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Dispatch
Dr Pepper's Wet Dream: Water, Government Subsidies and Transfer of Wealth in the Middle of the Desert

VICTORVILLE, Calif. — On a sun-baked afternoon in October 2008, a group of soft-drink executives and city officials gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony at an old Air Force base on the outskirts of the city, 100 miles east of Los…

Posted on: September 9th, 2009 | Comments (27)

Memphis: Where Steve Jobs Goes To Eat His Fellow Americans

Memphis, Tennessee lives way outside any law. Black, Hispanic, and neo-Nazi street gangs control neighborhoods throughout the city with no cops allowed in, not that most people would want them around. The downtown area has a higher concentration of deranged…

Posted on: August 24th, 2009 | Comments (58)

DESERT DISPATCH: McMANSIONS FOR McDONALDS

I’ve been thinking about sleaze and corruption lately. It’s hard not to. Out here in windy, sun-baked Victorville, underhanded swindles are about as common a sight as the tumbleweeds blowing around the Mojave Desert. The biggest scam now is the…

Posted on: August 12th, 2009 | Comments (26)

My Subprime Suburb's Hidden Identity: How I Learned That My McMansion Was A Bastard Child of the 80s

The richness of Victorville’s fossil record never fails to surprise an amateur scam-historian like myself. See, all this time I thought I had been living in a brand new tract home development built on the virgin sands of the Mojave…

Posted on: August 11th, 2009 | Comments (10)

Border Wars: A Day in the Life of a Virtual Vigilante

This article first appeared in Vice Magazine It is a sweltering afternoon in May on a patch of empty Arizona desert straddling the US-Mexico border. There is not a soul in sight, no one to mind the cloud of dust…

Posted on: August 8th, 2009 | Comments (32)

Are Subprime Cities On Their Way To Becoming America's Very Own Gulag Archipelago?

It’s 5 AM in Victorville, California, and I haven’t slept in 48 hours. Outside my second-story window, the sun is rising up over the jagged mountains across the desert. In the three months I’ve lived here, I’ve seen more sunrises…

Posted on: July 21st, 2009 | Comments (66)

DESERT DISPATCH: METH, MORONS, AND MURDER IN VICTORVILLE

Living in an abandoned neighborhood in an exurb way out on the edge of the California desert has its perks. There isn’t much in the way of nightlife in Victorville, California, and food options are limited, but it has one…

Posted on: June 23rd, 2009 | Comments (22)

Back Home in the Trash Desert

There are three animals to welcome me home to California: the ants, the grasshoppers and the mockingbirds. To meet them, you walk past the traffic walls to the trash desert. There’s a shortcut to RiteAid across the army-colored dirt, trails…

Posted on: May 26th, 2009 | Comments (19)

The Making Of K-Town: Inside New York's Real Estate Hype Machine

I’ve always taken it for granted that brokers disseminate lies through the media to tweak property values. But a couple of weeks ago, I became a small cog in the national real estate propaganda machine myself while reporting for the…

Posted on: May 10th, 2009 | Comments (27)

Locked 'n Loaded For The Coming Obama-lypse

VICTORVILLE, Calif. — Ever since it became clear that Barack Obama would be our next president, there’s been an unprecedented run on guns ‘n ammo in America. Partly this is fueled by fears, some justified, some not, that Obama will…

Posted on: May 7th, 2009 | Comments (78)

Predator III: The Jet-powered Drone That’ll Strike Explosives Into The Heart Of The Taliban

A Predator C Drone Soaring Over Victor Valley, CA Last week, I found out that they got Predator drones flying just around the corner from my McMansion. A reader tipped me off to the fact that General Atomics, the company…

Posted on: May 4th, 2009 | Comments (25)

The Great American Land Swindle: Digging Up Victorville’s Speculative Fossil Record (Updated)

“It isn’t the heat, it’s the stupidity. Keep busy and don’t drink too many cold drinks and heat will never bother you.” —George “Mack” McCarthy, Victorville real estate promoter People have been asking me, “Hey, Yasha, what the hell is…

Posted on: April 30th, 2009 | Comments (25)

TEA PARTY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT

VICTORVILLE, CA—It was a clear bright day, but the desert wind was roaring, chilling the air to what felt like the freezing point, when I got to the Victorville, California, Tea Party protest. I arrived late for the noontime protest,…

Posted on: April 17th, 2009 | Comments (19)

Dispatch from Victorville: Levine Starts His Journey Into the Heart of America's Foreclosure Nightmare

My name is Yasha and I live in a McMansion. As far as I can tell, I have three bedrooms and a master bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, which I’m now filling up for a bubble bath. But life wasn’t…

Posted on: April 12th, 2009 | Comments (56)

Weekend Getaway: In Search Of America's Foreclosure Nightmare

Last weekend, I took a drive up to Stockton to scope out a place I could call home for the next few months. My demands were very simple: I wanted to rent a house in a foreclosure nightmare, one of…

Posted on: March 25th, 2009 | Comments (27)

Shaming The Zetas: Mexican Army Takes Down The Badass Enforcer That Lobbed A Grenade At A U.S. Embassy

MONTERREY, MEXICO — I woke up the other day and started the morning off just like I do every normal day: by sitting on a bench in my front yard, reading the newspaper and toking. There’s a saying in Mexico…

Posted on: March 24th, 2009 | Comments (15)

Showdown in Monterrey: La Familia Vs. Los Zetas

It’s getting hot here in Monterrey, and if you’ve been reading my column lately, you know I’m not talking about the weather. Remember about the surge of military presence in the state I wrote about? Well I got to witness…

Posted on: March 6th, 2009 | Comments (49)

Dispatch From Mexico: Calling Bullshit on Gringo Travel Advisories

I saw that the US government posted an “extreme warning” travel advisory about Mexico last week and wanted to weigh in on the bullshit. If you’re traveling to Culiacan or Acapulco, or any major Mexican city for that matter, you…

Posted on: February 26th, 2009 | Comments (36)

This is a video of shootout that happened a few days ago (the same day the international bridge into America was blocked in Reynosa), that Yasha Levine sent along, asking me to decipher what the hell is going on. Well,…

Posted on: February 23rd, 2009 | Comments (19)

Dispatch From Mexico: Pro-drug Demonstrators Riot Against the Anti-drug Surge

MONTERREY, MEXICO — I was in the middle of writing about a badass Colombian drug trafficker who’s taking over huge swaths of Mexico when convoy of green Army trucks fully packed with G3-carrying soldiers rolled through my hometown of Monterrey…

Posted on: February 18th, 2009 | Comments (17)