Tuesday, December 23, 2008

So, Everybody is a Ultrarunning Outdoor Xmas Xpert

Actually, this is the gift you've been waiting to give that special someone. The Gift of Mr Trail Safety Bullshit.

Think about it. What do you give that Special Somebody Who's Got Everything? Where do you go when you have Perplexing Questions?

That's right. Mr TSBS is specially formulated so you can enjoy it as a hit-n-quit snack, or full-blown Roman Banquet.

Here, have some wafers, Mr Creosote:


12 Advice Nuggets for Newbies & Others

Recently there have been a spate of anguished "drops" from the UltraList regarding content, tone, and suitability of the message, if not the messenger. Inasmuch as the majority of these messages appear to be from relative newcomers to the sport, or the List, some clarifications are necessary.


Last summer I'd staggered to the top of Mt Wilson from Sierra Madre. I wasn't having an especially good day, but the water fountain was reason enough to continue. When I got there, there was a doe-eyed, hairless punk with half-unzipped leathers slumped on the retaining wall. "Ride to live, live to ride" was tattooed across his chest in big letters. There were at least six bikes dumped in a cluster around him.


Hollywood Knightz On Mt Baldy
I love it when Hollywood assholes get lost in the mountains. It's right in line with "I HEART the planet" bumperstickers you see on their SUVs. Note: I also love seeing GOP lobbyists and Christian Taliban getting popped on morals and corruption charges too. There is no free lunch here.


Divine Madness, Love Lost and Other Passions
This Women's Sport and Fitness article on Divine Madness and a reporter's infatuation has really gotten a head of steam up. I read it with considerable interest, and located the following pressure points:

a] a sense of longing and lack of fulfillment on the part of the reporter
b] observations of a group dynamic that are manipulative
c] the curiosity of the reporter about how to do better
d] some editorial tweaking to pump up the text for the non-ultra readership [which is infinity minus 8,000, give or take].


Western States 100

A Beginner's Guide To Western States

Yes, it's that time of year again, when Young Ultrarunners Everywhere Like You®™ turn their fond attentions and deficit-disorders to Western States 100. You've been to Kamp n0Rm, you've sat thru the Blister Show, and been anointed in Knowledge. But to help you along in your Epic VisionKwest®™, I have compiled some of the Ancient Secrets that will help You and You Alone. These are cryptic and hermeutic. As Don Juan Castaneda once said, "This will put the plomo in your Lapiz"

and so nobody feels left out:

Leadville Trail 100

Stairway To Leadville
Originally posted in 1999. The schlong remains the same, for those about to depart etc etc ...

Stairway To Leadville

There's a Kansas femme who's been sold,
that all that buckles are gold
And she's buying a stairway to Leadville
When she gets there she knows,
if the entries are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for

This Is The Race [homage to Jim Morrison]
(With referential apologies to James Douglas Morrison, Francis Ford Coppola, and Don Knotts)


Angeles Crest 100

Black, fade in.
Night, in Wrightwood.

A young man is in a cheap motel. It is a motel favored by thrifty serial killers on a budget. The higher-priced motel favored by thrifty serial killers on a budget was booked. Solid. Even with the broken glass on the linoleum, somewhere. The cable there was better (but it cost $7.99 more), and you could get the Satanism Channel with the "I Love Lucifer" Marathon Weekend Special ($6.66). This motel had weary wooden floors, 33-1/3 watt lights, a sagging bed with the Great Rift Valley down the middle. Many romances had died in that divide. He could feel every one of them.

Our young man is getting ready. Ready for The Big Race. His attention is fixed on a goal far away. About 100.559596975 miles, but who's counting now, huh?...Familiar music is in background, becoming distinct. The words have changed. Do not pretend you don't remember. We come into the song somewhere in the middle, we don't have all night...but he will. We've all been there...


Wasatch Front 100

Wasatch 98: Nostalgia, or Brain Death???
For all of you lucky guys and gals doing Wasatch this weekend. This is when it was easier. Sort of. Or maybe brain-death masquerading as nostalgia, which ain't what it used to be.

