Wednesday, June 14, 2017

LA Weakly


      Reports began filtering in this week about  a story in the “LA Weekly” featuring Idyllwild and comparing our Idyll-Beast to “Big Foot.” I did receive a call from a man who identified himself as “Drew Tewksbury” and claimed to be a reporter (“managing editor”) for this publication. I suspected a hoax: I was not familiar with the paper and the disrespectful tenor of his questions (“Is that you in the costume? Where did you get the costume?” etc) made me question his credentials. A perusal of the “LA Weekly” website revealed a normal looking masthead, but a few cautions, including a claim to have received a Pulitzer Prize… for restaurant reviews.
      “Drew” further stirred my skepticism when he revealed that on his first visit to Idyllwild he had come with the intention of stealing an Idyll-Beast crossing sign from the side of the highway. The signs proved elusive, being primarily posted on quiet residential streets, and those that have been posted on the highway have not lasted long. Stealing them is an idea which apparently occurs to many “Larcenous Americans”.
      He did manage to talk to Steve Moulton, which is most likely where he picked up the “David Jerome in a fur suit” theory. He apparently failed to notice that the Beast crossing signs are available at Steve’s “Idyll-Beast Research Center Museum and Gift Shoppe” in a variety of sizes. So much for journalistic acumen or integrity.
      The story, not surprisingly, contains a number of inaccuracies and errors, and also demonstrates the lamentable tendency of the press to mangle or even make up quotes to fit the “flow” of the their “style.” The assertion that Steve and I “hatched” the Idyll-Beast shows a lack of knowledge of mammalian biology. The semi-clever conflation of separate statements created the unfortunate and awkward quotation “Never give the Idyll-Beast liquor and karaoke.” 
     Another funny thing: He asked me about my other job and I told him I am known (or unknown) as “the unknown Jerome,” and that I play out in local spots four times every weekend. He changed this to “…a classically trained guitar teacher by day…” Where does he get these things … recycling wikipedia pages?  It isn’t untrue specifically, just one of those wordings I’ve seen when people start making things up. Or larding up the sentences for the sake of “style.” I imagine the writer scrtching his head...“It sure would be nice to have a day/night thing…let’s see; by day a... let’s make it as mild mannered as possible…. let’s see, pastry chef? Too exciting. Fashion designer? No, no,…classically trained guitarist… no guitar teacher. Take out the matter of performance altogether. Ah, the smooth surface of narrative woven from the tangled stream of cliches…. yes, droll, that’s the effect I’m after."
     I could go on, but I believe I have made my point. Although the only bad press is no press, and he did spell my name right, the media, mainstream or otherwise, should always be taken with a grain of salt. Until I actually see “Drew” I must label the evidence inconclusive.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chris Cross

Beastographer Chris Rheume has submitted another stunning image. This one was snapped near the dump, an outstanding location that combines scenic wonders and natural Beast attractive properties. Thanks Chris! 2017 is shaping to be a banner year for Beast sightings.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

From the "Hundred and One Nights:" Little Red Riding Einstein

For many years the part of the wolf was played by actor and long time local Michael Rider. Little Red Riding Einstein was interpreted memorably by a succession of actresses...

One day the phone rang for Little Red Riding Einstein. It wasn’t her phone, it was the phone of the person who happened to be near her. “Hello? Why yes she is, how did you….yes I suppose so..” and handed Red the phone.

It was little Red Riding Einstein’s mother. Something about a wolf prowling around Grandma’s cottage in the woods. Little Red gave the phone back to whomever and said only:
“I gotta go.”

She hopped into her El Camino and headed on up the Highway. (Obeying all speed indications along the way.) When she arrived at the familiar craftsman cottage, up a dirt road and behind two gates, it didn’t take long for her to figure out what had happened. The door was ajar and “grandma never leaves her door ajar.” She went inside gently, quietly. There was a large and somewhat battered looking grey wolf lying in Grandma’s bed wearing a bonnet, and “Grandma never wears a bonnet like that to bed.”

Little Red Riding Einstein approached the creature lying in Grandma’s bed in a none-too-expert attempt at a grandma disguise. The wolf was biding his time, just waiting for his set up line. “Here we go, here we go,” he thought to himself, “come on, come on, you can do it. “My, Grandma, what big…. “

    But Little Red wasn’t feeding the Wolf anything, not even a cue. She was just doing that “calm assertive” thing the dog whisperer talks about.

