Found Guilty in Dope Case Despite ‘Hilarious’ Trial : Zeke’s Week Was Bleak; Alter Ego Up the Creek

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Times Staff Writer

Timothy Dundon has taken his alter ego “Zeke the Sheik” on a soapbox circuit from Hollywood to Pasadena to San Bernardino, promoting the virtues of legalizing marijuana and of adopting his home-grown fertilizer as a means of arresting hunger.

But it wasn’t until two weeks ago, when Dundon took the witness stand in Pasadena Superior Court to defend himself against charges of cultivating, possessing and selling marijuana, that Sheik found himself with the captive audience that had eluded him for so long.

In what one veteran prosecutor called “the funniest, most hilarious” trial he had ever experienced, Dundon, wearing a floor-length caftan and blue headdress, testified almost exclusively in rhymes. During 20 minutes of verse that left the judge, sheriff’s deputies and a court reporter in stitches, Dundon offered the Scriptures as his only defense for growing the illegal weed. The performance was of little avail, however. He was found guilty of four felony counts and now faces a maximum of six years in prison.


“I’m the politician for which you all have been wishing ever since I had the vision that my mission was to end the great second Prohibition and to form the coalition for the abolition of nuclear fission and, in addition, to wipe out malnutrition,” Dundon told the court. “Because this all put me under a great deal of suspicion, I made the decision to make the transition to become a politician.”

Dundon--a k a Zeke the Magic and Meek Cosmic Sheik from Cripple Creek Peak and the Planet Bleak--has marched in parades, delivered his rhymes from street corners and even transformed his Altadena home into a kind of personal statement.

In 1976, he incorporated the run-down, two-story farmhouse as “The Promised Land” and surrounded himself with thousands of rare cacti--and not so rare marijuana plants.

“The marijuana was merely the nurse that would reimburse my purse and allow me to throw your whole universe into reverse and make things get better instead of worse,” the 42-year-old Dundon explained in an interview. Such poems, which he characterizes as a mix of Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss, come at the rate of one per minute.

Droppings for Sale

Before he ran afoul of the law, Dundon spent his days promoting and selling packages of the fertilizer he mixes at home and calls the “key to life.” The fertilizer is part household garbage, part mulch from a neighborhood cemetery and part droppings from chickens, ducks and a turkey that reside on Dundon’s farm. He refers to the mixture as the “stool tool” and says it will inject life into the most tired of soils.

“I guess I’m just the sage who was too much of an outrage for the stage because he had the message that through the proper usage of the sewage, garbage and foliage, we can really turn the page on a new and more abundant golden age.”


Dundon’s brush with the law began in November, 1983, after he sold a $25 package of marijuana to an undercover sheriff’s deputy. Deputies then searched his home and found seven pounds of the weed, valued at $30,000, in an upstairs bedroom.

Just Helping Out Friends

At his trial, Dundon, a divorced father of two who describes himself as a devout Christian, maintained that he was not a major supplier, but that he occasionally sold marijuana at bargain prices to friends and acquaintances.

“Zeke the Sheik certainly didn’t get wealthy selling marijuana,” said Ray Fountain, a Pasadena attorney who represented Dundon and will argue for a lenient sentence April 12. “He is very sincere in his belief that marijuana is not harmful and should be accepted as a spiritual device.”

Dundon pleaded not guilty to the charges, but in a move that had prosecutors scratching their heads, he took the witness stand and delivered a dozen or so poems that served as a confession. His only defense was Genesis 1:27-29, a reference to man’s dominion over all things that grow on the earth.

Who’s In Charge?

“His bottom line was that God gave man dominance over every living and moving thing,” said Loren Naiman, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case. “It was the funniest, most hilarious court case I’ve ever been a part of. The whole place was in stitches.”

Dundon remains undaunted by the possibility of spending six years behind bars.

“The courthouse was my forum and I’ll use the jail cell as my forum too,” he said. “I feel like my religious beliefs are being infringed upon. There are other things out there, like alcohol, that are legal and much more harmful to people.


“I’m the stout devout who was here about but they wouldn’t let me go my route so I just had to hang out and more or less pout. But now I’m going to go out and show them how to knock out the drought.”

Although Dundon’s mental competence was never questioned at his trial, he acknowledged that some people think he’s crazy. That’s where the rhymes come in, he said. They are his way of disarming people and showing that the Sheik is just an alter ego.

His World’s a Stage

“The Sheik is a put-on. He’s just a fictional character who really doesn’t exist. But the question is, should he exist? The whole message, though, is real. I’ve just put it on cards and made a stage production out of it.”

Even though Dundon tries to separate himself from Zeke, police, court personnel and even his attorney refer to the alter ego when speaking of Dundon. “I found Zeke the Sheik to be quite an intelligent and personable fellow,” Fountain said. “He’s just bizarre, Southern California bizarre.”

But friends say there is another, less conspicuous, side to Dundon. They point to the care he gives a sick brother and a 90-year-old neighbor. “I’ve known Tim for 30 years and he’s a very giving guy,” said Steve Laub, who owns a welding firm. “The Zeke stuff is a cover to let him tell people how he really feels.”

Dundon, a high school dropout, was a plasterer and iron worker before a vision in 1973 convinced him to devote his life to promoting his fertilizer and the legalization of marijuana. Although the vision is now vague, Dundon says, Beatles’ music formed a key part of it.


Dundon said the Beatles’ song that carries the most significance for him is “Act Naturally,” the ballad of a loner who dreams of being a Hollywood star and one day winning an Oscar, a dream that has often tugged at Dundon’s own gown. The closest he’s come, though, is when one of his cactuses was cast as a prop in an RCA commercial.

“Sylvester Stallone is out there making movies with blood, guts violence, blow it up, and Rocky, where it’s duke it out. And what does he get: glory, beaucoup bucks and everything else,” Dundon said. “What do I get? Hassles, grief and a bunch of chicken grit.”