Posts by claudialamb

25 year veteran of news and talk radio, writer, news junkie, former child actor.

Lone White Gunman

This afternoon I heard one of my husband’s colleagues talking with a co-worker about different places they had worked. He remarked jovially that he taught for 39 years at Platte Valley High School, in Bailey, Colorado.

A female customer who was not part of the conversation said eagerly, “I go to church with Fred Wegener – were you there then?”

His face became serious and he said soberly, “I certainly was.”

“Did you see the shooting?” she asked breathlessly.

“I was in the classroom across from it,” he said quietly.

“You were?!” she thrilled, ignoring his distress, “What happened?”

He paused, having difficulty speaking, “I was the last person they took out of the building after I identified the bodies.”

At this point I disconnected from the woman’s grisly voyeurism and began to vainly wrack my brain, trying to remember the details of the Platte Valley High School shooting. Plate Valley. Platte Valley. Platte Valley…

But, all I could recall were Eric Harris, Dylan Kleebold and Columbine – James Holmes and The Aurora Theater Shooting – and The Youth With A Mission massacre just 3 blocks from my home.

Platte Valley… I simply couldn’t muster the details in my head, and waited hours before looking them up, just to see if they would finally come to me.

On Sept 27, 2006 the proverbial ‘Lone White Gunman’ Duane Roger Morrison entered Platte Valley High School and took 7 blond female students hostage in one classroom on the second floor, ordering the teacher and the rest of the students to leave. Morrison – who had no connection to anyone in the school – sexually assaulted the girls for several hours. As the random deadline Morrison set for the police approached Sheriff Fred Wegener made the decision to storm the classroom to save the hostages. Morrison killed a fleeing 16-year-old Emily Keyes before turning the gun on himself after being shot several times by the police.

I’m not sure which bothered me more: That I had somehow sublimated the shooting among of list of a dozen gruesomely notable killings in Colorado, or that the customer felt entitled to her ghoulish curiosity.

How crazy sick is our society that it’s possible to forget a madman raping girls at gunpoint and dying in a hail of gunfire because there are just SO MANY school shootings to keep track of?

It’s a society just crazy sick enough to encourage strangers to believe it is their god-given right to hungrily demand gruesome details from grieving victims moments after meeting them.

The United States is crazy sick with its multifaceted gun fetish, and it’s getting worse. We’re like the heroin addict who twitchily assures you they’re fine as they eye your silverware.

Perhaps we aren’t thinking and praying enough.

Yeah. That’s GOT to be it – more Thoughts and Prayers

Advertisements

Crazytown

So. We are here at last. We have arrived at The Rubicon – the point of no return.

The choice for Trumpers – who always blame the victims when it comes to babies in cages, Muslim bans, and sick people – is whether or not they will go over the cliff after 45*, and deny the reality of 3,000+ dead Americans in Puerto Rico from the devastating one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of 2017.

 

PR Fake Deaths Twee 2

 

Let’s ignore the self-serving ‘I’ statements, and 45*s conflating anecdotes with evidence. Let’s discard his blistering, raging, unquenchable narcissism and refusal to acknowledge a scientific, peer-reviewed study based on in-person interviews with coroners and emergency responders. Let’s be nonplussed at his spurious, utterly fabricated claim that he raised penny one for Puerto Rico, when the facts are that he withdrew FEMA aid 4 months after the disaster, while the majority of the island lacked electricity and running water, and that he reallocated FEMA funds to ICE for the specific purpose of keeping babies in cages who were kidnapped from their asylum-seeking parents.

Instead, let’s take a moment to savor the depth of malignant sociopathy and the bottomless pit of needy victimhood it requires to imagine that tens of thousands of people pretended family members died, and that government officials at every level along with researchers from the most respected institutions of higher education reinforced that lie with the help of every newspaper, radio and television station IN THE WORLD, for the sole purpose of making him look as bad as possible.

No, really. Take a moment to swirl the taste of cancerous narcissism so deep that he imagines the whole world is gaslighting HIM to make him feel bad.

The

World

Is

Gaslighting

HIM

Seven-and-a-half billion people think SO much of him that we all got together to pretend several thousand people died in Puerto Rico – and it was all spearheaded by the evil Democrats, out to make him look bad.

 

 

1984 Essential Command

 

 

Interestingly, half a dozen MAGAts – who up until yesterday blamed the deaths in Puerto Rico on corrupt local politicians – fell silent this morning when I pressed them on whether Trump is lying or crazy, or if they actually believe 3,000 people didn’t die. They ghosted the conversation when I refused to allow them to derail it with Obama and Clinton Whataboutisms. I imagine they’ll be silent until Steve Bannon gets the talking points out via Brietbart and Drudge, and they percolate to Fox and thus directly into the ears of the demented fraud who sits in the White House, and imagines himself the Supreme Ruler King.

