Simple, frugal desert living at Rancho Costa Nada. Also, Chuckwalla Wire, online version of the Chuckwalla Reveille

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"Rancho Costa Nada: The Dirt Cheap Desert Homestead"

"Chuckwalla Wire", online version of the Chuckwalla Reveille

You probably don't want to do this, but...

Here's how to live on almost nothing after quitting the job, the commute hassle, the mean boss, the nagging worries about rent and mortgage.  You buy worthless desert land and build a cheap shack.

Amazon says that "Rancho Costa Nada: The Dirt Cheap Desert Homestead," has become one of the top ten survivalist books.   Okay.  But the author isn't a survivalist or prepper.  He was just looking to avoid a regular job and other normal responsibilities and accomplishments, and instead have a life of careless leisure, without enduring hardship or conflict with the authorities.  Originally Rancho was published by the lamented Loompanics, a catalog publisher of quirky books that went bust and sold Rancho rights to Paladin Press, another alternative publisher. 

Rancho can be found in the aether, by googling Amazon, or Smashwords Garlington.  Or. You can have the book for free, right here, by clicking the button above labeled, "Rancho Full Monty."  Or.  I'll send you a PDF copy, no charge:  ><

I've also posted Rancho excerpts above.  Maybe that's all you need.  The book is amusing but the message simple:  You're probably not going to want to do this, buy worthless dirt for almost nothing.  But you could.  It doesn't take a bank account or homesteader skills.  There's no hardship, except it can get boring for some people to live alone in the desert.

The e-reader version doesn't have pix, but a lot of them are on this site in the photo sections.

Worthless acres

"Rancho Costa Nada" tells how the unemployed and penniless author bought 10 worthless acres in the California desert for three hundred bucks. For another hundred, he built a comfortable little hogan out of scrap lumber and sand bags. Some ideas he figured out for himself, such as how to be his own utility district. Other schemes for frugal desert living came from half a dozen fellow homesteaders in the shimmering waste of the Smoke Tree Valley in Imperial County, California.

The author is no pioneer. Just an average mope without any particular survival skills or homesteader attributes such as carpentry or auto mechanics. But he found that by using a few simple expedients it's easy to live for almost nothing. No hardship. The cash he generates (and how hard is it to turn a few bucks in Samland?) becomes disposable income. So he travels during the summer inferno and uses the Rancho as home base in winter  (unless he's housesitting or on the road).

What's in this peculiar book?

A description of building a tight little weather-proof hogan out of scrap lumber and sand bags. The hogan is surrounded by a wind break that forms a patio, covered by a shade ramada. Very plain, but strong enough (because of the sand bags) to withstand desert "box car " winds that can hit 80 mph.  In later years, he hauled in a junk travel trailer, gutted the inside, and made it into a living room. 

A personal utility district based on his car's alternator. You drive the car. Why not use it to pump up deep-cycle batteries strapped to the floorboards. A very simple method to generate enough electricity to operate lights, fans, radio, DVD, and water pump.

What about water? Drinking water has to be hauled from a public park in town, 45 miles away. Sixty gallons per week. The rest of the water comes from two sources. One of the other homesteaders, for a carton of cigarettes, will deliver up to 500 gallons of salty non-potable water from a secret well. Good enough for evap coolers, for gardening, and for a cool bath. The other source is from the wash. Homesteaders bury 55 gallon drums in the washes, which fill up during the brief flash floods.

I Get Around

Transportation. Some of homesteaders of the Smoke Tree are clever mechanics who have built Mad Max sand carts and dune buggies. Some of these vehicles are used to run the nearby gunnery range at night to salvage brass casings and aluminum tailfins. Trouble is, these vehicles, plus the big 4WD trucks the other homesteaders favor, slurp gas. The author has a small, gas-frugal car that he has equipped with winches and come-alongs that pop him out of the sand when he gets stuck in a wash.

Don't you need a refrigerator? The author gets along without one. Other homesteaders use propane fridges, but that's another expense. So is ice. He finds that he can get along for a week (the time between visits to the supermarket in town) without the expense of refrigeration. Let Albertsons pay for it. All the cooking is done on the two burners of a simple camp stove.


It's like the water.  You go to town for it.

It Takes a Certain Type

The book also examines the lives of the half dozen other homesteaders in the Smoke Tree, mostly living in trailer compounds. Some are reclusive and don't wish society. Others are prickly, and easily riled, with packs of semi-feral dogs spotted round the laager on breakaway leashes. Others are frankly eccentric. But all of the inhabitants have figured out ingenious ways to cope with a harsh enviornment.

(Author's Note)  Here's an update. In the last few years a few things have changed. Now there's the travel trailer at the rancho, a gift from my brother-in-law, hauled out to my property over the 17 miles of washboard by the Demented Vet for the consideration of a tank of gas and a hamburger. Frankly, the trailer is better than the hogan. It's off the ground, and easier to mouse-proof. The trailer has almost no amenities. The bilge pump I used for a home-made fountain got clogged with salt from the well water. All the cheapo 12-volt fans from SlaveMart crapped out, as did the ancient VCR. It's better this way. Now, the only electricity I use in the trailer powers the bedside reading lamp, the power source for which is one motorcycle battery and a small solar panel. The other illumination inside comes from a couple of beeswax candles (allegedly, less sooty). I have a flashlight for close work tracking stuff at night.

I do still have a computer from an earlier eon that I power off a marine battery in my car. The extra battery's charged off the alternator. I take the thumb drive from this computer to the library and fold it into my Yahoo account. I use the JC, the library, and the internet cafe for travel through the aether. I don't worry much about heat or cooling at the rancho, since when the weather gets too hot or cold I go someplace else. This last winter, I free-loaded with friends on the Big Island, and then went on a car camping safari down Baja, tenting on the beach. For a summer month, while the rancho is solarizing, I replenish the kitty by working the odd job. 

 I've put a few other items on this site.  The one of possible interest to desert visitors is Chuckwalla Wire, the on-line version of the weekly newspaper, the Chuckwalla Reveille.  The Wire features local columnists sharked up from among the Letters-to-the Editor regulars.  Beet Baily, a campground hostess who lives year-around in a tent, writes about frugality. Diego Garcia covers the prepper perspective.  Orin Wimbly, erstwhile high school English teacher (fired for shocking students with a homemade electric chair) often distinguishes the paper's Poet's Corner.  Inadvertently, news snippets from the Wire have chronicled the rise of Chuckwalla's leading citizen, Henry Pipps, CEO lof Valley Vigilance, town scoutmaster, and teen city councilman involved in several shootings that have attracted national notice.  


Chuckwalla Wire

Chuckwalla Wire is the on-line version of the weekly Chuckwalla Reveille, the publication of record for the tiny desert town in Imperial County, California.  The Wire features local columnists sharked up from among the Letters-to-the Editor regulars.  Beet Baily, a campground hostess who lives year-around in a tent, writes about frugality. Diego Garcia covers the prepper perspective.  Orin Wimbly, erstwhile high school English teacher (fired for shocking students with a homemade electric chair) often distinguishes the paper's Poet's Corner.  Inadvertently, news snippets from the Wire have chronicled the rise of Chuckwalla's leading citizen, Henry Pipps, CEO lof Valley Vigilance, town scoutmaster, and teen city councilman involved in several shootings that have attracted national notice.  

Letter to the Editor , and it's Besos again 

I know that the Reveille is too dainty to use anything other than euphemism and circumlocution when discussing anything earthy, and so no surprise to me at the paper‘s recent rendering of a popular compound curse word as “motherf*****.”   It started me thinking.  Why is this asterisk-laden word on everybody’s lips on all occasions around here? What does it really mean?  Merriam of course: he’s  a despicable cretin, or sometimes, someone formidable or impressive. But isn’t the root of the slur really about an unspeakable injury and deeply repulsive affront to the principle actor in everybody’s life.? So I started thinking about mothers, and particularly about the place of mothers in a community like Chuckwalla, impoverished, crime-ridden , and (another Reveille favorite) “low-information.”  Now for the intuitive leap.  Could “mothers” be the key to cleaning up this blighted mess of a burg?   It’s the mothers who have borne the horror of the latest round of gang-related shootings.  Sons shot, sons jailed.  What if the city recruited some of these stricken moms into some kind of deputized committee of vigilance?  One of the problems for our putative crime fighters (Chuckpo) is that nobody trusts the cops or will even speak to them. Even if the cops know the gangsters or their whereabouts, no witness is willing to cooperate or give evidence to make an arrest or a case.  The moms know who these motherf****** are. The moms live in the same neighborhood; they know by name and face the criminals who entice their sons into crimes.  Righteous fearless moms, organized and empowered with badges and weapons, could root out the bastards corrupting our town.  Think of the Mambas, tough female rangers in game parks, hunting down poachers.  Think of the tough, case-bitten women who run Amtrak dining cars.  People not to be fussed with.  Give them police powers and police tools, and they could give a new meaning to “motherf*****.”   Besos Amazn, Chuckwalla

Toilet and Trouble.  (Editor’s note:  A gushing  freshet of emails in response to intern reporter Cheryl Weiss’ feature last week on the dearth of public conveniences in Chuckwalla.  No city-managed public loos, in  the downtown or anywhere else; no rest stops at the off-ramps; no chemical cans at the bus stops.  And all the restaurants and saloons posted with forbidding notices: “Restrooms for customers only!”   Some of our  enterprising citizenry have found answers for the urgent bladder problem. Here’s one missive that may be helpful:)

I carry a pickle jar in my backpack.  The secret is loose trousers, so you can work in the jar easily below the belt without drawing attention.  During the Celestine Flu outbreak when all the public johns everywhere were closed,  I used the jar almost every day when I was out and about.  On the trolley platform I pretended to by examining the schedule board; on the street just about anywhere that’s sort of out of the way; even on the bus, because of social distancing, it’s possible.  The jar needs a lid with a tight seal, which should go on before trying to retrieve the jar.  Actually, I don’t use a pickle jar anymore.  I had to go bad while I was in the supermarket parking lot and had  found a semi-secluded spot under a tree when I realized the glass jar had broken inside my pack.  I’m glad I had loose trousers.  I peed down the side of my leg into my sock, and didn’t get my pants wet.  But now I carry an empty  plastic peanut butter jar.  P.S. (ha ha) No reasons girls can’t do the same if they have one of those cup funnels.
(The writer signed his name but we’re using “Anonymous’ for now.)

(Editor’s note:  A brief from frugal year-round tent camper Beet Bailey tells us about a venturi trailer she saw at the Journey’s End mobile home park on Amethyst Way.  “The 46-foot-long single wise has been positioned  so the front end faces the prevailing northwesterly breeze.  The bay window has been removed, the opening enlarged and covered with porous filtering cloth.  Most of the back end has also been cut out, creating a long breezeway for cooling. “It’s the venturi effect with the constricted space causing  a lowering of air pressure that speeds the air through the trailer,” Beet says.   The trailer’s owner, Tom Franks, claims the breeze does a lot to temper the 100 degree-plus summertime temps.  He has also put aluminum panels on his roof, and shade awnings all around.)

Spelling “B”  By the way, when it comes to style, the editor sometimes has to put our foot down.  Is it going to be “breatharian” or “breathairian?”  One might think that since the Los Angeles-based  cult believes  that the human body can subsist on air alone, with no further nourishment, then the logical root would be “breath air.”  But we note that the so-called sectarian faction headquartered in the rambling two-story on Gem St. near the JC campus has a sign out front announcing “Breatharian House.”  Spokesperson Jill Meadows, a 19-year-old sophomore at the JC, says it’s no misspelling.  “We are a secular apostate offshoot,” she says  minimalist  vegan diet of raw vegetables and fruits. “We distinguish ourselves by the spelling.”  Therefore the royal edict:  since the Reveille’s coverage focuses on the doings of the house, rather than of the larger cult, breathairian, and breatharianism, will be the Reveille’s style.

(Editor's note:  Reveille intern reporter Cheryl Weiss tells us that at Wednesday's council meeting several speakers during public comment groused about the alleged failings of Desert Empire Transit.  According to the speakers, the free buses don't run on time, have rude drivers, are dirty, and aren't safe for women and children because of unruly or intoxicated patrons.  We asked Weiss to look into this, but apparently DET's head guy, Arnold Praatt, isn't taking her calls, and nobody else is authorized to speak for the department.  However, we did receive this press release from Praatt.)

The DET visioning statement of long-term development goals
The current department goals encompass a five-year-and-outward vision of safe and reliable service which will include expanding and diversifying our personnel investment.   The department's leadership team has a strong managerial background enabling a department-wide effort of external re-branding as well as implementing performance oversight and internal benchmarks emphasizing core values and collaborative partnerships to align services with appropriate economic development opportunities that will enhance overall mobility initiatives.  According to DET Managing Director Arnold Praatt, "the key goal will be public accountability in terms of service and full transparency of our role in the community and commitment to diversifying our workforce."
"You don't know where you're going until you're heading in the right direction for what is best," Praatt said.

The Wire book is on the button above labeled "Chuckwalla Wire."  You could also copy and paste the following Amazon site to access the book.  This method would debit your Amazon account for $.99.

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.


Have you ever wondered about those trailer-laden desert burgs that you glimpse from the freeway as you flash by on the way to Vegas?

Chuckwalla Wire is the on-line version of the weekly Chuckwalla Reveille, the publication of record for the tiny desert town in Imperial County, California. 

Reveille Observatory 

 Talking the Walk   Perennial critic Besos Amazn has weighed in via e-burst regarding the recent council decision to declare the sidewalk on Victory Lane a bike path.   “Of course sidewalks are unused by pedestrians. Half the U.S. population are de facto invalids.  They can’t walk a mile. Too feeble.  Too fat.  And school kids on bikes are being knocked down right and left by monster pickups and SUVs.  Separate the tanks from the unarmored people!”

Deep DET   The secretive and authoritarian overlord of Desert Empire Transit isn’t talking, as usual, but he seems to be up to something.  One of DET’s Blue Bird former school buses is up on the rack undergoing major work at Ed’s Auto Repair but owner Ed Aimes says he can’t answer any questions.  We asked part-time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss to pry something loose.  Her report:

DET boss Jack Baylor has a standard answer to any query from the Reveille:  “No comment!”  But a helpful mole inside the county transit sector says that the DET chieftain has wangled a state grant to convert the fleet of eight DET buses to electric power.  “The cost of a new electric bus would be prohibitive for a small district, but DET ‘s proposal to convert the district’s present buses to battery power got state approval and funding.”  According to the source, the conversion will be done at no cost to the district.  All buses in the DET fleet formerly served as ‘60s-era school buses, and, for technical reasons, this makes a conversion easier than the case for later models.  The source, who says he has seen the proposal, notes that electric buses would mean a substantial savings in fuel costs.

No “Jams" Session   An English Composition teacher at Chuckwalla High has been reprimanded by principal Merrit Williams for wearing pajamas to her classroom.  Actually, a nightgown.  Teacher Becky Everett was assigned, over her objections, to an 8 a.m. English Comp class but says it’s just too early for her.  “I’m not a morning person,” Everett says, “and I live all the way at the end of Power Pole Road.  Nobody is saying that Everett’s morning attire is immodest.  The coarse linen long-sleeved floor-length nightgown is burka-like in cut, and the head is covered in a nightcap.  “It’s the example,” Williams said.  “We are prohibiting students from wearing pajamas to school.  We can’t have teachers doing it.” 

Walk (and Bike) On By    The city council has fine-tuned last week’s edict making the sidewalk along Victory Lane a bike lane.  A new rule just promulgated by the city’s department of works sets the bike speed limit on sidewalks at 9 mph.  Also bike riders are required to give way to any pedestrian encountered.  The sidewalk bike lane decision came about after the council received a report from the planning commission saying that most of the city’s sidewalks are not used by pedestrians.  We asked part-time reporter Cheryl Weiss for a look.

After a month-long study, the city planning commission found that hardly anyone walks in Chuckwalla.  “The only significant pedestrianism is along the Hobbesianway downtown.”  On the other hand, bicycles are popular in town among certain cohorts.  The lycra-wearing sports cycling contingent is small, but students, ag workers, the poor, and the unhoused ride bikes in numbers in the hundreds, and they  often cycle on arterial roads with minimal shoulders.  The report suggested that some of the under-used sidewalks could be declared bike lanes.  Victory Lane intersects Hobbesianway by the old Greyhound station and runs west to cross College Drive.  “Most of Victory Lane runs along an alfalfa field,” said Chuckwalla Junior College student Blair Coons, who cycles to his classes. “That means no driveways on one side of the street.”  Coons said Victory is an arterial with a posted speed limit of 35 mph, and not much of a shoulder.  “It’ll be a lot safer to ride on the sidewalk.”    Mayor Crain says the sidewalk bike lane is an experiment.  “The city pays something to maintain sidewalks, and it’s true you don’t see many pedestrians.  We’ll see how this works.”

Chuckwalla's autistic savant is back in town after being "fired" by NASA, as another casualty in the AI revolution.

(Editor’s note:  Maddie Hicks, readers will remember, came to local prominence for designing the award-winning humane chicken processing plant for Carr’s Quality Poultry.  She is also remembered at Chuckwalla High as the student who broke up the three-legged chicken chase by swinging a broom in the school auditorium. We assigned part time interim reporter Cheryl Weiss, captain of the women's badminton team at the junior college, to find out what happened.)

After her design for humane chicken factories came to notice, Hicks was hired by NASA to help with the nutritional component of the planned manned space mission to Mars. "They wanted to develop sheathed chicken embryos that would stand up to intense bombardment from ultraviolent radiation," Hicks said.  But her job soon expanded to a more secretive mission.  "NASA scientists were looking at autism as a possible model for future astronauts on prolonged space voyages beyond Mars," Hicks said.  "Past psychological profiling showed that volunteers on the high end of the spectrum were better able to tolerate prolonged isolation and lack of stimulus. There was the thought that an autistic personality would be best suited for decades-long one-way journeys beyond the solar system."  But rapid developments in AI scotched the program, Hicks said. AI now has become smart enough to handle the complex and multitudinous tasks of space travel.  More, it can withstand gamma radiation, and go into hibernation for years as a spacecraft traverses the void.  AI isn't perfect however.  For high functioning, the latest bots need access to the cloud, and also require industrial levels of energy. The space ship model would only be able to receive intermittent bursts of data from the cloud, and would have to rely on a small nuclear reactor for limited energy.  Still, even slimmed-down AI would offer "orders of magnitude" greater ability than what has been available to previous probes.  "I'm not at all surprised or disturbed," Hicks said, "AI, robotics, and automation are going to replace many jobs." She said she has yet to decide on her next venture.

Female mud wrestlers Thunder Clap and Sumo will demonstrate their holds and throws during a Wednesday a.m. assembly at Martin Van Buren Elementary.  The two wrestlers, members of the Soiled Doves tag team frequently appearing at mud wrestling events at the Rez casino and at the Horney Toad Saloon, will be featured as part of an ongoing school celebration of girls' athletics.  "Title IX has opened up so many fields of athletic endeavor for girls," said Helen Bachstrom, assistant principal.  "We want to show girls there are no limits."  The wrestling duo will be introduced by Martin Van Buren PTA president Mary Summers, and the assembly will include drinks and snacks donated by Chuckwalla's Beaux Talks Beauty Salon.

 Chuckwalla High School principal Merrit Williams reports that new regulations in place this year have brought about campus improvements.  "Overall, we've had a smooth year," Williams said. "in large part because of a realistic appraisal of expectations."  For one thing, the parental concerns about the library have been abated by the new policy that requires parental approval before issuing library cards.  "Students cannot use the library without their parents’ permission," Williams said. "And we call the parent before a book is checked out."  Others who wish to read are able to use the computer bank in the social lab, or in study hall, under outside monitoring.  "The campus is secure," Williams said. "Valley Vigilance has done a superb job in fostering a good learning environment.".

Batman loose   Chuckpo says the vandal currently smashing car windows in town probably is not familiar eco-terrorrist Andy Padillla. " "Not his MO at all," says Acting Chief Lt. Abel Dick. It's not burglary, either, Dick says.  It appears more ideological.   "All the victimized cars had their license plates obscurred, to foil the new cameras."  Chuckwalla received a state grant last year to install half a dozen license-reading cameras downtown along Hobbesianway to catch scofflaws running the stop signs.  Dick said some drivers have taken to covering the plates with tape or with splashes of mud.  "Whoever is bashing out the rear windows has it in for these people"

Hoots of derision in the Reveile's letters column for Mayor Crane's comment at last Wednesday's council in which he compared Chuckwalla to Amsterdam after a vote to declare the sidewalk along Victory Lane a bike lane.  The council took the vote after a city planning commision study found that few pedestrians ever use the sidewalk.  A typical response, this one from Besos Amazin:  "If Chuckwalla resembles Amsterdam in any way it's for drugs and prostitution, not for bike lanes. 
Video Nemisis   The towns champion gamer Fred Turk has a new YouTube out that's a big hit. He's collated a bunch of videos showing average citizens dealing out righteous retribution to criminals such as would-be carjackers or porch burglars.  The YouTube is called "F**ked with the Wrong Guy."  Use the correct punctuation when looking for it. 
Shouldering Sleep  Dave Betts, a volunteer cook at Harmony House, has an eye for innovation. One of his clients who sleeps rough came in to breakfast with a sleeping bag serape.  "The sleeping bag had slits for his head," Betts said, "Now he wears the bag instead of carrying it in his rucksack."  

Litter?  Let it lie.  Our own curmudgeonly gadfly and contrarian Besos Amazn has had a letter to the editor published in the New York Time!  Besos, a frequent contributor to the Reveille’s letters page, always has a litany of off-beat opinions that he airs locally, but this is the first time, he says, he’s reached a national audience.  Headline for his Times debut was “Don’t Pick Up Your Litter.”  His argument, a familiar one to his Reveille readers, is that garbage, most perniciously plastic, is not recycled, and winds up in the landfill or in the ocean.  “Tossing a plastic soda bottle into a trash can or recycling bin does not make it disappear,” Besos writes. It’s true that 90 percent of plastic waste is never reused, but goes into dumps, where over time it leaches toxicity into the soil.  Some of the plastic waste gets off-shored to Guatemala or Malaysia and is either burned in massive trash fires or winds up in the ocean. (A miniscule part of LA’s plastic waste is compressed into blocks and sent by rail to the waste ziggurat inside the meteor crater on the Lumbee Rez).  “It would be more ethical to leave your trash along the highway or in a vacant lot,” Besos says, “where it would degrade and pollute your own neighborhood.”   He claims, intuitively, evidently, that a plastic wrapper lying by the wayside is less noxious than one festering at the bottom of the land fill.  “If, for esthetics, you must pick up litter along the road at least have the decency to take it home and store it in perpetuity in your own backyard,” 

Teens still can ride DET’s Five-Buck Bus.  After a week of waffling and contradicting statements, the Desert EmpireTransi has rescinded its decision to prohibit juveniles on the system’s premium express bus line.  Last month DET issued new rider regulations for the Five-Buck Bus that would have  banned children and teens under 18 from using the popular line that whisks riders from two upscale neighborhoods to a stop in front of the Chuckwalla Police station.  The premium line already has dress guidelines (no shorts or pajamas) and limits passengers to 20 per bus.  DET leadership has been mum on reasons for the now-rescinded rule, but an anonymous source within the transit community has said that passengers submitted a petition to DET management  requesting the ban on kids. The DET free bus which meanders around town frequently has been subject to disturbances from rowdy juveniles, but according to one DET driver the Five-Buck young riders have not been a problem.  “They mostly are kids from Sobrantes Estates who attend the Montessori Academy downtown or go to the Christian Charter School on Heliotrope Dr.”  Reveille's source suggested the reason for rescinding the rule may be that Sobrantes' parents threatened to sue the district for discrimination. With the late success of the Five-Buck Bus the district has just tottered into solvency “and they don’t need a lawsuit.”

Blood Sample  An adjunct professor from the Chuckwalla Junior College’s Department of Sustainability and Resilience has requested blood samples from the varsity football team as part of her study into whether the human body can evolve to tolerate extreme heat.  Julia Felton, who heads the department’s field research unit, said the blood would be drawn following practice sessions in which the team often trains in wet bulb globe index temperatures in excess of 100 degrees.  “The players here have all grown up in a climate analogous to some of the hottest regions in the world,” Felton said, "We would like to see if they show any biological markers indicating an adaptation to extreme heat and humidity.“The testing would be part of a larger study being undertaken by the UC Riverside’s Department, which operates a satellite research branch at the JC.  In past years, department researchers have used Chuckwalla’s desert venue for studies of vernacular architecture and of native heat-resisting strategies.Felton said the city’s surrounding alfalfa crop, irrigated from the Colorado River, covers the area with a humid dome of water vapor that in combination with summer’s 100-120 degree temperatures puts the index temperature “right at the cusp” of what the human body can tolerate.Assistant varsity coach Tony Arguella said any such study would require written parental consent and the supervision of team physician Dr. Emilio Mendez, but was skeptical about the premise.“The Inuits adapt to the cold by wearing fur coats and mukluks,” Arguella said, “We adapt here in the same kind of ways.”He said team members during the training season take mandatory siestas, practice after 10 p.m., when the temperatures drop below 90, wear ice packs under their jerseys, and plunge their feet into buckets of ice water during breaks.  “We know heat stroke, and get a player off the field at the first sign,” Arguella said.

REGARDING THE PIECE last week about the scion of a Chuckwalla pioneer family, Enos Sturdivant, now 94 years old, who lives in a packing crate in a niece's backyard on a rural dirt road on the outskirts of the town’s gerrymandered city limits.  A relative tells us he would like to see Enos removed to an assisted living facility, and is willing to pay for it, but that Enos has declined the offer, preferring his present abode in a tiny wooden box once used for shipping melons. Gerald Handley, the relative, said he has petitioned Imperial County superior court judge Harvey Talbot for an order making Enos a ward of the court, and mandating his removal to assisted care. Judge Talbot says he will not make a ruling until he receives a welfare report from the county Social Services department.  But in a hearing last week a representative from Social Services told Talbot that because of staff shortages it may be several months before a county worker can visit Enos and evaluate his living arrangements.

We assigned part time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, a freshman at Chuckwalla junior college and member of the school’s scholastic honor society, to pay Sturdivant a visit.  Her report:

The packing crate, once the property of Pease Farms, measures ten feet in length, six in width, and five feet in height, dimensions designed for a snug fit on the pre-World War II flatbed trucks that hauled melons from the Colorado River to markets in Los Angeles.  The crate is now in a corner of  the large backyard of a secluded two-story house belonging to 65-year-old Mary Crawford, Sturdivant’s niece.  Sturdivant is a spare, bewhiskered five-and-a-half footer, dressed in sweatpants and a billowing long-sleeved peasant’s smock.  He was reclining on a lounge chair and immersed in the day’s wordle, when I asked permission for an interview.

I hear they want to put you away.

“Jerry (Handley) means well. He came over here.  I admit I’m old. I can’t see this puzzle without this magnifying glass. It takes me a cane or two to move around.  I’m kind of incontinent, if you know what that means.  My memory is shot. Blah, blah.  But I can still take care of myself, and Mary lets me stay here for free.  She’s disabled and doesn't use the yard.  She doesn't want me living in her house, though.”

Does Jerry have ulterior motives?   “Nope. All I`ve got is $600 a month Social Security. He’s just a natural do-gooder and Christian busybody.” 

So what’s your day like? “Tea and a banana, oatmeal and an orange.  Putter in the garden, get in a walk to the mailbox, vegetable soup and crackers, read the paper, take a nap, read a book, visit Mary, pudding and a cookie, watch a movie. Night-night.”

I see you have electricity.  “It’s an extension cord to Mary’s back porch.  I have a hot pot, an oil electric space heater, a toaster, a fan, and a light.  I can only use one appliance at a time or I trip the breaker.”

The incontinence?  “I grew up on a farm.  I can clean up the barnyard.”

 TINY POVERTY-RIDDEN CHUCKWALLA    A model for nation-wide public transit?  Two officials from the federal Department of Transportation were in town this week to check out Desert Empire Transit’s tiered fare system.  Might it work for bigger roads?  DET has three tiers:  local snail service that stops everywhere and is free; premium two-dollar service runs the same route with fewer stops; and then the express “five-buck bus,” which hurtles non -stop from high-end neighborhoods (Sobrantes Estates, Colmas Dorado) to the Chuckpo station house downtown. The buses are all the same (mostly converted Blue Bird school buses) except that the five-buck bus limits the number of passengers to 20, and has a dress code (no shorts, pajamas or tee-shirts).  According to Harold Stemson, DOT’s lead investigator here, a data mole in DC noticed that the DET five-buck bus ridership almost pays for everything else, including salaries and maintenance.  “Chuckwalla DET is a very small system,” Stemson said, “but it’s something to think about.”  The DOT spokesperson said he’s aware of rider complaints that the DET free buses are dirty, run late, and are sometimes dangerous because of intoxicated or deranged passengers. Still, he says, it’s notable that overall system ridership increased markedly with the five dollar fare on the express line. “It appears passengers will pay more to use buses that offer a seat to themselves among well dressed people,” Stemson said.  Well, it’s an old saying in transit circles, “The problem with public transit is the public.” 

A SWARM OF GEES? More G-Men stopping at the Packer House BnB this week. Two pasty faces from HUD are here for a week to look at the backpacking camp on the Rez, with the idea of picking up ideas for federally sponsored long-term camping for the unemployed or displaced.  On the Lumbee Rez, the itinerant can pitch a tent for five bucks a night and stay indefinitely. Or stay for free, if the camper is willing to put some labor into the adjoining pot garden, the produce from which is retailed at the casino tobacco store.  No cars or liquor allowed in camp, but plenty of shake .  HUD wonders if this is scalable as one remedy to the intractable housing shortage.

REALLY LONG TERM PARKING  How long can you park your car in front of your own house?  Dave Distillino, the owner of Desert Bowl on Rhinestone Dr. adjacent to the entrance to Sobrantes Estates, complained to the council Tuesday that Sobrantes homeowners are crowding out parking space for his customers by positioning non-operational cars along a public street.  “On league nights my lot is packed, and the overflow has nowhere to park,” Distillino said “because of all these junk cars on Emerald Lane.” (Editor’s note:  We assigned Reveille intern reporter Cheryl Weiss to investigate.)

Cindy Kinder, spokesperson for Sobrantes Estates Homeowners  Association, said that on weekends and on tournament nights, rowdy Bowl patrons have become a nuisance.  “The bowl parking lot is too small, and their patrons are parking within the Estates.  When returning to their vehicles at night, they can be noisy and disrespectful of privacy.”  To prevent this, she said, residents have purchased non-op cars from Randy’s Wreaking and Pull-a-Part and parked the cars, permanently, along Emerald Lane near the Bowl.  “The cars belong to the homeowners, and there is no reason they can’t be parked in front of their houses.”  Kinder said that despite coming from the wreaking yard, the cars all have been freshly painted in neutral gray.  “I offered a special,” said yard owner Randy Evans. “At my paint shop, I power washed the cars and sprayed them, windows and trim, with a coat of metallic gray that I got surplus from a government auction”  The cars, Evans said, already had been stripped for parts but the chassis were “pretty clean” and still had tires.  Car body, paint job, tow over to Emerald Lane, $300, Evans said. “I was glad to get them off my lot.”

Chuckpo acting police chief  Lt. Abel Dick said that at the request of mayor Crane he had run the plates.  “They’re all registered to the various homeowners as non-op,” Dick said. “I don’t contemplate any action here.”

OH MY PAPA   At last some clarity on the rickshaw ordinance. At Wednesday council, the board unanimously approved a set of regulations for licensed rickshaws on Chuckwalla streets. Operators of licensed rickshaws now must have at the ready OSHA certified PAPA (powered air purifying) respirators, to be worn when the valley’s notoriously noxious air quality deteriorates to a particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) count of 60.  The battery powered respirators feature full face masks and are designed for jobs requiring physical exertion.  “They‘re frequently worn for wildfire suppression or by oilfield roustabouts,” according to Abe Franklin, equipment salesman for Valley Farm Supply.  Mayor Robert Crane said the city could not in good conscience allow rickshaw pullers to endanger their health by breathing the city's frequently polluted brew of dust, diesel exhaust and ag chemicals.  Other new rules involve age restrictions for operators (18 to 40) and equipment inspections to be done by Chuckpo (time permitting).

TOY TOWN  (Editor’s note:  Regarding the city planning commission’s approval last week of a development of disposable cardboard housing for low-income residents, to be built in the flood-prone Arroyo Seco wash south of town.  Part-time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, a freshman at Chuckwalla Junior College and a runner-up in the Imperial County Chess Bowl, submitted a term paper about the plan for her honors sociology class at the college.  Follows excerpts from her report:)

To build out the development the city council would have to pass an emergency ordinance overriding various sections of the building code in the interests of humanitarian assistance. As envisioned, the two-room cottages would be built from water-resistant cardboard panels on standard two-by-four framing. Foundations would be concrete blocks. The buildings would not be  plumbed or wired, the gravity-fed water supply coming from elevated tanks nearby, and 110-volt electricity directed to central distribution jack boxes with household sockets. Each cottage would have an outhouse with composting toilet.  Thomas Betts, project manager, said the cost of each unit is estimated at $4,000.  “The house is designed to be disposable,” Betts said.  “If it’s washed away or blown over, it can be replaced at little additional cost.” The vision, Betts said, makes use of land contiguous to the city that otherwise would be unsuitable for housing.  The Arroyo Seco wash frequently is subject to flash flooding.  As recently as 2013, the swale of the wash temporarily became a lake suitable for kayaking.  “But mostly, it’s dry,” Betts said, “so why not use it to help solve our housing crisis.”  A sticking point in getting city approval has been the matter of insurance  Banks will not make loans for housing developments without it. Nor would future buyers of the cardboard houses be able to get coverage for the replacement costs in the likely event of flood.  “The issue is reinsurance,” said city manager Abe Franklin.  “The developer has formed his own insurance company but needs reinsurance to spread the liability.”  Betts said the hurtle is getting people comfortable with the idea of disposable housing.  “The equity is not in the house, but in the contract guaranteeing a damaged house will be replaced within weeks.”   

Shuttle Wired
   Ed Meeks, co-owner of Bill and Ed’s Auto Repair, got a contract from the city council Tuesday night to retrofit the Hobbesianway  tractor shuttle with an electric motor.  At the weekly meeting, the Chuckwalla council voted unanimously to pay Meeks $3500 to exchange the 1955 John Deere’s 60-hp gas motor with a used 72 volt Crown Swingmaster electric motor.  “This will do a lot for air quality,“ said mayor Robert Crane, “because that old John Deere has no pollution control and stinks pretty bad.“  The shuttle, a flatbed trailer set up with benches and pulled by the John Deere, trundles a three-mile route from the old Kmart parking lot  to the Greyhound station at Mercury Dr., delivering and picking up Snowbirders patronizing businesses along the main drag. According to Harold Stems, manager of the city’s maintenance yard, power for the tractor can be supplied by 20 confiscated golf cart  batteries now in the yard’s storage shed.  The batteries had been stolen last year from a garden supply warehouse in Riverside and used by the thieves for operating the hydraulic lifts on low riders.  “The cars had been impounded for various violations, and the warehouse people  didn’t want the batteries back, since they’d already collected the insurance,” Stems said.  Meeks and his partner run a side business converting gas cars to electric.  “We’ve done a  couple of dozen so far,” Meeks said. “We strip down light weight compact models from the salvage yard and put in used fork lift motors,” he said.  “The cars make good commuters.”

Dogs Gone   Regarding that distress signal two weeks ago from the Humane Society’s dog pound.  According to society director April Raines, the shelter is at full capacity because of an abundance of large canines that can’t find homes.  Raines said new arrivals, “the bigger breeds, Shepherds and Dobermans,” began being dropped off over the last few months until now there is no room for more.  “People bought these cute little puppies three years ago at the start of the Celestine Flu outbreak,” Raines said. “Now the dogs are eighty-pounds, and demand lots of food and attention.”  And if they haven’t been fully socialized they may no longer be welcome as family pets.  Raines said she never wants to euthanize a healthy animal but fears she may have no choice.  There may be a solution.  When the subject arose at Tuesday’s city council, councilman Henry Pipps, who is also CEO of Valley Vigilance, said he is talking with Raines about taking all the shelter’s large dogs for training at his company’s newly established Kennel Kamp, which prepares dogs for security work.  “Those big breeds need action and room,” Pipps said. “They won’t be happy in a backyard.”  Valley Vigilance already fields guard dogs that accompany the Martin Van Buren Elementary walking school bus, and provides packs which patrol the perimeter of the Marvin Gardens housing project.  Pipps said he sees an opportunity to provide canine security for the burgeoning plastic ziggurat at the Rez.  “I’ve already sent a query to the (Los Angeles) county’s department of sanitation suggesting that patrol dogs could help discourage theft.”   (Editor’s note:  Thieves, allegedly crossing over the bombing range from the Slabs, have been stealing blocks of compressed waste plastic from the Rez to fire illegal distilleries.)  Pipps added he also planned to suggest to the California Department of Corrections that dogs could benefit the supervision of off-site work crews from Ironwood. Over the past year several inmates have escaped while working with crews outside the prison walls.  “What I’d like to see is a grant from the state,” Pipps said. “Guard dogs aren’t pets,” he said, “the training is different. They’re only friendly with their handlers.”  And there is a distinction, he said, between guard dogs and attack dogs.  “True attack dogs usually come from Germany, are rigorously trained, and are expensive, about twenty grand each.”

This month’s self-published Kindle books by Tri-Desert authors
“Trodden Corns,” by Besos Amazn  The Sorrows of Young Besos, being  the latest petulant stirrings from the Empire’s curmudgeonly gadfly
‘Zero Ohms,’ by Fever Childe  Self-help for workaholics.  Stop struggling, and surrender to the path of least resistance.
‘Win for Number One,’ by Everett Downs   More self-help.  How to recognize and overcome the enervating feelings of compassion and selflessness that stand in the way of success.  You don’t owe anybody.  Nobody else matters. So don’t encourage the needy.
“The Cavalier Garden of Romantic Posey,” by Chuckwalla High School English teacher Melinda Bates.  Rakes and Hoes.  

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Chuckwalla city council tabled a recommendation from the planning commission to install a roundabout at the intersection of Hobbesianway and Mercury Dr.  “It’s a European kind of idea that people around here don’t get,” said councilman Tony Androtti, “Better would be a four-way, or maybe even a stop light.” At previous meetings, citizens had complained about the dangerous intersection, recounting incidents of near-collisions and pedestrian near-misses by cars blowing the stop signs on Mercury Dr. Councilman Henry Pipps said he could appreciate the reluctance of Chuckwallians to embrace foreign concepts such as the “glorietta,” but pointed out it was the least expensive option for improving safety. “A four-way means yellow flashers, and a light would be a major cost, maybe $50,000,” Pipps said.  “Maybe we could set up a tutorial on one of the side streets.”  Mayor Robert Crane, however, opted for putting the item over until the council reaches more of a consensus.

The Lumbee Master Vision
(Editor's note:  The Chuckwalla Chamber of Commerce held a closed board meeting Friday night to hear chamber president Bert Bertinelli spell out what he called the "Lumbee Indigenous Peoples' Master Vision" for the next decade. Bertinelli, who doubles as a paid spokesman for the Lumbee rez, opted to close the session to the press and to non-board members, but Reveille part-time intern Cheryl Weiss got hold of a transcript furnished by an auditor.)

In short, Bertinelli said the economic vision for the rez should build on the soverign nation status, to exploit opportunites created by global warming, pollution, overpopulation, and state and federal bureaucratic inertia.  He said that alert Chuckwalla businessmen could also profit from some of the proposed actions. "The nation can move expediously to shelter displaced or surplus populations, it can sequester huge volumes of waste products, and it can become a national supplier of cannibis products."   According to Bertinelli, "the future is refugees," and the sprawling, mostly unoccupied reservation could accommodate myriad undocumented migrants, homeless persons, as well as the shiftless and penurious. "Cities and states, the feds, too, will pay good money to find a place to put the un-housed and unwanted." The nation, because it doesn't have zoning regulations, can create  overnight vast camps for thousands. "The indigenous nations have a tradition of temporary shelters for transients," Bertinelli said.  "We know about tents and hogans."  He said the nation could use the work of the University of Riverside's department of sustainability and resilience, for extreme heat strategies, for camp hygeine, for water supply, for internal security. "Compost toilets, shade awnings, water buffaloes (water tanks), and maybe Valley Vigilance, which already on the Rez to guard the plastic trash."  The Lumbee nation currently has contracts with multiple agencies to store waste.  The City of Los Angeles operates a spur rail-line to freight bales of plastic waste to be stored in perpetuity inside the Watahebi Meteor Crater.  Riverside County operates a tire incinerator of the Rez. The state of California recently opened a facility to dismantle and recycle car batteries.  "Trash and junk everywhere, and no place to put it," Bertinelli said.  "A huge opportunity."  Bertinelli said that once bureaucrats realized agencies could offload surplus people and waste without the usual tangles, "the money will start to flow."  Particularly with the potential for growing weed. The backpacker camp already has a five acre pot garden tended by residents, with the product sold at the casino tobacco shop.  Plus dozens of more informal gardens dotted around an area the size of New Hampshire.  Chuckwalla, being adjacent to the rez, was bound to prosper as a supply hub.  "There's money in this for everybody," the chamber president said. "The sky's the limit."  Cheryl Weiss

Letter to the Editor  Besos again      
“I know that the Reveille is too dainty to use anything other than euphemism and circumlocution when discussing anything earthy, and so no surprise to me at the paper‘s recent rendering of a popular compound curse word as “motherf*****.”   It started me thinking.  Why is this asterisk-laden word on everybody’s lips on all occasions around here? What does it really mean?  Merriam: a despicable cretin, or sometimes, someone formidable or impressive. But isn’t the root of the slur referencing an unspeakable injury and deeply repulsive affront to the principle actor in everybody’s life.? So I started thinking about mothers, and particularly about the place of mothers in a community like Chuckwalla, impoverished, crime-ridden , and (another Reveille favorite) “low-information.”  Now for the intuitive leap.  Could “mothers” be the key to cleaning up this blighted mess of a burg?   It’s the mothers who have borne the horror of the latest round of gang-related shootings.  Sons shot, sons jailed.  What if the city recruited some of these stricken moms into some kind of deputized committee of vigilance?  One of the problems for our putative crime fighter (Chuckpo) is that nobody trusts the cops or will even speak to them. Even if the cops know the gangsters or their whereabouts, no witness is willing to cooperate or give evidence to make an arrest or a case.  But the moms know who these motherf****** are. The moms live in the same neighborhood; they know by name and face the criminals who entice their sons into crimes.  Righteous fearless moms, organized and empowered with badges and weapons, could root out the bastards corrupting our town.  Think of the Mambas, tough female rangers in game parks, hunting down poachers.  Think of the tough, case-bitten women who run Amtrak dining cars.  People not to be f***ed with.  Give moms police powers and police tools, and they could give a new meaning to “motherf*****.”   Besos Amazn

Spelling “B”  When it comes to style, the editor sometimes has to put our foot down.  Is it going to be “breatharian” or “breathairian?”  One might think that since the Los Angeles-based  cult believes  that the human body can subsist on air alone, with no further nourishment, then the logical root would be “breath air.”  But we note that the so-called sectarian faction headquartered in the rambling two-story on Gem St. near the JC campus has a sign out front announcing “Breatharian House.”  Spokesperson Jill Meadows, a 19-year-old sophomore at the JC, says it’s no misspelling.  “We are a secular apostate offshoot,” she says, advocating a minimalist  vegan diet of raw vegetables and fruits. “We distinguish ourselves by the spelling.”  Therefore the royal edict:  since the Reveille’s coverage focuses on the doings of the house, rather than of the larger cult, therefore, breatharian, and breatharianism, will be the Reveille’s style.

