CARS FROM THE GET GO
My idea of fun as a 17-year-old kid, there was a car called the Overland.
That had in front of the radiator a sort of half round thing, that was about
a foot deep, and it sorta like the floor of the radiator in front of the
radiator and between the bumper for a style thing. You could nearly sit in
that damn thing which was no reason to do it, except that I sat in it so
that the guy who was driving the car could race up to the car that was in
front of me and stop and miss my legs hanging over the goddam bumper by as
little room as possible. So if he misjudged, I had both legs cut off. That
how insane you are as a kid. Good clean fun. And I would turn around a be
driving my dad's car which was a 4-door sedan and I would go out with a
bunch of guys, and we would somehow manage to have one guy who was a little
slow in getting the car, and lock the car, and he was on the running board
hanging onto the door handles and I would go along the cars that were parked
as close as possible to scare the hell out of him, not realizing that if he
got snagged he'd just be torn to hell.
He could get killed. I mean the dumb shit you used to do is unbelievable. At
what age was this?
Same thing, 16-17.
Then this one was a wild one I did. This was on Alameda St downtown where
all the railroad tracks used to terminate north of where the Plaza is, I
think that's Brooklyn Ave or something. You go a little further north to
where Chinatown is, and there's a big car there for railroad cars and all
that. So the train station, which you know is right down there by Olvera St
thing, the brand new station, the trains used to come outa there and leave
at that point going up Alameda. So I get the right idea for fun, this is the
same guy that's got the Overland. He's driving along side the train and I
jump off the car to where you onto there you get in the car where you have
the two side rails for the fun that I'm going to go into this damn train and
then jump back onto the car. So I jump onto the train, and I'm holding onto
this thing, and we're gong alongside the railroad, which was paved, and all
of a sudden it runs out of paved area 'cause it's pen track, and I still on
the damn train and train is picking up sped. And I'm saying how the hell am
I going to get off this train, just tumble asshole over appetite once I
land. And he had the nerve, to continue where the ties were, driving
alongside the car, bumping like crazy, and I managed to jump back on the
car. You talk about insane, I got a million of them. I did the craziest kind
of things and who a fear that something's gonna wrong. I Nothing's gonna go
JUMPING THE TRACKS
And then the worst one I ever did, I decided after watching the guy
parachute jump, I'm gonna parachute jump. So what do I do? I take an
umbrella, get up on the roof, and jump off the roof. Talk about going down
in a hurry. Luckily I land on my feet with out breaking my legs, You talk
about…I had just so many of those things where it was near but it never
happened. It was crazy.
You're whole life has been one near-death experience.
Oh man, I tell ya.
THE EXPLODING SIGNAL
How about this one? You know in the earlier days where they used to signal
the shifting of cars and al that in the yard, they had these things that was
about oh what would I say, about the size of a half a lemon, it had a couple
of straps that you put around the track, and when the car rolled over it
gave a signal with a big bang. Why it was needed I don't remember. So I
managed to find one of those that wasn't exploded, and so I take it home,
and decide to see what's in it. So I set it down on the ground with a
screwdriver and a hammer to open it, and the sucker went off in my face. And
how the hell I managed to turn my head, and it was on dirt, so there was all
kinds of pebbles and stuff, full in my face, and peppered me all over with
those little rocks. And how I didn't get blind or deaf or something is
And again, how old?
Then I was younger, I musta been about 10.
You know, I don't thing I've ever mentioned those things for now, 50 years.
SOME EARLY HISTORY-BROOKLYN TO BOYLE HEIGHTS
Where were you born?
So you were born in Brooklyn and came at 7?
Yeah, because of my other's health. She contracted TB.
And so the doctors, we were living in Syracuse, NY, my dad bought a bakery,
was dong quite well financially there, and she got TB, which heavy coughing
and all that, the doctor said this climate is just murder, and in those days
they didn't have the medicines or nothing, so in 23 what did they know about
TB other than you got it? So he said that you go a go to a warm climate. We
were living in Syracuse, which was just 23 miles from Canada, it's the
northern port of NY.
My dad left there in 1921, in Syracuse. He was born in 14 in France near
Dijon. They came here
Good mustard there.
So they came here and he also didn't like that weather. My understanding is
they moved to California for his health. He eventually died in 35 of stomach
cancer. He was a more frail gymnast, more frail.
Gymnastics has nothing to with your internals, It makes all these nice, but
it doesn't do a thing for the inside. If you're screwing up, you're going to
hell. Like smoking, you can be muscular and all this good stuff, but the
smoking is destroying your lungs.
You didn't smoke, or you did, when you were younger?
DICK'S SMOKING EXPERIENCE
No, I smoked actually…I started smoking when I was 15-1/2, there was a lot
of kids around that smoked
Yeah, that's the usual bunk
And then I remember going into HHS and going up to the counter late for
school, and the guy at the counter just, "Gees, I can smell you." There's
nothing worse than smoke breath. And he would just go, ahhhgggg, God, you
just smell awful. I thought, "Old man, just shit on you", you know. And that
summer of my 16th bday, 1960, my dad had a surprise bday party that was an
incredible surprise. It was like two days after my bday, and no one told me.
You figured it was over
Oh yeah, and I come home, I come in the house, for some reason I came in a
little late, it was dark, and up in the pool house, this is like 8:30 at
night, June, dead pitch black. Somehow or other I had been like out, and
this is a Thursday or Friday night, and I come into the house at Bel Air.
Way up at the end of the property I hear some people, and it sounds like
it's on our property, up at the pool house, like somebody has snuck in from
the side street, and I said to my mom, sounds like someone's up there. She
said, "Na, na." I said, no, no, I'm going to go up and check it out. And I
go all the way up, and there no lights on in the garden. And I get to the
top step, pitch black, and the lights come on around the pool. "Surprise!!"
And I just about fell over. I was so scared,,,uhhhh! But anyway, the next
day, my dad and I leave for Salt Lake City, and we drive, and we go to
Vegas, and we stop at Vegas. And this is like 1960.
So it's built up already a little bit.
It's way built. We stop at the Riviera, now this is actually Saturday, the
party was a Friday night, my birthday was Wednesday or Thursday, and so
Saturday, a couple of days after my birthday, we're going up there, and he's
letting me drive the car for the first time, he'd drive a little, I'd drive
a little. We stop at Vegas. He was a smoker. He smoked Pall Malls. He
eventually quit, went to a cigar, went to a pipe, then stopped, and then he
died. So, but anyway, he and I stopped about 2 in the afternoon and catch a
lounge show at the Riviera, and the lounge show, believe it or not, is Harry
James and Dorothy Dandridge.
What a team!
What a lounge show that is!
And there's nobody there. There's just a bunch of little two-top tables, you
You're wondering where's all the people.
And so, I ask the cigarette girl for some Marlboros, and dad says no, no.
no, I'm not letting you buy cigarettes. So he gives me a Pall Mall, and
here's what I'm doing.
But are you inhaling?
Oh, very much.
Oh Jesus, you're hooked,
I'm sitting smoking with my right hand, and I have my left hand on the
table. And between puffs, I put my hand under the table, and it's like this,
burning between my knees. You know, typical…that's just what I was doing. I
didn't know why, that's just what I was doing. And I look around. Now you
have to understand that in Vegas, this is not the cream of the crop of
people, Vegas are a lot of lower and middle American hayseed, you know, and
so I look around, and what do I see? About 6 different people are smoking at
these two top tables. And they are kinda like real farmer-looking people,
and they are all in identically the same position I am. They have one hand
on the table, and a cigarette is burning between their knees. And I
literally got down and I looked down under the table and looked at these
people, and I sat up, and I looked at them, I looked at myself, and I said,
I'll be damned if gonna look like that. And I put the cigarette out, and
that was it for the rest of my life, just like that. Can you imagine? Boom.
Thank goodness. Imagine, just imagine the power of the mind to make that
decision, and that was it, never smoked again, ever. Funny, I'm so happy.
You're so lucky. Well, I had the experiences where the taste of cigarettes
and drink were so repulsive to me, that all I had to do was try it a couple
of times, and I said, these people are crazy, what's so good about smoking?
What's so good about drinking? They're not pleasant, I want it to taste like
And it wasn't, so I lucked out, just because I found it….in fact, I didn't
drink coffee until I was thirty years old because I saw people always say, I
gotta have a cup of coffee. I said, that must be a terrible goddam thing,
that you always gotta have that liquid. What's so terrific about that
That all came later, So I never got into it. That was the same thing with
beer, I tasted beer, I said this tastes like soapy water. How the hell are
people drinking this stuff?
I hate beer. I have never wanted to develop a taste for beer. I don't like
hard liquor, because it tastes like gasoline.
So I will not drink it except in a sweet drink. I didn't like smoking
because it tasted terrible. So you know, I was very lucky.
It was repulsive to start with, you didn't want to work yourself into it.
Most trouble is the goddam kids see somebody else do it, I'll struggle with
it until I can handle it. And I'm saying, why do I want to handle it? This
Your body is telling you that, and the whole point is your immune system is
giving you all these signals. A friend told me a very interesting story one
time, it was Dan. He said, "I realized years ago that I was not smoking for
pleasure, I was smoking to allay pain." He says, about every 20 minutes I
would start to become uncomfortable and nervous, and so I would take a
cigarette and that would tranquilize me. He says he quit. He eventually
started up years later, and he is going to quit again. So I did a little
more research on it, and it was very interesting what I finally realized,
and this is the kind of rap I give people who are smoking: Let's really look
at what smoking costs you and what it gets you.
Health-wise and money-wise…
Everything. How much is a pack of cigarettes? What is it now, like almost 5
Let's say a pack of cigarettes is $5, and there are what, 20 cigarettes in a
pack? So you got 20 cigarettes in a pack and you've got 5 bucks. So let's
say you smoke a pack a day. OK? So that's what, about $1700 a year, right?
A goodly amount.
But now let's look a little further. How long does it take to smoke a
cigarette? 5 minutes?
Probably more, but it depends on who is doing it. But let's say it's 5
minutes. You smoke 20 cigarettes a day, that's 100 minutes a day. OK?
Let's be generous and round it down to 90 minutes. Ok? An hour and a half a
day. That means in a week you're spending ten hours a week smoking, 53 weeks
a year, that's 530 hours. Well, do the math: a work year is 2000, and that's
50 weeks a year, 8 hours a day, every day, 5 days a week, OK? That means,
that if somebody is smoking one pack a day, they are doing the equivalent of
this: they are getting up the morning at 8in the morning, they are smoking
from 8 until noon nonstop, they are having lunch, and from 1 till 5 they are
doing nothing, non-stop, not a break at all, but smoking, and they're doing
that 5 days a week, for three months of the year. They are spending 1/4 of
their working life smoking. Now, during that time, they're making a full
time career out of killing their body. And, at the same time, they can not
be doing any sports, they can't be having much of an interaction with people
who don't smoke, there gonna hang around with people who do smoke. So what
are they getting? They're basically creating a life that's centered around
destroying their body. And they say to you, if I only had a little more time
I'd like to do this and do that. And I say, "Jesus, you got three months a
year!" You got three months of 8 hours a day. So, the cost is really
enormous, people have no clue, they don't even begin to have a thought about
what it is.
Yeah, and you can give them all those pleasant, scientific, rational reasons
and still that goddam disease of, what's the word I want to use, addition
has such got such a hang on the average person, he has no stupid willpower
to make a commitment to get off them.
Nicotine addiction is one of the most powerful addictions in the world.
That why I never say to somebody, you know, like putting them down because
they're smoking, 'cause if it was easy they'd all quit.
I mean, it wouldn't be a problem, but it is not easy.
Or it's like somebody says, ah gees, it's easy to quit, I've done it a
And you what I didn't realize, my wife, on the first boyfriend she met, this
miserable bastard, after he was out with her for a while, he was smoking,
and he says, don't you smoke? He says, I'll show you how. So he introduces
her to the cigarettes. So when she went with me and she knew I didn't smoke,
I could never tell she smoked, because she never carried any cigarettes with
her, she never had cigarette smoke on her breath, so I didn't assume she was
smoking. So here, we move out to California, we got about two kids already,
maybe a third one, I don't remember for sure. And I come to find out only
through a conversation she was having with a friend and didn't know I was in
the bedroom when it was happening. And she's telling me about that fact that
she smokes three packs a day,
Oh my god.
60 cigarettes, can you imagine, 60 cigarettes a day, I says how the hell can
she be smoking 60 cigarettes a day and I don't know it?
Well, the windup was, she couldn't wait for me to leave to go to work, then
start #1, and she4'd smoke until she knew I was coming home, and then she'd
stop at that point. He had all these kinds of things you could put in your
mouth to kill the cigarette breath thing.
He musta changed her clothes, too, because it's on our clothes.
And I was never critical about it, because if you don't have even the
faintest idea, and you're going through the normal life thing, it isn't
So then in the evening, what she would do, and I never thought about that,
she would always be the one to take out the garbage. You know the old saying
about the guy, he's gotta take out the garbage, that's not a woman's job. It
was never a job for her because then she would smoke another cigarette.
While she was outside, like the last cigarette of the day. Can you imagine
that? Three damn packs, what happened? Well, I dunno, she smoked for
probably ten years and one day she starts to get a strong cigarette cough.
She's convinced she's got TB, from the cigarette smoke. How she picked on
that, who the hell knows?
She goes to see a doctor. Doctor examines her. And tells her no, you don't
have TB, you've got a cigarette cough. And, so she leaves him, and says to
herself, well, maybe he really didn't do a good examination. She goes to
another doctor. You know how you are when you're addicted, any goddam excuse
except the real reason why you're smoking. She goes to this other doctor. He
examines her, tells her the same Goodman story, Now she's panicked, she says
to him well, did you ever smoke. He says, yes I did. Well, what did you do
about it? He says well I had to make up my mind, either I stop smoking or
this cough is gonna get strong enough that I'm going to wind up having a
serious lung problem. So she sorta was taken back like, Jesus, the doctor
got it, and he quit. Maybe if I got enough reason to what I've got to look
forward to, and three kids to take care of, I gotta do something about this.
I got stop smoking. And all of this is happening, and I don't know a damn
word about it. And she decides from that visit. This, I get the same thing
she talking to her girl friend. I'm in the backyard, the windows are open in
the summer, and I'm hearing this, and she don't know I'm that close that I'm
listening to it. I'm not going out of my way to listen to female
conversation, the usual garbage they talk about. And this was going on. So,
she stopped smoking, and would you believe it? In six weeks, she was able to
cut it off. Unusual. Never went back to it, never wanted a cigarette,
couldn't stand the cigarette smoke to be in the area. So, it can be from
something that simple to a person that just can't quit. That's the spread.
So what does she do? So you figure, okay, nice girl, got it over with, got
back to being a good housewife, a mother, I come to find out all of a sudden
she took to drinking. She' drinking a bottle of goddam wine a day.
She's a very addictive personality.
So she's drinking, how do I find out? The craziest thing. My boss had a wife
who was also going to a, what's that anonymous thing? AA. And she knew my
wife, and so this boss of mine is telling me about this story. Can you
And was she going to a AA also?
Of course, that's how she met my boss's wife. Otherwise I wouldn't know she
going to AA. The same, thing, when a woman wants to keep something
secretive, and they got a way to figure out a plan, they'll make a plan. So,
she was on that for a number of years, the same goddam thing happened. She
saw there was no way out of it, you couldn't drink just a little bit, or
drink socially when you're up to that point of a bottle a day, if you just
smell it you want to have a drink.
So again, she had enough will power to shut that thing off.
After how long?
Who the hell remembers the exact time?
No, I mean how long was she drinking?
Oh, I don't how many years.
This, by the way, is where Jock's factory is, right down the street. It goes
from….this road curves back up here, there it is. That's the building.
And basically, he's got 5 or 7 acres, and it goes all the way back to the
Beautiful scene at this time of day, and in the winter.
And he also owned the, Scott and Jacki own, 350 acres right where that nub
is. Just past, here's Pacific loops back onto here. Back to the left you'll
see a fork in the road. Everything to the left all the way up to base of the
hills is his. I was going to build him a house right up on that nub, see
this promontory right here?
I see it.
So here comes nature, and decides it's gong to screw up some part of your
body, and you can kiss yourself goodbye. That all the wealth, all the
material things you have don't mean a damn.
Like I said to you more than once, I look in the mirror, I say when is
something gonna get, I've been too goddam lucky. I'm not looking to et
knocked off, but what did I do that warrants me not be in this condition
that so many other people of means and intelligence and that good stuff and
Michael j Fox has Parkinson's and you just as fit as a fiddle.
There's no end to those goddam diseases that can wipe you out.
I loved him.
Wasn't he a good actor, piano player.
Are you listening to us, you better, because we do intelligent things here.
I could make a criticism, but I'm not.
SYRACUSE TO SAN BERNARDINO
So, you were in Syracuse, and your dad where, to San Bernardino?
No,. no, here's what happened. Now's the question, where we gonna go, to
Rrizona, or you gonna go to California where they apparently didn't know
anybody in either state.
And my mother found out some relative that was living in Los Angles. Well
that makes already a difference, someone you know, so we wrote to her, and
they said yeah, come out, we can put you up until you find an apartment and
all that good stuff, so we were in of the bedrooms, me and my mother, and
they had the other bedroom, a little room house, and a little while we found
a place nearby and then my dad came with my other two brothers.
And where is this? Los Angeles in Boyle Heights.
That was the Jewish section at that time. Give me the cross streets of Boyle
That was Brooklyn and Soto.
Just s a little SE o downtown.
Right by the big railroad yards.
Yeah, not too far from the, about a mile or two.
So my mother had to go to the sanitarium, she couldn't stay home, because
when they checked her out, she was infected enough she could infect
everybody else. Besides being sick. So it just so happened the City of Hope
in what community are they in? Sierra Madre? Somewhere in there they opened
up a sanitarium for TB patients. So she was admitted as a patient, and she
stayed there for a whole year, with the food and rest and not having to take
care of kids and that stuff, and we were old enough to take care of
ourselves by that point, she recovered. She had what they call an arrested
case. The small tubercules that nature can envelop them and lock them up in
little pockets, and they can't spread, if you've got good living conditions
and food. And that's what happened. That was the only thing that was
available for TB. And she managed to recover from it, never came, and she
came back to the house, and after we were in California about 4 years. My
mother was very frugal, and he had a very good job as a foreman of a bakery,
and we bought a house.
And he was out here?
Yeah, after we were here then they came out later. So, for $3500 we bought a
3-bedroom house for cash.
Where was this?
Boyle Heights. The house is still there.
About what year is this?
Oh god, this had to be about 27-28, right in there.
My dad bought his mother a house, I'm guessing this was in the 30's or 40's,
for $9000 in Beverly Hills, a little 924 SF house.
Yeah, because in those days BH was just another little community out in the
middle of nowhere. You know what happens when you decide to make a choice.
Instead of taking the first thing available, you drive until the wheels come
off. I've had that happen more than once.
For these kinds of things you don't make a choice. You grab the first one
In New York they get $1.50 for a big bag of ice. Is that what it is here?
That was $1.53 for those bags.
No kidding. Everybody's on the gravy train, even the ice man.
That was the kind of truck that was passing me all day long.
Okay, so you get this house for $3500 in Boyle Heights. In about 19…
'27, about that. Because the following year, 1928, my dad was finally rich
enough that we could afford a new car. We bought a 1928 Chevrolet, 4-door
sedan. That was $600. Brand new. And previous to that, when we first came to
California we bought a '23 Chevrolet. And that thing had a cone clutch. The
clutch is tapered like a cork in a barrel and it's lined with a piece of
leather. And you put mink oil (??) on it to keep it well lubricated and when
you let the clutch out this cone would go into a cone fly wheel and it would
lock up with no problem. The problem was it would lock up even before you
wanted it to. You had to have a very sensitive foot to engage that thing
without that sucker leaping. So you could see why that went away. In fact
you never heard of it.
I didn't know that existed.
And you say "Well, why did they make it in the first place?"
Because the other ones were always slipping. They couldn't make it good
enough. So you come out with a cone clutch, there was never a problem with
slipping, it was a problem with engaging too good. So this is part of the
historical thing about a lot of things that were in cars.
That's snow on his roof.
That's a California thing. To go up to the mountains and cover the whole car
in snow and inbetween the fenders, I used to do it on the old cars, between
the fenders and the hood you could pile a lot of snow and come in and
everybody would say, "Oh you've been to the mountains. Wish I could have
So 1927, 1928 you get a Chevrolet. What color?
Green. Four door sedan. That was our first new car. So then we're in this
old house for awhile, five years, and now the kids are getting bigger and I
think at that time we had two sisters, so now we had five kids, so the house
was too small. So she found another place that was nearby on Pomeroy off of
Soto. And bought that house for some ridiculous price because it was in the
depression era. And since he was one of the few guys who was making a good
salary. He was a foreman. He was better off that most. A loaf of bread was
And this was during the depression years, 1929, onward.
Yes. So we always had plenty to eat because according to the rules of
working in a bakery you were allowed to take home whatever bread and cakes
you wanted for your family. And if a loaf of bread cost ten cents, how much
of a sport was that owner being? He wasn't exactly giving away the store. So
he would bring home 3 different kinds of breads, a rye bread, pumpernickel
and a white bread of some kind… French bread. And then we'd have a dozen
Kaiser rolls with that and we'd have some cake or pie to go with that. Every
day. And we'd finish every inch of it. Nothing was leftover for tomorrow
with our appetites.
Exactly. And then these guys would over-bake sometimes and there was no such
thing as putting in preservatives and all that crap, so the next day that
bread would start to get stale. So my dad would take quite a bit of the
bread and rolls and put it in the back of this touring car we had and take
it down to a gas station that was nearby and over some hill nearby was some
poor people, mostly Mexicans, but there were some white people there too,
and they would line up to get a loaf of bread out of the back of his car for
free. Rather than to just let it go stale and throw it away. That's why he
ended up being a member of the City of Hope in later years where he was the
chairman and did a lot of stuff to get things together when they had
different kinds of get-togethers to make money for the charity. He did more
than I did.
And how were his genes?
Oh, his genes were good. But he wound up with cancer in the spine, so his
last years, he was at the City of Hope because of all the things he did for
the organization because otherwise they have a list a block long and they
had just started tuberculosis and cancer as the combination of things they
dealt with. Because there are so many diseases you can't work them all and
do them well. So you pick something you think you can handle.
At what age did this occur?
He was about 79.
And you were in your late forties?
Yes, and his pain was so severe that he told me when I visited him if he had
the nerve he would kill himself. He knew that there was no way he could do
it, how can you do that lying in a hospital bed? But he felt that way. And
the medication they gave him to kill the pain, they had some kind of limit,
they can't drug you to death, and so it didn't last from application to
application. So here he was going to the Beverly Hills Health Club, to which
he was a member and taking the sun tan stuff… if you looked at a picture of
him… but when you've got cancer of the spine it doesn't matter how
everything else is. Or how good your muscles are and all that. You've got it
in a place where it's hurting like hell and it ain't going to go away.
It stops your life. Literally. How long did he have it for?
He was in the hospital for about 9 months.
From detection to death.
I don't know when he caught it. If he knew it or if it just came on from
examination or what. I don't remember the details. So here he was retired,
with a nice house on the edge of Beverly Hills. They bought the house when
it was possible to buy a nice place near Beverly Hills. And he belonged to a
Where was it?
Just before Beverly Hills. The west end of Hollywood.
Near La Cienega and Santa Monica?
Yes. It was one block before La Cienega. There is no family that seems to
have a fairy book ending to all of their relatives and all their immediate
family and all that.
Look at the Kennedy's.
All that prestige and all that. Doesn't mean a damn. That's why I say when I
look in the mirror, why am I getting all this good fortune?
You're just such a nice guy.
Yeah, everybody loves me and can't wait to hit me over the head.
So then, you come to Los Angeles and now it's the '30's and you're fifteen,
sixteen years old. Then what happens.
You know what he's doing to me? You know that program, "This Is Your Life?"
He wants to know every goddamn move I made. For fifty years.
Come on, let's hurry up. Get on with it.
Fifty years. And me giving you every last bitter detail.
You're a storyteller.
So what's the next age bracket we're talking about.
So now you're a teenager. And you're building your cars. You're an insane
I'm going to junior high school and loving it. Did I ever tell you about my
I don't know.
