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The Adventures of Crane

Based on True Stories
Richard Alan Krieger

1. The Fire of Independence Day
2. My 1st Kiss
3. A Cosmic Sign
4. ​The Blessings of the Gurus
5. The Babysitter

6. I Almost Climbed Mt. Everest

The Fire of Independence Day


It was the 4th of July 1993, and my good friend Chuck was throwing his traditional "Independence Day Celebration" at his house in San Pedro, California. His house was a 1940's two story bungalow on 40th St. at the end of the block on the cliff overlooking Cabrillo Beach and L.A. My rock band Tragicomedy got the party going in the afternoon with a couple of sets.


When it became dark, we all waited in anticipation for the big firework show that the city was going to put on in the harbor down below.


As we awaited the official firework display, the locals on the street started doing an impressive warm up act of their own. For every house on the block had people setting off all kinds of fireworks even though fireworks were officially outlawed in the city. There was even some dude on a rooftop who after running out of fireworks did the next best thing in lighting paper bags on fire and dropping them over the ledge.


Up to this point it had all been fun and games, but now there was a foreboding sense of danger in the air due to the immense amount of fire blazing in such a small space.


Suddenly a motorcycle cop zoomed up and screeched his bike to a halt in the middle of the cul-de-sac. You could see his jaw drop in bewilderment at the spectacle of dozens of illegal fireworks going off all around him.


Right at that very moment, he came face to face with one of those fireworks as a screaming ball of fire descended in his direction. As the skyrocket approached the officer, he froze in utter fear and could do nothing but to await his fate. The rocket then exploded a few inches behind his head which prompted him to take off like a bat out of hell.


After that violent act of provoking authority, I knew that it was now only a matter of time before we would see the return of that motorcycle cop accompanied by many of his buddies who would no doubt be looking for revenge for the rocket assault on one of their fellow officers.


At that point, I went to the end of the street to look out over the ocean to get some fresh air, relax and enjoy the view away from the continuous flaming fire frenzy. There, I found a few other people doing the same thing.


Then a stoned male teen appeared wobbling back and forth towards the cliff... 

Stoner - “So, you want to see some kaleidoscopic colors? Hahaha! Check this out!” 


Before we got a chance to answer him, he pulled a Pinwheel Firework out of his coat, lit it and threw it out over the edge of the cliff towards the ocean. But instead of it hitting the ocean like the city’s professional fireworks did, it landed in the dry shrubs below. The shrubs then quickly caught on fire. And since it was windy, the flames rapidly climbed up the cliff towards the Block Party.


The small group I was standing with at the edge of the cliff became very animated knowing that our peaceful haven had come to an end and now some sort of drastic action needed to be taken…


Party-Goer 1 - “I’m out of here!” So he and some other people ran off down the street to escape the mayhem.


Party-Goer 2 - “I’m calling the Fire Department!” And then he ran into the party house to make the call.


I then stood there all alone in total disbelief looking down at the fast approaching fire wondering what I should do next. I knew at that moment, that time was quickly running out in terms of trying to save the neighborhood from this fiery inferno, something had to be done right now. 


So I jumped off the cliff and miraculously landed 20 feet below on my feet on the steep slope and began running swiftly toward the inferno. The flames had now turned into a “Ring of Fire’ approximately 30 feet in diameter. Instead of trying to fight the fire from outside the ring, I broke through the thick firewall of flames that were about 8 to 10 feet high. The crackling sounds of the flames were intense as I flew through them. By making this move, I knew I’d have a better chance of fighting the fire because I would be behind the direction that the  flames were taking that the wind was pushing up the hill.


I first focused on the fires at the top of the ring that were immediately threatening homes. Like a mad whirling dervish, I  fanatically kicked dirt with my feet at the flames as fast as I could to suffocate them. As I did so, the flames did a swirling dance around me. At times the flames would blow right into my face to further taunt and mock me for trying to put them out. 


Then there were a few moments where time seemed to slow down like a slow motion scene in a movie. As the ‘Fire Dance’ commenced, I ducked and weaved in precise defensive martial art moves to dodge them from hitting me directly.


After I was able to defeat the fire's offensive front line near the top of the cliff, I began to focus my attention on the fire's sidelines that were branching out. To do so, I ran around the remaining perimeter and continued to kick dirt at the firestorm. After putting out the sidelines, I then dealt with the last remaining flames at the bottom of the cliff. Those flames were like kittens to deal with vs. the hungry lions I had just tamed at the top. Finally, I was able to put out the last burning embers of the ‘Fire Ball Monster.’


At the top of the cliff I noticed a police helicopter circling above with its spotlight shining down upon the street. I don't know where I found the strength to even start to climb that cliff, but somehow I did. As I neared the steepest part at the top, my fatigue really started to show, for every move I made became slower and heavier. 


I eventually was able to put my hands on the street's pavement and then slowly pulled my head up to the street's surface. The first images my blurry watery eyes saw was a total barren street. But as my eyes began to focus better, I saw Chuck talking to the Firemen next to their truck. It appeared that they were arguing with him. I then realized that the Firemen were all upset about being called out to put out a fire that was nowhere to be found... in other words, an illegal "False Alarm" in their minds.


Seeing this misunderstanding happening, I then started to try and pull myself up onto the street to explain to the Firemen what had happened. Just as I was doing so, lo and behold, about ten police officers began to approach me marching in a row dressed in full riot gear with their billy clubs held high looking for action. When I saw that ominous sight, I quickly ducked back down below the street.


I then waited awhile for all the commotion to die down before making my final move to get back to the party. And it’s a good thing I did, for I needed to rest some more because I was too exhausted to even try to make the last and hardest part of the climb. 


After a while of observing total silence, I finally arose onto the street and made my way over to Chuck's pad. Inside I found myself with just a handful of party refugees who were in shock all talking at once about what had just happened.


As I listened to the various stories, someone handed me a cold one. That same person then asked me why my face had charcoal smudges all over it.


I then replied, “Well, it all started with a firework that got out of hand…”  

My 1st Kiss


I remember my first kiss. I was in the 4th grade and there was this girl who had a crush on me. But since I couldn't stand her… she wasn’t my cup of tea. 