Looking For Kitty: Free-Range Organic Wasatch Bandwidth

We were all Looking For Kitty. This Kitty, and we the fortunate few. Over the course of time, space and electrolytic conversion; private ambitions were molded like sticky Powerbars into public objects. Sometimes art is not pretty.


Wherein I Save Four Trail Betties From Unspeakable Peril, Pt I
I had only pondered the verticality of the Bulldog Road for a mere 19 minutes when I was stopped by an earnest young man heading down the mountain. His first query was in a dialect and demotic strange to me, but familiar. Upon a second request his plaint was made known to me, and was as follows:

"Where is Corral Canyon?"

Oh my young woodchuck, it is the better part of a league in the exact opposite direction you are heading.

Wasn't that nice?


Merry Charisma/Feliz Ramadan/Happy Kwaanza and all the rest. Stay tuned for my New Year's Resolutions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rebuilding the Republican Party: A Modest Proposal

Since I believe strongly in faith-based solutions, I wrote the GOP with my ideas for their Reconstruction. So to speak.

They should resurrect Francisco Franco and Alfredo Stroessner. This would give anxious, fearful white voters not one, but two authoritarian figures they could venerate. And fear, if need be. As long as we're at it, lets gin up the Drum Circle to bring back Augusto Pinochet and Dr Salazar as well.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Image: Artist as yet unknown. Scan of original 11x17" graphic, swiped from a telephone pole in the Glassell Park/Eagle Rock area, Los Angeles, CA.

Nov 4, '08

Yes, it happened.

I didn't expect Johnny Mac to concede as early as he did. We'd just finished dinner and were about to head out when Karen said "lets check, I don't want to hear this in a cab".

So we did, and saw the live video stream. This is all too perfect! I never expected to see this in my lifetime—esp after the last 8 yrs of hardboiled willful ignorance, thievery, criminality and pasty-faced incompetence.

Obama's speech was simply perfect. All the right points, and didn't waste people's time saying it.

Oh, the work that lies ahead.

In the meantime, I'm savoring the joy of seeing the hosers and posers of the Johnny Mac Road show [Sarah the Impaler, Joe the Plumber, Willie the Pimp, and all the Angry White Faces] choke on a fucking chicken bone.

Game over, bitches!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ask No Questions, Tell No Lies

...back in 1980, I was subscribed to the National Review by my elderly grandmother. So I used to come home after working nights, crack open a Heineken, roll a joint, and read it.


One day an NR survey arrived in the mail. Actually, two. The killer question the GOP had that year was
"Who would be the best candidate to defeat Jimmy Carter?"

I took a long hit on the joint, and wrote in my answers.

Jane Fonda, and Alfredo Stroessner.

I'm sure somebody was amused.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sarah Palin

The sudden rise of Sarah Palin prompted me to think about Andrei Codresceu's "Blood Countess". Imagine what might happen if Johnny Mac dies on the campaign trail. Do you think Palin is going to let Cindy and Karl stop her?

I don't think so.

The tiger is well and truly out of the cage now. My money is that once she gets her sea-legs, she'll chew her way through these flabby white men like a chainsaw.

More disturbing about Palin is her glittering capacity for cruelty. I have no beef on hunters who eat what they kill, but shooting wolves out of a helicopter is cold-blooded serial murder. If she's so much the shit, and the Freepers are jacking off in a frenzy over her, how come she doesn't run on foot and give chase with a spear?

Furthermore, if she's all about less government, what's with the Books She Didn't Like as mayor of Wasilla?

The first thing these self-styled Big Faith/Small Government types like to do is get inside your head and tell you what you can't do, because your freedom pisses them off. And your inability and unwillingness to conform to their narrow, nasty views terrifies them.

