Art Wiley’s Sketchbook Gallery

Art Wiley – Sketchbook Gallery Curator

Before this was Facebook, there were just faces. Mine are called doodles (early ’80s).

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Accidental Journey

A memoir by Tim, Fred, Wiley, Izzy, whatever. It really doesn’t matter because …

You Won’t Remember My Name

Prelude to Amuse-meant

The Hero’s Journey, an archetypal human story, finds an ordinary person, gives (in this case him) a task he is not equal to and forces him to undertake it. In the course of his journey, the task becomes more difficult and the man loses every advantage and guide he started with. He must learn to rely on himself and, to accept the aid of those he encounters. The essential task does not change but, his means for accomplishing it are so different from when he began that it is only his loyalty to its completion that sustains him. The man able to meet the challenge is thereby transformed into a Hero. But for every hero, there are countless people who fail.

I keep an index of these failed heroes in a Fools Row Lineup I’d like to share with you. Most of the usual suspects are there.

Character List (Fools Row Lineup – partial list)

 And so, we supplicate to the Muse of our story with a benediction and prayer.

Accidental Journey

Accidental Writing

I started writing these ‘Walter Mitty’ daydreams and flights of fancy when I first met the Hulk: Halloween night, 1977. Jay, the body-building manager of Main Street’s Wildflour Pizza Parlour, announces to us, pizza-slinging doughboys, that his friend from the gym will be stopping by later this evening. It seems that this guy from Joe Gold’s World Gym, named Lou, is looking to get out with the spooks and the crazies.

To thicken the plot, Jay’s tip is overheard by the drag queen manager of a neighborhood cabaret, a fellow decked out in a wig, brassiere and fishnet stockings, just stopped by the Wildflour to make change from our cash drawer. On the lookout for excitement, this fairy tale barfly exhorts Jay to bring Lou by the club. So, as time slides into the late goblin hours, this guy, Lou, appears in his extra-gantageous self and asks for dinner in ‘the usual way’ (antipasto salad, no olives). He turns one ear to the dining room crowd and chats to Jay and us cooks.

“What’s up?” he asks. “How’s it going?”

“Fine,” I say. “Just fine, Lou.”

While Jay and Lou discuss the night’s misadventures with the bizarre ambience of the gay crowd across the street, I hang up my apron, wash and get ready to leave.

“Hey guy,” the big boys call. “Are you looking for a wild time. Want to join as for this Halloween party?”

“Not tonight, thanks,” I say. “Maybe I’ll see you later.”

Maybe I see you later, Lou – in the car I drive, the fan mags I collect, or event in person, Lou. Maybe I’ll see you later.

A few years later, I encounter the Hulk again (second time) at Close Encounters of the Safeway
Kind. Right here, in Boulder, CO. Well, if that don’t beat all! There you are, Lou, in the Sunday newspaper, looking good as ever and making a local appearance right here in town – “Come out and meet Lou (The Hulk) Ferrigno and sample his new nutritional snack bars – next Tuesday at the Boulder Safeway.”

After work, on the day of this promotional event, my buddy, davidmack and I hop into my Dodge Dart Swinger (named Lou) and head over to the Safeway to meet the spirit of my car in person. Hey, big guy – I see you in the crowd signing autographs and looking massive as ever. Your bicep bursting body sits poised at the display table, surrounded by candy bars, body-building books and a couple of two-bit, polyester types hovering suspiciously behind, monitoring for crowd control, I think. Who are deez guys – Superfly hustlers trying to pay the rent with your name? Lou don’t need no bodyguards!

In my car, in my mind and in my words, Lou is bigger than life. That’s why I’m here today with the admiring public and children chasing autographs. Your persona, Lou, rides with me on the highways, like a modern Saint Christopher, protecting this wayward driver from another fender bender. Your presence inspires the quiet strength of imagination, which guards me daily, ever since that thread of conversation in a pizza parlour, on Halloween a few years ago. Whether he knows it or not, Lou occupies that place in me where the strength of imagination, the power of the creative will, tempers all that revolves around this crazy world in the chaos of my own mundane existence. And here you are now, in the supermarket, selling health food bars. Wow! In a flash, I intrude this promotional stunt to say, “Excuse me, Mr. Ferrigno, remember me? I used to make pizzas at the Wildflour.”

Nervously, I pause, fearful he may have forgotten our meaningful encounter. The Polyester
Man casts a baleful look in my direction, about to disassemble my frame in a moment’s notice.
Lou gazes up from his work, blinks an eye and says, “You mean Jay, Steve and his wife, uh …”

“Wendy,” I say, prompting his memory at last.

“Yeah, I remember you. What are you doing here?” he asks as if he does not perceive the chrono-synclastic nature of this reunion.

“I live here, Lou. I’m married and live outside of town.”

And now, in a flash, he understands.

Lou Ferrigno with author Tim Weil

Hey, you’re the guy that used to make the antipasto, right?

He stands up, putting aside this supermarket scene for the energy bar firm and turns to the passers-by, to announce, once again, “Hey everybody – this is the guy who used to make me antipasto!

No one seems to notice but, I stand in Lou’s shadow, too humble for words. My friend, davidmack snaps a fews photos. I thank Lou and we leave, taking with me an autograph, a box of health food bars and a taste of that indestructible presence of Mind Out of Time. That evening, I eat a half-dozen of the Go-rilla protein bars and in my dream, I am transported to some new power spot of the universe. I am wretched sick for the next few days and in my enfeebled state, arrive at the moral conclusion to this story (My Secret Life with Lou) –

Taste the power of imagination but
Don’t bite off more than Lou can chew.
It’s not easy being Green!

Accidental Leap Year

STARSHIP LOG – 1st entry

PLANET EARTH (Blue Marble, 3rd Rock from the Sun)
Century-Year – 21st, 2020
Everybody (I mean everybody) is BUMMED OUT
COVID-19 Pandemic Alert. Code Red
COVID-19 Pandemic Alert. Code Red

Do you copy? I repeat – do you copy?

Mayday, Mayday. We are having a Leap Year this year.

There’s an extra day on the calendar (February 29th) throwing our world off its 22-degree axis. Babies born this day will only celebrate birthdays every four years. They shall age so much slower than all of us. Slower, but wiser. For God’s sake, it’s an Election Year. Planetary, pandemic pandemonium prevails in populations around the world. We are seized with CoronaVirus Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). This a Leap Year alert (can’t we skip this one and go to the next?). Unfortunately, that will take an act of God or Congress, neither of whom have the will to act. Profound indifference casts a pall over Life as we know it.

Knock, knock.


