Weekend at Dude’s by Mike Baron


Flew to Phoenix last week. Dude met me at the airport. We rode to his house on the farthest fringes of Phoenix at ninety miles per hour. Dude has two dogs. One is an old, fat German shepherd they found quivering in their front yard covered in mud. The dog was chipped. They contacted the owners who lived on the other side of the city. No response. Conclusion: the owners had abandoned the dog on purpose. The Rudes took her in and have been caring for her ever since, nursing her through a rattlesnake bite.

“If I didn’t have three thousand dollars right then, she would have died.”

We shot three short videos which I put up on my Facebook page. They may still be there. On Friday, a cop came to the door. I stepped outside to speak with him. He asked for my ID. He read me my Miranda rights. He burst out laughing. It was a friend of Dude’s who had agreed to this practical joke, and then took us on a ride along to the other side of the tracks. Dozens of pop-up tents crowding the sidewalk. People with no hope collapsed on the concrete waiting for the soup line to open. The officer explained services, and we talked to some of the homeless. One young man had been a star high school athlete, but fell into drugs, fathered a child, and just as he was getting clean, his mother died of cancer.

On Saturday, we went to the Biltmore Astoria, Frank Lloyd Wright’s astonishing hotel in Paradise Valley. Wright’s famous attention to detail was evident in the furniture, the ballroom, the carpet design, and the frescoes, which resembled ancient Egyptian and Mayan art. The food and service were first rate despite the fact we were dressed in rags.

Came back Sunday.