The Writings, Poems, and Lyrics of a Topanga Desperado!

Short Stories by Robert hahn

The Ballad of Hormiga De Rojo

It was early in 1976. I was working in Topanga Canyon, and living on Palms Boulevard in Venice, California. I had sold the 53 Willie's Jeep that I had taken to British Columbia, and the rat mobile, my white Corvair, and now had two vehicles a 1969 Chevy El Camino, and a 73 VW bus. I decided that I needed a vehicle for work that was good on gas but could carry a load. The decision to get another vehicle was made for me when I tried to show my friends how to put an El Camino into a four-wheel drift at high speed while drunk out of my mind. I was doing fine until the engine stalled right as we went into the corner freezing the power steering and forcing us into a parked car. I remember my friends both screaming as we slid towards the parked car and me yelling "Shut up! We're not half dead yet!" Then we slammed into the parked car wasting the right front fender of the El Camino. To give you an idea of how crazy I was in those days, in my drunken stupor I decided that we needed more booze and Chinese food. So I drove us directly to the closest Chinese food place on Lincoln Blvd. and proceeded to park my smashed El Camino in the one remaining parking space left, right between two LAPD squad cars. I remember my friends saying to me "What are you fucking crazy man? You’re parking the car that you just wrecked driving drunk between two cop cars?" I replied “How are the cops going to know I just wrecked it? My one friend replied "Your headlights knocked out for one thing!" My drunken comeback was "Then let um come back in the restaurant and write me an equipment violation for the headlight! Come on! Screw this shit! I'm hungry and thirsty!" To make a long story short we went in and had our Chinese food right across from the cops, and they left before us, and nothing ever happened. However the next day when I sobered up I decided that I needed to fix and sell the El Camino, which is what I did. That is when the ballad of Hormiga de Rojo began. I was looking for a small Japanese truck, preferably a four-cylinder. I looked at six trucks in the recycler, and Hormiga de Rojo was number seven. It was a 1972 Datsun standard cab four-cylinder pickup Burgundy paint with a burgundy interior, the forerunner of the Nissan. I actually made $1500 on the deal. So I had a custom lumber rack built for it, put new tires on it, and had it completely serviced. This was quite an exciting time in my life as it was the old Qualude days, and I and my buddies were working hard, and playing hard. Most of my friends ran Aardvark used clothing stores, however since my buddies and I had started the skating craze on the Venice Beach boardwalk, Jeff Rosenberg had started the first roller skate rental on the board walk. And my friend Jim Jefferies was a projectionist at Paramount Studios, running dailies and private screenings for the directors and stars. Well anyway back to Hormiga de Rojo or, "The Red Ant" as my Latino laborers started calling it because of the huge heavy loads it could carry. One of the first funny incidents to occur in the little red truck was when I first started dating a Jewish American Princess named Cindy. She lived with her parents in a Mansion in Cheviot Hills and they were quite wealthy. Her father had built and currently owned all of the apartments up on Sepulveda Boulevard in the valley, and had built numerous homes in their neighborhood as well. I was supposed to pick her up and was running late one afternoon so instead of taking my VW bus, I went directly to her parents home to pick her up in Hormiga de Rojo. I parked in the driveway in front of the house, rang the doorbell, and when her mother came and answered the door she looked at me and then at the truck and said "Yeah the tree that needs removing is on the left side of the house it's a small pine tree!" I told her that I was not there to remove a tree; I was there to pick up her daughter Cindy. I will never forget the shocked look on her face and her reply, "Oh my God!" "Cindy!" All of the kids on that block of Palm's Boulevard were plumbers because the father of the kid right across the street Mike Boyle was the head of the plumbers union. The Hernandez brothers down the street were plumbers but were also Arabian horse people and a few years later in 1979 when I bought my house in Topanga, Robert Hernandez started renting a 5 acre ranch in Malibu which fronted onto Pacific Coast Highway. He had seven purebred Arabian horses by Basque Aptal who syndicated for $16.2 million in 1979. I had purchased a Basque Aptal baby by Tilly, a grade mare. And also had purchased Basque's Scarlet Rose or Rosie which I called her a purebred Arab filly by Basque Aptal and Rapsette! Well Robert and I decided that we needed to split 16 bales of hay, so we drove Hormiga de Rojo to the feed and grain store in what is now Calabasas by the freeway.Of course it wasn't Calabasas yet then! The problem was that 16 bales of hay won't fit in the back of a small Datsun pickup, as they are 2'x3'x4'-5' so that when we finally got the 16 bales loaded into the bed of the truck they were stacked 8 feet higher than the top of the lumber rack. And even with the air shocks the rear tires were almost rubbing the fender wells! The feed and grain guy shook his head and said "Good luck! I think you're gonna need it!" As we headed to my house which was closest, and we turned onto Valley Circle Boulevard the truck went up on two wheels and then came crashing back down. That's when Robert said something that I will never forget! He looked at me and asked, "Do you have an extra pair of sunglasses in this thing?" I said "I don't know? Why?" He replied, "Because I'm ashamed to be seen in this thing! We look like a red and green condo going down the street!"And I said, "Oh my God! A Mexican is ashamed to be seen in my truck! I guess I've finally gone too far!" And we both laughed! However the laughter subsided quickly when I looked in my review mirror and saw a CHP motorcycle cop pulling up to us on our left! I screamed, "Cool it! It's