Agony of victory

Whenever I do something really stupid and foolhardy, I can take comfort in knowing I come by the impulse honestly.  I descend from a long line of proud men whose pride has sometimes led them to undertake imprudent and reckless challenges.  The line between glory and sheer stupidity can be difficult to discern.  Unfortunately for myself and some of my forefathers, striving for greatness sometimes has the opposite result, often depositing one on the manure heap of ignominy.  

Once I read a newspaper account of my Uncle Gus, who many generations ago was a baker in Los Angeles, California.  It was 1908 and the city was still young and construction was booming.  Everywhere, utility poles were erected and daring men, working high above the city, strung electric lines and telephone cables.  

On the ground, residents watched the men work and marveled at their bravery.  Everyone, except for my Uncle Gus, of course.  He was not the least bit impressed.  Spitting a large glob of tobacco juice onto the dusty ground, he told the assembled crowd, “They ain’t so special.  I can climb a telephone pole as good as any lineman.”

The crowd jeered and mocked the 37-year-old baker, who was caked in flour and still wearing his apron.

Fixing his gaze on a tall, sturdy, steel pole at the corner of Amelia and Turner streets, Uncle Gus threw off his apron, grasped the pole and began his ascent.  As promised, Gus scurried up the pole with twice the speed and skill of a lineman.  Down below, friends and onlookers marveled at his nerve.  As he neared the top of the pole, the crowd’s cheers ringing in his ears,  Gus made plans to sit atop the pole and bask in his well-deserved glory.  

Unaware that the lines the pole supported carried 1200 volts of electricity, “Gus threw one leg over one of the wires,” the newspaper reported.  “In an instant blue flames shot out from his head, arms and legs and he fell from his lofty perch.  He landed on a network of telephone wires and from them bounded to the pavement, thirty feet below.  He lay as if dead and his friends notified the police station.”

Gus survived the daring stunt, suffering a compound fracture to his right leg and severe burns to his feet and hands.  The glory that was nearly his evaporated in a brilliant burst of blue flames.  Undoubtedly, this result caused Gus a great deal of consternation.  However, Gus took comfort and was humbled by the reality that some benevolent hand reached out and broke his fall.  Bounding off those telephone wires surely saved his life.  Perhaps next time I’ll stick the landing, he thought, and all the glory and honor will be mine.

Another lost guru Part 2


As morning broke on Saturday, November 6, 1982, residents of Woodstock Road, Los Angeles, California emerged from their homes eager to provide details regarding the mysterious group that occupied the fortress-like compound in their midst.  Despite denials from investigators, an almost unanimous assertion among neighbors of the Church of Naturalism Inc. was that the group was involved with drugs.  “We thought it was a drug factory,” said a 26-year-old neighbor named Kerry.  “It was too secretive to be a normal house.  We thought they were doing angel dust up there.” 

Another neighbor named Robin, who worked as a secretary for a television producer, also suspected the group was involved with drug trafficking.  “There was constant traffic at all hours, early morning and late at night, and they’d only stay a little while.  The strange thing was the flow of old beat up cars driven mainly by black men.  I always knew something weird was going on.”  Robin also revealed that she’d attended a costume party at one of the homes on the compound and had been introduced to the host who claimed to work in the mental health field. 

Despite the claims of neighbors, investigators continued to assert that no evidence pointed to a narcotics motive.  “We don’t have anything to show it’s drug related,” Detective Hank Petroski told reporters.  “We looked and found no drugs or drug paraphernalia.”  At least partially undercutting Petroski’s statement was a large sign that read “DRUGS” in mirrored letters visible inside the garage.

A nearby resident named Scott, who worked as a film editor, also spoke of frequent visitors to the property and the paranoid security personnel who guarded the compound.  He told reporters, whenever someone got too close to the front gate, security guards “popped out of the bushes” demanding, “What do you want?…They had a real defensive attitude.”  Neighbors reported they often heard gunshots on the property, which they assumed was target practice, and that muscular men could be seen lifting barbells.  “Everyone’s suspicious when there are locked gates and real defensive guards,” Scott added.  According to Scott, one of the estate’s servants revealed to him that the group “wanted to make a movie about cocaine.”  Indeed, the San Francisco Examiner reported that police sources claimed George Peters “was producing a film about cocaine at the time of his death,” and that Peters “was seen over the summer interviewing and filming participants of a Santa Monica conference on ‘Cocaine Today’….” 

As the weekend progressed, a dozen or so current and former members of the Church of Naturalism and employees started showing up at the group’s estate.  Most were reluctant to talk, but a few spoke fondly of their former friend, George Peters.  “George Peters had the gift of gab coupled with independence of thinking,” said Jay Friedheim, one of the church’s organizers from its early days.  “George always tried to take care of people on the fringe of society….We thought we were going to change the world.”  Peters former common law wife, Katherine Peters, who started the church with George after she met him in Chicago in the early sixties, said, “He was a father in a way.”  A woman named Susan Shore, who shared the rear house with Peters, revealed the church made income from a relationship counseling service called Loveline, a documentary film company called Mentor Media, computer programming and auto repair.  Friedheim indicated the compound’s heavy security was necessary because of the group’s work counseling drug addicts.  As one former church employee said, “They felt safe up here, away from the beaten path.” 

