Tag Archives: crash

Riff: VW Beetle / busted up, 1986 (+ pizza beast, Earthship, REM and a sketchy boss)

Battered VW Beetle with broken spindle in American Fork, UT, ca 1986

Just before I turned 16 while living in Orem Utah, I purchased an (soon to be infamous) 1974 VW “turtle top” bus ($1475) and, that winter – after failing my driving test driving the bus and driving away from the licensing bureau but passing in the next time (that big bus wasn’t easy to parallel park until you got the hang of it) – drove up to Vancouver in the middle of the winter which included the snowy regions of the Cascades…  On the way back, with no money for a motel and 2 brothers on board, the van caught fire (engine compartment) in snowy Prosser, Washington at 2AM (had extinguisher, slept cold, finally found a mechanic who didn’t do anything and limped home about 700 miles on 2 cylinders, 35Mph… #anotherstory #focus).

Anyhow, this is all to tell you that this led to taking a job with a sketchy man who lived in our townhouse complex who had opened up pizza restaurants, Roberto Prieto (or so he said). He was a dodgy fellow with an underage wife, quickly burnt out his business partner at  “pizza heaven(?)” and bailed and opened a rival “pizza beast” in Provo. So i went to work for him cleaning out this former Chinese restaurant and turning it into an assembly line of high-volume pizza for BYU students,  in exchange for him paying me ($3.35/hr) but also helping rebuild my Volkswagen bus as he was allegedly a great VW mechanic and had an awesome set of tools (somehow all brand-new) in his garage.

He did basically nothing for my van except a lot of talk and no action and assigning me hours in a solvent tank washing parts, and some months later (after the accusations about s3xy times and dodgy substances picked up momentum plus he had purchased fancy Camaros for he and his wife which he couldn’t pay for it seems) he bailed in the middle of the night with all sorts of wreckage left behind.

Bob and I went to his house, hopping into the backyard to see if there was any remnants of the van parts as the engine was “gone”. Nothing useful, however there was an hungry/angry mother dog and her starving pups in the backyard who came running after us requiring a mighty leap to clear the fence.

{Anyway, somewhere there is possibly still bad man and all the stories about young girls in coca!ne who has long forgotten about me and the pizza beast I suspect but if I come across an artefact from that time, I’ll hook you up – must be a snapshot somewhere.}

In the *interim* of not fixing my bus,  he lent me this battered Volkswagen bug which was exceptionally dangerous as there was no seatbelts, no passenger seat, and in the backseat where the battery was housed, sitting down caused the battery to short so only could have one person sitting behind the driver which made the vehicle very unbalanced.

I would drive this home, with dodgy headlights etc. after working at the pizza restaurant in Provo to American Fork (a vaguely neighbouring town), and two times had near death experiences, no exaggeration.

One time, I drove over a dip under a railway bridge which, turns out, was pure ice – the bald tires spun immediately completely out of control…, I remember seeing the light of oncoming traffic honking as the car spun aimlessly and aggressively in a narrow space wedged in between concrete poles and various stanchions for railroad crossing gates… but *fortunately* landed in a snowbank . Was stuck there, trying to push my way out, no one stopped to help, just honk, but finally I got it going and drove on bewildered (no way to call for help as no phone around), but couldn’t get all the way home as our current home (a story in itself) was top of the steep hill. After a few false starts with ridiculous backwards slides, finally gave up, left the bug, trudged through the snow to the house.

The next time, while driving along the same road, the lil car gave a mighty thud then a hard scrapping squeal and lunged to the right. Felt like much more than a flat tire and turned out the wheel, tire and all had completely come off the spindle, and yes the wheel spindle itself, a thick solid post of steel, had somehow completely, not snapped, but somehow worn right through and come off with wheel tire etc with it.

I fought for control and somehow crash landed on the side of the road… Likely hitchhiked home or walked or something, but this is where that bug lay. Never drove it again. I can take a hint universe.

While I’m riffing, later an eccentric man in Pleasant Grove called Martin took on the task of repairing the mighty Earthship bus, which at this point has been sort of out of commission for a while and was really cramping my style, but let me a 1976 fuel injected VW Bus, not a camper, but it was a runner… I maybe took advantage of his kindness a little bit by driving it to Moab several times and then on a road trip to Omaha, Nebraska to see our REM with a few pals. I did my best to take care of it and wow, it was a nice ride – not all the accessories but just went and didn’t leak oil (shocker).

Finally, the mighty Earthship was up and running and ended up on so many adventures back-and-forth across USA, many Grateful Dead tours, the hostage incident in Taos,  up and back to BC and down Mexico several times, living in it while working at a bike shop in Burnaby, BC and going to university of Utah in SLC, and now lives as a sauna in big Cottonwood Canyon (more to this story on the docket to share).

There were several other significant car incidents besides the bus catching on fire, and the bug causing a few near misses including the terrible Blazer crash on Christmas Eve in Jerome, Idaho but I don’t speak of that terrible incident any further. Pictures exist (and a newspaper article) and they make me shake and nightmare. 

So yeah the photo at the top is the bug with broken spindle. Somewhere there’s a guy named Roberto who owes me and a guy named Martin who i am grateful for and a stretch of highway between Utah and BC laden with calamity for me. All in the past. 

Jamaica Re-entry: notes about illness, healing (and related dispatches)

healing: jamaica reentry

Just over a week ago, i returned from Jamaica for the 3rd time. This trip’s purpose wasn’t the fun-loving, adventuring, goodtimes i usually seek but rather to heal up and gain some vigour and physical and mental power to continue my healing journey.

