The Mountain Mouth

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The Reviews are IN! October 21, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — themountainmouth @ 10:35 pm


“…A promise that took the author more than four decades to fulfill… Doorlag’s picaresque narrative evokes the innocent revolutionary ethos of the ’70s, which becomes especially poignant when juxtaposed with the continuing struggles of the “Occupy” movement of a more world-weary millennial generation. -Kirkus Reviews

“when the author, Stephen Doorlag, was nineteen, he met such a person. His life was never the same… The shocking end and aftermath of JJ isn’t the heart of this book… Instead, the soul of this book is JJ’s teachings, which on his deathbed, were entrusted to Stephen.”




Venis, a novel October 8, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — themountainmouth @ 9:20 pm


Dear Neighbors,
I’m thrilled to present my first novel, Venis.  “…a coming of age novel, but like no other…”
A famous, critical father and devoted, mysterious mother conceive a startlingly unusual child who travels the worlds of 1960’s Hawaii, 70’s San Francisco and 80’s rural California in a search for identity, truth, and love.
“A friend asked for a recommendation for a book where he could walk in another person’s shoes, a totally different life, and learn something. I recommended this new book by Kate MacDonald. ‘Venis’ is a coming-of-age story, but like no other. The story begins days after Kaimi Monroe’s birth in 1955 and continues for 30+ years. Kaimi is ‘intersex,’ also called a hermaphrodite… This book excels when it examines that sexuality, and the contradictions, and the answers that can come from a character who experiences both. I loved the early chapters set in Hawaii, beautiful and lyrical. But Kaimi endures hardship and prejudice, and hides her sexuality in fear of exposure… She is a lovable, persevering, enduring character.” Dee, Reader from Charlotte NC
“This book gives us a brutally honest look at struggle, love and acceptance. I laughed, I cried, I was horrified. I walked through every page alongside Kaimi…” Tam, Reader from California


“Enlightening – my eyes have been opened to another world. For those struggling with finding your identity, this book is a must. I couldn’t put the book down. Kate had me quessing if and how Kaimi would find peace and love…” Steve D., Reader from California

Introducing Mountain Mouth Press June 27, 2018

Mountain Mouth Press is a new publishing imprint. We will be publishing fiction and non-fiction books by local and new authors and voices.

Our premiere publication will be the true-to-life memoir “A Journey With JJ” by Stephen Doorlag. This true story will shock, move and surprise you; and may even change your entire world view.



“…No one person has inspired me or made such an impression on me as JJ. We first met in the summer of 1975. We travelled together, as best as I can calculate, around 30-40 days. Over many years I have tried to document his teaching, his visions, and my recollections resulting in this book. I can not leave the earth without fulfilling my promise to JJ.” – S. Doorlag, “A Journey With JJ”

“A Journey With JJ” by Stephen Doorlag, brought to you by Mountain Mouth Press will be available soon!






Meet FYDO June 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — themountainmouth @ 8:55 am

Dear Neighbors,

Life is so exciting these days. Wendy and I finally got our dog rescue legal!

Please check out out budding website


Kernville’s got The Gallery January 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — themountainmouth @ 9:20 pm

Some fans didn’t get to see this so I am trying Re Blog. Maybe the links will appear for those using screen readers.

The Mountain Mouth

Colley and Vellutini Gallery opening

Dear Neighbors,

We live in a small town. Ten thousand plus, spread out over more than a dozen communities around a lovely, but fake, lake.

So big-town-type happenings are not expected. Yet today I was taken to a new gallery opening in Kernville – less than six miles in a straight line from my place- so I said ok-  I have attended gallery shows and openings from sea to shining sea. New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, L.A., and more…

Still. At the new The Gallery in Kernville, the opening had it all. The place was mobbed from noon until the nudging of the late comers and hard art partiers out the door a half hour after the advertised closing time. The Gallery is a new joint venture partnering KRVAA (Kern River Valley Art Association) and Kern Paiute Council and “Nuui Cuuni”, (Native American Intertribal Cultural Center.)

