life

eddie catalina

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the two open windows provided light and air. they also provided a decent view of the parking lot and the street area to the east. eddie catalina stood in the middle of the room smoking, watching and pacing. the past two days had been a wild ride. or was it three? adrenaline highs and crashing lows had brought him here. north eastern nevada and the stockmen hotel in elko. the corner suite on the 4th floor. probably not a real suite in most hotels but the view was ok and he could smoke in the room. and with all the photos of john wayne in the lobby maybe the duke had even stayed in the room way back when. tangents. eddie was tired.

he hadn’t smoked in over twenty years but he had started again once the mad cap car trip had begun down in los angeles. probably somewhere in northern california along interstate 5. stockton? maybe. eddie thought he’d spotted a tail somewhere around the tracy turn off. no, he had spotted a tail. smart bastards that they were. someone on or near the over pass. though in the end not that smart.

eddie was a good driver. once the tail was spotted he let the adrenaline kick in and instinct take over. getting enough of a jump on them and then getting off the interstate in the old downtown section of stockton proved to be the right move. after a few one way streets there, a few quick turns, then backtracking he had lost the tail. after losing them he spent ten or fifteen minutes sitting in the shady parking lot of the public health department just to be sure, while getting his nerves back together. nothing of interest in the parking lot other than a few pregnant women coming and going. a few obvious junkies as well. nothing of interest.

after he left the parking lot he had a bit of a problem. he wasn’t sure where the interstate was any more. he drove around for a bit before he found it again. about that time eddie also realized he was hungry. he had seen a chinese restaurant sign a street or so over. not in the mood for mexican it would do. he doubled back. parked on the almost deserted street and went inside. the place was an old huge worn out dump. though the owner was friendly and the food decent enough. best of all he was the only diner.

for some reason after lunch he’d walked across the street and into a liquor store where he bought a carton of camel lights. eddie had been chain smoking them ever since.

from stockton he’d driven straight through to winnemucca, nevada stopping only for gas. he spent the night at the winner’s hotel casino and walking the streets of winnemucca while avoiding the cat houses. a sleepy casino was one thing but the houses were another. a sure fire way of being spotted. instead, he ate a delicious lamb dinner at an old basque hotel before retiring for the night. he was up early and back on the road again before 7. an overnight rain had left the roads shimmering in the early morning sun.

so, here he was in the stockman. elko, nevada. the duke’s old haunt? he was for sure smoking like the duke. two days and six packs of smokes later. jesus. he thought stubbing out a butt and lighting another. what the hell happened? what the hell indeed.

jmh

this first appeared here in july of 2014.

orchids & sunlight

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the brown eyed girl’s kitchen orchids and sunlight.

orchids3s

orchids2

unnamed-3

orchid1

jmh

in the hills of beverly

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i’ll begin this epistle with why i’m here. sadly, the browned eye girl is in the hospital again here in BH. her slightly less than a year and a half old new hip fell apart due to several factors, which i’m not going into here. so, this was like her 16th or 17th surgery on that hip. we’ve both lost count. her current surgeon is world class and we’ve been onboard with him for the last 4 surgeries, counting this one. he’s pretty confident that this time around things will be different. so are we but if things can go sideways, the brown eyed girl seems to always be in the crosshairs. prayerfully, things will go her way this time. she is a trooper. and just one of the reasons i love her so much.

all that being said, the surgery went well, though she is in considerable pain at the moment. big time pain meds work, kids. and they aren’t anything to mess with unless under the watchful eye and care of several doctors. she’ll have go to rehab for possibly a week or so but we’ve been down that road before. she’ll be home soon for another 5 or 6 weeks of recovery and then we can start planning our next vegas trip.

as for me, last night i had dinner downstairs in the hotel restaurant. a very nice place and the food is very good. i was in the mood for some comfort food so i ordered spaghetti bolognese. it was outstanding. really good. when i was finished and as i was leaving i asked to speak with the chef. he came out and we chatted. i told him the bolognese was amazing and the best restaurant bolognese i’d ever eaten. but it still wasn’t as good as mine. he got a kick out of that. though i wasn’t kidding. we shook hands again and i went back into the bar.

i’ve stayed at this hotel a number times while the brown eyed girl has been in the hospital, as the place is convenient. with my number of stays i’ve become friends with some of the staff. all the bartenders, of course, and the food and beverage managers. the senior food and beverage guy in particular. we hit it off the first time we met. i’ve come to call him my brother from another grandmother. anyway, i’m sitting at the bar sipping some texas vodka on the rocks and my friend comes by and just like every time we first meet it’s like old home week even if it was last night.

