Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mel King

The hoopla about the dead cop in Tijeras got me thinking about my old friend, Mel King, and another dead cop just down the road from this one in Mountainair, New Mexico, in 1987. 

That one changed Mel’s life in a multitude of ways, for all the remainder of it.  I posted this on another blog December 21, 2005, the anniversary of his death:

If I ever write another book, Mel King will have to occupy a few chapters of it.  I’ve mentioned him a few times on this blog, but mostly, I’ve not been able to write much about him at all.  I’m still digesting what happened to him.

On one of the threads recently the discussion drifted to the War on Drugs.  I suppose if I’d never met Mel I probably wouldn’t have thought much about that issue, would never have bothered to form an opinion about it.

But in many ways, Mel was a product of that war, from the time it began during the Reagan Administration, he was one of the adversaries.  It changed him from a small-time marijuana growing woods-vet to a wealthy man.  When the ‘war’ drove the price of jade sky-high he was approached by a number of ranchers in the area, asked to teach them how to grow weed in quantity.  He became their broker, as well as a grower.

The War on Drugs involved Mel in a major felony arrest, confiscation of much of his property, caused the mysterious death of a police officer, got Mel targeted repeatedly on America’s Most Wanted television series, and constant harassment by the FBI, State Police and local police for the remainder of his life.

They wanted to believe he killed a Mountainair, NM, police officer because it was the only construction of the facts that didn’t expose the rotten core of the War on Drugs.  If Mel didn’t kill that cop, another cop, or cops, almost certainly did.


Shortly before he was murdered in December, 2004, he showed me an anonymous, hand-written letter accusing him of killing the policeman and threatening to come balance it all.  The undertone and nuances of the letter suggested it was written by another member of the ‘policeman brotherhood’ who wanted to even things out, not because he knew the dead cop, but because a person doesn’t get suspected of killing a cop and get by with it.

It’s time I began writing down a few things about Mel King anyway.

Mel King was a major, financially successful marijuana grower and large-scale broker in New Mexico for many years.  During that time he was also a long-term heroin addict.  (He first became addicted to morphine while in the hospital recovering from wounds he got in the Marine Corps in Vietnam).

The only way Mel got away with what he was doing for so many years was by being considered a complete maniac, and by making certain the authorities got their fair share of the proceeds.  He drove around in a VW van with bullet-holes in the windshield from the inside.

When he got busted in 1987, with 150 pounds in his house it was because he made himself too big a nuisance to be allowed to go on.  He was attracting too much attention.

But even so, he never came to trial.  That 150 pounds of high-grade vanished from the evidence lockers.  The empty bags with his evidence numbers on them were found in the home of the policeman who made the initial stop during his arrest.  But someone murdered that policeman, probably for the marijuana, which is how they happened to find the empty evidence bags.

While he was in jail awaiting bail, Mel resolved to turn his life around.  He freed himself from heroin and when he was released he started a successful furniture business, did his best to stay clean for the remainder of his life.  Succeeded in being a trustworthy, successful man and one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

During the years I knew him, Mel was a deeply spiritual man.  He was honest, guileless, hard-working, sincere, courageous, and in many ways, wise.  We prospected a lot of canyons together, talked of many things over campfires listening to the wind in the pines.  He was also my partner during Y2K.

Mel and I disagreed on many things, but he believed, as I do, that he knew what happens to a man when he dies.  He never feared death and he never believed he’d done anything in this life to give him any reason to fear it.

I believe he was right.

Old Jules

Mexico Trip Complete

Previously written Sept. 9, 2005

Mexico trip complete.  Home to the felines, with a gift bag to myself.  Another year of life.

Another time around the sun contained in these dozen plastic bottles rattling with medications.  Normal blood pressure. Pain and internal bleeding from acid reflux avoided 12 more months at the cost a few uninsured cents on the insured pharmaceutical US dollar.

Traitorous, cowardly purchases in these times when our nation needs our blind, unquestioning support.

Border guard:  “What country were you born in?”

Old man:  “This one.”

Border guard:  “What are these?”

Old man:  “Drugs”

Border guard:  “Who are they for?”

Old Man:  “Me.”

Border guard:  “Do you have a prescription?”

Old man:  “No.”