a cop and he is coming up fast!" We both leaned back and looked straight ahead as the cop pulled up alongside of us; me with my long hair and mustache, and Robert looking pretty much like a Mexican Hippy as well. As the cop pulled up alongside of us on his motorcycle, he looked over at the truck and craned his head up to see the top of the huge stack of bales of hay. And then bringing his helmeted head with mirrored sunglasses back to eye level and looking at us he just shook his head and drove on. Then I looked at Robert and he looked at me and I said, "Holy Shit!" And Robert said "I thought we were going to jail for sure, far out!" I had a lot of crazy beach kids that I knew that went to Venice High School that worked for me from time to time on the house I was remodeling up in Topanga Canyon. One of the craziest of these guys was Ken Ebby. Ken was one of the Venice Beach rats that I had met by way of Mike Boyle and the guys along with Robin and a few others that were known asBeach rats and surf nazi's. For instance before I had met Kenny he was driving an eight wheeled Army truck around Venice and anyone who was driving in front of him to slowly he would just push out of the way causing them to wreck their car and then he would just drive on. Supposedly once he pushed an old man in a Corvair up to 60 miles an hour forcing him to wreck his car, while the whole time the old man had his brakes on. The incident wound up with Kenny being chased by 12 LAPD cars to the end of Lincoln Blvd. where it dead ends into the beach and Kenny kept going at high speed onto the beach past the end of Lincoln, through the barriers, and into the water by the pier, where he jumped out of the truck and started swimming out to sea, and was eventually captured by the Coast Guard. That's how crazy he was. But I hired him anyway, and we wound up taking about 250 tons of rocks from the creek bed by where Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway meet in a place they used to call the "Snake Pit." We would load Hormiga De Rojo to the top of the bed with River rock and drive it all the way up to Topanga Canyon Boulevard, and then 5 miles up Fernwood Pacific Avenue to the house we were working on. I don't know how many trips we made exactly but when we were down to about our last 20 trips the truck dropped a cylinder, so we were taking these huge heavy loads of stone uphill, and on three cylinders, so we could only do about 15 or 20 miles an hour. On one of the trips a guy in a Mercedes was right on our bumper honking his horn because we were driving so slowly. Kenny started swearing, but I told him to calm down that I was just going to slow down more every time the guy honked his horn. Finally Kenny lost it, and climbed out of the truck window as we were driving uphill onto the bed of the truck and started picking up rocks and throwing them at the guy in the Mercedes, he bounced too big rocks off of the guys car and put one through the passenger side of the windshield before the guy finally pulled off the road! When he climbed back into the truck I said, "What are you nuts? What if the guy got my license number? His answer was "Fuckem! It wasn't long after that that I had to fire Kenny and kick him out of my house, as he and his girlfriend had been staying at my house since they were the only people who would help me move to Topanga from Venice three months earlier on the hottest day of the spring/ summer. His girlfriend stayed for another year. Two years after that I met my friend Chris by way of our mutual friend Rob Jacob. From the first time I met Chris in 1982 it has always been a tossup as to which of us is crazier! And in a lot of ways Rob was crazier than the two of us put together! God bless him! Rob passed away a few years ago in a motorcycle accident in Connecticut. Some of my favorite incidents with Hormiga De Rojo occurred with Chris and Rob. One that comes to mind with Chris was the first time that we went shooting in the Angeles National Forest in the little red truck. To a place called ironically dagger flat, I was trying to get my rifle to shoot, when Chris came running up to me frantically! He said, "You've got three flat tires on that truck and it's getting dark and everybody's leaving!" I replied, "Screw that shit! I can't get this damn gun to work right!" Chris left, but came back a few minutes later saying "Are you happy now! It's almost dark! And there goes the last truck up the hill! And we have a truck with three flat tires! Do you hear those coyotes, you stupid ass hole?" Angrily I replied, "Alright, alright! I'll fix the damn truck!" What Chris did not know was that I had a device in the little red truck that would pump the tires up for me. And you just had to remove one of the sparkplugs and put this device in place of it! Turn on the engine and screw the other end to the air valve on the tire. I explained this to him, however as I put the hose onto the first flat tire it was not inflating, and it was starting to get really dark! Chris screamed "Oh great! Now what are you going to do? The tires aren't inflating!" I replied "Shut up! I got this!" And reaching into the truck I pulled the seat forward, and from behind it I pulled out a box of roofing nails and a hammer! I proceeded to feel around on the surface of the tire for escaping air and proceeded to pound roofing nails into the holes. After pounding three nails into the holes in the tire it began to inflate. After putting three nails in one tire, and four in another, and two in the last tire, all of the tires were inflated, and we were on our way! After going uphill and getting on the highway out of the Angeles National Forest towards the 118 we were going around corners that had pretty steep cliffs! So I asked Chris to roll his window down. He asked me why? And I replied "If the clicking sounds stop let me know, so I can pull over before we go off a cliff! He rolled his window down shaking his head and mumbling something like "I must've been out of my mind to come on this crazy trip in this piece of shit with this psycho!" We made it on the roofing nails all the way from