. elsewhere . . letters from the inaccessible .


9 May 2001

internet service (phone number)

tall sparkling things

Second things second, I guess. Sunday, Jessica, German, and I made the trek out to Tehachapi to see Raven. He'll be on his way to Seattle, soon, so we figured this was our last chance to see our friend and former Revolutionary on the cheap, and in a daytrip. It was, suffice it to say, eventful while remaining mellow and unhurried. German has a diary of the trip that will probably make more sense to you narrative-direction types, so what I'll be doing here is a little impressionistic, blahblahblah.

Outward bound (I wish I was...)

I arose early in the morning, far earlier than I otherwise would have done, and, as a matter of fact, far more energetic than one would expect on a sunday, should of course one be expecting me to wake up at 8:30 on an ordinary sunday. Which this was not. (I just did that last sentence to see if I'm headed for Alzheimer's. Hope not.)


After eating breakfast and removing the huge speakers from my car, I made the rather rapid trek to German's abode in Inglewood for a 9:30 appointment. Of course, PunctualTim was in full effect, and I waved him over at just that time, according to my watch. Once in the apartment, German got to see Miranda in her place of honor (where else could she possibly fit?), and we spoke briefly of bass things, and the like. Jessica was right on time to my place, getting there promptly at 10, and we were off.

The actual journey out to Tehachapi was relatively uneventful, with pleasant conversation generally involving tidbits and the periodic unconnected exclamation from me, such as "Internet Service, Phone Number!", after which I had to backtrack and explain that I'd seen a sign in a vacant lot, painted by hand, which read simply "Internet Service" in a nondescript sans-serif font, with a phone number beneath it. No further explanation, almost as though out there, in the plain beyond Lancaster just north of Avenue I, no further explanation were needed. Apparently, if we were natives, we would understand completely, thoroughly, and with a depth of metaphysical certainty that could only be achieved otherwise by monks and theologians. This was their internet service, not ours.

Other non-sequiturs on the way to Tehachapi included "Hak-Away Hauling", the "S.S. Minnow", and, by far the coolest-named city in the state, Monolith.

Techachapi: Land of Four Seasons

don't ever say I'm not 'outdoorsy'

Clinton's house is a transplant from the suburbs, complete with a line-art Angel banner hung from the front edge of the roof and windchimes softly tinkling from either his or nearby houses. Once inside, we met his mother, and sat in the kitchen, deciding what to do with our day. I could not possibly miss the small bowl on the floor half-filled with Spaghetti-O's. Schotzi (spelling uncertain, but phonetically on the right track), the 15-year old dog, will eat nothing else. This nice old deaf, half-blind dog seemed something right out of a novel; I certainly would've thought it an interesting pet-character in a novel to add color to a story, realism in a way that is unrealistic, believeable in the way that you're certain someone out there has a dog like this, but you don't know them. Well, I do. Schotzi is a great little dog who subsists solely on Spaghetti-O's, love from the family, and a lot of stored-up Karma from just being a damn cool dog.

Lunch was at the Apple Shed, the nearest thing in Tehachapi to what could be called a Tourist Trap. The sign outside portrayed that place as a restaurant, a place where one could get Subs, Sandwiches, Pies, and Fudge. Once inside, visitors are greeted with a small army of teddy bears dressed as other animals (the crocodile and the giraffe were the cutest), walking sticks carved by local artisans, and various impedimenta which to some lofty-minded urbanites could seem quaint, but in which I saw care, pride, and a little self-deprecation (consider the "hillbilly switchblade": essentially consisting of a small piece of wood, whittled to vaguely resemble a blade and connected by a rubber band to a clothespin). The store-portion occupied as much or more of the interior of the Apple Shed as the restaurant; the sandwiches were fair-to-middlin', the pie exceptional.

The exact order of events eludes me right now, but from the Apple Shed (and after picking up Jessica's camera from her "MyRage"), we headed off in a direction to get lost somewhere, wending our way in the general direction of Mountain Park, and passing Techachapi's one and only, honest-to-goodness traffic light, complete with protected left turns. This was the new part of the town, the part contaminated by Taco Bells and Strip Malls.

It was not much further, of course, before we left that part of town, but along the way (now I think it was before the Taco Bell and traffic light), we saw, near the town park (a party gazebo was in the center of this park: a place where one could imagine local politicians debating, local bands playing, and local kids scrawling their initials into the wood with their "hillbilly switchblades", desperate as everyone else to make their mark in the world, in any way accessible to them; Clinton's father calls it a "garbanzo") a flock of sheep grazing, 700-800 strong. Clinton talked about some of the concerns of the sheep-herder, and told an interesting story: sheep-herders have to know each sheep, each special need. One sheep can fall in a ditch, and they will bleat and baa in anger or fear or pain. But this only attracts more sheep. In the span of a couple minutes, 20 more could follow. People work, more or less, the same way.

