Tuesday, October 21, 2014


WHEREVER ANGRY PERSONALITIES GATHER---A NEGATIVE VORTEX IS FORMED--- WITH INTERESTING CONSEQUENCES.  I happened across such a place----stayed awhile to experience it.

It's located far out this road on the way to Death Valley

On the far side of this 100 sq mile dried up lake.
Has a population of 50

I've been here several times---always too afraid to spend the night.
But this time I resolve like Thoreau: "if it should prove mean--then to get the full meanness of it."
So I settle in by an abandoned swimming pool. 
Only a block from the heart of things.

Surprisingly, It still has a post office with a very nice postmistress who gave me much local info.

I also engaged Henry--a temporary resident---doing archaeology on the dry lake.  Told me lots of ancient civilizations lived along the lake.

An old gas station has been refurbished to serve as home

to this nice family.

I also made friends with these two--ever lonesome--glad to see me.

So where is all the scary dark energy?  It's located in a few square blocks in the Northwest area where a series of walled-in fortresses have been constructed.

Walls of junk

Walls of dirt

walls of boards

old cars

walls of hodge podge
The bravest thing I did was walk this back alley between the walls. 

This is all I could see beyond the barbed wire.
An interesting assortment of homes:  In rail cars---



Don"t think anyone lives in this---but it evokes the ambient mood and shows the 15 ft bushy walls.

As does this old building---which made me think of Heartbreak Hotel---"when yo baby leaves you and you have no place to dwell---go down to the end of lonely street...to.....

A political statement outside one of the fortresses.

RANDY COMMENTS:  My courage failed me here.  I was  unwilling to penetrate any fortress and hence unable to experience the personalities that live in them.  I was told that fierce hatreds exist here.  I believe the walls suggest pathological darkness of spirit.  I may be wrong.
But on the 3rd day of my visit I received a clear warning that my presence---picture taking and odd hour strolls all over town were unwelcome.  I "proved" my courage by staying another 3 hours and then left.  I think I learned here that sometimes my inquiries taper into intrusiveness--that mysterious strangers with unclear agenda are unsettling to a community.  Good lesson for me: Make my good intentions transparent.

Friday, October 17, 2014


LONE PINE CALIFORNIA IS THE MECCA OF COWBOY MOVIES----over 500 of them have been made here---for a very good reason!

I found myself a scenic free spot only a block from the center of things. I'm parked outside the estate of  Louis Statum--rich guy who invented medical stuff.
But every spot in Lone Pine has a scenic view.  This is the view from McDonalds.
One of those peaks up there is Mt Whitney---14,494 ft--highest point in the continental 48 states.

So I do the tourist thing---take a pict with a young John Wayne.
And here's a skin tight Lone Ranger and stolid Tonto.
And a gold clad Elvis.
And the most famous man in the world (for a few years) Roy Rogers.
But just outside town is the big draw---the famous Alabama Hills---miles and square miles of boulder filled backdrops ---just perfect for movie making.
(named during the civil war by local southern sympathizers to honor the amazing confederate battleship Alabama that had no equal in the Yankee Navy---boarded 450 vessels---captured or burned 65 Union ships---took more than 2000 prisoners without a single loss of life of prisoners or her own crew) Curious? read about it here.

Here's an over view hinting at the hundreds of nooks ready made for Western movies.

Festival people place movie shots at the precise spot it was filmed.  Hundreds are scattered around the area letting you relive some of your favorite scenes---if you're old enough to remember.

This classic spot was used over and over.

Fascinating to walk around--
see how movie people can utilize a spot
like this

And of course they had a parade.  Here's a Hopalong Cassidy look-alike.
And John Wayne---all American hero. 

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  This area will make you feel good about the BLM. (Bureau of Land Management)  They preserve this historic scene and keep it open for free use by campers.  Movies are still made here.  Don't leave town without visiting the movie museum at the end of town and the BLM visitor center just south of town.  Also, there's an abandoned monastery within hiking distance in the mountains.

PREVIEW OF COMING STORY:  I'm on my way to a slightly dangerous situation:  I mean to penetrate the dark innards of an occupied ghost town. A town listed in the encyclopedia of forlorn places.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014



She lives in Bishop, California
Was a contestant in the Miss California Beauty contest.  Voted Miss Congeniality.

I read about her here---voted citizen of the year for Inyo county.
So where did I find her?  Volunteering of course --I make an appointment and bring my questions the next day to the visitor center.  
She gave me an overview of the community:  Bishop has 3,500 citizens--a harmonious blend of Anglo, Native American and Latino. with an economy based on Agriculture, mining and now mostly tourism.  She talks up the town but I'm interested primarily in personal stuff and surprisingly she opened up with ease. Is in her early 20's-- is an albino and does not consider it a handicap. Her eyesight has stabilized so that she leads a normal life.  Was home schooled --learned very early the satisfactions of community service.  (Her first service to me was to arrange for a friend to cut my shaggy hair)
Kristina is a fellow poet---an especial fan of Robert Burns---(whom she can quote verbatim)

BUT HERE'S A BIG NEW IDEA we discussed:  A town with a splendid view positively affects the mood of its citizens.  Add clean air, clean streets and scenic parks and you will get a more centered citizenry.  I reflected on some of the sordid places I've visited and the sorry personalities frequently found there and concluded that there's merit to this assertion.  Bishop, Ca looks at inspiring mountains --east and west--has the best tasting water in the US-- perhaps the cleanest air---and sure enough---delightful people to mingle with.  Go find out for yourself!
   Thank you Kristina for a memorable interview. 

