I need to thank my old friend Steve Pursell and Tracy Fisher for pointing out that my spelling leaves something to be desired. After a 45-minute edit, complete with cutting and pasting around the code for various photos; I’m convinced that I should, write in word, do a spell check, then paste my work into the blog.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The First Order of Business
“It’s unfortunate that the Arizona State Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, only allows a sentence of eight years. If it were up to me, I’d put you away for the rest of your natural life. You sir, are the definition of a career criminal. If and when, you ever, find yourself free again, I’d advise that you do everything in your power to avoid standing before this bench. In fact I’d leave the state.”
With the judge’s words still in his ears, Willie walks into the main yard, at C-block, General Population of the Arizona State Correctional facility at Florence, Arizona.
“Eight years, well shit your honor, I can do that standing on my head,” Willie remembered saying.
The judge was not amused.
A scruffy con, in his late fifties, wanders over to Willie. The con’s eyes dart about. The convict is frail and shaking, hunched forward and walking with a slight limp. The word “Love” is badly tattooed in decades old, ink across the knuckles of his left hand. Willie has seen this kind of guy before. He looks tired, old, used-up; a shell of what was once a man. This guy is a lifer.
The con asks Willie, “Hey brother, got a smoke?”
“Sure old man. What’s you name?” Willie says while giving him a cigarette.
The man’s hand shakes a little as he leans in for a light.
“ Jake. First time inside in Arizona?” He asks.
“Oh, I had a couple of county beefs. But they were only a few weekends. Willie replied. “When did they snag you?”
The old man scratches his head thinking, “Well… it was back in ‘64, what’s that now, 22 years? Shit, it don’t matter anyhow. I’m here for the whole fuckin load.”
“I caught a little more than a nickel and a half,” says Willie. “ So who’s the big dog on this block, anyway?”
The old con nods across the yard to a group of men sitting against a two story concrete wall with several ageing coats of peeling gray paint.
“That big, black haired, pecker-wood in the center is Martin Reeves. He runs everything in this wing. You can do what ever you want, as long as he gets his tax.”
Reeves, is about 210 pounds, muscle bound, and an eight inch swastika, under the word “Brotherhood,” in old English letters is tattooed in the center of his chest. Reeves arms are completely covered in a richly detailed, assortment of skulls and dragons. High quality for “Jailhouse Ink.” He’s leaning back against the wall surrounded by three other men, all of which look like pro wrestlers, big, mean and confident. These are the kind of men that straight guys worry about. These cons only have one rule: do what ever it takes to keep the others in line: beatings, rape, murder and extortion are all used. They run the unit. And nobody fucks with them.
Willie says, “Well grandpa… thanks, I’ll see you in a few months.”
The worn-out con watches, a little confused.
Willie turns and walks straight over to the men. On the wall next to Reeves is window covered with heavy steel bars. Willie smiles as he approaches Reeves, who starts to leans forward. But before he can tilt his chair all the way back up, Willie is on him. Grabbing a big handful of Reeves long black hair with one hand he takes a hold of the steel bars with the other. He jerks Reeves out of the chair. Slamming his head into the steel bars as hard as he can. His head makes a thud, like a cold melon falling onto a concrete floor. The other men instantly start, savagely beating and kicking Willie. But he keeps his mind on the task at hand. One con smashes Willie’s left cheekbone, with the heel of his boot. A deep gash, just under his left eye, opens wide. And Willie just keeps ramming Reeves head against the bars.
A siren goes off and a guard in a tower fires a warning a shot into the air. All the cons drop to the ground, but not Willie. He keeps beating on Reeves face, with all the strength that remains in his good left arm. Suddenly the guards surround Willie and spray mace into his eyes and mouth, which instantly swell shut. Then the nightsticks come out.
Choking and blinded, snot hanging out of his swollen nostrils, Willie starts to pass out, while the leaded batons are breaking and crushing his skull and ribs. He fades into a swirling, unconsciousness.
When he finally fights his way to back to the surface, he finds himself handcuffed to an old iron hospital bed. His left eye is swollen shut. His right arm is in a cast. He tries to move a little, cracked and broken bones causes his body to seize in spasms. He’s been here before, and knows the worst of it is over.
Two beds down, Reeves is also handcuffed. A quiet but constant metered mechanical pumping sound comes from the side of his bed. An opaque, white plastic tube, taped into his mouth is leading to the machine that is now breathing for him. His ashen face is badly bruised and swollen out of proportion. His eyes have a distant, dull stare. Martin Reeves is in a coma.
