In the Hollywood movie storms of 1977 where films like Star Wars and Close Encounters spawned a maelstrom of epic adventure and wonder for kids everywhere, such streets also spawned another breed of child. Bitter, alienated, and lost in the punk-influenced beginnings of a feel-good era of disco-enflamed junkies, such kids slunk the streets of Hollywood and Hollywood’s backyard: Bakersfield, California, where they preyed equally on the hands that held them. Based on the 'Lords of Bakersfield' news stories of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Lords: Part One is the most controversial work of fiction to ever come out of the Southern San Joaquin Valley. It’s a story of media and high-profile corruption in a conservative city close to the Hollywood storm. For those who remember such a time, this story will sink its teeth into readers, just as that great dust storm of 1977 tore into the valley, spitting its own aliens onto Great Central Valley streets already taken over by unseen powers of the most corrupt kind…
Nick gives an overview of the book:
The Coming of The Remittance Men—1889
In the rugged farmlands of the Southern San Joaquin Valley, the name Rosedale arises as a suitable town name to attract British colonizers. There are no roses in this area a few miles west of Bakersfield. It is a name meant only to glorify the supposed culture of a British Eden.
In response to colorful advertising efforts of the Kern County Land Company, England sends a colony of noble scions. It was to be a utopian paradise of water-filled, lush landscapes tended by fruit growers and jam-makers, with hopes of peaches, plums, grapes, apricots and jams and jellies aplenty.
Among the colonizers are a group of young noble-standing men harboring alternate lifestyles. They are the first Lords of the Southern Valley. Paid to leave England and stay away for fear of disgracing their own family names, they become known locally as ‘The Remittance Men’. They are the flamboyant, the scoundrels, the queers, the secret lovers of Rosedale and Bakersfield society. They have queer meetings, queer minstrel shows at jam factories where they sing ‘Little Tin Geegee’, and they entertain in extravagant fashion at the old Southern Hotel. They have queer birthday parties, and they drink and drink champagne and even pour their bubbly drinks down horses’ throats.
One young man arrives in Rosedale at age 17. He is frail and hopeless, but works as a vine planter, an irrigation-ditch digger, a cowpuncher and a California homesteader. He becomes an intellectual, a writer. He later wins the Nobel Peace Prize. He becomes a prominent white man of culture and wit, but never marries.
Rosedale has a distaste for farming. The jam factories close. There are floods and drought. The colony fails as the minstrels continue to sing. It was to be a Garden of Eden…