The Pedley Mangler is everywhere. Stickers of his face -- aviator sunglasses, possible perm, well-coiffed beard and mustache, slightly creepy smile -- are glued onto walls and signs and street lights and skateboards all over Southern California and beyond. His image was tucked inside the wristband box at Coachella last year, leading people to speculate as to his identity in a Coachella forum -- Zach Galifinakis was guessed at, as was Bob Ross, the voluminously-haired host of PBS' "The Joy of Painting". I was planning to launch my own investigation into the source of the image when I happened upon the Mangler's Meltdown food truck at the Sea No Evil art benefit in downtown Riverside. There, on the side of the vehicle, was the aviator-sunglass-sporting fellow in larger-than-life glory. As I chowed on my "Ultimate Grilled Cheese" sandwich -- mozzarella sticks nestled within the cheddar, pepper jack and Swiss -- I read the truck's legend and learned our friend's nom de guerre for the first time, along with the fact that he's decided to go legit after years of diamond heists and bank jobs. I needed to find out more -- who is this wacky character? I was able to reach his representative, Candice, who arranged an email interview -- the Pedley Mangler's first public interview, ever -- with the man, himself.
GB: How would you like to be addressed, sir? Mangler? Mr. Mangler? He Who Mangles?
PM: Mangler is cool.
GB: How did your name come about?
PM: Some dumbass pesky kids in the neighborhood started calling me The Mangler. I'm still not sure what it actually means.
GB: Do you have a propensity to mangle things?
PM: If you are asking if I like to fuck shit up, Hell yeah!! I party hard, play hard and fuck shit up even harder. I don't take no shit from nobody. I ain't out to hurt nobody unless I catch them slippin'.
GB: Where did your iconic image come from--a mug shot? A wanted poster? Did you draw it, yourself? Would you say it's an accurate representation of you? And how did it come to be plastered all over the place?
PM: Not a mug shot. It's those same damn meddling kids from Pedley. Little pricks drew the picture and started putting up the stickers everywhere. I can't tell you how pissed I was when it started bringing down the heat on my businesses. I still don't think it's a very good picture of me. You'd think some nerd with one of them computers could make me look way better. I hate getting stopped all time. People want pictures, autographs, crime advice. You name it. Some broad even had me sign her titty. Since I've gone legit, I am cool with it and decided to roll with it. I'm not sure why people are so excited about a bad drawing of me? But, people seem to be putting that shit up everywhere. It's definitely helped out with my band and legal businesses.
GB: Where's the craziest place you've seen one of your stickers?
PM: That's a tough question. I know they have been spotted all around the world. I think the most remote place is Antarctica. But my favorite is the button that was given to that Russian dude Vladimir Putin as a gift for being such a bad ass. I ain't down with all that commie shit, but he's still ok in my book. The Nuge would approve.
GB: What's your connection to Pedley? (For those not familiar with the fairly rural area near Riverside, Pedley was considered a "census-designated place" in Riverside County until last year, when it became part of the newly-incorporated City of Jurupa Valley. It's the kind of town where some people still ride their horses to the liquor store.)
PM: Born and raised. Still haven't found a better place to settle down. We got an AM/PM and The Spunky Steer Steakhouse. What else is needed? I like having the open land and ability to stay low key. I have had a few close calls with the law, but always get away because I know the area so well. The pigs need to mind their own. It's also the best place to have a band. We have been playing in my buddy's basement for years! Shit, I even ran for mayor once. I did shed a tear when they tore down the "We Serve Ladies" gas station at Jurupa Road.
GB: Tell me about your run for mayor. What was your platform? Would you ever run again?
PM: Well, it was a solid run until the other dudes I was campaigning against got ahold of my arrest record and made that shit public. My first move was to put the other guys' pictures on people in The Jail Report.
This was a good plan and was working until they tracked down my info and made flyers and posters with my previous record, alleged crimes and illegal businesses, and a full profile of my shady campaign manager, Art "Al-Qaeda" Moreno. He had an outstanding warrant for some trumped up possession for sales charges in Menifee. My platform was simple: no more bullshit! I would have put an end to a bunch of dickheads in suits telling people what to do. This is Pedley, Motherfuckers, stand up for your rights to do what you want. No taxes, no punk ass meter readers or cops sweating you down for minor misdemeanors. I ain't saying all cops are bad. I know a few dudes that are on the take and they are cool as hell. But, most cops are just out to get fools. They ain't caught me yet, so fuck 'em.