I have great faith the MAGAts will cross this river with their eyes closed, and one step at a time they will ease into the frigid water of deliberate insanity, until they finally get used to denying the reality of thousands of dead Americans and convince themselves they thought this all along.

Tomorrow we will be able to watch people we know choose to alter what they believed yesterday to satisfy the whim of a madman today.

This is Jim Jones level shit.

We have crossed The Rubicon and officially arrived at Crazytown.

 

Frowny Face

Who The Hell Are You To Paycheck Shame?

It’s Labor Day weekend, so what better time for concern trolls to ‘out’ Geoffrey Owens for having the temerity to work a day gig at Trader Joe’s for a steady paycheck and health benefits?

I’m not fortunate enough to be friends with Mr. Owens – who has a list of credits as long as your arm – but my respect for him is immense. He is facing this situation with a grace I could only hope to muster under similar circumstances.

Most people don’t get that unless you negotiate points in advance the succor and splendor of residuals is mostly a myth. In fact, the last time I got a residual check for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was 6 years ago, and it was for 32 cents. I didn’t cash it on purpose, because I’d rather have the small pleasure of knowing Sony’s books don’t square by less than the cost of a postage stamp because of me. You talk about insulting. Hell, I returned a 38 cent tip in the mid-80s because it was insulting for half and hour’s service. You cannot imagine what I felt when I got 32 cents as my cut for the reruns of a cult classic.

Even if Mr. Owens had gotten points for The Cosby Show – a series no longer in reruns –  how predictably disappointing that people who work 9-to-5 are pointing and laughing and feeling superior without a speck of self awareness or irony, because Owens had to get a normal job!!!

So – on behalf of every performer who has been mocked for honestly paying the bills, I’d like to extend a hearty ‘Screw You’ to the Paycheck Shamers. I’m done with these people who poorly cloak their jealousy at never having had the guts to take a shot at their passion with phony concern about how a performer has fallen SO LOW they choose to get a job to keep a normal life going in between parts.

You know what? The only time I ever felt shame while looking for a ‘normal’ job, after leaving Hollywood, was when people judged me for needing work. Which was just about every ‘normal’ job I ever applied for.

The worst example was when the owner of the Tivoli Deer restaurant in Kitteridge, CO, gave me a job interview so that he could laugh in the face of the former child actor who was ‘reduced’ to waiting tables.

“I would have thought,” he chuckled, cigarette in one hand, and my resume in the other, “you’d have been smart enough to put some of that child star money away.”

I tried to redirect the interview but was stunned, and felt the color rise in my cheeks, as he continued, “I don’t have any place here for you. I just wanted to get a look at what a celebrity reduced to waiting tables looks like.”

I had enough presence of mind to snap at him as I grabbed my coat to leave, “Is that what you think of your employees? That they are reduced to working for you? Thanks for showing me up front what an immense asshole you are, and how little you think of your employees.”

I remember walking to my car, my back ramrod straight, trying not to show through body language just how humiliated I was. I made it a few blocks away before I pulled over and sobbed.

Our Celebrity Culture has given strangers permission to ridicule performers for needing – like them – a non-glamorous job to keep body and soul together, because they aren’t independently wealthy.

I won’t lie and say that being on a television show didn’t give me advantages in job interviews sometimes, but they are offset by the tonnage of demoralization you have to go through to land a regular, steady gig.

I have never had a non-performing friend get asked by an interviewer, “Aren’t you set for life with residuals?” But, I heard it nearly every time I interviewed for a job outside of the business. It would never occur to an interviewer to ask anyone else how much money they have in the bank from a previous job as a precursor to current employment, but that’s fair game for me.

Frankly, it’s appalling how many job interviewers feel like they are entitled to a Barbara Walters’ deep dive into my personal history about my time in the business, and the current state of my finances. The tough part is that you either play along, or tank the interview.

When a non-superstar professional performer (especially a former child actor) looks for a ‘normal’ job they are faced with 2 choices:

  1. Keep your past in your past, but then you have gaps in your resume you can’t explain
  2. Be up front in your resume and face being thought of as an Attention Whore stuck in the past, or so destitute you must stoop to seeking gainful employment

I eventually found that an abridged version of the truth worked best, but far too many job interviews I’ve had were basically a variant of this:

“But, you were on TV…”

“I’m not in the business anymore.”

“But the residuals…”

“Mary Hartman isn’t in reruns”

“But you did… what?”

“There were 455 episodes between the two series.”

“And you don’t… You don’t…” they would trail off and I would wait intently for them to continue, not giving away anything.

“I mean… Do you *need* this job?”

“I would very much like to work here.”

“But… I mean… What I’m trying to say is: Do you actually *need* this job, or should I consider someone else who deserves it? Because, I don’t want you quitting a couple of weeks or months in when you get bored because you miss television.”

I had bills to pay, like everyone else, and later on a son to raise. But, these people all imagined I was a dilettante to the working world, swimming in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck while the song Common People blared on a loop.