So one day on the playground at lunchtime she came up to me with a bunch of her friends demanding that I kiss her. I then ran away as fast as I could with what seemed like the whole school chasing me. 


The chase ended when I went into the boy's restroom thinking that I would find refuge there, but her gang of boy henchmen cornered me and pinned me down to the floor. As I kicked and screamed she slowly and sadistically kissed me. Yuck!… I thought to myself.


And that.... was my first sexual encounter with the opposite sex.

A Cosmic Sign


The year was 1982 and my friend Martin who was a saxophonist and I as a trumpeter were on our way from San Pedro, CA also lovingly known as “Pedro” to play some improvisational jams with our friends in the music group the Minutemen in the San Fernando Valley “The Valley” for a late night gig at a nightclub called, The Plant. 


As we were traveling through the Cahuenga Pass (connecting L.A. to the Valley) we listened to music on the radio station KPFK. All of a sudden, a new DJ came on the air. She gasped in her breath and her voice conveyed a sense of urgency as she then shared with us a very strange tale of driving to the station on the very same road we were driving on at the time. She proclaimed that while she was driving through the Cahuenga Pass, she was buzzed by a UFO/Spaceship.


Upon hearing this astounding news, Martin and I quickly locked eyes in a moment of profound silence. Within seconds we both simultaneously broke out into nervous laughter. We then stuck our heads out our windows and began to scan the night sky for any anomalies. As we did so, we challenged any and all “Space Invaders” still in the vicinity to engage us in conversation. We called out with phrases such as, “Hey! What’s up?,” “Is anyone up there?,” and “Reveal yourselves!”


When no one “from above” answered our requests to verify the DJ’s story, Martin then sighed, “Oh well.”


Although nothing unusual happened to us as we entered the Valley, we both made note that it was quite a remarkable coincidence nonetheless that we had experienced.


Martin and I got to the show and jammed some cool grooves with the Minutemen in their set and then hung out in the bar afterwards. There we shared our off-the-wall story of what had occurred earlier with various friends much to their amusement.


It wasn’t long after sharing our tale that a bouncer then yelled out that our good times had formally come to an end as he started to put chairs up onto the tables. Hearing our queue to leave, we said our farewells to everyone and left the club.


As Martin and I approached my car in the ally behind the club, I reached into my pocket to get my keys out to open the hatchback of my car to put our instruments in. Just as I did so, both Martin and I froze in our tracks as we stared in awe and amazement at the amazing spectacle before our eyes. For there written into the early morning dew upon my car’s back window was a mystifying hieroglyphic looking message about the size of a bumper sticker. In many ways it looked like an advanced mathematical equation.


A shiver then rose up my spine as both Martin and I stared at the mystical message with our dropped jaws in astonishment. At that moment, I felt like I was in some sort of sci-fi movie. The ET visitors had replied to our earlier request of… “Reveal Themselves.”


Even though we could not believe our eyes, it didn’t matter, for the DJ’s story of a UFO sighting earlier now eerily connected to this "Cosmic Sign" written upon my window which was very much like a corp circle in it’s other worldly quality.


Martin and I proceeded to exchanged various excited comments varying from disbelief to exhilaration. After doing so, I quickly ran around the car to the passenger door and opened it and looked in the glove compartment for the means to write down the message. I eventually found a pencil and paper bag and proceeded to transcribe the mysterious message down so it would not become lost in time...


A Cosmic Sign (Photo)

The Blessings of the Gurus


I went on a trip to the Far East in 1990 to get ‘The Blessings of the Gurus’ for a ‘East Meets West Spiritual Healing Center’ that was a ‘Humanitarian Project’ to be built in California. My role at the center would be to work as a Sound Healer with my ‘Awakening Sounds Project’ of peaceful sounds ‘to gradually awaken to’ instead of the traditional ‘alarm clock’ that shocks people awake from their sleep.


The team I was a part of consisted of two other yogi students and was led by an unorthodox metaphysical yogi teacher known as Master Dick who was part of a spiritual lineage of yogi masters that connected him to both Indian Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism.


Our airplane arrived in Madras, India and then we took a taxi to our hotel. Our chaotic taxi ride was like something out of an adventure movie with the action revolving around people, animals and vehicles. And they all wandered through the streets with the greatest of ease going in every direction while causally barely hitting each other and all the while they didn’t display the slightest bit of fear. 


There was even a ‘stereotyped’ huge cart of hay being towed by oxen that tipped over right in front of us as part of the ‘action.’ Luckily the driver, or I should say, ’stunt driver’ quickly swerved around it at the precise moment in time that saved us from a total catastrophe.


That ride had to be one of the most ‘Wild Rides’ I had ever been on. It was even ‘wilder’ than ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”’ at ‘Disneyland!’


So after we got settled in at our hotel we began to work out our plan to find these fabled ‘Holy Men.’ But I couldn’t help but feel like I was some sort of ‘Bounty Hunter’ trying to track down these ‘Yogi Masters.’ And our mission was that much more difficult to complete since these yogis with their ‘Mystic Powers’ were known to dematerialize at a moment’s notice and then pop-up somewhere else in ‘time and space’ similar to the “Beam Me Up” concept in “Star Trek.”


Case in point, we ended up on a ‘wild goose chase’ on a train ride from the upper north to the far southern tip of India where we were told a ‘Master Guru’ was supposed to be. But upon arriving there, we were then told that he really wasn’t there after all and was now in the upper north of India where we had just come from. 


We now couldn’t help but feel totally frustrated that we were ‘exercising futility’ to the ‘point of no return.’ But giving up wasn’t an option due to our strong commitment to help humanity with our project, so we jumped back on the train once again in pursuit of this ‘Elusive Guru.’ And in the end, our patience proved to be a virtue for it did indeed paid-off because we finally found the Guru at his ‘secret hideout’ in the mountains. 