we chat for a while and he says, let’s go sit in the lounge, i want you to meet my boss. i’m like sure ok. we go into the lounge area and his boss comes over. we meet and chat somewhat. nice guy. then he gets right to the point. he’s wondering if i would like to do a bolognese throw down with the chef. i’m like what? sure thing but i need to wait until the brown eyed girl can join me. he’s ok with that. no details as yet but i’ve appointed the brown eyed girl as my agent for the throw down.

so, a beverly hills chef, my friend the food and beverage manager, and me will duke it out some way or another in one of their kitchens and somehow somebody is gonna pick a winner. sweet. i hope they don’t mind losing. i’ll also be doing some recon this evening. i’m having the spaghetti bolognese again.

i wrote the above several days ago. the browned eyed girl has been moved to the acute rehab unit in the hospital and, so far, is doing much better. even with the pain. hopefully, she’ll be home by next weekend.

the bolognese recon went well and i’ll probably do another one this week. the throw down has been tentatively set for sometime in late october.

jmh

armed and dangerous

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it’s not quite mid march but you’d never know it by the weather outside. the devil winds are howling and record high temps are expected to fall over the weekend. just another year in the lingering california drought. with it being so hot and with the skin crawling santa ana winds blowing it reminds me of a time back in the mid 1980s. when one savage beast had southern california curling up with loaded shotguns at night. the beast being, richard ramirez, or more commonly known as, ‘the night stalker’.

over the years southern california has had it’s share of deranged murders and serial killers. a genuine motley crew of bat shit wackos and satan wannabes. hell, the whole state for that matter especially when you toss in the zodiac killer from up in the bay area. i digress.

the night stalker began his reign of terror in the spring of 1984. by the summer of 1985 the land of the lotus was in a downright semi siege mentality. myself included. it seemed as if the night stalker was striking at least once a week. from one bucolic suburb to another. another family or couple murdered while they slept. or murdered while the mate was made to watch. the night stalker made charlie manson and his gang seem almost tame. charlie after all had a beach boy as a friend. but he still had murderous mayhem in his heart.

as the summer of the stalker plodded on for sometime it became more apparent that local cops all over the southland were pretty much clueless as to what the hell was going on. hence, sleeping with a weapon became the norm to anyone with an ounce of sense. especially for those of us who weren’t about to give up sleeping with a window or door open no matter what insanity was befalling the various communities.

at the time, i had a winchester defender which i kept fully loaded and in bed with me. not the first time that had occurred. in vietnam a loaded M-16 and two hundred rounds of ammo were always at my bedside. one never knew when insanity would hit the fan and running around looking for a weapon was not an option. ever. at any rate, before hitting the sack that summer with the shotgun i’d set up trip wires to various homemade early warning devices. making sure they were loud enough to wake me up. not that a really sound sleep was going to happen. regardless.

eventually the police got a fairly decent description of the stalker from those who had survived his rampage and his police sketch was plastered all over the TV 24/7. on arriving back to socal from one of his bus trips to his home state of texas a few street vatos recognized him and kicked the crap out of him while the cops were being called. sadly, they were unable to finish the job before the cops arrived. he was, of course, convicted and sent to death row where he would still be living today if he hadn’t died of cancer back in 2013. karma is a bitch. and also very handy at times. yes of course, the hand wringers among us here in the great state of chaos got the death penalty squashed a while back. making karma our only hope for any retribution when it comes to murderers. be they be simple run of the mill types or straight from the bowels of hell types.

the record breaking march heat, wind and drought brought back the dread of that long ago but never to be forgotten socal summer. vivid memories of tossing and turning searching for slumber and peace.

further inspiration provided by today’s Power Plant Men blog, “Lizzie Bordan meets Power Plant Man”.

jmh

oh tannenbaum or a christmas tale (updated)

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 i want to thank all of you who read this poem.  the poem isn’t about my christmas this year.  it concerns my christmas in vietnam during the war and the cutting down of a small pine tree at the beach.   i also wrote about it a few years ago using prose.  it’s back there in the vault somewhere.  i wanted to present the scenario in a different way this year.

at any rate,  this minor adventure is never far from my thoughts at this time.   it’s just one of those life things.  i hope you all take the time to remember those in the military and those of us who are less fortunate this christmas. 

i wish you all a wonderful and peaceful christmas and a very happy new year. thanks, again, to all of my readers.

jmh

 

mosquito dreams
slip through
the seams
christmas time
all isn’t sublime
hopes hang
then falter
nothing can alter
the dim hopes
the sad schemes
all slip and
slide in between
reality it seems
trumps those
our dreams
with more
sad silent
screams.