They were so fucking busy being jealous and judgmental and figuring I’d put my fortune up my nose that they couldn’t see me for me, or my potential, or even my need.

I can’t put a number on how many times I’ve felt compelled to reveal to a total stranger that my parents stole almost every penny I madejust so I could be gainfully employed – only to have them use that as yet another excuse to reject me.

It took me a few years into adulthood before I realized that these self-selecting jerks would have been an absolute nightmare to work for. But, that didn’t mean I didn’t want or need that job at the time. It hurt deeply when they turned me down, and I took the rejection personally – a charming trait I learned as a child in a business that eats adults alive.

 

At every job I’ve ever worked since I left Hollywood I have had to justify to at least ONE asshole (usually numerous) who demand to know why I was *there* – the implication being ‘I deserve to know what caused your downfall’. As if working for a living is a downfall!!

I couldn’t even escape it in my beloved Radio.

My big break in radio happened when Bruce Kamen, the man who became my mentor, called unexpectedly to interview me on the phone. While we were speaking my phone’s call waiting clicked, and I ignored it.

“You gonna get that?” Bruce barked.

“Nope. They can leave a message.”

“What if it’s Hollywood calling you back?”

“The most important call to me is the one I’m on right now.”

I got the job, and it lead to wonderful things and a whole new career. But it was only in forcefully turning my back on television that I’d ensured my place in the business I loved. Even then I was forced to pick.

 

Does it make you think less of me that I left television and became a local radio talk show host in Denver, Cincinnati and Kanas City? Or, that I did traffic reports for years so that my son could grow up in the same house and finish school with his friends? Does it disappoint you that I left radio for a few years after the Columbine massacre and became a Public Information officer for the Colorado Department of Transportation? Was I not living up to my potential when I anchored the news for a chewing gum and baling wire outfit in San Jose that I quit because they were pirating CNN news casts from the TV?

Would you be impressed if I told you my team at the ABC Radio Westcoast flagship station (KGO) won 5  Edward R Murrow awards – including the national award for breaking news –  along with 4 Mark Twain awards?

Do you judge me for working as a teen at a dry cleaners, an answering service, a hostess that opened 3 Stuart Anderson’s steak houses, a gofer at a publicist or in the box office at The Palace nightclub in Hollywood?

Are you looking down your nose because I chose to deliver pizzas and answers phones at an oil company to pay rent rather than return to Hollywood and my toxic parents?

If you REALLY want to feel superior to the former child actor let’s laugh at how I worked at Subway and waited tables for such fine dining establishments as Red Lobster and a handful of coffee shops you wouldn’t know the name of. I was the office manager for a home maintenance company, and was the receptionist for the crookedest State Farm agent in 8 counties. I lasted 2 weeks at the child care center from hell, and sold ads for a broadcast industry magazine that folded after 8 months.

You know what I didn’t do? Anything immoral or illegal to keep the the roof over our head and food on our table.

You may look down your nose at my life – I’m good with that. While you’re looking down your nose I’m holding my head high.

It’s Quiet Out There – Too Quiet

I woke up in early this morning in Denver to more smoky skies that smell like a bbq, and the yawning silence of yet another sunrise without birdsong. No greet-the-day chatter and early morning peeping, no mourning dove coos or night owl’s final hoots. The woodpecker that lived in the tree next door doesn’t annoy with his early morning noise, and the crows no longer caw cheekily from the treetops. I haven’t seen the red tailed hawk that silently circled the neighborhood at all this year, and even the Canadian geese – which became an infuriating pooping-machine nuisance that refused to migrate south for the winter – are few and far between in the western suburbs.

We leave our doors open at night to cool the house and the mosquitoes and no-see-ums don’t come in to bite us, nor do moths hurl themselves at the light fixtures. No bees in my flowers. The wasps that came with the house are mostly gone, and the aggressive gauntlet I had to run when stepping outside the front door is nonexistent. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a spider web outdoors.

The squirrels disappeared this summer, and our overabundance of bunny rabbits has evaporated. I haven’t seen a garter snake in years, and even the racoon who lived in the neighbor’s overgrown backyard is gone.

Being sick the last few years, and spending so much time in the home we bought nearly 20 years ago, has taught me about the rhythms of this neighborhood: They have changed dramatically, and the silence of nature is deafening and terrifying to me.

I usually wake from pain at 4 am, and don’t fall back asleep until after 6 am. A thousand times since we’ve moved back I’ve heard the first chirp from the proverbial early bird as it called out ‘Wake Up!!’ and its friends began to answer. But I’ve not heard that at all this year, and not because I’m sleeping better. The birds are gone.

It’s 86 degrees on a Saturday afternoon in August, and the usual hum of lawn mowers and leaf blowers is oddly missing, as the protracted drought has prevented even the grass that’s being watered from growing. I’ve been waiting for a bird or a squirrel to appear and all I hear are crickets, the occasional bark of a dog, the neighbor’s (actual) radio, and traffic from a busy road a few blocks away.

