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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Living in the foundation of an old house these guys are kept in a pen and cared for. Most don’t know about them but they are located in Shashone Calif. The last town before Pahrump, NV.

When Southern Californians travel to Las Vegas they take I-15 most take the straight shot into Vegas but there is a hidden route. To get on to the lonely road you have to take one of the two exist to Baker, Calif. You know the place that is well known for their giant thermometer but even lesser known for their gyros and extra terrestrial jerky.

Enter Highway 127, as my family called it, “The lonely road.” The seemingly endless stretch of road in the desert was a beautiful as it was dangerous. My family suffered a single car roll over on that vary partly due to intrigue and mystery the desert seems to hold.

The highway connects to The Old Spanish Trail, in the middle of the desert you can find old landmarks and wagon tracks.

Passing through vast desert the mountains tear low across the horizon.

Dumont Dunes a popular motor sport destination emerges out of the expanse becoming a giant in its own right. The sands soon yield to ancient lake beds and mud mounds.

A hidden oasis can be found if you turn on to Old Spanish Trail highway.

When you take the turn onto China Ranch road the topography changes into an alien landscape as your car is slowly encased by a canyon. The canyon a testament to time had land brides, monolithic fingers and dangerous mines scattered throughout.

Seemingly out of nowhere a lush oasis appears and a China Ranch sign greets you at the entrance. The sign reads.

“In the 1890’s a chinese man named Ah Foo came to this canyon from the Borax Works in Death Vally. He developed a successful ranch, raising livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables to help feed the local silver miners and their draft animals. The ‘China Man’s Ranch’ became a favorite resting spot, with it’s cool running stream and beautiful trees. In 1900 Ah Foo disappears somewhat mysteriously thought the name has stuck.”

In the 90’s investors began planting young date palms.

Passing by small shack and an old car you reach the main building. In the building is a small cafe. I’m not sure how extensive the menu is but there is only item you need to know, China Ranch’s own specialty a date Shake.

The little souvenir shop is pretty nice as well. With very awesome shirts, desert nicknacks and an antique store feel.

Walking around China Ranch it is hard not to notice the trees are wearing clothes.
My sister exclaimed they were dressed better than her in colorful sarongs.

The ranch has seen better days. What was once an open trail along the creek is now closed and overgrown. When I went there the bugs were relentless.

Most notably large horse flies. Shashone Bombers as locals call them are huge black flies with what seems to be a white head. These flies are relentless in their attack. Dive bombing like a fighter plane the grotesque buzz freaks you out into spasm. What was even worse, I was taking photos and had to stand still to compose a shot, a sitting duck. A bomber landed on my Grandpa’s back as the clerk came out.

She yelled, “They bite you know!”

He replied with a smile, “I know.”

Dates swung ghostly in the breeze draped in white sheets. Mountains rose above the greenery yielding a blue sky.

I learned there is more to the desert then Joshua trees and cactus. Fruit trees dating back to antiquity thrived in the Oasis.

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In the middle of the Mojave desert in the region which I refer to as Calvada there are many strange dilapidated and abandoned mining towns and camps. In high school we used to explore them. These small places can be very spooky. The small isolated towns, reduced to ruble are what I can only image as monuments to failure in the vast desert.Boom Towns gone as fast as they came. No doubt gambling for a better life hoping to hit the jackpot as most do in this desert. They stand in shambles in an unforgiving environment.

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Bandanas and Guy Fauwkes masks are standard garb at a protest. Occupy San Diego a branch of Occupy Wall Street started Friday October 7th. It had overwhelming support in San Diego with over 1000 occupants showing up the first day. The occupants marched from San Diego Civic Center to Children’s Park through the streets. All types of demographics showed up to support the end of corporate greed and money buying politicians, young and old rallied for the cause. The Second day it lost a little steam but still had hundreds of people and looked strong.  Throughout the week the movement has struggled with leadership.

Occupant and City College student Kevin “MacMac” McCoy gives his take on the lack leadership and the whole movement while lying down in the media tent.

“Our group here in SD is dysfunctional.” said McCoy he added that people who are in leadership positions are making it too much about their egos.

“This is an awakening that is happening around the world” said McCoy,

“I believe it is part of the whirling rainbow prophecy, the flower children will witness great change in the world and there will be much pain in this change but it will bring equality and wholeness to the human race.”

McCoy tries to emphasize this is bigger than San Diego and the occupants leaders aren’t understanding this concept.

“There are marchers like me that truly believe in something,” said McCoy, “and there are marchers that are gonna march because it is a way of instilling fear. One of the anarchists I met was a very nice guy.” Said McCoy, “That is his right but when their leaders recruit and stir the pot and create aggression its like we are supposed to be its like we are supposed to attck the police.”

McCoy told his parents he would be occupying.

“Hey I’m going to occupy San Diego please keep your phone on so you can bail me out,” said McCoy,  “my parents said they aren’t in the position to do that because they are marching too.”

With the police issued order as of Thursday night to remove all tents in the Civic Center, it could prove to be a devastating blow to the San Diego branch.

“The SDPD has been nothing but fair to us and they have communicated honestly with us what more could you ask for?” said McCoy, “My heart is kind of broken but then again tomorrow will be a new day.”

Dave from Boston feels if the occupants leave Thursday night they have lost the battle.

“People are backing down and leaving they are taking their tents,” said Boston “ Giving up without a fight.”

Some occupants will be making their way to Balboa Park. Boston will not follow, he said he would stay at the Civic Center as long as he could. His major problem with the move is, ”Balboa Park is not a financial or political place.” Said Boston, “They want to put us there so we are not noticed that is the only reason they want us out of the way so we wont be seen.