Border guard: (Shrugs).  “Go on through.”

Turnstile clockticks planetwise around a steel post.

Foreign enemy homeland fades  (No. No. That was a different century.  They’re friends now.  If not friends, at least neutral.  They’ve mostly forgiven us for taking this spot of land from them by force of arms), pulsebeat slows.

A dozen Hail Marys and a flagwaving parade in penance, I promise.  I pop a cap and sink a Prinivil dry into mouth cavern, feel the rush of sinking blood pressure.

Old Jules

Mexico Meds and the Perfect Man Shrine

Previously posted September 8, 2005

Mexico Tomorrow

Every few months I make a trip to Mexico for some medications I take daily, because they’re dirt cheap down there compared to getting them in a pharmacy here. Prislosec used to run me $3 per tablet here and I was taking a couple per day. In Palomas, Mexico, they cost about 75 cents per tab. Now that it’s over-the-counter here they’re about a quarter per tab, compared to a buck here.

So it’s time to run down there again. I like Palomas because it’s a tiny burg, mostly pharmacies with lines of US oldsters stocking up on medications. It’s like the Power Play option in reverse, stepping across the International Border into Mexico to buy prescription meds.

So, you parks the car at the border, walks across a couple of blocks, pays in gringo dollars, and walks back to the Border to be questioned and sometimes searched and hassled by US Border guards. They worry a person will pick up some anti-biotic for a friend, or anti-inflammatory for a rheumatoid arthritic acquaintance. So they like to ask what condition you’re taking the medication for while they thumb through the book and see if they can catch you out.

I’ve never had the body-cavity search, probably because I’m not female, but maybe just because I’ve never caught them on a boring day.

Sometime I’ll tell you an amusing story about a Japanese Jew pharmacist I used to buy from in Juarez who had an Israeli flag on the wall behind him, didn’t speak English. But it’s a long story.

Anyway, I go down through Deming to Columbus, the US town Pancho Villa raided in 1912, and got the US Army chasing him all over Mexico. That’s where General Blackjack Pershing won his fame. There’s still a lot of ruin from the raid all over Columbus, so it’s worth poking around the bear grass, usually.

I like to stop at this little shrine in Columbus, also. I’d guess the folks who built it in the 60s have grown old… I’ve never seen them there, but when I first saw it during the early 90s someone was still taking care of it, putting out palm branches, and every day incense burned there. Now the place is showing a bit worse for the wear.

The shrine was built back when hippies still didn’t know what they were, but they didn’t harbor any illusions about all being the same. (The first three photos are from the early 2000’s, the rest a few years after that.)

  • It’s located on the desert outskirts of Columbus, New Mexico.The built a camping area around it, complete with water valves and hookups.I suppose they once expected like minded folks to have gatherings there.  Maybe it happened.They lived across the road in a mobile home and grew old there.They kept up maintenance on the park and the shrine until the early 1990s, but occasional visits to the shrine testified it was becoming more difficult for them.When I last visited the place six, seven years ago the place had deteriorated a lot.  I suspected one of them might have died, or they’d both become too infirm to keep being hippies.Slower than all those commune ruins up in the Santa Fe area, but still as sure.

    Maybe if some of you folks are looking for a place to squat and if the owners are still alive you could work out an arrangement to do maintenance for a warmish camping spot about five miles from the Mexican International Boundary.

    Old Jules

Cacahuate Japones and Other Weirdness Among Townees

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.  This is the real, honest-to-goodness, 2012, worn down to a small nub ‘me’ coming to you this morning from the Middle of Nowhere.

I’m a bit stiff and sore, slow getting moving this morning, so I’m stalling the inevitable by sharing a few bits and pieces of a reality that’s becoming decreasingly real.  The package above might save me a lot of words, say it more succinctly than anything I could contrive.  It’s no surprise those things ended up hanging on a rack in the Dollar Tree store.  Maybe the lousiest marketing strategy for a food item in the history of mankind.

Then there’s this:

I’m the sort of person who naturally does everything bumper stickers tell me I ought to do.  Keeps me following a straight and narrow path in one hell of a lot of mutually exclusive directions.   So when I saw all those blue plastic drink cups pushed into the chainlink fence across from one of the thrift stores in Kerrville, I immediately resolved myself to quit using AB, whatever the hell that is.  I figured it must be the latest recreational drug of choice.