I started a timer and let it run for 5 minutes – during that time not a single bird landed in one of the 2 dozen+ mature trees or hedges that are in or abut our backyard. So, I set the timer for another 5 minutes. Then another – then another, and another, and another, and another until 45 minutes had gone by, and I began keeping track in 15 minute increments. Shockingly – not a single bird has flown overhead, nor landed in the trees for the 3 hours it has taken to write this and eat lunch.

It’s like waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and the longer I do it the more depressing it is.

Not only that, even though we don’t have screen doors we’ve had our doors open all day long and we do not have One. Single Fly.

Clearly there is a massive local ecosystem collapse – with not a word about it in the local rags or news shows, and the neighbors are oblivious to it until it’s pointed out. I’m guessing in easier times more people would notice and would raise alarm, causing stories to be written.

But, this isn’t easier times. In fact, this is the stupidest possible timeline.

I’m wondering what my Denver area friends and Front range folks are seeing and hearing. I mean *really* seeing and hearing. Have you seen the usual scrum of Miller moths around outdoor lights? Have you seen a June Bug at all this year? A spider web outside? Open a window and listen a while: What do you hear? Are you hearing the scolding of magpies and jays, and the raucous peeping of chickadees, finches and nuthatches? How long has it been since you heard the whirring of a hummingbird’s wings? Does it sound like you remember it?

What about the rest of the country? What do you hear, what do you see? Is your windshield as shockingly clean on a road-trip as ours was driving north 1,000 miles through farm and ranch land? Are you seeing bugs around street lamps? When was the last time you accidentally breathed one in? Are things like you remember them?

All I can say is: It’s quiet out there. Too quiet for it to be healthy.

Forever and Ever, Amen

“You have to ask yourself,” the hospital priest said to me, “what you did to bring this upon yourself.”

His words shamed me, and immediately I felt the crushing weight of responsibility on my chest. The color rose in my cheeks, and I was tearing up.

“But, they arrested him…” I began, lamely trying to defend myself from a second attack I was not prepared for, one I had not expected in the least.

“God will deal with him as he sees fit. Just as God knows what you did to bring this on yourself, and only He can judge your actions. If you do not forgive him God will hold it against you on Judgement Day. What you hold on Earth will be held against you in Heaven.”

I could not believe what I was hearing, propped up in a hospital bed at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, California, in May of 1980, just days after an emergency operation to remove my appendix, which burst as the surgeon removed it.

The night before an orderly had raped me, incorrectly assuming I was sedated. When he realized I wasn’t tranquilized he panicked, and shoved my head face-down into a pillow. When I stopped struggling he left the room, assuming the worst, and continued his duties.

I did nothing – paralyzed in fear, playing dead. I laid in that bed at the age of 16, certain he would come back and finish the job.

Finally, I could hear heels clacking on the tile floor, and knew it wasn’t him. It was the mother of my roommate – another 16-year-old girl, but one who had gotten her sleeping shot – who came back from dinner to check on her zonked-out daughter one final time for the night.

I lifted my face out of the pillow, gasping in cool delicious air, daring to hope.

“Hello?”  I called out to the woman on the other side of the divider, “I… I think I was molested by the orderly…”

“My god…” the woman gasped as she came over, “Then Cheryl was telling the truth about him last night?”

 

***

 

St Joes

Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Burbank, CA

 

Can we please stop pretending that the Catholic Church hasn’t known about the multitude of sexual predators in their midst going back to forever? Can we stop acting surprised?

Pope Francis’ statement about the *latest* revelation that the Catholic Church is rife with sexual predators who prey on and abuse minors is standard Catholic bullshit:

“I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics”.

Blah, blah, blah.

You know what will Change? Dick all.

Absolutely nothing will happen, except a few old transphobic men wearing dresses will pretend to be shocked and outraged – and I guaran-fucking-tee you that as I put these words to long overdue paper that someone, somewhere within the church is at this very moment abusing a child – and NOTHING will be done.

Forever and Ever, Amen.

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up in the Catholic Church, and our parish was Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Sun Valley, California, in the eastern San Fernando Valley. My brothers attended school there until the nuns who were teaching primary school voted to stop wearing a full habit, and were disappeared by the church one weekend.

The Church had no concerns that the full habit the nuns were forced to wear in non-airconditioned classrooms in Southern California were causing them to pass out from heat exhaustion. It did not matter that the priests could dress in clothes appropriate to the climate or the activity. The Church demanded these women continue to wear voluminous clothing indistinguishable from the chadors that ‘Good Christians’ despised Muslim women wearing. They came to school one week wearing modest dresses, and faced the fury of parishioners rabid at the notion their children had been exposed to the arms and calves of a woman who has sworn herself to celibacy.

