Arizona

I bought some land in Northern Arizona. I’m are super excited about it and the view is pretty spectacular:

13644296_10208708451001529_1875190350_n

I plan to build a small cabin on the land. The only issue is everyone does water haul. It’s not  that big of a deal because the water station is less than a mile away and water is less than 4 cents a gallon on average. I plan to buy a very large tank. I did find this cool site that actually calculates water usage. Pretty neat and will come in handy as I start building. I love this part of Arizona. The weather rarely gets above 90 degrees here at 7800 feet above sea level. It does snow, but rarely stays for more than a few days. The rural way of life is definitely something I am looking forward to as I get older. My sister bought land right around the corner from me 9less than 4 minutes to be exact!) and my mom wants to move here someday when she is older.

We are about an hour away from the Grand Canyon and really close to ski resorts and Flagstaff!

Photos

1012551_669000239812853_1625564264_n

I started a Facebook fanpage for my photography not too long ago. The theme is ghost towns and abandoned places. I really like shooting abandoned places and I have criss crossed the nation looking for them.

https://www.facebook.com/artist4landscapes

I really enjoy the feedback and how people react to my work.  It’s nice to see so many  likes and comments from around the world. I now have over 2500 likes to date and counting. Thank you!

1506865_647191211993756_1021768403_n DSC_01281097197_650050215041189_280815114_oDSC_0102dallas-1DSC_0084

The Oscar Gods Know I Exist…

academy

So my film continues to do well. recently we received a letter from the Script Librarian (Mr. Walsh) at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences aka The Oscars, asking to put the film into their permanent core collection:

“The Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is interested in acquiring a copy of the transcript or dialogue list for the documentary THE TYPEWRITER (IN THE 21ST CENTURY) for the permanent Core Collection.  The transcripts in our collection are made accessible for research purposes only; students, filmmakers and writers are among our regular patrons.  As a research library, we do not allow materials to circulate; they may only be studied inside the reading room.  Also, we forbid any photocopying of such materials.”

Wow. Everything I have done up to this point in film has just been validated for me. I am hear for a reason and the universe has opened up and given me a sign that the best has yet to come.

Here is the link to the film listed in their catalog:  The Typewriter

Bridge to Nowhere Hike 2013

This past weekend I went on a 13 mile hike into the San Gabriel Mountains with my hiking group. Most hikers take the old roadbed to the bridge, but we decided to take the river bottom and come up to the bridge by way of the river below it. I have to admit this was a really great way to see the bridge for the first time. We also explored an old mine and checked out some waterfalls along the way. The mine is about 100 yards deep and has two tunnels that split off. One tunnel goes straight up and above the main tunnel and the other tunnel cuts to the left at the end of the main tunnel. Here is some information about the mine from the Los Angeles County Mine directory

Devil's Gulch WaterfallSan Gabriel MountainsSan Gabriel RiverDevil's Gulch WaterfallHorseshoe MineHorseshoe Mine
Horseshoe MineHorseshoe MineHorseshoe MineHorseshoe MineHorseshoe MineBridge to Nowhere
Bridge to NowhereBridge to NowhereBridge to NowhereBridge to NowhereBridge to NowhereSan Gabriel River
Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere Hike 2013, a set on Flickr.

Amateur Night

After I got out of the military in 1998 I had plans to go to college and promptly moved to Texas to do just that. One morning I got a phone call from my mom in Alabama where my parents were living at the time. The call was tense and my mom was scared. She urged me to come home immediately as my father had stopped taking his meds and was on yet another manic spiral (Manic Depression/Bipolar disorder).  It was total chaos when I got there. My father might as well have been high on crystal meth because he was talking 90 miles an hour and constantly pacing. His speech was hard to understand as he was talking so fast and would often stop in mid sentence to begin another on a whole new unrelated  topic.  You could see the blood vessels in his neck bulging as if they were ready to explode. His heart was racing. I knew this was it.