there to Canoga Park and Apollo tires, where I bought all of my used tires in those days. We rolled up to Apollo tires sounding like a herd of tap dancers. And I noticed my friend Cletus the black guy I always bought my tires from looking over at us quizzically as we click- clacked our way to a stop. I looked at Chris and said "I told you we'd make it!" He just shook his head and breathed a sigh of relief. I walked over to Cletus and shook his hand saying "I need four good ones Cletus, preferably four that match!" Cletus replied, "I got fo goodun's fo you Bob, Dey almos new!" He showed me four nobby wide white walls, and he said he could let me have um for 40 bucks, so I bought them. He asked me if I wanted the white walls turned to the inside, and I replied, "No! Put them on the outside! The bright red of the truck and the wide white walls will give it kind of a Christmas feel. As he was putting the new tires on the truck I asked him, "By the way Cletus are those snow tires or mud tires?" Cletus stuck out his arm with his palm down and waved it side to side as if to say whatever, and then he said something that still makes me laugh to this day he said, "You on snow,de snow tires! You on mud, de mud tires! You on dirt, de dirt tires! Oh I forgot to mention that a few months earlier I decided that the truck needed a paint job. However seeing I had no money for a paint job I went to Standard Brands Paint store, and purchased 30 cans of $.29 a can bright red spray paint on sale. And drove the truck into Chris's backyard where I was working at the time and without washing the truck much less sanding it I roughly masked the Windows, and accessories and sprayed the truck with the red spray paint spraying right over tree sap, bird shit, etc. about the same time I decided that a skylight or moonroof if you will, would be cool in the truck, however seeing that I didn't have any money for a skylight I bought a piece of half-inch Plexiglas marked it out on the roof of the truck and took my Sawsall and cut a hole in the roof an inch smaller than the outline of the Plexiglas, and ran four bolts through the roof and caulked the plexiglass and bolted it down. I would drive it that way all winter, and then remove the Plexiglas in the spring, proving my insanity. There were a lot of incidents coming back from great parties at Chris's house one time after a party to celebrate Chris's new party room addition. Kelly who had helped me build the addition and Rob and I were driving back wasted from Chris's party to my house over the hill on Old Topanga Cyn Road! Rob was riding back in the bed of the truck, and like always when I was wasted I was driving like Mario Andretti! Suddenly as we were driving down hill like a maniac Rob climbed on the lumber rack and jumped onto the hood of the truck! Grabbing the cowling right below the windshield wipers he spread out belly down on the hood and was sliding from side to side of the hood as I whipped around corners! And the crazy thing is that we were all three laughing our asses off at the time! Sometimes I'm not only amazed that I survived, but that any of us survived this craziness, that is except for Rob! God bless his soul! Rob would've been a great stunt man if he had wanted to. I have seen him do many things so crazy, and so dangerous that any stunt man would have charged a fortune to perform them, and taken months to prepare them! And Rob would just do it on the spur of the moment, and make it every time. Another time Chris was having a big party at his house, I've forgotten the occasion but I know that Sarah had some of her friends like Laura there and his mom and her boyfriend and Rob, and a lot of others, it was a big party. Chris used to love to serve flaming drinks a lot of people were outside on the deck, which is now his office in shorts sunning them selves. So here comes Chris through the living room in swim trunks with a big tray of flaming drinks. So I opened the slider door for him to go out onto the deck and as everyone inside and outside on the deck looked at Chris as he stepped through the slider, I pulled his swim trunks down around his ankles and slammed the slider door shut! Being that he was exposing himself to everyone outside on the deck and couldn't drop the tray of flaming drinks he turned back against the slider forgetting about everyone inside including his mother and her boyfriend! He finally had to beg Sarah to come over and pull up his trunks. I have never heard so much laughter coming from everybody, except his mother of course! That is when Sarah's friend Laura announced "I've never seen an un-circumsized one before!" And the place erupted with laughter again. We all kept drinking and getting drunk. By this time I was laying out on the deck sunning myself, when all of a sudden Laura, Sarah's girlfriend came dancing across the deck and undulating defiantly, she danced to where she was standing right over my face, and I looked up and she had a large wet stain in her crotch, and I announced loudly to the whole group is that stain from the dancing, or are you just excited to see me! Red-faced, she ran into the house as everybody laughed, and a few minutes later she came running out of the house with one of Chris's large bull whips and started running towards me! I jumped up and ran off the deck as she proceeded to chase me around Chris's backyard with the bull whip cracking it at me! I ran back into the house grabbed my keys jumped in my truck, and drunk out of my mind proceeded to race home! The problem was that I had forgotten about the battery in the truck not being strapped down. So as I rounded the first corner starting up hill on Old Topanga Canyon, the battery tipped up against the hood, shorting the two terminals which welded the accelerator pedal to the floor keeping the throttle held wide open. However, I was so drunk that I calmly rode it out all the way to the top of Old Topanga at full throttle and when I got to the top I just turned the key off; figuring that I would be able to coast down the other side keeping up enough speed to get at least halfway up my driveway at the bottom of