A few weeks ago, I went to a Donald Trump rally at a local casino — mostly in the spirit of rubbernecking at the Great American Train Wreck that is the 2016 election, but also out of genuine curiosity as to just exactly what type of person would vote for Donald Trump. His televised rhetoric sometimes comes across as mean-spirited and thuggish; surely there wouldn’t be many conservatives with enough spare time on their hands to support this kind of shtick in the middle of a weekday afternoon. The Republican party is the party of business, right??
The casino was packed with Trump fans, so much so that the ballroom where the candidate was speaking quickly filled to capacity, and the rest of us shiftless schmucks had to watch the speech via close-captioned TV in the sports book. My impression of the crowd was: angry, frustrated, old, white…and, apparently, unemployed.
Before long, they were also heavily drunk; I myself ended up downing a few Bloody Marys at the bar with one of my Donald Trump supporter friends, an ultraconservative cowboy named Reagan (I have a diverse circle of friends)….and kicked back to witness the mêlée firsthand.
It was a real eye-opener. I actually understand most of the Trump supporters’ frustrations — and to be fair, I’ve seen and read some of Trump’s positions that are actually not all that kooky. But the kooky stuff is what had these fuckers all fired up — and it was actually kind of hilarious!
Take the guy who was working the crowd, trying to sell Trump hats, scarves, shirts and buttons — he came over and tried to sell us a “Make America Great Again” hat for $25, which you would assume was a fundraising effort for the campaign. Wrong — this guy was hawking the shit for personal gain; he was unemployed, and had traveled all the way from his home in Sacramento to try and make a buck selling tchotchkes at this rally. I guess he was doing OK, because he had two beers in one hand!
But when I told him I had seen the same exact hat at the Indoor Swap Meet for $3.99, he grew incensed — “SWAP MEET?!!!” — blaming the “damn Mexicans” for undercutting his prices. “No, no!” I reassured him — “This was the custom embroidery shop when you first walk in the door — it’s been run by a white family for years!”
When he heard that, he calmed down long enough to get the address from me, so he could go over and stock up for cheap before following the traveling circus to its next location…and to thank me for my All-Amurrican intel, he gave me a Trump ’16 button — a $5 value!! I ended up wearing it to Trader Joe’s later that afternoon, just to see what all the granola-munching liberals would do (alas, they are such tolerant pacifists that no one reacted).
Anyway, the whole Trump scene was a gas, and like I said, I totally understand why white people of a certain age and socioeconomic status are pissed off/wallowing in victimhood. But what I don’t agree with is the whole “Make America Great Again” shtick. If you ask me, America still IS pretty great fuckin’ great — and if you take your head out of your ass, turn off the naysayers on TV, and take a look around….you’ll see what I mean! This is the greatest country on Earth — and I should know; I’ve been running around it naked for years. Where else can you do that?!
Ironically enough, one of the best new backcountry spots I’ve discovered to run around naked is the very same BLM land where Cliven Bundy’s cattle used to graze. You probably remember the whole Bundy Ranch fracas from a year or two ago, when the prickly rancher refused to pay his grazing fees, and all those nutty militiamen showed up for a standoff with the Feds — well, I’m here to tell you that there is some beautiful country not far from where his cattle used to mow down tortoises! I don’t care much for Bundy and his crew of Y’all Qaeda freedom fighters…but I do understand why he loves the land up there. It’s beautiful!!
A photographer friend introduced me to the area, and it’s now one of my favorite places to shoot — not only is there astonishing natural beauty (all the photos from my last blog were taken there) including the Whitney Pockets and an abundance of fantastic red sandstone formations…there’s also an abandoned ghost town of old stone cabins nearby that are absolutely fantastic to shoot in! I guess the cabins used to house some kind of hippie artists’ colony or something, because they’re still full of weird old rusty junk and artsy bric-a-brac, including but certainly not limited to this fantastic Jimmy Carter découpage. Finding this location was a real bonanza, as all of it is well within a reasonable driving distance from the Vegas Strip; if you want to hire me for a shoot, I’ll be happy to take you there!
And as a bonus, you’ll also get to pass right by the now-historically-significant Bundy Ranch, and the protest area where all the militiamen and kooks amassed to wave their flags and guns and dicks around in front of the media. It was fascinating to see, from an anthropological standpoint; there were banners and sun-baked American flags left strewn about on the ground, with a faded quote from Thomas Jefferson hanging on the fence presiding over all that remains from the standoff.
I took one of the American flags as as souvenir; it seemed like a cool artifact for a true patriot like me to keep in the cab of my pickup truck…a little reminder, as I make my naked rounds, that all the freedoms I enjoy aren’t free 🙂
To that end, I even brought it with me to the Democratic Caucus the following weekend; because of my extreme social liberalism, I had registered as a Democrat, which meant that after my experience at the Trump rally, I now got to see the other side of the electoral shitshow — which in its way was even FUNNIER than the Trump rally!
I went into the caucus still undecided; I appreciate Bernie Sanders’s honesty and independence, but I felt/feel that he is unelectable in America today…and besides, I have no real beef with Hillary Clinton; she hasn’t done anything worse than any other politician, as far as I can tell.