I got into the goddamdest… I don't think I told this story in 50 years. I
love to take oddball things… why does a guy care to go into a gardening
class? That's women's stuff. That intrigued me. So I take this gardening
class and they assign me a nice big area in a glass house where I can do my
things… propogate plants and bulbs and what have you. And I got hung up on
gardens for some reason. It intrigued me what shapes gardens come in and
they're slow growing and all that so it isn't like you're going to put a
leaf from the ground and wait for it to turn into a tree. You'll be dead
before it looks like something. So as I'm walking down the main street, Soto
Street, we lived about 12 blocks from the junior high school. In those days
everybody walked to school. None of this driving with a car crap. It didn't
hurt you one damn bit, either. And I would pass all these different private
homes that had… in those days everybody had a nice porch in the front
because you didn't have air conditioning. When the weather was nice you sat
on the porch to enjoy the air, instead of stifling inside in the house. And
so a lot of people had cactus in little pots and so I'd go along and I'd see
somebody had about 10 different kinds and I'd borrow one, put it in the hot
house and little by little I had about 40 of those different things that I'd
pilfered from all the people in the neighborhood. I wouldn't overdo it - I'd
just take one plant. And people wouldn't even notice or say, "What the hell
happened to that cactus?"
So you were the Robin Hood of gardening.
Right. So after I had about 40 of those plants my teacher got a little bit
worried - starting wondering where the hell I was getting all of these
plants. She had a little suspicion. Was I stealing? What was I doing? So I
conned her and said my dad was very supportive and he was buying these
plants for me. Because I enjoyed the gardening. She felt much better about
that. Innocent gardening teacher.
In New Jersey there was the Hong Kong ferry house and he would ferry people
across that spot because there was no bridge in that area. When Washington
crossed the Delaware he crossed it at that point. And the expression comes
from the fact in those days that when a guy comes in from the fields all
frozen they had a table made so it was hinged on one end - they were
generally round tables. They would lift the thing up so it would become a
back for him to sit in front of the fire and get all that heat and not be
chilled on the backside. That's why you have to turn around when you stand
in front of a fireplace - you can't get warm on both sides at the same time.
So the kids made a joke. And obviously they all had kids. Sneak behind the
table and mash the lid down on the father, who, in many cases was falling
asleep, so that was called turning the tables. It was a joke on the old man.
Can you imagine? That's a stretch, isn't it?
I'm telling the story about a person being a flash in the pan. Especially
movie stars or prominent people. Just a flash in the pan. It comes from the
fact that on the old guns that used flint, there was a little pan that you
used to put the powder in and the flint was ignited when you pulled the
trigger which then ran into the thing and got the bullet ignited. And that
pan, when you actually got the flash, only lasts that long.
Wagon trucks are still there, near Trenton, New Jersey.
No like from the Conklin ferry house because that's where Washington
On the ferry? They always show him in a boat.
That boat belonged to the Conklin Ferry House.
Oh really? They just showed him in a small rowboat.
That's what it was. It wasn't a thing with motors and fans and a sail and
all that. You just rowed across.
You didn't take wagons across.
Dick - there is some lunchtime conversation with people other than Saul,
just some small talk about antiques and people are eating
Hundreds of people walked by, saw the coin and walked on. Who stopped to
pick it up? A well-dressed woman with white gloves on bent down and picked
it up. So when it comes to some things, you never know how to explain it.
More talk about corned beef and how to cook it - but there are other people
talking in the background and you can't really pick up what is being said.
Two kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, bell pepper, scallions,
just about anything raw that you can eat raw is in that salad. Everytime I
make it, because the idea is, if you don't have the other stuff with it - a
salad to me is just like eating leaves. There's no flavor. Some people if
you say "salad," they say, "I don't care for salad." I don't know what makes
a person have a sharp dividing line between..
You've got to put a lot of stuff in it. You know what I like in salad, I
That's the only thing. If they are fresh beets you've got to cook them. So
it's a problem to use it. Canned beets, to me, have nowhere near the flavor.
Canned are still sweet enough. They're still sweet enough.
Digestible and they're edible.
I used to make a lot of salads.
But it's a lot of work. That's why I do it for five meals. I don't do it for
one otherwise I'd be annoyed with it. It takes two hours to make a salad.
And you just have to get used to the idea that it's going to take that long
otherwise don't start. So through the years, I just made up my mind that's
I used to make… I had a counter at my house that I made all butcher block
and had a trash compactor here, I had this salad making cutout which I cut
at an angle, with a saber saw. Like a plug and it poured out and you had to
put it back in. And here was a sink with the disposal. So I would cut here
and it would go into the sink here, into the trash compactor here and I
would put what I wanted into the sink and there was a drawer below, just
like this has a drawer right here and they would all go into the salad bowl
and I would pull it out and there was my salad bowl.
Great. What happened to that?
So you moved, you're 16 or 17 years old and you're a crazy Guy..
So then she gets me two tickets to go to a cactus show in Pasadena. So how
am I gonna get there? I didn't have a car then, so I said to my dad, "I got
two tickets - would you like to go to the cactus show with me?"
He says, "That's ok."
So we go to the show and looking over all these varieties of cactus. And
they were also selling little books on cactus maintenance. How to take care
of cactus. But the whole book was in German. So I didn't really notice that
until I got home. It had a beautiful picture and I flipped through it, just
looking through the pictures in there and I wasn't reading the text. But
since quite a bit of the words, the ordinary words, are similar to Yiddish,
because Yiddish is corrupted German, basically, I took a little notebook and
between my dad and myself we translated the whole little book from German to
Oh my God.
And brought that to the teacher. Well, she thought that was the end. She
thought this eighth year student was unusual.
You were 13 or 14, then.
So every month they'd have one of these things where the whole school would
attend the auditorium and they would talk about different things and she got
up and made a whole thing about one of her students who translated a little
book about gardening from German to English and all that she didn't bother
mentioning my name because she didn't want to embarrass me but the other
teachers knew who was involved. So that made me feel like, "Hey, man, I'm on
the right track now." I knew how to get an A. And I got really interested in
plants to some degree through that start.
I notice you still have some cactus today.
I've got some cactus out front. It's an interesting plant. And then you
know, as a collection, one of the nicest ones, close by to where we all live
is at the Huntington Library.
A huge place.
He's got a 2 or 3 square block area with every variety imaginable and some
of them that are a couple of hundred years old that are on his premises. In
fact what he did, that nobody else could do, since Huntington was in the
railroad business, he took a flat car out to Arizona and where he selected,
whatever plant he wanted, he had the guys dig it up, put it on the flat car
and bring it over to him in San Marino, where his place is. So that's why
his collection is outstanding. And his Japanese Garden is outstanding. Did
you ever see the portion where he has the Japanese Garden?
I think I've been there once but I don't remember.
It's hard to remember if you've been away a long time. I've been there more
than once so it sticks in my mind.
I'd like to go again.
It's worthwhile. It has a Soji screen house where the entire wall are out of
Soji screens. Most people don't realize it is typically a poor country and
they made their walls out of paper.
Talk about a paper-thin house…
And there's no furniture. You sat on the floor with your legs crossed and
you had a brazier in the center of the room that you sat around to eat your
meal and keep warm in the wintertime at the same time. The same brazier.
That was unusual. The brazier was about 24 inches in diameter and the family
sat around it.
A big wok.
Exactly. There are a lot of things that place has that are worthwhile.
They've got one of the original Guttenberg Bibles and it always has an
original Chaucer's Tales, the famous English writer. And what's unusual
about is that each page has the opening letter done with very elaborate
scrolling and everything and in color. In color. So just to look at the
craftsmanship of a the page, forgetting what was on it, was really a work of
art, all done in India ink so the color of the ink is strong black, to this
And what is India ink made from.
I was just thinking, I bet that sucker's gonna ask me… I don't remember. And
then here's another thing that's interesting that most people have no reason
to really think about it but it's the kind of nutty things that I do and
that is why do the letters have this sort of starting out thin, getting fat
and tapering off thin again.
It's a wide stylus.
Wide stylus. It's a quill.
Yeah, but it's wide.
Well it's not that it's wide, it's the way you use it. If you pressure it,
if you start to press very lightly you've got a thin line, but as you go
around with it you would inadvertently press the prongs open and you get a
thicker middle and then when you wanted to end it you would taper off so the
thickness of the line reduced itself. That way you get the graceful letters
without even thinking about it. It's automatic.
The calligraphic pens have a variety of widths and you just dip them in ink
to do those. So you start, as you change direction, widen it…
It makes that a really nice art because once you know how that works you can
employ it to environment. Dumb things like that interest me.
THE NAME SAUL
You're a curious one, I will tell you that. So, you're into cactus and then
Then what? What's after that? Oh yeah, one incident, I loved science and the
story of my name came out of that period. I had an English class and at that
time, up until that time, my name for all I knew was Solly, They called me
Solly. Well, in a lot of cases, with my scribbling of that age and earlier,
if the teacher was looking at the names to call to recite something, she
would go through a box and ask for Sally. Nobody would answer. And she would
say, "There's got to be a Sally in there because the name is here," to
herself. And she'd keep repeating the name, "Where is Sally?" And I wasn't
going to answer to that, I'm not Sally, I'm Solly. So finally she says,
"Well, I'm going to call the names until when everybody says their name the
one who is actually Sally is guilty. So she called about 20 names and they
all answered to their names, raising their hands, and then they got to Solly
and I had to say that I was Sally. And the kids all started laughing.
Anything to belittle anybody that's in the class, no matter what. And here
I'm ready to crawl under the goddamn table. And I'm in the 7th grade and
this English teacher says to me, as I was in her room after the normal class
for some reason and I don't remember. We were talking sort of friendly and
she says to me, "You like that name Solly?"
And I said, "No."
And she said, "Well, let's see what we can do about that." She takes out a
big sheet of paper. She very gracefully writes out the name "Saul."
She says, "How do you like that?"
I say, "That's terrific."
I had my changed by her without any kind of business in the court or any of
that crap - I just became Saul. Because I liked the name rather than Solly.
And when I finally had to use that stupid birth certificate and I got it, it
had Abraham on it. I said, "Nobody ever called me Abraham. Where the hell
did that come from?"
Well, my mother didn't speak English at that time and Abraham was probably a
name that she selected and through the course of time I was never called
Abraham. So I had a job to get that corrected.
Did you do a legal name change?
No, I got it changed on the birth certificate; I'd been using Saul for so
long, who cared? I didn't own any property, I didn't have a bank account,
all of those things where you needed a name to verify.
And to you, you were Saul.
I liked that better than Solly. So that was an easy way to get a…
A new identity.
An identity that I could live with. Look at how many times people change
their names because they just don't like their name. Even my daughter, her
name is Michelle. And she didn't like it because it sounded too ritzy, so
she changed it to Mickie. Especially since it leans on being a tomboy, she
liked it even better. Anything to be more like a boy.
So is she Mickie, or is it Michelle.
No, it's Michelle. Now that she's older, it's a more refined name and she
accepts it. Mickie just got lost in her high school days. In that era they
had a course in penmanship, how to really write gracefully, remember that
era? They would make circles and all that other crap. And really that wasn't
a bad idea but very few people stuck with it and made it graceful. Now you
see them have their fingers all screwed up around that pencil like they're
cripples or something. Not a word is ever expressed about handwriting.
With computers nobody is writing anymore.
So then in the 8th grade I took auto shop. Oh man, I was in 7th heaven in
hat auto shop. How many heavens do we have in order to get to 7?
I don't know.
Do you know?
I never picked up on that one. So I'm in the auto shop and he's got about 10
or 12 cars in there, all kinds of oldies and every Friday there would be a
question and answer period. He had a long bench. He had 40 students. He'd go
down the line with one hand on the left, and ask, "Do you have a question?"
And he'd go to the next one and then the next one and he'd go down the line.
I was usually sitting around 10, 12, somewhere in there, without any special
reason and somehow he noticed when he got to me I would keep him busy for
the whole hour.
The next Friday we go to sit down again and I'm there about 12 to 15th in
the row and he says to me, "Bastion." He didn't call anybody by their first
names - he always called us by our last names, like in basketball.
He says, "Bastion, I want you to get to the end of the line." Everybody's
laughing their ass off, even though they don't know what it's about but it's
anything to put somebody down who's in the class. So I'm at the end of the
line. And he goes through the line with questions and after about 10 minutes
he's down to me. And he says, "Okay Bastion, let 'em come."
I kept him going for the whole hour. So I was always the last guy that could
keep him going until the goddamn class was over. That was the difference in
the interest level. They went to auto shop because it was the thing to do,
not to learn anything. So that was my experience between the gardening and
MUMMIFYING THE TARANTULA
I would think that with auto shop you would be wild to go there.
And that same period, in the 9th grade I got crazy about science. I had a
real good science teacher and during that semester I was taking a ride down
to San Diego and as I'm driving I see a real big tarantula crossing the
road. And in those days, there weren't all those cars because it was mid
week. There weren't people travelling to work and all that crap. So I pull
over and now the thing is "How am I going to get this tarantula?"
I wasn't going to pick that sucker up with my bare hands. He's a mean
They don't bite.
All I knew about it was "You look horrible."
And I wasn't going to grab him. So how am I going to get him? And I'm
thinking and thinking and I notice I had a pretty good size lunch bag, so I
took the sandwich out of the bag, took the bag and pushed it out so it was
open and I got a stick and I finally got into a position where I could sweep
it in with a stick into the bag. It got into the bag and I got it closed and
now I said, "Where am I going to put it? I can't keep the goddamn thing in
the car, I'm scared to death with it. How am I going to get it home."
Finally, I got it. My car was an Essex Super 6. I don't know if you remember
the Essex - it was a companion car to the Hudson. I don't know if you know
about a Hudson.
The Essex was a '29.
Didn't we see a '27? At Vortech?
Up in Oxnard.
Oh yes, Oxnard, right. So I finally figured out - I had the perfect
solution. In those days what they had in some makes of cars which was a
hangover from earlier days, they had a metal pad that went from the end of
the engine over to the frame so that when mud and stuff would splash it
wouldn't get into the engine compartment. So I pick up the hood, I put him
into that area, shut the hood, now I know he couldn't get into the car.
Well, I finally get home and because of the heat and the time, he was baked
perfectly. It took all the juices out of him and he was frozen just like he
was mounted. And I took that sucker to school.
You mummified him.
My teacher was in 7th heaven. She got a super specimen and I was the wonder
boy who brought it. So I was right away in her good graces because I was
doing the right thing - I was into science. So that's how I got into the
WOMEN AND TALKING
You'll love this one. There's an English class I'm into and one of the
things they decided to do - I can't believe we're all the way home already.
I talked myself into a ride home. They decided to put on a play so naturally
you had to have actors so you had to select something so we were going to do
Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and what did they stick me into? I
was the King of the Fairies. And those guys never let me live that down.
You were set up, buster.
To be continued. Because that was where I took Electricity. Industrial
In High School?
When you're talking about the same thing that I'm talking about and doing it
very soft, easy tones, I can be just as annoyed by what's happening in this
tone. I can't - it just goes up because the condition is driving me to talk
This is sort of exercise for you.
And the women, they hate that with a passion. If they can't win on any count
- I don't know if you've noticed this, but I'm sure you have, if they can't
win on any count, it's "You're hollering at me." That's the perfect out for
those bastards to shut you up. The hell with the problem… you're hollering
at me. That means no matter what the problem is, it doesn't count.
And they annoy you until you holler.
They needle you until you holler.
And then tell you you're hollering at them. They say "Don't shout at me."
All of the shit that somehow you can't turn around and put it back on their
back. They've got it off of their back and on you. No matter what the
problem is. When 99% the cocksuckers know the problem is them. So they have
to find a way to get around it and that's, "You're hollering at me."
It's taken me 20 years to figure that out.
Really. And the next 35 you just suffer. In silence.
I just didn't listen. I just said, "Fuck it. Do what you want. You ain't
gonna get me crazy."
In fact one time she said to me, and that was interesting and I never forgot
it just like they'd never forget anything, is she said, "You are so
self-controlled. You're so contained."
The fact that I don't come unglued to suit them. That I don't get emotional
to make them feel that I'm vulnerable. A fucking goddamn endless channel. I
could see maybe that… you've seen that TV show that's got the couple of
queers on it.
Will and Grace.
I think they are the funniest things… these guys are really super actors to
fake being queer. They do it to perfection and I could see where guys, after
being so goddamned annoyed with women could turn queer because they don't
have that problem with a man that you get with the opposite sex.
Actually it's not true. Two gays are sometimes…
I've heard on TV programs that when they have a falling out they are just as
put out… And that Springer show where the two of those will get on and they
will carry on with the crying and the feelings and all that. Is this a man
and a wife or what the hell is this? They feel that strongly about each
other, you can't believe that the same sex can get that crazy.
The Springer show annoys me because it's really just a bunch of staged shit.
In most cases yes. But they do get some funny shit. The things they dream up
to make. And if it was the people wouldn't have the balls to demonstrate it.
Pulling off their fucking bras and all that shit. You only do that when
you're fucked up.
You're gonna attack somebody in the other chair. Every week, if you watch
it, somebody tries to punch the other person out.
Oh yeah, someone's always coming unglued. They could be man and wife, they
could be girl and girl, tit could be boy and boy, any way you want it, you
can make a fight.
We have somebody here - you've been cheating with this woman and now you can
sit next to her and, like, ok…
Very casually keep a thing going.
I know, I won't even watch it, it's so stupid.
Sometimes when I'm going through the dial, every once in awhile there's a
woman complaining about whatever her life's problems are and she's such a
fucking gorgeous hunk of meat, I say, "How the hell can you not love this
broad? She's like the bitter end. And you're having trouble?"
Wait til she opens her mouth.
When I came the cars were lined up, that was full, the lights were on. I'm
saying, "Where the fuck is he?"
And the phones don't want to work.
All I'm doing is I'm going to grab a basket and come back out.
I see from the pile of shit that you got to keep here because you're out
here all of the time. You gotta slip down all the stuff that fits in this
little seat. I would go as far forward as you can without getting in the way
of the shift and about that deep so you can put all that shit in there
without tripping all over itself every goddamn time you use it. There just
isn't enough room without it. You don't have to attach it, nothing. You just
drop it in there so it's anchored for moving and everything is in that box.
Actually I'm making one on Monday.
For this purpose.
So I wasn't so far afield with this goddamn thing being a necessity.
Oh no, you're actually dead on.
I could just see that this is a question of putting in the glove
compartment, you gotta use it every fucking day.
And every two minutes you're tripping over it or doing something with this
thing being… that kind of thing drives me crazy. If there's something in the
glove compartment that slides when you go around the corner, I got to stop
the fucking car and get that thing from moving or I'll go out of my mind.
There's something about that kind of motion that's so nerve-wracking for me.
I don't like rattles.
I just got to stop it, that's all. Or a door that's rattling. Like it's not
latched tightly or the glass isn't all the way up. Because when it's down
slightly it's fluttering. That fucking kind of noise drives me crazy. And
there's just no accounting for it, it just is.
That's cause you're a control freak. No, I don't like squeaks either.
Squeaks. You know what I used to do in my old cars beyond the Model T stages
already? Springs in those days were just springs, nobody ever oiled them or
if you did it only lasted a few minutes or a few days and then it would
squeaking back again. I couldn't stand those fucking squeaks. I jacked the
car up, took the springs off the car, took the leaves apart and I coated
them with a combination of wheel bearing grease and graphite and then
wrapped the outside with oilsoaped cotton batting and then wrapped the
outside of that son of a bitch with a piece of tape and now that cocksucker
can't squeak. But what an operation to do that.
Do you know what they make now is liners?
Yeah, I know, but they don't work 100% either but they're better than
nothing. So in those days that's what I did. And it worked.
And how old were you when you did that?
Probably 16, 17, somewhere in there.
So you had a lot of piss, vinegar and tape.
Oh yeah. Labor didn't matter to me. The point was to fix it. Time was what I
had plenty of. And then it was the personal satisfaction. The way to beat
it. There are millions of cars on the road, those bastards are putting up
with it, and I'm saying to myself, "There's gotta be a way to beat this
But how are you going to beat it if you do nothing. If you do nothing you
don't beat it. One time I asked a couple of guys, somebody who knew about
cars, "Why can't they use oil in the radiator instead of water and you won't
have the problem with corrosion and all that shit, it won't evaporate,
wouldn't it work just as well as water?"
Nobody seemed to really know. I got yes answers, I got no answers, and I got
imaginary things, why it wouldn't work because nobody'd ever done it to
their knowledge. All that shit. So I said to myself, "Fuck it, I'm just
gonna do it."
THE BLACKHAWK STUTZ
That old Blackhawk Stutz.
Take that Blackhawk Stutz, take all the water out of the son of a bitch,
fill it up with oil, take it out for a drive, seems to be going ok and then
I'm going down Sunset Blvd. to go somewhere and I'm away from the house
about a half hour and I'm looking in the mirror, I don't know what the
reason was and I see a trail of fucking oil following the car. Meaning its
coming out. It doesn't have the ability to transfer heat like water. Not one
dumb son of a bitch could tell me that. It works. So in my old car, what did
it ruin? So I drain the fucking thing out, I ran some kerosene through it to
get rid of the residual, filled it back up with water and I had the answer.
And that's why no car, you would have thought, tried oil in the radiator.
Well, ok, because that's normal because when it gets hot it expands.
Yes, but the point is that it ran until the thing was practically empty. The
temperature started to go up on the gauge. It didn't have the coefficient of
absorbing to the same degree.
There's also an interesting thing that has been discovered, there's a
product called Water Wetter. It's a surfactactant for water which causes it…
they claim that what it does is defeats one of the problems in trying to
cool combustion chambers. Because right above the combustion chamber is the
hottest place in the engine and it's triply troublesome. One, it's the
hottest place. Two, it doesn't get the cold water. Most cars until recently
had bottom-up cooling . So the water that got to the solderheads was already
hot and three, when it gets hot it causes the water immediately in contact
with the metal to bubble or to steam and what happens..
And what happens is that the water is not in contact with the head, so it's
not cooling. So this surfactant breaks that water tension and allows it to
stay non-bubbly. And they claim that it works dramatically.
Is that sold for hot rod cars?
Yeah. Supposedly used in Nascar and other things.
What's it called?
It's called Water Wetter.
See there's so many things about the physical sciences that are just amazing
how you can divide it when you think of all of the fields, how you can
divide the simplest goddamn liquid or metal or force of some sort that can
vary with the landscape when you get down to the microcosm of use. In this
condition, it don't do that, it does this. And it takes years sometimes for
a single individual to somehow get a thought that can decipher that.
Everybody else is lost like with the fucking brakes. Nobody knows the real
The pads are too hard, they're too soft. They're chattering.
The clearances that hold the shoes are… the springs are not right. I've
heard so many fucking reasons. And this is all written up by guys from
Bendix and all these people who are brake people and you say to yourself,
"If that's the reason, how come it's happening on every kind of mish mash
car and even on the cars where there's a complaint, it doesn't happen on all
of them. So all of their answers are full of shit."
I don't say it with bitterness, I say, "Hey guys, you don't know what you're
Not that you're the least bit annoyed that things don't work. I'm like you.
Anything I've ever had I always tried to improve.
It's a natural reaction.
Stock doesn't function very well. There's always some levitation,
something's annoying me, I want to customize it for my use, whatever.
I may not be able to fix it but the reaction to it's not 100% right is
So you're trying to customize it for efficiency or for your function.
That's one thing California's great for is all this great way-out shit.
VIETNAM AND WWII
But you know what's interesting back in the 60's society was very
anti-establishment. The kids…
It was the first rebellion against big business because big business was
definitely not interested in anything except making money. Whoever was
victimized, whatever, didn't count. We got the money and we're running the
Plus big business was sending kids to Vietnam to be slaughtered. But during
While they made big money doing it.
What gets me is I never heard a goddamn commentator say one time, "How come
these cocksuckers who are making money while our guys are getting killed
can't get to the point of saying during the war years, every dollar we make
above operating costs is going to go to the government. No fucking way to
pay for this shit and to make hospitalization for veterans, hospitals and
all that stuff and have better care for the ones that did manage to survive.
Not a word. They made the money and fuck you.
War is big business.