Hell no, I ain't ever running for mayor again. That cost me way too much cash with no benefits. Just a bunch of drama from the neighbors and authorities. Too much heat.
GB: You say people ask you for crime advice. What tips do you give them? I'd love to know more about your previous "businesses".
PM: The best advice I can give is "keep one eye behind you". Last month, I was running some ID theft and forgery seminars over at the AM/PM, but shit got hot when an informant snitched me out. No big thing, just simple common sense tips on not getting caught. Baretta said it best, "Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time." That is what people need to know and live by. I am hoping to put a website up that people can ask questions about the shit they are thinking of getting into. I will advise and possibly partner them up other dudes with the proper skills for a small fee. It's kind of like the Recycler, but for doing crimes. This dude JJJ I met at the Banning Work Camp is getting a computer to make it happen.
As for past businesses, I started my pimping game in the early 1970's. I was the go to guy for the hottest chicks in Pedley and Mira Loma. Dudes were coming back from Nam and not only wanted broads, but weed and coke, too. To keep the customers happy, I started a small time dope delivery service that became the area's largest distribution network. In 1978, I had more delivery drivers on the road than UPS and Fedex combined. In the early 80s, fools started trippin', so I got out of the dope game and started honing my burglary skills. I had a bad ass crew that could disarm every alarm and crack any kind of safe. It was like the shit you would see on CHiPs or something. My most recent business before going legit, was international arms trading. That is how I met my former campaign manager, Art "Al-Qaeda" Moreno. We were moving serious crates of AT4's, RPG's and small arms units all over Riverside County and Somalia. I had a few run-ins with the Secret Service and ATF, but they didn't have shit on me and never found the safe house I set up on Limonite Street. The safe house operated as an ACE Hardware by day, and weapons depot throughout the night. Luckily I had a few agents on the take and got warning of the raids. It was the final close call that made me decide to call it quits.
GB: What inspired you to "go legit"? Why sandwiches? Why a food truck?
PM: After so many years of fighting the system, I just needed a break, man. I know it's a bullshit move, but constantly having to watch your back and play cat & mouse with the Feds wears on you. My previous businesses were very lucrative and have allowed me to keep all of my street cred. Don't get me wrong, I still fuck around and stick it to the man whenever I can. I ain't going out like a punk bitch. Lets just say I have reduced the amount of potential felonies that I was once committing on the daily. I need to be clear, though. I ain't scared of the joint. That shit ain't nothing but brick and steel; it can't hold the Mangler! As for the Meltdown, it just came together one weekend when my homeboy Dirk got kicked from lockup. Aside from supplying multiple pharmaceuticals in San Diego County Jail, Dirk is known as "Narco Chef" for his combination dealing business and radical cooking skills. He owed me some cash from a deal that went down before his incarceration, so in return, he is grilling up some badass sandwiches for the Mangler's Meltdown. Our associate Lil' Gopi also helped get the operation going. He had a homeboy that jacked a food truck from one of those bullshit Koji dudes for not paying protection money on time. So, Narco Chef, Lil' Gopi and me started Mangler's Meltdown. We pretty much survive on grilled cheese sandwiches and wanted to spread the delicious love. In comparison to my past businesses, the Meltdown don't make shit selling grilled cheese sandwiches. We have been forced to supplement sales with a handful of other on-board operations.
GB: Like your band?
PM: The Mangler! We are a kick ass metal band. After 25 years of jamming in my buddies basement, we just released our first 4 song EP. "Born on the Bad Side". One of those Hollywood type producers heard our music through a friend and was so impressed he recorded us at his studio in Venice. His name is Ross Robinson and he turned out to be a pretty cool cat. Metal Blade is looking at us, but we are just seeing what's out there and waiting for the best deal. We just signed up with the Windish Booking Agency and will be hitting the road soon. We have been working on our live set and playing some small gigs around town. Hoping to land a gig at the Coconut Teaser soon. We have lots of lights and shit with pyro for the live gigs.
GB: Any other big plans in the works?
PM: I just take it one day at a time, man. With the band and food truck blowing up and shit, not sure what tomorrow will bring.
So there you have it, folks. The Pedley Mangler speaks. Is this performance art? Have we been grifted? Only the Mangler knows.
Top image: The Mangler Truck | Photo: The Mangler.
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