the hill. What I didn't count on was that while going down Old Topanga, and as I hit some of the last curves the electrical system shorted out, and began filling the entire cab of the truck with smoke so that I couldn't see the road. So let's picture this! I'm drunk racing down hill around curves with my head out the window like a dog and smoke blowing past my face so I can't really see, and all of a sudden everything comes to a crashing halt! I remember thinking, "Well at least I'm alive! And I have stopped! That's a good thing!" As the smoke continued to billow out of the truck I opened the driver side door and got out; immediately falling eight or 10 feet until both of my underarms were caught in roots suspending me some 30 or 40 feet above a house that I could see below me. I could actually see people sitting at a dinner table through a large skylight below me! As drunk as I was I was quite frightened. I proceeded to pull myself up through the maze of the root system back up to my truck and onto the road. That’s when I realized what had happened, not being able to see, I had gone across the road and collided with a heavy chain link fence on the other side of the opposing lane or uphill lane if you will, of traffic. Now I had a dilemma! My truck wouldn't run! I was drunk! I just had a car accident! And I just remembered that I had a case of champagne, and a BB submachine gun in the truck! I began to panic as in my drunken stupor I realized that these were all very bad things! I flagged down the first vehicle that I saw coming uphill. The guy stopped, he was in a Ford truck. I begged, and pleaded with him to pull me out of the fence and over to the other side or downhill side of the road so I could coast home. He said he didn't have anything to tow me out with! I replied, "Wait a minute I've got it! I've got a come along in my truck, we can tow it out with that!" He agreed and we began backing his truck up blocking both lanes of traffic as he proceeded to pull me into the downhill lane. Traffic was blocked in both directions by the time we freed my truck. After we got the come along off I ran back to my truck and throwing the come along in the bed I grabbed a bottle of champagne and took it back to him thanking him. At first he refused, and then he finally said, "Okay if it will get me out of here I'll take it!" I jumped back into my truck and coasted downhill jumping off of old Topanga fast enough that I coasted halfway up my driveway and left the truck parked there, and proceeded to crawl up my 65 stairs falling into the waterfall ponds on the way. I woke up the next morning in bed layered with all of my cats and dogs including my Shepherd/ Dane mix "Azul", or "Blue" in Spanish. But probably my all time favorite story about Hormiga De Rojo is the last story about the venerable little red truck! After driving the poor thing almost into the ground in 1984, I was pulled over by an LA County Sheriff. He asked for my license and registration, and then he said to me, "Do you realize that neither your license, nor your registration are current?" I replied, “Yes sir!" He pulled out his ticket book and began to write, verbally calling out each infraction as he wrote "No license! No current registration!" He had me testing things on the vehicle and he started checking things as he walked around the vehicle. "No turn signals! No brake lights! No taillights! One headlight! Cracked windshield! Illegal sunroof! Bald tires! Bad leaf spring! Bad shocks! Bad muffler! Broken exhaust manifold! No battery strap!" He had me get out and he pressed on the brake pedal. "Almost no brakes!” As he got out he continued, "Faulty door latch!" He directed me back inside of the truck, and finally he said "Honk the horn! At which point I leaned out of the window and yelled "Hey! Get out of the road!" After being stoic, and a little peeved through the whole encounter the deputy finally looked at me and began to laugh! He said "I was going to impound this piece of trash! But I've had a rough afternoon, and I really needed a laugh! So I'm going to give you 90 days to complete and get everything on this list signed off, with the exception of your license, and certificate of insurance which you will have to show proof of by the end of the day tomorrow at the CHP station on Desoto or your truck will be impounded and you will go to jail! I'm talking an immediate issuance of a bench warrant! Do you understand?" I replied "Yes sir! Thank you sir! I got the license renewed and the certificate of insurance over to the CHP station the next day, and then proceeded to drive Hormiga de Rojo for another 89 days when I sold it to a guy from Simi Valley in the recycler, and he was glad to get it! The punchline to this story is that around four or five years later I was in the parking lot of the Simi Valley swap meet which took place at the drive-in theater! And there to my amazement, sitting in the parking lot was Hormiga De Rojo “The Red Ant", (named by my various laborers, whose Spanish was as bad as their English.), in all his glory! He still had his homemade sunroof, a fresh coat of paint, new shocks, tires etc. But I knew that it was him because he still had the burgundy interior, and more importantly he still had the 1977 Hall and Oates Santa Monica Civic Auditorium concert sticker on his little dashboard! I happened to run into the guy that I had sold him too inside of the swap meet. And he said that the truck was running better than ever, and that it was the best purchase that he had ever made! I remember thinking at the time what a fool I had been to sell the little guy! And how stupid I was to run the truck into the ground and then sell it when it was such a great truck! And then I thought to myself, is that what I do with everything in my life? Do I just use everything up, and then move on? After all that's all I ever did with all of the beautiful women in my life! Is that why I'm single? Is that the kind of person that I am destined to always be? And then I thought "Ooooooh! A corn dog stand! Wow I could really use a corn dog and a coke right about now!

Monkeys with Car Keys!

