Phonehenge North News

ITEM: Now hanging with Oz. He doesn’t want his real name to be used, just his street name so the homeboys will know. Figuring I was going to jail in the near future, I did some tractor work for Oz to sort of kiss up. He’s a mover and shaker in the State Prisons on all sorts of levels I don’t even want to know about. I figured some pals on the inside wouldn’t hurt. When I first met him, he was reticent to say one word to me. After five tequilas, he loosened up a little. I’ve never seen him nude but what is showing is tattooed. Pretty gory ones peak out of his shirt collar. Some horned demons maybe? Anyhow, he’s connected all over the State. He’s in his forties so I’m considered an old man and no threat. Caught a break there. Plus, he liked my tree house and hates authority. Kindred spirits.

ITEM: After eight drinks to my one, Oz filled me in on his life. He has 16 brothers and nine sisters. Most by different mothers. His dad got around. Oz has only met the ones dropped off at their house in the middle of the night when he was growing up and raised with him at his mom’s house. His dad was only there to get the probation department guys off his back.

Once his dad left the dinner table, answered the door to some guy shouting at him, shoots the guy three times and drags him in the house. He sits back down at the table and ate while waiting for the police. They were North of Fresno picking artichokes living in a cropper shack. When the cops came, they listened to Oz’s dad’s version of the guy threatening his family while they look down at the blood trail off the porch into the front room. They call the morgue guys and adios. Just another dumb Mexican. Who cared. Oz says his mom raised them all, no questions asked. They were blood and that was that.

A lot of Oz’s bro’s are well respected in prisons all over California and Arizona. I figured to throw his name and gang sign around a lot if incarcerated. Oz says his people really run the prisons. It’s huge money. I asked him to leave the details out in case I was ever asked to take a polygraph.

ITEM: I tell him a couple of phone man stories and he interrupts me right in the middle of one. “Hey, dude. I know a freaky wire story I bet you haven’t heard!” O.K. ‘shoot’, says I. Oz’s story: “At Mira Loma is where all the immigration cases go. Some bro’s have been there for years man. Waiting on appeals and stuff. One of my cousins is there right now, looking at deportation. It’s his third time and he still comes back. They say it’s adios forever if they pick him up again. He’s cool though so they cut him some slack since he’s a good worker and can drive tractors and things like that. He’s on the grounds crew. It will cut him time served and good time if he wins. Out of his cell time if not. He tells me they get this job a couple of years or so ago that was a real mind blower!”

It hits me as he says the last sentence. It’s going to be the conduit deal. My wife Pat is an immigration attorney. She was at Mira Loma while doing some Pro Bono when all the lights went out and the sirens went off. Everyone thought it was a break out. Nope. Only if it had been. I stay quiet and wait to hear it from Oz. He had taken two more shots and looked like the kind of guy I wanted to stay on the good side of. I just met the guy and knew zip about how booze affected him. Oz confirms my suspicion on being able to change in an instant.

He’s staring at me intently. I look him right in the eye. “They get told by a prison guard to dig up some of the grounds for some reason or another. About four or five guys I think. They had full run of the yard and the tool shack from being on the crew so long. All the guards knew them well. The guard who was supposed to watch them takes off and leaves them on their own. My cousin says they hit a big rock. They can’t dig around it so they go to the tool shed and get the electric jackhammer. After some long extension cords this dude jumps into the hole and starts hammering the big rock!” As Oz took the rest of my drink down, I say, “And the guy got fried. My wife was their with a client the day it happened. It knocked all the power out in that wing of the jail. Killed the guy. He hammered into 10,000 volts in a cement electrical conduit!”

ITEM: First, don’t wreck a new pal’s story. Oz just shuts up and gets a mad look on his mug. I tell him I’m sorry. I buy us another round. Oz says a surly, “ No man, I gotta go!” I tell a couple of jokes and get him back into a better mood. I then ask him to continue. To let me hear his side of the story. Leaning back in his chair he’s blocking the aisle at the small bar were in. Everyone takes one look at him and walks around to the other aisle. Crossing his arms Oz shuts his eyes and it looks like he was falling asleep. Nope. He was just thinking. Opening his eyes into slits he suddenly leans forward almost hitting his head on our table top. Catching himself he rests his arms on the table and almost whispers so low I can’t hear him over the Tex-Mex blasting from the next room. “That dude that fried? He’s in their wiring and phones!” I keep my mouth shut this time. Oz continued. “Everyone there has heard him crying for help in the back of phone calls. Low, but he’s there man. Lights flicker. Bulbs blow. Gates freeze up and won’t click open, or, stay jammed open or shut. All kinds of freaky stuff!”