And that can be changed with the next fucking war with any country. But it
ain't gonna happen. But every bastard who's making money from it, he plays
deaf and dumb. But here's the bottom line, it's gonna cost you so many
bucks. Oh, your friends got killed, we're sorry about that. We'll put a nice
stone up for 'em, give 'em a piece of land like they did down in Westwood
and show you how nice… they got all these crosses lined up - just a mountain
of crosses. Isn't that wonderful? Look what they did.
The Mortician gets paid. When a child dies it's the most horrible thing in
the world. The limo driver gets paid. The burial plot gets paid. The flowers
get paid. The Mortician gets paid. Everybody gets paid. I don't decry
somebody doing that - look what happened to Chrysler during the war and
General Motors - they had to stop making their own products and selling to
the public and they had to make products for the war. Ok, they deserve to be
paid. They're not the ones who are determining the policy unless they are
lobbying for it. Of course, they may very well have. But there are guys like
McHugh, who used to run Hughes and other guys like that, they lobbied to
have the Vietnam War happen so they could build the helicopters and the
Stretch out… not only check out the technology to improve the product but
make a buck too.
There are people who are really just warmongers. There are companies that
say "Great, let's go to war. That's our business - defense contracting.
That's our business."
And 99% of the time they got it figured that their kids are not going to
that fucking war. First of all they have to be the right age, they have to
be male and they can find ways that they are going to college and they're
doing something and they know the right guys in the military and their kids
don't go to war unless they want to go to war. Being a goddamn fool about
it. There's no goddamn war that we fought that we can honestly say that the
other side was totally guilty and that their people deserve to die and yours
World War II, I think.
Well, Germany was not exactly the sweetheart. Germany was nuts.
Unfortunately. It was Hitler but the Germans were just absolutely, totally
nuts, as were the Japanese.
Look at the way they started out with an undercover thing with hitting
Hawaii, and all that kind of thing. They couldn't have been more miserable
than that, sinking a fucking warship with 1500 people that went down with
I wasn't in the war and when I was on that goddamn little bridge that they
built to go out on it…
I don't know, were you there?
I've been there.
I was on that thing and I broke up into crying, I didn't even know why.
It was just so hitting in me, all this fucking death over what? So you
didn't have to be a soldier to feel that kind of emotion. I didn't even
think about it.
SPIN THE BOTTLE
Anyway, so spin the bottle.
Oh, yeah, finally it comes in my direction and I go to the bedroom with a
girl waiting to join the next guy that was…
By the way, in my day spin the bottle was basically you kiss somebody. You
didn't end up in bed with them.
No, I didn't end up in bed with her either. But here was the funny part.
She's in the bedroom because the bottle is facing me and I put my lips up
against her lips and I'm waiting for something to happen. I don't know how
to kiss a girl. She apparently didn't know any more - we're both standing
there with our lips pressed against each other wondering what happens now.
Finally, after doing that for about 15 - 20 seconds we separate and sort of
look at each other..
What's the big deal?
Is that all there is? And that was my idea of the first kiss - is that all
there is? I didn't know shit for how to kiss a girl. I must have been 12 or
13 at that age. So that was my introduction to love.
And at 86 you get the wild woman of…
The one you always wonder, is there any of them like that out there?
And talk, oh you're doing this to me. She's running off in her head through
her mouth what she's feeling. Unbelievable.
And naturally it didn't take long before she's in love with me. All that
shit. And when I tell her, "Hey, this is just a brief encounter."
She didn't like the sound of that at all. And what did she do, she turned it
around, "I can't just be fucking, that would mean I'm just like a whore."
In their head they're so crazy with this love routine, she wanted me to send
her flowers and letters. I'm saying, "You fucking ditzy broad, that ain't
going to happen."
But she's giving me the tape of how I'm supposed to be and then afterwards
I'm supposed to hug her and take her around and sleep with her for a couple
of hours and do nothing just like that's the ending of the fucking, you
don't just get out of bed until she recovers. And I'm saying to myself, "You
ditzy son of a bitch, are you 18 years old, or what?"
She says, "Yes, I am."
Meaning I want the full treatment like I'm 18 years old. And I say, "Fuck
When it comes to fucking they got it tied in with this love thing, so bad.
Sex and love are all hooked up in their minds.
And not only that, "I don't just fuck, I gotta be in love."
Very few women just say, "I just want to get my rocks off and kiss you
Years ago, I remember meeting a girl name Suzanne Brucker.
Names come easy to you.
I met her in a flower shop. A plant store at Sunset and Doheny. It was
called the Wizard of Plants. She was just in there and we started talking
and we cleverly pulled our conversations together and eventually we made a
date. So I went out with her. And the next time I went out with her I took
her up to my pool house where I had lots of plants and we just pounded each
other. It was great. So as she's leaving, we're at the back door and I'm
walking her to her car and I say, "That was kind of surprising."
She says, "You're surprised?"
I say, "Yeah."
She says, "Didn't you know when I was talking to you in that plant store
that I wanted to fuck you?"
And I said, "No. I was hoping, but no."
But here's the problem, if a girl is standing there in a micro mini with her
pubes showing and her tits out and her butt's flossed and she's doing all
the moves and tossing her hair, god forbid you walk up and make a move.
I dare you.
Just want you to stand there and salivate.
It's so strange. It's either that they've got the one guy they want in their
mind or you're not it or if you're interested, they're not. That's it. And
it's a very tough thing to look at a woman and know you're interested and
play it like I'm not interested. That's hard to do. I had a girl that I met
named Leslie Washinsky who was a bassoonist in an orchestra in Los Angeles.
Tall, nice looking girl, sort of a Venice, free spirit. She wouldn't take
any sexual innuendoes or anything. So I decided that I'm playing this as
flat as a piano top. Didn't make a move, not a kiss, not a hug, nothing, six
weeks I go out with this girl. Totally not making any kind of overture of
Just good conversation.
One day I get four calls from her during the day. And she missed me every
time. And I said to somebody, "She's arrived. She's turned the corner. She
wants it today."
I was right. I just played it until she was ready to burst and and she
called me and she wanted to get together and that was the day she wanted to
get into bed.
So go figure.
I had another girl. Melo Louy - Turkish. Beautiful girl. Just gorgeous. And
sexy. And I met her, played it absolutely cool. Not a kiss, not a hug, other
than a little peck goodnight and after about the fifth date she invites me
up to her place and she had invited me the week before but I said, "I've got
to be up early tomorrow, I've got to play tennis. Invite me again, but
really, it's just too late for me."
So she invites me up again and I thought I better come up this time. She
comes in, she turns the lights down, she puts the music on, she brings some
wine, she was ready for the nasty. She was deliciously pleased. And I was
fairly athletic and respected lover. And afterwards, she said, "Jesus that
was wonderful. I thought you were gay after all this time. I was getting
worried. You didn't make one move."
And I said, "I don't do that anymore. If you're interested, you'll let me
know. Like you."
Can't figure them out.
The funniest one I ever had - my daughter and her husband and the kids went
down to an area just outside of Cancun on the strip there…
Is that my telephone?
No. And my daughter says I should come, have a good time and blah, blah,
blah and I was in New York, but they had already got me the ticket.
When was that?
Six months ago, maybe a year. And so how could I turn them down? They
already bought the ticket. I had no good reason why I couldn't come.
I figured, she's there with her husband and the kids, I'm going to be like a
fifth wheel on the deal. But she didn't think so, so we went there and went
to different places along the shore - they had all kids on little villages.
We come to one and there was a gal there that was running for the State, one
of those things about ecology. About the fact that plant life and sewage and
all this kind of stuff that the natives weren't taking care of things well
and they were contaminating areas. And somehow I looked at her and thought
"I think I could screw this broad."
But I had to have enough balls to say, "Let's go to your place."
I didn't have a place - I'm staying with my daughter so I wasn't able to
take her to where we were. And besides, where we were at was about 20 miles
from where we were at that particular. So they're snorkeling out in the surf
and I take her by the arm and say, "Let's go to your room."
And I figure the worst she can say is, "What, are you crazy or something?"
And blow me off.
But she got so intrigued just by the fact that I had the balls to say,
I followed her to her place and that son of a bitch carried on like you
can't believe. I couldn't believe it was that easy with somebody you didn't
know five minutes.
86 years old in a foreign country. That's wonderful.
I'm telling you, that was something else.
So now I'm getting all this crazy shit that I didn't have the balls to even
That's funny. That's so funny.
I was down getting something at Kinko's. And in walks a girl, standing in
line, waiting for one of the guys to wait on her, about 25, 28, somewhere in
there, I'm looking at her and I say, "Oh, boy, would I love to wrestle with
She smiles and I smile back at her and I see a guy takes her over to one of
the machines and shows her how to run the computer. And I say, you know,
she's there by herself. I'm gonna go over to her and just say to her real
close to her face, "You know, in case nobody's told you lately, you are a
spectacular looking woman."
She just almost pissed in her pants.
And I intended to just do that and walk away because I didn't know how to
follow up on it at that moment, in the middle of this goddamn thing with a
million people. And so I walked away, until I got to the door and I said,
"What am I doing? I just had an opening. And I just let the fucking thing
I didn't have the balls to go back. But she just came unglued, just by
making a simple statement like that.
And how I started that was a funny thing. I was in New York…
By the way, that's what Larry needs to learn, see. He needs to use that as
an opening line.
So I'm in New York on a subway and across from me sits an Italian type with
hair like this here kind of thing, you know, the bob thing. Really an
outstanding classic looking woman.
How's that for class.
I didn't see. Who's that?
That's my front renter.
She coming in?
No, she's going into her place.
So I see her sitting there and she's reading and she looks up at me
occasionally, just the usual kind of looking when you're sitting in a subway
and then the subway was so low in population, just before I was going to get
off, because this was the first time I pulled this I was going to go over, I
knew the train was going to stop - it was starting to slow down, and tell
her, "In case nobody told you lately you have the most classic face I've
seen on a woman in a long time."
She nearly pissed in her pants. She practically ran to climb on me but I
didn't know what the hell the next thing to say, the door opened and I left
the subway. So I found that in a lot of cases that one goddamn statement
that has nothing to do with sexuality, see, if I said, "Hey, you're a whorey
looking broad," you're dead.
They look at you like, "Who the hell are you?"
But if you extol something. Like another thing that happened that really
works good, I guess that was before all the other shit happened was if I
would see a gal with beautiful legs I'd say to them, "In case nobody told
you, you have an outstanding pair of stems."
I'd always call them stems. I never had one that didn't piss in their pants.
They thought that was so terrific that somebody thought she had beautiful
legs, more than if they said she had a beautiful face.
And coming from you, see it's a non-threatening compliment.
Yeah. And I never had one say… look at you and…
Piss off big nose or whatever.
Never. They always went into ecstasy. So begin to say, "You know, you dumb
son of a bitch, here you got these simple opens you used 40 years ago and
you just took up at 80 and it still works."
So I find any kind of a compliment that's not sexual and it's done in an off
the cuff thing, not in a nightclub, half drunk and all that shit. They
really are bombed out.
That's exactly, if you call it a technique, that's how I used to approach
being social. And that was why I was so successful.
At getting people.
Because I would walk up to a situation and I would just quickly assay the
conversation and I might make just a little funny remark, just a joke about
what was happening. Not intrusive, just a little joke. It was enough for
them to pay attention. And if they paid attention, then I would have a
conversation, I'd make a compliment and I would go on. And if it didn't go
anywhere, I'd just say, "Very nice talking with you." And go on.
Yeah. What could you lose? You didn't spend money, you didn't spend time,
and you didn't have to go out of your way. It either connected or
A guy named Werner Erhard had a wonderful thing to say one time, he said,
"The way to be interesting is to be interested."
Well, like I said, you have the most outstanding pair of stems. Hey, you're
not interested in me, I'm interested in you and I'm extolling something of
your body which most women, either the face or the legs… Because you can't
say you have beautiful tits or a nice ass, but you can say you've got
beautiful stems and a gorgeous face, so I found those two areas if you make
some noise about, you're not going to get into trouble.
I once told a girl on Mammoth, walking up the stairs on one of the…
Well, no, it was out in the - they have one of those…
It's where you eat but they call them something, I forget.
It's an area…
It's one of the lodges. This is in the middle of the ski day. This girl
A knock out.
Just a great looking body, great ass, everything and I walked up next to her
and I said "B.B.O.M"
And she looked at me and I said, "Best Butt On The Mountain." And just
She just loved that. People just love that.
So you can say something that's a little colorful sometimes but not
Not insulting to them. How are you going to tell them you got a nice pair of
tits? Oh, in fact, I did one time. But it has to be a special case.
This girl was wearing a nice silk loose blouse and no goddamn bra. And she
was walking down the street and them fucking tits were flying around like
I'd never seen. They looked like they were going up and down about this far.
And I said, "I can't stand it."
They were going this way and this way. So I'm walking behind her and trying
to figure out what I'm the hell I'm going to say to her that won't be
threatening and all that. And I finally figure out something to say and I go
up to her and I stop her and I say, "You should never wear a bra. Those are
the most beautiful pair I've ever seen."
She came unglued.
When you are going to get that case, where they're really - no bra and young
enough and they're flying around. That only happens once. I made that crack.
You actually should have had a camera and followed you around…
That would have been good.
That would have been sort of like.
But the thing I was getting at is a simple statement and you can get to talk
to somebody and there's no way you can say, "Hey, I want to know you."
I'm the kind of the person… I mean, you're walking the street, what do you
mean, you want to know me? I mean, that kind of inference won't work. That's
not a reason. The average woman would say hey, "This guy's queer, and I want
no part of him."
But you say, "Just a minute, you look good to me, I want to talk to you."
I mean what kind of opening can you make that'll make them stand still and
not look threatening or stupid. It's not easy.
Pretty much you gotta give it up. You have to give it away.
These couple of things that I tried just out of the fucking blue worked and
I said, "Where the fuck have I been for 40 years?"
What you need to do is write the book Saul Bastion's Guide To Getting Laid
Over 80. Yo ho ho.
Three kids and a dog. So she gets in the car with the kids and then she's
going clear to New York, never been out of the city.
And how long has she been driving?
About six months.
And what age? This was 40 years ago.
1962 is 40 years ago.
Oh yeah, years ago, but she was born in 1925, so how old would she be?
She's be a little under 40 - 38.
She gets 100 miles east somewhere and I get a telephone call, she had a flat
tire, what should she do?
I said, "What do you mean, what should you do? Don't we have a spare?"
"Put the spare on. Get another new tire, put it on the road and put the
spare back in the trunk."
She expected me to say, "I'll be out there to pick you up and pull you
She did that and continued the rest of the way.
Got the kids to help her change the tire.
No, the kids were too young. She had to call somebody to get the tow truck
out there to change the tire. But she made it out there. She had balls. She
had one experience. She was midway across and the car started to falter -
there was some dirt in the carburetor or something and she stops into one
place, a gas station and the guy says, "Well, I think it's this but it might
And he starts giving her a whole load. And she says, "You don't know what's
really wrong with it, you're going to just keep changing parts until you
make it run?"
She didn't like that kind of approach to fixing a car. So she gets a phone
book, finds out the nearest Ford agency which happened to be about 30 miles
away and the car would run, but it would surge and do different things and
eat gas like crazy when she had the tank filled, and running erratic she got
it to the Ford agency in that town and then burst into tears telling them
what was wrong with the car. Naturally when a garage guy sees a wife with
all those kids and all that and it's a new car, he's going to be Mr.
Wonderful, you know, at an agency. He said, "I want you to take the kids and
there's a little restaurant right down the block and all that good stuff,
you take it easy and have a cup of coffee."
And they did that and came back and fixed whatever it was, no charge kind of
shit, we're talking way back way in the middle of the country, like Kansas
or someplace, not New York City where they go like this if you breathe on
them and she made it the rest of the way. She had some balls, all right.
That was a good experience. Yep.
And how long did you keep that car?
I kept that car until it was really in need of an engine job and the
transmission was running a little jerky - who knew that was going to be a
car that would raise in value and there were only a few of them that were
sold relative to the car population in general. So I think I sold it to a
used car guy because I wasn't going to make a whole thing about selling it
because it wasn't running good. You know what I mean? The transmission would
act funny when you put it in reverse. I figured a dealer; I would enjoy
screwing him better that a private guy. So I sold it to him at that time for
$200. It was probably worth $1,000 but big deal. We paid $4,000 something
for it that was a fair price for a car that wasn't running. And she bugged
me ever since, "I loved that car."
And then I had a chance to buy a reconditioned one many years later but they
wanted $5,000, $8,000, $10,000 - all kinds of numbers and we were driving a
used Cad at that time. She was in love with that car and I couldn't see
paying that much above what it cost new to get it. So I just never would up
What did you drive after the Tbird.
Cad. Used Cad. '60 something used Cad. I bought cars usually pretty cheap
because I usually got a car from someone at work who had an ad in the paper
or it was a neighborhood kind of thing. And like I said, I only got screwed
real bad one time, a horrible oil burner and the transmission fell out, it
just didn't happen. They ran reasonably good and I was able to fix whatever
was wrong from putting on brakes to changing an alternator, a water pump. I
did all the service on there and I enjoyed doing it. Just lay on the goddamn
THE EIFEL TOWER AND EDISON
Making love to your car and you were on the bottom. You were at the Eiffel
The whole thing besides being able to look all around is they had a tableau,
I guess you'd call it, a scene of a room in which Marconi and Edison dressed
in clothes of the day out of wax so it was a Madame Toussaud quality thing
and it looked very real and they were talking to each other and Edison's
gramophone was on the side and Marconi had his dash system thing and the
first message that crossed the ocean was from the top of the Empire State
Building to Newfoundland in the Americas.
To Newfoundland. I don't understand.
That was closer than New York.
You said the Empire State, you meant top of the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower. That was the first radio wave signal that was reached and
So they bounced one all along the ionosphere.
I don't know the detail. All I know is they got the message.
That happened from the Eiffel Tower. And the other thing that was fantastic
about the Eiffel Tower, the whole thing was constructed out of pieces of
steel, that were 18 inches long and about 3 inches wide, a hole drilled in
each end and stuck together like an erector set.
No, I didn't know they were that short.
Very short pieces fitted together.
When they got it halfway up, they were trying to get it torn down and the
rest of it was going to be sold for scrap.
Because they were trying to get rid of it.
You mean when it got half up?
Halfway up, there was such a protest.
There was a protest. They thought it was ugly. They didn't want it.
And they even made a sale for scrap.
I don't remember that detail, but I know there were a lot of protests and it
was considered a very ugly building.
And now it defines Paris. Isn't that funny.
They wouldn't let anybody touch it.
Do you know one that actually freaks me out is the Arch D'Triumph.
The big arch on the Champs Elysee.
Yeah, I walked through it.
You can go up on it, you know. You can walk to the top of it.
I know, but I just walk through.
I did a funny thing, on noon on a weekday I ran through the Champs Elysee,
through the Arch D'Triumph traffic circle, ten lanes of traffic.
All you need is one crumb to go down the wrong pipe. Drives you crazy until
you clear it.
I dodged traffic and ran through 10 lanes of traffic in that traffic circle
considered by some to be the most notorious traffic place in the world.
But if you look at Paris, that is the high point, that's the hill and
everything slopes gently away from that and they laid out all the streets
and the entire city was laid out around that point. Isn't that amazing.
There are 13 streets that come into the star, called the equal.
In fact without it there'd be no way in hell you could get across. Can you
imagine arranging any other way to get from one side to the other without a
There are circles within circles within circles. So there are circular
streets that are out further.
That big one, to get across it, how would you arrange the traffic.
To make it happen.
Yeah, that's the only way.
Such a sensical way. Far too dynamic for here, except down in Bellflower. Do
you ever watch this?
You know that whole thing is only as thick as a 50-cent piece? The whole
It's just a shell. It's all built around an interior grid. Eiffel did the
grid, didn't he?
Yeah. And a wooden form was made for that whole statue in pieces.
And they pounded it around it.
And they took sheet copper and pounded around it. Because there is no way.
How could you determine the shape without having something on the inside.
You're working on such a scale, it's impossible as a human to trace you
away. How could you get anywhere, you just couldn't. And people don't
appreciate what the hell is involved to create that statue.
And the dickie American public - it was like a big friggin' deal to just
build the pedestal. Millions of dollars had to be raised to make the
From school kids.
Oh, it's stupid. Yeah, it was so amazing.
That part they sort of lay quiet about the negative part that they were so
chickenshit that they didn't even want to put it up.
Some of those things you can write a pretty good description about how we
stink in what we did.
We have a habit of always getting these people for money that will glorify
anything you want because they're good at speaking and writing…
His real feelings about anything.
It's that old wonderful thing - do you know how you can tell when a
politician is lying? When his lips are moving. You're going to tell me how
Central Park got there.
That was the worst part of Manhattan, for over 100 years.
Yeah. They built all around it and Central Park as one big piece of land
with nothing on it.
And you might say, "Why did that happen?"
That area was very rocky, uphill and downhill, compared to the rest which
was flat as a pancake, and full of little pools of water and whatever, so if
a goddamn contractor had to build a house on any part of that it would cost
him a lot of money, you couldn't connect to the sewer lines easy because you
would actually have to blast rock. What the fuck was the incentive for him
to get involved when he couldn't get his money back?
Nobody could pay that kind of money it was gonna cost him to put a house
there in the first place.
So you're gonna build in a rocky swamp.
So it stayed empty and what was on it, what do you call those things with
the hobos and everything hang out? A piece of land where just trash live and
put up shacks and all this kind of stuff?
It was niggerville.
Oh my goodness. Right in the middle in the '70's was a big area but nothing
but blacks who were just trying to stay alive. They couldn't afford housing
of any kind.
Yeah, Hobotown. And it was that way for quite a few years. It was only
after, all around the edges, when bigger homes started to get built they got
together with the city and naturally increased the taxes and did all that
kind of shit, collecting a fee for anything and everything that they could
get their hands, that they could get a couple of architects who were willing
to take on the job of turning that thing into a park. And they worked ten
fucking years with over 2,000 people to turn that thing into a park.
Because it was no easy job. And it was only possible then when they were
getting 2 and 3 dollars a day for the goddamn labor.
Now it would be Teamsters and the guy sweeping the street would get $35 an
Yeah. They would have some equipment that could cover some ground. So it
would be a whole different thing. And what do they do in Mexico on a similar
thing? Did you ever hear of the area called Piedras Negras, which means
Black Rocks, just out of the edges of Mexico City, there is a volcanic
outburst from a zillion years back, big rocks and everything grew out of the
ground from all the convulsions that took place and it was the same thing,
who the hell was gonna build you a house there? It cost a fortune. Plumbing
wise and moving these rocks. Some of them were as big as buildings.
I mean, they were big. Naturally, when a city gets built up to that level
and people really got big money and now you can say, well, artfully, if we
put that house right there and make use of the rock as background and all
that shit, now I want to live there and put gates around it.
Now it's choice property. You couldn't give that shit away 100 years ago.
That's the way those things go.
THE UNBELIEVABLE 40 YEAR-OLD
Unbelievable - never had one like that. And gorgeous, half hour later, let's
do it again. 4 times in a couple of hours and I'm in bed with the son of a
bitch for 6 hours at a time.
And she's what, 40? It's the new math. 87 into 40.
And she thinks I'm the best piece of ass she ever had.
She's probably right.
She keeps telling me shit like, "Where did you learn all that?"
Learn what, doesn't everybody do that? "Oh," she says, "are you crazy?"
So now without a prostate, can you get an erection?
Yeah, I get it.
Functional, but slow getting up there. I ain't in a hurry, so fuck with it.
And the funny part of it is that they're desperate that I get a hard on.
She's having such a good time she owes me. That's the reaction. I say, "Hey,
if it doesn't go up it's no big deal."
No, they want it to go up.
So you just work her over every other way too.
That's for sure.
It's a kick in the ass to see how many different ways you can make them
climb the ladder.
That was a kick in the ass. She was the only woman who would call me up and
tell me, at 10 o'clock in the morning, "I want to come over."
She always came to my place because she lived in an apartment and she didn't
want anybody to know. She did all the fuckin' coming. She walked over to my
In more ways that one.
Yeah. Imagine 10 o'clock in the morning. I say, "I've got a lot of things to
She says, "We'll only be together an hour."
That's not going to happen. She says, "What do you have to do that's more
important with me?"
That's the same old shit.
They think a woman is the center of the Universe.
