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…

The Mighty Atom

Only weighing in at 145lbs, he could stop a plane from taking off with his hair, bite nails in half with his teeth, bend heavy iron bars with his fingers, break heavy chains by inflating his chest, defied cars to break away while he holds them with a rope, merry-go-rounds six people off his hair, drive heavy spikes through 2 inch planks with just his fist. Only a few of the things my hero, Joseph L. Greenstein, did throughout his life. Even into his 80’s. Doubt my word? Look him up. There’s film on him doing everything listed above and more.

Pretty darn good for an infant expected to die at any minute. The local doctors had a pool on his hour of death. They even asked his mother for his little body once he expired since he was so tiny and frail. As a child he really did walk through snow with rags on his feet. His father was a rabbi. The head of the poorest family in Suvalk, Poland. Every year was expected to be his last.

In 1903, the circus came to Joe’s town. Like most of the other kids he, too, snuck in. Circus roundabouts caught him and half beat the tiny waif to death. Found by the circus strongman, ‘Champion Volanko’, after he could stand up, Volanko made every circus worker say these words at the top of his lungs: “YOU DIRTY JEW, I’LL KILL YOU!” When the small boy flinched at the correct voice, Volanko grabbed the man by his lapels and hit him a blow so hard, the man’s jacket came off in his fist. When the circus left town, so did Joe. He became Volanko’s valet.

The first thing Volanko taught him was how to breathe correctly. “Joseph, breathing is the key to everything you’ll ever want to accomplish!” Volanko also told Joe to stop listening to doctors. Doctors were bloodsuckers and liars in his book. Next, food. “If you eat like a dog, you will live like one!” From then on and for the rest of his long life, it was grainy foods and plain hot tea. Opening up the back of his pocket watch, Volanko showed Joseph the fine gears and wheels. “Inside your body it’s the same. What would happen if I ground dirt into those workings? Your body is the same. Don’t put bad things into it!”.

Throughout the time Joe spent with Volanko, a mantra was driven into him. “Breathe deeply. Refuse to be weak. Refuse to be sick. Refuse to die. Think strong and you will be!” The very first morning on the road, Joe began the buckets of sand routine. Ten times with each arm. Only a little sand in the fire buckets, but it was a start. Every week, a bit more sand was put into the buckets. Along with the buckets came his time to read. Mostly Jewish prayer books and teachings. Volanko only pretended to be a wild Russian Cossack. He, too, was a Jew. He, too, had once been just like Joseph. He felt it was his turn to give some pay back as another long before had helped him.

After a few months on the road, the buckets now had a lot more sand. It was also time to teach Joe how to break chains with his chest. Not wanting to break the boy’s spirit, Volanko used a piece of string around Joe’s tiny chest. The boy couldn’t do it. Volanko had him pick a chain out of many hanging on a wagon wall to prove it wasn’t trick chain. Putting the chain around his chest, Volanko then took in as much air as he could hold then transferred the air to where the chain wrapped around him. The thick chain burst apart. Joseph never forgot it. From then on, he worked on busting the string. After the string, some cord, then, a small chain. He only got better.

Once he started to put on some muscle, it was time to learn how to wrestle. Volanko gave him some more advice. “To be a man is not just muscles. It’s strength of character. No matter how much sand is in your buckets, you have to build character by living life as a good person!”.

It’s now 1908. The circus has toured all the way to Poona, India. Everyone chewed the narcotic red betel nut, then spit the juice. Beggars of all sorts were everywhere. Armless and deformed they would follow after Joseph crying for charity. He always tried to give them something. If only a kind word. Something to acknowledge their existence. Volanko nodded his head to himself. Joseph had a kind heart.

In Poona, wrestling was king. You wrestled with only a breech cloth. After watching the locals, Joe was introduced to, ‘Gama, the lion of the Punjab’. He was the Poona champion. He was also Volanko’s best friend. Joseph asked Gama how he became champion. “I would wrestle a tree in my backyard, twice a day!” Gama had read about the Spartan boys in ancient Greece. When they got a bit too full of themselves, the Spartan soldiers training them would make them strip naked then, ‘Fuck the tree boys’. Smashing into the big oak in rows, they had to push with all their might to try and shove the tree out of the ground by its roots. If you were caught slacking, you were whipped until you fell. Some never did fall. They were whipped to death and fell over dead. Too proud to give in.

