Chuckwalla Wire

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Chuckwalla Wire
On-line edition of the Chuckwalla Reveille, the Voice of the Tri-Desert Empire.
(Formerly the Jericho Clarion)  Covering Chuckwalla, Blythe, Jericho, Sometimes Spring, Pele Verde, and all of Eastern Imperial County.  Home of the Yellow Jackets.  Go Jackets!  Headquarters of the Fifth Marines Desert Warfare Center.  Gateway to the Mojave, Colorado, and Sonoran Deserts.  Sunshine 300 Days a Year.


Excerpt from the monthly Imperial County Imago, January 2015:

Chuckwalla, southeastern Imperial, population 12,000 un-incarcerated.  Set on the west bank of the muddy, pesticide-laced Colorado, surrounded by blank desert, a hundred miles from anything.  Main industry, a state prison within the gerrymandered city limits.  Agriculture:  subsidized cotton nobody wants, alfalfa two hundred miles from the nearest cow.  Yemen in summer, Siberia in winter.  A high concentration of coughers and hackers because of PM 10 (that’s dust, to you).  A sun-dazzled main street of vacant buildings, condemned because of an underground plume of hydrocarbons, the residue of defunct gas stations whose Indian owners have decamped for Mumbai.   Typical desert small town.  Bleak, windblown, toxic.  The crowded police blotter mostly crime against property, residential burglary, auto theft.  High unemployment, the few jobs low wage and physical.  Meth labs in trailers down lonely roads behind locked gates.  For violence, the domestic squawk, the bar fight.  The schools bad and few bother to finish.  Lots of diversity and they mostly hate each other.  

“Welcome to Chuckwalla,” says the Chamber sign at the off-ramp.  “Eat, Sleep, Shop.” 

The Chuckwalla Reveille is the town’s weekly newspaper. Chuckwalla Wire is the on-line edition, repurposing selections from the printed edition.

Editor’s note:  Dexter Dietz, the Chuckwalla Reveille's owner and publisher, remains under federal witness protection while awaiting the unlikely but hoped for trial in The Hague of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. We first met Dietz in San Francisco’s Haight, after knocking on an apartment door with the inscription “Only the illusion doesn’t deceive." He later became involved in shadowy transactions involving weapons transfers in Southern Sudan.  Returning to the States, he sought a quiet enterprise that would print easy money.  The Chuckwalla Reveille, the weekly in a tiny desert town, had a small but steady trade with several real estate brokers and a car dealership. Dietz had no interest in reporting or editing but these matters are easily hired out. He led a retired life until FBI agents took him into protective custody. We were sitting at the bar at the Merchants and Millionaires in Los Angeles when Dexter rang. Could we come to Imperial County to guard his interests? We were at liberty, having just been fired for insubordination from a metro daily.  We agreed to take the reins in Chuckwalla until the al-Bashir indictment is resolved. 


The Reveille’s periodic reconnaissance of the Tri-Desert Empire

(Editor’s note:  The Reveille welcomes Cheryl Weiss, 17, a senior at Chuckwalla High and a member of the school’s Crème de la Crème scholastic honor society.  Weiss is joining the paper as a part-time intern reporter who will be following the Chuckwalla city council.)

Council Notes

Nix the shots.   Penny Axelrod, animal rights advocate and co-chair of Loose the Dogs, used her three minutes at the city council's public comment to protest a Chuckpo citation for walking an unlicensed dog.  Axelrod, whose group opposes the city's leash law, said she got cited Friday on the bike path when her 20-pound terrier Faro scuffled with another dog. "The ordinance requiring rabies shots must go," Axelrod said.  "Dog owners object to the vaccination because of the link to autism."   She said that one of her dogs, Zor, became autistic after getting vaccinated. "In fact, most of so-called bad behavior in dogs can be traced to autism."  She provided council members with a copy of a study that appeared in her self-published e-book The Puppy Papers. (Cheryl Weiss)   

Local authors    Go to for the updated list of self-published e-books by Imperial County authors.   Some new titles:

 Truant Disposition, by Chuckwalla JC student Blaine Peters.  In this jailhouse memoir, Peters revisits his brushes with the juvenile justice system, and his daring escape from the privately-run Yuteville detention facility. 

My Answer to a World that Never Asked, personal essays by Chuckwalla curmudgeon and e-mail gadfly Besos Amazn.  

Lancelot, The Knight a la Cart, by Cathy Lennox, Chuckwalla High School English teacher.  Medieval love poetry transformed into contemporary English, with the afterword, “Tu-wit, Tu-who.  Merry notes on bawdy minstrels.”

Fleur de Coop Bail Bonds of Brawley is opening a satellite office in Chuckwalla in the Pavilion Building on Hobbesianway across the street from the courthouse. (Sponsored)

Poetic license?  Some puzzlement among the breakfast regulars at the Jefes table in the Breadfruit Café regarding the vanity license plate on a sleek black Toyota Seppuku parked outside:  IKENSUE.  Did it belong to Chuckwalla chiropractor Isaac Skelton and his wife Susan?  Wrong.  The car belongs to aggressive litigator and criminal damages specialist Anthony Puente.  Attorney Tony can sue, and frequently does. 

Puente may have some new clients, following the flap at Chuckwalla High School over the suspension of a student for crossing (his or her) fingers during the flag salute.  A photo appearing on the front page last week of the school newspaper, Full Jacket, showed seniors attending an assembly in the cafeteria and standing at attention during the Pledge of Allegiance.  An alert parent, on close inspection with a magnifying glass, complained that one of the students had (his or her) fingers crossed on the hand placed over the heart.  The parent alerted school principal Merrit Williams who, after consultation in closed session with the school board, suspended the student for “inappropriate behavior,” according to our source.  “The majority of the board had a problem with it,” Williams said. The Reveille knows the identity of the offending student but accedes to Principal William’s request for anonymity.  The student’s parents meanwhile are contemplating legal action.

The musical interlude during this Thursday’s noon meeting of the Sustainability Roundtable in the Issues Room of the Green Zone Café will be provided by “The Stem Sals,” a string quartet made up of Crème de la Crème honor students from Chuckwalla High’s advanced algebra class.  The musical mathematicians are Kimmi Fong, Joanne Juche, Amy Chu, and Quang Tri Vang.

Letter to the Editor   Re: last week‘s Council Notes.   I’m surprised that such a famous weekly can’t afford a stick and hearing trumpet for the Magoo you send to our council meetings.  In fairness, your reporter did manage to use his surviving sensory organ to nose out the one person (me) who would bother with him.  I introduced him around, guided him to the restroom, explained the issues.  Now this.  Let’s review the errors.  The Chuckwalla gas plant is not owned by the Chinese.  It’s owned by a consortium that includes the partner Shanghai Energy Petrochemical.  It should not be referred to as “the Chinese gas plant.”   Pele Verde Memorial Hospital has not been rated “worst in the nation” by anybody.  The “second worst” rating comes from an East Coast consumer protection group that has not been accredited by the Medical Practices Board in Washington, D.C.  The tar plume under Main Street is not “unfixable.”  Using new fracking techniques, drillers may be able to dissolve the plume with chemical infusions and draw the hydrocarbons to the surface for removal.  As for his calling the new traffic signals “irrelevant and unnecessary,” I can only hope that in the natural run of things a doddering, deaf, dim-eyed hack with an enflamed beezer, will be irrelevant and unnecessary soon enough.   Bibby Patel, Chuckwalla Councilman

(Editor’s note:  The reporter referenced in Councilman Patel’s e-mail is no longer with the paper.)

Weighty Matters   In a 3-2 vote Wednesday the Chuckwalla City Council approved installing a scale at the public speaker’s podium in the council chamber.  At future meetings, speakers stepping to the podium will have their weight projected on a screen on the back wall.  Mayor Robert Crane said that other municipalities have found the scales expedite proceedings.  Recent council meetings have dragged past midnight as citizens used “public comment” to address contentious issues such as gas plant emissions and the sewer pond extension.  Crane said citizens addressing the council would still get a full three minutes at the podium. 

Critics however claim the new technology could have a chilling effect on free speech.  Mary Callahan, from the Sobrantes United Pilates class, said the council action sought to dampen criticism from her neighbors regarding the city plan to build sewer ponds upwind from their homes.  Crane denied that the new ordinance targeted any group or that its intent was to stifle criticism from the Pilates class.   “It certainly has nothing to do with obesity or a sedentary lifestyle or bad food choices,” Crane said.  “I was the first person to use the scale.”  Crane, known both for his orotund speaking style and his rotund appearance, said he tips the scale at three hundred and ten pounds.  “I don’t mind owning what I weigh,” Crane said.  Cheryl Weiss

About those scales.  Chuckwalla High School dietician Cindy Mallory says she favors weighing speakers at council meetings, as an incentive to healthy living.  Mallory said that if Chuckwalla citizens had to reveal their weight they might think twice about “fast food loaded with lard, corn syrup and brine.”  Seeing numbers shows the effect of “moron food,” she said.

Police Blotter

Dog Fisherman Arrested   Chuckpo arrested a Chuckwalla restaurant owner Tuesday for dog fishing from his front porch.  Police lieutenant Abel Dick said that Harry Ming, owner of the Saipan Grill, was arrested Tuesday at his home, 2012 High Beam Way, after he began casting for feral dogs with a 10-foot surf rod.  Dick said that when arrested, Ming was reeling in a 40-pound Shepherd mix. The noise of the battle awakened neighbors who called police.  Dick said the population of stray and feral dogs has risen in Chuckwalla as owners beset by hard times have released their pets into Arroyo Cholo on the bike path.  After obtaining a warrant, officers searching Ming’s residence turned up a collection of dog collars in a bureau drawer and a freezer filled with wrapped meats.

Leaders in Motion

(A regular feature in which the Reveille chats with vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.  This week we’re with Chuckwalla resident Lenora Hicks, the autistic animal rights activist and architect who designed the new chicken campus for Carr’s Quality Poultry.)

Reveille:  What did Tom Carr ask for?

Hicks:  “He wanted a facility that would stand up to public scrutiny.  He wanted something like the humane slaughterhouses for cattle and pigs.  Chicken processing is hidden from the public.  The birds are de-beaked, stacked to the ceiling in tiny cages, force fed for eight weeks, hung upside down on a tram, and slaughtered by illegal immigrants in a horror show of blood, feathers, offal and stench.”

Reveille:  Carr has had trouble before.

Hicks:  “His operation was closed down by the state after a massive die off.  That was mostly because of the hot spell two summers ago.  There was also some footage from a whistleblower.”

Reveille:  What’s your plan?

Hicks:  “The campus has an open quad with cooling ponds and misters.  Solar panels run fans that clear the buildings of floating detritus.  There’s a large rotunda so the chickens can circle the quad like the sea bass at the Monterey Aquarium.  Windows allow public viewing.”

Reveille:  How about slaughter?

Hicks:  “Robotic guides gently push the chickens onto a moving walkway. An audio system broadcasts recorded chicken clucking that has been demonstrated to reassure the birds.  As the chickens enter the plant they’re decapitated by laser and flipped onto the assembly line.  Blowers prevent hormonal triggers from reaching the oncoming birds.”

Reveille:  Is this a healthier bird?

Hicks:  “Maybe.  They’re not shot through with stress hormones, since they aren’t grabbed out of a cage, hung upside down and slashed across the throat.  The main point of the campus is to create humane conditions.”

Reveille:  You have a history.  You saved the chicken at Chuckwalla High.

Hicks:  “My being autistic, school was hard for me.  During Chuckwalla Days, the senior class used to have a three-legged chicken game during the rally in the gym.  A hen was let loose and teams of two students with one leg strapped together tried to catch it.  I totally identified with the chicken. That was my life at Chuckwalla High.  I came down from the stands and tried to stop it.”

Reveille:  You did stop it.

Hicks:  “This was before I started talking.  I found a mop and began whacking the three-legged teams.  I was squawking like a chicken, standing in front of the hen and swinging the mop.  At first I was booed, and then I started getting some cheers.  A gym teacher stopped the show, and the principal came to the microphone and said we could all learn some lessons here.  I started to talk after that.”


Police Blotter

Malicious mischief.  After a brief foot chase, Chuckwalla police officers arrested Donald Nagel, 25, a Chuckwalla graffiti artist who has had past brushes with the law for defacing walls.  Police said Nagel allegedly used super glue to paste a sticker saying “Your Son’s Blood Goes Here” over the gas cap of a Ford Suburbia parked on Hobbesianway.    Chuckpo arrested Nagel last month for pasting “Too Proud to be an American” bumper stickers on parked cars at the county fairgrounds during the “Sunday Thunder” stock car races.  Nagel was released after posting $500 bail. 


Busker crashes Busk memorial.  A celebration of the life of Calvin Busk, was held Wednesday at the Moose Lodge in Chuckwalla.  Busk, 79, who passed December 25 due to post-surgical complications at Pele Verde Memorial Hospital, was a loyal Moose and a retired realtor involved in the promotion of the beleaguered Sometimes Spring Pleasant Gate Senior Village.  A larger than life presence in Chuckwalla for three decades, Busk had a rollicking sense of humor and a love of practical jokes.  “He held court every morning at the Peacock Restaurant,” said lifelong friend Elmo Dibbs.  “He ribbed the heck out of everybody.  He was a natural salesman and a manic character around here until the Pleasant Gate conversion.”  The Pleasant Gate development went into receivership in 2012, and the losses to investors occasioned a flurry of lawsuits that embroiled Busk in court appearances during the final year of his life.  At his request, only his creditors were invited to his memorial service.  The printed invitation stated, “No host bar, open casket.”  Busk wasn’t in it.  On his deathbed, Busk had hired rodeo clown Andy Ikes to lie in the casket and greet mourners with a sepulchral laugh.  “It was his last prank,” Dibbs said.


Frisbee Hospitalized in Park Fray  “Chuckwalla’s Oldest Hippie,” Babba Frisbee, 72, was taken to the Pele Verde Memorial Hospital Friday after being pummeled by a gang of young toughs in Howell Park.  Frisbee told police that he was relaxing on a bench near the bandstand at about midnight when he noticed several young men urinating into the children’s water fountain.  He said that when he objected, the youths chased him around the bandstand, knocked him down and kicked him.  Frisbee, a long-time colorful regular in the park who wears tie dye shirts, ponytail, and rainbow headband, was admitted to the hospital with a concussion and minor contusions, and was listed in stable condition.  His assailants were described as three teenage males in jeans and dark hoodies. 


Poets’ Corner

(A regular Reveille feature limelighting Tri-Desert bards.)

Might is Right

by Cubla Can

Algunos fuertes, otros debil

Es todo.

Some are Strong

Some are Weak

The weak are wrong 

The strong will keep

End of Song


Emily on Smoke

by Dick and Son

Some things that buzz there be

Buds, clocks, the bumble bee

Some things that stone there be

Grief, grass, eternity.


Egyptian Math by Sphinx

Cleo’s friend,

A handsome adder

Struck and bit her

To subtract her


Reflections on my 70th

by John Betts

All those who treated me like trash

Are now putrescence, or loose ash. 

I feel good about that. 

The girls who mocked my skinny legs

Now are fat repugnant hags. 

Life is good.


Police Blotter

Iraq Hero in Berserk Rampage   Erstwhile Marine Jesse Header, honored last year as a hero after three tours in Iraq, turned the Horny Toad Saloon into a shambles Friday night, wreaked his girlfriend’s apartment, then brawled with police until he was Tasered into submission.  Chuckwalla police Lt. Abel Dick said Header mounted the stage at the Horny Toad Saloon and wrested a trombone from Kinda in Beta band leader Keith Teeth.  Toad bouncers ejected Header but he returned a moment later with a ball peen hammer, scattering Kinda in Beta, breaking glasses and bottles, and threatening Toad bartenders and staff.

Alerted by screaming patrons, officers entered the saloon and attempted to subdue Header with stun guns but to no effect.  After smashing the bar mirror, a tuba and a clarinet Header escaped out the back door.  Dick said that half an hour later the police dispatcher received a call from Header’s girlfriend, Madeline Limmit, who said Header had burst into her apartment and was trashing the place.  Dick said he and other officers struggled with Header and had to Tase him repeatedly. In a duffle bag in the apartment police found a loaded rifle, ammunition, and a toy hand grenade.

Header received a hero’s welcome and rode as grand marshal of the Chuckwalla Days Parade after being mustered out of the Marine Corps last year.  During four years of service, he deployed to Iraq three times, receiving for his service a Purple Heart and a General Discharge.  Header’s mother, Cynthia Neatfoot, said her son suffered depression and had been treated as an outpatient in the VA Hospital in Riverside.  “It’s PT,” she said    Header was released from police custody after receiving counseling.   Cheryl Weiss


Reveille Observatory

Mayor Crane Eyes UFOs    Is the Palo Verde Valley a locus of “magnetic convergence” that draws extraterrestrial UFOs?   Chuckwalla Mayor Robert Crane Wednesday enlivened an otherwise humdrum council meeting with the suggestion that the valley, because of the alignment of the surrounding mountains, might project a “powerful resonance” into deep space that attracts alien visitors from the cosmos.  “It’s a candle and moth effect,” Crane said.  The mayor said he is preparing a package for council eyes that would collect and collate local reports of UFO sightings.  He said he is interviewing witnesses and scouring the Chuckwalla library for old records.  Crane visited the office of the Chuckwalla Reveille on Monday to spend part of an hour examining issues of the newspaper going back forty years.  By Cheryl Weiss

Missing Scout Troop Found on Scorpion Peak   A sheriff’s helicopter located the 19 missing scouts of Troop 354 early Monday morning in the Scorpion Wilderness 50 miles north of Chuckwalla.  The scouts were in good condition and were returning to Chuckwalla in a chartered bus.  The scouts went missing Saturday night while on a camping trip to the Imperial County Scout Council’s Jamboree.  Frantic parents alerted law enforcement when the scouts failed to return Sunday afternoon, and scout leaders couldn’t be reached by cell phone.

Sheriff’s spokesman Neville Botts said the scouts decided to take an unscheduled and unsupervised night hike in the wilderness near Scorpion Peak after scoutmasters retired for the evening.  “The adults had gone to their own campfire a quarter of a mile away and were unaware that the scouts had left until reveille Sunday morning,” Botts said.  The Council’s jamboree coordinator Jan Fisk said scout leaders typically have a campfire social hour Saturday night but ordinarily at least one adult remains with the youths.  “We are looking to see if we need to tighten our protocols,” Fisk said.  According to Botts, the social hour had extended past midnight.  First Class Scout Henry Pipps, 17, said the night hike was a spur of moment idea.   “We got bored sitting around and it was too noisy to sleep.” 


New Fly in Town?   Entomology researchers from the University of California, Riverside, will be in Chuckwalla this week to study the feasibility of relocating the endangered Colton Sand Fly to Imperial County.  The elusive sand fly is native to a few acres on the outskirts of Colton in Riverside County.  Strip malls and freeways have encroached on the fly’s meager habitat.  The Colton City Council last year voted to develop the fly’s last parcel for a box factory but was overruled by a court injunction citing the Endangered Species Act as well as a possible conflict of interest arising from financial ties between council members and the owners of the proposed factory.  Patricia Fens, UC associate professor of entomology, said the fly is closely associated symbiotically with a native thistle that grows in the undulating sand dunes.  “We’re looking for similar dunes west of the Colorado where we can introduce the thistle, and, we hope, the sand fly.”  Fens said that unless the fly can be relocated its survival chances are dim.  “Pollution and noise from the Interstate are impacting the fly,” she said.  A suit brought by the California Center for Biodiversity would have required the state to reduce the freeway speed limit to 10 mph on a half-mile stretch facing the fly’s habitat.  “That’s not happening in Colton,” said Colton mayor Jim Haines.  “It’s a fly.”


Council Notes

Budget Woes Hamper Honors   Budget constraints threaten to diminish the funeral ceremony honoring slain Chuckwalla policeman Don Clifton after council members got an estimate of additional costs.  Police Chief Habib Zygatt, 234 pounds, said it would cost the city an additional $10,000 in overtime and transportation expenses for the memorial set for February 27.  He said rank and file officers from neighboring districts could carpool but the city would have to reimburse chiefs and senior deputies arriving in official vehicles. Zygatt said it was important the other desert departments show solidarity at the service of a fallen officer.  “It’s our mutual assistance,” he said.

Officer Clifton cost the city.  Councilman Bibby Patel said the planned service for the slain officer seemed unnecessarily lavish, considering the officer’s troubled tenure with the department.  During his two years with the Chuckwalla police department, Clifton had been the subject of citizen complaints alleging excessive use of force.  He also was involved in an out of court settlement of a suit charging that he had had sex with a minor in the back seat of a squad car.  “We honor Officer Clifton’s sacrifice,” said Councilwoman Helen Faraday, “but the city already has made considerable expenditures in his behalf.  I see an item here for $500 for a floral tribute.  I see an item to Gabe’s Rigs and Plugs for a horse drawn caisson.    I see $800 to KZZS for live radio coverage.  I remind all of us again that the city is on the brink of receivership.”  Councilman Erskine Tibble, a retired county deputy, defended the expense as necessary for public safety.  “Nobody can understand who hasn’t been a law officer. Only sworn officers are qualified to judge what is needed for a policeman’s funeral.” 

At the request of Mayor Crane, city treasurer Saroj Patel briefly sketched the city’s financial picture.  Treasurer Patel said the city was $5 million in debt to suppliers, and would have to increase mandatory furloughs of city workers to five days per month to meet pension fund requirements.  She said the state comptroller had requested a court hearing with an eye to declaring the city insolvent and mandating the appointment of a state guardian.  “It’s not about money,” Councilman Tibble said.  “It’s about keeping the luster on the badge.”  Cheryl Weiss


Police Blotter

Shots Fired at Local Youth   Chuckwalla police Monday were interviewing two dove hunters who fired their shotguns at something they thought to be a space alien but which turned out to be a local Boy Scout.  Chuckwalla police Lt. Abel Dick said the hunters, whose names are being withheld pending further investigation, sighted “a creature” in a skintight silvery outfit, with a bulbous head and large almond-shaped eyes.  When the apparition began making high-pitched metallic noises and turned on them, the hunters loosed a blast of bird shot.  Dick said the police determined that the “creature” was a 17-year-old scout from Troop 354 costumed in a Halloween outfit.   “We haven’t pieced this one together yet,” Dick said, but he credited the gas plant health clinic for providing timely medical attention to the wounded youth and for calling police promptly.  The youth, whose name was withheld because of his age, had superficial pellet wounds and was released to his parent.


Poets’ Corner

(A regular Reveille feature showcasing Tri-Desert poetasters.)

Babba Frisbee
by Orin Wimbly

The blue of night folds Howell’s band shell
A beatific Babba smiles that “All’s well”

When evil laughter breaks the quiet!
Three miscreants!!!  Bent on riot

This trio of no-goods does now unbutton
And spray their piss upon the fountain

Oh, where’s the cop to stop this fun?
The midnight moon alas saw none

Up rose old Babba then
Bowed with his threescore years and ten

In his old attic a blear eye was set
To show a heart courageous yet

Bravest of all in Howell Park
He told them: stop this lark!

“Bust if you must an old grey head
But spare the kiddy fountain,” he said.

They beat him to a pulp and fled
Poor Babba Frisbee left for dead

If you know who played this trick
Please get in touch with Lieutenant Dick.

Leaders in Motion

A regular Reveille feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert area.  This week we catch up with 17-year-old Boy Scout first class Henry Pipps, the highest ranking scout in Troop 354 and a senior at Chuckwalla  High.

Reveille:  You were shot recently.

Pipps:  “Not the first time.  What happened, I was working on a community service project by helping Bert (Bertinelli) at the Chamber of Commerce with a promotion for the Convergence Center.  I had to dress up like a Martian and walk into town to meet up with Mayor Crane.  Bert wanted the whole troop but he only had one costume.  Anyhow, I’m coming up out of the culvert over near Via Bienvenidos and I’m testing out this electronic horn that Bert gave me when ka-boom, two dove hunters open up on me.”

Reveille:  Bird shot?

Pipps.  “I got peppered in the back.  Nothing serious.  Last year I was shot through the hand with a .22 during the Scout Expo in Big Moccasin.  See.”

Reveille:  I’ve heard you scouts have an interest in firearms.

Pipps:  “We have our own range on Scorpion Peak. We’re interested in the original scouting idea of General Baden Powell.  He saw ‘scouts’ as being the reconnaissance for light infantry.  We’re not so much about getting merit badges or doing good deeds as we are about field craft.  Tracking.  Bush survival.  Escape and evasion.  We shoot a lot.”

Reveille:  What does the scoutmaster think about this philosophy?

Pipps:  “I don’t know.

Reveille:  Who is the scoutmaster?

Pipps:  “I’m not sure.  Might be Mr. Higgins.”

Reveille:  What happened last month?

Pipps.  “The Jamboree doesn’t have a range.  We just stepped off Saturday night for Scorpion Peak to get in some practice.  We weren’t lost; we have our own cabin up there; we were just doing some shooting and hanging out.  We’ve been to Scorpion Peak a million times.  But some parents got worried.”

Reveille:  You guys have .22s.

Pipps:  “Actually, most of us have .223 semi autos.  Rugers.  Also a Garand.  A couple of 30-30 carbines.  Remington seven mil.  Some antique junk.  Enfields, Mosh-Nagant.”

Reveille:  Aren’t you too old to be a Boy Scout?

Pipps:  “Officially it goes Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Explorer.  But in Chuckwalla there’s just Troop 354.  Kind of like a one room school.”

Reveille:  So what are your plans after graduation?

Pipps:  “That’s a darn good question.  I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”


Around Chuckwalla

Robot Challenge to Pickers   Pease Melons Corp. has issued a challenge to the Mexican melon pickers who arrive here every fall for the harvest:  a picking race, pitting the fastest crews against a robotic melon picker developed by the University of California, Davis.  Fred Pease, who owns extensive melon fields around Chuckwalla as well as the Pease Packing Sheds, said he has agreed to test the robot melon picker for the University.  “I thought it would be fun to make it into a contest,” he said.

Dozens of picking crews from Oaxaca annually arrive in Imperial County for the melon harvest.  Typically an experienced crew, walking beside the mechanical harvester, can box a thousand melons per hour.  Pease said the new robot, which has been dubbed “Melontallica” by its inventors, uses infrared digital scanner algorithms to direct scoops which guide the melons onto conveyors.  Robotic arms then transfer the melons into crates which slide onto flatbed trucks.  “We’ve already tested the picker against a team from the office and my family,” Pease said.  “My daughter Poppy is fast but Melontallica won.  Now I want to try it against professional competition.”


Chuckwalla High School lunch menu


Wakan Tanka fry bread   Maple flavored syrup   Mandarin orange slices in syrup   Apple juice


Anytime Frosted Flakes    Milk Tampico style   Applesauce with candied raisins   Orange flavored juice


Mulligan’s stew   Rice pudding with maple syrup   Peach compote   Apple juice


Beet Bailey on Buttons

(Editor’s note:  Beatrice Bailey lives year around in a tent, usually as a campground hostess.  She is a regular Reveille contributor on matters of energy, sustainability, and frugal living)

I've swapped out all my zippers for buttons.  This began when I purchased at Goodwill a heavy men’s sports jacket, size 48.  The wool coat once belonged to a deceased gent, large in girth, whose wardrobe wound up at an estate sale.  I added Pea coat buttons at the top of the lapel so it closed securely around my neck and chest.  The coat is large enough to cover a top and sweater, and long enough to cover the hips.  With an added woolen scarf it's a winter hiking coat. When the zipper failed on my windbreaker I removed the worthless zipper and sewed on buttons.  I had a couple of old sleeping bags whose zippers had broken.  Buttons.  Ditto for the wool Army blanket I use as a throw-over cape.  I've replaced almost every zipper in my wardrobe, the only exception being my summer jeans.  I never zip the fly, modesty being taken care of by an overlapping shirt.

Around the Empire

Discrimination Suit Settled at Sometimes Spring High     Responding to a court order, Sometimes Spring high school officials have lifted the ban on transgender use of the gym's showers.  In September two freshmen students transitioning from a male to female orientation petitioned the school to use the girls' changing rooms and showers.  Initially, principal Harold Dellums denied the request. "I am one hundred percent sympathetic, but this is novel, and I don't think the school is ready."  But last week the Imperial County superior court ruled against barring any student from facilities available to all.  During two days of hearings, physicians for the pair testified that both had made a full gender transition and could no longer be considered males, either psychologically or physically.  "The expert testimony here is that these students are now female, and they must be treated as such,” said Judge Nancy Delaney.  PE teacher Mary Vale said she doubted the ruling would cause a disturbance.  "There's been time to get used to this," she said.  "These are both popular kids and good athletes and everybody supports them."  But Vale, who coaches Lady Springtails basketball, said the ruling could have an effect on the sports program.  "Constance is six-one, and Emily is six-three."  Cheryl Weiss

Reply to Besos Amazn'

(Editor's note:  Once again, in response to e-mails from gadfly e-mailer Besos Amazn', here is the policy regarding the Reveille's on-line edition, a policy set by the publisher before he left on government sabbatical.  He wants us to focus on the printed edition and to publish the Wire only as workload permits. The Wire isn't updated every day because the Reveille is a weekly newspaper.  As time allows, we post some of the popular features in Observatory for the benefit of Chuckwallans traveling or residing outside the area.  We encourage Chuckwalla residents, such as Besos Amazn', to buy a copy of the print edition ("Fifty Cents, and worth stealing, evidently") at the kiosk outside Steaks 'n' Cakes.)

Chamber notes

Xi-Ping Lauds PacRim Co-Prosperity Sphere   A new cooperative pact among Pacific Rim nations will bring prosperity to Chuckwalla alfalfa farmers, according to a Chamber of Commerce speaker yesterday.  Col. Chou Xi-Ping, head of the Chinese construction battalion building the co-generation facility at the Chuckwalla natural gas plant, told an overflow audience that the plan to ship Chuckwalla hay to Chinese cattle will boost the local economy and help prevent the valley from turning into a dust bowl. "Sometimes he was hard to understand, but the message was clear," said Chamber president Bert Bertinelli.  Under the plan, alfalfa grown along the Colorado River will ship by rail from Chuckwalla to the Port of Los Angeles, where it will be loaded aboard China-bound bulk carriers.  "It's win-win for everybody," Bertinelli said. "SP gets freight, and the maritime shippers love this because their ships were going back to China empty except for cardboard and scrap."

Some valley hay growers have sold their water rights on the Colorado to the LA Metropolitan Water District, as groundwater pollution forced dairies farther north.  City officials have feared that the fallowing of more fields might lead to increased problems with PM10.  "Alfalfa is water-intensive and keeps down the dust,” Bertinelli said.  The consortium has established cattle feeding pens adjacent to the Chinese port of Shanghai.  With cattle concentrated at the port, stock can be fed directly from incoming ships.  The consortium also has built catfish and tilapia ponds next to the cattle pens for recycling cattle by-products.  The fish nuggets will be flash frozen on site for worldwide distribution.  "It just keeps getting better," Bertinelli said.  Ping said the only sour note so far has been the loss of the Shuswan Pearl, when unexpectedly heavy seas wetted the freighter's deck cargo of alfalfa, causing the ship to capsize and sink.  Cheryl Weiss


Wandering with a mazy motion through the Tri-Desert Empire

Prep Highlights   Chuckwalla High School senior coach Eddy Delaluna forwards this item from the Riverside Enterprise-Journal:    “This wasn’t supposed to happen.  The undefeated Chuckwalla Lady Jackets senior hoop squad headed into the final tiff with hapless Sometimes Spring High with nothing but vaunting confidence.  Yet within minutes, the home scoreboard registered catastrophe.  ‘I can't explain it,’ said Lady Jacket coach Brenda Storm.  ‘I've never seen such an offense.  The Springtails just exploded.’ After the humiliating 68-2 defeat (Umpire Harold Delaney called the game at midpoint) the Lady Jackets went to the showers with a lot of thinking to do.  ‘I think it had to do with the Lady Springtail rookies," Storm said.  "It's rare to see that kind of height in a ladies high school squad.’"

