sweet crude


The Lighthouse

Sweet Crude Bill
Many years ago, when Bill was employed by the Oil Company, the rig Bill stood upon exploded in a fiery ball of sludge and metal, taking the lives of all on board save for Bill, who escaped by flinging himself with abandon into the salvation of the ocean below.

Bill was transformed in those days he spent floating in the warm Pacific current, experiencing visions of merciful angels and a magical otherworld ruled by the magnetism of black, swirling petroleum.

After being discovered on the beach of San Francisco, and recuperating in the Veteran's Hospital overlooking the Golden Gate, Bill never returned to the oil industry he once had called his vocation.

He chose to leave aside his material preoccupations and to wander instead through the countrysides, the forests, the forgotten dirt roads, the hidden beaches, streets, and whispering seas, in pursuit of only one singular, demented, insatiable obssession for "Sweet Crude".

His travels and exploits earned him his name, and as he drove on, a band of merry misfits fell in with him, searching alongside Bill for that bottomless cup of Sweet Crude, wherever it may bubble.

Ten-Finger Joe
Very little is known about Ten Finger Joe, except that he's a man of few words and many fingers. Some say Joe is a Canadian deadhead. Others claim he's an ex-cop from Iceland. Still other sources insist that Joe ran away from a life in the National Park Service to become a musician.

One story goes that once, while searching for medicinal herbs for his ailing sister Magdelene, who was diagnosed with an extremely rare and uncurable form of fatal amnesia, along the majestic Orinoco River, in the heart of the Venezuelan rainforest, Joe was captured by a small, obscure, but fierce tribe of indigenous people, the Iro Ney, who nearly killed him accidentally while hunting for spider monkeys in the brush, but whom he quickly won over with a silly improvisational sign language song he devised on the spot.

After enjoying their rough hospitality back in their village, Joe inadvertently taught his hosts the simple sport of thumb-wrestling, which was gleefully adopted by the entire tribe at once, and which became their new favorite pastime, even to the detriment of their day to day hunting, cooking, and sleeping. When combined with the local, wild-growing psychotropic plants enjoyed by the tribe's shaman, the introduction of thumb-wrestling quickly became ruinous to the Iro Ney as it took up all of their waking hours and took its toll on their bodies as the drug-fueled thumb-wrestling frenzy continued for several days without stopping.

After one warrior literally dropped dead from exhaustion, the chief of the tribe sought to expel Ten Finger Joe from the tribe and made a short speech which resulted in Joe being tied up in sinewy vines and hauled down to the river by a team of six warriors, where he was unceremoniously dunked into the Orinoco and forced to compete in a thumb-wrestling match to the death with a school of hungry pirhanas, which he won.

Also he is very good at ping pong.

Hal Burton
Hal Burton was born into wealth and privilege amid the sweltering oil fields of southeast Texas. One cool September evening, while fraught with angst over his unsuccessful bid for a doctorate in Physics at Bellwether University, home of the world's first particle decelerator and jewel in the crown of Texan academia, Hal went down to the local country club social near the hamlet of Crawford, swallowed an entire case of champagne, danced excitedly for a minute in the style of David Lee Roth, and then launched himself through a stained glass window, propelled only by the bubbly gas escaping from his mouth and other outlets in a tremendous burp to end all burps.

The members of the Lighthouse Nautical Society, who happened to be walking by just as Hal exploded in a hail of glass shards through the magnificent art deco facade with a great crash, rushed to the aid of the young physics student, just barely rescuing him from being impaled upon the horn of an enormous bronze statue of a rhinoceros which stood just at the end of his trajectory. They offered Hal refuge below decks on their ship for an indefinite period of time, so long as he helped with the chores and duties of running the ship and navigating.

So impressed was he by their hospitality, that he decided then and there to exchange forever his lifestyle of comfort, safety, and snobbery, for the freedom of the open sea & the incomparable comraderie of the crew.

Within days, Hal had had devised an ingenious system of hydraulics and questionably legal chemical processes which enabled the boat to travel not only on water and land, but also upon snow and ice, uphill!

This development allowed the Nautical Society for the first time to travel up over the Rocky Mountains, which quickly set into motion events which would lead the crew to finally meet up with the elusive Utah underground gold mine rave scene and which would ultimately culminate in the infamous Ogden Beer Bust of 2000, the 2001 FBI raid of the Provo moist towelette factory, and finally the cancellation of the Salt Lake City Hangliding World Series in both 2002 and 2003, all of which is a tremendously fascinating, but rather lengthy subject which cannot be discussed with any justice here on a mere web page.

Anne Can Anne
Living in obscurity in a tiny town in Oklahoma, raising five children single-handedly on the income from a small motorcycle repair shop, this was the whole of Anne Can Anne's life until the Lighthouse Nautical Society blew into town one unusually windy day.

Broken down and destitute, the travelling companions stayed for a spell in the motorcycle shop, earning their keep by chopping wood, cooking stew, tidying up, and teaching the children to sing and play guitar in the evenings after supper.