No disrespects of course. Just askin'.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Condi Sends A Message

Fashion Do's And Don'ts

I hope you saw the original story on the Huffington Post, where Condi was nominally cheering the Georgians from the safety of a TV studio after their disastrous surprise attack on South Ossetia. Of course, she went dressed as a Russian sailor, continuing the Administration's fatal addiction to costume pageantry. I guess her Star Wars Dominatrix outfit was at the cleaners.

Read the original here:

I found Putin here:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gettin' The Velo-Love Treatment

I was riding home from work yesterday afternoon. The bike: my neo-vintage '87 Schwinn Technium with the Scott bars, and rear rack. You may have forgotten it.

Old Town, Pasadena. Just past the techno-dorks waiting outside the Apple Store for their 3G, and well beyond the IndyMac meltdown debacle.

Its 90 degrees; mild, given the time of year. Me, waiting for the light to change, daydreaming.

A young woman is crossing in the crosswalk. She's easily 5'10", with the approximate confirmation of a corsetted water-balloon. Wearing flip-flops or sandals, and sucking down the remains of a coffee-whipee milkshake. The wind turns and I catch a whiff of her apple-candy perfume—like she'd been run through the Bratz Sheep-Dip Trough.

This fearsome valkyrie is not alone. As she passes me, she turns to her friend, then looks at me and says

"Your bike. Sucks. Balls"

Damn! She is in love.

I turn to her, and say "See ya next time, honey!" and ride off into the heat.

Monday, July 14, 2008

John McCain: Natural Born Citizen

John McCain's birth status has been questioned as legal. Turns out he was born in the Canal Zone, eight months before an obscure statute which clarified matters somewhat.

Blah-fucking-blah. The wise electors of this country don't give a shit. But, playing along here... if it turns out that he is ineligible to run, his candidacy is in trouble. There will be Darkness in St Paul.

The campaign will pow-wow, while other GOP contenders howl for their chance at glory. All is Uncertain until The Ultimate Solution presents itself.

Nominate Cindy.

In a stroke, the campaign now has a candidate who is telegenic, coherent, and just plain H-O-T. Furthermore, she has a massive private fortune, and can tell the FERC to shove it. The only downside is that John will have a massive coronary.

Next stop, Arlington!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Carno And Vego: Brothers As Polar Opposites

Ever wondered what happened to Goofus and Gallant?

Goofus and Gallant didn't die. They became Carno and Vego, undergoing the transubstantiation of the flesh, and reincarnated into a new form for this new troubled century we live in.

Study the chart. You've probably partied with one of them.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Citizen Tool: How I Dodged Jury Duty

I was summoned for jury duty this past May. I showed up. And here's what transpired:

Greetings, citizen!

You'll be amused! amused! that my troll shirt, a pair of wrinkled trou, some beat-up shoes and 3.5 days of whiskers got me off jury duty.

As we marched in, we were studied by both attorney teams. There was an abundance of sleek prosperity, poolside tans, expense account lunches. The shoes alone equalled many months rent where I live.

The case: a 6 week donnybrook involving Mr & Mrs Mexican Plaintiff suing Toyota and the guy driving their FourRunner on New Year's Eve 2004, after it got hit by a Chevy Lumina. You know, the rolling beer-can.

I pleaded Extreme Financial Hardship, [along with 7/8 of the jury panel]. We were recessed. Outside, I was talking to the guy sitting next to me. He'd plead the same. Only he was wearing D&G glasses, had designer jeans, shiny shoes and an oyster chunkette watch. I walked, he didn't.

BTW: the costume suggestion was my girlfriend's brilliance. Once again, proof positive that she's way smarter than me. And having a career in theatre doesn't hurt, either.

Peace Out For All My Euro-Homiez,
eL-dawG, M*F*W*I*C
"You've got to live it... or live with it"

Monday, June 16, 2008

Eco-Betties, Cycling…And You

Years of cycling in this strange city and I’ve seen all kinds of weird shit. One of my faves was a chubby Latina backing her Scion mini-brick out of her driveway. She was on her cell, and balancing a plate of tamales with her right hand.