visions of a tree
frightful and small
scrawny and tawdry
ready to fall
vainly to bring
hope for us all
out on a limb
a viper does crawl
slippery silver
death kneel after all
three colts bark
staccato
viper shashimi
before it falls
while the tree
grows new life
it saddens
us all.

jmh

from december 2008 all rights reserved. tipping is optional.

vladimir putin: from the side lines of history

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many years ago, 2002 to be exact, i made a trip to mainland china. it was one of those two week deals where if it’s tuesday it must be shanghai type things. all in all very interesting especially the great wall. however, there were a couple of “incidents”that sort of stand out. one concerning vladimir putin and i’m still really not sure what was up with the other one.

first off, during the trip we stayed in xian for a few days. a lovely very old walled city with a moat around it. that would be in the really old part of town. we were on our way to see the terra cotta warriors outside the city. a truly wonderful experience if you get the chance to do so. on the way there we stopped at a factory that made small terra cotta figurines of the actual warriors, horses, and such at the site.

while at the terra cotta factory there was a guy standing around with big sony video camera on a tripod. i went up and started talking to him about his camera. he had an odd accent. turns out he was a russian tv news photographer or that was his story. he said they were doing “set ups” as putin was visiting the factory the next day before he went to see the actual warrior site. there was a talking head with him but i didn’t speak with him. anyways, after chatting with the ruskie and getting him to pose for some video i wondered off taking more video of the factory. suddenly this extremely nice looking chinese babe came out of nowhere like a sudden heart attack and asked me in very good english if i’m getting some nice pictures. this kinda freaked me out. who was she? where did she come from? i said yeah and blew her off. i think she may have been chinese langley. did she and the chinese think i was cia as well?

yes, well, then it got a bit weirder.

later that day we were at the terra cotta digs when 3 guys in very bad suits walked past us. i immediately made them for russians. one of them stopped turned around and gave me the eye for a minute or two. guess he had heard about me from someone at the terra cotta factory. or something. i ignored him. putin was to be at the site as well the next day. so i guess they were just some more russian “cultural” folks checking stuff out in advance. did the russians think i was cia too? what was going on? we heard a day or so later the chinese closed the place for 3 hours so putin could look at the shit by himself and not be disturbed. i hope he had a grand time.

several days later we were in guilin. a lovely spot in south china almost to the north vietnam border. the main touristy thing there is a four hour boat ride down the li river. wonderful scenery. amazing stuff.

after a long day of sightseeing, dinner, and probably too much beer we went to a chinese stage show in the hotel where we were staying. a nice show and more beer. however, i had a hard time staying awake.

after the we show got in the elevator to go up to our room. two nicely dressed westerners get in too. for some reason we are the only people in the elevator. which was very weird because of the number of people who had been watching the show and were now heading back to their rooms in the hotel. we get up to our floor. the men stayed in the elevator and as we get out one of them says, in an aussie or british accent, good night, john. yeah, no shit. i had never seen those guys before. i just ignored them and kept on walking. however, i was jolted.

very spooky and strange and the last time on the trip that i noticed anyone taking any interest in me in a langley sort of way. i had completely forgotten this little incident until i was reading some old emails. even now it seems very bizarre. we were at least 1,000 miles from xian and the russian, chinese terra cotta warrior deal. now out of nowhere i had british MI6(?) guys wishing me a good night. hmm…odd…very odd.

jmh

a little bit of drive-in movie madness

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this story has appeared here a few times. folks seem to enjoy it. anyway, it is what it is. i should write something new but…meh. for some reason re-doing this has screwed up my front page. it also refuses to be fixed. sweet.

jmh

drive-in movies are a thing of the past. they played a sorta minor major role in my life at times over the years. you don’t see them around here much anymore. land is too expensive for that use now a days.  as for the rest of the country i don’t know. though it’s probably the same.

when i was a kid there were 2 local drive-ins. well, in the early years actually only one, the ‘valley drive-in’.  it had a really neat neon sign on the back of the screen. a spanish vaquero with a couple of oxen pulling an ox cart, of all things. i think i might even have a photo of it buried someplace in an email account. too far underground to find. at any rate during the day it was a very nice sorta mural. at night it was magic. there was also a monkey house located inside. the typical monkey deal of years ago.
lots of really pissed off monkey’s running around in a not very clean monkey house. by high school or sooner the monkey house was closed down. no one really missed
it.