So we then petitioned the ‘Master Guru’ with letters for days on end for a meeting while attending his ‘marathon monotone chanting sessions’ where all his Devotees sang perfectly together out-of-tune. But the ‘drone factor’ was putting me into such a ‘Deep Sleep’ that it made me wonder if I might never wake up again. And if that were to happen, I pondered in amusement what epitaph others might then write on my tombstone… “He Died of Boredom” or better yet… “He Died in the Blissful State of Samadhi.” (Note: For the record, if anyone does end up writing on my tombstone (if my body is ever found),  I’d prefer the 2nd epitaph vs. the 1st one. (and please… “No Graffiti”) Thank you.


One of the perks to becoming ‘Enlightened,’ was that one kept their consciousness at the time of their death. And then they transferred their consciousness into their “Rainbow Light Body.” That then becomes a vehicle with a multitude of possibilities to choose from in terms of planes of existence to where they want their soul to travel to next.


On that topic matter, I intrinsically felt that my time wasn’t near up as of yet. At the same time, I totally endorsed this Native American motto as well… “It is a good day to live… it is a good day to die… I am ready for whatever comes.”


Speaking of outcomes, the outcome of our mission to get the “Master Yogi” to endorse our project with his blessing is one that to this very day remains a “Mystery Full of Conjecture.’ According to Master Dick, he claims that he did get an audience with the ‘Master Guru’ and that the meeting went well. But if this meeting ever did take place, the result was that it amounted to nothing. For the ‘Famous ‘Holy Man’ had either run out of having enough ‘blessings’ for such a big project or... he didn’t groove with the vibes of Master Dick’s aura. And if the latter was the case, it was probably because he saw Master Dick as a ‘Wannabe Guru’ who was also a part-time ‘Con Man.’


Personally, I was having doubts if Master Dick was really a ‘Master Guru’ after all. And the reason for those doubts seriously began when he suddenly stopped acting like a ‘Master’ the moment our plane landed in India. That’s when his attitude towards me began to increasingly become more hostile for no apparent reason. He would verbally attack me in a mean spirited manner whenever he could even when I’d make the most innocent of mistakes. And he would also exaggerate situations in such a distorted fashion that he’d tried to make me out to be some sort of villain. It was so shockingly bizarre his new demented personality. And to add to my shock, was that my fellow yogi students turned into cheerleaders who backed-up whatever false accusations that Master Dick would throw my way which exponentially added to my stress level.


It was as if Master Dick had now become possessed by an evil spirit who was sent from hell to make my life hell. And as hard as I tried to disregard that off-the-wall theory as being too far out… as time went on that explanation kept standing out as the only one that really made any sense. So I did the best I could to come to terms with this new very spooky, weird and disturbing situation.


Although Master Dick’s demeanor aka ‘The Mean Demon’ had become a dark cloud over my personal trip, there were still some fun times that we as a group experienced. Some of those highlighted fun times were going on a ‘Jungle Safari Boat Ride’ on a river were we saw various animals that included elephants, we rode mopeds through a futuristic organic city out in the countryside, we enjoyed swimming in a mountain river that had a waterfall and we body surfed in the ocean with sea snakes who were ‘friendly’ due to the fact that they didn’t bite us.  


Our adventure then took us to the mountains below Mt. Everest to the eclectic and vibrant international city of Kathmandu, Nepal. We then travelled to a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery that was just outside of town where the monks were so kind to let us stay for a couple of weeks. They also let us observe the ‘mystical sacred chanting prayer rituals’ that they did which included complimentary ‘Yak Butter Tea.’


After our stay at the monastery, we booked a room at a downtown hotel. One morning I awoke to find that my friends had vanished into thin air like an ‘Alien Abduction’ had occurred in the middle of the night. I then came to the conclusion that they probably went into town without telling me. 


So I went to town to see if I could find them. Along the way, it started to rain so I bought myself an umbrella and continued to walk down the streets on my search.


I was then lucky to see them in the back of one of the shops that sold Buddhist spiritual paintings called, ‘Thangkas.’ I then walked into the shop and waded through a maze of hanging Thangkas until I found them speaking with the shopkeeper…


Crane:  Hey! What’s going on?


Master Dick: Where are our umbrellas?! It seems that you forgot to buy some for us. How inconsiderate and un-Buddha-like of you.


Crane: What are you talking about?


Master Dick: Must I explain to you everything I say?


Crane: Only when you don’t make any sense. I remember you saying that there are no stupid questions… only stupid answers.


Master Dick: What I’m trying to say is… do you want us to catch our death from pneumonia because your selfishness means so much to you?


Crane: Since your ruthless paranoid question has no validity in reality, I shall ignore it. The reason I didn’t buy a ‘bunch of umbrellas’ that were non-returnable for all of you, was that the chances were highly likely that on this rainy day that you had enough common sense to have already bought some umbrellas on your own.


Master Dick: That’s mere conjecture on your part. You should never assume. The fact of the matter is, you should have known better. Humf! 


Crane: Anyway, it’s no problem, I’ll get you some umbrellas.


Master Dick: Just forget about it! It’s too late now!


Crane: It’s not too late, because it hasn’t stopped raining.


Master Dick: I wish not to talk about this ‘frivolous subject matter’ any longer!


Crane: And why is that? You brought the ‘frivolous subject matter’ up to begin with. It seems like the hostility you show towards me has nothing to do with the umbrellas whatsoever. Whatever happened to you Dick? You’re not the same friendly well-mannered guy that I once knew. It’s as if an evil entity hitchhiker has now taken over the command center of your soul and has possessed you.


Master Dick: I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. 


Crane: The ‘hell’ I’m talking about is where you came from and where you’re now coming from!


Master Dick: As to answer your initial question, “What’s going on?”… What does it look like we’re doing?


Crane: Now you’re changing the subject because it’s too unconformable for you to deal with issues relating to ‘conflict resolution.’ Your diversionary tactics to avoid answering pertinent questions as such is because you’re afraid your answers might turn out to be too superfluous and or too evasive from not being able to deal with the pain that comes from what the truth represents. 


Master Dick: Oh! How observant you are Master Crane. Ha! If you really must know ‘why we are here,’ we’re buying Thangkas with the money we collectively pooled together to sell back home to make a ‘big profit.’