Or the eco-betty driving her Prius, and giving me the stink-eye because I just happened to get in her way as she was coming down an offramp.

Another moron decided he just had to yell at me. I caught him at the light, leaned into the car, and blew my whistle. Loud.

“Man, you scared me!” His eardrums had ruptured, blood was seeping out.

His girlfriend had a resigned look on her face. Yeah, you scared me too. Go fuck yourself.

Do I hate motorists? Of course I do. All of you dicks are not paying attention, ever. Your inattention is now my problem. Shouldn’t be, but is. So it’s generic.

Last Saturday I was at the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market. It’s a sweet little deal. I’d ridden over to do my weekly greens run. Between the annoying guitarist and the flower vendor there were two young enviro activists; guy and girl.

It was my lucky day. The enviro-girl smiled and waved at me. She was a fresh young beauty—cocoa-brown tan, bright blue eyes, blazing white teeth. Did I want to sign a petition, and so on? Help fund an enviromental group, all about wind, solar, the works.

Gee, I’d love to, but $20 a month right now is a bite.

I told her I was on board for all of it—down to the part about riding a bike to work and all. She got excited when I mentioned that; telling me that at Berkeley where she goes to school, everybody bikes.

Ah yes, college. It’s easier then. Just wait until you live here. And since LA is the Bullshit Capital of the Known Universe, people aren’t going to be riding bikes. Especially white people. Ask a Mexican. Not unless its on a weekend, at the beach, with sanctioned recreation-wear.

Image-leaders like movie stars don’t ride bikes on a daily basis. If they did, they’d be chased by paparazzi-thugs on motorcycles. Ed Begley Jr’s movies don’t make any money, so who gives a shit about him?

I’m one of the sixth-tenths of one percent that rides a bike to work here in Los Angeles. These days it’s a 21 mile round trip. It’s also very easy being virtuous when the car is in the shop, laid up with a bum transmission.

So. I asked her what her degree was she going after at Berkeley. She smiled and said “Rhetoric”.

Rhetoric. No shit. I didn’t realize Berkeley had a 13th Century Studies Program. From the loins of what high-caste family had this Eco-Betty sprung? I’ve been working on keeping the rubber side down for so long, I’d forgotten about people like her.

Which reminded me tha my astrolabe has been idle at home for the last several months. I smiled at this young beauty.

“Good luck, and enjoy your summer down here”.

Which was not entirely rhetorical.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Further Adventures of Dakota Kubota, Teen Lawn Tractor

Hi fans and haters out there!
Dakota here!

First, I want to apologize to any of my fans who were shocked that I appeared at NASCAR wearing that Farmer John t-shirt. I know I said something about being a vegetarian, I dunno… sometimes all a girl wants is a Dodger Dog, the kind that Plump When They Swell.

You're being a hater.

But I AM SO *EMBARASSED*, mmm-kay? I don't know what Dad was thinking. It's a mullet thing. Jurassic Love.

Second, my Passage to Indio has taken a detour. I was going to look for Sam Sarah. I heard he, like, booked, and shit. Currently, I'm hiding in the fountain at the Americana on Brand here in Glendale. That's in Cali.

Now I'm smoking my American Spirits, drinking organic half-n-half, and waiting for the Naturepedic Yoga Centre to open so I can realign my chi. Or chai. What-fucking-ev-er!

BRB!!!! CU L8TR!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Exposition of Chickenshit Logic

Rush hour distraction, Phoenix AZ, Oct 2005. For some reason it made me think a bit about the country we live in now.

Maybe you've seen these numbers, either still or in motion:

World War I
Woodrow Wilson, DEMOCRAT
U.S. deaths-115,000

World War II
Franklin Roosevelt, DEMOCRAT
U.S. deaths-400,000.

Korean War
Harry Truman, DEMOCRAT
U.S. deaths-36,000

Vietnam War
John Kennedy, DEMOCRAT
U.S. deaths-58,000.