A voice calls to me through Time and the decades of my life. I was born in a Leap Year (1952). Post-World War II prime vintage Baby Boomer stock. Bluesman John Lee Hooker wrote a song in the ’60s about my arrival here – blue-eyed, blond-haired, cute as a button second baby boy to Bob the Father (BtF) and Carol the Mother (CtM):

BOOM BOOM by John Lee Hooker
(performed by Eric Burden and the Animals)
Boom boom boom boom
Gonna shoot you right down
Take you in my arms
I’m in love with you
Love that is true

Boom boom boom boom
I like the way you walk
I like the way you talk
When you walk that walk
And you talk that talk
You knock me out

BOOM (there was this war – WWII)

BOOM BOOM – My parents saw themselves in a mirror. And they fell in love with the mirror. A couple of innocents. Carol the Mother (CtM) was the beautiful blond-haired daughter of the Mayor of flipping Beverly Hills. A popular, sociable, ‘most likely to succeed’, ingenue of her day. Bob the Father (BtF) was an intellectual diamond, only son of his widowed mother, Esther who came West from New York in the early 1930s, to live with her extended family of Jewish brothers, aunts and cousins.

BtF sailed through coursework with the soaring wings of a legal eagle. Phi Beta Kappa (UCLA Journalism), Political Science Masters from Columbia, J.D. from USC. ‘The Producers’, as I affectionately call my parents, spent the post-war years in London, where BtF worked as an Associated Press correspondent, writing wire stories for the trade. They lived in trendy Sloan Square and at night, could listen to Noel Coward at the piano bar in the local pub, singing the wit and wisdom of the post-war songs to an appreciative crowd of BOOM BOOMers.

The producers came back to the States. A child was born (brother David – DtB). A job for BtF arrived with Grandfather David’s prestigious Beverly Hills law firm. A second son arrived. He was given the name Timothy (like the Apostle except, there are no Christians in our family tree). This was a Leap Year (1952) so, I jumped.

BOOM BOOM BOOM – In the recombinent Jewish subculture of Southern California, our families changed partners several times. I know; I have all the pictures. Dorothy, the stepmother (DtSM) had introduced CtM to BtF. She was a bridesmaid at their wedding where, it is said that actress Jeannette McDonald sang to the newlyweds and well-wishing Weil wedding attendees. How cool is that?

Matt the Stepfather (MtSF) preceded BtF as editor of the LA High School newspaper (1930s). MtSF was a scion of a famous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) producer, who won the Academy Award for the first movie musical, Broadway Melodies (1929). MtSF was off to Dartmouth and the Navy. There is a photo of BtF and CtM, poolside with MtSF and his wife (3 sons) and their friends, Al and Arlene. I know, I have all the pictures.

When I was nine-months old, a housekeeper to BtF/CtM set me down on a kitchen counter. I jumped (fell) into the vacuum of attention that surrounded our domestic life. As BB King sings, “The Thrill is Gone. The Thrill is Gone for Good.”

When I went to the doctor, a cast was applied to my broken left leg. I was a bit of a carpet crawler longer than most babies. There’s a photo of my shiner, when I crawled into a door and got a black eye. In my love of myth, pal davidmack might say, “Gosh darn Tim. Some people Study the Way. Others Follow the Way. You just Get in the Way.”

Makes sense to me. I always fantasized that I was the male child of Amazonian women who were said to have broken the legs of toddlers, so they would become better lovers in Life.

BOOM BOOM BOOM (reverb) – An Accidental Leap Year began my Hero’s journey through Life. When I gaze back to my date of birth, I’m always seeing the launching of HMS Titanic – leaving Southampton on 10 April 1912 (leap year). Titanic called at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland, before heading west to New York. On 14 April, four days into the crossing and about 375 miles (600 km) south of Newfoundland, she hit an iceberg, at 11:40pm ship’s time. I see myself standing on the dock, waving to the passengers. “Have a good trip,” I say.

I know. I had one (a good trip, that is). I didn’t sink the ship; I just had a front row seat to catastrophe.

Bonds of Brothers

In my office, I keep photos, lots of photos. Digital images, old 35mm slides, a few boxes of prints and albums of course, lots of photo albums. A favorite is this picture of Christmas, 1962 in Malibu, CA. Six brothers are here from three different sets of parents. My brother, David and I are in the first row. My stepbrothers are here in tennis sweaters and a front row lad with hand-covered eyes. My new baby half-brother shown with CtM beaming by the shimmering Christmas tree. CtM’s maiden name was Tannenbaum and she loved the Christmas season. We were a Jewish family (of sorts) but, holidays were interchangeable for us.

STARSHIP LOG – 2nd entry

PLANET EARTH (Blue Marble, 3rd Rock from the Sun)
Century-Year – 21st, 2020
Everybody (I mean everybody) is BUMMED OUT
COVID-19 Pandemic Alert. Code Red
COVID-19 Pandemic Alert. Code Red

Let’s circle the family and ZOOM into each other’s predicament.
Let’s turn this thing around. Let’s get back on course.

In these archives of memory, word snippets and photo images, I have history books as well. Lots of history books. I’m particularly fond of Stephen Ambrose and his vast work of Americana, Undaunted Courage (Lewis and Clark), D-Day, Nothing Like it in the World (my-story), Wild Blue and yes, Band of Brothers. I mention these only because years back (a decade or so), my high-school sweetie and I were corresponding on the occasion of our Santa Monica High School reunion.

“Did I ever tell you that my Dad, Kenyon Webster, was chronicled in that book?” (Band of Brothers)

Private First-Class David Kenyon Webster was an American soldier, journalist and author. During World War II, he was a private with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne Division. His book, Parachute Infantry Man, inspired Ambrose’s Band of Brothers book. Kenyon died in the 1960s, studying sharks in Santa Monica Bay but, I do digress. Baby BOOMers, Bands of Brothers, bonds of brothers and boys behaving badly are part of my DNA.


Zoom Zoom Zoom

I spend this morning ZOOMing into the lives of my brothers who, frankly don’t know me from Adam. In fact, when I visit their California beach homes over the holidays, I am often greeted, at the door, with these cautionary remarks – “Nice to see you brother Tim (TtB). Come in, come in. Please leave your stories and jokes outside the door.”

Even so, it is testimony to the Bonds of Brothers that we are still in touch with a kinship beyond our early years. Those days, the posse time, are reflected in the great book, Lord of the Flies (William Golding), when unsupervised young men found many ways of hurting one another. I know; I felt all the lumps. No adult supervision. An interchangeable set of nuclear families that went BOOM.

BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM (Missing the Picture)

STARSHIP LOG – 3rd entry

PLANET EARTH (Blue Marble, 3rd Rock from the Sun)
Century-Year – 21st, 2020
Everybody (I mean everybody) is BUMMED OUT
COVID-19 Pandemic Alert. Code Red
COVID-19 Pandemic Alert. Code Red

We are scanning for Black Holes in the Universe
We are scanning for Black Holes in our Lives
We are scanning for Black Holes in our Hearts

We have found evidence of life on Earth. It is a poem.

