Wednesday, March 31, 2010

White Trash Cafe

(owner of photo unknown)

Regardless of what type of home life a kid has, for a while at least they think that everybody lives the same way they do. If you are poor, or from the “other side of the tracks,” at some point there will be a watershed event that clears it all up for you and puts you directly in your place. It’s not a pleasant thing to find out you are "less-than" other kids. Being poor is a real eye opener. Everybody is signing up for little league and you have to lie and say you don’t like baseball, or the cub scouts, or a million other things. It’s not a fun thing to discover that other kids wear clothes that are much nicer and obviously cost more than yours do. It was a real surprise for me, to find out that all moms weren’t like mine…

I had many of these "watershed" events in my childhood and what follows is three of them. As you might have noticed (or read) by now. Kids in our family would fight outsiders for no reason at all. And none of us were the type to say “no, you hit me first!” Forget that, look at us sideways and we were throwing punches before the other kid even thought about swinging. My older brother Mike was short, but tough. I was a little taller than normal, wiry and tough. My younger brother Tim was wiry and just happy to oblige anyone that wanted to go at it. In other words, most kids knew better than to make fun of us for being poor.

One day after school I walked home with another kid. We weren’t good friends, but got along pretty well. He lived around the corner from me and asked if I wanted to stop over at his house and play for a while. His mom wasn’t home from work and he was supposed to wait, or play in the back yard until she got there.

We were just farting around, doing nothing really, when his mom got home. She opened the back door and told him to come in the house for a minute. I stayed outside, but I could clearly hear his mom yelling at him about not ever bringing that “white trash” to their house again. He was not to play with me in the neighborhood and he was not to play with me at school. I may have only been in the third or fourth grade, but I knew what white trash was. I didn’t wait for him to come back out, I left on my own. The next day at school I saw the kid and acted like nothing had happened. I knew what I was. I wanted to tell my mom, but knew better. She would give me absolutely no sympathy whatsoever and then she’d probably go kick the living hell out of that woman. Yeah, I knew….

I knew what I was. I knew it well enough to never have other kid's parents drop me off at home. It was too embarrassing. I had a pretty nice house picked out a few blocks away to be dropped off at. Sometimes I’d actually have to walk up to the front door before they’d leave. They just wouldn’t make it easy on me. One time I left something in a friend's car. They turned right around, went to that house and knocked on the door.

What a surprise for everyone. “I just dropped him off here!” “He doesn’t live here and never has!” I seem to remember some turmoil being raised at school over that one. Our house was a shack. My brother would get on one side of it and start pushing, after a very short time, he would have the entire house rocking on its foundation.

Most elementary school kids go to camp in the sixth grade (at least they did back then). The Long Beach school district has been doing it forever. Everybody goes. Well not quite everybody. They gave us several documents to take home for our parents to see and sign. One of them is a list of items that you have to take with you to camp. We didn’t have crap and my mom sure wasn’t about to buy anything for me to go to camp. I'm very sure my grandmother would have paid for it. Or one of my mom's "gentleman" friends would have. But she couldn't care less if I went to camp or not. So while all the other kids prepared to go, I didn’t. While all the other kids talked about it, I didn’t. While all the kids boarded the buses, I didn’t. I had to go sit in a class of fifth graders for the week. I was the only sixth grader in the entire school who didn’t go to camp. I knew what I was...

That year I had a funky white windbreaker for my only jacket. It had no lining at all, but I had to wear it every time it was cold. It wasn’t very efficient and was impossible to keep clean.

It’s Thursday and it’s been cold all week. The classroom is quiet and we’re supposed to be reading. The teacher asks me a question. “Mr. Tillett, why do you wear that old dirty jacket to school every day?” “Don’t you have anything else to wear?” She asked me loud enough for every single GD fifth grader in that class to hear what she said. I replied that I had others (a lie) but I didn’t want them to get ruined on the playground (another lie). There is no way that my face didn't turn bright red. I felt it get hot. I felt every kid in that room judging me. I may have only been in sixth grade, but I knew when somebody was being an asshole. And a mean asshole at that. I didn’t come back to school the next day and even though I had no other jackets, sweaters, or sweatshirts, I never wore that white piece of shit again. No matter how cold it got.

I damn sure knew what I was...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First Grade

First grade was just about the worst year in my life.

I went to Alice M. Birney Elementary, in Pico-Rivera, for my entire Kindergarten year. When my mom and dad split up, we moved to Bellflower for the start of first grade. After a month of two we moved again and I had to change schools.  My mom took me out of that school after a couple of months and made me go to another. I ended up going to 3 different schools that year. It is my first memory of extreme anger.

Although my mom went with me to the first day of first grade, she didn't accompany me to the other two schools on my first day there. In fact, I had to walk a long distance to each of them by myself. I knew no one. I remember the first morning at my third school. I reported to the office late and a lady walked me to my classroom. As we approached it, I could hear the class singing the "hot cross buns" song. I hated being in that school, my third of the year.  I'm also not terribly fond of the song to this day.

When it was lunch time I walked to the cafeteria, alone.  Because we were on welfare, I didn't get to bring my lunch.  I used a lunch ticket issued by the school district. As I said, I didn't know a soul at that school, so I found an empty table and sat by myself. I was very angry and it was getting worse by the second. I needed to do something.

I know this is very sick and I'm sure it was a cry for help, I peed on the floor under the table. I guess nobody was looking because no one said a word. I then went out on the playground until lunch was over. I stood against a building by myself, feeling very lonely, lonely and angry. The lunch-over bell finally rang and class resumed. I didn't pay any attention to what was happening in class. When we were let out for afternoon recess, I'd had enough and left. I just walked away.  Here is where I know I must have badly wanted some intervention, I peed again, this time on a tree directly across the street from the school. As bad luck would have it, nobody saw me.

I walked home. I know I should have walked in the opposite direction, but I didn't. I was hoping I'd get hit by a car. I even strongly considered running into traffic.  I can't believe that nobody thought a thing about a six year old walking by himself, on a busy street, in the middle of a school day, at least a mile from home.

I ended up finishing the year at that school. I still have the report card. My grades were good, but in the comments section it said "seems very distracted." No shit...

It took me quite a while to connect beatings from my mom, to the multiple school changes in first grade. One day I fell out of a tree and broke my arm.  I know what you're thinking, but no, my mother wasn't involved. When I showed up to school in a cast, my teacher sent me to the office and they asked me several questions. They didn't seem to believe that I fell out of a tree. But for once my mother was innocent. The really bad things about it was that it didn't heal correctly and it had to be re-broken. I promise, my mom didn't do that either.  I'm sure she would have liked to, but she didn't.

At that time we were living in a old wooden house on Rose Street, that sat in front of a small apartment court. As I said earlier, my mom was seldom home. Although we were on welfare, she was working in bars. During this time period she was working at "Sherry's Can-Can." It was on the corner of South and Paramount streets in Long Beach. I remember it had an old wagon sitting on the roof (adding to the shit-kicking charm I guess).

Although I had an older brother, he didn't seem to be around very much either. I have to ask him about that. When I wasn't left alone, my mom would leave me with two different babysitters. They were both perverts. One of them always took a bath as soon as my mom left. She made me stay in the bathroom with her to "stand guard." She seemed to wash some parts a lot longer than others and made me "wash" them also. The other babysitter's boyfriend would always arrive shortly after my mom left.  They made me watch while they had sex. Maybe they thought it was alright because my mom always had "adult" magazines laying around. Maybe my mom knew exactly what was going on. There were also some very wild parties there after the bars closed. I saw much, too much for my six year old brain to comprehend. But I learned quickly.

I'm pretty sure that my mother hated me by first grade. She said she loved me, but she acted like she hated me. I said before that my mother had a serious screw loose. That made her very dangerous. More than once she told me in a loving way that I was the most like her. Each time she said that she went into a rage.

Dancing With The Scars - Post week 2

Truly, I don't know a fox trot, from a foxes arse. But I do know people.

Just like I predicted, the control freak (Kate Gosselin) showed her true colors this week! She criticized her teachers ability to teach! It got so bad that her partner quit!. Of course he came back, but he wasn't happy with her.  Not only that, but I'm totally on John Gosselin's side now. JOHN, AMERICA NOW FEELS YOUR PAIN!  Oh yeah, she really really sucks as a dancer.