The War in Iraq George Bush,

U.S. deaths-4,000.

This recently surfaced in response to a Joe Conason column in the New York Observer. Of course I answered it. And in honor of the 15 people who'll read this in the next few weeks, here it is, in an expanded exposition.

I love it when crap like this bobs up! Lets review the facts, as it is still a "reality-based" world. Let's take down two of these howling wing-nut talking points for starters...

World War I: US entry speeded by German torpedos at US shipping, culminating in the sinking of the Lusitania. I guess that wouldn't bother Mr Odom any.

World War II: Pearl Harbor? And on Dec 10 Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on us as well. Oh, I'm sorry!

Korean War: Truman may have committed us, but John Foster Dulles and the cave-man wing of the GOP were jacking off furiously at the idea of nuclear war with the Soviets. Furthermore, all this bellicosity was shown to be the hollow crapfest it always was when the Hungarians revolted against their Soviet overlords. And no, it didn't because of gun control. It was because of jets, tanks and Mongolians.

Back to Korea: Truman's greatest sin for these clowns was sacking MacArthur, who had been gamed thoroughly by the North Koreans at Inchon. Of course MacArthur thought crossing the Yalu was a splendid idea, which brought the Chinese into the war. And that is where it all truly went to hell.

Vietnam: In 1954 Eisenhower took over the financing and arming of the South Vietnamese from the French after Dien Bien Phu. For the French-haters out there, it is useful to remember that the French lost over 50,000 men in Indo-China between 1945 and 1954. Never mind the Vietnamese, who were mainly trying to get their country back. By French law, draftees could not serve in Indo China. It was left to the professional soldiers and the French Foreign Legion [a manpower funnel that had every fugitive from across Europe of whom no questions were asked] along with the colonial conscripts.

We'll fast-forward past the blunders of JFK and LBJ, who deserve no mercy, to the august Richard Nixon. Any opportunity to end the war was ignored or blundered, which continued the hang-over until April 1975, under the Ford Administration.

Jimmy Carter seems to have gotten off lightly in the preceding analysis, which surprises me. I expected some Ludendorffian "stabbed-in-the-back" rhetoric there.

Now we have the unspoken interlude of Reagan I & II.

Reagan's most poisonous gifts to the American legacy was that an empire could fight on the cheap. He got away with it, and I suppose that's why the GOP likes to name everything that isn't nailed down after him. After 280+ Marines died in Beirut [cf Marcinko, 1991] he pulled out [or is that 'cut and run'?]. Got me!

Bush I. Let's see—Desert Storm, coalition, planning, teamwork, and a clear exit strategy. All things his prodigal son doesn't have and never had.

Clinton I & II. The body count is down on Bubba, I suppose convulsing a government over a knobber is the way to go on that.

Bush I & II. Distinguished by a claque that got everything wrong every time, but managed to make sure its paychecks kept coming. Despite every conceivable looting and degradation of the civic infrastructure.

Let's recap what we knew then, and know now:

1] No WMD
2] No Nukes
3] No connection of Iraq to Al-Qaeda

and this is the kicker:

4] Iraq didn't invade us, sink our ships, nothing. Remember, Saddam was our bitch from the beginning. Rummy shook that bastard's hand twice in public, while we were giving him whatever he wanted after he invaded Iran in 1980. You forgot? The Iranians didn't, and haven't. That war has been justifiably called The First World War of the Third World.


5] Now the entire Arab world has reason to hate us, forever. Every swinging dick with a beef will rush to sign up with any other dick who calls themselves Al Qaeda. As opposed to "Anwar's House of Terror". Plus the Iranians.

Lets also remember that before the invasion, Iraq provided 15% of our oil, at $33 a barrel. Gas used to be $1.46 a gallon, remember?


Those responsible for these horrors and chaos are to a man [and woman] Chicken-Hawks. They dodged going to 'Nam, citing "other priorities". Most have never heard a shot fired in anger, let alone put on boxing gloves to find out what its like to have somebody trying to hit you.

