School Kids, West Hollywood Food Coalition Send Love and Sandwiches to
by Uncle Paulie
The school kids of Los Angeles, working with the West Hollywood Food Coalition made over 3,000 sandwich bags for Memorial Weekend. We helped to distribute by taking a portion of the bags out to the Westwood Veteran’s Administration encampment. There are additional thousands of veterans living under bridges and on the streets of Los Angeles in other places. We implore the VA to provide some basic sanitary equipment here. It would be good to move them all onto the lawn, get bathrooms, showers, wash stations set up. Provide trash service and other basic necessities. Good citizens have stepped up and donated large tents for the veterans to live in until some housing becomes available. Please share this information and contact the VA and ask them to get off the dime had help these folks out.
Adam Purple Created Magnificent Garden in the Rubble of a Decayed City. Despite a Court Order, NY Tore it Up for Greedy Developers. It was Providing Free Food for Thousands
Adam Purple’s Garden of Eden
In the crazy history of New York City, this story is one that stands out: it proves that politicians have no class and are only interested in their own greed. It started in 1975, with Adam and his wife Eve were living in a run down Lower East Side apartment. Purple was the Superintendent of the old buildinng he was in, and the owner soon disappeared, leaving Adam and others as “squatters”. Purple saw that a space had been created behind his building when another building was demolished, and he decided to create a garden to grow food for the neighborhood.
Purple planted the garden as concentric circles, with a yin/yang in the center. This configuration allowed the garden to grow as more buildings were razed in a frenzy of so-called Urban Renewal. The garden grew and grew, with over 40 trees and many kinds of vegatables. It soon became famous as thousands of folks visited the garden, many getting much needed food.
From Wikipedia: The process of clearing the lot took some time since the couple would only use hand tools. Modern machinery was considered “counter-revolutionary.” He would haul manure from the horse-drawn carriages around Central Park and created a highly fertile topsoil. The garden was ready to be planted in the spring of 1975. The garden was designed around concentric circles with a yin-yang symbol in the center. As buildings were torn down on either side, Purple would add new rings to the garden, allowing it to grow. By the end, it was 15,000 square feet featuring a wide range of produce, including corn, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, black raspberries, strawberries, and 45 trees including eight black walnuts. He regularly bicycled to Central Park to collect horse manure to use as fertilizer.
For about 10 years the garden was a tourist spot and also attracted volunteers to help grow food for poor folks, The City had other ideas, however, and wanted the land for development. They refused to include the garden in their plans, and on January 6, 1985 tore it down.
Things have actually gotten worse since then. Although there has been a huge increase in the homeless population, the various States, Counties, and Cities across the land have tried to criminalize folks for being homeless. We have seen the brutality of this all around us. A barber in Ohio arrested for giving haircuts to homeless folks for free in a park, Food Banks and church groups being threatened with arrest for feeding the poor, the gestapo-like raids in San Diego recently, called “Encampment Sweeps”, where police seal off the streets where homeless folks are sleeping and then bring in garbage trucks and take all the belongings, tents, food and bicycles from the poor souls and throw them into the waiting refuse trucks to be hauled to the dump. They take the backpacks and personal items containing ID and medications, anything they can get their hands on, to throw away. We’ve seen this before in old film footage from the 1930s and 1940s of the Nazi Stormtroopers descending on Jewish areas in Germany. I guess San Diego is a time-traveled sister city to the Berlin, or Warsaw of the last century. Maybe the final solution will be coming for the homeless, just like the Jews, forced Labor Camps and then extermination. Don’t think it can’t happen. In Columbia, as reported here earlier, homeless were rounded up and sent out of town into a concentration camp to live, with police guarding the road so they couldn’t sneak back into town. We are only a few steps away from the activities in the Third Reich.
Purple died on September 14, 2015, from a heart attack, aged 84, while bicycling across the Williamsburg Bridge. His Garden of Eden had died some thirty years before. But he showed us that big things can be accomplished, a little at time. Getting land in or near big cities is not easy these days, so we have to look for alternative situations.
There’s a lot of really great stuff about Adam Purple, a world-travelling philosopher, trying to stop nuclear war, seeking truth, trying to get his book published, and starting the Garden of Eden in New York. Check out the links and video about him:
Check out this wonderful story, Adam Purple and his Guerilla Garden of Eden by Derick Dirmaier at the website Narritive.ly
Wonderful illustration of Adam Purple by artist Sam von Mayrhauser on the same website.
