Back To The Land

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. (More)



At the post office a barefoot woman was dancing in the parking lot on the wet wintery day. Her shortish strawberry-blond hair was over her face and her head was down; she danced in manic patterns along the pavement like some butterfly mating dance. When I got out of the post office she was still dancing and I went up to her.

“Is that a profound artistic statement,” I asked, “or some drug-fueled mania?” She continued dancing and moved toward me. “Let me see your face.” She looked up, pale with pink lips, her hands cold and red. She danced and I danced with her; she stopped in front of me and I took her in my arms and we had this kind of slow hug dance. I turned her around and held her from behind, picked up her leg and slowly swirled her around; I held her close, she was a waif, and I lifted her off the pavement and danced/carried her–I was getting turned on. (More)

Interview with Ed Denson
Local Lawyer

“Had you always wanted to be a lawyer or did the idea just come to you one day?”
“I am a from the South. My mother said I should be a lawyer, or a doctor, or in the military. I ignored her for 55 years, and had a career as a rock band manager, and record label owner. I was doing legal support work for a few years, and realized that there was a shortage of lawyers in the civil rights and marijuana fields, if you’ll pardon the pun, which were closely related areas of law. With my inheritance I was able to go to law school and took to the law like a duck to water. At 59 I become a lawyer.”

Ed Danson

“Was it easy or difficult for you to study for and pass the bar?”
“I studied at home with what we now call a “distance learning” school. It took me a few months to catch on, but once I caught on the rest of the study was easy and enjoyable. I passed the Baby Bar on the 1st try, and 3 years later, the full bar on the 1st try, Distance learning students statistically do poorly, with a bar pass rate around 17%. But I think it helped that I was 59 years old and had the maturity to do the required study on my own.”

“How long did the whole process take?”
“Almost 5 years.”

“What is one major aspect about the legal system that no lay person realizes?”
“That legal language differs from standard English, and words do not mean what they seem to in many laws. This makes it very difficult for the untrained to read the laws and understand them

“Can you tell us what’s the most important aspect to settling a DUI case?”
“Good facts. Most DUI cases become quite technical, and having a grip on the technical aspects makes assembling the good facts much easier. You asked about settling a DUI case. You can settle any DUI case by taking the DA’s first offer, and these days the offer usually comes very early in the process. The trick, of course, is to get the best settlement, and that usually takes time.” (More)

Andres and the Bruja

On Christmas Day Andres found a map in his Santa Claus sock; the next morning he followed it up the mountain behind his house in the little Mexican pueblo of Real de Catorce. There was a man walking up the mountain too.

“Hello little boy,” the man said. “Where are you going?”

“I am traveling up to the old mines to look for something,” Andres replied.

The man seemed very interested. “Oh, what are you looking for?”

Andres kept walking. “I can’t tell you, its a secret.”

“Well young boy, I am El Presidente of the village; I think I will come along.”

The two kept walking higher up the mountain; when they reached a fork in the path Andres wasn’t sure which way to go. The map had been slightly damaged with all his Christmas treats. A goat was standing there (More)

Goodbye Archie

Wow, Archie is gone, Thomas Umina is no more. I first met Arch outside a food buying club distribution meeting at the A-Frame back in ’76 or ’77: who’s the new guy with the ponytail? Archie was one of those inclusive folks who organized and motivated people into supporting and working on community projects. His outrageous sense of humor reflected his CB handle “The Joker” well.

    Once I went into a store by Sicilitos and when I walked back out my car was gone. Wait, did I really park it there? I started looking around and finally spotted it around the corner. Then I noticed Archie and Jeff through the restaurant glass watching and laughing; I had left the keys in the ignition and The Joker saw an opportunity.

    For many years Archie was a fixture at Sunday softball games in Whitethorn; he playing shortstop and third base for the Lost Coast Whalers with his wife Lily and kids Kyle and Ruby completing the entourage. A diehard Dodger fan and enthusiastic ball player he mostly got along with everyone but he could give as good as he got. A few times after throwing one of my periodic fits (the working title of my book? Been In The Woods Too Long) Archie called me fat boy but he wasn’t lying.

    For a couple of decades Archie famously organized, set up, and ran the Labor Day weekend Fire Dept. bake sale, out there decorating Four Corners with his buddies and luring tourists and locals to stop and donate for delectable treats, hot dogs, and whole meals too. There was often a band on Saturday Night; it was quite a show and who knows if there will be another bake sale now that Archie is gone. (Go to back issue #33 for a fuller picture of Archie in action)

    From West Covina to Santa Cruz to Whale Gulch to Puerto Escondido, Archie lived life fully, dying a doting grandfather in this land of the dirt he liked to dig.

     Adios muchacho, amigo, chongo loco…

On The Road In Mexico

Travels with Ally: Sinaloa

    The hopped up drug gang on meth, or something, tried to take us down on the highway through Sinaloa but with evasive maneuvers we got away to haunt the taco stands of Mazatlan searching for frijoles de la olla. (Plain beans in the pot.)


 We hadn’t planned on driving down the West Coast of Mexico but got a wild hair and took a right at Tucson, abandoning Interstate 10 to Texas, Laredo, and the big birthday party in San Luis Potosi. ( My septic system had failed days before we left California; we each had to dig a hole in opposite ends of the back yard like the old days. The shit was literally bubbling up in the back yard but I didn’t want to postpone the trip waiting for the sewer pumper the next day–my caretaker would have to handle it.)

    After a night at the beach of San Carlos, Sonora, we headed into the badlands of Sinaloa. We didn’t want to tarry in cartel-infested territory but as dusk neared it was apparent we wouldn’t be able to drive through the whole dangerous state in a single day. At dark we found ourselves outside Culiacan, just about the last place I wanted to spend the night; I sat at the gas station, immobilized, wondering what to do: keep on driving through the night, not recommended, or drive into the city to find a hotel, notwithstanding the shoot-out on the main street the previous week. (More)


The Online Personals


     And so ends my experience with the online personals: I must’ve contacted at least 150 women from all over the West Coast in their 40’s and I don’t know if its my location, age, looks, attitude, aptitude or my profile in general but they’re not buying and I can’t give it away. (How about trying women your own age you might ask and scary as that thought seems you might have a good point.) So here’s the story from the first date in September when she smacked me in the face midway through the second bottle of wine to the last greensingles date a few weeks ago when I inexplicably let a woman I had no chemistry with into my house at 11pm one night.

     It all started last September when my neighbor was talking about putting a personal add on; he couldn’t muster up a positive attitude through his slightly depressive fog and no matter how much I encouraged him, and told him I would help him write it, he demurred. Finally I beat him to it and put one in myself although I was hopelessly innocent getting right to the core of things with my first profile that started out by saying “I need an heir.” (More)


Alderpoint Memories: Jim Dudley

     I came from Wapanuka, Oklahoma and ran the Riverview Inn in Alderpoint, California in the very early 70’s. To control the drunken redneck crowd I had a gun behind the bar and, well, I thought I was pretty clever because I loaded it up alternating blanks with real bullets. That’s right: one bullet, one blank and so on. Anyway one night there was another big fight so I took the gun out and fired a real round into the ceiling. Then I turned the gun to the scuffle and fired a blank and, well, that blank hit this chick in the left tit and she set a howling and all hell broke loose. Those angry drunk Alderpoint rednecks chased me out of the bar and trashed the place completely.

     And that was the end of the Riverview Inn–I went back to Wapanuka promptly.