Numbers alone do not tell the story. Think about that next time you gas up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why Downhill Mountain Bikers Are Pussies

A Touching Forward

Last summer I'd staggered to the top of Mt Wilson from Sierra Madre. I wasn't having an especially good day, but the water fountain was reason enough to continue. When I got there, there was a doe-eyed, hairless punk with half-unzipped leathers slumped on the retaining wall. "Ride to live, live to ride" was tattooed across his chest in big letters. There were at least six bikes dumped in a cluster around him.

I was curious. "Where's the rest of your crew?" My curiosity was about to be rewarded.

The boy looked up and said morosely "…uh, [Bobby] was trying to get some air, but he landed badly. We had to call a paramedic. We were going to ride down to Chantry, but now we're waiting for a ride.…"

Dead silence. The flies were unconcerned. Outwardly, I was solemn.

Inwardly, I was flippin! Stoogin' going whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop!, while spinning on my shoulder on the parking lot asphalt! It doesn't get any better than this!

Serves you fucking right, dipshit. You and your dickhead posse shooting down the Upper Winter Creek Trail knocking elderly Asian dayhikers like bowling pins. Or how 'bout the young family with their four-year old who just missed getting dinged by a Bozo Pelloton?

The Big Show

Yes, its all about you—the weekend MTB'er driving up to the top of Mt Wilson. You are a pussy. And if you're wearing body armor, you're a double pussy. Fuck you and the helmet you're wearing.

No, this isn't about you if you're riding with your kids on the bike path down at Santa Monica. You aren't pretending to be all heroic and extreme. Chances are greater that you'll actually be paying attention. By how much is anyone's guess.

And no, this isn't about you, the Realized MTB'er, the one or two of you I've seen, who ride uphill. One gent I saw, back in 2000, was riding up out of Chilao Flats up to Bandido. He saw us, and gandy-jumped up over the 8" railroad ties, while waiting for us to pass. You sir, were the Shit.

The rest of you flabby weenies, get all up in my shit—not that I care, but check this out. It obviously takes nothing to fly down a mountain trail. Because if you were riding uphill, like a real man (because most women are smarter than you anyway…and they're not giving you a taste of their honey, never) you'd burn up inside your plastic armor. Have a PowerBar, you look hungry.

Another sad fact is that you are outrunning your reflexes. Most of you couldn't stop on a dime if Scarlett Johannsen herself spotted you the change.

To add real insult to injury, if you had real balls, you'd be out testing your game in city traffic. That's right, home-slice. Doing the Steel and Rubber Slalom with 10,000 new dickheads on a daily basis. Monday thru Friday, twice daily. Let's see you come around a corner and bullshit your way thru an MTA bus or dirt-hauler. Advantage: other guy.

One more thing: Mahal'o for being you—have a nice day!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The "Whole Foods Casino Initiative": This I Believe

Millions of Californians went to the Super Tuesday Primary polls. You just fell asleep reading that. Too bad. You would've been wide awake voting for the I-96 "Whole Foods Casino Initiative". I-96 completely redefines gaming here in California.
  • Ratifies amendment to existing gaming compact between state and Free Range Wholistic Bands of the Wasichu Nation(s); amendment would permit tribe to operate 3,000 additional slot machines in each central location of Santa Monica, Brentwood, Montecito, Hillsborough and Marin—with other locations to be determined.
  • Omits certain projects from scope of California Environmental Quality Act, except the part about second-hand bong smoke; amendment provides for Tribal Environmental Impact Report and intergovernmental procedure to address environmental impact. BYO yoga mat.
  • Specifies where revenue paid by tribe pursuant to amendment deposited; amendment requires tribe to make $20,000,000 annual payment and pay percentage of revenue generated from the additional slot machines to the state. No estimated cost of carpal-tunnel syndrome or "Square Ass Symptom".
I voted for it. Damn straight! I saw those zeroes and said "If I can get in front of that with a funnel, I'm set!"