ITEM: I end up taking off after this part of the story. Two hot babes came in and Oz left me like I carried the plague. He left me the tab, too. I had to use my propane bill dough to get out of the joint. Back at home I tell my wife Pat the story Oz had laid on me. She says he’s absolutely correct. She’s heard a dozen stories from everyone from Sheriffs to the vendors who do the laundry and food contracts. My wife Pat helps everyone for free most of the time so everyone gravitates to her for legal advice. She gets along with everyone just about. When I piss her off, I get the frown and pout face. You don’t want to get that for too long. I’d rather be clothes lined by the Hulk. So, what Oz had said is true. Boy, what a wild deal.

ITEM: While we we’re moving to our new place since the 22 County people that kept coming out jammed up our bathroom, we had to move these ancient artifacts Pat’s mom has collected for decades. We had them since the room they were in down in the valley had Indian drums coming out of it on occasion, and, Indian ghosts passing through the walls. Swell. They’re Inca, Mayan, Toltec and such. I told Pat it was okay with me. I didn’t bump them off and didn’t want to mess with their totems. I figure we’ll give them to the appropriate museums or tribes when the time is right.

One thing I can’t stand is a grave robber. That’s all it is when you dig open burial chambers or take bones and items from rocky clefts the Navajo and Hopi use. I think the Havasupi and Pima do their dead differently. Whatever. I’ve seen a couple of private collections that made my blood boil. These guys treated sacred bowls, pipes, weapons, hunting gear, god totems and such like it was just a big treasure hunt. They showed me all the special tools and tricks they knew to find buried chambers. Then, when I got ticked, they THREATENED ME. Oh yeah! I had better keep this to myself or else stuff. I figure they’ll get what’s coming to them without any help from me.

Back to these totems Pat’s mom has. When Pat put the box on the back seat of her crew cab truck, our dog jumped into the front seat as usual but this time he did something out of the ordinary. Not only did he start barking frantically at the box, he also jumped out and barked at something in the bed of the truck that only he could see. Now, I wasn’t there, but, I had the same thing happen to me when Pat was gone and I let the mutt into the barn because it was raining. Pat had just brought the box home and had left it on our kitchen table. It was dark and rainy a few nights later and Pat was still in the valley. As the dog ran to the kitchen to wipe out the cat’s food dish, he slid to a stop, pissed all over the floor and backed up to the bridge door. Hackles up and wild-eyed. I opened the door and he ran back to his dog house on the bridge. I took the box downstairs to Pat’s law office and put it in one of her empty file cabinets. I never told her about it. She gets scared easily. Not good with her ticker questionable at times.

I’ve sat and watched the box a few times while fixing weed eaters or what ever in the blue barn. Never seen a thing. I talk to it. I wonder if they get along with all the local spirits from the Pauite burial grounds just across the valley from us. There’s also cave drawings and cliff homes. I guess they’re pretty happy. The cats who live in the barn are happy as clams.

ITEM: I went back up to Quail lake looking for Oscar the other day. I meet this fellow named Cliff sitting in a small 4×4 writing something. He’s parked where the gate will hit so I went over to yak it up and see if he would pull forward a bit. A nice guy. He was on the clock it turned out. His job was to patrol the new dirt road put in for the Turbine company’s 18 wheelers hauling electrical reels of high tension wire, turbine tower parts and the blades themselves. Some of the blades are 75 foot long. He kept count of all the road kills. Yep. From deer to bear to squirrels and rabbits. He kept a tally. I asked him what it would mean in the long run. He just shrugged his shoulders and said nothing. He started up his little van and drove away.

ITEM: Now I’m on five years probation. Hey, it’s a lot better deal then my buddy Clem got. The N.A.T. Team jack boots killed him. First they tortured him, then they killed him is actually what happened. A tiny little guy in his nineties. Deaf and on his way out. He lived in this tiny house surrounded by his stuff off of Sierra Highway near Sand Canyon for fifty years or more. As a kid, I would join up with other kids to toss frozen hot dogs to his little mutt guard dog and take bike parts from a giant pile of bikes he had stacked up. Since he was usually half-blasted at the V.F.W. just up the road within walking distance, it was a piece of cake. We were joking about how easy it was to rip him off at Soledad Sands Park one day, and I got straightened out by a vet sitting at the next picnic table. The guy knew Clem and wasn’t too happy about our bragging. He sat down next to me, told us to shut up and smarten up. He then told us about a place called Tarawa.