He Wrote “Occupy Your Car”, the Classic Song About Homeless Folks and the Economic Meltdown
Duane Thorin, Los Angeles’ own Troubadour. Photo by Uncle Paulie
Duane Thorin had music in his heart from birth. He loved to sing, play the guitar, entertain. But the path to that musical life was paved with obstructions and suffering. It was only when he was crushed by the 2008 meltdown like millions of other folks that he somehow rose from the ashes of despair to be able to live his dream of music, storytelling and song and make his mark on the Southern California cultural scene.
I first met Duane in the 1990’s when he was a frequent visitor to my bookshop in Burbank. At the time that I met him, he was installing swimming pools in middle class areas of San Bernardino and Riverside. Those were the years of the housing boom. The government and the banksters were pushing everybody who was breathing, and some that were possibly not even existing in this dimension, to buy a house. Out in the hinterlands of San Berdoo, there was a huge housing boom. They were springing up in every desert plot and sandy hill that was available. Mortgages were rubber-stamped, and the middle class, eager to participate in the great American dream, poured into the area.
The families that bought these new digs got settled in, but then they got a taste of summer. It’s not Death Valley, but it is boiling hot out that way. The moms and pops had to hear their kids whining about it every damn day. The summer boil. No school with air conditioning. No nice grassy back yards like in the Westside of L.A. Just sand dunes. What to do? Paying the mortgage was tough enough, no way for a real swimming pool like in Beverly Hills. So how about an above-ground pool? They are just big enough and deep enough to keep the kids wet, a place to play in the yard at least part of the brutal summer days. Once the parents bought the pool, they would be given a referral to a guy like Duane who would come out to your place with a crew and actually install the thing on your sandlot.
Duane was a big sturdy guy. Although he had worked in the entertainment world part of his life, several years booking acts into the Ice House in Pasadena, he still had to make a living. I don’t remember how he ever go into that business, but he did. Part of the lure of it was work like a dog all summer and make enough to live the rest of the year. The reward during Fall and Winter was to do the things that he really loved to do, singing, music, reading. But installing pools out in San Bernardino in the middle of summer is brutal work. The area had to be leveled, the rocks, snakes and lizards moved out, and then the pool put together so that when it was filled the water would stay inside.
He always had a tough time keeping a crew, the work was hell, long days when 100 degrees was the lowest it ever got, burning your skin off. Take your salt pills and drink gallons of water ’cause you’re going to sweat until you end up looking like a prune. Duane would come into my shop and occasionally dragoon some unemployed book – lover to work for him in the pool biz. If those guys lasted a week it was a miracle. Most were skinny and pale, night owls with an aversion to sunlight. I used to joke about it with him, telling him he was killing my customers. He said he was just trying to put some money in their pocket for an honest day’s work. Usually they were done in one or two days, and after a couple weeks of recuperation they looked forward to something a little less physical, like working at a Starbucks. Anything other than the sheer brutality of that scalding sun.
At times, even Duane had to back off for a few days. The pressure from the pool companies was intense. They would sell scores of pools and they depended on Duane to put them up. He had all his equipment loaded into a trailer, which he would pull out to the customer’s property. A difficult pool installation might take more than one day, sometimes several days. He would get a cheap motel and the crew would have to crash there until the job was done. Just before the economic crash, an omen had popped up: his main guy, a really hard working Latino, was arrested and sent to prison for something. Duane was upset about that because he depended on him. It meant hiring 2 guys to replace him. The work load was intense, the phone always ringing, more jobs than he could ever handle. But it all came to a dead stop with the 2008 crash.
The big Meltdown hit everyone. The middle class was devastated. The poor class swelled with new members. Millions lost their houses, their savings, their way of life. San Bernardino looked like a big ghost town. Within a couple years, the City was sending guys out to the neighborhoods to spray paint green lawns on the abandoned properties so they would look lived in. The pools were a big problem. The happy days of children splashing in the pools became the nightmare of the City, as the thousands of abandoned pools, now with stagnant algae packed water, became a breeding ground for billions of mosquitoes. City crews spent months draining the pools that Duane had built. We joked that maybe the thieving bankers visiting their now empty houses would get a well deserved dose of malaria in the process.
Back in the bookstore, I saw Duane on almost a daily basis. We became fast friends. He was talented, intelligent, funny and literate. His business had collapsed but he lasted a couple years on his savings. I had to close the book store about the same time, and move into my van. At some point, he ran out of money totally. There was no work in L.A. The homeless population was swelling, thousands of families living in cars and vans. He lost his apartment, but I found him an RV which he got parked on a friend’s property, a lovely couple living in the mountains of Altadena. Through this crushing defeat, Duane Thorin was reborn. It wasn’t easy, he and I were often together at food banks. We hung out at coffee houses. The weird thing was that he was free. Free to change. Free to pursue his dreams.