On the way to Mountain Park, Clinton told us of the Apple industry in Tehachapi. There was a family who owned many acres of apple orchards, and each year they threw a huge festival for local families and children. Some years back, they were bought out by a foreign investment company. Half the orchards were burned to the ground. The remainder left mostly untended, and the industry essentially collapsed. Local farmers still make a living off of growing apples, but Tehachapi is no longer a powerhouse in central California in the apple market.

Apparently, Tehachapi and the surrounding countryside is considered a Shangri-La for certain Hollywood-folk. Or perhaps not. Apparently, Kevin Costner is among the elite who owns a home out there, but he's never there, doesn't keep up the property, and his neighbors don't like him because of that.

Mountain Park is pretty similar to some places in the local San Bernardino mountains to LA: far enough away from the road that feeds the campgrounds, it's quiet, and you can almost hear the very rocks breathe among the sound of Jays in the trees.

California Poppy Fields Forever

no poppies, no Clinton. the sad truth about the digital pics from our trip.

After Mountain Park, we took a trek nearly halfway back home, to the California Poppy Reserve, west of Lancaster. We drove almost directly through a very large wind-turbine farm, once owned by a Dutch company that went under when PG&E defaulted on their payments. Welcome to the California energy crisis, and the turbines still spin in the wind.

At the California Poppy Reserve, we took in the sun (altogether too much for my taste, to be sure!) and looked at the fields, which were, unfortunately greatly diminished (in barely a week's time) since Clinton's previous outing. We spent time there hiking along the dirt paths, watching the periodic stink bug run across the path, who obviously had more important things to do than dally out here in the desert. We stopped periodically, to take silly pictures like the one above, and to relax, and enjoy the scenery. German bought a Poppy beanie for Sharlene, which she loves.

Garbanzo? Gazebo? No! Graziano's!

more tall sparkling things

Departing from the Poppy fields, we made our way into Mojave, the little, windy town where the 14 and the 58 diverge. It has never, ever not been windy, any time I have passed through the city of Mojave; in the morning as we passed through on the way to Tehachapi, I noticed something odd: no wind. The street signs were not swaying, there wasn't even a quiver. A woman driving an RV to our right noticed the exact same thing: she stuck her finger out the window of the RV to test the direction of the breeze. She, I thought, has no doubt been through here before. Jessica was uncertain of my assertion that the wind never stopped until we saw a tree, its leaves and branches almost exclusively to one side. "Damn," she merely said.

So at lunch we had decided that Italian food was good and proper for dinner, and so, on the way back to Tehachapi, we ate at Graziano's, a little restaurant that Jessica said could've been transportes straight from Orange County. The sandwich was very good, the jalapeño poppers were lackluster, and the pizza was delicious. It's on my list next time I go by that windy city...

After Graziano's, we returned the 20-odd mile trip to Clinton's abode in Tehachapi, but not an unbroken trip, mind you. We took an early exit from the highway (the Monolith exit, might I add) and stopped by the nearest thing that Tehachapi has to a skyscraper: the Calaveras Concrete Company. You can see an image of the tower above, and clicking it will launch the big picture. I discovered that I may not really need so much to live in a big city, but tall, lighted structures appeal to me. Machinery appeals to me, not in the cave-man Tim Allen sense of how they work or what they do, but what they represent, and I can't quite explain it.... It's certainly not testosterone-machismo, but words fail at this point. Perhaps a quick perusal of The Soul Trade or Of Cities and Deserts might help.

Back at Clinton's home, we made our good-bys and wished him well in Seattle.

Homeward Bound (I wish I was...)

Just as the last vestiges of twilight were conceding to the darker part of the night, we departed Tehachapi. As we were crossing the pass over into the desert again under the bright light of the full moon, I saw the wind turbines on the hills. Atop every third or fourth turbine is a strobe light, flashing every 2 seconds to ward off airplanes and evil spirits. Once through the pass, and looking back through the window, I saw a cadre of such lights, blinking out of sequence, like a desert simulation of fireflies, but these fireflies are truly things of fire, of energy: each medium-size turbine generates 150 kilowatts of power, enough for a large neighborhood.

German was drifting off to a less than silent sleep in the back seat and Jessica and I talked, a good conversation. When the topic of how I'm feeling came up, I started out slow, and then built up a lot of momentum. Demoralization at work has been the single most painful thing of late, and the other issues which you all know about, have faded much, but still provide a bit of sting when the wrong stray thought crosses into my head. Overall, I said too much (as is my wont to do lately). We got home, and I took German in the (un)welcome wagon back to his home.

And so ends the Tehachapi Tale.

musings of señor prod.

Redefining the Revolution. Is there no rest?


©2001 Timothy A. Clark -|-