If you asked a Marine it was called, ‘BLOODY TARAWA’. Two of my buddies took off mocking the man. Frank Angelostro and I kept our seats. My dad died in Korea. I’d hear this story out and show some respect. Clem was in the first wave of men that hit the beach on Tarawa. Out of a hundred and fifty guys in Clem’s unit, eleven made it off the island in one piece three days later. Point blank fire from cement pillboxes ten foot apart. No cover. The tank men refused to drive over the dead and wounded stacked like cord wood everywhere you looked. It cost them their lives. Multiple high velocity rounds knocked turrets completely off the chassis with in minutes. The Marines did what they always do. They landed more guys and hit the Japs head on. Clem was there all three days. Now, fifty years or so later some guys in black uniforms with no name tags tell him he has to get out of his house. It’s been declared a ‘Nuisance’.

Gee, weren’t they started up by Antonovich, head of L.A. County, to take out crack houses and meth labs? Since every type of drug is going down in price since there’s so much everywhere, guess they needed some ego boosting by stealing some old guy’s land and goods for their higher-ups. Clem moves into an abandoned truck with no tires in the little wash near his yard and starts a fire in the step van rear to keep his dogs and himself warm. It was the middle of winter. The van catches on fire and kills them all. The County leaps into action! First, strip the yard of all the accumulated stacks and piles of steel dozer parts, aluminum, copper by the truck load, autos, loaders, forklifts, iron rods. $200,000 worth. It was a lot of work so they had to bill the estate $50,000 grand for all that trouble. The house sits there in the cleared out yard. Waiting to be torn down for the bullet train that’s to go past. Waiting to make some big shot some big dough. Wonder how the big shot would think of ripping an old man off after getting magically transported to Tarawa?

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.

Saugus, CA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tehachapi North News

I’ll try and get a few copies out before sentencing next month, on the 18th of May. It might be a long spell in between issues after that.

Umtali Road is getting to be a deserted canyon. A neighbor across the dirt road and up the canyon a ways had a flat tire on his horse trailer right before my blue barn. His girlfriend was driving the U-Haul truck towing it. As I helped him out with my crane’s floor jack, I got the whole story on the move out. A divorce, the house is now deserted. Both parties made a go of living at the place. Both ended up almost losing it. Now it’s just empty.

Good luck going through the joint and finding some treasure at another’s misery. The ‘Watchers’ will put a stop to that. In the nine months we’ve lived here, we’re the only ones that talk to everyone. All other neighbors have some grudge or hard on for theirs.

When the local hooligans kicked over the thirty-eight mailboxes on the paved road off our dirt trail, eleven never have been picked up. They’re slowly being driven over as the winds blow them into Sand Canyon Road. Soon, flattened like odd-shaped license plates, I’m thinking of doing the side of the new barn with them for a folksy look. So, minus the latest mail box casualties, it looks like about sixteen folks still have mail delivered. You can’t count the canyon residents from these boxes, though. You also have to consider the bunker people, the illegals hiding on someone else’s property, out and out squatters, then, people like us, having post office boxes in town. I like my mail. I don’t mind traveling to get it. Oh sure, we could get an armored set of mail boxes. That would take some doing since you have to have your neighbors request it, too. Not in this canyon.

I was using my tractor to smooth out the deep ruts in our road that could easily hide Ward Bond and his entire wagon train, no problem. I figured on some smiles and knowing nods of happiness from neighbors driving past while I forged ahead. Nope. Just like the god-damned mailboxes, no one agrees. One gal slowed to a stop so I shut off my loader to get the well-deserved thanks. She rolls down her window, spits into her hand to put her cigarette out in the small pool, then lays into me. “What in the hell are you doing?” Amazed, I start to stutter out a reply. Nope, not fast enough. “You smooth out the road and the sons-of-bitches will just cause more damn dust. Knock this shit off!”