The Rantings and Ravings of a Chimp's first cousin! In the following pages I shall attempt to describe the amazing similarities between humans and our first cousins the chimpanzee. I also intend to prove by example that Darwin was right, we did evolve from apes. However we have not evolved that far. The examples I will use in this exercise shall come from many diverse sources; everything from standup comedy routines, to documented scientific experiments, to scientific studies by people like Jane Goodall. I shall also offer some of my own ideas and other people's ideas on simple solutions for a lot of the countries political problems. So! How can I claim that we are nothing but monkeys with car keys? I think that Jane Goodall said it best in her recent 60 minutes interview, where they went back to Tanzania with her too the place that it all started in 1960. She pointed out how long it took to be accepted by the chimpanzee's, and how in her observations of them she noted how loving tender and caring they could be. Sharing human mannerisms and characteristics, like cuddling, holding hands, and also made the observation which she made that put her on the proverbial scientific map. And which made her famous! That was when she observed a chimpanzee using a stick to pull termites out of a dead log and eat them. This meant that like us they had the skill and dexterity to use implements. In other words they were a lot smarter than we gave them credit for. The most interesting thing that she said in the interview however was not that fact; it was about WHEN she really knew that they were just like us! She said she knew that they were just like us, when one of the large males unexpectedly almost killed her. He beat her savagely until she was unconscious, her head striking a rock. And then inexplicably he walked away. She composed herself after regaining consciousness, only to have the large male chimpanzee return a few minutes later and continue the assault finalizing it by throwing her off of a nearby cliff. She claims that the only thing that saved her life was some branches and roots which were growing out of the side of the cliff which she caught, and held onto. Like us, chimpanzees are one of the few species on the planet that have no reservations about killing their own! Jane Goodall is one of my personal heroes; and is as beautiful today as she was in 1960, both inside and out. She still continues to fight the good fight to protect the apes, like my friend Paul Watson fights for the whales, seals, and dolphins. One of the funnier examples of what I'm talking about comes from some of Joe Rogan's standup "Talking Monkeys in Space". He makes many references to chimpanzees and us in the set. However my favorite one is the one where he talks about the experiment where the scientists were trying to teach the chimpanzees how to use money. So they gave the chimpanzees tokens which could be used in vending machines to buy fruit. As the males were more dominant they gave the tokens to the males. And what did the males do with the tokens? They gave the tokens to the female chimpanzees for sex! To the point that by the end of the experiment the females were all in front of the vending machines taking the tokens from the males and buying fruit and eating it, while the males continued to have sex with females over and over again until the females were too full to continue, and the males were too exhausted and dehydrated to continue! Does this remind you of anyone? Another similarity comes from observations by Jane Goodall. She observed that in both great apes and chimpanzees an alpha male will be the group leader. This alpha male has three primary jobs. 1.) To protect the group. 2.) To resolve disputes within the group. 3.) And more importantly, to provide for the group. The interesting thing about this is what occurs when the alpha male fails in one or all of his duties. If he fails to protect the group he will be replaced. If he kills another member of the group wrongfully, or he fails to provide food for the group, the entire group will gang up on him, and either kill him, or send him into exile. A perfect example of this behavior in humans is the recent midterm elections. The chimpanzees are screaming no bananas, no food. And the electorate is screaming no jobs, no money! And like us chimpanzees and apes don't care if the new Alpha male is new to the job or not! Both humans and apes alike are completely result oriented! A good example ofthat is the silverback ape killed by poachers and replaced by the next alpha male and then the new alpha male was almost immediately replaced, beat up, and exiled when he couldn't provide food for the group. By the way you want to see an example of humans exiling the alpha male, just take a look back at any one term president. Another great comparison is the fact that like apes, we are constantly grooming ourselves, for appearance, and hygiene, like the apes, because like apes, grooming for us is also a social experience. The females will groom each other, the males, and the young ones. Occasionally males will groom males. But in all cases there is social interaction. This behavior compares with women going to beauty parlors as much for the conversation as the grooming, and males going to barbershops for the same reason. And children having their hair cut by their mother at home, or going to the barber shop because their parents make them. There was an example of the silverback in one episode being groomed by two females because he was the alpha male. The comparison I would make is that of a VIP man having his hair cut, and getting a manicure, and pedicure, while doing business on a Bluetooth. A good example of another cruel study was one where they put a bank of sunlamps on a wall in a room with limited ventilation. They piled a large amount of fruit in the room. Previously they had trained the chimpanzee so he knew how to open the door to the room to get in and out. They left a hand fan next to the pile of fruit, and took the chimpanzee into the room leaving him with the fruit. Over several hours they slowly intensified the heat coming off of the heat lamps. At first the chimpanzee fanned himself with one hand while eating with the other, fanning faster and faster while he fed, until he finally collapsed, never once attempting to leave the room. The correlation here is global warming and why the majority of the planet refuses to accept, acknowledge, or do anything about it as a whole. One better example of this can be seen when we move a little further down the food chain. It's a fact that if you put a frog into a pot of water and you slowly start turning the temperature of the water up, say a half to 1° per hour, the frog will eventually boil to death. Don't ask me what sadist came up with this experiment! However I think that it does explain a lot when it comes to humans committing long-term suicide by refusing to address, or acknowledge in some cases global warming. You see I believe that the one thing that human beings are best at is over complicating things! This explains our need and desire for gadgets, gimmicks, and anything new, and shiny. Just like our first cousins the chimpanzee, if we have something that we really like, and in the case of the experiments with the chimpanzees even fought