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Are We Living Through the Death of Money, Future Human?

What would you do if you woke up one morning and went to the shower but the water didn’t turn on? If you checked your phone and it was dead and black? If the lights were off, refrigerator dark and warm, and your car wouldn’t start?

Where would you turn and what would you do?

That is what would happen — and much more — in case of an EMP attack. Thinking of disaster can focus the mind on what’s genuinely important and valuable.

I’ve been somewhat depressed lately because I’ve been writing about the enclaves of the wealthy.

This isn’t a shot from a videogame, it’s “Billionaire,” the reduced-price $188-million spec house built by “developer” Bruce Makowsky in Bel Air. It had been listed with no takers for $250 million in January 2017, with a $69 million price cut in April 2018. Still no takers.

“Billionaire” comes with everything you see pictured, inside and out, including its own theater, “candy wall,” a garage with cars and motorcycles and — the helicopter featured in “Airwolf.” That is what a “spec house” is. Fully-furnished and ready-made.

Here’s the “candy wall.”

This house has been on the market since Jan 2017 which means that candy is pretty stale. You always wanted unlimited glass Foosball tables, didn’t you?

“Developer” Makowsky may be somewhat excused for his effort in creating the “experience” that is “Billionaire.” His previous spec mansion launched a bidding war between Jay-Z, Beyonce, and other luminaries, eventually selling to Minecraft creator Markus Persson for $70 million. “Billionaire” is just bigger than its predecessor — it basically has the same crap inside and out except “more of the above.” Apparently the original spec mansion came with cases of Dom Perignon.

So if you owned “Billionaire” and the Russians launched an EMP attack, you could eat all that candy and drink the champagne until it ran out.

No worries! Perfect!

I think Makowsky missed the mark with those wood-based foosball tables. This one looks much more suitable, although it is a limited edition of 50. 46 others *might* also have the ability to purchase this $24,500 table which likely rules out its use in an elite spec house for only the world’s most discerning mega-billionaires.

The instinct of some, well-trained and addicted from 40+ years of nonstop promotion of gross consumption, vice, and plutocracy, is to think

If I had that mansion I’d be set in case of an apocalyptic disaster!

You’d have all the entertainment you wanted! Surely dozens of ‘babes’ would be hanging out ready to cavort nude with you all over the glass-fronted structure. You’d have weeks worth of massage oil, plenty of water stored in your 800 gold plated toilet bowls, and of course — candy to eat and champagne to drink after you barbecued the last of the filet mignon, pheasant, and bioengineered woolly mammoth steaks.

Gas grill no fire with no power. Got a match? It’s a mighty hump down the hill to Bel Air Foods for charcoal briquets and even worse going back up.

JEEVES!

Where did Jeeves go? Look at all those little people running around down below. Where’s my GUNS?

I’m sure it will be very effective to hide behind your “babes” when the looters arrive, proud owner of “Billionaire.” They’ll be super impressed when you tell them how rich and important you are.

Maybe you could fly away in your “Airwolf” helicopter.

[it’s non-operable, for ‘show’ only — not to mention — EMP]

I’m sure your neighbor Petra Stunt (Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter) will help! Or maybe Jay-Z and Beyonce! They all have mad outdoor skills like knowing how to skin and dress game [the great human Anthony Bourdain knew] and purify water.

So you don’t die from dysentery ya know —

So once again as is the case in our diseased age, I have spent my time talking about the thin, lifeless, laughable obsessions of soulless brutes.

So photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has made a multimedia project called Generation Wealth.

“I notice no matter how much people have, they still want more.”

Not all people, Lauren. Only the ones you’ve been photographing, filming, and hanging out with. Mega-rich people are soul-diseased addicts. They’re not going to help anybody else any more than a diehard opioid addict in the final stages of their disease is going to make life better for their family or themselves.

They talk about the 1% but the reality is that 85 people own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population: 3.5 billion people. The math on that is horrifying if all you care about is money.

I am a science fiction writer and a good one.

It doesn’t matter who owns or buys “Billionaire.” It doesn’t matter that the world’s so-called “wealthiest man,” Jeff Bezos, purports to want to spend his insanely huge amount of wealth to benefit others “any day now.”