What is Being Forgotten?
by Eloise Klein Healy

Quickly. What is being forgotten? Shirts
On a line with stiff arms. Dampening bottles
with cork-rimmed lids. Rainwater heated
and sprinkled on white shirts. The wooden
legs of the ironing board and the iron heating
air like hot bread. Shirts flattening
under the iron. That every shirt needed
ironing is being forgotten.

In my collection of musings, Fools Gallery, spun yarns, word pictures, memories and photographs, I am still Missing the Picture. I’m missing the picture of my father’s soul (BtF) when he received the letter from CtM saying, “I’m leaving you and taking the boys with me.” – BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM

I can still feel the reverberations of Bob the Father’s pain, collapse and yes, his breakdown echoing in time. Ironically, that was his gift to me. The ‘hole in the heart’ was passed to me many years later, in my early 20s, when I found that ‘I didn’t have a leg to stand on’. Into this personal void came these words, where life and family collapse and, stories and characters spin out from our generation – BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM

I am a proud survivor of the BOOMers generation.

STARSHIP LOG – 4th entry

PLANET EARTH (Blue Marble, 3rd Rock from the Sun)
Century-Year – 21st, 2020
Everybody (I mean everybody) is BUMMED OUT
COVID-19 Pandemic Alert. Code Red
COVID-19 Pandemic Alert. Code Red

We are all on an Accidental Journey, perhaps. In my case, I was lucky enough to right the course and find a safer landing.

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Plectrology I – Flatpicking Compilation (1996)

PLECTROLOGY 1 – The Complete Booklet of Artists and Songs

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The Ballad of Dog Dually





Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The Ballad of Dog Dually

From Wiley Timmons ‘Tales of the West’

Gunnison Gorge – An invocation to amuse-meant.

Gunnison Gorge, Gunnison Gorge                  Gunnison Gorge, Gunnison Gorge
Where canyons rise and eagles soar               Rafting waters, outfitters tour
The river drifts, the white waters roar            Fly fishing the Gunny without any lures
Past ancient cliffs of Gunnison Gorge             Ancient river where Time endures.

1st Riddle –  What’s the difference between a banjo and a harmonica?

Eb – D Harp Walking Scale                              Wiley on the River

On the Trail of the Tale

An ancient canyon, running river, wilderness adventure is a channel for music. Folkloric music.  Ringing thru the air, Walking Down the Line, Fishing Blues and Tom Dooley piping thru the wind organs of the wild.  Piping thru the wind organs of the wild.

From the trailhead the Chukar Trail[1] begins descending right from the  start. There are very few level spots the entire distance. The overall elevation change is 1000 feet and distance is a trekking mile.  Switchbacks are built in to make the steep grade more manageable.  The trail eventually enters the wash  where it passes through the cliffs and down to the river.  Wiley the pack mule lugs in 45 lbs in of gear in a dry bag slung with backpack shoulder straps.  [1]

With no more than a blister to show (at first) he hears these refrains –Arlo Guthrie at Woodstock in ’69 singing Bob Dylan’s  Walking Down the Line to 400,000 freaks.  In typical Arlo fashion, he hesitates a bit.  As did Wiley at the bottom of the trail  –

Walking Down the Line (Bob Dylan 1963)

G          C/g              G      C/g   G                                      I got my walkin’ shoes
Well, I’m walkin’ down the line,                                    I got my walkin’ shoes
C/g    G                                                                                I got my walkin’ shoes
I’m walkin’ down the line                                              An’ I ain’t a-gonna lose
C/g              G                                                                    I believe I got the walkin’ blues
An’ I’m walkin’ down the line.
C/g          G                                                                      Well, I’m walkin’ down the line,
My feet’ll be a-flyin’                                                      I’m walkin’ down the line
D7sus4        C/g      G                                                    An’ I’m walkin’ down the line.
To tell about my troubled mind.                               My feet’ll be a-flyin’
Tell you ‘bout my twisted spine, knee, leg.

At the base of the Chukar Trail, where the shore meets the river, Wiley unloads the dry bag and starts sorting gear when his trick knee kicks in.  SPROING!  The pack mule load unwinds on his leg like a coil spring and wilderness adventure Wiley is now the 1st crip on the trip.  His tightened IT-band, knee sprain injury is old news.  He’ll has to deal with it in the here and now.  On the river.

2nd Riddle-  What walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 legs in the afternoon and 3 legs in the evening?

Overboard Anglers

Some came for the day, some for overnight.  Some came to guide, some to ride, some to fish and some to float.  Three boats on the river.  Looking for rainbow trout and browns, fishermen rigged their gear from fancy fly boxes.  Elk-haired cadis, streamers, bright plastic moths glowing in the water.  Like Taj Mahal singing to the Gunny –

Fishing Blues (Henry Thomas)

I went down to my favorite fishin’ hole,
Baby, grabbed me a pole and line
Cast it to the left, cast it to the right
Land that fly where the fish will bite
Browns and rainbows swimming around
Smooth river flows without a sound

Many fish bites if you got good bait,
here’s a little tip I would like to relate.
Many fish bites if you got good bait,
I’m a-goin’ fishin’,yes,
I’m a-goin’ fishin’ in the Gunny Gorge river too!

Father and son, wading in the water
Landing everything in sight
Back in the boat, fishing the waters
Left back home the mothers and the daughters

Many fish bites if you got good bait,
But when you’re tossed overboard it’s a fast moving lake
Keep your head up, feet first downstream
Don’t panic in the water or try to scream
While you’re splashing in the cold Gunny Gorge!

Bite Me, I need the Money

After a day and a half on the river all wilderness rafters make it back to the
campground.  Alive. Tired and Dusty.  With a hitch in his get-away, Wiley
hobbles over to the bar / store / stool to hang out with the good ol’ boys from the
local outfitters shooting the breeze about the river and rafters.

‘What’ll you have’, asks the barkeep?’
‘PBR like everyone else I guess.’
‘What’s your name son?’
‘Look at the label – PBR.  That’s me – Peter Brown Robinson.  Get it?’
Guffaw, guffaw.

Bidding the bubbas goodbye, Wiley drags himself back to camp to pack up and go.That’s where Wiley meets Dually bringing back to mind the murder, musicballad – Tom Dooley.



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Front Row Seat at a Three Ring Circus


Front Row Seat at a Three Ring Circus

They’re selling posters of the surfers. Celebrities all around.
Developers and real estate, buying up the ground.
Here comes the fire commissioner, the hills are all ablaze.
Sheriffs and their deputies chasing the bums away.
While right-wingers and the lefties fighting in the headline news
Crowds push thru the turnstiles to the three-ring circus blues

Wonderland – the first arena

Miramar by the sea. Look at me. Look at me. Miramar by the sea. What is
beautiful needs no adorning. Blessed be the Gods of Real Estate and
show business, Miramar has been an enclave of the motion picture
industry since the late 1920s when groups of actors, actresses and movie
officials established the Colony, a Pacific Riviera on a mile-long strip
of beach just west of a natural estuary and lagoon. This tract of land, and
golden sands, developed from the massive Fringe estate, a property
spanning 26 miles of scenic beauty along the California Coast Rancho
Miramar built as a farm near the ocean, under the lee of themountains, with
brook trout, wild trees, good soil, and excellent climate. On 13,000 acres of
this SoCal estate the Fringe family built a private railroad, a dam,
commercial dairy, oil wells, a ceramic tile factory, horse ranches and a
family home adjoining one of the most desirable surfing beaches in the
world. From the late 1950s, your narrator’s family homes were built on
Miramar by the sea. Look at me. What is beautiful needs no adorning.