Meanwhile, Anne went to work rebuilding the transmission on their fallen land yacht - the mighty Billie Jean. By the time the ship was roadworthy, Anne Can Anne realized that her calling was to follow the course of the wind and the waves and the open road.

She sold her shop, bought her kids all new shoes, and the Lighthouse Nautical Society left that tiny town with six new crew and one magnificient transmission.

Paintbrush Willie
Willie grew up on the hard side of life in the beach communities of Virginia. Despite his humble means, Willie always dreamed of living as a painter, but he only got laughs when he told people about his dream. He ended up in dead end job painting in a factory in a desperate part of town.

One day, he was presented with an opportunity to take advantage of a situation, and though he hesitated at first, he took it, robbing a safe pretending the paintbrush poking through his pocket was a gun.

This feat earned him the name "Paintbrush Willie", and he gained instant notoriety in criminal underworld of the Eastern seaboard. He threw in his lot with the Lighthouse Nautical Society, who supported his aspirations and took him on as a ship's painter.

The Lovely Belladonna
Belladonna has been an instigator of several of the Lighthouse Nautical Society's rowdiest shenanigans. A world weary jet setter of quasi Italian origin, Belladonna supports the band as a showgirl, go-go dancer, fashionista, barker, and carouser. At many a performance has been heard the plaintive cry "Oh, do not feed the animals Belladonna!"

Belladonna's origins with the Lighthouse Nautical Society are obscured by the hazy fog of time and also much drink, as she appeared aboard ship one morning quite nimbly putting great tankards of champagne into the bewildered hands of each of the company after their legendary 48 hour acoustic set performing at the 2003 Rompin' Stompin' Chili Cookoff in Detroit, Michigan while the chili was prepared, slow cooked, and then finally tasted and judged by a panel of experts who had been flown in from various southern states.

Needless to say the Lighthouse crew were quite spent after their performance and had incurred major damage from both the extremely spicy chili and the marathon drinking tradition which accompanied it.

After two days of the cookoff had passed, and the prizes had been awarded, and the chili eaten up or packed away for leftovers, and the judges gone home, Ten Finger Joe closed the set, with great passion, although Joe claims to never have been to the state of Alabama, a 75 minute cover of "Sweet Home Alabama", which was performed entirely on the last string he had not broken on his guitar, which was of course the low E string, and Hal accompanied him on the last functioning timpany drum available in the entire city, which had to be requisitioned from a local high school at the last minute and with great distress among the state band champions "The Cougars".

It was at this moment, that Belladonna appeared from out of nowhere with an unlikely quantity of mid-range champagne, talking to all parties involved with a rare diplomatic aplomb, smoothing over tensions which had grown between the angry mob of students and parents assembled and the equally indignant, and far drunker mob of chili enthusiasts, until a consensus was reached, in which Hal returned the timpany drum but was give a smaller, less expensive tambourine, and another beer, thereby preventing what could have likely been another deplorable incident of Detroit city lore.

For this she was awarded the key to the city by a man who introduced himself as the Mayor of Detroit, but whom none present recognized, although no one could deny he was the Mayor either, as none present knew who the actual Mayor of Detroit was at the time. She still has this key and uses it to open bottles, locked doors, and effervescently entertaining conversations.

The Precious ~ R.I.P.
A shell shocked veteran of the first Gulf War, "The Precious" suffers from PTSD, Gulf War syndrome, and prophetic vision of the afterlife, from which he frequently brings back astonishing tales of supernatural hijinx and adventure.

The Precious has been on the lam ever since that dark and fateful night in Kuwait when he was accused of fragging his commanding officer - a crime he didn't commit but which he was framed for by shady elements of the New Jersey mafia who had infiltrated his unit and whom he had threatened to expose to the press for extorting money from senior officers and for trafficking in narcotics to soldiers and also for not following other regulations.

Secreted back to the United States in a giant suitcase marked "Fragile", by truck to Kurdistan, by camel to Ankara, by train to Istanbul, by ship to Gibraltar, by submarine to the Canary Islands, and finally by plane to Malibu, The Precious kept himself alive on his desperate voyage by eating his own clothing and kit, leaving only his bathing suit, which blended him perfectly among the beach goers of southern california as he returned home incognito to a new life as a surf board repairman in a small town on the California Coast. But even in the warm California sun, The Precious could not escape the demons which still haunted him from his tour of duty.

With the good spirits of the Lighthouse Nautical Society to guide him, The Precious is able to keep his demons at bay and contained in his electric guitar, where they struggle against the captivity of his watchful eye and his firm but gentle fingering.

Update: As of March 2007, The Precious has been assumed to be deceased after being enveloped by an monstrous avalanche in Tibet while seeking the elusive Yeti. Several search parties were deployed to the coordinates where he last established contact with the outside world, but it is feared that he and his small expeditionary team perished under hundreds of feet of snow after nearly a month of searching. Searching for the Yeti was The Precious' personal quest. Whether or not he was successful will never be known, however, for the Society, The Precious lived up to his name, and was truly precious to the crew, always. May he finally find the peace that he sought in his short, beautiful, inspiring life.