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Shop Till Everybody Drops

I don’t want to die. Not even a little. I don’t care if it’s the end of the world. Nuclear holocaust, chemical attack or flesh-eating zombies, I refuse to accept my fate. So what if death seems inevitable? So what if my years of smoking pot and watching TV have ?prepared me for nothing but certain doom in the face of catastrophe? I’m a Los Angeleno, dammit. As long as I have a car and a credit card, I have hope. And if there are only a few shopping days left till Armageddon, here’s how I’ll be blowing my bank account:

If anyone can teach me to outlive the cockroaches, Christopher Nyerges is the guy. Nyerges is a survivalist who has been teaching the art of staying alive for more than three decades. His class topics include primitive weaponry, building shelters, water purification, traps and snares, edible and medicinal plants, solar cooking and many more things that will come in handy once you can no longer call Domino’s for dinner. While Nyerges focuses on survival in the wild, I figure once civilization collapses the knowledge will apply. Classes are taught in areas of Griffith Park, the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica Mountains and along the Pacific Ocean. Be forewarned, the classes do involve some hiking.

Nyerges doesn’t stay on the beaten paths and leads his students into the wilderness, where they can get hands-on experience with nature. I’m not a big fan of nature myself. It’s dirty. There are bugs. Classes are taught on Saturday mornings, when I am inevitably hung over. But even I managed to have a great time learning about the forest around me and how to keep from dying in it. Nyerges is a patient and attentive instructor, and he’s as good with the beginning-level student as he is with the seasoned outdoorsman.

Classes are often taught with the assistance of advanced students and fellow instructors, all of whom share Nyerges’ passion for learning to live in the natural world. Their enthusiasm for their subject is infectious. By the end of the day, I was squealing with delight while I blistered my hands making fire from a couple pieces of wood. If you don’t have time to wander the forest, Nyerges also writes about survival — he has published several books on the subject and is editor and contributing writer for the quarterly magazine Wilderness Way.

Order books and sign up for classes on Nyerges’ Web site,?www.christophernyerges.com, or call (626) 791-3217.

With doomsday coming, I’m going to need flashlights. Lots of flashlights. And long underwear. And some good walking shoes. And all kinds of things I haven’t even thought about yet because I’m used to living in a world with electricity and running water. Fortunately, there’s Adventure 16. A local chain of retail stores and a manufacturer of outdoor goods, Adventure 16 has been a valuable resource for outdoors enthusiasts in Southern California for more than 40 years. Stores are staffed with enthusiastic employees, and carry a variety of supplies for hiking, climbing and camping. Wandering among their shelves, I find all kinds of things I’m sure to need: Water purifiers! Camp stoves! Waterproof socks! Bear-resistant food containers! Will there be bears in the postapocalyptic world? Hard to say, but the store has an impressive variety of containers that can resist them.

There’s a small section devoted to outdoor gear for dogs, and the store allows canine customers to come sniff out the merchandise for themselves. I can bring my pooches here to be outfitted with all-terrain paw boots, “dog pack” saddlebags and canine goggles appropriately called “doggles.” For humans, there’s a large clothing department, and I’m happy to report that weather-resistant clothing is surprisingly fashionable. They have every kind of attire I could possibly need to dress for the hostile wilderness, from hiking boots to mosquito hats to antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, odor-resistant underwear. The packaging says this is the only underwear I will ever need, and for what it costs, it’d better be. The kind of high-quality outdoor gear Adventure 16 carries isn’t cheap, but many of the products (not the underwear) are available for rent at affordable daily rates.

11161 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A., (310) 473-4574; 5425 Reseda Blvd., Tarzana, (818) 345-4266; 2533 Pacific Coast Hwy., Torrance, (310) 534-9683, www.adventure16.com.

Armageddon isn’t pretty. Fires, earthquakes, floods, alien invaders — whatever form it takes, there’s going to be a lot of rubble, injuries and chaos. You can’t call 911 for help during doomsday. And even if you could, they’d be a bit overwhelmed. Lucky for us, the Los Angeles Fire Department has developed a program to help civilians help themselves in a crisis situation. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program offers training in disaster preparedness and response for anyone over 18 in Los Angeles. The program teaches regular people how to put out small fires, perform light search and rescue, and organize response teams. Students learn disaster medical procedures, including how to control bleeding, open airways and treat people for shock. The training is taught in seven classes that take place once a week, for a total of 17½ hours. Amazingly, all of this is provided free of charge. Once training is completed, students become CERT members and can join a local battalion. CERT battalions give volunteer assistance to the authorities when needed, and it doesn’t have to be the end of the world for regular people to be heroes. CERT battalions have helped out at everything from Christmas parades to forest fires, and provided everything from first aid to evacuation assistance. Whether it’s the apocalypse or just a very bad day, it never hurts to be prepared to help. CERT classes are taught year-round all over Los Angeles, and locations and schedules can be found on the CERT Web site.

 

www.cert-la.com or (818) 756-9674.