I thought on it a lot driving back to the Middle of Nowhere, tried all manner of words beginning with A and B, certain there was something out there I needed to quit using.  Got on the Internet when I arrived home and did a Dogpile dot com search on AB Use.  Couldn’t find a damned smidgen about it.

But I swear to you, if I ever do find out what it is, I’m dropping it out of whatever it is I’m doing with it.

As for everything else, I’m having a fine old time devising and constructing a watershed management plan here the likes of which very few of me in my past lives have ever done.  I’m tackling that runoff water from rainfall if we ever get any, making it stand up on its hind legs and whinny, then behave itself.

I’ll probably post a few pics of some of it, though it’s just mainly a matter of persuading water to treat the thin soil here with more respect than it’s done in the past, explaining to it about how the damned cattle aren’t fighting over every blade of grass anymore.  Showing it the error of its ways.

Other major events around here worth mentioning won’t bowl you over more than that.  The invader cat’s decided to demand a lot of petting when he’s here, which pisses off all the other felines.  But he’s only here Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, nearly as I can figure.  There’s a ranch woman a mile or so to the west feeding him sometimes, Gale’s heard, and I always see him coming out of the woods to the east.  Makes a series of stops, I reckons, trying to keep everyone happy.

Then there’s the other project, the subtle energy investigation.  Major steps forward, lots of learning, mind openings, having to go back and recalculate a lot of areas because previous premature assumptions stopped me before they were thoroughly tested.  But the doors are opening more daily and the corridors behind them are narrowing.

Any day now I expect to have a lot better understanding of the mechanism.  But it’s clear it involves reflective light from unlikely celestial bodies, and evidently includes interactions between the axial tilts of various objects and that of the sun.  With complications resulting from Old Sol’s communistic notion he doesn’t have to spin at the same speed at his equator as he does in his other body parts.

That’s about all worth mentioning for the moment.  Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

A Gel Pen Drawing and a Link

Today on Ask Old Jules: How do you handle disrespect?

The Skins We Change

Note from Jeanne:
I’d like to thank those of you who commented on yesterday’s art work. I appreciate it. It has been a while since I’ve worked on large drawings (spending more time recently on jewelry) and just getting the feedback from you has been an encouragement to follow through on some other ideas I’ve had.  I’ll post a drawing here every once in a while and I’ll try to fix the categories so you’ll be able to find them all easily.
 Old Jules has been spending a good deal of his time cutting cedar and working on a huge erosion control project for Gale and Kay and hasn’t been online much. I’m sure he’ll update you at some point, but I have some posts  scheduled ahead since I don’t know exactly when that will be.  Thanks again for visiting, reading,  and commenting here, we both appreciate it very much. ~Jeanne

Previously posted June 7, 2005  (Placitas, New Mexico)

Out in the currently vacant chicken house I found a rattlesnake skin the other day.  It was in one of the layer boxes, so I don’t know how long it was there before I noticed it.  But it caused me to do some thinking about old brother rattler and what manner of nuisance he’s likely to make of himself if he’s still around.

I’m a man who holds rattlers in fairly high regard, but with a lot of respect for their clumsy bad manners when it comes to getting underfoot.  I usually try to keep enough of an eye on the places they like to show up unexpectedly to avoid offending them, and when I can corner them I’ll carry them off into some likely spot well away from humans.  Mostly they’re just minding their own business, trying to make a living the same as everyone else and don’t have the good sense to keep themselves out of harm’s way when humans are around.

This one looked a lot bigger last year (I’m assuming it’s the same one) when I lifted up a piece of plywood in a pile of debris in the corner of the lot and let out an involuntary yelp as I jumped backward in time to avoid his strike.  That skin shows him to be about two feet long, but I’d have called him an easy four from my brief look at him.

Rattlers are few at this altitude, and the one who slithered off into the cane leaving me to to decide whether to just breathe a while and let my pulse slow down, or take another tug at that plywood is almost certainly the previous owner of that skin in the chicken house.