over. The minute that something new, something shinier, or more desirable in any way is introduced to us we will immediately discard our treasured possession to immediately procure the new, more desirable item. Without this evolved response there would literally be no life as we know it. We most likely never would've crawled out of the Stone Age. And I must admit that if we hadn't crawled out of the Stone Age, the planet would be in much better shape. This desire fuels commerce like nothing else! And is the reason for things like built-in obsolescence in products. And things like, “Thin is in”. And the reason that, “Diamonds are a girls best friend”, when as expensive as they are, other than some moderate industrial use! They have absolutely no practical value. You see my friends, we are nothing but chimpanzees being told every day what to buy, what to eat, who do vote for, who do emulate, and so on, and so forth. And just like in the lab, the guys running the show are going to take us and the chimpanzees as far as they can in the great experiment. Knowing all the while that if we or the chimpanzees ever realize that we're in an experiment, or they push us too far, we will go ape shit! And that is the one thing, the only thing that they are afraid of. One more example of our connection to our first cousins is war. When two different groups of apes come into contact the alpha males from each group will normally move to the front and confront each other. How this interaction plays out will usually determine what happens between the two groups. Usually there will be a lot of posturing, snarling, flailing of arms, and the like. Mock combat if you will. And then the two groups will go their own separate ways. In some cases because of a mutual dynamic, or a strange bonding between the two alpha males, the two groups will not only not fight but in some cases will join into one group. It is only when the alpha males get physical that everything goes to hell. Just like us. There is a great line in the film "All Quiet on the Western Front". One German soldier says to another, "Why are we fighting the French? I don't hate the French! I knew a Frenchman before the war! And he wasn't a bad fellow!" The other soldier replies, "We're only here because of the diplomats! They're the ones who start the wars!" The first soldier replies back, "Then why don't we put all of the diplomats from each side in their long underwear, and give them socks full of dung, and let them fight it out in a field somewhere! Winner takes all!" I have always loved that line! And to this day I think that that is the way all wars should be fought! But just like our first cousins, we have a lot of evolving to do before we ever get there. By the way Joe Rogan has another great bit in the same stand up routine, where he counters those people who claim that we are not related to or evolved from apes. The way he puts it is "They mapped the human genome and determined that chimpanzees share 96% of our DNA. And that's a lot of monkey! Is that even worth arguing? If I had a sandwich that was 96% shit, and 4% ham, would you be willing to consider that a ham sandwich? We are monkeys! It doesn't mean there is no God, that's where everybody gets crazy, it doesn't mean that anybody has an answer, nobody is saying that there is no God! All I'm saying is that God made a monkey, that doesn't like to think it's a monkey, and likes to lie a lot! Doesn't that make sense! That makes way more sense! That's what we do! We like to lie a lot!" Very funny and very true as well! On the subject of over complicating things to make it easier for the half percent- ers, the rich powerful people who run the country and the world to get over on the less intelligent, poor, naïve masses. Let's take a quick look at government and why it is so complicated. When it doesn't really need to be! And then I will offer up some simple solutions to change things that I and a few others have come up with. Why is government so complicated? That's an easy one! It's complicated because that's the way that the two parties that run the country and have run the country almost from its inception want it! You see! The more complicated that they can make it; the less we the people can understand. And the less we understand, the more they can get away with! That's the way it is, that's the way it always has been, and that's the way it always will be. At least until we have a viable third party that offers solutions to take our country back. Or the country finally gets so fed up that we have another armed revolution! I hope it's the former not the latter. Let's talk a little bit about solutions. For openers I would outlaw lobbying! Seeing that I consider lobbying a form of treason, I would make it a death penalty offense. If you don't know where the term lobbying comes from? You might find it interesting that it comes from the term that Ulysses S. Grant was President. It seems that Grant spent as much time in a hotel near the White House as he did in the White House itself. And men seeking favors for various factions such as the railroads, banking, etc. would wait downstairs in the lobby of the hotel until they were summoned to the Presidential suite to give their pitch to the President. It should have been declared treason at the time, and they should've hung Grant right along with the lobbyists. Next we should make outsourcing one American job a federal felony, tack on $100,000 fine and 10 years in federal prison. Then we need to tackle campaign finance, and term limitation. Both of these are also simple! First, campaign finance, we eliminate campaign finance! No one can donate one dime to any candidate from City Council to the Presidency. All news media, from network and cable television to radio and local papers will donate the same amount of time and space per candidate no matter what the office. The government will help subsidize the media with a general campaign finance reform fund. In case you didn't know it in 2012 each party will spend close to $1 billion to run for the Presidency! That my friend is obscene! As for term limitations, simple again, every office holder gets one term, period! The only way an office holder can stay in office for more than one term is with a write-in majority of his or her constituents in the next election. And finally we need a law that mandates that all politicians in the country have to wear a NASCAR uniform with all their sponsors on it when ever they are in public. It's time for the chimpanzees to take back the jungle! While we are on the subject of politics, I have a new word for you "REPUBLICRAT"! I came up with it the other day! You know the difference between a Democrat and a Republican don't you, the suit they are wearing! Post Script: After almost a year of being on the run, after being declared an Eco-terrorist by the World Court, the false evidence brought to the court by the Japanese and Finnish Whaling Fleets; my friend Paul Watson founder of the Sea Shepherds Society, was a guest on The Bill Maher Show on 4/4/14, after the World Court dismissed all charges against Paul and the Sea Shepherds, and filed charges against the Japanese and Finnish Whalers, for claiming to be doing research, while actually pursuing commercial whaling, the essence of Eco-terrorism! Way to go Paul!