Jake Pavelka hasn't cried yet. But if you saw "The Bachelor" at all, you know he cried every week. And you just know that biotch is gonna let fly with the tears, before this season is over.

Pamela Anderson was made up to look like Marilyn Monroe.  I was surprised that they did such a good job. She actually looked just like Marilyn, about 6 months after she died...

Shannen Doherty and Pamela Anderson have already been offered a one season gig with "Floozies on Ice."

Forget that stiff Buzz Aldrin, did you see his wife? The only parts of her face that moved were her eyeballs and her chin. When she spoke it looked like a mannequin. Is her goal to look like a freaking cat or what?

Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke will be in the gossip magazines by weeks end. Mark my word!  If he does get kicked off, the two of them will be in Barbados (or somewhere), before those magazines come out...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dancing with the Scars - Things to Watch For

The show comes on in a few hours, so I better get this posted now.

I finally decided how I could come to terms with commenting on this show (at least one more time), when I really don’t watch them dance, or even really like it. When I "accidentally" watch parts of it, I ask questions about what I’m seeing and thinking. The women watching it at my house all ignore me, or say sweet things like "piss off!" or "shut the hell up!” or “don’t you have some tire pressure or something to check?”  They can banish me, they can try to stifle me, but I won’t go to the garage quietly. There are things I need to know:

When will Pamela Anderson and Shannen Doherty finally duke it out?  They can’t stand each other and the word from backstage, is that there is a lot of tension because they apparently shared multiple partners in the past.  In fact, both of these bargain basement trollops ladies were married to Rick Salomon. I’m thinking by week four, there’s going to be an all out skank-fight. Seriously, which one of these two “ladies,” has "known" the most male celebs? (and yes, I do mean it in the biblical sense!)

Will Pamela even make it to week four? Will she be kicked off the show for improper off-hours cavorting with members of the band? Is there a musician alive who can resist, when she starts waving around those robust and rock hard.... fake eyelashes? (more than one rock star has suffered corneal abrasions to those things)

How many weeks will it take for Kate Gosselin to get fed up and start ordering crew members around? What’s the difference between her and OctoMom anyway? Aren’t both of them really just attention loving media whores at this point?

Is there really any difference between Buzz Aldrin and Cloris Leachman? Not much really, except I think Buzz has had far more cosmetic surgery. Speaking of cosmetic surgery, is Buzz playing cosmetic surgery “one-upmanship” against his own wife? Seriously, I haven’t seen anything like those two since the “King Tut” exhibit was in town. whatever happened to growing old gracefully?

Do you think Chad Ochocinco has already danced on the horizontal plane, in addition to the vertical, with his partner Cheryl Burke? Did you know he has his own line of condoms? That’s right! “Ocho-Cinco Condoms.“ What the heck, she’s rumored to have horizontally danced with most of her other partners on the show… Or so I've been told...

Geese and Snakes

Fear was our primary motivator growing up. One of the worst things you could do to my mom, is put her out. That most certainly included getting out of bed at night. I NEVER committed that sin.

When I was pre-school age, my mom hung a framed picture of some geese on the wall near the foot of my bed. She told me that if I got out of bed, those geese would come out of the picture and get me. If the geese didn’t get me, the “night snakes” under my bed would. I was terrified. To this day, it’s the most alone and afraid I’ve ever been. I was deeply terrified, but didn’t have anybody to talk to about it, or to help me. To make it worse, I had to sleep with the door closed and the light off.

Did you ever stare at something in the dark for a long time? After awhile it seems to start moving? Well, the geese in the picture moved every night. I’d have to pull the covers over my head, and roll up into as small a ball as I could. I went to sleep terrified every night. When I finally did fall asleep, I had the most terrible nightmares. They usually involved me being chased by wolves, or me in a room with snakes and geese all around me. No wonder I was so sick all the time.

You know how your kids sometimes come to your bed in the middle of the night, and want to crawl in because they are afraid or spooked? I didn’t have that option. Not only would I have had to make it by the geese and snakes, I’d be sent right back to bed, probably with a bloody lip or worse.

This is giving me freaking chicken skin right now. I can almost feel myself under the covers, shivering with night fright. Deathly afraid of what was in my room (snakes and geese) and equally afraid of what was outside my room (my mother).

You know how some people say things like, “your parents did the best they could” without really knowing the circumstances?

That is such a load of crap.....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goodbye Dad?

My Dad was finally discharged from the Navy. We could move out of my grandmother's place and be together as a family again, in a new house. The new place was in Rivera (now Pico-Rivera), across the street from a farm, (now Rivera Park). I started Kindergarten at Alice M. Birney School and fell in love with the girl next door (a hot five year old named Mona Lisa Gonzalez).

My dad got a job as a “Culligan” water man and we attended a church that was just down the street. With my dad on the scene, life seemed almost normal, I had some toys and even a bedroom to myself, with no friggin geese in it. Looking back, it seemed like we were a happy little family. Then one day, out of the blue, everything went to hell.

I walked into the living room, just in time to see my mom slap my dad across the face. He just stood there for a few seconds, staring at my mom, then turned and walked out the door. The next time I saw him, he and his “new” girlfriend took me and my older brother to the newly opened Disneyland. I remember a lot of that day, even though I was only five years old. I remember it ending with the four of us stopping at a cocktail lounge in Bellflower. I had a "Shirley Temple," because as the bar tender said, "they don't serve alcohol to anybody under eight." I didn’t find out until much later, that my dad’s new girl friend worked as a bartender there also. In fact, the reason I saw my mom slap him earlier, was because she had caught them together there (her story).

My mom, my older brother, and I ended up moving out of the new house and into a shack in Bellflower. The next year, while I was in first grade I remember my Dad coming over and talking to my mom. He said hello to me, but that was it. He left without saying good bye. I didn't understand and was crushed.

I didn’t see, or talk to him again for over 35 years….

I asked my mom many times, why he moved away without saying anything to me about it. My mom always said that it was because he didn’t care about me anymore. I loved my Dad and still remember the hurt I felt by what she said. I continued to ask about him from time to time, she always told me the same thing. "He doesn’t care about you, just forget about him."

I remember that my mom used to get a government check every month. I’m not talking about the one we got from welfare, this one was different. It was from the Army. My mom told me that my dad had gone back into the military. This time it was the Army and the check was my child support. Even at my young age, I knew that was a joke, because there wasn’t a lot of support coming my way from my mom, or from anybody else.

I continued to ask her from time to time if she heard from my dad, what he was doing, and why he didn’t want to see me. One time after asking her, she told me that after going in the Army, he got remarried, had two new children with his new wife, and wanted nothing to do with me, ever.

Ouch… I already knew my mom was screwed up and now thought the same of my dad. Although I didn’t know it at the time, my older brother had a different father than I did, I guess that's why none of this seemed to bother him.

About thirty five years later my mom died. First she had breast cancer. Then she had lung cancer. Then she had brain cancer. The doctors said it was related to her constant smoking, and she had no more than a year to live, depending on how fast the tumor grew.

I know what follows is redundant, but I need to set the stage for the next entry...

To my younger brother she left a chair. She stated in her will that she had spent enough on him while alive and didn't want to give him anything else. To me she left $1.00. She stated in her will, that she wanted it to be clear, that she did in fact consider me and only wanted to leave me a dollar. To my older brother, she left everything. Now she didn't have a lot, but she did have some profit sharing money and some life insurance, but that wasn't even the point. I was there, I was the only one helping her. I was even too stupid (or too honest), to take advantage of having power of attorney and have her change the will before she died. My older brother, to his credit, did in fact give me a fair portion of the money for what I had done. If I had been in his shoes and he in mine, I'd have given it all to him. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated what he did, I just would have handled it differently.

I'm sure most people think that the will is my main lingering beef, with my long dead mother. They would be wrong, so very wrong. It did however, hammer home the fact, that I was right about thinking that she hated me.

The votes are in, the decision is made

I asked you all to help me decide if I should continue having two blogs, or combine them. Between FB and my blog, I had over 50 replies.
  • The folks who followed only my photography blog wanted them separate. 
  • Most of the folks who followed only my regular blog wanted them separate.
  • About a fourth said to combine them.
  • About a fourth didn't care one way or the other.
I like taking photos as much as I do writing, so I understand how everybody feels.  I'm going to keep them apart.  Now I have to discover a way to find more time to do a decent job at both...


Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Mom's Brain Tumor

From the age of 23 to 40, when she died, I had very little to do with my mother. Hopefully you’ve already read enough of my stuff to know why. Even though most of the pain and suffering I had in my life was caused by her, I still felt the need to help her when she needed it.

As you know she was a heavy drinker, smoker, and sometimes drug user. She first contracted lung cancer, and several years later it spread to her brain. My mom couldn’t do much on her own anymore and needed a ride to see her doctor, because of bad headaches. I agreed to take her. They eventually did a scan of her brain and concluded that she had an inoperable malignant brain tumor. Despite what she had put me through in my childhood, I still felt bad for her.

She was living in a senior’s only apartment complex at the time. There were no services available, so I had to spend quite a bit of time with her. Her condition caused her thinking process to deteriorate and didn’t allow her to do a lot of what she was used to. So I did her grocery shopping and bought her items that were simple to prepare. She got worse to the point where I had to deliver her meals, or prepare them for her at her apartment.

One day I went to check in on her and arrived just in time to see her finish cutting up all our family pictures and documents. Another time she cut up some cash she had hidden. The last straw was the time I walked in on her trying to load a pistol to kill herself. I knew that my mom carried a pistol in her purse for much of her life, but I thought she had gotten rid of it. Maybe she was just doing it for effect. It was always almost impossible to read her intent.

One day I tried to call several times without success. I hopped in the car and went to her place. I found her in the bathroom lying on the floor. Apparently she fell down a couple of hours earlier and couldn’t get up or move. I called the paramedics and they took her to the hospital. The emergency room doctor consulted with a surgeon and then told us that cortisone would make the tumor shrink for a while and then she would improve for short periods. They gave her an injection and sure enough her ability to think and move freely improved dramatically. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last for more than a day. She was admitted to the hospital and I spoke to the social services unit there for some advice. She told me that my mom shouldn’t live by herself, and she most certainly shouldn’t live unassisted. The cortisone would work some, but not for long. They said that the headaches would stop soon as the tumor started to “turn out the lights.” So she wouldn’t suffer.

I searched all around Orange County for a nursing home for her. I must have visited 20 of them. This may sound strange, but I could tell by the way the place smelled if I was going to like it or not. A lot of them smelled terrible. Before my mom could get any help from Medi-Cal to pay for the nursing home I had to come up with a bunch of documents relating to her financial situation and many other things. A month or so earlier my mom had an attorney draw up a “Power of Attorney” document so I could make her decisions for her.

I went to her last job, I talked to social security, and I went through her stuff. I found everything I needed. And something I wish I hadn’t. My mom had a will. I’ve said in my other entries that my mom hated me for some reason; it became very clear that she still felt that way. My mother left me one dollar!

She left every penny and everything she owned to my older brother. My older brother who was in Arizona and didn’t come to help me, or to visit mom until the day she actually died.

I had power of attorney, I could have done something about her will, but I didn’t. If that was the way she felt there wasn’t much I could do about it. I called her current attorney and asked if she had a newer will. He told me that he hadn’t drawn one up for her. The attorney who did draw up her will had died a couple of years earlier and his business was closed. I couldn’t have simply thrown the will away and acted like I never knew it existed. Great time for some payback, but I couldn’t do it.

I got my mom into a nursing home and that is where she died. She was still smoking! She embraced the thing that killed her up until the end.

I thought long and hard about the entire ordeal. What the heck was I doing? I owed her nothing! Was I still waiting for her to pat me on the head and tell me that I was a good boy? I tell myself I did it because it was the right thing to do. But I’m not so sure.

Based on her insistence, she had no funeral, no memorial service, and was cremated. I purchased a niche for her ashes in Westminster Memorial Park. She was placed in her niche in February of 1991. I made sure it was done and that it was where it was supposed to be.  I haven’t been back since…

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Mom (generally speaking)

don't let looks fool you

Many new readers have signed up for my blog. Based on recent comments, most haven't seen earlier posts relating to her. So, I'm going to rapidly run them.  To those of you have already seen them, I apologize!

No way I can put everything noteworthy about my mom in one post. What follows is a thumbnail sketch of the woman...

My mother was an extremely harsh woman. She was smart, funny, attractive, and could handle herself quite well in a bar fight. She could be on top of the world one moment and totally miserable the next. Either way we, as her children got nothing positive from her. These things made her hard to love and even harder to like. If clinically examined today, I'm sure she would be diagnosed with Bi-Polar and Border Line Personality Disorder at a minimum.

I've been told that she had some good traits, but I assure you, none of them were used in her mothering. If she had any compassion at all, I never saw it. She was an alcoholic and "pioneer" drug user who would disappear, without leaving any money or food in the house at all.  We pretty much grew up on welfare.

In her later years, when there was no men to "support" her (wink wink), she did in fact have a job. Before that she was a bar maid. When not working in that capacity, she was still usually in a bar. Actually, she was in many bars. She was known in all the bars in North Long Beach as a regular, if not a current or former employee.

Although there was a constant stream of men in and out of my moms life after she split up with my Dad, none of them stuck. None of them became a father figure. I can't even begin to recall how many phone calls we had to make (when we had a phone), to the local bars, trying to find her. There was one very important part of motherhood she seemed to forget. That part involved FOOD...

Sometimes people at the bars would try to find her for us. It got to the point where we were neither traumatized, or worried at all, when we couldn't find her. We just made due with what we could dig up. I recall that my older brother became pretty good at macaroni and cheese.  Many times it was just cheese.  There was always plenty of cheese around.  It came in five pound boxes from the county.

My mom had four children, all of us boys. As I said before, she was an extremely hard woman. To make it worse, she hated men. Although she always had men in her life, she clearly didn't like them. Four boys, four different fathers and all of us males...

My mom has been dead for over eighteen years, and we still don't all agree on who was fathered by whom. My older brother's father was a sailor. My father was another sailor. One of my younger brothers was fathered by a truck driver. My other younger brother thinks his father and mine were the same, but that's impossible. The person who my older brother and I think may be his father, was another sailor, but we're not sure if the time frame lines up. There was also a long standing rumor around the bars of North Long Beach that my father was actually a local mailman. That wouldn't have bothered me at all, because I knew the guy many years later. He was one of the funniest and nicest people I ever met.

There is one thing that we are pretty sure about though, my mom may have been a prostitute.  She had a steady stream of men in and out of her life. And they provided things, including money. I know at least a small amount of these things went to us. So although we know that she did in fact give sex in exchange for things, I don't condemn her for it.

I do however condemn her for other things.
Two things, above all others...
Those were the lies she kept alive for 35 years, to keep my father and I apart.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My A**Hole, I Can't find It

This may be the only humorous story involving my mother...
As you may already know, my mother died quite a while ago of an inoperable malignant brain tumor. It seemed very much like Alzheimer’s, because it affected the way she said and did things. Cortisone would shrink the tumor and allow her to be semi-normal for short periods of time.

I went to see her in the hospital almost every day, but I never knew if I would be recognized or not. Apparently, my mom had worked her manipulative magic on the staff, because they let her smoke as long as there wasn’t another patient sharing the room with her. I found that very odd, but not my call.

One day…
I brought the kids with me to see her. We went into her room and everybody said their hellos and exchanged pleasantries. After a few minutes my mother looked at me and said “are you Letty or am I?”
“Are you me, or am I me?” She said with a confused look on her face.
“You are Letty, I am your son Pat” I explained.
“Okay thanks, I just wanted to make sure.”

A minute or two later she was looking around her bed, looking under the covers, on the table next to her bed, and pretty much eyeballing the entire room. She finally looked at me and said “have you seen my asshole?” The kids let out a giggle.

“No mom, I haven’t seen it!”
“My asshole was right here a few minutes ago! I think somebody took it!”
“Why would they do that mom?”
“I don’t know. Will you look around for it?”
I looked around a little bit and said “I don’t see it mom”
“Why don’t you ask the nurse if she’s seen it?” I said. More giggles from the kids.