(Editor’s note:  Coach Delaluna has chided the Reveille for not reporting the Lady Jackets defeat. Our prep sports correspondent said he was too dismayed to file a story.)

Chicken Licken    Police had to be called Thursday morning to Martin Van Buren Elementary School to calm a row that broke out in the school auditorium.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said officers were summoned to curb fighting among students during a morning production of Chicken Little put on by the second grade glass.  Dick said student actors playing the parts of Turkey Lurky and Foxy Loxy went off script with disparaging remarks, and threw acorns at the student portraying the King.   He said some two dozen student actors became involved in an altercation that spread into the audience.  “It may have been gang-related,” Dick said.  Cheryl Weiss

Reveille Standing Weather Ear

Daytime temperature:  91. Hot and sunny.  Overnight:  37. Clear and cold.  Wind:  NW, 25, with gusts to 40   Pollen count:  High.  Juniper, sage, bunch grasses.  Those susceptible to allergies or respiratory complaints advised to stay indoors during windy periods.  Ultraviolet Index.  High.  Those going outdoors advised to wear sunscreen, hats, long pants and long-sleeved shirts.  Those susceptible to sunburn advised to stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Pollutants:  PM10 (severe); agricultural diesel exhaust (severe at times in valley); sulfur dioxide: stage two alert.  Pesticides:  Pesticides and fumigants in use today:  methyl bromide, methyl iodide, Kaolin, Bensulide, N-methyl carbamate, Dianzinon, and various organophosphates.  Valley residents advised to be aware of low-flying crop dusters.  Marion Shumley Memorial Senior Plunge:  Temperature, 85. Fecal count, 142

Leaders in Motion

(A regular Reveille feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.  This week we chat with Orin Wimbly, a Chuckwalla High School English teacher and a regular contributor to the Reveille’s Poets’ Corner.  He is also the author of the self-published e-book romantic comedy “Rain Check for Romance.”

Reveille:  You teach Advanced Placement in English.

Wimbly:  “It’s for the Chinese girls from the gas plant.” 

Reveille:  Isn’t there a language…

Wimbly:  “There are apps for translating Pinyin into English.  The moms come in for the syllabus in May so all the girls have read translations of Silas Marner, Julius Caesar and the other books on the list.  They write their book reports in Pinyin and we smooth them out.”

Reveille:  I hear it’s a closed classroom.

Wimbly:  “It’s a soundproof guarded room.  The girls bring box lunches to eat at their desks.  Williams has put in a private bathroom.  The girls never have to go out in the hall.”

Reveille:  What do you think about (Principal Merrit) Williams?

Wimbly:  “He’s got a background in corrections.  That’s what’s needed.”

Reveille:  You came to Chuckwalla from Southern California.

Wimbly: “I taught at Princely Prep in La Jolla for ten years.  I was the Latin teacher.”

Reveille:  Any plans to offer Latin at Chuckwalla High?

Wimbly:  “You surprise me.”

Reveille:  We appreciate your contributions to Poets’ Corner.  Have you published verse previously?

Wimbly:  “Some self-published lines in the style of Juvenal.”

Reveille:  That sounds like…Latin.  We’d publish an excerpt from your e-book but…

Wimbly:  “I understand.  Petronius meets Suetonius.”  


Ask a Lesbian

 By Caroline

(A regular Reveille feature exploring relationships.)

Dear Caroline   My parents are totally against me.  They don't like my boyfriend, they don't like my girlfriends, they don't like my clothes, or where I spend my free time.  They nag me constantly.  Blue Bird

Dear Blue Bird,   First, the extreme options:  Ax murder your parents; commit suicide; leave the country.  As a counselor, I can only recommend the last.  You might start by wondering:  Who is at fault here?  The world?  My parents?  Me?  Of course, everybody’s to blame.  But the last category is where you have the most control.  So a picture is emerging.  "It's my fault and I'm leaving the country."  But first consider some other DIY remedies.  I take it from your letter that you’re a high school student living at home.  This puts you at a disadvantage since you’re a dependent.  On the other hand your parents probably care about you, which puts them at a disadvantage, since they worry you'll run away, get picked up at the bus station by a pimp, and wind up a drug-addicted prostitute in New Orleans.  Do your parents text?  Or email?  Start putting it all in writing.  Your parents object to your boyfriend.  You mention his good side. Compile an exchange of specific complaints and your written rebuttals. The nag, the brag.  It saves on yelling, huffing, and door slamming.  Seek a mentor.  Tricky.  Nobody your own age.  Stay away from the church, or scouting, or other organizations known to prey on the young.  The best bet is a school counselor, with all meetings held in her office with the door open.  Show her your file.  Show her how you’re bravely bearing up.  Show her your willingness for compromise. Your dad says, "Home by midnight, young lady."  A compromise would be to post a bond with dad -- how about your life savings of $200 -- to be forfeited if you're Cinderella.  Hey.  I'm kidding.  Anyway, relax.  After about age fourteen, it's your life to ruin.  Your parents can't really make you do anything.  This is the time in life in which, ready or not, the human organism develops judgment.  And remember.  Boys only want one thing from a girl.  An intelligent conversation.  So don’t neglect your studies.

Police Blotter

Sentence in Rape Case    Charles Tom, 18, was sentenced Wednesday in Riverside superior court to four years in prison for the rape of a Chuckwalla High School sophomore coed last winter.  Tom, who had been free on $50,000 bail, was immediately taken into custody at the courthouse.  According to assistant district attorney Kyle Franks, Tom assaulted a Chuckwalla High coed on Jan. 15 inside Jackets Grove Memorial Copse behind the school baseball diamond. Chuckpo lieutenant Abel Dick said Tom’s conviction was based largely on recovered text messages from the coed’s iPhone.

"OMG!! bn rapd by Charlie

? Charlie????like now??  Wha Charlie??

Charlie T, 4 prd eng rt now!! doggie

OMG!!!  dork!!!

LOL lil bitty pp  mr sutter waymo GC!!!”

The “Dictionary of Texting Slang” doesn't list an entry for "GC."  Dick speculated it might mean "gym coach."  After recovering the text messages, police questioned Evan Sutter, a physical education teacher at Chuckwalla High, but no charges were filed.  Sutter has since been placed on unpaid administrative leave by the district.  Cheryl Weiss

Beatitudes from the Baileywick

(Beatrice Bailey, who lives in a tent and is camp hostess at the Ironwood Campground, contributes frequently on matters of sustainability and frugal living.)

Visit the rich.  Since I spend all year living in a tent at various campgrounds I seldom visit the city except to see friends.  When in the city, though, I want my daily walk, and the problem is…traffic and pollution.  Thankfully, usually somewhere near a friend’s gritty urban address is a kind of park with hills, clean paths, light traffic and pleasant surroundings.  I’m talking about fancy neighborhoods.  It amazes me that ordinary people are allowed to walk in these neighborhoods, without interference, to enjoy the landscaping and leafy greenery that the wealthy provide for themselves.  In other countries the police would turn a pedestrian back toward the chaos and smoke of the barrio, or even arrest him as a danger to the gentry.  In America, anybody can walk through a wealthy neighborhood and look at the houses (those that can be seen through the high fences and hedges) without even being questioned.  (Editor’s note:  Not true in Beverley Hills.)

I’m looking for mansions perched on hillsides, with steep access roads that deter crosstown travel.  Streets that twist upward around sprawling estates set on expansive grounds.  Oftentimes the developer has included shaded paths covered with wood chips for use by privileged dogs and their followers, plastic bag in hand.  Visiting pedestrians may use these paths as well, even if un-chaperoned.  

I don’t envy the rich.  My own squats at various camps are better.  I have superior hiking in the state and national parks where I work.  But for city visits, I’m glad to find a steep climb on a street that isn’t clogged with smudge pots. . The dogs I meet are less worrisome than the Pit Bulls menacing the befouled city pavement.  Or the feral packs running loose in Chuckwalla.  The few actual people are friendly and nicely dressed.  No hooligans on stoops, no trucks double parked, no odor of rancid cooking.  The rich neighborhoods above smog line seem fresher, probably because of the carbon dioxide absorption of the greenery.   The inhabitants of these sanctuaries may be class enemies but we can enjoy their sidewalks.


(The Reveille’s lackadaisical saunter around the Tri-Desert Empire)

Melontallica Falls.   The robot melon picker failed to triumph in its much ballyhooed face-off with a crack team of pickers from Oaxaca.  But it was close.  The robot, developed by scientists at the University of California, Davis, picked and packed 2,436 melons in an hour.  But “El Grupo de Exitos,” the top Mexican team, harvested 2,659 in the hard-fought contest, held Saturday in a melon field north of Chuckwalla.  The melon match was the brainchild of Fred Pease, owner of Pease Packing Sheds, to test the new technology.  “It was a friendly competition,” Pease said, “And the best side won.”  A dozen picking crews are in Chuckwalla this month for the annual melon harvest.  Typically, a melon crew harvests 1,000 to 1,500 melons per hour.

Following the match, Pease daughter Poppy Pease, a sophomore at Chuckwalla High, awarded green ball caps and neck scarves to the winning pickers.  The ceremony was followed by a melon feed under the packing sheds.  Pease said to ensure an annual contest he’ll order a robot picker in time for the next harvest.


Police Blotter

Erstwhile Marine Still At Large   Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said officers are still getting tips on the whereabouts off erstwhile Marine and former parade marshal Jesse Header, suspected in the ambush killing of Kmart assistant supervisor Kenneth Watts.  Dick said Header was last seen running into the arroyo near Via Bienvenidos following the shooting.  Witnesses have told police Header waited in ambush behind the dumpster at the rear door of the Kmart building and shot his former supervisor multiple times in the back with a rifle.  Header served three tours in Iraq and was given a hero’s welcome on his return to Chuckwalla.


Humane Society Arrest in Cat Scandal    

Chuckwalla Humane Society director Allison Clatt has been arrested for allegedly selling hundreds of euthanized cats to a laboratory supply company.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said Clatt is suspected of diverting the cats to Felix Deluxe Laboratory Supply, which processes cats for use in medical laboratories and for high school biology classes.  Dick said that selling the euthanized animals violated the society’s disposal protocol.   “The euthanized animals are supposed to be sealed in plastic bags and taken to the land fill,” Dick said.  “It is illegal to sell them for any purpose.”

Dimon Singleterry, board president of the society, said the disposal protocol was necessary to protect the city from liability that might arise from public contact with a diseased animal.  A person answering the phone at Felix Deluxe Laboratory Supply declined to identify herself, but said the company was not aware that Clatt was the director of an animal pound.  Dick said police obtained a warrant to search Clatt’s home.  A computer was confiscated but Dick said her freezer contained nothing but frozen dinners and deserts.  According to Mark Fineman, biology teacher at Chuckwalla High School, lab supply companies sell processed cats for use in dissection class for about $25 each.  “The cat comes frozen with its veins filled with formaldehyde, and with a guarantee it is sterile and free of disease,” Fineman said.  Cheryl Weiss


Bulletin Board

The Green Zone Café’s fetal alcohol syndrome support group will meet Wednesday noon in the Issues Room to hear UC Riverside psychologist Timothea Patellae proctor a PowerPoint outlining a new state program that explains the dangers that smoking poses to the fetus.  She will also address the controversial study that recently appeared in Clinical Psychopathology which suggests that women who ingest steroids while pregnant may produce aggressive babies with thicker craniums.  (Sponsored)


Council Notes

Crane Lauds Chinese Aid in Levy Break  

 “Community service of the highest order,” said Mayor Robert Crane, as the Chuckwalla City Council on Wednesday awarded a Certificate of Appreciation to the leader of the gas plant volunteers from the Chinese labor battalion who turned out at midnight to help firefighters staunch a break in the sewer pond levy.  On January 29, a sanitation district pump malfunction created overpressure in the viaduct carrying bio solids to the waste treatment facility, causing the rupture in the pond levy.  Chinese construction workers left their barracks at the gas plant and rushed to the scene, after a frantic call from fire fighters trying to contain the spillage.  “I immediately switched on the lights in the barracks and sounded the waking klaxon,” said Col. Xing Ping Yee, supervisor of the construction battalion assigned to work on the plant co-generator.  “The commissary provided each worker with a biscuit and a cup of tea.”  Yee said the volunteers plied shovels and filled sandbags until the spill was contained at about 5 a.m.  The workers returned to their barracks, changed overalls, and put in a full shift at the gas plant.  Chuckwalla last year formed a partnership with Pemex, the Desert Lumbee tribal council, and the Shanghai Energy Petrochemical Development Corp. to build the natural gas generator west of the city.  Natural gas from Mexico flows across tribal lands to fire the plant, which provides electricity feeding the Southern California grid.  Cheryl Weiss


Bunker Mentality

By Diego Garcia

(Editor’s Note:  Local survivalist Garcia is a frequent contributor.)

In the last column I’ve outfitted the standard bug out bag, the backpack or duffle that holds the survival essentials that should be in every car trunk or propped against the wall by the front door. 

Today I’ll discuss the personal medical kit that every prepared citizen should carry in a fanny pack on his person at all times.  I’ll use as my example the case of Herman Frank, the local survivalist and militiaman who allegedly attacked the kindergarten class at Martin Van Buren School last year.   Needless to say, nobody condones his actions.  We deplore the deed while not understanding anything of his mental state, since he left nothing behind hinting at his motives. 

But as prepared citizens we can learn lessons from the police pursuit following the massacre and the eventual shootout that resulted in Herman’s death.

To recap, Herman cut through the Cyclone fence surrounding the elementary school, crawled under the security cameras, used available concealment to approach the front entrance, and evaded the armed private guard (who was having coffee with the principle’s secretary).  He kicked open the locked door of Mrs. Jensen’s kindergarten class, where students were in smocks doing finger painting.

Herman was lightly armed with a stock Bushmaster .223 and a Ruger nine.  He carried eight ten-round clips for the .223 and five standard clips for the nine.  The .223 clips were taped in twos for quick reloading.  After leaving the classroom, he exchanged shots to no result with the private guard and then exited the building through the rear door into the playground.

Police, responding to the 911 call from the guard, recognized Herman’s Dodge Ram Charger as it pulled away from the curb.  Being familiar with Herman and suspecting he was the gunman, police pursued Code Three to Pioneer Park where a metal strip planted by responding officers punctured the pickup’s tires.  From good cover behind the truck, Herman fired on the approaching police, scoring hits on every squad car, but otherwise without result.

As he made a break for the concrete block restroom, Herman was struck by a 30.30 Winchester round and by buckshot pellets.  Here’s where his fanny pack medical kit comes in. 

He had prepared for just such a possible firefight by packing his kit with effective but easy to procure and cheap medical remedies for bullet wounds.  The most immediate need was to deal with the 30.30 slug in his left shoulder.  Once inside the protection of the restroom, Herman staunched the bleeding by inserting a junior miss tampon into the puncture.

Every personal medical kit should contain tampons for this purpose.  Regular and junior miss.  Next he swallowed 800 milligrams of Codeine Three.  The painkiller had been prescribed after a wisdom tooth extraction but Herman providently put the codeine into his med kit.  Codeine, not morphine, in cases in which it is still necessary to keep a clear head.  Herman also donned a sleeping mask, which he had saved from a red eye plane flight, and put in earplugs, to guard against the inevitable flash-bang grenade when the SWAT team arrived

But at that moment Lt. Abel Dick, not waiting for SWAT, entered the restroom and dispatched a blindfolded Herman at close range with one rifled slug from a Remington pump 12 gauge that defeated Herman’s DIU breastplate body armor (www.   The other items found in Herman’s kit were compresses, antibiotics, scissors and tweezers, and sutures….  (Editor’s note:  This article has been abridged.) 


Around Chuckwalla

Horny Toad Lights the Fire

The Horny Toad Saloon’s regular cover band, Kinda in Beta, will present a special 52-minute version of “Light My Fire” Saturday at 10 p.m.  “We sort of did this by accident at the River Raft Regatta last month,” said band leader Keith Teeth, “Everybody seemed to like it, so we decided to bring it to the Toad.”  During the usual Toad Saturday night, Kinda in Beta covers rock greats such as Little Richard, Elvis Costello and Tiny Tim.  Teeth said that for the 52-minute version of the Morrison standard the group has added a brass section.  “That keeps the momentum going,” Teeth said.  “You can only say ‘Light my fire,’ so many times.”


Chuckwalla Shakespeare Fest Big Hit with Audience  

Chuckwalla Community Theater’s staging of A Midsummer’s Night Dream drew plaudits from Ed Thompson who braved a chilly desert evening to watch Shakespeare under the stars.  “It’s a solid show,” Thompson said.  Bagdan Patel as Puck was especially good.”  Theater director Macy Clooney said she hopes the Fest will become an annual event.  “I think it will start to build as word gets out that Chuckwalla offers quality drama from established authors.”  An ensemble cast drawn mostly from the Chuckwalla High drama department staged the play in Howell Park, transforming the band shell into the vale of Arcadia and populating the barbeque pit with nymphs, fairies and the puckish Robin Goodfellow.

A representative of Purple Majesty Winery offered the audience a sample of the 2016 Mistral.  “It’s light and dry,” Thompson said.  “It’s got some desert wind.”  Thompson said that he would attend more Bard-based shows.  “If Chuckwalla is going to have Shakespeare, I for one will be there.”


Council Notes

Neighbor Protests Fence Signs    A property owner along the troubled Bike and Pedestrian Path appealed to the city council Wednesday to remove freshly painted signage on her wooden fence abutting the path.  Homeowner Abigail Freed, 156, said city work crews had stenciled PEDS FOR LOOK in two places on her wood fence facing the bike path.  “Nobody asked my permission,” Freed said.  “The taggers are bad enough without the city spraying graffiti too.”  City works chief Angelo Ruiz, 178, said the crews were supposed to stencil the warning on the paved bike bath.  “But the condition of the asphalt is such that it wasn’t possible.”

The bike and pedestrian path, built two years ago with state community improvement funds, is designed to link neighborhoods in the east and west to the downtown.  Winter flash floods wiped out parts of the pavement, and city budget cuts have forestalled maintenance of the crumbling asphalt.  Police have cited safety concerns after several cyclists were attacked and robbed along the path.  There also have been reports of feral dogs living in the Arroyo Cholo chasing bike riders.  Freed said the pathway was in such poor condition it should be closed to all traffic.  “There are huge potholes and cracks,” she said.  “Stenciling PEDS FOR LOOK on my fence isn’t going to help.”  Cheryl Weiss


Editor’s note:  We arrived too late to witness the Chuckwalla Days parade.  But we read about it, thanks to a school report passed on to the Reveille by newly hired intern reporter Cheryl Weiss.  Here’s what Weiss had to say in an account printed in the high school yearbook, The Field Jacket.

Flatbed trucks decorated with flowers and bunting.  Tractors and dually pickups towing castles and pirate ships, transporting Snow Whites and Black Beards.  The musical contingents were led by a Sousa tribute from Chuckwalla’s Brass Mums, followed by the Working Single Mothers PMS Jukebox Band, playing Alimony Blues; Where’s He Sleepin’ Tonight; Pigs Can Fly (And the Check’s in the Mail).

The Horny Toad Saloon’s regular Saturday night headliner, the light metal group Kinda in Beta, had their amps on a flatbed.  The Chuckwalla High School La-Teens, student moms from the school’s day care program, pushed baby carriages (and occasionally raised a question with delinquent dads spotted along the sidewalk.)  The Grow You Sumbitch sustainable organic farm had its garden stand on a flatbed, the bearded farmers in straw hats tossing organic carrots to not very giddy children. 

The Chuckwalla High Sophomore Girls are the annual crowd-pleaser, as always.  A dozen teen coeds, led by head cheerleader Poppy Pease, enclosed in a double-wrapped rolling steel mesh cage, surrounded by an escort from Valley Vigilance.   The black-clad detail screened the sophomore girls from too-ardent admirers in backward ball caps.   Sometimes a Lothario lunged through the cordon and leapt at the mesh, but rebounded instantly in a shower of sparks.  Guards wearing rubber gloves pulled down the few who managed a handhold   According to parade MC Mad Mike Mahoney, the special cage came from Buzz Rawlins Ranch and Farm Supply.  “Squire Buzz says it’s got enough snap to knock a coyote fifty feet.”

The high school Honor Society’s crème de la crème Four-Os, rode in an antique Cadillac convertible provided by the Roadrunners car club.  Valedictorian and full scholarship recipient Lisa Chang; Salutatorian and honor scholar exchange student Lim Chin; Rotary four-point-oh National Merit Scholar Kimmie Fong; Student body treasurer and Gladstone Scholar Rachel Silverman; and Debating Society president and UC Riverside Freshman designate Cheryl Weiss (blush).  Also aboard was club advisor Ms. Pao. 

The Chuckwalla High School marching band marched in the parade in street clothes with boom boxes on their shoulders.   Sadly, their uniforms and instruments had been stolen over the summer, along with the computers from Biz Ed and the brass pipe in the boy’s shower.   Band director Harvey Plinker carried a coffee can for collecting donations.

Human Directionals, the popular vocational class from the high school, drew a roar as they passed the reviewing stand.  Team Placard Spirit cavorted with their large wooden arrows advertising local real estate, pizza, oil change, and tax preparation. The twirlers jumped and spun, artfully thrusting the arrow placards in every direction. 

Parade MC Mad Mike said the arrow shakers who complete the course immediately get hired by local merchants.  “It’s a great program, and we can thank placard coach Ted Evans for that.  It’s wide open to talent regardless of background.  The merchants are looking for strength and grace.  That’s all that counts.”


Police blotter

Scout Pipps Recovers Stolen Instruments     Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said the alert observation of a local Boy Scout led to the recovery of musical instruments stolen from the high school during summer break.  According to Dick, Scout first class Henry Pipps, 17, with the help of other scouts from Chuckwalla Troop 345, recovered the stolen instruments from the Horny Toad Saloon on Friday and turned them over to police.  Pipps said he had stepped behind the popular bar Friday evening to bum a cigarette from Kinda in Beta bandleader Keith Teeth when he noticed a stolen trumpet sitting on the porch handrail. 

“The trumpet was stamped with a metal tag saying it was the property of the high school,” Pipps said.  Using his cell phone, Pipps gathered some of his fellow scouts who met him behind the bar.   “We discussed the matter with Keith and he brought out all the instruments.”

While commending the scouts, Dick cautioned that since the theft was still being investigated he couldn’t provide further details.  A source at the Horny Toad, however, said the musical instruments had been loaned to the band by bar owner Ernesto Gutierrez for use during a 52-minute rendition of Light My Fire.  Gutierrez said the instruments had been dropped off by a friend for safekeeping.  “I didn’t know they were stolen,” Gutierrez said.  “I didn’t even look at them.”  Gutierrez declined to reveal his friend’s name.  The Horny Toad source said the friend was Daniel Herrera, a correctional officer at Ironwood State Prison.  Calls to Herrera were not returned immediately.


Council Notes

Human Waste Issue before Council   City agencies and the police department were at odds at the Wednesday night city council meeting over the discovery of human waste in the garbage can at the east end of the Chuckwalla bike path.  Acting on a tip, assistant city manager Clyde Benson, 231, collected feces samples from the garbage can and sent them to the Riverside Health Department for analysis.  "Most of the samples were from dogs," Benson said, "But several definitely were human waste."   Benson said a city ordinance prohibits dumping human waste in trash receptacles.  Police lieutenant Abel Dick said he suspected that any human waste probably came from the floating homeless encampment hidden in Arroyo Cholo

 (Editor's note: Reveille part time reporter Cheryl Weiss, a high school senior who in January won county plaudits for an honors class report exposing abuses at the city animal shelter, spent a morning staking out the bike path trash container.  Her report.)

“At around 8:15 Monday morning an elderly man pushing a bicycle stopped at the trash receptacle and dropped in a plastic bag.  After determining that the bag contained waste, I caught up with him as he was about to descend a trail into the ravine.  He admitted that the bag contained fecal matter from his own bowel movement that morning.   He said every one of the half dozen homeless persons in the ravine now deposits waste in the trash container.   When the Boy Scouts were rounding up the wild dogs, they told us they didn't want us sh***ing on the ground,’ he said.  ‘Diesel Dave says, “Who the f*** are you to tell us what to do?”  The scouts beat the cr** out of him.’  The man declined to give his name but said he uses the handle Night Train.  He said the waste is deposited on newspapers, bundled, and then tied in a plastic bag.  ‘That's the way the scouts want it,’ he said.  Contacted at his home, Henry Pipps, the Troop 354 scout who headed the roundup of the feral dogs on the bike path, said he could recall no interaction with homeless persons in the arroyo.  Lieutenant Dick told officials he doubted his officers would have time to check city trash cans for human waste violations.”


Police Log

Suspect Jesse Header killed in police chase    The suspect in the ambush murder of a Kmart assistant manager Kenneth Watts was shot and killed yesterday in the finale of a day-long police chase that ended with a burst of gunfire in the Scorpion Mountains.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said fugitive Jesse Header, last year’s grand marshal of the Chuckwalla Days parade, died in a hail of bullets as he wriggled through a slot canyon in the rugged mountain wilderness 50 miles north of the town.  Header, an erstwhile Marine and Iraq war veteran, was the suspect in the September 11 ambush murder of Watts, a Kmart supervisor.

Header’s body was transported to the temporary morgue at Pele Verde Hospital, Dick said, adding that details of the shooting would be released after a department review.  Dick thanked the Boy Scouts of Troop 354 for their assistance in the pursuit.  According to a police department source the scouts were called in for their tracking skills and familiarity with the Scorpion Mountain wilderness.  The source said the scouts were needed after the police K-9 unit failed to pick up the suspect’s scent in the rugged terrain.  Blackjack, the German Shepherd K-9 unit, has been trained for drug interdiction.  “He isn’t much of a bloodhound,” the source said.

A citizen’s tip alerted officers to Header’s location in an apartment on Mercury Rd.  Although the building was surrounded, Header leaped from a second story balcony and escaped in a late model Honda registered to his sometime girlfriend.  Dick said that following a car chase north on Highway 111, Header abandoned the vehicle and disappeared into the twisting arroyos at the base of Scorpion Mountain.   A police van transported a dozen Boy Scouts, led by first class scout Henry Pipps, to join the pursuit.  Fanning out to cut for sign, the scouts soon picked up the suspect’s footprints.  The police source, who was not authorized to speak for the department, said the trail led to “an extremely narrow” fissure in the canyon wall. 

Since none of the police officers present could fit into the slot, scout Pipps, armed with his own rifle, squeezed in after the suspect.  Other armed scouts roped up the canyon walls to cover possible exits.  The source said that a few minutes after Pipps entered the opening, officers heard bursts of gunfire.  The source said two other slim scouts then entered the fissure and helped Pipps retrieve the body. 

Acting city coroner Donald Dietz, contacted at Pele Verde Memorial hospital, said the suspect had received “multiple tightly patterned gunshot wounds in the body cavity at center mass,” and was DOA.   Dr. Emilio Santiago, a Cuban contract physician at the gas plant health clinic, said Pipps had been treated for a superficial bullet wound to the ear, and released.  Several calls to Pipps’ home were not returned.  While police were congregating at the entrance to the slot canyon, Blackjack alerted on a nearby travel trailer tucked in among some Palo Verde trees.  Homero Rodriquez, 30, and Ernesto Diaz, 22, both with El Centro addresses, were taken into custody on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine, and for being felons in possession of firearms.

Header was the suspect in the murder of Kmart assistant supervisor Watts in an ambush outside the employee entrance at the back of the store.  Header briefly worked as a shelf stocker before being fired for tardiness and for making terrorist threats.  A decorated erstwhile Marine, he had led the Chuckwalla Days parade as grand marshal last year in recognition of his three tours in Iraq.  His mother said had been depressed since returning to Chuckwalla but had seemed to be improving after the VA hospital in Riverside adjusted his medications. 


Oh, Pioneers

Background on “The Borrows.”

(Editor's note:  The Reveille's owner Dexter Dietz left instructions before leaving on a government imposed sabbatical, saying that he wanted the Reveille to concentrate on pioneer history, prep sports, and “grandmothers completing a life of service.”   Last week we published a short history of the brief heyday of the Frog Skin gold mine.  Here is some background about another nearby mining dig, “the Borrows.”)

 The Borrows, sometimes called “the Pits,” refers to a complex of sleeping dugouts near Quartz Hill above the old Stetson Quarry on BLM desert land south of the city.   These are dozens of holes that look like quarry borrow pits but actually are excavations dug by miners in the early 20th century searching for the continuation of a quartz ledge that runs into the hill.  Some of the area’s homeless population have built eight-by-eight watertight boxes, four feet high, and dropped them into those holes that have sufficient room.  The boxes are leveled and covered with dirt.  Access is through scuttles on top.  Each has ventilation pipes and a sunroof tarp used when the occupant is in residence.   The dugout provides an insulated all weather sleeping chamber.  A fire pit in a tamarisk grove makes a communal gathering spot. 

Symbiotic relationship   The Borrows dugouts are on BLM land, but so far the rangers have made no effort to remove the squatters.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick says there's a symbiotic relationship.  "The rangers know about the dugouts, but the inhabitants actually make the rangers' job easier.”  Dick said that the “high class winos” living in the Pits don't tolerate littering and are respectful of the desert.  “They don't tolerate meth kitchens either, or vandalism of archaeological sites, or off-roaders running down the desert tortoise,” Dick said   "There used to be a lot of cooking out there but the Borrows gang and the Boy Scout checkpoints have chased off the tweekers.  The rangers don't have the manpower to patrol the backcountry.  The volunteer wilderness rangers are well meaning but unarmed.  The Borrows people carry the kind of persuasion that puts a stop to problems.  I’m just glad it’s not my jurisdiction.”   Cheryl Weiss


Letter to the Editor

Dog Watch   Is there no end to the arrogance of Chuckwalla dog owners?  Every sidewalk in town is fouled with lumps of excrement.  No child is safe from being knocked down or attacked by loose dogs belonging to gang bangers and homeless drug addicts.  Even more or less normal citizens seem indifferent to common courtesy when it comes to the behavior of their fanged companions.  There is a LEASH LAW in Chuckwalla.  It needs to be enforced.  I personally know of three small children on my block that have been bitten.  Mail delivery in some neighborhoods has been curtailed because of packs of loose dogs.  If the animal control can’t get this in hand then VIGILANCE will be needed.    FED UP with Loose Dogs.