A few days later the Warden comes in and takes a look at Willie. The warden is small in stature, maybe five foot eight, in his mid sixties. He dresses in a tan business suit and dark brown cowboy boots. White, closely cropped hair and bushy, white eyebrows are contrasted by the warden’s almost black eyes that peer right through Willie. This man is a no bullshit cop that has heard and seen it all. He looks at Willie knowing he’s about to hear a load of crap. In a way that identifies Willie as less than human the warden says, “Okay ‘Convict,’ tell me what happened.”
Willie looks at the Warden, “Well boss, I tell ya, I was just walking across the yard when these guys jumped me. I’m new here and not really sure why they were so pissed off. I don’t want any trouble. I just want to do my time and be left alone.”
The warden shaking his head in disbelief says, “So they jumped you? Funny… I can’t seem to find anyone that saw anything. Isn’t it interesting, all those men, standing right there and no witnesses. Reeves isn’t talking. In fact, Reeves will most likely never talk again. Well, you want to be left alone, good, I’m going to give you a couple months in the box as soon as the doc lets you go. And you and I… we’re not done on this subject.”
Willie walks over to Jake the old convict he had met earlier. “Hey gramps, what’s it like.”
The old man, shaking his head says, “Well dad, I’ll tell ya, I’ve never seen any shit like that in all my years inside. What was your beef with Reeves anyway?”
“No beef, never met him, I just needed to send a message.” Willie replies.
“Message… who the fuck to?” asks the old man.
“To every mother fucker in this place, that’s who.”
Willie cracks a knowing smile and leans back against a post. He casually tosses a smoke into his mouth, and then hands one to the old man.
“Don’t worry gramps. Oh, they’ll talk a lot of shit about putting it to me. But none of these punks are willing to die just to find out. Now… I need you to get me hooked up… with some of that good shit.”
This is me at a book signing at "Pages" bookstore. I'm chatting with my friend Will the owner.
If you're ever in Cave Creek drop by it's a great place, they also are fantastic at locating those hard to find books.
Pages also does mail order They are in The Stagecoach Village located at, 7100 E Cave Creek Rd Ste 164 · Cave Creek
Friday, February 19, 2010
Being a musician is not easy, it's filled with self-doubt, and as soon as you find some song that you play well, someone asks you to do "Margaretville" or worse they ignore you. I try to give these daring performers refuge and a place to work on their act and grow.
Last night was great, Vic better know as The Jazz bastard helped me open he is a real treat to play with. Later on he made many a jaw drop playing a lightning fast version of "The Flintstone" with john Debuke on harmonica.
Brian Callahan ripped the room up with his hilarious rendition of "The Jenny Mule" I'm sure this guy is going all the way.
Micah Migara (I’ll get the correct spelling) an Ex-bull rider with a voice like a long slow sip of Southern Comfort once again reminded us of that heart breaking sound we haven't heard since the days of George Jones. His tune "Hello Whiskey" has huge potential.
I can't thank the guys that come by after a hard day of work enough. Ernie Bunch, Ken Harris who did fine "Patty Smith" last night, backed by Barbara, Rick Strole the best 60 folk singer around, Mike Assad, Kevin Brennan, Ron McGee doing sound and of course Zeke Vance shooting all of these fine photos.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Perhaps I should have learned more from David about writing, but quite frankly I was so mesmerized by his talent that I just watched. I saw Dave perform at least 2 times a week for 8 years.
I Ride Alone
Words and Music by David Shepherd Grossman
Got a nickel riding on my life yet to be
Speak of me in legend well I'd probably agree
Let a deck of cards
Lead me way against the odds
Too many times
Journeys often lead one on an endless up hill climb
They give you countless memories you pay a fee of time
I couldn't be your friend
I've hung on the loosing end
Too many times
And I'm not a silver cowboy shooting for a prize
I have no wife or child to call my own
And I haven't got much money
I've seen what money buys
I'm just a man who likes to ride alone
Cities filled with merchants all selling to get by
I doubt they ride an uncut road or taste a desert sky
But rivers roll on
On through right and wrong
'Till they reach an ocean or run dry
I hear morals echo like a wordless rhyme
I see them all around me yet they seem so hard to find
I've missed all my cues
I've lost my chance to choose
Too many times
If you like David's writing Check out Tom Waitts and on a local level I'm very impressed by the talent of Bill Wickham. He really understands phrasing. He works under the name of Wick and Cole.
A little history, I had a medical mishap 5 years ago that almost killed me. While recovering I tried to keep my mind busy and so went back to school. I studied creative writing with a wonderful intelligent woman by the name of Dr. Lois Roma Deeley. Her classes at PVCC absolutely changed my life forever. I had written 4 cookbooks and 131 episodes of my TV series, along with various magazine and newspaper articles. But She is the one that made me think of myself as a writer. The first day I met her I walked up to her and said Hello my name is mad coyote Joe, my writing mentor Paul Ellswick died a few years back and I've been looking for you. You're going to be my new mentor. She gave a funny look and said okay. That has been our relationship ever since.
