Morose Apocalyptic Skies Above Palo Alto Heights

I knew this balmy weather couldn't keep on.  I went to sleep with several windows open, and when I got up around 7 this morning it was decidedly chilly.

By the time the Urban-15 team made it to the Aztec Theater, it became obvious that this mild taste of winter was planning to hunker over the town for the next few days.  Cloudy skies, low fog.  The sort of dreary days I hate.  However, we were so low on volunteers, that the time flew by.  We were just seven people hustling 1500 kids — herding them off buses, getting them up the stairs, taking tickets at two different entrances to the theater, ushering them into seats, and getting them out the lower level, onto their buses … all the while making sure that the buses of the kids coming for the next show were being properly wrangled.  We had a fairly good scheme of buses dropping off on Crockett Street, and later, picking the kids up on Commerce street.  It helped that we had learned a few short cuts from Thursday and Friday.  Also, we had our secret weapon: Stanley.  He's one of the drummers with the Urban-15 drum and dance ensemble.  And that guy's amazing — worth at least three mere mortal volunteers.

Tomorrow I think we have a couple more volunteers, thanks to Michael Druck of PrimaDonna Productions.


Carlos was in town yesterday.  He dropped off the “evoL” music video he directed and I shot.  The internet connection he has out in their new homestead in the Lulling Oil Fields (which I really want them to start calling Haunted House Ranch to dovetail with Carlos' production company moniker of Haunted House Studio) is on the blink, so I told him I'd compress the video and post it online for him.  I've placed it on his Haunted House Studio MySpace page.  And then I noticed a six frame glitch.  It was my fault.  I did the first edit on the piece.  Carlos came through and made some changes.  But between us, we over-looked a still image that wasn't cropped for the wide-screen aspect ratio.  And for some reason, MySpace won't let me delete the video so I can repost it.  Maybe no one will notice.  However, I recommend that if folks haven't seen the piece, cruise on over to the slightly improved version on YouTube by clicking:


The song is basic garage rock, easily in line with the Misfits.  The images are perhaps a bit grisly and seemingly on the misanthropic side (perhaps even misogynistic) — but really, I'm the last person who would notice that sort of stuff.  I recall someone telling my how embarrassed he was watching Reservoir Dogs with his grandmother during some family event.  A cousin showed up with the DVD, they put it on, and he was mortified.  “What?” I asked.  “It's just a heist movie.  You know — a bank robbery story.”  “Hello!  A guy gets tortured by having his fucking ear cut off!!!”  And that's when I realized just how jaded I have become.

Anyway, it's now out there on the web.  Finally Carlos' European fan-base can wallow in American excess.

As I was making a mDV dupe of Carlos' DVD (which will explain much of the digital artifacts), Carlos explained that his major mission down to San Antonio was to find a part for his and Shelly's Camaro (well, I believe Shelly claims it as hers).

He'd recalled a blog where I mentioned his visits to the Pick-N-Pull, and he invited me along.

I could think of no finer way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

We got in his van and headed south on interstate 35.  Just past South Park Mall, you hang a right on hwy 16, like you're going to Poteet.  Past Palo Alto Community College, and when you get to the intersection of Applewhite Road, turn left.  It'll take to by the Lucha Libre grounds.  The road curves around, taking you by a juvenile correctional bootcamp and a trailer park.  And before you know it, Pick-N-Pull!

At the risk of sounding like a rube, it's, well, just so cool.  I mean, I never was into cars.  It's one of those things men are usually introduced to by their fathers.  I was introduced to a lot of things by my father — H. L. Mencken, Fritz von Erich, Ernest Tubb, Anatole France, Bill Boyde (AKA, Hopalong Cassidy), Hunter S. Thompson, and on and on.  But I never saw my father rotate a set of tires nor change a car's oil.  In fact, I can't recall the man ever opening the hood of a car, least it was to look up from an ominous cloud of steam and comment that things didn't look too good.

Carlos grabbed his tool chest and I followed him to the entrance.  A man in a cage leaned out of a window when Carlos sat his tool chest on a raised surface.  He rooted around to make sure there wasn't anything suspicious inside.  At the next window, we paid the entrance fee.  I hesitate to call it the box office ….  Anyway, I believe it only cost a buck per person (and thanks, Carlos, for paying my admittance).  I even got my hand stamped.  For those new to Pick-N-Pull, you must go for the experience.  You must!  Take a lunch, there's some picnic tables.  It's damn cheap at a dollar!

When you get past the ticket booth there's a diagram posted on the wall.  It's a map of the huge facility.  It's broken up into grids.  Each grid holds a make of car.  Ford, Chevy, et al.

As we were looking for a Camaro part, we headed to the Chevy section.  Carlos had rented a wheel barrow for a buck.  He'd learned that it was worth the cost so he wouldn't have to haul his thirty pound tool-chest around into the huge auto salvage yard.  And, man, it's fucking enormous.  The whole places is laid out very properly.  It's clean and neat.  No doubt that once the gates close at night, and the sun sets, the place is taken over by rats, 'possums, and coyotes.  But, in the daytime, it's a very orderly place.

I'm posting the photos all together.  Thy're thumbnails.  Click for a larger picture.  I was playing around with the faux exposure on my little cheapie point-n-shoot digital camera.  I need to start playing with putting the flash on when I'm shooting outside and dialing down the sky so that the stuff in the extreme foreground will be well lit and I'll still be able to get those morose apocalyptic skies.

And here we have the item we came for.  A little length of very specific wire.

Pick-N-Pull — build it and they will come.  Next time I'm bringing pasta salad and humus dip!


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