The people that program the algorithms that run Medium are so conditioned by wealth addiction and the preoccupations of individuals like Bezos, Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, or older billionaires like Carlos Slim Helu that they cannot see what is evident in front of all of our faces.

Rich people don’t matter.

The rest of us do.

A hundred years from now, it is likely that no one living will know anything about Jeff Bezos other than his name if even that.

Today, no one knows much about Marcus Licinius Crassus — no relation to rich King Croesus. He was ancient Rome’s version of Jeff Bezos.

Crassus: the Roman mega-billionaire who took over a year to take down Spartacus and destroyed the Roman Republic along with Julius Caesar.
How many of these names do you know?

Do you see even massively-exploitive Thomas Edison on this list? Nikola Tesla? Any of the Roosevelts? The man who invented stainless steel is not on this list. Neither is Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin. Nor is Marie Curie, the first female Nobel Prize winning physicist. On this list are no novelists, no filmmakers, no fashion designers, no teachers. Maria Montessori isn’t on this list. Neither is Gandhi, nor Tolstoy.

I truly believe that the problem today, the cultural and moral rot, is that the wealthy have sold their excuses for addiction to too many for too long. They force their tastes and interests on others. Their shallow materialism has chipped away at the real things which give our brief lives meaning and value. The scales have tipped too far in the direction of tissue-thin amoral greed and vice.

I don’t care if that Minecraft guy spends every single day hiring prostitutes to dance the Macarena, gobbling Raisinets, and speeding around Bel Air on the tricked-out Harley that came with his spec mansion.

It’s no more my business than it is his business what I do.

I, like billions of others, choose a healthier way. Healthier for myself personally, healthier for our planet, and healthier for our children and future.

For weeks, I have been writing sometimes sickening, soul-killing profiles of wealthy enclaves, from developments near me along the coast where mini-mansions go for $10 million and up to gated Malibu estates on “Billionaire’s Beach.” There are many Billionaire beaches, rows, and streets in the world.

It all crystallized this morning when I wrote a profile of a very different place.

North Evergreen Street in of all places, “Beautiful Downtown Burbank.”

The homes on this street are slightly above Southern California’s insanely inflated home prices but they are really down-to-earth, “normal” single-family residences. It isn’t the homes that make this neighborhood extraordinary.

It’s the people.

No amount of money can buy the reason North Evergreen Street was chosen by Reader’s Digest as one of the ten “Nicest Places to Live” in America.

North Evergreen Street is so neighborly that neighbors made a list of 20 “safe” houses so a little girl with food allergies who had never trick-or-treated could enjoy the fun along with other kids for the very first time.

My classrooms are not filled with mean-spirited Game of Thrones fans whose dreams consist of throat-cutting weddings or rapes of 10-year-olds. They aren’t filled with young people who aspire to live like “The Queen of Versailles” or her husband, timeshare ‘billionaire’ David Siegel.

Over the past ten years, I have seen the number of students who say they want to be “rich” or “famous” decline to less than one out of ten.

When class ended this past semester, a gorgeous young woman and her boyfriend came up. She was shy, insisting I wouldn’t be interested. He held her phone up to me.

“She didn’t think she could write a poem but she was inspired by our class this semester.”

And the poem was magnificent.

No one knows the name of the richest person in France 14,000 years ago, nor do they know the name of the sculptor of these two bison found in Le Tuc d’Audoubert cave.

I don’t think it’s a yearning for past days, nor is the solution to be found in the past except in an understanding and reckoning of all that is good that has come before.

The solution is in our DNA, in our bodies themselves, which is why I feel somewhat at peace despite the unrest, misery, and unhappiness the great majority of us endure.

We do not have 7.6 billions so all can work to make places like “Billionaire” or fuel lifestyles like that pursued by Jeff Bezos.

We have 7.6 billion because there is so much more ahead of humanity.

I think we are living in and among not the death of humankind but the death of money. It is among, if not the greatest of destructive addictions.

Money can’t buy what they have in that wonderful neighborhood in Burbank. Money can’t buy love, it can only buy someone’s time. Money is just a lie.

Maybe this is the time travel we truly need. We need to take back our time from the billionaires. And even more, we can’t let them take our immortal souls.