Wildlife Encounters in Topanga!

© copyright By Robert Hahn

Robert Hahn has been a resident of Topanga for 34 years. He has worked as a contractor, voiceover actor, comedy writer, standup comedian, and singer/songwriter; and is currently writing music, and after publishing his first book, a sex, drugs and rock&roll memoir about a trip to British Columbia in 1973, entitled, “Born in the Summer of His 27th Year”, avaiable on Kindle, and He is currently writing the sequel to that book, as well as his short stories, and poetry which are avaiable on his website He continues to work with animal rights groups, and is still the neighborhood rattler wrangler, and rescue contact for abandoned animals. . I first moved to Topanga in May of 1979, moving here from Venice, California. I have had hundreds of encounters with both wild and domestic animals in the 34 years that I have lived here. Many have been dangerous and deadly in nature; and many have been comical, heartwarming, uplifting, and inspiring in nature; while others have been gut wrenching, horrific, and sad! I have also been through numerous fires, floods, and quakes. When talking to new residents of Topanga, I'd tell them some of the things that I have learned over the years to help protect oneself, one's family, and one’s pets, as an interloper in the home of the mountain lion, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, rattlesnake, mule deer, gray fox, scorpion, black widow, red tail hawk, golden eagle, owl, etc.; and make no mistake about it my friends, we are the interlopers, we are the invaders! The Santa Monica Mountains have been the home of the aforementioned species since long before we ever got here. That is not to say that we can't live in safety and harmony with them, and share their home if we know how. The first thing that I learned about living in harmony with nature I had learned six years earlier and British Columbia from a North American Indian priest, our brother of the shields if you will. What he taught me was, in order to live in harmony with nature you first must respect nature, and constantly attempt to communicate with nature in a harmonious way; that being said, here is a short list of items that I consider a necessity if you are living in the Santa Monica Mountains. First your property should be well lit, I prefer dusk to dawn yard lights, the fluorescence variety they cover a large area and are inexpensive to purchase and run, along with Malibu lights which are good for pathways. Next every homeowner should have a minimum 1,000,000 candlepower rechargeable flashlight, and the Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. I know what you're thinking, I understand the flashlight, but what's with the BB gun. The simple answer is that a Daisy red Ryder lever action BB gun holds a lot of BBs, and yet is not that powerful from 225 through 325 ft. /s. This is very important, what it means is that you can sting in animal if you shoot it, but you're not going to break the skin, I have tested mine on my own Calve and it stung like the dickens but did not break the skin. Why is that important, because if you break the skin on an animal the chances are that it will get an infection, and die a long painful death. So it gives you a tool to discourage coyotes, raccoons, and most scavengers and predators, without hurting them. The exclusion being all birds of course, and deer that have always run from me the moment they see me. Another tool that I keep around, being that I am the neighborhood rattler wrangler, (I catch and release) is a Gopher tool, the kind they sell on cable, and eBay. A 3 1/2 foot long gripping device with suction cups that can lift up to 5 pounds, which allows me to pick up the majority of rattlesnakes which are 3 1/2 feet in length or less, I use the tool to pick them up from behind the head put them in a large plastic trash can with lid, and transport them, and release them in a creek bed in an unpopulated area. The fact is that if we killed every rattlesnake that we saw we would be overrun by rats, gophers, ground squirrels, and other rodents in a very short amount of time. Besides, throughout the world how many vipers do you know that will warn you to stay away? The fact is they don't want to waste their venom on you, because they can't eat you! That's why it is important especially on hot summer nights to carry a flashlight with you, and always look down at where you are stepping, even if your property is well lit; because hot weather is rattler weather, and when they come out in the heat they are so lethargic that quite often they don't even rattle! The vast majority of people bitten are bitten because they inadvertently step on them, or are attempting to handle them. Since I moved to Topanga I have wrangled over 100 rattlesnakes; while running up the stairs to my home years ago, I stumbled upon seeing a small rattler on the stairs in front of me, extending my arms to interrupt my fall, I found myself poised on the stairs with the rattler now coiled right below my chest, his rattle buzzing away in agitation! I knew that I couldn't maintain this extended push-up position forever, and the only thing between me and the snake was my T-shirt which hung down from my body! I didn't know what to do, but I figured I had nothing to lose so I began trying something the old Indian priest had taught me; I began to talk softly to the frightened little snake, in a very soft almost baby talk I explained that I didn't want to hurt him and I hoped that he wouldn't hurt me. The buzzing slowly subsided until it became silent, and just when my arms and legs were about to give out I noticed the snake slither over the right side of the staircase and downhill! With what little strength I had I immediately ran five or six steps up the stairs and slumped in exhaustion. I have learned over the years that how you interact with other species can truly be a