Crane: Excuse me? There’s a ‘big problem’ with your new superficial plan. 


Master Dick: And what might that be pray tell?


Crane: You somehow forgot to ask me my opinion as part of the process of making a group decision.


Master Dick: Well, since you’ve been acting like such a ‘stranger’ lately to the group… 


Crane: Ha! You’re the one who’s the ‘Stranger’ here!


Master Dick: So we figured it was best to make this group decision without you considering that you were absent from the group today anyway.


Crane: And the reason that is… you are the ones who left without me this morning so I wouldn’t be able to cast my vote! And that’s wrong!


Master Dick: Now don’t you be making this out to be some sort of “Conspiracy Theory.” Hahaha!


Crane: He who is the only one to laugh at his own joke, is suspicious. For the joke then reveals that the joker is nervously laughing as a distraction to hide his own guilt.


Master Dick: Wow! Is it okay if I quote you? Hahaha!


Crane: As for you ridiculing me as a “Conspiracy Theorist”… the CIA weaponized the phrase ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ after the JFK assassination as an 'Official Doctrine' to help cover-up the ‘Secret Government’s Conspiracy’ that was behind the murder of our beloved president. 


They debunked and delegitimized anyone who asked valid questions that were unanswered in the JFK investigation by labeling such people as being frivolous and paranoid ‘Conspiracy Theorists.’ By doing this, ‘The Powers That Be’ were able to set a precedence to where no one would dare question any of the ‘Government’s Official Narratives’ ever again for being afraid of being labeled as ‘delusional’ and or ‘crazy.’


Master Dick: That sure sounds like a ‘Conspiracy Theory’ to me. Hahaha!


Crane: I’ll tell you what the ‘Real Conspiracy’ is here. It’s that you all have suddenly ‘gone off the deep end’ with your ‘materialism’ that has now besmirched our ‘spiritual mission.’ And in doing so, you have just sabotaged the whole reason that we came here.


The reason why you didn’t want me to be a part of the group’s decision making process is because you knew that I wouldn’t betray our humanitarian goals like you’re doing now.   


Master Dick: Your vote wouldn’t have mattered anyway because it was already overturned by the rest of us who voted unanimously against you before you woke up.


Crane:  Ah yes, before I woke up to your deceitful Shenanigans that is. Ha! The ‘plot thickens’ does it not? That’s not a fair vote! Ballots are meant to be casted anonymously. Just because my fellow yogi students told you they were in favor of your ‘diabolical plan,’ that doesn’t mean that they would have actually voted that way in a private voting booth where no one is able to look over their shoulders.


Master Dick: ‘Crocodile Tears’ will find no sympathy from us here. Hahaha!


Crane: How can anyone take you seriously when you’re always laughing in ridicule at anything of significance being said? You sound like the “The Mad Hatter” on peyote tea from “Alice in Wonderland.”


Master Dick: Well… in a mad world, sometimes you have to be more mad than those who are really mad to bring back what we thought we had regarding a reality that’s really bad that we no longer recognize as being real! Hahaha!


Crane: Well said, ‘Mr. Mad Hatter.’ 


Master Dick: Thank you.


Crane: As I was saying… How dare you burn our noble plans to ashes! You spending our group money in this manner will now cancel our plan to visit the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala.


Master Dick: That doesn’t really matter, he comes to the States all the time, we’ll meet him there.


Crane: Oh yeah? And what about us visiting the Taj Mahal?


Master Dick: Oh that’s such a ‘tourist trap,’ order a postcard if you must.


Crane: Yeah, that’s almost like being there so I’ve heard. Most people who visit India visit the Taj Mahal for the splendor and awe that its majestic beauty inspires. It’s also considered to be one of the “Great Wonders of the World.”


Master Dick: My, my… now you sound like a ‘greedy materialist?’ Hahaha!


Crane: Listen here! I’ve seen through your reverse psychology mind games all along. But I have patiently ignored your abusive verbal assaults to try and keep the peace. Yet, that has only emboldened your rudeness. You’ve been trying to ‘gaslight’ me ever since we landed here. But you know what? I’m not the failure you’re tried to make me out to be. No, it is you who has failed! For you have failed to break my spirit and turn me into a ‘Brainwashed Zombie’ who can’t think for himself with your devious ‘Mind Control Programming!’


And you ‘Dick’… you have the audacity to call yourself a ‘Master.’ You’re not a ‘Master’ at all! The word ‘Master’ only applies to you in front of words such as… Bully, Pretentious, Arrogant, etc. You’re a mockery and a hypocrisy to what a true noble ‘Master’ is all about. Masters don’t ridicule and intimidate their students. They kindly inspire, challenge and motivate them to become ‘as one’ with their spirits so they become greater than they were before by becoming who they truly are meant to be. 


I shall have nothing to do with your ‘Spiritual Supermarket Shopping Spree!’ Even if you had the decency to have asked me, the answer would have been no. We have now come to the ‘Fork in the Road’ where we part our separate ways with me taking the ‘High Road’ and you taking the ‘Low Road’ that inevitably leads to a ‘Dead End.’


So you know where I’m going to go now?


Master Dick: “Disneyland?”


Crane: I’m going to one of the most ‘Spiritual Centers of the World’… the beautiful sacred Taj Mahal!


But before I go, I have some last parting words to share with you… I leave you now not with any animosity, but only with a sense of pity that you don’t see the folly of your foolish ways which, as always, karmically you’ll have to pay for. I pray that you may sooner rather than later learn that pain doesn’t have to be your greatest teacher. That by living a life of gentle kindness and compassion… your soul shall always take you further and faster to having a fulfilling life. In contrast, your ‘False-Egos’ are now guiding you which has only one way to go, and that is to ‘Nowhere Land.’ Remember… “The love of money is the root of all evil.”


You, as well as so many others in the world today have been confused by the illusory nature of “The World of “Maya” that we find ourselves in. Nonetheless, there is great hope for the future, for as it is stated in the ancient Vedas… “This ‘Age of Darkness’ will constantly proceed in its decay until the beginning of a ‘New Era.”


May you one day find the essence of who you truly are so that you’ll be able to better contribute and serve our world.