After these tragic incidents with my father started to wind down about 4 years later, I decided it was time to move on from Alabama and continue to realize my dreams of working in the entertainment industry. It had been 4 long years of turmoil in dealing with my father and his affairs.  I was dating a girl named Lea at the time and she had plans to go to school in Gainesville Florida to pursue her PhD.  Gainesville was about 7 hours away and not too far for me if I had to come back to help my mom again. “You should come with me” Lea said one day as we were talking about her starting school. I gave it some thought. It’s funny how the universe works. Right before I met Lea, I had started thinking about going back to school again, but I wasn’t sure which direction to take. Then Lea walked into my life. “We can find a nice house and you can finish what you started.” She said.  I spent the rest of that day researching and then a few months later we were off to Florida. Finding a place to live was a bit of a challenge. Rents were high and apartments were hard to find. We eventually found and settled on a nice little 2-bedroom house in southeast Gainesville. Our landlord owned the whole block and over the years she had razed most of the houses and now the  block was like a garden paradise. The only problem was that southeast Gainesville was pretty poor and crime ridden at that time. Our landlord’s late father had owned the property since the early 1930’s when that part of town wasn’t so run down. Another problem was that across the street was an old hippie settlement once called Fort Ganja. A Vietnam vet named Murli claimed he saw God on a mountain in South Vietnam and had told him to spread the truth about the weed. So when Murli got back to the states he somehow finagled a financial settlement with the Army and bought the whole block across the street from our house. He and several others grew mass amounts of the “Gainesville Green” (a famous and apparently potent strain of marijuana developed in Gainesville in the mid 1970’s). By the time we got there, Murli and most of the hippies were gone. But some did remain and that brings us to the point of this whole story.

Murli next to the Fort Ganja sign

Murli next to the Fort Ganja sign

Two of the old hippies who had remained, Dusty and an ex University of Florida professor who called himself “Blue”, would often stop and talk to me as I was taking my daily exercise walks around the neighborhood. They were nice guys and pretty tame for the most part. Dusty looked like he belonged in ZZ Top with his long white curly beard. He smoked rolled up cigarettes and always had a can of Natural Light beer in his hand. Blue was obviously schizophrenic and would often start talking to someone no one else could see. But Blue was also brilliant and we would talk for hours on the street about philosophy. They had a homeless friend named Dan who would often come over to their house. Dan was quiet until he got drunk. Then the demons would unleash themselves and the fights would start. Dan and Dusty would usually be at each other’s throats. You could hear them shouting. The best part being that once Dusty had had enough, he would kick Dan out. All would be quiet across the street for a few weeks and then the cycle would repeat itself.

Our neighborhood at the time was in total chaos. Our side of the street was beautiful with lots of flowers and plants.  Our landlord had worked hard to make our side look nice. Even putting up  a white picket fence around the whole block. We had drug dealers and addicts living across the street. All hours of the night we saw lots of traffic coming in and out.  After about 2 months of living there, Lea and I had had enough and went to our landlord about what options we had to clean up our neighborhood. “Why don’t you come to the community rec center this Friday. We just started a crime watch and we ‘re having a meeting. We’re tired of it too and it seems to get worse every week.”  She said. I agreed and when Friday came we showed up and met with the Gainesville Police Department. We met the officers who patrolled our neighborhood and told them what was happening. They offered their sympathies and said they wanted to work with us to clean up our neighborhood. Each officer gave us their card and said to call them when we saw crimes happening.  We did. A lot. After a few weeks of regular meetings and calling them regularly, things did start to change in our neighborhood. I got to know the officers well and so did my neighbors who had joined us in the crime watch.  And then one day it all fell apart.

