3 Mules Update

We’ve posted before about filmmaker John McDonald’s ongoing effort to tell the remarkable story of the “3 Mules” man. John called me last week to tell me that he’s found an editor for his film and that he’s fundraising to complete the project. Contributions are tax deductible and can be made through 3mulesmovie.com.

Here’s what John had to say in a recent newsletter:

On December 23, 2012, I meet a one-of-kind human being traveling with three animal companions and take this photo.

My first photo of “The Mules” taken a block from our home.

A neighbor friend calls and tells me to run out of the house, down to the corner and look east. He won’t tell me what to look for, but just says, “It’s right up your alley, John!” Like so many other people, my first reaction is “Wow! I’ve never seen this before!” And then I’m thinking who is he and what is he doing? Is he lost in the wrong century? Is he homeless? Is he on a mission?

I’m intrigued and want to learn more, so I chase him down. We exchange a few words, but he is in a hurry to move on. He asks me if he is heading in the right direction to intersect the Arroyo Seco (south of the Rose Bowl), and that is enough to give me a clue as to where he might be spending the night.

The next morning is Christmas Eve. My whole family is together for the holidays and I’m reluctant to go off on a wild goose (or mule) chase. But I’m a documentary filmmaker. I sense a good story. The dog needs a walk anyway, so I head for the Arroyo in search of the guy with the mules. No luck at first, but then I finally discover him, already packing up to start on the next leg of his trip to who knows where. He accepts a cup of coffee that I have brought with me. He talks a bit, very softly.

With some reluctance he allows me to retrieve the video camera from my car. Surprisingly, with the camera running, he talks more. I learn that this 65-year-old man calls himself Mule, considering himself “just another one of the mules.” They have traveled for nearly three decades, through sixteen states and into Mexico. For the last ten years, they have lived outdoors every single day.

Mule tells me that throughout his travels he has noticed an ever-increasing urban sprawl. Much of the open land that once allowed them to move freely and spend the night in secluded spots is disappearing. More and more cars are filling up the roadways, and the expanding urban infrastructure seems to serve only one purpose: accommodate more automobiles.

His words resonate with me, and I realize then and there that I am about to embark on a filmmaking journey like none I have ever experienced.

Now, five years later, my journey is far from over.  In 200 days of filming over a 27-month period, I shot 300 hours of footage. A ten-minute short film called MULE: Living on the Outside was edited and has screened at a number of film festivals and fundraising events as I work to raise the money to complete the full-length feature documentary.

If you would like to help, tax-deductible donations can be made on my website 3MulesMovie.com.  Your support is greatly appreciated, and I look forward to sharing the completed film.

I sent a donation this morning because I think this is an important story about public space, the problems of modernity and environmental degradation. John is a talented filmmaker and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished film.

Stuff That’s Happening

John McDonald will be screening never before seen clips from a documentary in progress about the 3 Mules guy, John Sears on Wedensday November 15th in Romona, California. For more information see 3MulesMovie.com. I went to a screening back in June and McDonald’s film raises profound questions about the use of the commons.

Biodynamic beekeper Gunther Hauk will be teaching a two part workshop on Saturday December 2nd at Highland Hall Waldorf school in Northridge, California. Head over here to sign up.

Lastly, Bike buddy Colin Bogart has set up a Facebook group for Pacific Ready-Cut homeowners. Pacific Ready-Cut was the West Coast answer to the Sears kit house. Odds are good that if you live in an old house anywhere from LA to Seattle it was milled by this company. Join the Facebook group to share experiences about living in a tiny and old house.


The Museum of the American Cocktail

We get a lot of press releases here at Root Simple. I cast most into Gmail’s purgatorial nether regions but when one came in from the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) I knew that I had to investigate further.

MOTAC operates out of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans. Luckily for us Angelinos, MOTAC sponsors weekly events in our fair city and is rumored to be opening a San Pedro venue next year.

I’ve attended two free events in downtown LA, one a tasting of the spirits made by a Central Coast distillery, Calwise Spirits, and another tasting of the many offerings of the venerable French distillery Combier which still uses a facility designed by Pierre Eiffel. Note to self: remember to spit out the spirits when you do a tasting of 20 bottles or the next day won’t be all that productive.

If you’re interested in MOTAC’s Los Angeles events you can sign up at the bottom of their page here. As a generalist (to a fault) I have really enjoyed meeting MOTAC’s expert cocktail enthusiasts.

The Rye Revolution

At last the rye revolution has arrived! We have nothing to lose but our fake supermarket rye loaves. I’m happy to say that the Los Angeles Bread Bakers is hosting a class with the rye expert, Stanley Ginsberg tomorrow, Saturday the 7th of October. There’s still space in the class if you’re interested. Head here to sign up. If you live elsewhere or can’t make it, Ginsberg has penned what I believe to be the definitive book on rye baking, The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America. In the book Ginsberg covers every imaginable rye recipe from around the world, from loaves to crackers to scones.

Since it’s hard to find good rye loaf even in a big city, learning to bake your own rye really pays off. The unique chemistry of rye, especially when leavened with a sourdough starter, also means that a rye loaf stays fresh longer. Due to all that’s happened in the past year I’ve had to put baking on hold. When I get back into it I’m going to focus exclusively on rye.