In just over 6 months since i was diagnosed, my life’s routine changed significantly. And, as a social and tribal/community-minded person, the self/syndrome-sparked isolation was required as i tried to learn about “what just happened to me” … along with a litany of medial appointments, combined to really remove me from a sense of control, flow and calm.

I was accompanied on this Jamaican trip by 2 trusted co-conspiritors plus knew i was going to a familiar place where people genuinely care for me and want to see me at my former full-power mode of near invincibility and tireless creativity.

Then, 36 hours before leaving, i took a quick Vespa ride to pick up a couple little gifts and ended up in VGH Emergency Room after wiping out and crashing up my face, arm, leg the Vespa etc. Somehow the hospital felt familiar though i’d never visited before – i suppose so many hospital visits in the past few months makes the beige chaos of a hospital common to me.

Also that day, my phone was cut off so i wandered out of the hospital confused and aching. Finally made the stoopid decision to ride the Vespa home (both the machine and the rider were in no condition to do so).

Anyhow, there we were in Jamaica – my pals out swimming and exploring while i was convalescing with icepacks and my assigned program of pills. I don’t enjoy this process.

After a week of waking up late in the day, grumpy, frustrated and blue, really blue, i tried to rally and get out in the world. I tried to roll with my pals (both foreign and domestic) but was just kidding myself. My “energy envelope” lacked the capacity for anything but chilling – otherwise the symptoms of weak, weary, confused, achey, grumpy, depressed all creep in.

I dislike all of this. But I tried to meditate my way out of it, distract myself with filling my handmade notebooks with schemes and plans, sipping a bit more rum and other potions, teas and trying to eat something. Also, my meds were running out and required a trip to a clinic, a Dr visit and pills delivered by a resourceful cabbie called Pablo. All this was to much.

The meds running out made me confused and grumpy but occasionally, i could feel my “real Dave brain” wanting to talk with strangers, build community, create conversations, find musicians. I could feel the ideas, just not how to execute them. That part simply turned to mush.

During all this healing and mental transition, i realized more time was needed in Jamaica to ensure i go home feeling better than before. Not perfect, just a little bit better. I rode to the airport with passport and ticket but hugged beloveds goodbye and returned to the cabin to try to find my equilibrium.

With the help of a Rasta called Chubby and my personal assistant/housekeeper Patsy, i started on a regimen of fresh fruit, banana/coconut porridge, fish tea/soup and a powerful tea made from herbs including (colloquial names): Strongback, Guinea Hen, Sarsaparilla, Nuni, moringa, ram goat regular, irish moss and more. It was magic. I spent my days meditating and sharing stories in Chubby’s Rasta hut (African inspired stick hexagon with a hardwood fire going most all the time).

I knew re-entry could be tough in my fragile mental state so i steeled myself for the adjustments but, upon return was hit with a major dose of hassle between paperwork and medical appointments, and some potentially distressing health news about my Dad, I’m doing all i can to stay out of the blues.

Therapists, meditation, listening records and trying to make my life as simple as possible despite all these projects i dream and yearn to do (i have books to write yo!). I am trying to be social and trying to take care of me – and doing a kinda C+ job at either.

For reference and the record – and mostly for my own reminder –  what follows are four wee videos which track my mental and physical healing in Jamaica.

From getting up out of my bed trying to feel some inspiration, to regrouping in a hammock discussing herbs and soccer, to a rapid recap of progress in Chubby’s Rasta hut, and a message to future-self reminding me to remember how to live.

Here’s the first with the other three to follow right behind. I’ve shared and i’m tired and a little bit scared.

Videos >>

Healing Journey 3: Annotations from a Jamaican Hammock

Healing Journey 4: Feeling a Wee Bit Blue in Little Bay

Healing Journey 6: Message to Future Self from Jamaica

Jamaica, Third Time (with busted face)

In Nov/Dec. 2013 – 36 hours after i crashed a Vespa and busted up my face, i headed to Jamaica for the 3rd time – though it felt like the 10th as had deep relationship, presents, dreams and a cabin project underway.

This trip was a 3 part journey for me:

Week 1, was ice bags and lots of time in bed due to injury. the hammers next door were encouraging but my injuries were frustrating. I ached badly and felt dispirited.

Week 2, i tried to rally and ended up a pile of anxiety and exhaustion. Also grumpy and disoriented and somewhat ornery. I apologized. I also obtained new meds in Jamaica.

Week 3+, was an active healing gig with ital food, roots tea, meditation and disappearing into myself with help dear housekeeper Patsy who massaged my aching brain each day, and Rasta camp leader Chubby. We planned a goat herding business and riffed about live, acoustic music in Little Bay. I healed.

Note: Importantly, I ate powerful foods which Mr. Chubby diligently prepared along with strong (and tasty) teas from herbs, roots and leaves.

I painted signs and captured a few faces along the way – artifacts and evidence.

We (my lil band of renegades) made a few videos to help Little Bay Cabins and Villas spread their goodness – watch for them coming along. I also made some lil vids about me, ya know, me talking about feeling blue, me talking about feeling irie, me fumbling along, me giving love. I also recorded snippets of stories from decades past as they came to me. My notebooks are full of studio plans, poetry fragments and documentation of herbs and recipes for banana porridge. Stimulated by the goodness.