Letter to the Editor

Vigilantism    The last thing Chuckwalla needs is a gang of armed Brown Shirt vigilantes terrorizing animals and stealing private property.  The recent lawless confiscation of pets by Taliban-like thugs should not be tolerated by those who value the safety and security of their pets.  Are cats next?  Will the Chuckwalla Taliban Fascists go after cursing parrots?  Loose the Dogs will hold a vigil Friday at 8 p.m. in front of the Humane Society Shelter, 527 Via Bienvenidos to demand the immediate release of illegally imprisoned animals.     M. Trowser, President, Loose the Dogs, Chuckwalla


Around the Empire

Balloon crash injures teens   

Three Chuckwalla teenagers received minor injuries after an Army surplus weather balloon in which they were riding crashlanded on the outskirts of town near Via Bienvenidos.  Henry Pipps, 18, Calvin Dorfman, 16, and Donald Turner, 15, declined Pele Verde Memorial ambulance service at the scene and called Desert Cab to transport them to the gas plant clinic, where they were treated and released.  “Don broke his wrist, but otherwise we just got some cuts,” Pipps said in a phone interview.  Pipps said the three teens had repaired the surplus weather balloon as a class project for a Chamber of Commerce event touting the proposed Convergence Center.  He said that after filling the balloon with helium from tanks at the high school welding shop, the trio slung a melon basket underneath, put in some sand bags, and launched from the high school parking lot around 10 p.m.

The silvery balloon floated with the prevailing westerly over the town until it started leaking about five minutes into the flight.  “We jettisoned the sandbags but we were still descending,” Pipps said.  The balloon struck telephone wires along County 237, and then skittered along the pavement before finally coming to rest in an arroyo near Via Bienvendidos.  Pipps said he and his companions were dragged about 50 feet before freeing themselves from the melon basket.  An AT&T spokesman said telephone and Internet service to the Sobrantes housing tract had been interrupted for several hours.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said an unidentified resident of the development reported a sandbag dropping into his swimming pool.  “We’re still looking into the incident,” Dick said.

The Low Down on Market Gardens

 (Editor's note:  Chuckwalla Reveille part time reporter Cheryl Weiss, 17, a senior at Chuckwalla High, has received a runner up award at the Riverside County High School Journalism Awards Banquet for her school project exposing the financing scandal surrounding the Market Gardens low income housing project adjacent to the Speedway off ramp.  The Reveille is excerpting portions of her report.)

I interviewed City Manager Adam Jacobs.  He said the Market Gardens development had been built on city land originally set aside for a Walmart.  Walmart executives however declined to build a store, citing economic indicators including the fact that half of the city’s official population is incarcerated in Ironwood State Prison.  The city then arranged to get a state matching grant to build low income housing.  The deal required passing a bond issue that was supposed to cover Market Gardens and the refurbishing of the high school gym. For various reasons the gym was never upgraded but bids were let for the 100-unit project.  Wankan Tanka Associates from the Lumbee reservation, a minority contractor, built out the units.  According to Jacobs, the units filled quickly with family and relatives of prisoners incarcerated at the state prison.

County records show that the bonds for the project were issued by the Commerce Bank of the Desert.  Two months after the public offering, the bank tranched the bonds and other paper into a security, which was purchased by the late Jared Busk, at that time CEO of The Prosperity Train of Sometimes Spring.  Busk used the security as collateral for a loan from Deseret Development, a Los Angeles-based hedge fund, allegedly to finance Sometimes Spring Retirement Villa.  Deseret Development later sold the securitized bonds to the now defunct Besamecula consortium of Ensenada, Mexico. 

Riverside assistant district attorney Everett Dix said that the county was still trying to unravel the complex chain of events although, "the bottom line is that the bonds have suffered a decline in value."  Dix said Market Gardens management, because of ongoing problems in collecting rents, has been unable to service the bonds.  Jared Busk allegedly used his loan to further a Ponzi scheme involving a retirement complex in Sometimes Spring that never materialized.  The Busk estate is now mired in litigation. 

Mexican authorities have been unable to assist in locating the principles of the company that took over the securitized bonds.  Dix said, however, that the company appears to be part of a scheme to sell investments to American expatriate retirees.  "It is fair to say that both the state and the bondholders will be taking a major loss," Dix said.  City manager Jacobs said the tangle of obligations may have the effect of temporarily keeping the city out of receivership.  "This is so toxic the state is afraid to touch it," Jacobs said.


Around the Empire

Tilting Toward Windmills     

Mayor Robert Crane said Monday that Chuckwalla will join negotiations between the Desert Lumbee Nation and a Chinese energy company aimed at building a wind farm on tribal land.  Crane said that the city is well situated to become both a leader and partner in energy production.  “We have abundant wind and sunshine, and we aren’t burdened with the regulatory hurdles of the metropolis.”   Crane said electricity generated by a wind farm could feed into the transmission lines serving the natural gas generating plant. “Los Angeles is voracious,” Crane said.  “It’ll take every amp, watt and volt we can crank out.”

According to Brawley solar consultant Amy Rood, the Lumbee council also is listening to an overture from the Shanghai-based energy company to install solar arrays.  “The Chinese have flooded the market with cheap panels,” Rood said.  “They’re looking for inventive ways to use the surplus production.”  The Lumbees already have partnered with a Los Angeles waste disposal company for a tire burning facility.  The tribe also provides a state repository for bio-hazardous waste, and has another deal is in the works with Riverside County for the disposal of bio-solids.  Generally, wind and solar aren’t competitive with natural gas for making electricity, but Crane said the Lumbee deal has potential economies.  The windmills would be built in China, shipped by Nigerian-registered freighters to Ensenada, then trucked by Mexican carrier to the tax-exempt Lumbee nation.  “Installation would be defrayed in part by federal subsidies,” Crane said, “and the energy company would import the labor.”

Another plan being bruited for making Chuckwalla an energy Mecca concerns a nuclear generating plant on the Colorado River north of the city.   Although the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District has locked up most of the water rights on the lower river, PG&E reportedly is talking to some Imperial County corporate farms still planting alfalfa and cotton.  Alfalfa hasn’t been profitable since dairy farms left Riverside County, and Washington budget cutters again are talking aim at the cotton subsidy.  PG&E would pay farmers for the right to divert river water to cool the reactor’s core.  Enviromentalists worry that warm water returning to the river might harm fish but Crane said a warmer temperature would make the river even more attractive to boaters and water skiers.  Cheryl Weiss


Chuckwalla Notes

CHS Grad’s Starring Role in Hollywood    A 2014 graduate of Chuckwalla High School, Roger Aikes, has turned skills acquired in class into an entrepreneurial success in Tinsel Town.  After completing Human Directionals at the high school, Aikes got a job in Los Angeles fronting for a celebrity car wash on Sunset Blvd.  But the ambitious youth had his eye set on higher goals.  “I was making $12 an hour at Bagwan Detailing but I knew I had the talent to do better,” Aikes said.  The rangy athletic Aikes said he’d noticed street panhandlers in front of the Whole Foods market on Sunset Blvd. making a comfortable living from a steady flow of BMWs and SUVs.    “But these guys just stood there with a cardboard sign and a hangdog look,” Aikes said, “No energy, no flair, no imagination.”

Using a standard directional arrow reading “Roger Needs a Buck, ”and dressed in a mime costume of striped shirt, black Chinos and face paint, Aikes polished a directionals routine for the upscale Whole Foods clientele.   “I do the helicopter, the break spins, the Jazzercise, the skyrocket, and throw in some miming to shame the cheapskates.  Within a week I was averaging $20 an hour,” Aikes said.  “I drove the bums clean off the property.”  Anybody with drive and talent can succeed with hard work, Roger says.

No Room at the Pound    A Boy Scout Troop 354 roundup of 62 stray and feral dogs has caused overcrowding at the Human Society Shelter on Via Benvenidos.  Spokesperson Allison Clatt said stressed dogs are becoming unmanageable, and if some of the more troublesome dogs aren’t adopted immediately they will have to be euthanized.   Clatt said the problem is that most of the dogs are too unsocial and unhealthy to make attractive pets.  “So far, we’ve had only two offers,” she said.  Felix Laboratory Supply is willing to take them.  An unnamed Chuckwalla citizen also showed interest, but the required background check hasn’t been completed.

Bums Rush  In a letter posted Tuesday, Chuckwalla Mayor Robert Crane has asked county officials to investigate a growing homeless encampment on private land contiguous to the city limits.  According to Crane, the buildings on the property are not permitted and are being occupied despite a lack of plumbing and electricity.  The land belongs to long-time zoning scofflaw, homeless advocate, and faith-based activist Wade Jennings, who lately has allowed the homeless to build tiny cabins on his extensive desert property on West Mercury Drive just beyond the Chuckwalla city line.

(Editor’s note:  In 1999, the city extended the city limits to the west to include Ironwood State Prison, as a means to broaden the tax base.  Jennings’ property lies next to the gerrymandered extension, five miles from downtown Chuckwalla). 

The dozens of tiny shacks, known locally as “eight-bys,” or “bum boxes” are illegal residences, Crane says, because they lack basic utilities and sanitation.  “The people living there are not city residents, and are adversely impacting city services,” Crane says, by using city garbage services, and by filling the community’s water tanker at the city parks.

Jennings has had previous run-ins with county enforcement officials regarding his willingness to allow what county officials describe as “homeless indigents and vagrants” to camp on his property.  In 2013 he was cited by the county for violations involving uncollected refuse.  “His place looked like a dump,” Crane said, “Trash everywhere.”

(Editor’s note:  The Reveille assigned part-time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High and a recent runner-up in the Riverside School District’s Tri-Desert chess tourney, to look into the eight-bys.  Her report. )

The Jennings property is located at the western dead end of Mercury Dr., just north of the state prison.  A dirt road leads over a low hill to reveal a cluster of small shacks spread over approximately one acre.  This settlement of some two dozen low income and no-income residents is called the “Eight-Bys” because of the dimensions of the tiny shacks, all of which are wooden cubes of plywood and scrap wood that are eight feet in width, length and height.  The property owner, Wade Jennings, agreed to meet me on the property. 

Jennings said he is motivated by his Christian faith to do something concrete about the plight of the homeless in Imperial County.  Instead of putting up tents, or letting people bring trailers, as he has in the past, he has decided to build small individual shelters that give the residents, two-thirds of them female, a secure retreat out of the weather.  “Each individual eight-by-eight has a bed, a chair, a shelf, and a bucket,” Jennings said.  In a central shaded patio are composting toilets as well as stalls where residents can wash using plastic jugs of sun-warmed water.

Also in the central area is a sprawling ramada covered by tarps where residents can prepare meals on picnic tables, or socialize in the shade on sultry afternoons. 

Jennings admits that in the past some guests have abused his hospitality.  “I was back East on church business (he is a director at the Hail Adoni Full Gospel Baptist Church), and things got out of hand out here.  We had junk trailers, piles of garbage, arguments and fights, drinking and drugs.  All that’s changed now.”

Jennings said he screens carefully to weed out troublemakers, and has ‘deputized” residents pledged to police the grounds, enforce the rules, and quell disputes.  Alcohol, drugs, weapons, and col-habitation are prohibited.  He doesn’t allow personal generators, but each resident is allowed a battery, which can be charged from a generator in the back of one of Jennings’ pickups.  Water comes in a tanker truck, and residents fill gallon jugs for cooking and washing.

The cabins are single-walled, uninsulated, set on skids, and can be erected, Jennings says, in a couple of hours.  Four-by-eight panels are assembled from salvaged wood glued together in layers inside forms.  Irregularities can be smoothed out with a coat of plaster.  Twelve panels make the eight-by-eight, and the resident can decide how he wishes to cut out a door and windows.  “Usually, people opt for a small door with the threshold well off the ground to keep out snakes and rodents,” Jennings said.  The windows usually are more like loopholes, and ventilation slats are covered with screening.  The cubes, of course, are flat-roofed, although most of the residents have installed ridgepoles for tarps.

Mable Kleeson says she is “forty something,” homeless, unemployed, and has a history of arrests for public intoxication.  She has been living in an eight-by for four months.  “I am so glad for this.  For me it’s about having a private place where I can keep my stuff.”  Her eight-by has a metal frame twin bed with a “rescue mattress,” a plastic patio chair, half a dozen plastic bins, and pegs along the wall for clothes.

Her eight-by has no fans or heat, and light comes from a flashlight and a candle.  She says she goes to bed at sundown and keeps warm with an overcoat and two sleeping bags.  On hot days she sits in her plastic chair in the shade of a tarp, her body loosely covered by a wet sheet.

“I’m very nervous around people,” Kleeson says, “That’s why living on the street was so hard, that’s why I got into trouble with alcohol.  I love it I can stay here without any hassles.”  Jennings’s church provides free meals, cereal and coffee for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and stew for dinner, and while a copy of the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount has been posted in the patio, residents are not required to attend the Sunday prayer meeting. 

“They leave you alone,” Kleeson said.  “It’s such a relief.”


(Editor’s note:  The Reveille would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused by the clock in our daylight saving time graphic.  Obviously, the clock was supposed to Spring Forward, not Fall Back.  An error at the editor’s desk caused the hand of the clock to be moved in the wrong direction.  To be fair, the editor received a call about this from Joe Plimpton at the print shop, but didn’t heed his warning.  Apologies to Joe.) 


Ask a Lesbian

By Caroline

(The regular Reveille column on relationships)

Dear Caroline,   My girlfriend is embarrassed to share her sexual fantasies with me because she says they‘re politically incorrect.  I say I might be able to replicate her fantasies if I knew what they were.  I tell her some of mine, and sometimes she will pretend to be a Japanese schoolgirl.    Reed

Dear Reed,    All women have fantasies while they masturbate.  And it IS a concern for feminists when they have to acknowledge, at least to themselves, that the fantasy that provokes a powerful orgasm isn’t in perfect alignment with their social and political principles.  Generally, feminists are bothered by three kinds of sexual fantasy:  domination, including bondage and spanking; exhibitionism, in which genitals and breasts are flaunted; and taboos, usually sodomy or incest.  The most troubling category for modern women, of course, is domination.  Here’s what you should remember.  The fantasy does not have to be replicated in detail.  It can be suggested by her partner’s actions, and she can then color in the details that bring her to the pitch of excitement. 

For instance, say her fantasy is to be tied up and slapped by a masterful aristocrat and then forced to abase herself by performing fellatio with her braids grasped in his hand.  Even if she admits to this, you shouldn’t try to be a sadistic baron.  Instead, see how she responds to having her wrists held while you mount her.  See how she responds to having her buttocks lightly patted.  Very important!  She has to know that this is a scenario, and that you would never pinion her against her will or cause her unwanted pain.  It might be good to follow the martial arts procedure.  The word “release,” and the partner drops the hold.  

So, Reed, my suggestion is to assume the unnamed fantasy involves incorrect and abhorrent domination, and in your lovemaking you should experiment with moves that suggest restraints and strictures.  Outside the boudoir, of course, you must continue to be an equal partner who never attempts to exert control or authority.  I would even suggest that if she does have a domination fantasy, and your approximation of a masterful lover works for her, you could compensate for any loss of her self-worth by being more docile domestically.  I’ve heard that for some men being henpecked by women can be part of their fantasy.


Poets’ corner

(A regular Reveille display cass of local talent.)

To My Wife Julia, Stark Naked
By Orin Wimbly

A sweet disorder now she’s undressed
Without her clothes, a wantonness
A naked shoulder gravy brown
Upon her lips, a tipsy frown
Her glances falling here and there
Alight…on pirate patch triangular
Her saucy eye meets mine and I
Feel a pulse of passion nigh
I long to touch the pending nipple
Feel soft flesh, Oh! Sinuous ripple
A sagging bosom falling free
Doth honor Nature’s gravity
And does more for me than plastic surgeon
Who sculpts a breast with deft precision.

Police Blotter

Walking School Bus Ambushed     Blyth police Lt. Abel Dick said rock-throwing juveniles attacked the Martin Van Buren walking school bus on Caliente Way, a block from the elementary school.  Security guards from Valley Vigilance accompanying the walking bus collared two of the rock throwers, and Credo, a company guard dog, scattered another half dozen of the attackers.  Dick said two juveniles were taken into custody, counseled, and released to their guardians.  Dick said Martin Van Buren has been plagued in recent months by gang conflicts.

CHS Teacher Cautioned for Shock Chair    A Chuckwalla High School English teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave for giving electric shocks to students making oral reports in his classroom.  According to principal Merrit Williams, students complained that the teacher rigged an electrified chair at the head of the classroom for their use while giving book reports.  When the teacher pressed a button, students received a mild electric shock.  Williams declined to name the teacher but sources at the high school identified him as Orin Wimbly.  The source said the Wimbly delivered a shock every time a student used the word “like” 

“It was like, so rude,” said Poppy Pease, 17, a student in Wimbly‘s third period Introduction to Literature class.  “I was shocked like, forty times.”  Pease said Wimbly told her to sit in the chair while she presented a book report about Walden Pond.  “Like I was so up for Thoreau,” Pease said, “And then like I’m all, whoa, why is he like doing this?”   Principal Williams said the teacher had one of the carrel chairs from the adjustment center modified at Rawlins Ranch and Farm Supply.  “We are treating this as an unauthorized use of school property,” Williams said.  The carrels, three-sided boxes facing a blank wall, are used in the school’s adjustment center to de-stimulate hyperactive students.

Wimbly didn’t respond to phone calls to his home.  A spokesman for the American Federation of Teachers said the union is investigating.  Williams said he would consult with the school board about further action.  

(Editor’s note: Wimbly is a frequent contributor to this newspaper’s Poets’ Corner.)



Letter to the Editor

No Visa for Colton Sand Fly     The invasive white fly already has wiped out the valley lettuce crop, closing the ice plant and putting 40 workers, some of them Americans, out of work.  Now a deep dish Riverside biologist wants to introduce another fly pest in the valley.  The Colton Sand Fly is not welcome.   This is a fly that carries a lot of baggage.  It’s on the Endangered Species list, meaning that any new “habitat” will be taken away from commercial development.  The Colton City Council voted unanimously to condemn the fly after federal agencies and the U.S. courts killed the construction of a box plant that would have brought needed jobs and revenue to the city.

We don’t want that happening in Chuckwalla because of a fly.  Biologist Patricia Fens, heading a project funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior, wants to relocate the fly in the Dunes area north of Chuckwalla. This is an area (now managed by the BLM as wilderness) that has very good potential for off-roading and other outdoor recreation, much like the Bermuda Dunes Recreational Vehicle Area on the border that has been such an economic boon to cities such as Imperial and Brawley.  Making our own dunes into endangered species habitat would close the door to that benefit forever.  We need to speak out now, and stop the fly.    Alvin Mantley, Imperial County Off-Road Association

Police Blotter

Nude bank heist    Sand Valley Bank and Trust is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the capture and arrest of Humberto Cardenas, 28, a de-listed Lumbee who is the suspect in the May 23 robbery of the bank’s Chuckwalla branch.  Surveillance video shows a nude Cardenas waving a gun and demanding money from shocked tellers.  “We’re familiar with this character,” said Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick.  “He’s been involved in the past with firearms and nudity.”  A bank spokesman said the reward would be doubled if the stolen cash is recovered, although he declined to state the amount of the loss.   “The main thing in our minds is the psychological impact of this incident,” the spokesman said.


Leaders in Motion

This week’s Leader in Motion is Col. Xing Ping Yee, executive officer of Third Labor Battalion, Fifth Workers’ Labor and Clerical Brigade, which is bivouacked at the Chuckwalla Energy Consortium’s natural gas plant.  The brigade is installing a co-generation turbine to increase the plant’s efficiency.

Reveille:  As most of our readers know, a group of Chinese associates are in Chuckwalla to build the co-generation segment of the natural gas plant.  Their leader is Xing Ping Yee, a retired lieutenant colonel in the People’s Army and now one of the representatives of the Chinese energy company that is partnering with the city, the Lumbee Nation, and Pemex.   Colonel Yee….

Ping:  “Ping.”

Reveille:  Colonel Ping. Your associates are billeted on the grounds of the gas plant.  Are the facilities okay?

Ping:  “Very adequate.  Excuse my English not so hot.”  

Reveille:  I’ll fix that.

Ping:  “We are guests for a short time and needs are simple.  We need battalion in one place to answer the morning work call. We use half of the hangar for the mess and that is convenient.” 

Reveille:  Your group got a commendation from the city for your quick response to the sewer pond break.  I heard it was a nasty night.  Cold, dark, and hip deep in raw sewage.

Ping:  “We are organized.  Also, two company leaders, Lao Deng and Za Fong, had skills acquired in the shrimp farms of Quoang Province.”

Reveille:  The fire chief said he was very grateful because he couldn’t get any help from the volunteer fire department.  It was your crew and a couple of Boy Scouts.

Ping:  “Different people.  American people good but fat.  Lumbee people good but drunk.  Mexican people good but want money.  Chinese people small but strong.”

Reveille:  You have a dispensary staffed with Chinese and Cuban doctors.  You’ve opened the clinic to Chuckwalla residents.

Ping:  “Local people come to gates begging.  For human mercy, we take them under supervision.”

Reveille:  What kind of problems?

Ping:  “General ailment.  Gunshot, broken bone, appendix, heart attack.  Cancer and TB.  Stroke.  Burns and sex disease.  Pimples, bad skin… everything.  We use Eastern and Western treatment.”


Letter to the Editor

Waiting for what?   I am a desert scholar attending the junior college.  I would like to bring to the public attention that the DET bus never runs on time.  DET (Desert Empire Transit) is supposed to run on the hour between the downtown transit hub, Chuckwalla High and the JC.  Students are late to class because DET often runs half an hour late (or more!!).  The driver says DET doesn’t have the money for maintenance, new tires or even diesel fuel despite the bond issue that was supposed to improve service.   He says the big PR campaign promotion (“GO DET”) used up all the money.   Still Coolin’


Letter to the Editor

Soul food    In response to the story “Cemetery Victory Garden” I see nothing amiss about growing tomatoes or other vegetables on the grave of a loved one.   Mrs. Thomas paid good money to Evening Shades for her husband’s site.  If she chooses to honor his memory with a healthy living vegetable instead of cut flowers that wilt and fade it’s her business.  I was touched that Mrs. Thomas feels a connection with her departed soul mate when she makes a salad with a tomato picked from atop his marker. His life energy returns to her.   In these difficult times it would make sense to make the entire cemetery into a victory garden to recycle the nutrients of the loamy earth.   Constance Bragg, Palo Verde 


Letter to the Editor

“Exotic meat” okay by me    Regarding the recent article “City Aims to Curb Exotic Meats,” once again regulators have overstepped the boundaries of common sense.  As a career soldier I traveled the world and have sat down to many “exotic” meals in foreign lands.  In Saigon I have enjoyed plates of sizzling spiced puppy and savory poached water snake.  In Bangui I have joined villagers in feasts of roasted monkey and seethed python.  In Mumbai I have tried the curried rat and the dormouse pudding.  In the Arab districts of Paris, stewed mule is a stable (sic) at the prix fixee.  Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa the local people snack on fried grasshoppers and beetle grubs at teatime.  There is no health issue there, or in Chuckwalla either.  The city health department has not cited any of the restaurants mentioned in the article -- Fee Fie Pho, Diem Bien Pho, Parker Barbeque, Patel Burgers, Nile Style, or Mekong Grill-- for sanitary violations.  There is nothing unhealthy about cooked snake.  As one example, in Big Springs, Texas, thousands visit the city’s annual Rattlesnake Roundup without gastric complaint.  The Chuckwalla health department should stick to enforcing code rather than kowtowing to the prejudices of a handful of activists.   MSgt. Terry Reed, USA (ret.), Chuckwalla


Homecoming Queen Elected    Seniors at Chuckwalla High School elected Poppy Pease, 17, as this year’s Homecoming Queen.  The theme of the Homecoming dance will be “Las Vegas Carnival,” a nondenominational celebration of colorful pageantry and spectacular entertainment that will draw on the multi-faceted talents of the student body.  “I challenge all students to start working now on costumes and practicing routines for the Homecoming extravaganza,” said Queen Poppy.   PE instructor Ted Evans said his human directionals classes already have begun preparations, and he promised Beano would have a starring role. Queen Poppy’s royal court attendants will be sophomores Leslie Chung, 15; Missy Smith, 15; and junior Ellen Botts, 16.


Waitress of the Week

A regular Reveille feature placing in the limelight the food and beverage industry.  Today, Missy Smith, lunch waitress at R.J’s Rockin’ Ribs and Barbeque on Hobbesianway.

Reveille:  What got you into food service?

Smith:  Kind of like destiny.  Ha ha.  No.  R.J my uncle.  I always know I got a job so I never sweat about it.  Other kids is all like, “Oh, what I gonna do?”  You know, like because there be nothing in Chuckwalla.  They gonna spin sign on the corner for Custom Carpet?  But I come up in the business.

Reveille:  You’re an African-American teen.  Do you want me to standardize the way you talk?  No? Okay.  So what’s the future?

Smith:  Good.  Chuckwalla got a good posse for barbeque, what with Ironwood.  First thing he want he get out, maybe second, ha ha, is ribs and savory.  Half the time he got peeps on Market Gardens.  Half the takeout, Market Gardens.  Ironwood make it good for barbeque.

Reveille:  What bugs you at work?

Smith:  The Green Zone Café peeps.  They come in sometime. ‘Let me seeeeee, I will haaave…the lentil burger.’  We don’t serve no lentil burger, but garden burger the same.  It bug me.  ‘I….will…haaave…’  Like, who the (expletive) else be wanting lentil burger, bead man?  The brothers don’t be eating no lentil burger.



(A Reveille mosey through the Tri-desert Empire.)

News flash

Melon king Fred Pease has donated $5000 to the Yellow Jacket Boosters’ Club to underwrite purchase of new instruments and uniforms for the Chuckwalla High marching band.  The band’s instruments and equipment were stolen over the summer, and although some of the instruments were recovered, it appeared the band would not be able to participate in the annual Red Yellow Game halftime show.   “This generous gift will make all the difference for the kids,” said councilman Bibby Patel, who serves as treasurer of the booster club.   Music director Harvey Plinker said the band now will be able to march onto the field and perform halftime evolutions, although there isn’t sufficient time to practice the music.  “We have a good recording from last year,” he said.

Scouts Corral Loose Dogs   As a continuing community service project, Chuckwalla Troop 354 on Saturday rounded up another 45 loose dogs within the city limits.  According to Boy Scout First Class Henry Pipps some of the dogs had been responsible for biting children, and for causing cancellation of mail service in eastside neighborhoods.  The scouts used baits, cages, nooses and tranquillizer guns during the daylong effort.  The captured canines were taken to the humane society shelter on Via Bienvenidos.  “No dog got hurt,” Pipps said.  A Humane Society spokesperson said a veterinarian examined the dogs and found them generally in poor condition.  “The feral dogs from Arroyo Cholo have worms, including heart worm, and marked signs of malnutrition,” the spokesperson said. “Some of the roaming dogs had tags and their owners have been notified.”  The spokesperson said several of the tranquillized dogs remained groggy but their vital signs were stable.  She said untagged dogs would be given shots before being returned to owners or put up for adoption.  “It’s good the scouts did this,” she said, “but we really don’t have room for new dogs.”

Chuckwalla Police lieutenant Abel Dick said officers responded Saturday afternoon to the Troop 354 dog roundup when a citizen threatened scouts who had shot a Rottweiler with a tranquillizer gun.   The citizen, identified by Pele Verde Memorial Hospital, as Damon Clark, 45, allegedly made terrorist threats directed at scout Henry Pipps, and attempted to wrest away the tranquillizer gun.  The hospital spokesman said Clark is being treated for non-life threatening contusions of the head.   Pipps was treated for a broken finger at the gas plant clinic and released.    Dick said no charges had been filed yet in the altercation.  “We’re looking at this as a possible misdemeanor,” Dick said.  “People get riled up about their pets.”


Poets’ Corner

(A regular Reveille feature highlighting local talent.)

Something Must Be Done!

 About Ben Smedlap

by Orin Wimbley

"Leigh Hunt is dust; he doesn't care

And apologies from me are rare..."

 Smedlap lives in Suburbia and has a nine-to-five in an office Downtown. 

He has the usual wife, who also works, and standard children in school. 

The combined Smedlap salaries suffice for an average American life.  


In their driveway at night sit two cars, a six cylinder and a four-cylinder. 

In the Smedlap kitchen and bathroom, the usual appliances. 

The house has cable and WiFi.  Smedlap pays all bills promptly. 

Everything is normal.


One night an angel whispers to Benjamin Smedlap in his sleep.

 "Smedlap.  Save the world!"


Upon arising, Smedlap tells his wife, "I'm riding my bicycle to work." 

"It's raining," says Mrs. Smedlap, "and you don't have a bicycle."

Putting on his raincoat, Smedlap trudges to the bus stop.

He arrives in time to watch the departure of the Downtown Express. 

He waits patiently in the rain with a dozen raucous teens for the next local, then spends 40 minutes standing amidst a press of juvenile hyperactivity while the bus crawls through morning traffic.  His usual commute is fifteen minutes.

 At the office Smedlap usually has a doughnut and coffee. 

From the logo on the lid of the pink box, Smedlap knows the doughnuts are produced by a corporation that replaces native forests in Indonesia with palm oil plantations. 

The coffee isn't sustainably grown.  The cart only has Styrofoam cups. 

Smedlap empties the pencils from his "World's Best Dad" cup and fills it with tap water. 

 His work is to calculate costs for the construction of a factory to be sited near the county watershed.  Smedlap sits quietly at his desk with hands folded until lunchtime.  A colleague stops at the door.  "Hey Ben.  Wanna go down to the caf for a burger?" 

Smedlap shakes his head.  Beef production causes deforestation and methane buildup.  Raising animal protein is water intensive and inefficient.

 The walk home after work takes an hour, and crosses some bad neighborhoods, but he finds two bicycles at a yard sale.  In his driveway, after rolling the bikes into his garage, he disables the ignition block on his wife's car.

 His children rush to greet him at the door.  "Daddy!  The TV isn't working, and we can't get on the Internet."  His wife says Smedlap better check the circuit breakers right away. The lights are off and the pilot is out.  Smedlap explains that he made some calls earlier in the afternoon. 

He also reneges on his promise to reward good report cards with xBoxes and iPads.  He says the family's cell phone contract won't be renewed.   The long planned vacation to Hawaii is canceled. 

Later in the evening he gets a call from his father-in-law.  "My daughter says you've gone nuts.   Do you want me to set up an appointment with somebody?"


On the ride to work next morning Smedlap gets his pant cuff caught in the chain, and his coat has a stripe of mud thrown up from the rear tire.  At the office his supervisor calls him in.  "Anything wrong, Ben?"  Smedlap says he can't take part in projects that increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

That afternoon Smedlap is called in again and fired.

 On the ride home a passing truck splashes him.  A dog chases him for two blocks. 

On the kitchen table is a note from his wife saying she's taken the children to her parents, and that she hopes he gets the help he needs.  The house is cold and dark.

 That night he hears a soft voice in his sleep.  "Ben Smedlap.  Your name leads all the rest."

(Editior’s note:  Wimbly, a regular contributor, is currently on administrative leave from his post as an Emglish teacher at CHS.)

News Flash

Chuckwalla Mourns Star Student   Chuckwalla High School was in mourning yesterday following the death of recent graduate Roger Aikes, who died in a freak accident while performing human directionals in front of a Whole Foods in Los Angeles.  Aikes, who excelled in sign spinning during his four years at Chuckwalla High, died when a gust of wind lifted him off the corner and carried him into heavy traffic on Sunset Blvd.  Los Angeles has recorded strong Santa Ana winds in the last week with gusts of up to 60 mph. “Roger always reached for the stars,” said directionals instructor Ted Evans.  “He was never satisfied with the ordinary.”