Fire on the Mountain – the second arena

Now ladies and gentlemen, let’s turn our attention to ringmaster Wiley
Timmons here in the center stage where you’ve never seen the frowns on
the jugglers and the clowns while they all do tricks for you. Watch as we
take you down, down, down through the burning rings of fire as the
story of Mira-mar is quickly retold through the history of fire on the
mountain. Over the past 100 years 30 fires have burned thru the hills,
homes and wild life of this beautiful coastal and mountain terrain. At one
time or another, almost 90% the land been has been scorched to the
ground. Over many years, the fires in these hills have seared thru the
Miramar three-ring circus lives of Wiley, his friends, and family.

1928 – Las Flores fire (428 acres)
1930 – Portrero fire (20,000 acres)
1935 – Miramar fire (30,000 acres)
1938 — Pot-anga fire (30,000 acres)
1956 – Sherwood / Zuma (56,000 acres)
1970 – Wright Fire (28,000 acres)

  • There’s smoke on the water, fire in the sky as Wiley drives away to college with a boy’s bindlestiff of books, bags and guitar gazing at a young life gone by thru the haze of a rear-view mirror

1978 – Kanan fire (25,000 acres)
1982 – Dayton fire (43,000 acres)
1993 – Green Meadows (38,000 acres)
1993 – Pot-anga fire (36,000 acres)

  • The house of Wiley’s brother is toast.

1996 – Calabasas fire (12,000 acres)
2007 – Coral canyon (4,500 acres)
2018 – Last and largest, the Woolsey Fire burned in Miramar hills & homes.

The fire ignited, in November burned 96,949 acres
destroying 1,643 structures, killing three people, and
prompting the evacuation of more than 295,000 residents. ¾ of the mountain sanctuary acres were gone.

Home Town News – the third arena

The mega-fire of the devastating Woolsey blaze drew back the curtains
from the decades of Miramar growth and development. Smoke and
mirrors, smoke and mirrors. An awakening for this dyslexic atheist
insomniac who stayed awake all night wondering if there is a dog. A
memory too weird for words (but here we go anyways). Through the lifting
of the smoke, fire, haze and in the ashes of the burn scar emerged the
digital footprint of Miramar daily life. Week by week, year by year, here are
the stories of community life retold in the archives of the Miramar News,
these back pages appearing to a man-child with kaleidoscope eyes.
Naturally, we had to rearrange their pages and give them all another name.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear as we enter the
Miramar time machine tumbling, tumbling back thru the headlines
of the weekly home town journal. Picture yourself in a boat on a river…as
we move to the next arena of our three-ring circus.

Horsing Around in Miramar


The Miramar Remuda, a two-day celebration of culture and heritage held September 27-28, 1947, took its name from the corral that vaqueros would use to select a horse for the day. The event featured this impressive display of horses (over 900 riders) on both days, in addition to a circus, a “western bathing beauty contest,” aquatic races, and an air show

Riders and Ropers Christen a Corral
Miramar Queen coronation at gymkhana horse show.
Miramar 4H Plays hosts to horses and celebrities

Nancy and Ron, popular TV and motion picture stars visit a horse show

Building Up the Ground

Brought to you by Propertese God of Real Estate
Ranch sells for 400 pesos (1848)
Beach homes once could be bought for $4500
Atomic Power Plant in Miramar proposed
Hollywood premier for local supermarket opening
Ocean causeway to divert 4-lane highway traffic

Celebritese – God of the Show-Biz Enclave

$1 blue plate special at the Miramar Inn (home of the Shrimp Boat) and
Celebrity gathering spot where photos adorn the walls
Warren Beauty Reports Theft From Parked Car
Stars Hang out at the Tiki Bar
Tiki Bar Drink Menu –

  • Singapore Sling, Planters Punch, Cobra’s Fang, Skull and Bones,      Fog Cutter, Navy Grog and my favorite – the Suffering Bastard

Charles Boyer rents a house
Group Formed for Those who are Really Serious About Being Funny
Ingrid Bergman Dresses up as Joan of Arc
Elizabeth Taylor sports an Easter hat (with Parisian smartness)
Hit Parade Beauty Queen – Peach on the Beach is Out of Reach
Cisco Kid elected Miramar mayor

The Battle for the Headline News

Sputnik Sails over Miramar (11-8-57)
Freedom Document Foundation –
‘A Bible and the Constitution in every American home’
Put the United States Back Together Again. Elect Richard Nixon
It’s Time to Wake Up Americans

  • Frenzied plea of the Communist Party is dedicated to overthrow the USA
    And ‘Bury Us’. The People’s World newspaper urges the defeat of Barry
    Goldwater. What is going on in this country?

RF Kennedy romps in Miramar surf before night of tragedy
Reagan Rally Set / 14 Arrested for Weed Possession
Home town rally for gubernatorial candidate
Local John Birch Members Hold Meeting
Democrats with funny hats
Negro War Hero Seeks Job in Miramar

GOP Women hold a teen essay contest – Why Be a Republican?
The following principles best describe the cornerstone of Republicanism

  1. The individual – a spiritual rational being is the most important element
    of our society.
  2.  Government exists to serve the individual, not the individual to serve
    the government
  3. The individual’s economic needs are best provided by a healthy system
    of free enterprise
  4. The United States must be strong and reliant as an individual nation
    In a world of unstable international relations.

Chasing the Bums Out of Town

Burglar Steals Shave Whisky and Cigarettes
Parsing the local newspaper from ’46 thru ’69 on the derelicts of the Mirarmar town. Here’s the tally – Hobo-2, Beatnik-10, Tramp-25, Hippy-20, Hippies-31, Bums-40.
Studio Group Holds ‘Hobo’ Party at Cove

Lifestyles and Culture Wars

Psychedelic Cult Colony Opens in the Miramar Mountain Canyon

  • Founders envision a community devoted to creative efforts and exchange of
    Ideas. A combination of Summerhill and Synanon. Direct personal
    Confrontation and self-actualized freedom are blended

Psychedelic Cult Colony Closes in the Canyons

  • The Strawberry Patch, a 40 acre tract leased by a small group of persons
    identified with the hippy Movement. 65 persons living in tents and frame

Beatniks Not Seen in Poland Reports Local Veterinarian  
– (president of the Optimists Club)
Woman Slugged by Hippie Type
Hippy Philosophy in 5 short words

  • ‘Some one had to plant and water that flower’
    ‘Oh. I thought they just grew’

Beach Cave Shelters Hippies
Drug-crazed youth goes berserk in Sherriff’s Station
Like Way Out – Is the American Beatnik an Imitation Negro?