    The wolf began to get a little anxious. “Maybe a little improv will loosen things up,” he thought to himself.
The wolf, in a somewhat trembly version of his best Grandma voice, tested the water with
     “My, Little Red Riding Einstein, what beautiful red lips you have.”

     “All the better to kiss my darling Grandma with,” the girl spoke simply, as if she had not a care in the world.

The Wold began to see his fortunes improving. “I always was good with the improv,” he reassured himself. “Let’s go!”

     “My, Little Red Riding Einstein, what beautiful blue eyes you have,” the Wolf continued in a now more boldly modulated imitation of Grandma’s voice.

     “All the better to spy out the difference between my Grandma and some crack actor gigolo Wolf.”

    This last line was delivered in a manner rsurprisingly steelly for such a slender and even waif-like person, and shattered the thin ice the Wolf had been skating on. The sudden drop of her voice into the baritone range was further disconcerting, as anyone who has heard it will remember.

     The Wolf felt his blood run cold. The sweat of the ill-starred opening night chilled his furry armpits and the stink of fear and failure began to sting his nostrils. At this point there was not much he could do, but he kept on, really improvising this time;
     “My Little Red Einstein, what big bulging b-b-b-b-biceps you have.”
And the reply like a shot;
     “All the better to tear you limb from limb with! Prepare to meet your Maker, Wolf.”
    Immediately she set upon him. The Wolf jumped back and bit her on her upper lip, leaving, by the way, a handsome scar that you can still see to this day, or at least you could last time I saw her.
    Little Red’s skill with the jabs and tugs was just as sure as hers with the Stanislavski or the Method acting.. She give him a good you-know-what in the you-know-where and the Wolf doubled over and coughed Grandma up whole, and in surprisingly good condition for woman of a certain age who had just been eaten by a wolf.
    Little Red Riding Einstein and Grandma then proceeded to double team that hapless canine, and it wasn’t long before there was nothing left of him but some bones that Little Red later took home for her  doggies to chew on, and an only slightly mangy wolf pelt that she brought home to make a bed for her kitty cats to sleep on.
    Once the dishes had been done and put away, Little Red Riding Einstein went out to her El Camino and retrieved her Stradivarius. She rosined up the bow, tuned it up, and treated Grandma to a little of Bach’s first Suite for Violin Cello.
    When the last chord had died out she drew a deep breath and noticed that Grandma had nodded off. She put her cello back in the case, put out the lamp, and closed and locked the front door. She tossed her Stradivarius in to the back of her El Camino and headed on down the highway.

     “What do you think the moral of that is?”
     “Don’t ever play mind games with somebody with a name like Einstein?”
“Always chew your food thoroughly before swallowing?”

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Scheherezade's Story and the "Hundred and One Idyllwildian Nights"

In the days of the Beast Flag Republic the people of our town celebrated the Idyll-Beast Festival differently than we do now. The spectacle was, though more primitive, much more lavish, and the cult more devoted. But its spirit was incomparably more cruel. The climax of the festival was the Bar-B-Que of a real Idyll-Beast. For this a creature was trapped each year and tied up behind the Snow White Laundry. The animal rode in the parade down North Circle like nowadays, but was then afterwards roasted and eaten. This annual event was keenly anticipated by the townspeople, with the exception of the vegetarians, who were in any case rarer than today.

    According to contemporary accounts there was nothing more delicious than roast Beast, and nothing more terrible than the effects on the spirit the ritual had; the greedy expectation, the gluttony, the dull satiation that lasted for days after, the aching in the soul as the effects wore off and the eater began to feel that he was digesting his own insides, the attempt to dull the sickly quickened appetite with loads of sweet and meat, grease and starch.

    When old folks told this story years ago, they would go on and on about the preparation of the Beast, until the children (and anyone else listening) had all fallen asleep. The townspeople each took a role in the festive process, some feeding him (or her), others grooming and entertaining her (or him.) The preparation of the sauce was undertaken by members of the Rotary club and the American Legion, each group entrusted with one half a recipe that had been passed down through generations. Children gathered the firewood, the old ones the special herbs. The Realtors oversaw the “division” of the animal into individual portions. Shop-keepers donated the rare ingredients for the stuffing, and Innkeepers provided hand towels for the sticky-fingered celebrants. And the Idyll-Beast was only the capstone, as it were, of a pyramid of delicious wildlife. Deer and Bear, Raccoon and Squirrel, Mole and Chipmunk, Boar and Rabbit, and Quail and Frog adorned and added each their own individual notes of flavor to the terrible banquet.