Peace unto you


(Crane as the Narrator) 

And with that statement, I was able to leave in a peaceful silence for a change instead of hearing Dick’s usual ‘Stupid Pretentious Comeback Lines.’ As I looked back over my shoulder and waved Good-bye, I noticed Dick staring at the ground perplexed and mesmerized in a deep contemplation as if he were staring into the ‘Abyss of Hell’ itself. 


My words had finally reached Dick’s soul piercing through the multiple layers of protective armor that he had built around his heart after so many years. Or perhaps my words tormented the Demon to such a degree that it departed back to hell leaving Dick alone to now have to deal with the ghosts of his own past.


There is always a sense of sadness whenever one is betrayed by misguided friends who end up capitulating to their ‘Dark Shadow Personas.’ And in this case, how my friends sold their souls to ‘Commercial Materialism’ which our ‘Humanitarian Mission’ was never meant to be about.


I then proceeded to travel on my own now from Kathmandu, Nepal back to Madras, India where my return airline ticket was good from. So I got on an overcrowded bus which included some well behaved chickens sitting in seats next to the other passengers. 


The bus then began to roll slowly down the mountainside into the darkness of night… The momentum of the bus rapidly increased to where it soon sped out-of-control at a breakneck speed as if the brakes no longer worked. The steep winding narrow road was treacherously full of potholes that made the bus jump ‘up and down’ like a drowning man trying to stay above the waterline. A violent ‘thunder and lightning storm’ raged with ‘flashes of lightening” coming from everywhere as the ‘rumble of the thunder’s anger’ continued to shatter our ‘rattled nerves.’ The ‘sensory overload’ that was already ‘too much to bare’ was only amplified in greater horror from the ‘abundance of fear’ that ‘relentlessly attacked us’ like a ‘machine gun’s rapid fire’ of the ‘near death experiences’ that were constantly ‘flashing before our very eyes.’ This ‘nonstop nightmare’ lasted for what ‘seemed like an eternity’…


And then… without fanfare, we all found ourselves in an eerie silence cruising smoothly on a horizontal road in the valley below the tallest mountain in the world. The contrast from ‘intense fear’ to ‘serene peace’ was surreal and mind-boggling beyond comprehension. It was almost like we had all died and our bus was now taking us through the ‘Neither Here nor There Realm of the Bardo’ that happens upon dying.


It surely was miraculous that our bus finally got to the bottom of that mountain in one piece. Then suddenly there was a ‘Loud Explosion!’ Happily, that only turned out to be a flat tire. How nice it was that the bus decided to conveniently have a flat tire at that auspicious moment in time. I then not only thanked the Lord for the ‘Miracle’ that the flat tire didn’t happen a few minutes earlier, but also that we had finally got down the mountain safely. Without a doubt had that flat tire happened earlier, it would have been curtains for everyone concerned. 


They say that the Lord works in ‘Mysterious Ways’ and that certainly was the case that night that we all survived, “The Cliffhanger Mountain Ride.” (Note: The name for a future ‘Disneyland Ride?’)  


As daylight began to break, I was told that we would soon be approaching the border of India. I was so relieved that my trip that was supposed to have lasted one month but turned into three was now finally coming to an end.


So the bus stopped at the border and I got off and stood in line to show my passport to the border guards. When I reached into my pocket to get my passport out, to my shock and chagrin it was not there. I could only draw the conclusion at that point that it was stolen by a thief in the night on the bus.


The result of my missing passport meant that I had to now turn around and go back to Kathmandu to get a new passport from the American Embassy. But it was just ‘another delay’ in the ‘drastic change of events’ that I had now gotten used to on a trip in which that had become the overall theme.


But this particular delay actually turned out to be a ‘Blessing in Disguise,’ for I was able to process a lot of pain and frustration that I had encountered and endured during my long trip before returning home. 


For instance, the ‘pain and frustration’ that was caused by… a ‘Fake Guru’ aka ‘Master Dick’ who tormented me whenever possible, a ‘Buddy’ who pushed me towards the “Scorpion Pit” attraction at the zoo that I almost fell into, the police who tried to plant hashish on us for the extortion of money, the gem smugglers who tried to pressure us to smuggle jewels for them, the intense sickness of Dysentery near the end of my trip that I suffered from that nearly depleted me of all my vital energy, etc. (Note: Regarding my fight with Dysentery, when I finally did get back home my doctor had a hard time finding a vein to draw blood from due to the intense dehydration my body had experienced that was caused by the Dysentery. The doctor commented that I was very lucky to be alive.)


And to end my trip on a ‘High Note,’ I fulfilled the promise that I had made to myself to visit the Taj Mahal which was quite an ‘awe inspiring scared place’ to behold. For the significance of my visit there became so very symbolically important to me considering that this experience wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stood up for myself and broken away from my former friends. It had become very clear to me that my decision to cut my ties with those people was one of the best decisions I had ever made and probably saved my life.


I finally returned to the city of Madras and waited a few days for the next available flight back to the States in a cheap hotel with my money almost running out again. I mostly slept or rested in bed for most of my stay there due to my bout with Dysentery that was increasing in intensity and draining me of what little life force I had left.


Then the blessed day came for me to leave for the airport in a tiny 3-wheeler taxi that was waiting outside the hotel. In a daze from my sickness I feebly went up to the front desk in the lobby of the hotel to pay my bill. But to my complete surprise, the manager of the hotel was now outrageously claiming that I owed him a much greater sum of money than the bill that we had agreed upon days earlier. As our argument grew louder, I noticed an angry mob of people starting to gather out front staring in at me in the lobby. At that point I began to realize that I was being set up for some sort of royal scam.


I then slammed my money down on the desk that I originally owed and quickly grabbed my backpack and ran out the door with the manager chasing after me. The crowd was now angrily yelling at me and tugging at my backpack trying to stop me from leaving. I then somehow fought them off with one hand as I tightly held my backpack in the other and then jumped into the taxi and hightailed it out of there as the ‘Last Nightmare’ for my trip’s ‘Grand Finale.’