Toilet and Trouble.  Editor’s note:  A gushing  freshet of emails in response to intern reporter Cheryl Weiss’ feature last week on the dearth of public conveniences in Chuckwalla.  No city-managed public loos, in the downtown or anywhere else; no rest stops at the off-ramps; no chemical cans at the bus stops.  And all the restaurants and saloons posted with forbidding notices: “Restrooms for customers only!”   Some of our  enterprising citizenry have found answers for the urgent bladder problem. Here’s one missive that may be helpful.

“I carry a pickle jar in my backpack.  The secret is loose trousers, so you can work in the jar easily below the belt without drawing attention.  During the Celestine Flu outbreak when public johns everywhere were closed,  I used the jar almost every day when I was out and about.  On the trolley platform I pretended to by examining the schedule; on the street just about anywhere that’s sort of out of the way; even on the bus, because of social distancing, it’s possible.  The jar needs a lid with a tight seal, which should go on before trying to retrieve the jar.  Actually, I don’t use a pickle jar anymore.  I had to go while I was in the supermarket parking lot and had  found a semi-secluded spot under a tree when I realized the glass jar had broken inside my pack.  I’m glad I had loose trousers.  I peed down the side of my leg into my sock, and didn’t get my pants wet.  But now I carry an empty  plastic peanut butter jar.  P.S. (ha ha) No reasons girls can’t do the same if they have one of those cup funnels.”
(The writer signed his name but we’re using “Anonymous’ for now.)

(Editor’s note:  A brief from frugal year-round tent camper Beet Bailey tells us about a venturi trailer she saw at the Journey’s End mobile home park on Amethyst Way.  “The 46-foot-long single wide has been positioned  so the front end faces the prevailing northwesterly breeze.  The bay window has been removed, the opening enlarged and covered with porous filtering cloth.  Most of the back end has also been cut out, creating a long breezeway for cooling. “It’s the venturi effect with the constricted space causing  a lowering of air pressure that speeds the air through the trailer,” Beet says.   The trailer’s owner, Tom Franks, claims the breeze does a lot to temper the 100 degree-plus summertime temps.  He has also put aluminum panels on his roof, and shade awnings all around.)

(Editor's note:  Reveille intern reporter Cheryl Weiss tells us that at Wednesday's council meeting several speakers during public comment groused about the alleged failings of Desert Empire Transit.  According to the speakers, the free buses don't run on time, have rude drivers, are dirty, and aren't safe for women and children because of unruly or intoxicated patrons.  We asked Weiss to look into this, but apparently DET's head guy, Arnold Praatt, isn't taking her calls, and nobody else is authorized to speak for the bus line.  However, we did receive this press release from Praatt.)

The DET visioning statement of long-term development goals
The current DET goals encompass a five-year-and-outward vision of safe and reliable service which will include expanding and diversifying our personnel investment.   The department's leadership team has a strong managerial background enabling a department-wide effort of external re-branding as well as implementing performance oversight and internal benchmarks emphasizing core values and collaborative partnerships to align services with appropriate economic development opportunities that will enhance overall mobility initiatives.  According to DET Managing Director Arnold Praatt, "the key goal will be public accountability in terms of service and full transparency of our role in the community and commitment to diversifying our workforce. You know where you're going when you're heading in the right direction for success," Praatt said.

In the latest communiqué to the Reveille,  lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla, the city’s elusive green guerrilla, takes responsibility  for the recently-discovered infestation of black-legged ticks at the Tiny Town miniature golf course, and at the county dog park on Mercury Dr.  Padilla claims to have raised the ticks (Borrelis bucqdorferi) at his secret lab in the Scorpion Mountains and to have infected the sesame seed-sized insects with Lyme Disease.  The Imperial County Health Department issued a bulletin after receiving reports from pee wee golfers about finding ticks on their clothing.  The health notice, along with the usual caveats about ticks, said an inspector had collected specimens from Tiny Town and had forwarded the samples for analysis at the county’s Riverside lab. Abe Studenitz, owner of Tiny Town Amusements, said he had closed the popular attraction for two days last week while an exterminator, Ace M Pest Control, sprayed the area. The county health inspector also checked the county dog park but found no ticks.  In his communiqué,  Padilla offers no motives for his latest alleged attacks but in the past he has cited his opposition to “bourgeois indifference” to climate change.  (Editor’s note:  The county dog park has been closed since December pending settlement of litigation claiming that the county had failed to follow environmental guidelines regarding waste.  The lawsuit, filed by the Green Zone Café board of directors, alleges that the county’s environmental review failed to consider the potential health hazards of feces-laden dust on residents of Sobrantes Estates, directly downwind from the park.

Herd 'em in   The death of a child cyclist struck down by a monster pickup on Pricklypear Way north of town has occasioned a community meeting that ended with a resolution to hire private security to usher bicycling school children to their classrooms.  An as yet unidentified eight-year-old was killed last Wednesday when a oversize GMC pickup driven by Sy Johnson, 20, made an abrupt turn into a driveway.  According to Pricklypear Way resident Shirley Knight, the ad hoc group voted to ask Valley Vigilance Security to provide bicycle outriders to accompany the several dozen neighborhood children who on school days ride thier bikes to school.  "There needs to be a dedicated bike lane along Pricklypear (which is an arterial street with a posted speed limit of 35 mph) but we've been told by the mayor that the city hasn't any money for street improvements."  Instead, the neighbors agreed to assess themselves to hire security to ride along with a pod of student cyclists. "We want highly visible adult officers wearing cameras," Knight said.  A Chuckpo spokesperson said the Pricklypear accident is under investigation and no charges have been filed.

This red light of mine  Apparently the Little Red Songbook sing-along in Victory Park will go on as scheduled for Wednesday noon.  The Breatharian House duo,  A Pair of Chicks, will perform works from the Wobbly songbook, followed by a program of spirituals from the OMG Youth Ministry’s vocal  trio, the Amazing Graces.   The unusual double bill represents a conciliation brought about through the intercession of Chuckwalla mayor Robert Crane. The blurb in the Reveille announcing the event sparked an angry email from OMG Youth Ministry director Byron Fistule in which he threatened picketing of the Breathairian duo‘s performance.  “The Hail Adoni  Baptist Church (parent of the OMGYM) unalterably condemns Breathairianism in all its parts,” said Fistule, who promised to drown out “caterwauling socialism” with a vociferous protest.  It was the conciliating mayor who smoothed feathers by suggesting the concert also could be an opportunity to showcase the talents of the Graces, “whose voices often it’s been my pleasure to enjoy in church.”  The Chicks and the Graces, Crane said, are “wonderful young women who should get every chance to reach out to the community.”  The Chicks will perform “Solidarity Forever.”  Hook, Line and Sinker,”  and “Worthless is the Freedom Bought.“ The Graces will cover “Jesus Paid it All,” “To God be the Glory,“ and “The Old Rugged Cross.“  The singers will close out the concert by joining voices for  “If I Had a Hammer.”

Refining the flour  UC Riverside’s satellite department of sustainability and resilience, at the Chuckwalla JC campus, has refined its recipe for  the school’s much ballyhooed survival biscuit, improving the cereal powerhouse that provides battered heat refugees with complete nutrition in one hard cracker.  The biscuit, meant to be as imperishable as Royal Navy hardtack, contains all the vitamins and minerals that are on the Wheeties label, plus complete protein, gut probiotics, and a dose of fiber.  The new recipe is also easier to bake. “After mixing the easily obtained half dozen ingredients, the biscuit dough can be baked in a simple solar oven,” said Brad Steffle, a UC resilience specialist.  Or lacking an oven, the biscuits can be baked like sun-dried bricks in the searing afternoon of the apocalyptic Southern Hemisphere.  “Just put the patty on a flat stone in full sun,” Steffle said.  To be edible, however, the baked biscuit has to be dipped in liquid.

The latest self-published Amazon  e-books from Desert Empire authors

Blind, Deaf, and Nuts, the anonymous memoirs of a Chuckwalla assisted living caregiver.

Every Person for Themselves, By Faith Dennis, the Palo Verde survivalist and food hoarder. An improving tract for the improvident, on the theme of “you’d better watch out..”

Beam in My Own Eye, by Besos Amazn.  Another dash of bitters from the local gadfly who haunts the columns of the Reveille’s letters page.

Eyeball and Thumb, a Heuristical Journey, by Blythe's Terry Lott.   The local inventor and tinkerer offers rough-and-ready rules for navigating the common perplexities of life.

The Primate Diet, by Evan Fields.  Bananas and peanuts? The Sometimes Spring author and  world traveler "forages and nibbles" through the grocery produce aisles to create a no-cooking, high fiber natural diet based on fruits and nuts.

Romanian Baby, by Skylar Plimsoll.  The autobiography of an abandoned infant raised in a Catholic orphanage located on a remote desert religious retreat, his horrific mistreatment, and subsequent life of crime.

Spitting Buttends, by Besos Amazn again.  Another motley collection of polemics from the prolific local gadfly who seems to have a contrarian opinion about everything.


Snake handling    The Borrows Gang rattlesnake feed faces no shortage of serpents for the annual barbeque held at the gang’s rustic encampment near the old Frog Skin mine south of town.  Event spokesman and Borrows resident Bo Keeley said the rattlesnake poaching of the previous year has been nipped by “vigorous measures“ to ensure a plentiful supply of the toothsome reptiles.  Last season, poachers from Texas cleaned out the major nests around town to supply the Big Springs, Texas, rattlesnake roundup and cook-off, which had come up short because of a prolonged drought and an outbreak of plague that decimated the rodent population, the rattlesnakes’ principle nourishment.  “We let the Texans know what we thought about snake rustling,” Keeley said. Still, because of last year’s depredations, the rattlesnake crop has diminished, but, thankfully, there is Billy Everett’s snake farm.  “Billy has raised up a big ball of snakes for us,” Keeley said. And he said the meat will be delicate and flavorful, since the snakes have been raised entirely on white laboratory  mice. “Your wild rattler takes a varied diet of  rats, lizards and toads, which can make the meat a little gamey,” Keeley said.  “Billy’s snakes are pure sirloin.”

Tape Worm  An American Legionnaire who wishes anonymity secretly taped the talk given Friday night at  Legion Lodge by Chamber chief Bert Bertinelli touting the new Pacific Rim Co-Prosperity Sphere,  Bertinelli calling it "a win-win for all," particularly for the Chuckwalla alfalfa farmers who have found a market in China.  Bert, on tape:  "It's also win-win for People of Redness who finally are getting a little more of a taste, with the trash incinerator and the plastic dump. (Editor's note:  Bertinelli is a paid spokesperson for the Lumbee Nation).  "So I'm thinking:  celebration.  A pow-wow at the Rez. What about an Alfalfa Fest at the casino?  A way to celebrate prosperity.  A huge gala.  Celebrities. The casino girls could put on a Miss Alfalfa pageant. The showgirls.  Bonnie Yoni and Downey Dent.  Maybe a  special appearance by Melanie Duggs flashing her Twin 44s.  The Roarin' Forties. Dance of the Implants.  We could fly in some Chinese from Long Beach.  A round of golf at the Dunes and then the casino.  And it's a peace gathering.  Everybody invited:  the hay farmers, the dairymen, the squires who sold out to the water district.  We could bring in some Koreans too.  Make it a memorial night for the Chosan Pearl.”  (Editor's note:  The Korean bulk carrier Chosan Pearl rolled over and sank when a load of alfalfa on deck got soaked in unexpected heavy weather).  “The Nation is looking at the Rim, and the East is Red.  The Nation partnered with the Chinese gas plant; it partnered with Sung Il on the Alien Museum.  Korean patronage at the casino? Saturday night,  forty percent.  Comes over from Monterey Park  The Sphere has a dome over the Rez."  Reached at the Chamber office, Bertinelli at first denied making the remarks, but after listening to the tape, claimed it had been maliciously edited.

Name Game  Our reporter didn’t catch his name but some citizen at the Wednesday night council meeting’s  public comment took umbrage about the names of the saloons along Hobbesianway. “We need remediation,” he said, to avoid visitors’ taking offense while cruising the town’s main drag.  What?  The three bars located on downtown Hobbesianway are the Horney Toad, the Beaver Lodge, and the Oar House.

A mobile medical clinic sponsored by the Southern California Methodist Council will be in Chuckwalla this weekend, offering free health care to all in the Albertsons parking lot.  The free clinic, housed in half a dozen buses, crisscrosses the state with a contingent of volunteer doctors and nurses. “It’s kind of a traveling circus,” said Robert Delaney, the clinic director. “We come to town, set up our tents, and make people feel better.” Delaney said the clinic offers first aid, consultations, prescriptive meds, and limited surgical procedures. “A lot of people can’t afford insurance,” he said, “but a lot of medicine is fairly straight forward and not expensive.  We can clean up wounds, diagnose problems, prescribe antibiotics, surgically remove skin cancers and actinic lesions.  We provide counseling about a healthy lifestyle.” Although sponsored by the Methodists, the service is open to all, and there’s no proselytizing, Delaney said. A traveling free dental clinic also visits Chuckwalla annually.  That clinic is sponsored by the Chinese labor battalion installing the co-generation unit at the gas plant.

Alphas   (Editor’s note:  A Chuckwalla JC adjunct professor of sociology, Herman Nesbitt, recently published in a peer-reviewed national journal the results of a year-long study into how hierarchies are formed.  In his article appearing in  The Sociobiotics Journal Nesbitt details his experiments into the social behaviors that divide random groups into domineering Alphas and complacent Betas.  Part-time Reveille intern Cheryl Weiss, a freshman honors student at the college, finds out more.)

During an interview in his shared college office, adjunct professor Nesbitt said his signal experimental model, replicated a dozen times, demonstrated how Alphas self-identify in a random group and quickly join together as the dominant faction.  “In the main outline of the experiment, a student-actor would take the platform in front of random assortments of students who thought they had come to a classroom to hear a lecture from an off-campus speaker.  Instead the student-actor behaves arrogantly, insults the audience, and is generally obnoxious.  Inevitably, most of the audience, the Betas,  react with facial expressions and body language showing they are offended, but otherwise are quiescent.  Alphas, however, immediately push back, verbally engaging the actor and bandying insults.  The most interesting behavior, and this happened every time, was that the Alphas, who didn’t know each other, all rise from their seats and physically gather together in front of the stage, directly confronting the actor.  It’s as if they are announcing, ‘We are in charge here.”  The experiment is arranged so that all the audience members are strangers to each other, but every time the dominant Alphas in the group identify themselves and join together.  It is my hypothesis that this behavior may explain historically how the aristocratic classes emerged. Some recent intriguing studies with rat populations point in the same direction.”  Cheryl Weiss

New Cafe in Town  A name for the new coffee spot adjacent to the Castaways senior hostel is still in flux, as the three owners haven’t settled.  The temporary banner across the entrance reads Classless Society, "but none of us likes it," says Reynold Phelps, one of the owners. Too precious. "We want a name that references our Marxist roots, and that underscores the  paradigm shift in our thinking on non-exploitative labor.”  Phelps say the problem with restaurants in general is that they foster subserviance and class distinction, with the dichotomy between waiters and entitled clients.  “We see no reason why one person should serve another or otherwise be placed in an inferior relationship," Phelps says.  "Why should anyone else bring your plate or bus your table?”  The three owners (the other two are Barrie Dennison, and Andrew Horton) are Castaways residents who make up the entire membership of Chuckwalla’s Socialist Workers Union, a Trotskyist group.  “We were all members of the Spartacus League in Brooklyn, and forty years later happenstance brought us together here.”  In the new cafe diners schlep their own food from the kitchen, pour their own coffee, and clean up their own table. “There’s an area where people can wash and rack their dishes, modeled on the idea of a hostel breakfast kitchen, where everybody takes care of himself,” Phelps said. As for the food, "our first priority is good nutrition." Other signs of socialism:  the cafe menu prices will be noticeably below market, and all of us get the same wage. Historically, Trotskyite socialist groups have been riven by infighting, and the Socialist Workers Union in Chuckwalla  is no different.  “We have two factions and three tendencies,”Phelps said. “My suggestion for a name was The Revisionists." 

The RS TRES bilingual charter school
will be holding a bake sale tomorrow at noon to raise money for its annual Spelling Bee to be held next month.  The Christian elementary school, which emphasizes scholastic  fundamentals and traditional values, meets in the home of OMG Youth Ministry pastor Byron Fistule.  The bake sale, featuring homemade cupcakes and doughnuts, will be held at Victory Park, corner of Mercury Way and Edison.  Last year’s Bee winner, Darjeen Patel, got the medal for spelling, pronouncing and defining  PORPHORIA. (Sponsored)

News junket   Donald Chan, prexy at Chuckwalla JC, has an Aero Commander single engine plane that he frequently uses to hop over to Palm Springs for a Saturday night poker session.  On the way home Sunday morning he brings a dozen copies of the New York Times to distribute to a dwindling cadre of loyal Times readers.  He says he never thought he’d be a paper boy at his age but his select clientele of  the town’s elite still are willing to subscribe to a real newspaper to accompany the scones and coffee at the Your Toast airport café.

Rickshaws Redux  Following a much-noticed New York Times article about the sudden appearance of rickshaws on Chuckwalla streets, the city council Wednesday once again turned to the knotty question of how best to license and regulate the burgeoning number of human-powered conveyances.  "This hit-piece has cast a dark shadow on our city," said Mayor Robert Crane. "It made us look like we were returning to slavery."  The Times photo accompanying the article showed a man identified as an undocumented worker from El Salvador pulling a home-made rickshaw carrying an unidentified portly Caucasian burgher. Crane said the current rickshaw ordinance needed to be amended to add stricter penalties for operating unlicensed rickshaws.   Under regulations put in place last month, rickshaw operators must pay a license fee, pass a medical checkup, and be between the ages of 18 and 35. Operators must also wear forced-air HEPA respirators on days when atmospheric PM2.5 is greater than 100 ppm. Penalties for non-compliance, however, only involve minor fines.  Councilman Henry Pipps said the Times article also mentioned the upside of rickshaws.  "They don't pollute, and they reduce congestion by giving rides to the elderly going to the doctor or the grocery store." At present Chuckwalla has four licensed rickshaw operators:  Rickety Rick's, the original operator, founded by junior college students; Breatharian Commune, which specializes in short trips for the elderly and disabled; Harmony House, which serves the un-housed and car-less; and Castaways Hostel, generally serving the tavern trade.  The Times article, however, focused on "gypsy rickshaws" pulled by paperless border crossers from Mexico and Central America who congregate at the former Kmart parking lot to offer rides to snowbirds heading to Albertsons.  "This is a health and safety issue," Crane said. "Some of those Jerry-built contraptions are falling apart."   Acting police chief Abel Dick said his officers have issued several tickets to operators of unlicensed rickshaws but doubted the tickets would hold up in court.  "The problem is the law doesn't clearly define a rickshaw," Dick said, "We're treating them as bicycles, but they could be pedestrians." Dick added that the gypsy operators worked for  "suggested donations' rather than fares, which further complicated the legal picture.  After an hour's desultory debate, the matter was moved to an ad hoc committee to be formed later.

Pillow Arrangement with Wanda  

Fridays, 7-8 p.m. Students should bring seven pillows  Wanda shows how to pile the pillows for a good night’s rest, or for relaxing with a book, or for binge-watching television.   The reclining body needs support under the arms, the small of the back and the knees.  Wanda says people should never sit to read.  The reader needs to be reclining, with pillows supporting the back and head, both arms, and under the knees and feet.  Wanda’s Yoga 486 Hobbesianway. (Sponsored)

Innards in vitro  The kidney, liver and tripes in the cold case at a local meat market made up part of the lesson plan on a recent Chuckwalla High School biology class field trip. Some parents didn't like having their kids with the cuts.
The Chuckwalla district school board met in closed session Tuesday to review "numerous parental complaints" about a school field trip that took a biology class to Clover Meats on Victory Dr. to study in vitrus the internal organs of cows and pigs on display for sale in the cold case. Board members meeting in executive session following the regularly scheduleld public meeting declined to comment about the complaints, but Reveille sources revealed that several parents had phoned high school principla Merrit Williams to say the study session at the meat market was inapproprite.  Allegedly one mom went so far as to call it "repugnant."
The only teacher who oversees a biology class at the high is Mary Slatter, who was hired last year straight out of San Jose State University.  Slatter declined to comment, but one of her students said the class went to the meat market because "they won't give us cats."  In past years, biology students at the school have disected cats as a terrm project, but the disection module has been discontinued this year over concerns about the provenance of the specimens.
The student said that class looked at kidneys and livers, sweetmeats and tripes, and discussed the functions of these organs in mammals.
Jose Rivera, the lead butcher at the market, said the group of some dozen students were respectful and interested.  Rivera offered to show the students a carcass he had hanging in the back room, and the organ meats he had removed.  "The kids really paid attention to the teacher," Rivera said, "I've been a butcher thirty years, and I learned something."

Pipps Interview Redux

(Editor’s note:  A Leaders in Motion interview with City Councilman Henry Pipps was abridged last week for lack of space.  Part-time reporter Cheryl Weiss conducted the interview, which continues below.  Frederica is Pipps’ infant daughter:

Weiss: So how’s Frederica?

Pipps:  A spoiled brat like her mom.
Weiss: Uhm. You and Poppy?
Pipps:  We’re lifers.  Ball and chain.
Weiss: Personal questions?
Pipps:  Go.
Weiss: I was two classes behind you.  So how did you and Poppy…?
Pipps:  Well, you must know Poppy, she was in your class. One of the elite mean girls. Disdained everybody.  You probably remember how she mocked you and the other Four-O girls at that assembly. She was head cheerleader and the school beauty. I was the guy who wore his scout uniform to class every day.  And I kind of had a reputation as…
Weiss: As a hooligan.
Pipps:  Exactly.  Looked like one too.  Obviously wasn’t in her clique.  I didn’t really ever talk to her until she was kidnapped by that naked lunatic…
Weiss: The disbarred Lumbee.  He was taking her to the Rez.
Pipps:  To the casino where somebody, I think Bertinelli, had the idea she’d go full monty on stage…
Weiss: You rescued her.
Pipps:  Fred called me.  He knew Troop 354 taught bush craft at Wankan Tanka (high school.)  He figured I knew the Rez. Chuckpo isn’t allowed out there, and the Rez cops never answer the phone.  So he asked me to go get her.
Weiss: Wasn’t there some kind of running gun battle?
Pipps:  Something like that.  I caught up with the loon before he got to the casino. He wanted to argue the argument, but what I did not expect, Poppy didn’t want to be rescued.  She’d never been to the casino.  So after the loon was out of the argument, I had to reverse kidnap Poppy.  I threw a clove hitch around her wrists and tossed her in the back seat.  Then a truckload of goons from the casino came after us.  A few shots fired in the air.  That was the so-called running gun battle.
Weiss: Was it love at first sight.
Pipps:  It was a fight from the start. Poppy is an athlete.  You’ve seen her routines. She bit and kicked and screamed her head off.  She screamed at Fred over the phone. They were having some kind of beef.  She kicked my leg purple. I told Fred she was safe and that I’d bring her home after she cooled off.
Weiss: What did you do with her?
Pipps:  I took her to a cabin that the troop has up on Scorpion Peak.  As soon as I untied her wrists she started punching me like the heavy bag.   She was screaming and spitting,  and we were rolling around on the floor…
Weiss: You didn’t…?
Pipps:  We did.  But at the end of the fight it was pretty much consensual.  After that every week she’d sneak out and we’d get together.  Pretty soon she’s pregnant and I went to see Fred.  He pulled Poppy out of school and we got married in Reno.  Then he figured out a way for me to support her.
Weiss: The city council.  He put up the money?
Pipps:  There wasn’t much money spent.  I was coming in late as a write-in candidate.  He just spun his Rollo-dex, called in chits, arm-twisted a little  A Chuckwalla by-election is low turnout, and I had the advantage of the dog issue.
(Editor’s note: Just before the election, Pipps led Troop 354 in rounding up packs of feral dogs that had been attacking pedestrians and cyclists in the Arroyo Cholo neighborhoods.)
Weiss: What happened to all those dogs?
Pipps:  A few of them adopted. Those sick or incorrigible were put down. Troop 354 took a dozen or so prospects to train for the checkpoints.  The Chinese labor battalion took some to use as guard dogs for the gas plant.
Weiss: You’ve had to recuse yourself  a lot on the council.
Pipps:  Anything directly related to Fred.  Indirectly I often vote against his overall business interests, which align with those of Bertinelli and the chamber.  I told him from the start I wouldn‘t vote with the chamber. The city has no money, and if weren’t for the Marvin Gardens (apartments) mess, we’d be in state receivership.  I try to think of improvements, like the traffic cone bike lanes, that are cheap or no-cost. The chamber is against anything different or that alarms the merchants.
Weiss: How old is Frederica now?
Pipps:  Two.  And she’s going to be a handful.
(Editor’s note: The Marvin Gardens low-income apartments were funded by a city deal so complicated and toxic that the state receivers won’t touch it.)

Letter to the Editor  Besos again 

I know that the Reveille is too dainty to use anything other than euphemism and circumlocution when discussing anything earthy, and so no surprise to me at the paper‘s recent rendering of a popular compound curse word as “motherf*****.”   It started me thinking.  Why is this asterisk-laden word on everybody’s lips on all occasions around here? What does it really mean?  Merriam of course: he’s  a despicable cretin, or sometimes, someone formidable or impressive. But isn’t the root of the slur about an unspeakable injury and deeply repulsive affront to the principle actor in everybody’s life.? So I started thinking about mothers, and particularly about the place of mothers in a community like Chuckwalla, impoverished, crime-ridden , and (another Reveille favorite) “low-information.”  Now for the intuitive leap.  Could “mothers” be the key to cleaning up this blighted mess of a burg?   It’s the mothers who have borne the horror of the latest round of gang-related shootings.  Sons shot, sons jailed.  What if the city recruited some of these stricken moms into some kind of deputized committee of vigilance?  One of the problems for our putative crime fighters (Chuckpo) is that nobody trusts the cops or will even speak to them. Even if the cops know the gangsters or their whereabouts, no witness is willing to cooperate or give evidence to make an arrest or a case.  The moms know who these motherf****** are. The moms live in the same neighborhood; they know by name and face the criminals who entice their sons into crimes.  Righteous fearless moms, organized and empowered with badges and weapons, could root out the bastards corrupting our town.  Think of the Mambas, tough female rangers in game parks, hunting down poachers.  Think of the tough, case-bitten women who run Amtrak dining cars.  People not to be fussed with.  Give them police powers and police tools, and they could give a new meaning to “motherf*****.”


The weekly meander around the Tri-Desert Empire

Leaders in Motion. The Reveille’s interviews with the Desert Empire’s vanguard personalities.  This week part-time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, a runner up in the Imperial County Junior Chess Bowl, talks with city councilman Henry Pipps.

(Editor’s note:  Pipps became the youngest elected official in Chuckwalla history after his write-in victory at the age of 18.  He is also CEO of the security company Valley Vigilance, as well as scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 354.)

Weiss:  So the contract with Juche House?
Pipps:  Hi, Cheryl.  Congrats on the chess bowl.  Some of the women staying at Juche House (a shelter for abused women) have jobs at the packing plant. The house doesn’t have a van these days, and the city bus makes so many stops that it’s quicker to walk the mile or so to the sheds.  But some of the women reported feeling uncomfortable because they were being harassed by knuckleheads.  They came up with the idea of a walking labor bus to get them to work.
Weiss:  You provide the security.
Pipps:  Valley Vigilance has contracted to provide two guards and a dog to escort the dozen or so women to the sheds.  It’s pretty much the same kind of deal as the our walking school bus for Martin Van Buren (elementary school). Or our escort for the sophomore girls spirit team.
Weiss:  So does your father-in-law Fred Pease pay the tab?
Pipps:  Yes.  Pease Packing pays the bill.
Weiss:  Any conflict here?
Pipps.  I don’t think so.  It isn’t city money.  As you know, I’m married to Poppy (a Pease daughter) so I know Fred. When he heard about workers being hassled by knuckleheads, he asked for help.  It’s his peak season, and along with humanitarian concerns, he doesn’t want his work force bothered. 
Weiss:  What’s the money?
Pipps:  Two guards, twelve hours a week, ten bucks an hour per guard.
Weiss:  Speaking of Fred, what’s the latest on the bridge?
(Editor’s note:  In a communiqué to the Reveille, lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla claimed responsibility for the explosion that crippled the newly-built bridge crossing Arroyo Seco.  The bridge was part of a new paved road linking Chuckwalla to a Pease Associates affordable housing complex now under construction.  Residents have staged protests against both the road and the housing, citing worries about traffic and noise, and saboteurs have pockmarked the new road with “artificial potholes.”)
Pipps:  I recused myself.  I would have voted against the road.  The people out there want to keep the rural character and don‘t want pavement. And the city doesn’t have the dough for new roads.  The council had said it only would repair the arterials downtown.
Weiss:  Until Fred Pease twisted some arms.
Pipps:  No comment. This may solve itself  because we don’t have money to fix that bridge.
Weiss:  I heard you’re now flying drones out at the checkpoints.
Pipps: At the Intaglio Junction checkpoint.  That’s the main south-to-north route and because of terrain the junction is hard to avoid, what with the arroyos and washes.  But some of the smugglers have been cutting foot paths over the buttes.  The Pathfinders have been sending out camera drones.
Weiss:  Does that work?
Pipps:  Sort of.  Not at night.  We’ve intercepted a few of the mules as they reentered the main trail.
(Editor’s note: As scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 354 Pipps oversees the Pathfinder Scouts manning the interdiction checkpoints south of town.)
Weiss:  Is it hard to become a Pathfinder?
Pipps:  You have to be fourteen, vision corrected to 20/30, able to carry 40 pounds three miles in 50 minutes. Ten pull-ups, fifty pushups. A C-average in school.  No police record.
Weiss:  Do Pathfinders go straight to Valley Vigilance?
Pitts:  Sometimes.  You have to be 18 for a guard card.  We hire younger kids to work in the kennel and the garage.  Getting through “Really, Dude?” (the company’s training program) can take three months.  But Pathfinders is great preparation for security.
Weiss:  Since you took over as CEO the company has grown.  What do you have now?
Pitts:  Starting out, we had sophomore girls and the high school gate.  Then we did the Red-Yellow game, and picked up the Yellowjacket events. We got Sunday Thunder stock car and tailgate swap meet.  That’s big. Then Marvin Gardens housing, the Horny Toad and Rez casino mud wrestling, the auto graveyard, the plastic dump on the Rez. Pele Verde hospital.  The walking school bus, and now the Juche House. We have a contract with Chuckpo for additional staffing as needed. We do the Arroyo Cholo bike trail for the neighborhood association  We provide security teams for the JC’s sand fly study, and the sustainability and resilience project.  It’s a full plate.
Weiss:  You getting rich?
Pipps:  I take the same $15 an hour pay as a senior guard.  Fred gave Poppy a house, and we’re modest. There’s a lot of company overhead:  the dog kennel, the training, the dune buggies.  And every contract means more hires.
Weiss:  How many women?
Pipps:  We now have 15 female guards.
Weiss:  Including Thunderclap.
Pipps:  Thunderclap and some other Soiled Doves moonlight at the tailgate swap meet.  They’re a big help in keeping things calm. They can kid the knuckleheads.
(Editor’s note: The Soiled Doves are a mud wrestling team.)
Weiss:  Thanks,  Henry.  Go Jackets!
Pipps:  Jacket Power!

Heat Trap  Press release from the UC Riverside Department of Sustainability and Resilience:  Students from the department's satellite campus at Chuckwalla JC have started construction of a model heat refuge designed for survivors in areas made uninhabitable by changing climate. The refuge incorporates ideas from vernacular building in tropical and desert regions, including heat chimneys, breezeways, evaporative walls, primitive heat pumps and cooling shafts. "We are designing for ground temperatures of between 160-180 degrees," said Arnold Schwerin, a resilience methodology gradate student, "To have any change of survival, any remaining inhabitants will have to cool the ground immediately around the refuge, reducing the ground temperature  in a 30-foot radius to no more than 120 degrees." This can be done through a combination of shading and reflectors, such as tarps and awnings and reflective surfaces. The refuge, able to accommodate four occupants, will sustain life during the punishing afternoon hours.  After sunset, the occupants may be able to emerge to seek food and water.  "It will be a nocturnal life," Schwerin said.

Reminder: Load and Lock Mini-Storage, 2020 Highbeamn Way,  offers a winter Sno-Bird special. A five by eight locker for $40 a month.  Owner Jeff Trelawney says locals should also consider the offer.  "We live in an area simultaneously threatened by wildfire, floods, windstorms, and a rising crime rate. “When disaster strikes it's good to know your irreplaceable belongings are safe."  Sponsored

Editor’s  note: The original script for  the 1949 film ”Sands of Iwo Jima" had the Duke saying, "Load and lock!"  The writer Harry Brown took the command directly from the Marine Corps manual for the M1, and it makes sense.  The round is loaded into the chamber and the breech bolt is locked into place. It was the director Allan Dwan who decided the line sounded better as "Lock and load!"  The Duke's authoritative delivery made the three words synonymous with "Get ready for action!"
Homeward Bound  A regular at the Brewhaha Saloon reports that new lapel stickers are available at the bar:  "Hi, my name is (blank).  If I appear  lost take me to the nearest police station."  Or maybe somebody could call a cab.

Royal Merriment   King Cole Club marijuana dispensary at 440 Mercury Drive will host an open house Wednesday starting at noon to celebrate the company's new brand of cannabis edibles.  "We fill the pipe, we fill the bowl." (Sponsored)

Third Age  The Chuckwalla Tri-peds seniors hiking club will meet Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Gypsy Boots Memorial Bench in front of the old Greyhound Station for a five-miler along the Arroyo Cholo Trail.  Lunch, water, sturdy boots. (Sponsored).

Celestial Harp of Healing and Cassiopeia Skyfish will lead a sound healing group chant and Om Mantra during the annual Lavender Labyrinth Sound Bath Experience starting at 7 p.m. at the Green Zone Cafe.  Bring gongs, crystals, singing bowls, hand pans,  mono chords, chimes, drums and vocals. (Sponsored)

Humpty Dumpling Chinese Restaurant. Dim Sum, Won Ton, and Pot stickers  Birthdays. Weddings, Big parties.  We can put it together.  (Sponsored)

Straight from Pyongyang   Genuine quilted cotton padded jackets from North Korea.  These thick hand-sewn winter jackets are designed for rough use and cold nights.  As warm as goose down for half the price. Special shipment, numbers limited. Dwayne’s Sporting Oasis, Amethyst Dr. at Quartzsite Way.  
(Sponsored)    (Editor’s note: Textiles are the leading export from North Korea after coal and surplus labor.)

Police Presence  Readers are asking about the empty squad car permanently parked in front of the Breadfruit Café, corner of Hobbesianway and Mercury Dr.  Chuckpo acting chief lieutenant Dick says its purpose is to temper the heedless driving habits of sno-birds headed from the freeway to Albertsons.  “We have a spare squad car but no spare officer to use it,” Dick says, “The car’s presence slows down speeders.”   Maybe a uniformed department store mannequin behind the wheel? No wages or benefits.

(Editor’s note: Below another emailed plank in the quixotic platform of long-shot city council candidate Besos Amazn. Sometimes he pontificates on local issues.  Not today.)

Only the rich should be allowed to drive automobiles in cities.  We should recognize the reality of a plutocracy, and realize some social benefit. It’s clear the greedy rich will pay for special privileges. Billionaires spend millions for a five-minute taste of zero gravity in low orbit. They pay exorbitant prices for special boxes at a ball game. How about an annual license fee of $5000 for the privilege of driving a car into the city.  The proceeds to trolley cars and bicycle-friendly streets.  With only luxury cars and limos on urban streets, less congestion. Less noise, pollution, ozone and carbon dioxide. Same for air travel. Plane tickets should be beyond the reach of the middle class. The rich can hire special luxury railcars to subsidize Amtrak.  No point trying to soak the rich with higher taxes.  A lost cause easily thwarted by lobbyists and campaign contributions.  But the rich will pay for special treatment. Besos.

Diet Time  Half sandwiches, broths, and salads at the Spare Lunch Cafe, 125 Hobbesianway.  We know you’re trying. (Sponsored)

Bad Taste?  A tipster informs us that the Chuckwalla Unified School board trustees may vote to reprimand several high school students for joke videos posted on TikTok.  According to the informant the students constructed a bogus "Proud Boys" parade float that featured tiki torches with flower petal flames, Pepe the Frog, and a  paper Mache hand signaling "A-OK," The video, posted to coincide with he Chuckwalla Days Parade, also depicted the float veering into a crowd of screaming students.

Catching up with the Besos Amazn campaign. Periodically, the reclusive long-shot candidate for a city council seat issues bullet-point stands on the issues, some of them pertaining to local matters.  The latest blitz:

"To raise wages and benefits more of the surplus low-level unskilled mopes need to be removed from the workforce.  The solution is long-term vacation tent camps where the idlers and neer-do-wells can find a secure abode that includes free meals, composting toilets, communal showers, and a two-bit glass of beer.  The camps would be on federal land and operated by the National Guard.  They should be segregated. The harmless but hapless in one well-guarded camp secured from human predators. Another camp for the alkies and topers. Another for the addicts, heads, and hypes. A good idea would be to dispense free opiates to entice drogues away from the city streets..  Maybe the poppy crop could be purchased from the Taliban and repurposed into pharmaceutical grade dope. We could solve the addiction scourge by feeding hypes with a good product not stepped on with fentanyl.  At the same time break the grip of the cartels"
Besos goes on,  but this is the gist of his latest.

The latest self-published eBooks from local authors

You Don’t Suck as Much as You Think  Tim Reston, a clinical psychologist at the YoutGard juvenile detention facility in Blythe, offers guidance to the self-doubters.  Here’s an except:

“Beneficial rationalizations at 3 a.m. when one is apt to dwell on disappointments, humiliations, lost opportunities and failures. A larger perspective.  Human life is a nano-blink of zero consequence to a universe which is cold and indifferent.  Things always fall apart but matter is conserved.  All the waste and destruction of human folly will be reconstituted over the millenniums into something strange and new.  The universe takes your interchangeable atoms and rearranges them into something else.  All your trophies, certificates, diplomas, testimonials in all forms along with all the other detritus in the attic will become something else.  In the end, nobody really cares about you,. Not your mother, wife, or children, and despite the lip service you won’t be missed. They say they’ll never forget you.  It’s a lie. This is liberating. This is freedom. You’re still obsessing about that humiliation in 10th grade when you bobbled a pop fly during that crucial game against the Farmtown Weasels?  A deep sepulchral laugh from the universe.”

Clean up Pittsburg and Swamp the Netherlands:  Camp Hygiene for the Budget Traveler  World-wide wanderer Esther Franks of Sometimes Springs offers her outback expertise from a life of adventure travel.

Practical Etiquette.   Manner maven Molly Lindquist in her short treatise on courteous behavior says it is really simple. To be a good guest at the table, use a fork (any size, either hand), don't talk while chewing, and use your napkin.

Dystopia Now: It's Here"  A look at deep adaptation from Everett Small an adjunct professor in the Sustainability and Resilience Department at UC Riverside. Not that you should give up or be a gloomy Gus, but really, it's too late.  The load has shifted. Nothing can stop the coming deluge.
"You've hit the thumb on the nail."  More vinegar and black bile from dyspeptic essayist and mordant village gadfly Besos Amazn.

Haut Ink  A collection of risqué tattoos from local tattoo artist Jeff Friedman.

(Editor's note:  Apparently we missed a contentious marathon meeting  on Tuesday of the Chuckwalla Unified school board on Tuesday.  We asked part-time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss to catch up)  

According to Chuckwalla High principal Merrit Williams the district s ordering some curriculum changes as an outcome of a 13-hour school board meeting in which dozens of parents complained that students were getting too much of the dark side of American history.  "The parents has a point about the unrelenting negativity," Williams said.  "It's probably is too much awfulness, particularly for kids growing up in Chuckwalla."  
Williams said the high school teaches a state-sanctioned lesson plan called "American Story," touching the major historical events.  but even the version abridged and bowdlerized by state monitors has been too distressing for some parents."  Beginning this semester the required portion of the lesion plan will focus on civics and constitutional government, the Bill of Rights, bicameral legislatures, and on how a bill becomes a law. “The inspirational  kind of thing," Williams says.
"American History" will be offered  as an elective available in the junior and senior years, and will require parental consent.. Parents will be able to decide how much they want their kids to know.   History 1A will cover the Revolutionary and Civil wars, conscripted immigration and drafted labor, Reconstruction, First Nation relocation, industrialization and the Gilded Age.  History 1B will take up the Spanish American war, the concentration of  wealth, labor unrest, the imperialist occupation of the Philippines, Haiti, Hawaii and Nicaragua, World War I, the Spanish Flu, the stock market crash and Great Depression, Prohibition, and the cultural stagnation of the Fifties.

