Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Ol' "Lone-Witness-To-A-Crime-Becomes-Paranoid" Gambit

   The door was shut, and locked. Still, she checked it again. The deadbolt was case hardened steel, the doorframe was one and a quarter inch kiln dried white oak. It would take a lot more than one man to kick that door in.

   For a few heartbeats she froze, certain she had heard a noise out in the hall. Was that a shuffling of feet? She strained to hear. 

   Nothing. She looked around the room for the umpteenth time, searching for any unusual undulations in the wallpaper that could possibly be a hidden, secret panel that allowed entry into the room. Her eyes scoured the ceiling and again did not find a slight recess that might indicate a cleverly disguised trapdoor.

   What was it the Lieutenant had said to her? "Unless you hear my voice, do not open the door." She silently paced the floor, circling the small room while creating an imaginary obstacle course from the pattern in the well-worn rug.

   It had been two days since she had entered the room. The smart tablet had entertained her for the first day, but now she only used it to check the newsfeed every ten minutes or so. Nothing out of the ordinary had been reported, just the usual gossip about celebrities, political posturing, senseless murders and far-away tragedies.

   Not one word about the missing money, and not one word about the murdered men.

   She lay back down on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. Once more she replayed what she had seen, and what she had overheard.

   Two men, young, brutishly large, both holding handguns. Standing in the rear of the small U-Haul, Behind them, stacked at least four feet high, were large canvas duffel bags. Duct tape wrapped around each one as if they were bandaged fingertips.

   "How long is Kluge gonna be? He said we'd be on a plane for the Cayman's an hour ago. This is bull, man." 

   "How the hell should I know? He tells me as much as he tells you. We just got to wait patiently. I'll wait all night for a million. Not like I got anything else going on."

   The two men shuffled nervously around the small area of the back of the box truck left for them to stand in. Both of them nervously looked around, the fading rays of the sun casting long shadows from the low shrubs and trees growing in the field.

   Gail closed her eyes tight as she recalled laying out on the small wooden platform her father had built in the large oak tree when she was a young girl. She had revisited the platform on Saturday after she had argued with Billy, to get away from everybody and collect her thoughts.

   When she had seen the two trucks coming from opposite directions down the road she had paid them no mind. She assumed they were just two more trucks taking produce to market, or delivering something or other to a farmer. No other reason for trucks to ever come this far out from the city.

When both trucks had pulled into the field not far from the large tree that concealed her platform, she watched as they slowly backed into each other.

   Two men had gotten out of each truck and walked around to where the trucks had almost touched at the back. The rear doors were rolled up, and from one truck large canvas bags were taken and loaded onto the other.

   Then two men had gotten back into the truck that had been emptied and drove off. The two men who had remained with the truck that was now full of the canvas bags stood on the ground in back of the truck for awhile, then clambered into the small space that was left in the rear of the truck and stood there.

   From Gail's vantage point high in the tree she watched as the emptied truck had driven away from the field back the way it had come. She could still see the truck when it had disappeared from the view of the two men on the ground, and she saw it when it suddenly veered off the road and seemed to fall over on it's side. 

   She had also seen the figure of one man get out of a car that pulled up near the truck that was now on it's side, and watched as the figure walked up to the cab of the truck. 

   The men on the ground had heard the two far-away pop-pops of the small pistol the lone figure had used to dispatch the two men in the cab of the disabled truck, but had no idea they were gunshots. They also had no idea that the lone figure, the one known as Kluge, was still sitting in his car parked near the truck, smoking yet another cigarette while waiting for the sun to sink a little lower on the horizon.

   But Gail knew.


Friday, June 28, 2013

The Grudge Holders

What, exactly, is mankind's biggest problem? Is it the failure of humans to be tolerant? Is it a lack of compassion? 

There are those who like to say that what the world needs now is love, sweet love.

Those people are, of course, idiots.

The biggest problem the world has is memory. People have it, and it's the cause of too many problems.

Millions of people on this planet are being told, or telling others, to remember what such and such a group of people did to ____ people X amount of years ago - never forget! They must be punished for their offenses to ____ people.

That is called holding a grudge, and just like an individual holding a grudge, a group of people holding a grudge does nothing but imprison that particular group of people.

And cause a lot of grief for everybody else.

I propose an international "Just-Let-It-Go" day. One day a year for the entire world to just let go of all those harbored resentments and to live in the here and now.