times change of course and movie viewing has changed as well. if i’m not mistaken, my first trip to the valley drive-in was to see ‘the bridge on the river kwai’, yeah a long time ago. lots of grade b horror films as a youngster as well.  one of the neighbor ladies loved crappy horror flicks. she would take her son and a few others along to be her runners for the snack bar.  yeah, she was a big one.  one of the original junk food junkies.

by the time high school rolled around we drove ourselves to the drive-in it became standard to try and avoid the entry fee.  a couple of guys curled up in the trunk was the obvious place.  as night fell and the show started trunks opened up and kids got out. they got wise to that action and started asking kids to open the trunk up at the gate.  a friend of mines parents owned a vw bus sorta tricked out camper style. there was a tiny closet just big enough for one of us to hide in and under one of the bench seats 2 of us
could squeeze inside the box frame.  totally uncomfortable and cramped but it worked. they would ask to look inside the van but they never came in and searched. the things kids do to save a dollar.

i suppose the real allure to drive-ins was the fact that there seemed to be all kinds of action there for young hormone powered youths, there was, usually in the last couple of rows. the date crowd. which was fine. though if you didn’t have a date the movie, after awhile, became secondary with all the hormones careening wildly about. then it became a search for babes.

most of the time it was wishful thinking especially if you were drunk. which more often than not was the case. amazing amounts of red mountain dago red swilled in those high school drunken drive-in days. the usual scenario was watch the first movie and get drunk. by half way through the movie alcohol infused hormones took over.  semi demented youths wandering about looking for unescorted babes.

it was like, over there. see em? yeah, lets get closer. they seem hot. ok. cool. look, no one is parked next to them. let’s move. so back to the car and the move was made.generally speaking it was a called strike three. then it was off to greener pastures. more often than not with the same results. cars driving around or kids walking around looking for some action. action that was a white rhino if you get my drift.  though sometimes the action was great. you don’t always take a called third strike.

i remember one night vividly. it occurred late in my drive-in life.  i even remember the movie. hitchcock’s, ‘torn curtain’, the cold war spy drama. a good movie i guess but to complicated for a couple of drunk guys to follow.  then it became let’s find babes.  no walking too drunk for that.  we’ll drive around instead.  at the time i had a 1962 ford falcon station wagon. 3 on the tree. ah, 3 speed stick shift,on the column.  a real babe magnet for sure.  yeah, uh huh.  though as a surf wagon it worked out nicely. also for those semi rare lucky times.  drifting.

we wandered drunkenly about finding a car of babes here and there and of course they want nothing to do with us.  we of course got drunker and drunker.  we’ve searched pretty much the whole place.  no luck. only place left are the slots up front. we had avoided those due to the high family occupancy rate.  close to the restrooms and play area. desperate times and desperate measures.  we ventured into the family zone. too drunk to care. too stupid to realize what we were getting ourselves into.

the slots up front were on a semi hill.  they had to be in order for you to see the screen.  ergo, the closer to the screen the higher the hill.  a combination of quantum physics, geometry and drive-in engineering.  something way beyond our drunken state. we found an empty spot beside a family and a couple of babes right in the front row.  i managed to park the car without any trouble.  the ladies were not amused. nor interested. time to move.  getting in the spot was easy getting out turned into a nightmare.  the
hill bump whatever was as steep as any hill in san francisco.  even sober they can be death defying with a stick shift.  i couldn’t got off the hill.  we were stuck.

in some sort of mack sennett moment we came up with the idea of the century. i would man the wheel, of course, as well as the clutch and hand break if needed. my friend would get on the floor and operate the gas and the brakes.  yeah, fucking genius at work. pure drunken logic.  i don’t know how long it took to finally get out of there but the clutch was damn near on fire by the time we did.  hell, it stunk so bad itmay have been on fire. lots of yelling on my part. more gas! less brake!! stomp on it!!  the engine revving to rpms not meant for it’s simple 6 cylinders. why the police weren’t called i’ll never know. they may have been.  by the time we got off the hill we realized we had better leave.

there ya go.  drive-in movie madness.  there were times my friends and i had dates for the drive-in. those are for another time.  perhaps.  though one date the friend from the story and i had with 2 lovely surfer girl types is the reason i started to think about those drive-in days.  of course the date was a bust for both of us way early in the evening. i don’t think the sun had even set. the ladies ended up sitting together in the backseat while my friend and i at up front and got very drunk. the lady who was my date for that long ago evening died last month. i just found out about it this past weekend.  life comes at you hard and way too fast.

ok. i found the photo of the valley drive-in.  valley-drive-in-theatre

the date mentioned above passed away in 2010 i believe. my friend in the story passed away this past march 2014.

music provided by, the art farmer quintet, ‘blame it
on my youth’.

jmh