But I live in downtown Vegas, in one of those neighborhoods being gentrified by earnest hipsters. And since the caucuses were organized into geographic precincts, all my fellow caucussers were earnest hipster Bernie fans; I sat there for an hour waiting for the thing to start, the whole time being bombarded by bearded Bernie supporters who basically browbeat/peer pressured me into caucussing for Sanders. (I’m being semi-facetious…I ended up going for Sanders because of his unflagging honesty, on principle.)
But it was really interesting to see how the caucus broke down by age: the Hillary side of the room was much older, and the Bernie side was all beards and ironic mustaches. There were three undecideds at the end, so an earnest hipster from our side got up and extolled the virtues of Bernie, and then a passionate matron got up and harangued them on behalf of Hillary. The younger undecided came over to our side, but the other two — a black and a white guy, both in their 60s — went almost sheepishly over to the Clinton side, as if they were used to being henpecked into obedience. Too funny!!
Anyway, shocker: our precinct ended up going for Sanders, because of all the hipsters downtown. But out in the suburbs, where it’s all retired people, Clinton won handily…and of course, ended up taking the state. I didn’t stick around to wait for the results, though, because I had more freedoms I was in a hurry to exercise — namely, running around naked, smoking weed, eating mushrooms and dancing all night! OK, so those are actually NOT freedoms we in America are officially permitted to enjoy….but in MY America, they’re all A-OK and actually somewhat de rigueur. (And that’s why you should vote Wonderhussy for President — just kidding!)
The party in question was my annual pilgrimage to the Wonder Valley Rave Shack, out in the desert near Twentynine Palms — some German artist friends have a sort of getaway compound out in a very remote part of California sort of near Joshua Tree National Park called the Cat Ranch, where they spend several weeks every year escaping the miserable Berlin winter — just hanging out naked, lifting weights, listening to music and enjoying the in-house sauna. It’s all very rustic — no running water, no electricity, not much going on — but it’s always a good time out there. They make their own fun!
I’ve been going to the Cat Ranch every year since 2013, and it’s become a sort of rite of spring for me — one of the first chances I get to be naked outdoors in the sunshine after the long, miserable winter. Talk about freedom — the Ranch is so remote and in such a desolate, dogforsaken part of the desert that you’re pretty much free to run around naked all day, every day, without fear of interference from Johnny Law or the Moral Majority. It’s fantastic!!
The last couple of years, my friends Christian and Käpt’n Rummelsnuff were in residency at the Ranch — you may remember them from past blogs. This year, unfortunately, it wasn’t in their budget, so the lone German refugee this year was Jan, the actual owner of the property. I hadn’t seen him since my first visit to the Ranch back in 2013, but he’s the reason the Rave Shack is called the Rave Shack in the first place: he likes to hang out naked drinking Tecate and eating pudding cups, listening to techno and house music, and inviting people over for “raves…” which are actually usually just intimate get-togethers with a few friends and neighbors over food, booze and smoke, with techno or house music playing softly yet insistently in the background. Sort of a cocktail lounge rave, I guess you could call it.
Now, for the last couple years my sister has accompanied me to the Cat Ranch…but this year, she happened to be in the middle of a 10-day silent meditation retreat up in the Sierras, so I had to find another friend to join me. Unfortunately I don’t know too many adventurous chicks who would go out to a vaguely-described overnight”rave” in a cabin in the middle of the desert…but I put up a casting call on Facebook, and this chick called Tati Firecracker said she was in. I had never met her before, but she ended up being super cool — as soon as I was done caucussing, I drove straight over to the tidy little mobile home park where she lives in a restored vintage trailer (she restored it herself; how badass is that?), picked her up, and we were off.
Tati took to life at the Cat Ranch like a duck to water — in no time at all she was hula hooping naked to Jan’s ever-present techno beats, joining us for several hot, steamy sauna sessions throughout the night, after which we all bathed in the cold water outdoor shower. It was fantastic! In the morning, we all went down to the nearby Palms Restaurant — a fabulous, dusty little desert dive bar that serves amazing Bloody Marys and breakfasts — and hung out on the sunny back patio, soaking up the wonderful springtime air. Jan’s parents were visiting from Germany, and his dad bought us all breakfast, and it was fabulous. But brunch at the Palms is tricky — after one Bloody Mary you never want to leave, and it can be next to impossible to tear yourself away and depart wonderful Wonder Valley. Alas, I had work booked back in Vegas, so we had to go…but we made plans to come back again, in a couple weeks.
Our second trip out to the Cat Ranch was even better — my friend Justin had just come back from a month in Mexico City, and he had brought along this amazing new friend of his. Justin has MANY talents…but meeting interesting new people is probably his best!
When Tati and I rolled up to the ranch that evening it was already dark, and everyone was already in the sauna, so we dropped off our bags, got undressed, and headed straight back into the tiny little cedar-lined room. I pulled open the door and was greeted by the sight of one of — if not THE most — fascinatingly fabulous people I’ve ever met, Justin’s new friend, who we’ll call Sodapop.
