|Mules with a message|
And then there are the endless series of spam emails where certain English challenged third world entrepreneurs attempt to place free advertising for at times exotic services in the Tattler's comments section. I get a lot of those. And honestly I never would have believed that so many young women from impoverished and obscure nations would want to marry middle-aged American men, and that they believe this is the proper place to announce their romantic intentions. But apparently they do. Those posts are, of course, also deleted.
But then there are those sincere and authentic local appeals that, while having only marginal significance to whatever it is we're trying to accomplish here, really do make you want to reach out and help. Or at least find out what's going on so whatever it is can be turned into an article. The elephant in the Sierra Madre 4th of July Parade story started out that way, and you know how exciting that one eventually got.
So on December 28th, at 5:10 PM to be exact, a post by Barbara appeared in our comments section. Here is what she had to say:
Hi, this is off the subject today, but I am asking anyone reading the Tattler for some insight on what just occured today out in Glendale. I was passing by on San Fernando Road when I saw three mules tied to a fence. No kidding, mules wearing camping tackle and their owner looked like an older gold prospector from the high desert, he did say he had passed through Ely Calif this past week. 3 mules.com was on his gear; he said he was heading out to see the Rose Parade. Just then two Pasadena Humane Society trucks showed up and the one attendent said he was called out for cruelity to animals being tied up to a fence! The old guy said no; I was just stopping by to pick up some food before passing through. Well two more police cars arrived ... Anyway after defending a stranger with his three mules (it was odd to see them on a city street) the police were very nice, and hoped he would take the side streets ETC., but the Pasadena Humane Society would not give up wanting to write him a citation for cruelty to animals (?). Why are we contracting with this particular group again? Really they were very uneducated and unprofessional. I also admit that I am not mentally up to speed with my quick wit :), but what part of three mules tied to a fence so that the owner could pick up supplies and head out on surface streets (the mules did have on shoes) so that they could make it over to the parade route, was cruel? Please offer some help on insight or call into the Pasadena Humane Society to support this unique individuual, as this poor man was heading over to the Pasadena area and into the hands of a misguided group of individuals representing that city. I hope he can make it out of that town with out any mishaps and back into the safety of the hills.
To my way of thinking this is a great posted comment. Some guy wandering the west with nothing but 3 mules and whatever they can carry on their backs is an intriguing story. We're talking a California lifestyle that has not been in vogue around here for at least a century. But I had no real idea where to take this one and, despite my promise to look into the matter, I hadn't really done anything about it.
So it was with great interest that I read the following in a Star News story about yesterday's festive events in Pasadena. The article is the called Reporter's Notebook: 124th annual Rose Parade attracts the weird, wonderful and whimsical" (click here), and at the bottom there is the following news about Barbara's acquaintance and his mules:
The Rose Queen and court had an unexpected escort for a 100-foot stretch of the Rose Parade route on Tuesday, as a man and his three mules abruptly walked onto Colorado Boulevard.
He said his name was Mule. He wore a tattered jacket held together by duct tape. His three mules carried all of Mule's belongings in packs slung across their backs. They didn't have names, according to their owner. "They're just mules," said Mule, who was promoting his website 3mules.com.
But the quartet had a purpose. "You got all this glitz and nice presentation, but when you look at us people on the ground, we are dirty, we smell, but we are real," Mule said. "We just wanted to bring something real to the parade."
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies escorted Mule and his mules off the route. Sheriff's officials said they didn't plan to arrest Mule.
It's the same guy Barbara wrote about, right? That this guy named Mule wished to make a statement about the contrast between himself, his three mules, and the lifestyles of the reigning royalty at the Tournament of Roses Parade, is really pretty unique for around here. Even when you consider that the Rose Parade has always been a powerful magnet for folks with eccentric messages they simply must share with the world.
There is a second article about Mule on the Pasadena Star News website titled "Man and his mules get the bum's rush at Rose Parade" (click here). Apparently Mule and his 3 mules have been wandering the dusty roads of the west for a while. There is also a method to his mulishness. From the article:
But his hasty exit from the parade didn't dissuade Mule from completing his mission. Mule wants people to live in accord with nature. He operates a website, 3mules.com, which preaches about the benefits of natural living.
"To answer the most asked questions: Who are we? Where are we from? And where are we going? We are mules. We are from the outside. We live outside all day , every day. Where are we going? Nowhere, we're here - the outside, the web of life - the beautiful earth, a place like no other. We have come to this place - a place of golden sparkling light, a place for anybody and everybody. Give your faith, hope and energy to this place at which time you connect to it and receive the magic and endless possibility of infinity. As you walk in this place with these mules you spread the awareness that this beautiful earth like no other can only be protected by the way we live one day at a time," reads the text on the website.
According to an article I found on a San Diego blog called Virtual Road Kill, the man now known as Mule was born with the name John Sears, and he has been walking his mules around California for nearly 28 years. This is no flash in the pan or trendy green mule edge kind of thing. The picture at the top of this post comes from the VRK article, which you can access by clicking here.
If you want to connect with Mule's muse on his rather sparse website you can do so by clicking here. Seeing how today marks my return to the rather wacky day job I hold down, and after a long 10 days vacation at that, I must admit, at least for this moment, I do find his lifestyle appealing.
Are "Reverse Mortgages" on their way out?
A couple of days ago we posted an article about reverse mortgages, and some of the controversy surrounding this novel method of extracting equity from the homes of retired persons. Our immediate agenda was, of course, to discuss all this because of Sierra Madre Mayor Josh Moran's involvement in the field.
There have now been further developments in this story and I thought you should be updated on them. Apparently things in the reverse mortgage trade are now about to change. According to an article published on Dec 30 in the Los Angeles Times ("Losses on reverse mortgages prompt FHA to make changes" click here), 2013 is a whole new ballgame.
You've probably seen the reverse mortgage pitchmen at work on your TV screen — former Sen. Fred Thompson and actors Robert Wagner and Henry "Fonzie" Winkler prominent among them — urging seniors to pull cash out of their homes through a loan program guaranteed by the federal government.
But it looks as if the pitchmen will have fewer and smaller mortgages to sell in 2013. In a move aimed at controlling losses to its insurance funds, the Federal Housing Administration is clamping a moratorium on the most popular form of reverse mortgage — the so-called standard version, which allows large lump-sum drawdowns of cash at fixed interest rates.
(Later in the article ...)
The HECM program has been racking up outsized losses for the FHA, in part attributable to foreclosures on homes whose market values have fallen below the insured amounts provided to the borrowers. In the FHA's annual independent audit report to Congress, losses on reverse mortgages contributed $2.8 billion to the agency's capital reserve deficiency and increased the chances that the FHA might have to seek a bailout from the Treasury next year.
Congressional critics of the agency consider the reverse mortgage performance scandalous. During a Capitol Hill hearing this month, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) told Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan: "You are losing your shirt on reverse mortgages ... You have got mortgage brokers out there that are making an absolute fortune right now [off reverse mortgages].... Some of them are good operators. A lot of them are schlocky operators. And I do not understand why you do not shut the program down."
Within days, that's pretty much what Donovan, whose department runs the FHA, decided to do. In a letter Dec. 18 to Corker, acting FHA Commissioner Carol J. Galante announced plans for an "immediate cessation" of the standard fixed-rate version of the program.
It is ironic that so strong a supporter of the ways of big government as Josh Moran should now himself be feeling the heavy hand of the man. Apparently the fiscal reverse mortgage cliff has now been breached, and few prisoners are being taken.