The Bodacious Bus on the Boulevard

Jody Roberts steps to the back of the bus to display his psychedelic handiwork.

By Tony Morris

For the past six weeks Topanga artist Jody Roberts has been decorating a 1955 GMC school bus for the creators of Rubber Tramps, a documentary feature about people who live in their vehicles. Roberts has lived in a variety of vehicles for the past 23 years and was commissioned to create the psychedelic bus which the filmmakers plan to drive to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, this January.

VOL.25 NO. 1
January 12 - 25, 2001


The GMC bus is a major work for Roberts, known for his talents as an illustrator and cartoonist. When the exterior is complete the interior of the bus will be transformed into a theater to present screenings of Rubber Tramps. The filmmakers plan to present the film to the public for free when the bus stops at a number of markets on the Westside.
According to the film's director, Max Koetter, the idea for Rubber Tramps came after a cross-country trip. The film's crew met in Los Angeles and traveled north up the California coast to the Oregon flatlands meeting people living in buses, cars and vans.

Jody (far right) decorated the bus to promote Rubber Tramps a film by director Max Koetter (center) seen here with his crew.

Koetter says the crew "knocked on people's doors. There was a sense of openness which they were willing to share with us."

With the journals and music of Brett Beardslee and commentary by celebrated author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) the film follows Beardslee in Juicy Lucy a 1958 Volkswagen Van. The crew met Kesey on his farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon. His voice is heard throughout the film, providing a link with the Kesey's bus trip in Further--a trip chronicled in Tom Wolfe's novel The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The bus can be seen rusting away in a grove of trees, testimony to a time when countless buses and Volkswagen vans traveled the backroads and highways of the country. Kesey reflects, "There's room for all the thoughts we have. It exists. Bodhisattvas living in their vehicles, they're not going to bomb Bosnia."


Jody spent six weeks on this labor of love.

Rubber Tramps explores the essence of a culture which celebrates the freedom of living on the road, a freedom of expression despite society's prejudice against such a way of life. The railroad tramps of Woody Guthrie's day may be gone but their wanderlust lives on with the Rubber Tramps driving the country's highways.

Crew member Brett Beardslee's diary sums it up, "On those streets, behind those blanket curtains and painted windows, are some of the most astonishing people I have ever met. They are nomads and gypsies and poets and magicians. Prophets and psychos and hippies and hermits. Soldiers. Scholars. Potheads. Activists. Misfits. . .Just like us."

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Joni Morales Retires from Post Office

By Penny Taylor

Friday, December 29, 2000 was Joni Morales' last day at the Topanga Post Office after 10 years of service in Topanga. Her retirement party the day before was marked by pizza, cake, certificates of appreciation from the government and jokes and tales about happenings in the postal service. And it was great seeing Cinderella back behind the counter after being at the Palisades Post Office for a while.

Joni Morales (front center) is congratulated on her retirement by the P. O. crew. Front row: Ellen Mills, Oscar Reynoso, Lucy Ulloa, and Bob Stoprya. Back row: Bruce Grether, Mike Gallegher, Jake Russell (hidden) Cinderella Sadler, Javier Malagon (hidden) Rick Davis, Charlene Beckwith, Dale Petersen, and Courtland Hitz.

A resident of the Fernwood area, Joni isn't abandoning ship entirely. She'll be helping out Leigh Bloom at the Topanga Mail and Message for a while before starting up her new career in tile and ceramic painting for Karen Silton. Her art has always been an important part of Joni's life and her imagination and use of colors is a delight to see. Her illustrations have appeared in the Messenger.

Joni's proof positive that retirement is only the beginning.

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Chamber Corner

The Topanga Chamber of Commerce proudly announces our 53rd annual celebration of the outstanding Citizen and Business of the year-people who have made a difference to our community. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will make presentations and will officiate at the installation of the Chamber Board for 2001. Our theme will be the 2001 Space Odyssey.

We want to thank everyone for continuing to support us in the past year. The year 2000 brought many new members and greater participation in our events. We want to thank the community by pledging to do more for Topanga in 2001.

Please join us for our Annual Dinner and celebration of the community on Saturday, January 27, at 7:00 p.m. at the Topanga Community House, 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Admission is $20, Advanced reservations recommended. Please mail checks to the Topanga Chamber at P. O. Box 185. For information call 455-0790.

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Lauren Penner Wins on Quicksilver


Lauren Penner in flight on Quicksilver.