According to LA police, Aikes was spinning a non-standard placard with double the usual surface area.  While doing the Skyrocket he was hit by a wind gust that picked him up and threw him in front of a Mercedes driven by ICM executive Irving Schwartz. “OMG,” Schwartz tweeted his followers, “hit flying man. OMG.”  Aikes was dead at the scene.  A police spokesman said the case was being investigated as an accident but that Schwartz may have been texting while driving.


Letter to the Editor

The Conversion   As a lifelong resident of historic Sometimes Spring I’ve been concerned about the lack of transparency in the conversion project now taking place.  There has been no information forthcoming from Karen Sorkin at the Conservancy.  This is something that will have an impact on every citizen.  The public has a right to know.  Galen Talbert, Sometimes Spring

(Editor’s note:  The Reveille reached out to Galen for further explication on the conversion.)


Sometimes Spring Situational

By Galen

The Sometimes Spring Conservancy met Thursday at the Center to hear a presentation of a draft discussion paper on the multiple activities being pursued by staff counsel Karen Sorkin.  She said many answers were not known and the conservancy is looking for feedback.  “That will be essential when making decisions to have stake holders give us inputs about what should happen during the conversion.” 

“We are not talking about a conventional area of development and we’ve got a lot of input to look at and that’s how we’re doing it,” she said.

Tad Popp asked how multiple uses were being defined and why mitigation is being talked about being done outside Sometimes Spring.

“The town will suffer impacts but not benefit from mitigation,” Popp said.  “I’m mindful there will be impacts from the DCPA on five LMX areas but without the town receiving project benefits.”

Sorkin said originally all mitigation would take place within Sometimes Spring but things could be mitigated outside the town and still benefit the town.  She encouraged citizens to get involved.

“Our primary institutional focus is working with people,” Sorkin said.  “We’re not part of the EIR process but part of the unofficial outreach process.”

Rather than getting into specific issues of the issue she urged citizens to e-mail her and set up a time to schedule further discussions.  She asked citizens not to position themselves until another document was released in the future.

Brad Reynolds said the draft looked to him like a DCPA EIR/EIS.  But Sorkin said the draft was not part of the EIR/EIS although certain parts could be.  She said there is a relationship and nothing is off the table.  “There is no map identifying the project area as of this time, and we encourage citizens to get more information,” she said.

Popp said since the project would have “on the ground impact’ the data needs to be correct.

Executive director Glad Hershey said there is a database but not all the information was accurate and better data needs to be collected.  Hershey heads the Sometimes Spring Stewardship Council, and said he would be having a joint meeting with the Sometimes Spring Protection Commission to provide further feedback as the project moved forward.

Sorkin said finding funding had been difficult but that the conservancy is seeking two federal grants for $50,000 to assess impacts.  Popp noted that this small amount would actually hinder employees in doing the work since staff time will be taken up specifically managing the grants.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense but it’s the way folks want to do it, Popp said.


Leaders in Motion

A regular Reveille feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.  This week we dropped by the American Legion Hall to talk with Vietnam veteran Joe Daley.  The veteran reluctantly consented to an interview.

Daley:  “I don’t talk about it.  I mean, I only talk about it to other combat veterans.  Unless you’ve been there, been through the sh*t, you can’t understand.  It’s an experience that bonds soldiers for life.  I’m closer to the guys in my unit than I am to my own brother.  I haven’t slept through an entire night since Plieku in 1969.  I wake up drenched in sweat.  The slightest noise, I‘m awake.  Talk about your nightmares.  Every night I’m back in the jungle clutching an M16.  I don’t talk about it to people who don’t understand what we went through.”

Reveille:  That’s fine.

Daley:  “I’m hyper alert all the time.  If I hear a car backfire I dive for cover.  That’s why my wife left me.  She never understood.  She didn’t like that I tried to teach the kids that they needed to be hyper alert at all times, even when opening the refrigerator or coming out of the bathroom.  One time in country, January 7, 1967, this kid Tommy Atkins was on patrol reading a Dear John from some Suzy Rottencrotch when he tripped a Bouncing Betty.  Blew off his left leg and his testicles.  He’s screaming his brains out.  Blood spouting everywhere from a bleeder.  The guy right behind me….Dorkins? Dawkins? took some splinters right in the eye.  ‘I’m blind, I’m blind,’ he’s screaming.  Shut the f**k up, says Sergeant Ed Bains.  Tough, a tough son of a bitch Bains but a true leader.  ‘Cover fire for the medic’ he yells.  The medic, Doc Sorenson, he popped up out of nowhere.  He’s a f**kin’ hero in my book.  He’s got that artery clamped and a couple of syringes into Tommy quicker than greased sh*t.  I can’t talk about this kind of stuff.”

Reveille:  Probably better not to.

Daley:  “Vin Ming province, February 14, 1969, we were on a search and destroy through some paddies when we receive mortar fire from a ville of about a hundred hooches.  We’re crouched behind a dike when the tree line lights up with muzzle flashes.  We’re in enfilade, guys going down right and left.  Green hornets zipping inches from my ear. The paddy water is being thrashed to cream.  Suddenly a shriek fills the air.  Incoming round!  A private named Sizemore, new guy, only with us a few days, the round lands right on his helmet.  He’s torn to rags.  An arm here, a leg there. A huge swirl of blood where he was squatting…”

Reveille:  I can understand why you might not want to revisit…

Daley:  “Remember!  This is sh*t water.  They fertilize with human sh*t.  The stench is still in my nostrils to this day.  Sergeant Bains is running along the dike shouting, ‘Fire your weapons, fire your weapons!’  That man is a hero in my book.  They should have given him a posthumous Silver Star.  And Dave Swant, the radioman, another hero.  Spouts of water all around him and he’s calling in gunships.  “Alpha Leader, Alpha Leader, this is Tango Charlie…. “That’s the only thing that saved our ass, I’ll tell you that much. Two Hueys, rockets, Willie Pete in the tree line, and two fifties chewing up the leaves.  I bet they got some of those *****************, although we never did find any blood trails…”

Reveille:  Would you look at the darn time….

Daley:  “And where is the f**king looey?  He’s orbiting overhead with the colonel.  Little shave tail college as*hole.  I can’t talk about this stuff.”



Local Notes

LA Hospital taps Chuckwallan Otis Peck as top fecal donor   Los Angeles General Hospital’s department of gastrointestinal surgery has contracted with Chuckwalla resident Otis Peck to provide materials for the fecal implants given to patients suffering from the difficult to treat infestations of Clostridium difficile, according to a hospital press release.  Recent tests done at the university determined that Peck, 31, has a “colonic load of bacterial strains” that is optimal for patients suffering from the painful and intractable intestinal malady caused by C diff.

Often the bacteria are acquired in hospital after patients undergo treatment with antibiotics.  The antibiotics kill the beneficial flora in the intestinal tract, allowing the pathogenic C diff to flourish.  In the past, C diff was treated with more infusions of antibiotics.  But typically patients remained sick or recovered only briefly before relapsing.  Recently medical scientists found that donor fecal matter injected by enema kayoed the infection within days.  “Natural intestinal bacteria is restored and defeats the invader,” said Dr. Henry Woodrow, the department’s chief surgeon.  Peck became aware of his natural ability while working at the Pork Yen piggery in Chuckwalla.  Chin Yen, 47, started the farm two years ago to serve the growing Chinese community residing in the housing compound next to the new natural gas plant.  “They like pork the Chinese way,” Yen said.

Serendipitously Yen found that some of his animals suffering from diarrhea recovered immediately after ingesting spillage from an overflowing outhouse.  At that time Peck was the only employee using the facility.  Peck mentioned the pigs’ recovery to a friend who worked at Pele Verde Memorial Hospital as an orderly.  The Chuckwalla hospital, consistently rated as one of the worst in the nation, has had a high incidence of both MRSA infections and C diff outbreaks.  The hospital worker, on a hunch, smuggled a Peck specimen into the hospital and injected it into the nose feeding tube of a patient who had suffered from chronic C diff for months.  Within 24 hours her symptoms abated.  “I guess she was puking and (evacuating) constantly,” Peck said.  “My (fecal matter) cured her.”  A Pele Verde nurse e-mailed a former colleague now at Los Angeles General.  Eventually a request came from the LA hospital for Peck’s sample.  “It’s kind of like finding the perfect sourdough yeast starter,” Woodrow said. “Mr. Peck has the gold standard for stool.”  Cheryl Weiss


Chuckwalla Reveille Update

City May Get Full Time Repo Man.

 A press release from GM Auto Finance says the company is considering stationing a full time agent in either Chuckwalla or Blythe to repossess cars whose owners are delinquent on payments.  According to the release:

"The Imperial County Tri-Desert area has become a Mecca for borrowers who have fallen behind on their car payments.  The area is so remote, so vast, and so lightly patrolled by law enforcement that car repossession is difficult to accomplish by agents operating out of Los Angeles."  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick has stated his department receives frequent requests from GM and other auto loan companies for assistance in repossessing cars.  "We don't have time or resources to repo cars," Dick said.  "And we can't help them find the cars either."

Jack Spalding, an economics professor at UC Riverside and expert on insurance delinquencies, says that nationally the number of borrowers in default on car loans has gone up after the loan companies began packaging and selling the loans as securities for investors.  "Historically, defaults on car loans didn't happen much.  It's the old saying, 'You can sleep in your car but you can't drive your house to work.'  People will keep up car payments even if they have to blow off the mortgage."

 Spalding said the low default rate encouraged loan companies to bundle and securitize the loans.  At the same time, Spalding said, the companies often charge usurious interest rates ranging from 15 to 25 percent.  "So now the borrower is paying 23 percent interest on a 10,000 loan to some bank of trust he's never heard of."

Cody Adams, the obstreperous landowner whose long-running feud with the BLM has landed him in court numerous times, told the Reveille that he allows some Los Angeles car owners to park their vehicles on a portion of his property that abuts BLM wilderness area.  "I don't know," Adams says, "but I'm assuming some of these folks may be behind on their payments and stash some secondary vehicles like pickups and RVs out here to avoid the repo man."  Adams says some of the vehicles are on blocks with the tires locked in the trunk.  As a sideline, Adams also makes and sells tire boots that car owners can install themselves.  "Put one fore and aft, and a tow truck ain't much help," Adams said

Scouts a deterrent   Adams said that to repossess a car on his property the repo man would have to drive a flatbed truck over 20 miles of dirt road.  "And he'd have to get past the scouts."  Chuckwalla Boy Scout Troop 354, as a civic project, has set up checkpoints on unimproved roads in the vicinity to control drug dealing, theft, and vandalism.  .

Buddy “Buster” Tubbs, a regular at the Brewhaha Brew Pub and a sometimes resident at Castaways Community House, said he has a pair of homemade tire boots for his pickup.  "I use 'em when I'm in town as a precaution," Tubbs said.  "But even if they do put a repo man out here I don't think he'll ever get my truck while it’s out at the Borrows.  I got my truck in LA three years ago.  GM Finance gave me a loan even though I had no job, no bank account, and no permanent residence.  So I figure, they just want to bundle my loan with some other crap and push it on a hedge fund.   The interest rate was high but I never planned on making payments.  As far as I'm concerned, they just wanted to give me a free truck so as to create some paper."   

(Editor’s note: The Borrows, sometimes called “the Pits,” is an informal community of the homeless who have buried wooden sleeping modules in the borrow pits at the old Stetson Quarry.) 



The Reveille’s lingering gander at the Tri-Desert Empire

Scout Pipps Wins in Landslide   In a stunning political upset, first class Boy Scout Henry Pipps, 18, shot to a write-in landslide victory over seven other candidates for a seat on the Chuckwalla City Council.  The teenager garnered 354 votes, all write-ins, representing 52 percent of the special election turnout, and sufficient to avoid a runoff.  Pipps will replace indicted city councilman Bibby Patel, who dropped out of sight last month after an audit discovered $5000 missing from the bank account of the Yellow Jacket Boosters Club.   Patel was the Boosters’ treasurer until his disappearance.  “I guess I’ll take the seat,” said Pipps, a recent Chuckwalla High School graduate who did not campaign or raise money for the contest.  The write-in effort was underwritten in full by a donation from the Pease Packing Corp.  In second place, with 148 votes, was Loose the Dogs co-founder Penny Axelrod, who campaigned against “the vigilante” roundup of stray dogs in Chuckwalla by members of Pipps’ scout troop.


Council Notes

City Weighs Private Bid for Pound     A heated debate erupted Wednesday as the City Council heard a proposal from staff to turn over the city’s animal control duties to a private contractor.  Newly hired City Manager Abe Fort, 201, said the city could save up to $200,000 a year by using a private contractor to round up stray and feral animals and to run the pound.  “The city can benefit from economies of scale,” Fort said.

Under the present arrangement, the non-profit Humane Society oversees the animal shelter on Via Bienvendios with costs picked up by the city.  The city also fields a full-time animal control officer, and the Chuckwalla Police Department has one officer assigned to handle animal complaints.  The shelter has four part-time city employees on the payroll.  Fort cited Imperial Animal Management as the leading California contractor for municipal animal control, but several local businessmen also expressed interest in taking over the pound.

Aaron Rothberg, representing Local 12 of the Municipal Employees Union, strongly objected to any change.  “It’s another attempt by Fort and his business cronies to cut city services,” Rothberg said.  Over the past few years, the animal shelter has been the subject of several negative appraisals by the Imperial County Grand Jury.  And last month Humane Society director Allison Clatt was arrested for allegedly selling euthanized cats to a laboratory supply company.  Cheryl Weiss


Leaders in Motion.

The Chuckwalla Reveille tried to get an interview with Imperial County supervisor Jamie Teague.  His press aide said that because of past experiences Teague no longer gives interviews to this paper.  Instead, the Reveille is interviewing Teague’s younger brother Emory, a salesman at Appearance Motors in Chuckwalla.

Reveille:  Do you know why the supervisor voted against Chuckwalla’s Walmart re-application?

Teague:  “I don’t talk to my brother.”

Reveille:  What was he like as a kid? 

Teague:  “He reinvented himself every six months.  He would come home from the library with an armload of books, disappear into his room -- ‘Keep Out.  This Means You.’ -- and a week later he’d emerge as a science fiction writer.  Everything was about rocket blastoffs and alien monsters.   Then one day, another armload of books, back to his room, and he’d come out as a jazz buff:  Coltrane, Miles Davis, MJQ.   After a few months, back to his room.  And he’d be a Beatnik.  Lounging around the house, disdainful of bourgeois hypocrisy and middle class hygiene.  Then back to his room…and he came out as a golfer.  Even our dad was surprised by that one.”

Reveille:  Does the interest in reinvention explain the Indian headdress at the Chuckwalla parade?

Teague:  “Maybe.  I wasn’t there.  I try to avoid him.”

Reveille:  Know anything about the Ponzi lawsuit?

Teague.  “I haven’t talked to my brother in years.  Not even at Christmas.”

Reveille:  The allegation is that he bilked investors by pretending to be the Haitian Minister of Reconstruction.

Teague:  “I think he was the Haitian Minister of Reconstruction.  After the golfer”.


Around the Empire

Botts Wins Cook-Off

The annual George Foreman cook-off at the Castaways Hostelry and Harmony House on Friday night witnessed the triumph of newbie griller Terry Botts who bested the veterans in a competition that drew a dozen contestants.  In the annual event, residents at the low-income retreat prepare favorite recipes using only a George Foreman grill and an electric kettle.  Judges, selected from the bartending staff at the Brewhaha Brew House, select a winner based on savor and ingenuity.  Castaways house manager Selby Dickenson said the contest began five years ago following the prohibition of electric hot plates in the rooms.  "Too many fires, Dickenson said, "And the plates used too much juice."  New resident Botts won for his "beef cakes," something like fish cakes, but with hamburger instead of salmon.  

Although his spicing remains a secret, he revealed the outline of his recipe.  "I blanch polenta in scalding water," Botts said, "Add the spices, and blend in whole wheat flour and olive oil.  On the grill I brown the hamburger and chopped scallions, and set aside.  Then, after wiping and re-oiling the grill, I lay down a layer of batter, top it with the meat and onions, and then another layer of batter.  Grill for four minutes." Runner up was last year's winner Paul Singleterry with his hash browns, eggs, and bacon breakfast.  House boss Dickenson said he is always surprised at the creative cooking done with the simple grill.  "For most guys it's just a cheese sandwich," Dickenson said, "But some of the residents are producing amazing three course meals."  By Cheryl Weiss


(Paid Obituary)

Memoriam for Plaisance Wexell     The wonderful and inspiring Plaisance Wexell, 66 years young, has passed after a courageous battle with metastasizing lung cancer.  Her friends will not forget this woman of strong convictions who lived life to the fullest in her home in Chuckwalla for many years without paying the mortgage or property taxes, and refusing to knuckle under to banks, state police, or the IRS.    Like many during the housing boom, she got her loan with the help of a cosigner (a former boyfriend) and by overstating her potential for income as a doll maker.  In those times liar’s loans were being shoveled out the bank’s door, and yes, she took advantage to get one -- even though her profession hadn't ever brought in much money -- so that she would be able to provide for her two troubled sons.

Her inspiriting story is one of a single unemployed mom using her determination to save her family.  She acquired credit cards, and used those to pay the mortgage for one year, until she had equity, after which she supported herself and her sons (one brain injured in a motorcycle accident, the other in intermittent recovery) by taking out a line of credit on the house.  Eventually, with her cards maxed and showing $100,000 in debt, she declared Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and stopped paying her mortgage entirely.  For two years she enjoyed a respite while her paper disappeared in the thicket of the collateralized security market. 

A collection agency working for a bank of trust sent duns monthly, but Plasiance resisted every exhortation.  While providing shelter for her sons, she also worked on higher consciousness by taking weekend intensives at Adelante Hot Springs, where she belonged to Hai, a group providing self-awareness training.  She also studied Tantric and holistic healing, and worked on past lives.  Her unfolding story involved an abusive mother, an impoverished childhood, abusive boyfriends, and an abusive tradesman who raped her when she was a teen.  

Part of the Hai training helps to counter low self-esteem by inculcating self-confidence:  “I am a goddess," she would say, "I am an angel of light.”  When she saw that some of her low self-esteem came from her facial wrinkles, the residue of a past life style brought on by abusive relationships, she persuaded a plastic surgeon to perform a facelift on credit.  After a brave and painful recovery she felt confident about the face she showed the world.

Refusing to despair after exhausting the equity line, she took in roommates downstairs and courageously became a caregiver to an elderly woman.  Too soon her legs started hurting and one weekend at Hai she had trouble walking.  Although her male doctor was dismissive, the pain increased, an MRI revealed cancers on her spine and in her brain.  The young doctor said her case was terminal, but Plaisance found other doctors who explained that all cancers, considered individually, are amenable to treatment.

Plaisance had no insurance, but happily, she had just turned 65.  She stayed in the Pele Verde Valley Memorial oncology ward for radiation, and then transferred to a convalescent hospital.  The first was not to her liking, the food being bad.  The second convalescent home was better, and she began getting physical therapy and two-minute softboiled eggs.  She had trouble sleeping despite her medications, had developed bed sores, and was losing weight rapidly, but bore all with determined resolution if not quietly.  

She maintained a positive attitude that the right nutrition, prayer, the spiritual blessings of friends, would return her to health.  The positive attitude persisted even as her house went into foreclosure and was sold on the courthouse steps. Her possessions, including her many paintings and sculptures, may have been placed in storage by a former boyfriend, although he had been abusive and they weren't speaking at the time of her passing.  A service and the placing of a wind chime were celebrated by the Hai Angels of Light on Saturday at the hot springs.  Donations can be made to the Plaisance Wexell Foundation, and will be used to help her sons resettle.  Anyone with information about the whereabouts of her belongings should also contact the Foundation.  Requiescat in Pace, Plaisance.


Letter to the Editor

School Shooting Misinformation?   The Martin Van Buren school tragedy has brought with it a lot of misinformation about the “super power” of the AR-15 style of semi-auto rifle.  A few of the club members at Valley Rod and Gun got together at Vern’s Rifle and Pistol Par Course last Saturday to gather some facts to set the record straight.

The standard par course presents the shooter with 25 stationary or moving targets of increasing difficulty.  The shooter moves through a series of obstacles, engaging both stationary and pop up timed challenges on all sides.  Safety is the number one concern, and each scenario is carefully backstopped and protected.  The shooters use special cartridges with a reduced charge and plaster shatter-proof Teflon-coated bullets to prevent ricochets.

Historically, the record is held by Larry Burts of Midway Wells who successfully engaged all targets in a time of one minute and 23 seconds (01:23:44) using a Bushmaster Special Ops .223 carbine and 10-round clips.   This rifle is comparable to the one employed by former gun club member Herman at the Martin Van Buren school.

Very few are in Larry’s league, and certainly not the perpetrator of the school tragedy, a person well known to club members.  I consider myself a pretty good shot, but with the Ruger .223 Ranch Model M4 semi auto with dime clips I managed to take out only 19 of the 25 course challenges in par two minutes (01:58:20).  Now let’s compare that with some other scores tallied by an expert marksman.

The shooter on Saturday was Ev Ames, an avid hunter for 30 years and the range master at Boy Scout Troop 354’s summer encampment.  On his first trial he used an out-of-the-box bolt action Remington .223 Sportsman, a standard varmint rifle.  For those unfamiliar, bolt action means that the bolt has to be manually pulled and returned for each shot.  Moreover, he used five-round magazines.

Ames completed the course with 25 hits in a time of 01:52:00.  In other words, with a bolt action sporting arm, Ames bested my semi-auto time and score.  For comparison, here are some other times Ames recorded on Saturday.  In every case he scored 25 hits.

An M1 .30 caliber “Tanker” semi-auto carbine, standard issue clips:  01:45:30

Winchester 12-gauge pump with five-shell tube:  02:20:15   (For those unfamiliar, Ames had to reload shells through the breech while on the run.)

H&R single shot 12-guage:  02:40:50   An amazing shoot!

Sherwood Forest 80-lb draw crossbow:   03:05:10

Heckler Slingshot Pro with steel .30 caliber balls:  03:50:40

This information speaks for itself, and should give perspective during the city council’s deliberations about further gun regulations.    Joe Dankovich, Chuckwalla


Letter to the editor

Rez to the rescue.   Regarding the sad situation with the high school marching band.  The season opener, the Red Yellow Game, and no instruments.  I’ve talked to the Nation, and they want to help.  Naturally, sports wise, they support the Devils, but the halftime show for Red and Yellow won’t be the same without the band.  The chamber has asked one of the parents, Dan Herrera, he’s a CO at Ironwood, to liaison with the Booster’s Jacket Pride committee so the Nation can funnel money to the Boosters.  There’s no time for practice, but the band can march onto the field with instruments.  Music from the PA system.  So we get the spectacle.  It might also make fundraising sense to harness the marketing potential of the Sophomore Girls.  Bert Bertinelli, President, Chuckwalla Chamber of Commerce

(Editor’s note:   Bertinelli is a paid spokesman for the Lumbee Nation.  The high school band instruments were stolen over the summer. Police allege that a $5000 donation to the Jackets Boosters Club to replace the instruments was stolen by the club treasurerd and former city councilman Bibby Patel).



The Reveille’s patient scouring of the Tri-Desert Empire.

Chimp Beano Enrolls at Chuckwalla High   In a cross species first, the chimpanzee Beano has been enrolled in PE teacher Ted Evans’ Human Directionals class this semester.  Rescued from a stranded carnival by Chuckwalla dentist Les Lewis, Beano has a background in tumbling and acrobatics as well as natural agility and strength.  “I have to say the kid’s a natural,” Evans said.  Ross Lewis, a freshman at CH, introduced Beano to campus as part of a social studies assignment.  During a lunch break Ross and Beano walked by the practice field to watch the Sophomore Girls spirit workout.  Also on the field, Evans’ Human Directionals class.

“Beano was fascinated by the sign spinners,” Ross said.  “Before I knew it, he’d picked up one of the arrows and was jumping up and down with it.  Then he did a helicopter.”  Evans said Beano could attend directional as a not-for-credit honorary auditor.  “His athleticism is phenomenal,” Evans said.  “His example gives the other students something to strive for.”

Gas Plant Gets Dog Pound    The Chuckwalla planning commission voted 4-1 Wednesday to recommend that the city council transfer ownership of the troubled humane society animal shelter to the consortium operating the natural gas generating plant.  City treasurer Soroj Patel has reported that the society’s overcrowded facility and troubled management has become a liability to the city’s solvency.  “We could eliminate four jobs, cancel very expensive liability insurance, and sell the real estate,” she said.  Mayor Robert Crane told the Reveille that the gas plant would run the pound at no cost to the city as a gesture of mutual cooperation.  The city is a part owner of the gas plant along with Pemex, the Lumbee Nation, and Shanghai Petrochemical Development Corp.

Col. Xing Ping Yee, 154, said his construction battalion would erect a new shelter inside the gas plant complex.  Personnel from the battalion would be detailed to care for the dogs and cats.  “In China we know animals,” Ping said.  He said if the council acts he would assign an animal husbandry specialist, Chin Yen, as pound overseer.

Criticism of the plan came from city employees’ union representative Aaron Rothberg.  “We know nothing about what happens inside the gas plant fence,” Rothberg said.  “It’s sending animals to a Gulag.  The gas plant clinic already practically runs part of our nursing program.  Maybe the Chinese battalion should take over the city jail.”  The city, teetering on the brink of state receivership, is $5 million in debt and has ordered monthly week-long furloughs for city employees.  Cheryl Weiss


Letter to the Editor

Euthanize Your Pets    Here’s an idea for the Green Zone Café sustainability tippy-toe carbon footprint snowflakes.  Take your collie or your golden retriever or your darling black lab to the humane society and have it put down.  A study by the WHO says your dog consumes the same amount of resources each year as the average Bangladeshi.   Probably three Bangladeshi, if it’s Muriel Penny’s Great Dane!  Just kidding.  Nobody is voluntarily going to euthanize his pet.  That’s not happening.  Just as nobody is going to give up his car, or an Internet connection, or stop flying on airplanes.  But we should all use cloth bags.    Abe Peters, Chuckwalla

Reveille Standing Weather Ear

Daytime temperature:  91. Hot and sunny.  Overnight:  37. Clear and cold.  Wind:  NW, 25, with gusts to 40   Pollen count:  High.  Juniper, sage, bunch grasses.  Those susceptible to allergies or respiratory complaints advised to stay indoors during windy periods.  Ultraviolet Index.  High.  Those going outdoors advised to wear sunscreen, hats, long pants and long sleeved shirts.  Those susceptible to sunburn advised to stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Pollutants:  PM10 (severe); agricultural diesel exhaust (severe at times in valley); carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide: stage two alert.  Pesticides:  Pesticides and fumigants in use today:  methyl bromide, methyl iodide, Kaolin, Bensulide, N-methyl carbamate, Dianzinon, and various organophosphates.  Valley residents advised to be aware of low-flying crop dusters.  Marion Shumley Memorial Senior Plunge:  Temperature, 85. Fecal count, 142


Waitress of the Week

(A regular Reveille feature spotlighting food and beverage servers.  Today, Mona Daly, lunch waitress at Steaks ‘n’ Cakes.)

Reveille:  Your job?

Daly:  “I’m the lunch waitress at Steaks and Cakes.  It’s the best shift because we get Rotary, Kiwanis and Optimists, plus Early Bird Specials and Kids Eat Free.  It’s real regular; you can make plans.”

Reveille:  Advice to newcomers?

Daly:  “Be discreet.  You’re going to hear stuff, particularly from Rotarians.  You see them with their guard down; they don’t even notice you unless they’re unhappy at home.  I could write a book, but I tell it to the wall.”

Reveille:  The dietician at the high school made some comments recently.

Daly:  “She is such a b****.  Excuse my French.  I don’t think she’s even been in here.  It’s a lie we use Crisco in the pancakes, and we stopped using trans-fats in the fryers a couple of years ago.”

Reveille:  How to you see the future?

Daly:  “I’m hopeful.  There’s not much to do in Chuckwalla except go to a restaurant.  The pressure will come from the franchises, particularly if the town gets a Straw Hat.  Right now Sizzler is our biggest competitor because of the taco bar.  I’m really against a Walmart.  Those b****** are ruthless…”



(A gimlet-eyed perusal of the Tri-Desert Empire.)

News flash

Scout Leader Cleared in Meth Lab Shootout   Chuckwalla city councilman and Troop 354 scoutmaster Henry Pipps has been cleared of all charges by the Riverside superior court for his involvement in a shootout that left two dead at a meth lab inside a remote desert trailer.  Pipps, 18, no stranger to firearms, had been charged with second degree murder in the deaths of Marcus Levy, 30, and Hernando Pena-Suarez, 22, after shooting erupted at a trailer hidden deep within the Scorpion Mountain Wilderness Area.  According to court documents, Pipps had entered what appeared to be an illegally abandoned trailer and encountered Levy and Pena-Suarez preparing a batch of methamphetamine.  Superior court judge Abigail Tweed said the state lacks sufficient evidence to support the prosecution’s claim that Pipps knew in advance that the victims were inside the trailer.  The prosecution had claimed that Pipps and other scouts from Troop 354 previously encountered Levy and Pena-Suarez at a scout checkpoint, and had become cognizant of the whereabouts of the trailer. 

As a civic improvement project, the troop’s Pathfinder Scouts last year began setting up checkpoints on some of the more frequented back roads around Chuckwalla to discourage drug making and vandalism.  Mayor Robert Crain has lauded the scouts for their efforts to curb the meth epidemic, while critics, such as animal welfare activist Penny Axelrod, have described troop members as "Brown Shirt vigilante thugs."  In the last council election, Pipps won an upset write-in victory over Axelrod and five other candidates after the troop's successful effort to round up stray dogs that had terrorized the cross-town bike path. 

Councilman Pipps made national headlines last summer when he shot and killed former Chuckwalla parade marshal Ernie Header.  A decorated erstwhile Marine who had completed three tours in Iraq, Header was being sought in the ambush shooting of a Kmart supervisor.  At the invitation of Chuckpo, Pipps and other scouts from Troop 354 tracked Header to a narrow slot canyon in the Scorpion Wilderness.  Police officers not being able to enter the crevice, the 140-pound Pipps squeezed into the narrow defile and killed the fugitive in a brief exchange of gunfire.  Cheryl Weiss

News Flash

Lone Wolf Terrorist Padilla Strikes Again    Local lone wolf eco- terrorist Andy Padilla has struck again in Chuckwalla, this time infecting the upscale wine bar inside Uncle Elmo's Antiques and Gaucheree with alleged Africanized honey bees.  The owner of the wine bar, Albert Dentine, said three patrons were halfway through their flights when a swarm of angry bees filled the room.  The out-of-town visitors, whose names weren't available, and wine stewardess Amy Dentine, were treated for multiple stings at the Chinese gas plant clinic and released.  Padilla, who has struck repeatedly in Chuckwalla over the last two years, said in a Twitter communique to the Reveille that the attack was in response to management practices at the Purple Majesty vineyard east of the city.  "The vineyard has been using hydraulic fracturing to force water from our depleted aquifer," Padilla said in the communique.  The spokesperson for the vineyard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Weaponized insects bred in hidden weapons lab    Padilla, who allegedly operates from a weapons lab deep in the Scorpion Mountains, has caused concern among health officials because of his use of insects and germs in his ongoing assault on targets he considers detrimental to the environment.  "He uses biological terror," said Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick. "These bees are as bad as the mosquitoes."  In a recent attack against the Chuckwalla Speedway, Padilla released thousands of blood hungry Aedes squaminger mosquitoes into the parking lot just as crowds were leaving Sunday's popular Sunday Thunder Destruction Derby.  According to Dick, a police investigation has speculated that Padilla is culturing the mosquitoes, bees, scorpions and yellow jackets at his weapons lab.   "He sneaks the insects into town and turns them loose," Dick said.  "He has ruined several weddings and funerals."