Start hating your neighbor for something they actually did instead of something some long-dead ancestor of theirs did.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Everyone's Out To Get You

                                 Oh sure, now she tells me it was a semi-casual affair

I know a guy
Who is dead certain 
That the "gov'ment"
Is out to get him

He has no money
Has never been employed by a government agency
Did not stumble into
A cover-up

Yet he insists
That there are helicopters 
Flying overhead

Of his basement apartment

I listen to him
As we knock back a few
And wonder
What the Hell happened to him

All of us are influenced 
By somebody or something
There is no escaping
The voices from outside

But those voices
If you give them a minute
Are just trying to make a sale

Try to keep that in mind next time you hear the Helicopters

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Who Is The Dog?

Tonight, there will be
One more man tolerating a nagging wife
One more woman tolerating an abusive husband

Both of those people 
Will be dying inside
Both of those people
Have plenty of places to hide

Yet they chose to stay
They chose to endure

Not a word you can say
Will enlighten them to their misery
There are those who claim
They like it that way

The eyes of those on the outside
Only see chaos
They do not understand the desolation

That comes from being left alone

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Six Days In San Diego

The Ellie Cat II in S.D. Harbor. What happened to Ellie Cat I?

This past week went by fast. It was as fun-filled a week as I've had in many a year, being with friends and family, revisiting old haunts and a few new ones.

   He's right there, in the blue hat...

The primary reason for this visit was to see my youngest nephew, Joey jr., graduate from High School. It was a hot East San Diego afternoon...the graduates were awarded their diplomas in alphabetical order...Joey's last name begins with a Z...

 Joe, Patti, Tommy, Mom, Joey jr., Theresa, Adriana, CRB

My Mom is looking more and more like Dame Judy Dench as she ages, which is odd, as she looked quite a bit like Queen Elizabeth 25 years ago.  

                                      Obligatory first day in S.D. visit to the beach.

Of course, every single day I was in S.D. I made it a point to visit a beach. Going all the way out to the West Coast and not visiting the beach would be a cardinal sin akin to going to Paris and never visiting the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower.

Eddie and Rick at the Mission Brewery

As I wrote previously, Craft Breweries are springing up all over San Diego County. Thursday, Rick, Eddie and I stopped in at the Mission Brewery, housed in the old Wonder Bread factory downtown, to sample a few of their products before the Padre game.

The people behind the Mission Brewery did a great job of both repurposing and restoring a classic old building, and they make a mighty fine Imperial Stout as well!

Eddie, Rick, and CRB at the Padres 6-3 win over the Dodgers  

Petco Field lived up to it's press clippings. It's a great ballpark, with a small ballpark within the ballpark where wiffleball games can be played, a nice grass-covered hill for people to watch the game from and pic-nic (behind deep centerfield) and a comprehensive history of baseball in San Diego that can be read on the walls of the ballpark as you walk around.

 The house in which I was raised. The wall is new, as are the vinyl windows, garage door, and grass

I paid a visit to the old neighborhood, as previously detailed. A few things have changed, but for the most part it all looked the same.

 Carissa and RT (Those two have been married 26 years!), and CRB

Vacations are notorious for adding a few pounds to one's frame, and this one was no exception. After numerous visits to various Brew Pubs and restaurants, I came back to Colorado nearly 10 full pounds heavier. Ugh.

Eddie, Rick and I visit yet another Brew Pub

The city of San Diego has undergone a few changes since I last lived there (that would be...mid 1989). The old Naval Training Center in Point Loma has been transformed into a large mixed-use complex, and boast the largest Brew Pub/Restaurant in San Diego - Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens.

Bocce Ball at Stone Brewing Co.

Stone Brewing poured over $8 million into renovating the old mess hall and some surrounding buidings, and it shows. The place is fantastic, and serves up brews and food befitting the investment.

Trying not to let the sun go down on solstice

Spent the summer solstice on the boardwalk in P.B., which was great. Had a machaca burritto from a place that used to be Roberto's and good, but is now El Rubeira's or some such name and is bad - stay away!

 Obligatory surfer pic

All the little walk-up Mexican restaurants along Mission Blvd and Garnet have a lot to do with how I gained nearly 10 pounds in 6 days despite all the walking I did. I just love me some chorizo!