Critics lambasted I-96 as the "Trail Of Tears" Initiative. Spokes-whiner Rob Reiner vociferously attacked it, claiming that thousands of upper-income financial minorities like lobbyists, lawyers, fund-managers, starlets, and yoga instructors would be targeted by exploitative profiled-advertising.

Supporters countered that I-96 would establish organic, fair-trade, and vegan casinos in typically under-served demographics. At stormy meetings across California, PowerPoint presentations made damning comparisons between the surfeit of Starbucks, and the stark lack of organic gaming in these isolated communities.

Savvy entepreneurs realized that all the hot Whole Foods Checkout Betties and Hunky Bobs could manifest their Prosperity Consciousness in an Empowered Manner; while bringing you artisan vodka gimlets, family-farmed organic snacks, and lots of Windham Hill playing in the background.

Each casino is to built according to deep principles of Harmonious Temple-Dog Feng Shui. No more going to casinos built on brownfield SuperFund sites! No more greasy, sizzling snacks from crispy BBQ Downer Cows!

Go ahead… bet the house in a Carbon Neutral environment. And should you lose, there will be hemp-clad Grief Therapists who will assist you in the Five Manifold Ways of Coming To Terms. There is no other comparable feeling than stepping through the Portals of Samsara to The Bardo of Nothingness.

Once you go 26 Black, you never go back.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snowshoes To A New Lowe

I remembered I had an ice axe and hammer. They were at home. I also had crampons. They were in the car. It would've been nice to have them. I was front-pointing a 30' section on a 45-degree slope of hard-crusted, packed snow. In snowshoes.

Welcome to my world, late Saturday afternoon, on the chilled north-east face of Mt Lowe.

A Priori: The Back Story

All this was far in the future when Big Snow finally arrived in the San Gabriels this week. I pulled my straight-outta-1978 Fischer metal-edged cross country skis from their dreamless sleep. What the hell—I pulled the '89 Black Diamond Espressos too. I had hopes on getting them cleaned and waxed, but that was a long shot. And the snowshoes came out too. I wanted to have a full choice for winter fun.

CalTrans saw fit to close the Angeles Crest Highway right above the blanco-y-blanco village of La Piñata. Snow? Landslide? Accident? I wasn't about to wait for a re-opening, so I busted a U and drove east on the 210 to Pasadena, exiting and turning north on Lake Ave. Roscoe's Chicken And Waffles was gearing up up for another banner blue-flame day.

After repacking my kit, with snowshoes strapped to the pack, I began to puff and wheeze like momma's chubby poodle up the Echo Mt Trail. There is a guaranteed 3 miles of vertical fun. I had fun setting new records in the Four-Mile Hour.

Another mile later I got over myself and was on the Mt. Lowe Road: the Upward Highway To Hell, Good fortune put me squarely in the logical sights of "MC Stump-D", whom I hadn't seen in several months. He was finishing up a run, but cheerfully said WTF and we strolled up the Road and chewed the proverbial fat for a half mile. Just below the snow also ran into "Uncle" Hal Winton and Nancy Tinker, who had already been to the now-avalanched and blocked Markham Tunnel. Their cheeriness was casting dark shadows on my late-starting sloth.

Snow, Thence Mt. Lowe

Snow began with inch-deep fingerlings that soon became three, then six-inch cover. For those reading this in New England, laugh at will. Remember that all this is approximately five air-miles miles north of Pasadena, where you see the Rose Parade on TV. And agave spikes out of the snow completes the picture.

Soon enough it was time for the snowshoes. These were the New Jack duraluminum tubing and teeth under the toe and and heel—not the vintage "Kill The Wabbitt" flatfooters of yore.

I was tired of slipping in and out of everyone's foot-holes. The junction of the Mt Lowe Road and the foundations of the vanished Alpine Tavern offered the first opportunity to go into the deep. And I was on top.