Pink Lady in the Nudes (1966).

  • Pink Lady in the News (Nudes). –
    Little Men from Venus Take Credit for Nude Lady Painting
    Gray paint washes over Miramar Canyon painting.

Looking in on a “Happening ”; It’s Wild, Weird, But What is It”?

  • Not wanting to look like squares, but not having the rags to looks like hippies we wore blue jeans and sweat shirts and jazzed it up with big pendants hanging around our necks. I  wanted to wear my granny glasses but no one would go if I did

Marijuana Round-Up Nets 15 Musicians, Hangers on in Pot-anga

  • Buffalo Springfield and Cream
    Five young musicians busted
    10 women detained (16-31 occupations as singer, model, student, entertainer,
    Sculptress, photographer, housewife and public relations girl)

The Fierce Infinity, New Book of Poems, published by Miramar author

Without a Label (side show leaving the arena)

It’s Time for Fun When the Grunion Run – But Use Patience
Big Fish Caught in the Bay Snow blankets Miramar
Woman Falls Asleep; Hits Two Telephone Poles
School bus driver retires after 24 years and 800,00 miles

Miramar Surfers Win at Meet

  • Duke Hawaii Recalls First Surfing in Miramar at the Fringe estate
  • Problems with the wild ones – surfer tantrums and beer can throwing
  • Miramar Beach Association Throws a Hawaiian Luau


First class officers elected for Junior High – Wiley Timmons, Sergeant at Arms.

Star Child Stepping Out of the Time Tunnel

Exiting the Time Tunnel, we meet ourself (again) – The Star Child

Wiley – younger than that now

Bold Defiance (last animal standing)

A carbonized rattlesnake frozen in time in the wake of Miramar fires

A Mirror Marred by the Scene

Les Fleur d’Mal (et Blues)

Mal et Blues
Mal et Blues
Le mer c’est bleu
Le mer c’est bleu
Comment allez vous?
Le Miserlou? Les Miserables?
The fugitive can find no job.
Les Fleur d’Mal ecrit par Baudelaire
Speaks poetry to clear the air.
Miramar by the sea
Look at me. Look at me.

What is beautiful, needs no adorning.

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Harry Houdini’s Toast to Arthur Conan Doyle


The Case of the Disappearing Friendship                                                                          



Abra-cadabra. Presto-Chango.
To my friend Conan Doyle, your writings grow strange-o                                                           Of elves and faeries this Hocus-Pocus
Perhaps Sherlock Holmes will soon lose his focus.
That keen eye for crime’s cruel seductions,
Your hero’s sharp mind, his skillful deductions
Unravelling the clues through the dark streets of London,
As each case twists and turns you bring before us
Nefarious characters soon brought to justice.

Let us sing your praises, our glasses, let’s raise them –
A toast to Sir Arthur, your writings and canon,
To Holmes and Watson from this crystal chalice
Hear, here we cheer at the hotel Brown Palace.

Alas, your Spiritism I’ve debunked and banished
Forever our friendship completely has vanished.

Presented by Tim Weil at the 2019 DWNP Sherlock Holmes Birthday Dinner
Copyright © 2018 Tim Weil – Security Feeds LLC

Reference – The End of a Beautiful Friendship (Jill Harness

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The Daily Grind

The Daily Grind

SusieQ woke up Saturday morning feeling ‘pressed’;  not depressed, repressed, oppressed or compressed.  Just ‘pressed’.  After Friday night’s wing-ding party, “Prince is Gone, so let’s Dance, Dance, Dance” she struggled to lift the downy bed coverlet off those sleepy blue eyes her willpower and effort focused on reading the oversized RED-LED clock facedial.  10am already.  “Shit, I’m late to work,” she wheezed and reaching to the headboard counter, fumbled for her pink I-Thing call machine to dial in to the daily grind.

“Hello, Queequeg, this is your busy barista,

SusieQ  letting you know I’ll be an hour latte.  Please tell my Coffee-Mates, Stubb and Flask, to cover for me at

Starstrucks.  I’ll be there as quick as I can.”  Click.

The struggle ahead to get past blankets, into working attire and off driving in her canary-yellow Fit was definitely an  uphill slog.  Damn.  She had “Purple Rain” on the brain and kept spinning last night’s DJ playlist into her jukebox mind.  “When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, Kiss (me) and let’s do the Bat Dance”.  Let’s face it – she always loved the artist formerly known as Alexander Nevermind / James Coco (not cocoa) and she did her best to brush the purple glitter from her hair as she prepped for the work ahead.  She laughed as she looked at the Starstrucks company dress code (green apron, slacks and appropriate jewelry) she had taped to the bathroom mirror.  With a flick of the wrist, she tossed the ‘uniform of the day’ into the laundry hamper.  No green apron for her today, that’s for sure.

With ‘purple passion’ pulsing in her veins, SusieQ went back to her clothes rack and emerged as Prince’s Princess,  dazzling in a polka dot pantsuit featuring a speckled black blouse and white pants offset with a dashing neck scarf.  Just to get things right, she topped off the getup with a Starstruck hat, adorned with her Prince-ness picture, looking regal and rockin’.  ‘Let’s  get going’ she mused and motored off to the mall to get it on with the coffee crowd.  As she made the scene at the Starstruck shoppe, SusieQ glided in the door just 45 minutes late to her shift.  She was singing and toe-tapping her way and the food droid staff smiled and quickly picked up the beat.  “Hey Queequeg, let’s get a double machiatto on the rush.   Stubb and Flask, harpoon me baby with some Mocoa, White Chocolate Mud”.

“One, two, three, let’s work.  C’mon let’s have some fun.  We’ll work till the morning comes.  Let me see you work”.

Do the daily grind.

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Appliance Time Again

Appliance Time Again                                    Ray Charles - Down Under by Tim Weil - Stories and Songs    

(with apologies to Buck Owens and Ray Charles)

CHORUS: It’s appliance time again, the fridge is broken
This old icebox it ain’t workin’ anymore
Yesterday she threw the mayonnaise in the garbage
A pool of water lies beneath the door.

The crisper holds the lettuce and the veggies
The temperature’s gettin’ mighty warm
Our box is livin’ way beyond it’s shelf life
We ain’t chillin’ out the way we did before.


The repair guy say the themostat  stopped workin’
The beer is warm, the food has started thawin’
Got to shop for a new refrigerator
After writin’ out the words to this sad song


Now they say AMANA’s gonna need a woman
My gal says that’s a brand I gotta try
But if she fills our icebox up with onions
I’ll bow my head and slowly start to cry.


Well it’s cryin’ time again look what she leaves me
A dead refrigerator and what’s more
This appliance and these cryin’ eyes are grievin’
My babe walked out the house and slammed the door.


