Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hometown Happenings

I live in a very quaint, charming little town in the foothills of California. It is a tiny town, amidst other small towns, and quaint and charming are the most often used adjectives of my area...after white and hick. But it is also an area which is seriously bi-polar in that it is divided between the
I took this photo of a local on a hot day.
Need shade? There. I fixed it.
long-time residents who are red neck farmers and ranchers, and the newer residents who all grow pot. I am not entirely sure why quaint, charming little towns in California's wilder areas tend to bifurcate into the strangely incompatible bedfellows of conservative farmers and liberal hippie potheads, but it frequently seems to be the case.

As one would assume of a small town, our local paper is, to put it as charitably as possible, rather quaint as well. A recent front page headline read:

Boom Town (not the real name) fixture dies after fall from tree

As you might imagine, I was confused by the term "fixture". Had a street lamp perished in a deadly plunge? No. The fixture was a person.
[Name removed], known to many who frequent downtown Boom Town as "Garlic" with his ever-present bunny ears and boom box, died Tuesday morning after falling out of a tree.
My curiosity was piqued. I know the type of characters who "frequent" downtown Boom Town, and they are the vagrants, the homeless, the drug dealers, and the misfits. They are the leftover humans who seem to proliferate in liberal leaning cities, and Boom Town, with its pot culture and shee-shee air of being Recently Discovered, had developed a serious left tilt in the last decade. For someone to be a "fixture" of downtown and named "Garlic" with bunny ears and a boom box, it was clear that he had probably been suffering from mental illness, isolation, homelessness and drug use for some time. He was not a "fixture". He was a lost and desperate human being.

A woman, who was not being identified, reportedly had driven out to the area of [references to location removed to protect the stupid and the pitiful but suffice it to say she had driven out to bumf*&k nowhere, which is weird right there] just before midnight Monday when she heard a commotion, said Boom Town Sheriff Mickey Mouse.

"She heard hollering, like a baby bear or baby animal, then she heard breaking branches," Mouse said. "She turned on her headlights and saw a man lying in a fetal position on the ground."

Garlic reportedly told her he had been sleeping in the tree and fell.

"He was acting bizarre," Mouse said. "She asked him if he was OK."

Garlic reportedly fell on the hood of her vehicle, then reached in through the window and grabbed the keys out of the ignition.

He then apparently got into the vehicle and sat on the woman's lap, asking her for a hug and asking for help.

The woman told deputies she tried to call 911 but had a bad cell phone connection; Garlic reportedly took her phone and threw it.

At some point, the woman said, Garlic put his arms around her and then bit her on the arm.
"She started screaming, and then he went limp," Mouse said. "She thought he was faking it."
The unnamed woman managed to push him off her and drove away.  Up to this point it is a weirdly interesting story about an obviously sad and abandoned man. It is the kind of story you read aloud to your husband over coffee, stopping frequently to utter, "Oh, my God! Holy shit!" before sharing the next excruciating sentence. It's the kind of story that you don't, at first, believe. Or, at least, it was for me. This is a man who didn't just fall from a tree, he fell through all the cracks in society. But instead of help being there for him, people did everything in their power to turn him into some kind of mystic and spiritual giant, so they could leave him alone, without help, and feel good about it.

Those who grew up with Garlic remember him as extremely creative and a talented cook.

"He was quite the artist," said Betty Boop, who still owns a hip-hop album he self-produced a number of years ago."Unfortunately, he slowly could definitely call him clairvoyant in some ways."

Huh...what? Definitely clairvoyant, in some ways? What does that even mean? And I want a follow up on the "slowly degraded" statement. People who "slowly degrade" into clairvoyance are nuts. And need help. Not your moon-blind, drum circle song and dance applause.

Many locals cited the "spiritual insights" Garlic would share with them.

"When he was in the right space, he would give really profound descriptions of how the world worked," said local musician Big Bird. "I really enjoyed hearing what he had to say. He was really insightful, a very endearing character."
A downtown resident still treasures the incredible depth of wisdom Garlic shared with her six-year old daughter one day.

"He said, 'Hi, little girl. I want you to know something - you've got to always follow your dream.' She kept that forever...It was super-simple, but super-magical."

Oh, for the love of all that is holy! How does a woman that super-stupid survive? How does she manage to make coffee and brush her teeth without third-degree scalds or poking her own eye out?

With her riveting insight, she assures us that even though Garlic might seem bat-shit crazy to the casual observer, he was really spouting Deep Truths, if you listened.

Although Garlic often seemed to be talking to himself, it "wasn't just world salad, he was a pretty intelligent guy. You just had to tune in."
Garlic was a mystery to everyone, said longtime friend, Mellow, adding, "That was his persona. He was an oracle...He became an esoteric icon."
 I'm just going to leave that last sentence completely alone because...MELLOW? And oracle? And...esoteric icon???

There is no mystery here to me. He was mentally ill and needed help. Instead everyone turned him into some kind of divinely inspired village wise man so they could blithely go about their day. And now he's dead.

For the record, I'm not certain I would have done anything, either. I'm not even certain, with the laws the way they are in this state, that anything COULD have been done. But what does make me enraged is how easily everyone dismisses the obvious issues of mental illness, isolation, possible drug use, and homelessness in a fellow human being that they knew for years with feel-good gobbledy-gook.

And I will bet my last dollar that everyone interviewed is a self-identified liberal. Liberals don't care about doing good; they only care about feeling good. And they can make up all kinds of lies to make themselves feel good.

Even when there are dead bodies.


  1. Nice.

    OTOH, I don't understand the tractor picture. That umbrella is a pretty standard item, I have one just like it for my tractor. or is it how it's attached? I can't see that.

    1. Yes. The attachment was definitely a home job. I think the umbrella must have come from a patio table. It was wobbling around like it was going to fall off if he went faster than 3 miles per hour.

  2. Ah, I see, he has it tied to the sickle bar.

    but that's a tractor umbrella, I think it's a deere. Mine is a plain white one but it looks just like that.