In closing, my trip ultimately became a ‘testament and statement’ for my ‘soul’s spiritual growth’ and was a ‘glorious victory’ for me to have overcome so many ‘trials & tribulations.’ For I now realized that I had the courage within me to be able to survive whatever tough circumstances may come my way in life. 


I also found great inspiration from the majority of people whom I came in contact with. Their great compassion and humility had a great impact on me. The many acts of kindness that they all shared so freely helped me realize that each act of kindness given every day no matter how big or small is truly the essence of what ‘Being a Humanitarian’ is all about.

The Babysitter


I lookedI out the window with mixed feelings as I rolled into Hollywood chauffeured by a city bus. This time my assignment of all things was to play the role of a quote unquote “Babysitter.” The official title for the job that Big Wig Studio types liked to use is… "Sober Buddy.” But a more appropriate title would be… “Babysitter for Famous Derelict Drug Addict Stars.” 


This time my assignment of all things was to play the role of a quote unquote “Babysitter.” The official title for the job that Big Wig Studio types liked to use is… "Sober Buddy.” But a more appropriate title would be… “Babysitter for Famous Derelict Drug Addict Stars.”


Paramount Studios called my agent and picked me from her list of actors she represents to play the role as a "Sober Buddy" for none other than the one and only “Jake Forte” who they admitted was a “slightly tarnished superstar.” Well, the tabloids were quite a bit harsher than that with the label of who Jake had become. They described him as a “Mere Shadow of his Former Himself.” 

All I had to do was keep him clean and sober long enough to finish his latest project as well as getting him to somehow cold turkey his entourage. Somewhat of a tall order, but I was up for the task.


Mr. Forte had built his reputation on being Hollywood’s latest incarnation of John Wayne. I was never that into westerns, but I do like to toss me some horse shoes in the backyard now and then. 


It was kind of weird to think that an unknown “Extra” like me who’s biggest role to date was in the football crowd scene in “Forest Gump” would be picked. But my agent said the Studio wanted someone who was off the radar of the Paparazzis. A total underground starving artist that Jake could relate to since he was once an “Unemployed Extra Nobody” too.


Yet I did have my doubts that I’d have any influence over a celebrity who was “under the influence.” But if I was successful, I’d walk away with a big bounty. Or at least, that was the “promise” that was made to me. 

The studios had been gambling for too long betting their proverbial “stagecoach full of gold” to what amounted to a cowpoke with a frayed rope and their patience was wearing thin. 


The bus then dropped me off on the borderline of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. But the directions weren’t very good, so I got lost. Luckily I found one of those vendors who sells maps of the movie star's homes. He showed me Jake’s house on the map. After buying a map, I commented to the guy that it was no wonder that the stars were having such a problem with fanatic stalkers with all these star map stands around. He smiled back at me and said the stalkers were his best customers.


I arrived at Jake’s place and yanked the chain to the door chime. Soon I heard a voice come over the intercom… 


Jake - Yeah?!


Crane - Mr. Forte my name is Crane and Paramount sent me.


Jake - What for? You got my check?


Crane - No Mr. Forte, I’m your new “Sober Buddy."


Jake - You got the wrong address. Go away!


Crane - Sorry Jake, that’s not an option.


Jake - I’m warning you, my dogs aren’t taking this well. You better leave now!


Crane - Mr. Forte, come on… even the cheap app on my phone sounds more real than those fake dogs you’ve got barking in the background… Hello!? Is that the “Sound of Crickets” I’m now hearing? Mr. Forte if you don't start acting a little better... no offense to your work. But if you don't start treating me with a little more respect and open this door right now you're going to be finding yourself in a whole lot of trouble… Alright… I’m leaving… But don’t be surprised if they pull the plug on your film.


Jake - Hold on! I’ll be right there!


Soon the door opened and there was a bare chested Jake wearing a rhinestone encrusted Stetson. The massive Oxford shirt tied around his waist in no way complimented the claps, boots and fancy silver spurs that he sported.


Jake - So I didn't catch your name.


Crane - My name's Crane.


Jake - Well alright. Nice to meet ya Crane. So, the studio thinks I have a substance abuse problem? Man! I can't believe it.


Crane - That's the rumor.


Jake - Yeah, well that's all it is. Don’t believe everything you read in those trashy tabloids. Those damn critics don’t like the fact that I’m a “Natural Actor.” Yep, I didn't need any of those stupid acting classes. You know, the ones where they tell you to "pretend you're a tree." Ha! Now that’s “real acting" for ya. So what's your favorite movie of mine?


Crane - Let’s see… it’s a toss up between, “The Gun Shy Cowboy” and “Barn Dance Casanova.”


Jake - What?! I didn’t even get screen credits for either of those.


Crane - Oh… well those are the movies my agent told me to say if you asked me that question.


Jake - Jeez! So the studio brass sent over a "Sober Buddy" who doesn't even know my work. What's up with that?


Crane - Look Jake! It really doesn't matter if I like your work or not. They sent me to make damn sure that “Setting Sun for Son of a Gun” gets done without any more delays and that you’re sober until it’s in the can. And if not… your ass is grass. And that’s what the Studio told me to tell ya. 


Jake - Well then, what are you standing out there for? Come on in and make yourself at home. Can I get you something? A soda, juice, water…?


Lance - So Jake, I've been waiting for you in the back man. I've got those lines set up that you asked for.


Jake - Haha… oh, you mean my cue cards for the movie? Yeah, yeah, just hold your horses there Lance.


Crane - I guess that substance abuse rumor was just some people talking.


Jake - Ah, Crane… I'd like you to meet my acting coach Lance.


Lance - Huh?


Jake - Yeah. And Lance, I'd like you to meet my new "Sober Buddy” that the studio sent over to make sure all those rumors about my “drug addiction” aren't true.


Lance - Ooohh! Yeah… right. Nice to meet you Mr. Crane.


Crane - You guys are pathetic.


Jake - Now Crane, keep cool. Everything's going to be just fine. We'll work this out somehow.


Nancy - Hey!… Anyone want to take a hit of this joint! This weed is totally stoney man.


Jake - Nancy! What are you doing? If I told you once, I told you twice, no smoking in the house!