People openly made jokes about rapist priests and not being alone with Father Pick, a man who was first accused of raping a child in 1947, and whose last assignment was Holy Rosary when he ‘retired’ in 1969. Father Pick left in ignominy, a sloppy drunk who groped the alter boys, including one of my brothers.

 

Father Pick

 

The entire parish tut-tutted about Father Pick before he was forced to leave, but those things were just to be accepted. Use the buddy system around Father Grab-Ass.

But, a nun speaking up for their human rights or refusing to put Church over health? Well, now, THAT was something people could whip themselves into frenzies of outrage about.

How DARE these women married to Jesus give a thought to their own health or comfort!!

The congregation of hypocrites came to a critical mass on the weekend of the annual school fund-raiser Fiesta when one of the nuns wearing a dress that brushed her knees, and short-short sleeves on a hot June Saturday night, was caught swaying to the music, and even moved her arms a bit.

The Scandal!!

After mass the next morning there were knots of indignant parishioners clucking their tongues, and demanding *something* be done about these shameless hussies.

By Monday morning they were gone. Disappeared in the middle of the night. Replaced by various parents who did their best to hold the classroom down until someone acceptable – someone who wouldn’t dance or show their arms – could be secured. Their replacements were humorless nuns with varying grasps of the English language. The important thing was they would keep wearing medieval garb and take orders unquestionably from men they knew to be drunkards and pedophiles.

My brothers were moved to public school shortly after that, and the school never recovered its reputation or the quality of teachers they had before reinforcing the Catholic truth that nuns are chattel.

That episode is what saved me from having to be brainwashed in a school setting by a misogynistic cult that approves of child predation.

Make no mistake, the ‘modern’ Church is no different.

Pope Frankie is no friend of the children – not by a long shot. Never forget he allowed Cardinal Bernard Law to die in Rome, unscathed by the sex abuse scandal over which he presided, and unable to be extradited to face the consequences of his actions.

I mean – the whole reason Pope Benedict stepped down (itself an unprecedented scandal) and Frankie became Pope was because Ol’ Benny just simply didn’t want to deal with the Boston scandal. Which is different from the Los Angeles scandal, which is different from the Philippine Scandal, and the Irish Scandal and the Canadian scandal…

Forever and Ever, Amen.

 

***

 

I don’t know why this iteration of the Catholic Church pretending to be shocked about the child rape they encourage is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. But, it is, and I’m speaking out now, and I’m speaking out Loud.

I realized that my silence about what happened to me is a sort of complicity.

I was threatened into silence by being told I would go to hell if I didn’t keep my mouth shut about what I brought upon myself.

They did SUCH a good job at shaming me into silence that it was only last night that I told my 30-year-old son what had happened to me.

30 years and he never knew that before I had a driver’s license a man raped and tried to kill me – in a hospital bed.

How does that happen?

 

****

 

Father Rick

 

Father Rick was a sensation at Holy Rosary. He arrived in 1973, a young man of 28, full of ideas to engage the young people in the parish. He started a Youth Group, and a Folk Mass on Sunday afternoons that quickly became more popular than Father O’Donohue’s still-drunk-from-the-night-before rambling sermons during morning mass.

Father Rick was dynamic, and engaging. He knew how to work a crowd. One blistering summer afternoon shortly after he arrived, as the congregation was turning into puddles, he got up for the sermon. Surveying the crowd he said, “It’s too hot for you to listen to me pontificate. The moral of my sermon is ‘A House Divided Against Itself Will Not Stand’. Let Us Pray.” With that, we moved on to Communion, and finished mass 20 minutes early.

Another time he regaled the parishioners with a story from his college days. About the time before he’d dedicated his life in full to God and the Church. He was at a county fair with a few friends and he saw a lithe, young, blond woman, and pursued her down the Midway. When he finally got close enough to talk to her she turned around, only for him to find it was a young, bearded man with very long hair. Moral of the story: Things aren’t always as they seem.

Father Rick visited me in St Joe’s when I had my tonsils out, and brought a half gallon of Rocky Road ice cream (my favorite) for my recovery at home. He loaned me The Chronicles of Narnia, and let me hang all over him.

He took my brothers to the batting cage, and I remember the afternoon my mother and I came home from an interview for a commercial to find all of my brothers gone with Father Rick to the driving range. His black cassock hung up in the doorway between the living room and the hall. Something about seeing his clothes in my home set off alarm bells in 10-year-old Me. But, my mother laughed heartily as she pinned a note to the garment that said, “Who left this lovely black dress for me?” When we got home from the store he had written an answer on the note, which he’d left on the kitchen counter: “It goes well with pearls.”

Father Rick was disappeared like the nuns were. One Sunday he was just gone, and a strange priest with a strained smile was there to conduct the service.

