Bandini Mountain

(2014)

There is a vast concrete plain where Bandini Mountain once stood. An awesome pile of dung a hundred feet high, it was the only topographic feature in all of Vernon and has disappeared into history. No more skiing down Bandini Mountain. No more nothing. Just wind and a big empty fertilizer factory and the ghosts of long dead commercials. Did Huell Howser ever ski down Bandini Mountain? He would have. Golly.

I remember driving by in a Santa Ana wind and not rolling up the car windows in time. Bandini Mountain was blowing west right through my car, covering me in a fine coat of fertilizer. What was in that stuff? I tried to think of it as dust, not cow shit. I had dust in my eyes. I was tasting dust. Brushed dust from my hair. Sweet smelling dust everywhere, on everything. A block or two down was row after row of rendering plants. Now that was an aroma. It annihilated all the sweet smelling Bandini Mountain molecules in the air, replaced them with the rankest smelling molecules ever. What nearby Farmer John didn’t turn into bologna wound up there, in great vats. I pictured hides and bones bubbling and fizzing and expelling great clouds of deadly fumes. The odor clung to you. The air along Bandini Boulevard was full of rendered pig and fertilizer. The exhaust of a zillion trucks. Burrito wagons too numerous to count. Cows.

Once in the middle of Vernon I saw a bull escape. An enormous longhorned beast. It made a mad dash from the cattle carrier into a parking lot. White coated workers backed away. The bull charged one way then another. The workers scattered. Another white coat showed up with an enormous hunting rifle, aimed it. The bull faced him dead on, snorting, magnificent, ready to charge. The light turned green and I moved on. I passed the place on the way back a few minutes later. The man with the rifle was still there, and the lifeless bull was scooped up by a skip loader. It lifted it up into the air, the head hanging limply, the massive horns harmless. It disappeared behind the gates. The light turned green and I drove on. Bandini Mountain loomed ahead. I rolled up the windows.

I tried to find a picture of Bandini Mountain. I couldn’t. I tried to find a Bandini Mountain commercial. I couldn’t. I googled Bandini Mountain. There’s was almost nothing there. Several sites even referred to it as apocryphal. Said it never was. But it was. I breathed it.

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