Of course, disaster doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Desperation can lead to violence, looting, even cannibalism. Should I encounter folks with less-than-neighborly intentions, I’d like to be able to convince them that I’m not worth the trouble. And nothing says “please don’t eat me” quite like the ka-chunk of racking a pump-action shotgun. So I’ll be visiting Martin B. Retting to stockpile these and other conversational tools. Retting has a large selection of firearms, with rifles and shotguns lining the walls, and glass cases filled with a variety of handguns. Used firearms make up a large portion of Retting’s inventory, and are an excellent option for those of us who find the cost of a new gun prohibitive. All of the store’s used firearms are serviced by a gunsmith, and most come with a one-year warranty. Retting also has a great selection of those essential survival tools, pocket knives, as well as different combat knives. The store carries collectible and antique firearms, which may not be preferable for doing battle but are amazing to look at. While I plan on stockpiling an arsenal come Armageddon, with civilization intact I remain something of a looky-loo, eager to fondle merchandise I can’t possibly afford. The employees have always been friendly and patient with me, happy to show me any gun I like and to answer all of my questions. And everyone on staff is well versed in California gun law, which is among the most prohibitive in the nation. Factor a 10-day waiting period into your End Days planning.

11029 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-2412.

My arsenal won’t do me much good if I don’t know how to use it. That’s where firearms instructor Greg Block comes in. Block has been training law-enforcement professionals for more than two decades, and on the weekends he shares his extensive knowledge with the general public. I took his basic-level handgun class and was nervous knowing I’d be on a range with people who had never fired guns before. But Block emphasizes safety first, and his class began with an idiot-proof lecture on the fundamentals. Block teaches with the assistance of fellow instructors, and the ratio is one instructor for every three students. This way, everyone at the range gets individual attention and no one shoots off a toe. My shooting technique improved considerably under the watchful eye of the instructors. And while I’m sure I can use what I’ve learned to become a better hunter or sport shooter, that isn’t what these classes are about. Block teaches guns as a tool of self-defense. Emphasis is placed on the shooting skills and strategies required to survive in a combat situation. When Block indulged a student’s question about how best to kill a zombie, I knew I was in the right place. Zombies and Armageddon go together like peaches and cream!

In addition to handguns, Block teaches classes on shotguns and rifles, from basic to advanced levels. I’ll be signing up for the basic shotgun class next, because, as my Texan father is fond of saying, there is nothing like a 12-gauge shotgun for short-range social intercourse. All classes are taught at the Burro Canyon Shooting Park, a large outdoor range in the Angeles National Forest just north of Azusa. So you’ll want to bring a hat and sunscreen. But you don’t have to bring a gun. Block provides firearms for his classes free of charge.

(714) 893-8676 or www.firearmstraining.com.

There’s strength in numbers, especially in a crisis — people working together have a much greater chance of survival than those on their own. But when the shit hits the fan, the stoner deadbeats I call my friends aren’t going to be good for anything .?.?. unless I develop a taste for long pork. No, I’ll need a more reliable crowd to hang with in the postapocalyptic world. That’s why I’ll be going to one of the city’s six animal shelters (the city calls them Care Centers) to adopt a pack of dogs. I know, it seems a little strange to abandon human companionship at the end of the world, but dogs make excellent allies. They provide security — their senses are especially tuned to detecting intruders, and they’re excellent brawlers. They eat a lot, but they make up for it with strong hunting instincts and a willingness to share. They’d be warm and cuddly on cold winter nights. And think of the moral support they’d provide when the collapse of civilization starts to bum me out.

 

Los Angeles Animal Services operates six shelters, with locations in Lincoln Heights, South Los Angeles, Chatsworth, Van Nuys, West Los Angeles and San Pedro, so wherever I am when disaster strikes I’ll be able to find new friends. Photos and information about each of the available dogs (and cats, rabbits, hamsters and turtles) are available online. A recent search of the shelters’ Web site revealed 729 dogs currently available for adoption, including a tremendous variety of purebreds. So far I’ve fallen in love with a German shepherd, a black Lab mix, a beagle and a miniature poodle. And I can afford to spring them all — it only costs between $86 and $91 to adopt a dog, depending on which shelter you’re at. Cats cost even less, if you want to go that route. Adoption fees include vaccinations, spaying/neutering and microchipping, which is quite a deal given the cost of health care in this country.

Of course I can’t take these pooches home before the end of the world or my landlord will throw me out on the street. But the city shelters always need volunteers, which is a perfect way to get a dog fix without getting evicted.

(888) 452-7381 or www.laanimalservices.com.

If all else fails, I can always find God. And by finding God, I mean sucking up to the Mormons. Mormon doctrine teaches followers to prepare for end times by keeping a year’s supply of food and other necessities on hand, and by learning to be self-reliant. They are, as a people, better prepared than Dick Cheney’s bunker. I don’t know if they’ll take a heathen like myself, but I’ll be the 12th wife and wear special underwear if it means survival. And besides, it isn’t as though I’d be showing up with nothing to offer — I know how to kill a zombie!

Westwood Chapel, 10740 Ohio Ave., W.L.A., (310) 474-7193.


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