Flu kayos Rotarians   Padilla also has claimed responsibility for the local outbreak of H2N1 flu last fall.   In a press release following the uptick in flu cases, Padilla said that on the afternoon before the Rotary Club's annual Fundraising Dance he had painted all the doorknobs in the Veterans Hall with a solution made up of mucus and secretions taken from a flu patient at Pele Verde Memorial Hospital.  Dick said the police investigation pointed to a germ lab somewhere in the rugged Scorpion Wilderness Area.   "It is difficult terrain that isn't negotiable by any kind of motorized vehicle," Dick said.  "Even the BLM rangers can't get back there.  We are hoping that Troop 354’s tracking unit may be able to help us out, although the scouts are stretched thin right now.”  Boy Scout Troop 354 has been setting up checkpoints on desert roads around the city in an effort to curtail drug trafficking and vandalism.

Editor's note:  Chuckwalla Reveille part time reporter Cheryl Weiss, who has been selected for an internship next year at the Riverside Enterprise-Journal, collected some dead insects from the floor of Uncle Elmo’s wine bar.  Her report :)

I called David Glasshower, an entomologist at UC Riverside, and described the insects.  “They don’t sound like Africanized Honey Bees,” Glasshower said, “From your description I’d say they were common yellow jackets.  They could be induced into an attack frenzy only if the perpetrator brought the nest, with the queen inside.”  Dr. Juan Cienfuegos, the leased Cuban emergency room physician at the Chinese Gas Plant clinic, said the three wine bar patrons and wine steward Amy Dentine were treated for multiple stings and released.  Cheryl Weiss 

Leaders in Motion

This week the Chuckwalla Reveille: is interviewing Cielo Ray and Penne Pasto, two twenty something newcomers to Chuckwalla.  Penne is a hostess at Trimalchio’s All You Can Eat Gourmet Buffet and Cielo is a dishwasher at the Breadfruit Café.

Reveille:  What qualifies you as leaders?

Ray:  “We’re youth vanguard leaders for the generation adjusting to new realities.  We’re both college graduates with majors in fields unlikely to command a wage.  I majored in philosophy at Reed.  I was a fire dancer at the Fayre.  I edited Fresh Flame, a poetry zine.  I took out a lot of student loans, and have $40,000 in debt that I’m not going to repay.”

Pasto: “I also went to Reed, majored in French literature.  I’m defaulting on $60,000 in student loan debt.”

Ray:  “After we fell in love, we decided to cohabit as long as it was mutually agreeable.  We weren’t employable in our fields, so we needed a plan.  We decided to quit the consumer world, including electronic media and concerts.  We’re not going to have kids or pets.  We decided to get out of the city and go someplace remote and unattractive where we could find a couple of chimp jobs and rent a cheap studio.  We acknowledge no responsibilities to the state or the banks. “

Reveille:  Was it hard to adjust to Chuckwalla?

Ray:  “We found a ready-made community of like-minded people who understand that they’re superfluous.  We live for ourselves and only work enough to get by.  We make our own entertainment.”

Pasto:  “Book club, NPR, potlucks, community garden, choral singing.

Reveille:  Is this the Green Zone Cafe?

Ray:  “It’s a loose knit association of bohemian progressives with some sprinklings of spirituality who are always on the lookout for bartering opportunities, vacant granny units, food giveaways, cooperative living arrangements, and labor trades for medical assistance.”

Reveille:  I guess you know about the Chinese clinic.   There’s the Gateway to Ganja House.  Doctor Dave, the former priest who runs that free clinic on Avenida Cesar Chavez.

Pasto:  “We know Dr. Dave.  He treated my gluten with botanicals.”




(The Reveille’s gum shoe sleuthing through the Tri-Desert Empire.)

Gas Plant Gets Nursing Students    Chuckwalla Junior College students in the limited vocational nursing program are slated next month to start getting their on-the-job training officially at the Chuckwalla gas plant Chinese clinic, thus avoiding the long bus ride to Imperial General in Brawley.  College spokesperson Madeline Hicks said the clinic, serving the Chinese guest workers’ labor battalion, has the staff capacity and technical expertise for the practical enrichment portion of the program.   Presently, the students are riding two hours each way on a school bus without air conditioning to train at the Brawley hospital.  Labor battalion commander Xing Ping Yee said the JC students would be held to strict medical standards and professional ethics and be under the supervision of Cuban doctors.  Ping said the clinic already provides instruction in emergency room practices for the college.  The college severed its training relationship with Pele Verde Memorial last year after a student nurse was arrested for allegedly participating in a prostitution ring.

Shots fired in the 700 block of Hobbesianway.  Chuckwalla officers Wednesday arrested suspected bank robber and de-listed Lumbee Humberto Cárdenas, 28, for unlawful discharge of a firearm within the city limits, public intoxication, vandalism of city property, being a felon on parole in possession of a firearm, being a felon on probation in possession of drug paraphernalia, terrorist threats against an officer, outstanding traffic warrants, suspicion of bank robbery, and public nudity.  Cárdenas was held without bail pending a probation hearing.

School Dietician Busted for Pot    Chuckwalla High School dietician Cindy Mallory was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of growing marijuana after Chuckwalla police served a warrant at her Westside home.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said an investigation had developed sufficient evidence that a peppery odor wafting from her window came from marijuana plants in a window box.  “Neighbors alerted police to a strong odor of marijuana,” Dick said.  Officers confiscated 14 plants ranging in size from three to ten inches with an estimated street value of $500, Dick said.  After being booked into Chuckwalla jail Mallory was released on her own recognizance.


The Chuckwalla School Board tackles prayer

(Editor’s note:   Traditionally, local churchmen have handled the school board’s invocation, which usually has been a brief reaffirmation of fealty to the Deity, accompanied by a baleful glance at the free spending cohort of the board.  Last February the Freedom from Religion Forum, represented by an ACLU lawyer citing the Establishment Clause, wrote a letter demanding the board do away with the invocation.)

Board President Glenn Bates has sought consensus on the prayer issue.  “The board attorney seems to be saying that other districts in which this issue arose have incurred considerable legal expense.  We all appreciate the need to avoid that.  My first thought had been that in place of an invocation we have a moment of silence in which all of us can reflect and ask for guidance in making wise decisions.”

This pastors objected, since this didn’t offer them much of a role.  Bates next idea, grudgingly accepted by the pastors and the ACLU, was to have invocations that could mention a Creator but not specific personages, such as Jesus, Jehovah or Allah.  The essence of the Creator was left open.  All denominations as well as Chuckwalla’s handful of freethinkers and atheists (and the one known Theosophist) would invocate in rotation.

Baptist pastor Byron Fistule went first:  “We ask the…Creator…to be with us in our deliberations tonight.  We call on the Creator, and any other member of the creative family who may have been crucified for our sins and resurrected, to steer this body into wise and fiscally sound channels.”

The liberality of the compromise brought out the showboats.  Pearson Manning, atheist:  “It was the Nazarene himself who said the hypocrites would have their reward.  He didn’t mean a sundae.  Don’t be like the hypocrites, and make a public spectacle of yourself.  Find a closet.  Don’t be throwing up your hands, or rolling your eyes like a lunatic.  Any supernatural antenna in the cosmos will pick up your transmission without a lot of sanctimonious posturing.” 

The board held the invocations to three minutes, with no exception for tongues.  Bates said the agreement has fended off litigation at least for the nonce.


(Editor’s note:  In written instructions left by Dexter Dietz, the Reveille’s absentee owner, he asks that the paper be keen about including local voices from the Tri-Desert community)


By Emma Stoltz, founder of Pele Verde Valley Scrap Bookers

Memories slip away so easily, particularly as we grow older.  Can you remember what you had for lunch yesterday?  Some scrape bookers in our club keep a meal diary to record this aspect of the days of our lives.  Every American, if she lives to be seventy, consumes 50,000 meals.   How many can you remember?    One way to remember is to jot down the day’s meals in a diary.  In that way you can revisit memorable meals, track the progress of that diet, as well as provide a history of the table for your loved ones and future generations.

The same diary can be used to keep a record of your favorite television programs.  How often have you spent an evening watching television and yet been unable to remember anything about the programs the next day?

Some scrap bookers believe this diary is a good place to jot down products that have been purchased.  Have you ever looked in your closet and wondered, when the heck did I buy that thing?   Noting costs can be helpful in budget making   Major purchases, such as a flat screen or a refrigerator, can be flagged for reference.

Here’s my diary entry for yesterday:

Biscuits and gravy, bacon, scrambled eggs, bear claw, coffee.

Egg salad san, fruit cocktail, potato chips, chocolate ice cream, Coke

Ham slices, mashed potatoes, peas, garlic French bread, strudel

Old Fashioned (just one), buttered popcorn, corn chips, Coke

Modern Family.  Phil thinks Miranda is gay.  Hank visit’s a gay bar to find out.  Linda announces she is pregnant and is dropping out of college.

Dancing with the Stars:  Britney Palen argues with Sean.  Tiffany earns a four.  David and Meredith try the tango.

Magazine holder from Kmart $10

Pink curtains for Sara’s room.  $25

Plastic elephant foot from the Dodson’s garage sale.  $5

It was Elvis who once said, in Love Me Tender, that the unexamined life isn’t worth living.  Life is a gift to us from Heaven and a diary is like St. Peter’s record of the Points of Light in Our Lives.  Keep the lights on!


Soroptimists Honor Chuckwalla “Bag Ladies” Founder    The weekly Soroptimist high tea at Steaks and Cakes concluded Monday with a round of applause and a certificate of appreciation for the dedicated community service of Soroptimist Leslie Hart.  Hart was honored for her leadership as a local spokesperson for the National Colostomy Fund, which underwrites educational efforts to inform the public about gastrointestinal surgery.  In 1999 Hart founded the Chuckwalla Colostomy Club, a group which later she jocularly dubbed “the bag ladies.”

“Leslie has done more than anyone in bringing this important subject to public attention,” said Soroptimist president Sally French.  Colostomy is a procedure in which the colon is severed from the rectum and surgically rerouted to an opening in the stomach.  Waste matter is collected in a plastic bag connected to the stoma.  Refreshments, sponge tea cakes with orange icing and pineapple sherbet, came from Dessert Flour Catering.  Soroptimist treasurer Margaret Pease supplied the cucumber finger petite fours.


Dentist teaches chimp to floss    Chuckwalla dentist Les Lewis has taught his rescue chimpanzee Beano to floss his teeth.  “It just sort of happened,” Lewis said.  Beano, who once performed in an animal act in the now defunct Ringo Brothers carnival, was adopted by Lewis two years ago from the humane society shelter on Via Bienvenidos.  Lewis said the chimp immediately became part of the family, and sits for meals in a highchair next to Lewis’ two year old son Boston, also ensconced in a high chair.

“Beano had been mistreated during his carnival days, and spent much of his time in cages,” Lewis said.  But after a few months of adjustment, Lewis said, Beano responded well to family life, and began copying Boston in everything.  “Boston and Beano are inseparable, and spend hours throwing stuffed animals at each other,” Lewis said.  The Lewis family (Les, wife Margie, sons Boston, Terry, Ross, and daughter Jane) make it a practice to floss after dinner as a family.  “That way, we’re sure it gets done,” Lewis said.  Lewis said Boston was struggling, but Beano picked up the dental string and demonstrated.  “The only teaching part was to convince Beano not to swallow the floss after he finished,” Lewis said.

In the carnival, Beano performed acrobatic and tumbling routines.  The touring Ringo Brothers show regularly played the county fairgrounds but while in Chuckwalla two years ago a pay dispute caused the owners to abscond with the receipts, abandoning the carnival rides and two trailer cages of animals.  The big cats, including Rags, as well as the raptors, went to a rescue zoo in Northern California.  Local ranchers and a carneceria took the horses.  Only Beano wound up in the shelter.  “It was our lucky day,” Lewis said.

Editor’s note:  In a trans-species first, Beano has been enrolled in Ted Evans’ Human Directionals class at the high school.)

Our Readers Write

Letter to the Editor   

Thanks again for the excellent Leaders in Motion profile of Lumbee Casino Cowgirl Yvette Dangier... and her "Twin .44s."  (Dangier is French, by the way, and pronounced dawn-JAY) One minor correction.  Yvette was the casino's first “Space Girl” to appear on stage, after the Nation partnered with the city of Chuckwalla to run a shuttle from the Convergence Museum at the airport to the casino's Star Fleet buffet.  Her busty playmates in mischief, Melony Duggs and Downy Dent, joined the troupe of casino "pole kittens" in February, and have appeared regularly in the Full Mountie Reviews.  Great work as always at the Reveille, and the next time the editor shows up at the Toad's Hora de Feliz the first round is on the Nation.  -- Bert Bertinelli, President, Chuckwalla Chamber of Commerce.

(Editor's note.  Bertinelli is also a paid spokesman for the Lumbee Nation.)

Letter to the Editor   

This is in response to Caroline’s recent “Ask a Lesbian” column about sado-masochism in the bedroom.  I thought Caroline was spot on in her analysis of fetishism and ritual as healthy sexual sublimation.  Role playing of dominance and submission is an important tool for dissipating urges that if\ left unchecked might cause societal friction.  She forgets, however, that many of us, for a variety of reasons, lack a partner to aid us in this healing process.  That’s my own case, and I will offer a corollary scenario for the solitary.  Unfortunately, because of a court order, I cannot discuss the “sado” component of my being.  The masochistic side has always employed self-inflicted humiliation, disgrace, and shame to achieve my id objectives, a process requiring the manipulation of others.  For the same effect without involving outsiders I have found relief in cutting.  I can retire to the bathroom or some other quiet retreat when the pressure begins to build.  I’m mindful of esthetics, with the scarification on my arms mirroring embellishments on the facade of the Taj Tattoo Salon.   Good hygiene of course to prevent infection. -- Blade Runner Robin, Chuckwalla

(Caroline replies:  I'm devoting a future column to cutting and other sexually based masochistic self-mutilation.   Robbin seems to be carrying out this very stylized ritual punctiliously and with self-awareness.  And I'm sure she is aware that with this activity there needs to be a concordant relationship with a therapist.)

Letter to the Editor     

Cook-off memories   I’ve lived at Castaways for ten years and been to every cook-off.  The George Foreman contest calls for lots of ingenuity, to make a meal on a tiny grill, but I remember the lavish one-pot dishes that used to be produced before hot plates were banned in the rooms.  We went for years without a fire, and then a couple of idiots started using the hot plates for cooking that was dangerous and illegal.  Even the homely George Foreman grill, however, can get a person in trouble.  One of the residents recently tried using the grill to put an iron-on patch on a pair of jeans.  The patch wasn’t adhering but at the same time the rubberized adhesive had started to smoke.  The manager knocked on the door, “Is something burning in there?”  “No,” shouted the resident.  And then his pants caught on fire.  Which handed everybody a laugh.   Dave Keats, Chuckwalla

Letter to the Editor  

I was at the George Foreman Cook-off, it was huge fun, but missed getting Paul’s recipe for the hash brown breakfast.  Any chance?  P.S.  Is Paul related to the pioneer Singleterrys? -- Dave Knowles, Pele Verde Valley

(The Editor replies:  Paul is a son of the pioneer family that dates back to the settlement of Chuckwalla in the 1870s.  There are still many Singleterrys in the Tri-Desert Empire.  Paul, who was runner-up in the cook-off, forwarded his recipe via e-mail).

“This is a pretty easy George Foreman breakfast.  Level the grill with shims.  Grate a potato and set aside.  Oil the grill and lay down one slice of bread, pressing down the center of the bread to make a reservoir.  Pile the grated potato around the bread, leaving a moat in the middle.  Break one egg or two in the moat.  Lay slices of bacon on the grill’s edges. Put a second slice of bread on top of the egg.  Close grill lid gently and cook one minute until egg white jells.  Push lid down a little more firmly and cook an additional three minutes.  Breakfast is served.”

Letter to the Editor

Dog bites six    Will it never end?  The unconscionable arrogance of dog owners who refuse to control their vicious, out of control pets.  A nurse at Pele Verde Memorial told me yesterday morning that six children, all students at Martin Van Buren elementary school and under the age of nine, had been admitted suffering from dog bites, some of the bites serious enough to require surgery.   I heartily applaud the efforts of Troop 354 to rid the town of this menace of unleashed dogs.  The Loose the Dogs group and Ms. Trowser should pay a visit to the children’s’ ward at Pele Verde to see where their wrongheaded ideas lead.    Fed Up with Loose Dogs


Letter to the Editor  

Riding Duck    As a concerned student at Chuckwalla JC I’m worried that the Riding Duck ride in the Associated Students lounge is a lawsuit ready to happen.  Riding Duck vibrates so violently that a rider could be injured, particularly a child or a pregnant woman.   I know the AS is fundraising for a worthy cause, but this amusement ride could cause serious injury. -- Basil Hicks, Chuckwalla

(Editor’s note.  Haven’t heard about Riding Duck.  We sent part time investigative reporter Cheryl Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High and the recipient of a Rotarian scholarship, to inquire.)

Re:  Riding Duck   Basil Hicks, 20, a sophomore with plans to major in accounting at UC Riverside, said that a fundraiser for Chuckwalla JC scholarships included a mechanical ride set up in the student lounge.  He said the Riding Duck ride is a merry-go-round sized yellow duck in the shape of the plastic bathtub toy.  The duck has a saddle with calf-length stirrups and a seat upholstered with a Velcro-like material.  After eight quarters are inserted, the duck begins to vibrate violently for about two minutes.  “It’s enough to shake your teeth,” Hicks said.  “It might not be good for an elderly person.”  Reached by phone, Dick Chambers, the JC student body president, said there is no mechanical duck in the student lounge.  “He may be referring to the Urban Rodeo ride we had on campus last year for Homecoming,” Chambers said.  “But that ride bucked; it didn’t vibrate; and it was designed for little kids.”  I went to the student lounge.  Betty Graton, student facilities manager, said she knew of no mechanical duck on campus.  A male student sitting in the lounge declined to give his name but said he had seen no duck.  Another student, who also declined to identify herself, said the duck had been removed that morning (Tues) by janitors.  In the lounge I saw an open spot along the wall next to an electrical outlet where the linoleum on the floor showed black scuff marks.  Graton said a pinball game previously had been at that location.  “Somebody’s pulling your leg,” Graton said.

God is Angry     The “God is Angry” bumper stickers we’ve been seeing around town lately do not originate with church or temple.  Pastor Byron Fistule, who has a couple of the stickers on his Ford Suburba, said he purchased them at the Speedway swap meet from a high school student.  The student turns out to be Chuckwalla High junior Eustace Calloway, 16, and the stickers are sort of an inside joke.  “There’s this girl at school,” Calloway explains, “who always goes, like, ‘God is angry,’ every time you say anything.  So I made a sticker and put it on her car.  Then everybody wanted one, so I got this guy who works at Captain Copy to make a bunch.  I took a bundle to the swap meet and sold about a hundred.”

(Editor’s note:  With permission from radio station KZZS, the Rattler, we’re printing some snippets of the transcript from the “Mad Mike and Nice Mindy’ radio coverage of the Chuckwalla Days Parade.)

“Okay, Mindy, here come more of the Chuckwalla High human directionals.  Mindy, the school really has produced another fine crop of sign spinners this year.  The Duke boys.  Earl and LeRoi Duke.  Jeez Louise!  LeRoi is break dancing and helicopter-ing the placard at the same time.  Hard enough to do the helicopter alone.  Look, he’s Tumbling Dice.  So often all you get on the corner is the same old Nine to Three.”


“The placards, by the way, are supplied by the good folks at Cloud City Auto, a proud sponsor, where you can get all your smog needs met under one roof, whether it’s inspection, a new catalytic converter, PCV valve replacement or any other…    Ha!  Look at Earl Duke!  He’s a madman; he’s leaping around and prancing like he’s in the circus.  Now the Skyrocket!  Boy, he takes the cake.  The pink tutu and green hair make you look.  Wait.  Joe’s handing me something.  Okay.  Human directionals date back to the 13th century.  A sandwich board invented by Fibber Pillsbury.  Real name.  A storied and honorable history.  And you know, Mindy, these kids are employable right out of school   A lot of them intern with Cloud City, or in front of the Mantley Ford showroom and then go right on to get jobs on corners in LA or San Diego.  An ex-Sophomore Girl placard twirler?   Jeez, in LA, she can command twenty bucks an hour.  And such good exposure, if she’s thinking of a career in modeling or escort.

“Coming up next, Mindy, one of Chuckwalla’s best known street personalities, the Persian.  If you’ve spent anytime downtown you’ve seen him.  The flowing Bedouin robe, the nine-foot wooden staff, the leather sandals.   He walks the streets of Chuckwalla, if he isn’t hanging out behind McDonalds’s by the water tap.  But here’s the deal, folks; he’s being followed by a long black Mercedes limo with tinted windows.  The limo is surrounded by about a gazillion kids, because every minute or so the rear window opens a crack and somebody tosses out wads of dollar bills.  There are also some very big dudes walking alongside.  Joe?  They’re from Valley Vigilance, a proud sponsor.  So the Persian, Joe?  Okay, nobody knows.  One day he turned up, never talks to anybody, walks the streets like a prophet of the desert.  But every few days a black limo cruises into town and somebody inside hands the Persian a hundred dollar bill.  It’s a mystery, folks.  A hermit of the desert.  

“Next a marching unit, the SNAP Sisters, pushing empty grocery carts.  Seems like more of them every year, Mindy.  One of them carrying a sign:  Remember Wagoner.  That would be Gordon Wagoner, the late Republican congressman from Brawley who was kidnapped and barbequed.  Right, kidnapped and murdered.  Although they never found all of him, Joe. Now this next float, Mindy, is called….Memorial Survivors.  Let’s see…survivors of surgical procedures at Pele Verde hospital.  Jeez.  A small turnout.  I heard a guy at Rotary saying that Pele Verde has kind of a bad rep.  Many tracks in, no tracks out. The guy says the state gave the hospital an ‘F.’   Misdiagnosis, screwed up meds, nurses from the Philippines who double as prostitutes. The guy said the director of Pele Verde makes more money than the director of Cedars Sinai.  Is that right?  A proud sponsor?  Anyway, the Memorial survivors look good out there, Mindy.  Healthy, strong, as they pass by…pushing their walkers, or rolling along in those…  You know what?   Medicare provides those motorized wheel chairs for free….as they pass the viewing stand on this magnificent sunny afternoon, with the western breeze snapping the flags to attention.  They taught us that at radio school, Mindy.  When you’re in trouble, go to the weather.”


Leaders in Motion

(A regular Reveille feature profiling Tri-Desert Empire vanguard personalities.  This week we’re talking with Poor Tom Scold, the desert nomad who publishes the blog “Jeremiah has a Bullhorn,” and who is the author of the self-published e-book, “Never Sleep in the Face of the Enemy.”)  

Reveille:  Poor Tom Scold.  Is that your real name?

Scold:  It’s my blog handle for the jeremiads.  My real name is Ram Dass.  Just kidding.

Reveille:  You travel the desert byways.  We have a photo here of you pushing a bicycle loaded with gear.  Is that modeled on the Viet Cong cargo bikes on the Ho Chi Minh Trail?

Scold:   From pictures on the Internet. That’s a valet case across the horizontal tube with most of my kit inside.  Panniers fore and aft.  And bamboo poles on the handlebars and seat for pushing.  The bike can carry as much as a burro, like a hundred pounds.

Reveille:  You sojourn in the desert like a Bedouin anchorite.

Scold:  I walk to and fro.  I fast and pray.  Then I come to the Chuckwalla Library to release another denunciation.   I concentrate on carbon smoke, media excess, political corruption, and toxic food.  Generic stuff.

Reveille:  Have you ever run into the Persian?

Scold:  He must take a different path.

Reveille:  What’s the water situation these days?

Scold:  Sometimes Spring has disappeared.  Wiley Wells, bone dry.  The Scorpion Mountain seeps?  You might collect a gallon per day.  A few tinteras around the Obsidian Hills if you want to fight with the coyotes.  I get my water from tanks set out by Troop 354 and the BLM.  The tanks are for the antelope and the incoming dishwashers, but I don’t take much.

Reveille:  You’re seeing immigration?

Scold:  Not as much as in the past. But it’s hard to tell.  The Boy Scouts are making them clean up their litter, so you don’t see the long swaths of empty plastic jugs.

Reveille:  Do you know anything about the disappearance of human traffickers?

Scold:  Just the rumors.  I stay off the smuggling mainline, and keep to the Hobo Trail through Gunsight Pass to the Slabs.  I can take advantage of the bum boxes.

Reveille:  How’s your book doing?

Scold:  About ten copies a month.  It turns out my situation isn’t that unique.  Naturally, the subject is hushed up.  That’s why I wrote the book.  My ex has filed a restraining order, and her lawyer is always threatening me, but since she’s in prison for the next ten years, I don’t think she can really do much to quash the book. 

Reveille:  I admit I’m squeamish.  So you actually describe…”

Scold:  The bite?  I do.  We’d been drinking a little after a long day, fooling around a little, arguing as usual, and I fell asleep.  I didn’t wake up until the deed was done.  When I was researching, I found out that a lot of husbands have had this happen.

Reveille:  Jeez.  Well, Tom, thanks for coming by.  The book is called, Never Sleep in the Face of the Enemy.

(Editor’s note:  The Persian is a robed mystery man who silently walks the streets of Chuckwalla with a wooden staff.  Once or twice a month, a black limo slides into town, a tinted window rolls down, and someone inside hands the Persian a hundred dollar bill.  Bum boxes are 8’ x 8’ plywood shacks, usually appointed with some kind of bunk, for the accommodation of desert pedestrians.  Several well-known coyotes, human traffickers, have dropped from sight in the last months, and some local observers suspect vigilante justice.)


Taking a long gander in the Tri-Desert Empire

Superior court judge Maud Dickenson has dismissed charges against a 71-year old transient after hearing an audio recording from a Chuckpo officer’s body cam.  Demetrius Hayes had been charged with terrorist threats and interfering with an officer after being arrested on Hobbesianway while picking through a trash receptacle.   Court appointed defense attorney David Whelps said the lens on Chuckpo officer Dana Edwards’ body cam had been taped over, but the camera recorded audio of the encounter between Edwards and Hayes:

Officer Edwards:  “Good morning, young man.”

Hayes:  “Good morning, gentlemen.”

(A voice identified in court as being that of Chuckpo officer Leonard Crewel.)  “Gentlemen?”

Edwards:  “Is that sarcastic?  Are you trying to be funny?”

Hayes:  “You’re gentlemen like I’m a young man.”

Edwards:  “I just got back your attitude test.”

Judge Dickenson dismissed the case in the interests of justice.

Letter to the editor

Macy’s returns    Thumb ups for the “How We Get By” article on low wage jobs and other “deft expedients” for making money.  At the end you asked readers to contribute ideas.  I got one. Returning merchandise to Macy’s for cash.  Macy’s Riverside has a liberal return policy.  Usually, you don’t even need a receipt.  Return an item that’s on the Macy’s inventory, and if it isn’t too beat up, they will return the listed price in cash, no questions asked.  The store policy is that it’s too much trouble to argue.  Macy’s now uses mostly part timers that get little training.  Management mostly wants the clerks to push the store credit card and other promotions, and not waste time on returns.

My sidekick and I collect merchandise, some from flea markets, or stuff that fell off the truck that fits the Macy’s catalog.  Every few months, a trip to Riverside Macy’s.  We feed the stuff into the store over a couple of days, and try not to use the same clerk twice, which is pretty easy since there are so many part timers.  We usually come home with five or six hundred.  We don’t do it, but we’ve heard shoplifting is easy too.  The racks at ready-to-wear are always jammed with clothes from the dressing rooms to be re-shelved.  Not much LP, and the policy seems to be to go after only the worst thieves.  Prosecution is too much trouble, and California laws don’t let LP pat down or do a body search.  Gone Girl, Chuckwalla

(Editor’s note:  LP stands for “loss protection,” which is department store plainclothes security.)

(Another communiqué from Besos Amazn')

Letter to the Editor

The whole paper edition is digitized.  Why not just pour it into Chuckwalla Wire so we can get all the local news, the Observatory, sports, and all the obituaries?  It wouldn’t be any harder, and would sure beat the undated slurry you call the Wire.

(Editor’s note:  Once more Besos.   As you know, I’m the guest editor while Dexter is in the witness protection program.  No telling how long that’s going to last, or whether he’ll have to go to The Hague to testify against al-Bashir.  I don’t hear from him.  I’m following the instructions he left, one of them being, “Don’t spend much time on the Wire.”  The Wire is a courtesy.  It doesn’t make money with subscriptions or ads.  Chuckwalla advertisers want to appear in the paper edition, which, they hope, will sit on the kitchen table for a week.  We also don’t mind the idea of readers paying for a paper.)

 Leaders in Motion

(This week’s interview is with Jason Jones, Imperial County author and adventurer, who has just completed a cross country auto trip at 40 mph.)

Reveille:  You have a reputation for intrepid exploits.  You’ve climbed K9; you’ve bungee-jumped in the Grand Canyon; you’ve skydived in Albania from Russian turboprops.  Big risks.  But why this?

Jones:  I wanted to show that patriots can take back the freeways from the traitors and fat cowards.

Reveille:  Not for the adrenalin rush? 

Jones:  Conquering fear is always part of the challenge.  But I was also making a statement.   We can’t cede the public highways to criminals.

Reveille:  You’re talking about speeders.

Jones:  And polluters.  That MIT study shows that a 50 mph national speed limit would reduce national auto emissions by 40 percent.

Reveille:  What were your tactics?

Jones:  Never make eye contact.  Don’t use rest stops.   Ignore the honking and headlight flashing.  Remember that a freeway driver slowed by any impediment has lost his rational self-control. 

Reveille:  You encountered both verbal and physical abuse.

Jones:  We were not using turnouts; we had to steel ourselves, particularly on two-lane mountain roads.  We were pelted with food and piss bombs.  A trucker and his girlfriend threatened us with pistols.

Reveille:  You used some tricks.

Jones:  After being forced off the road several times, we decided to feign debility.  I already had my caution flashers on, but I added a large yellow construction flasher on the roof.  Also, once we got to Iowa, I put a sign on the rear bumper saying:  “Experimental Vehicle.  Powered by Potatoes.”

Reveille:  The most dangerous experience?

Jones:  Nevada.  Seventy-five mph speed limit.  Which means a de facto eighty-five.

Reveille:  I guess you've had enough of slow driving.

Jones:  We’re organizing a patriot train for another transcontinental drive.  We hope to get compacts and electric cars to join, to promote conservation, civility, and slow driving.

(Jones is the co-author of the essay, “In Praise of Slow Trains,” which includes a close-up look at Amtrak toilets.)