Obligatory albatross pic

Waking up and making my way to the beach first thing was absolutely fantastic. A few of the mornings I was there before the fog had burned off and that cool mist still hung in the air. That's one thing I really miss about San Diego, the fog.

Joey jr's graduation party - his parents know how to cater! 

Joey's graduation party was Saturday, and Theresa and Joe planned for a small turnout of family and close friends, so only about 50 to 75 people. That's small when you marry into an Italian family.

Bro Tommy, Julia (their son graduated from college last month) and CRB  

Being with most of my family, seeing my Mom in good health, going out with good friends, and experiencing 
the new Craft Beer culture almost made me want to move back to San Diego.


 Fine Art show at the Del Mar San Diego County Fair

This was my first visit back to San Diego in June in over 12 years, and the timing was perfect for the fair in Del Mar. In my previous post about the fair I failed to mention many of the things about the fair that I truly enjoyed, as that would be a long list. 

Everything from the Fine Arts show, the Woodworking and Gem Show, the livestock (4H competitions are great), and of course the Midway, are all without peer.  

 Holocaust Memorial at the Del Mar San Diego County Fair

Other than seeing my family and friends, the visit to the Fair in Del Mar was my favorite experience this trip out. I had a great time just taking in all the improvements and wolfing down fair food.

 Beautiful wide traffic-free California freeways...not a phrase used often

Heck, I even enjoyed driving on the freeways again in San Diego. Once you get accustomed to the fact that speed limits are merely suggestions and start going with the flow, you do alright.

                                Picture of an artist painting a picture of the coast

Thanks to everyone who made this trip a great one, and congratulations again Joey! Welcome to the real world!

Beautiful La Jolla*, California

             Unless you own the companies that own companies, you are not living here.

Let's say you are the ambitious sort. You work hard in college and afterward, work hard in your chosen career field. You invest well and regularly. Eventually, you acquire a million dollars. You are a bonafide millionaire. Know what that makes you in La Jolla? One of the unwashed masses, the hired help.

All the views are like this, all the time

La Jolla is so wealthy and exclusive, I grew up about 16 miles south of the place and did not know it existed until I was in my twenties. For a number of years La Jolla has had the highest home prices in the United States. The average home in La Jolla sells for over two million dollars. I'm pretty certain you could buy my entire neighborhood for that - furnished. 

 Even the squirrels seem to have an "And you would be...?" attitude

Unlike most enclaves of the rich and powerful, La Jolla is very accessible to the public. The entire coast of California belongs to the public (save for military installations such as Camp Pendleton), and there are a number of grassy parks along the shore, as well as picnic areas and wide stretches of sandy beach.

Rocky outcrops abound, perfect for pictures of the moody shore

The beaches of La Jolla vary from rocky and rugged to wide stretches of soft sand so well groomed they look like a movie set. Staircases have been built to allow access to the beaches below the many cliffs that dot the shore, and there are even a number of thatched-roof shelters available should you need to get out of the sun.

The moonscape of the La Jolla shore near La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove, a small beach smack dab in the middle of the San Diego-La Jolla marine refuge, is a great place to view sea lions and other marine life. You can swim in the area, but have to give the wildlife at least a 50 foot buffer, and no surf boards, boogie boards or even life rafts are allowed. 

Catching some rays in the California sun

The cove has a rare micro-climate. The temperature is amazingly consistent, usually 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which, combined with the extraordinary beauty of the place, explains the real estate market. 

                                      Nothing beats a little peace and quiet on the beach

If you want to experience a few days of vacationing in paradise without breaking the bank, it's a simple matter of staying in one of the many beach or bay front hotels in P.B. or Mission and just taking the bus a few miles north with a good book and a beach chair. No one's going to know that tan isn't 100% La Jollan...

Junior lifeguard training near the marine preserve 

For the adventurous, La Jolla's rough surf offers the opportunity to make a rough water swim. If you're competitive, there is a rough water swim race held at La Jolla Cove annually.

The idyllic beauty of La Jolla has attracted Honeymooners for over a 100 years now, and there are a number of hotels and resorts in the area that specialize in catering to Newlyweds. However, it's not quite like Niagara Falls, as there are no gaudy casinos and finding a commemorative set of shot glasses will be a bit of a challenge. 