Rattlers are lucky where it comes to changing their skins.  Happens year after year, but generally they don’t change much.  People aren’t so lucky in that regard.  We change our skins a lot of times in this life, and in a sense we leave the old ones lying around to be examined by everyone with an interest in who we are, making assumptions based on the old skin.

The other night I was down at the Range Cafe in Bernalillo …. met a bunch of old guys my age down there… retirees from the Los Alamos labs…. nuclear physicists who’ve shed their old skins and discovered they’ve let their lives slither off into the bush without doing a lot of things they wish they’d done.  Now they’re all off living other places, but decided to rendezvous down here for a hurrah into the mountains, looking for a lost gold mine.

I have a notion I’d have barely been able to tolerate those men in their younger days.  There’s a nuance about value judgements involving working on nuclear weapon development that would have influenced my thinking about them.

But these guys had left all that behind, shed that skin and now just wanting to slither off into the canyons, spend some time chewing the fat over a fire and stomp around looking for a lost mine and taking joy in being around one another again.

Strange place we’ve chosen to spend a reality, thinks I.

Old Jules

Cosmic Mandala

Here’s one of my early gel pen drawings. This one sold at the first exhibit I ever had. I hope you enjoy looking at it.

Today on Ask Old Jules: Complimenting  an Older Woman?

About Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms

From a previous post April 3, 2005

Okay.  What’s been on your mind this morning, the readership asks, me adroitly putting the words into the communal mouth.

In between working on other internet projects, I’ve been thinking about Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms.  What is it about those things?  What’s the appeal to us?  Why do they so frequently erode into acid exchanges between the users?  How do complete strangers come to have such a rancor for one another?  And how to otherwise, probably nice enough people (they have to be… someone would have taught them manners if they behaved that way offline) come to have such nasty streaks when they wear a mask of anonymity?

I’ve seen discussion boards and participated in a few previously.  In those days, a few people were still doing non-spectator things outdoors.  Enough were, at least, to keep sites of that sort in business selling metal detectors, gold pans, books, sluiceboxes, dry-washers and whatnot.  That’s when I first noticed this discussion board spinoff phenomenon I eventually came to think of as the snake pit.

People would come to the boards to learn about prospecting, about a particular lost mine, about some piece of equipment or other. But on any site there’d come a time when a specific group of individuals would just sort of hang out there.  They weren’t there to learn, and they obviously weren’t there to share information.  Mostly, they were just wasting time, disparaging people who asked questions, disparaging the attempts others made to answer.  The snake pit.

These weren’t just trolls.  They were men who knew the subjects the board was created to discuss.  But treasure hunters and prospectors have never been long on the information-sharing business.  So instead, these guys hung around blustering at one another, arguing which had the most skill with a metal detector, which detector brand was best.  Online acquaintances who frequently hated one another and everyone else, but still hung around.

Mid-1998, I became convinced Y2K was an actual threat.  That belief led me to another type of chat room.  A place where people who believed similarly hung around to talk about  TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and exchange information about Y2K preparedness.  At least, that’s how it began.

Before too long we all discovered that, while we each believed Y2K was going to happen, to one degree or another, we had some serious rifts in the other aspects of our lives.  Some were born again Christians who wanted to ask one another and answer one another whether this was going to be the Rapture, and if so, when it would begin, and what it would be like, both for themselves, and for the non-believers who’d be left behind to suffer it out on the ground.

That sort of thing.  That, and just how bad would things get, post-Y2K.  And how much a person should bet that it would happen at all. Attempts at risk analysis, though most of us didn’t know a lot about computers.

From mid-’98 until I departed for my woods-retreat mid-’99, I watched the Y2K chat room with a measure of awe, disgust, concern and wonderment.  I watched those people who came to the chat room to learn become experts after a few visits (the fundamentals of preparedness were, after all, relatively simple).  I watched the competition among the new survival experts when `newbies’ came to the chat room. People who’d just heard about Y2K and wanted to know more.  The poor old newbies found themselves swarmed by all the old-timers who were, themselves, newbies a couple of weeks earlier.  Everyone wanted to demonstrate his knowledge by telling some newbie about it all.

Meanwhile, the rancor, the snapping and snarling, the pro-gun/anti-gun, born-again/non-religious wars raged among those folks who came there first to just learn, who all had the same reason for their original visits.  And, of course, the romances.