The Youth Group swore it was jealousy that caused Father O’Donohue to banish him from the parish. Other people claimed he’d had an affair with a married female congregant. What ever the case, my appeals to the priests to tell me where he’d been sent were fruitless. I needed to return The Chronicles of Narnia – they didn’t belong to me.

One day I called the Rectory and asked the woman who answered the phone if she knew where Father Rick was. I was still searching for my hero.

She put the phone down, and I could hear a conversation between the lay-woman who had answered and a male voice. She asked if he knew where Father Rick had been sent, and he told her Gardena, but that she was not to pass that information along to any of the congregants. She gave me the brush-off, but I had the information I needed.

I used the giant Los Angeles phone book, and searched for Catholic churches in Gardena. I could scarcely believe my luck when I called the Rectory at St Anthony’s, asked for Father Rick, and was told to hold on while he was told he had a call.

“Hello?”

“Father Rick?” I asked breathlessly. “It’s ME. Claudia.”

“Who?”

“Claudia Lamb, from Holy Rosary,” I gushed. “You loaned me The Chronicles of Narnia and I need to return them! You left without saying goodbye!”

As I caught my breath to continue he hung up on me.

I heard the Bakelite receiver clatter in the cradle for a moment before the line went dead. There was no question in my young mind that he’d intentionally stuffed the phone in my ear – I could hear it. I was crestfallen that my hero had deemed me unworthy and had banished me from his world.

 

Father Rick 2

 

 

In writing this piece I accessed a database of priests in Los Angeles accused of sexual abuse between 1930 and 2003. I was curious what I would find about the church in which I was raised.

Besides Holy Rosary hosting a rapist priest in the late 1950s, and letting Father Grab Ass Pick run the place for 6 years, I found that Father Rick was a horrible, terrible predator whose acts were SO egregious the Catholic church defrocked him after he spent 8 years in prison for only ONE of his crimes. Do you know how AWFUL you have to be to get defrocked from the Catholic Church?

He was defrocked, but not before the Church did their damnedest to protect that monster in human form.

Father Rick Henry lasted 13 months at his first assignment, and 15 months at his next, which was Holy Rosary. The Catholic church simply bounced him to a new parish when he was caught raping little boys. He worked in 6 parishes in his first 14 years as a priest, and by 1980 he had a little boy living in his home on the weekends, with the okay of the boy’s parents.

He’d been grooming my brothers when he was shipped of to Gardena to attack a fresh crop of unsuspecting boys.

Henry went to prison for 8 years in 1993, after the church shielded him multiple times at ‘treatment’ centers and retreats. It’s a pity those treatment centers aren’t available for the people whose lives he ruined.

Even though Rick Henry was defrocked and the Mother Church turned her back on him, he only went to prison for ONE crime. All of the people whose lives were shattered and he faced just the one charge. It took 25 years and a prison term for the Catholic Church to FINALLY say Henry was not fit to minister to the public. Even then, when they forced him into the laity, the Archbishop offered prayers of support to the erstwhile Father Rick.

 

***

St. Joseph Hospital

 

You can imagine my complete lack of surprise when I found out that the predecessor to the priest at St Joe’s who sat and coolly told me I’d go to hell if I didn’t forgive the man who raped and tried to kill me, had himself been a sexual predator.

Of course he was.

Of course he was.

I wonder how many other people were raped in Saint Joseph’s in Burbank? I wonder how many of my friends in the neighboring parish of Saint Genevieve were molested by the multiple priests and Monseigneurs (7, I think) who were sued and arrested for molesting boys there in the 1970s and 80s?

I wonder how many people will read this and say, “That’s terrible, but not MY priest.”

Here’s the thing: Yes, your priest.

They’re ALL in on it – all of them.

The priests all know who the abusers are, and they choose to stay silent, close ranks and deal with it ‘in house’. They’ve been doing it for centuries.

These reports about sexual abuse that pop up every few years that involve thousands of children and hundreds of priests? They’re not scandals.

Let me repeat: They are NOT scandals.

The rape and violence, and threats and shaming to keep quiet about them go back centuries in the Church. They are not anomalies or scandals: This behavior is part of the very fabric of the institution. They are what make the Church what it is.

You know what? Shame and threats from a person in a position of power work.

Why else would it take 30 years to tell my son about something terrible that happened to me when I was a child?

Why else would it take nearly 40 years for me to stand up and say, “I was raped in a Catholic hospital when I was 16, and the girl next to me was, too. The man who raped me tried to kill me – and the Catholic church hushed it up. He served less than 7 months in jail only because the prosecutor refused to let it go, and everyone from the priests to my parents told me never to tell a soul – not even to testify against the man who tried to take my life.”

Well, screw that. No more silent complicity.

My name is Claudia Lamb, and I survived the Catholic Church.

Forever and Ever, Amen.

 

Holy Rosary Church

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary church, Sun valley, CA

It Has Electrolytes!!

Reading 45*s staggeringly ignorant tweet about ‘bad environmental laws’ being the cause of California’s devastating fires made my nose bleed.