The United States Combined Training Association gave Lauren Penner and her 18-year-old thoroughbred mare, Quicksilver, the Medallion Award for finishing in the top five placings in three horse trials during the year 2000. Horse trials are the triathlon of equestrian sports. Each horse and rider combination must complete three tests. The first phase includes the compulsory movements of an elegant dressage test. The second phase is the cross-country, where horse and rider gallop and jump a timed course that includes logs, ditches, banks and waters. Finally the pair have to successfully complete a show jumping round where if they knock down a rail the team is penalized. It is not an easy sport, at any level, to do well in all three phases. Congratulations Lauren! Lauren trains at the world class Mill Creek Equestrian Center right here in Topanga.

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Senior, Disabled Have to Go the Distance for Rides

By Tony Morris

For Topanga residents over 65 years and qualified disabled persons there are two programs which provide transportation service to those in need. They don't make it easy, but if you're willing to go through the red tape, you can sign up for free or reduced rate rides. Cityride Dial-A-Ride serves the City of Los Angeles and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Access Paratransit is the designated ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) paratransit service for the County.


Cityride Dial-A-Ride requires new applicants to complete an application with a copy of a birth certificate, Medi-Cal card, DMV card, passport, or if disabled, a copy of an MTA disabled identification card. To qualify for the low-income rate, a copy of a Medi-Cal card or Supplemental Security Income award letter is submitted. A check or money order for $15.00 or $6.00 (if on Medi-Cal or SSI) plus 34 cents for shipping and handling-a total of $15.34 or $6.34 with your Social Security number on the check or money order can be mailed to: CITYRIDE, P. O. Box 866003, Los Angeles, CA 90086.

Following receipt of the check or money order, a book of 66 transit scrip for each quarter is used to obtain discounts on taxi and Cityride Dial-A-Ride services. Transit scrips expire on June 30th of each year. Using transit scrip, two to six scrips cover the cost of a Cityride Lift-Van, up to 12 scrips provides a taxi (participants pay all costs over $12), 8 scrips covers a private Lift-Van (participants pay all costs over $8).


Access Paratransit allows riders using Ready Access to schedule immediate response trips-from 45 minutes to 5 hours before a desired pick-up time and advanced scheduled trips from 5 hours to 24 before the required pick-up.

A limited number of advanced scheduled trips-5 to 24 hours in advance-are offered and many Access Paratransit riders are not aware of this fact. Access Paratransit says that an Access Paratransit Advisory Committee is now working jointly with Access Services staff to "modify and simplify the Ready Access scheduling procedures."

Access Paratransit requires applicants to complete an application and schedule an in-person assessment which lasts approximately 40 minutes. Applicants are notified within 21 days upon completion of the eligibility process.

Cityride and Access Paratransit information and applications can be obtained by calling 1-800-827-0829. Taxi service in Topanga: United Taxi-310-821-1000 and Valley Transportation- 1-818-787-1900.

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Viewshed Property Saved on Stunt Road

Zev Yaroslavsky, supervisor, County of LA, 3rd District, said, "This latest land acquisition by the Mountains Restoration Trust significantly enhances the scenic and recreational value of Cold Creek. A major step has been taken in protecting Stunt Road."

On December 1, the Mountains Restoration Trust announced the acquisition of 24 acres adjacent to the Cold Creek Preserve in the Santa Monica Mountains. Steve Harris, president of the Trust, said, "With acquiring these properties, 95% of the viewshed along Stunt Road is now protected. As a result, one of the most scenic areas in the areas within the Santa Monica Mountains has been preserved for the public and the residents of the area."

"The properties when combined with the existing Cold Creek Preserve extend along Stunt Road for more than two miles," according to Harris.

Stunt Road wanders through Cold Creek Canyon between Mulholland Highway and Saddlepeak Road. Traveling along Stunt Road offers some of the best vistas and scenery in the Santa Monica Mountains including excellent examples of Chaparral ecology and granite rock outcropping. Mr. Harris noted that the viewshed along Stunt Road is protected cooperatively by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, California State Parks, the University of California Reserve and, the Mountains Restoration Trust.

"Working with Fidelity National Title and the California National Bank, the Trust has completed the purchase of four contiguous parcels which will be added to the Preserve. The folks at both of these institutions understood the important mission of land preservation in the Santa Monica Mountains. These businesses cooperated with us and helped in many ways to make these acquisitions possible," said Harris.

Asked about hiking trails, Jo Kitz, stated that there weren't any existing trails on these properties. Ms. Kitz said, "Some exploratory work and investigation will be undertaken to determine if a trail can be built on the newly acquired parcels to link to other existing trails." She reminded everyone that these properties are adjacent to the Stunt High Trail which leads to the Backbone Trail.
Kitz reported, "It is conceivable to design a loop trail accessible for most hikers on these properties with its gentle slopes."

Mark Lamken, chairman of MRT, commented, "The Trustees have been trying to acquire these properties for more than ten years. We immediately realized the importance of these 24 acres to the preservation plan in protecting Cold Creek Canyon".