The FRIGIDAIRE stopped coolin’ yesterday
And the WHIRLPOOL is headin’ down the drain
Our love’s defrosted baby, the ice just melts away
It’s appliance time again, you know I’m leavin’


Copyright © 2018 Tim Weil – Security Feeds LLC

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Walsenburg Waltz

Spanish Peaks, Huerfano County


Beneath the snowy Spanish Peaks
The Huajatolla (Wahatoya) in native speak,
Our tale begins with Story Creek
The steady flow of words we speak

On 80 acres of grassy plains
Bluffs and hills and scrub emerge
We scratch the land, our lives converge
Outside the hamlet …

Walsenburg Waltz

one, two, three
one, two three
waltzing thru time
swing with the beat
kick up your feet
one, two, three
one, two, three
partners in crime
gliding in space
running the race

Back in the day, the world was headed for Hell and Marigold’s group household opted out of the chaos, buying 80 acres in southern Colorado, beyond the front-range growth surge we foresaw, even in 1978. Huerfano County had cheap land so, numerous hippie tribes settled there, in the footsteps of coal miners who came for the jobs and stayed to scratch out a living running cattle, selling real estate, motels and cafés catering to travelers.

Huerfano County road signHuerfano (meaning orphan) County’s Spanish Peaks, neither quite a fourteener but standing out from the Front Range (wa-ha-to-ya in the native tongue) were landmarks on the Santa Fe Trail. Population centers include county seat Walsenburg, sex-change capital Trinidad, Ludlow (as in Massacre), La Veta and a double handful of small dried-up towns scattered across the scrub oak and pinon of the hills and sagebrush of the high prairie.

Huerfano County has been home to the oldest Jewish congregation west of the Mississippi (which recently folded, selling their beloved Torah to, coincidentally, the temple that Fred and Marigold joined in Denver); to Drop City, Libre, Red Rocks and other hippie settlements; to neo-con retirees who, in 2016, turned the county Republican for the first time in its existence. There’s a struggling ski resort on the west side of West Spanish Peak, an opiates problem and history that looks a lot like poverty.

one, two, three
one, two, three
play the song over
we’ve only begun
and still having fun

Construction with Manuel Labor

Story Creek aerial view15 miles up a county road, with no electricity or running water, our dreams become projects. Build a cabin, string a fence, lay in a cistern. Pour concrete walls. Pour lots of concrete walls. Stand up a windmill, dig a trench, pump water up a mesa to tanks for gravity-fed irrigation systems. Fix a broken tractor. The entropy of the land: we’re always building, and things are always breaking down.

Under the direction of Randall Vision, we pound posts and string barbed wire to keep out the neighbor’s cattle. The small-batch cement mixer labors as we pour foundations and raise greenhouse walls. The cute little Kubota backhoe groans digging through hard dirt and harder rock on the hilltop, preparing holes for a pair of water storage tanks.

On a 105-degree morning we arrive at the cement-works yard in Pueblo, where the office manager shakes her head, “In seven years I’ve never seen a day when everything went right.”

But we buy two 500-gallon cisterns anyway. They’ll deliver them Friday … sort of: they unload them fifteen miles down the road from Story Creek. How we’re supposed to transport two large, heavy, fragile tanks from there never occurs to them. Several conversations and days later, they send the truck to bring them the rest of the way in, to the holes awaiting them.

One, two, three
One, two, three
Build without ceasing,
Sweat, blood, and blisters,
Structures increasing.

The only way to get water from the pond to the tanks is to pump it but, we have no source of electricity. We acquire a windmill and Fred learns how to stand it up and mount the blades, balancing on the tiny platform twenty feet up, wrestling slabs of sharp tin into place then tightening the bolts so they’ll stay there. Once it’s up and running, the windmill’s a source of joy – lie in a hammock in the willows and watch it turn all afternoon. Gradually, the cisterns fill and water flows to the greenhouses.

Three Flat-Tire Day

Randall drives everyone hard, including the heavy equipment. Who’d have thought the skinny stumps of scrub oak would poke clear through tractor tires? Again and again? When the stubble punctures the first tractor tire, he puts on the spare. The rear tire is next to go, at which point, a 15-mile trip to town is in order. At Jolly Bonacelli’s tire repair store in Walsenburg, the heavy-set repairman does a belly flop onto the tire, tools in hand. Jolly Bonacelli and his very big belly. On the return trip to Story Creek, our pickup truck has a flat, just a tired tire. Three flats and you’re out for the day.

Gimme Shelter

Rammed earth dwellingThe only structure on the property when we acquire it is a low shed, used to store hay, protected from snow and wind. Raise the roof, add some walls, add more rooms – piece by piece it becomes a cabin. Fred and Marigold, dreaming of Rammed Earth, design the next addition, pouring a foundation then presenting plans to Frank Noga, the county engineer. He never heard of rammed earth – pipe clamps secure sturdy forms aligned 15″ apart, sprinkle in a moist blend of clay, sand and portland cement, then tamp it till it rings, hard packed. Keep adding earth-mix, keep tamping and the walls rise. With a “hat and shoes” – protective roof and foundation – a rammed-earth structure lasts centuries. Well, Frank Noga’s seen plenty of hippie shelters – our architectural drawings are a step above. He stamps his approval on the plans.

Pouring Concrete Walls

Friday afternoon work crew – Randall, Norm and Fred – watch the sun go down behind East Spanish Peak, no cement truck in sight. A race to the bottom of a Jack Daniels fifth is interrupted by the rumble of the mixer at 4pm, hours after everyone has given up on it. Oh shit! What are we going to do now? When the truck reaches our site, the tipsy crew goes to work. Fresh cement is delivered one wheelbarrow at a time. Try not to spill; this stuff is really heavy.

one, two, three
one, two, three
Maria del oro
Fred does his part
stay close to the heart

The Great Escape (almost)

Kawasaki 175 (Estrella model)The Kawasaki 175 (Estrella model) is a sporty, temperamental motorcycle for riding the Story Creek back roads and making quick trips to town. One day, Fred takes it out for a spin. Wearing sunglasses plus a helmet with a smoky visor, he keeps fiddling to kick this sucker into third gear. As luck would have it, he notches third as he comes over a rise, revving up to 30 mph about the time he sees, about 40 feet away, a three-strand barbed wire gate closing the road. Steve McQueen in The Great Escape would have leaped gracefully over this barrier. Instead, Fred goes for Plan B: dropping the bike, sliding wheels-first into the obstacle to save himself from painful lacerations. Almost. His right hand on the handlebar finds some nasty barbed wire that slices a two-inch gash in his middle-finger knuckle.