You're passing up ass? And while it's happening, when did that happen to you
Big Boy, never. Fuck a woman begging to come over and she's doing the
I like that.
When the hell does that happen?
Now. The timing is good.
Now, can you get off with that?
Can you have an orgasm?
Beautiful. Beautiful. You know, you're a master forever.
For as long as it lasts.
Listen, that's great. So I see why you weren't in such a hurry to get home.
You were just putting me off.
No, the big problem I had there was she didn't want me to leave in the worst
way. We'd be in bed together, fucking tears were running down her cheeks.
Because with them it's always that love shit.
They can't just fuck they gotta have love.
Isn't that amazing?
They don't refer to fucking as fucking it's loving.
They don't like the word to be coarse. That's with everything.
That's the way they are.
No, I understand that.
It's gotta be not so much delicate, but it's gotta be…
Refined, that's the right world.
No, I fully understand that and I don't mind that but the delusion that sex
Is always in their fucking head.
Yeah, it's like the thing I told you the other day, when the girl looked at
me and said, "Didn't you know I wanted to fuck you when I first met you?"
And especially when she is saying it.
As I've gotten older, I've gotten away from guys who say, "Excuse me, I've
gotta go take a shit."
Thank you for sharing.
Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom. That's good enough for me.
Ugliness has no benefit.
I don't need that. "What's the matter with you?"
Not a thing.
I think that in that area on my part, at least, I want everything to be as
refined as possible. It's costing you no more. Why the hell shouldn't you
make the thing nice?
And everytime you say I love you, I love you, I love you. You'll fuck her
up. I just want to fuck you, honey. No, you gotta love each other.
I told you the joke about when Millie was hard of hearing and I said one
night, "I love you," and she didn't respond.
So I said it again, "Good night, I love you."
And she said, "Oh, whatever."
Because she didn't hear me, she thought I said something else. So I said,
"What's this whatever stuff?"
She said, "Oh, Jeez, I didn't hear what you said."
So from then on our code word at night was "Whatever."
It's good when you can twist it around.
OLD COINS AND RANDY
So you got, that's one of four boxes or five boxes that you've got of coins.
And how did you come by these coins? You didn't tell me how you got them,
though. I know, she died and he died, but how did they come to you?
They were up in her attic, which I found out before they passed away.
In Northern California. San Francisco.
So it's a question of who's gonna get it. So we figured don't tell anybody
and take it.
So you just took it.
Yeah, what was I going to do, tell my father in-law?
Tell your wife?
Oh, she knew about it.
So Randy will do real good for you.
The way he talks, shit. I couldn't have given it for a starter to anybody
else. Because, first he's interested, second, he's got the machine to record
all that shit and enough of a box. What do you see?
Nothing, I said, third, he's ethical.
You couldn't ask for a nicer guy.
Hey, if I was gonna get fucked, you couldn't judge him then give up.
You know what I mean, there's no use in judging anybody.
If he lost it or did something he'd just go out and buy it for you. That's
the kind of guy he is. He's incredibly ethical.
Like he didn't want to take the coins out and put it in his truck until he
was going to leave because something might happen during that time,
something taken out of the truck.
Exactly. He's got the mind to think very…
If he builds an engine you cannot imagine how many times he double and
triple checks things and "Oh, no, you have to massage that corner, no you
have to take the burr off this. No, no it's gotta be a half a thou better
He does an engine job?
Oh no, he's a mechanical wizard on cars. He does everything on cars. He's
done body work, paint, he owned a VW repair shop for years, and he worked on
Mercedes and VW.
I didn't know that.
He had a Laundromat for awhile.
Yeah, he told me about the Laundromats. And then we got together on the
business about buying all the coin machines that he could make the money on
by owning the machines. That's what my goddamn brotherinlaw did up in the
bar. He says, "Hey, either sell me the machine or take it out."
And everybody said, "OK, we'll sell you the machine."
Because one of the things was they probably had more machines that weren't
placed, number one, and the other one, number two, maybe business was not
that good, when they took it out they'd have the machine and no money. This
way they dropped the machine and had the money. Plus….
It's a used machine.
So if something goes wrong it's his problem.
That's the way the ball rolls.
SODAS AND BEER
What's with this fucking soda that you have to have every 5 minutes.
I just take a lot of liquid.
Why do you take expensive soda instead of water?
It's cheap. This is cheaper than water.
How is it cheaper than water?
First of all, tap water is terrible, so bottled water is very expensive.
This is cheaper than tap water.
My argument to all that shit was beer is cheaper than the goddamn soft
I don't like beer.
I know you don't but I'm just saying, if I want to wet my whistle sometime
and I got both in the refrigerator, I grab a fucking beer because it costs
me less money than a soda. And I find there isn't enough difference between
the quality brands and the piss water when it comes to beer anyway - I only
drink one bottle and I usually have it with a steak or something that has a
lot of protein.
Do you like beer for that?
One beer. I used to drink the shit that tastes like beer, forget it.
We got something serious to talk about.
Just one second, I got to make a call. Born again pagan, I like that. I was
just reading that woman's bumper sticker. Two bumper stickers. One said Born
Again Pagan. The other one said, The last time we mixed religion with
politics, people were burned at the stake. I like that. That's right on.
It's amazing that people can get so worked up about that those two areas
that they mess up the world so badly.
Look at these Muslim fundamentalists, they're crazy.
And I love the bullshit-added feature they got that it's God's will. And the
cocksuckers planned that and then blamed it on God, who I don't believe in
anyway but the point is that's the way they get around it.
More people have been killed in the name of God than any other thing.
Oh fuck, unbelievable.
How's that for a welder.
Generator and everything.
Yeah, that's what they do in Brooklyn the same way, because you got to be
able to take that thing right to the job.
Serious bit, now. What the fuck is it gonna take for you to get past the
zero bank account. How much money do you have out there that if you could
collect it would you actually be above zero.
Ok, I'll answer that in three ways. First, if I had all the money that was
owed to me…
That you could get.
If I had all the money that was owed to me period…
No, that's not good.
That'd be about 1/3 of a million dollars. Now if I got the money that I have
judgments on, just judgments, that would be about $80,000.
And what's the likelihood of getting any of that?
It's low, not something I bank on and I haven't gotten it. One guy's owed me
it 11 years and I can't get it. Now if I were willing to hire Guido the leg
surgeon and have him change the direction of some people's kneecaps why
yeah, then I could do it, but I would expose myself to something terrible…
So I have to just kiss that shit off.
Now the third part is, right now in the here and now, when I finish these
jobs and collect monies, I'll probably break even.
In terms of what I owe, not some outstanding loans like yours or some other
monies, just in cash flow I'll probably be even by the time those jobs
finish because the overhead's gonna click along and I'm gonna still owe the
money. In other the 7 or 8 grand a month is gonna click along and so if it
takes me 2 or 3 months to finish a couple of jobs, by the time I collect it
and spend the money to do the jobs, the overhead will eat most of that up.
What was that last sentence.
The overhead will eat that up.
So right now the reality of what is going on in my business is I did my
second biggest year this year. My overhead was higher by 7% because I paid
some loans back and I also had to buy a work truck and buy some tools. So
that bumped my overhead quite a bit. So my overhead instead of being $80,000
was $114,000, ok, so it was up substantially. So right now I have a $35,000
job in Pasadena of which I've been paid $11,000. So there's $24,000 left and
I've got to build it.
And how much of that is profit when it's paid.
If net profit, not gross profit, if net profit was 20%, then about $7,000
But it's not that?
Well, ok, but that $7,000 is already spent. He gave me 10 or 11 thousand,
it's already gone. I spent a little money on the job, not much and it's
basically gone, so now…
What's left will be used up.
So there's no net monies coming from that job. This job that we're doing
here, she has given me a total of about 8, 10, 12 thousand dollars on a
How much of that is profit?
Again, $5,000 would have been profit, but that's all spent.
Because of what?
Paying the bills. Every month it's 5 to 8 thousand dollars.
So you're working negative even when you're taking money home. With
everything that's happening, even if you were to pay all the money that you
owed, regardless of what it was, if you didn't owe any expenses to anybody,
you're still not making money.
Not right now. Because this period, the November to February period is
usually quite slow. Oh, ok, there's a couple of other jobs. Now I've got
another job that owes me $2300 that's gonna take me $300 or $500 to do that
job. So there's approximately $2,000 of clear profit coming from that job
when he pays me. He's not paying me because he is procuring the moldings for
his job but he's holding $2300 of my money to do a $300 job when he gets the
How do you get into such a fucked up deal?
Because this guy's just a lunatic and we got to a point in the job where it
became clear that we couldn't get these moldings unless he spent money to go
buy them and he started stalling and doing all sorts of stuff. So I got
stuck in the middle. Now, I could have take him to arbitration.
Enough of that.
So I said, you know what, instead of giving away $500 for the privilege of
having someone tell him he should go and do what I told him he should do, so
I'll take less now, I'll get the rest when we're done and I'm out of there.
So I forewent crunching him, which I had every right to do, the contract
said this is what we'll do. But I allowed us to have mediation with the guy
who put us together and I said ok, fine. And my buddy, by the way, agrees.
He said, "No, he's fucking you. And there's no getting around it. You'll get
your money, but I agree he's shafting you right now. That's his mindset."
How's he shafting you if he buys the goddamn moldings and you put them on,
or they put them on, isn't that a fixed amount of money you're gonna get
regardless once the molding shows up?
Yes. When the molding shows up and we put it up…
You get your money. So you're not losing it, you just have a delay in
But he should be holding $500, not $2,300. That would have been right, that
would have been fair. And he's not being fair. Now, if I didn't have.
He's not being fair only in the fact that you're not getting the money
according to schedule, but it doesn't say that you're going to be screwed
out of the amount you settled on.
No, but a very important point and I'll tell you in a second. Remember I
said it's a cash flow deal. So right now because he hasn't given me the 2
grand, where do I have to get it? I have to get it from another job.
Because you're on zero in the bank.
Right. And now I have another job that owes me 5 to 8 thousand dollars right
now, out of which I have to spend, say 3. So I've got somewhere between 3
and 5 thousand dollars net when he hands me the money. He's hurting, he's in
the middle of his down time so he can't pay.
What does he do?
He makes software. He makes a program, RAM or whatever.
He could get wiped out completely with that field, no?
I guess it's possible, so right now, I've been busy, but it's still not
gangbusters busy, but it's been busy so what has happened in a cash flow
slowdown and a couple of guys didn't pay - well if you take what the two
guys didn't pay me, that's about the money I've stolen out of one job, just
to keep going. If they had paid I would have had the money and I would be
funding and I'd be ok. So now I'm just struggling. But the overall major
factor in all of this is that I have done work, by paying people hourly,
which goes over my fixed price budget. Now, there are only 2 choices. Well,
there are 3 or 4, but 2 of which are really workable. For instance, I could
raise my prices by 25%. Well, guess what, I'm not going to get any work.
Exactly, especially in a down market.
Right, so I think that I'm pushing it right now because I'm bidding 10 or 20
jobs to get one, so I know I'm not the low bidder. And I have had… I wrote a
letter about this.
Most guys do the wham bam thank you maam shit. Then you show them you're
able to go on them all night and they got a different set of problems. No
matter what fucking way you go, you're not doing it right.
You can't win.
I mean you can't win.
They scream about I could go all night and then you go with them 3 times and
they're moaning already. Oh God, I love it. These fuckers are all too small.
She's right about her size and the counters.
They're made to look at not use.
And that was done. The arrangement was done more for eye appeal than use
appeal. And what were you going to do about the refrigerator so that it
didn't stick out like they always do because refrigerators have been getting
bigger and bigger and deeper and deeper.
Actually, you know what, they've been going the other way. The designer
refrigerators are now 24 inches, not 30.
How are they beating it?
By putting the compressors on top.
Oh, that's the only one that's been doing that because they were big units.
And then the rest of it is just a box. See the rest of the refrigerator in
those units, there's nothing behind. You shove them right to the wall.
You know, when you think about it, when you go back to the early GE's that
had that round thing with the radiator on it - it's just what we've returned
to except they're square instead of round.
Because at the time they made it round, that was an appearance thing as well
as a function. You've got a lot if coils around it and all that and it looks
like a little contraption.
I like that. I really like the look of that.
And then by lifting the thing out, you took the whole refrigeration unit
without doing a single unbolting. It just dropped in by the dead weight.
Which was a hell of an idea. So sometimes we start out on an industrial
product real smart and little by little we get fucked up for other reasons.
We trick ourselves out.
Because that is the most practical goddamn way to handle that. For
replacement, for repair, for everything.
A little Honda. A 3 or 4-inch exhaust pipe on a 1 1/2-litre engine, you
Lowered so it won't ride good.
They cut the coils so it just bounces along. It's like women, they sacrifice
themselves to fashion, you know.
So you've never done anything with these coins?
No, I've looked at them in a very haphazard way, because I'm not going to
look at every fucking coin - what's it going to tell me where to look in the
handful of them?
It might serve you better just to sell them to Randy and let him figure it
out. You know?
Well, for the moment, let's see what he thinks is in there. And how time
consuming doing all that is going to be.
Oh no, it's going to be very time consuming. A lot of that shit might be
once you get into it might only be one valuation, you start to arrange them
in those boxes in that they make where you have an envelope for each coin
and you can put the bullshit on the outside, in a plastic window so you can
see it without taking it out and all that shit. Which it only grew because
it was such a pain in the ass once you got past a handful of coins. How the
hell were you going to handle it - take them out each time?
And then they tell you got the oil from your hands on it and that's going to
reduce the value because now it's soiled? It just goes on and on.
There are wear patterns on the coins too.
That's a whole different world again.
OLD CARS AT GREAT PRICES
Now this is a 1912 International.
Under the seat. Gold leaf letters. Jesus, and you must have paid all of
Jesus. Do you remember what you sold it for?
No. I don't. It was under $1,000, I know that. And the thing I forgot to
tell you about this whole exercise was, when I found the Ford I was gonna
keep for myself, I envisioned that International and these other car
companies would be very anxious to put one of those things in the showroom
as a display car.
They didn't give one shit about old cars.
Didn't mean nothing. Not in the era when I was…
Didn't give a shit about it. So what was I gonna keep them for? I didn't buy
them to keep. I thought I'd make myself some extra money.
And this was what year again?
1939. Oh my God.
Just after the war.
God, you're just unbelievable.
I told you, a one-cylinder brush I could have bought - $75.
The guy wouldn't…
His wife said no, she wants to keep it. It wasn't the money. It's gonna be
worth a lot of money after she's dead and she was 70 already - she's
worrying about keeping it to get money. What are you going to do? I ran into
some interesting stories when it came to those cars, where they were kept
and all that shit. How they got there. Including that one cylinder Cadillac
that the President of American Airlines bought.
I don't know about that.
Maybe I didn't tell you that whole story. When I was going across country
and I decided to pick up an old brass Model T - 1914, somewhere in there, to
have some fun when I got into California, because I had Model T's before but
they weren't that old. And I thought, you know, for Halloween and all that
shit I'd take it out and horse around with it. And I had a lot of shit to
put on it. For example I had these very high, very elaborate spittoons that
I had bolted on the running boards. I had a telephone in the back, a wall
Oh, that was the Model T Roadster. Model T Pickup.
No, this was the touring, the one that I bought for $50 - drove it out of
So we're getting to the part of the story - what the hell were we talking
You said that the one cylinder Cadillac - so I'm in Kansas somewhere and I
see this sign Antiques and all that bullshit so I stop and that's the place
that I bought high button shoes, brand new for me, my size, for $3 a pair. I
bought a Stetson beaver felt hat with a silk lining inside for $2 and that's
where I bought the coffin handles to bolt on the side of the car. But in the
course of talking to him, I said, I need to find these places to get this
stuff. He buys all the local newspapers for 3 or 4 States around him…
When everybody dies…
When anybody dies he goes to see the widow. And he gives them a practical
story - you're not gonna keep the stuff. I'm sure you can use the money
rather than the old iron and he would get even the inside of a hardware
store. With all the shit in the hardware store. And coming the way he does
and being a sweet-talking fucker he'd get it at a good price. And he'd find
a way to get rid of it. So the American Airlines president wanted, because
he belonged to an antique car club, he wanted something different, something
unusual. And what the hell's more unusual than a one cylinder Cadillac,
1904, with zero miles on it. How can you get a Cadillac with zero miles on
it? This guy that owned it knew all about the problems of starting these old
cars. You really had to crank your ass off to get them going, so when he's
downtown, which is 50 miles away from where he lives…
This is the antique dealer.
No. A different guy altogether?
This is the guy who owns the car.
And he goes to this agency and he tells them about it - he's not going to
buy this goddamn thing if he's going to have trouble starting it.
This was when it was new?
Brand new - never used.
In '04 - and like all salesmen, lying son of a bitches, he had no idea how
much trouble it was going to be to start and naturally the one he
demonstrated on in the goddamn showroom started because it's under nice
weather conditions and all that. Ok, he buys the thing and being 50 miles
away, they deliver it to him on a flat car. In a box, because it's that
small. The whole thing is in a little box.
It's like a little buggy.
Exactly. No windshield. Curved dash front, stick steering. One cylinder. I
mean you're looking for a rare fucking automobile.
And he opens the box and gets a dray horse and wagon thing to get it pulled
over to his garage where his house is and they put it into the garage and
then they open up the box. And naturally he's going to start it up. And that
motherfucker won't start. He calls this guy up and raises hell with him and
naturally he gets all kind of talk. "I'll send a guy out there, don't worry
Blah blah blah. In the meantime he closes that fucking thing back up in the
box and it sits there for years and years and year. Because when I saw it in
And you saw this car?
No, I just saw the guy who bought and sold it to the guy who owned American
And he just sold the car?
I don't know if he just sold it. I know he had bought it so it had to have
been some time after I met him. But the point was, when he told him what he
had, this guy almost pissed in his pants - he says, "Don't touch the car -
I'll send a moving van out there to pick it up. Don't touch it. Leave it in
Because he didn't want to take a chance for anything to go wrong with it, to
disturb even the paint. And I said, "What did you get for something like
He says, "Well, I can tell you now, because it doesn't matter."
He got $10,000.
And he paid $500.
So that's how weird some of that shit is. And that was the year I was
picking up all this other shit.
It doesn't sound that long ago, but it was almost 60 years ago.
It's a long time ago.
Did you want to go home or are you coming home with me.
No, I think I'll drop off.
What was interesting, I was staying in a house, renting a room in
Williamsberg, Ohio, which cost me $3 for the week and it had no toilet in
the house. They had a chamber pot under the bed. I wasn't going to shit in
that thing, I'd go out to the back and use the out house, which when you
open the door, and it would bowl you over.
They didn't have any nice chemicals back then.
No way. So I get to talking to this woman, and come to find out she's a
distant relative of Johnny Appleseed. The guy who planted those trees along
one of the main highways in Ohio, when it wasn't a main highway, this guy
decided the countryside ought to have apple trees because they take care of
themselves real easy and people can have free fruit and so he put it along
I thought the guy was a figment.
No, he showed me a picture of the guy.
So here I was in that house with Johnny Appleseed's relatives.
The shit I run into - I can't believe it. I don't think I mentioned that
story now for maybe 20 years.
No, I never heard that.
MORE AMAZING FINDS
Nice woman. That was the town, believe it or not, where they had, no it was
the next town over, I'll think of the name in a minute, not that it matters,
it was a parts house and one of the things that he had that I saw, sitting
on the shelf was a brand new in the box brass Ford radiator, 1912 model. I
said, "What do you take for that radiator?"
Nobody's asked for that fucking radiator, probably been in there 5 years or
longer. He says, "How about $20."
I'll take it. Unfuckingbelievable. The shit that I picked up. Had I known
how this world was going to turn.
Just put it in that garage somewhere and left it.
I had five grand to blow that I took from New York. It was the money that I
earned before I was coming back to California.
So you said, "I'm going to have some fun with it."
That was the same trip I told you where this guy knew these people who were
building perpetual motion machines. Did I tell you about that? I must have
told this story to somebody recently and I guess I forgot who the hell it
You might have told me. Go ahead.
And he decided to make a museum out of this shit because they're all
different and they're in people's garages because the fucking thing
embarrasses them because it isn't perpetual motion, it was an attempt. The
one that less friction and ran a little longer, just raised the fucking
price $1.40. It was $1.35 yesterday. So in his place, what I got, I'll show
you one of those one of these days that I got…
His place… he being whom?
Being a guy that sold all kinds of old shit. In a store. In Kansas City,
Out in the rural districts somewhere. He had 4 coach lamps that were used in
the old wooden coaches, made out of cast brass with milk glass panels
inside, three sided, the back is heavy cast iron and it was kerosene lamps.
And that's what they had inside the goddamn coaches. 4 of them. I bought all
4 for $50. Still have them.
Real coach lamps.
And I found out from a guy that was a railroad nut that they were out of an
These are railroad or horse-drawn.
I got a suggestion for you. You got a whole bunch of stuff that you can't
even find, let alone display. Why don't we put it up on the wall in my
garage? At least you could see it. Want to do that?
It'll take awhile to dig that shit out. I got a butter churn that's made out
of solid cedar. Cedar is a sweet wood that doesn't influence the milk. With
brass bands, tapered sides and you plunge it up and down until you create
the butter, hand-operated. I mean I did collect some unusual shit that cost
me peanuts. I think one of the other things that I got that's rather nice,
is I've got a camera and wooden tripod, the camera body itself is covered
with rococo leather, which is goat skin and it takes pictures on glass
plates. I've got some of the glass plates. This belonged to a doctor. I
bought it for $12.
What do they call it? A daguerreotype?
That's different, daguerreotype. That was the ones that did it on metal. And
I have a picture of my mother in a daguerreotype. That she took somewhere, I
don't know where, probably in Europe.
This is a glass plate.
These are glass plates and from that you can make the films. But that was
actually the negative, the glass plate.
What was it coated with?
Who the hell… you always come up with the fuckingest questions. How the hell
do I know what it's coated with?
Don't you know anything?
It's a glass plate. I don't know shit. It's not a concern of mine what kind
of fucking coating is on it. I'm not using it so why the hell would I give a
shit. Anyway, I got… this is a nice, unusual one. This is a machine for
creating noodles so that you don't have to cut them by hand after you roll
up the dough.
You mean a big, wide, many-wired thing?
No, you roll the thing up, you put it in this machine, it advances itself
and you turn the crank and the blade comes by and cuts it off and you can
adjust to whatever wide noodles or narrow noodles.
One at a time, or does it cut many noodles.
No, one slice at a time. You're always with these fucking goddamn details I
never heard of. Why the fuck would the thing cut multiple if it's an
antique? They got all they can do to make it work, period. Let alone cut
You think you're the only curious guy in the Universe? Interesting.
I got two vacuum cleaners that are really antiques son of a bitches. Only
saw one in a museum that was like it. This vacuum cleaner has a cylinder
that is 4 inches in diameter, the tube is about 3 feet long and a mouth
about that big down on the bottom, you set that on the rug and you go like
this, and you push it back in. And you do that over the fucking rug - can
you imagine trying to clean a rug with that kind of a thing? And the
suction. A fucking joke.
Where does the dirt go?
In a portion of the thing. It had a contraption there to keep.
Always with the fucking questions again.
The next thing was, that was no good so this guy saw that was horrible. You
work your ass off and it's not gonna clean very good so he turned around and
made a 12 inch cylinder only 12 inches long, put 2 scissor handles on it so
he could go this way, now he can pull that cylinder quicker and easier than
going like that. So I got one of those.
Like a bellows.
No, not a bellows. Just a scissor grip that will pull that plunger which is
12 inches in diameter over a 12-inch stroke.
That's a big motor. A 12-inch bore stroke.
You're going like this, and you're going this fast, it's just doing it more
frequently but the efficiency is still not worth a shit. You can beat that
thing with a rug beater by hanging it on a clothesline better than either
one of those goddamn contraptions. But you got to stop somewhere. These guys
didn't even know how lousy that was until they sold a handful and people
said, "This thing ain't worth a shit."
And God knows how many are left. I've probably got one of the few left in
the whole goddamn country. So I bought those things for a couple of dollars
apiece. Then I got nuts about flatirons.
Yeah, you told. You're out of friggin' mind on flatirons.