Various options exist for restoration. Ten years ago portions of the property were graded. Ms. Kitz, program director, indicated that the land has self restored many of the native plant species. Therefore, removing non-native species from the coastal sage, chaparral and grassland communities will allow the native plants to thrive. The grasslands are a bit weedy and will be improved with native bunch grasses. If there is sufficient ground water on the property, deer grass can be planted; if not, other California bunch grasses will be used. Finally, non-native broom and tree of heaven will be removed from the oak riparian corridor. Utilizing the four major plant communities, the Trust can truly reinvigorate these lands to the beauty and function of their original state.

According to the MRT's long term management plans, the preservation of this property reduces the year around downstream impact on Cold Creek, protecting the natural habitat resources of the entire Cold Creek Watershed.

President Harris concluded his remarks. "2000 has been a most satisfactory year for the Mountains Restoration Trust in terms of restoration, education, and land protection. We thank many individuals who work for governmental agencies and other organizations who help us in so many ways throughout the year. In terms of restoration, hundreds of oak trees have been planted, the removal process of Arundo donax has begun on 100 acres in Malibu Creek, and numerous preservation projects have been completed to help heal the land. As for education, more than 4,000 school age youngsters have participated in MRT's outdoor environmental workshops. And finally, we have been active in land acquisitions in the Santa Monica Mountains."

The Mountains Restoration Trust was established in 1981 as a California non-profit, public benefit, organization to work to protect, restore and enhance the natural resources of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Trust is the largest non-governmental landowner in the Santa Monica Mountains acquiring properties through negotiated purchases from willing sellers and from gifts from generous civic-minded donors. The MRT has participated in the acquisition of more than 3,000 acres over the years and still holds title in excess of 1,500 acres.

MRT's major holding, the Cold Creek Preserve, protects the headwaters of Cold Creek which is one of the few year-round streams in the Santa Monica Mountains and has the purest water. The MRT continues to expand this pristine wilderness. It now exceeds 1000 acres and includes 13 waterfalls, numerous species unique in the Santa Monica Mountains, and great species diversity. The Canyon Preserve is open to the public, everyday, free of charge, by reservation. All other hiking and equestrian trails maintained by MRT are unrestricted.

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Lost Firefighter Honored

Cowboy poet Dan Hess reads poem written for downed firefighter Jeff Langley.

By Tony Morris

The Los Angeles County Fire Department paid tribute to the memory of Los Angeles County Firefighter Paramedic, Jeffrey Langley, with the dedication of the Department's new stationary helicopter training tower at the LACFD's Air Operations Center in Pacoima on December 18th. The ceremony was presided over by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, with Acting Deputy Fire Chief Gary Lockhart, Chief P. Michael Freeman, and Karen Langley, mother of Jeff Langley. Attending the ceremony were more than 150 firefighters from Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, friends and family members. Dan Hess, the "Cowboy Poet", flew in from Missouri to present a special poem he wrote in Langley's memory.

Langley was killed in March 1993 during a cliffside rescue operation in Topanga State Park when he accidentally fell 100 feet from a County helicopter. Prior to his death Langley had explored the concept of providing a stationary steel tower which could be used as a cost-effective means of helicopter hoist training for firefighters.

The training tower was constructed with the support of several corporate donors who provided basic components in a public-private partnership. The tower consists of a military surplus helicopter mounted on a three-story steel tower with an exterior rescue hoist attached to the side of the helicopter's shell.

"We are proud to dedicate this training facility to Jeff Langley because of all that he did to further this cause within the fire service, and because he made the ultimate sacrifice," said Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman.

The tower is currently used to train County firefighters in "pickoff" maneuvers to rescue victims from cliffsides and buildings. It is also used to aid firefighters in practicing methods for securing victims in rescue baskets and new techniques for swiftwater rescues. During swiftwater rescues specially trained firefighters are lowered from a helicopter into rapidly moving water to save victims in flood control channels, rivers and other bodies of water.

Langley first joined the Department as a fire suppression aide in the brush fire camps and graduated as a Los Angeles County firefighter in 1984. He served as a firefighter paramedic until his death in 1993.

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Let Us Give You a Hand

Bridge classes are now forming at the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center. Come join us every Thursday at 7:15 p.m. to play Friendly Duplicate Bridge. The cost is $3.00. There are no reservations needed, and there is always a partner waiting to play. We also offer a Bridge clinic on Mondays at 11:30 a.m. Scheduled city classes for the beginner/refresher Bridge player will be offered starting on Tuesday January 30th at 7:30 p.m., continuing every Tuesday for 8 weeks. The cost is $65.00. The class is restricted to 12 participants, so sign up now!
For more information contact Al Budoff at (818) 991-4568.

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