He now had time to devote to his music. He sang at coffee houses, ran open mic nights, sharpened his skills with his guitar, hustled some music jobs, wrote songs. He was killer at it. His creativity exploded.
He also had time to do something that he wanted to do for years. His dad had been in the Korean war. He was captured by the North Koreans and thrown into a jail with other G.I.s. He managed to escape and was free for some time, trying to make it back to friendly lines, but was recaptured due to another G.I. making a stupid mistake. Duane’s dad was one of the only Americans to ever escape from the North Koreans. His recapture meant that torture and punishment would now be his life, and the North Koreans turned him over to the Red Chinese.
Duane had made a recording of his dad telling his story before his death, and wanted to get it out, so I helped him to produce a CD of the original recording. It’s an exciting story, although agonizing to re-live the captivity. Duane, was very patriotic, and wanted folks to remember what those who served for us had to go through. Listen to Duane singing the National Anthem. It will floor you.
Duane’s career soared in the last few years. He was in demand as a singing coach and manager, he arranged and ran the musical entertainment for private celebrity parties, he sang at venues around the southland and wrote songs. We were blessed at Gypsy Cool to have Duane’s music video, Occupy Your Car, and his original song about Walmart moving into a small town.
The songs are so powerful because Duane lived through it. He knew what it was to live in a car. He could write his songs from his heart, drawing on his own personal experiences. His good friend Donna Barnes-Roberts has filmed and recorded Duane for years, and we are blessed with her preservation of his music.
His sudden death last week was a shock. He seemed healthy, in good humor, and leading the life he always dreamed about, the musical life. He had created a character called Chef Duanio, an Italian Chef who sang opera. Duane had so much fun with that, and Chef Duanio was a hilarious musical show that played around town.
L.A. has lost another great voice, a bard, a troubadour.
Duane Thorin joins some other noted musicians who have passed recently. I can’t help thinking that Heaven’s gotta be rockin’ right now.
I rolled into Niland, California on a lightly-overcast afternoon in the middle of December. The sun is almost set, but there will easily be enough light to get to Slab City and find a suitable spot to camp tonight. The street going east out of Niland [Main Street] is little better than the washboard road that goes out to Area 51, except this is only three miles long instead of fifteen. Driving down this road you begin to get a sense of just how immense this place is. It was originally Camp Dunlap Marine Base from 1949 to 1956 (yes, they tore it down after only seven years), which explains the big concrete slabs that give the place its name. First thing you come to is Salvation Mountain on the right, some guy’s huge multicolored religious monument.
“The Last Free Place”
Moving on, there are scores of RV’s, buses, trucks and vans scattered every which way as I cruise along the dusty jarring road. Looks a lot like Burning Man, except people are more spread out here and this desert actually has some vegetation. It’s been called “The Last Free Place”, and there are good reasons for that. It’s around 50 miles southeast of Indio (itself a desolate desert metropolis) out in the middle of the Sonoran Desert and almost at the south end of the Salton Sea. There’s also no electricity [unless you make your own], running water, trash pickup, or restrooms – you pack in everything you need.
Rattling along looking for an out-of-the-way spot, I end up heading off toward the back. There are a lot of packed-dirt trails heading off in various directions. Looks like most of the better-looking vehicles are back here, so this is definitely the place to be. There are quite a few solar cell arrays and wind generators at this end of town as well. I cruise down one path and see a five-foot rise about a couple hundred yards down. The van slips a bit going up, but makes it easily to the level top. There are scrub bushes on either side, with small piles of rusted cans at their base. In fact, there’s trash like that everywhere around here. Most bushes have at least some kind of refuse under them: discarded clothes, cans, plastic bags, or heaven alone knows what.
Hopping out to stretch my legs, the temperature is in the upper 60’s with low humidity. Nice and quiet, except for about four or five dogs barking in scattered directions. It’s dark in about an hour and the full moon rises in the southeast. Occasional stars peek through the low clouds and a gas generator hums somewhere off to the north. A few campfires are going, which gives a smell of creosote to the air. Some barely audible voices drift through the light breeze, presumably from the campfires. I get back in the van, pop open a can of Ravioli, and watch a movie on the DVD player. After that I drift into a dreamless desert sleep.