California water and Western Water Law were things I specialized in when I was an employed journalist, and I’ve done more stories than I can count on established law, the drought and its effects, farming in CA, and the contaminated aquifers.

The drought is real in California, and all over the west. The need for water exceeds the supply not for lack of reservoirs, but due to lack of rainfall, corporate agriculture’s wasteful irrigation practices and irresponsible crop choice, and Los Angeles’ drinking water aquifer being contaminated with heavy metals, Volatile Organic Compounds, and nuclear waste.

 

Reservoir 3

 

Here is why Trump is so very, very wrong – and not just because he seems to think if there was just more water we could put the fires out:

When the water in the Colorado River was divvied up in the last century it was based on an astronomical water flow projection that had never happened in the history of ever. Everyone knew it at the time, and ignored the impossibility of the figures, kicking the can of how to deal with the eventual water crisis down a few generations.

Metaphorically: Grandma bakes a pie, and 10 people have been told they can all have a quarter of the pie. They all KNOW there isn’t enough for everybody to get a quarter of a pie – but instead of taking less, and all equitably getting a tenth of a pie, everyone keeps demanding their quarter of a pie.

Right now – because of a compact made in the last century, fields in Colorado are dry to water almond orchards in the deserts of California, so that Corporate Ag can corner 80% of the world’s almond supply.

Remember: agriculture and business use 90% of the water in California – not its citizens.

 

Central Valley Billboard 3

 

Now – as to this ‘made up drought’? You can build all the reservoirs you want, but there’s nothing to put in them. They already can’t fill Lake Shasta, Lake Mead or Lake Powell, and building more places to hold non-existent water won’t do a damned thing.

Buying a half dozen dressers doesn’t mean you will magically get the clothes with which to fill them.

Even before the extreme drought that California has faced for the last decade-plus, water boards were unable to fill their reservoirs. There is neither the rain, nor the snow melt in the snowfields of the Sierra Nevada to fill them, and the glaciers of Rocky Mountains have melted. Glaciers that once gave water in July and August have melted forever.

The Sacramento Delta is salinating because there is not enough fresh water to push the delta water to the Pacific Ocean, where it belongs. At the same time Lake Tahoe is rapidly lowering and becoming cloudy. Damning up the few remaining rivers kills the entire ecosystem downstream – look at what a disaster the Colorado River is where it enters the Pacific Ocean as a mere trickle.

 

CO River Reaches Sea

 

The farmers who have those moronic billboards along I-5 have been bitching since the last century that they can’t flood-irrigate their crops – IN THE DESERT!! They have refused to modernize and use underground drip systems because they’ve ALWAYS been allowed to waste water – why not now?

They grow almonds, alfalfa and hay – IN THE DESERT!! Together these crops use 30% of all agricultural water in the state. Alfalfa uses more water than any other thing grown in California, yet makes up only 4% of the state’s crop.

Trust me on this: we don’t need to waste 20% of California’s total water supply to grow cow feed in the sand. I drove past 800 miles of richly producing alfalfa fields in Montana last month, we don’t need to grow cattle fodder IN THE DESERT!!

 

Central Valley Billboard 2

 

The farmers who pretend a finite resource is being withheld from them as some kind of libby-lib-lib plot, are willfully ignorant and propagating the lie that there is some secret water stash somewhere being that’s being withheld from them because they voted for Reagan, or some other such crap (those stupid billboards were up when I was a teen in the late 1970s). They would rather believe a conspiracy, than the rainfall totals, environmental damage from the drought – or their own damned eyes.

 

SFV Superfund Map

 

As for Southern California’s drinking water problems? That’s a whole different issue.

To quote Woody from Toy Story: Somebody’s poisoned the waterhole!

In 1980 the aquifer in the east San Fernando Valley was declared too dangerous for human consumption, and the wells providing more than 50% of the drinking water for the Valley were shut down permanently. Cities were forced to provide alternate sources of drinking water. The California Aqueduct and the Colorado River were forced to pick up the slack.

The San Fernando Valley aquifer is contaminated with industrial chemicals from WW2 airplane and weapons production, post-War auto manufacturing, the electronics industry, the aerospace and defense industries, oil wells, and military bases.

The area where I grew up (near the Burbank Airport) is Superfund Area 1 – a 7-square-mile toxic plume of cancerous pollution. The most polluted well in the SFV is behind my old (still operating) high school, adjacent to a dump that I grew up smelling. In my High School’s zip code alone there were 32 poorly regulated, unlined dumps that allowed unbelievable pollutants to be dumped directly into the soil, which leached into the aquifer. Some of those dumps have been redeveloped into parks.

This is one of 4 of Superfund Sites in the SFV polluting the groundwater. All 4 have been a National Priority Listing since 1986, but dick-all has been done about it. The action plan consists of partially treating the contaminated ground water (never to human consumption level), and allow it to percolate back through to the polluted part of the aquifer. There is no plan to clean up the original contaminants. That’s like trying to fix a leak by putting a bucket under the drip.