Around the Empire

Chuckwalla Unified School District officials have passed on to the school board a recommendation from the district’s Gender and Culture subcommittee to change Martin Van Buren elementary school’s official mascot from the Stallion to the Mustang.

The school’s soccer and T-ball teams have competed as “Stallions” since 1974, and previously were known as the Jackalopes.  According to an anonymous source within the district, the name change recommendation came after complaints from several moms about the gender specificity of the mascot name, considering that girls play on all the school’s athletic teams.  “Mustang,’ according to the source, retains the aurora of the Martin Van Buren indomitable team spirit without suggesting any gender bias.  –Cheryl Weiss


Rickshaw for rickshetta

An enterprising senior at Chuckwalla High is now offering bicycle rickshaw transport for seniors and others who are afraid to use public transit during the eco-terror Celestial Flu epidemic. Aaron Snyder, a strapping 6'3'', 180-pound Yellowjacket linebacker, has transformed an Italian Gladdus touring bike into a three-wheeled rickshaw capable of carrying two passengers. "People are afraid they could get sick on the bus," Snyder said. "I can take seniors to doctor appointments or shopping and they don't have to worry about germs."  Snyder has installed a Plexiglas shield between the passenger compartment and the driver, and he wears a facemask.  The rickshaw has an overhead cover but is otherwise open to the fresh air.  


"The fare is usually less than ten bucks, depending on distance and on whether they want me to wait. It's a service to the elderly that also puts something in the college kitty."

Snyder said most of his fares are for trips between Journey's End Convalescent Living and the medical complex on Hobbesianway.  "It takes about the same time as DET (Desert Empire Transit) and you don't have to sit next to somebody with a cough."


(Editor's note:  DET runs regular free service on its Blue Line that connects Journey's End with downtown, but doesn't offer Premium buses on the route.  The Premium service has a fare of $5, a dress code, hand wipes, and a coffee cart, and is reputed to be less germy than the free bus, which takes all comers.)


Wanda to the Rescue

Wanda Delkins, owner of Wanda Yoga on Mercury Way, made a daring swimming rescue Saturday when one of her yoga clients got swept off a rock by a sleeper wave during a chair yoga class at Dune Cove near Pismo Beach. A class of nine yoga clients led by Wanda was doing chair stretches on a rock outcrop overlooking the cove when a rogue wave swept over them.  Eight of the participants managed to cling to the rock, but Cindy Perth, 69, of Sobrantes Heights, was carried into the sea.


“There was kind of a rip tide,’ Delkins said, “that was puling Cindy away from shore.  Thankfully, her chair was floating nearby and she managed to reach it”

Wanda, who in her college days was a competitive swimmer, leaped into the water and swam to the rescue. “I gripped the chair legs and with a frog kick pushed Cindy across the current until we were in still water.  Cindy was fine, we got to the beach safely, and with the chair too.” Wanda offers chair stretch yoga trips to various outdoor locations with scenic backdrops.  “It’s fun exercise and makes for good selfies.”   



CJC Prof fired for “politicizing" in class

A popular teacher at Chuckwalla Junior College has been dismissed after a student Evangelical group complained that his lectures had become too politicized. A spokesman for the college confirmed that Tony Clark had been dismissed from the classroom, but declined to comment further, citing privacy rules for personnel matters.  Pastor Byron Fistule, the sole designated spokesperson for the Hail Adoni Baptist OMG Youth Ministry, the student group, also declined comment.


(Editors’ note:  The Reveille assigned intern part time reporter Cheryl Weiss, an honor student at Chuckwalla High and a county junior chess champion, to follow the story.  Her report so far.)


Susan Swartz was a year ahead of me in school and now attends the JC, where she is enrolled in an introductory Anthro class formerly taught by professor Clark.  At Chuckwalla High, Susan and I had been classmates in several advanced classes.  She always had been an assiduous note-taker, and was attending Clark’s class during the alleged politicized remarks.  She said she didn't know why Clark was fired.


"We were studying the Chilean anthropologist Freire.  He's very dry and uses a lot of big academic words and scientific terms. I don’t think Mr. Clark said anything about politics the day before he got fired. He was talking about Freire and about how educational leaders have had to struggle with conservative ingrained cultures.”


Reveille:  Do you have any of Clark's specific quotes?


“He was comparing the obsessive sexual totems of Chilean peasants, things like pet fighting cocks, with the cathected totem items of cultural subsets in America.


Reveille:  You have the quote?


"Here it is. 'In America, just as money is caca, the gun is wee-wee.’  He said that under relentless oligarchic and religious oppression, the Id people have an overwhelming sense of emasculation.   Id people know they aren’t valued by the Ego people.  For Id people, having a cathected firearm restores a feeling of potency.  Freire says it would take violent revolution to get deep change.  Professor Clark said that in American nothing would happen until mass killers started targeting high-value Ego people instead of other valueless Id people."


Reveille:  Do you think he was fired because he questioned gun ownership?


"I think it was because he said caca."


(Editor's note:  This is a developing story.)


Gadfly Besos Amazin may run for Congress 

(Editor’s note:  Besos Amazin is a frequent contributor to the Reveille’s letters page.)

Reveille:  So, the platform?

Amazin:  The biggest issue is we’re doomed.  Not tomorrow.  Maybe a few years.  But the load has shifted.  Look around.  Already 7.5 billion, 9 billion tomorrow.  All of them wanting a car and an air conditioner, electricity, plumbing, maybe a trip on an airplane.  Even in Prius Nation, de facto climate deniers.  If we really thought that soot might hurt our grandchildren, wouldn’t we stop?  I know.  We have to get the kids to soccer practice.  Air cleanup?  It’s to smile. Too late.  Look at Beijing.  Darkness at noon.  Too many folks for the Chinese to even think about sidelining coal-fired smut. India, ditto.  The only people stepping up are in frozen Norski lands, and that’s a speck.  Indonesia, Brazil, Madagascar, burning down their forests. The Great Barrier Reef bleached.  The fisheries? schools out.   Another global extinction is coming, and goodbye sapitariet. There is no discernable will for collective action.  The UN says: all carbon burning must cease immediately.  And still it’ll take a hundred years to clear the air.  What politician runs on “Stop!” except me?  They all want growth, which means more biz as is. Face it, we’re screwed.

Reveille:  And you would…?

Amazin:  Cry out in the wilderness.


Poet’s Corner  A regular Reveille feature lime-lighting Empire poetasters, poetitios, and poetaccios.

(Editor’s note:  In reviewing some past emails we came across several contributions from Orin Wimbly, the former Chuckwalla High School English teacher dismissed for misuse of school property.  Wimbly sent in the following submissions shortly before being posted to Afghanistan as a civilian code talker for the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.)

Hello Wall

By Orin Wimbly

You’re like the wall John Cash made famous

Blank. Unmarked. Anonymous

Greeting the opened motel door

And the dirty carpet on the floor

Mums the word, you’ll never tell

Hello wall

You’re here when I rouse from bed

When I leave you keep my secret dread

Bare, taupe, just one window

The post, the beam, the lintel

I’d prefer you neat, without the thought

Of her

Without the candlelight, either

A clean slate, tabula raza, a deaf

Mute with an empty glass

Nothing in it

No confessions, or drunken secrets

Too true to be denied

Dripping down your stucco side

The words drip down and disappear

Tell the wall, it has no ear



Use Swoon, Moon, and Jejune in a Sentence

By Orin Wimbley

(A fauxpas made especially execrable by “faucet and profit” and “tasteth and mayest.”  Jejune here in the sense of naïve and simplistic. )

I swoon for a love like a leaking faucet

Love unsold and not for profit

An un-coerced, unfettered, free devotion

Untouched by spell, fell charm or potion

But tasting sweet, as honey tasteth

You’ll sit with me, for sure thou mayest

And we’ll swell a ditty to the lunar orb

‘Til sweet surfeit she can no more absorb

Our jejune souls far from despair

No swooning heart here needs repair

Well plight a troth that’s everlasting

Please look like one from central casting…


BLM Kayos Pima Grow

A strike force of deputies from the Bureau of Land Management Tuesday uprooted an illegal Pima cotton grow discovered on BLM land near the old Dodge House off Highbeam Road.  The grow of uncertified Pima was being irrigated with water diverted from the Highbeam Canal and fertilized with bio-solids stolen from a legal field of subsidized Algona cotton nearby.  The fine-haired and highly prized Pima is strictly regulated under federal law to ensure a stable price floor in the cotton market.  According to the BLM press release, an investigation is underway.

(Editor’s note: The Dodge House is an abandoned prospector’s cabin so named because of the Forties-era car parked inside.)


Last Roundup Not

Rodeo clown Devon Hicks is picking up a few off-season bucks moonlighting as a “living loved one” at funerals.  While the remains of the deceased rest in an urn on a festooned table, the living Hicks lies in state in an open coffin atop two draped saw horses in the church rotunda.  At a funeral held Sunday at Hail Adoni (Baptist Church) the wife of the deceased gave Hicks a lingering goodbye kiss until relatives ushered the grieving widow to her seat.  From his reclining position Hicks shook hands with the other mourners filing along.  And when pastor Byron Fistule acknowledged the many civic contributions of the departed, Hicks waved from the coffin.  Hicks, who usually works the Western states as a rodeo clown, said he has found several gigs as a stand-in so to speak for principals at their funerals.  “Often times the loved ones are not in condition for an open casket, or have already been cremated.  Yet the family still wants a traditional service.” Hicks got the idea last summer when was hired pre-mortum by the late real estate developer Calvin Busk to lie in a casket at Busk’s funeral.  Busk, known a famous prankster during his three decades in Chuckwalla, wanted Hicks to issue sepulchral horse laughs at attendees, many of whom were creditors who had filed actions against Busk after the collapse of the ill-fated Sometimes Spring condominium conversion scheme.


Breath of Fresh Air

Much huffing within the city bureaucratic Environmental Task Force following the Breatharian House open letter last week suggesting that the homeless are the true environmentalists, since they don’t consume many material resources in the city. “The average family in Chuckwalla generates far more trash than the Arroyo Cholo homeless encampment,” say the Breathairians.  “It would be better if our roofless friends put their fast food wrappers in a garbage bin instead of scattering paper along the arroyo but in volume it’s no way close to the piles of waste generated by the average Lunchbucket family.”  The Breatharians also point out in the missive that the Bums on Bikes contingent from Harmony House Kitchen keeps getting larger at every Chuckwalla Days Parade.  “The homeless have taken up the virtues of the bicycle in a big way.  They get around town to the soup kitchen and bars without polluting the air.   They use the bikes to carry their plastic bags to new locations after being rousted out of the arroyo.” Meanwhile, a homeless guy, who evidently is a bike mechanic with tools, has started a business under the billboard at Bienvienidos and Mercury Way repairing bikes and fixing tires for the local kids at Martin Van Buren Elementary.  In payment he accepts either lunch money or the lunch.  – Cheryl Weiss


No Place Like It

Apropos of homelessness, Mayor Robert Crane did an abrupt about face from his condemnation of the illegal homeless campground set up by zoning scofflaw Wade Jennings on his property south of town. His honor will no longer insist that the county remove the dozens of “eight-by” shacks that provide a basic roof to former Arroyo campers.  Instead, he says, the city wants to partner with Jennings to open an official “backpacking campground” next to the eight-bys.   Crane said he changed his mind when he realized that the eight-bys have relieved the city’s financial burden. Hail Adoni (church) is feeding the residents, thus decreasing the city contribution to Harmony House Kitchen.    The camp envisioned by Crane would be open to those who bring all their possessions on their back.  No cars or trailers.  Bicycles okay.  “They can have a place to sleep,” Crane said, “Adoni will feed them, Wade provides composting toilets and washrooms, and trucks in drinking water. We do good for these people and get them out of sight.” – Cheryl Weiss


No Pain in Romaine

A new offering debuts this week on the buffet at the Green Zone Café. “Nocoli” salads, Caesar, Chef, or Garden.  A Green Zone spokesperson says Nocoli farm-fresh salads have been irradiated to ensure that no lingering e-coli pathogens disrupt the diner’s digestion.  A newly purchased “Sunburst No-Coli” sterilizer has been installed in the café’s kitchen to bath the salad greens in electron beams of ionizing radiation.  Café spokesperson Melinda Pierce said food irradiation effectively destroys organisms responsible for food-borne illness, and that USDA tests have shown irradiation to be safe.  “The salad is not radioactive or mutated,” Pierce said.  Earlier this month several patients at Pele Verde Memorial suffering from diarrhea and dehydration tested positive for e-coli, and a local farm stand was closed by health inspectors after produce showed traces of the pathogen.  – Cheryl Weiss



Bunker Mentality
by Diego Garcia

(Garcia, a Chuckwalla survivalist, appears regularly in the Reveille.)

This week I’ll be continuing my thoughts on fortifying the home space.  A lot of ideas can be found in my e-book Fort Apt, which tells how to turn a standard issue one bedroom apartment or studio into a defensive position.  I’m now living in the Market Garden complex, and it’s been the perfect opportunity to put my ideas to work.   For those who don’t know, Market Garden is low-income Section 8 housing, three stories of densely packed 800-square foot apartments that were built with a HUD grant.  Most of the occupants are relatives or friends of prisoners at Ironwood State Prison two miles away.  We have the usual criminals, thugs, thieves, dealers, and noisy children.  There’s little maintenance, spotty trash collection, graffiti everywhere, and the playground is ruled by one of the gangs.

Perfect for me.  The first step was to armor the walls facing the hallway and the yard.  For this I borrowed a pickup and drove to Repurposeopolis, the county recycler, to buy a load of used paperback books for a dime a bag.  It’s the cheapest and easiest way to build mass in a wall.  I build 8’ by 8’ panels packed tight with books a foot deep.  I stand the panels against the walls. The most common arm carried by Chuckwalla gangsters is the 9mm semi-auto.  A foot of paperbacks is thick enough to defeat that round.  The wall probably will dissipate most of the energy from a 12 gauge.    Whether to fortify other walls will depend on the neighbors.  How likely are they to obey the Garden’ “No Firearms” policy.  In my book I tell how to fortify the sleeping area so that when the resident is lying in bed he is protected on all sides.  I sleep on steel pavement plates, to deflect projectiles coming from below.  I also fabricated a rolling three-sided Kevlar shield.

The front door has a steel mesh foyer to capture any intruder who steps inside.  When the alarm siren activates, a strobe dazzles the eyesight of the intruder.  I don’t favor deadbolts, for the reason that the intruder will use a crowbar and wreak the door.  Steel reinforced solid oak doors are expensive to replace.  The mesh cage, alarm and Dazzler (TM) light will deter an intruder.  Weapons are the last resort.  I obey the "No firearms" rule, so my primary weapon is the seven-foot-long spear.  And at night I string a 40-pound bow.  With the intruder encapsulated in the mesh cage at the door, and by rolling the body length Kevlar shield into striking range, the spear or arrow will be enough to handle unwelcome visitors.

Leaders in Motion

 (Leaders in Motion profiles Tri-Desert Empire vanguard personalities.  This week Chuckwalla entrepreneur Rob Hildebrand.)

Reveille:  You found a business niche.

Hildebrand:  I’m an Ironwood graduate.  Third strike for shoplifting.  With a record, finding any job is hard, so I needed something I could do for cash, and that would be cool with my PO.  After I got a room at Castaways I realized that a lot of folks there had lost their licenses because of various DMV beefs.  A guy gets a ticket, can’t pay it, fails to appear, pretty soon the penalties and civil assessments pile up, and the DMV yanks his license.  I don’t own a car, but I do have a license and a clean driving record.

Reveille:  You became a chauffeur.

Hildebrand:   I put out the word that I was available.  I ride my bike to your house, and we take your car to the appointment.  I’m reasonable.  I figure, minimum wage, ten bucks an hour cash.  I don’t look at the car’s registration, but I do check the plates and make sure the lights and signals work.  Most of my clients also are on probation, so we get pulled over sometimes if a cop happens to know us.  He doesn’t need probable cause. 

Reveille:  There was a problem.

Hildebrand.  You had the story in your paper.  This guy I didn’t really know too well needed a ride to the Glass House.  He goes in, I wait in the car.  Obviously I don’t drink and drive.  When he comes out he tells me to stop at Seven Eleven.  He goes in, comes out, nothing weird, he’s not running or anything, not telling me to step on it…

Reveille:  But it was a stick-up.

Hildebrand:   He’s knocked over the Seven-Eleven.  A couple of blocks later we get lit up.  Suddenly he’s got a pistol, yells to pull over, hops out and books.

Reveille:   Not good.

Hildebrand.  The cops had me on the ground and cuffed in one little second.  I’m thinking, I’m dead.  It’s back to Ironwood.  An accomplice to a holdup.  Thank you Lord for Mr. Jason Briggs, the court appointed counsel.  He actually made some calls and found out I’d been doing the chauffeuring thing, and rounded up some witnesses to appear in my behalf.

Reveille:  You’re still driving?

Hildebrand:  No fares to bars.  And no clients that I don’t know.  It’s better, too, because I don’t want to get crossways with John Frost…

Reveille:  Snowball Taxi.

Hildebrand:  Most of his fares are the bar business.  He knows I’m only driving a few guys who can’t afford taxi fare.  And my PO is happy with me.

Chuckwalla Rental Market
by Cheryl Weiss.

(Editor’s note:  Part time reporter Cheryl Weiss, 17, is a senior at Chuckwalla High who along with many other accomplishments is co-captain of the school’s varsity badminton team.  She recently completed a report for Mr. Harding’s senior honors social studies class on the rental market in Chuckwalla.  Here are excerpts from her report.)

While the city has a shortage of rental housing in the middle price bracket, it has an abundance at the low end and a sufficiency at the top end.  Alta Loma Real, the condominium conversion on the plateau, has twenty rental units, owned mostly by Asian investors, with monthly rents averaging around $2,000.  These usually are short term rentals to officers attached to the Marine desert warfare center, or to Chinese technicians and managers assigned temporarily for the construction of the co-generation facility at the gas plant.

Low end rents range from $300 to $600 a month, and make our desert home attractive to single retirees living on Social Security.   Market Garden, a low-income Section 8 development co-owned by the city, caters to the family and friends of prisoners at nearby Ironwood State Prison.  Rates range from $400 a month for a studio, to $600 for a one bedroom.  Journey’s End RV Park has a dozen single-wide manufactured homes that rent for $500 a month, some utilities included.   Castaways Residential Hostel rents rooms with a shared bathroom for $300 a month.  Riverside Campgrounds rents small housekeeping cabins for $500 a month.

Some rentals may be unique to Chuckwalla.  The Marina Collective, a collection of abandoned pleasure craft hauled over the mountain from Marina Del Rey and turned into housing, now rents some of the boats, their owners having sold them to the cooperative.   The Tuna Tins is a similar cooperative of travel trailers clustered around a central community doublewide.  Some of these trailers have reverted to the co-op and are available as rentals.  Rents range from $400 to $500.

The two hotels in Chuckwalla that accept permanent residents are the Washoe and the Weary Traveler.  Rooms go for $300 a month

There are numerous shared rental arrangements in this price range throughout the central part of town, and occasionally, an “old adobe” on Main may be found for rent.  These buildings lack electricity and plumbing but their legality for occupancy has been grandfathered into the city charter.

A weekly sweep of Tri-Desert flotsam

Funny birthday card received by Carlos Cienfuegos from his sister.  “Birthday Greetings, Brother.  You exceeded our expectations again.”  It was Cienfuegos’ seventieth.

A just-published e-book by Chuckwalla chiropractor and colonic health expert Mary SpitzerPas de Deux:  The Ballet of Peristalsis.  Mary says eating leafy vegetables and whole grains will help your dancing.  And if more is needed, you can get a cleansing at her office at 1301 Hobbesianway.  Spitzer adds, by the way, that she is partnering with the Reveille’s own Caroline, who writes the “Ask a Lesbian” relationship column, on another e-book, to be titled The Mighty Pheromone:  Love’s Secret Agent.

Letter to the Editor 

Riding duck better     Riding Duck has been in the Tri Delt house for years.  Supposedly when a girl rides it she has an orgasm.  There was a sign on the wall.  “Riding the duck as good as a f**k.”  Chambers is a Tri Delt.  He probably brought the Duck to the school for the fundraiser.  Then ducked out.  Ha ha. -- In the Know Joe, Chuckwalla

Around the Empire

Speaking of Joe.  We’re seeing a lot of “Workn’ Joe” bumper stickers on Chuckwalla pickups.  They’re ads for the Workn’ Joe Café, corner of Mercury and Amethyst, open from 4 to 9 a.m. Mon. - Fri. for a Joe’s (or Josephine’s) breakfast burrito.  (Sponsored)

Tribe Mulls Stumpage   The Chamber’s Bert Bertinelli, who is also the flack for the Lumbee Nation, said a big sit-down is scheduled at the Rez Thursday with the arrival in town of Averill Karen, CEO of the Kataline hedge fund, which specializes in acquiring stumpage rights for bundling into securities.  As part of the deal for stringing a natural gas pipeline across the Rez, the Feds swapped timber land in Nevada for the right-of-way.  The tribal elders will listen to Karen’s pitch for stumpage rights on the parcel.  One glitch may be that the tribe promised the government to hold the land “sacred to the nations” in perpetuity.  Bertinelli says, “It’s the land that’s sacred, not the trees so much.”

Repurposeopolis, the county dump’s recycling center, has received a big shipment of ceramic toilets from the now-defunct Dunes Motel.  Jane Moote, who styles herself “curator,” says container gardeners have found a use for uprooted toilets.  And the lids, turned upside down, make garden pavers, she says.

Overheard at Tres Cocineros.  A young Anglo thing giving her order to the Latina waitress:  “I’ll have the carne asada, frijoles fritos, the ensalada verde, tortilla chips, a side of guacamole, and a Corona.”  Then to her friend, as the waitress walks away.  “I sure hope she understands English.”

Work for Food.  When he needs to refill the grocery kitty, Borrows resident Ken Avarkian hitches a ride to the LA financial district with a trash bag and a grabber stick.  Putting on an orange vest that says, “Sure, this vet could use a buck,” Avarkian strolls along Market St. picking up litter.  “It’s the financial district, and the libertarians would rather give me a handout for doing something useful than reward a bum for sitting on the pavement with a cardboard sign.”  Ken says he makes $50 to $70 a day in tips for his entrepreneurial self-created job.

The Horny Toad Saloon is sponsoring a Bachelorette Fun Night on Saturday in which recent Chuckwalla High graduate and former Sophomore Girl Lucy Evans will interview possible dates selected from the lads along the bar.  A Rose Ceremony will follow in which the lucky winners are assigned slots on Lucy’s dating schedule.

In the Shade.  At the Purple Majesty wine bar Saturday night, car magnate (Honda, Toyota, Nissan) Matt Stoich’s response when an appraising woman asked him if he was successful.  “No.  I’ve had successful friends though.  My classmate Larry ran a big PR shop in Washington.  Dianne Feinstein spoke his eulogy.  Another classmate had a book on the New York Times best seller list.  I dated his widow for a while.  I don’t know what my rich friend Harry did but when I saw him in the hospital a few weeks before he passed he said the most exciting moment of his life was when he realized he was a millionaire.”  You’re a live one, the woman should have said, but didn’t.

Not sure what it means, that bumper sticker on a Ford Exposition:  “The only good Samaritan is a dead Samaritan.”  In Biblical times, Samaritans were subject to ethnic profiling…but I thought we were over that, for Samaritans. 

Wimbly Tapped for Army Post    The Xeres Corp., a contractor for the US Army, has hired former Chuckwalla High School English teacher Orin Wimbly as a code talker.  After orientation and training at Monterrey Language School and Fort Meade, MD, Wimbly will be assigned to a deployed Army unit as a code talker for plain language radio communications.  According to a press release issued by the Xeres Corp., the traditional pool of code talkers has dwindled, since younger Navajos haven’t learned the native language.  “However, there is a comparatively deep pool of Latin speakers, mostly unemployed teachers,” the company said.   Infantry battalions operating in Afghanistan have been plagued by intercepted radio transmissions that have allowed militants to anticipate troop movements. 

The Green Zone Café will host an exhibition this week of Chuckwalla artist Pablo Rodriquez’s “Reconquista” series of paintings.  Rodriquez, a respected and recognized fine artist, painted the series under his “El Drecko” signature.  “Fine art is my passion, but El Drecko pays the bills,” Rodriquez says.  “Reconquista” depicts scenes from modern Hispanic life, with an emphasis on low-rider culture.

Another Chuckwalla artist, Kenneth Friedman, tells us he’s completed a second self-published novel set in the dystopian suburbs.  The book’s called No Outlet II.

Number Ten, Not Downing.  The Three Kings garage band, featuring Elrey, Leroy, and Elvis, will play the Castaways Hostel’s barbeque Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m.  The set will end at ten sharp, no encores, at the request of neighbors at the nearby Sobrantes development.

Around Chuckwalla

 Reveille Grabs Top Honor   The Chuckwalla Reveille received a top honor at the Riverside and Imperial Counties Press Club awards banquet Wednesday, and has also been featured in an article in a state-wide magazine.  The Reveille was named Best Small-Circulation Weekly Newspaper for the fifth straight year.  The newspaper’s average weekly circulation hovers around 3,000, spiking to 3,500 during the Christmas Holidays.  The Riverside Enterprise-Journal captured top honors in the categories of Best News Story, Best Feature Story, Best Sports Story, Best Business Story, Best Editorial, Best Series, and Best Enterprise Story.

The Los Angeles based magazine House on Fire featured the Reveille in last month’s article, “The End of Print?” by Tobias Schwartz.  “In a down publishing market, the state’s weeklies keep kicking,” the article said.  The article said that while the state’s major daily newspapers are moribund, some suburban papers are thriving, and that several small weeklies were feisty, combative, and interesting.  “And then there’s the Chuckwalla Reveille,” the article said.

Police Blotter

Kidnap Victim Released Unhurt   The hedge fund mogul Averill Karen,  visiting the Empire while angling for timber harvest rights on Indian land, turned up alive and well in Jericho yesterday, 24 hours after being abducted at gunpoint by lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla.  Karen, CEO of Kataline Investments, told Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick that he won his release after promising to give up his pursuit of stumpage rights on a thousand acre parcel in Nevada owned by the Lumbee tribe.

Later calling a press conference at the Chuckwalla police station, Karen told reporters he had been held at a desert camp by the elusive eco-terrorist who has plagued the Empire with eco-sabotage, germ warfare, and insect attacks on wine bars and weddings.  “I don’t know where I was,” Karen said.  “Everything looks the same out there.  We had coffee, and struck a deal.”  He said that he was not subjected to any rough treatment during his captivity.  Karen had been enroute to a meeting with tribal elders to discuss stumpage rights on 1000 forested acres given to the tribe by the BLM in a swap for a natural gas pipe line right-of-way across reservation land.  Karen’s hedge fund packages stumpage rights from hundreds of parcels into securities that are then sold to investors.  “It’s an attractive investment because of its lack of volatility,” Karen said, “The rights can be exercised locally in accordance with trends in the construction market.” 

Padilla, driving a Ford 350 pickup, forced Karen’s rented SUV off the road, brandished a pistol, and then spirited the victim to a desert hideout.  In a communiqué tweeted to the Reveille, Padilla said the action protested the “sacrilege” of clear cutting forests.  Bert Bertinelli, Chamber of Commerce head and a spokesperson for the Lumbee Nation, said the tribe would never be intimidated by terrorist threats.  “Those are sovereign trees,” Bertinelli said

Cheryl Weiss, the Reveille’s part time investigative reporter and a senior at Chuckwalla High, is slated to be Salutatorian at the graduation exercises in June.  She recorded the Karen press conference.  Here are excerpts:

Reveille:  Isn’t this deal like submitting to blackmail?

Karen:  I’d say, extortion.  It’s business, at my level.  You weigh costs, benefits, risks.  One thing doesn’t work out, you move to the next.  I like sovereign nation deals because there aren’t a lot of red tape or regulations.  Give them the money, you can do what you want.  But there are plenty of other opportunities.

Reveille:  Did you fear for your life?

Karen:  I size people up.  This wasn’t for ransom.  He wouldn’t be putting my ear in an envelope.  He’s a lunatic tilting at windmills.

 Reveille:  Why do you have to keep your promise to a terrorist?

Karen:  I don’t.  But I’ve had a chance to check out your neck of the woods.  I’m not impressed by the rule of law.  I’m tied up in the front seat, we’re bumping along a dirt road, and Andy boy suddenly veers out into the desert.  “Have to duck around a Boy Scout checkpoint.”  Boy Scout checkpoint?  That’s the police out here?  Andy!  Cut me loose, and we’ll forget the whole thing.


(Picking up loose ends in the Tri-Desert Empire)

Contest Winner    Arnold Snaffler, owner of Chuckwalla Beauty Supply, has won the eBay raffle for an 18th birthday party date with Chuckwalla High senior Candice Waxman.  Snaffler’s winning bid for the date was $11,450.  The 57-year-old divorced father of three said he has watched Candice develop over the years and has always admired her dance routines during Jacket Spirit rallies.  “I’m very pleased I can do something to get her started in life,” Snaffler said.  Candice, who turns 18 next week, hopes to pursue a modeling career in Los Angeles.

Snail Put Champ Disqualified for Doping    A popular sporting event of the upcoming Chuckwalla Days has come under a cloud because of a doping scandal.  Bo Godfry, 46, who has won the Snail Put event three years running, was disqualified Tuesday after testing positive for the prescription expectorant mucusaline sulfite, trade name Musidol.  “Blowgun Bo” in recent years has dominated the Snail Put.   “He was a sight, Blowgun, when he reared his head back,” said parade games director Al Treet, “It was like looking down the barrel of a twelve gauge. He had everything.  Range, accuracy, and incredible power.  This is a sad day.” 

Not the first time the Snail Put event has been roiled by trouble.  Four years ago Jerald Yates was disqualified after judges learned he had run the tube from his oxygen bottle through his beard and into his mouth.  In the qualifying rounds, Yates’ drew suspicion from the judges with his first shot, while his second put sent him to the hospital.  “It was like his nose exploded,” said an eyewitness.

Community Notes   Dwayne’s Sports Oasis will hold a daylong .223 base receiver workshop beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, at 439 Mercury Rd.  The “celebrity gunsmith” will demonstrate how to complete an unfinished Grim Reaper base receiver, including installation of the spring kit, vise block, and all shims.  The Grim Reaper receiver comes 80 percent complete and is unstamped.  The cost of the course is $510.  (Sponsored) 

Leaders in Motion

(A regular Reveille feature, Leaders in Motion profiles vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.  This week we’re talking with Bronk Adams, the abbot of the Los Angeles Brotherhood of Breatharians.  Adams is in Chuckwalla searching for land on which to locate the new Breatharian monastery)

Reveille:  Bronk?

Adams.  Brad, actually.  My publisher talked me into that when my first book came out.

Reveille: Breatharians have a long history in Southern California, not all positive.

Adams:  You may be referring to a former iteration, in the Seventies, when Orthodox Breatharians maintained that the Prana from sunlight and air alone were sufficient for nourishment.  This was a fraudulent claim. Various skeptics, mostly of your tribe, would tail the claimant from the Breatharian meeting to the nearest restaurant.  The Reformed Brethren Breatharian philosophy has room for healthy nutrition.  Contemporary Breatharianism is more about the mindful respiration that is vital to health and spiritual wellbeing. Breathing being an unconscious reflex; we don’t feel disciples have to dwell on it, except during the meditative hours, when we are mindful.