I came home from school one day to see homeless Dan riding his bike around the neighborhood. As I drove down my street, I locked eyes with him. He had a look of pure rage on his face. I parked and went inside my house. Lea was still at school then and my friend Chase had followed me home. We had been playing around with the idea of starting a band and he wanted to come over and work on some songs. After about an hour of being home, I heard homeless Dan shouting in the neighborhood. I opened the door and there he was right in front of my house on the street. “You fuckin’ college kids are all the same. Good for nothin’. Moving into our neighborhood. This used to be ours man. Fort Ganja was ours!” He shouted. He was so drunk he could barely sit on the bike. He was in the street still, but his front tire was inching closer and closer to my property. “Come on fucker! He shouted. “I’ll take all you sons of bitches on right fucking now!” He yelled. I started to go back inside to grab the phone and call the cops, but before I could he threw his bike down and started walking toward my front porch. I did not own a gun, but I did have a hickory handle from a garden hoe lodged into the top of the underside of the porch roof. I quickly grabbed it and said, “Go home Dan. You need to leave right now.”  “Fuck you!” He shouted. I said “Dan, if you don’t leave my property right now I’m going to have to use this handle. I don’t want to, but I will.” He stopped walking toward me and stood there for a minute thinking about his next move. I had the hoe handle in position ready to strike. I could feel my heart beating intensely in my chest. He turned around and grabbed his bike and mounted it. Good I thought. He will just leave now. He started pedaling and then stopped and looked over at me and said “I’ll fix you fucker!” and off he went. I lodged the hoe handle back in its place and Chase and I went back to working on music. About 45 minutes later I saw from my front windows, two cops cars whizzing by my house. Chase also looked up from his spiral and saw what I saw. We were puzzled. “What the hell is going on?” I said. I opened my front door and didn’t see anything. “That was weird,” I said to Chase. I stepped onto my front porch and looked around. Nothing. Then as I started to walk back inside I heard the bushes near my house move. My heart started pounding. Had Dan come back? I thought. I looked at the hoe handle, but decided to wait. Then two voices quietly said” There he is! Is that him? I think so.” Next thing I know a police helicopter and a swat team show up at my door. Guns were drawn and masked men came out of a van and my house was now surrounded. Several more cop cars showed up. Dogs came out on leashes and in one car I saw Dan pointing and laughing at me.

My old hoe handle looked like this, but without the hoe attached.

My old hoe handle looked like this, but without the hoe attached.

“Freeze and put your hands up now,” a cop shouted. I did and was immediately subdued by one of the officers from my crime watch. I was in total disbelief. “What the hell is happening?” I said. He did not answer. I said,” Dude, you fucking know me!” He acted as if he did not know me. They searched me and then asked if they could search the house. I said “What for?’ “We have reports that you have a shotgun and tried to use it on this man.” He said as he pointed to Dan who now had a look of despair on his face. I will give Dan one thing, he definitely played the part and he played it well. I said, “Unless you have a warrant, you’re not going in my house! I don’t own a gun and as far as any weapon goes, I have a hoe handle and that is what I pulled on him when he came into my yard and threatened me.” One cop immediately ran up the porch stairs to grab the handle and fell and tripped on the last stair landing squarely on his face. He got up, grabbed the handle and shouted, “I got it!” After some questioning from the cops  they let me loose.  They still acted as if they did not know me. I said, “Did you not know he was drunk?” One cop, who I did not know, came over and said “Yeah he did seem a little drunk now that you mention it.” I was floored. The cops walked away and I walked up on my porch. But before I went inside I turned around and said as loud as I could, “Well one thing is for certain, it’s fucking amateur night at the Gainesville Police Department!” and with that I slammed my door. To this day I will never understand why they did that to me. How can a homeless man have so much power over a law abiding crime watch running citizen? Calls to the newly elected Mayor went unanswered. Lucky for me, I was already weeks away from leaving Gainesville to move to San Francisco to finish school.

Buck

My family and I raised cows for beef production on our farm in East Texas. Each year I would separately raise a special steer for my local 4-H and Future Farmers of America chapters. The idea being you’d raise an animal until it was time to take it to the livestock show and sale that happened once a year. At the sale the judge would look over your animal carefully and determine which type of ribbon, if any, you’d get.  For beef cattle, the judge awards a certain number of blue ribbons and one grand champion ribbon to the best in show. If you didn’t get a blue ribbon you couldn’t get into the sale and were then forced to sell offsite at a much lower price per pound.  There are many steps to winning the coveted blue ribbon. The most important one being how to show respect to the judge. It’s always important to keep your eye on the judge at all times and keep your animal’s posture and pose in check.  Taking your eye off the judge for even a second meant standing a chance of losing out on a ribbon and better yet, the grand champion ribbon.

Buck and I on our farm in Henderson Texas

Me riding Buck on our farm in Henderson Texas.

