The America we thought we knew – the country we learned about in grade school – vanished long ago. In truth, it was gone well before we stepped foot in our first classroom. But America’s myths and legends remain.
The myth that America makes the world safe for democracy. The legend that the role of free press in America is to hold government accountable. The myth that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The legend that the Fed maintains stable prices. And on and on…
Preserving America’s myths and legends has become risky business in the 21st century. Risky in the sense that it propels America towards a great geopolitical conflict. So, too, it puts hardworking Americans – and an army of shirkers – in the crosshairs of an epic financial crackup.
How to save and invest for a tomorrow that’s far different from today is an extraordinary challenge. We can’t say for certain. But we venture a guess that buying and holding an S&P 500 index fund over the next 30 years won’t cut it.
The bull market in American stocks is running out of steam. The economy, propped up by a 50 year debt binge, is beyond unsound. When the credit cycle turns, and the illusion of prosperity vanishes, the hopes and dreams of hundreds of millions of people will be crushed.
Yet with a little imagination, and resourcefulness, you can still plot an escape route for preserving and transferring your wealth across the great divide. What follows is a gentle nudge down this path.
There’s a great geological discontinuity sandwiched between Southern California’s San Timoteo Badlands and the San Gorgonio Pass. Loosely consolidated sedimentary rock, uplifted by extreme seismic surface ruptures along the San Jacinto Fault on the west and the San Andreas Fault on the east, dominates the landscape.
The narrow valley, which is traversed by a 15 mile stretch of Interstate 10 between these two active faults, splits two massive peaks of the San Bernardino National Forest. Mount San Gorgonio peak to the north, which eclipses 11,500 feet above mean sea level. And Mount San Jacinto peak to the south, which tops 10,800 feet amsl.
The combination of snowcapped peaks to the north and south, the low-lying Coachella Valley desert to the east, and the higher elevation Mojave Desert inflows wrapping down the Yucca Valley from Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, create a massive wind tunnel. Rising warm air and sinking cool air funnel through the narrow valley and explode into the massive San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, generating 615 megawatts of power for a relentless Southern California demand.
This narrow valley and surrounding mountains are a wild place in a wild land. They’re also the place where a 1909 love story gone sideways produced varying accounts of truth and fiction. What’s more, these accounts were quickly reduced to palatable myths and legends, with little connection to the actual events that spawned them.
Here is where Willie Boy suffered the wrath of what newspaperman Harry Lawton, nearly 50 years later, called, “the last Western manhunt.” Where Willie Boy was hunted down by a posse and found dead at Ruby Mountain. Or was he?
In a letter to a friend, Lawton commented that the story appears to be “so legendized that the truth becomes impossible to ferret out.”
We’ve returned to Idyllwild, near the face of Tahquitz Peak, in search of answers – and a glimpse of a large green fireball – on your behalf. Yet just getting here turned out to be an extended escapade. Two of the three roads up to this high altitude mountain hamlet were washed away during last month’s storms.
Naturally, the only passable route was from the mountain’s southeastern face. Hence, as we deviated south from the Badlands along Gilman Springs Road, we used the additional road time to contemplate the legend of Willie Boy; a peculiar myth we’d heard about while kicking rocks on a pre-bid job walk in the Coachella Valley about a decade ago.
Myths and Legends
According to the popular legend, Willie Boy, a Chemehuevi Indian, had fallen in love with Carlota, a Chemehuevi from the Oasis of Mara in Twentynine Palms. While at the oasis, the couple ran off. After they were found, Willie Boy and Carlota were separated by their families because they were related within the last six generations, a violation of traditional Chemehuevi custom.
Willie Boy was sent to stay with a Serrano Indian family and soon earned the reputation of a hardworking cowboy at the Gilman Ranch. But when Carlota’s family moved near the ranch to work the fruit harvest, Carlota and Willie Boy reunited against the wishes of Carlota’s father – William Mike.
On the night of September 26, 1909, Willie Boy asked William Mike for Carlota’s hand in marriage. A confrontation followed and William Mike ended up dead from a bullet through his left eye. William Mike’s wife, Maria, did not report the death until morning, giving Willie Boy and Carlota a head start on their escape into the hills.
The local sheriffs organized a small posse, including two Indian trackers, and they left that afternoon. During a two-week chase, Carlota died of a gunshot wound during a fight with a posse member. Soon after, the chase ended when posse members declared they found Willie Boy’s dead body.
The legend of Willie Boy was later packaged up into pulp western paperback books. Abraham Polonsky made a Hollywood movie, starring Robert Redford and Robert Blake, titled: Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here. Songs were written. Operas were made.
The only problem, the myth of Willie Boy, and his demise, were missing one very important component. The truth.
How to Escape Like Willie Boy
“The posse never got him, you know,” Chemehuevi elder Alberta Van Fleet revealed years later. Posse members provided no evidence of Willie Boy’s body or possessions.
One of the Chemehuevi/Cahuilla trackers also told his relatives that Willie Boy had gotten away, and that posse members threatened him to not disclose the fact that they never found Willie Boy’s body. So what happened of him?
Willie Boy, a Chemehuevi runner trained to travel long distances in the desert, made his way across the Mojave Desert where he came to live among the Southern Paiute of Pahrump, of Nevada. He later died of tuberculosis sometime between 1927 and 1935. This is the alternate account provided by many Chemehuevi elders; an account that’s, perhaps, more plausible than the popular legend.
Willie Boy’s probable escape from death at the hands of “the last Western manhunt” posse provides a rough framework that can be followed today. Certainly, we’re not making light of Willie Boy’s likely murder of William Mike. We’re merely pointing out that the truth is stranger than fiction…and myths and legends are unreliable – and sometimes dangerous.
Without question, America’s entered a dangerous age. The Country that existed at the turn of the new millennium is gone. The government’s gone mad. The populace has slipped into an epidemic of arrested development.
George Washington, remember, couldn’t tell a lie. And you, like Willie Boy, must plan an escape route for preserving and transferring your wealth across the financial desert. Follow your gut. Take action posthaste. Your life could depend on it.
for Economic Prism