Friday, October 10, 2014


Getting these pictures and story is like finding the continental divide between Republicans and Democrats-----Conservatives and Liberals.

In a medium sized town, I saw this sight---quickly took a picture and hurried to catch them.

I introduced myself---made the right comments---asked for the story.

She dragged her passenger to a talking place and they told me.

Then continued their treck.

I will summarize the story---then I want to ask you a question.  
They are brother and sister (names and town withheld) and they live in the nearby woods in a tent---for 2 weeks of the month.  For two weeks they stay in a motel: cost: $500.  He injured his ankle some days ago and she padded the cart with cardboard for these outings.  They are on their way to churches to ask for assistance.  Now here's the shocker:  He gets SSI disability income of $900 a month. (mental) She gets $200 in food stamps.  Both smoke (roll your own) cigaretts: total cost: $100 a month.  Their money never lasts the month and so they go begging.

Now dear reader: How would you have society respond to these (literal) basket cases?  I'll tell you in a day or two what I think.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Theirs is not a dreadful situation.  They will not starve and they sleep in reasonable comfort even when they camp.  Most importantly THEY HAVE EACH OTHER!!  Have formed a symbiotic relationship---she needs his money and he needs her company and leadership.  ALSO: THEY HAVE THINGS TO DO---challenges---eating, bathroom---life adjustments.  As a pair they are so much better off than loner vagrants.  They can commiserate with one another.
Even so, they live in wretchedness---OF THE MENTAL KIND.  They both feel victimized---take no responsibility for their situation and are indeed a "bottomless pit" that no well meaning government program can fill---regardless how much money we dump into them.  In this---the right wingers are correct.  (Oprah gave a bum $10,000 and predictably he blew it quickly)
I think their benefits should be reduced to about $400 --- That amount of money would put some URGENCY into their life----would stimulate some CREATIVITY---some hustle, some challenge, some zest.  Rats deprived of easy food become very active searchers.  The trick is to find a balance between indulgence and unconcern.  (creative deprivation)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


WHETHER TO LIVE LIFE OR WRITE ABOUT LIFE---THAT IS THE QUESTION. Living is much easier----but writing about it keeps me conscious of its mystery and interested in its meaning---if there be any.  Also it connects me with you.  So here's a brief sample of my days.  I left you in Eugene, Oregon--got hot---went back to the coast.
Had a visitor.  Of course you recognize Glenn Morissette---one of the great bloggers in America--builder of the fabulous Vanagan home and saxaphonist extraordinaire--fresh from a tour of Australia with the Glen Miller band---Mr Simplify himself.  Read his blog here

He's a fun guy---and we play games.  This morning we take up position just outside the casino and engage folks on their way out --- guessing from their expression and demeanor whether they won or lost ---then asking to confirm.  They happily told us.

 I watch him prepare breakfast in his tiny but terrific kitchen. Note the latest high-tech stove and below it his high-tech refrigerator/freezer.  And how modest but functional is that table?  He built the entire interior himself.

One day, I have two additional guest---new friends --William and Mike an engineer and a builder/designer team.  
Two remarkable people who have mastered the art of good living.  Here's the interior of their travel home---that tv is 75 in. 

This was a day and night I spent in the town of Walport--- found a scenic spot near that famous bridge in the background. 
This was a day my friend Steve took me on a farm tour.  How odd to find a small orchestra entertaining the visitors.

Spent a day in Newport harbor---enjoying the boats, the sea smells and most amusing--- those seals.  They make a lot of racket as they squabble for position.
And Oh yes--back to the farm tour---this farm invited folks to grab an instrument and play.  Steve is an experienced drummer.  I managed to keep time with a tambourine.
Another day---this old friend dropped by---recognize him from lots of previous entries?  Its Bagpipe Bob---famous in mobile circles---for his music of course.  Properly motivated he will get into costume and make a hell of a show.  Here's what he looks like  : 
Wanna hear him ?
Someone actually bought me flowers---the first in my life.  I begin to understand why it thrills the ladies.  

Another day in a medium sized town, I saw this path and knew there was a story out there.

And there was!  A vagrant camp of several tents and 2 dogs.  I introduced myself and asked for an interview.  They were very gracious---learned how they make a living.

Meet John and his little dog.  Can you see the love?  Both ways? I remembered Thoreau's words in the conclusion of Walden; "You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse."  (and love--even in a vagrant camp) 
One day in Cottage grove I fell in step with this friendly fellow and had a beer with him.  He is a retired physics teacher with lots of connections around town.  Introduced me to some.

It's famous for its covered wooden bridges--this one right in town-- adjacent the Applegate Trail.

He introduced me to these two ladies and one of them gave me a brief ukulele lesson. 

Stayed that night in Wal-Mart parking lot.  Across the way, this fellow was playing and singing for his supper.  

Next day I went around town appreciating the great murals.
I moved on to Sutherlin, Oregon---spending 2 days in this old K-mart parking lot. (watched college football) 

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  You are probably enlightened if you really know the difference between a thought and an experience.  To begin learning (I'm told) just take a breath and notice the slight cooling at the base of the nose.  That's an experience.
I really don't know if I am squandering my life doing what I do.  Oh well!!

PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTION:  Remember the time I framed a question so carefully that it could OUT evil? Just by asking it?   the face of evil  Well, I have found and photographed a situation that when you see it and learn the facts, you can know instantly where you belong on the political spectrum; from extreme left to extreme right. (right after I catch up with myself blogging)