So those things are just endless how many things you can do with that. And
that's the kind of stupid things that caught my fancy and the price was
right - I'm paying peanuts for whatever I buy - I wasn't in a position, well
that's nice but I can't afford that. It wasn't like I'm buying cars, and
even when I was buying the fucking cars I'm stealing them. The problem with
the cars was how the hell do you get them from Ohio to Los Angeles. The
other shit you can throw in the trunk. So that was the big difference about…
well, if you could buy all this shit, why didn't you get tons of it? I mean,
you got to cart it.
Yeah, and store it.
So that was your one. You did it in one trip. Did all your antique buying
and your entire car buying in one trip.
No, then when I came here and I couldn't get a job as a draftsman I got a
job - I saw an ad in the paper - at Sears they wanted a washing machine
mechanic. I said, "Fuck, a washing machine is no big deal - if I can fix a
car, I can fix a washing machine."
I go down there and get the job, bullshit my experience. Now, they give you
8 or 10 places to take care of machines that aren't working and when I go
down the street if there's an antique store anywhere, I put on the brakes -
the antique store gets preference before I go to the fucking customer. And I
was all over Southern California, working antiques.
Yeah, working antiques. And I got all kinds of shit of different kinds
through the years - I only worked for them a couple of years.
The late '40's?
Yeah, that was just after the war where you couldn't get a fucking job
because they didn't need the drafting and engineer types. They were all
kaput. They weren't building anymore machinery. The war was over. So it was
that kind of horseshit. So I had some interesting experiences in that time
So we got to dig out your shit and see what it looks like.
One of these days we will.
THE RIOT ACT
I'm going outside and wait for that guy and read him the riot act. I'm
beginning to notice that you never come on time.
That's not true.
Whatever time you say you're gonna be somewhere you gotta add a half-hour to
an hour. Not that it makes a fucking bit of difference when you got to my
house because I'm very busy in there.
It's a bad habit.
I think it's caused by in your business there's no way you can on time
anywhere because there's 40 things that can get in the way. The intent is to
get there on time but things keep happening.
Well, unfortunately, I just need to close the computer or put things down or
get on with it.
You can't be that organized. It's just impossible. I'm not putting you down
for that, I just know it's a bitch. Small businesses are like that. See
going out there not to throw water on somebody. The average cocksucker right
here on Nordhoff right here when it floods, they gotta kick up a rooster
spray as high as possible to drown everything in sight. Including his own
fucking car underneath. What the hell is with people? And where is he going
that he has to go through at 35 or 40 miles an hour to do that?
Just total fucking idiots.
There was a guy yesterday, when I was taking Randy back home…
The more I keep remarking about these things the more I think you can really
write a funny book on all the foibles… I don't know if you can call it
foibles - stupidity would probably be better… about all of these things that
happen to all kinds of people that are totally avoidable and are unnecessary
to aggravate a situation but you're too fucking dumb to see it.
So just street sense lessons right.
Say this again.
Street sense lessons.
Street sense lessons.
In other words, just common sense, shit. I didn't get the connection about
how those words went together.
Oh yes, street sense is the same as common sense. There ain't any. My
argument to that is common sense is very uncommon.
I like that.
Because if it was common, how come they don't have it.
Why is it so seldom seen? Yeah.
And there again, when I talk to other people that I don't know real well,
they sort of look at me a little bit askance, is this fucking guy wound up
again or is he going to start throwing punches or what. They just can't get
the fucking message - I talk this way because that's how I feel. I'm not
going to hit anybody.
But you may blow them over with your words.
Yeah. Like with what's his name - I'm so bad with names - the guy who took
When he first met me and I was talking he thought, "Who's this weird son of
He probably every remarked to you when you were alone with him, "You know
this guy long?"
No, he said, "He really gets wound up."
I keep telling these guys I need a heart massage, I make it myself.
Your adrenaline switch is either on or off. There's kind of no in-between.
You're either asleep or barking.
I like that combination.
MORE ON DICK'S DOLLARS
You know, I was still thinking about your goddamn situation and I don't have
a clear way to beat it yet. When we talked about the fact that on paper you
made more money than you made 2 years ago, what the hell every, so it looks
ok, so where's the money? So it comes out that now, if you forget what
happened, how come, regardless of how you price the job and the price that
the help is, the 2 are just enough apart that it winds up with a zero
profit. Now what the fuck can you do that improves not only one side, you
got to improve both sides and by improve, I don't mean that you raise the
price that you're asking and you give these guys more money - any fool knows
that you can make it look good on paper but can you make it happen,
obviously in the economy we have now, there's no way in hell you can raise
the price because everybody's slowing down now not to do the job period, so
that won't work. And with the help, they're on the eternal thing about every
year they work they want more money. And to some extent, the price of
everything doesn't stand still.
When I see, the ordinary going to the market, and I didn't go to the market
very much - my wife did all the shopping, but there isn't much you can buy
that's under a dollar a pound. It don't make any difference what the fuck it
is, it's a dollar a pound.
Do you know if you go to like Hughes Market and get their salad bar, it's
$3.25 a pound. Salad, $3.25 a pound.
Like ribeye steak.
So what I do, I go to this Mexican market that's on Sepulveda and their shit
is just as good as anybody else's because after I ate it I'd say, "Hey, it's
cheaper because it's shittier."
You bvy celery, you buy carrots, there's no fucking difference if I buy them
at Hughes or Von's or anyplace else. But what a difference in the price.
Lettuce, for example, they sell 2 heads for a dollar. You go to the fucking
Von's it's $1.39 for one head. That's so just so fucking way out of line
that isn't the idea can't you afford it? Yeah, I can afford it, but why am I
supposed to be just dishing out money with no fucking rhyme or reason? If I
want to fuck away money, I don't need to give it to Von's.
That's like your brother-in-law - whatever, the guy who was married to your
What would he be called.
I don't know what context…
What would you call him? What relation is he? The Israeli bartender.
He was a brother-in-law.
Same deal, I mean…
Oh, yeah, I didn't get to where you were getting to the next part of it. Why
should he give anything away. If you're going to give it away, give it to
himself. And that's what he did.
I don't in any way, shape or form, decry anybody making a profit. You have
to, but a profit is really a reflection of service, and a service is
basically distribution. These markets aren't growing it - all their doing…
They're a middle man, just a fucking middle man.
They're shipping it and distributing it. If they can distribute it for 40%
of the price that Von's does and it's the same, excuse me, it's down in
front of me, I'm driving into a store, it's the same place, just a different
address and a different name, there is no difference in the product, then
why would I be spending the money.
And the classic example is there's fucking Von's crowded with people. Don't
they know these other places exist and that they are cheaper. There's a
percentage of people that never go to any fucking store, including a gas
station, that sells it for less. Because when you drive by all the gas
stations that are company owned, that are generally higher priced than all
the independents are full of fucking cars and you look at those guys while
I'm in the street and I'm saying, "Are you that fucking dumb that if you go
down the next block you can buy the same goddamn product for a good
percentage less? This fucking guy is oblivious to going to the market, he's
oblivious, he goes to Macy's, he goes to Bullock's, he goes to all these
fucking places that charge more for the same product, just because they're
gonna kiss your ass and have a beautiful display that has nothing to do with
what you take home, it's just the sucker you seem like it is more. It isn't
Right. The larger chains have higher overhead. And these bigger places like
Bullock's or May Company or Macy's or Sax, those stores cost a lot of money
to maintain. They don't spend the money on sales, though. In Japan you can't
walk 15 feet without somebody trying to help you. Here, you got to set off a
bomb in a store to get somebody to pay attention to you. I can't begin to
find out who works at a Broadway or anything. You just walk around until you
find a register and hope the person behind it is not scheming.
And if you come there next week, he isn't there, somebody else is, even if
you found the guy that was right. To them help is nothing. Help to them is
just another product that they have to spend money to plug a hole.
And it is. Help is just one thing in the distribution chain. But I think
that retail establishments are woefully stupid for doing that. Because
that's the one place that they can generate sales.
To generate some loyalty. That you're coming back because the guys you deal
with there you feel comfortable with.
I used to go to Familian Pipe and Supply had an outlet store and a guy named
Johnny used to be there. And this guy was such a pleasure to deal with and I
would just go back just to see what was happening. And he transferred to
Snyder Diamond and I went over to Snyder Diamond and then he retired. But
shit, I wanted to find Johnny. By the way, yesterday you and I talked about
how I'm giving jobs away. Profit-wise. Ok?
What's the last word you said?
Giving jobs away, profit-wise. So I get a water heater for a guy who is a
referral from another customer.
So you want to treat him right.
Steve Allen, whom you met.
Referred me to a guy named Alan Dick. And Alan asked me to come over. He had
a water heater that was tucked in the back of his house up in a hillside
home and there's like this much… seriously 18 inches of room to get around
the back of the house, to put n a 12 inch diameter water heater. So it was
tough, and plus there's things sticking out. So I quoted him $425. So when
my plumber ended up doing it he had to bring another guy to help him carry
it in, he had to put in a seismic strap, he charged me $350.
To put it in?
Including the water heater. Now, my markup is 1.7. That's $595 if I'm going
to make my profit, but I had thought, oh shit, I quoted the guy $425, you
Can't change it.
So I called him up and I said, "By the way, you need to cut some vent holes
in there. I'll be happy to come by and do it on my way to a job, or whatever
- we had to bring another guy and we had to buy a seismic strap…"
And I was just gonna bump it up a little bit - and I thought goddamit, I'm
not gonna do it - sorry about the increase, but that's what it took. He
said, "Fine, I'll send you the check today."
Which was almost a shock from the normal reaction.
Right, so I just…
(Saul's daughter made over) One million last year.
In landscaping that's a lot of fucking money.
That's a lot of plants.
But the take home wasn't as good as he would like because he sees he's not
charging enough. He's afraid of the same thing. He doesn't want to lose any
customers, even though he's doing well. But out of a million that he
grossed, I forgot the exact number, he didn't really make as much as she
should, running a business, having six people under his control, 2 or 3
different pieces of truck equipment and all this shit. You got a whole mess
of shit that if anything goes wrong the whole thing could collapse in a
We have actually a depression era mentality in this business. We are so
frightened, and it's like the story about Tony Randall was on Johnny Carson
and Johnny Carson said, "You are a wonder in this business. You've been
employed solidly for 30 years. You must so feel so good and so relaxed."
Tony Randall says, "Au contraire, mon ami, whenever I didn't have a job, I
thought I would never get another job. And then when I got a job I was sure
that was the last job I was ever gonna get. So I have been terrified my
whole 30 years that I would never get another job."
Even though you're admiring him and think that he's…
Even though he's been working solidly for 30 years and that's how it is for
me. I'm so panicked that I will never get another job, no matter how many
jobs I bid or no matter how much I put out there, I'm not going to make a
profit or I'm not getting this job.
This is part of the small business.
So I'm going to try to switch that a little bit.
Yes, say, "I'm going to see if the losses continue that bad. As against
saying ok I lost x number of jobs anyway, if I lose a few more, but the ones
I get are profitable, I'm not worse off."
I would be a third of a million dollars richer today if I had not done about
Yeah, because I had one job that cost me $26,000 out of my pocket. I had
another job that the woman boned me for $35,000, and another for $30,000 and
another guy owes me $60,000. If I hadn't done the work, I wouldn't have made
any money but I wouldn't have lost any money either.
It would have been a wash.
Way better than a wash. There's a third of a million dollars out there that
I didn't get that I should have gotten, that I earned and I worked for and I
Is every case dead, or just about.
Because once it gets longer than so long, you've got to get another lawyer
to reactivate some way to get the thing back in court. It's more money.
No, I've got judgments on people and stuff.
People used to think well you get a judgment.
You've got a piece of paper that you can really nail this guy with - it may
take awhile, it don't mean shit.
It's really good against an honest person and it means nothing against a
He may not be a thief, he just has to be a kind of a person that doesn't
know honor and what he's supposed to do and, how am I gonna put this and
you're stuck with this because he legally can get away with it.
THE SPEEDING TICKET
I can't… I think I just got a ticket. Speeding and my license is expired.
Is he showing his light or what?
How much faster were you going?
I was going about 80.
Oh really, I couldn't tell.
He's telling you to go further. He wants you to be in a safer place.
He didn't want me to stop in traffic. I'll tell him you're having a heart
That's the problem with a Mercedes, you can't tell how fast you're going.
He's gonna come on this side with all that bullshit.
You've been watching police videos - you're not going to stand on the
The reason I stopped you is for your speed.
Did you know how fast you were going?
82. Do you have a driver's license with you?
That's the one thing I hate about a good car. You can't feel the goddamn
difference between 60, 70 and 80.
That's why if you don't have it on cruise you can't keep track of it. When
he told me he was going 80 I said, "I can't believe it."
You've got to stay inside the car.
Hey, get in there.
Vicious killer attack dog, I can tell.
Yeah, she'll just about lick the skin off your teeth. She's pretty amazing.
You still live in Oregon or do you live down here.
No, I'm still in Oregon and here's my extension - I think I'm over my
extension. I haven't gotten back. I was down here - my brotherinlaw died a
little bit ago…
My brotherinlaw just died down here so I've been down here about a month and
a half taking care of that.
So do you still live on Barnard's Road?
Do you have insurance and your registration?
I think so. I should. Ok, where is it? I just got this a little while ago.
Is that the registration there?
I don't think it's in my name. I got this car from a guy a little while ago.
I should have one that says me.
How long ago did you buy it?
About April, I think.
All right, stay in the car. I'm going to issue you a citation for your
speed, all right?
All that bullshit and you thought he would back off.
Oh no, he's gonna do his thing.
That's another fuckin' what, $100 you're gonna throw away.
I've got actually a free pass to a traffic school and it's been a long time…
A free pass, what the hell is that?
You buy a pass to go to school?
Well, I went to a traffic school and I hope I can find it and I hope they
are still there.
How much difference is the…
Another $25 plus the ticket. The ticket will be substantial.
I like when you say 80 and he says you're doing 82.
I was right. No, I was actually right.
Is there a fucking difference between 80 and 82? He's gotta make a comment
about it? That's gonna make you more guilty because it's 2 miles more?
He's just telling me what I was doing.
He's checking to see if it's a stolen car and all that shit.
How much difference is there between license plates and insurance in Oregon
$15 a year to register it, versus $300 and something here. But I have
Do you think he's suspicious that you don't live there?
I'm just curious why I don't have the current registration here. This is it.
Oh yeah, here it is. The rest of this I can just toss.
You should get one of those plastic folders. That's what I have in my Lexus
so you can just reach in and you got all that shit together so you don't
have to do this every time.
Well, yeah, this was all the old stuff.
The point is it's another pain in the ass thing when you get stuck.
I get so pissed off when I got stopped for whatever it was the minute the
guy came to the car I went like this - I handed him the whole pile of shit
without saying one word and when he gave it back to me not one word back in
the fucking thing, slammed the door closed and go fuck yourself. I'm not
gonna cry, I'm not gonna wring my hands, I'm not gonna do all that bullshit
that you don't give a fuck anyway.
Listen, they've got a job to do.
Yeah, but they've gotta temper it with common sense too.
Sure. Millie was trying to reach me.
I don't know why it takes a fuckin' half hour to write a ticket where all
it's gotta say is your name and the fine.
I may have a problem because my license is expired. He says he's gonna write
me for the speed.
He's gonna write you for what?
But not the expired license?
Hopefully not. We're not gonna mention it. We'll see.
That's what he said? I didn't hear him say that.
He just said speed.
These fucking cars, they're zipping along, you mean to tell me they're doing
60 miles an hour?
So what does he do, he just picks somebody?
Somebody. I was the one in the left lane, I shouldn't have been in the left
lane. I should have been over. I wasn't looking. I always look in my rear
view mirror and I usually don't.
I get into that kind of thing too. You can't spend your entire fucking life
looking through the mirror. That's what happened to me on the 101 and you're
driving fast and you pass King City, one of those places way the hell up
there, here comes this cocksucker out of nowhere and you were looking for
almost 2 hours before that happened and nobody was behind you and that next
10 minutes that you didn't look, that's when the bastard was there. That's
too much fucking work to drive that way.
What did you say oh for?
Just a second.
How long does it take for that cocksucker to write a ticket?
Millie got scratched. That big plate that was in my bathroom. I put it in,
just set in there.
And left it there.
And it fell off and hit her leg.
That's heavy and if it got it on her the shin, the front part.
That's bad. That makes a long fucking ugly bloody mess. I can't say I told
you so for shit like that because a woman expects that when you put it in
there that for whatever reason the goddamn thing's gonna decide to come out.
Well, it was in there dicey and I didn't think it was gonna fall.
I know, because if you thought it was gonna fall you would have taken it
Uncontrolled fear… this kind of shit.
Everybody's got their little thing.
I'm just trying to think which one's got me. I got to think real hard
because I don't have any of those.
You're just a fearless warrior.
I guess in one way, which I don't consider it a quality that I generated,
the things that bug a lot of people…
Just don't bother you.
I know they're possible and they can happen but I don't let the son of a
bitch envelop me. So it's ok, so it does this, it does that. I just forget
You don't live your life in the negative.
Because I know in 99% of the cases, none of that shit helps so what the
fuck's the point in dwelling on it to just continually eat you or make you
Well, I know that as lately as I have not felt well, haven't had the energy
and the muscular strength.
All of the things you knew you had before.
Like you, for me, that kind of activity kept me thinking and sparking and
boom, boom, boom, and I'm hyper because my system's up. All the hormones are
happening. They're just all happening. Without them I have eaten more, I
feel more fragile. I'm not working my body as much. My energy level is down.
My body comfort is not as good. My mental toughness is not as good. I don't
feel like taking any risks. I feel overwhelmed. All this stuff. Down a
couple of tones in life energy. And I used to be fearless. I was like you. I
used to do anything. When I moved into my house in Woodland Hills, I just
attacked that house. I never did any of that shit. Had no clue how to do it.
I just did it. I put in recessed lights and I changed some doors. I put a
dishwasher in. I did thousands of feet of sprinkler pipes and fifteen
valves. And I seeded the lawns and I landscaped. I had no clue. But it was
very interesting. I was just driven. And I had a lot of energy and I worked,
worked, worked. You know tremendous physical output on the stuff and I was
on a rampage and when I looked up it was unbelievably beautiful. In fact I
walked next door to my neighbor's house and when I turned around and started
to walk back I went "Man that guy really has his shit together, that looks
like a park."
I had never seen it from the outside. I was only looking from the inside
out. I didn't see what a transformation I made. And it was gorgeous. It was
amazing. I didn't know I had that sense of direction when I built the house
in Woodland Hills. I was afraid that it would end up with plastic chains for
room dividers, you know, I thought that was my level of sophistication. When
it was done, it was fucking beautiful. It was tastefully decorated. The
colors were great. The structure of the building was unbelievable. All the
little touches. People would come in and their mouths would drop. They would
say, "You must have been doing this a long time."
I said, "No, first time."
I would say to people, "If you built this house I would be unbelievable
impressed. I didn't know you would know how to do this."
It happened to be me that did this and I didn't know I could do that. And I
looked up after it was all done and said, "Wow, I didn't know I could do
So it was like you, I had that sense of adventure and fearlessness and
willing to try it.
You were in a positive frame.
In a sense I did that with my house but I just… my life lately has not been.
I've been basically an automaton, trying to work the program as it were.
Yeah, I know what you mean. And there are a lot of things that are not on
the happy side. The health, the times, the money, all that shit. You put
enough of those on that side of the scale and it's pretty hard to say, "I
Part of my arthritis study is they give you a questionnaire not just
specifically how is your left knee feeling today or in the last 48 hours but
about the rest of your life. Are you generally happy? Do you have suicidal
And you notice that when you're reading that you say, "Why the hell do I
have to tell them that for that? They're sure digging deep."
But it's very interesting, every time you see it, you go well, wait a
minute, I'm not evaluating, putting my consciousness and starting to look,
am I happy. I'm happy, but I'm just sort of putting up with. I'm not… It
used to be Saul, but maybe it still is for you, I'd wake up in the morning
and it was like wow, what can I do today? I gotta get out of bed because I
gotta get going on this. You know, and now it's like, fuck, I gotta get down
in that shit, start shoveling again, and it's a little different feeling. So
what I do is when I go to bed what I think about is my garage and my race
car, because that's pleasant and that's what I put in my mind. So, when
you're shoveling water out of the Titanic with a thimble it's hard to be
positive and to be excited about it. You can be frantic and energetic and be
busy, but not productive. A guy named Paul Drucker, he's been an advisor to
The name sounds familiar.
And he's been a time and financial advisor and he's had the President and
CEO of GE. You bring him in and he would watch him do things and he'd ask
some questions and he'd say what's this and what's this and he'd say, "You
know, being busy does not equate to being productive."
And later on, the former CEO of GE said, "That was just like a bell ringing
in my head. I can't tell you how many times I took that philosophy to the
business and made it work. Being busy isn't being productive. You can't work
harder, you have to work smarter. And I cannot work any harder and many
things I do, thinking how I did do some things, I think I'm working pretty
smart, and there's some steps now that I think I need to take to work even
smarter. As clever and quick and good as it is, I have to systematize what I
do so that I can have anybody go do that. Somebody said that in business,
the very first thing you have to decide and plan for is to be out of that
business. How am I going to be out of this business. How am I gonna sell it,
how am I going to replace myself. How am I going to be leader emeritus of
this business. Because if you're the only thing that keeps that business
going, you're in trouble. And that's what it is for me. I'm the business.
That's what I'm telling you about the other guys that I know - it's the same
hole. It's a one-man show that is too much for one man.
You're consumed 24 hours a day and every waking minute you know something is
going to happen that has to be taken care of or is going to go wrong, an
unforeseen goddamn obstacle that just popped up and you're saying yourself
unconsciously, "Am I ever going to get on a keel where I can cruise? I can't
seem to get to the point of cruising?"
It just doesn't feel… I just don't feel like there's going to be. It's like
Tony Randall. This is the last job I'm ever going to get. No work will come
to me if I am not out there absolutely scraping and clamoring and digging
In a different way, when I was going to different companies, over time, I
saw that to get a raise in the company you're in, the size of the money that
they're gonna give you, you have to stay there forever. So luckily, a few
years after the war was over and things started to get halfway normal, I
worked for a company 3,4 years and saw or heard from somebody a company,
these guys, and I would upgrade myself rather than put down on the paper
that I'm a draftsman, junior, senior, junior engineer, I would just raise
myself on the…
And tell them you were better than you were.
And I would have a little apprehension that it would require more. Never
happened that I couldn't handle it. So after awhile I began to say, "Hey, if
I don't know what the hell they need, if I got my wits around me, I'll find
a fucking way to beat the problem, if it's bigger than I think I can handle
and it never happened. I just became more effective with time that I could
handle the next level up.
It was just great artful bullshit but you were up to it. But it worked.
But that gave me an unconscious ability not to worry about what to do when
you can't handle it. Don't come up with the negative that they ain't gonna
give you the job. Take the job and then worry about it. The worst that could
happen is you couldn't handle it. It never happened.
Interestingly enough and I heard this somewhere. They don't hire people to
do what they can do, they hire people to do what they can't do.
If you want to be better than.
In other words, you got to be able to go in and handle the unknown.
That's why they want you there. They want you to handle the unknown. Because
if you can handle the unknown, you can expand the company, you can do more
than everybody else.
In France my cousin had a bakery and we used to get hot bread right out of
the oven and he'd give us chocolate and we'd put bar chocolate against it
and it would melt right onto the bread. Or you would take Brie or other
kinds of cheese and you'd put it right on the bread and it was so great.
That's a meal. That's not just a piece of bread.
Just loved it. Hot French bread. Baguette. The long stick.
There's a company in Connecticut that went to the trouble to go France, buy
all that equipment to make French bread in France and he has the flour
milled to his specification in order to duplicate French bread like you can
get it in Paris.
My dad wanted to do that. He wanted to start a French bread bakery here. He
said somebody would make a fortune.
You're talking about a taste treat. You're not just eating bread to fill up
the difference between the meat.
I love the fresh, hot bread. I used to go to the Hollywood Ranch Market and
get the hot donuts right out of the oil.
That makes a difference.
We lived two blocks from the Ranch Market.
Hollywood Ranch Market?