My mom pushed the call button next to her bed and the nurse came into the room after a minute or two.
“Can I help you with something dear?” the nurse said.
“Yes hon, do you know where my asshole is?”
The giggles were replaced by full-on laughter.
“Don’t you know where it is?” the nurse asked.
“I did, but it’s not there anymore, can you help me find it?
“Where was it the last time you saw it dear?”
“It was right here on the table beside me!”
“Hmm, I think I know where it is then” the nurse said after a pause. “I’ll bet the aide put it in the drawer when she cleaned up your room this morning!”  She opened the drawer, and there it was…..her ashtray!

“Thanks so much” my mom said, “I don’t know what I’d do without it…”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blotter Acid

Blotter Acid: “LSD that comes on a small square piece of paper. The LSD is put in the middle of the paper (blotter) with an eyedropper. It comes in four different strengths; single hit, two-way (two hits), or four-way (four hits). If it’s two way, you tear it in half. Four-way, you tear into quarters.”

I was sitting at home reading “A Separate Reality,” by Carlos Castaneda. It was released in 1970. The title of the book, when combined with the release date, should give you a hint relating to the subject matter.

A few days earlier, a friend had given me a hit of “blotter acid.” I didn’t have to start work for a couple of hours, so I decided to take a quarter of it. Not enough to make me totally stoned, but just enough to get a bit high. After more than a half hour with no results, I took another fourth. After another thirty minutes, still nothing! What the hell, I took one more fourth and saved the last one for later than evening.

Finally, I was feeling a little something. I was also thinking how crappy the acid was, and no wonder my friend gave it to me. Eventually I had to go to work.  The drive was uneventfual, still just feeling  a bit odd, but nothing to shout about. I was very happy that I hadn't paid for it.  I was at work for less than an hour when they let some of us go home, because there wasn't enough work to do.

On our way out the door, a co-worker friend named Scott asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint before I hit the road. Of course, I said yes (you know, just to be polite).  The pot must have been a catalyst for the LSD, because I started getting ripped in a hurry.  I knew I had to get home and wasted no time going to my car.  I was driving an old VW bus (of course) and I started hallucinating just a couple of minutes into the drive.

It was like one of those hallways in a fun house. You walk through a tube and everything but the floor you’re walking on, is rotating. It was just like that, except in this case, I’m driving through the tube and I'm stoned on LSD!  Holy shit! I was really "tripping!"  (I always hated that word. Not sure why.)

If you've driven a VW bus, you know that the steering wheel is huge and you hold it from the bottom. Just like a "real" bus. You would have to lean very far forward to get into the suggested "10 to 2" driving position, it just doesn't work. My point is... what the hell was my point. Oh yeah, my point is that its hard enough to steer a VW bus during the best of times. Steering one through the "fun house from hell," while stoned on acid, is somthing only a professional should attempt. Experience is everything!

After what seemed like hours (10 minutes at the most), I made it home. My girlfriend was playing the mandolin and her friend Lori, was playing the banjo. Maybe it was the other way around, but I do remember that they were playing Bluegrass music. The news was on TV with the volume off.  I was sitting on the couch, listening to them play, and watching the TV.  I was very high and feeling somewhat content.  That was all spoiled when the face of the guy on the TV started melting.  It ran down his shirt, onto his desk, and dripped down the front of the TV, onto the floor.

It was getting much too intense in there, so I went to my bedroom. I took off my clothes and got into bed. Something told me to cover up with the sheet only. I remember thinking that if I changed positions even the slightest bit, I would die. So I’m lying there, motionless, watching my bedroom ooze and melt in the semi darkness.

My dresser said something to me. I couldn’t quite make out the words though.  I was positive that it said something profound, so I asked it to repeat what it had said. I didn’t say it out loud, but in my head. It must not have liked what I was saying, because the drawers started opening and slamming shut. Not all at the same time but randomly. 

I had taken LSD on many occasions, but never had I been this far gone.  Can’t my friends here all this noise? Why aren’t they coming to help me? This went on for what seemed like hours. I remember thinking that I was “too high” and I might need some help. I tried calling out to my friends, but no words escaped my mouth. So, I lay there. Everything in my room started flying around in a whirl wind.

From somewhere in my self induced insanity, rule #1 hit me. It didn't exactly "hit me," it was barely a glimpse of a whisper, on the edge of a thought  If I’m still sane enough to know that I’m too high, then my brain isn’t totally fried. I’m going to be okay. At that point, I knew I could ride it out.

The next day I was pretty low key. Physically, I felt fantastic. Mentally, I was a bit vacuous. About two weeks later I spoke to the friend that gave me the acid. I told him what happened. He started laughing and said, “Oh my God, those weren’t quarter hits. That was a four-way blotter. You took three full hits!”

And that ladies and gentlemen, probably explains why I am, the way I am, today...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dancing with the Scars

I’m not really a “Dancing with the Stars” watcher.  I'm sometimes in the room while it’s on, but I’m usually doing something else. Last night was the first show of the new season and I accidentally watched some of it.

I’m sorry, I know you’re not expecting this kind of post out of me, but I gotta spew every once in awhile.

Pamela Anderson.
Can everybody say Skank please? It must have been a long hard road to get from CJ Parker, to over the hill star-f’er. I wonder how many rock bands she had to go through to get to this point. Did anybody but me think she was “tweaked” last night? Does anybody still find her even remotely sexy?

Kate Gosselin
Has anybody ever looked more uncomfortable on television than her? Doesn’t she have 10 or 15 kids she should be home with? Why are people trying to make a “celebrity” out of this pushy control freak? Seriously, did you ever see her cable show?

Buzz Aldrin
Not much to say about him. He’ll be gone soon. Thanks for the moon and everything, but dude, what the hell is up with your wife?  Now that I think about, her and Pamela Anderson don't look all that different.

Thank you for listening. I promise never to do this again (maybe).

Back to more LSD exploits tomorrow.


I did not write any of this. I wish I had, but I didn't. It was passed on to me by my sis-in-law.  You may have heard some (or all) of these before. It's not my normal kind of post. I needed a little chuckle, maybe you could use one also...

  • If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.
  • If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat-Boy, Gas-man and Four-eyes.

  • When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
  • When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

  • A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
  • A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.

  • A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel.
  • The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 15 of these items.

  • A woman has the last word in any argument.
  • Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

  • A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
  • A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife..

  • A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
  • A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

  • A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
  • A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

  • Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
  • Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

  • Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
  • A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

"A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!"



Sunday, March 21, 2010

It’s Cool, Man!

The movie “Alien” was released in the summer of 1979. I went to see it with my friend Lee and his wife. It was showing at the old Newport Beach Cinema-Dome. Although it was "state of the art" for it's time, this was back in the days before “stadium seating” and other such viewer comforts.

We didn’t purchase tickets in advance and had to wait in a very long line. While we’re waiting Lee looks at me and motions to his mouth. I had no idea what he meant. After a few more “gestures” I finally figured out that he was telling me that he had taken LSD. Not only that, but his wife didn’t know anything about it. She didn't even know that he got high.  She just thought he was crazy.  He just stood there with a big smile on his face. I finally had the opportunity to talk quietly into his ear. “You took Acid? Are you fucking crazy? Do you know what this movie is about? He just smiled at me and said, “It’s cool, man!”

Somebody from the theater came out and told the people in our area of the line, that we might not make into the next showing of the movie. The next showing after that was over two hours away. We weren’t pleased at all. A few minutes later Lee tells his wife and me that he’ll be right back, and he disappears towards the front of the line.

About 10 minutes later, Lee walks back to us and says “it’s cool!”
“What do you mean, it’s cool?”
It’s cool man!”
To this day, I still don't know how he got us in there.

We could tell the last showing was over because of the large number of people walking out of the theater. About 10 minutes later the line starts moving up. It stops moving when they’ve let in enough people to fill the theater again. Or so I thought…

An usher walked up to us and said we should follow him. He led us past the hundred or so people in front of us and walked us right into the building. What in the hell did he do? Lee just smiled. The usher leads right into the theater and marches us to third row center. Lee is happy, but I see a big problem. This isn’t a concert; it’s a huge Cinerama movie screen and we're so close, that were going to have to look up to see everything.