Resourceful to a fault, Fred wraps his wound in a bandana, opens the gate, picks up the Kawasaki and drives 10 more miles into town, seeking ER medical relief. The nurse checks him in and parks him on a cot to wait for the doc when two cops bring in his new roommate, a psychobilly traumatized with a PCP psychosis, restrained by the sheriffs and howling to beat the band. Fun is where you find it – that’s Fred’s for the day. The docs stitch him up, he rides back to Story Creek and, to this day, keeps his middle-finger scar as a reminder.

One, two, three
one, two, three
verse stands aside
here comes the chorus
written just for us
one, two, three
one, two, three
story creek farms
a Walsenburg waltz
with plenty of schmaltz

Hippie Days

Fast forward to the next century. Fred and Marigold, passing through Gardner, see a poster advertising Hippie Days – “Let’s go!”

They arrive armed with their copy of Shelter, a 1973 book about alternative structures, building materials and communities, a number of which grew up in Colorado in the 60s and 70s. The large-format, thoroughly illustrated book draws lots of interest. When Fred turns to the Red Rockers page, a woman stabs a finger at the group photo in front of the fifty-foot dome and exclaims, “That’s me! I was three. That girl next to me is a doctor with a degree from Harvard Medical School.”

Her friend looks over her shoulder as Fred identifies his cousin, David. “Didn’t he have a brother who was a junkie?”

Even in the 21st century, hippies are alive and well. Most communities are memories, evoking exasperation and fondness. “That dome was great for parties but it was a big noisy space – really hard to live in. In the summer, we lived in tents and tipis for privacy and sanity.”

Another onlooker remembers Archuleta, where some people lived in Zomes (domes made of aluminum sheeting). Libre is the only community still functioning. An artists’ colony, it sells work at a store in Walsenburg but mostly, the denizens keep to themselves.

Hippie Days shimmies in the sun to great music and belly dancers, with vendors selling vegetarian treats, books, handicrafts, original photos printed on greeting cards, rainbow tie-dyed t-shirts, wind chimes… All the people, even the sheriff’s deputies and the vaqueros, dance as the afternoon lengthens into evening, and No Bad Vibes rules the day.

One, two, three,
One, two, three
Dance and recall –
Hippie Days rock,
Laughter and talk.

Together or Bust!

Some folks can hang out for years, friendly but not too close. Not Marigold and Fred. Seven months into cohabitation, Huerfano County gives them a nudge. Four-day weekend: perfect for work and fun with the household crew. Last week’s snow has melted: perfect conditions for perfect mud, swallowing Fred’s car to its axles.

But Marigold has work the next morning, two hundred miles north. No way to tell her boss she can’t make it so, she grabs her pack, hikes up the road, hitchhikes into town then thumbs her way home, and gets to work on time.

JesterThe next day, Fred wrestles his car out of the mud, driving home by way of the long-gone Red Rocks commune, the dome his cousin shared with thirty other hippies. Fred’s cousin, David, morphed into a film critic for Newsweek. The Red Rocker, Larry Lazlo, hangs his hat in here in Denver, with Co-Media Photography. His celebrity portraits grace Denver’s SIE Film Center today. Everybody starts somewhere.

The Fred and Marigold reunion occasions a hard look: what are we doing? Hanging out, it appears, does not equal “your problem is mine” loyalty. When opposites are in motion, they’re either in mutual orbit or flying off in separate directions. The Weak Force of “kinda-sorta-maybe” doesn’t hold.

So, our Fools must reflect, in the light of the Cosmic Beam:

“You! You! What are you doing?!”
“Who, me? Us?”
“Do it t-t-together!”
A party-pack of reasons not to… blows away like chaff.
So, laugh!

One, two, three
one, two, three
follow the dream
tapping our toes
wherever it goes
one, two, three
one, two, three
April, she comes
brings what she will
it’s always a thrill

A Foolish Day at the Court House

Huerfano County CourthouseApril 1st, 1981
Opposites drawn like magnetic poles
North and south at the county courthouse
Two fools collide and merge our souls
Writing a story, we find a spouse.

Meeting Judge Murr just before nine,
We say the words and swap the rings
Figuring it will turn out fine,
Like lots of other silly things.

Fred and MarigoldA dyad launched from the Alpha Motel,
Friends at our side who know us well;
A close-kept secret, intensely discussed

We tie the knot and the joke is on us.

one, two, three
one, two, three
you hear the tune
laughing out loud
away from the crowd

one, two, three
one, two three
waltzing thru time
swing with the beat
kick up your feet


Spanish Peaks, Huerfano CountyBeneath the snowy Spanish Peaks –
The Wahatoya in native speak –
Our tale now ends with Story Creek.
The steady flow of words we speak
On 80 acres of grassy plains,
Bluffs and hills and scrub emerge,
We scratch the land, our lives converge.
Outside the hamlet

– Waltsenburg Waltz

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The Ultimatum – Get in Shape


The Ultimatum – Get in Shape

story by Ralph Underwood Fit

One, two, three, four.  Work it out.  Work it out.  One, two, three, four.  Get in SHAPE, Get in SHAPE.  One, two, three, four.  Are you fit?  Are you fit?  One, two, three, four.  Help yourself.  Get in SHAPE.  Work it out.  Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of health and fame.  Ralph Underwood Fit is my name.  My students know me as RU Fit, your personal trainer for the ‘Get in SHAPE’ program.  Try to see it my way and we can work it out.  Get it?  Here’s the deal – with my four-part system, I’m here to help you help yourself with the ‘Self Help Assessment Plan Evaluation’system.  That’s SHAPE, for short.   The shorthand for HELP is easy to understand.  H-E-L-P

H – Have a problem?

E-   Everyone does

L-   Let’s get together and

P –  Party

Now I know you’ve seen those TV bunko artists with the perfect hair and perfect teeth pacing the stage with a headset-microphone pitching all kinds of self-improvement programs – save your money, eat wholesome food, follow my exercise program, learn to bowl or save your soul.  With our SHAPE system you’ll have the tools to empower your life.  The cost to you, the dinner theater audience, is absolutely free and if you’re not  satisfied, we will provide a money back-guarantee.   As I like to tell my students, there’s something lost and something gained in living every day.   So let’s get on with the show.

Living here in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado country, we are at the center of the fitness universe.  Folks move here from around the world to find a self-improvement training program of choice.  It might be body-shaping, cross-fit training aerobics, pilates, weight training, or the extreme sports like ultrarunning, alpine climbing, high altitude trail running, mountain biking, parachuting, couloir skiing, free-soloing, mountaineering, cross-country skiing, downhill racing and the like.  To be clear, our program is about none of that stuff.  The X-Games are not Y-U-R-Here.  RU Fit’s ‘Get in SHAPE program starts with one basic assumption – ‘I still haven’t found, what I’m looking for’.  Here’s the deal.

We all remember the characters in the Wizard of Oz, right?  The Scarecrow who lacks a brain and desires above all else to have one; the Cowardly Lion, king of the jungle, who looks for courage and nerve to conquer his fear and finallythe Tin Woodman who states that he has neither heart nor brain, but cares nothing for the loss of his brain.  As the song goes …

I could while away the hours, conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain.
And my head I’d be scratchin’ while
my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain.