From the moment I saw Buck running around the pasture with his mother, I knew he was the one. Everything I’d been taught to look for in a steer, he had. His back was straight and his legs were muscular. His rear end square and pronounced. His coat a shiny chocolate brown color with white socks and face.  He was perfect. I paid 350 dollars for him.  The first 2 weeks were rough. Just getting a halter over his head took hours. The idea was to tame your animal so you could exercise it with long walks and then teach him how to present for the judge. Feeding and exercise are important to healthy animals, which in turn yields healthy meat. Dad came down one day and we roped off part of the corral I was keeping him in. Inside the roped off area, Buck and I played tug of war with the direction I wanted him to go in. Poor Buck. He just didn’t get it. Dad got an idea to fill up a bucket with feed and put it in front of Buck. It worked and Buck started to get the hang of it. Every so often Buck would pull away and end up dragging me into the ropes which burned my face and arms a few times. We finally graduated to walking around the whole corral, but at times Buck would pull away and end up dragging me around until I finally had to let go or be thrown into the boards of the corral. Eventually Buck learned to lead and when that day came I was relieved. I had cuts, burns and scrapes from head to toe.

We walked all over the ranch. Buck was like my best friend. His deep dark eyes staring into mine. Sometimes he’d try and lick my hair with his big tongue and lightly bump his head against me. He made me laugh. We walked everywhere; to the store, down the street, to friend’s houses and back pastures with gates that opened up to vast acreage of even more back pastures. Eventually I taught him to let me hop on his back so I could ride him like a horse. He hated it at first and he got really good at throwing me off which is partly why I named him Buck in the first place. The day he came out of the cattle trailer I walked around to his side and stuck my hand on his fluffy coat. He bucked, threw his leg out to the side and kicked me hard in the stomach so hard I damn near cried from the pain. Dad scolded me for even getting so close to his back legs. “Cows kick sideways son. Remember that!” he yelled. I said “his name is now Buck.” Dad laughed and said, “That sounds appropriate.”

I quickly learned how to mix his food up for better weight gain with one part oats, one part molasses, one part grain and on top of that, fresh cream from the dairy down the street. In 4-H you go to meetings and learn how to feed and care for the animals.  Everyday it seemed like he gained more weight and I would walk him constantly in order to turn the fat into muscle. We didn’t have a scale at the time, but the diary farm down the street did.

 

Raising a steer for 4-H in Henderson Texas

Buck and I on our farm in Henderson Texas

 

The day finally came to show Buck to the judge. I was extremely nervous and a little sad. I had trained for many months for the judging competition. I had to get a blue ribbon; there was no way around it. I wondered briefly what I would do if I didn’t get one, but I quickly squashed the thought and focused on winning one instead. The day of the judging is hectic. You have to “pretty up” your steer in order to make him look good. This meant washing him and scrubbing all of the dirt off of his body and feet. Then, you had to comb his hair and tease the tail into a puffy ball shape with hair spray. I was a little sad that day because I knew the time to let Buck go was near.  As I watched the judge make his way around the circle of steers and owners around him, I pondered what life would be like without Buck. With the judge getting closer, I suspended those thoughts and focused on the task at hand. Buck looked perfect. He was by far one of the prettiest steers and at the time he was a new breed of cow: A Simmental Angus cross breed.

The judge came around the back of the steer next to me and I had a razor sharp bead fixed on him. He looked at me, smiled and tipped his hat. I did the same and he began the examination. My heart was pounding. He ran his hands down Buck’s coat and then focused on his butt and back legs. Buck was calm and didn’t move a muscle. I had taught Buck not to kick; which if he had kicked the judge, I would have been disqualified right there on the spot. The judge commented on how remarkably thick and shiny Buck’s coat was. He then stood for a few minutes and looked Buck over. It felt like hours. The sweat was running down my face and into my eyes, but I didn’t flinch and kept my gaze fixed squarely on the judge. He nodded his head, said thank you and walked over to the next steer. After the judge finished, he made one more walk around to each steer and then after he completed the circle, grabbed the pile of ribbons on the table he had set up in the middle of the circle. He walked around slowly at first as if he were still undecided. Then he quickly handed out the blue ribbons. I am happy to say that out of the 25 steers presenting, I placed 7th out of the 15 who received blue ribbons. Then the judge gave one steer the grand champion which left nine steers that didn’t make the sale that year. I didn’t get the grand champion but placing 7th in the sale meant I stood to make at least $3,000.00 once it was all over and done with. Winning that blue ribbon was amazing.  People treat you differently after you win a ribbon. A sense of accomplishment washed over me as my peers shook my hand and patted me on the back.