I’ve sat this close to the screen before, it’s not comfortable. It’s like you are in the movie. Oh yeah, one more little issue, Lee is on acid… The movie hasn’t even started yet, but I can see him already retreating within himself

The movie finally starts. I’m splitting my time between watching the movie and watching Lee. He’s not moving a muscle. His eyes are the size of saucers. No, saucers aren’t large enough. They are the size of frigging dinner plates. You’ve seen the movie, right? You know how it is. You know how many “gotcha” moments there are in it. It's chock full of terrifying images also.  Lee doesn’t even twitch. I’m not sure he’s blinking, or even breathing for that matter. I can’t even begin to imagine what is going on in his head.

Sigourney Weaver eventually escapes with the cat and the movie ends. I'm waiting for Lee to freak out, or tell me that he has an Alien growing inside of him.  But he doesn't say a single word. We walk out of the theater and are almost to the car, when he finally looks at me and says, “It’s cool man…”

Friday, March 19, 2010

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

As some of you know, my wife works with organizations that rescue dogs and cats from pounds and shelters, before they can be euthanized.  Many times they are taken from the shelters on the eve of their death.

Yesterday, she and another lady drove about 250 miles in separate vehicles to rescue several dogs. When they got back to the local area, they delivered the dogs to a group that will do everything possible to place them in homes. One of the dogs my wife brought back was a 85 pound Weimaraner. It rode in the back seat of our truck, with no problem.  She dropped it off at a "Weimaraner Rescue" facility.

The dog was in their facility and my wife was on the outside of the fence. She went to slide a bowl of water under the gate to it. But it wasn't the same dog. It looked like it, but it wasn't.  This dog gave her a nasty bite that badly ripped and tore the top of her hand.  They had to sew a huge flap of meat back on.  There's not very many stitches holding it together because dog bites (and human) usually get infected and need lots of room to drain.

Sorry, I know this is pretty graphic. It just goes to show you that, "No good deed goes unpunished!"

Despite this, my wife is bummed that she has to miss her next shift with the rescued cats at our local Petsmart. In case you didn't know, Petsmart doesn't own any of the dogs and cats in their stores. They donate the space, food, utilities, and everything else needed to the support rescue efforts of many organizations countrywide.  They are the leading funder of animal welfare agencies across North America.

Major shout out to them! By providing space to adoption partners in the PetSmart Charities Adoption Centers, homeless pets are given another location and additional opportunity for exposure to the pet-loving public, and the extra time they need to find lifelong, loving homes. Annually, about 400,000 pets find new homes thanks to this effort!

a day NOT like any other day

It’s 1972, I’m 22 years old. I’m working in a warehouse (when I show up) and partying (most of the time). I didn't make very much money, but with roommates, I managed. I spent a lot more time having fun, than paying attention to work. Obviously, I didn’t keep that job for very long. I shared an old house with two girls I’d known since high school. We lived together as friends and had a great time. If anybody today saw the inside of the house, I’m sure the first word out of their mouth would be “hippies!” Tapestries, water beds, candles, etc… There were always people over. They were either females, who were friends of my roommates, or guys who liked them. I was of course deep into self medicating, but at the time I just thought I was having fun.

A young couple moved into the old house across the street. The female was very cute and seemed very friendly. The only real contact I'd had with her, was saying hello when I was going to work in the morning. She apparently worked the graveyard shift somewhere and was just getting home as I was leaving. I saw her boyfriend, husband, or whatever he was, even less. One thing led to another and she and I started talking. Her name was Bonnie and I was happy to find out that the guy she lived with, was actually her brother. One day she invited me over for dinner. I accepted the offer, the dinner went well, and we agreed to do it again.

I seldom saw her brother and only knew that he was going to a trade school, learning electronics. I’m actually very sorry that I ever saw him at all. One morning, I walked across the street to pick her up to go do something. We were just getting ready to go when there was a knock on the door. She opened it and three guys pushed their way in. All three of them had handguns. They were pointing them directly at me! Not that they even needed the guns. All three of them were very large and very rough looking biker types. Two of them had colors on, but I’ll just keep the name to myself. The first words that one of them said to me was something very close to, “you’re fucking dead meat!”

Not my idea of a friendly greeting.  I didn't know what to say.
“I am?” “Why?”
“You know why!”
“I have no idea; I’ve never seen you guys in my life!”
"We've never seen you before either, but you're still dead!"
One of the others said “you think you can narc on our brother and get away with it?”

I’m totally confused until one of them tells me they’ve been watching the house and were waiting for me to get home. My friend and I look at each other at just about the same exact time and realize that they are looking for her brother.

Oh my god, where is her brother? Well, she didn’t say anything right away, and I’m not about to take a bullet for her brother, or pretty much anybody else. Of course in the time it just took me to write that sentence, I’d already told them about 50 times that, a) I don’t live here, and b) I’m not her brother! She seems to be in shock. I can’t tell if she’s relived that it wasn’t me they were looking for, or upset because her brother is in danger.

Apparently, her brother had bought some drugs from one of the guys in their MC. Shortly afterwards he was busted by the Long Beach PD (who else) and did in fact cut a deal.  Those kind of deals usually go like this; "If you tell us who you bought the drugs from and it checks out, we will let you go."

I was supposed to have a beard, but I didn't. One of the guys left the house to make a phone call. They wanted to find out exactly what the guy they'd been waiting for looked like.  They were thinking that I might have shaved off my beard. We didn’t look that much alike, but I insisted that Bonnie get them a picture of him to compare to me. She did, it clearly wasn't me.

Once they were satisfied that it wasn’t me they were after, they turned their attention to her. They wanted to know where her brother was. She didn’t know… This went back and forth for a while, until one of the guys said that if she didn’t tell them what they wanted to know, they were all going to “do her.” She responded with something very close to “you’ll have to kill me first!” Oh shit, if they kill her, they will probably kill me as well. Tell them where your brother is!” I said to her.

She’s not having it; she’s not going to cooperate with them at all. She’s really starting to make them mad. A cocked pistol held against her forehead did nothing. One of them slapped her, it did nothing. She just glared at them. I swore to myself that if I should be lucky enough to live through this, I’d have nothing more to do with this woman.

One of the guys has the bright idea to search her brother's room. He’s in there for a while tearing it apart, and walks out with the schedule for her brother's trade school classes! And he’s scheduled to be in class at that very moment. I’m hoping that maybe they’ll just walk out the door and go to him. Nope! One of them said they were going to the school to get him and that we were going with them.

We all walk out of the house, one of them in front of us and two behind. The guy behind me wants to make sure I know he still has a gun, and keeps poking me in the back with it. I turned my head and gave him a dirty look. All that accomplished was to make him poke me in the back, even harder.  Down the street a couple of houses, there’s a ford van parked. I assumed that is where we were going, and it was. The driver in front, and the other two guys in the back with us. One of them told us about 10 different things that would result in our being shot. Don’t move, don’t yell, don’t try to get out of the van, etc.

So we drive to the trade school. It’s in another part of Long Beach, but not too far away. They discuss how they are going to get her brother out of class, and into their van. One of them goes in? She goes in with one of them? She goes in alone? I go in? It’s decided that she is going to go in by herself and bring him out. If she’s not back within 10 minutes, they are going to kill me. Stupid idea! But they seem to like it. So thinking of my own survival I said “we haven’t been dating that long, and her brother probably means more to her than I do.” She’ll probably tip him off and they’ll both split.

I think I’m making a good point. I know they heard me, but they aren’t responding. One of them finally says, “he may be right, what kind of car does he drive?” She said she doesn’t know what the make or model is, and only knows what it looks like. Sure she doesn’t… “1949 Buick Road Master,” I said “gray primer.”

So now were driving around the parking lot, and nearby streets looking for his car. We can’t find it anywhere. Where is he? Did he skip school and go somewhere else? Is he home now? This is getting too complicated. The driver said he was going back to the school. He was going to go in with her to see if her brother was there. If they didn’t see him in the class he was scheduled to be in, they’d ask at the office. I assumed he picked himself to go with her because he was the most “normal” looking of the trio. That may be true, but “normal” is an extremely relative term. He did not look normal to me. He looked like a maniac.

