I get called a lot of names…Joseph Zhuang…Joey Zhuang…Joe Z….sometimes Joey "Dude"…not to mention fucking “Bathrobe Shamus”. I mean...I do wear the robe out sometimes if I'm in the middle of something. You know...on the verge of a breakthrough. But shit! The Dude thing and the bathrobe thing came about as a result of that movie The Big Fucking Lebowski...right? All my friends and associates saw it and noticed that I have certain things in common with the main character…The Dude…who was described as possibly the laziest man in Los Angeles County, which may qualify him for being the laziest man worldwide. For me they changed it around to…Joey Dude…the laziest private eye in San Francisco, the west coast and probably…the world. Well, fuck them. I have my methods and they work. But I guess their calling me Dude is a compliment, considering the source. Most of my friends and associates could be described as a little laid back. Deeply casual.
I grew up in one of the more “interesting” neighborhoods of San Francisco, which I’ll get into in a minute. I’m half Chinese and half Italian. I tell people I’m a made guy in the Taoist mafia...given the name of Zhuang...my esteemed great plus 100 generations or so grandfather...right?...right.
I now...since the "occurrences" started...specialize in cases that most of my "reputable" colleagues in the investigatory field won't touch and I go about my work in ways that they call "unorthodox" and "slovenly" on days when they are being kind. A lot of people have been after me to go public with some of what I have seen and done...have said that I MUST do this...because of what it could mean to our understanding of "the way things are"...won't get more high sounding than that. Guess its sort of in my blood too, so here goes. I am going to spin a yarn now for you, man...make it sound like its about your "hardboiled" pulp noir "yeggs", when its really about "cracks in the cosmic egg"…maybe. But there I go...getting ahead of myself...unusual for me…my lazy ass ways and all. Probably gone on too long already. This whole going public thing is kind of spooky, but let's get back to the business at hand...
I...and many of my cohorts, as well as the others who will undoubtedly turn up in Tales Of The Bathrobe Shamus from time to time...live and work in the Druid Heights "neighborhood" of San Francisco. You won't find Druid Heights on the tourist maps. The Druid Heights District, as it was originally called, was created during the gold rush (late 1840s) and became an increasingly "interesting", exclusive and carefully guarded section of the city. (It should not be confused with the Druid Heights colony formed one hundred years later by Elsa Gidlow on Mt. Tamalpias in Marin County, which later became the location of Alan Watts' legendary circular house.)
The original Druid Heights District included (and still includes) streets, alleys and narrow walkways which are now in the Chinatown, Little Italy, North Beach, Nob Hill and Russian Hill neighborhoods of San Francisco. Additionally, Druids Heights is riddled with tunnels, still usable, which served a variety of purposes in gold rush days. The whereabouts of these tunnels is a closely guarded secret among those who still identify Druid Heights as their place of residence.
Druid Heights also houses a number of subterranean bars, brothels and casinos which have been in operation since they opened in 1849. The urban legend about an underground Chinatown is actually referring largely to the Druid Heights "street" system, although it was enlarged by the Chinese of the day for their own purposes.
More about this "Underground Chinatown" from DR. WEIRDE :
C h i n a t o w n :
An Underground Labyrinth?
By Dr. Weirde
"Throughout the 19th century, rumor had it that a byzantine labyrinth of tunnels had been constructed beneath the streets of Chinatown. The tunnels supposedly allowed "oriental gangsters" and other sinister types to mysteriously vanish whenever cops kicked in the door to one of their opium dens or slave-girl pens. Various witnesses claimed to have actually passed through these tunnels, and the police and city authorities were convinced that the tunnels existed. But when Chinatown burned down in the Great Fire of 1906, no tunnels were found amidst the ruins. What happened to the tunnels?
Most historians have concluded that the Chinatown tunnels were a myth. But other, weirder theories have been proposed. One has it that since the tunnels could only be entered through trap-door stones in the floors of basements, the evidence of their existence was buried beneath the rubble after the earthquake and fire. An even weirder theory claims that the tunnels never physically existed, but were locations where magickal adepts could be "channeled" or teleported from one spot to another. The occultists who have proposed this notion claim that the witnesses who have traveled in the tunnels were actually led by Chinese magicians into holes beneath various buildings, where quartz crystals and copper conductors -the lodestones of Chinese spiritual alchemy- were used to focus the operator's psychic energy to the point where teleportation could occur."
ON TO OUR STORY…
The Li Po bar on Grant Ave., Chinatown, San Francisco still has the atmosphere of strangeness and intrigue associated with that quarter of the city at certain times in its history. I once went to a BLADE RUNNER party there. The setting fit the subject matter perfectly.
Juan "Bob" Tang, one of my sometimes questionable informants, asked that I meet him at Li Po at midnight...he had finally agreed to show me a portal into the Chinatown (and Druid Heights) underworld. He showed up drunk and late but he insisted on being my guide anyway. I am sworn to secrecy as to the alley, and subsequently, the building we entered. Both were "guarded" by "guards" one would never suspect of providing security. He insisted, however, that these guards were more than capable of performing this service.