After she drove off, I thought to myself that she had a point. About ten days after we moved in with our little incentive push by L.A. County, I made up my mind that I would never be passed on our road again. Sure, I’d let the maniacs pass me on the 10 mile dead end to hell Sand Canyon. Can’t stop those psychos (ours is the only road in Tehachapi that isn’t on the local Thomas guide. It’s just shown as a dirt squiggle. No speed limit, either. The locals say the road takes care of the speeders sooner or later, all on its own). The one spot it actually has a sign says 15 mph and MEANS IT. I can’t squeeze over 26 mph with my dually dump and it tracks like a slot car with a load in the back. The wreckage of cars’ doing over 27 mph in icy conditions are soon lay out in the field smashed and rusted. Why doesn’t someone tow them out and make some good dough scrapping them? Who needs a .306 round through the noggin. Remember Fred Kirpsie’s sad ‘year in jail’ sentencing for hoarding a couple of weeks ago? There’s THOUSANDS of Kirpsie-types in every canyon you care to drive up. Most full of hard scrabbles watching you through high powered binoculars as they stir their meth tubs.

I’m kidding? Every week there’s a murder or a lab blowing up. It’s like a wild west ‘Blade Runner’ scene at night. We’ve had Sheriff search teams through our place three times and we haven’t hit a year here yet. In the Tule fog, the mounted search guys were forced on foot from all the barbed wire everywhere. The fences you say? Screw that. I’m still pulling downed barb wire out of dirt piles and from the scrub oak brush piles. Its easy to spot tangled around by bucket and front wheels. When it shoots back at you from tension as you have to use both hands to cut it with bolt cutters, it’s quite a little slice of heaven.

Our last visit by about 100 search team members was when Drunken Tits rolled up her old man in a throw carpet as he was passed out, then beat him with a small wood stove ash removal shovel. She would of used a larger one but the first one she could find had to do. Oh man, what a shelaking that guy took. I could see the lumps on his face from five acres away. After she raped her son (or, so he told us at 3 am one dark night wanting succor) they finally moved away three months ago to avoid court. The guy moving out gave me some new gossip on that but save it for another edition, back to cars passing me on Umtali, I drifted away again. Since hardly anyone reads this stuff, big deal. As stated I’m no Hemingway. But, since he’s wasn’t here, I’ll have to do.

At first, I thought these locals had the same courtesy we had grown accustomed to in Acton. After running our street for thirty years, we had everyone slowed down twenty five years ago. Take a beat-up bike that will still roll, place a dummy kid on it made from old clothes and filled with smashed newspapers topped with an old helmet, Voila! One freshly killed kid when rolled out of the thick Olive trees across from the old place, right into the headlights of Mr. Speeder. Until they shine their flashlight underneath the skidded-to-a-stop vehicle and see it’s a dummy, it tends to stick in their speeding little brains. If still reticent, two boxes of one-inch roofing nails down their one-mile dirt drive way. I’ve seen them with four flats at the stop sign at Sierra Highway after the nail treatment. No, on our new dirt road, it’s one Road Warrior after another. Especially at five thirty am, taking Leo to his bus stop eight miles away. I’m proud to say that since my new policy not one car or truck has ever passed us. And they NEVER WILL.

Our second week here while still moving, I’m going slow to keep the dust down. In a top ten of suck ass dirt roads, ours should at the least get an honorable mention. A gal in a big black SUV blows around me like I’m standing still. As she heads up the road her gigantic dust trail is blocking out the entire road. That was it for me.

I handle a few punks and old geezers in beat-up pickups while honing my skills for payback with Metro girl. I carried two scoops of one-inch gravel in my dump bed for no reason, other then better traction and less bounce until we finally had our Ali-Frasier of Umtali Road. Waiting for Leo down the road one day, I forget all about the little zipperhead as my eyes behold the black SUV coming up Sand Canyon at a high rate of speed. Firing up the F-550 Diesel turbo my hands are shaking at the steering wheel. I force my heart to stop trying to burst out of my chest as I race to get around the aforementioned dead man’s curve. Once around it I’m into really twisty canyons of rock formations that surround the Indian burial grounds to my right. Cliff dwellings and all. Checking my rear view mirror, I see that I’ve pulled it off. Flooring it around every tight curve, I try and get a good lead to pull off my plan.