It’s getting damn hot in that van and I just want to get it all over with. My friend and the driver walk into the school. I don’t know if I’m hoping he’s there, or that he’s not there. We’ve been in the parking lot, or driving around this school for quite a while now, and somebody may think something is up, and call the police. At least that’s what I hoped for a minute or two. And then I was struck with the reality of the situation. If these guys would kill us without reservation, they would probably shoot it out with the cops. Hell they may be wanted already. Son of a bitch!

The two of them were gone for about five minutes. When they walked out, it was still just the two of them. Her brother hadn’t shown up for school and didn’t show up the day before either. So now we’re speeding back to her house to see if he’s there. The car isn’t there. We drive around the immediate vicinity, the car is nowhere. “What now?” I asked. The driver told me to shut up. I did… The van parks, we all get out. We all go into the house. We all sit down. And we wait, and we wait, and we wait. We wait for a few hours. After they get nothing further out of her about her brother’s possible where abouts, they stop asking.

Nobody is talking. Her and I haven’t said a word to each other for a long time. The three guys aren’t even talking among themselves. I’m not liking this at all. They seem much too serious about the whole thing now. Eventually two of them leave the room, and are talking in low tones that we can’t quite understand. They finish talking and go into her brother’s room again. I wasn't sure what they were looking for, but when they came out, it’s clear they found something. Well, it’s not what they found; it’s what they didn’t find. What they didn’t find was very many items of clothing. Pretty much everything in his room was on the floor from the first search, and apparently, the one who did it, failed to mention that there was hardly anything in his dresser drawers or hanging in his closet.  They are pissed off!

He had split…

The same two guys left the room again. I’m thinking it’s all going to end now. And not in a good way. There is no where to go, at least one of them always has gun pointed right at me. And I have no doubt that the one doing it now wouldn’t hesitate to shoot me. I’m working on a plan, I have to do something. I think I can over power the guy who is left to guard us, if I do it quick enough, I can grab his gun before the other two react and come back into the room. I can either go down fighting, or I can…the decision is made for me, by me, somewhere in the back of my head……I disassociate. I don’t care anymore, I’m not afraid. I don’t feel anything. I’m going to do it even if it gets me killed.

I’m going to grab the ashtray sitting on the table beside me, and I’m going to brain the one watching us. I’m going to do it when he’s looking at her. But he keeps l o o k i n g at me. I can’t wait much longer, the others will come back soon. I’m about to do it, even while he’s looking straight at me. My legs and arms are tensing, getting ready to leap out of my chair.

Just before I spring at him, I vaguely hear one of the others talking to us as they walk back into the room. His voice sounds distant and like a whisper to me. He said that they were leaving now, and if we call the police, some others will be visiting us, and they will kill us in a horrible way. I don’t remember if I believed him or not, or if I even reacted.

They walked out the door.
We didn't call the police.

After they left, bonnie told me that she knew her brother was gone the whole time. He had told her what happened with the police. He came directly home from jail, packed some of his stuff, put it in his car, and headed for their home town of Eureka. After she laid that gem on me, I knew she was capable of anything and that I had to get the hell away from her.  I've never laid a hand on a woman (in anger) in my life, but at that moment, I came so very close to ruining my perfect record.  She really did earn it.

I didn't get away from her for a while. The only good thing about that (which I'm sure could be debated) will be covered in future stories...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Orange Sunshine

the good doctor

In 1971 Stanley Kubrick released a movie called “A Clockwork Orange”. It was an extremely bizarre movie for the time period. It received an Academy Award nomination for best picture, but was edged out by “The French Connection.” If there was an award given for most "trippy picture of 1971, it would have won in a landslide.

With “Trippy” being the operative word, you can imagine how many joints were smoked and how many hits of acid were ingested, by movie goers prior to entering the movie theater.  In addition, “A Clockwork Orange” was the first movie released with the new “Dolby” sound system. 

Very shortly after it was released, a small group of us went to see it.  On that night, our drug of choice was a particularly potent and speedy type of LSD, known as “Orange Sunshine.”

There were four of us driving from Long Beach to Hollywood to see the movie. Before we left home, one guy took a full hit (dose), two of us took a half hit, and “Skip,” our driver for the evening, didn’t partake. He was more worried about his car, than having fun.

Skip’s car was a 64 or 65, Comet Cyclone, made by Mercury. At that time it was Comet’s entry into the “muscle car” wars. By the time he was done with it, Skip was very successful at the local drag strips in sanctioned races. But he always made sure it was street legal, because he liked to street race as well. The ride to Hollywood was safe and uneventful. We found a parking place, walked to the theater, and stood in line. The two of us who took an initial half hit of the LSD, took the rest of it while we were waiting in line (and still coherent enough to remember that we even had it). Even Skip, much to our surprise, asked for a half hit. We happily obliged him. We had to wait in line for quite a while.

I wish I could remember the name of the guy who had taken the whole hit of acid earlier, because he started getting squirrely about a half hour into our wait. It's one thing to be straight (sober) while talking to a person on LSD, but it’s a whole different ball game, when you are in the same boat. When you’re straight, you just think the person is a babbling idiot. But when you are tripping yourself, it’s just freaking crazy and adds to your own experience (not usually in a good way). So, we’re standing on Hollywood Boulevard, watching the cars drive by and looking at the people, when "Mr. Squirrely" starts to lose it in a big way.

LSD “rule of thumb” number one; “If you still have enough power of thought remaining, to know that you are "too high" on a hallucinogenic, then you are not.” I’m not sure how far along our friend "Rocky" was on his journey to "orange sunshine" insanity, but I’m pretty sure he was hoping to find his buddy "Bullwinkle" there. We were trying to keep the guy quiet, but he wasn't having it. He was incoherent!  At that point, I'm sure he didn’t even know what planet he was on.

At this point, we're all in our own little LSD world, looking at each other, wondering what the hell we were going to do with our friend. Before we could decide, the decision was made for us.

There was a loud crashing noise behind us; I turned around just in time to see our friend kick out a plate glass window, his second. He started screaming and running down "Hollyweird" Boulevard.

We were more than happy to run after our friend, because the second window he kicked out set off an alarm. It was just a matter of time before the police would arrive. He ran in the general direction of our car, so it wasn’t too surprising to find him hiding behind a dumpster in that area. We got him into the car and made a bee line to the nearest freeway on ramp. We’re all very high and because of the excitement, very “amped up." Even Skip seemed to be speaking in tongues, and he was driving!

We were much too "wired" up and needed to unwind. Somebody lit a joint and it seemed to work. I remember losing my anxiety, but still felt totally ripped from the orange sunshine. But that’s okay, I’d done it many times before.  I sat back, listened to the music, and watched the lights flash by in the night. Skip seemed to be driving fairly well. A bit fast, but that was his nature. I was sitting in the passenger seat, looking out the windshield, and actually starting to enjoy the ride.  That's when the wreck took place.

I’m not sure exactly how far it was in front of us, well over a hundred yards at least. A car made a change from the fast lane, into the one next to him. But he didn’t see the car beside him, driving in his blind spot (just a guess). The traffic was fairly heavy, but moving very fast. It was a big chain reaction wreck. There were several cars involved and they were smashing into each other, and spinning around like you see on a race track. I’m expecting Skip to slam on the brakes, but he’s not doing so. I’m pushing down on the floor with all I’ve got, but that isn’t working either. Instead of braking, our illustrious driver, stoned on LSD for his first time,  floors it...

For some reason, even as we were being slammed back into our seats by the acceleration, everything switched to total slow motion.  I’ve already told you this car is scary fast.  It's made for the drag strip. Jacked up, racing tires on the back, tube front axle, the works! I glanced at Skip, I can tell by the look on his face that he’s somewhere else. He's at the freaking Indy 500 or something.

I heard myself screaming at him to stop, but he’s not listening to me. I can still hear my voice in that slooooow motion special effect. When we get to the wreck, some of the cars are still spinning. He drives right through the center of the carnage.  We are never going to make it. We're all screaming at the same time. All of us, but Skip that is, He’s too busy driving. He’s in his element, he’s in frigging Skip heaven.

I have no idea why, or how, but we made it through. I looked over at Skip, only to find the crazy bastard smiling from ear to ear. Somebody from the back seat was still yelling at him to slow down. I looked at the speedometer, it was pinned at 120 mph, so I have no idea how fast we were actually going. I had to grab his arm to get his attention. He finally let up on the gas.