I also studied under another fantastic woman by the name of Judy Gailbraith. She is the staff member in charge of PVCC's newspaper "The Puma Press" she also teaches news writing. Judy also brought me around to an understanding of my abilities and helped me in being a more cohesive food writer.
I hope, for those of you that are trying your hand at writing you will ask questions. And those of you that are professionals by all means offer direction.
I'll close with a quote from my departed father; "It's not a question of if you will fail, it's a question of how many times you will fail before you succeed!"
Thanks Dad, I miss you.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
An up-close look at the British propaganda machine that convinced the USA to get involved in WWII
Quote for the day
While all readers were not great men, certainly all great men were readers!
A poetic monologue
Okay; a mop, tin foil, ranch dressing, coffee, those little Mexican limes…
They’ve closed the local market
Just the other day
A brand new, shiny bistro
And I hear they have Pâté
Italian tile and marble
And foods from far away
Folks driving from the valley
Who’ve heard they have Pâté
Let’s see; milk, cheese, bleach, tampons, bacon, lettuce, avocados, bread, toilet paper… Hey kid, do you know where they’ve put the bleach?
Good morning Sir, I’d be glad to assist in making your shopping experience this morning, the very best. Could I interest you in a sample of our Goat’s cheese stuffed squash blossoms?
Uhh, thanks kid, but I was looking for the bleach…
Yes Sir, I know, I’ll just call the Home and Hearth Associate. Perhaps Sir would enjoy a cappuccino while he waits?
No I’ve already had my coffee, but thanks. Look, it used to be on aisle six by the fly swatters and the charcoal.
Well Sir, if the alfresco, culinary arts, are your area of interest, we have an excellent Teakwood, chunk charcoal mixed with sun-dried, old growth, zinfandel vines, pre soaked in Kentucky bourbon…
They seem so young and friendly
To help in every way
I’m looking for the bleach
He’s offering Pâté
A tank with living lobsters
Pheasants baked in clay
And wine from every country
To help digest Pâté
Hello Sir, I understand you need the Home and Hearth Associate. You’re in luck Sir. He had a cancellation this afternoon. I’m the Activities Concierge and I’d love to arrange a facial or massage during your wait… Did you get your cappuccino?
I’m sorry SIR, it’s pronounced with a soft a… FRANC!
Uh… oh, okay, Franc, look you’ve got a real nice store here, but I’ve gotta get back and clean the toilet. See we’re having a little barbecue this weekend and…
Has Sir heard about our excellent Teakwood?
YES… YES… YES, Sir is well aware of the Teakwood charcoal. Sir doesn’t need Teakwood or cappuccino or even a facial. Sir needs some bleach, so Sir can go home and clean Sir’s toilet.
Well if Sir would like I could arrange for an in-home interview with our Personal Valet Associate.
Farewell my local market
Closed just the other day
This brand new shiny bistro
But I don’t eat Pâté
Just want to clean my toilet
Without the store’s valet
Folks driving from the valley
Who seem to like Pâté
Now where was I? A toilet brush, hamburger buns, Flaming Cheetos, dog food, dish soap…
Monday, February 15, 2010
Stopped at Van Buren and central. Took a Pedi-cab to the Arizona Center. Walking through the restaurants we ran upon UNOS. Years ago when they first came to Phoenix they made some of the best Chicago style Pizza around. The secret to a great Chicago style deep-dish pizza is; great pizza dough, a well olive-oiled pan, CHEESE FIRST (this step keeps the crust light and crunchy). We were hungry and let our need for food get in the way of better judgment. UNOS has gone corporate. We were served what I assume was a frozen product topped with some canned tomatoes. This was not the world famous pizza we thought we were getting. A 10-inch pizza was $24 with tip, no drinks or sides. I rate it just below Stouffer’s French bread pizza.
Well I’m off the help Cody’s, a new restaurant in Cave Creek. I'm doing recipe development for them and very excited about their menu.
I've got a diem to carpe'
Mad Coyote Joe
Sunday, February 14, 2010
From my up-coming novel "Willie" (ongoing blog chapters saga)
(ongoing blog chapters saga)
By Mad Coyote Joe ©2004
Life is hard. My father tried to protect me from the world, but also knew that one day I would have to stand up and fight. My life up to that point was one of swimming pools, ice cream and ponies. I was thirteen years old and the hardest thing I had ever encountered was not being chosen for basketball or loosing at monopoly.