What plan was this? To get across the road from the mailboxes, then to hide in the goat herder’s dirt driveway directly across from Umtali. I gave him a steel rabbit cage for helping Leo with his bike once, so we’re tight. Once Metro girl does one of two things, her ass will still be mine. If she stops for her mail is the best scenario. If she powers on up the twisty dirt road so be it. Since it’s to be to the death, I could care less. My heart is beating like it’s going to jump out of my rib cage. My mouth is dry as a desert lake bed. Blinking my eyes to un-cloud my contact lenses, I keep my foot on the brake but the tranny is in drive. She powers up the road. Checking for cross traffic and also looking for telltale dirt swirls showing a car on the dirt road ahead, I punch it. I came up on her so fast I was next to her and past her before she could step on it. Oh, she tried. I have to give her that. Too bad bitch, I had planned my moves many a night like a gibbering maniac planned building an atomic bomb. Once across the dreaded whoop te doo’s of molded clay troughs half-full of old exhaust systems, I put the pedal to the medal. Wearing my seat belt for the first time since buying the truck six years ago, I pull it a bit snugger as I begin whipping my dually wheels back in forth at well over sixty mph. Catching a glimpse of myself in my useless window rear view because of my high dump bed behind my head, I see the look of a stranger peering back at me. A wild eyed lunatic with white spittle built up at the corners of his gaping mouth. One quick wink of an glazed eye back at me then back to looking for a possible head on around the next brushy curve.

Slowing as I came to my drive way I pull up onto the property a good hundred feet to see past the atomic dust cloud. Creeping out at twenty miles an hour she appears. Covered with dust and dirt clods she glares at me as I wave a frantic hello back at her. Why humiliate a worthy opponent. Now it’s a polite wave and reasonable speeds between us. In a small town, word gets around fast. Sure, I’ve had to drive a few square pegs into round holes to get the passing thing over with but it was for a good cause. Once Leo starts to drive, God help us all.

PHONEHENGE NORTH NEWS: Oh, I forgot to tell you about the drunken cowboy that passed Leo and I in front of the MONOLITH, then, had the gall to flip us off. We ran him off the road at the ten-mile-an-hour railroad crossing leaving his Camaro facing the wrong way and hung up on the second set of tracks. I lost my right mud flap but it was well worth it. Leo needs guidance in these formative years…

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…

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…

Mongolian Death Worm

In scientific circles, ALLERGORHAI-HORHAI. About two foot long and shaped like a sausage, rumored to achieve even larger lengths. Said to have the ability to give an electric shock, amped enough to kill a camel and its rider. Also, emits a shrill shriek, just before its shoots out venom in a directed stream. Hmm… The real ‘Indiana Jones’, Roy Chapman Andrews, just returning from a trek in the vast Gobi desert, had found out about the creature from his head camel driver the hard way. His driver, named Tserin, should have his own book. Tserin would leave weeks ahead of Andrews’ expeditions, to prepare the tents and camps for Chapman’s large party of explorers, and, usually Roy’s first wife, Yvette. A real kick in the pants as women in the field go. More on her later. Chapman wanted to save a weeks travel by cutting across an area in the Gobi, that Tserin would not put one toe into…Chapman had to give up on that idea. Tserin told him to get another camel train master. He wasn’t going into that area because of the ‘Horhai’. In some ways, I0 find Tserin even more facinating then Chapman. Roy had some of his supplies stolen and one of his men killed on his first expedition outside of China and the protection of the Chinese army. This was in the early 1920’s. The Chinese General wouldn’t go into the Gobi, so, he suggested Tserins band of nomads. Chapman hires him to get his goods back. And, to bring back the murderers for justice. A save face deal. In less then a month, Chapman is contacted by the General that the thieves are in hand, and, at his very compound. “Come collect them and pay your reward!” Chapman always travelled with an extremely bulky and heavy, short wave radio, that took up an entire Dodge travelall car. It was worth it, countless times…So, bringing his entire expedition of nine such cars to see justice, they park outside the palace in Peking, to await the general and to watch a hotly contested polo game going on between some hard riding tribesmen. As the game came closer to the parked cars at the end of the long field, they catch a look at what Tserin and his friends are using as a ball. One of the bandit’s heads. The rest were in a pile, awaiting another game, most likely. Roy used Tserin exclusively after this incident. So, when a man like this won’t go into an area, you had best pay attention. Yvette, Roy’s wife, really wanted to see one of these Death Worms. She also wanted to bring one back alive. Roy shot all of his specimens. Not Evette. She would find the babies left by these, ‘hunts’, then nurse them along, turning them into pets. Roy would get steamed. Until her hobby saved all their lives. Taking in a baby Vulture she found in a canyon, she would set it to perch on a fifty cal. machine gun they had mounted on a car’s back seat to ward off bandits. She would feed it on this gun, twice a day from animals Roy brought back. In a dispute at a watering hole with another tribe, one of the headmen noticed the Vulture perched on the gun and ordered his men back. It was too much of a bad omen… Since the hot desert sun heated up everything, the camel riding tribes wore a long, robe-like garment called a ‘Del’. Underneath they kept all their weapons out of the sun. So, you never knew what the hell they had underneath. You knew for sure they had a long curved sword. That’s how they settled all personal disputes. After a few expeditions, tribes folk would travel long distances to Roy’s camps. They had heard of the doctors Roy usually had along for specimen study and such. Not really medical doctors, they still did amputations, and set broken bones. You can’t have enough friends in the Gobi. Some desert storms can easily bury cars up to their roofs overnight with sand. Ditto for quick sand and fine flowing sand that would overheat all the Dodge cars instantly. With over a hundred and twenty five camels in one of his trains, Tserin would pull them all out by camel power. These men took so many crates of fossils and specimens out of China and Mongolia, entire warehouses are still full of them in countless museams, all over the Eastern part of the US. NEVER OPENED. Yep, just like at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie, but this is real. Chapman never did find a Death Worm, but, I did a search on the web. A large Chinese scientific team is heading out this summer, to try and find one…