Another fire at the plastic disposal site on the Rez. The small fire, under investigation, was quickly contained by a rapid reaction team from the gas plant.  According to city councilman Henry Pipps, who is CEO of Valley Vigilance, the gas plant volunteer firefighters were on the scene within minutes to quench the blaze, which may have been kindled by thieves from the Slabs collecting fuel for illegal stills. Pipps said Metropolitan Waste Disposal, which built the railroad spur out to the giant meteor crater containing the thousands of bails of waste plastic, has agreed to hire more security to guard the growing ziggurat  of  plastic which is being stored in perpetuity. "It would be an environmental catastrophe if this really started to burn," said Pipps,  The councilman is also scoutmaster of Troop 354.  The scouts teach bush craft at Wonka Tonkan  High on the Rez, and Pipps said he plans to recruit some of the students for training as security guards.

Council Notes

Mohamed’s Mountain   “It would be kind of like a roving general store,”explained food truck operator Hasaam bin Hasaam, while seeking city council approval Thursday to operate a mobile convenience store in Chuckwalla’s outlying neighborhoods.  Hasaam said he envisioned a refurbished food truck offering general merchandise as well as falafel, tacos, and tuna sandwiches.  The truck would be a “mobile Seven-Eleven” retailing basic groceries, batteries, household supplies, snacks and beverages, magazines, and kitchenware.  Hasaam said the roads are so poorly maintained within the far-flung gerrymandered city limits that in lieu of a bone-jarring drive to town many citizens would welcome a  store that came to them.  “It would save time, money,and wear-and-tear on their cars.”  He said the idea came to him after reading a
Reveille article about Jiffy Peddler (Dave Emory) who delivered merchandise by bicycle to Council Estates on the eastern edge of town.  “But I want to do it legally,” Hasaam said.  Mayor Crane said he could see no objection to a business license provided Hasaam adhered to the standard codes for food trucks, and didn't offer tobacco or alcohol. Councilwoman Edith Bentley said fewer cars on the pot-holed disintegrating byways on the city’s fringes would help keep down the dust “ and that  (the truck) would be a blessing for housewives who had run out of sugar.’  The council voted unanimously to give Hasaam’s proposal a second hearing after allowing time for public comment.  Cheryl Weiss

Editor’s note: The perpetually money-strapped city council in February directed city works to limit street maintenance to the downtown, and to let the outlying roads return to nature.  Instead of making repairs beyond  the downtown, the city has reduced the speed limit on non-arterial streets to 10 mph.

Dave Emory, the “Jiffy Peddler,” was arrested last month on a series of misdemeanor charges related to possession for sale of alcohol and tobacco products without a license.  He allegedly was delivering cigarettes and six-packs by bicycle to residents in the Council Estates neighborhood. )

On the Hip    Assemblyman Tory Abrams (D. Riverside) has introduced a "quixotic" bill that would charge California drivers a fee for driving fast. The bill calls for all state licensed drivers to have encoding transponders in their vehicles that would transmit a car's speed when passing CHP mobile checkpoints.  "It's like the Fastrak transponders used to track bridge tolls," Abrams said in a press release, "The faster you drive, the more you pay."  Under the bill, drivers would pay extra fees (to be determined) for driving at speeds above 55 mph. A person driving above 75 mph automatically would receive a speeding ticket. "People who want to drive in the fast lane, and thus use more gas, cause more pollution, and increase the risk of accidents, should have to pay more to offset the damage they cause,”  Abrams said. An assembly legislative analyst told the California Journal that Abrams' bill was one of those "quixotic pipe dreams" that lands in the hopper every legislative session. “It’s DOA.”  Cheryl Weiss

A consortium of local garage bands provided a brief musical interlude at the city council meeting Tuesday as part of a petition seeking city permission to play free concerts in several neighborhood parks  The  bands (the Tri-Kings (Leroy, Elrey, and Elvis); Million Kevlin Jones and the Hydrogen Fusionairs; and Alexander Okay and the Macedonians) frequently perform Saturday nights at the Castaways boarding house, but would need a permit for appearances on city property.  Leroy Evans, of the Tri-Kings, offered the council a five-minute sample of what neighbors would be hearing, with a rendition of the band's own "Party Tart." Councilman Henry Pipps  said if the concerts went forward they should be held between 7 and 8 p.m.  "Give it an hour, pass the hat, and wrap it up," Pipps said

 Dunkin’ Doggie Pet Salon, 482 Mercury Dr., is hosting its annual Pet Dress-up this Saturday between  noon and 4 p.m.  Best pet costume wins a free shampoo and paw manicure.  Presiding judge will be Judy Janz, owner of BowWow Boutique in Blythe.  Last year the winner was the three-year-old Chou “Kiddo,” in a Speedo and swim goggles. Salon owner Peggy Haskins reminds pet partners that the coming week will feature 25 percent discounts on dog baths, and specials on flea collars and parasite meds.  Ivermectin tablets are back in stock (nil for humans).  Sponsored.  

Let them eat crackers   UC Riverside's Department of Sustainability and Resilience, which has an adjunct lab at Chuckwalla Junior College, has announced that it is developing a nutritionally complete cracker designed for use in famines.  According to a department press release, the "Integrated Food Security Phase Five Biscuit" will have a year-long shelf-life and will provide complete human nutrition in a four-ounce cracker. The IPC phase scale was developed by the United Nations for use in Somalia by international agencies. Phase Five refers to famine and humanitarian catastrophe  in which 20 percent of the target population faces starvation, death and destitution. "What is wanted is a food  substance that is stable, compact and complete," says the department. The recipe for the proposed cracker will include some combination of pea protein, oat bran, vitamins, peanuts, flax meal, and prune fiber.  A small amount of sugar and salt probably will be included, according to Bernard Ingles, head nutritionist for the project, for balancing electrolytes rather than for increasing palatability.  “In phase five the clients are eating roots and grass,” Ingles said.

 Barnes Aboard    Navy Machinist Mate Second Class Ernest Barnes, a 2002 graduate of Chuckwalla High School, has reported for duty aboard the USS Urchin, a supplementary supply transport homeported in San Diego.  The Urchin (STB145) has the primary mission assignment of transporting material to forward operating areas in support of Marine expeditionary forces.  The Urchin-class transports are former commercial vessels that have been reconfigured to carry military material,  general cargo, or humanitarian aid. The engines have been removed to increase cargo capacity, and the ships are towed into their supporting positions by Navy tugs. All Urchin-class transports have been equipped with the Deep Sea Anchoring System (DSAS) that allows ships to be positioned over the horizon.  MM2 Barnes previously served aboard the USS Kittyhawk (CV34) during a Mediterranean deployment, and is a recipient of the Good Conduct Medal.  He is the son of Mrs.Harriet Barnes of Sometimes Springs, Ca.


Heroes Arise! Those strike signs toted by members of the United Service Workers picketing in front of the Hope View Convalescent Residence on Mercury Dr. “Heros work here, for $12 an hour. A wage dispute with the corporate management. The 50-bed residence facility displays a banner that says “Heroes Work Here.” Evidently the heroes would like a pay raise. Currently they get the state minimum.  

New self-published Amazon e-books by local authors.

The Alimentary Canal:  The 15-foot MIracle.,” by local chiropractor Toby Wanlan. “What is man? A tube that gobbles at one end, and purges at the other.” 

“Blue Niagara: The case for geriatric pharma-erotica,” by Harri DeRamps. Exercise and blueberries, sure, but also sildenafil, steroids and cannabis.  

“The Quest for Phrana: An Unauthorized History of Breathairianism,” by an Anonymous resident of the Chuckwalla Breathairian Commune.  An account of the strange dietary cult (humans can live on air alone), from its roots in LA as the brainchild of a religious charlatan to its current secular version advocating raw food vegetarianism and extreme minimalism.

“Bastards of the World,” by Besos Amazn.   Another 60,000 words of bombast and invective from Chuckwalla’s curmudgeonly homeboy.  This time our acerbic provocateur  takes potshots at landlords, servile waiters, entitled dog owners, and old ladies who hold up the line at Albertsons. 

Slurry Seal Crew Attacked    A city work crew sent on Monday to repave part of Lava Lane in the Council Flats district had to retreat under a rain of rocks and bottles from angry residents protesting the repair of the pot-holed road that connects Mercury Drive to the projected Pease Estates development.  “We were getting ready to lay down some slurry seal when the neighbors started to lob bottles at us,” said Wayne Everett, a Chuckwalla public works supervisor. “Nobody hurt, but we decided to hold off until we got some more direction.”  Council Flats residents have appeared at past city council meetings to speak against proposed road repairs in their neighborhood, arguing that improved road conditions would lead to increased traffic and development.  “We like our rural character,” said Flats resident Mary Tooley. “Our kids can ride their bikes to school without being run down by speeders.”  Local melon mogul Fred Pease recently got the green light from the city to build a 40-unit affordable housing complex at the end of Lava Lane, after overcoming vociferous objections about traffic and quality of life. “Fred ramrodded that project through the council and then sweet-talked the city into repaving Lava Lane,” Tooley said. “We’re not having it.”  Acting Chuckpo chief Lt. Abel Dick said an officer would be on hand when the paving crew returned to work.

Lease a’Lectric  Shade tree mechanic Brian Dibbs has cobbled together two more “Volts-wagons,” -- his home-built electric cars based on the 1901 Baker,’ -- and is willing to lease them to commuters who want gas-free transport.  Dibbs said the DMV has okayed the boxy two-seaters for use on residential streets, adding that he has made arrangements for the vehicles to be recharged during the day at his downtown workplace,  Benny’s Tire and Brake.  “It’ll be an inexpensive way for somebody to have a work car for commuting downtown, or maybe somebody just wants to go electric.”

Chuckwalla’s Purple Majesty winery’s latest  offering, the low sulfur Benchmark Red, got a favorable mention in this month’s edition of the prestigious Wine Connoisseur Magazine.  “A surprisingly drinkable jug with a pucker-free non-metallic finish….”  This could prove to be the Brent Crude of the jug wines.

Re the United Service Workers picket line at Hope View Convalescent: Part time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss brought in a copy of the union’s ad hoc strike newspaper called “The Weekly Windex.”  Taking you behind the pane.

The case for a police state.  (Editor’s note:   Part time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, salutatorian of this year’s senior class at CHS, covered a talk yesterday delivered by assistant sociology professor Herbert Carney of UC Riverside.    Carney, a nationally recognized expert on the psychology of crowds, and author of the acclaimed study, “Mob of One,” spoke to a noontime JC audience at Ocotillo Hall on the subject of “The case for a police state.”

Carney began by underscoring that he neither endorsed nor encouraged the police state.  “Usually they are underpinned by extreme ideology, being intolerant of all differences to a sanctioned cultural norm, repressive of dissent, and prone to heavy-handed violence.”  He said, however, that examples exist of authoritarian control leading to public benefit. He noted the tidy streets and well-regulated transit in Pyongyang, the low child mortality rate in Cuba (where vaccinations are mandatory), and the Chinese ability to quarantine huge populations with a word. He said his case for a police state was “solely a thought experiment,” and involved the probably quixotic idea of a beneficent and benign police state which included an impartial judiciary, a bill of rights, and a humane penal system.  “What it would lack is democracy,” he said, “Citizens would be prevented, by coercion, if necessary, from popular activities that ran counter to the public weal”  He noted that any solution to the well-known looming global dangers might mean that individual freedoms would have to be curtailed. “All leaders will have to decide about warming, pollution, drought, refugees, epidemic disease, gridlock, and so on. Can the individual own a private car, consume meat, travel freely, or would these things have to be restricted for the common good --against his will?”  

Carney said that a top-down police state might have a better chance of quashing an epidemic, or dealing with natural disasters, than would a more decentralized organization, since police states can Draconian. “But if citizens can vote you out of office, it’s difficult for leaders to make people accept unpopular measures.”  In answer to a question, Carney said he saw “zero chance” of the US becoming the kind of police state he envisioned. “If it happens here it would be more like a populist, nationalist, religious, kind of thing, something that the people actually wanted”  Cheryl Weiss

New look for walking school bus  Students coming and going on foot to Martin Van Buren elementary will be wearing a new uniform next week.  At its monthly meeting yesterday trustees for the Pele Verde Unified school district voted unanimously that bus walkers will be required to wear bright orange safety vests and that the accompanying  parent-monitors will hold six-foot flagstaffs flying orange pennants.  The action came after four students last month were injured when a car jumped the curb as the walking school bus approached the school entrance.

“Safety is the number one concern and we must do all we can to protect our students,” said trustee Melvin Delany. “The vests and pennants will ensure that motorists will be able to see the bus.”

Trustee Tony Flemming said  the safety vest mandate didn’t go far enough. “We also need to widen the street in front of the entrance.” He said that after dropping off their kids, parents are turning around to go back to Mercury Drive.  “There isn’t enough room without going over the curb, not for your Klondike, or a Silverado, or a Sierra, or a Club Wagon.”

According to Chuckpo acting chief Abel Dick, on the morning of May 7 a parent making a 180-degree turn in front of the school ran over the sidewalk and knocked down four students in the walking school bus.  “The driver of the SUV apparently didn’t see the students below his field of vision,” Dick said. The injured students were taken to Pele Verde Memorial, where they were reported to be in stable condition with non-life threatening injuries.  Dick said the driver was counseled at the scene and released.

Refugee haven at the Rez?  ( Editor’s note: Chamber president and Lumbee Nation spokesman Bert Bertinelli tells us that he is in talks with “high ranking federal officials'' about a plan to set up immigrant refugee camps within the sprawling Lumbee indigenous peoples community.  The Chamber chief says the Department of Health Services is desperate to place thousands of Central American immigrants seeking refugee asylum status.  The Lumbee Rez?  We sent part time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, a runner-up in the recent Imperial County all-school badminton tournament, to get the details.)

Bertinnelli said the building of immigrant refugee camps “is going to be a huge opportunity for everybody, and it’s just going to get bigger. It’s the future.” The main obstacle facing governments, he said, is finding locations.  “We are going to need all sorts of camps, not only for undocumented immigrants, but for the domestic homeless, for prison overflow, for climate migrants, for the non-working surplus labor, or for the overqualified unemployables. The sovereign nations can play a big role.  We have the space, we have a welcoming attitude, and we have the kind of management vision that allows for non-traditional solutions.” 

Bertinneli said the historic sheltering techniques of native peoples mean that camps “can spring up overnight, and at a very comfortable dollar.”  He cautioned, however, that oversight  would have to be ensured. He said “the feds wanted the National Guard, buit the Nation won’t have blue coats.  I suggested the International Red Cross, and  private security of the quality of Valley Vigilance. Then there’d be the usual social services, clinics and kitchens and so forth, supplied by various donors.”

The Chamber president said the plan calls for the camps to segregate occupants by nationality and ethnicity (to avoid conflicts) and that each camp would have a detention area for the inevitable predators, thieves and bullies that are part of any population. 

“We haven’t got to the money yet,” Bertinelli said, “but that part is bound to be a big relief for the taxpayer.”  Cheryl Weiss

Chuckwalla High Notes...Principal Merrit Williams announced yesterday that the high school will be reopening “in a few days,” after the weeks-long shutdown occasioned by an outbreak of Celestine Flu (H1N1).  “We’ve sterilized the entire campus, and the county health people have given us the go-ahead,” Williams said.  He said that some new rules will be in place as the school reopens.  “Generally, we will be building on our previous commitment to safety and security.”

The curriculum once again will focus on two fields of study: academics, for those who qualify, and contemporary skill sets for the rest.  Class size for academics has been cut to a dozen students in the interests of social distancing.  Williams said that the school has ten teachers to cover academics, and this number should be sufficient, although the program may have to  tighten selection. The library now will be open only to verified cardholders and authorized visitors. The audio quad will be open from noon until 2 p.m., for M3P players only; no phones or pads. Those who bring their own cots and blankets will be able to use the Siesta Lounge from noon to 1 p.m. Sleeping on the floor is prohibited. This semester the campus workshop is offering classes in rough carpentry, basic welding, 12-volt electrics, and janitorial science.  Newly hired track coach Newton James will take over the Yellowjacket Trekkers for the Morning Mile.  All-Day Sports will be supervised by gym staff and Valley Vigilance.  Williams said he is setting up a system of quiet- time pods on the practice field,  where student affinities can gather under the surveillance dome.  Since a state-wide injunction last year has banned the use of disciplinary carrels, the new policy for refractory students will be open-air sequestration that will allow the non-compliant or antisocial “an opportunity for monitored solitude and reflection.”  Chuckwalla High will continue to be a closed campus, with security and metal detectors provided by Valley Vigilance. Cheryl Weiss

More Dough for DET
  City comptroller Syd Greene says it’s green lights down the track for getting a new state infusion for cash-strapped DET.  The city last year applied for a state grant to keep the wheels turning at the city’s beleaguered transit system, and now Sacramento, after reviewing DET’s latest financials, is ready to give a thumb’s up.  What convinced the beancounters, Greene says, was the success of DET’s tier pricing scheme.  “They liked the look of the fare box numbers from last quarter.”  Starting in January DET pashas arranged the fares in tiers. A free bus circulates around the city from 6 a.m to 9 p.m..  A commuter express, priced at $3, connects Sobrantes Estates and the Pleasant Gate subdivision to downtown. The “Five Buck Bus,” with loading nodules at the Quarily Fair Starbuck’s and at Golden Chimes, also heads downtown but unloads in front of Chuckpo rather than at the Hobbsianway hub.

All DET buses are the same standard Blue Bird coaches, except now four surplus school buses from Chuckwalla High have been added to the fleet.  “We have just put into practice what is well known in transit circles:  the problem with public transit is the public. Now the public rides for free. Paying passengers can choose their company.”  Greene says the $5 fare has proven so popular that the revenue covers much of the operating cost of the free bus.  “The state is only going to help those districts that are really trying to pull the ends together.”  The Five Buck Bus nodules have a covered pavilion, piped-in Mozart, a coffee cart, and security provided by Valley Vigilance.  (DET also has hired the security company to field  a canine unit at the downtown hub.).  “ At first we thought the dress code and temperature checks on the Five Buck line might cause an issue,” Greene said, “but turns out no gripes so far.”  

(Editor’s note: Part time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, an honors senior at Chuckwalla High, wondered how it is that the school district has spare buses to lease to DET.  We asked her to find out.)

According to CHS principal Merit Williams, the district has surplus buses to lease because of falling enrollments throughout the district. He says the outbreak of Celestine Flu (H1N1) triggered a ridership plunge early this year, although the dropoff predated the epidemic (allegedly started by lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla.)  “In the aftermath of the Red-Yellow game, I locked down the campus and expelled some students from Marvin Gardens and from Patton Field housing.  The Tea Party, the OMG Youth Ministry, and the Robert Kennedy Jr. Coalition opened new charter schools.  The Chinese girls from the gas plant come on a private bus. Some of the local moms prefer to send their kids in rickshaws. And the student non-completion rate is still around 50 percent. A couple of the buses were backups that we found we really didn’t need. But we can always use some more money.”  Cheryl Weiss

Rustlers to the Rescue...Chuckpo reports that 23 rescue horses were rustled overnight from the Happy Trails Rescue Ranch, a shelter corral for animals abandoned or given up by distressed owners during the downtick caused by the Celestine Flu outbreak.  Ranch wrangler Cindy Bates told police the rustlers broke down a section of corral fence sometime after midnight and drove the horses southward into the open desert.  “The thieves were mounted and headed the horses into the Chaparral Hoodoos,” a tangled maze of narrow canyons where it was impossible for Bates to pursue in her pickup. 

(Editor’s note:  We asked our part time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, a finalist in the Imperial County Junior Chess Bowl,  to follow the story.)

Happy Trails Ranch, located on land belonging to the Pease Melon corporation and funded by donations from local alfalfa growers, has provided a home for dozens of horses and mules that were evicted along with their owners with the collapse of the Sometimes Springs Pleasant Gates ranchette estates. Bates said the animals would have been slaughtered for pet food if Fred Pease had not offered an unused packing shed and warehouse as a shelter.  

Bates said that neither Chuckpo nor the Imperial County Sheriff had officers available to aid in retrieving the horses.  “I called councilman (Henry) Pipps,” Bates said. “The ranch doesn‘t have the resources to hire Valley Vigilance, but Mr. Pipps said he would contact the Pathfinder Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 354.” (Councilman Pipps, the CEO of Valley Vigilance, is also the troop’s scoutmaster).  Boy Scout First Class Daryl Hemp, a sophomore at Chuckwalla High who oversees  the Intaglio Junction narcotics interdiction checkpoint, mobilized his squad of Pathfinders to try to intercept the rustled horses along the False Pass Trail inside the sprawling Lumbee Indigenous-American Nation.  “We figured they’d be taking the horses through the Rez into Mexico. False Pass is the closest point on the border.”  The Pathfinders, who teach bushcraft at Wonken Tonka High, are familiar with the reservation topography and soon picked up the welter of hoofprints headed for the border.  “We were too late to catch the rustlers but did figure out what happened to the horses.” Hemp said that once inside Mexico the herd was split, with half going to Carniceria Rara outside Tecate.  “The carniceria serves some upscale bistros connected to the brewery.”  The other half of the herd was delivered to Rancho Malpaseo, a dude ranch and resort.  “They don’t have horseback riding there, but horses are scattered around in corrals as a tourist accent,” Hemp said. 

Rescue Ranch wrangler Bates said she thanked the scouts “for bringing closure,” but would not attempt to re-rescue the stolen horses from the Mexican dude ranch.  “We’re getting more homeless horses all the time, and our means are limited.”  Cheryl Weiss

(Editor’s note:  KZZZ, the Rattler, radio personality Wigwam Wampum tells us that border social media lit up last night with reports of an alleged incursion by armed, uniformed American soldiers, and that by this morning Mexico City had filed an inquiry with the US State Department.  Reached at city hall, scoutmaster Pipps assures us that none of the Pathfinder Scouts crossed the border.”We’re not like Pershing,” he said.)

Eminence Vigilantes Disrupt Council  City councilmembers  Wednesday had the new rickshaw ordinance on the agenda.  Little did they know that their deliberate and somnolent chamber would be filled with raised voices and waving pitchforks. Right after the pledge,  Byron Fistule,  pastor of Hail Adoni Baptist, crashed the meeting at the head of several   dozen young zealots from the OMG Youth Ministry to demand the council set aside rickshaws and pay attention instead to their vociferous and unscheduled petition that the city of Chuckwalla immediately fulfill the Eminence Doctrine, as outlined by the evangelical National Values Coalition.  The doctrine, which is being rolled out nationwide, places  preeminence on Christian religion, English as the national language, property rights, and auto-centric transportation.  Fistule, who is also owner and operator of the local Krispy Kreme franchise, commandeered the podium to claim that a creeping secularism threatens American culture “with a farrago of alien corn.”   Some of the kernels he mentioned were multicultural diversity, censorship of Biblical truth, and publicly funded transit.  

Councilman Henry Pipps, who is CEO of Valley Vigilance, wondered if he should call some of his people to clear the room.  But mayor Robert Crane asked for a “sense of the council” that would amend the agenda to allow “out of order public comment.”  Several youths from OMG followed Fistule, and a representative from Dwayne’s Sports Oasis, Evan Toilon, used his three minutes to plump for adding the Second Amendment to the doctrine.  Responding to an on-the-spot social media post, showboat atheist Terry Ames turned up to indulge in a brief shouting match with the OMG claque.  Ames is best known for his secular creche that’s vandalized every year, and for the large poster on his garage door listing the six commandments that he agrees with.  After hearing out Fistule and his coterie, Mayor Crane adjourned the meeting, putting over rickshaws to another time.   

Yoga Supine.  Chuckwalla’s own Wanda Yoga has released a new YouTube crafted for what owner Wanda Wilkerson says is an underserved audience, the recumbent male couch potato.  “Yoga is so good for flexibility and relaxation, but often guys miss out on the benefits because of a reluctance to try stretches and poses they think are too girly.  ‘You know, ‘Child’s Pose’, no way.”  The video demonstrates manly stretches that guys can practice while lying supine on the couch, stretching all the major muscle groups without getting up,” Wanda says.  Some of the new yoga poses pioneered by Wanda include the Rack, the Pillory, the Bastinado, and the Fried Potato.  

Knee to the groin.  Prosthetics salesman Eric Pringle will be in Imperial County superior court again next week to answer charges that he practiced medicine without a license while performing knee replacement surgery at Pele Verde Memorial.  Pringle, a rep for Mount Zion Surgical Supply, is charged with surgically implanting an artificial knee during an hour-long operation at which no physician was present.  According to Pele Verde spokesperson Janice Chrim, it is common for implant device salesmen to be in the operating theater to advise surgeons.  “These new devices, particularly the knees, are so sophisticated and state-of-the-art that surgeons often need a little help about what goes where,” Chrim said.  The district attorney’s office claims that when Dr. Avery Hopkins was unable to appear for a scheduled knee surgery Pringle stepped in and did it himself.  A Pele Verde nurse who wishes to remain anonymous told the Reveille that the unnamed patient was prepped, sedated and lying on the operating table with the knee shrouded inside the sterile field when word came down that Dr. Hopkins had been detained by an emergency.  “To tell the truth, a lot of these salesmen actually do the operations,” our source said, “They’ve had so much training with the devices.  But the doctor is supposed to be there.”

Mud Wrestling at the Toad.  This Saturday night at nine the Horny Toad Saloon will be hosting the popular All-In Mud Wrestling Throw Down, at which defending champions the Soiled Doves will be risking their Bad Girl Belts against the new challenger in the ring, Coeds of Color, a newly formed team of  allegedly full-time college students.  The Toad's Max Gonsalves says the bout is shaping up as an ideological and intellectual grudge match.  “Those Coeds think they’re so special,” Gonsalves said. “Thunderclap and Sumo are just itching to take them down a peg.”  Sponsored.

Fresh food, fresh air.
Albertsons assistant store manager Kay Bennet says from now on the parking lot tables and tents will be permanent, as a way to reduce the number of shoppers inside the supermarket. "We always had a winter season snowbirds' corner in the parking lot where the RVers could pick up essentials such as bottled water and propane," Bennet said. "This season, because of the Celestine (flu), we stocked outside tables with grocery items, including produce." Cashier stations have been rolled out under awnings so shoppers can make their purchases without ever going inside. Bennet said the store could devote more parking space to display tables because of the new DET tractor-trailer bus shuttle on Hobbesianway. "The shuttle means snowbirds can park their rigs at the old Kmart lot. We don't need so much parking space here," Bennet said. The tractor-trailer shuttle runs on ten-minute headways along Hobbesianway between the old Kmart and Speedway Field.

 GoPro for Chuckpo  Chuckwalla mayor Robert Crane announced at the Wednesday council that a donation from a philanthropic local businessman will underwrite the purchase of GoPro cameras and bicycle helmets for the Chuckpo force of five officers and a lieutenant. "We salute Matt Stoich (the owner of Chuckwalla Honda-Toyota-Nissen) for his generosity," Crane said. The head-mounted cameras, Crane said, should help alleviate citizen complaints about excessive force by police. "It's been our word against a knucklehead," Crane said, "but now we'll have a visual record of police contacts." The mayor mentioned the success of Valley Vigilance with the GoPros. When the security company's guards make a citizen's arrest, their cameras document evidence that can be used for justification before a court.

 Bikes roll on  City councilman Henry Pipps at that same council meeting broached the idea of an amendment to city traffic ordinances that would allow bicyclists to roll through stop signs of neighborhood streets. Pipps said a cycling constituent had beefed about getting a ticket for running a stop, which occasioned spending three nights at traffic school. "We want to encourage bike riding," Pipps said. "It's a drag for a cyclist to come to a full stop and then start pedaling again. Maybe if he's careful and looks around he could just slowly roll through." Acting police chief Lt. Abel Dick said the case Pipps mentioned was the only citation issued to a cyclist "in about a year." "The guy was coming downhill and blew through the stop sign at 20mph with cars already in the intersection," Dick said. According to the acting chief, Chuckpo already has a lenient view toward cyclists at intersections. "If a bike rider slows down, and looks both ways we're not going to cite him," Dick said. Mayor Crane offered a "sense of the council" motion that would ask Chuckpo to continue that informal policy, and the motion passed unanimously. 

 Pipps full of ideas. The councilman on Wednesday also bruited the notion that Hobbesianway could be designated "a linear shopping mall" that would be off-limits to auto traffic. Pipps said Chuckwalla could take advantage of pleasant winter weather to make the city's mile-long main drag into "an oriental bazaar" with merchandise moved into the street for the examination of strolling pedestrians. "We've got the DET shuttle, we've got the rickshaws, we've got the bicycle lane," Pipps said. "Shoppers could get around. It could be like a fair." Councilman Lyn Patel demuirred, saying that shopkeepers would not approve of the innovation. "There's a security issue, there's a convenience issue," Patel said. "They wouldn't want to move stuff in and out. They're already mad at us about the bike lane taking away parking spaces. Not ready for this." Pipps said it was just an idea.

 Spittin" Chiclets, the NorCal punk band, will be appearing this weekend at the Brewhaha beer pub. The Friday and Saturday night performances will kick off at 9 p.m. Pub owner Dean Whiting said the hard-core group has gained a following up north and will be playing a few dates "in the sticks" before starting a run in Los Angeles venues. "I"m curious to see how they'll go over here," Whiting said. Opening for the group will be the local garage band Strummin' Dranks.

 Hail Adoni Baptist Church is using the church bus to take prepared meals to the no-income residents of the Eight-Bys tiny cabins camp on Mercury Drive. "We were cooking the morning and evening meals at the site but because of wind and blowing dust it's easier to cook in the church basement kitchen," said pastor Byron Fistule "We also take the dishes back to run through our dishwasher. Simplifies everything." Some 40 formerly homeless from the Arroyo Cholo jungle now live in the eight-by-eight wood cubes connstructed of scrap plywood on land owned by zoning scofflaw and humanitarian Dan Jennings, a Hail Adoni dirrector. The encampment uses composting toilets, an Army Surplus water mule, and a gas generator. So far, no beefs from the county, and mayor Crane has lifted his initial objections, after recognizing the mutual benefit of relocating the occupants. "They get some good, and they're out of sight."  

 That box on wheels spotted rolling around town? It's the "Voltswagon," a DIY battery car home-built by Chuckwalla's Ed Skinner. Ed said it's modeled on the 1917 Baker, a once-popular electric-powered "ladies car" that was easier to operate for distaff drivers than the hand-cranked tin lizzy. The car has no transmission, a belt drive, and is powered by a salvaged forklift motor and golf cart batteries. "The same specs as the Baker," Skinner says. "Top speed 50 mph and a range of 50 miles." Skinner uses the Voltswagon for his commute to his job at Benny's Brake and Muffler, and for shopping trips. And after Skinner ran it by the DMV, it's street legal.

 Deep Adaptation Chuckwalla Junior College is slated to be the new home of UC Riverside's Department of Deep Adaptation, part of the University's School of Sustainability and Resilience. Department chair Bernice Nichols says the Chuckwalla environs are ideal for laboratory research into the coping mechanisms that will be needed by global populations subject to the future's relentless temperature inputs that will push much of the southern hemisphere into uninhabitability. "It's perfect here," Nichols says, "Summertime temps in Chuckwalla frequently top 100 degrees for weeks at a time, dust storms spread toxic agricultural pesticides, water sources are contaminated by fecal waste as well as by arsenic and selenium, invasive species have replaced native plants, and then (there's) the desert fungal diseases such as coccidioides (Valley Fever). Nichols says that the theory of deep adaptation assumes that inevitably the future's punishing heat waves accompanied by drought and crop failures will force swarms of climate refugees northward. But some cohorts, because of poverty or conflict, will be unable to leave areas no longer capable of supporting human life. "We want to find adaptive techniques these populations can use to achieve bare survival." The school will look at some of the vernacular architecture in the area, such as estivation chambers with heat chimneys, evaporative walls, wind scoops and tunnels, simple heat pumps, cooling shafts, and funnel skylights. "One of the first hands-on projects will be a solar still on campus," Nichols said. "We'll distill some of the cafeteria's grey water."

 (Editor's note: Parttime intern reporter Cheryl Weiss last week dropped by a lunchtime lecture at the JC called "The 72 Keys of Solomon.")

Small hexes A highschool classmate alerted me that a visiting warlock from Don Buck's School of the Tiger in LA would be speaking on how to invoke "the petty curse." The speaker, self-identified as Son of Kyokosky, alleges that his school, which teaches jiu-jitsu and other martial arts, also teaches black arts to a select coven of adepts. He said one of the most frequently used spells is a minor curse issued in retaliation for lesser grievances. To affect the curse, the warlock creates a magic sigil produced by writing out the curse's intention, and reducing the letters into a monogram. Son of Kyokosky said the petty curse does no serious or permanent harm to the target, but is meant as retaliation for such failings as ingratitude or for small crimes such as property theft or failure to repay a debt. He said usually the petty curse is "Never prosper." Some half dozen students in attendance had the opportunity to purchase a book of spells entitled "The 72 Keys." Cheryl Weiss

 The Peewee Pickup basketball games at Howell Park have been cancelled until further notice in response to the ongoing siege of the Celestine Flu (H1N1) allegedly being spread by lonewolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla. The popular evening games, open only to adults 5'10" or under, had been drawing large crowds, with the concomitant potential for spreading the virus, according to a park department handout. The games had resumed last month after being halted briefly by a discrimination suit claiming that public courts should not have height restrictions. A communique issued by Padilla said that he had infected the court bleachers with a virus solution, and a check by the county health department did find traces of H1N1 on the seats.


Dome of the Rock. (Editor's note: We got a press release from something called The Salt Dome Project. Apparently a consortium of energy entrepreneurs are looking for financing to harvest electricity from a giant "natural battery" out in the desert on BLM land near Sometimes Spring. We asked part time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss to look into it.)

The spokesperson for the salt dome project is Wendell Clary, a geologist from Nevada State University, Reno, and a consortium partner. Clary says that the chemical composition of a ten-mile-long salt dome formation underlying the desert varnish near the village of Sometimes Springs is generating a flow of electrons that could be captured and transferred to the Southern California grid. "My calculations indicate that we could harvest endless megawatts of energy created by this huge natural battery," Clary says. The electricity, he says, is the result of a rare confluence of underground minerals, primarily cobalt and lithium salts, that could produce energy "for a thousand years." Electrodes, the size of bridge pillars, driven ten miles apart (approximately at Junction Wells and Payson's Old Ranch) would be connected by transmission lines directly to the grid. The cost of the project, he said. would be in "the tens of millions'' but if all went well recouped within a decade. Everett Baker, a professor of geological science at UC Riverside, said the idea of a salt dome battery "is totally preposterous." The prospectus has "scam in big red letters'' written all over it, Baker said.


We get letters


"Wigwam Wampum?" I wonder if the Native Americans living on the Lumbee Reservation enjoy this characterization of one of their members?

Louise Fouts, Chuckwalla

(Editor's note: That's the stage name of Jonny Franklin, the host of a popular children's program on KZZZ (The Rattler). Jonny, the nephew of William Franklin, the chairman of the Lumbee tribal council, has been hosting the daily show for about a decade. The show, something akin to the old "Mr Rogers Neighborhood," has a stock company of characters such as Ranger Rabbit and Tricky Coyote. Also guests such as nurses and nutritionists are invited to talk to kids about health and food choices. Is the name offensive? We asked reporter intern Cheryl Weiss to ask around.)

I asked Boy Scout First Class Lenny Twoheart, a Lumbee and the highest ranking scout in Chuckwalla. He said he had grown up listening to the program, and had never heard any complaints. "I don't think anybody even knows that wampum was some kind of Indian money. We say teepee instead of wigwam, and the only teepee of the Rez is that big metal one in front of the casino. If you heard the show you wouldn't think anybody was disrespecting Indians. Everybody knows Wigwam is a Franklin. They don't take any (guff)."

(Editor's note: After the big rubbish fire last week on the Rez, intern reporter Weiss wondered about the tribal deal that allows the County of Los Angeles to store in perpetuity hundreds of thousands of compressed bales of plastic inside a giant meteor crater. As a rule we are careful about our coverage of tribal affairs. An old adage in the newspaper game says Indian stories have no winners. We advised Cheryl to show the greatest discretion.)

 The Lumbee contract with the County of Los Angeles for storage of plastic bales is one of several tribal arrangements, current and projected, with civic authorities for the disposal of waste. The Nation also is home of a tire burning plant belonging to the San Bernardino waste management district, and a recycling yard that salvages rare metals from electronics and catalytic converters for the California Department of Transportation. A proposal to site a nuclear-powered generating plant on Rez land abutting the Colorado River is tediously winding through the myriad complexities of permitting process. The US Department of Aviation has approached the council with the thought of storing retired airliners somewhere on the sprawling desert reservation that is almost the size of Rhode Island. 

Bert Bertinelli, the president of the Chuckwalla Chamber of Commerce, is also the hired public relations spokesperson for the Nation. "As a sovereign nation we are not required to report financials except to the IRS. LA county has described the plastic deal as a multi-million dollar contract and we'll leave it there. The nation performs a huge service. Plastic recycling is a joke. Less than ten percent of the plastic that goes into the blue bin gets recycled. And then, it's just turned into pellets used to make more drink cups. Most of the plastic waste goes to the city dump, winds up in the ocean, or goes up the incinerator flue as carbon dioxide. On the Rez, the bales can be stored safely inside the crater, under which is impermeable hardpan. It's safe forever."

The Lumbees have been recipients of federal grants for the construction of the Rez high school and community center. The Bureau of Land Management negotiated a swap with the Lumbees in which the nation gained title to several thousand acres of government timber land in Nevada in return for a grant allowing a right-of-way for a natural gas pipeline. The nation sold stumpage rights to a New York hedge fund. 

 That plume of black smoke rising yesterday morning in the southwest quadrant came from a toxic rubbish fire that broke out overnight from within the thousands of stacked compressed bales of plastic waste being stored in perpetuity on the Lumbee Rez.  KZZZ (The Rattler) radio personality Wigwam Wampum, the de facto spokesperson for the Rez, says that arson is suspected as the cause of the sudden blaze spewing poisonous smoke that drifted over the village of Sometimes Springs, necessitating the short-term evacuation of approximately 60 residents. 

The fire was brought quickly under control by firefighter volunteers from the Chinese gas plant. Wampum said the worker brigade installing the regeneration unit responded with their equipment after the determination that all Chuckpo FD units had deployed to other emergencies. "Col. Xi Ping (commanding the Chinese brigade) had a tanker and a 'dozer out here in fifteen minutes." The brigade was assisted by a dozen Pathfinder scouts from Troop 354, Wampum said.

According to Wampum, Valley Vigilance security guards stopped a van leaving the area and held two men for Chuckpo officers. Another passenger in the van, who attempted to flee into the desert, was brought down by a Valley Vigilance canine unit, Bruno, and later transported to Pele Verde Memorial. 

Wampus speculated that interlopers from the Slabs may have been in the area to rustle bales on plastic, which allegedly have been used as fuel for hidden stills concocting the potent Distilled Once and For All Pioneer Vodka. "Wood is scarce around here, and the plastic burns pretty good."

The Lumbee Nation has a contract with Los Angeles to store in perpetuity baled plastic waste that the State Department of Health has determined to be too toxic to incinerate. The bales of compressed plastic trash are stacked by the thousands inside the Devolonian meteor crater, which geologists say lies atop an impervious adobe hardpan. The LA city council paid Southern Pacific to extend a rail spur to the site for delivery of the bales on two-mile-long freights.

Xi Ping's Chinese contingent arrived in Chuckwalla last year to build the regeneration section for the gas plant, which supplies electricity to the greater LA metropolitan area. The brigade previously has fielded volunteers during emergencies. Their quick response stemmed a break in the sewer pond levee, and the brigade's medical clinic has provided beds and treatment during the Clelestine Flu (H1N1) epidemic triggered by lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla.

Acting Chuckpo Chief, Lt. Able Dick, said the fire was under investigation as arson, but could not release the names of the persons in custody. A spokesman for Pele Verde Memorial said the person transported was in serious but not life-threatening condition. Sometimes Springs residents have returned to their homes, Wampum said. (Editor's note. Wampum, who hosts a popular children's program on KZZZ, often provides commentary on reservation issues.)


Breaking News

After a series of thefts, the Sunshine Auto Cemetery has hired Valley Vigilance to stand guard over the company's five acres of solarizing abandoned vehicles. The car park, the brainchild of Chuckwalla melon farmer Eddie Mott, offers a final resting place for unwanted cars belonging to LA environmentalists who have given up driving.   

"The high consciousness owners have taken the pledge not to drive or fly," Mott said. But while they don't want their cars anymore, neither do they want them resold, recycled or crushed. They hope to remove the vehicles permanently from the carbon dioxide loop by leaving them forever in a desert graveyard. "Recycled parts wind up in working cars," Mott said. "And crushed cars are melted down to make more cars."

But the solarizing cars have been an irresistible temptation to thieves.\par

Mott said Slab City gangs on quads, armed with Sazealls, have sent raiding parties to strip parts and tires. "They can see off a catalytic converter in about two seconds,"Mott said "Some of the cars are high end and valuable, in good shape and drivable, although I've disabled the ignitions."

Henry Pipps, the city councilman who is CEO of Valley Vigilance, said his company would police the lot with armed sentries and rescue dogs that have been repurposed for security uses. "We're raising a 30-foot tower to give us a good field of vision," Pipps said. The Mott property, which is located south of the city in the vicinity of the Borrows, is unfenced open desert. Mott said he doesn't need a permit for his operation, and that the county has raised no objection to the storage of hundreds of cars. "It's not a wrecking yard, it's not a toxic dump, it's not a retail outlet," Mott said. "It's just a couple of acres of parked cars." He declined to say how much he charges environmentalists for the service.

Pipps said the dogs, mostly East German Shepherds and rottweilers, would be off-leash although under "voice command." "We expect that after Slabovians find out about the dogs the word will get around," Pipps said.

In the shade  An entrepreneurial high schooler has been doing a good business selling parasols at the Fair Grounds to passengers using the new tractor bus running the length of Hobbesian Way. Sally Givens, 17 and a senior at Chuckwalla High, says she buys a truckload of parasols in LA''s chinatown and retails them to bus riders for $5. Desert Empire Transit (DET) began tractor bus service last month as a means to lighten congestion downtown during the winter tourist season, when thousands of RVers flea blizzards the northern states in favor of the sunny warmth of the long term visitors' campgrounds in Quartzsite.