I didn’t think of this first: Tolstoy did.

We are 7.6 billion. We are the many. They are the few.

We should all know the words of Spock by now. And for the record, Spock wasn’t referring to desires for non-essentials like money or power. He was referring to giving up his life for others because he cared more about them than he did himself.

The richness of our lives lies in human connection and the moments we live. Not money.

Please: enjoy your candy wall. Play some foosball. Watch TV with your boughten friends over the edge of your infinity pool. Have sex in your glass walled house. You have really made it billionaire. You’re on top of the world.

Harlan Ellison was My Friend and Guiding Light

When I was in kindergarten I was forbidden a special treat other kids took for granted: Dubble Bubble.

I wanted bubble gum so badly but there wasn’t any in my house and I wasn’t likely to get any by begging at the store the way I saw other kids do..

So shopping with my grandmother, I spotted a small basket filled with bright yellow wrapped balls of sugary pink chewy goodness.

Mmmm doesn’t that look good? Mmmmm ….

Part of me knew they weren’t “free” but I was five and I had hope. Out snuck my small hand. Into my pocket went the gum.

My grandmother with her all-seeing eyes spotted it immediately.

“What’s in your pocket?”

“Nuh-nuthing.” Great — just add lying to stealing — said my conscience.

“Show me.” She put her hand out and gestured. Gimme the contraband.

“I — I — uh… I…”

My conscience spoke. Just give her the gum you big dummy. So I handed it to her.

“You took that gum,” my grandmother said in her iciest voice.

“It was in the basket,” I peeped.

“Come with me,” she said, grasping my small chubby wrist firmly. Her watch band pressed uncomfortably against my palm as she strode purposefully toward the back of the store. I wasn’t sure where we were headed but I knew it was nowhere good. Her heels clacked on the cold and grimy linoleum floor.

We were headed for the manager’s office.

When we got there, the manager knew his part well.

“Young lady, I’m afraid I’m going to have to call the police,” he said. “Stealing is a crime.”

I think I repeated my pathetic excuse that the gum was in the basket and I thought it was free.

“They will take you to jail,” my grandmother hissed. She was at least a billion times scarier than the chubby manager with his pink nose and shiny bald pate.

My grandmother took the gum out of her purse and put it into my unwilling sweaty little hand.

“What do you say to him?” she commanded.

“I — I’m sorry,” I said timidly. I put the gum on his paper-filled desk. “I’m sorry I took the gum. It was wrong.”

I knew if I started to cry it would be a hundred times worse so I bit my lip and looked at the manager. His eyes were kindly. I think they were hazel or light brown.

“Young lady, that is the right thing to do,” he said.

My grandmother’s hand came down on my shoulder and squeezed like a vice.

“You can call the police now,” I said. “I confess.”

He burst out laughing.

I can’t even remember all the chores I had to do and the penance I had to make for that piece of penny bubble gum.

I don’t think I needed lots of additional lessons in “Don’t steal” but if one was needed, I’m just like the guy who learned everything he needed to know in kindergarten. I loved my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Geiger. Of course my grandmother reminded me on the daily that Mrs. Geiger would be so disappointed to hear that I had stolen a piece of bubble gum.

I didn’t stop hearing about the Great Bubble Gum Caper for years. My grandmother even mentioned it way up in her 80s. She loved to tell the story to strangers.

I learned not only this basic lesson which appears in The Bible, the Qu’ran, the Torah, Buddhism, and traditional African religions, but also “always tell the truth,” and “always consider others first” and “Don’t get a big head — no matter how good you think you are, there’s always someone better.”

These silly little lessons I was raised with. So silly. Smart people don’t believe in them.

If you count “smart” “people” as neoliberals, neoconservatives, billionaires and those who aspire to be just like them …

This has not been a good week for the neoliberal centrist Democrats. Many progressive candidates, from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez to Emily Sirota to Ben Jealous, won their primary races.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement yesterday. One of our favorite elite neoliberal authors (a real quality commenter) tweeted:

Twenty years ago, I had had enough hearing people screech how Ronald Reagan wanted to take away my right to control my own body so therefore vote for whomever the person who was yelling at me ordered me to vote for.