I was sitting in the living room on the big brown couch with my father watching television. Most of my friends had paper routes and always had pocket money. I wanted a summer job.
“I was wondering if you might have some work for me?”
“Well, we could use someone picking up the wire down at the fab yard.”
My father owned a rebar fabrication yard in South Phoenix. Rebar is, sort of, the skeleton of a concrete building or structure. In the office, detailers take the architectural drawings and figure out what load and stresses will be on the various components of the building. They design a rebar frame that is engineered to meet that load. They create a set of plans and cut sheets that list the quantities and various lengths or shapes needed to build the columns, beams or floors in the high-rises, bridges, dams, power plants or whatever is being built. The fab yard then takes stock lengths of rebar, cuts and bends it into the required lengths and shapes. It is then loaded onto trucks and shipped out to the construction site.
I remember thinking ‘how hard could that be?’
I said, “Thanks dad, that would be great!”
“Okay Joey, get some sleep and I’ll wake you up. We leave at four.”
“Four!” I had never got up that early. “What time do they start?”
“At five, it gets hot early”
The next morning while we were riding to work, he gave me a little talk.
“Joey these guys are real men, they don’t screw around. They don’t want to be your friend; they just want to get the work done.” He went on, “It’s been my experience that in life there’s always a whip. It will either be in your boss’s hand or in your own head. Trust me it’s a lot easier if you hold the whip.”
We got out of the car on the oil-covered dirt road in South Phoenix’s old industrial district. I was sticky and sweating and the sun wasn’t even up yet. There’s a smell in that part of town, chemical, steel, iron, dirt, sweat, and the smell of years of men working on the same piece of sun-baked ground.
A few minutes later an old truck pulled up and a short unassuming man in his mid-forties got out. He was wearing a faded yellow cowboy shirt and had a friendly little smile on his face.
Yawning and stretching he mumbled, “Morning Joe”
“Good morning Chuck, Joey this is Mr. Reeves.
“Good morning Mr. Reeves.”
“You can call me Chuck, Joey, It’s nice to meet you”
Then my dad asked if I had any money. I said, “no”.
“Well, here’s a few bucks, A truck will come around at nine and then again at noon. The foods not too bad. Don’t eat too much in this heat, it will make you sick. I’ll pick you up at two.” He knew I was a little nervous and added, “Just do what Chuck tells you… you’ll be fine!” Then he got back in his car. Chuck and I watched as he drove down the street to the old two-story, red brick house that served as his office.
As soon as he was out of sight, Chuck turned to me. The kindly look on his face had disappeared. With more anger than I had ever encountered, starring a hole right through me, he screamed, and he did so without raising his voice.
“Listen to me you little mother fucker, your daddy might have gotten you this god damn job, but he can’t keep it for you. Where are your fuckin hand shoes?”
“What?” I squeaked out.
“Your hand shoes… your gloves goddamn it. You little son of a bitch, you show up on my time without your fucking tools. Ya know, I don’t give a rat’s ass… when your hands look like raw fucking hamburger go whine to someone else. Are you going to stand here bullshitting all day or are you here to work?”
I tried to answer but before I could he went on,
“I want every fuckin piece of wire in that yard in that dumpster before the end of the day.”
In the fab yard they received up to ten trucks loaded with forty thousand pounds of steel each, every day. The bundles are tied together with rusty wire called bundle wire. It’s as thick as a pencil, so thick I couldn’t even bend it. All this wire is cut off the bundles and tossed into piles, after the cutting and bending the rebar is retied into smaller bundles and shipped to the job site. Wire is the lifeblood of a steel yard. Needless to say it would be impossible for one person, let alone a thirteen-year-old boy, to keep ahead of the piles and piles of rusty wire generated everyday.
I had no idea what I had done to make Chuck so mad, and I didn’t want to find out. I started picking up wire as fast as I could. The bundle wire looks like big spiders about a foot across and the tips of the legs are razor sharp. They get all tangled together and I had too pull as hard as I could to get them free. On the second or third bunch, as it broke loose it sliced deep into the palm of my hand. The blood oozed, and I howled, “I’m cut, I’m cut… Chuck help, help!!! I’m cut.”
Chuck came running over. “Let me see… Well shit boy you aren’t hurt, what kind of a pussy are you? You aren’t fuckin lucky enough to die… Get your ass back to work!”
I was crying, scared to death and quite sure I would need stitches, when the biggest man I had ever seen walked over and handed me a brand new pair of White Mule leather work gloves.
He was about six two, two hundred and fifty pounds, not a drop of fat with reddish blond hair, a sunburned face and steel grey eyes. He stuck out his huge hand and as he grabbed mine he smiled and said “Hey kid, give those a try… my names Willie!”