The only plan at this point is to monitor the pollution contaminating the drinking water of Los Angeles County, and shut down wells as they become unfit for human consumption.

So, what’s in the water I (and millions of others) grew up drinking, showering, swimming in, and eating food from our garden? What’s silently spreading to all of the wells in the San Fernando Valley?

Hexavalent chromium (Remember Erin Brokavitch’s suit?)
Trichloroethylene (TCE)
Perchloroethylene or Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
1,4 –Dioxane
1,2, 3-Trichloropropane (TCP)
Carbon Tetrachloride
Chloroform
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)
Nitrate
Benzene
Vinyl Chloride
Perchlorate
Tritium

And…. Drum roll please:

Low Grade Nuclear Waste.

If you REALLY want to blow your mind look up the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and read about the largest nuclear accident on US soil that nobody knows about – that happened in foothills above the San Fernando Valley.

The nuclear waste got into in the water during mitigation efforts after the accident. The government scraped the soil from the facility, and trucked it to the unlined, poorly regulated dumps of the east San Fernando Valley – right next to the cookie cutter housing developments of the blue collar workers who kept all of those factories humming, and next to the schools of their children.

The nuclear waste, along with all the chemicals, and Volatile Organic Compounds leached into the soil we lived atop, and eventually contaminated the groundwater.

I grew up drinking that toxic brew, and I am sick – as are many people I grew up with. My old classmates, friends and neighbors have clusters of breast cancer, testicular cancer, MS, ALS, COPD, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, fibromyalgia, lupus and host of other autoimmune diseases. 40 employees at Poly High School died of Hodgkin’s disease by the year 2000 – most of them in the athletic department, whose fields and offices were built atop reclaimed land from the dump behind our school. The same dump that leached methane into the girls gym, and in 1979 it caused a small explosion, taking the building out of commission. Not only is my old high school still in operation, they built a Jr. High School across the street.

Los Angeles’ poisoned aquifers are California’s dirty secret, and within a decade they will be recognized as the health disaster they are.

In the meantime? State and County Water Municipalities will continue to whistle past the graveyard, and pretend that there’s a non-peeing part to the pool, as the plume of poison continues to contaminate the drinking water for one of the largest cities – and economies – in the world.

After reading Trump’s idiocy about diverting water to the Pacific Ocean, and loosening up the laws on poisoning our water FURTHER, I longed for the wisdom of President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, and his simple demand for electrolytes.

 

 

Ginger or Mary Ann?

A number of people have mused that alleged Russia spy Maria Butina wasn’t pretty enough to be the Honey Trap she appears to be. Me included.

I realized that I was judging her ability on her looks – something that absolutely infuriates me.

After I got done feeling horrible about my shallowness I got treated to a heaping helping of humility, when I realized that when I was in show business I specialized in the very same Girl-Next-Door persona that so many men found irresistible in Maria.

I’m under no illusions that I was beautiful. I was cute. I was personable and quick witted. But, I did not have the je ne sais quoi it took to be a high fashion model.

 

Claudia Head Shot 2 (2)

 

 

I didn’t model – I did print work.

There’s a HUGE difference in how those are viewed – and paid – within the industry. One sells Haute Couture and high cost parfum, the other does back-to-school ads for the Sunday newspaper inserts. (Kids, go ask your parents what a newspaper is – then ask them what an insert is)

I was nowhere near pretty enough to be a model, but that didn’t stop men from the industry who were 30 years my senior from asking to me to dinner at some swanky restaurant so they could be seen with a cute young thing on their arm.

I accepted more than one invitation (Le Dome on a Friday night? Hell yes!!), but not a one single man got even a kiss. They knew it up front.

I met them at the restaurant, and once there repeated what I said when we made the date: Nothing – NOTHING – will happen after this meal. Zero, nada, no chance of anything. We were having chaste dinner, and if he ever expected to have the pleasure of my company ever again he would keep his hands to himself and enjoy the sparkling conversation.

They knew the rules up front, and most asked for a second date. It was all about their ego. They knew their age, but the chance to wine and dine a precocious nubile woman trained to smile professionally was enough to make them set money on fire for oysters at Gladstone’s in Malibu.

 

Claudia Head Shot 1

 

Maria’s job was to appeal to the GOP marks who liked Mary Ann more than Ginger – Kompromat likely gleaned by hacking their browser history and seeing what kind of porn they liked.

The truth is something I learned before I could legally drink the bottles of champagne purchased for me at The Brown Derby and Chasen’s: Some men will trip over themselves for a woman – wholesome OR glamor girl – as long as she appears to share his interests (be they Hollywood, Politics or Gunz) and simply listens to him with a smile on her face.

 

Maria Butina Umbrella