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Valley View

60 miles per hour doesn't seem like a dangerous speed but on the 12 miles of gravel road leading from Valley View Hot Springs to the closest beer in the highway-dot town of Villa Grove, Colorado, with my head on low-cook from mushrooms, 60 mph felt like a video game.

Valley View is a hot springs/campground on the side of a mountain with several pools spread around a few miles of hiking trails and clothing is not just optional, it's rare and frowned upon. I had a sunburn on my ass long before we ate the mushrooms and sat facing west on the porch of our community house as the sun started for the horizon. There are a few houses that you can rent rooms in, sharing the bathroom and kitchen.


Our neighbors were a mutating gene-pool of obesity, a middle-aged couple that said they'd met at Bible Camp with a 13 year-old fat boy child that smelled of molestation and killing cats while crying. The man was bald and round and always naked on the porch - even long after the night turned too cold - with a penis smaller than Extreme Elvis, who sat for hours playing solitaire on a cheap pocket video game. He would chat with us - Renee mostly, as she can be charming through most any brutal social affair save for when she's deep in a bottle and I can barely manage small talk on a level head, much less tripping - yet he would rarely look up from his game, just smile and talk and press buttons as his legs shook up and down and tucked together like a boy too scraed to tell you he has to pee. His wife - always clothed, thank goodness- was a lumbering behemoth who wore what looked like ski boots because- she explained with "aw shucks" laughter that didn't come close to hiding the underlying depression- she had broken one foot and then the other went bad on her from having to solely carry the full bulk of her hideous bounty.

She first appeared on the porch as I was near-peaking and digging for the last of the beer in the cooler. She strode out of her room, on these boot/braces with her arms swaying ahead of her for balance like Bigfoot in nylon and I near swallowed my lower jaw trying not to erupt, thinking about having to string our groceries up in a tree for safety.

Meanwhile, the entire valley was coming alive with the sunset, the sky turning every color and so incredibly large. You could almost see the town from where we sat, could see the errant car coming towards or away from us for miles. I knew I wouldn't be able to get through this night without more beer and could no longer endure the Three Bears without being able to comment on them aloud so I decided to go to make the run. I asked the fatties if I could bring anything back for them and Mrs Fattie said Mr Fattie would love an O'Douls.

I bet he would love a gun and adolescent whore, Mrs Fattie. That's what I would bet.

I climbed into the cockpit of what had at one time been my car but now was my racerocket so far as I was concerned and drove at a polite crawl through the camp until I hit the gate - manned at the time on either side by large jackrabbits, put there for my amusement by the usual gods. Just through the gate, with the sky perfect on the lighter side of dusk and that distinct crystal vision that comes with this kind of high, I put on Van Morrison "Real, Real Gone" and slowly pushed my racerocket time machine up to 60 miles per hour, feeling it vaugely hydroplane on the gravel and leave huge clouds of dust behind me like a smoke signal sign to Renee that I was alive and doing fine.

The next 12 miles to town - and the 12 returning - were, for no particular reason, of the top ten times of my life. Antelopes sprung across the road right in front of me in the lower valley in what seemed like timed and choreographed patterns, like in cartoons when someone is counting sheep in order to sleep. An approaching car looked somehow flat as it came towards me, like a Delorean until just before it passed me and turned into a normal Suburu, like we were driving around the curve of the Earth. Real Real Gone segued into Dave Matthews "Space Between" and then I would go back and play them both over and over, singing, shrieking louder than my speakers would go and poorly - goose-fleshed and absolutely as high and perfect as any man could hope to be.

Now I am playing Uncle Funny's in a strip mall in Florida. Someone called and said they saw me on a billboard in LA. A guy wants me to call in on his Nascar radio show. CD's are selling pretty good. There's people I met here last time that I've met again this time and we'll drink shots. Probably a few. I sat by the pool today with my shorts on and read the USA Today.

I'm thinking that if I had reached up through the open moonroof in my car on that 12 miles of gravel road at 60 miles an hour, I probably could have caught the sparrow that missed my windshield by what had to be a quarter inch.

Last Comic Standing put stand-up comedy back on the primetime map and then kicked it right in the balls by declaring Dat Phan a winner. It's that kind of weeping mediocrity being sold of the shelves that would make it easy for me to walk away from this business, from this species, without ever even thinking to send a postcard. At least you all got to know and love Dave Mordal - pronounced incorrectly throughout the show, it's MORdal. Dave's a wildly funny individual, on and off stage and responsible for the funniest comedy road prank of all time. I'm too tired to tell the story. Hopefully he'll see this and put the story up on his site,

If I haven't returned your calls or emails, it's because I'm lazy and otherwise occupied in my head. Don't take it personally.

~Doug Stanhope

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