matter of life and death, for you and them. Another rattlesnake encounter happened a while back when I was marking the edge of my property to keep the deer and coyotes away! If you urinate once every month or so on a pathway used by deer and coyote, and most other animals they will respect the boundary as if you put up a block wall, however raccoons will not only not respect your scent marker, as they go over it they will mark it themselves with their urine and feces. Anyway the area I wanted to mark was outside of my yard light coverage in the dark, and I was too lazy to go in to the house and get my flashlight, and it was warm out that day but not hot. So clad in my shorts and low-cut house slippers I meandered into the darkness and began to urinate in the area that I wanted to mark. Immediately I noticed a loud buzzing coming from between my feet and stopped urinating, and having the presence of mind not to jump back, I stood there frozen in the darkness as the buzzing slowly faded a short time later, after the buzzing had stopped I felt the rattler slowly crawl across my bare right arch, I turned and watched him crawl away until it was safe, and then ran into the house grabbed my Gopher tool and trashcan and wrangled and re-released him that night. Over the years I have let a full-grown Bobcat into my house in the middle of the night, thinking that it was one of my rescue cats that I would let out at night and who would scratch at the door to come back in, the rescue cat was a half starved Maine Coon variety whose silhouette was almost identical to the Bobcat who was scratching at the door because I would feed the rescue cat before letting him out to go to the bathroom and I figured out later that he was rubbing his muzzle against the doorframe when I let him out and that's why the Bobcat was scratching at the door. Why the Bobcat entered when I opened the door and I crawled back into bed I will never know, it was either the smell of food, or the smell of my two inside rescue cats, because when I heard the screaming and breaking of glass in the living room, thinking it was my main coon rescue fighting with the other two rescue cats, naked as a jaybird, I ran across the darkened living room to the front door and turned on the light to see the Bobcat with one of my rescue cats head in his mouth! The Bobcat and I locked eyes and let out a simultaneous scream, the Bobcat's eyes were big as saucers, as I'm sure were mine! He released the head of my one rescue cat, and both cats ran into the bedroom; the Bobcat began to run around the walls of the living room knocking over everything in his path in the process, until when he was on the other side of the living room I opened the front door and stepped into the center of the room not realizing that where I stopped, the couch and coffee table on either side of me, to escape he was forced to run between my legs, the course fur on his body rubbing against my legs his ears brushing my testicles as he pushed his way to freedom! Shaking violently with fear I slammed the front door, rounded up my cats, drank most of the fifth of champagne, took a warm shower, and went back to bed. Another time that I had to resort to drinking a lot of wine to get to sleep was years back when after taking a shower late at night I decided that applying baby powder in the bathroom was getting too messy, so I decided that seeing no one was around or up, I would go outside and powder myself outside; after doing this for two or three weeks, one night I was outside around 2 AM powdering myself when I heard a heavy clump, followed by a clump, clump, clump! And standing there naked outside, with nothing but a bottle of baby powder in my hand, I looked up at the edge of the roof, a mere three or 4 feet above me to see a mountain lion standing there looking intently down at me! And as soon as our eyes met I heard more clump, clump, clump coming across the roof behind her! I say her because immediately two young mountain lion kits or cubs walked up on either side of her! I didn't know what to do, my mind was spinning, "Don't run, they always say never to run!" "Maybe if I squirted a cloud of baby powder in their faces they won't see me run?" And then, still looking her directly in the eyes, I noticed her radio collar! I immediately thought "She's got a collar that means that they dart her at least twice a month!" So then without any further thought, and still looking her directly in the eyes, I flailed my arms screaming "Get out of here!" And she and her two babies swung around in unison and ran back across the roof! Another bullet dodged in Topanga! I recently had another Bobcat encounter, which was fairly uneventful; I was outside after dark picking my outside cat’s food dish up after she had finished eating. On my way I shined my high powered flashlght around surveying my surroundings, and suddenly I noticed a Bobcat on the hill behind my house, some 30 feet or so up. When I shined the bright light on the Bobcat it let out a low guttural growl. Knowing that there was a shovel within reach if needed to defend myself, I yelled back at the Bobcat belligerently, “What are you kidding me”; and then set my flashlight to stobe, which caused the bobcat to retreat immediately. There are literally hundreds of other stories of encounters that I have had with animals while living in Topanga, these are a few that I thought you might find interesting. I will leave you with this, always be alert to your surroundings,and prepared to protect yourself, your family, and your pets at all times, people have their dogs taken leash and all, while walking them, a $10 stun gun from ebay can be a legal, handy companion, for all form of predators. Respect nature, know and always help your neighbors, and hopefully you will continue to love living in Topanga as much as I do.

                                                                Robert Hahn