A couple of repurposed John Deere farm tractors are pulling flatbed trailers outfitted with railings and benches on the two-mile route from the FairGrounds on the east end of Hobbesian Way to the old Kmart parking lot at the western end. The trailers are open and roofless, meaning that passengers are exposed to both sun and the frequent afternoon zephyrs. The parasols, products of China, are sturdy enough, Givens says, to throw shade on a pate and to protect a coif from gusty breezes during the half hour 5mph cruise along the main drag. "If people want to sell the parasols back to me when they return to their cars, I'll give $3," Givens says.

 (Editor's note: In winter months in Chuckwalla traffic often crawls along the main boulevard as throngs of RVs headed to Quartzsite campgrounds exit the freeway to pick up ice, groceries, and other supplies before crossing the bridge into Arizona. The city council put several schemes in place last month to encourage RVers to park their rigs at the Fair Grounds or at the old Kmart and then take public transit into the business district. As well as the free tractor buses (underwritten by contributions from local business including Albertsons and O'Reilly auto supply) the council authorized dedicated bike lanes set apart from the street by orange cones inside old tires, since many RVers bring their bikes along. According to acting Chuckwalla police chief Abel Dick, traffic congestion has eased somewhat. "It's not the gridlock we had, with guys in Bermuda shorts yelling at each other," Dick noted that some RVers have been hiring the strong young men of Rickety Rickshaw to pull their purchases back to the parking lots).

We are the future  UC Riverside has signed a contract renting office space at the junior college for a university research group studying adaptation technologies for extreme heat environments. According to a press release from UC's department of sustainable environments, the Chuckwalla environs offer a perfect laboratory to study adverse climate conditions that may be globally widespread in the near future. "The Chuckwalla vicinity has a long summer of high temperatures of more than 90 degrees, often for weeks at a time, The area also has frequent sandstorms occasioning high levels of PM10 (dust and outbreaks of Valley Fever.). Moreover because of agricultural chemicals used in the cotton and alfalfa farms along the Colorado, toxic aerosols spread over wide areas." The researchers plan to study the ways in which local inhabitants have adapted to "hyper heating beyond normal human tolerance." Dr. Edward Mann, professor of adaptive physiology at the university, said that climate alteration in the next half-century will trigger mass human migrations northward, but that some subset of the population will be unable to leave areas that have become uninhabitable under normal conditions. "We are seeking ways for humans to make an environmental transition," Mann said.

China hay ride The first cargo of Imperial County alfalfa is headed for China aboard a freighter powered by the wind. Last year the Reveille printed a social studies paper written by high school senoir and part-time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss about a Stockton shipping tycoon who had bought three derelict cargo vessels in Bangladesh and turned them into sailing ships for bulk cargo. On Wednesday one of his converted sailing vessels, the San Joaquin Corn Binder, cast off lines at the Port of Stockton loaded with 6,000 bales of Imperial County hay destined for cattle pens in Shanghai. "This is a huge development," said Chamber of Commerce president Bert Bertinelli, "There's a glut of alfalfa here since the dairy farms moved north, and fuel costs have made it uneconomical to ship hay to China, where there's a growing demand for beef. Wind powered ships put the trade together." The voyage by sail takes over two months but a new generation of Chinese cattlemen have positioned feedlots and stockyards adjacent to port facilities. "Conveyor belts take the bales straight from the ship to the pens," Bertinelli said.

Bikes yes, bums no  A longstanding tradition of the Chuckwalla Days Parade has been the "Bums on Bikes" contingent from the Harmony House Kitchen. The contingent, which grows larger every year, has become noted for comical turns and attempts at precision maneuvers often ending in amusing tangles. Alas. Harmony House has announced via email that the sponsored bicycle squad henceforth will be known as "The Harmony House Bicycle Coalition." Okay. But we are heaving a deep sigh.

The Rapture unmasked  The Hail Adoni Baptist Church OMG Youth Ministry has another protest this weekend on the front steps of Pele Verde Memorial Hospital. The protestors, bearing signs saying, "Don't Stop the Rapture," were angry about an edict requiring masks or face coverings for anyone visiting the hospital grounds. A hospital spokesperson had said the masks are needed because of the recent outbreak of Celestine Flu (H1N1) caused, allegedly, by the nefarious work of lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla in spreading germs from his secret chemical lab in the Scorpion Mountains.

Armed Pizza Drive-by   
The issue of rickshaws on city streets continues to puzzle the council. Avery Harris, owner of the popular Armed Pizza takeout, was cited by Chuckpo last week for riding in an unlicensed homemade rickshaw pulled by his son Gerald. According to acting chief Abel Dick, the vehicle's slow progress backed up traffic on Mercury Dr., creating a citable hazard. Chuckwalla has two commercial rickshaw companies, Rickety Rickshaw and Breatharian Rickshaw, and the city has yet to determine how they should be regulated. Interim City Manager Corry Blake told the council that the state DMV guidelines offered little help. "The closest thing is horse-drawn carriage, which are required to have lights, reflectors and mirrors."  Blake said that slow motorized vehicles such as golf carts could be street legal on roads posted for 25 mph, but had to be capable of speeds of at least 15 mph. "I'm thinking that a human powered rickshaw could be considered a pedestrian," Blake said, and thus prohibited from using the roadway. But he added that rickshaws shouldn't be on the sidewalk either. The council previously gave provisional approval to commercial rickshaws on the grounds that they provided an important service during the Celestine Flu epidemic, by transporting vulnerable seniors to hospital appointments. "If people are going to start using private rickshaws pulled by relatives, we're going to need some more clarity," said mayor Robert Crane. Councilman Henry Pipps suggested that pending guidance from the DMV, the council should instruct Chuckpo to treat rickshaws as bicycles, and to cite only for safety concerns. A motion passed unanimously

 Automatic House  Pick 'n' Peel Auto Dismantlers has gone into low income housing line. In a classified ad in today's Reveille, the wreaking yard on Amethyst Way is offering stripped auto bodies as possible housing opportunities. According to Pick 'n Peel honcho Craig Smith, cars and vans that have been harvested of engines, tires and other reusable parts usually are sent to Riverside to be crushed into metal blocks. "Jeez, all the homelessness around here, people living in cars everywhere,” Smith said, “why not sell the car bodies to people in need of quick shelter." Smith said the car bodies could become homeless shelters, backyard granny units, guest rooms, or even playhouses. He said he already had got a phone call from a nearby landowner who has built 8x8 shacks on his property for the no-income homeless. "He's looking at some car bodies out there," Smith said. Junked vans make the best home, Smith said, but SUVs and full-sized sedans could also be repurposed. "Pull out the seats, put in a bunk, and bingo."

The Espalier Wall

By Beet Bailey

(Editor’s note: Beet writes a regular column on sustainability)

 I was in town yesterday and called on Old Eddy, the former caretaker at Marvin Gardens Apartments, before that heavy task was taken over by Valley Vigilance.   I’m always keen to see his vertical garden behind his dugout at the east end of town. The vertical garden grows against a south-facing masonry wall. Actually, a whitewashed adobe wall, or more exactly it’s rammed earth inside a wooden frame, faced with chicken wire and plastered. Wing-like windbreaks on the east and west protect the plantings from the prevailing northwesterly. Tomato vines laden with fruit climb up the eight-foot southern face. Herbs in impromptu planters (tin cans, plastic jugs) hang on pegs. Two rows of lettuces and onions are set out on shelves along the base.   A roll of flexible netting is strapped along the top, to be draped over the plants at night.

His dugout next to the wall measures 12 feet by 12 and has been set in an excavation about three-feet-deep. The dugout is post and beam, covered by eight by four panels of salvaged wood, glued in three layers, the voids filled with mud. Spoils from the pit had been shoveled around the north side of the cabin to the top of the flat roof, which had been covered with half a foot of loose earth held in place by a rim of two-by-eights and topped with a swath of chicken wire. The cabin has no windows and the entrance a scuttle in the roof. No Charley Noble, but ridgepoles for rigging overhead tarps. The tarps, one brown, one white, were folded on the roof. The brown tarp throws some shade; the white one on top reflects the sun. Typical desert bum box similar to the eight-bys at the Salvation Ranch at the end of Mercury Dr.

Old Eddy wasn’t home, and I knew from experience not to knock. The scuttle hatch corner has an almost invisible nylon fishing line leading to a plastic clothespin hidden under the earthen roof. Opening the hatch would cause the arms of the pin to snap together, closing a circuit activating a horn hidden nearby. Opening the hatch an inch, an intruder would make out the barrel and base receiver of a 12-gauge. Opening the hatch to full extent would trip the cocked hammer. I’d drop in on Old Eddy another time.

Clown Down

Chuckwalla-based 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 principles 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 as 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.

Rules for Rickshaws?

The Chuckwalla city council spent a contentious hour Wednesday trying to hammer out a new ordinance regulating the proliferating number of rickshaws for hire in the city.

Two unregulated rickshaw companies have been operating for the last few months. Rickety Rickshaw, a cooperative made-up of members of the high school varsity football team, has been carrying paying passengers, mostly seniors, for shopping trips and doctors appointments. The Breatharian House also provides rickshaw rides mostly to a client list of shut-ins and persons with disabilities. And then Harmony House Kitchen offers free rickshaw rides for people using the homeless services being offered at the old Trisk House on Mercury Dr.

But in the last few weeks so-called “gypsy” rickshaws have been appearing on Chuckwalla streets.

“These are people who have built some kind of bicycle or hand-pulled rickshaw and are charging fares to riders,” said councilwomen Sorel Patel. “It’s entirely unregulated and dangerous.”

Patel favored an ordinance that would require for-hire rickshaws to be licensed. "The vehicles would be inspected and certified as safe, and the operators would be bonded.” She also wanted language that would require operators to undergo a medical examination.

Councilman Henry Pipps said the rickshaws had potential as a valuable adjunct to the transportation choices available. “They don't pollute and might be safer than buses for elderly passengers during the current Celestine flu (H1N1) outbreak.”

Mayor Robert Crane, however, said commercial rickshaws might present “a bad optic” for the city, since they were once associated with “exploitation and misery.”

Patel said that objection could be overcome by a rule that operators had to be under the age of thirty, in good health, physically fit, and of good moral character. They should also get a fair wage.

The council seemed in agreement that some regulation was needed, but put the matter over for a month to allow time for community comment.

“Maybe something like a taxi medallion” Pipps said. Cheryl Weiss

(Editor’s note: A $30,000 line item in the city council’s consent calendar Wednesday drew the attention of the Reveille’s intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, a Rotary Club merit scholar and finalist in the Imperial County junior chess bowl. “Emergency repair, sewer main, Amethyst St. transfer station.”   The city is on the brink of state receivership because of its debt overhang, and has no known reserves. So where did recently installed city manager Roger Fisk find $30,000 to repair a broken sewer main? Cheryl’s report.)

Reveille: You borrowed thirty large? Who would loan money to Chuckwalla?

Fisk: As you are well aware, the usual sources of municipal funding have dried up for Chuckwalla. We had an emergency. Raw sewage was leaking into the street. Patel Excavation was willing, but they wanted a 30-day note. There was a chance a state window might have opened, but that takes time and paperwork. Mr. Patel suggested a non-traditional lender. Hawala Yemini Buffet.

Reveille: The falafel shop?

Fisk. Middle Eastern cuisine. They also do some banking. You look perplexed. The buffet is part of a widespread tribally connected financial system. Under Sharia, loaning money for interest is considered usury, and harem. Instead of making loans, sharia banks invest in enterprises, and take a share in the profits.

Reveille: There’s no profit in Chuckwalla.

Fisk. A Yemini contractor in La Placenta is putting together a deal to clean up burned houses from the Santa Monica Hills fire. A sheik in Sana is willing to invest. But the contractor needs some equipment. A few heavy-duty trucks, a D-9 Cat, a backhoe, some other things that we had idle in the corporation yard.

Reveille: What does this have to do with falafel?

Fisk: Mr. Al-Saraya, owner of the buffet, arranged the details to conform to requisite practices. The Sana businessman phoned a wealthy cousin in Los Angeles who sent Mr. Patel the check for $30,000. The contractor picked up the equipment on loan from our corporation yard. As the work progresses the contractor will send regular remittances to Mr. Al-Saraya, who will credit the Sana account. The sheik will reimburse the LA mogul by wire transfer.

Reveille: The Levant. Is any of this written down?

Fisk. It’s on the honor system.



The car won't start. It will have to be towed. One doesn’t have any idea what the trouble might be. And one feels completely helpless, completely at the mercy of the mechanic who is going to shake his head and mutter something incomprehensible to the non-technical ear.

Donald Pretoria may be able to help. He’s a recent graduate of Ironwood State Prison where he served five years for grand theft auto. Pretoria says he was a car thief from childhood but also worked pulling parts in the chop shops around the LA barrios. At Ironwood he got assigned to the motor pool, where the authorities put his mechanical knowledge to use in behalf the prison fleet.

Now the Castaways resident would like to help the auto-owning but mechanically illiterate driving public.

“A little while after I got out a female ex-con I know asked me to look at the communal van at Juche House (a county-sponsored residence for abused women),” Pretoria said. It was just a blown spark plug and coil, but the women were afraid their ignorance about cars would make them prey for unscrupulous mechanics.”

It isn’t just women, Pretoria says. “These days most men don’t know anything about modern car engines either. It used to be that any guy could do basic mechanical work. Replace a water pump or alternator. Change the points, set the timing, even do a brake job. Now cars are too complex for the average guy to work on.”

Pretoria assessed the Juche van, told the women how much it should cost, and accompanied them to the garage.

“Most of the mechanics aren’t overtly dishonest,” Pretoria said. “But they see when the owner doesn’t know anything, and there’s a tendency to do more than is strictly needed.” And at the dealerships, you’re talking to a salesman, not a mechanic. “A salesman’s job is to sell.”

Pretoria, for a small fee, usually about $50, will go with you to the garage. “My main goal in life is to stay cool with my PO,” Pretoria says. “I don’t ever want to lose my freedom again. I’m not trying to get rich.”

Although he no longer has any interest in boosting cars, he likes to put his knowledge to use. “I know cars,” he says, “I can’t be fooled.” He doesn’t do any work himself, but he has diagnostic scanners that can decipher the computer codes inside the engine’s chip. He can also steer the owner to the most economical solution for the particular issue.

“For new brakes on a Honda, there are good shade tree guys who will save you money,” he says. “ For timing belts or head gaskets there are good garages. For some complex cars, it has to be the dealership. In any case, I can tell you pretty much exactly how much it should cost.”

“I know every mechanic in town. I don’t play favorites.   I work for the person who hires me.” --Cheryl Weiss


Rickshaw for Germ Wary

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 Celestial Flu epidemic.

Aaron Snyder, a strapping 6'3'', 180-pound Yellow Jacket linebacker, has transformed an Italian Gladdus touring bike into a three-wheeled rickshaw capable of carrying two passengers.

"People are afraid they could catch the flu on the bus," Snyder said. "I can take seniors to doctor appointments or shopping and they don't have to worry about germs."  He 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,” Snyder said.  “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.)



Mascot Name Change?

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 Jackrabbits.  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.



Butt Reopens

The Malmsey Butt Happy Hour has now reopened from 4 to 6 p.m. daily.  All service is on the patio and patrons must stand on one of the designated circles. Patrons who wish to compliment a waitress for individual service may use the tip pitcher by the door. (Sponsored).


Wonder Wanda

Wanda Delkins, owner of Wanda Yoga, 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 were 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.”   


The Reveille Observatory

Waltzing the tri-Desert Empire


(Editor’s note: A blitz of electrons regarding the Reveille coverage of the flap at the Cheap Ammo booth at the Sunday Thunder gun show and swap meet last week. We have too many e-mails to print, but will try for a representative sample.)



Valley Vigilance neither condones nor censors the photo display at Cheap Ammo. Our contract with Sunday Thunder and the fairgrounds is to provide security and to keep the peace. When a vociferous dispute at the ammo booth began to escalate, our security officers intervened to separate combatants. No employee from our company ordered the booth to close. The booth staff on their own shuttered the booth and removed the photographs.

Henry Pipps, CEO, Valley Vigilance



The owners of Cheap Ammo were in no way authorized to use the photos on display at the Cheap Ammo booth at the fairgrounds. The photos were taken without authorization from the archives of the Chuckwalla Police Department, and public distribution is prohibited. The department is now conducting an internal investigation.

Lt. Abel Dick, Acting Chief, Chuckwalla PD



How do you get your chicken nugget, or your Mac or your Whopper? How does a murderer end a crime spree?  You really don't want to know. But the cheap Ammo display wasn't false advertising.  If you buy a box of Cheap Ammo’s best-selling Magnum Police Load double ought and use it as intended this is the result you can expect for your money. By the way.  Although it's hard to tell from looking at him, the person pictured is the alleged perpetrator of the kindergarten massacre at Martin Van Buren. Lt. Dick did the deed after a chase and police standoff.

Besos Amazin, Chuckwalla



Not everyone going to the Sunday Thunder swap meet belongs to the cave-dwelling crew at Wayne’s Sport Oasis. Sunday Thunder also draws children, and I’m sure some of the parents object to them seeing pictures like this. I am very glad that Valley Vigilance was there.

Acacia Spring, Sometimes Spring


(Editor’s note: The fracas at the Cheap Ammo booth occasioned the first use of a new Valley Vigilance technique for subduing knuckleheads. Vigilance security officers restrained one of the troublemakers by tossing a weighted net over him. “I got the idea from watching an old Victor Mature movie, Demetrius and the Gladiators,” said Vigilance CEO Henry Pipps. “We skip the trident.” Pipps said the company’s net is made of a repurposed truck cargo net. And weighted with small sand bags. In the Roman arena, gladiators fought with shield and a short sword called the gladdus. A “retiarius” fought with net and trident.)


Bums are Green

Much internal perturbation to the city bureaucratic 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. “The average family in Chuckwalla generates far more trash than the entire homeless encampment in Arroyo Cholo. It would be better if the unsheltered put their trash in a garbage bin instead of scattering it all along the arroyo but in volume it’s no way close to the waste generated by the average Lunchbucket family.”

The Breatharians also point out 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 gear 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 High Beam 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.


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 one of the city’s financial burdens. Hail Adoni (church) is feeding the residents, which has decreased the city’s monthly 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 the drinking water. We do good for these people and get them out of sight.”


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.


We Get Letters

Put it under the bed


Chuckwalla! Please don’t recycle plastic. Most of the plastic waste from recycling winds up in the ocean, is strewn on beaches, or smolders in garbage heaps in Malaysia, if it isn’t incinerated, adding to the aerial smudge. Only about nine percent is actually recycled, and much of that is re-used to manufacture new versions of waste. If you choose to buy plastic you should own it. Ideally, you would choose to keep your plastic waste forever, or until such time as science develops microbes able to digest it. As Diogenes suspected, there are no honest humans, but a hypothetical ethical person could keep his waste plastic under his bed, in a spare closet, in the guest room, and when space runs out, in covered piles in the backyard. If for some reason this isn’t feasible, then plastic waste should be sent to our own landfill, where it will contaminate our own groundwater, instead of polluting the ocean, or the downtrodden southern hemisphere. And by the way, dog owners. Instead of sending plastic-wrapped poop to the landfill, why not place your darling’s lump in a reusable container and compost your pet’s waste offering in your own backyard?

Donna Glass, Chuckwalla


(Editor’s note: Dogs. Feral dogs in Arroyo Cholo. Unleashed dogs chasing the walking school bus. Unsanctioned dog fights in neighborhood backyards. It’s an ongoing controversy in Chuckwalla, and served as the main campaign issue in the recent council elections. Of course we get letters.)



We all love dogs. But dog owners? It depends. The pet has to have a license. Dog owners should be licensed and tagged too, after the successful completion of a certification course emphasizing common courtesy. Your dog is wonderful, the best of all possible companions. But you, dog owner, are not special, or entitled to ignore bagatelles such as the leash law. Sure, your dog may be a little, yippy, but so friendly, it would never bite anybody. The on-coming pedestrian or cyclist may not know this, or be unable to read in the stance of a snarling cur the benign disposition so obvious to you. It is your duty to curb your pet by drawing the leash close while the fellow traveler passes on the narrow foot trail or sidewalk. Two cardinal rules: curb your dog; pick up its poop. And please. The trash can. There is no fairy patrolling the paths at night picking up plastic bags of dog poop.

Farley Anderson, Chuckwalla


Feral dogs to be deported to China


Regarding your story headline "Feral Dogs Deported to China."   As we well know, the Humane Society animal shelter on Hobbsianway is overcrowded after the well-meaning effort by troop 354 to round up abandoned dogs in Arroyo Cholo. And the shelter suffers from ongoing budget shortfalls. Officials at the gas plant have offered as part of their partnership with the city to relocate the surplus of rescue dogs at the shelter to new homes in China. Relocated and adopted into caring families. Not deported. Many of the rescue dogs apparently already have been repurposed as sentry dogs at the gas plant. Others have joined the security firm Valley Vigilance as guard dogs. Yet the shelter remains overcrowded with two or three dogs per cage, which leads to a stress for the animals. According to Col. Ping, the rescued dogs have been settled in rural area of Fanouck Province where they can perform useful service in a farm setting. Col. Ping has assured us that all the dogs are well cared for and happy.

David Longacre, community services specialist, city of Chuckwalla



Loose the Dogs strongly deplores the ghastly plan to send a shipment of kidnapped dogs from the Humane Shelter to an uncertain fate in China. The dogs were spirited from the shelter in the dead of night without any public notice, taken to the gas plant, and according to witnesses placed in cages inside shipping containers.   The only reason this comes to light at all is that a clinic volunteer, who fell asleep in her car inside the gas plant compound, was awakened by the howling of frightened animals. She witnessed the removal of the dogs by a crew dressed in gas plant uniforms. Humane Society president Diane Albrecht refused to explain the removal of the dogs and referred us to the City Attorney, who has not returned our phone calls. This cruel outrage must be stopped.

Penny Axelrod, president, Loose the Dogs


New Outreach for Homeless

Harmony House has announced that a former residence on Mercury Drive is slated to become an adjunct facility offering restrooms and showers to the city's homeless population. Those in need can get a ticket at the Harmony House Kitchen that will let them schedule an appointment for a shower and other services, such as luggage storage, free haircuts, battery charging, and limited computer time for job searches.

A Harmony spokesperson said that a contract Cuban dentist from the Chinese gas plant has volunteered two hours per week at the new facility to perform teeth checkups and basic oral surgery.

The residence, which once belonged to the late Claudia Thistle, has been vacant for ten years and has fallen into disrepair, but the spokesperson said that a crew from Ironwood State Prison has been seconded to help rehabilitate the residence. The crew of prisoners usually works on cleanup details in the city parks, but some of the prisoners have carpentry and plumbing skills. “They put in two showers, a line of commodes, and a locked storage area. Otherwise, the house mostly needed a good cleaning," the spokesperson said.

Since Mercury Dr. has restricted parking, participants will be required to walk from the kitchen, a distance of about half a mile, although the disabled will be able to schedule the Harmony House bicycle rickshaw. While recipients are waiting a turn in the showers, they will get free coffee in the kitchen's shaded patio. The spokesperson said the project had been brewing for more than a year. A lot of our regulars have been bathing in the irrigation canals, she said. In September, a transient, determined to be intoxicated, drowned in a canal near the kitchen while bathing.

According to city attorney Melvin Rosenblatt, the Thistle residence had been tagged for condemnation. The Thistle estate has donated the property to Harmony House for one dollar.   Cheryl Weiss


(Editor’s note: Below are excerpts adapted from an A plus paper written by part-time intern Reveille reporter Cheryl Weiss for her Sociology Honors class at Chuckwalla High. Weiss is a Rotary Club merit scholar and a runner-up in the Imperial County junior chess bowl.)


Sailing Ships Eyed by Valley Growers

The possibility of using wind-driven cargo ships to export the Tri-Desert Empire's agricultural bounty to China is getting the weather eye from some of Chuckwalla’s hay growers. At the city council meeting yesterday, the Chamber's Bert Bertinelli alluded to a term paper (authored by Reveille part-time reporter and Chuckwalla High honor student Cheryl Weiss) in which she examined how San Joaquin Valley farmers are shipping loads of corn and rice out of the Port of Stockton aboard a newly commissioned fleet of cargo ships powered by the wind. "The financials we see here are exciting," Bertinelli said. "Sailing ships lower the cost of shipping bulk feeds by more than fifty percent. "Some of our farmers are looking with interest."


The term paper, excerpts of which appeared in the high school's semi-monthly newspaper, Jacket Cover, was the result of a class project conducted by Weiss for Mr. Higgs social economics seminar. Weiss traveled to Bakersfield on a fellowship provided by the Chuckwalla Rotary to interview the owner of the sailing fleet as well as some of the participating farmers.


Jason (Jack) Lichtenstein, Bakersfield trucking magnet and shipping entrepreneur, said he had been inspired by a television news report about a ship cracking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The yard buys and breaks up outdated ships for salvage. The no longer serviceable cargo ships are driven up on the beach, where hoards of workers strip everything recyclable. The stripped hulls are then either cut up and sent to re-rolling plants, or towed out to sea and sunk to make a reef.

Sensing an opportunity, Lichtenstein hopped a flight to Chittagong. "Most of the ships are only 35 to 40 years old. The engines and other machinery are shot, but some of the hulls are still sound. Lichtenstein offered to buy the stripped hulls of three small freighters, ranging from 500 to 1,000 tons in displacement, paying "a very low number that still topped any other return for the breaker." He then hired a crew to transform the empty hulls into sailing vessels. "I knew that, price-wise, shipping feed grains and other low value bulk commodities is a challenge for trans-oceanic shippers because of fuel costs. "


After a quick Google study of the feasibility of using sail for modern cargo ships, Lichtenstein hired a London naval architect to undertake the conversions. "What I wanted was rock bottom cost and utter simplicity." The stripped hulls were strengthened with several transverse bulkheads that gave the ships three separate holds of complete watertight integrity, with no access below deck between the compartments. The design, he said, makes the ship virtually unsinkable by any normal maritime hazard.


The two masts on each ship are tripods 100-foot-high that carry three layers of Dacron sails, "main sails, top sails, and top gallants." The tripod masts allow an uncluttered deck with no standing rigging, and minimum running rigging, yet still allow the sails to be rotated 180 degrees "The usual prototypes for modern sailing freighters use a lot of computers and servo-motors to trim sails," Lichtenstein said. "Too complex and expensive. My sails are raised, reefed, and lowered using standard winches turned by small gasoline donkey engines. These ships are meant for the steady trades, and don't need a lot of sail adjustment."


(Editor's note: We don't understand the maritime lingo, but leave it in for those who do.)


Lichtenstein said the three ships in his grain fleet have an average speed of six mph, meaning that the 7,000-mile voyage from the California coast to the cattle feeding pens of Kowloon takes about two and a half months. But, he said, this isn't that much slower than the modern behemoth cargo vessels burning tons of Bunker A. "These days, to save fuel costs the big bulk carriers slow to under ten knots," Lichtenstein said.


His three small sailing ships make four trips a year, and spend a month on the beach for fumigation and basic maintenance.   Because the ships have no internal power, the hulls don't suffer from the corrosion of electrolysis.


The usual cargo for the Lichtenstein fleet is surplus corn used for cattle feed, sent by rail to Stockton and dumped by conveyor belt into the cavernous holds. While Lichtenstein said that cost information is proprietary, his freight charges substantially undercut any other form of bulk grain transport. He said one of his ships, the San Joaquin Corn Binder, also has carried a shipment of bulk silage, also destined for animal pens "Another wonderful possibility is alfalfa," he said. "Farmers around Bakersfield are dry growing alfalfa on marginal lands with the help of bio-solids coming out of LA sanitary. Wouldn’t it be great if we could make this into some kind of slurry to entrain on Santa Fe gondolas to the Port of Stockton? This could be a nice trade."


And on the return trip the ships carry...tee shirts. "What happened is, that government-run textile factories in Kowloon overproduced shirt blanks big time? White tee shirts, a huge glut. They were planning to burn them. We worked out a deal, they vacuum-pack the shirts in rolls so they can be shot into the ship's hold on the grain conveyor. A little dough to the Chinese. We sell them at a nice price point to stenciling shops in LA."


The Lichtenstein ships fly Panamanian flags and are crewed by Bangladesh seamen with Filipino officers. Each ship has a crew of eight, so that two sailors are on watch at all times. Although the ships have no engines, auxiliary power if needed is supplied by a small tug carried aboard in place of a lifeboat. The tug can be lowered to give the ship a push in an emergency. Large harbor tugs guide the ships to the open ocean on the tide, "but the little tug is enough to keep the ship off a reef, or something like that." Because of modern satellite weather reports and GPS, the ships are routed to avoid dirty weather.


According to the Weiss term paper submitted to Mr. Hogg’s social economics class, Lichtenstein declined to provide specifics about "financials." Weiss determined from other sources, however, that official ownership of his sailing fleet resides with a corporation headquartered in the Caiman Islands. "This corporation takes advantage of loophole in the UN Law of the Sea treaty of 1984 that grants an insurance regulatory exception to certain commercial vessels, such as native fishing craft, that lack internal combustion engines. "Not having to pay for insurance is a major commercial advantage,'" the repot points out.



Councll funds private cops

(Editor’s note: The Chuckwalla city Council voted 3-1 Tuesday to contract with the private security company Valley Vigilance for the provision of auxiliary on-call police services. The money for the contract is to come from a state grant meant to augment salaries for law enforcement in underserved rural counties. We dispatched intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, an honors student at Chuckwalla High and a county chess champion, to find out more from city councilman Henry Pipps, the 19-year-old CEO of Valley Vigilance and scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 354)

 Reveille: Any appearance of a conflict here?

Pipps: I recused myself. Councilman Patel voted against just for that reason. The state grant allows rural counties to hire additional officers. By the schedule, Chuckwalla would have got enough money to hire one additional entry-level officer. That would have given us a total force of four officers and a lieutenant. Valley Vigilance offered to provide the department emergency backup services for the same dough.

Reveille: You’re not sworn.

Pipps: Under state law, the acting chief, Lieutenant Dick, can deputize citizens in emergencies.

Reveille: You have the security contracts with the fairgrounds for Sunday Thunder, security at the Marvin Gardens projects, the high school sophomore girls, the Martin Van Buren walking school bus, the intramural bike path. Are you stretching yourself too thin?

Pipps: This would be occasional work. Lieutenant Dick is thinking about some recurring issues. For instance, the OMG Youth Ministry demonstrations about Covid-19 and the Rapture, or their other protests that sometimes have ended with vandalism and trespassing.

Reveille: The crèche?

Pipps: Yeah. They tear down that crèche in Sobrantes Village every Christmas. They have also burned books at the library, and stoned women going into the Horny Toad. We have the Los Dorados Rubber Rendezvous at Sunday Thunder that usually involves arrests. And the chief would like to catch Andy Padilla before any more of his bio-terror. Then the usual Saturday nights at the Brewhaha and the Weary Gentleman.

Reveille: Any kind of special training for this?

Pipps. We’ve learned a lot from the Sunday Thunder swap meet. One of the things we found out is that female mud wrestling has a calming effect on the crowd. I don’t know why, but I’ve noticed the same thing when there’s mud wrestling at the Toad or at the casino. The girls are funny; they joke and kid when they’re wrestling with the volunteers from the audience, and that takes the edge off a liquored up crowd. Something to think about.

Reveille: You’re incorporating mud wrestling?

Pipps: Sort of. We already have a training course called, “Really, Dude?” that shows our people good ways to cool down the knuckleheads. We try to avoid the mistakes of police departments. They use too many old guys in their thirties and forties who use too much baton, or resort to tear gas and rubber bullets. We love-bomb a knucklehead four-to-one, using standard wrestling grips and Spock holds that press on nerves but not blood vessels or the windpipe.   One of our guys will grab the knucklehead from the front while a second puts him in a full nelson. A third hogties his ankles and a fourth puts on wrist cuffs connected by a loose ratchet tie. Best way to force his hands behind his back.

Reveille: It's not mud wrestling.

Pipps. Well, I’m thinking of offering some temp work to one of the Soiled Doves. Rockn Skatz is a very good wrestler. And funny. She could laugh a knucklehead into compliance.


Peripatetic School

With the closure of Martin Van Buren elementary school due to an outbreak of Celestine flu (H1N1), the school’s walking school bus has been repurposed as a “walking classroom” for two hours in the morning.

According to vice principal Cecily Gregg, the waking school bus will wind through the Prosper Park neighborhood as usual picking up scholars but instead of depositing them in the schoolyard the Conga line of grade-schoolers will continue by a circuitous route to Mercury Park Rec for outdoor exercise followed by teacher-led instruction.

“We can’t hold regular glasses during the flu outbreak, but we will try to continue with part of the year’s program in an outdoor setting,” Gregg said. Teachers will accompany the walking school, and security as usual will be provided by Valley Vigilance and the guard dog Credo, a German Shepherd that has become a student mascot.

Gregg said the teachers would give students individual attention while enforcing safe distancing. At Mercury Rec Valley Vigilance and Credo will disperse any idlers lounging on the baseball field bleachers, and after spacing the students on the benches a teacher will read a lesson. At the conclusion, the walking school will return the students to their neighborhood homes.

“It’s a trying time, but this is the best we can do for our students, and it certainly is a respite for the parents,” Gregg said. “The students return home in time for lunch, and they have had enough activity that they are good for an hour’s nap afterwards.”


Pipps calls on Pre-Teens for Bike Input

At the Wednesday meeting, city councilman Henry Pipps had a suggestion for the citizen volunteers recently tasked with overhauling the city’s bicycle and pedestrian master plan. Get some input from twelve-year-olds. “Pre-teens on bikes know every vacant lot shortcut, alley, and back road in the city,” Pipps said. ”They might have some thoughts about future foot and bike paths.” Good idea, councilman, although 12-year-olds don’t’ always pay strict heed to “No Trespassing,” “Private Property” and “Keep Out.”


Libertarian Mixer

Club Canute, the city’s Libertarian Party social mixer, meets Tuesday at noon in the Pioneer Room at Steaks ‘n’ Cakes on Mercury Dr. Club members, according to the handout, are dedicated “ to limited government, to very limited taxation, and to leaders who understand their limited power over human nature.” The club luncheon offers iced lemonade served in a silver tureen shaped like a bathtub.


Scouts and the Senescent

Boy Scouts from the city’s Troop 354 are offering their computer skills to homebound seniors having trouble using their iPhones and other digital devices. Boy Scout first class Tony Two-Heart says the help is aimed at seniors with disabilities such as hearing loss, low vision, dementia, and impaired motor skills. “They’re isolated and can’t figure out their phones,” Two-Heart said. “We often have to start at square one at ground zero, but we usually get them up to speed in a few hours.”


Patel Six Condos?

Chuckwalla motel mogul Bagwan Patel reportedly has entered into negotiations with the city to convert some of his motel properties into affordable condominiums. According to city hall sources, Patel has concluded that the sharp downturn in motel occupancy is more than a short-term blip caused by the Celestine Flu outbreak. First on the block would be the 36-room Patel Six. All rooms would be upgraded with new AC and electric kitchenettes and marketed as condos for prices ranging in the low 40s. The city source says that if Patel gets the green light for the conversion, and the sale is successful, his other four motel properties may go the same way.


Won’t Work for Food

Cathy Wagstaff spotted this sign held by a mendicant ensconced at the Mercury Dr. freeway off-ramp: “I can’t accept charity unless it’s cash.” No credit cards, evidently


The Breatharian House

(Editor’s note: Last Thursday Chuckpo was called upon to disperse a rowdy demonstration that spilled into a hallway at Chuckwalla Junior College in front of a sociology classroom that was hosting a speaker expounding the tenants of Reformed Secular Breatharianism. The protestors, members of the Hail Adoni Baptist OMG Youth Ministry, soon left the building, and police lieutenant Abel Dick said no arrests were made and the school suffered only the minor vandalism of several overturned trashcans. The Reveille dispatched part-time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, a Rotary Merit scholar and county junior chess champion, to the city’s Breatharian House for more details. Her report:)

The sign in front of the ramshackle two-story colonial reads, “Reformed Breatharian House, Bedford Falls.” It’s the wee joke, Bedford Falls being the fictional town in the Jimmy Stewart classic It’s a Wonderful Life. “Reformed” refers to the schismatic leanings of the house’s inhabitants, all of whom are students enrolled at Chuckwalla Junior College. Traditional Breatharians believe that life can be sustained solely through the nourishment of prana, that is, light and air. After a Breatharian devotee reaches a sufficient level of consciousness, no food or liquid need pass his lips. The fast is permanent.

Reformed (sometimes called secular) Breatharians, however, are vegan raw foodists who drink only water, preferably rainwater. They follow a limited and strict diet of raw vegetables cultivated in their own garden. Other than that (considerable) difference, they adhere to standard Breatharian practices.   They eschew all heating and cooking. They avoid all transportation that involves the combustion of fuels, and often have long and circular arguments concerning even the humble bicycle. They don’t use electricity, or any of the products requiring it. Each (theoretically) owns only one garment for both winter and summer. Their house is bare of furniture and fixtures. The communal toilet is flushed once per day.

It should be mentioned that they differ in one way from the brothers living in the monastery of the Reformed Breatharian Brethren atop Scorpion Peak. The student Reformed Breatharians will walk to school on roads and paths made of asphalt and concrete. The brothers only tred on natural surfaces.

According to a recent article in the junior college newspaper, the Breatharian creed has come in conflict with the junior college administration. The college has a policy prohibiting students and faculty from wearing hijab, as well as other scarves and headgear that conceal “prominent facial features.”   This includes hoodies, which must be worn down. Some of the Breatharian students favor wool cloaks that include snoods as an integral part of the garment. The students also have agitated for permission to wear surgical masks on days in which PM 2.5 (airborne particulates of 2.5 microns in size or smaller) have reached a density of 4000 parts per million. “The current policy is being reviewed to take into account possible health concerns,” according to a college statement.

Another issue, according to the newspaper, is that the Breatharian students do not use computers, and submit their assignments in handwriting, using plant-based ink on “recycled and recyclable” writing paper. Some teachers have refused to accept handwritten papers, and some of the younger instructors are unable to read script. The impasse, according to a college spokesman, “is currently under adjudication”

Every Sunday afternoon, the Breatharian House is picketed by part of the congregation of the Nary a Sparrow Full Bible Hail Adoni Congregation and the congregation’s OMG Youth Ministry. According to Pastor Byron Fistule, “Breatharianism is a deviant sect in opposition to the received Word and to American values.” An out-of-court settlement with the church last December resolved a complaint concerning a crèche that had been placed without permission amid the vegetables growing on the Breatharian House front yard.

Breatharians are not known to be a proselytizing community but last Thursday a spokesperson from “the Northern Marches” (which seems to mean the California-Oregon border) spoke at a meeting of the Sociology Forum at the college.

Breatharian schismatic Simon StCyr said that the ultra-orthodox version of Breatharianism holds that it is possible to get all nourishment from prana, the life force in air and light.  “We’re secular,” StCyr said.  “We eat a simple diet of raw foods.  We don’t all wear robes and sandals like the monks at the monastery, but we dress simply and unostentatiously.  Our main aim is to do no harm by avoiding commerce and consumerism, by not burning carbon, and by using as few resources as possible.”


Sociology sophomore student Evan Hardell said he voiced an objection: “Do you actually expect an American to give up his car, his iPod, his internet, his hamburger, his vacation in Cancun, his pizza and beer, his shopping, his outboard motor, his weed-whacker, so he can eat a raw unpeeled potato?”

“I think you know the answer,” StCyr reportedly said.


Crane cites scofflaw

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 for five miles 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 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 trouble makers, 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 a very nervous person 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, the residents are not required to attend the Sunday prayer meeting. 

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

Jennings says he has not be contacted by the county about the eight-bys and doesn't expect any official effort at code enforcement.  "We are helping people here who usually would be wards of the county," Jennings said.


Letters to editor


Good article from Beet Baily about alternative underwear, but I have one knit to pick.  In her comparison of loin clothes to Commando I think she forgets that many of us prolies ride bikes every day. Commando can be an option if you wear seamless gym pants but not so much if you wear jeans.  A third option for bike riders is an untucked loin cloth with belt holding up unzipped or unbuttoned pants. Suspenders are a big help for Commando. As others have mentioned previously, breechclouts are good option for long-distance public transit, since underwear can be changed in bus or train water closets without removing pants. Or, as she mentions, regular underpants can be stuffed with paper towels or Kleenex.  But a helpful article overall.  Brett Holiday



Ironwood State Prison without walls.  The word "deadline" comes from the Confederate penal system for prisoners of war.  Rather than walls or fences around their concentration camps, the Rebs simply drew a line in the dirt or dug a ditch to mark the prison boundaries.  Sentries in guard towers shot any Bluebellies who crossed the "deadline."  Ironwood is bursting.  The state designed the prison for a thousand inmates, tops; the captive population now is double that.  The Dept. of Corrections says the cost of incarceration has risen to a quarter million per capita annually.  For low level drug peddlers, con artists, grifters, street hustlers, car boosters, petty thieves, housebreakers and other non-violent felons, how about an outdoor tent camp surrounded by a simple Cyclone fence and guarded by gun towers and roving perimeter patrols stiffened with vicious sentry dogs?  We know dogs work.  Look at Marvin Gardens.  Since Valley Vigilance started using repurposed rescue dogs at night in the gated parking lots, crime has dropped to zero.  The Gardens has two gun towers but not a shot fired since the perimeter got secured by East German shepherds.  At the tent prison, volunteer gardening by inmates to defray kitchen costs.  A component to train service animals.  Work not mandatory but rewarded with coffee and crumb cake. Union rules: an eight-hour day with an hour for lunch and two fifteen minute coffee breaks.  Work suspended when temps top 90.  Humane conditions, with oversight by the International Red Cross and the ever-vigilant press.  A healthy vegan menu for the inmates, much of it supplied by their own efforts.  No attempt at corrections except literacy classes and library books.  Money saved, and idle minds occupied with effort tangibly worthwhile.   Besos Amazin.


Besos Candidacy?