Oh by the way, somebody we all love just got busted along with almost 700 others protesting the incarceration of immigrant families on Capitol Hill.

[Susan Sarandon]

As I was writing this, my phone told me that a man I have loved since I got to know him many years ago has died. A real progressive— Harlan Ellison. My heart is heavy and aching. Harlan did have a life well-lived. The world is by far a better place because Harlan was in it and I think — I think it will go the right way. If you do not know who I am talking about this is who it is. I just heard from friends that he had been writing a much-loved (and vilified of course — it was Harlan) column for Variety (which I don’t often read — wonder why not?).

But we were talking about character. And that was the basis for my relationship with Harlan. He only hurt me one time and I’m certain he didn’t mean to. He demanded I go get somebody for him like I was his servant. And that somebody he wanted me to bring to him is someone I don’t like or respect. I didn’t want to ‘get into it’ with him so I never said a thing. I think I have let it go because the things I didn’t like about that person were basically the neoliberal hypocritical package. Status-oriented, domineering, no faithfulness to work, loving of praise, big swelled head, only caring about externals, enjoyed being fawned-over …

None ways I consciously choose to live or things I value any longer. Back then I just knew I didn’t care for those things and didn’t like that person because of how I had observed them acting. I didn’t associate this with a huge problem that needed to be reduced in our world while other, better things came to the fore.

But there is no writer more emblematic and visionary of these issues and the progressive mind than Harlan Ellison. Some in the sci-fi community may recall a controversy that arose after Harlan was accused of sexually harassing other award-winning author Connie Willis while both were serving as emcees at a Hugo Awards ceremony at the World Science Fiction Convention.

My memory said this was the 2006 Denver WorldCon and sure enough Dr. Google tells me I was right: it was. Neither of these folks involved in the incident were exactly “young” at the time and as to me? I was sleeping through the event having been up ‘partying’ the night before. So I didn’t witness the horror that was Harlan grabbing Connie’s breast and sexually harassing her.

Harlan said that he was telling a joke, acting like a baby, and miming being an infant for purposes of humor. It was probably a dumb joke — as I said — I was present at the overall event but slept through the award ceremony where the incident occurred.

I defended Harlan against the extreme outrage that ensued via online forums because I knew something 99.9% of those screaming about his vile harassment didn’t know.

Harlan was not only not a sexual harasser or rapist so far as I knew, to me he was head and shoulders above the majority of men I’d known. He did something very few other men had ever done: he treated me like an equal. He treated me like an equal as a writer. He didn’t talk to my boobs, nor did he grab them. He talked to me like I was a person.

Most who know me now know that I have publically disclosed how I was raped by Brian Stonehill, named chair of literature at Pomona “Harvard of the West” College when I was 21 years old. Mr. Stonehill is now deceased but I did file a police report at the time and I did go to my Dean and the Dean at Pomona College as well, before dropping charges because I earned about $700 a month and had no way of paying for a lawyer. I knew from the cops that the rapist was going to say I wanted “rough sex” such as being burned with cigarettes, choked, and bitten. At the time I didn’t have the guts to go through that in court.

After, when I declined admission to literary graduate programs (Iowa, Irvine) and lost my opportunities for a Rhodes Scholarship and Watson Fellowship because of the rape, I instead chose to go to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ workshop at MSU in 1984 on a scholarship. I saw sci fi writing, the stories I loved, as something pure and innocent. Not like “literature” and “the Academy” which I now saw as something evil. I remembered Ray Bradbury speaking at our local library. His goodness. Sweetness. I had never sought help or even processed what happened to me.

Harlan spent time with me. He talked with me. Desperate, in tears, I asked him a question no young writer should ever ask an older writer or mentor. “Do I have what it takes to make it?” I asked.

I was tied in a million knots. I hated him. I loved him. I reviled him. I worshipped him. Someday I wished, I wanted to write like him — so free — anything he liked. But most of me didn’t care. I didn’t feel quite here, quite human. I saw myself as worthless. Harlan was such an important man, such a great writer (and I felt that — such a fine writer).

His large dark eyes flickered when I asked that. He was a kind man. A kind, good man.