    Eventually this hunting (along with habitat loss) decimated the local Idyll-Beast population, and there was even talk about serving pork ribs instead. Then one summer an unlikely Animal “volunteered” herself for the sacrifice, simply strolling or sauntering into town one sunny day to hand herself over. Her story is called “Scheherezade’s” story. That’s not the name the Beast gave herself, but what the people came to call her…


Securely tied up behind the Snow White Laundramat, the Beast seemed quite comfortable. People came to gawk and offer the Animal snacks. The local restaurants sent take out. This went on for several weeks. The night before the feast, she began to tell a story. She began to regale her captors with a story about Old Idyllwild. Full of Realtors and Building Inspectors, wily shopkeepers and clueless tourists, hard-drinking young folks, legal shenanigans and black magic. The tale entranced the listeners. But just at the most dramatic moment, the Beast introduced a plot twist and a sub-narrative, and the listeners all realized they were actually hearing a story about a story about Idyllwild. The Beast then announced that she was too sleepy to continue, but would finish tomorrow…. The Feast had, in the past, occasionally been put off a day or two, one year for the rain, one year when a fire forced a temporary evacuation; so the delay was not unheard of, and the people really wanted to hear the rest of the story. And so the Animal was spared. The next night’s story “ended” just as suspensfully. And so the tales and tales within tales continued…and multiplied… for 101 nights…..

Friday, March 31, 2017

Life Imitates Art

Beast watcher Christine Rheaume submits this stunning evidence of a sighting at an undisclosed location near Astro-Camp.
The Beast crossing sign has improved safety on Christine's street and provided a safe passage corridor for wildlife. Keep up the good work, Chris!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Great Divider

Today Renate Caine asked for the lyrics to one of the songs I sing. Broadly topical, it seems to never go out of style.  Now more than ever.

We all come from the same place
and we all have to die.
What's all this dangerous nonsense
what's with this great divide?

We've got nothing between us
and there's noplace to hide
outside the water's rising
how'd the river get to be so wide?

Dig down deep
dig as deep as you can
layer after layer you find them
history's also ran.

It looks like we're the lucky
as much as the quick the good or the strong
'cause when that ____ hits the fan
it's bigger than any man.

So let's not talk about good enough
I think we'll have to do
you and me together sister
still a few things we can do.

Season's Greetings, Beast Watchers.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fair and Balanced: The Beast's Rebuttal

     Reached at his Fern Valley Redoubt, the Beast had a few words to share regarding the Fox 11 story “captured” below.

    "First of all, the story is a little blurry. It could be an actual screen shot of a Fox News 11 webstory, or it cold be a clever forgery. Are these people accustomed to publishing stories based on testimony by people with names like "Colonel Cotton?" Sounds  more like "Colonel Cotton-Mouth" to me."
    "I  was in Mountain Center that day, and though it could be a concidence, I did see someone who might have been “Colonol Cotton” as he staggered down the steps from a poorly maintained RV. The aroma of the Winnebago was a mixture of hot rubber, petro-chemicals, human waste, and various deodorants. As “Col. Cotton” emerged, so did the unmistakable skunk-smokey smell of the herbal smoking mixture he and “Mrs. Cotton” had been partaking of in the “cabin.” They had not recently bathed, and the masking odors they both utilized barely subdued the odors of grease from fast-food eateries, ranch dressing, something that disagreed with “Col. Cotton’s” insides, and a recent fishing trip."    
     "Since the interview only quoted “Col. Cotton,” I will refrain from touching on “Mrs. Cotton’s” odor. But I do think I recognized “Gretchen” from somewhere, and she had a strangely familiar face."
     "Mrs. Cotton” did have quite  a head of hair, but the "Colonel's" fur was patchy at best. His greying roots gave away an amateurish dye-job."

At this point the Beast sighed heavily. "I sometimes get tired of addressing these kind of stories, but I can still hope it provides a teachable moment."