Downtown L.A.

When the work slowed down in Hollywood or Beverly Hills, or, if you were a smart ass who needed straightening out, you ended up working Downtown L.A… Not the nice parts either. You go where the cables go. They usually start out in a Central Office (C.O.) then, like a hub of a wheel, cables left it like giant spokes, then turned into even smaller cables, the farther out they went. I always hated it, yet, sort of liked the challenge in a sick sort of way. Mainly because of the people. If you’re cable maintenance, you work big cutovers after six pm. Don’t want to piss those big clients off. Into the breach you go. Cables don’t run in front Downtown. They run underground. In big long dark alleys. Through brush in Griffith Park. Brush so thick it rips your sweatshirt and jackets to shreds. Once you’re out of the glaring lights, you find the Lost Souls. The ones who live in the hidden camps, grottos, the abandoned zoo, freeway underpasses.‎.. Or, the other side of the coin. The rich, the late night movers and shakers. Private clubs. Every sort of bar and hang out, for every sort of person. You get pulled off your regular work, all the time if you were a special circuit man. Heart monitors, alarms, traffic signals, data transmissions, railroad switch signals. All kinds of stuff. Since I was always causing trouble in crews, I end up on the Specials crew, Downtown. Boy, was it wild. I go out with a guy named Rick L. on my first night on the new crew to learn the ropes. You worked noon to whenever you felt like. Techs were hauling in over a hundred grand in overtime in six months. In the sixties, no one cared how long you worked. Just get it done. Rick was an alchoholic, but a working type. He was the first person to show me the underground city, sometimes multiple stories, underneath the street lights and towering buildings packing the miles above. In between jobs, Rick hit his usual bars and clubs. It’s easy to get a tab anywhere in town if you play ball and do favors. Favors? The kind that could get a guy killed. ‘The little bird on the shoulder’, was one such favor. Here’s how it would go down. You’re in a bar, replacing a credit card machine gooey with Coke spilled in it. Maybe a Coke kicked over by some almost nude gay dancer, T bagging a customer off the bar, right next to you. Your a phone man. There’s one thing a phone man can’t say. “I’m not going!” You’re instantly unemployed. You go where dispatch tells you. Period. If a dispatcher doesn’t like you, it’s one turd sandwich after another. Hate to climb poles? Those will be the only jobs you get, forever. So, back to the bar. A voice from behind you, shouts out it needs to talk to you over the blaring music. You turn and see the owner of the joint, looking weird from the flashing stobe lights and lazer going off all over. You nod, finish your repair, meet him in the almost quiet rear office. He pushes out a chair, wonders if he can fix you a drink. He then gets down to business. Someone is doing him/her wrong. They want to tap into some lines. If you don’t get up and walk, money will then appear. Here’s where it gets tricky. You read the paper a few days later, after accommodating your new pal, and see that someone got themselves killed. Maybe it will say for ‘no reason’. Maybe you’re the reason. People say all sorts of things on the phone that aren’t true. I’m no different. You’re protected by that void. It’s just a voice. Not reality in a way. You gave someone ‘the little bird’. Maybe they heard just what they didn’t want to hear. They snap and in the blink of an eye, they do something foolish or crazy. Another phone man, Big Ed, told me a story along these lines and I never forgot it. It can be tough not to pick up bunch of hundreds shoved at you for five minutes work. I was sorely tempted on many an occasion. I found a lot of other ways to get in trouble, but never line tapped. Plus, I was a snot nosed kid. On top of that, a lousy phone man. It took YEARS to become a good phone man. Adequate was all I ever was. My forte was schmoozing pissed off customers. I’d keep them under control until a real phone man arrived. For thirty seven years, the dog and pony show kept me jumping. Usually right into a fire…