Nancy - What?


Crane - Looks like my job's just begun.


Nancy - Hey! Who's this freakin' guy… a Narc?


Suddenly an Undercover Narc pops his head through the window and is pointing a gun at everyone.


Narc - No… that would be me! Freeze! Police! Drop that joint!


Crane - It's not what you think, Officer. I’m not part of this “scene.” I’m the "Sober Buddy."


Narc - I said drop it girl! Huh? What the hell is a "Sober Buddy?” Never mind! You're all under arrest!


Jake - There must be some mistake. You know who I am?


Narc - Yeah I do, you’re just another drug addicted movie star with an attitude problem.


Jake - That's a ridiculous accusation!


Narc - No! Your cowboy attire mixed with an Oxford shirt is a total fashion disaster. Now that’s ridiculous.


Lance - Don't listen to him Jake… he's just jealous of your eclecticism.


Nancy - Wait a second… aren't you supposed to have a search warrant? 


Narc - Don't try and get all legal with me Baby. We’ve had you under surveillance for a long time. You there! Get a large bag and fill it up with all your drugs… now!


Lance - Yes sir!


Crane - You know she's right. This case would be thrown out of court without a search warrant.


Narc - Alright, now I'm busted! I'm really a bad cop who likes the cash benefits of raiding drug pads on his off hours. Now are you satisfied?


Lance - Thank you Officer. I'm so sick and tired of being lied to by the authorities.


Narc - Whatever… just keep filling up that bag… I’m on a tight schedule here.


Lance - Alright! Alright!


Jake - So Officer, while we're waiting… What's your favorite movie of mine?


Narc - Humm… I think they're all pretty funny. But “Barn Dance Casanova” was totally hilarious!


Jake - But that's not a comedy!


Narc - Oh really?


Nancy - Now wait a minute… What are you saying? Jake's films totally rock! Dude! You don't know anything about art man.


Jake - Thank you Nancy, you're my best fan.


Lance - Well, I think that's all the drugs we have lying around. But then again, the place is so messy… you want me to look upstairs too?


Narc - Do I look like I have all day?


Lance - Okay! Okay! Here’s the bag… 


Narc - Now don't anyone tell what happened here… or else… you hear me?


Jake's friend Mick rolls down the stairs and lands at the bottom pointing his gun at the Narc.


Mick - They don't call me the best stuntman in town for nothing! And just think, a few minutes ago I was all like "Alice in Wonderland" freaking out staring at the bathroom mirror. 


Narc - Who’s this clown?


Mick - Now listen up Mister!… whoever you are pointing your gun in the direction of my friends… I kindly suggest you drop it before I have no other choice than to have you receive some unhealthy projectiles soon to come from my large cannon device that I'm holding in my hand. Can you dig it?… Comrade?


Narc - And if you so happen to decide to be so foolish with your elaborate plan, consider this scenario Sir Brainiac… If you were to hit me with your little exploding pop gun, my hand would react involuntarily by pulling this trigger thus most likely killing your favorite sugar daddy movie star. Comprende Amigo?

From the window across the room Randy the Drug Dealer is now pointing his gun at every one.


Randy - Well Hellooo everybody! Looks like you forgot to invite me to the party?


Jake - Now Y'all… don't panic now! I've been in plenty of situations like this.

Crane - You're not in a movie Jake! This is reality!!!


Lance - Hey! Isn't this scene like out of... "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?"

Mick - Yeah, it is! And Jake's "The Good."


Randy - Like the man said Jake, this is reality. And the “reality check” has just come in. You dudes have ripped me off for the last freaking time.


Lance - What are you talking about?


Randy - What am I talking about? You seem to keep forgetting to pay me for all the stash I keep fronting you. Well, the party's over man… time to pay the piper.


Lance - Sorry Randy, we didn't mean to. 

Nancy - Yeah! We spaced man.


Randy - Well, you Space Cadets all be coming down to earth today.


Narc - Alright, you all better just drop your weapons. You don't seem to realize how much trouble you're all in!


Nancy - Excuse me Mr. Bad Cop, what about you? They're starting to crack down on cops like you… haven't you read the papers lately?


Crane - Oh for Christ’s sake! That’s it! I'm out of here. 


Jake - What are you talking about?


Crane - You heard me. My scene ends here, right now! This is not the kind of job I requested from the agency! It’s back to being an Unemployed Extra. It’s a role I play exceptionally well considering that my part in “Forest Gump” got that movie to be the “Best Picture of the Year!”


Jake - Really, I don’t remember seeing you in that movie. 


Crane - Then watch the "Football Crowd Scene" on a bigger screen next time!


Jake  - You can't just walk off the set.


Crane - Oh really? Because it’s not written in the script? Right. Ciao!


Jake - But I thought you were my buddy?


Crane - Yeah? And I thought you were the hero you portrayed in the movies. All you "Bad Actors" need to grow up and get a life.


Lance - What are you trying to say?


Crane - Ah, that you’re all a bunch of losers in a movie you don’t even realize you’re in called, “The Den of Iniquity.”


Lance - Wow! That’s a cool title.


Nancy - I’m so sorry you feel that way Crane. I was just starting to like you too.


Crane - Yeah. Well, it’s not your fault that the glamor that this town once projected from years ago has long since vanished to where now… all that’s left are the closing credits…

(Crane then walks out the door and heads down the driveway. Just when he gets to the gate, a bunch of gunfire is heard going off behind him. He stops for a moment in deep reflection of what just went down. He then just shakes head in disbelief as he keeps on walking to the bus stop that will take him home.)

The End... (Cut! It's a take. :)

I Almost Climbed Mt. Everest


Dear Global Villager,

Whoever finds my letter under this “Do-It-Yourself Tombstone,” I want to personally thank you for taking some time out from your busy survival routine up here on the mountain to read my last message to the world.


As you can see, I almost climbed Mt. Everest. And that’s really a big deal for a former “King of the Couch Potatoes” whose only prior experience with mountain climbing was vicariously watching others climb them on TV.