Just after 7:30 in the morning I wake up to the sound of faint yelling. Cracking open my passenger window, I see some dude standing on a huge raised slab with multicolored grafitti abut a hundred yards away screaming challenges to an unknown person. He’s pacing back and forth, flailing his arms wildly, while pointing out the apparent cowardice of his rival – who appears to be entirely imaginary. Probably acute amphetamine psychosis, a meth-head burnout. Guess he just went off the deep end; isolation like this doesn’t work for everyone. Using the sighting scope, he’s short, a little stocky and wearing an Army jacket – doesn’t even look to be thirty. After about a half hour, his voice starts getting a bit hoarse, so he hops on his bicycle and heads in the direction of town. His manic threats slowly fade out into the crisp morning air.
Welcome to Slab City.
I have my usual leisurely breakfast while reading several chapters of a book, then get a little writing done on my third book. At 11:00 a pair of fighter jets from the adjacent Marine Base practice bombing runs between Slab City and the Chocolate Mountains to the east. Their sound is trailing them by at least a quarter mile or so. They head north swooping low in formation, pull up in about a 70-degree climb, then loop back the other way. After six of these exercises they fly off to the south. Show’s over.
I do a little more reading, then head over to Salvation Mountain to check it out in more detail. It’s a huge monstrosity built on the face of what’s essentually a sand dune. Mostly constructed by Leonard Knight between 1984 and 2011 (he died two years ago at age 82), it’s made of large tree trunks, intertwined branches, bales of hay, salvaged metal pieces (mostly car doors), and a lot of plaster. There are multiple rooms and grottoes at the south end. Most of the entire thing is also painted with a couple hundred gallons of salvaged latex paint of various colors. The painting still continues through sporadic volunteers. If I’d planned on hanging around longer, I would have helped out with a brush; but I’m only going to do a day here.
There are a couple of signs pointing to the library, so I follow them around the back past Camp Goonies (a collective of high-tech tinkerers) and eventually run into an unassuming building a little ways back from the road. At first glance, it looked to be little more than a small shack surrounded by trees, but it’s actually rather sizable. It’s open-ended at two sides and has a motley collection of rug pieces completely covering the sand floor. The precarious bookshelves look to harbor somewhere around a thousand books, by my estimate. I was told by the resident librarian (a way-cool dude whose name I forgot to write down) that it’s the “take a book-leave a book” system. I mentioned the Gypsy Cool website and he said that he’d run into it before. I left them several copies of my books – a lot of folks here could probably use some of the techniques described in them (which were written to help the 99%, and irritate the rest). One thing’s for sure, people definitely have a lot of time to catch up on their reading here. Not much else to do.
I made it a point to traverse each dusty dirt road in Slab City (there’s eight total, more or less), going past places like the Slab City Hostel, the Live Music place (true to its name), the Sun Works (a solar-related workshop), and the Slab City Christian Club (completely deserted, guess religion isn’t big here). There was every kind of dwelling from simple tents to semi-permanent buildings erected on abandoned concrete foundations. Occasionally, non-functioning vehicles are built directly into these structures. There’s some very inventive construction here using salvaged materials, with a lot of Burning Man influence – except I didn’t see any domes. There were a good number of big fancy RV’s, most likely nomadic Snowbirds from up north.
On the whole, the handful of people I ran into here were reasonably friendly, for California. The younger longhairs were generally more abrasive, but that’s typical these days (Libtards, maybe?). I’d guess the median age this time of year is around 45 or so. Noticed a lot of retirees sitting around in chairs here and there, and saw only two kids. A person would need to be sturdy stock to survive here long-term in these primitive conditions, especially in the summer when the temperature is said to get up to 120 degrees. Definitely count me out on that.
As I was leaving, the old guard shack for the Marine Base had “Caution: Reality Ahead” painted on the side – a very apt reminder. Slab City is definitely a state of mind. What it might lack in overall social cohesiveness, it more than makes up for in personal freedom. And that’s quite acceptable for “The Last Free Place” – probably in this entire oppressive Police State of America. I wish ya’ luck, guys. Let Freedom Ring.
How to Survive a Corporate Takeover of Your Land, an Invasion by a Vicious Military, an 8 Year Blockade of Your Island, No Food, No Medicine, No Electricity, and Still be Victorious
Watch the documentary below or click to go directly to youtube:
This revolution took place when huge mining company Rio Tinto opened a copper mine on the island of Bougainville, part of Papua New Guinea. The residents were pushed off their land, put into concentration camps, brutalized by security forces and deprived of any sort of basic human rights. The corporation was later sued for war crimes and genocide in the United States, but the U.S. Supreme Court abandoned any sort of moral high ground that was left in America, and shredded the Alien Torts Act, under which indigenous people could seek justice from the criminal activities of multi-national corporations. The government then tried to starve out the residents by blockading the island for 8 years, depriving them of any food or medicine. This documentary shows how the folks on the island fought back against overwhelming odds.