A Perfect Life… Almost…

His name was Gene Tunney. At one time the Heavyweight champ of the entire world. He wasn’t like John L. Sullivan, who would walk into a bar, take off his coat and proclaim, “I can lick any man in the house!” No, Tunney wanted to be known as the thinking man’s fighter. He always carried a book to read between training sessions. In the early 1920’s, he was chosen as the first, “Fighter of the Year,” by Ring magazine. He’s also in the World Boxing Hall of Fame, and the United States Marine Corps Hall of Fame. One of his fights is legendary because of the, ‘Long Count’. In this title fight, Jack Dempsey was trying to get his title back. Dempsey had lost a decision to Tunney and wasn’t too happy about it. Dempsey had been told of the new boxing rule on going to a neutral corner if your opponent is knocked down. Old Jack loved to stand over a fallen foe, then nail him as he got up. Couldn’t do that anymore… During the fight, Dempsey knocks Gene down. Gene went down pretty badly hurt. Dempsey wouldn’t go to a neutral corner. The referee yelled and shoved Dempsey, not starting the count to ten until Jack complied. This gave Gene the time to clear his head, thus saving him the title… I’m fifteen and in the big office of Gene Tunneys son, John V. Tunney. He was a Senator or something. I was with thirty other kids on a four week bus tour of the U.S. We had all won a seat on the bus for raising money for the Y.W.C.A.’s, but, thats another story. Anyhow, Mr. Tunney, being a Senator and all, was quite busy. He was gracious, but curt. He gave us the bums rush tour of his office, pointed out some photos of him with Presidents and famous people, then offered to sign some autographs and stand for a group picture. I could never show that photo without big money paid to me I look so pathetic in my red blazer. As he’s signing for the other kids, I see a framed photo of his dad in boxing trunks, holding a boxing pose. He notices me looking at it and says a smug, “That’s my father, Heavyweight Champ of the World. He retired undefeated, never beaten in the ring!” Now, I know zip about sports. Except boxing. My Uncles took me to many an arena and boxing venue as I grew up. Also, I knew Tunney was full of baloney. Sure, his pop was undefeated as the Marine Corps champ. Married into a wealthy socialite’s family and retired undefeated as Heavyweight Champ, spending the rest of his days popular and wealthy. He had the perfect life. Except for one thing. A guy named Harry Greb. Greb also happened to be my favorite fighter of all time, so, the Senator really ticked me off with his statement. Tunney the fighter, was suppossed to fight some other boxer, but it fell through. Since they had already sold out a bunch of tickets, they needed a quick replacement. This is where my guy, Greb comes into the story. Harry Greb was a Middleweight. He never weighed over 156 pounds. He also never trained. He stayed in shape by being a sparring partner. Meaning, he boxed other pros to get them in shape. He had one law he followed. Never fight for free. If you want a look at him, check out who won the title of “World’s Dirtiest Fighter” in a survey Ring magazine took, a few years ago. Short and stocky, with slicked back hair, Greb would fight anyone, anytime. Just put the dough on the table. Since Tunney was in a fix, his manager put out some frantic phone calls to keep the venue from going broke. One of Tunney’s trainers suggested Greb. Tunney scoffed the idea off. “He’s too small. I need someone with more stature!” This trainer had just watched Greb spar with Dempsey a few weeks prior. Greb had made a monkey out of Dempsey. Dempsey was so enraged, he demanded his trainer, Kearns, to put Greb in for just one more training round so he could knock his block off. Greb made him look even worse. Since no one else could be acquired in such short time, Greb it was. Tunney knew zip about Greb. Him being a Middleweight sort of made the fight a joke. Tunney figured he would take it easy on Greb to sell the mismatch, then take him out after the fans had their moneys worth… It’s fight night. Both men are in the center of the ring getting instructions. Tunney towers over Greb. As they touch gloves, Tunney screws the pooch. He does the one thing no one would ever do to Greb if they knew the guy. Never mess up his hair. Tunney reached over playfully and mussed Grebs hair up… “DING!” It’s the start of the first round. Tunney advances and a human windmill is in his face. In the first sixty seconds of the fight, Greb breaks Tunneys nose with ten shots to the face, backs Gene into the ropes, then laces his face in the clinch while stepping on his feet. As Gene tried to break free, Greb land a tremendous shot to Gene’s balls. As Greb explained to the reporters later, “Why not, they always give you a warning!” Spinning Tunney by his elbow, Greb then took him to fist city all over the ring. By the middle rounds, Tunney was a wreck. Eyes were closing and blood streaming from his mouth, ears and the cuts all over his face. Greb wasn’t called the “Human Windmill,” for nothing. At the end of the fight, Tunney went to the hospital, Greb took his wife out for dinner and dancing. He didn’t have a mark on him… Back to the Senator. I mention the name Harry Greb and the Senator gives the signal for us to be moved along…