The small space…

View original post 407 more words


Kernville’s got The Gallery January 28, 2015

Colley and Vellutini Gallery opening

Dear Neighbors,

We live in a small town. Ten thousand plus, spread out over more than a dozen communities around a lovely, but fake, lake.

So big-town-type happenings are not expected. Yet today I was taken to a new gallery opening in Kernville – less than six miles in a straight line from my place- so I said ok-  I have attended gallery shows and openings from sea to shining sea. New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, L.A., and more…

Still. At the new The Gallery in Kernville, the opening had it all. The place was mobbed from noon until the nudging of the late comers and hard art partiers out the door a half hour after the advertised closing time. The Gallery is a new joint venture partnering KRVAA (Kern River Valley Art Association) and Kern Paiute Council and “Nuui Cuuni”, (Native American Intertribal Cultural Center.)

The small space which used to house a flower shop, was well hung, and dominated by art with local themes, From industrial car-paint drip art, to painting on animal skulls and shells, to my personal show favorite discovery: 86 year old Joan Montano Grant, whose retro style is heart-rendingly persona, evoking War- era magazine illustrations; yet her living subjects, from poets to ponies, have enough personality to jump off the canvas.

There were exquisite woven baskets and painted gourds from local tribe members. Striking oils of Arabian desert people; gorgeous and sensuous glass works. Intricate wood scroll art depicting California wildlife.

There was even controversy: an artist who was asked to move her paintings due to their subject matter.

"Raven Scolds Klansman, Kah, Kah, Kah," Acrylic 2014  Jennifer Colley

“Raven Scolds Klansman, Kah, Kah, Kah,” Acrylic 2014
Jennifer Colley

Jennifer Colley’s painting “A Raven Scolding the Klansman, Kah Kah Kah!” offended some of the artists whose work was also accepted into the show. Colley, Vice President of the KRVAA, responded by transforming the outside space into as much a gallery experience as inside; and despite having to mount her controversial painting on borrowed wood pallets, sold it before the event concluded, to the private collection of artist Kelly McLane.

There was music by OMG, raffles, great wine, comfortable chairs and food.

When a Saturday afternoon provides this kind of social and cultural thrill, all was missing was a great restaurant with any food not based on beleaguered cows, pigs and chickens, which we would rather pet than eat. If only there were a food truck slinging veg Pad Thai that we could take with a couple beers to an outdoor table we would have achieved Saturday Nirvana.

Alas – yet hurrah- it’s Kernville, so of course, we know somebody, and follow them to their crib and the party goes on, friends show up a banjo and guitar materialize; and people you have seen for years, but don’t really know, look you in the eye, share their dreams, and you have a new friend…

Home, without a fifty dollar cab ride. I spent my day with art, artists, and friends. I love the big city museums and galleries – but equally: Kernville Rocks.

KRVAA Kern River Valley Art Association: A not for profit dedicated to serving local artists and craftspeople since 1962. P.O. Box 588, Kernville, CA The Nuui Cunni Native American Inter-Tribal Cultural Center is a not-for-profit run by the Kern River Tuabtulabal Paiute Council


Stuntman December 31, 2014

In my rounds about town, I met an interesting character. Horseman, stuntman, actor; leatherworker, silversmith, beadworker; horse show and parade judge; and self avowed “half-breed”: Wofford Heights resident Neal Russell.

“My father was Comanche. Everybody loved my father – except my mother, ha ha” he began as we talked in the loft apartment built by his son, Rocky. The walls are lined with photos of recognizable celebrities: Angie Dickenson, Anthony Quinn, John Goodman, Whoopie Goldberg and more. They are all inscribed “To Neil”, or “Chee”, Russell’s nickname.