Inside the building, we walked down several flights of stairs, then into a huge (I think) pitch-black room. I was led across the room and through a series of doors. Finally, we emerged into what seemed like a hanger-sized mall of mystery and corruption. I felt like I had been transported into a living movie about Shanghai in the 30s.
The version of this place that I had been imagining for ever since I heard rumors of its existence pales in the face of what I saw and experienced that night. As expected there were opium parlors, casinos, bars and brothels. Also, among other things, there were betting rooms which featured animal fights and human fights to the death. This used to be common in Asia (and may still be...underground) but has "officially" fallen from favor. Live sex shows of every kind abounded.
Juan Bob's purpose for bringing me here was to introduce me to a "real" San Francisco private eye. "Your cases Joey…nothing...you got to meet this guy! I take you if you keep mouth shut!" So much for that. Of course, I am changing things around enough so that no actual place or person is in any real danger of being exposed by any of this. A version of these events apparently did happen, however. Anyway, that night Juan introduced me to the "Detective With No Name". This guy reminded me of Orson Welles in "Touch Of Evil"...same overweight, unshaven, dirty white suit, straw hat, I've seen it all more than twice look. He talked...I listened...
The Detective With No Name had this strange quality about him. It was like you could never see all of him at once. Parts of him, which seemed to flicker and change as he moved, were lost in some kind of "blind spot", as if some part of him constantly was moving in and out of an extra dimension invisible to me. He breathed laboriously and drank deeply from a large, tropical-looking cocktail.
"I hear you got yourself hired by some rich broad to find the meaning of life", says the Detective With No Name. "Something like that happened to me one time. This socialite asshole, who I was having a money problem with, says to me that if I'm such a hot shot investigator why don't I go out and find God and bring him back the evidence and then he'll pay me. So I pulled out my gun and stuck it in his mouth and said that maybe I should blow his brains out and he could find out about God and the life after death thing first hand. He got religion."
"You should ask this client of yours if she has questions about the 'meaning of life' when she's getting some real good head or after a big hit of some great dope or even a delicious piece of pie for that matter. Good luck kiddo...see you in the funny papers."
The Detective With No Name wandered off. Juan Bob said it was time for us to go. As I turned to follow him, the intermittent buzzing of a flickering red neon sign at the end of a narrow alley got my attention. "NIKKI'S - LIVE NUDE GIRLS - QUANTUM TANTRA - REALITY HACKS". I headed down the alley. Juan Bob warned me away from Nikki's, but it was too late.
Nikki's is a Quantum Tantra (see below) whore house that serves up a killer Star Trek style alien bodymind meld with either the girl of your choice or Nature Herself. This is what happened. I was given some sort of bitter drink and then seated in the cockpit of an egg shaped machine which seemed to transport me into a deep, Muir Woods type forest. My body seemed to disappear. I became a point of consciousness. Was this an illusion? Was the drink hallucinogenic? Did the egg-shaped machine (ONG'S HAT? ) transport me to another dimension? I cannot say. What I can report is that I experienced the forest - and what seemed like all of Nature - from the inside as well as the outside, and what was happening inside can only be described as terrifying rapture. The continuous screaming moan was ear splitting but enthralling. All of my senses were one - gulping the never-ending, streaming orgasm of chi that gushes eternally throughout the "inside" of Nature - a gigantic, whizzing river of Being (I always thought the flow of the Tao was gentle) - the "physical" universe. I sensed that Reality is in constant orgasm, and we are not two - not detached from it - we just don't realize this - don't know how to interface with IT - get past our encrustation of self. Quantum Tantra accomplishes this - I think. (I should stop so much thinking!)
I guess Juan Bob got me out of there in one piece - I woke up the next morning in my own bed - thinking about my encounter with quantum tantra - asking a lot of questions. I had to figure out a way to get back to Nikki's…
SOME BACKGROUND ON QUANTUM TANTRA
NICK HERBERT is an industrial, academic, "edge" physicist and is the author of "Quantum Reality", "Faster Than Light" and "Elemental Mind". He is currently devising the Next Big Science which he calls QUANTUM TANTRA . You can find an intriguing introduction to the enigmatic Herbert and his work HERE .
To give you just a taste of what is to come in our exploration of Quantum Tantra, Herbert asks that you answer the following questions before entering
"Before you enter quantumtantra, are you able to answer "yes" to the following questions?
Do you admire the achievements of science but would like to experience a more intimate relationship than mere observation with the physical Universe ?
Do you live in a country, state or stellar system where quantum tantra has not yet been outlawed?
Are you prepared to relax your armor, open your heart
and greet Reality as a lover?
Are you ready to saunter barefoot thru the Cosmogasm
in the company of erotic non-human beings?"
Click on "Ready to saunter" and...