“Damnit,” he said. “Yes. Of course. Yes.”

I burst into tears.

But he knew there was something else wrong. He kept picking at me.

Finally I told him why I was so on edge, why I did all the things he had already lectured me were bad for me (drinking, smoking). He had yelled at me for being married to “Gorgo” (Mike Casil) at such a young age — he felt I didn’t know what I was doing.

So I trusted him. I told him what had happened to me. After that long ago time (14–15 months?) I had only told Mike.

“You have to go for help,” he said. He explained that he meant counseling and professional support. He said every single thing that is appropriate to say to a rape survivor after the trauma.

He said, “I am ordering you to go to a rape crisis center the minute you get home.”

I did. To this day, I credit him with saving my life.

He talked to me about the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). About so many other things he so strongly believed in. He talked about marching in the Civil Rights era. He talked about getting beaten up, about the people who wanted to hurt a Jewish guy for standing up for another race.

Harlan Ellison no more sexually harassed Connie Willis than Bernard Sanders raped any of the online neolib trolls who wanted to accuse Bernie to sweep him into the #MeToo bin of creepy guys who are history. Harlan Ellison Sexual Harasser is like Bernie Sanders Has a $600 Coat!!!

Exactly like that.

He was fearless. He had the gift.

I used to think sitting quietly sometimes, “Well you have big guns, Amy. Big guns. Like Harlan. You can write like rolling thunder. No limits. Take no prisoners.”

I could even do a few things Harlan couldn’t. Write in meter and rhyme on command. Wrote dozens of nonfiction books. Wrote novels.

A sore topic, one not brought up. The last time I talked to him was about Borges.

He was a short fiction writer and one of the greatest ever. Maybe he was an American Chekov.

I can see him smile.

But above all, Harlan was a progressive. He was a poor boy, not a rich one. He always suspected rich people. A poor boy from Ohio with dreams the size of the universe.

And nightmares.

He dreamed this algorithm that is strangling us all. AM is real. AM is here. AM’s the one who silences progressive voices. AM busted Susan Sarandon in DC today. AM angered the Annapolis shooter.

AM makes people think blue checks are important.

AM ruins our dinners.

AM sends messages to our phones. AM told me Harlan had died.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, AM is the massive supercomputer that has destroyed the world and is holding a tiny group of postapocalyptic survivors captive in his hellish cyberbowels to torture them in “I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream.” This is a link to a free copy of the story online and Harlan would kill me for doing that.

But I am in a different place to him. I understand that we must not connect our writing to money purposely in any way because of how money harms the work. There was no other, fiercer advocate for writers earning a living wage than Harlan Ellison.

He is gone now so it is more important that his words live than money.

I just read that Harlan sued James Cameron for intellectual theft (unsuccessfully). Harlan received a settlement from AOL for the service’s facilitation of online literary piracy. I cannot even begin to describe the fierceness with which Harlan fought in court and with his weapons (words) for money for writers. That’s what all these legal battles were: he saw online services and real people as thieves. He knew his ideas had value and that others wanted it. He did this because he knew Poe died face down in the gutter. He knew Oscar Wilde died branded as a gay man, humiliated, estranged from his family, and penniless. He knew that Faulkner’s novels were out of print for a decade before he was awarded the Nobel Prize. He knew that even though Dickens died a rich man, Emily Dickinson was paid a grand total of $10 during her lifetime for her work.

So like John Graziano said a while back: we all work for a murderous neoliberal billionaire capitalist.

No matter how much the megabillionaire capitalist thinks his all-powerful algorithms enrich him by $250 million each and every day, he in fact: works for AM.

The massive capitalist thinks he’s an important individual and AM works for him but he is really Nimdok.

“I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” is to this day one of the only works of fine short fiction I have ever read with a strong African-American female protagonist. Ellen. I can’t get that published today. Harlan got that published in 1967. Harlan didn’t speak ill of Ellen in that story. Ted, the narrator, did. It’s Ted’s twisted voice revealing the deep misogyny that persists today.

When I got in so much trouble for stealing that piece of Dubble Bubble, Harlan wrote and published “I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream”.

1967.

I realize by seeing Harlan’s birth date that my friend misled me regarding his age all these years though I knew how he hated getting older, how badly it made him feel.

