Thursday, June 27, 2013


As we turned onto Cave Creek Road, a woman with ruined knees was crossing the street. Later we saw a one-legged man and a woman with the burned-out face and body of a meth addict.  Bruegel would have put them in the frame if he had painted a scene from this part of town.

There were also a lot of impressive, colorful, hand-painted signs – several that I didn't see the last time we were here. Looking for a 21st century renaissance? Forget the art schools and galleries. Check out the walls in the parts of town where graffiti battles for turf with talented displays of automotive businesses.

Soon we were charging though the desert, into the mountains, down MCDOT (that's Maricopia County Department of Transportation) road, thinking of a McDot's Road heading for places where we could snag rocks for the Venusian Garden.

The pavement ended and we were in wasp country – which, with all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, is more dangerous than bat country. Em and I have lived in neighborhoods where bats fluttered around overhead in the darkness – it's actually quite pleasant. Yellow jackets press close, looking mean, stingers ready.

On Seven Springs Road, the wasps dogged us, Once again there were NO SHOOTING signs, spent shotgun shells, and brass from .22 and larger rounds. Shows what kind of respect they have for the law in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's territory.

Atop trees, I kept seeing squirrel's perched on naked branches, noses pointed to the horizon like sentries. What were they looking out for?

Then it was official: a sign said, PAVEMENT ENDS.



Even though there were more non-deserty bushes and trees, nopales, AKA prickly pear, AKA paddle cactus grew all over the place. The prickly pear fruit is well-know as being edible, but in Aztlán the entire cactus – once you've peeled it and removed the spines -- is known as a food source. Chop it up, fry it with your eggs, add some salsa, and you've got yourself some fine huevos rancheros.

If civilization collapsed, I wonder how long they would last? Arizona does inspire post-apocalyptic visions.

A cloud of wasps soon chased us away from a wash with a rusted-out, desert-eaten car and a stone bridge. As Em put it: “One was fucking stinging my hat!”

They seemed to follow us wherever we went, buzzing around El Troque's vents. We speculated that they were attracted by the vapor from the air conditioner (NOTE FROM EM: or because of the H20 vapor that results from combustion).

That didn't explain why they kept swarming us when we got out to look for rocks.

They buzzed around while I got a close look at some huge Arizona ants. These were the kind that came when the bad guys in a western would bury someone up to his neck in the sand. Who know's how big their colony was. How long before they invade Phoenix?

Not far away from the ant hill was some mountain lion scat . . . lots of it. The lion was probably sleeping, but the wasps were wide awake.

And suddenly, some wild bees gave Em warning nudges, and we moved on.

None of this stopped us from nabbing some gorgeous rocks.

Back on Cave Creek Road, there was sign saying there was an 80 decibel limit. I wondered how you were supposed to tell.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Near the NO SHOOTING signs, overlooking a spectacular view in the Table Mesa Recreation Area, were a helluva lot of spent shotgun shells and a broken Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction CD.

Table Mesa is one of Arizona's bilingual names that if the English Only crowd ever gets their way will be Table Table. Or maybe Aztlán separatistas will want to call it Mesa Mesa. Or maybe we should just ask the local tribe what they called the place.

Em and I were once again taking El Troque down unpaved “primitive” roads in search of pretty rocks, and we found them, among the spent shells and shot up electronics, monitors, TVs . . . abandoned technology disintegrating in the dry air and ultraviolet radiation.

The desert just consumes all this stuff,” Em said.

What is left will provide interesting material for future archaeologists:

They must have brought these devices out here to be sacrificed to the gods of progress.”

Near where a debris-peppered gultch was blocked off by a barbed-wire fence, we found a shot-up target with a humanoid outline spray-painted on it.

No wonder places around here have names like Bloody Basin Road.

Later, along Table Mesa Road, we came across a fenced-off area: BLACK CANYON CITY LAUNCHER AND RECEIVER FACILITLY. It looked like something out of an old sci-fi flick, with solar panels, a satellite dish, and security cameras. I wondered, what do they launch and receive?

Where primitive roads crossed was Cordes, a little “town” where rusty, derelict cars, trucks, and barns blended into a junkyard and the desert. Cows and horses looked at us, wondering why we were there.

Who would believe that we were enjoying the rough beauty of it all?

Later, we passed a place called OUTLAWS ONLY.

Then we headed up to Sedona, where postmodern franchises blend with the new age red rock décor and the dazzling natural red rock landscape while a heron and helicopters flew overhead.

Friday, June 21, 2013


In an attempt to get more of you to buy High Aztech, Chicanonautica, at La Bloga reminisces about the mysterious radio curandera Doctora Luna, and revealing how she influenced the writing of that novel.

Love Potion No. 9 was a big part of her show. Here's the original, and some visuals from George Lucas' hot rod/juvenile delinquent flick:

And – praise be to the interweb gods! – the Spanish versions that Doctora Luna used are on YouTube!

Both of them!

Now, if I can just find out anything about the mysterious Doctora Luna . . .

Thursday, June 13, 2013


We made a pit-stop at a gas station up in Payson, while looking for places where we could gather rocks legally, when I saw it: a piece of graffiti in the men's room, dated 2073. It was corrected to 2013, but . . .

Was this evidence of time travel? But then, it was next to a medical marijuana center.

Not much farther down Highway 87 we grabbed some rocks near a large, abandoned NEED WATER sign.

Later we spotted some roadside datura. I've read a number of stories where hallucinogenic drugs are used as a catalyst for time travel.

Sometimes there's science fiction scattered around. All I have to do it pick it up – like the rocks we were gathering for Em's garden – and assemble it into an workable composition.

But then, is this sci-fi, or is reality just stranger than we'd like to believe?

Soon we came to Forest Road 300, the Mogollon Rim Road Scenic Drive -- monster country. It's unpaved, and twists through a lush forest of ponderosa pines with an undergrowth that gives it a prehistoric look. Monsters could be lurking there and we would never see them from the road.

I once read an article by a reporter who thought that the Mogollon monster was a guy from his high school. I've heard Arizonans talk about how they can't deal with civilization, and just want to get away from it all. It could happen.

El Troque performed like a champ, but ATVs and one strange, unidentifiable vehicle whizzed past us.

None of this stuff is on the map,” said Em.

Terra incognita. It's still out there. And not far away. You just have to be on the look-out for it.

Finally, the road began to skirt the rim, giving us a spectacular view through an apocalyptic landscape of dead trees -- some standing, others chopped down and piled high – of miles of green, forested hills. Not what people usually think of as Arizona. Plenty of room for monsters and humans-gone-wild.

By the time we were headed back to Phoenix, El Troque was loaded down with all kinds of rocks of a fantastic variety of colors and textures. The next manifestation of the Venusian Garden will be impressive: an inspired construction of odd pieces of Arizona.

. . . with some sci-fi and weird reality thrown in, just for the hell of it.

Friday, June 7, 2013


. . . and gives some background on why it needed to be resurrected, over Chicanonautica at La Bloga.

Seeing this serpent-mouthed corner in Mexico City was one of the many experiences that led me to write High Aztech:

Along with Diego Rivera's murals:

Alejandro Jodorowsky was also an influence:

So where Salman Rushdie and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini:

Sunday, June 2, 2013


My underground cult classic is back as an ebook, with masterpiece of a cover by Dell Harris. You can get it in a Kindle Edition from Amazon, or your choice of formats from Smashwords.

And, until August 2, 2013, if you use the coupon code TV57H at Smashwords, you can get it free!