smashed! It was a company requirement to be able to drinks alot of booze at the drop of a hat…Their large complex was built on the former site of ‘Monkey Island’. That place folded prior to World War 2 when a couple hundred monkeys escaped and ran amok for a few weeks all over Cahuenga Blvd and Barham in the brushy hillsides. They expanded a few times, so, connected the buildings with a big bridge on the second floor. Mr. Hanna and Mr. Barbera had their offices on the second floor, right next to each other. I came into the picture after P.B.X. school. They had five old cord pair switch boards, side by side in their main lobby. They kept them long after most had been replaced all over town because they were LOYAL. Most of their switch board gals had been on the job since day one. As one retired, so would her switchboard…The main phone room had a common wall with Mr. Barbera’s office. Since I would go past his door all the time, he would start saying things to me to throw me off. I finally figured out he was just jerking me around for fun and gave it back to him. One party they gave would have to be the best I ever went to. All the illustrators were in hand made costumes they had worked on for weeks, drinking right out of blenders and running amok. Since no one really knew who was who, it was time to pull out all the stops. Security ended up locking the gates and calling cabs for about three hundred people. One gal had a Yogi bear painted on her using her giant breasts as Yogi’s eyes. There was food EVERYWHERE! Different departments had different music blasting. I got into a conga line that went up the stairs to corporate, smashing pictures off the walls from the giant paper mache heads they were wearing getting spun around and had them dancing blind. Finally, the cops show up. THEY PARTIED WITH US!!! I’ve been to HUNDREDS of big parties. None can ever top this one. My side hurt for days from laughing so hard. One gal did the best Fog Horn, Leg Horn using helium from a balloon. I heard later she made Mr. Barbera wet his pants while chasing him in costume with a giant dildo…