Harlan could not stand losing his mojo. And he had it. The first time I saw him he was wearing a black moto jacket with the Flying Tigers logo embroidered on the back. “Over the Hump to Burma!” it declared. The tiger head looked like the Tiger Balm Tiger. Mike Casil had the mellow tiger on his arm.

Like shards of a broken mirror piece by piece our lives are

a series of moments

which we may piece together and perhaps

make a coherent whole.

AM the giant sentient supercomputer AM created from a combination of Yank, Chinese, and Russian supercomputers fighting WW3, is consumed by hatred, torturing the tiny band of surviving humans living in his bowels for hundreds of years.

It’s like the Matrix but it was written 50 years ago. And it’s as fresh today as it was then.

Ted, the narrator, manages to kill Ellen and the other three hapless human victims. But AM keeps Ted alive. And what AM does to Ted is the source of the story’s title: Ted has no mouth but he must scream.

So we’re all like Ted right about now and this hellscape Harlan just escaped from is just like the Belly of AM.

There’s only one way out and it’s not Ted’s way (murder) or Ellen’s way (mercy killing).

We dream ourselves out just the way Harlan dreamt us in.

Harlan told me I was like Dickens’ Agnes Wickfield, “a bright star, ever pointing upward.”

I don’t know. Alls I know is I can dream other-wise. And so can you.


Don’t take it from me. Take it from another star-crossed dreamer.

We are all of us in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars.

We got to keep our selves out of AM’s belly. We got to keep believing and dreaming what is good and true and real. When we stop: that way lies madness and death.

Craig Peyer CHP Killer

I Was Pulled Over By CHP Killer Craig Peyer and Lived

Shortly before his death, I was helping my grandfather [Bampy] prune our fig tree when he asked me if I had noticed the little green house across the street from us and over the bridge that crossed the “Sankey”. The Sankey was a man-made irrigation creek built by Native Americans during the Spanish mission days. The correct spelling is “Zanja.”

I said, “Sure. It’s next to my friend’s house.”

“Well, keep an eye out whenever you play over there,” he said. “Something bad happened there.”

My grandfather Bampy had been the constable (Sheriff) in Redlands during and for a short time after World War II. He was a 4-letter athlete from high school and a 6-year college student at the University of Redlands: his kicking return record from the early 20th century still stands — or it did the last time I was in the gym at the U of R.

Bampy — Nort Sturtevant

Bampy told me he had gotten a call to that house and he and one of the deputies, probably Dale Pence, went out there. When they knocked on the door they surprised the people inside.

“There was a man in there in bed with his daughters, two young girls about your age,” Bampy said.

“We took him to jail and took the girls to Juvenile Hall.” I never saw Bampy angry. But his face was dark. There were clouds in his clear gray eyes.

I knew the man was bad. But I didn’t — and I was 12 at the time — know exactly why.

I knelt down to pick up fig branches and leaves. Bampy knelt close to me.

“That man used to be a police officer. Honey, I want you to understand something,” he said. “If you are ever stopped by a police officer and he asks you to do something that doesn’t sound right to you, he isn’t a real officer. Don’t do what he says.”

Sometimes I wonder if my own daughter has ever listened to a word I ever said. As to me, Bampy’s words and demeanor burned themselves into my mind. It has taken a long lifetime for me to understand their full impact and meaning.

After we worked a little bit more he added, “Once you can drive if you get pulled over and the officer asks you to get out of the car, don’t do it.”

By the time I was in college, Bampy had been gone for seven years.

Wholesome.

I was on my own and probably not doing that great with managing what little money I had or my schooling. But I was going to work and class and sleeping at least 2–3 hours a night.

In 1981, we were on winter break and I was driving south on Interstate 15 to La Mesa to visit my boyfriend and his parents. I remember I had a pack of gum on the passenger seat in my VW Rabbit. I know I wasn’t speeding because the Rabbit topped out at a teeth-jarring 85 mph and even 70 MPH was too fast in that silver jalopy. I can’t remember what I was wearing — probably something Pete, who “dressed” me, wanted me to wear.