Horseman and Stuntman Neil Russell at home in Wofford Heights

Neal Russell at home in Wofford Heights May 2008

Neal Russell at home in Wofford Heights May 2008


Russell’s father worked “…herding cattle. He was a cowboy.” So it was natural the Russell was riding at 6 years old. “I had horses all my life,” he said. I asked if he remembered his first horse… “I forgot my first kiss. Hell, I forgot my last one!” he laughed. But, jokes aside, he did recall. His first horse was “a stunted calf. He wouldn’t grow.” So he traded for a horse that turned out to be “Loco. Crazier than fruitcake. I told Dad that he cheated me, but he said, ‘you cheated him.’ That horse ran away…”

“I believe you only have one horse. You may own hundreds of them, but there’s only one in your heart.” For Russell, it was a Morab – a Morgan-Arabian cross, named Cebavik (“Chief” in Comanche). “That horse, I’m in love with,” he said, using the present tense even though Cebavik died at age 24. “We were one,” he said. He pointed out a photo on the wall depicting Russell in Indian garb mounted on Cebavik. The horse is a big brown and white Paint with a proudly arched Morgan neck and beautiful markings and head. Russell said he never did groundwork with the horse, “I just put a saddle on him. Well, I plow-horsed* him, then got on him.” (*meaning ground driving, for you city slickers.) He raised the horse from a just-born colt. “They were going to put him down; he was not supposed to have any color.” Russell got up every few hours all night to bottle feed the colt, and Cebavick began to thrive.

A few years later, Russell was riding with “those charros”, and Cebavick showed so much talent that Russell decided to send him to “a big trainer of charro horses” in Mexico. The trainer told him, “This is a good horse. But not a good charro horse,” and told Russell he would charge $300 to train Cebavik. “My wife said, what $300? So I got a job washing dishes.” In three months he went to retrieve his horse whereupon the trainer told him, “You better get a hotel room. You’re going to have to learn how to ride him.’ Well, I been riding my whole life, I didn’t need to learn to ride my own horse! But I went down there, got a hotel room, went out there, and the guy said, ‘take him down, and stop him,’ so I lope him out and stop him, and he stopped – but I didn’t!” Because the horse was responding so quickly, the same result occurred when he asked Cebavik to turn at a lope. “And I’m not making a dime on these falls!” Russell said, referring to his career as a stuntman and actor. His movie credits include Heartbreak Ridge, The Electric Horseman, Ruthless People, Jeremiah Johnson, The Flintstones, and Rocky 1,2, and 3; and his TV credits include Maverick, Dallas, The Dukes of Hazard, Little House on the Prairie, Charlie’s Angels, Fame, Cheers, Fantasy Island, Simon and Simon, and The Waltons, among many others.

But before he “fell into” into a career in TV and the movies, Russell’s childhood was spent shuttling between his parents -“my mother didn’t cotton (to me), I was too ornery” – and he took jobs shocking hay, in a fertilizer factory, breaking horses, cleaning stalls, and riding cattle. “I did about everything you could do out in that desert. Always brought money home to Daddy.” Russell’s father fell ill and he and his elder sister essentially ran the household. “We lived out in that shack. Then we had a pretty nice house, but it didn’t have no windows or doors. The sand would come through. Then Daddy went to work for Mr. Stocker. We moved, had doors, windows, a wood stove. We were stompin’ in high cotton there.”

There were three sister and brothers each. Russell was happiest when living with his father, and never “took” to school. When he was in sixth grade, he decided he wanted to go home, so he set fire to the school. “That got me out of Bellflower in a hurry!”

A few years later, after jobs cowboying, in a Velveeta factory, and as a housepainter, he was hired by a rancher “for a big silver dollar a day. He taught me all about horses; training, working, from the twinkle in their eye to how they (eliminate). He taught me everything.”

When he was 17, “one cowboy said he was joining the Navy” and one thing led to another and until Russell found himself enlisted, at a Navy base in Idaho, and from there to Washington State, Portland Maine, Charleston, SC, and then on convoys to the United Kingdom and back. Then he heard the next trip would be to Normandy. “I said where the hell is Normandy?” The year was 1943. WW II was still raging. He spent time in Casablanca, Zurich and France. “After the Germans surrendered, I thought we’d go home. But we got sent to Okinawa.”

The war over, Russell did come home, and “got married then, like all dummies.”