Reveille:  You want to put your monastery here?

Adams.  No.  The air quality in this valley is abysmal.  Dust, smoke, smog, pesticides.  Worse than LA.  We’re thinking about the upper slopes of the Scorpion Mountains, and we’re here to enlist one of your citizens, Henry Pipps, for our scouting expedition.  The mountains rise above the haze, and the desert varnish is intact, which means no dust.

Reveille:  Are you worried about possible neighbors?  Eco-terrorist Andy Padilla is reputed to have his hideout in the Scorpions.

Adams.  We sympathize with his motives, if not his means.  Conflict is unlikely.  We’re a raw food vegan order committed to conscious poverty and quietism.  We shun possessions, don’t burn carbon, and are anti-consumerist.  We spend most of our days sitting still and breathing slowly, in celebration of the miracle of consciousness.

Reveille:  Does everybody wear a gown?

Adams.  Yes.  This garment is Australian sheep’s wool, made especially for our order in Queensland.  You can check it out on on the company’s website.  It isn’t cheap, but we only need one, and it lasts a lifetime.  Strange to say, we just saw somebody wearing one of our robes when we came in here.

Reveille:  Really?  The Persian?  That’s a Breatharian gown?

Adams:  We’d recognize it anywhere.  He needs to take better care of it.

Reveille:  Are you aware of the shallow breathing classes being offered here in Chuckwalla by Wanda Yoga

Adams:  Very interesting, and something to think about.  We’re trying not to breathe normally while we’re here.  We’re using a respirator during the afternoon meditation at the motel.  But we’re used to mal aire.  In Los Angeles we only do deep breathing west of the Venice boardwalk.  Shallow breathing may be the only option in most of our cities.  

Letter from Afghanistan
By Orin Wimbly

(Editor’s note:  Wimbly, a former Chuckwalla High English teacher and a regular contributor to the Reveille’s Poets’ Corner, is serving as a civilian code talker with a Special Operations element of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division.)

We are still in Helmend Province working with the warlord Dad Khan’s militia in an effort to harass and interrupt the Taliban infiltration of villages in the mountains.  We’re based at Camp Bastion outside Lashkar, but recently have been operating near Sangin.  I’m prevented because of the usual security precautions from being too specific with place names, but I can tell you generally how things are proceeding here.

The US Afghan strategy now is straight-forward, and can be summed up in the words, “Nobody wins.”  The warlords (drug lords, would be more accurate) pick at the Taliban enough so that the jihadists are unable to consolidate and exploit their tactical advantages of local knowledge and familiar terrain.

I am one of the code talkers for the 10th Mountain’s special operations battery of pack howitzers.  These are the Korean War vintage 75 millimeter M-116 mountain howitzers designed to be broken down, for parachuting or for pack animals. The guns have been retrofitted with Advanced Target Acquisition Technology (ATAT) and now are able to use laser-guided munitions as well as infrared night vision optics.  Fire control modules are digitized so that forward observers can punch in coordinates for instantaneous range and elevation corrections.  The technology is all very secret, and happily I don’t have to understand any of it.  All I do is pass along the FO’s eyeball appraisals to the battery commander.

American soldiers fire the tubes.  There is no pretense of training Afghans.  A contingent of truly frightening civilian mercenaries, seconded by an elite unit of picked Afghans trained specifically to defend mobile bases, protect the guns.  The Americans have an abiding fear of a mobile forward operating base (MFOB) being overrun, and the ATAT falling into enemy hands.

These MFOBs drop out of the sky at dawn onto a hill that covers a village or that controls a crossroad or a chokepoint.  Helicopter-borne infantry establish a perimeter, and then a Chinook lowers the battery.  It all takes less than an hour.  With the hill secure and the howitzers in place, helicopters ferry in Khan’s militiamen.  These are the people who will be patrolling outside the wire under the umbrella of the guns, a radius of about 10,000 meters.

The militiamen are poorly trained, unreliable, and loyal only to their chief.  They remind me of the Scotch-Irish described by General Washington.  “All they can do is shoot and run away.”  That’s good enough here, because their purpose is to probe, call in arty, and retire.  Accompanying these militias are “the crazy people,” the forward observers and the Young Latinists.

If you have forgotten why the Army needs code talkers, I can remind you in two words:  mountains and valleys.  Comm is a real problem in mountainous Afghanistan.  Line-of-sight VHF is all that really works.  The Ali Bantay listens in on everything, and plenty of the jihadists speak English.  Before the Army began hiring Latinists for code talkers, field units tried Spanish speakers.  Too many Moroccans in the Taliban ranks.  So far Ali hasn’t succeeded in conjuring up any Latin speakers. 

The Young Latinists with the patrolling militias have to be agile as well as crazy, because in retreat the Afghans don’t wait for anybody.  Most of the code talkers are former seminarians, many of them lapsed Jesuits.  Their Latin, frankly, isn’t top drawer.  But all of them have read Caesar’s Commentaries, essentially a military manual, and that’s a sound foundation.

In my opinion, the mountain howitzers have given the Afghan government, such as it is, a possible reprieve in Helmend.  ATAT means that when the mouth of a cave is painted with a laser beam those inside will not escape unhurt.  HE ordinance impacting rock surfaces has a multiplier effect.  Many of the Taliban coming into aid stations for amputations are the victims of rock splinter wounds gone gangrenous. 

Another four months on this deployment.  I’m enjoying this, and I may extend…

(Editor’s note:  It’s apparent from the e-mail chatter that some readers are not clear on the reason Wimbly was dismissed at the High School.  He did not “electrocute” students.  With the unwitting help of Rawlins Farm and Ranch Supply, he rigged an electrified carrel lectern in the front of his classroom with which he was able to give very mild, low amperage shocks to students reading oral reports.  Every time he heard the word “like,” Wimbly gave the student a quick shock.  Wimbly said he was trying to cure his students of a bad habit.  According to witnesses, then Sophomore Girl Poppy Pease got the most shocks, six in one sentence, during her Walden Pond” book report).

Ask a Lesbian

By Caroline 

The Reveille's regular relationships column exploring the vicissitudes of sex and romance.

Caroline, I’m an enthusiastic muff diver from way back, but I wonder why God decided on a female anatomy that puts the reproductive parts so close to the excretory functions.  Sometimes my girlfriend lets fly a giant fluff when I’m down on her.  She says she can’t help it when she gets excited.  I don’t know why God couldn’t have put a woman’s anus on the sole of her foot.    Scuba, Chuckwalla

Dear Scuba, I think of God as a benignant Betty Crocker, a forgiving and compassionate deity and homemaker with her wrath firmly under control.  But I wouldn’t push Her.  It’s true that the Betty Bundle is a compact multi-functional package where a lot happens.  You say you’re an enthusiast.   I’ll mention that some of you guys are a little too enthusiastic. You remind me of a shivering swimmer bracing for a dive into an icy pond.  So anxious to get it over with.  Remember that many women are shy about revealing their inner trove.  They don’t see the vulva as the succulent mollusk we know it to be.  Don’t rush in to drench the hedge, but go easy, and with muted patience make plain your gratitude for admittance to the mystery of the parted labia.

Worship begins with whispered prayer, and the gentle cheek nuzzling a downy pillow.  We have to assume that everybody participating in intimacy practices good hygiene. The oil from the sebaceous glands is an enticing and exciting musk, and only offends if it accumulates for a few days. As for the seventh planet from the sun, oh, for France, and the civilized convenience that swamps the Netherlands. 

And as for that unexpected fluff, it’s best to have a realistic familiarity about mammalian biology and the composting process that vents gasses through the alimentary canal.  Don’t confuse a natural process with the romance that is all in the mind.  That said, a clean diet helps.  Jalapeño nachos, garlic prawns and spiced shallots, with a side of Cajun barbecue and deep fried mush…could mean a mephitic fluff. Then Scuba might have to drop the weights and shoot for the surface.  But never question God’s gifts or Her presentation of them.  It’s your place in God’s scheme to be a steward and an acolyte, not a carper. 

Caroline,   My boyfriend of eight years is a good provider, and cares about me, but he gets so angry sometimes that he has hit me, one time so hard I had to go to Pele Verde emergency.  He won’t see anybody about it, and says that everything will be fine if I just do what he says and don’t bother him.  He is quiet for days and then flies into a rage.  I don’t know what to do.    Black-Eyed Susan,

Dear Susan, Your boyfriend has told you what to do.  The reason he’s had to beat you up over the last eight years is that you won’t listen.  He cares about you, and wants you to be happy, and that’s why he has to correct you.  And be honest, Susan. You enjoy it. Don’t you.  His anger and violence means that he’s thinking about you, and paying attention to the kind of day you've had. Violence is his way of connecting.  He’s quiet sometimes because like all men he’s got a lot on his mind.  You can’t understand his responsibilities, and when you interrupt his thoughts with your mindless yakking he loses his place.  Anyway, Susan, don’t worry about your boyfriend’s behavior.  I’ll take care of it.

Leaders in Motion

(A regular Reveille feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.  Today, Merrit Williams, principal of Chuckwalla High School.)

Reveille.  Some background.

Williams:  “The usual success story.  I was born in Compton, dropped out of school, got involved with gangs and drugs, went to prison, started taking on-line courses, passed the GED, got accepted to Stanislaus State where I got a bachelor’s in sociology; matriculated to UC Riverside for a master’s in education.  I taught in the Alameda County jails and then at San Quentin before taking over the on-line education program at Ironwood.”

Reveille:  How was the transition from the state prison system to public schools?

Williams:  “Many similarities at Chuckwalla High.  A closed campus, alarms and lockdowns, refractory inmates.  When students want to learn, it’s all easy.  That’s not Chuckwalla.”

Reveille:  The challenges?

Williams:  “You know ‘em.  Surtenos 13, Crips, Bloods, Nazi Lowriders, Nortenos.  We need a full time painter to keep sign off the walls.  Half the girls are pregnant or moms already.  The active PTA couldn’t fill an outhouse.  English is a second language for just about everybody.   Valley Vigilance confiscates four or five guns a week and I don’t know how many knives.  Fights daily.  Terrorist threats against the staff.  Vandalism and burglary.  Somebody stole the band instruments.”

Reveille:  So how do you cope?

Williams:  “My first priority is to give the few willing students a chance.  I sequester them in soundproof rooms with a guard.  We have a few competent teachers and that’s where I use ‘em.  There’s a locked carrel room for the troublemakers.  I started a peripatetic class for the ADD and hyperactive.  The coaches walk them around the football field for most of the day, unless the temperature is over a hundred.  I use the auditorium for a social room, to keep chat out of the library.  I’ve banned all cell phones, tablets, and personal computers.” 

Reveille:  Changes in the curriculum?

Williams:  “I’ve abolished American history.  High school kids aren’t ready.  We have American Story.  We have Prep for Life classes for those with no academic potential, which would be the majority.  Calculator arithmetic, simple contracts, how to read labels.”

Reveille:  I heard the board banned Shakespeare.

Williams:  “Some church lady found out Hamlet says ‘c**t’ to Ophelia.  We’re using something called Hamlet for High School.  Toned down.”

Reveille: Are students taking the state-mandated tests?

Williams:  “The district would be taken over if I let that happen.  I set up a side-by-side special needs public charter school.  We can collect the ADA, we don’t have to test.   But I couldn’t classify the whole school as special needs.  Fortunately, we have some Chinese girls from the gas plant.”

Reveille:  You emphasize vocational training.

Williams:  “Mr. Evans’ Human Directionals placard twirling class is a big winner.  Also, Custodial Sciences.  Introduction to broom, mop and squeegee.    Auto detailing.  Lawn maintenance.  Pizza Cargo.  Servitor behavioral guidelines.”

Reveille:  I heard you hired Diego Garcia and the Hobo.

Williams:  “Most of these kids aren’t going to make it.  They’re unemployable and no jobs anyway.  Garcia elaborates on his ‘Bunker Mentality’ blog, showing how they can shift for themselves in what for them is going to be an apocalyptic world.  The Hobo teaches how to live outside the money economy.  Very popular.  The Hobo knows mirror writing and can read a book upside down.  Kids like that.” 

Reveille:  The board go for this?

Williams.  “They’d can me in a second if anybody else would take the job.   They cooked up a dizzy plan to have an ecumenical cartel of fundamentalists take over, until some of the congregations dropped by for a look.  Changed their mind on that one. 

Reveille:  Budget problems?

Williams:  “Kidding, right.  The budget goes to salary, about fifty-fifty staff and security.  If I could, fewer teachers, more guards.  It costs a mint just to move the Sophomore Girls to spirit practice.  We have to double up (security) for Red and Yellow (the annual football faceoff between the Yellow Jackets and Lumbee Nation’s Wankan Tanka Red Devils).  The school could get by without teachers, but not without security.”


Excerpt from Hamlet for High School

What a low class pendejo I am

It’s messed up that this actor here

Reading lines from a book!

Can make misery look so real

He went pale. Tears fell from his eyes

All for a sham, for nothing.

For Hecuba

What’s Hecuba to him?

Why should he cry for her?

What would he do if he knew my case?

He would flood the floor with tears

And tell a horror story

That would expose the guilty

And amaze everybody else

Yet I, who have a powerful beef

Remain silent and do nothing

Not even for my beloved dad

Who was murdered and robbed.

Am I a coward?

Who disrespects me?

Who slaps my face or calls me punk?

Who disses me that way?


Police blotter

Teen Safe after Abduction    Chuckwalla High School Homecoming Queen designate Poppy Pease was safe at home yesterday after being abducted at gunpoint by a naked kidnapper, forced into a car, and driven to the Lumbee Reservation south of town.  “We’re still trying to sort this out,” said Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick.  According to a police source who wished to remain anonymous, Pease, a 16-year-old Sophomore Girl, may have been kidnapped by alleged bank robber, nudist and de-listed Lumbee Humberto Cardenas, 28, who had made a daring escape from the minimum security wing of the county jail earlier in the day.  Witnesses at Chuckwalla High called police when they saw a girl in the parking lot being pushed into a car by an apparently nude male armed with a pistol.  Half an hour later a Border Patrol agent reported seeing a car matching the description crossing onto the Lumbee reservation.

“The reservation is outside our jurisdiction,” Dick said, “but we left a message on the tribal police answering machine that there may have been a child abduction.”  The KZSS children’s radio personality Wigwam Wampum said his sources on the reservation told him a vehicle traveling at high speed overtook the kidnapper near the Lumbee casino and forced the abductor’s car into an arroyo.  The nude assailant was attempting to pull the girl from the car when a man in a brown uniform stepped from the pursuing vehicle and clubbed the kidnapper with a rifle butt.  The uniformed man then put the girl in his car and headed back toward the highway.  “What I’m hearing from my sisters,” Wampum said, “is that a van from the casino appeared and started a running gun battle across five miles of desert until the rescuer left the Rez.” 

Accused bank robber and de-listed Lumbee Cardenas, who has a history of nudity and firearms violations, escaped from jail early yesterday morning while being transferred from the maximum security lockup at the county jail to an assignment in the jail kitchen.  Sheriff’s spokesman Carleton Keaton said Cardenas had disrobed, smeared himself with cooking oil, and slipped through the bars of a kitchen window.  “He then slid down the roof with sufficient speed to clear the fence,” Keaton said.

(Editor’s note:  Because of the witness report saying the rescuer was wearing a brown uniform, the Chuckwalla Reveille called Henry Pipps, 18, a Boy Scout in Chuckwalla’s Troop 354 who has just been elected to the city council.)

 Pipps said he had retrieved Poppy Pease at the request of her father.  “ChuckPo isn’t allowed on the Rez so Mr. Pease needed somebody to pick her up.  No big deal.”  Pipps said he was familiar with the reservation because Troop 354 holds frequent seminars at Wankan Tanka High on tracking and field craft.  “Some dudes from the casino chased us for a while.  I wouldn’t call it a running gun battle.  I gotta go.”


Green Zone Café Public Affairs Roundtable. 

(Editor’s note:  The café’s roundtable discussion this week:  Do we need more gun control?”  In the wake of the tragedy at Martin Van Buren Elementary, the city council has been pressed to pass a gun control ordinance.   Panelists Wednesday were Hedda Blake, president of the Martin Van Buren PTA, and an ER nurse at Pele Verde Memorial Hospital.  And Dwayne Castle, president of the Trailblazers off road club.  Castle is also range master at Targets Unlimited, owner of Dwayne’s Sports Oasis, and author of the self-published e-books, Take Me to the Magistrate, and Mice Don’t Bark.  We sent part--time reporter Cheryl Weiss, a Crème de la Crème honors student at Chuckwalla High, to gather notes.)

Ms. Blake:  “The city needs an ordinance.  It’s not just because of the recent tragedy.  No law could have stopped that deranged loon.  But an ordinance might have kept him from getting his hands on an assault rifle and thirty-round clips.  I’m not in favor of confiscating guns, but I do favor strict registration and tracking of assault weapons within the city limits.”

Castle:  “I’m a gun nut, okay?  Nothing makes gun nuts madder than somebody as ignorant as Hedda.  She wouldn’t know an assault rifle from her elbow.  The rifle that killed those kids was a semi-automatic Viper Bushmaster .223.  A sporting arm.  As for the mags, nobody but an amateur would use a 30-round clip.  Jams too easy.   Herman (Herman Frank, the alleged gunman) used aftermarket Cobra dime mags, taped back to back.  Nobody excuses what happened, but Hedda should remember that ignorance and name calling don’t help.”

Blake:  “I call it an assault rifle if it assaults.  I was on duty when those kids came into ER.  Too bad the pot-bellied blowhards at Dwayne’s Oasis couldn’t have seen what those kids looked like.  Little Yolanda’s right eye blown out, her little spine sticking out her back; Alyeria’s brains in a takeout container on the gurney;  Mesopotamia’s belly split like a melon.  That was done by special bullets like the ones used in Afghanistan that are shaped in a way to keep the kinetic energy inside the flesh to do maximum damage.”

Castle:  “What!   It was just a standard round, the same as you get at Big Five or Walmart.  What has Afghanistan got to do with it?  Ballistics-wise, the bullet’s designed to tumble rather than to penetrate, but there’s nothing special about it.  As a sporting arm, the .223 is used mainly on varmints like prairie dogs and coyotes…”

Blake:  “And kindergarten children.”

Castle:  “… because the fragmentation tends to spoil the meat.  But at the school …and he was NOT a member of the NRA, by the way, as wrongly stated in the paper…Herman was firing point blank.  He’d have killed those kids if he’d been using a .22.  He could have clubbed them like baby Harp seals.  If he’d had a semi-auto 12-gauge loaded with buck…nobody would have got out of there.”

Blake:  “I think it would help if all guns were stamped with an advisory:  ‘This is NOT a substitute for sexual prowess.’  Part of the purchase contract for a firearm should be an agreement to attend a counseling session with a trained professional that can run down the sexual insecurities of men that persuade them they need a gun to reassure themselves about their potency.”

Castle:  “Oh my God.”

Blake:  “I wouldn’t even let my child have a BB gun.  It could put out an eye.”

Castle:  “Your kid plays badminton.  

Blake.  “We need a gun ordinance, but the trouble isn’t as much with guns as it is with men.  You don’t see women roaming school yards plinking kids.  Maybe there should be a city ordinance against testosterone and the male’s unconscious fear of impotence and castration.  That’s the real cause of insane male rage, which would be mitigated by a law forbidding men to own firearms.”  

Castle:  “I’m out of here.  I feel insane male rage coming on.”


Letter to the editor    

As for Poot Hastings’ rant against “Hicksville” Chuckwalla.  During eight years in the Navy I traveled the World and the Seven Seas, and I am glad and proud to live in Chuckwalla.  I have a comfortable house in the Sobrantes subdivision, with full cable and WiFi.   The mortgage comes to less than half my usual monthly income, and while food prices are a little higher than in Brawley or Riverside it’s still no arm and leg.  Since the power plant came to Chuckwalla, utilities are a third less than when PG&E had the franchise, and my home is climate controlled winter and summer with a combination of air conditioning, swamp coolers, and natural gas heating.  When my wife and kids and I sit down at night in front of the incredible lineup of top shows I feel that we are enjoying the top level of American life.  Robert Benbow, Sobrantes

Letter to the Editor 

Gives up.    I’ve given up on getting any kind of coherent answer from the office of the District Attorney of Imperial County, so I might as well take this public.  What the hell is going on?  My girlfriend read about the Chuckwalla intaglios in the latest copy of House on Fire Los Angeles.  I’ve always been intrigued by native cultures of the Southwest, but I had never heard about the Lumbee intaglios, the huge pictographs set out on Scorpion Mesa.  And it turned out that they are sensational, although we were a little disappointed to learn that the visitor can only fully appreciate them from the air.  But then, while taking the shortcut back to Chuckwalla and the freeway, we were stopped at a road block by a band of heavily armed teenagers in khaki uniforms.  Brandishing rifles and clubs, they forced us to stand for half an hour in the broiling sun while they searched my car for “contraband.”   What they found and confiscated were two half-smoked joints in the ashtray, a hash pipe in the glove compartment, and a bong in the trunk.  They made us pose next to these items, set on the hood of my car, while they took videos.  Who are these armed children?  Not sworn officers.  Not officials of any county authority.  And what does the district attorney say?  That they were probably Chuckwalla Boy Scouts.  And that it probably wouldn’t be any use to bring the matter up with the Sheriff, because of the video proof that I had in my possession a controlled substance and paraphernalia.  That’s the way it is in Imperial County?  A gang of armed teens roaming the desert robbing travelers, and the authorities turning a blind eye.  Obviously it is true that the best way to view Imperial County is from the air.  David Best, Laguna Nigel

(Editor replies:  Boy Scout Troop 354, as a civic improvement project, has established several checkpoints on back roads around Chuckwalla to curtail drug traffic, and to discourage the repeated vandalism of such cultural artifacts as the Lumbee intaglios.  According to Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick, there’s been a sharp drop in drug trafficking and particularly in meth production since the scouts began the roving checkpoints.   Chuckwalla, Dick says, is on the drug mainline between Mexico and Interstate 10, adding that because of the reality on the ground, that is, the lack of sufficient law officers to patrol a sprawling desert region as large as Connecticut, the sheriff and local police have given tacit approval to certain civilian groups, particularly the Boy Scouts and the Borrows Gang (residents of a desert collective) to conduct anti-drug vigilance.)

Front Page News

Padilla Suspect in Explosives Theft    Police identified lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla as the burglar who broke into the county corporation yard Friday night to steal two cases of high explosives from the civil defense shed.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said the theft was discovered Monday morning when workers found the shed door open and the explosives gone.  “We know it’s Padilla because he sent us a selfie from his iPhone showing him with a case of dynamite,” Dick said.

The county civil defense shed holds emergency supplies to be used in case of flood, earthquake, or nuclear war.  The supplies include Meals Ready to Eat, canned water, first aid kits, and radiation detectors.  Dick said the explosives were on hand in case of a nuclear attack on Los Angeles.  “They were to blow the bridges over Arroyo Seco on I-10 at the western edge of the county,” Dick said.  The county corporation yard is surrounded by a 12-foot-high Cyclone fence.  The intruder cut the locks on the gate with a bolt cutter, and then used a portable Sawzall to remove the heavy padlock on the shed.  “In retrospect, the county probably should have stored the explosives in a more secure location,” Dick said.

Padilla has claimed responsibility for a series of eco-related terrorist attacks in the Desert Empire, including the release of mosquitoes in the Speedway parking lot during a Sunday Thunder destruction derby, and the loosing of “killer bees” at a wine tasting bar.  “Having explosives elevates his terrorist potential to a much higher level,” Dick said.  By Cheryl Weiss

Council Notes

Council Scales Back (in Storage)   The Chuckwalla City Council has been placed under court order to halt the practice of weighing citizens wishing to speak during the public comment portion of the council’s meetings.  In February the city installed a digital scale in front of the public microphone.  When a speaker stepped up his weight was digitally flashed on a screen at the head of the chamber.  The Riverside Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction Monday over concerns that the practice infringed constitutional rights to free speech.

Sobrantes United, a Chuckwalla citizens group made up of women belonging to the Sobrantes subdivision’s Pilates class, earlier had petitioned the court to order the removal of the scales.  “We feel that the scales were installed specifically to chill public comment about the proposed sewer ponds,” said Abby Sizeman, a spokesperson for the group.

The Chuckwalla Water Treatment Plant has broken ground for two sludge mixing ponds adjacent to the north end of the Sobrantes subdivision.  In a press release, plant supervisor Oliver Haruf said the proposed “aeration” ponds would not generate sewer odors.  “The effluvium already has undergone primary treatment to remove solids,” Haruf said.  “The ponds are for secondary treatment, aeration and microbial mitigation, and generate very little odor.”  During the debate of the proposed pond authorization, council meetings stretched into the small hours as a parade of citizens from the housing tract lined up to speak against construction. 

But after Chuckwalla mayor Robert Crane ordered the scales installed, public comment dwindled.  “Other municipalities have used the method to speed up meetings,” Crane said.  “Everybody who wishes to speak still gets the full three minutes, and we have heard from many residents and had lots of free speech.  The scales just streamlined the process, and I was very disappointed by the court’s decision.”  He said the city attorney is reviewing the injunction.  Crane, who tips the scales at 302 pounds, said he saw no reason anybody would be reluctant to have his weight made public.  “I weigh in every meeting,” Crane said.  “It helps me with my diet.”  Crane, who has slimmed down from 325 in six months, credits the Paleo Diet for his recent weight loss.  By Cheryl Weiss

Police Blotter

Brawl Ends Bachelorette Night at the Toad   A bar fight erupted at the Horny Toad Saloon Saturday night when rival biker gang members disputed Bachelorette Lucy Evans’ date choices at the Rose Ceremony.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said four men were arrested after police broke up a fight that began by the bandstand and continued into the parking lot.  Two of the arrested men were treated at Pele Verde Memorial for lacerations caused by a broken beer bottle

Rivalry between two motorcycle gangs, Todo Motor and Los Dorados, was exacerbated when Bachelorette Evens declined to pick any member of the Dorados as a possible date.  “All of a sudden a bunch of these big guys jumped up on the stage,” said Al Daniels, lead singer for the night’s band, Alexander Okay and the Macedonians.  Toad spokesman Manny Fernandez said the event had been modeled on the popular television realty show in which a “bachelorette” assesses male candidates for marriage.  “We thought it would be a good on-going promotion,” Fernandez said, “Lucy picks out twenty guys from along the bar, talks to them a little, and then chooses six to come back next week for a possible date.”

Evans was handing out roses to the winning six from the bandstand when a shoving match broke out between rival gang members.  “It escalated from there,” Fernandez said, adding that after consultation with Dick he had decided to cancel further bachelorette events.  “We’ll go back to mud wrestling.”

Dick said the names of the four arrested were not immediately available, but that none of their injuries appeared to be serious.  “Just the usual biker brawl,” Dick said.  Evans, a recent Chuckwalla High graduate and a former Sophomore Girl, works as a waitress during the Toad’s afternoon shift.  By Cheryl Weiss

Ask a Lesbian

By Caroline

(The Reveille’s relationships column.)

Dear Lesbian,   My wife’s ***** is as dry as cracker.  Any sex tips you can offer?    Dry Docked

Dear Dry Docked,    A woman’s vagina should not be objectified with loathsome words.  A woman is more than a vagina.  She has an entire vulva, which includes the inner and outer labia, the urethra, clitoris, prepuce, and other parts, all of which have sensitivities and functions hygienic and erotic.

Unfortunately, ignorance often prevents a husband from being anything other than a clumsy, fat-fingered goon in the bedroom.  If a person were tasked with fixing a carburetor, she first would learn the names of the parts:  venturi, jet, float valve, needle, pressure plate.   How many men can name the eleven parts of the vulva?  How many men have even seen a clitoris other than in a magazine? 

To understand the importance of the holistic view of intimacy, let’s begin with the labia.  The inner labia are just as important as the clitoris.  The stevedores and truck drivers who bring their sausage fingers into the boudoir usually begin rubbing the apex venusis as if they were gouging an eye in a street fight.  

A delicate touch, a soul-felt empathy, a heart connection, that’s what’s wanted to accompany the unfolding erotic narrative in a partner’s mind.  But these are foreign ideas to the North woods lumberjack or Yukon prospector.  They will find better rewards by concentrating their awkward digits on the smooth packets of nerve bundles on the hairless ovular rim of the inner labia.  A simple circular motion of the index finger, something which even lumpen proletariat mulak sledge drivers should be able to accomplish with their blunt stubs, will send shivers of pleasure through the woman who can keep her eyes closed.  Add a drop of nut butter (almond, sesame, coconut) and the gentle stirring will render your wife’s ***** into a syrupy jubilee…


Letter to the Editor

Restaurant Review     Why don’t you ever print my letters to the Reveille?  Is it because you’re beholden to restaurant advertising?  Why don’t you ever report about the county health department’s inspections of Chuckwalla restaurants?  The inspection reports are on the county website.  It’s not a big secret that diners in Chuckwalla risk dysentery and food poisoning.   Or worse.  A patron at Your Toast at the Speedway got electrocuted by a toaster.  An apparent dog lover at Dien Bein Pho picked a piece of a leather strap from his noodles.  Man bites dog.  Isn’t that news?   The Forks has been closed down by the health department for an outbreak of listeria.  Didn’t read about that in the Reveille.  The steam tables at Ensalada Fiesta have been cited twice this year for improper holding temperatures.  It’s like the Coca Cabaña for e coli.  Are a few dollars from restaurant ads really worth a newspaper’s integrity?  Doug, Chuckwalla

(Editor replies:  We assigned Reveille  part time investigative reporter Cheryl Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High and a runner-up in the  2015 county-wide high school essay contest, to report on restaurant inspections: 

Weiss:  According to assistant county health inspector Frank Barnes, the county closes restaurants for health violations only as a last resort.  Barnes said the priority was to work with owners to bring their kitchens into compliance.  He said the number one issue was food holding temperature, both for refrigeration and for steam tables.  "That’s the usual cause of food-borne illness," Barnes said.  He also encourages owners to spray monthly for insect vermin, and to have a trapping program for rodents.  The other typical problem in the kitchen is an unsanitary employees’ bathroom.  "We bend over backward to work with owners,’ Barnes said.  ‘We don’t want to put them out of business.”

(Editor’s note:  Reveille policy, as set down by our absentee publisher Dexter Dietz, is much the same.  As temporary editor during his absence we are following his guidelines.)

Reveille Standing Weather Ear   Daytime temperature:  91. Hot and sunny.  Overnight:  37. Clear and cold.  Wind:  NW, 25, with gusts to 40   Pollen count:  High.  Juniper, sage, bunch grasses.  Those susceptible to allergies or respiratory complaints advised to stay indoors during windy periods.  Ultraviolet Index.  High.  Those going outdoors advised to wear sunscreen, hats, long pants and long sleeved shirts.  Those susceptible to sunburn advised to stay indoors between 10 a.m and 4 p.m.  Pollutants:  PM10 (severe); agricultural diesel exhaust (severe at times in valley); carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide: stage two alert.  Pesticides:  Pesticides and fumigants in use today:  methyl bromide, methyl iodide, Kaolin, Bensulide, N-methyl carbamate, Dianzinon, and various organophosphates.  Valley residents advised to be aware of low-flying crop dusters.  Marion Shumley Memorial Senior Plunge:  Temperature, 85. Fecal count, 187


(A garland of posies from the Tri-desert Empire)

Turning a Leaf.   Chuckwalla auto mogul Matt Stoich (Honda, Toyota, Nissan) had on the showroom floor one all-electric Nissan Leaf that was going nowhere until hobo Steve Kelly came in with an offer.  He and some dozen other residents at the Castaways Residential Hostel would club together and buy the zero emissions car for their mutual use.  Stoich was skeptical.  “I wasn’t seeing anyone qualified (for a loan),” Stoich said.  But then Kelly produced an anonymous local patron of sterling credit willing to cosign.  So it’s a deal. The Castaways crew has wheels, which will continue to remain overnight at the dealership while the car’s batteries recharge.