When a man’s an empty kettle he should be on his mettle,
And yet I’m torn apart.
Just because I’m presumin’ that I could be kind-a-human,
If I only had heart.

Life is sad, believe me, Missy,
When you’re born to be a sissy
Without the vim and verve.
But I could change my habits, never more be scared of rabbits
If I only had the nerve.

The RU Fit SHAPE system begins with a similar set of problems.  Mine.  It was helplessness, and lots of it.  Hence the desire to be helpful.  To get the heart of the matter, I developed the SHAPE program out of a strong desire to help people help themselves.  Here’s a few examples.   In junior high iI was raising money for the Toys for Tots program providing the Marine Corps recruiters with gifts for the young victims of the Vietnam war.  In high school I was leading fund drive for the US AID program, providing protein powder food supplements to the starving Ibo population suffering malnutrition and genocide in the Nigerian Biafran war.  In the college years, I was helping a Mexican family reunite across the US border and later, I did combat duty as an inner city bilingual school teacher in South Center Los Angeles – a war zone in an urban barrio.  At some point during those teaching years, RU Fit got the message, ‘help yourself Mr. Teacher man. we’ve got to get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do”.

Fast forward a few decades and let’s take a close look at the SHAPE program in action.  The case study involves   the Rebuilding Together program, a national non-profit group that organizes home improvement projects  The raison d’etre behind Rebuilding Together is providing good will, volunteer effort to provide help to families or individuals in need of assistance.   Similar to the ‘Habitat for Humanity’, this program is the nation’s largest home/community repair program with thousands of projects across the country every year.  In one day, houses are made into homes, racial, social and religious barriers are broken and lives are transformed.  Back in the Washington DC area, our temple volunteered one year to the next either painting, scraping, hauling or hammering to put a new look on an old home.

In the early ‘90s, we met a man who had certainly helped himself in Life.  Warner was an 80-year old black man living alone in a 3-story townhouse off Florida Ave in Northeast DC.  As a proud army veteran, Warner had marched into Berlin at the end of WWII as part of the liberation forces.  His distinguished military career lasted another 30 years and in the early ‘70s he was discharged with honors from the service.  His home was decorated with medals and commendations and yet he had been living alone for many years, a ward of his church, with no immediate family to care for him.   Although blind in one eye, Warner could take care of himself, and he liked to cook.  To improve his home, a project was planned to remodel his kitchen and the Rebuilding Together team began work on a Saturday with a tear-out of the old cabinet and countertop fixtures.   In the corner of his kitchen, our crew piled the cabinet contents onto a few tables so everything was ready for the remodeling job the next day.

On Sunday morning our crew chief Larry and I parked in the alley behind Warner’s home.  It was early in the day, an hour or so before the remodeling volunteers were scheduled to arrive.  “You know Larry, I’d be relieved if you go to meet Warner.  Chaos is about to descend on his home.  You might want to see if he’s still expecting us to invade his townhouse to pound nails, scrape paint and make noise on this early Sunday morning. Let’s make sure that Warner is in good SHAPE before the worker bees arrive”.   So Larry left the van in the alley and walked around to the front door while I waited for the ‘all clear’ sign to come on in.  It was one of those moments in life when everything comes to a complete stop, like the scene in that sci-fi classic, ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ when Klaatu the alien freezes time to give humans a last chance to save themselves from mutually assured destruction, self- annihilation, nuclear war and the like.  After twenty minutes or so, Larry came out the back door of Warner’s home, looking white as a ghost.

“What happened Larry?”

“Something bad,” he said.

“Did Warner have a heart attack?”

“No, worse”.

“Did he die?”

“No, worse”.

“OK, he didn’t die or have a heart attack, what could be worse than that?”

“Around 7am, Warner got out of bed and went downstairs to fix breakfast.  He went over to the kitchen stuff we had left in the corner and poured himself a glass of apple juice.  The four ounces of fluid he drank was PineSol, not apple juice.  He did manage to call 911 before he collapsed and the medics were wheeling him out the front door when I arrived”.

“Holy crap.   What should we do with all the volunteers coming over to fix his kitchen?” “I’ll take care of the crew”, he said.  “Let’s have you call the Rebuilding Together office and get some advice”. I rang up the local HQ and explained in a panic that ‘we’d fixed his wagon, not the kitchen’.  They told me to stay put while they sent their attorney over to take a deposition.   While awaiting the legal-eagle to arrive I started thinking once again about the desire to be helpful and the design of the SHAPE program we are presenting tonight.  A few basic ideas came to mind.

  1. The road to hell is paved with good intentions
  2. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong
  3. Murphy was an optimist
  4. No good deed goes unpunished

To this very day,   still hear Warner, mumbling something about, ‘go help yourself’ as they rolled him out the door In the end, the whole mess sorted itself out.  They pumped his stomach in the hospital, the crew built out the kitchen, the attorney got his statement and the Rebuilding Together program learned a thing or two about dealing with adversity in the mission of helping other people’s lives.

OK?  Got the picture?  The SHAPE system (a  Self-Help Assessment Evaluation Program) is designed to make helpful people more successful with their mission.  Unfortunately, things don’t always work out as planned.   Remember that example,  Klaatu the alien, in ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’.  He lands his spaceship on the DC mall and emerges with his sidekick, Gort to bring peace and harmony to our ragtag planet Earth.  And what happens?  He presents a harmless device as “a gift for the American President… to study life on other planets. The army guys shoot him, right?  Nevermind, he’s a determined fellow (Klaatu Barada Nikto).  At the end of the film he stops all electric power on Earth for 30 minutes to show what would happen if we humans threaten peace in space,  Damn if the soldiers shoot him again.  You just can’t win.

One, two, three, four.  Work it out.  Work it out.  One, two, three, four.  Get in SHAPE, Get in SHAPE.  One, two, three, four.  Are you fit?  Are you fit?  One, two, three, four.  Help yourself.  Get in SHAPE.  Work it out.  Try to see it my way and we can work it out.  Get it?  Here’s the deal – about that four-part SHAPE system, it turns out that the HELP we are assessing is really another acronym, word scramble and when properly sorted out leads us to the conclusion (almost) – Help stands for – ‘HUMANIZE EVERY LIVING PERSON’ (so Help me finish) –

If I wanted your assistance / I’d offer no resistance / Trying never to escape

I would take your HELP on Sunday / To my office on the Monday /And work to get in SHAPE.

I may not be the wizard / To fix or tame a blizzard / To keep us safe and warm

But with the HELP we are providing / We’ll take your shadow out of hiding / Give you shelter from the storm

If this story has a moral / To keep with you tomorrow /It’s a straight and simple song

Just SHAPE up your demeanor / To keep from getting meaner / Can’t we all just get along?

And that’s the SHAPE we’re in



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