Yes. On Gower. Gower Gulch it was called because all the cowboy pictures
they made, these guys would come down with their outfits on before they went
into the studio proper, so they named it Gower Gulch. Because so much of the
Western shit was made there. Outdoor stuff they had to go somewhere, but
there was a lot of indoor stuff they had to do in a building. They don't go
all the way out there if they don't have to. What do you see? A jam up or
Yeah. What was this deal you went to the studios with? What was that? You
had a thing where you…
You stuck it to the studios.
THE MOVIE TRUCK AT VAN NUYS AIRPORT
Yeah, that was at MGM on Washington Blvd. The place is still there. And you
know it is a big thing. What a goddamn interesting experience that was. And
the things that I saw in addition. And I also got to go on a goddamn extra
deal where I was an extra. And where were they doing this? This was a
picture called "Love On The Run" with Clark Gable and Franchot Tone and Joan
Crawford. A hell of a group, right and it was supposed to be a shot in
England. So they had the English cars and the Bobbies with their style of
hat that they wear, the cops. And they had a scene where a young playboy had
his private plane and he's zooming down the airfield, just missing the
people by inches, so they were duplicating this thing, naturally not using a
plane because that was way too dangerous, so what they did was they
superimposed the plane, after he was diving down and the camera was making
the motion like the plane was doing it. So what happened was they rented a
lot of these trucks because they don't need a million trucks and they all
had a governor on it.
They had a governor on. Here they had this big camera on a boom on the back
of this truck and they can't get it to go more than 35 because it was
So they're actually making the camera fly on the back.
And they superimposed the cockpit over it so it's like in the plane.
They put the screen behind the cockpit. So you see the thing…
So that was a neat trick.
But they didn't have something that would work.
The point was the truck couldn't go fast enough and I'm overhearing this,
I'm standing next to the truck. Because there are about 300 extras and I'm
not going to stand around for what they had to do. I blended right into the
crew. You know me, Balls Bastion, you know. So he says, "What the hell are
we gonna do - this thing has a governor on it and we can't go faster than 35
miles and hour. We're dead-ended and all these extras have to be paid and
all that shit."
So I take a look at the situation and I see where they have this little
piece of wire twisted around the governor and the little lead weights, you
know, to tell if anybody fooled with it for their safety and unconsciously I
say, "Anybody got a pair of pliers?"
And they look at me like how am I gonna save them. The call goes out right
away, "Get a pair of pliers."
In no time here comes a guy running with a pair of pliers. I put it on this
little leaded seal kind of thing, break the son of a bitch off and take it
out of the circuit and now I know it can run the normal speed. I don't stand
on the ground and watch him take off - I get into the goddamn truck with
him, what the hell.
You should have said, "That costs you a hundred bucks."
So I'm in there and we make the run and now the truck can go 65. Great.
Everybody's happy - they do the shot. And this guy's got the megaphone and
he's telling the people to duck and all that to make it look like they
barely missed him and all that shit and comes lunch time they have tables
set up for the crew. The extras get a box lunch. I ain't eating no box
lunch. I eat with the fuckin' crew - until somebody says, "Hey, get out of
I'm one of you. So I sit down and have lunch with the crew and I'm loving
it. Mr. Nobody is with the goddamn crew and all of a sudden, by making a
little trick with a pair of pliers I've upgraded myself from a goddamn
extra. So what does it do? Little shitty things, like I keep telling you.
Move your balls a little bit if you want something to happen. So we have the
lunch thing and we're there the rest of the afternoon and I'm fascinated by
the stars so I was moving over so I was about 15 - 20 feet from where they
were and overhearing them talk and what was Clark Gable talking about? He
had just bought a Dusenberg, brand new. And he's telling about the frame is
9 inches thick and all that and telling that to what's her name?
Joan Crawford. And I'm saying to myself, what the hell is she going to know
about a frame? Or care? So she listens very politely and he goes on and
Franchot Tone says a few things and I got a kick out of being that close to
the stars. And then we got back in the… where was it happening? The Van Nuys
Airport. At that time it was nothing.
Was it dirt?
Yeah, it was a small, nothing field. We're talking way the hell back in the
forties. They take us back with a bus to MGM, because that was where they
picked us up. They pay us off the money. And in those days they got five
dollars a day for being an extra. Easy five dollars for me. And you say,
"How did you get in on the thing?"
Well, because I jumped over the fence. I told you how I got into the place,
Oh, some time back, but tell me again.
That's where the guy was trying to get me in that was a friend of mine that
was working as a bus boy and he says, "I know the guy at the gate and I'll
con him to let you in."
And I see this guy shaking his head. No way, he's not going to do it.
And I'm saying to myself, well that ain't gonna work. So I walk along
Washington Boulevard which is all sound stages right up to the goddamn
sidewalk, but when I get about a block from the entrance gate, now it starts
to change into a wire fence and it's the back lot. So I say to myself, if I
can get over into that goddamn back lot I don't need him, I'm in. So I look
around and there's 3 rows of barbed wire.
Yeah, on top of this fence. And I say now how the hell am I going to get
into that? The barbed wire is about 6 inches apart, one of those angle
things. And I spy one lone tree just outside the fence, that's where the
sidewalk had already stopped. There's no sidewalk. I say if I can skinny up
that goddamn tree and it was at a "v" - I can get up there and reach over
with my arms until I get my legs on top of the barbed wire and then just
drop down into the inside and having the ball I have I say, "Yeah, I can do
So I get in there and swing over until I'm clear of the three rows of barbed
wire and I just drop. So I drop about 10 feet. My feet stung a little, but
hey, big deal, nothing. Now I'm in, I go all the way back to where the
entrance is when I'm behind the gate now and this guy's still talking to the
fucking guard. And I'm waving, trying to get his attention, "Turn it off -
I'm in already."
And finally he takes a look and he sees me waving and he's like petrified.
And he comes over to me and says, "How did you get in?"
I explained it to him and he says, "Hey, Bastion, you're crazy."
And so he goes to his job and I'm in. What do you mean I'm in?
Excuse me, just a moment of silence. Here's your girl for you.
What do you see?
A little skinny for you but nice.
Oh yeah. Yeah, I could look at her but don't do a thing for me.
Where are we going here?
It's on the corner, it's the Von's complex. When it gets to the signal, I
think it's the second one. You swing in and there's the bakery.
So you're inside.
I'm in and then in those days you didn't need a fucking badge, you had a
thing in your wallet to show if somebody asked you, so once you were in
there were so many people and they didn't have this badging thing yet.
Because you're talking in the forties. Turn in here. And I had a suit on so
I walked around so I could be anybody that could be connected with the
studio on a business level.
The bakery over there?
It's on the right hand side. Way down there. It's the Delight. Wherever the
hell you can park.
Yeah. Oh it's called Delicious. I always call it Delight - I don't know why.
So, you walk around with a suit on.
I'm walking around and boy, what I discovered about how a studio runs by
myself, it was a hell of a thing. You can pull over here while these cars
are stacked. It'll take me 5 seconds to get a thing here.
It's a different philosophy of life when you talk to them, you know?
This guy was just picking up a birthday cake for his 4-year-old son and we
bullshitted a little there.
A big cake.
You can go straight and turn left. That's Nordhoff there.
So you're in, walking around the lot.
Oh yeah, walking around. So you say, well, the first thing I noticed that
was a kick in the ass was… one just little vignette with him - he was
telling me, what the hell was his name now - Metro Goldwyn Mayer - his name
was Goldwyn. Jewish guys. And he naturally loved food from the old country.
What's the big deal about food from the old country? He likes herring and
potatoes. Well, to serve herring and potatoes in the goddamn classy
restaurant - they would all laugh him out of the goddamn room.
Except when he's the boss.
But, even though he's the boss, he don't want to be laughed at or snickered
at so he eats that in his office. So this goddamn guy that was assigned to
do some of taking the food to the wheels, one of his stops was to get stuff
for Mr. Goldwyn. So that was the little thing - he would be eating a lot of
the stuff that the poor peasants of Poland and Russia eat.
But he liked it.
He loved it. I love it too because my parents loved it. So anyway, I'm
walking around and the first thing I notice is here William Powell drives in
with his new little Ford into his parking place, opens the door, falls out
flat drunk on the ground. Right there by the door. And I'm watching this
happen and out of nowhere, here comes 2 guys, one under each arm, pick him
up and take him to the detox place, because in those places there are so
many guys fucked up on liquor that they have a built in detox place on the
Because when he's out of work…
Not only that, it's costing them thousands.
Two hours later I see him walking to his set, spry and a pleasant face just
like nothing ever happened. When do you get to see that? Never.
I wonder what they did to straighten him out?
I couldn't go and ask them.
Today it would be cocaine.
Whatever it was. That was an interesting twist for a starter. Then I'm
walking along between some of the sound stages and here comes the Marx
Brothers. And 4 or 5 chorus girls are coming in the opposite direction and
what's his name who blows the horn?
He spots them, blows the horn and the girls start screeching right away.
Why, because he climbs all over them. He don't give a shit about nothing and
it's a soundstage anyway and it isn't like they're really being attacked,
but he embarrasses the living shit out of them. Grabs them by the ass, grabs
them by the tits. When are you going to see that? Never. And I'm saying, "Am
I in 7th Heaven or where?"
Then I walk around some more and I go into a big sound stage and it's dark
except for one little area. And come to find out, it's a set where Camille
is being made with Greta Garbo and they had just stopped for lunch, and I
said, "I'm in this building - I'm not leaving until they come back. Even if
I have to stay in this fucking place in the dark for an hour and a half or
two hours until they come back."
I didn't think about that then.
You want to see Greta Garbo.
Oh, do I want to see Greta Garbo. Sure enough, it took about 2 fucking hours
which is an eternity in a dark fucking sound stage all by yourself and I'm
saying, "Is she ever gonna come back or not?"
Finally they come back and they're laughing about things and everything is
happy. The scene she had to do at that instance is was when she was in bed
and she's dying from tuberculosis. I don't know if you remember Camille…
Don't you know nothing?
I don't know nothing.
This is a picture you have to see. That picture was so good as a kid - I was
17 or so at the time… The only picture in my life to date that I went out of
the goddamn theater and was so taken by it I went back in to see it a second
It just got me because she to me was the acme of beauty, you know, and that
shot the way they did it - I just melted looking at that broad. So here
they're doing this Camille thing and in 2 minutes she gets into bed and they
guy's saying, "Are you ready to roll?"
And you couldn't believe how from laughing and all that fun she could look
like she's dying.
She went from joking to boom.
To dying. Unbelievable. So I got to see shit like that. And this is all in
one day, I'm telling you. This isn't days and days. The next thing that
happens is I'm walking around and I get into a sound stage and you remember
these two guys - Edmund Lowe was a very good character actor. And this other
guy who used to wipe his face with his hands - he's also from the forties, I
can't think of his name at the moment. But anyway, it's a shot on the deck
of a steamship.
Not Peter Lorre.
No. So turn right here. Like you don't know. Like I just picked you up.
Anyway, it's on the deck of a ship and they have a neat way of making fog.
They have a 50 gallon barrel - they have some kind of chemical in there and
they blow air in it - then they blow a fan against and they can disperse
this fog-like material in just the density they want because they're blowing
it with a fan.
Was it dry ice?
It was before dry ice was ever used in the studio.
So, the point I'm getting at, is it's on the deck of a ship and the fog is
being blown to make it look like it's a foggy night and they've got the
railing there and the door of one of the staterooms that you go into so you
couldn't tell it wasn't on a real ship. That part they were pretty good at
already. And he comes running around from one of the passageways and he's
grabbing this rail because he's running so fast and the rail comes off in
his hand, throws his asshole over asshole over the ground or the floor there
and everybody's laughing like crazy, including him and in no time some
carpenters come, nails that shit back up, he goes back around it, pulls the
same thing again and a woman comes out of the stateroom and she says,
"Somebody just came out of that door."
So she used that expression, somebody just came. And all of a sudden she
says, "Oh shit."
They stopped the camera and they do it over again. What did she do wrong?
Exactly. So that was fascinating to me that the fucking language was even
critical because people like you know that that's wrong would send them
letters and say, "Is that the best fucking English you can speak?"
Today, man, everybody's between you and I and me and her.
And grammar is awful. So here I get that. So that was kick in the ass. Then
there's another scene between this guy Edmund Lowe and Kennedy was his last
name and one guy is menacing the other with a gun - they're facing each
other. And the guy with the camera at his back is making faces to break this
son of a bitch up so they have to do it over. Four times. He breaks them up
each time and for them it's big joke. You only use up a few feet of film, so
what. It's only between two people. But it's that kind of shit - you say, am
I in 7th heaven or what? You couldn't buy this?
Then I go into another soundstage and it's a scene of a banquet in China and
they've got all the food, because there's no point in faking food, it's just
as cheap to use the real thing when it comes to food. So they're got all
these tables set up - it's a beautiful display. Now the scene is over and
everybody dives into this food - otherwise you have to throw it away. I
joined them. I got a fucking suit in and I had me a beautiful goddamn
Chinese meal - I get through with that goddamn thing and I'm walking around
some more. This by the way, is an 8 hour deal - from the time I get in there
at 8am until 4pm when he's ready to go home - I'm busy.
All fucking day.
So what's the next thing that happens. I'm walking around and I go into the
building that is a prop building. What's in this prop building? Jewelry
cases displayed with jewelry of every period and all this kind of shit so if
they need a period type thing, it's all there, if it's modern or what have
you. So then you come to another section and they have doors cataloged. Why
would you have a door? What you don't realize is that they're doors to a
fucking palace and they're 10 feet tall and they're carved and all that shit
and the knobs are one of a kind. Are you gonna throw it away after you make
that scene? No way. They file them like books. Now if there's a scene that
has to have that ambiance, these guys are all connected, you do this, that,
send your request in, zip here comes the doors…
Make the changes, do what you have to do.
Where the hell do you even know that takes place? This isn't life or death
but it's interesting.
I just ate that up. Then we went to another area. I don't know why I say we,
it's just me. Go to another area and you see a street. There were many
streets there, many different periods, all on the set. A lot of them they
don't destroy because they can repaint them, they can do them different, and
there's no point in tearing them down. So one of the things they did a lot
of was making walls, exteriors of brick. But to build a brick goddamn wall
was not exactly cheap and easy and all that and you can't change it very
easily so what do they do? They have a form that duplicates what bricks
would look like in a big sheet. They pour this shit in, it's got hair on the
back for strength and they make a wall that comes out of a mold, that you
can nail up, just like you nail up a 4x8 and the guy, before he does that,
he paints the white line in there to show the cement. And those sheets are
made by the zillions that they can actually make exteriors. Where you got to
have maybe 2 or 3 houses in a row or a block or whatever the situation is.
So that was sort of interesting, the mechanics of it. Then another thing
they had that was interesting, you hear the airplane that just went by?
Well, they were in an area where there was an airport, the Culver City
Airport. Well, when they were doing shit on the outside, that plane makes so
much noise it fucks up the whole scene. They got together with these guys
who had to do with the aviation area, they put a winch down there with a
large balloon and a push button. Whenever they did an outside thing, they
pressed the button, this balloon goes up, and that means "Don't come to this
area, you'll fuck up our shots."
Can you believe that? The kind of shit they had there was fascinating as all
get out. What are some of the other things I did there that day that was
fantastic. See, there were 3 things that went on the buildings. Oh, this was
fantastic. This was Melody… not Melody… not Symphony… something of 1936.
Some goddamn thing that had to do with dancing. Eleanor Powell was the
Isn't she unbelievable. God could she move her feet.
She just tripped over the scene. It's a scene with her in it, on a stage, in
a stage. Cause it's a shot of her being on a stage.
Well, to take some of those shots, which you don't even think about, they
had a string across the width of the building, what the hell did you call
it? When you walk across that thing and you have a couple of wires holding
it up? There's a name for that.
There's the catwalk going across there and the camera's up there and all
Are they rolling the camera?
You son of a bitch, you always come with something else. No, they're just
So in the meantime, while I'm up there, there's a guy, I don't know where
the hell he came from, I later found out he was one of the dancers but he
wasn't in that scene at the moment and he asked me something and they way I
answered him he thought I was some big shot because I had a goddamn suit on.
I couldn't get rid of the son of a bitch. He followed me all over hell until
I finally had to say, "I got to go to soundstage 8."
Just to get away from the guy. Because he thought I was somebody he wanted
to rub off on me.
Right that's hysterical.
And it was interesting to see when they do that shot and they're hauling…
That was in the era when they used megaphones a lot - before the goddamn
electronic shit. Do this this way or do it faster - turn around. And all
this kind of stuff so you got to see what some of the problems were when
they do a dance number. So it was just one goddamn thing after another. Oh,
here was another thing that was great. Then came lunchtime.
You've already had 3 meals. 2 meals.
This was before. I got the lunches, which were later in the day. I went into
this big… what do they call it? Commissary. What's different about a
commissary and a big lunchroom.
Cafeteria. I don't know.
I don't know. So I sit down at the counter. I don't want to take a table,
have to pay a tip and all this kind of shit. All I was going to have was a
cup of coffee and a sandwich. As luck would have it, one movie star sitting
on my left and this other guy comes in and he sits down on my right and its
two stars, what was his name? Passed away already a long time, I'll think of
it in a minute. Very famous stars, I know you know these. And they're
talking across me because I'm in the middle. And they're not saying like,
"Hey, would you move over or something?"
They're just regular guys and I'm just another guy that's working there. I
see what's happening and I volunteer, I say, "Hey, you guys want to sit next
to each other, I'll move."
They thanked me profusely and they sat together and I'm sitting on the side
of one of the guys now and I'm saying, "Am I in 7th heaven or what?"
It was just one goddamn thing after another that happened in one studio in
one day that don't happen to people that have money. It was in an era when
that shit could be done.
And all for jumping a fence.
Having the balls to jump the fence. Because I was already assigned because
he couldn't get me in.
That's so funny.
So again, that little bit of fucking balls, don't die, don't say it's the
end, find a way around it. And this nobody ever talked to me about it or had
a similar experience so I got it from somebody else, this is the kind of
shit that you either have a little bit of that balls or you don't.
You made a lot of luck for yourself.
Yeah, I did, in a lot of ways.
MORE DICK BUCKS
Ok, I'll see you about 8:30.
I'll put a suit on?
Yeah, I've got a suit.
The way you stand now, if you collected on the bills you have outstanding…
And paid my bills.
Paid your bills. How close to being above zero would you be?
I'd have to go look and answer the question. Probably a bit. A little bit.
For a week.
What do you mean for a week?
Because the overhead keeps going.
Well, because here's the thought I had. If I could get some assurance from
you when I could get back the 5 you owe me and the 5 I want to advance you
at this point, in 5 or 6 weeks, I'd make you this additional loan.
So I'd have to come up with 10 grand in 6 weeks.
Could you do that? Or how close to 6 weeks could you come up with 10 grand?
I'm going to look at my jobs and I'll tell you tonight. That's a very sweet
thought, I appreciate it very much. Seriously.
I want you out of the fucking hole.
I like your thinking.
And if this will do it, maybe you were in the hole then of a different kind…
There's gotta be a way for you to see daylight. I know that once you get to
that point, you'll be in a better position to hold it.
You know what's frightening? I really appreciate that. That's very kind of
you. But you know what's interesting. Since that time when you loaned me
that money? I've put a couple of hundred thousand dollars in the bank. When
did you loan me that money?
I don't remember.
Early in the year? Back in January. You sent that to me the 10th of January.
You would remember. I don't remember dates.
Ok, so it's been a year. I've put $420,000 in my bank account since you
loaned me that 5 grand and I'm still scraping for money.
Something's gotta be done to get that corrected because it's never gonna end
at that rate. And you say, "Is that all there is to life, going crazy,
trying to keep above zero?"
And to have this much knowledge and this much under your belt and it's not
coming out with a profit.
Well, I've got a hole in the bottom of the boat somewhere and I've got to
find out what that is. And I think I know - it's time and materials versus a
It's gotta be changed.
But you did influence me to make a little more money today because I charged
that guy what I needed to charge on that water heater. Instead of saying,
I just said, "No, screw it…"
The first and only house he ever built. But it's his details in that thing.
You went over and saw it?
I know him for 40 years.
Oh, you know him.
I went to his house.
After the rock flood and thing?
Where does he live?
He's 94 years old. He lives on Goodman, which is in Studio City. It's just
unbelievable that one guy could put that goddamn house together. With a
swimming pool with a sloping goddamn side, doing all the planting. You look
at this guy in disbelief. He was a cameraman. The guy fixes his own car.
Some of these guys you get to know. I'm sure you knew some. You think, man,
I'm nothing. These sons of bitches, they just seem to be capable of
This guy is unbelievable. His daughter decided she wanted to have an old car
to ride in. What does he do? He goes down and gets some bomber door motors,
a set of wheels and the whole thing, builds a cart with big batteries on the
goddamn thing to make an electric cart. 40 years ago.
And how old was his daughter then?
Wow. What kind of shape is he in today?
Not good. He's ok mentally but he had a hip replacement twice so you don't
want to do it again. So he's a little unstable kind of thing on the walking…
and if you sit more than a half hour you want to stand and when you stand up
more than a half hour you want to sit.
But he's a pleasant guy with a list of things that he's done. Unbelievable
What's his first name?
Buzz Boggs. Worked for Paramount for 20 years. Built his own first motion
picture camera as a kid. This fucking guy, you just look at him. The
sweetest kind of a guy - never used a word as much as hell once. You know
some guys are like that - they don't need bad language. You and I, when
things get to us, we got to swear, but not him. And my son is like that. My
son has never uttered a goddamn cuss word. But he sure as hell didn't get it
from me. It's unbelievable how some guys get that overall thing about
themselves - they don't need swearing. It's weird. So we talked about a lot
of things. He has guys coming over from New York that are writing books
about this goddamn, what do you call this thing? The name of this thing,
this Bonanza thing.
They write books about this goddamn shit and they want the real stuff and
he's the only guy left that's directly connected. What do you call, the star
and the owner of that series? They're all dead.
Dan Blocker, Lorne Greene, Michael Landon.
He knew all of those guys intimately. He can tell stories that won't quit -
they want him to be on different shows - special meetings where people who
are interested in the history of that thing, so it's not just the general
public kind of shit.
Does he do it?
He gave up doing it because he's the kind of a guy…
I can hear you.
He's the kind of a guy that doesn't want to be ashamed to go there in a
Christ, what are you doing? Drowning that shit.
Listen, if you can get to 94, anyway you can get there is good. Wow.
He does his own swimming pool cleaning. He's just a character and a half.
How much can he accomplish today?
A little bit. Well, look who wandered in…
In the building on Gower Street, that's where I met him. He lived in the
same building. And his wife - they'd been married at that time for 20 years.
And all of a sudden she noticed she was getting a little big in the stomach
area and couldn't figure out what the hell it was from and she went to the
doctor and all that. Finally on the next examination he discovered she was 6
months pregnant. She didn't know a goddamn thing about it at 6 months.
Can you believe that?
She was probably 45.
Wow, that's kind of late.
They weren't aiming for a child, it just happened. They wanted a child when
they first got married, not at 25 years later. And so she had a normal
pregnancy, good-looking girl and there's a case where you can be 6 months
pregnant and not feel a goddamn thing.
45 years old.
And then the daughter finally got married and she had twins in the first
couple of years. So it's a weird situation. And what did they have up there?
She married a guy up in Redding? You know Redding, up north? And this crazy
bastard, he was into these slot car racing things. So they open a place for
slot cars and it was going great guns for 3 or 4 years and like every sport,
miniature golf, all that shit, when it finally gets going, people start to
spend big money because it looks like it's gonna last forever. Which it
don't. And then you're stuck with all that investment and you can't give it
away. That's what happened to her. And then they got divorced. You know, the
shit just goes on all around us.
They had a store for slot car racing.
Yeah, it was a big fancy one. It was making big money. When it died, it died
like a rock.
You have a sense of that, most people don't.
No, everybody figures there's no bottom, no matter what the sport is.
It's all a fad. All fashion.
And even if it's one that manages to last, how are you going to guess which
one is going to last? You have no goddamn way.
You know from 6 months to 8 years, in tennis I had an 8-year run - from '68
to '76. And then it dropped like a rock. Then racquetball, then jogging. I
just call it a craze. Then every fitness craze lasts about 6 months. Pilates
And all these guys opening up these places, you know with all this equipment
in it, making it look like everybody's into this body thing that's gonna
last forever. What kills it to some degree is they keep making it fancier
which means you got to charge more and eventually you reach the point that
there's no more guys out there that can pay it.