The reason we’ll call him Sodapop is that he has very meticulously cultivated an aesthetic mimicking that of Patrick Swayze circa 1984, when he starred as the character of that name in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders — I mean, perfectly calibrated to the letter! Digital wristwatch, Wrangler-brand yoked western-style work shirt, tight jeans and a fabulous golden mullet atop his handsome head. I have never seen anything like it — I was instantly infatuated! Fortunately, he also turned out to be a super cool guy personality-wise — polite, articulate, smart and just as eccentric as the rest of us, if not more so.
Anyway, we all got along famously and enjoyed another intimate mini-rave in the Shack that night, in between rounds of sauna and copious amounts of booze (me) and weed (everyone else). In the morning, Sodapop got up before everyone else and disappeared….but then, just as we were all sitting around on the front porch blinking in the morning sun, he returned with armloads of styrofoam to-go containers full of omelets, French toast, hash browns and biscuits. SAY WHAT?! It was paradise!!!
After stuffing our faces, Justin, Sodapop, Tati and I all headed up north toward Apple Valley, for a visit to one of my all-time favorite places, Deep Creek Hot Springs, where I had planned to meet up with some friends from L.A. and San Diego for an overnight campout. Justin and Sodapop didn’t stay the night, but we all hiked down for a fabulous afternoon soak together, and had a really nice time.
This was one of those weekends when the crowd at Deep Creek happened to be exceptionally fantastic. You never know what you’ll get down there, especially on the weekends, when all these party kids come down and trash the place — but this time, the crowd was solid. Aside from my L.A. crew, we met some really cool people from Vegas, a super cool chick from Montana, a bunch of BDSMers from Black’s Beach in San Diego and a superhot local redneck who comes out three times a year, like clockwork, to megadose on mushrooms and have a spiritual odyssey. He was amazing!
Then there was this adorable little Marine with the most beautiful, innocent, freckled Boy Scout face; he was stationed nearby in San Diego, and enjoyed coming out to Deep Creek on his days off to soak in the nude. His time in the Marines was just about up, so this was one of his last trips before heading back east, where he and his wife planned to buy some acreage in the Wisconsin woods and live outdoorsily ever after. Awwww! The kids really are alright…ya know? All this shit-talking in the news about Millennials and Marines….pshaw! I spent quite a bit of time talking to him about his time in Guantanamo Bay, and he was just absolutely wonderful. This all goes back to what I was saying — America *IS* great…you just have to look in the right places!
Also, a big group of day hikers came down the trail mid-morning — maybe 30-40 Hispanic hikers speaking Spanish. They all stripped down to their bathing suits, but didn’t seem to mind at all that there were a bunch of naked hippies soaking nearby. In fact, they even invited me over to pose for several photos with them….the best of which was a group shot, of all 30 fully-clothed hikers, with my lone naked ass in the middle! I warned them not to post in on Facebook (lest they get suspended)…but I think they misunderstood me, and thought I didn’t want them to post it out of modesty! On the contrary….I sincerely hope one of them DOES post it somewhere, one of these days….and I hope someone sees in online somewhere randomly, and forwards me the link 🙂 You never know where it’ll pop up!! 😀
Tati and I were on the fence about staying a second night, as a storm was blowing in from the west, and we didn’t want to camp in the rain. But just like Wonder Valley, Deep Creek is one of those magical places that is REALLY hard to leave! We spent the entire day lazing around soaking, smoking and talking to all the fascinating people at the springs, and then around 4pm my L.A. crew built a campfire and we roasted up a huge feast of ribs, bacon, roasted potatoes and vegetables. Our new hippie friends from Vegas kicked in some spinach cheeseburgers, and the little Marine even helped out by sawing up some logs for us with his collapsible bow saw (he really was a badass outdoorsman.)
The only downside is that my friend who was in charge of cooking the meat was WASTED, and pretty much burned it all to a charred crisp…but we all stood around the fire anyway, gnawing on charred meat, naked, as ominous clouds gathered over the mountains to the west. It was really a fantastic time, but after cleaning up all our trash — we were meticulous about cleaning up after ourselves; my pet peeve at Deep Creek is all the garbage people leave behind — most of us decided to hike back out and leave.
A few of the others stayed behind, but I’m glad we left when we did — a nasty storm really did blow in, and the weather was so bad that some Forest Service rangers even hiked down and ticketed everyone at the springs (you’re not supposed to have a campfire or camp out overnight near the creek; you’re supposed to camp up top, in the parking lot). Just as we got to our cars, we saw the rangers heading down the trail with a K-9…but there was no way to call down and warn our friends — there’s no cell reception at the springs 🙁 So they got a $175 fine. Booo!
Anyway, it was a fantastic weekend overall, but after all the fun enjoyment of being alive, it was time to head back home, take a hot shower, and get cleaned up for the week ahead. Thanks in part to the YouTube commercial I just made for my modeling adventure tours, I was facing a solid week of non-stop photo shoots…and I needed to get prepped! Time to pay the Piper, ya know?
Because like I said earlier…freedom really ISN’T free! I have to pay for all this gas, firewood, booze, shrooms, Bloody Marys and bacon cheeseburgers somehow 🙂
Dog Bless Amurrica!