Along with wrestling everyday, Joe also studied Yoga. He also started fasting one day a week. He never wavered. Even keeping it up into his 80’s. Taking on all sizes, Joe learned to endure. To ignore pain. He also started to win. After another year and a half Volanko left Joseph on the side of the road not 100 feet from where they had first met. He never saw Volanko again. As the wagon rolled away Volanko shouted back, “NEVER FORGET WHO YOU ARE!”

Now 16, Joe was back with his family. Not even settled in, Joe watched a Russian soldier kill an old Jewish man with his saber for fun. Joseph followed him into the woods, fought with him, then killed the Russian soldier with his own broken sword hilt. No one in his village ever mentioned it. The soldiers body was never found.

At 18, Joseph married Rachael Leah. A table cloth and two candlesticks was her dowery. Joseph was now responsible for their success. He informed Rachael he was going to America. To Texas to be more exact. Only married 8 weeks, he took ship to Houston. On board the steamer ‘The Frankfurt’, he found work peeling potatoes. Not much in pay, but he ate well.

Finding a job loading and pushing a peddlers wagon, Joseph discovered wrestling was also huge in Houston. The rules in America were a bit different though. After shaking hands, as long as you didn’t leave an opponent deaf, blind or sterile, you we’re good to go. Soon he found work with the Southern Pacific Railroad. While eating lunch one day he met the heavy weight champion of the world, Jack Johnson. Noticing Joe was Polish from his accent, Johnson told Joe a story about a Polish fighter he once fought. “Boy, I’ll never fight that Choyski again. He could hit. He once hit Jim Jefferies so hard his lips were plastered into his teeth. The ring attendants had to cut them away with a knife!” Johnson told Joe to keep wrestling. He was only going to get better. The words boosted Joe’s spirits. Soon with his saved pay and money from wrestling, he sent money for Leah to join him. He also was to be a father soon.

After many adventures, Joe settles in to a nice little gas station business with a small house in the rear. Heading for a nearby hardware store, one of his more famous incidents occurred. Already well-known for his handling of hecklers, one such incident put him on the front page of no less then 7 newspapers.

NEW YORK JOURNAL: ‘Mighty Atom proves power to crowd’. In less then two minutes, Joe had tossed five men through plate glass windows, knocked cold, flattened a dozen more and taken a stab wound during the fracass.

NEW YORK WORLD TELEGRAM: “When the police arrived one officer stated to the newspaper reporter that the Mighty Atom didn’t need no help!” The officer added, “We saved the crowd from him!”

Not long after this incident, Joe was in the German part of New York on business. He stopped in his tracks when he saw a large banner over a storefront that said “NO DOGS OR JEWS ALLOWED.” He asked a passerby, “What in the hell is that?” He was informed that it was the Nazi headquarters and that a big ‘Bund’ was taking place. Going across the street to a paint store, he rented an 18 foot ladder, then stopped at a sporting goods store for a ‘Hank Greenburg’ baseball bat. Now up the ladder, Joe tore down the banner then waited on the sidewalk for whatever was going to unfold.

As the building emptied, Joe took up his bat and played some Nazi baseball. As he told the judge in court later, “It wasn’t really a fight, your honor. It was a pleasure!” Joe took on the entire Bunt. He put 18 in the hospital. He came out of it with a black eye. Hauled into court on a charge of aggravated assault, mass mayhem and so forth, a surprisingly cheerful Joseph Greenstein stood before the bench. The white haired judge could scarce believe his eyes at the tiny man in front of him with just a small mouse under his eye, then, past him at the crowd of badly beaten men filling the courtroom with arms and legs in casts and missing teeth.

Not able to believe it, the judge turned to the police officer and said, “This little guy did all this damage?” The officer responded, “Well, your honor, deese here guys is just the ones that could gets out of the hospital for court!” The judge asked Joe if he had anything to say. “Well, your honor, every swing was like a home run!” The officer leaned and whispered in the judges ear, “These here guys is Nazis your honor. They comes after him, see?” The judge banged his gavel, “Not guilty, case dismissed!”

I could go on for hours. Do yourself a favor. Research this man. He’s one of my favorite people of all time.

Now, the time he was over 80 and would walk the alleys at night hoping street thugs would jump him. Those are some great stories!

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…