The surf's picking up and the fishin's good

If you like to fish, feel free to bring your rod and reel and try your luck from the shore. Like all California beaches, a fishing license is not required - just try not to snag a surfer or a sea lion, as both react quite unpleasantly to being hooked. 

*Pronounced "Luh Hoya"

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Del Mar Fair - Whoops, I Mean The San Diego County Fair At Del Mar!

                  The main entrance to the 2013 S.D. County Fair in Del Mar

One of the highlights of my childhood in San Diego was the once a year visit we got to make to the Southern California Exposition in San Diego (which we called the Del Mar Fair, and is now known as the San Diego County Fair).

                                               These handy guidepost are everywhere

When my oldest sister was 16 she
 had taken a job as a ticket seller on the midway and my younger brother and I were able to ride any of the rides for free, as many times as we wanted.

                  The Avenue of the Palms, flanked by exhibition halls, leads straight to the midway

It was heaven.

Today I paid a visit to the fair for the first time in about three decades. I was nearly overcome with nostalgia. Everything about the place reminded me of a part of my gloriously misspent youth.

Try not to piss your pants

My first real employment was as a ride jock for Western Pacifc Shows, which provided the rides for the midway.

The first year I worked the fair I had just turned 14. It was quite the educational experience which I hesitate to elaborate on. There are some things I'm pretty sure my Mom still really doesn't need to know

                Brother Tom worked this joint and could stand a bottle up in 5 seconds, easy.

I ended up spending every summer after I turned 14 until I entered the USAF working for Western Pacific Shows, traveling north from San Diego to fairs in Costa Mesa, Vallejo, Turlock, Sacramento (that was the California State Fair, a great time), Pomona, and few other smaller places.

                             The thrill rides are far more thrilling at the Fair these days

Other kids went to summer camp or on family vacations, I was a Carny.

              Good thing everybody loaded up on corn dogs, deep-fried ice cream and funnel cake...

I learned more about life from the four summers I worked as a Carny than most people learn in, well, a lifetime.

                                                                          The classic

Most of what I learned was good, constructive - how to work, how to use tools, how to survive on my own, how to tell who was a threat and who was not.

                                                          I see Paris, I see France...

That last bit was something that came about from some of the not so good things I learned - how to fight, drink, and related ne'er do well stuff. It's also where I picked up my cigar habit, as I wanted to look and act just like my boss, who smoked cheap-ass Swisher Sweets (I smoke cigars still, but not Swisher Sweets).

             When I was a kid, the jointies made a percentage of the take - they always had money

For the most part, Carny's were alright people. Of course, there were a few bad ones, but most of those got weeded out quick. 

                          Right now, that kid in the lower far right seat is full of regret

Every place we set up the rides new people would be hired - most were forty milers that only worked that show and would quit before we had to slough the rides and move on - some would stick it out for a few more shows. Very few became actual Carnys.

                                                      The grand and glorious Midway

There were a few though that I would see every year. Twister Charley, SkyDive Mike, Toboggan Chuck (Who taught me everything about that ride), Woody the Electrician, and a number of jointies (Jointies work the joints, those games you play where you lose your money) like Bubbles (an aptly endowed woman with an obvious nickname), Billy who ran a dime-pitch, Westy who had a ladder-climb, and Anita who ran the freakshow.

                                                   One to brag about for a lifetime

I really should write a book about those summers.

                     The clocktower, the classic meeting and reconvening spot of all Fair veterans

Oops, I digressed a little. The 2013 San Diego County Fair in Del Mar. Much cleaner and much nicer than I remember it ever being. There are a tremendous amount of exhibits and shows to go along with the terrific Midway.

                 Pleasure Fix played one of the free stages, and they kicked out some serious jams

I'm too tired to write anymore tonight. Damn nostalgia trip sidetracked me. Oh well, just go to the Fair if you can, it's a good time for all.

     Thousands of people getting out of the house and enjoying the Fair on a Sunday

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Prana Turns

 Find your heart chakra...

It doesn't take long
To grow tired of the criticism
Especially from those you care for
It doesn't take long
For the insults to create a schism
And ignite a cold war

Cooler heads would prevail
But the only heads here tonight
Are stewing at 100 degrees

It doesn't take long
To forget what really matters
And to turn friends into enemies
It doesn't take long
To discover how easily everything shatters
Leaving a field of casualties

Cooler heads would prevail
But all the heads here want to fight
It's that damn ego disease