Oh joy! Now the West Trail up Mt Lowe—not signed, but indicated by snow-covered cribbing up a creek drainage. The snow was 2' deep. On the west face it was sunny, hot, and the trees were shedding their considerable snow-burden in a continuous rain-fall. I was soaked, which would be much fun later.

Meantime I was getting The Message on snowshoes. I was getting spanked. The trade-off for not post-holing is picking up at least a pound of wet snow every step and carrying it with you. Until the next one. Your stance is a ruggedly wide one—your feet are now at least 12" across the beam. No runway walk for you in these.

Pausing in my labors yielded killer views of deep canyons loaded with snow, Mt Baldy far to the east completely covered, the Los Padres to the northwest also white; and knowing that every scorching summer day you've ever spent on Mt Lowe has been completely redefined.

You've Got To Live It, Or Live With It

The West Trail up Mt Lowe was discernible as a dipped line and a contour. No problem. And the west-facing slopes are forgiving. Things took a different turn on the chilled north-east face, where snow had been blown by surprise! a west wind.

The trail was completely filled in. The snow face was a nice hard crust. There were no bushes to hang on to. I was back to Rock-Climbing 101: Lessons In Friction. Looking down showed indifferent bushes that would probably delay my fall somewhat. This is where I began to front-point. It's a long way to the bottom, when you want to rock'n'roll.

Scratch-scratch-scratch. I was on my tippy-toes, finger-tips on the snow-face for balance while feets was doin' they stuff.

Scratch-scratch-scratch. Edge to the next stance, and s-l-o-w-l-y reach for the snow-melt jughandle around a rock outcrop. It holds.

Scratch-scratch-scratch. On to the next stance.

I suppose I could've turned around, but at 3pm, with 2/3 of the circuit done, I would've been looking at a post-dark finish. Some of the previous transitions had been somewhat sketchy. Onward.

I made the last move, and was now standing on stable snow. And I was freezing my ass off. I put on everything I carried, and looked forward to running, like a godzilla, whumping and thumping down the mountain.

This Is Where The Story Ends

The snow petered out to an Amherst winter sidewalk on the Upper Sam Merrill Trail, just before it turns hard to the west-facing slope. After that it was mud. And so was I. I could barely lift my legs.

The last 4 miles were varying degrees of technical, but I was in downhill slow-mode. I eventually got to the bottom at the Cobb Estate just before 5pm and darkness. After cleaning up I recongealed in my car, and began to think about driving home after a jumpstart at Starbucks, the Green & White Satan.

I'd hit the Lotto. I'd gotten to snowshoe untracked trails, and not driven 5 hours and been stuck in heinous traffic to do it. It was classic old-school SoCal.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Niko and Carla

French President Nicholas Sarkozy has a hot girlfriend, Carla Bruni. Rumours are swirling that he's gonna marry her. Swirling!

I'd say "Yo, Niko! Chill! Test drive on a road-trip before signing the lease, dig?

OK, whatever. It's been 60 days. Here are my questions:
  1. Is France a community-property state? We do know that under the Napoleonic Code, you are guilty until proved innocent.
  2. If they get married, and then divorce, does she get half of France?
  3. Which half?

Monday, January 14, 2008

"In A Metal Mood": A Perverse Masterpiece

"In A Metal Mood" is one of the most hilarious practical jokes in the History of Röck. Boone managed to startle and outrage two highly conservative constituencies: Evangelicals and Heavy Metal. I doubt that Pat had that in mind at the outset.

Consider the readings of "Crazy Train", "Panama" and "You've Got Another Thing Coming". By the technical virtuosity of the participants, and the smoothie-stylings of Mr Pat, the irreducible cheeziness of the originals are revealed. Some of the other tracks like "Stairway to Heaven" sink into primordial ooze and can be deleted from any playlist.

Overall, an Essential Perverse Masterpiece.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Rudy, O My Rudy…

After McCain's New Hampshire blowout, I had to ask myself about Rudy [cue music, flattering light]…

How many times does 404 go into 911?