The Swozie’s Ride

I’m at the Acton market, years ago. I’m squatting at the magazine rack as I let the kids shop for frozen food. I was covering meals for a couple of weeks and I DON’T COOK. Screw that. I’ve told my kids many a time, if they come home and find me stirring some pot on the stove, to get my .12 gauge and blow my head off. It’s a Doppleganger, taking my life over. Kill it fast and get it over with. As I’m flipping through a ‘Country Living’, I hear some ladies in line say, “You know, up there past the murder house!” My ears perk up. Murder house? Then, the cashier adds, “The Knotts Berry place on Shannonvalley!” Huh? That was my place! I listen as another guy in line says, “Yeah, the old guy up there shot five people in a home invasion!” Now I’m really interested. I shot five people? I was sort of proud. Plus, with this kind of baloney going around, who would worry about burglars…What had actually happened was the shooting of a pack of wild dogs that had been terrorizing the neighborhood. Coming in through our front gate a sneaking home Tejas had left open, the dogs had already killed all of our geese and had worked their way down to our mules and horse corrals. A pal, Cowboy Greg, had left me in charge of three of his horses as he wooed a new sweetheart. She turned out to be a daughter of Satan, but, that’s another story. These dogs were hard to see in the dark. It was five am on a Sunday morning, so, the sun was’t up yet. I chase the dogs down the dirt drive in a nightgown and untied boots. I hit ’em with some .12 gauge from my short barrel pump. They don’t go down. DAMN! Birdshot! My son’s Noah and Ty run with flashlight carrying the double odd buckshot box. I jack out the crap rounds, then reload on the run. I nail one of the pit bull mix bastards and he still comes back up. I take him to pump city. He stays down…The cops come, tell me to just bury the dogs, the story goes around town and changes from dogs to people. I say nothing. I like the notoriety…I’m at my mailbox a few days later. Darryl Swozie stops his battered pump truck. As usual, his exhaust is making that death rattle wheeze when he takes his foot off the throttle. He waves me to his window, then informs me he knows who owns the stray dog pack. Its from a halfway house for child molestors and creeps, just over the hill towards Aqua Dulce. He also says, that for fifty bucks donation, he’ll take care of the problem. I give him the two twentys in my pocket. His clan is one to stay on good terms with. Being nocturnal, and very numerous, I always stayed on their good side…Sheriffs come by to visit me a couple of days later. Seems someone in an old septic pumper truck had chained the gate closed at a County halfway house over the hill, stuck a septic hose through a side laundry window at three am, then, filled the house with sewage. When the people ran outside, gun shots fired in the air, drove them right back in. Looked like they were going to have to close the house down. My name had come up for some reason during their investigation. I told them I hadn’t a clue on what they were talking about…From then on, when the Swozies needed some water, I filled their Sparkletts bottles gladly…