(Editor's Note:  Gadfly Besos Amazin remains cagey about his possible insurgent long-shot congressional bid. Yet he's making noises as if poised for a hat toss.  Almost daily we get e-mails from the gadfly provocateur.  In his latest he almost announces as an unaffiliated write-in candidate for the 25th Congressional District, with his campaign headquarters right here in Chuckwalla.  We are not surprised but we do admit that the groundswell of support for this candidacy washed over us unnoticed.  We do know that since this candidacy springs from our own circulation area, we had better cover it.  Although we have a familiarity with Besos because of his blitz of electrons in our direction, we have never met him in person.  We assigned the Reveille’s part-time intern and political editor Cheryl Weiss, a recipient of a Rotary Club scholarship, to track down Besos and prepare a report.)

 Besos, the prolific e-provocateur, generates a flurry of e-mails and tweets daily.  We do our best to keep up, but sometimes the volume of insight and opinion emanating from his nimble fingers overwhelms us.  Yesterday was such a day.  Here are the highlights from the Besos outpouring:

 “Editor, The only conceivably workable plan for homelessness is through federal action, the spineless local entities, such as Imperial County or the city of Chuckwalla, being too frightened of the rabid taxpayer umbrage that would follow any suggestion of putting a homeless encampment near settled burghers.  The Feds need to set up refugee tent camps for the homeless on BLM land in locations away from population centers. The only way to deal with the housing shortage in America is with refugee camps.  One size will not fit all.  Different camps for different populations:  lame camp, for the non-criminal chronically inept and helpless; dope camp for addicts (with free narcotics administered under supervision); alkie camp, for drinkers; backpack camp, for the younger indigent transients; 5150 camp, for mentals (with help, if possible); and prison camp, for the confinement of convicted thieves, dealers, and predators.  Besos Amazn

“Editor, The Chuckwalla cilty council needs to end its mewing and handwringing about the sorry state of the backwater roads within the gerrymandered city limits.  The potholes and washouts on Cimarron Drive, Magma Parkway, Gemstone Road, and others west of town, are not going to be repaired.  No money.  No county or state bailout on the horizon.  The handful of whiners from the Dogpatch outlands who show up at council meetings might as well face up to the amazing official resilience in continuing to do nothing.  My suggestion:  look to other Third World countries with bad roads.  The drivers on crumbling barrio roads in Mexico DRIVE SLOWLY. So they don’t wreak their beaters. What the city council might do for cheap  is post new speed limits on our bad roads.  Fifteen miles per hour.  Assign a traffic cop and we’d have a positive revenue flow.  Besos Amazn”

“Editor, To Reveille reader Max Tobias, you schmuck, regarding my idea for giving free drugs to addicts.  Who would pay, Max?  The same people who pay for the failed war on drugs.  Millions of taxpayer bucks spent on interdiction, enforcement, counseling, rehab, and undercover police work such as that which broke down the door of the wrong house on Mercury Drive and arrested Larry Delaney, the Albertsons store manager.   Fifty years of the very expensive war on drugs, and heroin, crack, meth, OxyContin, and everything else, available to any school child who can find the corner of Eighth and Fairway.  Buy the poppy crop in Afghanistan, Max, turn it into pharmaceutical grade opioid in clean well-supervised American factories, and provide the dope, gratis, to registered addicts.  What would happen to the drug trade, Max?  Is this a good model for the scumbag dealers?  Most druggies don’t want to clean up; they’d rather support their habit by burgling your house.  If they could get their fix for free they’d probably be glad to stay home on the nod.  As for any foreign reluctance to selling poppy to America, I think the Afghanistan warlords would listen to a Don Corleone style offer.  But I agree with one thing you said.  You can’t give them money; they’d spend it on guns.  Payment would be in kind from a shopping list of approved items, such as washing machines and solar panels.  Besos Amazn.” 

Pot on the Rez?

The Lumbee Nation is floating a controversial proposal to establish a marijuana plantation on the reservation to be cultivated with labor supplied by the country’s homeless population.

“A great deal for everybody,” said nation spokesperson Bert Bertinelli.  The paid casino representative said part of the large and growing under-served indigent community in Imperial County could find permanent homes in worker colonies set up next to fields of marijuana plants.

“It would be volunteer labor,” Bertinelli said.  In return for daily hours of gardening, the colony residents would get a free pitch for their tents, three meals, two coffee breaks, and access to after-work “smoke circles” where they could enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Bertinelli said the Lumbees, as a sovereign nation, were legally entitled to grow the ganja and sell the surplus at the reservation casino and smoke shop.  The smoke shop already sells untaxed tobacco and easily could find room on the shelves for new products, he said.

The reaction in some county offices was muted.  Joseph Intaglio, chief administrative officer for Imperial County, said he would need to study the proposal further, while adding that he agreed that the county needed to do more to address the county’s burgeoning numbers of homeless.  He cited the reservation’s already established backpack campground as a step in the right direction, but said he still needed to investigate the supervisors’ likely stance on tying camping privileges to a work requirement for growing a crop whose legal status is still ambiguous. 

“It’s not clear to me yet that it’s okay to grow and sell weed on a Federal Indian reservation” Intaglio said.

Berftinelli said that marijuana already is cultivated on parts of the sprawling reservation and the proposed plantation only would formalize an existing condition.  “Plus the benefit of doing something for all the poor mopes sleeping in doorways or in the back of cars.”  

He said that the authorized homeless camps in the county prohibit drugs, and thus were not attractive to some of the intended clients.   “So in exchange for a little gardening, you get three hots and a cot, plus free smoke,” Bertinelli said.  “A lot of people on the street are gonna like this.”

Last August, the Lumbee reservation opened a backpackers’ camp on the overflow parking lot west of the Spaceport Casino.  For $5 a night, campers arriving on foot or by bicycle can pitch a tent on the bare dirt.  But alcohol and drugs are prohibited on the fenced property, and campers can only bring in the possessions they can carry on their back.  The campground offers Porta-potties, outdoor showers, and a free breakfast that’s prepared with leftovers from the casino restaurants.   The county frequently provides homeless persons with vouchers that let them stay for up to two weeks in the Lumbee campground.

 Bertinelli said the Nation’s plantation proposal is now before the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


Transit Update

DET “Nodes” for Super- Premium service, the Five Buck Bus

Desert Empire Transit has announced the establishment of two “transit nodes” for the newly initiated super-premium Five Buck Bus running from Chuckwalla’s upscale neighborhoods to downtown.  The so-called nodes are loading zones for passengers boarding the Five Buck Bus at Plaza Mall in Sobrantes Estates and at Quality Fare Market adjoining PleasantGate Villa. 

According to spokesperson the bus stops will feature shade awnings, piped in classical music, and, for the morning commute, a coffee cart. 

With much fanfare DET launched last month a new transit scheme that changed the fare structure for bus rides.  A local service, which meanders around town and makes lots of stops, is free and continuous from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Premium express buses run at commute hours from fixed points to the downtown transit hub at Hobesianway and Mercury Rd.  The fare is four dollars, half price for seniors with a valid Medicare card.

The new super-premium buses that service Sobrantes and PleasantGate will have a fare of $5.

All DET buses offer the same basic amenities:  a seat and hand rails.  Some buses, both premium and local, are school buses on loan from Chuckawalla High, which has a surplus of vehicles because of falling enrollment.

“The tiered pricing seems to be working,” said DET spokesperson, “Ridership is up on both the local and express routes.  We think we can entice even more people to use public transit with the Super Premium pricing.”

The spokesperson said DET is following the tiered pricing example set by Los Angeles Metro, which last year began alternating on all its routes free buses with buses requiring a fare of $3.  The Metro also instituted a basic dress code for fare payers, and fare passengers receive boarding gate temperature monitoring during flu season.  To introduce the new system in LA, the Metro kicked off a city-wide advertising campaign with the slogan “It’s a Different Experience.”

Each of the new nodes in Chuckwalla will have piped in background music.  “Mozart and Chopin, mostly,: said, “These composers have been found useful for discouraging skate boarders and other youths from congregating under the awnings.” 


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, 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 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.)

Rickshaw Rocket

Chuck Higgins, scion of the pioneer Chuckwalla family, often sits on his front porch of the family homestead at the bottom of Higgins Hill, watching the traffic climb the steep grade up Mercury Dr. to Pele Verde Valley Hospital.  Lately, he received an interesting proposition from the owner of the town’s one rickshaw service. Would Higgins, a stoutly built sometimes stonemason, occasionally provide a boost for rickshaw passengers on the way to the clinic?  A couple of bucks in it, if Higgins would supply his muscle at the rear end of the rickshaw for the 100 yards up the hill? “Why not,” said Higgins.  “I’m just sitting there anyway.”

Council Chokes

In a 3-1 vote the Chuckwalla City Council Wednesday killed a measure that sought to ban “intentional coughing with intent to harm.” The measure, sponsored by councilwoman Natal Patel, would have made it illegal to intentionally cough within six feet of another person.  She said ordinance was needed because Chuckwalla police lacked authority to restrain a protestor who allegedly was coughing maliciously near counter demonstrators in front of the Golden Duck Restaurant on Hobbesian Way. The owner had closed the restaurant temporarily after swab tests revealed the front door handle had been contaminated with the so-called “Celestine flu (H1N1) allegedly being spread around Chuckwalla by lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla.

In a communiqué to the Reveille, Padilla claimed that the Peking duck dishes served at the restaurant used an ingredient (duck) that was inhumanely raised through force-feeding. Some members of the Loose the Dogs animal rights coalition had gathered to question the owner, when another group from the OMG Youth Ministry demanded to be seated. At council Chuckpo acting chief Lt. Abel Dick said he didn’t know why the two groups were arguing, but that he did not have authority to make arrests for coughing. “We separated the citizens and sent them home” Dick said. Dick said he saw no need for a new ordinance at this time.

Estar o no estar? Es la pregunta.

The Chuckwalla Community Theater is putting a new production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the boards this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Theater Arts building at Chuckwalla High. Drama teacher and director Gloria Ortiz said this would be the first Spanish language production of the play to appear in Chuckwalla. High school seniors Rodrigo Hernandez and Olivia Mendez have the starring roles as Hamlet and Ophelia.

Down with Lids

Mimi Talbot’s amusing letter about her husband forgetting to put down the toilet lid drew some traffic in the e-mail queue.


A common problem for sure.  My posse had a talk about this at Saturday night poker.  Maybe Mimi would like to hear some of the comments.

  1. One guy takes a tin cup to the john.  He uses that and pours the contents into the toilet.  Doesn’t even have to lift the lid.
  2. Another guy put marks on the wall over the commode to place his hands so that he’s perfectly positioned to hit the mark without splattering.
  3. Another guy said he kind of semi squats over the toilet.  He denies that he actually sits.
  4. Another guy said he uses the washbasin. We’re not letting him play poker with us anymore
  5. Hope that helps Mimi’s husband.

Poker Gang, Chuckwalla

Wha..? What?

I try to keep an enlarged perspective rather than engage in tit-for-tat bickering with a small person.  Not physically small, but small in character and subject to peevish snits during which she's wont to stamp her tiny foot.  Literally rather a big foot, but tiny in effect.  Responding to criticism with ad holmium bombast has not been my way.  I examine each proposal from Kay and her coteries of earnest Lilliputians for anything remotely resembling common sense.  If anything like that is ever found I'll be the first to notice.  At the same time my duty must be to call out whimsical and self-serving schemes that detract from the general weal. 

Arnold Kleppol, Chuckwalla

(Editor’s note: Kay Tsenin, chairman of the Chuckwalla chapter of the Tea Party, had a letter last week lamenting an alleged lack of civic pride in the city’s decision not to replace the dead palm trees on Hobbesianway.)

 Whither Plastic

(Editor’s note: The Chuckwalla city council last Wednesday heard a petition from the Green Zone Zero Waste Coalition that called on the city not to renew its trash burning contract with Chuckwalla Waste Kiln when it expires next year. The kiln, claimed the petition, is a toxic polluter responsible for the high rate of asthma in the city. Instead of burning trash, the city should initiate a program of composting and recycling.)


The Chuckwalla Waste Kiln burns the plastic. Plastic isn’t compostable, and only about 9 percent of plastic refuse in the US gets recycled. The plastic garbage that’s sent to Quarantine Rd. landfill leeches its toxic hydrocarbons into the soil. Ditto for the ash from the kiln, which also goes to the landfill. The small amount of plastic that’s actually recycled is flaked and molded into more crap. China and Malaysia used to be good sports about taking Yankee plastic waste but no more. Chuckwalla has a common dilemma. Recycling is a chimera. Zero Waste composting is a noble goal requiring Herculean, North Korean scale reeducation, not only of householders, but also of every restaurant and market. Separating trash is time consuming, menial and boring, and the householders who do it have to be organized and watchful. A zero waste outcome seems unlikely to be accomplished in the short time remaining on the current kiln contract, or during the remaining useful life of the landfill. Burning trash turns a small buck for Chuckwalla; investing in compost infrastructure would cost a lot. The Imperial County Composting facility may not be an apt example for comparison. The facility only takes neatly bagged yard trim collected curbside in leafy affluent suburban Imperial. The compost is sold at a small profit to the county. Any new Zero Waste composting jobs in Chuckwalla, to start with anyway, will be entirely on the public dime. The kiln makes trash disappear right now. The Zero Waste proposals are airy, thin on specifics, and on the come, and may not turn out to be realistic. Wary politicians in cash-strapped Chuckwalla will shrink from asking for more taxes.   As for health, the Foster report makes a fair point. There are lots of reasons for high asthma rates in Chuckwalla. To lower these rates would also mean tackling all the concomitants of blight, poverty, and TRAP. The kiln is a gross polluter, dangerous to health, and an eyesore. It should be shuttered. And yet one can’t blame a city honcho for recoiling when he thinks about the painful steps before Zero Waste replaces the kiln.  He thinks about uncollected garbage that has no place to go.

Tray Sylvester, professor of environmental science, Chuckwalla Junior College

(Editors note: TRAP stands for traffic related air pollution.)

 Musk Afloat

(Editor’s note: Cheryl Weiss, intern reporter for the Chuckwalla Reveille and a recipient of the Chamber of Commerce Meritorious Young Citizen Commendation, wrote this essay for Mr. Holmes Social Issues class at Chuckwalla High.)

Does the Elon Musk proposal for giant battery ships offer a "bridge” solution for cities powered by solar and wind energy?

We have seen much talk in the media about Musk's recently released plan to use oil tanker-sized battery barges to harvest wind energy from Aleutian windmill farms and bring the stored energy to cities on the Western seaboard. His vision is of the 600-foot lithium ion floating battery packs to be anchored off Refuges Island in the Aleutian Chain while being charged with electrical energy from five hundred 100-foot high wind turbines. The 200,000 mwh battery boats would then be towed down the coast to Seattle or Portland to be anchored in harbor and hooked to the grid. The batteries would be a backup source of electricity for a city during periods when sun and wind power wasn't available. Armbruster (Editor's note: Weiss follows the Purdue Owl citation protocol of listing the positions and qualifications of quoted sources in the end piece.) says that the wind-scoured Aleutian Islands are a rich repository of wind energy that could be harnessed by storing it’s electrical potential in floating battery banks, dozens of which could charge at remote wind farms and then reposition when the energy is needed. The Musk plan immediately drew criticism. Donaldson (2) said the notion of towing giant barges laden with unstable and sometimes explosive lithium threatened the environment. “This is fraught with the potential for disaster,” Donaldson said. (Editor’s note: the entire essay is posted on the high schools >< website.)



Or I'll send you a free PDF. ><

Here's the Introduction to the Rancho:

How desperation, joblessness, a flat wallet, and the sin of pride drove me into the desert like a pariah. And how I built a modest house for almost nothing and lived more or less comfortably.

I became a desert homesteader after I got fired from my last job. Homesteading in the burning waste is a new deal for me, but I’ve been canned many times. My deportment irks employers. It’s a kind of hauteur. A cocky, supercilious, cheeky insolence. An overweening querulous hubris. I repeat myself, too, and have a flashy vocabulary.

This time after getting sacked I started turning the idea that instead of donning somebody else’s livery again maybe I’d try my luck as a stalwart, self-sufficient modern pioneer who doesn’t need a regular job. I already owned some acres in a remote desert valley. That’s because, a couple of years before, while working as a reporter for a Southern California newspaper, I’d done a story about the annual tax-default land auction in rural Imperial County.

One of the parcels on the block was ten acres, way out in the dunes, with an opening bid of $100. I mean? To make it short, I chimed in, and after some desultory bidding I wound up getting the ten acres for $325.

A friend dubbed the property Rancho Costa Nada. It didn’t really cost nada, but it certainly didn’t cost mucha. The property lies in the middle of a monotonous baked-dry alkali basin that’s arid, scrub-covered, amenity-less and way the hell off the paved road.

Folks do live out there in the valley. True desert homesteaders, such as the Tewkes family, holed up in a laager of trailers in the hollow of a barren hillside, where the ingenious son and dad spend their days tinkering with an improvised fleet of Mad Max-style desert carts and buggies. There’s the irascible, touchy J.R., who finances his set of cannibalized sand rails by illegally salvaging brass casings from the nearby Chocolate Mountain Naval Aerial Gunnery Range.

Other settlers too, like the Hobo, and the Demented Vet. Baby Huey, Mystery Woman, and Alba the Dog Lady. Indian Phil used to live out there too but he’s in prison for shooting the finger off the deputy.

Admittedly, it seemed like madness for me to try homesteading. Nobody encouraged me. My sister said, “Is this some kind of religious deal? Are you going to be hawking tracts at the bus station? Because if that’s it, forget about coming to my house for Christmas.”

I’m a rugged survivalist only in theory. I have none of the practical skills of the Tewkes or J.R, or the Hobo. Some of the other inhabitants of the valley may be just as misanthropic, but they’re also handy and self-reliant. I’m more of a conceptualizer.

But I’m also a reader, and before I moseyed out to develop my scatter in the sun-basted beyond, I boned up on the desert pioneers, and visited all the websites catering to homesteaders, survivalists and back-to-the-land romantics. So I took with me a lot of intellectual hardware. In practice it turned out most of the cute ideas I lifted from books pretty much flopped.

Because of my limited tool-wielding abilities, my finished homestead is primitive, based on simple ideas that any mope can figure out without much need for luck or skill. Nor did my low-tech squat call for inordinate labor. I’m too lazy. And the real attraction: it was dirt cheap. It had to be, because when I went out to the Smoke Tree Valley I was busted.

For building, I used salvaged materials or stuff picked up from garage sales. No loans, no mortgage. No permit fees, since I didn’t pull any permits, and (as far as I know) it’s all legal.

Not many people are going to follow my example, buying worthless land for almost nothing at an auction, and then building a hogan and compound for a few hundred bucks out of scrounged material. My sister sees my “encampment” in the waterless Sahara as a nut deal suitable only for recluses and cranks that need a quiet place to make letter bombs. She says that my experiment in simple living is no high-minded Thoreau-vian examination of core values but rather the stigmata of a serious character flaw. That’s her.

Most other people, in saying why they wouldn’t be interested, cite a reluctance to suffer hardship. Rancho Costa Nada is innocent of alternating current, plumbing, tap water, and convenient shopping. Seventeen miles to pavement, 45 to a Kmart. I haven’t experienced any hardship. Pain, when I hit my thumb with the hammer. And often boredom. That’s why I travel. But nothing in the building or maintenance of the dirt-cheap homestead has been difficult. Any common mope can do it, as I’ve shown.

Understandably only a few adventurous freedom-seekers or surly malcontents actually will try this. The following chapters may appeal mostly to the fantasy life of city-bound wage serfs who dream of shucking the mindless job and the asshole boss, ditching their teeming fellow widgets and the nightmare commute, in favor of what might seem like (and for me, sort of is) a placid life of leisure and self-sufficiency.

 These countless yoked minions of the world aren’t any handier than I am, and don’t have a big bank account either. But, see, it says here that it’s really possible to get land for practically nothing (as long as it has no water and is basically worthless) and then live on it in a comfortable little hogan, with a few cute, inventive but simple amenities, again for almost nothing. And no cretin taskmaster on your back harping about deadlines. The stuff of cubicle daydreams.

Let me run down some of the items I’ll be going over in the next pages.

Land. Mother Earth News likes to depict the woodsy homestead in the tall pines by a gurgling brook. Fact is, even the rawest land these days is pricey if it comes with water and timber. The only cheap land left in the States is worthless land. That means desert land. Bone-dry land.

So, what about water? A well is out of the question. It’s too expensive and the water’s usually salt when you hit it. Drinking water, at least, must be hauled from town. That’s what the homesteaders do, hundreds of gallons at a time. Out in my valley, J.R. may be willing to deliver some highly mineralized well water from his secret source that’s suitable for limited washing, for gardening, and for running the settler’s homemade evaporative coolers (provided the filters are cleaned every week).

Summer. Ouch. Typically, 110-120 degrees. When June rolls around I decamp like the wuss I am and go tenting in the mountains. Or sailing on San Francisco Bay. Most of the other homesteaders, hardier, and with more personal property to protect, ride it out. The Hobo, in an effort to keep cool, has buried his trailer in a deep pit. (He has a periscope he uses to watch the critters nosh at a feeding trough.) Most everybody else in summer uses various versions of home-made 12-volt swamp coolers. I tried one too, and also experimented with the heat chimney and the wind scoop.

Housing. A homesteader and auto mechanic named Cherokee (“an honest engine”) owns a sprawling junk ranch in the valley that other homesteaders pick over for building supplies. Across the river in Ehrenberg, Arizona, a guy named Wood Charlie sells salvaged lumber cheap. I built a simple cottage of sand bags and scrap lumber facing a courtyard patio covered with a shade-giving ramada. A south-facing solarium heats the sleeping room on cool days. I spent about $300, mostly for salvaged lumber and garage sale stuff, and for renting a truck to haul the stuff to the site.

I had to go bottom dollar because I was broke after getting broomed from my last job. It took me a week or so of puttering to build the sleeping hogan, and then I tacked on the rest, at a leisurely pace, over the next month. I did the work myself with ordinary hand tools. Most of the measuring was by eye ball. And I didn’t knock myself out.

 (In this, the homely second edition, I’ll add notes gleaned from experience. I did too much at the Rancho. I worried too much about insulation. The cute solarium got shredded by the first boxcar wind. The insulation, the solarium, not needed. I never linger in the valley when it’s Siberia or the Sahara. I don’t need a shelter for all weathers. Wind-proof and shady. That’s what’s wanted. A junk trailer, gutted, refurbished and reinforced. Or a simple desert bum box, the plywood and two-by-four sleeping cube ubiquitous in the desert. Now, since I spend summer and winter traveling or tent camping, I do fine with just an ample shade ramada and the windbreak.)

 Utilities. The Smoke Tree Valley, of course, is off the grid. No power poles. So I formed my own private utility. I keep a couple of deep cycle marine batteries on the floorboard of my car which I charge off the alternator while I’m driving around. At home I plug my car into the hogan, and have plenty of juice to run lights, TV, fans, fountains, air filter, computer. I have a small solar panel too, to run the kitchen light, but the trouble with solar generally is that it’s too complicated and expensive. It takes an electrical engineer to get it working right. Windmills, ditto, and also too delicate and noisy. I figure I’m gonna drive the car anyway. Might as well use it to pump up a couple of extra batteries.

Heat comes from a catalytic propane heater. The brand name is “Mr. Heater,” and everybody out here uses ‘em. The cost of utilities? A lot less than my former utility bill. The price of a couple of Kmart batteries and a tank of propane. Refrigeration? I let the supermarket handle it, although for awhile I had an evaporative cool box good enough to keep beer at pub temperature. Shower? A home-made deal. A big hand-pumped garden sprayer. I also have a bathtub I got from a salvage yard, but it needs too much water to be practical.

(Note. I’ve reduced the draw. I shut down the bilge pump fountain. More cute than practical. The SlaveMart fans crapped out and I didn’t replace them. I prefer print to video, and got an e-reader that has been a paradigm shift. A library in a tablet. LED lights now of course. A cell phone and a laptop. Everything binned in the Civic’s trunk, and powered from one deep cycle marine battery.)

 The Life. Mostly one of leisure. After breakfast, I usually stroll for a few hours in the cool of the ante meridian. I’m an ambler, not a hiker. I like the desert, and I like to poke around in the seldom-visited canyons in the mountains near my place. Some regard the surroundings as kind of dun and sere, but I’ve come to enjoy the sweeping vista thing. When I return after a morning’s exploration, I lie on a cot in the shade of the courtyard ramada and read novels for while. After lunch, a siesta. In the afternoon I take care of any chore, putter around, plink at beer bottles with a .22 pistol, read some more, or go visiting. Maybe motor up the hill to listen to a jeremiad from the Demented Vet. After dinner, a cocktail while the lurid, gaudy sunset flames in the Western sky. I might watch one of the vintage DVDs I rent in town (five for five bucks). I enjoy this kind of languid repose for a couple of weeks. When I get restless I take a trip someplace, using all the dough I save by not paying rent.

Well, take a closer look.  (The rest of the book is on the "Rancho Full Monty" button.)



A copy of the Wire is below the following briefs.

 Triple canopy all season 100 square-foot tent house.  This is something like Beet Bailey's setup.

 Inexpensive shelter, that's good enough for the four seasons in temperate California.  It's a square 10x10 tent inside a quick shade awning like the ones at the flea market.  The sides of the awning can be enclosed by tarps in times of wind and wet.  For cold weather, a smaller free standing tent goes inside the bigger tent to make a bedroom, an idea borrowed from the Inuit Indians, who build igloos inside ice caves.


During the year I'm in Northern California during the  summer and at the the Rancho, or Wiley Wells long-term campground near Blythe in Southern California, for the winter.  Sometimes during the shoulder seasons, I housesit..  Lately, because of the downtick, vacant houses everywhere, with the owners worried about vandalism.  I usually set up a tent, either inside the house, or this four-season version in the backyard.  When house sitting I can use an electric heater if needed; otherwise, propane Mr. Heater.  

Noted: Oh, oh. No House.  If you're in foreclosure and don't know what the heck to do, maybe a tent makes sense.  You might visit Beet, at one of the tabs above. My old pal Beatrice Baily, who lives in her tent the year through (shifting from Colorado to Arizona with the season) has a page of tips that might help the newly roof-less. Beet's rent-free life might inspirit the perspective of trembling prey animal facing foreclosure. Maybe you really don't need a house. Beet doesn't.  

Tom Walker on Tents

After returning from New York, where I checked out the Peasants' Revolt and the Occupy tent encampment, I called Tom Walker, another year around tent dweller, to get his jaundiced view.

"Amateurs," he said. Walker and his wife Walks With Tom are among a handful of Humboldt County residents who live in tents full time. I thought he might have some tips for the occupiers. It turned out his wife won't let him go to any of the Occupy venues in person. She says he's too excitable, and always thinks THIS is the protest that's going to crush the system and drive the exploiters to the wall. He shouts slogans all day, waves the black flag, marches for miles, argues with the police. Then he sits down in a public building, or breaks a few windows, and gets arrested. Afterwards in sinks into a deep funk for a month, and Walks With Tom has to manage his meds. She wouldn't let him go to Occupy, but he'd seen the tent encampment on tv.

"I should do a seminar," Walker said. "They're clueless."

I'll summarize the Walker method for spending four comfortable seasons in a fabric house. I use his idea myself, and can testify it works. First, he doesn't like the refugee camp tent provided by the UN for Somalia and Kosovo. It's made of single wall canvas and leaks. The tent housing for guests in Yosemite Valley is a little better (if you don't contract hantavirus), because of a second roof stretched across the top. Best, he says, is the triple canopy Chinese Box tent, a Walker innovation. The trouble with tents in blustery wet weather is that no matter how careful one is about sealing the seams the tent will still leak in drenching rain. It won't hold heat very well. It's buffetted by the wind. And then there's the condensation inside. The answer is three tents of diminishing size, each inside the other. Walker's own compound in Humboldt (he grows, so I can't say where) is an elaborate interlocking Christo-like running fence of tarp ramadas and canvas windbreaks. But he started years ago with an austere Chinese box. A sturdy ten-by-ten Sears tent is the main ingredient. Inside that is a freestanding three-person backpacking tent that serves at the bedroom. "It's an idea I got from the Inuit," he says. "They put an igloo inside an ice cave."

Over the Sears tent is one of those 12 by 12 canopies that are favorites at flea markets and street fairs. And pinned around the canopy are heavy tarps as windbreaks."The layers provide insulation and prevent condensaton," Walker says. In winter storms he uses a small catalytic heater, which means that the tents have to be well ventilated. But Walker claims that for most of the winter he and Walks With Tom are comfortable inside with candles and sweaters. He says that after a few years of full time tenting, the human thermostat resets and 55 becomes the new 70. "I can't stand being in an overheated house," Walker says.

Now, Walker says, they usually sleep on a king sized bed under a huge black tarp. It's rigged like a Bedouin tent with side panels that drop down for privacy or to block wind or sun. They only use the Chinese Box tent for storms or spells of frost. "It's California, for Christ's sake," Walker says. "Club Med." In summer, the black awning casts a deep pool of shade, while the open sides let in the breeze. "It's all we need except when a cold front blows through." A picture of the Walker design is on this page somewhere.


What about copies of the book Tenting Today?

There's been a trickle of interest.  The book questions core values, and may not catch on. The slacker protagonist won't work or take a strain. He's not a parasite on the state, but leeches on his long-suffering dad. Slacker Boy is not of the Sapitariat, despite being a Samlander born and trained to service.

He won't accept a seat at the oarlock, salute the logo, boost the economy, or lend a hand to make a better world. He is not glad to be of use. He lets his blood wash in a campground with his haughty vegan girlfriend.

The whole thing is on a button above. I've also been sending comp e-copies to the curious handful. It's just a puff of air. But my sister, the CPA, suggested that I put it up on the e-reader platforms. You can see it on Smashwords, or on Kindle, Nook, Sony, or any of those. I charge a buck, but if that's too rich I'll send a free PDF copy to an e-mail address. I don't need your money. I'll send a copy if you go to

The book's funny in parts. But I admit the premise sounds unpromising. Two recent college grads live in a tent in a public campground. They won't work because that would involve subordination and constraints. The anonymous protagonist and his girlfriend have taken a vow of failure, by Samland standards.


The Sergeants are Revolting

Available on a button, as well as on Amazon, Smashwords and the e-reader platforms, Revolt of the Sergeants. Not your cup, probably. Misanthropic. Not much to like about the characters. The stance is nihilistic. The story comes from Dexter Dietz, owner and publisher of the Chuckwalla Reveille, who is now in a federal witness protection program. A handful of retired lifer Army noncoms annex a basketcase province of Sudan to test managment ideas for subduing chaotic societies. They are not mercenaries, because Darfur is a running sore of misery without trove or resource.

Nor are they missionaries. The methods are harsh. Their strange enterprise can't succeed, but it works for awhile. Not for the squeamish.


Going Pizza

After being fired by the corporate wights, I had to figure out revenue. I means tested myself, and flunked. One deal that kind of worked for awhile was the Hollywood option. I wrote some spec screenplays. Some got optioned, and while they never made the screen, I got a check. Going Pizza is one of the spec plays that didn't get optioned, but I think it has comedic merit. I've tacked it on to the "About page until I get around to reworking it.


The long City Haul road.

City Haul is froth and spume that's been optioned twice, first by MGM, then by some mopes at ICM. It's been the money maker because of some obvious cinematic potential. The late Dick Shepherd, a producer at MGM, was ready to shoot, until the studio told him he had to choose between Haul and his other project, a David Bowie vampire vehicle. Alas for me, but at least the Bowie thing was a flop.

Not that Shepherd's choice was any blow to culture. Haul has the depth of a dinner plate. Just amusing fizz. In a word, a feckless, womanizing politican, abandoned at election time by his moneybags father-in-law, robs the city hall payroll with the help of his teenage aide, to finance a campaign that otherwise is hopeless.

I've put it on a button, and the e-reader platforms.




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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A rose by any other name.

The owners of the Purple Majesty Winery in Jericho have petitioned the district superior court for a desist order against Chuckwalla e-porn writer Jack Jones.  "Purple Majesty" is a trademark name," says the winery’s lawyer Aaron Hyde.  It's also the title of Jones' latest self-published X-rated novel, the subject of which isn't the wine business.

Another local personality with a new book.  Drive time shock jock Mike Mahoney ("Mad Mike and Nice Mindy," mornings on KZZS, the Rattler) says in the newly released self-published autobiography, Brass is My Favorite Color, that he's always been known for cheeky effrontery.

Drum Circle.  The Chuckwalla Men’s Drum Circle (also open to women) will meet Saturday at Mercury Park between 6 and 9 p.m.  Skip Hilkins says the Three Graces in Braces, a dance trio from Ms. Raskins' dance class at Chuckwalla High, will perform belly dancing and fire juggling. "They do Harem, Seven Veils, Bollywood Pepper, and Sequins, Beads, and Coins," Hilkins says.  He adds that the "drum war" between his group and the Market Garden drum circle is still pending.  "ChuckPo says we need a permit," Hilkins says.

We correct all errors.  In an earlier Observatory, the explosive "hexanite" was misspelled "hexonite."  This is the war surplus explosive allegedly stolen from the county's corporation yard by lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla.  According to Wikipedia, hexanite was used by the Germans and Japanese in World War II in torpedo warheads.  The county acquired several hundred pounds during the fraught Cold War years for the purpose of blowing up the Arroyo Seco highway bridges in the event of a nuclear attack on Los Angeles.  Officials back then feared that urban hoards escaping atomic desolation would overwhelm county services.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said federal munitions experts have told him eighty-year-old hexanite (a) could have become inert over time, or (b) could have become extremely volatile. Dick advises eco-terrorist Padilla to place the material very carefully in a remote and secure location and then notify the police.

A novelty company in Los Angeles, LowDown Logos, has picked up Chuckwalla resident Dave Farthing's rear windshield decal design "All the Folks."  The decal depicts mom, dad, son, daughter, baby, cat, dog, grandma in a wheelchair, grandpa as a skeleton, and Uncle Leo behind bars.

Hobo Steve Kelly, of the Castaways Residency Hostel, claims that classified diplomatic exchanges released by WikiLeaks mention the "noman" that Kelly discovered last year in the Midway Wells biscuit mines.  The 20-something recluse, whom Kelly dubbed Ishi, had been abandoned as an adolescent by his drug-addled mom in one of the closed mines that the county had stocked back in the 50s with tinned water and biscuits. Ishi could barely speak, had never been in school, never been fingerprinted, never vaccinated or blood-tested, never had signed anything or been photographed.  He somehow negotiated his teen years without troubling society.  Absolutely no record.  A clean slate.  Of course the government wanted him. "He's got the untraceable background that some agencies can use," Kelly says. Leaked diplomatic posts between the Kiev embassy and the State Department seem to be saying that a specially trained "deniable asset" was seconded to Ukrainian regular army special ops for use against Russian personnel.  The asset has been trained in handling and deploying depleted uranium .50 caliber rounds that can defeat some of the older Russian armor.  "No American fingerprint," Kelly says. "That's him."  Well, maybe. Kelly says that when he realized Ishi's potential he notified the FBI rather than local authorities and the next day agents arrived at the biscuit mine and spirited away the young recluse.

Stubborn child of fact.
  Cindy Mallory, fired from her post as school district nutritionist and now executive director of the Green Zone Cafe's Advisory Board, continues her tilting at sugar in school lunches. Particularly egregious, she says, is that Chuckwalla High serves government supplied Anytime Frosted Flakes as the entree on the cafeteria's free lunch every day of the week.  "Fifty percent corn pus," Mallory says. "It's like serving kids a bowl of sugar."  Chuckwalla High principal Merrit Williams says it's the best the school can do given budget constraints.  "It's Anytime Frosted Flakes or nothing," Williams says.

A Chuckwalla junior high school student was injured Wednesday when two Go-carts collided behind the Little League field at Mercury Park.  The Jumping Jacks, sponsored by Kmart, were facing Albertsons' Mojave Greens when 12-year-old Benny Crutchfield put a baby over the fence.  Half a dozen Go-carts circling in the dust behind the outfield raced to snag the homer, two collided, and one youth went by taxi to the Chinese clinic at the gas plant.  Dr. Rafael Cienfuegos, one of the contract Cuban doctors at the clinic, said the youth's injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

Byron Fistule, pastor of Desert Temple Baptist and adviser to the church's OMG Youth Ministry, appeared before the Chuckwalla school board meeting Thursday to relay his concern about a tattoo he said was on a female high school student's groin. Fistule said he had received the information from his young parishioners, including an Instagram allegedly showing a tattooed portrait of the bushy-bearded Karl Marx looking out from between female thighs.  Fistule said he would deliver the girl's name in private to the board, and asked that school authorities counsel her. After some debate, the matter was tabled until a later meeting.

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)


Leaders in Motion

(A regular Reveille feature profiling Tri-Desert vanguard personalities. This week, Tommy Tjan, afternoon shift manager at Patel Quality Fair Market.).

Reveille: What’s your management style?

Tjan: “Honesty and accessibility. When you start as a manager you have a lot of vulnerability and humility which are not the most desirable traits for motivating people. You may hesitate to initiate an intervention as quickly as the situation warrants. The seminal inflection point for me came during the nuclear winter of the 2008 recession.   A total rethinking of valuation, when I came to realize the importance of stressing a tangible contribution before going to the next step of incentivization. I also learned how managers can use symbols to motivate people. This came from Tai Kwan Do.”

Reveille: You’re a martial artist?

Tjan: “It was in a movie. People got to wear belts of different colors as they advanced.   At Quality Fair we have colored hats and shirts. It goes brown, yellow, blue…”

Reveille: Your shirt is black.

Tjan: “At the managerial level it‘s black, silver, gold. Only Mr. Patel wears gold.”

Reveille: What about mentoring?

Tjan: “I’ve developed a good frame for mentoring inspired by Deepak Chopra. You present the associate with the Three Questions: What are you doing here? What are you doing here that prevents your success?   What will you do differently tomorrow to make you successful? The sequence is important. You have to nurture employee self-awareness of internal blocks that hinder progress.”

Reveille: How do you evaluate performance?

Tjan: “When you’re a mentor and privy to another person’s hopes and dreams you have a responsibility to help the person shape a realistic thought pattern.   You see ambitious young people in retail but their drive and intensity need to be tempered. I start them with Deepak’s Four Traits: heart, gut, discipline, and attitude. I often ask, ‘Have you ever actually sold anything before?’ It’s something they need to think about.”


Reveille Obituary

Lawrence Athos, former English teacher at Chuckwalla High, was killed Wednesday when his car careened off Hobbsianway and rolled into a drainage culvert. According to police spokesman Lt. Abel Dick, Athos was travelling at a high rate of speed when apparently he lost control of the vehicle near the intersection of Mercury Dr. Dick said that Athos, although not wearing a seat belt, survived the crash but was unable to escape the overturned vehicle. “The engine was still running and he died from carbon monoxide asphyxiation,” Dick said. Dick said the accident occurred minutes after Athos left the Horny Toad Saloon at 2 a.m.   A teacher at the high school for four years, Athos had been fired in January after a troubled tenure. High school officials declined to comment, but colleagues at the school said Athos allegedly frequently returned from lunch intoxicated and had made inappropriate comments to students. He is survived by an ex-wife and two adult children living in Los Angeles.


Leaders in Motion

A regular Reveille feature profiling the Tri-Desert Empire’s vanguard personalities.  Today we’re meeting with Lt. Col Mark Taylor, commanding officer of the first battalion, Fifth Marines.  We sat down with him at the BOQ canteen at the USMC Desert Warfare Center at Midway Wells.

Reveille:  Enjoying your stay?

Taylor:  I hope nobody here is enjoying his stay.  We are hoping to simulate as closely as possible an actual Middle East deployment in high summer.  Heat, sand storms, short rations, that’s what we’re hoping for.

Reveille:  No ice cream?

Taylor:  Marine doctrine calls for a lean operation.  At one time the American bases in Iraq tried to create a suburban mall type oasis for the troops.  They were offering buffets, fast food, milk shakes.  We’re the forward operating base model. No luxuries.  Essentials only.

Reveille:  What are you training for?

Taylor:   The battalion is tasked to provide force protection for mobile airstrips and fire bases.  These are runways that can be set up and disassembled quickly, and hopscotched around an area as conditions warrant.  Ideally, the strips would appear overnight in defensible terrain within striking distance of the target but clear of civilian entanglements such as villages.

Reveille:  You protect the aircraft?

Taylor:  That’s the mission.  The aircraft sorties would coordinate with militias, native levies, and contracted irregulars on the ground.  The battalion would ensure that no bad guys interfere with the sorties.

Reveille:  The Marines wouldn’t participate on the ground?

Taylor:  Those days are over, at least for now.  A Marine battalion is high value.  Best use in low-value conflicts is in a defensive posture within a tight perimeter.  The offensive contingent would be the local stake holders.  Or contract elements.

Reveille:  Somali pirates?

Taylor.  I’ve read that too.  There may have been discussions.   Of the three branches of Islam, Sunni, Shia, and Showme, it’s the show-me-the-money branch that’s easiest to control.  We pay for dead jihadists.  We don’t pay for atrocities.  The other attraction is, you don’t have to train Somali pirates.  Supply them with a Kalashnikov, a bandolier, and a sack lunch, and they’re good to go.

Reveille:  These mobile airstrips won’t be near population areas.

Taylor:  The aim is for the least possible interface with the locals.  No pow-wows with the sheiks.  No community action.  The only patrolling would be to protect the perimeter.  We stay off the roads to avoid IEDs.

Reveille:  No hearts and minds?

Taylor:  We’ve tried that, haven’t we?   We’ve tried to encourage pluralistic, democratically oriented governance, with an honest judiciary and a merit-based officer corps, and we see what’s happened.  The current mission is more limited and focuses on preventing certain outcomes which don’t serve American and humanitarian interests.

Reveille:  A former Chuckwalla resident now serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Helmand says de facto US policy is, “Nobody wins.”

Taylor:  Well, we’re not looking for victory in the traditional sense.

Reveille:  Tactically, then, it’s all about air power?

Taylor:  Air and artillery support will be the main American inputs.  A few non-military US government employees will be embedded with ground forces as forward observers.

Reveille:  How do you drop a mobile airstrip into the middle of nowhere?

Taylor:   Satellite and drone recon, followed by a HALO insertion. Two helio-borne companies with orbiting gunships.  With a perimeter secured a Seabee company helicopters in to rough out a field.  Then C-130s with the rest of the battalion and its gear.  Once the field is secure, attack aircraft arrive.  Mostly Warthogs from stateside Reserve squadrons.  Forty-eight hours from HALO to first strike.  All re-supply by air.

