Moving west to Fort Bragg, when I first learned that the renowned sculptor Dan Hemann had been savaged by the brutal spaghetti vendor Jim “Muttface” Muto, I abandoned my duties at the County Courthouse and sped to Fort Bragg forthwith.
Hemann had told me long ago that Jim Muto was a Mafia affiliate with plans to turn quiet little Fort Bragg into an ocean view version of Las Vegas. When I arrived at Hemann’s Green Door Studio on Laurel Street that day, it was plain that Muto’s schemes were proceeding. In the alley between Muto's V’Canto pasta house and the Headlands Coffee shop, a sullen gang of alienated louts strummed their guitars and tossed scraps from V’Canto’s garbage cans to their inevitable mongrels. One of them lobbed an insult at me. The ambiance was not particularly visitor-friendly. Mafia indicators, for sure.
Hemann will tell you that he'd tried to stop the neighborhood's deterioration when he first moved to Laurel Street from the tranquil precincts of Carmel a few years ago, unaware that he was the only one in town to have noticed the deterioration. Worse, Hemann soon learned to his escalating anguish that Judge Jonathan Lehan of the Ten Mile Court was Jim Muto’s legal gofer. He told me so himself, over a year ago, when I asked why his lawsuit against V’Canto had been thrown out of court. His Debbie had wheeled out a hand-truck loaded with the documents of Hemann's accumulating case.
The many pages of evidence made it amply clear that Dan did not approve of Muto and the unamplified music sometimes wafting out of Muto's restaurant, but Judge Lehan had made the complaints disappear. It was outrageous that reasonable people couldn’t see how corrupt the Ten Mile Court was, Dan told me. But, he said, he’d uncovered other conspiracies that people also refused to see.
Debbie, right on cue, wheeled out another hand truck of documents. They established that Autism to Alzhiemer’s was the result of Chem-Trails. Dick Cheney, you see, had come up with the idea of putting heavy metals in jet fuel and sowing the skies of the entire world with Monsanto, hence, Chemical or “Chem” Trails rather than the benign-sounding vapor trails or contrails us dupes know the sky trails as. (The Building 7 brigades must miss Cheney.) Debbie and Dan showed me photographs of jets flying Fort Bragg's sea-scrubbed stratosphere, their wispy tracks directly above dying foliage on Laurel Street, the almost literally smoking chem trail!
Hemann informed me that if I were anything but a craven, greedy hack I would devote my energies to exposing the Chem-Trails conspiracy. Why, I wondered aloud, hadn’t Dan himself written something on the subject?
Dan, Debbie informed me, was a famous sculptor, which he is, actually, and he wasn't about to abandon his art to try to convince a suicidally indifferent society like ours that Cheney was poisoning the sky.
At the time of our meeting, there was a larger-than-life bust being modeled in the Green Door studio. Who's this? I asked. Hemann and Debbie threw out the name of what I assumed was prominent figure, a person I’d never heard of in the homeless camps I'd been living in where conversation is pretty much limited to the basics of food and shelter. Our idea of a famous person is the lady at the food stamp window. We all know her.
Dan and Debbie seemed a bit surprised I didn’t know the famous man. But it was only last week that I realized it must have been UC's Alpha/Godzilla Regent Richard Blum! Anyhow, the name meant nothing to me at the time, and as Dan worked the clay with his various tools, carefully shaving off a flake here and troweling it lovingly over there, he commented that the fellow he was memorializing was exceedingly vain, that it was tricky work making the bust both a flattering and at the same time convincing representation of a person millions of people regard as a low down rat bastard, er, pillar of California's corporate community. Debbie was seated nearby eating a bowl of cereal. It was her spoon that was lost in the scuffle with Muto. She said something about Dan not being particularly impressed with his subject.
Then why are you making a bust of him? I asked.
For $10,000, Dan replied promptly.
Debbie asked if I wanted to see more of the Chem-Trail photos. Seen one, seen 'em all, I figured, and made my way back out onto the mean streets of Laurel.