However, it would take less than 24 hours for the idealism to fade and for serious questions to arise about the happy band of altruists who just wanted to change the world from the fortified confines of their $5600 per month Laurel Canyon hideaway.  Despite detectives’ insistence to the contrary, Woodstock Road residents’ conviction that something fishy was going on at the Church of Naturalism’s secretive compound would prove accurate as revelations of previous drug arrests, allegations of strange beliefs and unorthodox practices and even charges of mind control began to spill out into the public.


The Los Angeles Times

The San Francisco Examiner

The Chicago Tribune

Kegan Kline unwilling to face the music

As Kegan Kline, the Miami County, Indiana man who recently plead guilty to 25 counts of child pornography, child exploitation and obstruction of justice, sat in a Miami County courtroom Thursday, waiting to here the sentence for all the harm and misery he had caused, he did what is natural and instinctual for him:  he scanned the dank and musty corners of his brain for one more lie to tell – one more whopper to avoid having to face the consequences of his heinous actions.

As Fox59 News reports:

“On May 9, Miami County Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Kiefer filed a briefing with the Court arguing for consecutive terms as many of the charges arise from separate crimes.

“In an August 2020 transcript of an interview with Indiana State troopers that Kline claims he hasn’t seen, detectives advise him that he could be facing 45 years in prison if convicted.

“FOX59 News has reported on those transcripts for more than a year as Kline discussed his social media contacts with young girls and whether he was communicating with Libby the night before her death utilizing a fake social media personae.

“Today’s court hearing was delayed an hour and twenty minutes as attorneys conferred with Judge Timothy Spahr in chambers.

“When they emerged into the courtroom, Defense Counsel Andrew Achey announced that his client reserved the right to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming that he was yet to read the transcript of his statements to police.”

Kegan Kline claims that he has only now been made aware of this transcript.  This is the same transcript that was the focus of countless news reports, podcasts and YouTube videos, and served as the basis for a potential link to the Delphi murders.  Now he’s acting like this is news to him, like he doesn’t recall being interviewed by detectives in August of 2020. 

Undoubtedly, Kline is going to rush back to his jail cell, perform a thorough deconstruction of the transcript and come up with totally plausible and defensible explanations for the countless incriminating statements he made and the abundance of evidence against him.  Then he’s going to tackle the thorny issue of having stood before the court, where he assured the judge he was of sound mind except for a touch of mild schizophrenia, and, one by one, entered guilty pleas to 25 charges.  Yeah, the Keganator’s got the prosecution right where he wants them.  He’s going to blow the case wide open. 

Listen for whom the bell tolls, Kegan, it tolls for thee.

Ice Cream Joe to pull chocolate milk from schools

According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a ban on chocolate milk for elementary and middle school students.  The USDA claims the added sugar content of flavored milk is too high and can be as much as soda.

Asked to comment on the proposed ban, President Joe Biden deftly sidestepped the issue. 

“My name is Joe Biden. I’m Dr. Jill Biden’s husband and I eat Jeni’s ice cream — chocolate chip,” Biden said between licks on a freshly scooped cone.  “I came down because I heard there was chocolate chip ice cream.  By the way, I have a whole refrigerator full upstairs.  You think I’m kidding? I’m not.”

The move to ban chocolate milk comes as federal regulators continue their quest to make school lunches as bland and devoid of nutrition as humanly possible.

However, dairy advocates say flavored milk provides vital calcium, potassium and vitamin D lacking in most kids’ diets.

“As I’ve told my distinguished friend from Massachusetts – a good friend, Senator Markey – it’s really very, very dull when after all these years in public life, you’re known for two things: Ray-Ban sunglasses and chocolate chip ice cream. Very dull president,” Biden said, continuing to dance around the issue.

In addition to America’s children, the administration seeks to steer President Biden himself toward a more healthy diet that includes more fish and veggies.  As Axios recently reported, “Some Biden aides have long noted that he eats ‘like a child,’ with a food palette that skews beige.”

Clearly, the bright individuals in charge at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue believe our nation’s president and our nation’s youth need to stop skewing brown or beige and develop a more mature food palette. 

Whatever the administration and the USDA decide, the big guy pledged his support by issuing another ice cream metaphor, “Let’s go.  Let’s go lick the world.  Let’s get it done.”

