The Learned Pig

Art – Thinking – Nature – Writing

Behind the Orange Curtain

Besides getting the usual “Go West, Young Man”-type pandering that we all seem to get from American propaganda, a couple things I came across as a Midwest wanderlust adolescent that really resonated with me on multiple levels were teeny-bopper shows like Fox’s The O.C., and MTV’s Laguna Beach, which ultimately planted a Manifest Destiny spiritual synchronicity journey seed that saw me sprouting roots in Orange County, California, in my late twenties. The following interconnected flora & fauna photos that were taken throughout the years here hint at the beautiful, pristine aesthetic OC is known for, as well as the dichotomous underbelly that any environment has behind the scenes to help the well-manicured landscapes save face.


Sick Sense

I stumbled upon this trail map several years ago while walking K-9s in the above mentioned reality television area. As a sensitive individual who’s had his own mental health struggles, and who’s worked in the dual diagnosis industry, I found the name of this path to be especially interesting, as well as the symbolism and meaning I personally found in its bonding, bridge-to-new-beginnings nature. I also liked the cute little doggie emojis (though the ones I was walking were not Scotties), and found the juxtaposition of the baño signs against untamed wilderness rather humorous, especially with seeing water running into the ocean in the distance.

Fun fact: There was an unfortunate sewage spill in this area near the Montage hotel recently that undoubtedly contributed to a notable ear infection of mine that I got while obliviously swimming there.




My favorite Ninja Turtle and artist whose famous piece was called to mind when first witnessing this untitled one on our breezeway ceiling, which eponymously depicts our property and county perfectly, as we are blessed to have myriad citrus orchards rippling from the local Mission.

P.S. I’ve always identified with the color orange, which self-fulfilling prophecy was confirmed during an energy reading at the Chakra Shack a couple years ago, showing it as my overall aura.





I didn’t realize these pieces of feces right in front of me until there was only a few minutes left in class, and thought it was funny that I had set my mat up directly behind them in this beautiful bluff park where we were to do upward & downward dog, while “letting go of that which now longer serves us.”




Al Fresco

The long in the tooth place we moved into was very overgrown when we first got there, so after seeing this tiny decrepit table under the rusty structure entangled with branches, weeds, vines, etc., I decided to hack it away to create a pleasant little picnic area where we could eat prickly pears and such. Unfortunately, the Santa Ana winds and other elements all but immediately destroyed my work, and I was left picking up tiny pieces of blustering, aquamarine tablecloth for weeks to come. All that remains now is this picturesque memory.

Fun fact #2: My Mom called me about a week after her recent visit, and excitedly said, “Do you realize every meal we ate was outdoors?”





The first time I saw one of these buzzards soaring above I thought it was a California condor. Turns out it was just a turkey vulture. I rarely see them on the ground, so I figured I’d snap this of them partaking in their roadkill feast while I was dashing from my door one morning to make end’s meat.





When we first moved into our Shangri-La-like menagerie, we noticed umpteen traps, and subsequently came across a bunch of Splinter-esque residents. My French Bulldog would head into the bushes every day at a certain point during our walk, and I wasn’t sure why until my schnoz picked up the festering scent of death, so I extracted it with my pseudo-reaper sickle.




By Bread Alone

These crosses are usually only erected around Easter-time, but since COVID-19, they’ve been an almost year round staple seen for miles around, as a beacon of hope, so to speak. The brushfire hills they’re situated on were originally intended for a subdivision that never fully came to fruition, the remnants of which have been turned into graffiti-riddled outsider artist installations and makeshift basketball courts peppered amongst the hiking trails.

It was interesting to peak behind heaven’s gate to see the crucifixes’ spines.




Shotgun Start

I hadn’t experienced one since my competitive golf days came to a sobering halt (mainly due to heroin addiction), but luckily my friends and I immediately came across this Jerry-rigged bone dry Good Samaritan sign, otherwise our mountain bike ride would have been over before it began.




This is part of ROT, a section of The Learned Pig exploring multispecies creativity through modest tales of collaboration and coexistence amidst world-ending violence and disorder. ROT is conceived and edited by Julia Cavicchi.


The Learned Pig