My heart just about jumped out of my chest when I saw the lights of a CHP cruiser flashing behind me.

I could barely breathe.

The CHP car directed me to pull off the freeway. We got off on an offramp that “led to nowhere” near a big tall bridge.

This is the offramp and bridge.

The officer got out of his car and came to the drivers’ side window.

Craig Peyer was a TV CHP traffic officer during the time he was also stalking young blonde women driving on I-15.

He rapped on my window and gestured for me to roll it down. I did: about 5 inches the way Bampy had shown me.

“I know I wasn’t speeding officer,” I said.

He asked me to roll the window down more and turn off my engine.

“What did I do wrong?” I asked.

The officer peppered me with questions. Where did I live? Where was I going to? Did I have a job?

I told him I lived with my grandmother and was a college student on my way to visit my boyfriend and his family for the holidays (the truth).

Then he asked me to get out of my car.

I didn’t say anything or move for a few seconds. My mind was blank and my heart was hammering in terror. My hands were icy cold claws on the steering wheel. My red lacquered nails: oh, I was so vain of my hands and so proud of my fingernails.

I heard Bampy’s voice, “If an officer asks you to get out of the car there’s something wrong.”

“Don’t do what he says.”

He put one hand on top of my rolled down window and his other hand on the latch. He rattled the outer door latch.

Remember the locks in old cars? The ones you could pop with a coat hanger in a second? The Rabbit’s were red. A narrow red post with a small red knob on top. I had red nauga-pholstery.

Then hard survivor Amy kicked in. This wasn’t the first time but it was a good one.

“My grandfather was Sheriff in Redlands,” I said. “He told me a real officer would never ask me to get out of the car if I got pulled over.”

And that guy’s face changed immediately and he rapidly began to counsel me on safe driving. He wanted to make sure I was safe on the road, he said. There are a lot of bad people out there, he informed me.

After a few minutes, he told me that my tail light had been flickering and I should get it checked — and he let me go.

I was still shaking when I got to Pete’s house and told him, Vati, and Mutti, about how a CHP officer had pulled me over and scared me pretty badly.

Every single one of them insisted I was exaggerating — a police officer could mean no harm. I was imagining things. The few other people I told were the same way. I was exaggerating. Making things up.

The incident occurred some time in late 1981 or early 1982.

I forgot about it for another 20 years. In 2001 or 2002 I was living in the big house on San Pablo in Redlands watching TV, bored, and flipped the channel to a “True Crime” show. Now I remember it had to have been City Confidential, one of the only shows of that type I would watch.

I watched nearly an entire show about the murder of Cara Knott in 1986 on that same road by that same bridge. Only when they showed video of Craig Peyer on the local San Diego news giving a traffic report did my ears perk up.

“I know that guy,” I thought.

Then they showed the offramp and the bridge.

“That’s the guy who pulled me over!” I said.

My first thought — so immature — was “Everybody poo-poohed me at the time and told me how wrong I was. But I was right!”

Cara Knott, who was brutally murdered by Craig Peyer at the bridge off I-15. Peyer had a “type” — blonde.

Then I realized how horrible a crime he had committed. What horrific trust he had broken. I thought about how Cara deserved a full, rich life.

Peyer was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murdering Cara Knott. He is eligible for parole but it has so far been denied.

wrote about this on my legacy blog.

Cara’s family put a memorial for her by the bridge, which is now named the Cara Knott Memorial Bridge. I learned that her father Sam died of a heart attack while visiting the memorial.

This is the most tragic story. Whenever I think of it, my heart goes out to Cara’s family and friends. Watching the “City Confidential” show, I learned that over 100 women testified to having similar experiences to mine at Peyer’s trial. At the time I was unaware Cara had been murdered and such a trial had even happened.

So, I wonder, many days, whether people will realize what things like this have in common with police killings of African Americans or with 10,000 missing Native American women and girls.

I was 100% right not to get out of that car. Remembering Bampy’s advice may have saved my life.

Bampy was the best man I ever knew. Just about everything I know and think was taught to me by him.

Without getting explicit, he warned me about pedophiles and child molesters that day. And he warned me about dirty killer rapist cops.

So I wonder why what Bampy knew is so hard for so many people to understand and learn.

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