That night the sale took place around 6pm. I washed Buck again and fluffed his tail and put clear coat acrylic nail polish on his hooves.  A pretty steer also brings in more bids during the auction. When it was all said and done I made close to 3,500.00. After the sale I went over and shook the man’s hand who purchased Buck. He said he thought Buck was the finest steer around and at that time there was a lot of excitement about this new breed of beef cattle.

When all the excitement died down, I took Buck back to his stall. I slowly gathered up my things. Dad pulled the truck around to the barn and helped me load up. He placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “I’ll be in the truck. Let me know when you’re ready.” Tears began to form in my eyes. My stomach was on fire as I walked over to Buck. He sensed something was up. His big brown eyes looked deeply into mine searching for an answer. I started petting his head and gave him a hug. He pressed his face into my chest and let out a short blast of air from his nostrils. He knew this was the end. I touched his face one last time and said goodbye. Wiping my tears away I walked back to the truck and we drove off.

 

 

 

 

LA Times Review of My Film

The LA Times reviewed our film today. Overall it was a good review. I also wanted more naysayers in the film, but we had a hard time finding any. I think the reason being because this machine has been, for the most part, out of the public eye so there was no reason to expect a comparison to happen naturally. We did talk to a few screenwriters, but even they fell immediately into their remembrance and appreciation for the machine. Asked if they would use it today, they said these days it was more difficult. Even they appreciated it for what it was.

You can read the full reveiew here:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-typewriter-review-20130510,0,7605527.story

Shattered The Book

For the past two years now, my mom and I have been working on a book about my father and his tragic accident that shattered our family to its very core. We struggled for a bit on whose voice it should be in. Both? We looked at books that used two voices and realized that this story would have  a much bigger impact in the scheme of things if we kept it to one. We decided to use my mom’s voice as we felt that the book would be even more relatable to others who are dealing with a family member with  traumatic brain injury.

For a long time I was embarrassed by my father’s new “kooky” behavior. Living in a small town in east Texas where everyone knows everyone, privacy is almost nonexistent. Luckily I left town to live in Colorado after high school. Before I left, I remember the look on people’s faces as if they could somehow catch it from him or one of us. It was a sad time. Looking back I realize that the majority of the people in that town didn’t stigmatize us, just a few well known ones did which had such an impact that it made me feel as if everyone was doing it. That was 1990 for me. I graduated high school and  made plans with a friend to move to Colorado. Then in the summer , working my last few remaining weeks before I was to leave, my father had a major horse riding accident on the side of a mountain in Colorado. He came back all banged up and bruised from the accident. What we did not know at the time was that he had sustained a brain injury. I did not recognize him when he came back. He was a different person. I watched a gifted and extremely successful bank president hit rock bottom. He became another person to me and our relationship became quite strained as the years moved on. He worked to isolate me form the family. I was in the Navy at the time and ended up not coming home to see both of my parents for almost two years. When I did come home it was at my mother’s insistence. Once again my father had stopped taking his medication and was in a manic state of mind. Things had reached a boiling point. My father saw me as a threat. The day I arrived he was tense and nervous and talking a mile a minute. I played it cool, but he knew why I was in town. He knew that I was a threat to his freedom.  On the second day I was there, he decided to grab a gun to keep things his way, but he bet wrong and things changed dramatically from that point on. My mom was his rock, but after years of struggle to get him to take his medications, she finally removed herself. His attempt to shoot me was her breaking point.  I wrote a blog post about my experience with my dad after leaving the Navy and how I ended up with a wonderful friend who helped me along in the aftermath of it all.

The book is called Shattered: tragedy on the mountain. You can read some excerpts from the book here. The book was written by Dr. Donna Nicholson with Gary Nicholson