A Report from the Badlands

The Family Feud over "Patches"

It’s January in the Badlands, the dead of winter, but this is the time the rest of the world seems to think it’s spring – cleaning, that is.

During these bleak days, people look out across their rubbish-filled suburban yards and get an itching to lob it off somewhere.

Adding to the problem is all that useless space-hogging crap you got and gave for Xmas — you know: the Harry Potter action figures your kid forgot about on Dec. 26, which your dog ate on the 27th, which your veterinarian made $900 off of after emergency weekend bowel surgery on the 28th; the Lady-Be-Smart Bread-Making Machine you lovingly bought for the wife that ended up flattened for some bewildering reason under her SUV tires when she pulled out of the driveway the next day; and let’s not forget that Dealing Reasonably with Daddy’s Baldness family board game your loved ones gave you, and you still swear you don’t know how it got thrown over the fence into the redneck neighbor’s yard.

It gets Macbethian after a while. The unwanted schlock gets shuffled from attic to wife’s closet to garage to street curb to neighborhood riverbed. After all, no one wants their front and back yards to look like…dare I say it?…New Idria.

What do you do with it all?

You take it to the proper waste recycling facility, of course!

Silicon Valley seems to have two most favored “trash-that-was-superfluous-in-the-first-place-even-before-it-was-officially-trashed” facilities. One is Hollister’s ever-popular John Smith Landfill. Drive a Little, Save a Lot!

The other “facility” is a specialized solid waste-relieving panacea for the seriously hardcore conspicuous consumer, a trade secret of fee-dodging, tight-wadding yuppies far and wide.

That dumpsite is, as I say, the ghost town of New Idria.

Flatlander garbage dumpers don’t normally ask us if they can unload the legacy of their heady existence in our remote hamlet. They just dump it, like thieves in the middle of the night, and in the morning we are left scratching our heads and wondering how we’re going to sell it.

We’re not hurting for trash up here. Nonetheless, that fact doesn’t stop people from gifting us with their unwanted things. The latest offering comes from the same dear friend who left us with the dead 1972 Badillac DeVille, which never ran again once it died in the middle of the Griswold Pass years ago.

This time our friend wants us to provide a good home for a huge school bus-turned mobile house, replete with two Volkswagen buses welded to the top of it. A “split-level,” he calls it. And it’s carpeted throughout, including the ceiling.

Our friend swears it was the prototype for Ken Kesey’s famous Merry Prankster hippie bus — as if that would make it any more palatable to us.

“It has a sauna, too,” he said proudly. “The old fashioned kind for one person, where you stick your head out of a box. The sauna has carpet on it too, on the outside. I’m not making this up.”

I wish to Dog he was.

It also has a wood-burning stove and supposedly is still drivable. The whole affair is said to run off of burning aluminum cans and it’s painted screaming fluorescent eco-green.

I was still shuddering when he uttered the piece-de-resistance.

“It’s name is Patches,” he said.

Apparently, Patches got red-tagged — let’s just say somewhere in the Aromas area — to make way for the expansion of a golf course. Patches had been occupying the same space, or acreage, for years and the golf course owner finally was able to get the adjoining property condemned so that he could take it over and “clean it up.” And add eight holes.

“We could use a good hotel up here,” said my brother Kemp, who was leaning in favor of taking Patches.

“Over my dead body are we taking Patches,” I offered.

I thought I had won, for once, but then my sister Mel the Tambourine Virtuoso said she was throwing her vote in favor of Patches because she thinks it will make for a good Arts Center.

“I need a concert hall,” she insisted, then she broke into a rendition of “Town Without Pity” on her tambourine.

Now the decision is up to Orange the Cat — and we’re not even telling our cousins Phony or Crony about it because we know they would take over Patches and set up housekeeping as soon as it got here. Orange hasn’t cast his vote yet but I fear he’ll start drooling when he hears about all that moldy carpet he can sharpen his claws on. I’ve quarantined him to keep him insulated from family bribes.

San Carlos Creek Update: In my campaign against Patches, I put up a universal road sign at the washout down the road where the orange creek flows across it. It depicts a black silhouette of a loaded-down old hippie bus with a red universal “no” band across it. If it works, I’ll add another sign. It’ll show a silhouette of a San Jose redneck kicking an old TV set off the back of his pickup with a red band slashed across it.

Comments about the Badlands? Email Kate “NIMBY” Woods at [email protected]

Leave your comments