You saturate the market.
And I find there's another thing, like for example, this place we were in,
this lawyer's place, did you see the exercise room he had?
No, I saw it.
How much use is he getting out of it after he spent that kind of money on
He uses it a little bit, not a lot.
So that's what happens with all that. That's why unless you have, which
costs you the most, a personal trainer that knocks on your door, comes there
and says, "Let's get going."
Move your ass.
It don't happen. When it's left to your own devices somehow the next day,
"I'll do it tomorrow."
And pretty soon it's 2 days before you do it. And before you know it you're
not doing it at all. I don't say it with bitterness. This is part of the
psychology of the average person. And I find that unless somebody… even when
you want to go jogging, if there's another guy that's going with you, so
it's a pair going and he knocks on your door, you're not going to say to
him, "I don't feel like going."
But if it's you, you can say it real easy and not go.
I did a 15 mile run one time back when I was running a lot and just about
the last mile and I had been real worried about this run because I had been
on a juice fast for a week - hadn't eaten a thing in a week.
Oh, that's not too good.
Oh, it was great.
It's not too good.
I felt fine. Juice fasting was fabulous. Anyway…
It's a shock to the body.
I didn't know if I was going to have the energy though. So I go pounding
down this thing and we're near the end, and we're cooking along and all of a
sudden I said to the guy next to me, "Do you know what the hardest part of
this run was?"
And the guy said, "What."
And I said, "Laying in bed thinking about it."
And he said, "You bastard."
And it was. The hardest thing about running is getting out the door.
Some Jewish guy was talking to some friends and this guy was working for the
small appliance area for General Electric. And they got a shit pot full of
irons; electric irons that just didn't sell. And they didn't know what to do
with them. They didn't want to get their name marked up that they were
selling junk stuff so he says, "If someone wants to buy the whole lot, they
can get them for a really cheap price."
If they were $9 retail, you can buy them for $2 if you take the whole lot.
Ok, you were telling me about White Front.
White Front - these two Jewish guys were talking to their friend who worked
for GE and this oversupply of irons and all that they could sell and so he
says he knew where the section of Los Angeles black population was which was
down on Central Avenue way back when. And he said, "I bet if I open some
little 2x4 store and put all these irons in it and put a big crazy sign out
we could get rid of those in a week."
And they did and they painted the outside of the store white and they called
it White Front. So they could find it. They sold those irons and they got
the idea that there was a lot of shit like that. Surplus of stuff that
didn't sell well. We could do the same damn thing."
So that's what they did. The next batch of stuff they got was a batch of
bicycles from Italy. They overestimated the market for the particular models
that they built - they just didn't sell. They bought the whole fucking
thing, had the bikes shipped over here. Sold them for a big reduction
compared to what you have to pay for a regular bike here and he just went…
Why do we have heat on?
Because I'm turning the air on.
You turned the air on, what… to freeze your ass off.
It's going to switch off in a second.
Why do we need either one?
Because I'm too frigging hot in here. But this thing is doing weird stuff.
It should be instant on air and it's not. So something is wrong.
It sure is hot.
You know why? The temperature was up.
No, the temperature wheel was up.
Ok, so they bought bicycles and then just one goddamn thing after another
and they said, "We got a gold mine here."
So they looked for a bigger place. So the first place they hit on was this
place down here. And that was some warehouse for somebody before they got
it. They didn't build it.
This? In Van Nuys?
This was their first big location? Oh, I didn't know that.
So, they started filling that thing up. To show you the crazy stuff they
got. One time they got an enormous shipment of bamboo poles, the giant ones,
3 and 4 and 5 inches in diameter by 30 feet long so they had a whole
shitpiles of those bastards which I bought at a dollar apiece, so you can
imagine what they paid for them. You never knew what was going to be there
tomorrow because it was all surplus shit. So if you saw anything that you
were half interested in you better get it because tomorrow it wouldn't be
there. So they got dishes, they got radios; they got anything you could
Eventually they started having a regular line of appliances.
That's because they ran out of that shit, so then they started doing another
angle. What would you charge us if we bought 8 carloads of them? That's how
they got the price down with regular stuff.
So they were like Wal-Mart before.
That's very good.
Everybody has an angle and if you're doing it right you make it. Like with
Kleenex. A little Jewish guy goes to Japan and he sees all these guys
blowing their noses in paper and throwing it away, not putting it back in
their goddamn pocket. And he says, that is the way to go, you see these
people sometimes they blow in their handkerchief and their handkerchief is
so full of shit it's disgusting to look at them. Using it. And with paper,
it's clean, you throw it away and it's over. The Japanese decided long ago
that it was a disgusting thing to do and they came up with their Kleenex. So
it's funny how you can get an idea sometime in a completely different
country and turn it into a goldmine.
They were the cough drop starters.
The cough drop kings.
The two bearded guys.
And they started this thing before the turn of the century. So they didn't
have any money either. They made these goddamn drops and they found that it
took them forever to put them in boxes. So they got an idea to fill up a
goddamn bushel basket, take that and the boxes over to somebody, pay them so
much a box to put the goddamn drops in there and then they sold the boxes.
It was like the cigar makers where they give them a batch of tobacco and the
forms for fitting the cigars into the shape and anybody who wanted to be in
the manufacturing business, they got a bale of that shit and the forms. It
was never done in the factory. It was all done in…
No. Home something, where you did the shit in your house.
I couldn't think of the word. And there was a ton of that shit going on with
all kinds of things. When people found out. In fact, clothing in the
eastside of New York was basically that. And these bastards would be working
a million hours a day and getting pennies for each goddamned garment they
sewed. Fucking miserable world. What's the difference with these Mexicans in
the field, picking shit out of the ground? Not much different. Well, our
whole goddamn problem is there are always enough poor people that you can
take advantage of because it's that or starve to death, so you gotta do
whatever's out there at whatever price it will bring. And you don't give one
shit about can he survive? Is it a fair wage, is it anything that your mind
tells you is bad - you might say yes, but you're saving money. You don't
care. The same with picking oranges, walnuts or anything else.
It's a competitive business and you've got to be able to compete.
Yeah, but what creates it? The same son of a bitches that paid nothing in
the first place. None of them ever said, "Let's give them a fair wage. And
everybody else would have to give them a fair wage."
No, they say, "Let's give them nothing and everybody else will give them
That's the way that works.
They just let the market keep it where it is until eventually they revolt.
They're going to have a French Revolution before that happens. And if you
don't think we are in a shitty thing right where things are going down in a
lot of ways and fucked up with banks and government and all of that. Nobody
knows when it's going to get that bad that we're going to have a revolt here
but it's not on an uphill thing. Things are just squeaky. The things that
are happening are not for the benefit for the public at large.
Anything. Any kind of a job, any kind of work. Everybody is finding ways to
make it less and less that you are going to take home. Make the product less
and less reliable. All this kind of shit. You know, just get the money.
Well, I'll tell you what I think has happened is the government has spent
more than it makes and always is saying, "We're making it easier on the
population at large because we're doing that."
But the fact is that its deficit spending so what are they saying? We're
just going into debt further and further so we don't have to bite the bullet
today. Clinton, for the first time, had a surplus. And what did Bush do? He
He couldn't eat it up fast enough. And who did he give it to? The fucking
guys that were already were in good shape.
That's the problem.
So we have a long way to go before we have a flag-waving hurrah for America
So when are you running for President, Saul?
So they would give all these people a ride. It was an orange grove. It was
so big. He bought an orange grove and this train went in-between the orange
That sounds like Kimball's property.
Kimball. That was the name? That was the guy.
You know when I was in there? Maybe 25 years ago. And I understand this guy
was connected with the cartoons, what's his name, Disney.
You're right, he was.
One brother worked for Disney, one worked for the railroad.
Wasn't that crazy that I got in on that deal? I couldn't get near it now.
And that was all with the antique cars. What they did for fun - they would
have the cars stall on the tracks, like in the motion pictures, and here the
train was coming up and stopped just feet from the car, just almost making a
wreck for a gag. But ain't that a hell of a thing for a guy to have a piece
of property that big?
And inside his home he had a wonderful collection of H&O gage trains -
Lionel and stuff. Oh boy, to die for. The best.
In addition to that, now that you mention those models, my boss, who was a
very nice guy, was crazy about trains and he had different models at home
for the kids - he had 5 sons - I ran across a shop that had a model Shay
engine. Do you know what the Shays were like?
Shay is the one that had the actual pistons on the side of the engine that
went up and down and connected to the wheels by beveled gears. And you say
why in the hell would they do that? Because the Shay engine was designed for
lumber companies that wanted to cut the minimal part of the mountain as they
wanted to go around to do these trees and all that cutting they did on the
side of the mountain once they're through cutting the trees, it's just
wasted. So this Shay engine was made - the two trucks were powered with
these pistons going up and down and they would turn - you didn't need any
lead or trailing gears - just two trucks powered. And that would be able to
turn over extremely tight turns which they were making going around the
mountain so they would cut the least amount of mountain to get to where the
trees were they were going to cut down. That was an action that nobody even
knows existed or that it was necessary. But if you know about the engine
then you can find out. And would you believe it there is one that you can
take a ride on today?
It's the same old shit - unless you run into somebody, no matter how much
you read there's so much shit in California you can't believe it.
That truck is in California?
In working condition that you can get a ride on.
Up North somewhere?
Yeah, just below Santa Cruz. It's in Roaring Camp. Which was originally a
mining camp. They've got a general store with all old stuff that they could
find. Flat irons, butter churns, you name it. So it was stored with as much
as they could get of that stuff - original and copies. And they weren't
trying to cheat you - you bought whatever you could afford, because
obviously if it was original it cost more. And there was the train station
and what was unique about it is the train made a trip every hour and it took
you over a high plateau where there were a still a lot of redwood trees left
and you could bring your food, like if you wanted to have a picnic, get off
the train when it got up on the top level, which was halfway around, walk
around in the forest and whatever, just look at your watch to keep track so
that you could have a train to get back on with no problem. So you could
time yourself. Where in the hell could you see a thing like that? Nowhere?
Never heard of a thing like that anywhere. Nowhere. You never heard of a
thing like that anywhere. It's right here in California under our nose.
But like you said, you can read a ton, you can ask a lot, but unless you run
into the right people you don't know it exists.
And you would just be fascinated to see that goddamn engine, those double
gears and those pistons going up and down, all exposed on the side.
Yeah, I would like to see that.
Hell of an engine. And to know that the two trucks got the power and no
other wheels. It's powered by the wheels on the trucks. And the reason
why it's ok is that it ain't making no time. It ain't racing nowhere so the
fact that these wheels are small didn't mean a damn. In fact it had more
torque than big wheels. So to me that, again, unless the person is in our
category they sort of look at it with a sort of glassy-eyed… they don't
really know what the hell they're looking at.
And don't really care.
And don't care. Inside the place, what they had which was fantastic, when
they first started making fans inside of stores because it was hotter than a
bitch in the summer in a lot of places, one guy said, "Yeah, but a fan's a
good idea but we don't have electric power so what the hell good is it?"
Portable flat iron to iron clothes. Portable. Therefore… This is
Nickel plated with a wooden handle. Very neatly made. I don't think I've
seen one anywhere. You know they might have existed because what would women
do? They had some kind of a little iron. You got a picture of one? Have you
seen one in a museum? Have you seen one in a magazine? Well, I haven't read
every magazine and I haven't been to every museum but I've been to quite a
few and never saw that and I got one.
And it's the kind of thing that I'll eventually put in the LA County Museum
or one of those places where they have similar things to just add to the
collection because it's stupid to have the thing lay there and eventually if
you have a leak.
Talking about a leak, my goddamn living room that I had in Detroit…
Yeah. Only working automotive engineers from various parts of the world -
Germany, France, Italy, all these places, were invited to partake in this
thing. And I said to myself, "Boy, I'd love to go there."
But it was for working engineers. Automotive engineers. Not just any
engineer. And I'm going to LA City College on Vermont and I'm saying, "I'd
love to take that thing."
And I start saying to myself, I'm 19 years old, what kind of a… because this
is one of my main things. If you want to do something it was plausibility
that was the controlling factor. If it was plausible then there's a chance
you can make it happen. If you downgrade yourself and it's not plausible to
you, how are you gonna make it happen? You've already talked yourself out of
it. So I said to myself, "Ok, I'll get one of the gals to type up one of the
headings on the Associated Student Body Engineers, all of these aspects of
going to college have these groups to reinforce your ability and talk about
the things that everybody is interested in, which if you're an engineer
you're interested in engineering. So I have her type up a thing… did I ever
tell you that story?
Yes. Tell me again.
So I have her type up something and the idea was now, after I made this
story up and had it typewritten, was how do I get there? I didn't have
enough money to get there by bus, but don't forget I'm talking going from
Los Angeles to Detroit.
Yeah, '39. And I said myself, I can't worry about coming back - I gotta
worry about getting there. Because if I give myself all of the what-if's,
the whole thing's dead - I don't move. But what if you go there and your
story don't work? I'll worry about it when I get there. Because if I keep
putting the what if you don't leave the house. You're dead before you start.
I get on the bus, I get there and now where do I stay? I'm in the middle of
town and I see the YMCA. I'll see what kind of money they get for staying
over. At that time, $3 a night. I had $20 with me left over from the bus
fare and I get the room and a brand new hotel right across the street was
where this thing was headquartered. The Chairman of the Detroit chapter was
at the desk and all that and I go to see him the next morning, I have a suit
on, I start to give him the shpiel and then I figured I'd reinforce it by
taking the letter out and showing him why I was qualified and maybe he would
accept me. Well, just the fact that you put everything in a plausible way.
Now this letter… is he gonna first pick up the phone, call Los Angeles City
College and find out am I legitimate. This is 1939 - you don't do that kind
of shit. You look at the guy and if he looks like he's true blue, you accept
him on face value. I realized all that. I had to make myself look honest. So
I was an actor at that point. And since half the things we do, even the
stupid thing about you're gonna get married, right, you're on your best
behavior, she's on her best behavior, you have no idea what either one of
you are really like. Because it's all bullshit. So I'm doing this act for me
to get in. This guy is so amazed that a college kid from California, and I'm
the only one in the whole fucking U.S. that's doing that. Nobody else
approached him to do that. The guy says, "I think we can make an exception
in your case."
And he hands me this big fucking badge because if you don't have that you
can't even get on the bus. They have these brand new GM buses that we're
going to General Motors garage for a whole day, we're going to go to the
Chrysler the Chrysler engineering labs for a whole day in Ann Arbor,
Michigan and we're gonna go to the Ford manufacturing plant for a whole day.
Where the hell is Joe Citizen gonna get that? You can't even duplicate that
today? Because the whole thing is changed. You really have to be identified.
So what I did there I said if it didn't work, I'd get on the fucking bus and
go home. So I spend the 3 days. I'm really thrilled. The last place we went
to was the Ford manufacturing plant. By the way, Ford was at the dining
table for lunch. He was still alive.
At the General Motors proving ground Sloan and Kettering were there. Can you
imagine? And at the Chrysler lab, the Chrysler Engineering, in Ann Arbor,
there's an automotive school in Ann Arbor which most people don't know that
specializes in qualifying you as an automotive engineer as a college
graduate, which you can start out at some level at the car manufacturing
plant. So there we were taken into a brand new 5-story building with how
they test engineering parts of a car. Well, those were 3 exceptional days…
Oh, so who was at the Chrysler place? The 5 heads of the divisions - Dodge,
Plymouth, DeSoto, Chrysler, there were 4 or 5 heads. But the point is all of
the wheels of all of the companies were there and Mr. Nobody, I'm having
lunch with these characters. Unbelievable. So anyway, when I'm in the Ford
plant, and you're seeing everything from the bolts that are coming from
Minnesota, carrying raw iron ore, that they cut a slot into his piece of
property that his own bolts can take the ore from the mine that he owns in
Minnesota and bring this stuff into the plant and you're watching them
shovel all this ore out and making steel. Rolling it into sheets and bars
and what have you before they actually start to make body parts - fenders,
axles, what have you. It's a mind-blowing thing. If you wanted to see that
today it would be outstanding to see it. Here I'm seeing it in 1939 so I was
so fascinated by that so since that gag worked so well for the chairman of
the thing, I said to this guy, the guide… it was divided into groups of 15
in each section because you couldn't have an army of guys, you couldn't hear
guys talking, you'd be spread out so far you'd need a megaphone and all
that. But keeping at 15, you could crowd around and everybody could hear
with just a normal voice. So I get this guy on the side after we went
through the thing and I said, "You know, I'm from Los Angeles City College
and we don't have any manufacturing out there and I would like to bring back
a first hand report a little more extensive than what I've seen here in the
one day - is it possible that you could take me through the plant at a
slower pace so I could get a little better feel for how all of this is done
and be able to remember stuff better?"
"Oh," he says, "I'll go see my boss and see what he says."
He goes to see the boss, explains the whole story to him, I forgot what it
was, the spring or the fall… it was probably the spring when they don't have
much traffic. Not as much business as in the summer months. He says, "Yeah,
since we're not too busy he can use you for as many days as he wants."
He has to pay these guys on staff. I say, "That's great."
So I showed up there for 2 weeks. In the meantime I got enamored by all of
that and I said, the Ford museum, which is outside of the plant, has got so
many things to see, how the hell am I gonna see all of this, I'm out of
money. I said, "Well, I've gotta find a job."
Where am I gonna find a job? I don't know anybody in that town and what am I
gonna be doing? All this went through my head on the spot, like hey, it's
now or never, right? So I say to myself, I've worked at gas stations before
and I've always screwed around with cars. To be a gas station jockey is no
big deal. You just gotta find a place where the guy needs somebody now. So I
start down the main drag, just like Ventura Blvd. kind of thing and in those
days there's a gas station on this street, 3 blocks down there's one on that
side, and another one. Now in Detroit they have an interesting thing. They
made a series of circles called One Mile Road, Two Mile Road, Three Mile, so
you could tell how far you were from the center of town. Apparently that was
done in an era when you could do that - today you couldn't do that. So when
I walked from the middle of town which is where the Y was to Seven Mile
Road, that guy needed somebody for an afternoon shift. Not a morning shift.
He had two shifts. Perfect. Ok now I got a job. Where the hell will I stay?
I asked the guy, "Anybody around here want to rent a room?"
He just happened to remember there was a thing on a post over there, I take
a look, and it's 2 blocks from the gas station. I go down to see this woman,
I mean it's just one of those things, you say don't die before you're dead.
Make the moves. I go down, I see this woman and she's divorced from a
policeman, which has nothing to do with the story but it's just interesting.
So what does she do for a living? She's a taxi dancer. A lot of people don't
even know what a taxi dancer is. You don't dance in a taxi where you go for
a ride. They had in those days like a nightclub, but it was mainly a lot of
single guys who wanted to go dancing and talk with a woman. They just
weren't comfortable or they couldn't find somebody to talk to. They were
just like on the outskirts. So you could buy tickets that cost 10 cents
apiece and it was 10 cents a dance. Remember that song, "ten cents a dance."
Who are you dancing with? A taxi girl. She collected the tickets for every
dance that they played. They had a live band cause in those days everybody
worked for nothing. You didn't have a phonograph… the phonographs probably
weren't worth a crap in that era. You had a live band that you could dance
to for ten cents a dance and then if you got acquainted with her and you
liked her there were tables where you could sit down and order a drink and
make an evening of it.
Where did the term taxi come from? Do you have any idea?
The taxi is the fact that you are paying ten cents for a limited amount of
That was very interesting that that was her occupation. So in the meantime,
now I had the job and I got a place to work, this place was approximately 12
miles from where the museum was. Now I need a car to get there. It just so
happens that on this goddamn gas station lot - it's almost like you're
writing a novel - just pure bullshit but it's not. On this lot there's a guy
who survives by buying a used car, putting it on the lot, paying this guy
for the use of his property and to be where cars are going in and out
because it's a gas station and has a volume of traffic. And you have a sign
on the car and the whole thing and when somebody comes in and you give them
a ride in the car, give them the information, whatever it was and he would
sell the car on the gas station lot. Well, I needed a car and he happened to
have a real cheapie, an old Chevy. And I said, "What do you want for the
He says, "If you're going to work here I'll give it to you at my cost. I'll
give it to you for $25."
So I got a car for $25. I got a job and I got a place to stay. And it's an
afternoon shift so I have the whole morning to get there early when they
open up and go into the museum and then at 1pm come back to my job.
What are you making a day? An hour. Whatever.
Twenty dollars a week - fifty cents an hour. Which is enough to get by on
because the rent was $20 for the month. So what am I getting at? I'm getting
to a point… Yeah, so now I'm all set and I'm going down to see the place -
after I'm there about 4 weeks every day and by the way, it was a very
expensive admission - 25 cents. That was the price then. Now the goddamn
thing is over $10 to do the same fucking thing. So at the end of the 4th
week, I started to put down the quarter and the guy said, "Wait a minute - I
never saw anybody that was this crazy about our museum here, so I'll tell
you what I'm gonna do. When you come in tomorrow, you just bid me good
morning and walk right in. No charge."
Because nobody's watching him. It's just an ordinary ticket. And the guy let
me in free for the rest of the 4 months that I stayed there. I was there 4
fucking months everyday. You can't imagine a place that has 500 cars. You're
gonna see that in 5 minutes? And the way that I look at them? On top of that
the inside of the 4 walls was nothing but shops. For example, a drug store,
music shop, a dentist office, a doctor's office, a gunsmith, a wheelwright.
All of the trades are in shops lining the inside of this thing, which is
about a quarter of a block square. Do you know how long it takes to see the
shops if you're really looking at them and you're talking to… and by the
way, every one of these shops have people working in them, fixing things.
You can't believe it. Not the dentist office, the doctor's office, the
pharmacy. But the wheelwright, the gunsmith, the guy that repairs musical
instruments, they got people in there so you can see them work. You're not
looking at a static display. Can you believe that?
Was this to service the poor plant employees or what?
No this was for the public at large to see his museum. Which basically
started out with the cars, then there was so much space in there that the
guys he had working for him, they kept coming up with more ideas how to make
this thing more and more interesting. For example, they found Edison's train
that when he used to be a huckster on a train selling newspapers and candy
and that stuff, they found the actual train that he worked on in Port Huron
- they laid a track in the actual museum and that train was pulled right
into the museum, right off the line. When they made the picture Edison The
Boy, they backed this train out, put it on the track, used that actual train
and then put it back into the museum. This place is so fantastic, like I
said I could talk about it for an hour.
What was the purpose of having all those shops? Were they actually doing
business or were they just demos?
Just to show you how, for example, a gunsmith, you can see him making a
rifle - making the bores, making the stock, fitting it together, all that,
just like they were making things to sell but they're not selling anything.
They're just showing you the person, the craftsman doing his job. Like for
example, the wheelwright. What do you mean, they just find broken wheels for
him to fix? No, in addition to everything I said, they had Ringfield
Village, which was adjacent to the museum. Now when I relate these things I
have to even joke to myself, I can take a piece of paper, lay that thing out
just like it was and I haven't been there in…
It's so ingrained in my head because I was there so long and it was so
fascinating - there wasn't a single thing I ever saw that was as fascinating
as that set up - because after all nobody could duplicate that for the money
it would cost to say nothing of where are you gonna get 500 cars? All of his
models, from the Model A up to the T and back to the A again would occupy a
fraction of this museum. He didn't make 500 cars. So you have every other
car imaginable on the floor. Anyway, he's got airplanes hung from the
ceiling, different models - biplanes, triplanes, the very earliest kind, and
all originals. He had a crew of people out looking for this stuff. In
addition to that, one of the guys got wind of something that was over in
England that is the oldest thing that he had on the premises, and England
had a fit after they found out but he bought it legitimately through his
group and no way were they gonna get it back. What did he buy? He bought an
engine for removing water from a coal mine that they dug so deep that water
was leaking in from the sea. That meant you can't work the mine and the
thing still had coal to burn. Now the guy that owned that mine, he's gonna
do everything in the world to keep that mine going because it's money in the
bank that's drowning. So you have to pump the water out. How are you gonna
pump it out? What date am I talking? 1700. They're worrying about getting
the water out. There's no mechanical equipment that can do that. He finally
finds out through the grapevine there's a guy called Newcommon who makes
steam engines to do work in a stationary place, to run off a pulley, run a
drill press, whatever. And they explain to him, you pump water out of a mine
that has to work continuously and all that and it should be able to pump
pretty good quantities of water or the thing is never gonna do the job -
anyway, this guy starts out to make this machine, this steam engine, by
making a pyramid out of stone 20 foot square, 20 foot wide.