Reveille:  C-130s can use a rough field?

Taylor.  If it’s hard pan.  The aircraft needs a thousand meters usable.  The C-130 and the pop-up airstrips make it possible to avoid ground transport and the threat of IEDs.




A rambling review of the week in the Tri-Desert Empire


Truck Farm? Dakota Smith is experimenting with mobile hydroponics on a roof garden atop her Volkswagen van.  A resident at Castaways, and not having land for a garden, the 20-year-old waitress at the Green Zone is growing radishes, carrots, herbs and salad greens in a nutrient-rich solution circulated through a shallow pond on the van’s roof. She tows a small utility trailer holding a tank for the solution, and a battery-powered pump. She says the perlite growing medium is light weight enough not to threaten a cave-in.


Jericho's Pinski Construction's new motto, "Do What Needs to Do," displayed on their billboard on Hobbesianway, isn't making any kind of political statement, and has nothing to do with Ebonics, patois, or jargon, according to boss Leopold Pinski.  "It just comes out of the guys on the site goofing around," Pinksi said.  The company's former motto, "Git 'er Done," came down from Pinksi's late dad, Breeman.  "So one day the guys sitting around their lunch buckets, somebody says, "'We do what needs to do,' blap blap...and everybody’s like, 'Yeah."  And so the new motto. 


Dwayne's Sport Oasis has received the summer line of survival wear and body armor.  One new item, Dwayne says, is the armored kilt, a skirt-like girdle that buckles around the waist and is stiffened with Kevlar plates.  "It was mainly designed to defeat grenade fragments, but it will also provide some protection against nines," Dwayne said.  The common handgun favored by Tri-Desert gangsters is the .9 millimeter semiauto. (Sponsored)


The sorry condition of Chuckwalla roads was on the agenda at the Planning Commission session Wednesday.  Part time investigative reporter Cheryl Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High and the recent recipient of a Lions Club good citizenship award, reports:  


“Planning commissioners voted to recommend to the council that all road maintenance be deferred except for the "core nexus" in the city center.  Faced with the threat of state receivership, the city has no choice but to defer all other roadwork. Planning Commissioner Jake Everett suggested volunteer crews should be organized to fill the worst of the potholes. Troop 354 scoutmaster and city councilman Henry Pipps said the scouts will volunteer a Saturday if some well-healed resident will spot the cost of asphalt and sealer.”


Police log

ICE Raids Pele Verde Memorial

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided the employee lounge at Pele Verde Memorial Tuesday and arrested four nurses for being undocumented aliens and for allegedly soliciting for prostitution. The ICE task force is withholding their names, but a source at the hospital said the nurses were contract employees from the Philippines. Also taken into custody, according to the source, was a student nurse from Chuckwalla Junior College. Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick confirmed the arrest, but declined to identify the student. Dick said the student was counseled and released. This is the second time a CJC student has been arrested for alleged prostitution at the hospital.

News Brief

Apostles Nix Mars Mission     Apostles of the Nazarene, Chuckwalla’s ecumenical council, voted at the Monday prayer breakfast at Steaks ‘n’Cakes to picket the proposed site of the Mars Simulation Project. According to Pastor Byron Fistoule, the church leaders reacted to wording in an informational packet presented to a Congressional subcommittee suggesting that in the case of an accidental pregnancy during the nine month Mars flight, the fetus would have to be aborted. The NASA mission envisions a mixed crew of six astronauts guiding a trillion dollar spacecraft on the 200 million mile voyage to Mars in 2030. Press reports of the subcommittee hearing quoted the objections of Congressman Tom Autry (R-OK) (great-grandson of the cowboy movie star) to spending public funds on abortion. “I don’t care if cosmetic (sic) radiation causes mutants,” he said. “NASA is not sending an abortion clinic to Mars.”

“We are all in the saddle with Autry,” said the Reverend Charlie Buck. Buck and Fistoule, although erstwhile opponents vying for a seat on the Chuckwalla school board, said right to life principles superseded politics. The NASA simulation, to be set on the rocky and barren hills south of Chuckwalla, will showcase a mockup of the headquarters module to be used for exploration of the Red Planet.   Autistic Chuckwallan Lenora Hicks has been picked by NASA to build the chicken coop component. So far, the only structure on the site is a large billboard depicting a Conestoga wagon with a group of space suited astronauts peering up at the stars.


Leaders in Motion

(A regular Reveille feature in which the editor profiles Chuckwalla’s vanguard personalities.  This week we’re speaking with Lenora Hicks, the autistic savant who designed the much-acclaimed humane chicken processing factory north of town for Carr’s Quality Poultry.  Hicks also was picked by NASA to design the chicken protein component of the Mars Colony mock-up on the plateau before the project was shuttered by the Federal sequester.)

Reveille:  You have a new job.

Hicks:  I’m leaving next month for the Virgin Galactic-SpaceX Spaceport in eastern New Mexico to join a consortium of billionaires who will be building a privately-funded Mars colony.

Reveille:  You’re a Musk-ateer.

Hicks:  Elon Musk is one of the principals, along with Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Anousheh Ansani, James Cameron, and Larry Page.  Once again I’ll be working on the animal husbandry component that will supply the colonizers with sheathed chicken embryos.

Reveille:  I heard you recruited another Chuckwalla resident, Tim Smith.

Hicks:  I brought him to the attention of the consortium.

Reveille:  Tim’s a quadriplegic.  (Editor’s note:  A returned Army veteran, Smith was severely disabled near Mosul, Iraq, by a roadside IED that exploded under a tracked vehicle in which he was a passenger.)

Hicks:  Before the colony is established, the group will fly robotic exploratory and supply missions.  One idea being considered is a quasi-cyborg capsule that can detach from an orbiting supply ship for a closer examination of the planet.  

Reveille:  Tim would be a cyborg?

Hicks:  His damaged appendages would be removed.  His alimentary canal would undergo resection and be retrofitted with a filtering and recycling composter.  His nourishment from calibrated liquids.  Exercise for his heart and lungs chemically induced.  His blood cleansed by dialysis.  All his vitals monitored and adjusted at Spaceport Control.  During the nine-month out-bound trip he could be put into semi-hibernation through cryonics and dehydration. Being a compact immobile package he could be sheltered more easily from cosmic radiation.  As PIC of the exploration capsule during EVA from the orbiting mother ship he’d control all functions by head motions.

Reveille:  A brain on a rocket.  Would he come back?

Hicks:  All the prospective colonists have volunteered for a one-way trip.  I have volunteered too.

Reveille:  Lenora!

Hicks:  For a solo mission.  Autism would be an advantage.  Emotional disconnection, no feelings of loneliness or depression, no desire for human interaction.  I would welcome the chance to spend the rest of my life traveling through space.  When the food is gone, cyanide.  In 80,000 years, my body would reach a star.

(Editor’s note:  Hicks did not speak for her first 15 years.  She came to the media’s attention during an annual Chuckwalla Days event at the high school, in which three-legged teams of students tried to catch a hen released in the gym.  Hicks, clucking and wielding a mop, rescued the chicken, and the principle halted the chase.  Hicks started speaking after that, and became a prominent animal rights activist.)


(A regular Reveille regal pour of Tri-Empire spirits.)

Wanda Wilkinson, of Wanda Yoga, 15327 Hobbesianway, announces the summer schedule for her popular shallow breathing workshop, to be held again at Mercury Park in downtown Chuckwalla, Saturdays at 2 p.m.   “It’s crucial for anyone who goes outside during the summer dust storms to practice shallow breathing,” Wilkinson says.  According to her pamphlet, shallow breathing prevents particulate matter, even the most dangerous dust of 2.5 microns, from clogging the interstices of the alveoli of the lower lung.  “PM 2.5 is extremely dangerous, and a fact of life in the Desert Empire,” Wilkinson says. (Sponsored)

Valley Vigilance Security
 has a new vice president, according to a company press release.  Chuckwalla councilman Henry Pipps, who joined the company as the executive in charge of security for large events, (such as Sunday Thunder at the Speedway, and the annual Chuckwalla Days) is the new VP.  “I’m glad to be part of this highly professional organization, and I feel I can bring expertise to its continuing success,” Pipps is quoted as saying.  Doesn’t sound much like Pipps, but okay.  Pipps, 18, a Chuckwalla city counclman, will continue in his post as scoutmaster of Troop 354, which has been setting up checkpoints on back roads in the vicinity in an effort to curtail meth cooking and vandalism. 

The former first class scout came to national attention last year when he shot and killed the suspected murderer of a Kmart supervisor.  Chuckwalla police had called in the troop to track the fugitive in the rugged Scorpion Wilderness.  When officers were unable to follow the suspect’s footprints into a slot canyon, the slender Pipps, armed with a .223 Bushmaster, pursued the fugitive.  The young councilman, elected last in an upset write-in vote, recently married to Poppy Pease, the daughter of melon king Fred Pease and the sister of Los Angeles playboy Peter Pease.

Another new hire at Vigilance
Bingo, a two-year-old East German shepherd, has joined the security team responsible for guarding the Martin Van Buren elementary school’s walking school bus.  Last Thursday morning Bingo earned a stripe by scattering a gang of would-be ambushers gathered behind a vacant house near the school.  According to Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick, the elementary school has been experiencing an on-going conflict between Junior Crips and Suretaneos Menores.

A self-described eyewitness during the biker brawl last month at the Horny Toad Saloon’s Bachelorette fiasco tells us that the police got it wrong.  According to the police account, the trouble started when Bachelorette Lucy Evans didn’t pick any members of the Los Dorados motorcycle club for a possible future date, while handing out roses from the saloon’s bandstand.  No, says the eye witness.  Evans had started distributing the roses when she inadvertently referred to the club members as “Doritos.”   This occasioned remarks by the rival club, Todo Motor.  A push became a shove, and quickly turned into a brawl.  Evans, reached during the lunch shift at the Toad, pretty much confirmed the eyeball account.  “I shoulda kept my mouth shut,” Evans said.  Yup, silence is golden.

Speaking of the Toad.  Since Bachelorette has been cancelled, ladies mud wrestling has returned Thursday nights on the Toad bandstand with a Mud Bowl featuring this week tag teams, the Soiled Doves vs. the Mud Strumpets.  Toad spokesman Manny Hernandez says that wrestling nights have never been a problem.  “I don’t know why, there’s something about gals in bikinis rolling in the mud that makes for a well behaved crowd,” Hernandez said.  The warm up band for the wrestling will be Chuckwalla’s own Blueberry Totem. (Sponsored)

Local author
Katie Forbes is the second grade teacher at Martin Van Buren Elementary School who reads for the Chuckwalla Public Library’s Saturday Morning Story Time for Tots.  Also, an author of children’s stories that point a Christian lesson.  Her latest is the self-published children’s e-book, Mister Snowball in the Bad Place. 

And on the adult shelf, the former Empire congressman and recent graduate of Ironwood State Prison, Stills Bradford, has published an e-book about his time in Washington and in custody.  The book is, Wide Stance: My Closeted Public Life.”  Bradford went up for inappropriate conduct with congressional pages.

Frisbee Failing   A source at Pele Verde Memorial Hospital reports that Chuckwalla’s eldest hippie, Babba Frisbee, 72, has slipped into a coma as the result of a lingering bout of infection following treatment for a beating he suffered at the hands of teen thugs. Dawn Coster, hospital spokesperson, said in a statement that Frisbee’s condition is “guarded” but could supply no further information. The source, who asked to remain anonymous because of fear of official reprisal, said Frisbee had become severely dehydrated and has fallen into unconsciousness despite the injection of intravenous fluids. Frisbee was beaten by three teens in Howell Park after he objected to the trio urinating in the children’s drinking fountain at the band

(Editor’s note:   Hospital sources say Babba Frisbee contracted the Clostridium intestinal disorder at Pele Verde Memorial while recuperating from the beating.)


A reader writes:  “The search feature on the Reveille website sucks.  It’s an outrage you charge five bucks for a search, but then it doesn’t even work.  I want to get some of the Orin Wimbly poems that appeared in Poets’ Corner.  It’s for a bet.”  Beth Kimberly, Chuckwalla.

(Editor replies:  Yeah, sorry, Beth.  The site is being repaired, and we hope the search engine is up to speed in a few weeks.  Meanwhile, we’re reprinting here the major Wimbly contributions to Poets’ Corner.) 

My Colonoscopy
by Orin Wimbly

Today the physical, doctor’s office
Heart and lungs, the cuff, pertussis

Eye and throat, prostate below
I’ve Been Everywhere, Hank Snow

Take a breath, and now a puff
Hernia check; let’s have a cough

But Doctor Henry wants some more of me,
He orders up …the colonoscopy!

He says I’m fifty, way past time
To peek in where the sun don’t shine

My dad had polyps, hard to see,
The acorn falls right by the tree

The preparation, that’s the hard part
Gag some salts to wash the guts out

Cramps, gas…and diarrhea
Off to the races! Mama mia!

Now we’ve had our course of physic
Time to make the office visit

Relax, breath deep and watch the screen
“This won’t hurt much, I mean…

…unless a puncture…”  Change the topic!
It could go wrong, an endoscopic.

A dab of goo prevents intransigence
Nurse says to expect some flatulence

The snake uncoils inside the belly
Take a look!  It’s on the telly

A twisty stretch, then one that’s straighter
Please, Henry, be a navigator

Finally the end:  The snake is all up
The little clam shell bites a polyp!

Now how can I remain indignant?
That polyp could have been malignant!

Nurse says, see, how misplaced your fear
You're good to go, until next year…

(Editor's note:  Dr. Henry Liebling, a Brawley proctologist, conducts out-patient colonoscopies at his Hobbesianway clinic.)

So Long Larry
By Orin Wimbly

Larry the Louse
One hell of a souse
Quaffed six or seven
At the Weary Bug tavern.
To the barkeep named Scully
Larry essayed a sally
"Say, Skull, draw a brewski
For this dry little bugski."
Scully harshly replied,
"I don't care if you're dry.
You're as tight as those ticks.
You can't stand on your six.
You're an arthropodic disaster
Never more show your face here.
An 86 by your name
It's your own self to blame."
The poor drunken louse
On the crawl to his house
Staggerin' and reelin'
Breathed in some permithrin
Oh, so quick he turned turtle
And passed out of this world
Scully catered the service
"Pity Larry ain’t with us
But his family's all here
‘Cept the nits in Joe's hair
Blood sausage for all
Goodbye Larry, farewell." 

(Editor's note:  Chuckwalla High English and social studies teacher Lawrence Athos, who succumbed to injuries sustained in an auto accident last month, was dismissed for cause shortly before the school board fired his colleague Wimbly for administering electric shocks to students.)

Doggerel for the Saps that Salute 
by Orin Wimbly

I pledge allegiance to the Republic
Conditionally, of course, not like a butt lick
But dependent on the Republic’s good behavior
Unlike your Steve or Stephanie Decatur
At council, school board, public meeting
Tap the stomach, skip the bleating
No hand to eye or palm to breast
No patriot jewelry on the vest
A showy pledge, an oath of fealty?
Seems redundant, Tweedledee
Hey! My Samland cred is all in order
But stand, salute?  Why should I bother?
I’m loyal to that mossy chick out in the harbor,
Who calls me traitor? except Ann Coulter
I support the troops right up through captain
Major and above?  I’m not so certain
The assertions?  Lies.  It doesn‘t matter
So we‘re divisible by pundit chatter
Liberty for all.  It’s highly rated
By those not yet incarcerated
A blind law for manse or tenement?
One size fits all; a noble sentiment
But Justice? It’s never much in fashion
And better so, to ‘scape a lashing
Yet the Pledge still had glaring holes
Repaired by Congress and three syllables.
Under God? Our Nation? Yes, since Fifty-six
Holy Samland? One of God’s more iffy picks
Considering our predilection to go hunting
In lands where all the gals wear bunting.
We’ve overreached, so say the editors
By killing wedding guests with Predators
The Stripes unfurling or’ desert sands
An up-armored Republic, for which it stands.
“May she always be right,” that old wheeze.
“Gentlemen, I give you my country.”  Please.

(Editor's note:  Ironically, Wimbly now serves the colors in Afghanistan as a civilian code talker for a special ops element of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.)



(The Reveille caisson rolls through the Tri-Desert Empire.)


The Nuke, Wind and Sun jug band is slated to appear in the Issues Room at the Green Zone Café Friday night, starting at 6, for the café’s weekly Hora de Feliz Attitude Adjustment Rendezvous. (Sponsored)

Tri-Desert authors have hit the “Send” button on a gaggle of new self-published e-books that are now in the ether:

Everyday Eructions, by Chuckwalla gadfly Besos Amazn.’ More rumbling meditations from the windy self-proclaimed pundit.

Tales of Boot Hill, by local Western author Teddy Blue. Tough talk from the hard-bitten West. “You want to settle, nester? I got the ground fer ya.”

Gang Aft Aglay Bigtime is a poignant memoir of thwarted romance by thrice-divorced Emily Wittington.


Grandma’s Quick Action Saves Tot   Chuckwalla resident Emily Foote, 61, has been credited with saving the life of a three-year-old boy being swept away in the icy Snake River in Idaho. Vacationing at her daughter’s cabin near Sawyers Glen, ID, Foote witnessed the tot sliding down a snow covered river bank into the partially frozen stream.   While the distraught parents ran along the bank trying to shed their parkas and snow pants, the Chuckwalla grandmother of four immediately plunged into the icy water and plucked the child to safety. “Fortunately I was wearing my swimming suit,” Foote said.  “I’d been burning up all morning.” Idaho state troopers said Foote’s quick action saved the child’s life.  “The cold water didn't seem to bother her,” said one trooper.  After being hospitalized briefly for observation, the child was released to his parents.


The Beth-El Congregation outreach community clinic on Hobbesianway will sponsor a drop-in video presentation, “Health without Ham,” narrated by nationally prominent dietician Josh Roth.   Hours 1 – 3 p.m. throughout the week. (Sponsored)

The management of FM radio station KZZS, the Rattler, announced that it is dropping the popular country anthem “Cowboy Ballad” from its playlist due to several threats of legal action from community groups, and an inquiry from the FCC. “Upon reflection, we felt that some of the content of the song isn’t appropriate for a general audience,” said the station’s general manager Hal Westbrook. According to Rattler drive-time jock “Mad Mike” Mahoney, “Cowboy Ballad” was one of the most frequently requested songs. “It captures the truculence and victimhood of the modern country ethos.” Mahoney said.   Some of the lyrics:

You ain’t my boss and Daddy’s in Heaven

I buy my smokes at the Seven-Eleven

I fly the Stars and Bars on my pickup truck

If you don’t like it, you can shut the f**k up

Don’t even try to tell me what to eat

Don’t tell me what to put on my feet

Cowboy boots, no doubt of it

Yes, I’m country, and proud of it

I got a country ass and you can kiss it

Your kale salad, I don’t miss it

Levi jeans, and a V-8 rocket

A tin of snoose in my back pocket

A deck of Marlboros up my sleeve

If you don’t like Texas you can leave

‘Baccy, burgers, taters and beer

A n*****’s a n**** and a q****’s a q****…


Nagging Gadfly of Truth

A Reveille Editorial

No Phony Fidos, Please
   We don’t have a problem with service dogs accompanying their disabled owners into restaurants. But the recent case of Roger and Wilco, two alleged service dogs, barks for scrutiny. An article by Reveille intern reporter Cheryl Weiss told the story of the arrest of Matt Clark, and the impounding of Roger and Wilco, after customers at the Forks Restaurant, Hobbesianway and Route 116, complained to the manager about Wilco’s behavior.

Both dogs, a Rottweiler and a Pitt Bull, were wearing yellow service vests with “Service Dog” imprinted in large black letters.  Clark, 34, who wore dark glasses and carried a white cane with a red tip, told angry customers at the popular Italian bistro that he was visually impaired and legally entitled to bring his dogs into an eating establishment. According to patrons, Wilco, the Pit Bull, began barking and lunging at waitress Susan Miller as she brought a plate of veal scaloppini to an adjoining table. Wilco then allegedly snapped at Miller, causing her to drop the plate, and growled at her in a menacing way when she tried to retrieve the dish.

Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick, quoted in the article, said when officers arrived Wilco had finished the scaloppini, chased away the patrons at the adjoining table and had his paws on the tablecloth while gobbling their meals. Roger meanwhile tugged his leash so vigorously that Clark tumbled from his chair. Dick said an investigation revealed that neither Roger nor Wilco were licensed as service dogs, nor was Clark visually impaired.

“Clark told us that his visual impairment was that he needed reading glasses,” Dick said.  “He recently got the two dogs from the pound, which had taken them in because of a previous abusive relationship with humans”

The yellow vests on the dogs were not official service dog vests, Dick said.
Reporter Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High and the recipient of a partial scholarship to Riverside State University, revealed that the vests were made for Clark by seamstress Carol Nest, the owner of So Sew Bits and Knits in Jericho.  Dick said that Nest had been sent a warning from the Humane Society informing her that service dog vests could only be provided by an official agency. The Nagging Gadfly of Truth deplores the misuse of service vests as well as any other type of dog exceptionalism.


News Bulletin

Peck in Time Saves Babba   Chuckwalla’s hippie elder statesman, Babba Frisbee, was released from Pele Verde Memorial Tuesday after a sudden recovery from an intransigent infection caused by Clostridium difficile. Frisbee said his return to health was thanks to the timely aid of Chuckwallan Otis Peck. With the okay from Los Angeles General Hospital, Frisbee received a fecal transplant from celebrated fecal donor Peck. “I wanted to help Babba,” Peck said, “but I had to get permission. The hospital has rights to all my product.” According to medical experts Peck has the “gold standard” for medicinal stool used to treat persistent cases of intestinal C. diff. Frisbee, back at his usual bench near the band shell at Howarth Park, said he’s never felt better, inside or out.


Leaders in Motion

A Reveille Special Feature

(This week the Reveille interviews Chad Atkins, a Borrows resident and sometimes lecturer at Chuckwalla High School.)

Reveille:  You and the Hobo and a couple of others from Castaways put on a popular job strategies seminar at the high school.

Atkins:  We call it, “Face It, Kid, You’re Screwed.”  No.  We just offer a reality-based alternative to their illusions.  We run down the statistics.  Almost nobody graduates from Chuckwalla except for the Chinese girls. Most of the guys won’t find decent jobs.  So here are some ways for them to get by on a minimum wage with no benefits.

Reveille.  Did you graduate from high school?

Atkins:  I took a GED class.

Reveille:  You’re the school janitor.

Atkins:  Also a visiting lecturer at Mr. Engall’s Broom, Mop and Squeegee.  I give the kids a perspective on how to make part time custodial work a career.

Reveille:  I thought the district paid pretty well.

Atkins:  I make $17.75 an hour, which makes me the highest paid member of the Borrows Gang.  Next is Clive Barnes, who gets $10.25 as a security guard at the Speedway.”

Reveille:  Is the district aware of the Borrows Gang?  (Chuckpo lieutenant Abel) Dick says you’re a bunch of vigilante winos who live in holes in the ground.

Atkins:  I wouldn't say vigilante.  We’re more like a posse comitus.  The Tri-Desert Empire is the size of a middling New England state. There’s only one deputy and four rangers.  And they hardly ever leave the pavement. A vacuum like that’s going to be filled.  It’s been us, and of course Troop 354.

Reveille:  There’s a rumor that some meth cookers have disappeared.

Atkins:  Those people – you can’t even call them people – they’re derelicts that drift around.  They’re at the Slabs one week, then they’re at Quartzsite. Who knows where they are.

Reveille:  Down a mine shaft?

Atkins:  That’s a rumor that got stated after we burned out a couple of abandoned trailers.  People from LA haul out trailers and leave them on public land.  Then the tweekers come along and set up a kitchen.  So the trailers are an attractive nuisance.  When we find one, we burn it.  No complaints I've heard about.

Reveille:  Two tweekers got shot in a trailer.

Atkins:  Well, that wasn't us.   Councilman Pipps, in his role as scoutmaster, smoked those dudes.  Self-defense.  Case dismissed.   I think you should do a story about the great job Troop 354 does out there in a tough place that could be totally anarchistic and lawless.  The Smoke Tree is a trunk line supplying LA with busboys and dishwashers.  A lot of those folks would be dead under a Palo Verde if the scouts, and us too, hadn't been around.  We've helped the scouts put out water, and signs in Spanish pointing the way to the highway.

Reveille: You heard about Rubin Garcia.

Atkins:  Rubin Coyote, who raped the young gals.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.  I thought this was going to be a lifestyle interview.

Reveille:  So what guidance do you give youngsters about to embark in life?

Atkins:  They’re screwed.  Kids are optimistic, but at heart they know.  They go out, there’s nothing, they wind up in prison.  I don’t see change.  The revolution?   I’d sign up but I don’t see any threat to the plutocracy.

Reveille:  What would you say to the rich man?

Atkins:  Never met one.  Not in my orbit.  If I ever met one I’d shoot him.  See. Look.  I’m always heeled.  The rich shouldn't be allowed to appear in public with impunity.  But speak?  We've nothing to talk about.

Reveille:  You recommend to kids that they should get minimum wage part time jobs.  But you opposed Walmart.

Atkins:  I don’t recommend.  I say, look, you’re never going to have money or success; so why not have leisure.  Learn how to live on five or six bills a month and be your own – person – most of the time.”

Reveille:  At a price.

Atkins:  No house, no car, no children, no big ticket appliances.  But five days a week of leisure.  By the way, Chuckwalla was never getting a Walmart.  It’s not just that half the population within the city limits is in Ironwood.  It’s the lack of tractability of the labor pool.  The police report in your paper shows the unruly underclass around here.  Walmart wants ready-made subordination.  It also didn’t help that a Kmart supervisor got smoked by a disgruntled associate.

Reveille:  The perp was the ex-parade marshal. Councilman Pipps got him too.

Atkins:  That Pipps is a pistol.  I voted for him.  He’s anti-Walmart.   The Barrows Gang might have helped a little, in keeping Walmart out.  By setting an example of anti-consumerism, not widely emulated, but uplifting.

Reveille:  Most people wanted Walmart for the jobs.

Atkins:  Because they’re saps.  I favor the part time job, but not indentured drudgery for the Walton family.  A guard at the Speedway, a school janitor, a parking lot attendant at the fairgrounds, those are positions where you aren't treated like dirt.

Reveille:  Are kids willing to live in a cave or a tent?

Atkins:  Nobody underage allowed at The Borrows or Castaways.  The Reveille got that wrong. But don’t forget the Marina and Tuna Town.  Those folks figured it outYour columnist Beet (Bailey) doesn’t mind living in a tent. And the city owns a dozen vacant buildings on Hobbesianway. Why not make that into housing?  

(Editor’s note:  The Marina and Tuna Town are low-income cooperative housing arrangements using travel trailers and repurposed boats.)


News Flash

Padilla Suspect in Bridge Bombing
by Cheryl Weiss

Andy Padilla, the Tri-Deserts' lone wolf eco-terrorist, has been named the prime suspect in yesterday's bombing of one of the interstate highway bridges spanning Arroyo Seco west of Chuckwalla. The midnight explosion damaged a pier holding up the bridge for the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 where it spans 100 yards of dry streambed.  As of 11 a.m. today eastbound interstate traffic was backed up as far as Chirico Summit as cars were being diverted into one lane on the westbound span.

Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said that Padilla had taken credit for the blast in a Tweet communiqué and Instagram selfie sent to law enforcement and the media.  "The selfie shows him in front of the bridge pier with a package that seems to contain the hexanite," Dick said. Two weeks ago, the elusive eco-terrorist allegedly broke into the Chuckwalla corporation yard and stole 50 pounds of hexanite, a war surplus explosive that had been stored since the 50s in a civil defense storage shed.

County officials obtained the surplus explosive during the Cold War era for the purpose of blowing the highway bridge over Arroyo Seco in the event of a nuclear attack on Los Angeles, to prevent a hoard of refugees from overwhelming county services. The tweeted communique allegedly from Padilla said the attack on the bridge was a protest against "national over-dependence on the car and the excessive driving that contributes to global warming." Caltrans communications specialist Harriet Ames said the blast had not toppled the bridge pier but had caused sufficient damage to make the structure unsafe.  She said repairs might take as long as a week.

Dick said the only about half of the stolen hexanite exploded, the other half being thrown about fifty yards away into a patch of salt cedar.  Dexter, the trained K9 from Riverside County's bomb disposal unit, alerted on the explosive, and officers from the unit retrieved it. Dick said the explosion had caused no injuries, and that officials had determined that all the hexanite was accounted for.  "Padilla will have to go back to bees and germs," Dick said.

Padilla, who allegedly has a hideout deep in the Scorpion Mountains, has plagued the Tri-Desert Empire with a series of terrorist acts that involve insect attacks and the spreading of flu virus.

Feral Chickens Attack Scientists
by Cheryl Weiss

(Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High, is the Reveille's part time investigative reporter and the president of the Chuckwalla High debating society.)

A sudden beating of wings around her head, talons clawing her face.

UC entomology professor Helena Shapiro and two colleagues were visiting the Dunes Wilderness area north of Chuckwalla in search of the last remaining Colton sand flies when they apparently disturbed an underground nest of feral chickens. "They came at us like Harpies," Shapiro said, "Squawking like Banshees."  And the scratches on Shapiro's face testify to the avian ferocity. Those birds, Shapiro said, "were definitely chickens."

Autistic savant and animal rights advocate Lenora Hicks speculated that the chickens may be survivors from a flock that was set free two years ago by lone wolf eco-terrorist Andy Padilla.  In a midnight sortie against Carr's Quality Poultry chicken factory Padilla liberated more than 100 birds that were awaiting processing. "It was irresponsible," Hicks said, since most of the birds were quickly snapped up by coyotes.”  Yet, she says, some of the liberated birds may have survived. Hicks said that the same week that eco-terrorist Padilla released Carrs' birds, a squad of Riverside county sheriff's deputies raided a cockfight in the old show horse arena on Via Bienvenidos.  "Some of those fighting cocks got away." 

Hicks speculated that surviving chickens might have mated with the escaped fighting cocks.  She said the offspring might have adapted to the desert by becoming more aggressive and protective, in the manner of the Africanized honeybee.  "Usually a slaughter chicken is a docile prey animal," Hicks said "Becoming feral in a harsh climate might have changed their character."


Shapiro and her colleagues had been dispatched by the university in search of any remaining Colton sand flies, after researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that sand fly saliva may have a protein with potential in a vaccine for elephantiasis.  The endangered Colton sand fly had been relocated to the Dunes Wilderness when their natural habitat in Riverside County was rezoned for a box factory.

Both Hicks and Shapiro said that colonies of feral chickens in the fragile desert ecosystem might spell trouble for indigenous species.  "I'd be concerned about lizards, snakes, and particularly the (endangered) desert tortoise," Shapiro said, adding that one of her colleagues had picked up an empty shell of a juvenile turtle.  "It probably would be best to remove the feral chickens before they become established," Shapiro said.

Waitress of the Week

A regular Reveille feature lime-lighting the food and beverage industry. Today, Lynda Rout, the lunch waitress at Dianne’s Darn Good Diner on Mercury Dr.

Reveille: Your service philosophy?

Rout: “Personal rapport with the customer. Before I say anything, a depth look, check the aura, check the colors, feel the connection. I want the whole person. It’s not working a chump for tips: ‘Hi sweetie, how ya doin.’ If you value the individual‘s sanya, the tips will come. I listen. Not just, ‘Ham salad, extra mayo, slaw, no fries.”   I listen for heart. If a gal comes in, she’s a mess, needs a session, I’ll take the time. Unless lunch rush. I’ll tell her to come back for coffee.’

Reveille: How long have you been a waitress?

Rout: “Five years. I started at Denny’s after high school. I was lucky to get a job right away. I met Dianne a couple of years ago at a Hai Intensive in Palm Springs, and she hired me the next week. Been here ever since. I love it.”

Reveille: What direction do you see in food and beverage?

Rout: “Two things. First, portion control. Forget it. Not at a diner. Clients are demanding bigger plates and larger servings. We compete against Yim Lee’s Golden Noodle buffet. We compete against Georgie Smorgie. Even Burger Pit is doing triple patties. There’s less margin and that’s the reality. The bright side of the budget picture is Chinese seafood and Mexican pork parts.   The other thing is spatial configuration. Dianne used to have seventeen tables. Now twelve. OSHA. We’re over-regulated, but there’s a point here. People are bigger and we need the lanes. We have to have a defibrillator on the wall. I had to take CPR.   Been a couple of incidents. It’s mostly the barbeque back ribs and deep fried mush Sunday breakfast special.”

Reveille: Any advice for newcomers?

Rout: “Something I learned at Chuckwalla High School. ‘Service with Honor.’ It means it’s an honor to serve. It shouldn’t be just a job. It’s a chance to give back to the community. It’s a chance to make connections. It’s about taking pride in your work and pride in your life. I love to serve.”



A Reveille pastiche from the Tri-Desert Empire.

Loyal Jurga. The Chuckwalla Junto will hold its weekly audience Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Chuckwalla High gym to hear petitions from citizens. The Junto, made up of high school principal Merrit Williams, City Councilman Henry Pipps, Chuckpo lieutenant Abel Dick, and businessman Matt Stoich, convenes in an informal effort to settle disputes, help with employment, point the way to resources, and arrange housing. Stoich, who owns the Chuckwalla Honda, Nissan, Toyota franchises, says the group has succeeded in connecting dozens of Chuckwalla citizens with jobs. "We can also cut red tape and walk people through the bureaucracy," Stoich says.

Boy Scout troop 354 will be holding open enrollment for its Pathfinder Unit Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Your Toast Restaurant at the Speedway.  Applicants should be at least 12 years of age, in good health, physically fit, and able to lift 40 pounds. Eyesight must be correctable to 20/20.  Successful applicants must be able to complete the Mercury Park Par Course at the intermediate level, then walk or run three miles in 45 minutes carrying a 30-pound knapsack.  More information, along with the Troop 354 Oath, Code of Conduct, and Pledge, can be found on the Troop's website,""

The Chuckwalla School District has an opening for a graveyard shift janitor at the high school.  Applicants must be US citizens and able to read and speak English.  The position pays $10 an hour and offers some benefits.  Those wishing to apply should line up at the front gate at the high school beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday.  High school principle Merrit Williams said overnight camping is prohibited.

Unhappy neighbors are circulating a petition protesting ardent Socialist and showboat atheist Clint Watkins' Flag Garden in front of his home on Amethyst Way.  The flag garden is more like a grove of flagstaffs flying a dozen banners and symbols that have a history of raising hackles.  The Confederate battle flag, the Nazi swastika, the Communist hammer and sickle, the ISIS black flag, the McDonald's golden arches. Watkins says the point is to help people get over sentimentalizing scraps of colored bunting.  On the 4th of July he joins a small subset of Americans in burning an American flag on his barbecue.  "It's just another cheap, Chinese-made product I bought at Kmart, and I can wave it in the air or burn it on the barbie, as I choose," Watkins says.  Some Amethyst Way residents may remember that last Christmas Watkins' front lawn crèche was dismantled by an angry delegation led by Baptist pastor Byron Fistule.  The cutout figures had been arranged in a way that suggested a fraternity party rather than a nativity.  Baby Jesus and Mary were removed in a pickup, while Joseph, the Wise Men and the Shepherds, were burned in a pyre in the middle of the street.  Police declined to make arrests, but Fistule and Watkins later reached an out-of-court settlement.  Watkins also has a controversial sign hanging on his garage door titled, “The Six Commandments I Agree With."

The lawn fire that swept through the Sobantes subdivision last Wednesday caused an estimated $10,000 damage to porch swings, birdbaths and lawn gnomes, according to a press release from the Chuckwalla Fire Department.  Tinder dry conditions, soaring temperatures and the hot breath of an easterly Santa Ana sent the flames hopscotching across front lawns.  Fire Chief Donna Fidel said that because of the persistent drought Sobrantes residents had replaced conventional lawns with wood chips and bunch grass.  "The fire jumped from one pile of chips to the next," Fidel said.

Speaking of gnomes.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick reported to the city council Wednesday night on an uptick in the theft of lawn gnomes.  Dick said lawn gnomes always disappear from local gardens starting at about 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday night, but that the number of thefts has gone up since an Internet company began offering lawn gnomes in camo carrying AK47s and RPGs.  "An armed lawn gnome is going to be irresistible to kids after a kegger," Dick said.

Chuckwalla chiropractor Baghwan Ramadi, whose Hobbsianway clinic features alternative cancer treatments including laetrile and coffee enemas, will also offer hookworm therapy for inflammatory bowel syndrome. Ramadi says clinical trials show the worm Necator americanuis , introduced into the colon, brings relief for victims of Crohn's Disease. (Sponsored)

A limelight shy local author, who writes under the pen name Barbara Erica Yawp, has a self-published e-book out called Aphorisms for Idiots.  A few samples:

We are all lying in the gutter.  Some of us are on our backs.
Dance like nobody's watching.  Nobody's watching.
You can only know so much.  Fake the rest.
Fairy tales say that dragons can be killed.
I haven't failed yet.  But nothing has worked so far.
The great evil is not hate or ugliness or heresy.  It's poverty.
Never too late to be a has-been.
Do.  Now.  Here. Or cork it.
A big part of success is knowing when to quit.
When one door to happiness closes, another opens.  The exit.
Happy girls are always pretty.
You never walk alone in Midtown.
Two wrongs don't make a right, so keep tying.
You can't live for other people, unless you have a job.
Nothing's impossible.  Well, my brother.
"Thank you," on the outside.  "F**k you," on the inside.
Hope is that thing with feathers that lays an egg.
You haven't screwed up tomorrow yet.
Do what you're afraid to do.  I accept no liability.


Leaders in Motion

The Chuckwalla Reveille sits down with Mamie Trowser, co-founder and president of Loose the Dogs, an advocacy group lobbying for an overturn of the Chuckwalla leash law. Trowser, author of two self-published e-books, The Puppy Papers: Empowering Your Pet; and Dogs Unbound: A Manual for Dog-Human Co-Partnership, has sponsored a petition calling on the city council to replace the leash law with a “cohabitation manifesto.”

Reveille: Briefly, the issue.

Trowser: “It’s cruel and unnatural to force dog caregivers and guardians to encumber their partners with leads. What do you think when you see a mother dragging a child on a leash through Kmart? You know that isn’t right. Dogs need the same freedom of movement as do young children. Leashing inhibits their emotional development.”

Reveille:   The police say loose dogs have attacked people.

Trowser: “I’m not saying there aren’t cases of failed stewardship. It’s an association of partners, but the pack alpha should always be present. Part of pack leadership is to make sure the partners always are under voice command.”

Reveille: You’ve been critical of the dog roundups by the scouts.

Towser: “Yes, I guess I do object to brown shirt vigilante Fascist thugs running roughshod over peoples’ rights. Who deputized them to abduct and incarcerate innocent creatures? Troop 354 scouts are a bunch of terrorists as far as I’m concerned. Those dogs didn’t do anything.”

Reveille: What about the feral dogs that harass pedestrians on the bike trail?

Trowser: “The city has never maintained the trail. It’s an overgrown, unprotected jungle, and pedestrians are more likely to be attacked by muggers than by dogs. In any wilderness environment, the visitor needs to be cautious. In the Scorpion Mountain Natural Area, you’ll find rattlesnakes, catch-claw cactus, centipedes, tarantulas, and mountain lions. When you happen on a mountain lion, stay calm, don’t make eye contact, back away slowly, and extend your arms to make yourself look bigger. It’s the same with a feral dog. Calm and common sense will prevent attacks. Maybe a doggie treat.”

Reveille: Peter Levy says that “dog owner” is a misnomer. Children and dogs both should be cared for, not owned, and dogs should be treated as human family.

Trowser: “That’s the way at my house. As you know, Levy is the author of “Pete’s Letter to the Dalmatians”, and is in the forefront of the national battle for dog rights.   He’s an eloquent advocate, and the first to insist that there be canine representation on every advocate committee.”

Reveille: With voting rights?

Trowser: “Lassie, Bullet, Rin Tin Tin. Any one of them is smarter than Mayor Crane.”


Letter to the Editor

Shock chair   Why give any notice in your paper to disgraced sadist Orin Wimbly? He’s not on “sabbatical” from Chuckwalla High.   He’s fired for shocking students in a homemade electric chair. Before giving undue publicity to a sadist, the editor ought to check out Wimbly’s tenure at Princely Prep in La Jolla. Why do you think he wound up in Chuckwalla?   This guy has a mental problem, and good riddance.   Angry Parent




A random walk through the Tri-Desert Empire

Chuckwalla Silkscreen, the tee shirt factory on Mercury Dr., will bring out a new line this Sunday at its booth at the Speedway Swap Meet, which precedes Sunday Thunder.  According to owner and designer Tess Lazlo, "Tees 'n' Tats" are short and long sleeve shirts decorated with popular tattoo designs.  Some of the motifs in the Lazlo collection are: "Rose Tattoo (Floral);"" Prison Ink;" "Skull and Bones (Goth);" Homeward Bound (Navy); "Devil Dogs," including the Corp's "Death before Dishonor;" "Bamboo Brush (Asian):" "Temple of Chapultepec (Hispanic);" "Salvatrucha (gang tats);" and "Girlie Show."  Lazlo says the shirts are a stylish and inexpensive way to show off tattoos without undergoing the pain of the needle.  "And the shirts are color fast," Lazlo says.  (Sponsored).

The Chamber's Bert Bertinelli announced Friday that local merchants have clubbed some money to reopen the informational kiosk across from Denny's on Hobbsianway.  Dubbed, "Come to Find Out," the kiosk will be manned by Chamber volunteers who will dispense free maps that identify downtown businesses. 

Guests at the Holiday Inn had a pleasant poolside surprise Friday night when they were entertained by a musical quartet made up of University scientists visiting the Tri-Desert Empire in search of the last existing Colton sand flies.  The quartet, Algae Rhythm, featured entomology professors Alden Hader on keyboard, Mary Crawford, viola; Rachel Schollenberger, fiddle; and Hortense Bock, bass guitar.  The group reportedly played an instrumental medley of Beetles hits.  During working hours, the team is combing the Dunes Wilderness for the elusive sandfly, the saliva of which may hold the key to a vaccine for elephantiasis.

The Chuckwalla city council
 spent half an hour Wednesday puzzling out the message to be printed on warning signs that will go up in front of the public library next week.  Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick told the council that officers repeatedly have been called to settle disputes arising among homeless library patrons congregated on the front steps.  The new signs will say, "No Loitering.  Enforced for Your Convenience."