All’s well, that ends well, I guess. But we never let that crazy son-of-a-bitch drive again.  Being high on LSD and driving is one thing, being flat out crazy and doing so, is quite another...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Feline


As most of you know, our big tomcat Batman has been gone for about a month.  Although we still have two other cats, our house still felt sort of empty.  So we got ourselves another rescue.  Her name is "Mittens." 

She, along with her five kittens, were rescued from the Merced city pound the night before they were all to be euthanized.  The organization that rescued them is "New Beginnings for Animals."  My wife does a lot of volunteer work for them and I'm pretty darn proud of her for it.

Even though she's a female, Mittens is really a lot like Batman, in that she's loud, large, likes head butting, and loves attention.  She's huge for a female, weighing in at 15 pounds.  She's also polydactyl (two extra toes and claws on each foot).

New Beginnings named her Mittens.  I thought they did so because she has white paws, but I just found out that the "lay term" for polydactyl, is "Mitten Foot." That was a new one on me.  Anyway, we're getting back to normal and it's nice to have three of them running around.

Mittens has a particular toy she likes. It looks like a toy fishing rod with a mouse on the end instead of a fish. The "rod" is made of plastic and is about 3 feet long. This morning, she carried the whole thing upsairs, dropped it next to our bed, and started meowing loudly. She wanted to play!  I guess she's pretty smart as well.

Did I forget to mention that I'M ALLERGIC TO CATS?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"James and his poor heart"

I'm not one to do something like this out of the blue.  I apologize in advance for taking up your time.
I also understand if you don't want to go there.  If you like bitter sweet, you might like it.  But only if your tear ducts are in working order...

I've Been Had...

I have a seven year old granddaughter. She burps out loud, a lot.  I talked to her about it a few times, with little effect. One day, I came up with a plan. I challenged her to a contest. Whenever one of us burps out loud, we must put a quarter in a plastic container.  At the end of the school year, winner take all.  It's okay, she's got money in her piggy bank.

I’ve been known to burp once in a while myself. So she may have gotten into the habit because of me. She burps all the time and thinks its so funny. I figured she’s gonna be bankrupt in no time at all. Of course, I’ll give her the money back when she finally breaks the habit.  You  see, a seven year old has no chance.

It’s been a several months and she hasn’t burped yet!

Yes, it is all my money in there! I've been had...

Precocious: "exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age. Ability to take advantage of old people easily"

Monday, March 15, 2010

Smuggler's Cove

One hot summer day in the 70’s a few years ago, several friends and I were relaxing after a mid-day BBQ. We had been eating, drinking, and partaking of the local "green stuff," while passing the time.  Somebody had just commented on how hot it was, when my friend, Cliff suggested we go to the beach, where it was cooler. Although getting up out of my chair seemed like a major hassle, it sounded like a good idea.

Hell, at that point as long as we took Fritos, other interesting snacks, and something to drink, I’d go anywhere. The seven of us (three couples and another female) climbed into Cliff’s Ford Econoline van. I’m sure you know the type; tie-dyed curtains, pillows, and probably “Ten Years After” or "Crosby, Stills, and Nash, playing on the 8-track.

Instead of driving straight to the beach, we were surprised when Cliff jumped on the freeway. We asked him where he was going and he said he wanted us to go to his favorite beach, at Smuggler's Cove.  A few of us knew that “Smuggler’s cove," was in the Portuguese Bend area of Rancho Palos Verdes. A few of us also knew that it was a "clothing optional" beach. Cliff always talked about how much he liked it there, so he was totally geeked and as happy as could be, that we were all going there.

Once we finally got there, Cliff parked the van on the street and we climbed down the trail to the beach.  When we got close to the bottom, everybody in our group saw what kind of place it was.  A couple of the girls were saying things like “oh, hell no!” and "don't expect me to be taking my clothes off!"

When we got to the end of the trail and got fairly close to the water, Cliff started ripping off his clothes and yelled, “last one in is a rotten egg!” Everybody except one of the girls started stripping down.  But Cliff had a head start. He tore his clothes off as fast as he could and started racing for the water. He was far ahead of the rest of us.  He wasn't alone though, he had company...

It was his tail! He had several sheets of toilet paper trailing out behind him, fluttering in the breeze from his butt crack!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Only because a few of you asked me...

I wouldn't have posted this at all, but some folks been asking...

It's pretty stock looking, a real sleeper.
For those of you who don't habla sleeper.  It is a car or truck that looks stock, but hauls ass!
This one sure does that. In fact, it's kind of scary fast. Especially with no power steering, stock suspension, and a steering wheel the size of a wading pool.

1953 Ford F100
Big Block 390 Engine
Street/Strip Cam
Huge Holley 4 bbl carb
Beefed C6 auto trans

Saturday, March 13, 2010

How Do I Remember All That Stuff

I am not this guy

"How in the (you fill in the blank) do you remember all that dialogue, from so many years ago?" That's a question I've heard more than a few times.  I don't want people thinking that I make this stuff up, so I'm going to tell you!

If you've read my blog for a while, you know that I break up a lot of my stories into parts, or chapters, because they are just too darn long. There were 38 consecutive entries relating to some of my experiences in Vietnam. Before that there was a 15 entry series on USMC Boot Camp.

So how do I remember so much? How can I possibly remember dialogue that old?

I cheated!

In boot camp we were usually given a short period of time in the evening, to clean our gear and write letters. While most recruits were writing their loved ones, I was sending letters to myself.  Well, not exactly letters, I was sending myself notes relating to what took place that day.

While in Vietnam, I did the same. The other guys were writing to their loved ones, while I was sending myself journal pages. If nothing happened on a particular day, I didn’t send anything home. I even did this as a kid. Of course I wasn’t sending myself letters, but I did take notes. I took notes and hid them.

For most of my life I could remember everything. If I was involved with it, I remembered it. If I heard it, I remembered it. So anyway, that’s how I do it…

Friday, March 12, 2010

Felony Arrest #2 Part 2

I’d just about had it with this guy. I can understand the rough treatment from the cops who arrested me. If they truly thought I’d done an armed robbery, then they must have thought I was armed. Okay, “armed and dangerous,” I get that.  But this guy? I was pretty sure this guy was a loser. He was much older than the cops I saw on the street, and I was betting that he was “disabled,” or not worth a crap at being a policeman. So there he was, working the weekend at the jail, and being a total jerk while he was doing it.

He just isn’t letting up on me. It was pretty easy to see that there wasn’t much chemistry between him and the guy checking me in. He even sort of spoke up for me, when he told the other guy that I gave them no problem at all, when I was taken into custody. It didn’t have any impact though. The guy was a real jerk.

The guy I came in with took his handcuffs off of me and replaced them with another pair. The guy behind the counter pushed a button and my guy walked me into a connecting room, and told me to have a seat. He also said I'd be processed and then someone would take me upstairs. So I sat and waited for a while. I heard the jerk talking to a couple of other people, he was telling them that I was being uncooperative, and that I had robbed a liquor store at gunpoint the night before. He also told them I had been giving him and the officer who brought me in, a hard time.

Before I really even time to get upset about what I'd heard, two cops burst through the door and told me to get on my feet. One of them spun me around and searched me yet again. And he didn’t do it very gently. I asked them if they treated all their guests this way. They just looked at each other and laughed. I told them they didn’t have to treat me this way, because this whole thing was a big mistake, I didn’t do anything. They must have found this particularly funny, because they laughed even louder.

After they were satisfied that I didn’t have any weapons, and wasn’t smuggling drugs into the jail, they unlocked a different door and shoved me through it. They not so gently walked me over to an elevator. Once we were in, one of them pushed the button for either the fourth or fifth floor. Just about the time the door closed, one of them sucker punched me, really hard in the stomach.  I wasn't ready for it at all and it knocked the wind out of me. Before I could get my breath back, several more punches and kicks were laid on me in rapid succession.

They managed to kick the shit out of me, stand me back up, and have me all bright and shiny by the time we got to our floor. Assholes! I was livid, maybe more than ever before, but I knew I couldn’t say a word at this point. I had no control over anything. All I had to do was keep my mouth shut and of course, I didn't.

We exited the elevator and they threw me into what I assumed was the drunk tank. I say that, because the guys that were already in there looked, and stunk like hell.  There was vomit on the floor, and the benches were all taken up by sleeping drunks, or speed freaks, who were just sitting there bouncing around.

