Get A Grip: Fear and loathing in Laughlin

I don't know if Hunter S.

Thompson made it to the River Run, but there was certainly much fear and loathing in Laughlin last weekend.

Friday night I sat with my family and watched a huge orange moon rise over the Hualapais and spill its light onto Kingman.

"It's a bad moon rising," the husband commented.

He was right.

I've heard from a lot of folks who were in Laughlin the night of the deadly fight between rival biker gangs the Hells Angels and the Mongols.

Incongruously, among the Mongols amassed at Harrah's Friday night was my daughter's day care provider.

The sweetest, least violent person I know, she was at Harrah's to see her favorite band, Paul Revere and the Raiders.

After the concert, she and her husband stayed at the casino for a few hours for some low-stakes gambling.

She said she usually concentrates so hard on what she's doing at the casino, she doesn't notice what's going on around here.

But Friday was different.

The bikers at the casino, who she now knows to have been Mongols, were edgy, she said.

There was a tension in the air.

Several bikers were talking on cell phones.

'It's going down tonight,' she overheard one say into his phone.

Oddly, the concert and casino were less crowded than she would have expected.

She saw few other bikers aside from the Mongols.

Probably not a coincidence.

At about 1:30 a.m., about 45 minutes before the shooting, she decided to head home.

As they drove out of the parking lot, they passed a large group of Hells Angels driving in.

About 45 minutes later another friend was walking down the River Walk going back to his room at Harrah's.

He heard popping sounds.

Then he saw a bloodied man stagger out of the casino.

Fear and loathing and a bad moon rising.

***

I've been seeing things lately.

Strange things.

I don't know what to make of it all.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a baby monkey at a local clothing store.

He appeared to be shopping.

That same week, as I was driving a lonely stretch of desert highway en route to Blythe, Calif., I saw a monk (I assume he was a monk – his head was shaved and he was wrapped in a blue sheet) walking through the desert with nothing but a walking stick.

The next day, as I drove back to Kingman, I saw him again, a little further south, calmly continuing his trek through the heat.

Last week as I was driving to the grocery store, I saw a broken down El Camino with two goats in the back being pushed by a police cruiser into a parking lot.

A bit further back, I saw a car (not an El Camino) speeding down I-40 towing a shark on wheels.

I think I need a vacation.

***

I just suffered a horrible shock.

You see, I'm a addict to reality TV.

This realization is not the shock.

I already knew.

But since being hooked on the first Survivor, I've managed to avoid genre until Monday.

On Monday, a chance flick of the remote landed me on the first episode of PBS' "Frontier House."

I was glued to the show for two hours watching three modern families struggle to survive in 1883 conditions on Montana homesteads.

I watched them struggle to build homes and plant gardens.

I saw the children learn to milk cows and survive without Nintendo.

I watched as the personalities of the soft Malibu family clash with the no-nonsense folks from Tennessee with a quiet Boston father and son caught in the middle.

The show was riveting from the beginning.

The Malibu mom barely survived giving up her makeup.

The horses in a wagon train were spooked and spilled a little boy.

The same little boy was bitten by a dog and lost his worm fishing.

He said it was the worst day of his life.

It was the first day of the full frontier experience.

I watched for two hours as the families went through their training and the first weeks of frontier living.

Then I turned off the TV.

I couldn't wait to tune in again next Monday to see what happened next.

Here comes the horrible shock.

Days passed and this morning I was eager for more information on the show so I logged on to the PBS website.

I soon discovered that the show ended yesterday.

I missed all of the subsequent episodes! I can't believe it.

PBS, if you're out there, please, re-run Frontier House.

I need more reality TV.