Author: Chad Deal
Occupation: “Pizza dude”
Jamul is a little-regarded and gravely misrepresented speck of San Diego geography. Those “in the know” will drop names like “the Greek Sombrero,” “El Campo,” and may occasionally lend an esoteric nod to “the Haven” or even “the Hideaway.” Some may see the place as the last bastion of civilization on outbound 94, that mysterious nexus where the event horizon of suburban San Diego ends and the untamed cosmos of East County truly begins.
Jamul is a magickal place — an alchemical fusion of foggy creek-side oak groves, rattlesnakes, upper-rung retirement estates, poison oak, feed stores, middle-class families, granite hills, Border Patrol agents eating California burritos, horned toads, and expansive cow-dotted countryside.
Many simply pass through on the way to a fish fry in Barrett Junction, the train museum in Campo, or a rave on the outskirts of Jacumba. Some come with fancy visions of getting away from it all. Others live here simply because that is who they are, what they do.
The True Jamulian is a rogue breed. This story is about them.
The sun has barely set, and already the Doverson house is flooded with drunks. In a single, spastic motion, James, the older Doverson brother, turns up the stereo to full volume on his trailer-bound speedboat, shoves one of his best friends over the starboard side, grabs his grinning topless girlfriend with one hand, and cracks open a can of beer with the other. The air smells of summer — that unmistakable Santa Ana edge of desert wind, Bud Light, and chaparral burning somewhere in the distance.
In the backyard, next to a sizable monument of beer cases, Cole Doverson drains the fuel from his brother’s dirt bike to facilitate the fire-starting process. A squabble breaks out when a dim-eyed friend grabs the cup of gas and insists on lighting the fire himself. The blast of high-octane bike fuel singes eyebrows, and Cole laughs uproariously as he stumbles off, knowing he should have just lit the damn thing himself.
The atmosphere is hard to pinpoint — a clash of belligerence, merriment, machismo, lust, and nihilism, all tempered by a grassroots sensibility. Reckless abandon with the best of intentions, a strange sense of soul.
You may be punched in the face, but so what? Hug and chug, bro. We’re in this Weird Boat together.
James emerges from the house in a leopard-print thong, ever-grinning girlfriend in tow. They climb to the top of the ice-plant hill in the backyard, covered with plastic tarpaulin. “Sex!” he yells, as they plummet down the homemade waterslide — 30 feet at least — before being sent off a ledge into a newly dug pond where the begonias used to be.
The Sporting Mood is amplified by Fox Racing and Monster energy drink banners hanging from the chain-link fence.
Around the fire, someone strums Woody Guthrie on an acoustic guitar, the sound of which finds an eerie synchronicity with the Eminem track pumping from James’s speedboat. Singed Eyebrows lurches around with a huge plate of carne asada and a look that says, “Try it and like it, or I’ll break your nose for no good reason,” while Cole makes strident assertions about the best sources of alternative energy in case of an apocalypse, diesel-to-veggie oil conversion, and the importance of community solidarity. He doesn’t want any carne asada and — in that singular hermetic motion known only to the Doverson brothers — suddenly head-butts Singed Eyebrows and then immediately grasps S.E.’s skull, cooing in his ear like a mother to a baby, carefully inspecting the fresh lump turning purple on his friend’s forehead.
A different sort of camaraderie prevails amongst this inner sanctum of the Jamul elite — one of dominance, boisterous one-upism, a MacGyver brand of intellect coupled with unrestrained brute strength. A modern-day Guevara swilling tall cans on a 250cc bike, inverse Abbie Hoffman shouting right-wing slogans and conspiracy theories to the vacant desert night, William Wallace bumping Linkin Park from a lifted vegetable-oil pickup. Because the tougher I get, the tougher we all get, and the future rushes in with smug certainty, while we’ve got certainties of our own.
The fire burns low as the night turns late. Singed Eyebrows and others pass out in lawn chairs with cigarettes still burning between lips and fingertips. The feminine melodies of drunken coitus float down from open windows as Cole demonstrates to a few semiconscious friends how to make a battery from a lemon, a nail, and a penny.
In the distance, a coyote yips an appraisal of the moon, and one senses some sort of revolution lurking in the common psyche — like a Kundalini serpent, ever poised to strike beneath that eternal, cloudless Jamul twilight.