The Dancing Jalapeno
, to be seen noontime in front of Tres Concineros, is the peppery Felix Bustamonte, and he's dancing to advertise his flavorful new concoction, Hot Hinges Tamale Sauce, which he makes right there in the restaurant kitchen.  "Only Chuckwalla is hot enough for this stuff," Bustamante says.  At least on this side of the Lethe. (Sponsored).

Survivalist and sometimes Reveille columnist Diego Garcia
 has been released on his own recognizance pending the conclusion of an investigation into the stabbing death of a teen intruder who broke into Garcia's apartment in the Market Garden complex.  The teen, whose name is being withheld because of his age, became entangled in the security net that Garcia had installed inside his apartment’s entranceway.  As the youth used a knife in an attempt to cut his way out of the net, Garcia allegedly stabbed him with a homemade spear. Assistant deputy district attorney Bart Grieves said witnesses are being interviewed and video surveillance reviewed.   Garcia, the author of the self-published e-book Fort Apt: How to Defend Your Space, says the killing was justified self-defense because he feared for his life.

Miriam Silver, last year's salutatorian at the Chuckwalla High's graduation ceremony, and a life member of the school's Crème de la Crème Society of high scholastic achievers, has been picked by UC Riverside to represent the university at a publishers' auction in New York.  Winners, who are judged on poise, market knowledgeability, and their presence on social media, will have the opportunity to gain real world experience through a summer internship at a major publishing house.

An unlikely ad hoc alliance of ORV enthusiasts, equestrians, hikers and bicycle riders took shape at the Wednesday council meeting to lobby against the city manager’s plan to seek federal money to repair the city's crumbling roads.  Dan Beltran, president of the Imperial Dunesmen, an off-road vehicle club, said his group would prefer to see the outlying roads on the east side revert to gravel and dirt.  "Most residents on the outskirts have some kind of OHV" Beltran said.  "We don't need pavement."  Beltran said any federal money would require matching local funds, which would have to be raised through the formation of an assessment district. "I'd much rather ride my trike than pay more taxes," Beltran said.  


He was seconded by Shirley Hartsworth, who said she and fellow neighbors who own horses have found the crumbling backroads ideal for riding.  "Very few cars, and those that come have to go very slow because of the potholes," Hartsworth said.  "My horses are much more at ease."  In accord with Hartsworth and Beltran, Panther Court resident Ralph Henny, who rides a mountain bike to his work place.  He said that before the last monsoon washed away the pavement he had had several close calls with passing cars.  "The road has no shoulder at all," Henny said.  “But now I don't have to fear fast-moving traffic."  And lastly Sylvan Dawn, a waitress at the Green Zone Cafe, who said that with the de facto banishment of auto traffic on the east side, "it's become a pedestrian friendly park." By Cheryl Weiss

If it quacks like it.  Mayor Robert Crane took umbrage at the Wednesday council when a citizen claimed the mayor was ducking questions about the timetable for the water line extension to Yosemite St.  "In all my years on this council I have never refused to comment on anything," Crane said.  "There is not a duck anywhere on my record."


Leaders in Motion 
(A Reveille regular feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.  Today, it's Merrit, Williams, principal of Chuckwalla High School. Williams, incarcerated in Ironwood State Prison as a teen for drug dealing, completed his GED as a prisoner, matriculated to Stanislaus State College, earned an MA in Education at UC Riverside, then returned to Ironwood as a program administrator before taking over the reins at Chuckwalla's troubled high school.)

Reveille:  The board okayed some changes.

Williams:  Under pressure from reality. The district is a click away from a state trustee. And we're broke.  The metrics have been bad, particularity test scores.  I told them what we had to do.  They didn't like it.

Reveille:  But they did it. Even homework.

Williams:  Homework is ingrained.  The idea that we should abolish most homework was hard to swallow. The reality is, very few students complete their homework.  I only have a few competent teachers to spread around and I don't want them overburdened, for what we can pay them.  When we riffed the staff I would have liked the option to pick the teachers we could retain. The reality is that the AFT submitted a list based on seniority.  Half on the list I can't use in a classroom.  I've assigned them as study room monitors and to hall duty.

Reveille:  You riffed the teaching staff but hired more security.

Williams:  No choice. It was bedlam, particularly after Chuckpo discontinued the one permanently assigned officer.  I had to bring in Valley Vigilance for safety.  Councilman Pipps from Valley Vigilance helped us install the surveillance cameras and set up the internal checkpoints for confiscating weapons and cell phones. We've taken iris scans of every student, along with prints, file photos, and DNA sample.

Reveille: The halfday?

Williams:  A huge payoff.  Two sessions. Eight to noon, one to four.  More manageable numbers on campus, smaller classrooms, less stress on the kids and staff.

Reveille:  What's the walking classroom?

Williams:  To make the best use of the usable teachers, I have to triage.  Some of the kids I have to write down.  They're not educable.  For instance the kids that come from Airman Village near the airport?  Section Eight apartments that are former military barracks from World War II. Lead paint, asbestos, mold, rats and a dysfunctional parent on the inside, gangs and violence on the outside.  Exceptions, of course, but mostly disruptive and ADD. I put them in walking class with the two PE coaches, both former Marines and former correctional officers.  They walk them around the track for two hours and do what they can to impart something.

Reveille:  The peripatetic school.

Williams:  Maybe not what Socrates had in mind.  After an hour or so they quiet down and if the coaches think it's safe I work in a regular teacher.

Reveille:  How can you deal with the test scores?

Williams:  I've already set up a sequestered classroom for the Chinese girls from the gas plant.  I'm identifying the other girls who are good test takers and I'll lump them together in soundproof rooms where they can take their drills.  I just need about 50 decent scores to up the average to where we might avoid a trustee.

Reveille:  There's no hope for the walking wounded?

Williams:  Not much.  But I've appointed a counselor as salvage officer.

Reveille:  Cindy Mallory of the Green Zone is critical of the school's free lunch.

Williams.  She's right, it's crap. Government-issue commodities you wouldn't feed a pig. Sugared cereal, sugared fruit drinks, crap pizza, grease fries, glop burgers, God-knows-what dogs.  The reality is, I got no money, and the state mandates a free lunch.



The Reveille's routinizing stroll through the Tri-Desert Empire


The Chuckwalla chapter of the Cats in Pajamas blog collective met at the Green Zone Café networking room Wednesday to hear about the latest iteration of the My Client’s Wallet personal service app. Donna Micklemarsh, co-CEO of LA-based Market Makeovers, said the new version takes advantage of algorithms that incorporate inputs not only from all social media but also from credit services, bank records, the Netflix data base, plus personal downloads, to create a client profile of remarkable consanguinity.


“Last year, in the Dark Ages,” Micklemarsh said, “we couldn’t tell from profile whether the client was 15 (years of age) or 20.” My Client’s Wallet offers a personal shopping service that uses a data profile to locate items the client will want.  The service automatically buys the product, using the client’s supplied credit card information, and ships the item the same day.


Chuckwalla Reveille’s part time investigative reporter Cheryl Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High and the recipient of this year’s Rotary Club annual award for scholastic achievement, quizzed co-CEO Micklemarsh.


Reveille:  The client gives you his credit card information?


Micklemarsh:  It’s encrypted using ToughNut.   Having the client’s credit card and permission allows us to pounce on an item when the price point is favorable.  We know he wants it.


Reveille:  You don’t have to ask?


Micklemarsh.  We already know from his profile.  We’ve found the client really enjoys the process.  It’s like getting a present from a friend who understands you perfectly.   The client always has the option of returning the item for a full refund, but that rarely happens.


Reveille:  Is there a red line?


Micklemarsh:  When we collect credit card information we also establish a comfort zone.


Reveille:  Does the client always know what he wants?


Micklemarsh:  Not always.  Often the client doesn’t realize he wanted something until it arrives.  Then he says, “This is what I’ve always wanted.”  By being able to sift through all the client’s past choices, the app knows better than he does.

Dietician cleared in Pot Bust   The Imperial County Sheriff’s Department’s crime lab reported that the alleged pot plants that Chuckpo confiscated from the home of former Chuckwalla High School dietician Cindy Mallory’s kitchen window box turned out to be basil, tarragon, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Last Friday Chuckwalla police raided her home after a neighbor reported smelling a suspicious odor issuing from her kitchen window. After plucking the plants from a window planter, police forwarded them to the county crime lab.   “None of the material was a controlled substance,” according to the report. “All were common herbs.” Mallory, a critic of Chuckwalla eating habits and fast food outlets, has aroused controversy for her published attacks on the alleged evils of “a slave diet of suet, brine and syrup” making up the school lunch menu. She has been criticized by the two candidates in the school board election, both of whom have vowed to work for her removal as a teacher and to revoke her license as a certified dietician. “I’m being demonized by zany ideologues,” Mallory said. “Somebody put (my neighbor) up to this.”

Aikes Memorial.  The scholarship fundraiser Wednesday staged by Ted Evans' human directionals class on the Honda-Toyota-Nissan front lot was also a special tribute in memory of Roger Aikes, the ace placard twirler who died recently in a freak accident on Sepulveda Blvd. in LA.  "Aikes was one of the true stars," Evans said.  "I've never seen anybody do the ‘Skyrocket’ like he could."  Evans was performing a "Skyrocket' with a non-standard placard in front of Whole Foods when a wind gust lifted him into on-coming traffic. During Wednesday's performance at the car dealership, Chuckwalla High's Team Placard Spirit did a special version of the 'Helicopter' to honor Aikes.  Evans' human directionals class, one of the high schools successful vocational programs, places graduates with car dealerships, pizzerias, furniture stores and smog check stations all over the Tri-Desert Empire and LA.

Don't forget Beano.  Another milestone.  The chimp Beano has been performing simian directionals in front of Manley Ford for an entire month.  Beano honed his skills with the arrow placard as an unregistered auditor of the human directonals' outdoor practice sessions.  "Beano watched, he learned, he imitated," Evans said, "and in the end we learned from him."

An Open House Tour, sort of.  The Borrows Collective, practitioners of non-traditional housing solutions, held an "Open Pit Tour and Barbecue" last Sunday at their troglodyte-style retreat west of Chuckwalla. "We wanted to help locals overcome misunderstandings about what goes on out here," said Borrows spokesman Hobo Steve Kelly, who lives in an eight-by-eight hole in the ground.  "The Borrows" refers to scores of shallow pits dug during the late 19th century by miners trying to follow a quartz ledge into a hillside.  Beginning about ten years ago, a handful of homeless men, characterized by Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick as "your higher class gentlemen of the grape," reconfigured the pits as housing.  Mostly, they built various versions of a wooden box, settled it square into a pit, added a scuttle for an entranceway, and insulated the roof with gravel and sand.  Collective amenities include a capacious awning for al fresco dining, and some shower stalls fed by sun-warmed rainwater collected in and pumped from 55-gallon drums buried in an arroyo.  Some three-score curiosity seekers accepted the invitation, including the Reveille's part time investigative reporter Cheryl Weiss.  Her report to come. 

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:  Closed.


Borrows “Open House” Draws Curious

by Cheryl Weiss


The Borrows Gang, the troglodyte collective of “wino misfit vagrants” who live in holes in the ground in the desert west of Chuckwalla, held an open house Sunday to showcase their counter-cultural life styles.


Everybody was there.


Chuckpo’s Lt. Abel Dick; Imperial County’s desert deputy Sharon Rich; Chuckwalla Mayor Robert Crane; Chamber head Bert Bertinelli; city councilman Henry Pipps; Chuckwalla high school principal Merrit Williams, and some three score more, all drawn to the commune’s remote outpost by curiosity and a barbecue spread of rabbit jerky, goat menudo and lizard stew.


The characterization “wino misfit vagrants” came from Borrows spokesman Hobo Steve Kelly, who conducted tours of the living arrangements at the compound.


“The Borrows” refers to the numerous holes dug in the late 19th century by miners futilely pursuing the continuation of a quartz-bearing ledge that wandered along the side of a hill.  The holes, to some forgotten geologist’s eye, resembled borrow pits at a quarry. 


Beginning about a decade ago, homeless wanderers began living in the holes, at first, using nothing more than tarps as roofs.  When Hobo Steve came along, he salvaged pallets, built a large wooden crate, eight by eight and four feet high, leveled it in one of the holes, added a scuttle, and covered the roof with sand.


While wandering the desert, Kelly had often overnighted in “bum boxes,” rude shelters that gave minimum protection from wind and sun.  “I saw that burying the box would be better,” Kelly said.  “It’s the principal of the estivating turtle.”


The Borrows boxes are also topped with two awnings.  The uppermost is white, to reflect sunlight; the bottom tarp is black, to throw a deep shade over the gravel mound covering the buried box.


Venturing into one of the boxes, the visitor must squat.  “Four feet would be about the head room on the gun deck on a Napoleonic-era frigate,” Kelly said.  The appointments are austere:  a mattress, bedroll, and a plastic bin to hold the occupant’s necessaries.  It’s a sleeping cube and a hermitage, Kelly say.  Most of Borrows life goes on above ground. The focus of life on top is the Misty Isle, a fire pit arena covered by a huge awning laced with tubing that suffuses Hibernian-like mist, supplied by water pumped out of a 55-gallon drum


While on the tour the Reveille put a few questions to spokesman Steve:


Reveille:  Do you have a well?


Kelly:  Water is hauled out in that buffalo (a 200-gallon tank on a trailer).  Other water is collected in steel drums that we’ve buried in Arroyo Arena; they fill up during the summer flash floods.  We also collect the infrequent rainwater coming off the big awning.


Reveille:  What about the bathroom?


Kelly:  Those are shower stalls with solar heated water.  The easiest way is Burning Man style, sun-warmed water in gallon plastic jugs that you pour on your head.  Some people use watering cans on a pole. The fanciest is a pump-up pesticide sprayer.  That’s almost like a real shower.


Reveille:  And uhm?


Kelly:  Composting out house, wood chips and lime.  That sauna over there for distaff visitors.  Very clean, private, well ventilated and fresh, with a view of the mountains.


Reveille:  I noticed the sleeping cubes have fans.


Kelly.  Our utility district.  A couple of Honda generators.  People also charge extra batteries off the alternator in their cars.  And once a week the Borrows bus brings out a load of fully charged deep cycle batteries from the Nissan charging station.


Reveille:  Are you really winos?


Kelly.  I’d say oenophiles.  We all pitch in on a barrel of Casa Tinta from the Purple Majesty Winery.  Sorry I can’t offer you any.


Shakespeare at the Borrows


As the shadows lengthened and lurid orange and red hues painted the Scorpion Mountains, the entertainment began.  A quartet from the Chuckwalla Men’s Drum Circle accompanied the Three Graces in Braces belly dancers (Ellen Glick, Edwina Patel, and Hortensia Fernandez) from Mrs. Hopkins dance class at Chuckwalla High.  Later, part of the cast from Chuckwalla’s Repertoire Playhouse did “Sketches from Macbeth,” the Three Graces now playing the weird sisters, and top high school Thespian Raj Patel taking the part of the new Thane of Caldor.


At the end of the skit, a dozen Borrows resident raced around in their dune buggies, representing the victorious if tipsy Scot liegemen. Alice Kenilworth, playhouse director, gave special thanks to John Kessel, for his continuing support of the playhouse’s annual production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” saying his presence has been an inspiration.   “If there is going to be Shakespeare in Chuckwalla,” Kessel said, “I, for one, will be there.” 


The Law Looks at the Borrows   Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick, an attendee at the Borrows open house, seemed to tolerate the aging troglodyte misfit wino vagrants with bemused resignation. “Number one.  Not my jurisdiction,” Dick said.  “But a lot of these guys are regulars at the Castaways, the Brouhaha BrewHaus, and the Horny Toad.  In town at least, they’re seldom a problem.  Sometimes complaints from the Sobrantes (subdivision) about loud music after ten at the Castaways.  Out here…generally speaking, a force for good.  I know they’ve burned out some meth trailers.  Vigilante stuff.  But I’m not crying about it.  I also know they’ve rescued some of our Mexican brothers and sisters who’d be dead otherwise.  Don’t ask me about missing coyotes.”


Imperial County deputy sheriff Donna Rich, the ‘desert deputy,” has responsibility for a thousand square miles of bone-dry wasteland without a paved road or gas station.  Working out of the Palo Verde sheriff’s substation, Rich generally patrols the two-lane stretch between Interstate 10 and the Dunes Wilderness Area. “I have a pretty good rapport with the Borrows,” Rich said.  “There’s the business of the still.  I know Pioneer Distilled-Once-and-for-All Vodka comes from out here somewhere.  I’ve seen some weapons that have the serial numbers rubbed off.  I know a lot of the Bushmasters were put together at Dwayne’s Sports Oasis base receiver workshops. Unless it’s a 187 (homicide) I don’t come out here.  It’d take my whole day.”


Reveille:  What about Ernie Ortega?


“The Mexican consulate in Tijuana has sent an inquiry through the state department to Riverside and Imperial counties about their missing nationals.  Ortega and a couple of others are known human traffickers.  We’ve developed no information that they disappeared on our side.  That’s all I can say.”


Reveille:  Do you see anybody here tonight who’s wanted?


“When I accepted the invite to come here I sort of declared a 24-hour amnesty.  They’re a couple of guys here tonight from the Ledges who have warrants out for parole violations.  Nothing too serious.  If I have to, I know where they are, but it’s really too damn hard to get there.”


(Editor’s note: “The Ledges” are narrow sandstone flats projecting from a bluff cliffside in the Scorpions that can be approached only by a tenuous footpath.  The difficult access has drawn those who have reason to avoid society.) 

Breatharian Monastery Update

by Cheryl Weiss


The robed monk and abbot of the Southern California Breatharian order said he was passing up the buffet table, the gumbos and stews rich with reptile protein.  He shook his head at the pone right out of the horno, waved away a yard sale coffee cup brimming with Casa Tinta, and even refused a sip of the fiery yellow Pioneer Distilled-Once-and-For-All shine that sat on the table in a Mason jar.


"Just a neighborly visit to the Borrows tribe," the Abbot Phrana said.  "Our new home falls inside the pale of their patrols, so we'll be seeing each other."


Reveille:  How's the building coming?


“Slowly, as expected. We only work one hour a day.  I've had to be strict about quashing signs of ambition. It's only natural for the brothers to be in a hurry to complete their cells.  But in time each devotee will have an adobe dugout.  I'm looking with interest at the Borrows design.”


Reveille: Their amenities?


“Not for us.  We eschew electricity and carbon combustion.  We don't use artificial light or heat.  We don't cook meals.  Each brother has what you see me standing in (a thick wool ankle-length robe with a hood, a pair of wool socks, sandals)... and at home a blanket.  That's all we need to spend our days mindfully breathing and contemplating the miracle of consciousness.”


Reveille:  What's a typical day?


“Up at sunrise. We take our places in front of an eastward-facing cliff and breathe until the radiance and health of sunlight infuses our bodies.  Then an hour of work.  Afterwards, we gather in front of our sun-warmed cliff to breathe for the rest of the afternoon. Sometimes a brother will begin a vision quest for a few hours or a year.”


Reveille:  You must have a sponsor.


“A trust fund heiress to the General Mills fortune.  She'll be coming out to breathe with us at times.”


Reveille:  Is the air that good?


“The land we purchased is almost at the top of Scorpion Peak, at 4,000 feet.  We're above the smoke and dust.  The prevailing westerly has dropped a lot of the Chinese smog over Palm Springs.  The smoke from the grass fires tends to gather in the valleys.”


Reveille:  I guess Breatharians are unhappy about all the wildfires.


“The contrary is true.  We hope the state burns.  Clear out the understory, burn out the inappropriately located homes. Perhaps drive some of the population elsewhere.  Our message is anti-consumerist quietism.  It's hard for people to see the truth without an accompanying apocalypse.” 


Reveille: I see you passed on the buffet.  I know you don’t try to live on air and light anymore. What do Breathairians eat?


“Various nuts and seeds, wind-fall apples, assorted herbs...  And Cheerios.




A picaresque promenade through the Tri-Desert Empire


Quick action by Pathfinder Boy Scouts manning a drug checkpoint on the Midway Wells road south of Chuckwalla resulted in the rescue of a stranded group of Mexican melon pickers who had been abandoned by their guide.  Troop 354 scoutmaster Henry Pipps told Chuckwalla police that the scouts had found one of the immigrants, severely dehydrated and disoriented, collapsed near the checkpoint.  The immigrant said she was one of a party of twelve seasonal laborers who had become lost and were without water while traveling to take part in the annual Imperial County melon harvest.  The scouts located the group huddled under Palo Verde trees near Pachuco Pass and delivered them to the highway rest stop at the intersection of I-10 and Rt. 28, Pitts said.


Melon Czar Fred Pease, president of the Chuckwalla Agricultural Commission, told members Wednesday that once again a crack team of seasonal melon pickers, Equipo Ultimo, had defeated Melontalica, the mechanical melon picker developed by scientists at UC Davis.  “It was close,” Pease said of the contest. “But human ingenuity and skill won out.”  For the past two seasons, Pease has pitted the computerized mechanical picker against the best Mexican picking teams working his fields.  His daughter, Poppy Pipps nee Pease, the new bride of city councilman Henry Pipps, awarded green hats and scarves to the winning team at an award ceremony that was followed by a melon feed under the sheds.



Klassy Klassified

Chuckwalla High senior Candice Waxman is offering an intimate date on the night of her 18th birthday to the highest bidder on eBay. She says the money will be used to underwrite her transition from Chuckwalla to a modeling career in Los Angeles. “I’m very excited to share my first night of official adulthood with a generous sponsor,” Bonnie says. She says she is well qualified because of her year as a cheerleader for the varsity Jackets. “I’m experienced,” she says. “I’ve done school fundraising and know how to wash the car and put it in the garage.”   The 5’10” 120 pound blue-eyed coed was a Sophomore Girl, a junior pep leader, a varsity cheerleader and has modeled for specialty magazines including Awesome Rods and Back Street Bike. She also has won academic recognition for human directionals and for pep and spirit rallies. “Chuckwalla has been great, but it’s time to blow this pop stand.” (Sponsored)

Duck Rides.  The Chuckwalla Junior College chapter of the Tri-Delt fraternity will hold its annual Riding Duck Cowgirl Rodeo fundraiser Friday beginning at 8 p.m.  The evening’s special event will include $5 rides on the fraternity’s mechanical duck, a merry-go-round sized yellow bathtub duck that delivers bone-shaking vibrations.  Proceeds will benefit the fraternity’s social programs.  (Sponsored)


(Editor's note:  Part time investigative reporter Cheryl Weiss' coverage of the Borrows Gang open house last Sunday drew a capfull of e-comments from the ether.)


Excellent reporting as always, Cheryl!  As a former military man, let me add that I was impressed by the Borrows’ defensive arrangements.  The inhabited "borrow pits" are enclosed by natural barriers.  Arroyo Arena comes in through the pass on the western approach, setting up a natural choke point. Behind the pits a crescent shaped ridge cups the encampment.  If you hike up on this ridge you'll see a series of spider holes interconnected and a cleverly camouflaged observation post with a 360-degree view of terrain.  Butch Cassidy couldn’t have done it better.   Don Best, MSgt. USA (Ret), Chuckwalla



Stew Secret   The secret for a delicious rattlesnake stew is lemon juice.  The fillets have to be marinated in the juice for at least 24 hours.  But the Borrows version is even better!! They make it poblano style with cinnamon and chocolate.  The carrots, grown on the premises in an alkaline soil, are highly mineralized which gives the stew its iron-y taste.  And the hints of venison come from the snake’s rodent-rich diet.  The parched corn in the pone bread is the perfect accompaniment!! Beth Hopkins, Chuckwalla


Wake up, people.  Reveille, my ass.  Some alarm clock you are.  Your story on the Borrows Gang would have us believe that these thug vigilantes are just a bunch of harmless old farts camped out in the sand with a bottle of wine.  Did you ever ask yourself?  Who pays to have them patrol on their dune buggies in a fifty-mile radius?  Who pays for the gas?  Did your hotshot part time investigative reporter happen to notice that the Gang is armed to the teeth with brand-new semi-automatic rifles?  Did Lois Lane bother to ask Hobo Steve why it is that all of a sudden a lot of people seem to be going missing out there?  Ask yourself.  Who around here benefits from the illegals who are coming across like a Conga Line?  Who would like to stop any interference from Mexican gangsters like Chuckwalla’s own El Negrito?  It's pretty Goddamn obvious what's happening. And by the way, Lois.  A barrel of Casa Tinta from Purple Majesty costs $600.  Where does that money come from?    Besos Amazn' Chuckwalla


New Vigilance Contract   Neighbors with backyards facing the Chuckwalla bike path have formed an assessment district to underwrite security along the troubled stretch of broken pavement.  According to neighborhood spokesperson Nancy Porter, the new district has hired Valley Vigilance Security to patrol the bike path.  “It’s been nothing but muggings, stickups, sexual assaults and dog attacks,” Porter said.  The city got a state grant to construct the cross-town bike path but never had sufficient funds for maintenance, particularly after the path was partially washed out during last summer’s monsoon.  The adjacent Arroyo Cholo has become a haven for the homeless, drug abusers, and feral dogs, according to Porter.  A press release from Valley Vigilance said the company would conduct both foot and bike patrols and also remove feral dogs.


Speaking of dogs.  The Chuckwalla city council on Wednesday finalized documents that turn over the kennel responsibilities of the humane society to the Shanghai Energy Development’s gas plant.  Under the terms of the agreement, the gas plant medical clinic will take over the kenneling and care of stray, feral or abandoned pets picked up by the city’s animal control officer.  Chuckwalla Mayor Robert Crane said the new arrangement would mean more than $100,000 in annual savings to the city. 


The kennel transfer drew vociferous reaction from half a dozen members of Loose the Dogs, an animal rights group that opposes the city leash law and the periodic roundup of feral dogs by Boy Scout Troop 354.  “Where’s the oversight?” said Penny Axelrod, a group spokesperson.  “The Chinese gas plant is a closed world.  Nobody knows what goes on there.”  Mayor Crane said county officials would have authority to monitor the kennel.


Sunday Thunder Beef    The swap meet roisterer whose arm was broken in a melee at the afternoon tailgate party has been airlifted from Pele Verde Memorial to Imperial Mercy Hospital in Riverside because of complications from an infection, hospital sources said.  The patient, Chad Nuggmore, 23, allegedly confronted security officers in the Speedway parking lot following a noise complaint.  Security from Valley Vigilance then subdued Nuggmore and made a citizen’s arrest. The two officers, both of whom were wearing Go-Pro cameras on their bicycle helmets, have turned over the video for review by the Imperial County district attorney’s office.

Speedway mud wrestling is slated to become part of next round of Sunday Thunder Day festivities.  According to wrestling promoter Manny Hernandez (who organizes wrestling events at the Horny Toad Saloon and at the Lumbee Convergence Casino) the Speedway mud wrestling will take place in the parking lot preceding the Sunday Thunder destruction derby.  "It'll be a rematch between the Soiled Doves and the Mud Hens," Fernandez said.  "The Doves want to keep their glory, and the Hens are thirsting for vengeance."  (Sponsored)


We get letters
.  “Does City Hall have no shame?  They vote a taxpayer bailout of the Market Garden fiasco.  And the contract goes to a city councilman.  Somebody should investigate.”   Aaron Kline



(Editor’s note:  The Reveille assigned part time investigative reporter Cheryl Weiss to take a look.) 


“On Wednesday the Chuckwalla City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency in a closed session, voted to apply part of a previously-deposited state grant to hire the Valley Vigilance security company to address ongoing problems of crime and vandalism at the Market Garden low income housing project.


“Five years ago the agency took part in convoluted financing to build the low-cost housing units and to underwrite repairs and air conditioning for the Chuckwalla High gym.  The gym was never retrofitted, but the Market Garden development was built by a Lumbee Nation contractor using federal monies designated for minority-owned business.  The remainder of the financing came through bonds that are now in default.


“According to city attorney Neil Brace, the Redevelopment Agency sold part of the bond issue to the City, spilling red ink onto the city budget that remains a major contributor to the city’s woes, but also the major reason the city isn’t in receivership.  ‘Market Garden is in such a tangled mess the state doesn’t want any part of it,’ Brace said.


Alfredo Contreras, the city’s maintenance chief, said the housing units are increasingly becoming dilapidated.  Pipes are leaking, broken windows go unrepaired, mold is inside the walls, and ceilings and many units have been vandalized.  ‘It’s too dangerous to send in repair crews, because of shakedowns by the gangs,’ Contreras said.


“Chuckwalla police lieutenant Abel Dick said he doesn’t have the manpower to adequately police the project, particularly since the latest round of austerity cutbacks has cost his department two officer positions.  ‘I’m not comfortable sending a single officer out there without backup,’ Dick said.  ‘I only respond to the shootings.’


Mayor Robert Crane, acting as head of the Redevelopment Agency, said Market Garden might become a complete loss.  ‘Right now we’re getting some money out of it.  But we’re to the point that we might have to shut it down as uninhabitable, if we can’t take it back from the gangsters.’


Councilman Henry Pipps, who was recently promoted to CEO of Valley Vigilance, reportedly recused himself from the discussion and left the council chamber.


“Crane said Valley Vigilance had submitted the only bid.  ‘I don’t know if this is good money after bad, but I’ve called around to the stakeholders and they want us to do something before the whole investment starts to slide.’


“Crane said the $200,000 six month contract would draw on state funds already deposited in the redevelopment account.  ‘No new taxes for Chuckwalla,’ Crane said.  He added that the state funds had been earmarked for Main Street Beautification, ‘but security is more important.’”


Krispy Kreme will be opening a franchise in Chuckwalla next month in the former Texaco gas station on Hobbesianway.  The franchise will be operated by Byron Fistule, the Baptist pastor and anti-abortion activist who was instrumental in removing the Planned Parenthood clinic from Pele Verde Memorial.   “Baptists don’t hold with the wafer and wine, but buy a Krispy Kreme and a cup of Joe and I’ll wave my hand over it,” Fistule said.   The Rev. Fistule said the franchise offers gluten-free pastry.  “So there’s no reason why those with celeriac disease can’t receive the host.”


(Editor’s note: Planned Parenthood offered birth control counselling at the now-shuttered office at the hospital.  Tri-Desert Empire women seeking abortions always have had to travel to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Algodones, Mexico.  In response to the vociferous church-led protests, student nurses attending classes at the gas plant clinic have organized a weekly shuttle to Algodones, the bus leaving at 9 a.m. Wednesday from the corner of Hobbesianway and Mercury Dr.  The Mexican clinic employs Cuban physicians from the same international service providing GPs to the gas plant clinic.)


Chuckwalla nurses, by the way, are much sought after by employers, says Sara Brougham, RN, who heads the Chuckwalla Junior College nursing program.  Since the nurses began training with the Cuban doctors at the gas plant clinic, “every graduate has been placed.”  Previously, the students trained at Pele Verde Memorial, until a Reveille investigation revealed that at least one of the young trainees had been drawn into a prostitution ring operating in the wards.  Filipina nurses, it was learned, had been recruited by a past hospital administrator for double duty.


Funny obit in the Riverside Enterprise-Journal.  A husband apotheosizes his deceased wife.   “She’s gone to heaven to speak with the Angels.  They’ll have Eternity.  It seemed that way to me too.”  In a paid obit you can say what you want.




Idling in the Tri-Desert Empire


Time to smell the coffee?  Maybe you've thought about becoming a barista at one of the Empire's many coffee bars. Generally the pay is okay, some benefits, but the main inducement is that it's usually a fun service job where you work with hip, progressive co-employees.  A winning personality and a good attitude are the main job requisites, but, as I'm sure you've noticed, there's something else:  barista skin art.  Ink Alley Tattoo, Hobbesianway and Garnet Dr., can put your arms in order right now, with this week's special on Geometric Barista Designs, three-color ink included. Talk to the maestro himself, Tony Arguello.  (Sponsored)


(Editor's note:  Survivalist guru and sometimes Reveille columnist Diego Garcia has been exonerated by the Imperial County district attorney's office in the slaying of a teen intruder who broke into Garcia's studio apartment in the Market Garden project.  In a press release issued Wednesday, assistant DA Dayana Patel said surveillance video and witness testimony corroborated Diego's assertion that he acted in self-defense.  Since no prosecution is offing, the gag order has been voided, and Garcia is free to describe the events of two weeks ago at his apartment.


Bunker Mentality

By Diego Garcia

I awoke suddenly to the sound of splintering wood.  In accord with my defense plan, I rolled out to the left, throwing off my blanket and taking cover in a squatting position behind my DIY Kevlar-plated rolling shield, which defends on three sides.  I recognized the sound was that of a pry bar being used to jimmy the doorjamb.  The door is double-bolted, with a solid core backed by a solid oak veneer and steel plates, while the doorjambs have been hardened with steel backing plates.  I had plenty of time to assess, because the intruder was making slow progress with the pry bar, although he obviously was frantically working the iron. 


I obey the "no firearms" policy at Market Garden.  My firearms are not in the building.  On one side of the rolling shield I keep a recurve bow with a 40-pound draw weight and a clutch of arrows tipped with steel hunting points.  I string it at night before going to bed. On the other side of the shield I position a seven-foot ash spear with a narrow five-inch double-edged blade.  I keep nothing valuable in my apartment: no drugs, money, jewelry, fancy electronics, or anything that might attract a thief.  I have let enough people see my apartment that this should be generally known.  From the frenzied scraping and occasionally yelled obscenity I got the suspicion that the intruder was high.  In the past months a shipment of LA Key Largo has showed up in rotation at the nightly "Garden Party" in the parking lot.  (Editor’s note:  A toxicology report is pending in the case.)


I always go to bed with my cell hanging on a utility belt around my neck.  I called 911, got the usual message about the high volume of calls, and left a detailed report in case the dispatcher got to the backlog. Then I shouted to the intruder, "This is Diego Garcia.  No valuables here.  I'm armed.  Go away now."  The response was a stream of obscenities.  My concern was that the intruder might be armed with a pistol.  Many of the gangsters in the project favor a nine semi-auto.  I rolled the shield closer to the door so that I would be able to see when the intruder broke through the bolts.


My primary home defense is a wire mesh net cage on wheels that rolls up against the front entrance and latches in place.  If an intruder forces the door and comes inside he immediately finds himself encased.  A motion detector triggers a blinding stroboscopic light and a car alarm.  I had notched an arrow, but by this time I'd become certain the intruder was skying on LA Key, a PCP-like synthetic that often makes the user impervious to pain.


At this time I made the decision to defend myself if necessary with the spear. The arrow delivers little shock, the razors meant to sever blood vessels and cause hemorrhage.  Even so, a hard driven arrowhead into the stomach at conversational distance causes severe pain in ordinary circumstances.  But a drugged person oblivious to pain might not be deterred.  I rolled the shield up to the cage so that, if the intruder managed to force the door and had a gun, I could quickly defeat him with a spear thrust to the heart.


While waiting I left an update on the Chuckpo answering machine, called a few friends but didn't request help.  It's dangerous for outsiders at the Garden, particularly at night.  Finally the intruder broke the jamb and smashing away the bolts kicked open the door.  My instant impression was of a stocky muscular figure in the standard Garden uniform of hoodie and sweat pants.  I had no clear view of his face.  When he found himself inside a cage he began shouting and beating the wire with the pry bar.  The strobe and the alarm had gone off but since he was flailing wildly I still got no impression of his face.


I was yelling at him, "Get back!  Get back now!”  Locating me by my voice he threw the pry bar.  It bounced off the netting.  He then drew a K-Bar and attacked the mesh.  This is when I had to make my call.  In his frantic state he could cut through the mesh with his K-Bar.  Then I would have an enraged and drug-crazed aggressor at close quarters.  I still didn't know if he had a pistol. I decided that my life was sufficiently in danger to warrant putting the person down.  Even if I had known that the intruder was 15-years-old, I would have made the same decision.


As he lifted his right hand to saw at the mesh, I inserted the spear blade, no more than three inches, under his left breastbone.  He screamed, dropped the knife, and grabbed the haft of the spear in both hands.  He probably would have survived if he had followed my instructions.  I told him to release the spear and back out the door.  Instead he tried to remove the blade by twisting it back and forth.  I believe this caused his death wound.  The autopsy showed that his aorta was severed in a manner consistent with a twisting motion.


Abruptly he fell to the floor and began gasping between obscenities.  I now retrieved a flashlight from my night utility belt and put the beam on his stomach.  I could see from the copious blood that he'd suffered an arterial cut.  I called all the numbers I had for Chuckpo and at last got the night janitor, who was able to get through to Lt. Abel Dick at his home.  An hour later three police officers, and paramedics from the Chuckwalla fire department arrived. They took the victim to Pele Verde Memorial, where he was pronounced.  I am saddened by this tragedy, but I think it does illustrate the usefulness of my method described in Fort Apt:  How to Defend Your Space.



Hiccups prove fatal.  A sad finale for the “Some Like It Hot” salsa and sauce tasting contest at Tres Cocineros last Friday night.  A source at Pele Verde Memorial tells us that Lucas Barnes, 41, has succumbed to "convulsions and spasms of the diaphragm" after participating in the hot-off challenge that Sriracha sauce purveyor Bol Chuy, owner of Beau Thai Restaurant, threw at the feet of  Manny Hernandez, inventor of the fiery HotHinges Habanero taco sauce.  According to Chuy, the original agreed-upon rules called for contestants to be limited to those who could show a Hispanic or Asian heritage.  "You have to grow up with these sauces," Chuy said, "No non-Celestial is going to handle a fermented fish, Ghost pepper, capsaicin and cayenne combo, which is what's in my Pric Napalm Pow fish sauce."   A patron at Tres Cocineros said Barnes insisted in participating, claiming that he had developed a palate for hot dishes during a Peace Corps tour in India.  “India is like Iowa when it comes to sauce,” Chuy said.   The decision of the three judges won’t be known until next week.  "It's because of the temporary paralysis of the vocal chords," Chuy said.


Rinse off the night salt.  Chuckwalla entrepreneur Natalia Iverina, proprietor of Nat's Knickknacks on Hobbesianway, thinks she's come up with a winner with "Sponge Bath in a Bag," for people on the go.   Basically, a 2'x 2' moist towel that warms by chemical reaction when the bag unzips.  The towel is steeped in a solution that cleans and moisturizes, leaving a pleasant scent on the skin.  "The product will keep you fresh no matter where your travels take you," Nat says.  (Sponsored)


We get communiques from the afflatus:  "I was driving by the high school practice field the other afternoon, it's 115 degrees, and coach LeBraun has the Jackets doing drills.  He's gonna kill those kids."

Name withheld, Chuckwalla


(Editor’s note:  We assigned part time investigative intern Cheryl Weiss, a senior at Chuckwalla High and the recipient of a recent Lion's Club service award, to talk to Yellow Jackets football coach Eddie LeBraun.)


Reveille:  Go Jackets!  What's the rule for avoiding heatstroke during practice?


LeBraun:  Jacket power!  It's a balancing act. Everybody on the team this season grew up in Chuckwalla.  They're tempered.  As long as we hydrate religiously, take ten-minute shade breaks every hour, and watch everybody for signs of trouble, I have no problem doing drills right up until the mercury hits 120.


Reveille:  Jacket spirit! Have there been cases of heatstroke?


LeBraun:  Jacket Rule!  Yes, and it was my fault.  A couple years ago we had a kid that transferred from Northern California.  I should have cut him.


Reveille:  Go Peril!  Is there a play advantage to heat-tempered players?


LeBraun:  Jackets! Charge!  It's the only home field advantage we got.  The Lumbee Devils outweigh us two-to-one.  Their line is like a blast wall.  Every other school in the division has triple the enrollment to draw on.  Some of our best prospects turn out to be ineligible.  But the kids here can take the heat.  Late September, eight p.m., second quarter, 100 degrees out on the field.  The opposition starts to wilt.  So I know what you're saying.  But if we're going to win games, I got to push the limit.


Reville:  Jacket strong!  Have you been following Sometimes Spring ladies basketball?


LeBraun:  Jackets uber alles!  Completely amazing. How often does a team go from dead last to the a month?  Because of two rookies.


Reveille:  Jackets!  Thanks, coach.


LeBraun:  Jackets!  See you at school




A lunar rover in the Tri-Desert Empire


E-bolts from the blue.  Besos again.  “Why doesn’t the Reveille just call it the CHINESE gas plant?  Everybody else does.  Why try to maintain the fiction that the city of Chuckwalla or the Lumbee nation has any control over the fortified Forbidden City operated solely by Shanghai Energy.  The gas plant is enclosed by Cyclone fence and barbed wire and the perimeter is patrolled by CHINESE armed guards.  The only area that citizens can visit, the medical clinic, is sealed off from the rest of the facility and off limits to everybody including city bureaucrats.”  Besos Amazn’ via e-mail


(Editor’s reply:  According to Ed Waits, the city’s energy development liaison, the gas plant is owned by a consortium.  The security procedures are those recommended in guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.  Waits says City officials could inspect the plant facilities, but current staff lacks the expertise, and so defers to federal regulators for periodic safety inspections. )


Those FEMA trailers.  The 40 or so travel trailers just purchased from FEMA for low cost housing in Chuckwalla have been thoroughly out-gassed, according to Amos Blaine, manager of the new Women’s Place community court at the end of Rhyolite Dr.   Blaine said the trailers were stored for a decade at a FEMA corporation yard in Perth, AK, before being delivered to Chuckwalla last week by train.  “That was enough time for all the gasses to be released from the formaldehyde in the plywood.”   Women’s Place provides housing for single mothers with children under 13, and is subsidized by a HUD grant along with contributions from Shanghai Energy and Pease Farms.


Women’s Place, according to Blaine, is designed as a low-cost safe haven for single mothers.  The one-bedroom travel trailers rent for $300 a month to single mothers only.  Up to two children under 13 are permitted.   Male visitors are only allowed during afternoon visiting hours at the community center.  No overnight guests.  On-site security provided by contract with Valley Vigilance.


We really didn't see this coming.  The Reveille interview at the Borrows picnic with Abbot Pharna of the Reformed Breatharian Monastery on Scorpion Peak squeezed some nimbus and blitzen out of the cloud cover. This email from, yes, the alleged "true Abbot Pharna" who leads "the true Breatharian monastery” in Los Angeles. 