And although I didn’t make it to the very top of the mountain due to poor weather conditions, in so doing my adventure transformed itself into the importance of experiencing the “journey,” and not the “goal.” And that should count for something... even in a world that mostly likes to keep score.


Please tell all the folks back home that I’m happy to share with them that through the many “Trials & Tribulations” I’ve experienced on my “Exciting Adventure”… I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Well… that is, other than the very ending of course. 


Like a material witness, the “Ghost of Bad Luck” sure has been following me around lately, for I'm saddened to say that my horn has finally succumbed to "Frozen Valve Syndrome" and is no longer playable. That sure would be good news to my former sherpa guides who blamed my horn playing for causing the avalanche that almost buried our hiking party.


Then again, those guides sure didn’t complain when my serenading horn tamed the wild “Abominable Snowman” who had been stalking us. So due to my musical intervention, that “Abominable Snowman” is now a “Friendly Snowman” who we affectionately have nicknamed, “Big Dude.”


Hailing ice balls are very much in style right now up here and are hitting my hat so hard that I can hardly hear my own thoughts. And the freeze-dried porridge that I’ve survived on, or should I say gruel, is a slimy concoction that would make all those greasy spoon restaurants that I’ve encountered in my lifetime seem like fine “French Cuisine.”


On a lighter note, I did get a chance to do a few improv jams with some traveling “Snake Charmers.” They were very happy to learn some new blues riffs I shared with them. And in return, they gave me an unusual gift called, "The Magical Rope." It works something like this, one throws the rope up into the air and then it magically holds there in space. At that point, I guess you're supposed to climb it to the top? But I don't know what I'm going to do with it though. Heck! I used to have to climb that same sort of torturous rope back in gym class.


I also got an auspicious chance to meet a very old “Yogi Master” who was supposedly a few centuries old if you can believe that. I was so inspired upon meeting him that I wrote a song on my horn that I dedicated to him called, "I'm so Blue, Because I Got the Freezing Man Blues."


The Guru’s attendants informed me that the Master would happily accept any questions I might have, for he was known as the “Know It All Guru,” who was never wrong in his sagely advice.


So I then asked him… “Is nothing really so boring… when doing nothing boring?


He seemed totally perplexed by my question and started to nervously tug at his long beard. He then quickly got up without saying a word and retreated into his tent. This totally surprised me, for it was as if I had just asked him to defuse a nuclear bomb before lunch or something.


After about three hours of patiently waiting with a few yawns to keep myself amused for him to give a response to my question, he then slowly walked out of his tent looking like someone had just run over his favorite pet. He then seriously leaned towards me and whispered into my ear ever so softly, “I must say my friend… you got my goat with that one.”


So I tried to make him feel better and said to not worry about it. And to just let it go with the flow like the stream naturally does when it returns to its source… the sea... eventually…


I then shared with him that my question was my Western version of those unanswerable mystical Zen Koan questions that come from the Far East designed to make one's head spin like a top off into oblivion. Like this fun one... “If a tree falls in the forest when no one is listening, does it make a sound?”


He chuckled at that koan and said, "Kudos! You know, although people have labeled me the “Know It All Guru,” they just don’t get it. And the reason being… I don’t think we’re meant to “Know It All.” Socrates supposedly the “Smartest Man in Greece” summed it up best when he said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” Just think about how boring our lives would become if we thought we had an answer to everything. For if we ever did come to such an absurd assumption… our sense of ‘wonder’ would die on the vine.” 


“Wow!” I humbly replied. “Well said Master. That’s the best answer I’ve ever heard to my “Boring Question”… Thank you.”


“No problem. If it didn’t put me to sleep,” he quipped, “than it wasn’t so boring after all was it?” 


He then smiled from ear to ear and quickly jumped up and exclaimed to everyone… “To Life! ‘Oh Great Mystery’ that it is. May it continue to astonish us with its bewildering profanity!” My jaw then dropped onto the ground as the people cheered and broke into a spontaneous joyful dance.


As the dusk began to transform the sky into an amazing “Kaleidoscopic Light Show,” the Master Guru then instructed his attendants to break out a few old bottles of champagne from a nearby cave. As it turned out, the bottles had been personally given to the Master by Napoleon when they met in Egypt back in the day. He then enthusiastically popped open one of the bottles and blessed everyone with this toast, "May we never forget the ‘Here and Now’… for that is all there really is forevermore!" The crowd responded accordingly with a “Rockus Roar!”

The party really got cookin' when a tribe of gypsy yogi dancers, jugglers and musicians dropped by who added extra enthusiasm to the good vibes of the party. 


And then to our surprise, a group of stark naked yogis appeared out of the darkness. They then proceeded to outdo the Western “Ice Bucket Challenge,” with a contest amongst themselves to see who could dry the most wet towels on their backs that were dipped into the nearby frozen lake. And they were able to do this incredible feat with their minds alone mind you. They actually dry cleaned many towels that night which sure came in handy as to help keep everyone warm on “The Night of the Icicles.”


Speaking of “freezing weather,” since I’ve been writing to you, another one of my toes has just fallen off due to frostbite. Thankfully that ordeal wasn’t painful since I can’t feel anything at this point anyway. And if this blizzard doesn't mellow out soon, I'm afraid that even greater and more crucial body parts of mine might just start falling off as well. Yikes!


Under these extreme weather conditions… the last thing I can try to do to keep warm is to meditate on my former “Hot Dates” I once had in my distant past in an effort to at least survive another hour or so.


Thanks again for reading my last parting words for I know now that they were not written in vain. That is, if indeed you are still reading this note. Hopefully you brought enough fuel along with you so my heartfelt message isn’t burnt to ashes in the process of you trying to keep warm.


Then again, I would totally understand where you’d be coming from if my message is needed to help kindle the fire in an effort for you to avoid turning into a “Popsicle Man.”


I encourage you to keep on going onward and upward for you're almost there to the “Rooftop of the World” which is the highest you will ever get to touching the stars.


Take care... till the next lifetime where we might meet again under better circumstances.

"Hope Eternal"


from “The Frozen Popsicle Man Who Made Many SOS Snow Angels To The Very End"


P.S. By the way… isn't the view awesome?

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