Three children followed and he worked at Boeing and other companies as a riveter, and he began working with leather, working at night, on wallets, then holsters, belts, saddles and bridles. “A rough duty, boy, when you’ve got three kids,” he said. “In them days there was no welfare or disability. You had to work or you didn’t eat. If you had any upbringing or culture at all, you wouldn’t take it (welfare) anyway. If you’re a man, you work! I don’t care if it hurts, you do it anyway.” In addition to his day job, and leatherwork, he trained and broke horses at home and on weekends rode in parades and did a little rodeo. At one rodeo, “A bull threw me off, and as they were carrying me out, a guy threw a business card on my chest and said, ‘You’re not a very good bull rider, but you might make a stunt man, call me’.” The card read AGENT.

A while later when he was laid off from his job at Boeing, he called the agent, and was hired for a day on “Have Gun Will Travel”. “I went, fell off a horse, and they said to go back to the agent to get paid.” The agent told him of another job. “I came down like a bat out of hell, fell off, did that sucker five times. I sure got tired of falling off that horse.” But at the end of the day, he got one hundred dollars. He went home and told his wife, “I’m going to be a movie star!” But his wife said he’d gotten a call to work in a gypsum mill in Long Beach. So he fit the movie jobs in between work for a while, until he got called for a three-month shoot in Arizona. Russell quit the factory and never looked back.

His long hair and his riding (and falling off) skills kept him steadily employed “playing” an Indian. “In those days there were 27 Westerns on TV. You could go from one to the other. After five years, I got tired of playing Indians so I put my hair up under my hat and started playing cowboys too.”

He learned to drive a 4-horse stagecoach the hard way, by saying he could and having to prove it. The stage driver didn’t show for a movie starring Andy Devine. “I can do that,” Russell fibbed. “I got up there, shoved the brake off, got the reins, pointed their noses, then popped ‘em and we took off! I drove ‘em down, spun ‘em around came back and pulled ‘en up.” He was hired, and during the day drove Mr. Devine (in a car) from one area of the location to another. Devine told him, “I’d ride anywhere in a stagecoach with you but never again in a car. You’re one crazy Indian!”

By the mid-eighties, Westerns had fell out of fashion, and Russell found himself asking his agent why he wasn’t getting work. He was told that if he cut his hair he might be more employable. “I told him, no way, I haven’t cut my hair in 20 years. But my wife said, ‘Hell you’re not!’ So I cut my hair, got a job on a little show, then got called for an Indian job.” So he had to buy a wig, and rented it back to the production company. “They gave me $25 for the wig, all those years I never got a cent for my real hair!”

“Next I got a job as a wino. I didn’t drink, but I remembered my Daddy.” He wasn’t happy with the wardrobe’s choice, so he went to Salvation Army and got a suit and drove over it with his car until it looked right, got a makeup artist friend show him how to create a black eye, and got the job – as the “resident drunk” on Hill Street Blues. Then Simon & Simon called. “Every time they needed a drunk to die, they called me. I made more money as a drunk than all those cowboys and Indians. Didn’t have as much fun, but made more money. And I could clean up and be a doctor, priest, and other things.”

His career was in full swing when one day in his agent’s office, another actor was complaining, “How come I don’t work as much as that half-breed?” The agent said, “Do you have a tux? Can you ballroom dance, square dance, do you have a priest outfit? When you can do all the things Neal can do I’ll hire you in a minute.”

“People ask me all the time, ‘how do I get to be in the movies, be a stunt man?’ Not by the seat of your pants, I tell them. Get a college education, then play movie star.”

Thirteen years ago, at age 70, Russell was riding with Sam Elliott at the Disney Ranch when Elliot said to him, “What the hell are you doing (riding horses)? You don’t need the money, don’t need the publicity.” “I don’t know!” Russell said, “and I retired (professionally riding) then and there.”

These days he still judges parades and horse shows, which he has been doing since the 1950’s. He is a member of the California State Horseman’s Association, and has an honorary Lifetime Parade license. He still keeps his Screen Actor’s Guild membership current; and is a Comanche Elder and a member of the Kern River Piute Council and the National Indian Conference. Since moving to the Kern River Valley he has helped form the Nun Cunni Indian Center, where he teaches bead and leather work.

“People have been real good to me here,” he said. His daily philosophy is “This is the day the Lord has given us and we will rejoice in it.”

Rocky told me yesterday Neal died the Saturday before Christmas.  He was 88. I will miss him.