Another lost guru Part 1

Crime Scene

As detectives made their way up the narrow winding lane, an abandoned Cadillac limousine was the first indication that something had gone terribly wrong in this Laurel Canyon neighborhood.  Hemmed in by thick brush on either side of the lane, the wrecked vehicle that now confronted them took up the better part of tiny Woodstock Road.  However, the vehicle’s damaged front end and shattered windshield didn’t appear related to the present location and position in which the vehicle came to rest.  The large caliber handgun that lay in pieces on the road next to the Cadillac also indicated that there was likely more to be discovered in this Mount Olympus neighborhood.  Strange scenes were nothing new to the detectives called to investigate crimes inside Laurel Canyon, an area of Los Angeles which had a peculiar knack for giving up its dead in a most bizarre and cruel fashion.   Only a year earlier, four people had been bludgeoned to death less than a mile away at the home of porn star John Holmes.  In 1969, the Tate murders occurred four miles away, with the slain bodies of other young women turning up along Mulholland Drive at around the same time.  With that in mind, investigators continued their ascent up Woodstock Road, stalked by a spirit of dread.  

About 1000 feet further on, detectives turned into a drive that led into a six acre private estate.  Across the drive lay a large wrought-iron gate, some 80 feet from where it had been ripped from its hinges, presumably by the damaged Cadillac they’d previously encountered.  The gate had once been attached to a six-foot fence that enclosed the property.  Topped with coiled razor wire, the security fence and spotlights gave the property the appearance of a heavily fortified compound, rather than an elegant residential estate.  Video cameras monitored the front gate and visitors had to press a buzzer to be admitted to the property.  There were two ranch-style homes, each with its own swimming pool, and a large statue of Buddha on the property.  Around 2:30 that morning, November 6, 1982, a security guard for the estate was alerted to a commotion, which hastened him to investigate.  After phoning the rear dwelling and receiving no answer, he ran to the home where he discovered a man lying dead in the living room, prompting him to immediately phone authorities.    

Inside the rear home, police discovered two badly beaten men dead from apparent gunshot wounds.  The second body was discovered in the bedroom.  Both were fully clothed and there appeared to have been a struggle.  Investigators were able to identify the victims as George Peters, 43, and James Henneberry, 31.  Investigator’s immediate assessment was that the two men were murdered during the course of a robbery, speculating that intruders accessed the property through an unlocked back gate.  Detectives learned the Cadillac was registered to the Church of Naturalism Inc., and that Peters served as chairman of the board and Henneberry the church treasurer.  

According to interviews with the security guard and a woman who shared the front house with Henneberry, Henneberry played pool until 2 a.m. when he walked over to the rear home where Peters resided to grab a cup of tea.  There Henneberry, presumably, interrupted a robbery in progress, struggled with intruders and was slain along with Peters.  The assailant or assailants then fled the scene by crashing the church’s limousine through the iron gate, abandoning the vehicle further down the road and possibly fleeing on foot. 

While the crime itself and the motive seemed fairly straight forward, the victims, the group they led and the location they occupied were shrouded in mystery.  And as interviews with neighbors and church members unfolded and facts emerged, the truth about the enigmatic George Peters and the Church of Naturalism he founded remained elusive.  Because, apart from the many things that remained unclear about George Peters, one thing that was clear was that his name was not George Peters.  He became George Peters when he left his old life behind and embarked on the life of a professional guru.  As gurus go, Peters had at one time shown some promise, attracting a fair amount of publicity and a modest following.  But unlike other more notable gurus whose ambitions led them to California, Peters’ project never really achieved full flourishing, and the circumstances of his death would call all of Peters’ ideals and ambitions into question.  

As George Peters lay there dead in his fortified, heavily guarded compound, the victim of a robbery gone horribly wrong, one could be forgiven for wondering whether the self-help guru occupation was genuine, or simply a persona he had constructed for himself to conceal other ambitions.  Indeed, to hear George Peters and his cohorts tell it, it is even possible the former LSD guru and Church of Naturalism founder could have been the invention of someone or something else altogether.  


The Los Angeles Times

The San Francisco Examiner

The Chicago Tribune

Market analysts recommend putting money in Funyuns as a hedge against economic uncertainty

With the closure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last March, and the more recent collapse of First Republic Bank, investors are scrambling to find a safe place to store their wealth as the economic outlook continues to darken.

Some are looking to gold or bonds to weather the coming storm, but analysts urge investors not to overlook Funyuns.  Funyuns has traditionally been a safe and reliable investment during tough times.

“Funyuns has outperformed all other investments and the market as a whole going back decades.   Throughout the 2008 financial crisis, Funyuns’ stock performed like a champ, outpacing commodities and precious metals,” said Jordan Moneyheffer of Moneyheffer Investments. 

For most analysts, Funyuns’ resilience during tough times makes sense.  They cite the desire on the part of consumers to turn to comfort products and old familiar brands when the future is uncertain.    

“Funyuns is well positioned to ride out the approaching headwinds.  In recent years, they’ve made some strategic investments, including an exciting new extrusion process for shaping that delicious cornmeal into the fabulous shapes we’ve all grown to love.  Additionally, they’ve made moves behind the scenes, acquiring domestic flavor production capacity to ensure that captivating flavor will be exclusive to Funyuns for decades to come,” Moneyheffer said.

Even cautious investors remain bullish on Funyuns. 

“Listen, if you can’t get excited about Funyuns, then what kind of jaded, joyless prick are you anyway?  A world where investors are bearish on Funyuns?  Dude, I don’t even want to think about that,” Moneyheffer added.