This is the original.
He's got everything there original. From England. Brought it over here on a
boat. They didn't know anything about it until it was already assembled and
put together over here - then they found out about it by accident because
those assholes didn't even know what was a national treasure. Today it's a
national treasure but then it wasn't just a word. Ok so they start out after
they put the pyramid of 20-foot square stone. They get oak beams, about 2
foot by 2 foot square. That's about 40 feet long, one of the most enormous
oak trees of God knows how many years old to get this one beam. Why did it
have to be one beam? Do you want them to slice pieces of wood in 1700? Are
you for real? It's gotta be one piece. So they got this one piece and it's a
teeter-totter. 20 feet on one side and 20 feet on the other. What the hell
was that gonna do? On the one side you've got this suction pump that will
pick up the water from the mine and take it out of the hole and spew it out
over the atmospheric engine. An atmospheric engine? What the hell is that.
Very few people have heard of that to this day. If you don't read about old
steam power, you don't know that they made an atmospheric engine. And here's
what that was. It precedes the steam engine - using steam, but the steam is
not used to drive the piston, the steam is used to create a vacuum in the
cylinder. I don't know if you can picture this. But if you have a vacuum and
the cylinder is 3 feet in diameter and you put a vacuum on it and the
cylinder is way up here it'll suck that cylinder down so the piston is
sealing the cylinder, right? So that makes it a vacuum engine. How do you
create a vacuum? They didn't have vacuum equipment. That's what is so
fascinating about this. I pieced everything together with the state of the
art that existed and the amount of science that was known. So now on the
other side to create the vacuum you have to build a steam boiler of some
sort to create steam. And we're not talking steam pressure because it's only
gonna get 3 or 4 pounds of pressure out of this steam, which is all he needs
to get the steam over to the cylinder. So now the thing is you gotta make
the boiler. Talking 1700 now. They don't know how to make a boiler in a
long, convenient kind of shape. They gotta make it in the form of a ball.
Because that they can take the end of a drilled section, put one overlapping
the other, rivet it together and eventually create this ball. One section at
a time until it's enclosed. So this ball is about 4 feet diameter, they
build a brick base that's about this far off the ground so this thing will
sit in it with enough room underneath so they can build a coal fire. There's
no shortage of coal. They dig it up by the ton. So now he's got a place to
make the fire to turn this water into steam. How do you get it from the
boiler over to the engine part? When there's no such a thing as pipes?
There's no place you can buy - give me a 3 inch one or a 6 inch one or what
have you? It doesn't exist. They take a round bar of what the hell material
was it? It eludes me at the moment. And they wrap a piece of copper, they
keep pounding it until they can get the 2 ends to overlap and then they take
blow torches with the heavy irons and they solder the seams of this pipe,
from the engine. You want to eat in there? Let's go over there.
Ok. So they solder these pipes.
Solder the pipes and they connect it to the steam engine which is actually a
low pressure thing just enough to get the steam…
Used these copper pipes.
3 inches in diameter. And I'm going from physically seeing this engine, not
reading it in a book or a photograph, so I can visualize the approximate
proportions of this damn monstrous engine. So now comes the thing what size
cylinder to make in order to get enough suction in order to do some good in
all that stuff and they decided that the cylinder had to be about 3 feet in
diameter and 10 feet long. Can you picture that? 3 feet in diameter, 10 feet
long, that's the cylinder. Now the next thing that's fascinating about the
cylinder is how in the hell do they perceive that? You have to fit a piston
in there. Oh, that's good. You're gonna fit a piston in there, what kind of
surface are you gonna have and how are you gonna create… you say what's the
cylinder made out of it? Cast iron. That's the only metal that they could
pour in that kind of a size. Just picture that. 1700. How are you gonna make
a cylinder. With what. They knew how to make cast iron things since the 16th
century of all different sizes. So they got a foundry that could make a mold
so they could cast this thing. So obvious it's not going to be very smooth
on the inside. In fact it might be pretty undulating. So now the thing is
you got the cylinder, how are you gonna make it round enough so you can seal
it. There's no lathe made that you could even mount this thing in. 10 feet
by 3 feet. 17th century. Not inches, feet. Don't you think they'd figure out
a way to bore that cylinder?
Here's what they did. They had lathes in those days, so all they needed is
some way to mount something in the head of the lathe and the tail stock at
the other end, put a bar that ran across there, put a crossbar in there with
a single cutting knife. This thing went around like this, cut through it
like a phonograph record would be.
Cut it through the steel?
Cutting the cast iron with a tool. A single tool. Not one that fits the
cylinder. A single pass like that. Can you imagine how many days it must
have taken to go through this goddamn thing?
3 feet in diameter in cast iron. Oh shit.
Ten feet long. And with this single blade they could walk it across and they
could have this thing squeal and chatter and squeal and do all this stuff
and you can imagine the beginning, they were just taking out spots. The high
spots have to come out first before you can get through the diameter that
would be uniform all the way through. I just can't even visualize what kind
of time that took. Because that information don't exist. Nobody knows how
long that stuff took. After they got the cylinder to the point where it was
apparently satisfactory, the cylinder was mounted vertically. Why was it
vertical because the piston that was in there was connected to the
teeter-totter, so you had to have the cylinder vertical, so that the piston
could be connected and create the vacuum directly to this beam. On the
opposite side was the pump that was pulling out the water and when it got to
the top it would tilt over and spill the water over the outside of the
So this steam generator…
A cylinder with steam of about 3 or 4 pounds, just enough to fill in a lot
And it pushes this enormous piston, 3 feet in diameter. Sucks it because
it's a vacuum. The atmosphere is pushing it down that's why it's called an
atmospheric engine and not a steam engine. It's not depending on the
pressure of the steam. That's only to get the steam into the cylinder.
And what's this…
It's being sucked down that's chewing the cylinder that's making the water
condense and making that a vacuum. I mean, it's almost hard to get that
concept I can see how that thing is really working. Can you picture a
tourist walking over there looking at that? If he's not into steam engines
to start with he don't know what the hell he's even looking at. You just
have no idea what this is all about.
And this is in the Ford museum. In one little corner. Occupies one-zillionth
of the space that's in that museum. It's a quarter of a block square. This
machine only takes 20 square feet. Now, on top of that, which I didn't get
to, what did you do to the piston to seal it on that cylinder? You didn't go
down to Jan's Ring House and buy a set of rings - they didn't exist. So you
gotta say, what can we come up with that we know? The guys finally said, "We
got it - we put an angular groove in the piston, say the piston is 4 inches
high - it doesn't have to be 4 inches thick but it's got to have a flange of
4 inches -put a half round cut in it, get some hazar rope that's made out of
sisal for anchoring ships in the harbor rope, the biggest size that they
have for the biggest ships, take a section of that, trail out in the groove
cylinder, knit it together because they know how to knit that stuff
together, set a big kettle boiling with tallow, soak this thing in the
tallow so it now becomes slippery and movable and will now act as a seal
against the cylinder because it's got some give in it."
And by trial and error they figure out what it's going to take to get
squeeze without jamming or so loose that it's not sealing. So God knows how
many tries they had to go through before that goddamn thing worked. Just to
get the seal. Can you imagine a job for a guy in the 17th century? To take
on? And this guy made steam engines that used the pressure of steam to make
it go but he had to use this because there was no way in hell he could build
an engine of that size. Most of the steam engines they built were little
Mickey Mouse things that generated a fourth of a horsepower. For various
little things like running drill presses and things for jewelers, these kind
of trades. They didn't make much power. So the point I'm getting to is the
thing is working and it's draining the mine but you needed an individual to
open and close the valves because what do they know about making it
automatic. That word didn't exist. So this guy opens the valves to let the
steam in the cylinder and he shuts the thing off and the thing gets sucked
down - then he has to open the valve to let the teeter-totter tilt the other
direction and get the piston back up on top, then he opens the valve to let
the steam in and then when he's got the steam in he shuts the valve, then
when the thing starts to move and water is poured over the cylinder it
chills it and it creates a vacuum and now it sucks the other way so it goes
down about this speed.
And then regenerates every couple of seconds.
Yeah. And this guy is working it with 2 handles shaped like a shovel, you
put your whole hand in there and go like that. You can imagine what a
fucking monotonous job that must have been. So part of the story which they
have a whole written thing on was the fact that he had some friends that
came over and they wanted to have him join him to go to lunch and he says,
"How can I go to lunch? I got to watch the machine. The machine is not going
to run by itself."
So they leave and they didn't realize that at the time and he starts
thinking about that and he says, "Maybe there could be some goddamn way…"
He starts to visualize theses things doing these motions and he figures out
by taking some rods and some rope and shit he tied the thing into the beam
in such a way that he could get this thing to cycle by itself. What happens,
his boss shows up a week later, after he's got this thing going pretty good
and his friends come over to visit him again. Now he can leave the machine
unattended because it can run without him. So while they're out eating lunch
his boss comes over, sees the machine is running by itself, has a fit, can't
wait for him to get back, balls him out and fires him for not attending the
machine and then realizes he don't need this guy. That's how fucked we are,
17th century, caring about people. Oh, so then the topper for this whole
story, besides the engine and all that stuff, I'm in there one day and
there's a 80 or 90 year old white haired woman who's talking to a 14 year
old girl and she's explaining to this 14 year old girl how this engine
works. And I'm saying how the hell is that possible that this old lady knows
how this engine works. First of all it's a woman, secondly she's 80 years
old or better. How the hell did she know about this engine? So I have to
sidle up to her and ask her how is it possible she knows about this engine.
Come to find out… by the way this engine was called a Newcommon Engine after
the guy that made it. Her name was Newcommon and she was a 5th generation of
this guy that made the machine and here she is talking to this girl and they
had come from England on a trip and she wanted to make sure she saw that
engine and I happened to be there while that was happening. Talk about a
mindblower. For one piece of equipment sitting in this goddamn museum. So
when you say did you have an unusual time when you were in Detroit? I can't
think of anybody having a better one. If you're interested in mechanical
That wasn't the end of your trip either.
Oh, hell no. The windup was I was supposed to go to Detroit for 3 days, take
in this event and then take the bus back home. Instead I get this job to see
the museum, my brother comes to visit me from LA in a Graham Page 1925 that
he paid $15 for. And since I'm working in this gas station and I know about
what cars you can buy, in those days you could buy a Cadillac for next to
nothing because who the hell could afford to run the car once it was a used
car? So I find him a Cadillac 4-door sedan with 2 side mounts, baby blue,
beautiful condition - $400 for this fucking car. You can't believe it. So we
spend some time, I change the spark plugs and the belts and do some work on
it so it's in very good shape and oh, so before that happens, I'm getting
ahead of myself, before we buy the car, my brother says to me, "Why don't we
go to New York and see the relatives?"
We left for California in 1923 and nobody was back since then and this was
I take it back. I said that's not a bad idea. So the windup was something
came up where he couldn't make it go back there. So I bought him the
Cadillac and he took the Cadillac back to California. And I decided after I
was through looking at everything that maybe it would be a good idea to go
visit the relatives. So what have I got to go back there with? In the
meantime this Chevrolet finally crapped out. I didn't have a car and I had
changed places where I worked. I found another place where I got a much
better salary so I took that job. So while I was at that place, there was a
guy… talk about different ways of making a living. Here's this guy selling
one car at a time on a gas station lot, this guy had about $10,000 that he
would loan out in small amounts to people that had to buy a car and didn't
have the money. Like $100, $200, and he would finance the money at some
ridiculous rate and make money and interest off the loan. So he had one
Pontiac, a straight 8, 1933 model that the clutch had crapped out. This guy
that was making payments on it said he had no money to fix it, you gotta
take it back. So he took the car back and it was parked in front of his
house. And he calls me up since he was buying gas at the station where I was
working and said, "I got this car, the clutch isn't working right. Can you
take a look at it? Maybe you can fix it for me and I'll resell it."
So I take a look at the car and I saw what was wrong. The linkage from the
clutch pedal had separated and I actually needed a car so I'm not going to
tell him what was really wrong with it. I said, "You need a clutch and it's
gonna cost you $40 to put the clutch in."
"Oh," he says, "goddamn it."
He probably could only get $50 for the car when you fix it. So he says to
me, "You want the car?"
I say, "Well, if the price is not too bad because I gotta put a clutch in
He says, "Is $5 cheap enough?"
He just wanted the car out of his hair.
I said, "Ok, I'll take it."
Saul, you killed him.
Can you imagine that all this shit happened to one guy and I got to worry
about what to do next or how I'm going to make a living or how I'm gonna get
by. Things will happen. Because first of all, I'm alone, I'm healthy. If I
got a place to sleep and if I make as little as $10 a week I can survive. I
was always with that impression. Something will happen. I ain't gonna worry
about it. I don't go into the "what if" in the negative thing. I'll find
something. So I get this car and I know what's wrong with it so I put it up
on a hoist and connect the linkage back up and the goddamn thing is working
fine. I grease it, change the oil, and do all the stuff because I'm
preparing for that car to eventually go to New York in. To do that I have to
have a car. Here's a very interesting story when you talk about psychology
that I had with this car. Not the $5. That was the easy part. There was a
guy who had the same car. And we got to talk after awhile and this was in
the winter and he says, "You know, I got that same car and I can't drive it
in the winter. That car will just not run in the winter so I made a deal
with a friend of mine that works in the same place and I would be the
passenger in his car during the winter and in the summer I would drive him
in my car."
The car ran beautifully in the summer. But with the dampness and the snow on
the ground, that fucking car would not start. You could crank it until you
wore out the battery and the car would not go.
And he had already been through the garages and he had the spark plugs
changed and he's had the goddamn battery changed and he's had the generator
changed… They rebuilt the carburetor and whatever they did would not make
that son of a bitch start in the winter weather. And I'd already had the
experience since I had that car and since I had a lecture one time when I
was going to high school by a guy that was from the Packard Cable Company
describing all the problems you had with bad wiring. How you could have
everything in the car new. You could have the engine new but you put these
old wires on and this fucking car will not run. It will not start. What's
happening? In those days they didn't have this fancy wire we're got today -
it was rubber with a cloth woven on the outside of the rubber and a coating
of some kind of varnish or clear coating on the outside. And while the wire
was new, up to a year, two at the most, it was insulating and it was ok. But
when it got older it would absorb moisture and now the spark from the coil
would go to the distributor, perfectly normal, switch to which wire it was
supposed to go to, but then the spark would just dissipate into the metal,
because in those days they didn't have fancy isolated things - the wires
would just drape, or they were in a kind of a shoe and they ran for a
distance of about a foot before the wires branched off, which was the
perfect thing for shorting the high voltage current. Because we're talking
40,000 volts. And if you don't have good insulation, 40,000 volts will go to
anyplace there's a ground. So it never gets to the spark plug. So knowing
all that shit, when I got this car, I noticed occasionally it wouldn't start
and I remembered that story. When I looked at the car and I noticed the
wires were like new. And I said, "Gee, the wires are like new, then what
about this bit about the shorting of the what do you call it?"
Then I discovered they had on that model, which they thought was pretty
tricky, the ignition coil was mounted behind the dashboard and the key went
into the goddamn coil and isolated the juice to the coil and that was fairly
foolproof as far as anybody jumpering the coil. Because the coil was up
under the dash and they had the key on one end of the coil. The coil was
literally with the key in the coil. You follow me?
So that wire from that dashboard going down to the distributor which was on
the cylinder #2 of the engine and this was a straight 8, the fucking wire
was that long. Now when you bought a set of wires it never included that
goddamn wire. So that wire was the old wire. And when it got old and the
goddamn moisture was there it would short because it was going through the
dashboard and it's going along the block, it's going all over before it even
gets to the distributor. So all I had to do is to take that wire off, buy a
length of wire, you could buy it then from the roll, duplicate how long it
had to be, put that thing on and the car started every time. So you say
what's that got to do with that jerk that's complaining the car won't run in
the winter? Well, you have this problem. So I took a look at his car and it
was the same thing. He had all new wires on it except the wire going to the
coil. So what do I do? He says to me, "You'll never make the car go. Don't
even entertain the idea I should bring the car - it's a job to get it back
into the garage and all that stuff."
So I say to him, "Look, here's the way that I'm gonna guarantee you that
I'll fix the problem. After I do what I have to do to the car to make it
run, you take it back to your house and for a whole week, the morning before
you go to work, you go out there and see if the car starts."
The car starts every morning. About 10 days later he comes into the gas
station and he says to me, "You've gotta tell me, what the hell did you do
to that car? I had it to the Pontiac agency and they replace this and they
replaced all this shit and it didn't help. But now it's working and I don't
see anything you did."
By the way, I charged him $50 for fixing it which was a ton of money then,
but since he was in this pickle I figured why not, I could always come down,
like you get stuck with your jobs. So he says, "You gotta tell me."
He's willing to pay me.
"What did you do that these goddamn guys in the agency couldn't do it?"
So I very nicely tell him what I did, taking out that wire and where it goes
and what causes the trouble.
The guy turns red in the face, gets a look on him like he's ready to kill
and he says to me, "Do you mean to tell me that you've got the nerve to
charge me $50 to replace that wire."
I said, "No, that isn't what I did. I charged you $50 to know what wire to
The fucking guy couldn't answer that. He blanched and he paid me the money.
Now if that wasn't a neat experience for a kid.
And then another thing happened because of this business with high voltage
linkage I discovered that quite a few cars had this trouble of being hard to
start even when they had good wires on it and everything looked apparently
ok. There was a time on some model cars when the oil filler tube was located
in front of the distributor. On the side of the block. Here's the thing and
here's the distributor. And the cap was made so that it could breath. If it
was… so what would happen? These fumes would come out - the car is moving
forward. The distributor is behind this filler thing. The fumes would
deposit themselves over the cap and that would take quite a bit of time,
maybe a couple of years even. Now it's got a film of wax and motor oil that
came out of the breather. So you say, but hey, oil is insulating, why should
that be a problem? True. The next element is the thing that is the magic.
Add water. Dust particles from the road would deposit themselves on the oil
and for 20-volt leakage those particles on that film was enough to make a
conductive path. And since the coil wire was in the middle, it didn't matter
which one it didn't get, as long as it was weakened from the coil itself,
none of them got a good spark. So what do I do? I get a complaint that car
don't start, what would I bring to the guy's car? A can of gas and a brush.
No fucking tools.
"Are you crazy? You don't even know…"
Don't worry about it. I go out to the car, take this can out, slosh the
living shit out of the top of that distributor cap so it's nice and clean,
wait for it to dry, get in there, hit the starter and the fuckin' thing
takes off. I got a service call which I used to pocket the fucking money,
because I'd go out there and there was nothing wrong with the car, it
started right up, I don't know what the hell the guy called me out there
for. So there again was the goddamn crazy thing about do you know anything
about electricity and just piecing those few things together that I learned
in high school was enough to put me over the top. That was a weird goddamn
thing, to have that knowledge. And then when I was in the Chrysler lab, the
engineer… all the Chrysler cars were that way. And I explained to them that
was the cause of a lot of cars that don't start in the winter and they were
"You know the kid's right."
To whom did you tell this?
Engineers that were in the Chrysler engineering labs when I was talking to
some of the guys that worked there. That was a kick in the ass. Here's a
couple of other tricks I did. You know you try to make money any way you can
cause your salary ain't worth a shit, no matter where you worked, Los
Angeles, Detroit, New York or what have you, you're a slave laborer. So if
you're gonna steal, you gotta steal so it's not visible. So a guy comes in
and you have to put air in the tires and check all of this shit for free. A
guy came in and had one tire that would be down and I'd say, "You got a nail
in that tire."
The first thing he'd say is "Where?"
I'd say, "I don't know until I take the tire off and look at it?"
The guy would look at me like - this guy's pulling some kind of scam.
I'd say, "I'll tell you what, if I take it apart and I don't find a hole in
the tire, there's no charge."
I take the tire off. I know already if that fucking tire is half gone than
the others are, it didn't leak twice as much in that tire - something made
the air go out. So I would take it apart and invariably I'd find a fucking
nail that was stuck in the tube - I would repair the thing, put it in,
charge the guy $1.50 - I could pocket that because it doesn't show anywhere.
So that was another way of making a buck.
See why the boss makes no money?
Ok. Here's another one you'll get a bigger kick out of. A guy drives in at
night. His lights are out. Can't go without lights. He's really panicked. He
says, "I must have a short somewhere in the lights. I hope you can fix it?"
How do you fix lights. People don't know anything about electricity. So the
fuse blew for whatever reason - cars were a lot more skittish on what would
blow a fuse and they didn't have slow blow - the minute you had an overload
or a short it's gone. That's why they came out - did you ever hear about the
fuses called Slow Blow? So they developed that because of that reason. So
the guy comes in and I go under the dash and I… I gotta get this straight…
What was the deal? Yeah, I remember. I pull out the fuse and the fuse would
be blown. I take the fuse out and I say, "You got a short somewhere - I
don't know where. I gotta look around and see if I can find it somewhere."
In the meantime I would put in a new fuse on one leg, with the other one
still sticking out, so it wouldn't connect it while it was in there. Because
I didn't want him to see that that's what I did - so I lifted up the hood
and look around, try to make some feigned… "Well here is one wire that looks
a little bare and I put some fucking tape on it."
Then I go into the car and we get that part of it straight, put the tape
around it and I'm trying to get that phase I had before I pushed that part
in. I put the tape around it and we try it again and it doesn't seem to put
the light on. Then I go to another area and without telling him anything I
just take the tape and wrap it around a little wire and say, "Let me try it
I go underneath and push the fuse back in place, we'd try it and the lights
would go on. Well, he was so fucking tickled silly that he was now ready to
go that it was no problem for him to pay me $1.50 for the service and the
fuse. And I don't know how long that fuse lasted. It would have to be
something that wouldn't blow right away or it would blow right in front of
me, so I'd never hear from the guy - so I'd make a buck and a half for a ten
The art of the con.
There was one more I could pull. You had to do the ones you could do quick
and easy because if it went on too long it's no good. A guy came in and his
generator wasn't working. That's when they were generators. In most cases
the brushes were worn down. So on that one I had to work a double scheme. I
said, "Look, if the brushes themselves are bad, which it is in most of the
cases, it's $3 to do the job, but if the brush holder shorted out, it'll
cost you another $4 for the brush holder. The brush holders don't usually go
bad but I don't want to be stuck that you don't want me to fix it if the
brush holder's bad."
So the guy says ok, and invariably the guy would come back and I'd say,
"Yeah, the brush holder was bad."
In those days they never said to you once, "Show me the old one."
I had one that they couldn't tell which fucking car it came out of. Who was
a car expert in 1939? I mean, you had all you could do to drive the goddamn
thing. So I nicked them for the brush holder which gave me more money. Oh
what a life to be a car mechanic. Oh, I had one more that was a kick in the
ass. And this was in a gas station on the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and La
Cienega. A Richfield station right on the corner, opposite the oval
building. Remember the oval building that's on that corner. And I'm talking
when? This is when I first came back from New York, didn't have a job and I
got a job in a gas station just to hold me over until something showed up,
reading the newspaper and whatever. In those days they sold bulk oil.
Remember? Had a crank, crank it out, give them the oil. Well, we had 10 cent
oil, we had reclaimed, then we had the bulk oil that was 35 or 40 cents that
was the good oil. Well, invariably, these guys wouldn't come out of the car
and see what kind you were putting in and I would have the ten cent one
already filled up on standby. You didn't have 20 grades. You had 30 weight
and that was it. They weren't all this weight conscious that you have today.
I would throw in the 10 cent oil and get paid for the good oil. Every shit
ass thing to make a buck - that's when they were paying you the big $20 a
Ford service does the same thing today. You go to Ford and they screw you
just the same way.
Big time. Charge $65 for the screw.
That's why Randy wouldn't work there. He went to work for the Chevrolet
dealer and after 3 days he quit.
They forced him to do all this…
Oh yeah, they said, "Just take the core out and show them…"