Just Above Sunset
August 22, 2004 - The voice of one crying in the desert...

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

World’s Laziest Journalist


By Bob Patterson


We were doing some web surfing trying to come up with a subject for a column, and we went to April Winchell’s page of random links,

so, feeling reckless and daring, we clicked on the one for the phone booth in the Mojave desert.


We were tempted to call it and ask for “Jack” to see what would happen.  We did some more Google fishing and found a site that explained that the legendary draw in that remote location had been removed.


We had immediately thought of quoting the opening lines of Hunter Thompson’s book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, to start a column about the topic, but we scratched that because it was too obvious.  We searched the memory bank for more literary references to the Mojave desert.  Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff talks about Edwards Air Force base and the legendary nearby Happy Bottom Riding ClubThe first flight by an American jet occurred at Edwards (which was then called Muroc) on January 8, 1944.


Then we thought of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and found this on page 161 (Penguin Books paperback edition): “There’s California just over the river, and a pretty town to start it.  Needles, on the river.  But the river is a stranger in this place.  Up from Needles and over a burned range, and there’s the desert.  And 66 goes on over the terrible desert, where the distance shimmers and the black center mountains hang unbearably in the distance.  At last there’s Barstow, and more desert until at last the mountains rise up again, the good mountains, and 66 winds through them.”


The writer Edward Abbey, with his book Desert Solitaire, became synonymous with desert living, but he preferred a desert outside of California.  He is a favorite of conservationists and quote collectors.

Cartoon strips are not classified as literature yet, but in the Peanuts series, Snoopy’s brother, Spike, lives in the Mojave “near Needles.”


Even the character Yosemite Sam projects an image that would make him seem more at home in the Mojave than the land of sequoia trees.


Thoughts of the Mojave Desert naturally bring to mind the group of devoted Laurel and Hardy fans (there’s even a branch in Britain) called “The Sons of the Desert.”  (Be sure to check out their list of links).


Someone (but not the World’s Laziest Journalist) could possibly write a book about movies with a desert as the backdrop, such as: The Son of the Sheik, Lawrence of Arabia, The Desert Fox, and 3 Godfathers. 


One recent neon noire mystery film, The Big Empty, was a great independent movie with the city of Baker (about halfway between LA and Las Vegas smack in the middle of the Mojave) as the location where all the conflict took place.  The obscure film got good reviews include one this columnist did for another online publication. J


Since our readers in Australia, London, and Peking may not have ready access to the legend and lore of the Mojave, we will include some links that will help the curious who may not get the chance to actually drive Route 66 or take a weekend getaway trip up to “pay their dues” at Lost Wages (LA speak for Las Vegas.)


Do you want to learn about more books about the desert?


How about some more assorted desert links?


Desert radio?


Mojave, the city?


Want to read the local paper?  It’s The Desert Dispatch.


Here are more links from the road.


The diner museum isn’t much concerned with the Mojave Desert, but it is highway related.


“There could be no honor in a sure success, but much might be wrested from a sure defeat.”  Thomas Edward Lawrence from his book, Revolt in the Desert, as quoted in Bartlett’s 16th edition page 673.


We expected the disk jockey to turn to the obvious, but NO! He isn’t going to play Route 66.  He’s playing a standard by the Sons of the Pioneers, titled: Cool Water.  Sing along, if you like.


We’ll be back next week, until then don’t forget Winona (the city in Arizona, not the one in Minnesota or the actress.) Have a speedy week and be sure to get your kicks, you know where.



Editor’s note –


Route 66

Words & Music by Bobby Troup
Recorded by Nat "King" Cole, 1946

See here for words and chord changes.




Copyright 2004 – Robert Patterson


We asked veteran journalist Bob Patterson for a bio and he sent this along: 


Bob was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


Graduated from the University of Scranton in . . . make that "way back when."


He has worked as a reporter and photographer for daily newspapers in California, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.  During the "way back when" phase of his life.


Did photo stringing for the AP’s Los Angeles bureau in the seventies.


Has done some freelance work.


Held other jobs to pay the rent and provide meals money.


Has written book and movie reviews, and columns for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine for the last four years.


Recently the DOA management reportedly traded him to the Just Above Sunset online magazine team for an undisclosed sum and two future draft choices.


He is known to be in the LA area and is considered dangerous.  If you see him, call for backup before attempting to get his autograph or some such fanboy nonsense. 





Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....