Boston leaves quoting JFK, “When peaceful revolution is impossible violent revolution is inevitable.”

“I got stabbed in my side August 27 and I was a trauma patient August 28” said Lisa Marie Michael, a homeless woman. “10 days after they did this they sent me home with a gaping wound from right below my rib cage below my belly button”

Michelle is occupying because of the way the health care system treats the homeless. Being on the street her wounds couldn’t heal properly nor did she have the correct materials to keep it clean.

“I can’t do this by my self how am I supposed to pack my own wounds?” said Michael, “We need hospital care that cares about the homeless.”

Michelle feels the occupation is helping her and her boy friend with their situation.

“I am one of the homeless that sleep on the outside and this is one of the best things that happened for us. Said Michael, “The only reason that they want to uproot us is that they don’t want the us in downtown SD.”

Everyone is homeless-phobic”

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­­­The South Bay Underground

August 14, 2012 Tuesday

We walked into an apartment complex wearing hoodies. AVOID carried his paint satchel and I had my photo bag.

“We have to go in here.” He said, I followed hesitantly, we had just seen a cop on the way in. “OK right here,” he said pointing to an 8-foot tall wooden fence.

We had to hop it in the middle of a well-lit private gated apartment complex.

“Fuck it. Ok, let’s do this.” I think to my self. “As long as we do it fast.”

He jumped over and grabbed my gear.

I quickly climb up the fence in a somewhat panicked anxiety,

I hear a crack in my arm and a sharp pain that ran through my body. When I pulled myself up I somehow tweaked my arm. I jumped down in daze.

Just over the fence was a moist vegetated area. The humidity hung stagnant in the pocket created by the canopy above and the field of ice plant blanketing the floor. We started heading towards the trolley tracks.  The ice plants crunched densely beneath my feet. Almost immediately the insects began to swarm my exposed flesh and started to bite. We staggered through 4 yards of the thick ice plant before we made it to the clearing.

“We are in the underground now.” AVOID said as I collected myself.

This was an unincorporated part of the south bay. It was the land that only existed along the infrastructure. It was the small pockets of nature that coexisted between the trolley tracks, bridges and highways. It was a secret area which saw little foot traffic, where only homeless vagabonds and taggers roamed few and far between in the darkness of these corridors. The walls, fences, pillars and bridges that emerged from the rivers and marshes have become both canvas and gallery in the urban environment. For graffiti artists the trek and risk is worth it. While the underground is remote it is also very exposed. Tagging here ensures longevity and visibility from trollies and freeway drivers.

The spot that AVOID was going to hit was along the Sweetwater River on a bank next to the 5 North. His piece would only be visible from the bridge connecting the 54 West to the 5 South.

First, we had to make the journey. We needed to head north for a little more than a mile to get to our destination. We started off. AVOID led the way, he walked fast and always made sure to watch his back.

“You need to look over your back every once in a while,” he said. “Those trollies are sneaky bastards.”

If we were to be spotted by a trolley it would be over. AVOID said they often get a police helicopter to patrol the area. A cop was pulling over a car on the I-5 north the red and blue oscillating light made me feel uneasy against the sickly orange glow of the city at night.

We came upon a bridge, we had to run across because the rails turned and created a bend that left us vulnerable if a trolley was to take the corner.

We ran across.  AVOID had made references to this art being a war to him. As we ran across I clutched my camera on a tripod like a rifle unintentionally, at that point I sort of understood what he meant. He was waging a guerilla war with paint under the streets. A trolley was heading for us and we didn’t have enough time to get out of sight so we hit the deck into a bush. It moved by slowly but eventually passed. The operator was standing, scanning the horizon. We kept on our way.

He caught a couple tags on the pillars holding up a bridge that could easily be seen by a trolley commuter. We heard a cough coming from the bushes, he bombed it and we carried on. “Free your mind,” it said.

We came up to the trolley bridge that crosses the Sweetwater River, and took a left to get to our main destination. We finally made it to the bank, I was soaked in my own sweat, covered in bug bites. I felt smothered in the terrible humidity. The floor was filthy, covered in garbage and a thin layer of a green algae type plant slime.

We were directly under the bridge connecting the I-5 to the 54 under the joiner.

With every car that passed we heard a THAAA-THUUUD THAAA THUUD. It sounded similar to a car going over a manhole.

AVOID came to cover a piece about 3 to 4 feet long with the letters AMBL.

He vigorously shook the cans creating a violent rattle.

He began the outline of his piece with one of his three cans. Two cheap cans of white and a can of royal blue Krylon. With every spray of the can the air filled thick with the smell of paint. Out in the underground, in the outdoor gallery I stood and captured the moment. He worked diligently on his piece as a large freight train crossed the bridge over the Sweetwater River. The train’s horn rang throughout the air and the mass it had seemed to shake the earth as it passed. Once it had gone the scenery’s ambient noise returned to its earlier form, calm and quite with a steady stream of cars whizzing by and thudding from above. Between the spray and rattle of the can and the miasma of the paint I could hear a familiar splash. It was the distinct splash of a fish breaching from the water only to have its side slap the water, perhaps to rid itself of parasites. AVOID’s piece was coming along; he had finished the outline and began to fill it in with white. The piece fit well among the others on the bank of the secret Sweetwater art gallery. Once he finished the fill in he began the final outline with the royal blue. His piece came together in about 15 to 20 minutes. He finished and stood back to look at his piece, it was bold, and he was pleased. AVOID, it said in a fat kinked lettering emphasized with arrow points and bent corners, he signed the piece. Another piece made it into the secret Sweetwater gallery by an unknown artist. How long it will stay is hard to say. How many people will see it from the 54 off ramp is even harder to say, but it will stay, below, in the underground.