Thursday, September 16, 2010

Desert sojourn: day 7

Bouldery slope

Bouldery slope above the Morongo Basin

There's another sunrise-lit picture from another early-morning walk. I took the stroll this morning with my landlady, who lives in the house next door, which is to say 200 feet down the street. She corrected me as to the ownership of the Harrison House -- she owns it, not a foundation. She came down to make a film about its construction and wound up with the house itself after the builder and original owner, composer Lou Harrison, died soon after its completion. She also owns her house, plus the house I'm staying in, plus the next one as well. Still a performer, she's presenting a solo performance of classical Indian dance in a couple weeks. With live music.

I spent some time today gathering articles online about a local political scandal. Here is just one story (from July 2009) about the juicy, juicy scandal that went on for over two years, and is still being played out, as this story from yesterday's paper shows. Christine hipped me to this character, whom she said is emblematic of the closeted gay Republican good-old-boy network that rules corrupt San Bernardino County. The gay anti-gay state senator who was outed earlier this year after being picked up for DWI after leaving a gay bar is another example.

What does this relatively local scandal have to do with the desert section of my novel, which has partly to do with an alleged terror plot? I'm not sure yet, but it's all material.

In the evening I got a little fouled up. I was supposed to go to one Chamber of Commerce event and meet people, and I went to a different one instead. The wrong one, the one I went to, was held at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, a very large spread -- I had no idea how large -- right off the highway on the other side of JT proper. Last weekend the place hosted a four-day yoga fiesta and there were a lot of skinny women walking around downtown JT in those stupid curled-up straw cowboy hats.

After I retreated from the wrong Chamber of Commerce gathering, I drove the 15 miles to Twentynine Palms and got a pizza for no particular reason than I'd been craving pizza a little. At this point the sun was very low in the sky, and at this particular time of the year, the westbound highway goes straight into the setting sun. This was no doubt the reason for the heinous accident I saw, a pickup truck on its side and three other cars stopped -- there were already a variety of cops there -- one of which had clearly t-boned the pickup which had been blinded and pulled out onto the highway at the wrong time.

(Update, 18 September: Actually, I was wrong. The location of the sun had nothing to do with the accident, which was caused by a tire blowing out at 90 m.p.h., according to this news report.)

On the way back it was long enough after dark that I was actually able to pull in the Giants radio broadcast all the way from San Francisco -- intermittently. Strangely, it's easier to pull in 50,000-watt San Francisco station KNBR than any station carrying the broadcast of the Dodgers, whom the Giants are playing tonight.

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