Paul Modic’s zine Gulch Mulch – Whale Gulch was Mendocino County-based. The website was lost 2018, recovered and archived by HAPA in 2020.


Life used to be really simple living in a small cabin in the hills, another middle class white kid who moved to the country and didn’t really know what he was doing. I never went to the dump–I didn’t have any garbage! Yeah, the original ecologists: if you don’t have money you don’t make trash. That still blows my mind: I didn’t have garbage. And no running water either so I decided to do something about that and it brings to mind this episode.

The first year on the mountain I carried gallon glass jugs up the hill, maybe five gallons twice a week up from the county road. I didn’t pay rent and had never met the owner of the land. I had helped Timothy move out because Tuna Jackson had promised the owner some improvements if he’d let him move in. Then Tuna changed his mind so I wrote the owner a one sentence letter telling him that I had moved in. I never saw him in the three years I lived up there doing whatever I wanted on his land—that’s just how things were back then.

I went back home to Indiana during the winter and came back the next Spring with a $300 Dodge Dart station wagon. The first time I drove up that steep dirt road with a 55 gallon barrel of water in the back there were lots of other things in the car wedging in the barrel. At the top of the road I ran the water into another barrel above the cabin; a black plastic line snaked to a faucet over the little sink.

The next time I hauled a barrel up the hill I thought gee I don’t remember doing anything special to secure the barrel; I filled that sucker up at a nearby spring and headed up the mountain. When I got to the top the barrel burst out of the back of the car smashing the window and hurtled down the hill–440 pounds of out of control water. If it had hit the cabin there would have been two holes in it.

(After that misadventure I started securing the barrel with an old tire; the next year I got a truck and could haul two barrels–I was on my way.)