The snake pit.

So.  How do strangers who have no reason to give a hoot in hell what one another think come to such a pass?  What is it about discussion boards and chat rooms that draws people so closely into one another that they wish to apply pain, sarcasm, poison?  That they actually allow the poison being spewed by the malignant random stranger to pierce their feelings?

It’s a study.  I’ll swear it is.

Old Jules

Unanticipated Consequences – An Accidental Great Read

English Seamen In The 16th Century, Lectures Delivered at Oxford, Easter Term, 1893-94, James Anthony Froude.

Saturday evenings after they finish an auction a couple of blocks from her home in Olathe, Kansas, Jeanne often goes to the parking lot to nose through what didn’t sell and is being readied to haul to the dump.  When she comes across books she thinks might be to my tastes, she calls me and asks if I’d like her to snag them and send them to me.  This tattered old tome was one such.

I’d never heard of Froude and she said the book was beat up badly, but I made a snap decision and had her take it.  Thanks, Coincidence Coordinators, and twice-thanks, Jeanne.

The Project Gutenberg EBook of English Seamen in the Sixteenth Century, by James Anthony Froude,

I considered myself modestly well-versed on the times from Henry VIII through Elizabeth, the English Reformation, the Huguenots in Holland, the Inquisition, the Spanish super-power status, and the troubles with Mary, Queen of Scots.  But somehow I’d never put it all together.  I’d never paused to ask myself how England, a country virtually without military power, no navy to speak of, came to become an empire, a sea power without equal during a relatively short time-span.

I’d also never asked myself the careful questions about the defeat of the Spanish Armada by what amounted to a scattering of privately owned ships, almost without any help from the crown.  In fact, a tiny, fragmented private navy having to find ways around the obstructions, mind-changings, mood shifts and flighty fancies and wishful thinkings of Elizabeth.

Froude makes a strong case for the premise that the two greatest western powers of the time, the Catholic Church and the king of Spain, forced them into the future kicking and screaming in protest.  By arrogance, pride, cruelty, certainty in the belief they could do anything and get by with it, they blind-sided themselves.  They forced a population of merchants and fisherman-sailors to learn to build ships and fight at sea as an alternative to being tortured by the Inquisition, forced into slavery in Spanish galleys, or burned at the stake.

Even after Citizens Hawkins and Drake began ravaging the Spanish shipping, intercepting Spanish treasure, burning Spanish towns in revenge for Spanish and Inquisition atrocities, the Inquisition and Philip refused to see what loomed on the horizon.  They continued plotting to assassinate Elizabeth in hopes of bringing Mary to the throne and Catholicism back to the realm.  They continued capturing English crewmen and punishing them for doctrinal heresy.

And eventually, assembled the greatest war fleet in the history of mankind to invade the island and restore doctrinal purity.  The outcome seemed obvious to them and there appeared to be no other, gazing into their own futures.

But Froude, gazing into the past, has an advantage, looking through the centuries since, past the Napoleonic times, the generations of British imperialism and conquest, to the day the power of the Catholic Church began the first lesson in humility.  And to the day the power of Spain imploded.

A recommended read.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules:  Your Life’s Work?

Old Jules, what do you regard as your life’s work?
What will be your major contribution to the world?

Amazing Instant Pain Relief

From a previous blog entry a few years ago:

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Wow!  I just put out my eye with a nail-gun!  Thank you Lord (Universe, Goddess, Higher Self, Coincidence Coordinators, or whatever the person happens to hold sacred)!”

Probably you haven’t.  Not many people know it’s a profoundly effective way of causing pain to diminish or vanish entirely.

I usually don’t even remember to pass it on, though my Y2K and since friend, Jeanne,  has seen it work.  She might use it.

Try it.

  • Go find a hammer, put your thumb, thumbnail upward, on the front step.
  • Draw the hammer over your shoulder and smash hell out of that thumbnail as hard as you’re able.
  • The moment your vision changes to a nuclear fireball, shift gears mentally and say, “Thank you Lord.”

Doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist or atheist.  You’ll be amazed.

See for yourself.

I don’t know of any better demonstration of the power of gratitude.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules: Ethics and Morals?