The only recharging station in the Tri-Desert Empire is at the Stoich dealership.  It’s also the only one within 100 miles.  The Castaways’ newly purchased Leaf will be recharged there, but the station already had another user.  The Borrows Gang shuttle bus brings in a load of batteries once a week for recharging.  Stoich says the bus is rigged to accept the charger plug, and wired with clips to recharge a motley of car, truck, marine and golf cart batteries.  Being miles from a pole, the self-reliant desert troglodytes use DC juice for their electronics.  And for their CPAPs.

Amber Alert for Pease Canceled    Chuckwalla police canceled the Amber Alert for Chuckwalla teen Poppy Pease after the 16-year-old high school student called her parents Tuesday morning to report she was safe and well after becoming lost overnight during a hike in the Scorpion Mountain Wilderness Area.  Fred Pease told police that his daughter and another youth from Chuckwalla had become disoriented during a day hike to explore caves in the area.  Fortunately, Fred Pease said, the teens came across a cache of emergency supplies in an abandoned cabin and stayed overnight until they could get their bearings in the morning.  The wilderness Area 50 miles north of Chuckwalla has poor phone reception and the teens couldn’t contact their parents until they returned to the highway.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said the alert had gone into effect after the girl’s father filed a missing person report.  “It’s a standard precaution,” Dick said.  He said the name of the other teen wasn’t immediately available.

Speaking of Poppy, she’s the winsome teen who was kidnapped last month by delisted Lumbee nudist and jail escapee Humberto Cardenas.  Chuckpo Lt. Abel Dick says the fugitive Cardenas was taking Poppy to the Rez casino, where she was going to be forced to appear as star attraction in a Full Mountie review, accompanied by strippers Melanie Duggs and Downy Dent.  Lumbee spokesman Bert Bertinelli says casino management had no knowledge of the alleged review and denied that casino staff authorized the kidnap or that armed casino security pursued Poppy’s rescuer, Boy Scout leader and  city councilman Henry Pipps, in a casino van.

Sometimes Spring tattoo artist Stan Leed thought he had seen everything in skin art, but this was new.  “A guy wants a watch tattooed on his wrist with the hands set at five,” Leed said.  “Maybe it had something to do with the cocktail hour.”  You think?

Local authors.  Chuckwalla Junior College English professor Harvey Harkins has a new self-published e-book, Horatio Hornblower:  Pawn of Empire.  The book examines the fictional 18th century Royal Navy commander against the background of British imperialism.  In Harkins’ telling, the youthful reader’s dashing hero actually was a war criminal and lackey, when examined from an historical perspective.  

Emmett Bath, a Chuckwalla Reveille Roundtable contributor, has issued a new self-published e-book, Social Thermodynamics:  The Second Law of World Chaos.  Bath is a Doomsday sage whose books, appearing under the Charnel House imprint, include Sapiens Knell, No Extended Warranty, and Till Human Voices Wake Us.

Full time tent resident Beet Baily has started her summer garden at the Ironwood long term visitors’ area campground.  Beet’s garden is low maintenance and water sparing.  At the end of each row sits a 55-gallon water-filled drum feeding a drip line that irrigates plants that have been nestled into split sacks of potting soil.  No weeding, plowing or mulching.

Horny Toad Saloon female mud wrestling went off Thursday night without anyone calling 9-1-1.  The female tag team The Soiled Doves triumphed, and this week will take on challengers from Brawley, the Dirty Girls.  “This could be trouble for the Doves,” says promoter Manny Fernandez, “Those girls from Brawley.  They got a reputation.”  Warm up band will be Alexander Okay and the Macedonians.

Police blotter

Midnight Intruders Assail Tenant    Two stealthy late night intruders used a trellis to climb into the second story bedroom window in a Chuckwalla apartment complex and assault a sleeping occupant, according to Chuckwalla police.  The two intruders pulled resident Harry Kapoksi from his bed and pummeled him in the face, causing bruises and lacerations.  Kapoksi was sleeping in his apartment on Mercury Dr. with his live-in girlfriend when the intruders came through the window.  The girlfriend was unhurt.  Chuckpo lieutenant Abel Dick said burglary didn’t appear to be the motive, since no property was taken. 

Kapoksi refused an ambulance and opted to take a cab to the gas plant clinic, where he was treated and released.  Dick said the assailants were described as two young white men wearing dark hoodies and leather gloves.  According to police records, the Kapoksi address has figured in several recent complaints of domestic abuse.  Anyone with information should contact Lieutenant Dick at  By Cheryl Weiss

Too late?  Tropical disease specialists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have discovered that the saliva of certain sand flies may contain antibodies that could prove useful in a vaccine for elephantiasis. One of the flies mentioned in the study is the Colton Sand Fly, which was found only on sand dunes near the namesake town in Riverside County.  Too bad the Colton City Council turned those sand dunes over to a developer wanting to build a box factory.  Fighting to save the diminutive bug from extinction, entomologists at UC Davis relocated all of the little critters they could catch (along with some of the plants they feed on) to sand dunes near Midway Wells (occasioning an outcry from off-roaders who feared the area would be put off-limits to their sport).  Did the fly survive?  Not known, as of now.

Hyde vs. Hyde.  An Oedipal duel takes shape as Chuckwalla melon king Fred Pease hires local beagle Aaron Hyde to defend Pease in a criminal suit being brought by the loser in the latest council race.  In that contest the melon king’s son-in-law, Henry Pipps, scored an upset write-in victory over animal rights activist Penny Axelrod.  After losing the race by less than a dozen votes Axelrod charged Pease with ballot tampering, and hired Hyde‘s son, attorney Eric Hyde, to press the case.  Axelrod says that to her eye many of the write-in signatures look suspicious.  The elder Hyde says she‘s sore because the electorate rejected her stand on feral dogs, which was the main issue in her campaign. Penny’s animal welfare group, Loose the Dogs, objected to a Troop 354 roundup of feral dogs led by Pipps.  She wanted the humane society to return ownerless dogs to Arroyo Cholo.  Instead some of the dogs were euthanized at the new dog pount next to the Chinese clinic, and Axelrod alleges that this was a crime that needs to be addressed.

Wanda Yoga, which is offering shallow breathing classes this summer in Mercury Park, now has started a weight loss program based on internal organ massage.  The studio's brochure says the svelte Wanda Wilkinson will become “a witness to each client’s history and inventory” before begining a regimen of spinal twists that massage the kidneys, liver and spleen.  All the twists are done from “corpse pose” and don’t involve exercise.  “Weight loss is achieved through gently purging fat cells.”   (Sponsored)

Caroline Pipps has joined the Green Zone Co-op’s advisory board, a group affiliated with the Green Zone Café and dedicated to improving nutrition in the Tri-Desert.  Chuckwalla High School’s former dietician Cindy Mallory is the Executive Director.

Rope-a-Dope.  The Chuckwalla American Legion hall has installed chug ropes at several stools along the bar as a safety feature.  Hall manager Bret Crofter said that some of the elderly patrons have tumbled backward off their stools when downing the last swig in a beer bottle.  “It doesn’t happen a lot,” Crofter said, “but you never want to see a vet go down.”  The ropes dangle from the ceiling in front of the bar stool and allow the drinker to steady himself for the last chug.

Ridership on the Desert Empire Transit buses has fallen again this year despite the infusion of county money that underwrote the GO DET advertising campaign.  “It’s a disappointment,” said Chuckwalla mayor Robert Crane.  “We expected an uptick.”  According to a report from the city manager, DET has been plagued with maintenance problems, frequent schedule changes, poor on-time performance on all routes, and rapid turnover of employees. The county auditor has also moved to examine the books after DET managers were unable to account for an emergency loan from the county for tires and engine parts.  Most of the DET ridership is made up of high school and junior college students, and the families of convicts traveling to the prison on visiting days.

The Marion Shumley Senior Plunge will be closed this week due to a high fecal coliform count.

Desert savant Svahabba Khiobouakhan will speak on “Following the Gleam” Friday at 6 p.m. in the Green Zone Café issues room.  “The Gleam, “says Khiobouakham, “is the supreme embodiment of the eternal spirit that animates the Whole.”  The savant is an adjunct assistant professor of philosophy at Chuckwalla Junior College.

The Imperial County Health Department has issued an advisory warning Empire residents about the risks of bathing in the natural hot pools in the Scorpion Mountains.  The advisory says that tests have shown high counts of streptococcus bacteria that have been associated with outbreaks of stomach ailments among bathers.  All pools in the region are contaminated.  Wild animals, domestic stock, and human bathers share the blame, the department says.

Some good news from the Health Department in its annual Groundwater Toxicology Report.  The amount of lead and arsenic and other heavy metals in the Tri-Desert aquifer has fallen by five percent.  The report doesn’t explain the drop but speculated it may be related to the Superfund waste site cleanup at the abandoned Frog Skin copper mine.  The decrease, however doesn’t make the ground water potable.  And the report reminds gardeners that well water should only be used to irrigate ornamentals.  “Gardeners should test the water on a few varieties to assess their hardiness,” the report says.  “Marigolds and chrysanthemums have proven to do well.”

Responding to a recent state mandate, the city of Chuckwalla has hired a private contractor, Comedy DUI Riverside, to provide the courtesy classes required for dog owners who have received citations.  The eight hour course covers leash law, waste removal, basic dog obedience, and common courtesy.  Successful completion of the course expunges the citation.

Torpedo Mix.  Hexanite, not dynamite, was the high explosive allegedly stolen from a county storage shed by eco-terrorist Andy Padilla.  Hexanite usually is used in naval ordinance, particularly in torpedoes.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said the explosive had been in county hands since the early 1950s.  "It was war surplus, and originally purchased by county civil defense for blowing up the highway bridges over Arroyo Seco in case of a nuclear attack on Los Angeles," to thwart the hoard of expected refugees from radioactive desolation.  Dick said county officials "sort of forgot about it."  No break in the case yet.

Also unsolved, the question of who assaulted 31-year-old Harry Kapoksi during a midnight intrusion last Wednesday into his Chuckwalla apartment.  Police records reveal that Kapoksi has been involved in several complaints involving domestic violence, and is currently on parole.  Burglary doesn't appear to be the motive, since nothing in his apartment was missing.  His live-in girlfriend has moved out, neighbors say.


Leaders in Motion  


(A regular Reveille feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.  This week we're talking with 18-year-old City Councilman and Troop 354 scoutmaster Henry Pipps, who recently accepted an executive position with Valley Vigilance Security.)


Reveille:  I hear that part of your new job will be to handle security for Sunday Thunder at the Speedway.  The pre-race tailgate party has been pretty rowdy.  Fights, drinking, lewd behavior.  What’s the plan?


Pipps:  You know the swap meet beforehand.  Some concessions sell beer and wine.  People are getting a heater on even before the tailgate.  Guys drinking all day, you're bound to have fights.  I’ve hired some guys whose posture will discourage this. 


Reveille:  Scouts?


Pipps:  Some of the Pathfinder Scouts who have helped on the drug checkpoints.  Guys who project the presence that heads off trouble.  We’re also going to shame-bomb bad actors by shooting video.


Reveille:  You’re not sworn.  You can’t arrest.  What's video going to do?


Pipps:   We’re not sworn.  But everybody is entitled to self-defense.  Say somebody objects to security taking pictures.  Say they want to argue the argument.  We defend ourselves, make a citizen’s arrest.  With video to back us up in court.


Reveille:   As councilman you’ve pushed for more money for police...


Pipps.  I said the city could use more cops.  I understand the financial reality.


Reveille:  As scoutmaster you’ve set up the back road checkpoints to deter drugs, a program that's been lauded by the mayor and the chief.  Are you planning to make a career of security?


Pipps:  You see the trend.  Less public money, more public demand.  A weakening of control.  Some people taking advantage.  Established society is going to rely more on camera surveillance and private patrol.   Security is going to be more aggressive.  More proactive than a crossing guard.  I see all kinds of communities and affinity groups, rather than just the rich enclaves, using private security.


Reveille:  Isn’t that vigilantism? 


Pipps:  Vigilantism is lawless.  Security is regulated.


Reveille:  The (Horny) Toad could have used some vigilance that other night when the bikers met the Bachelorette.


Pipps:  The Toad was the wrong place. Bert (Bertinelli, president of the Chamber and spokesperson for the Lumbee casino) has been talking to us about Bachelorette on the Rez.  I think it could work there.  Because of past problems, Dorados and Todo Motor (motorcycle clubs) aren't welcome at the casino. It's interesting. The other day I was talking to Teeth (Keith Teeth, lead guitarist for the Toad cover band Kinda in Beta) about the mud wrestling.  The Toad has it, the casino has it.  Never a problem.  I'm thinking, could that work at Sunday Thunder?


Reveille:  You've been a scout most of your life.  What's your credo as scoutmaster?


Pipps:  We follow Baden-Powell.  We train as paramilitary militia, with an emphasis on marksmanship, bush craft and wilderness survival, physical fitness, tracking, reconnaissance, first aid, knots, splices and hitches, rappelling, escape and evasion, GPS, map and compass, lifesaving, checkpoints and crowd control, radio communications, and community liaison.


Reveille:  That's Baden-Powell?


Pipps:  Baden-Powell's 19th century Rhodesia transplanted to 21st century Chuckwalla. 




A pinch of snoose from the Tri-Desert Empire)

“Room for cream?”  Chuckwalla police on Wednesday had to break up a scuffle at Bengay Chiropractic on Hobbesianway between the clinic’s practitioner and a patient’s relative.  According to Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick, chiropractor and Palmer graduate Gandalier Brocco called police when the son of one of his clients began making lewd and offensive remarks.  Brocco said the son tried to grab the chiropractor’s cell, and a brief tussle followed.  Dick said police are withholding the names of father and son because the rest of their family is unaware that the father is being treated for cancer.  Brocco offers alternative therapies that involve coffee enemas.  Dick said the son was counseled and released.

Chuckwalla-born chicken defender and autistic savant Lenora Hicks will be called as an expert witness by the American Humane Association in the criminal negligence case against Foster Farms, Riverside.  The militant animal protection collective, Mercy for Animals, infiltrated the Farms’ tightly guarded chicken processing plant and took video of chickens being boiled alive after the automatic knife on the conveyor belt failed to cut their throats.  The suit alleges that workers were careless, and that the equipment is poorly designed.  Hicks was the designer of the much-acclaimed processing plant in Chuckwalla owned by Carr’s’ Quality Poultry.  Also testifying will be TV actor and animal rights activist Bob Barker.

Although the Soiled Doves downed the Mud Hens at the Toad last Thursday, the Hens will get another chance for glory this coming Wednesday, meeting the Sydney Ducks in a mud wrestling extravaganza at the Lumbee Convergence Casino.  (Sponsored)

Letter to editor.  This e-mail from Chuckwalla resident Pete Pearl.  “Do people realize the lawn on the north side of city hall is a dog toilet?  Every morning dozens of dog owners bring their pets and turn them loose on the lawn to run after tennis balls.  I’ve watched.  All the dogs take a dump but only about half the owners clean up the dirt.  Then in the afternoon families come with their kids to have picnics in the shade under the eucalyptus.  The little kids are running and tumbling around on the grass, and picking up dog dirt on their tennis shoes.  The lawn should be one or the other.  Dog toilet or picnic grounds."

Dwayne's Sports Oasis will be bringing back the Celebrity Gunsmith for the ever-popular Base Receiver Workshop to be held next Wednesday at a location to be disclosed to participants. The unstamped Black Mamba .223 base receivers are 80 percent completed and the workshop fee of $500 includes the receiver and all necessary shims and guides. Additional components for building out the project will be available for purchase at the workshop.  (Sponsored)

The Sports Oasis, by the way, now has in stock the summer line of survival gear and personal body armor.  A new item on sale an armored kilt that can defeat grenade fragments as well as (possibly) small arm rounds up to 9mm.  The kilt is made up of Kevlar slats sewn to a mesh girdle.  (Sponsored)

 Bumper sticker on a Deadhead Volks bus parked in Mercury Market Plaza:  "I am Bliss. Follow me."

Pease to Princely    Chuckwalla High School’s regal Homecoming Queen Poppy Pease has been selected to attend the prestigious Princely Preparatory School in La Jolla, where she’ll be on track for matriculation into the Ivy League.  “It’s a great distinction for one of ours to be chosen by this elite academy,” said principal Merrit Williams.  “All our best wishes go with her.”  While at Chuckwalla High, Poppy has distinguished herself as a varsity cheerleader and Yellow Jacket spirit girl.  Human Directionals coach Ted Evans said Poppy, the daughter of melon czar Fred Pease, has been a standout in all his classes.  “I’ll miss every student and every teacher,” Poppy said, “even Beano.” 

(Editor’s note:  The rescue chimp Beano has been “an honorary auditor” of the human directionals class.)

The Three Day Week.  Reveille part time investigative reporter Cheryl Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High and a National Merit Scholar, reported on teacher schedules at Chuckwalla Junior College as part of an assignment for Mr. Haller's Honors Sociology Class.  Excerpts from her report:

“The analysis found that 47 of the 55 full time teachers at the JC work only three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday.  Most of the classes the teachers offered on Monday and Friday never filled, and were canceled. This semester, for instance, "Precursors of Romantic Poetry;" Roots of Neo-colonialism;" and "Cecil Rhodes: Imperial Colossus," were offered on Monday but canceled because of insufficient interest.  ‘It's just a scam," said JC student body vice president Hiram Butterfield.  ‘They intentionally post courses for Monday and Friday that nobody would want.  The courses are scratched, and the profs get a four-day weekend.’  Butterfield said most of the teachers live in Indian Wells or Palm Springs, a two-hour commute.” 

 (Editor's note:  Calls to the campus switchboard went unanswered Monday.)

Leaders in Motion

A regular Reveille feature which profiles Tri-Desert vanguard personalities.  This week, Bert Bertinelli, president of the Chuckwalla Chamber of Commerce, and a paid spokesman for the Lumbee Nation.

Reveille:  Bachelorette at the casino?

Bertinelli:  It wouldn’t be like what happened at the Toad.  We’d be going at it very tasteful.  I’ve talked to Lucy (Evans, the Toad lunch waitress who was the Bachelorette during the saloon's ill-fated promotion). She’s more than willing.  Why not?  What, the Toad? Nine-sixty plus tips.  We can offer a nice package. Who knows?  It might work into an Astro Girl spot.

Reveille:  This will be like the TV show?

Bertinelli:  The rose ceremony, yeah.  The candidates will come from the tables.  Maybe Downy Dent, dressed like Glinda the Good Witch, will come around and touch the prospects on the shoulder with a fairy wand.  Then each one takes Lucy to dinner at the Lemurian Room.  The whole thing on the in-house video screens. Romantic toasts in the Astro Lounge.  A Wheel of Fortune segment.  Maybe a bidding round at the end…

Reveille:  Can Rez security handle this?

Bertinelli.  Well, the Rez has its hands full.  I’m in talks with Valley Vigilance.  They do special events now.

Reveille:  I hear you got into a beef with the mayor.

Bertinelli:  A friendly dispute, is all.   I think the city should rent out some of the vacant buildings along Main as residences.   Nobody’s gonna buy them until liability for the hydrocarbon plume is settled, which may be never.  (Mayor) Crane worries that if we get a bunch of Section Eight winos and derelicts and single moms it’ll somehow queer the Main Street Beautification money.  No.  That’s a state grant for the palm meridian and the street lights.  Can’t be touched.  If it turns out fracking can suck up the plume, then we re-zone the street commercial again and relocate the Section Eight people.

Reveille:  Because of condemnation, the city owns those buildings.  So I guess rent revenue could go into the general fund.  But what about liability?

Bertinelli:  Some income on the ledger would look good about now.  We’re a click away from state receivership.  All that holds ‘em back is that the state doesn’t want to get stuck with the Market Garden bonds.  The money might not turn out to be much, but it’s a good will effort.

Reveille:  The liability?

Bertinelli:  Frankly, a little more exposure actually doesn’t hurt.  Same reason as Market Garden.  The state is mandated to step in when municipalities, sometimes through no fault of their own, are about to belly up.  Compton, Bell Garden, Vallejo, not to say anything of the low end school districts.  At the same time, it’s a huge can of worms that the state is assuming.  It makes the bean counters pause. So more exposure might be a good thing.

(Editor’s note:  The city is studying a proposal to frack up a plume of hydrocarbons from beneath Main St.  The plume, the oozing residue of abandoned service station gasoline storage tanks, would be sucked up by hydraulically infusing liquids under high pressure to force the oil to the surface.

Investors, including the city of Chuckwalla, are holding now worthless bonds floated in a Ponzi scheme during the construction of the Market Gardens apartment complex.  The Byzantine case is winding its way through the courts.

An investigation last year conducted by the office of the State Attorney General found numerous irregularities in the city of Chuckwalla’s finances, including over-payments and double payments to suppliers.  The AG’s office has threatened to appoint a state receiver to straighten out the city’s books.)  

Bunker Mentality

By Diego Garcia

(Garcia is a frequent Reveille contributor who writes on the survivalist lifestyle.)

I’d like to add a few thoughts to last week’s column on home protection for females.  I suggested an over-and-under .410 with turkey loads as a good choice for a woman householder with little experience with firearms.  But if there’s an objection to guns, there are other options.  A bow, a sword or a spear are also good defensive weapons for the female householder.  A 30 pound recurve bow accompanied with arrows tipped with steel field points will be sufficient to counter an intruder confined inside the metal door cage, since striking distances will be less than five feet. 

Unlike a firearm the bow can be used inside the apartment for practice sessions in close archery by setting several mattresses against a wall.  Don’t use the front door as a backstop for the target as this may surprise the mailman.  Crossbows are not a good choice.  They are very powerful and could cause concern to law enforcement if a policeman enters your home, since a crossbow bolt is capable of defeating a Kevlar vest.

The door cage I explained in the previous column, but let’s review.  The three sided cage is made of steel mesh or double layers of chicken wire and is on rollers so that it can be pushed against the front door, and latched in place.  An intruder forcing the front door will find himself immediately confined.  The householder, alerted by an alarm and a spot lamp over the cage, can deploy spear, arrow or blade through the mesh.  A flashlight dazzler ( should be used first to blind the intruder.  A three-sided DIU Kevlar Shield on Wheels (www.defend is a welcome addition if the intruder has a firearm, as is the DIY sandbag version, “” 

Spears are easy to make.  It could be as simple as a steak knife duct taped to a bamboo Tiki pole.  Better is the sharpened shank of a long screwdriver attached with radiator clamps to a broom handle.   The spear should be at least seven feet long so that the householder is never within an arm’s length of the cage.


Leaders in Motion

(A regular Reveille feature that profiles Tri-Desert Empire vanguard personalities. This week we catch up with the Empire's youth vanguard in the persons of Penny Pasto and Cielo Rey, twenty somethings who relocated to Chuckwalla two years ago after graduating from Reed College and defaulting on their whopping student loans.)

Reveille:  Refresh my memory.

Cielo:  We picked Chuckwalla because we were looking for cheap rent and minimum wage jobs within a day's drive of Los Angeles.  Penny and I are interested primarily in being together and in having plenty of leisure to pursue our non-remunerative interests.  We had a combined student debt from four years at Reed of almost $100,000.  Paying it down would be extremely burdensome.  But we knew that once we defaulted we would have no chance to own a home or to be middle class.  Here we can tie together a few nothing jobs to cover a $500 a month apartment, with enough walking around cash left for a pleasant and interesting life centered on the progressives gathering at the Green Zone Cafe.

Reveille:  Repercussions on the default?

Penny:  Sometimes we get letters, which we ignore.  The assumption is that graduates will want to use their degrees to earn substantial salaries that will underwrite the acquisition of property.  That would secure the loan.  If you decline to participate, there's not much the bank can do.

Reveille:  Ethical questions?

Cielo:  The taxpayers covered our liberal education.  It's in the national interest to have educated people at all levels.  Chuckwalla is a backwater.  The school board is run by medieval zealots.  The city council is moronic and corrupt.  It's good to have a few educated people in town.

Reveille:  Where are you working these days?

Cielo:  Penny still works the morning shift at Denny's.  I'm working now part time as the counterman at Your Toast at the Speedway.

Reveille:  There was an unfortunate incident at the restaurant.

Cielo:  A young patron used his jack knife to pry a stuck bagel out of a toaster.  All the utensils supplied by the restaurant are plastic or wood, and a large sign cautions patrons not to put any foreign objects into the slots.  If a bagel gets stuck, an employee will remove it.  This should not have been a fatality.  The kid was electrocuted and burned, and in a lot of pain, but he was still conscious and alert when he left in the ambulance for Pele Verde (Memorial Hospital).

Reveille:  The hospital said he went into cardiac arrest and they had to use the pads.

Penny:  So the kid is electrocuted, and they electrocute him again at Pele Verde.  Everybody at Green Zone has made a pact.  Never allow any of us to go to Memorial.  Put me in a taxi to the Chinese clinic.  Get me a Cuban doctor.  Give me a botanical from Dr. Dave's.  But no Pele Verde.

(Editor's note:  Your Toast, a breakfast cafe, features toasters on every table.  Pele Verde Memorial Hospital has been cited by the American Physicians Congress as the second worst hospital in the nation.  The AMA categorizes the hospital as one of the ten worst.  The "Chinese clinic" is operated by the Chinese construction battalion building the co-generating unit at the natural gas-fired generating plant, and is open on a limited basis to the public.  It is staffed by several MDs leased from Cuba.  Dr. David Martinez, operates a free clinic that provides native botanicals.)


The Reveille’s cantering pilgrimage through the Tri-Desert Empire.

Strikes again, maybe.   Andy Padilla, the Tri-Desert Empire's lone wolf eco-terrorist, may be responsible for the spate of flu-like symptoms that have bedeviled Chuckwalla Rotarians over the last week, according to Chuckpo lieutenant Abel Dick.  The local service group hosted a visiting contingent of fellow Rotarians from the Hemet Chapter, and at one point the two chapters formed hand-shaking circles.  "Everybody in attendance is down with some kind of bug," Dick said.  "The video of the meet-and-greet shows one guy nobody recognizes, shaking everybody’s hand and reapplying what may not be hand sanitizer between shakes."  A call to the Chinese clinic at the gas plant revealed that several patients this week had tested positive for Streptococcus pneumoniae.  A call to Pele Verde Memorial was not immediately returned.  "The guy in the video looks like a disguised Padilla to me," Dick said.  "I'm expecting the communique any time."

Beet Bailey    (Editor’s note:  Our Queen of Green, year-around tent dweller Beatrice Bailey, writes frequently on issues of frugality.  Here she is on bolt ropes and sock bags)

Living in a tent during winter in the desert, I need to make sure my overhead tarps can withstand heavy winds.  November “boxcar winds” can hit 60 mph, and tear a campsite to shreds.  Two simple tricks I use to hold the camp together are the bolt rope and the sand sock.  The bolt rope is heavy manila line stitched around the edge of the tarp, in the same way that bolt ropes are sewn into sails.  The rope gives solidity to the tarp and makes it easier to handle in wind gusts.  If sewing is too time consuming, an alternative is to affix the rope with cable ties.  A good way to keep tarps from flying around in the wind is to hold them down with old socks filled with sand.  I tie sand socks to the corners of bolt-roped tarps to make it easier to set up awnings and wind screens.  Playground sand works best, but an alternative is kitty litter.


Chuckwalla Autistic Tapped for Martian Village    NASA has selected Leonora Hicks, Chuckwalla’s autistic savant, to develop the chicken coop component of the Mars Simulation Project slated to be built in the Smoke Tree Valley.  “Hicks’ inspiring work in creating humane chicken campuses made her a natural choice for the project,” according to a NASA press release.  Hicks last year was hired by Carr’s Quality Poultry in Chuckwalla to design the company’s award-winning chicken processing plant.  The plant has received plaudits from PETA and other environmental groups for being “a model of transparency and humane treatment.” 

The NASA “Martian Village” calls for a chicken module to provide fresh protein to astronauts.  The module would be included in cargo during the manned Mars mission in 2030. NASA engineers picked the barren and craggy western slope of the Smoke Tree Valley for the construction of a simulated habitation for space farers because of the area‘s resemblance to Mars.  The treeless hills are reddish and covered with scattered rocks.

The NASA plan calls for several unmanned cargo rockets to ferry components to Mars, followed by the manned spacecraft.  Once arrived on Mars’ inhospitable surface, the astronauts would assemble their headquarters for scientific and commercial exploration.  After the nine month rocket voyage to the red planet under constant bombardment by cosmic radiation, astronauts will need to reinvigorate their blood cells with animal protein, according to the NASA spokesman.  Awaiting them in the cargo rockets will be a dozen sheathed chicken embryos as a starter flock.

A report of the Mars Simulation Project will be part of a packet for congressional committee members during the pending Washington budget negotiations.  “Much of the packet is of a highly technical nature,” according to the press release.  “The chicken module is more accessible.”



A regular Reveille feature ranging the Tri-Desert Empire 

Ground Clutter?  Expert gardener Jose Ortiz has rake and will travel to groom your scatter and make garden debris disappear.   Call him at JOE-YARD.  (Sponsored)

Nimble Thimble Yarn and Thread has opened on Hobbesianway next door to the old Woolworth's.  Mayor Robert Crane joined owner Cissy Bandelero to wield the Chamber's giant scissors snipping the ribbon.  Bandelero, who was seamstress to the band for the "Light My Fire' costumes used in Keith Teeth's Kinda in Beta  Rollin’ on the River Extravaganza last summer, said her new store has it all for seamstress and knitter.  (Sponsored)

The second annual Sustainability Conference will be held this weekend in the Issues Room of the Green Zone Cafe.  Sponsored by the Post-Carbon Coalition, the conference this year brings together ideas for how the individual can set a good example of carbon responsibility.  The theme, "Is it too late?" looks at whether the time for collective action has passed, and the only hope now is in individual effort.  The coalition is made up of the Green Zone Advisory Board, the Breatharian House, the Woman’s Place Juche Club, and the Chuckwalla Junto.

(Editor's Note:  We dispatched the Reveille’s intern, part time reporter, Cheryl Weiss, to the Women’s Place shelter on Amherst Way to learn something about the Juche Club.)

The Juche (Self-Reliance) Club, made up of the mothers who rent ex-FEMA trailers at the Women's Place Shelter, came together last month as a frugal living discussion group.  The women, all of whom have pre-teen children, were victims of abusive relationships and are the recipients of court-ordered subsidized housing.  They meet once a week in the community trailer to share ideas on how to live and thrive on part-time minimum wage jobs and welfare.  Some of their ideas so far:  a community freezer; a daycare co-op; a shared iPhone; a community children's breakfast on school days; carpooling using the Castaways taxi driver (who works at a reduced rate); and a quick-response self-defense team (under the supervision of Valley Vigilance)



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