"The so-called 'abbot' interviewed by your reporter is an apostate and fraud whose secular tenants are not in accord with the teachings of Breatharian guides Ram Bahajur Momjon and Jamuheen.  The entire living truth of Breatharianism is that, after an intense period of meditation and study, the adept CAN be nourished solely by the prana in air and light.  That doesn't mean that he NEVER ingests earthly substance, but that it is no longer NECESSARY.” Wiley Brooks (Abbot Pharna), Breatharian Institute of America.


Then this, from Chuckwalla Junior College sophomore Denise Henley:  "I belong to a house of students, all of whom are practicing Breatharians.  We feel that our form of secular Reformed Breatharianism is a moral and spiritually-guided response to the challenges of the Age. We practice mindful Breathing and Meditation, but we are also anti-consumers who wish to live lightly and honor the planet by giving up materialism.  We do not wear the Breatharian robe and sandals, but all our clothing comes second hand from the Goodwill or Salvation Army.  We feel that our style of Breatharianism is more acceptable for young people who still wish to live in the world.


 (Editor’s note:  In response to the e-mail from Henley, we assigned part-time intern reporter Cheryl Weiss to check out the six students who identify as Breatharian, at their ramshackle two-bedroom house on Obsidian Way near the campus.  She found that the house is unfurnished in the sense that there is no furniture of any kind.


Reveille:  How did you convert?


Henley:  I felt awful about not being able to do something about the destruction of the planet. I was trolling sustainability sites and came across an essay written by the Breatharian schismatic Simeon St Cyr, who advocates a pragmatic higher consciousness.  It made sense.  I was already into meditation, yoga, tantric breathing, and vegetarianism.  This seemed like the next step.


Reveille:  You don’t really live on air.


Henley.  That’s the ultra-orthodox version, the idea of getting all nourishment from prana, the life force in air and light.  We’re secular.  We eat a simple diet of raw foods.  We don’t wear robes and sandals like the monks at the monastery, but we dress simply and unostentatiously.  Our main aim is to do no harm by avoiding commerce and consumerism, by not burning carbon, and by using as few resources as possible.


Reveille:  How’s that work in practice?


Henley:  Well, as you can see, we have no furniture.  We sit and sleep on the floor.  We don’t cook or use refrigeration.  We don’t heat water.  We have a one-flush per day policy.  There’s no furnace or air conditioning or electric fans.  No lights of any kind.  No computers, televisions, telephones, or electronic devices.  We barter if possible and try to avoid using money.  We don’t have bank accounts.


Reveille:  I see a typewriter.  I hear that was a problem at school.


Henley.  It’s resolved.  Some of the professors were refusing to accept typewritten papers.


Reveille:  Other problems with the administration?


Henley:  They don’t want us to wear dust masks on campus.  That’s still being adjudicated.


Reveille: Something about a bicycle?


Henley:  We have constant house debates about what’s okay.  We recognize the inevitable contradictions, compromises and hypocrisy.  We know that manufacturing bicycles is energy intensive but decided by consensus that used bikes are okay.  One of the residents cannibalizes salvaged bikes and turns them into one-speeds.


Reveille:  Can you sum up your credo?


Henley:  To be humble in all assertions.  We value human consciousness and human spirit, but without definitions or theology.  We call consciousness a miracle even if it's a fluke of natural cause.  Meditating and meaningful breathing help us center on core values of compassion and cooperation and to see the emptiness of competitive materialism.


Reveille: You have a garden.  What’s on the menu?


Henley:  Solar spinach tea is popular right now.


More communiques from the vapor.  This from Chuckwalla resident Emmet Tomain:  "Big improvement on the bike path since Valley Vigilance on the scene.  The bums in Arroyo Cholo have been chased out and relocated, all their trash piled and burned, their dogs trapped and sent to the pound at the Chinese clinic. Vigilance made them dig a big hole and bury all their waste.  The teen gangs that used to hang out on path have disappeared.  My neighbors are starting to use the path for evening walks without fear of being mugged. Security officers riding the path night and day.  Everybody says, money well spent.  Those who didn't join the assessment district are now in."


Wanda Yoga, the studio that hosts the popular shallow breathing classes in Mercury Park, has a new course offering at the Marion Shumway senior center.  "Duck Walking," Wanda Wilkins explains, "is a mobility technique for seniors that helps prevent falls.  Wanda says that some seniors, after learning to duck walk, have thrown away their canes." (Sponsored)


Another blast at Besos.  "I'm sick of Besos Amazn always trashing Shanghai Energy.  As a resident of the Sobrantes Subdivision I remember who came to help during the sewer pond collapse last year.  All of Sobrantes would have been hip-deep in raw sewage if the labor battalion from the gas plant had not rallied at midnight to shore up the dikes.  After a ten-hour day working on the co-generation module, the 300-strong battalion rolled out of bed, grabbed shovels, and staunched the breaks in the levee.  Who from Chuckwalla helped? The fire department said it lacked the training and equipment.  The understaffed Chuckpo said all it could do was issue a plea for volunteers.  And the only volunteers were a dozen scouts from Troop 354.  Thank God for the Chinese and their excellent officers, some of whom had been trained at the fish farms of Shuswan Province. And what about the Chinese clinic that offers an alternative to a hospital consistently rated as one of the worst in the nation?  The same hospital that was indicted for running a prostitution ring.  And now Shanghai Energy has offered to partner in Woman's Place, a shelter for battered women.  I can't blame the gas plant for wanting nothing to do with city bureaucrats.”  Dave Jennings, Chuckwalla."


Pele Verde Memorial Hospital has seen improvements this year under the leadership of newly installed CEO Harvey Harkins, who says a reorganization has settled many of the past problems in management.  He says the new infection control unit has passed the annual state review, and that there has been no sign of a reoccurrence of the earlier outbreak of primary amebic meningoencephalitis. (Sponsored).


The Power of Short.  Cute scene at the Workn Joe Cafe yesterday morn. A lumbering middle-aged Joe blearily making his way to the coffee urns in the back when a nimble pre-teen girl adroitly steps away from his oblivious path.  "You’re quick on your feet," says the apologetic Joe.  "It's the power of short," says the smiling tween.


"And He said let there be light..."  Mayor Robert Crane headed some fifty dignitaries and citizens in welcoming to Chuckwalla the new traffic light at Hobbesianway and Quartzsite Dr.  The four-way signal now overlooks an intersection that has been the scene of numerous fender-benders.  Crane snipped a red-green-and-yellow ribbon with the Chamber's giant scissors and then flipped a switch that symbolically activated the stoplight.  The mayor thanked Shanghai Energy Development for putting up half the cost of the improvement.  The other half came from a Caltrans grant.


Another shower of electrons.  "Kudos to reporter Cheryl Weiss for the Reveille expose on police interrogation/torture at the Chuckwalla lockup.  Since the Grand Jury won't do anything, I will:


We Put the Extra in Judicial

By A9amouse PO8


Welcome to the Chuckpo pokey

We hope you’re in the mood for talky

To tell us all you know about

And tickle all your dickens out

Please, no Amendment pleader

‘Cause you’re the egg and we’re the beater

‘Sides, we got Woo to be our lawyer

He's the guy we go for

When the Constitution is an issue

And now it's all official

He puts the extra in judicial

Straighten up, don't be lippy

We were trained in Mississippi

Yes, our methods are severe

But you deserve it, ‘cause you're here

“Make 'em squeal;” that's our motto

Next we’ll try the bastinado


A reported theft Wednesday night at Pele Verde Memorial Hospital in which biological materials were taken from the employee break room.  According to Chuckpo lieutenant Abel Dick, a hospital employee temporarily assigned to infection control couldn’t find the key to the specimen room, so he put a batch of swab samples in the lunchroom refrigerator.  Dick said that at some time during the night a box containing the swabs, including alleged specimens of Candida albicansyersininfestusclostridium tetani, histoplasmosis, and Steptococcus pneumoniae, were removed.  Hospital authorities had no immediate comment.


Leaders in Motion


A regular Reveille feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.


The Reveille this week sits down with Chuckwalla City Councilman Henry Pipps, the scoutmaster of Chuckwalla's Troop 354, who recently took over as CEO at Valley Vigilance Security. The 19-year-old Pipps is married to the former Poppy Pease, daughter of melon king Fred Pease, the owner of Pease Farms and Pease Packing Sheds.  Henry and Poppy are the parents of two-month-old daughter Frederica.


Reveille: You've pulled in some new business lately.


Pipps:  We're expanding. Valley Vigilance always chaperoned the Sophomore Girls to spirit practice, and handled the Red-Yellow Game.  Now we cover the entire high school.  We've also got the Sunday Thunder tailgate party, the Bike Path, the elementary school’s walking school bus, the women’s shelter, the Rez casino mud wrestling. And now Market Garden. 


Reveille:  Are your guards ex-scouts.


Pipps:  Mostly graduates of Troop 354's Pathfinder program who’ve put in some time at the troop’s drug interdiction check points.


Reveille:  Redevelopment hired you to handle the Market Garden low-lncome housing project.  Some changes haven’t been popular.


Pipps:  It's mostly the dogs. Valley Vigilance has always used guard dogs, particularly to accompany the Martin Van Buren walking school bus.  I expanded the canine cadre for the Market Garden contract.  We have a dozen dogs in a kennel on the property.


Reveille:  Did the Chinese train the dogs?


Pipps:  The dogs came from a larger group of feral or abandoned dogs that Troop 354 rounded up in several sweeps through Arroyo Cholo by the bike path. As you know the city turned over the animal pound to the Shanghai Energy medical clinic at the gas plant.  Most of the animals were euthanized but those with potential were culled for use as guard dogs.  They’ve been trained by Pathfinder Scouts, and broken in at the drug checkpoints.


Reveille:  The dogs roam the parking lot at Market Garden.


Pipps:  At night. The Garden parking lot has been a problem.  Drinking, drug dealing, loud music, break-ins, broken glass everywhere.  We fixed the fence and fully enclosed the lot.  The lot now is closed from dusk to dawn.  Residents who need their cars overnight park on the street. After the residents vacate the lot at dusk, we let the dogs in.


Reveille:  Junkyard dogs.


Pipps:  In attitude. We extended the fence to take in the children's playground.  It's also closed at night.  Also, after the repairs, we electrified the perimeter fence. It's charged from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.  That helps us channel visitors through the main gate checkpoint.


Reveille:  What else?


Pipps:  The Garden laundry was being used for drug dealing and prostitution. We’ve moved all the machines outside on the grass and turned the room into locked storage. We’ve closed and boarded up the interior stairwells and stairways.  Residents now use the exterior stairs under camera surveillance.  The hallways have been partitioned in the middle to limit mobility.  We have installed surveillance cameras throughout.  All residents have been issued ID badges to be worn while on the property.  We have round-the-clock gate security and perimeter patrol.


Reveille:  The gun towers?


Pipps:  Two.  One covers the parking lot and playground.  The other covers the entrance and front yard.  The residents aren't allowed firearms. Everybody goes through a metal detector at the gate and we frisk known gang members.


Reveille:  Is that legal?


Pipps:  It's private property.  All Valley Vigilance guards wear Go-Pros on their helmets.  If there’s a question, we show the video to the judge.


Reveille:  I heard part of the contract is to collect the rent.


Pipps:  No.  But if a tenant is in arrears we have a meet. The rents are comfortable.  One bedroom, $500, two bedroom, $700. Most of the units are subsidized.  In the past the gangs ran protection that siphoned off rent. If that's happening, we correct it. We evict occupants who aren't on the rental contract.  The Redevelopment Agency and the bondholders agree that a sufficient portion of the rents should be used for repairs and maintenance.  The bonds will never be serviced if the project becomes uninhabitable.  Until now the city worried about sending work crews.  Now the crews are on the premises, and the broken windows and doors are being replaced.


Reveille:  The Company’s previous management left after you took over.


Pipps:  A salary dispute.  Everybody in the company, including me and the other current managers, gets the same pay, which is $15 an hour.  Redevelopment assigned us a few units with free rent so we can have a permanent presence.  That helps some of the guys. 


Reveille:  You live in a pretty nice house.


Pipps:  It's a tract house in the Sobrantes division. The house belongs to Poppy's father.  I married a rich girl.


Reveille:  Do you mind if I ask?  We're you and Poppy high school sweethearts?


Pipps:  We were in different cliques. She was an elite mean girl.  I was a Boy Scout who wore my uniform to school every day.  I didn't really meet her until she was kidnapped.


Reveille:  Refresh my memory.


Pipps:  Typical Chuckwalla deal. Some idea that Poppy would do a Full Monty at the Rez casino.  They got a fugitive jailbird to grab her at school.  The Rez cops weren't answering the phone.  Chuckpo and the Sheriff don't have jurisdiction in the Nation.  Fred Pease asked me to get her.  Troop 354 knows the Rez because we teach field craft at Wanka Tonkan High.


Reveille:  There was shooting.


Pipps:  I shot out a tire on the kidnapper's car.  Then a brief misunderstanding with a truckload of casino security.  The main problem was that Poppy didn't want to be rescued.  She wasn't going to do a Full Monty.  But she wanted to see the casino.  I had to reverse kidnap her to get her back to dad.  Anyway, the cute meet.


Editor's note:  Councilman Pipps first attracted media notice when as a first class Boy Scout he led a team of scout trackers in the police pursuit of murder suspect Jesse Header through the rugged Scorpion Wilderness.  Police officers being unable to follow Header into a slot canyon, the slender 17-year-old Pipps slipped into the narrow defile and killed the fugitive in a shoot-out.



A public service announcement from certified institutional nutritionist Cindy Mallory

Attention Moms! At the behest of a beholden Congress, the US Department of Agriculture subsidizes Big Sugar. Part of this subsidy is to dump surplus sugar into the school lunch program. The cereals, the baked goods, the fruit drinks, even the canned vegetables, that appear on cafeteria trays are loaded with diabetes/obesity SUGAR! If you allow your child to eat this moron food you are A BAD MOTHER! A glass of apple juice from the school lunch program is fifty percent added sugar. A slice of French toast contains 10 teaspoons of added sugar. A bowl of Anytime Frosted Flakes contains a quarter of a cup of added sugar.   Add to that all the corn pus sweetener, and the main ingredient in the subsidized cafeteria meal is SUGAR. Chuckwalla High is a closed campus, but parents are allowed to pick up their children and take them off campus during the lunch hour. It may be THE ONLY WAY!!!  (Sponsored)


Chuckwalla a Hollywood Natural   According to the Hollywood Reporter, studio location scouts are looking at Chuckwalla as a possible locale for films set in Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq. Lots of desert sand within a convenient distance of Los Angeles. And Chuckwalla has plenty of motel rooms for film crews. Mayor Crane told the Reveille that he will draft a letter to the Hollywood studios asking them to consider Chuckwalla for movies with a desert setting.


Letter to the Editor

Legal caution   Regarding the article, “Ranch Wife Held in Assault,” I want to say that my heart goes out to the family at the Ganado Grande Ranch during this troubling period. I’m certain all of us in Chuckwalla are offering our prayers for a complete recovery. At the same time, as legal counsel for the Imperial County Cattle Growers’ Association I want to remind the newspaper and the Chuckwalla Police Department that “Elastractor” is a registered trademark.   The device is a hand held applicator that installs compound rubber rings. The article would have been more exact if it had referred generically to “constriction rings.” Moreover, the implication that the use of an Elastractor ™ is cruel or unusual is simply not true. With correct use of the device, circulation is shut off, and any sensation of discomfort quickly passes as the part becomes numb and eventually falls off. As a subscriber and satisfied reader of the Reveille, I appreciate the high quality of journalism generally shown in the publication. This is just a reminder that a registered trademark has certain legal protections   Paul Doate, Chief Legal Counsel, Imperial County Cattle Growers’ Association


Paid Obituary

Long time Chuckwallan Donny Doltz. 1937-2017

A Brick on the Hero’s Walk.     Donny proudly served in the U.S. Army as a private first class from 1955 to 1959 and was awarded an Honorable Discharge. “Donny was one of the first of our veterans to purchase a brick in the Legion’s March of Heroes drive to fund the Chuckwalla War Memorial,” said the legion‘s Tad Reston. “I remember Don’s brick on the Hero Walk had a humorous note: “Pfc Donny Doltz. Tread on me.” Donny was born in Midway in 1937 to Ethel Doltz and to either Jim Smith or Ray Bob Deets or Deats. Probably Jim. Raised in Chuckwalla by his aunt Mitty Perkins, Donny attended Chuckwalla High until receiving his draft notice. After returning from the Army he worked for thirty years for the school district as a custodian at Martin Van Buren elementary school. He enjoyed cane fishing in the irrigation canals and “just sittin’ on the porch.” After retirement in became a ‘greeter” at the corner of Hobbesianway and Mercury Rd. Longtime friend and counselor Dr. Jonah Finklestein said, “People knew Donny, and made sure he got home.” Donny is survived by his half-brother Silas Pinkly and several cousins and grand cousins.   Interment was private. Don was honored with a moment of silence Friday during the American Legion’s Hospitality Hour. (Sponsored)


Rent-a-cops to bolster police

(Editor’s note: The Chuckwalla city Council voted 3-1 Tuesday to contract with the private security company Valley Vigilance for the provision of auxiliary on-call police services. The money for the contract is to come from a state grant meant to augment salaries for law enforcement in underserved rural counties. We dispatched intern reporter Cheryl Weiss, an honors student at Chuckwalla High and a county junior chess champion, to find out more from city councilman Henry Pipps, the 19-year-old CEO of Valley Vigilance and scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 354)

Reveille: Any appearance of a conflict here?

Pipps: I recused myself. Councilman Patel voted against just for that reason. The state grant allows rural counties to hire additional officers. By the schedule, Chuckwalla would have got enough money to hire one additional entry-level officer. That would have given us a total force of four officers and a lieutenant. Valley Vigilance offered to provide the department emergency backup services for the same dough.

Reveille: You’re not sworn.

Pipps: Under state law, the acting chief, Lieutenant Dick, can deputize citizens in emergencies.

Reveille: You have the security contracts with the fairgrounds for Sunday Thunder, security at the Marvin Gardens projects, the high school sophomore girls, Bachelor-ette at the casino, the intramural bike path. Are you stretching yourself too thin?

Pipps: This would be occasional work. Lieutenant Dick is thinking about some recurring issues. For instance, the OMG Youth Ministry demonstrations about COVID and the Rapture, or their other protests that sometimes have ended with vandalism and trespassing.

Reveille: The crèche?

Pipps: Yeah. They tear down that crèche in Sobrantes Village every Christmas. They have also burned books at the library, and stoned women going into the Horny Toad. We have the Los Dorados Rubber Rendezvous at Sunday Thunder that usually involves arrests. And the chief would like to catch Andy Padilla before any more of his Celestial Flu bio-terror. Then the usual Saturday nights at the Brewhaha and the Weary Gentleman.

Reveille: Any kind of special training for this?

Pipps. We’ve learned a lot from the Sunday Thunder swap meet. One of the things we found out is that female mud wrestling has a calming effect on the crowd. I don’t know why, but I’ve noticed the same thing when there’s mud wrestling at the Toad or at the casino. The girls are funny; they joke and kid when they’re wrestling with the volunteers from the audience, and that takes the edge off a liquored up crowd. Something to think about.

Reveille: You’re incorporating mud wrestling?

Pipps: Sort of. We already have a training course called, “Really, Dude?” that shows our people good ways to cool down the knuckleheads. We try to avoid the mistakes of police departments. Too many old guys in their thirties and forties who use too much baton, or tear gas and rubber bullets. We love-bomb a knucklehead four-to-one, using standard wrestling grips and Spock holds that press on nerves but not blood vessels or the windpipe.   One of our guys will grab the knucklehead around the shoulders while a second puts him in a full nelson. A third hog ties his ankles and a fourth puts on wrist cuffs connected by a loose ratchet tie. Best way to force his hands behind his back.

Reveille: It's not mud wrestling.

Pipps. Well, I’m thinking of offering some temp work to one of the Soiled Doves. Rockn Skatz is a very good wrestler. And funny. She could laugh a knucklehead into compliance.


Leaders in Motion

(A Reveille feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire. This week we sit with Imperial County deputy sheriff Carleton Keaton. Deputy Keaton has been with the sheriff’s department for 14 years and works out of the Chuckwalla substation.)

Reveille: You’re the star of the new public service video.

Keaton: “Spokesperson. The department produced the video for the county schools to assist young people in interfacing with law enforcement.”

Reveille: It’s kind of graphic.

Keaton:   “The new video is in line with our other instructional products for schools. Death on the Highway is graphic. Meth=Death and Crack of Doom are graphic.”

Reveille: The new video shows a driver being shot in the head by a deputy.

Keaton: “The citizen failed to follow an officer’s instructions. That’s the message of the videos. When stopped or questioned by an officer, the citizen needs to listen carefully and respond promptly.  Focus and comply.”

Reveille: I’ll put it on the screen.

TV: (o.s. loud voice) “Show your hands! Show me your hands! Right now! Right now! Right now! Show me your hands.” (a pause, and two gunshots). (Deputy Keaton voice over) “This didn’t have to happen. Let’s look at the stopwatch… Starting… now.” (o.s. loud voice) ‘Show your hands!’   (Keaton v.o.) “Five seconds…..ten seconds….eleven, twelve…” (gunshots).

Keaton: “The video tells the story. The citizen had plenty of time to process the command and respond.”

Reveille: What if the citizen doesn’t speak English?

Keaton: “That’s a good pregunta. An interpreter isn’t always available, so the department has developed a set of simple hand signals that cover most situations. I’ll demonstrate. Stop! Hands up!   Up against the wall! Show me ID! Lie on the ground face down! Turn around, spread your feet, and put your hands on the hood of the car!”

Reveille: That last one seems complicated.

Keaton: “Completely self-explanatory. Immigrants, documented or paperless, will be able to learn these signals by watching the video.”

Reveille: The reaction so far?

Keaton: “Over a thousand hits on YouTube.”


School Board Flap

(Editor’s note: We usually pass on the school board, since its meetings seldom draw an audience or other sign of interest. But out of the blue, the community stirred. The Reveille’s part-time intern Cheryl Weiss reports.)

On December 2 head custodian Donald Naylor brought out the cardboard box of black letters and spelled out a message on the notice board in front of Chuckwalla High School:

Holiday Sked

Dec. 20 to Jan.18

No school

Merry Christmas

On December 3, the high school site council scoping committee met in the faculty lunchroom. After some back and forth between Ramona Gonzales and Jinny Patel on the importance of respecting diversity the scoping committee called on principle Merrit Williams to expand the posted notice to say:

Holiday Sked

Dec. 20 to Jan. 18

No school

Season’s Greetings

Merry Christmas

Feliz Navidad

Hendrit Pasho

Allah Akbar

Naye sal ti HAERDKIK


Heri Za Kwanzaa

Nguzo Xaba

Ejaaza Sae eeda

Smelling possible trouble, Williams handed this off to the school board. The Chuckwalla Reveille mentioned the agenda item in the Coming Events column. Two hundred people crowded the board meeting, which ended at midnight with an abrupt adjournment. A second meeting was held two days later to a capacity audience in the school gymnasium. It came up that the Jackets’ Boosters already had used “Season’s Greetings” in a fund raising appeal for Jackets football. There were other objections to the scoping committee’s choice.   On Dec. 11, the chief custodian changed the notice board:

Winter Sked

Dec. 20 to Jan.18

No School

Have a Nice Day.


Pearl Harbor Day

American Legion Post 87, Chuckwalla, e-mailed a reminder that December 7 is coming around, and that a Pearl Harbor survivor, Albert Dymally, resides at Western Vista nursing home on Mercury Dr.

Reveille: The nursing station has a birth certificate that says you were born February 16, 1929. Do you happen to have your DD-214?

Dymally: I was big for my age. The Marine recruiter had a quota, and my mom signed a notarized affidavit. She tried to get the recruiter to take my brother Davy too, and he was only nine. I got a marksmanship tab at Quantico and shipped for the Pacific, just in time for the action. Sunday morn, December 7, Schofield Barracks, I’m headed for chow when I look up and see the sky filled with meatballs. There’s a little squid trying to jam a clip into a Garland. I grab the gun and start spraying. Flaming meatballs falling out of the sky…”

Reveille: The DD-214?

Dymally: “It’s like a Stalag here. They hide all your papers. They took my driver’s license, my social security card. I should be collecting government disability for my service. Four Purple Hearts and a Silver Star. A personal commendation from McArthur. But they’ve lost all my papers. It’s because they’re trying to keep me quiet. After the war I got sent to the atomic bomb tests. They used us for guinea pigs. Then they sent me to guard the convoy going from Roswell to Area 51. I saw them being loaded into reefers. Real little guys, bald as an egg...”

Reveille: Commemoration plans?

Dymally: “I put on my purple and gold Pearl Harbor Survivor barracks cap, square up in my wheelchair, and salute the flag for half an hour. I try to tell people here about the Iowa and the Nevada but I’m too choked up by the emotion. I struggle to hold back my tears but I can’t do it.   Those brave boys trapped in the pitch dark engine room as the Iowa settled on the bottom. They drowned like rats for your freedom, for your birthright, and for the birth rights of every little unborn child. The Iowa sailors would turn in their watery graves if they knew what was going on today. Jewish abortion doctors. The conspiracy to mongrelize America. Harlem Satanists using the blood of aborted fetuses. What if the ghosts of the Pearl Harbor dead rose up and looked at America now. Z****** everywhere! Right here! Out in the hall! Purity. A pure nation. That’s what Pearl Harbor Day is about for me…”


Leaders in Motion

A continuing Reveille feature profiling Tri-Desert vanguard personalities. This week Lt. Col, Mark Taylor, commander of the first battalion, Fifth Marines, at the Desert Warfare Center at Midway Wells.


Reveille: So how are the pirates?


Taylor: Try again.


Reveille: The contingent of Somalis at the center for training.


Taylor. As stated in that press release in your hand, a small group of selected volunteers from Gorpor, Somalia, are training with the battalion this month with an eye to eventual deployment in Iraq. They were selected, in part, for their fluency in English. Their mission will be to interface between contract personnel and Marine components of artillery and air. As that press release states, the Fifth Marines has been tasked to provide force protection for contract personnel that will be used to attack, seize and disable oil facilities in the Kundaz region of Iraq on the Turkish border, facilities now under the control of ISIS. The contract terms provide for recruitment on a one-time basis, regarding a specific field. After completion of the mission, volunteers will be paid off, and either returned to point of departure, or re-recruited for another specific mission. We are emphasizing that this is not to be a permanent force in place.


Reveille: Seriously, are they pirates?


Taylor.   As the press release states, they are Somali selected militiamen. Having grown up in a war culture, they require very little training for these limited missions. The purpose is not to build a permanent army. The purpose is to deploy sandals in the sand as an alternative to boots on the ground. There are some thirty producing old fields under ISIS control in Kundaz that are being used to fund terrorism. All of them have been bombed, but bombing hasn't been enough to cut off the oil supply completely. We need people on the ground to clear the site to allow our contract demolition experts to permanently cripple the facility.   We of course are not saying which facility we will attack. That means that ISIS has to guard them all.


Reveille: Can mercenary pirates do this?


Taylor: As the handout says, a battalion of Marines will establish a mobile firebase within artillery range of the selected field. The militiamen, led by their own leaders, will conduct the assault under covering fire and air support from the firebase. The militia leaders understand that payment depends on a successful conclusion. Success includes not only the elimination of enemy personnel but also conduct and behavior conforming with the rules of war. No executions, atrocities or torture. Prisoners treated humanely and released after demolition of the field is concluded.


Reveille: It doesn't say how much the pirates will get.


Taylor. It's a lot less than it takes to produce a Marine.


Reveille: Are your guests going to go on liberty in Chuckwalla?


Taylor. The feeling is, we don't want them influenced by Western culture. We think they have the culture they need right now.




Jade Thomkins   February 7, 1999 - November 12, 2015

We don’t know why you had to leave us. You had so many things you wanted to accomplish in your life. You won’t be able to meet Mayor Crane and give him your petition. You won’t be able to read the entire “Series of Unfortunate Events.” You won’t be able to see the new “Hobbit. “ You won’t be able to scrapbook, or grow your hair out again. You won’t be able to get your GED and become a pediatric vocational assistant. You won’t be going on vacation with us to Nebraska. Why? Why, Jade? You were doing so well. Was it us? We can honestly say that because of you we have learned so much. We have learned to cope. We have learned to appreciate the people we have met because of you. We also have learned the life can be unpredictable and hurtful and not to trust everything that is said to us. But we thank God every day that you could visit. Life is only as bad as you make it.    Love, Mom and Dad (Sponsored)


Police blotter

Malicious mischief   Chuckwalla police arrested Donald Nagel, 25, Chuckwalla street artist, for spray painting graffiti on fences along the intercity bike path. Police lieutenant Abel Dick said Nagel, who has been cited frequently for graffiti offenses, often works the freeway off ramps with the handheld sign, “Cash stimulus only.”   He was released after counseling.

Family dispute, with ambulance response, to cardiac arrest at 3467 West Palm Dr. Arnold Snaffler, 57, transported to Pele Verde Memorial. Condition not available. Roxanne Waxman, 42, of same address, arrested and charged with pandering and soliciting.   Released on her own recognizance. A female juvenile, 17, was counseled and released.

Dog complaint. Chuckwalla officers responded to a 2:15 p.m. report of a vicious dog loose at 612 Chaparral Dr. “Animal control notified but unable to secure dog. Officers attempted to shoot dog but dog ran across street to playground of El Rose Elementary. Children evacuated from area. Dog shot. A male student, age 6, transported by fire department to Pele Verde Memorial.” Condition not available.

Hung out to dry. The iWash Lavenderia on Garnet Way now offers an airdrying salon in addition to the usual machines. Owner Frank Henry said he has installed clotheslines in a former greenhouse in the back of his building. “This is for my daughter Denise, the big environmentalist,” Henry says. For a couple of bucks patrons can dry their clothes on lines “and save the world,” Henry said. The attached greenhouse, once a part of a now defunct flower shop, had been used for storage before Denise, a practicing Reformed Breatharian, had a talk with dad. Chuckwalla has plenty of sunshine, but the drawback to the backyard clothesline always has been the dusty wind. The greenhouse should solve that, Henry says.


Rub-a-Dub Tub and Pub, another laundromat, located on Mercury Dr., is the second part of Henry’s Chuckwalla washtub empire. That facility features a one-tap beer bar in the back, for patrons who want to soak with their laundry. No plans for a clothesline there.


The Jumpn Joe drive through coffee wagon has been the target of local comment after owner Tyler Harrison replaced the awning on the trailer with a Greek style portico with two Doric plinths. “It looks like something you’d see on the side of a mortuary,” said our mordant wag Besos Amazin’ in an e-gram.


The Tabla Pasta Italian Restaurant hosts a benefit spaghetti feed Wednesday with proceeds going to underwrite the cost of new batons and flags for the Chuckwalla High spirit team. At halftime at this year's Red-Yellow game, the girls had to pantomime their routines, since over the summer their flags and batons had been stolen, along with all the band instruments and the copper pipe in the gym. Some of the band instruments have been recovered, but the spirit team still lacks their equipment. With a good turnout, the benefit should re-flag the team.


Anonymous shop girl vents   An e-bolt from an alleged clerk in ladies’ ready wear at the Chuckwalla Kmart. “I wish gals would be more lady-like in the Ladies Wear dressing rooms. I have to clean up and put away the clothes, and what I see every day is:

Clothes inside out piled on the floor.

Tags from stolen clothes stuffed behind the mirror.

Used underwear left on floor when customer steals lingerie.

Cups of half consumed coffee left on counters with new merchandise

Dog poop (yes!) on floor under clothes.

And another thing. It takes a lot of gall to return undergarments that are heavily soiled, damaged and reeking from use. Seen it All, Chuckwalla


(Editor’s note: We admit we’re shocked. We knew guys are slobs.)


Chuckwalla High School lunch menu


Chili dogs

French Fries

Corn cobbler

Apple juice


Sliced ham in raisin sauce

Fried corn mush

Succotash medley

Won ton cheese sticks

Apple juice


Pork tacos

Tater Tots

Creamed corn

Apple juice


Celestial cheese pizza

Corn Nibbles

Apple juice


Fish sticks

French Fries

Breaded green beans

Corn muffins

Apple juice



Hector Jimenez, 6, succumbed yesterday to post-surgical complications at Pele Verde Hospital following an operation to remove a bullet fragment from his calf. A first grade student at El Rose Elementary School, Jimenez was injured during a dog attack at the school. He is survived by his mother, Estella Jimenez, two brothers and two sisters. A rosary and visitation will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Guadalupe Catholic Church.


Current Affairs Roundtable at the Green Zone Cafe

(Editor’s note: The café’s monthly Roundtable brings together local mavens to mull over current events. Appearing in the Issues Room Wednesday, two local authors, Diego Garcia, who writes the survivalist blog “Bunker Mentality: for the Reveille; and Orville Cartwright, the author of the self-published e-book I’ll be Seeing You: A Small Planet Doomed. The question: “Is it too late?” We dispatched part-time reporter Chery Weiss, an honors student at Chuckwalla High, to take some notes.)

Reveille: Mr. Cartwight, in your book you argue that the earth has hit the tipping point and that a combination of warming and feedback loops condemns humanity to pandemic disease, wars of depletion, weather-related cataclysms, human die-offs, the collapse of civilization, and eventual extinction. Should we just give up?

Cartwright: “It’s your choice. My generation will be dead before the real trouble starts. In the meantime, it doesn’t matter. Self-indulgence and hedonism, sure. Those of conscience may choose to do the little they’re willing to do. Your great-grandchildren are going to spit on your grave anyway, because nobody is giving up his car, or canceling the utilities.”

Garcia: “I disagree strongly. It’s not too late. By simply decreeing a global ban on burning coal and oil we could hold the earth’s temperature increase to 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. I’m not saying people wouldn’t get their hair mussed with a total ban on fossil fuels. But the earth could be saved. To throw up our hands now, when there is still a chance, seems irresponsible. There would be dislocations. Eighty percent of electrical generation plants would shut down. All internal combustion travel would cease. No air travel. And no Internet, since servers use lots of electricity. A cloth bag at the market doesn’t do it. Sanctions or wars declared against nations such as Brazil and Indonesia guilty of deforestation. These measures would cause a worldwide economic collapse, so universal martial law probably would be necessary.”

Cartwright: “Garcia, I admire your spunk. But you’re a pie-in-the-sky optimist. Do you believe American consumptives in a quasi-democracy will ever give up smudge pots? Do you believe consumptives are going to pull the plug on the refrigerator? The electric car is a joke. Solar panels and windmills?   Two percent. It’s a joke. Consumptives are going to put their iPutz in a drawer?   The good folks of Phoenix will go without air conditioning because little brown people are drowning in Tonga or Bangladesh? Look around! Consumption rides. Go ahead. Peddle your bike on a nice day. Recycle your wine bottle. Write to the editor about building trams somebody else is supposed to ride. If it makes you feel better. Seven billion consumptives clamoring for air conditioning and a hamburger. Nine billion tomorrow. Nothing is going to stop a five degree Celsius bump. Brown people go first. Who cares? But comes the first Northern Hemisphere die-off, it’ll so be too late. It’s written. We’re through. The one bright spot is nuclear war. An all-out exchange would cool the planet because of albedo; it would downsize the population to a sustainable level, and reduce consumption since the major cities would be obliterated.”

Garcia: “Darn it! We could do the same without atomic war by voluntarily giving up cars, airplanes, electricity, Black Friday, Christmas and capitalism. We could have compulsory birth control and assisted suicide. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Bangladeshi people would have to be relocated to venues such as Wyoming and North Dakota. Granted, persuading India and China to shut down 90 percent of their electrical generation won’t be an easy sell, but we need to try.

Reveille note: During the question period, several of the dozen attendees mentioned that the panelists had not calculated the effect of positive visualization.


Letter to the editor

A holiday greeting e-card from Besos Amazn

And what about you, forsworn Chuckwalla once mine? Where are you going? Aren’t you speeding like a fuel-injected hemi dragster that not even the Crown Vics can overtake? Isn’t the freeway smoking under your wheels and the overpasses thundering as you cross? Everything is left behind, and the spectators are struck with the portent, wondering if you’re not a thunderbolt launched by NASA. Does the wind itself abide in your furious pistons? Is there a celestial message in your trailing smoke? Your tires barely touch pavement as you fly forward, the air beaten to a thousand shreds. Whither are you speeding O Chuckwalla? Answer me! But no answer comes. Only the sound of broken glass and the wail of sirens. Will you overtake the world one day, O Chuckwalla, and force the nations to stand aside and wonder?

(Editor’s note: Did you Gogol that, Besos?)


Leaders in Motion

A regular Reveille feature profiling vanguard personalities in the Tri-Desert Empire.

As another year heads for the exit, the editor solicits a State of the City report from Chuckpo lieutenant Abel Dick.


Reveille: Let's start with the good


Dick: The good news is, the latest round of budget cuts means that the city has ducked receivership again. We’re within the state austerity guidelines for failing cities. Chuckpo is now down to six officers and two supervisors. The Chief won’t be replaced. All road maintenance has been deferred, since we don’t have money to match a federal grant. Main Street beautification is on hold. The sewer line extension will have to wait, meaning no housing starts on North Hobbesian Shady Glen annex.


Reveille: Crime is down.


Dick. Mostly because of Valley Vigilance. The council shuffled redevelopment money to hire Valley Vigilance to take over security at Market Garden. The Sobrantes homeowners’ association hired them to secure the bike path and clean out Arroyo Cholo. (Chamber President Bert) Bertinelli got the Rez to kick in on hiring them for the Sunday Thunder tailgate party, in exchange for an exclusive franchise for mud wrestling. Violent crime is still about the same as usual, with the exception of Sunday Thunder. Bringing mud wrestling to the pre-Thunder tailgate party really calmed it down. I've been a cop a long time, and I’ve never known female mud wrestling to be a problem.


Reveille: The economy?


Dick: I was skeptical, but it looks like the mayor’s Convergence scheme is paying off. Dickie Patel (owner of Patel Six and president of the Chuckwalla Hostelry Association) says occupancy has gone up this year because of tourist interest. They go to the airport to see the mockup (of the Roswell spaceship), then shuttle out to the casino. The bug chasers from UC Riverside have helped fill some rooms. The Rez and Troop 354 are offering tours of the intaglios. That helps the hotels a little.


Reveille: What happened out at the Borrows Sit-down? Cheryl Weiss’ story said you made a deal with Pared Verde, to cool off some of the bad feelings about Dan Herrera.


Dick: I wish you never hired that kid. What happened is, the (correctional officers’) union is going to name somebody to liaison with Chuckpo about areas of mutual interest.


Reveille: This was at the Borrows meet?


Dick: I can’t say much. An embargo is part of the deal. Generally, Eme (the Mexican Mafia) agreed on a fifty-mile perimeter for cooking. Don Negrito promised to do more supervision of the dishwasher caravans, mainly to stop the rip-offs. In return, the guides that he vets won’t be bothered by the Barrows or Troop 354. The Surtenos and Crips are going to hold an assembly at Martin Van Buren about the gang beefs.


Reveille: Cheryl says the high school got money.


Dick: Weirdest thing. An Iranian family from LA, completely out of the blue, gave Merrit Williams $10 grand for school supplies.


Reveille: How does Simeon St Cyr come in?


Dick: When people started talking about a sit-down, it was agreed somebody from outside needed to mediate. Nobody trusts anybody. Merrit Williams came up with the idea of the Breatharian. He’s got no ax to grind, doesn’t have any ulterior motives, doesn’t want anything. All I can say, it worked out. At least for now.


Reveille: Cheryl Weiss says there was a shooting?


Dick. Can’t talk about that. To get a sit-down with all parties the sheriff and I had to agree to a day-long amnesty. I’d have preferred a gun ban, but nobody would do that. It was a good thing we had St Cyr.


Reveille: Cheryl Weiss says somebody got shot.


Dick: That kid drives me crazy. Next question. Okay. All I can say is that St Cyr… To get a sit-down, we had to let everybody come armed. A complete lack of trust. Pared Verde, Don Negrito, Bloods, Crips and Surtenos, the Borrows, Troop 354, they all don’t trust each other. So right from the git-go, tension. So when that happened, I thought…oh f***.   Then St. Cyr goes something like, listen, we all here belong to one affinity or another. If something happens within an affinity that doesn’t affect others, then the others should stand down. That is, don’t mess with it. Then that crazy Breatharian steps right over the… he steps right over, and he takes off his shirt. Then he unsnaps his suspender and drops his pants. He’s naked, with his hands straight up. He‘s like, ‘Look at me. I’m totally butt naked and totally vulnerable.’ He starts talking... ‘We’re a bunch of affinities, blah, blah, each affinity has its own rule. Always conflict, but as much as possible we let each affinity rule itself.’ In other words, Don Negrito, or whoever, could discipline one of his own.   There’d been an agreement about amnesty, so we, everybody, should stand down. It was pucker time, but the pucker factor relaxed when St. Cyr took his clothes off. That’s all I can say about that right now.


(Editor’s note: Following an FBI investigation, Ironwood correctional officer Daniel Herrera has been charged with the 2014 shooting death of Chuckpo police officer Don Clifton during a traffic stop.)


Repurposeopolis turns the tables    The county landfill’s recycling center curator Jane Moote has announced the arrival of several truckloads of restaurant furniture and fixtures that once belonged to the now out-of-business Tabla Pasta Italian Pizzeria.   “The wood tables show wear, but still could be refurbished for patio use,” Moote said. Tabla Pasta closed its doors the day after holding a benefit spaghetti feed fundraiser for the Chuckwalla High spirit team. The team’s adult advisor, former head cheer leader Poppy Pease, said the restaurant’s phone has been disconnected.


Happy New Year from the staff of the Chuckwalla Reveille












Le Petit Canard

This is the name of the Cal-20 I got at the Boy Scout auction for $300.  It was built in 1973, has a full set of sails, but no motor.  It's berthed in the Sacramento Delta near Stockton.  Usually, I sail under the main alone, all I need in the frequently brisk winds.  In light airs, I raise a headsail that's self-tending, since working against the weather on the Delta rivers means a lot of short boards.  Both the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are tidal, of course, so a little patience and a willingness to move at night can place you in a current going your way.  Or, in my case, I generally just go whichever way the current happens to be flowing.  I usually use the boat during the Indian Summer months, perfect weather in the Delta.