Not only was I extremely angry, I was also pretty embarrassed. I had just realized that I was wearing my baseball uniform, and couldn’t have looked more out of place in the drunk tank, than if I was having tea with the Queen of England.

I sat and waited for a long time. The drunks were slowly being released as they sobered up. At this point I wanted one of two things, either get me out of here, or get me to a cell. About two hours later, a cop in a suit came and got me. He took me to a small room that had only a table and a few chairs in it. One of the walls had a large mirror on it. I figured this was where they were going to start grilling me about the “armed robbery.” There was probably a camera on the other side of the mirror recording us.

“I’ve got good news and bad news, which do you want to first?” the detective asked me.
“Do I get to make a phone call?”
“You haven’t been charged with anything yet”
“That’s because I haven’t done anything, and you won’t be able to prove that I did!”
“Yes, you have done something! Now what do you want first, good news or bad?”
“The good news first” I said.
“We now know that you aren’t who we thought you were.”
“I told them that from the beginning.”
“They didn’t know it at the time. Were they just supposed to take your word for it and let you go?"
“So what about the cut on my head from where they shoved me in the cop car?”
“I’m sure that was an accident.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t! The guy rammed me into the fucking door frame on purpose!” Obviously, this guy was just as big of an asshole as the others.
“Which officer was it?”
“I have no idea, they were behind me! What about the two assholes who beat the shit out of me in the elevator?”
“Did you get their names?”
“No I didn’t get their names, but there right here in this building, right now!”
“I don’t think anything like that took place Mr. Tillett.”
“It did take place, are you going to do anything about it?”
“I promise you that I’ll look into it. Now do you want the bad news?”
“Sure you will” I said, wondering just how many people get the hell beat out of them in that elevator.
“Like I said, we made a mistake about the armed robbery, but it seems that you have an outstanding warrant.”
“Yes, it’s for a citation you received for expired tags last year.” He said while looking at a sheet of paper he was holding.
“Is it for a VW bus?”
“Yes, it is.”
“I don’t even own that thing anymore, it was stolen about six months ago, and I never got a ticket on it anyay.”
“I’m sorry that you haven’t had a good morning, it’s only going to cost you 65 dollars to get out of here. Do you have it?”
“No I don’t!”
“If you want to make a call, I’ll go get a phone for you.”

I called the bar that sponsored my softball team, and asked if anybody there could come and pay the fee. My friend Rich arrived in about a half an hour, and I was free. To add insult to injury, the next day I had to pay a substantial amount of money to get my car out of impound.

I might have got the guys who beat me up in the elevator in trouble, or even fired, but the more I told my story to people, the more I heard that the elevator at the jail was famous for beatings, and that I’d be wasting my time.
Just this minute, I looked up “Long Beach Police Department Elevator Beatings” on Google. The query got a bunch of hits. Apparently, what people told me back in 1975 was very true! There was nothing recent though. I guess things were different back in the old days!

I don’t have a problem with cops. I like a strong police presence. Of course I’ve changed my ways since those days. But I still have a big problem with people who abuse their power, no matter where that power might lie.

I suppose if I had kept my big mouth shut, I would have had a normal elevator ride that morning.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Need Your Help, Please...

I would greatly appreciate some input from all of you.  I know some folks read, but don't comment. Maybe you could just this once? 
As some/most of you know, I have two main blogs.
One is primarily written and the other photography.
  1. Should I combine them?
  2. Or leave them separate?
  3. Or post the photographs in both places?
Please leave me a comment.

I can’t decide…

Felony Arrest #2 Part 1

December 7, 1975

It’s about 8:45 on Sunday morning in Long Beach California. I’m driving down Cherry Street, on my way to a Sunday morning early mass softball league game.

What happened next, happened so fast that at first, I couldn’t believe it was real. One minute I’m the only car on Cherry Street and the next I’m surrounded by angry policemen pointing guns at me. The first thing I saw was a cop car behind me with his lights on. He’s screaming at me, over a loudspeaker to stop my car. As I start to pull over, two more of them came from the opposing lanes and skidded to a stop in front of me, blocking my way. Before I know it, there are at least 4 or 5 of them.

It very quickly became obvious that this wasn’t going to be a routine traffic stop. My first clue, was that the police were all hiding behind their cars, pointing pistols and shotguns at me! One of them is screaming at me to exit my vehicle and to walk backwards towards him. I do so for several steps, and he then tells me to get on my knees, and then to lay face down in the street. Just about the time I lay down, several of them jumped on me. I was already laying pretty darn flat, and the several knee drops that were inflicted on me didn’t help me get any closer to the ground. I don’t remember ever getting manhandled any worse than these guys did to me.

I eventually end up handcuffed and ordered to get up. Have you ever seen the TV show "cops," or the end of a police chase on TV? If so, you’ve probably seen how a cop or two “helps” the suspect get up by lifting up on his wrists and arms that are already behind his back. Well, let me tell you from experience, it hurts like a bitch when they do that. When they lift up on your wrists, your body wants to face plant into the ground. I don’t know if it’s judo, or just physics. Either way, the cops are in total control at this point.

Now I’m roughly shoved up against one of their cars and searched. It didn’t take very long you see, because after all, I was wearing a baseball uniform, and it only had one pocket.

After the search is over, I’m propelled into the back of a police car. I’m not too happy about it, because nobody told me to duck my head, or put their hand on the back of my head to guide me into the car. They just pushed me and allowed my head to slam into the door frame. Once I’m in the car, one of the cops bends over and says, “oh yeah, watch your head” and then slams the door. It only took a few seconds for the blood to start running down my forehead, and into my eyes. And of course I can’t do anything about it, because my hands are cuffed behind me.

Of course, I’m totally pissed at this point. I’ve had my face pushed into the street, I’m bleeding from the head, and the handcuffs are killing my wrists. Now I'm watching them tear my car apart. Not that there was much to tear apart. It was a old VW, and all that was in it was my baseball glove, my cleats, and a bowling ball and shoes. My car wouldn’t lock, so one of the cops told me I’d have to take the stuff with me to jail, because my car was going to be towed. I told them to take the glove, but I'd rather have the bowling ball stolen, than to check it in at the jail.  I mean seriously, how embassasing would that be? 

All this time nobody is telling me what's going on. I asked about 10 times and the answers ranged from, “you know what’s happening,” to “don’t play dumb, asshole,” or to just “shut the fuck up!”  Finally, somebody comes up to the car door and tells me I’m being arrested for armed robbery, and reads me my rights.

Armed robbery? What the hell? I’m on my way to a friggin soft ball game. I’m wearing a uniform. I’m not drunk, I’m not high, I don’t have an open container, and don't I have any drugs. Nothing!!! All I could think of was to tell them that they had the wrong guy, because I haven’t robbed anybody. The same guy asked me for permission to send somebody to search my house. I asked him if they would get a search warrant anyway, if I said no. He said they would. So I said no. My girl friend was asleep there, and there just might be some things in there I’d rather they not discover, if you know what I mean…

Eventually, I’m driven to the downtown police station on Ocean Boulevard.  On the way, we were driving by the baseball field where I was going to play. I asked the cop who was driving, if he could drive slowly by the field and honk his horn, so maybe my friends would see me and try to find out what had happened. Much to my surprise, he did it. Now maybe somebody would come and get me, when this all got straightened out, or they could post bail, or whatever it took.

The rest of the short drive was pretty uneventful. When we got there the squad car went down a ramp, and parked by a door at the back of the building. He walked me through a door, and up to a small counter that was set in an opening in a large chain link cage. The policeman behind the fence looked at the one checking me in and said, “Is this the nigger?” My cop didn’t say anything, but I did. I told him I didn’t do anything. He just started laughing and said “that’s what everybody who walks through that door says, nigger!”

“Well, it’s true in my case and why are you calling me that?” I asked. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but never that. I’m totally white. So he wasn’t really insulting me at all. I didn’t get it!

“Don’t give me any lip, you fucking hippy, you’re in enough trouble as it is!” Okay, I get this one. It hit right on the mark. I hadn’t had a hair cut in a few years, so okay, I get it. But I still didn’t feel insulted.          (part two tomorrow...)