Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pay Attention to the Signs

In L.A. now for over a month, and I've had to repeat a lesson that I thought I'd learned a long time ago. Driving down from Bronson Canyon and following a wonderful meditation, talking on my cellphone, accepting my birthday wishes from my beautiful, elderly-in-age-only friend and former therapist, Marianne, I heard the horn honks from the car behind me. In my rear view mirror, I saw the driver, a middle-aged woman in sunglasses wearing an overly large straw hat. She was pointing at me and mouthing something. I looked at my odometer, verifying that I was traveling the speed limit. Not able to figure out why the woman honked several more times, I began thinking nasty thoughts, such as "What's your problem, crazy ass lady?" I shrugged my shoulders and threw my hands in the air. She reacted by blowing the horn again. All the while, Marianne was informing me of how wonderful I was, how much she loved me, and how lucky the world was that I was born. Coming to a halt at the stop sign, I scowled at the woman, making sure that she was able to see me in my rear-view mirror. She grabbed a pad of paper from her passenger seat, and I immediately knew that she was writing down my tag number. I continued driving, and she followed behind me. In my ear I was hearing that Marianne loved me with the "passion of her youth," but I was feeling someone hate me with the ire of their youth. I decided to pull over to let the woman pass. She stopped beside me and rolled down her window. "Hold on, Marianne," I said, as I rolled down my window. "You're going to kill yourself or someone else!" the woman shouted. "Get off the cellphone, or park it and talk!" she yelled and then quickly drove away. "Darling, are you still there?" Marianne asked. "I am. I think I just discovered that people out here don't like for you to talk on your cellphone while driving." "Well, darling, I think that is probably very smart not to talk on the phone and try to drive at the same time, don't you?" I laughed. "It is smart, but sometimes I enjoy being dumb."

A few days before, on Sunday, instead of my usual walk, I drove to The Casbah Cafe, because I had another appointment later. With plenty of spaces on the street, I parallel parked. Getting out of the car, I carefully read the sign that said, "No parking 12 till 2 Fridays - Street Cleaning." Safe, or so I thought, I went inside and hung out, wrote, and drank coffee for a few hours. Upon returning to my car, I noticed the ticket on the window that informed me of the parking violation..."No permit to street park." I looked around and saw another sign, just a few feet in front of my car and behind the other one, that said, "Street Parking Only on Saturday and Sunday with Neighborhood Permit." I'm still not sure how I missed the other all-important sign, but I did. And I shamefully accepted that I was now a California criminal, and I paid the $55 fine.

The night of my birthday, driving to a meditation service, I was talking to my friend, Kristen. Yes, I had forgotten about the earlier warning from the angry safety patrol woman. When I saw the blue light and heard the siren, I said to Kristen, "I'm being pulled over, and I don't know why. Talk to you later." The arrogant and fit cop stared at me. "It's illegal to talk on your cellphone while driving." I need to see your license and registration." Nervously, I passed him my license and my insurance card. "I'm new here in L.A., and I didn't know that it was illegal to talk on your phone while driving." He shrugged his shoulders and smirked. "I need to see your registration." "Um...I just gave it to you," I said. He shook his head. "You gave me your license and insurance card. Does this car even belong to you?" I could see where this was headed, and not wanting to further irritate him, I quickly shuffled through the glove compartment, locating the Dekalb County registration information. As the policeman walked behind the car, I sat and waited, fretful, wondering if I was going to get thrown in jail, because I hadn't yet received my new Georgia tag decal. On the side of the curb where I was parked, an older Hispanic man stood in front of a podium with a "Valet" sign on it. The man leaned his head in the direction of the cop and mouthed the words, "Fucker."

Once again, I've been reminded that I have to always pay attention to the signs. How convenient that I didn't see the sign that said a neighborhood permit was required to park on the street on the weekends. It sure saved me some time to park there. Yes, the safety patrol woman was a shrew, but she was warning me of danger ahead. And the cop was a genuine asshole; however, he was simply doing his job. Of course, I could have done without the attitude, and I think a warning instead of a ticket would have been nice. Though, who knows if I would have learned my lesson from a mere warning. Maybe the ticket was a sign to never talk on the cellphone again while driving, which may preclude me from a future accident.

Even if I chose not to see the significance of either of the tickets, the fact that my bank account is shrinking in order to pay for the State of California budget shortfall is enough to make me more observant, present, and aware. I don't want my hard earned money being used to pay Arnold's salary or to pay for Michael Jackson's funeral. Yet, a few dollars to fund environmental efforts to clean up the L.A. smog would be okay. Though, I think that initiative may have been cut due to lack of funding.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No Longer Waiting on the World to Change

A couple of days ago when I was up early responding to Shug's nature call, I smiled and said "hello" to the unkempt, balding man who was rummaging through the recycle bins beside the apartment building. He deliberately and repeatedly brushed the few strands of stringy hair from his wrinkled and ruddy face. Repositioning the broken glasses on his nose, he smiled, exposing the rotten teeth, the two remaining top ones. "I like that dog." I nodded. "I like her, too." He retrieved another two cans and placed them in his rusty grocery cart, which was overflowing with loot. "I get up early. If I don't the others get them first. But if they get them before me, I just go to another street." Shug was doing what she does best, sniffing and lollygagging. "Hurry up, girl," I said. "She's not on no watch," he said. "You're right about that." The entire time we were talking, music from an 80s boom box that sat in the child's seat of the grocery cart was playing, and I started humming along to John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." "See you later," I said to the man when I mistakenly thought that Shug was done with her inspection of the sidewalk. He winked at Shug and said, "Look after me, Dog. When you see those two women going through these cans, tell them to leave me some." "Have a good day," I said. The cart had a sticky wheel, and he struggled to turn it around. While Shug continued to sniff the ground, searching for the perfect spot, I watched the man limp down the street, using the worn cart as a walker.

At a birthday lunch for my friend Forrest, founder of, I ran into Cynthia, the first person whom I met in L.A. upon my arrival here. Cynthia is a documentary filmmaker who made a wonderful film about her mother's hoarding disorder. "My Mother's Garden" ( is raw and personal and features an attempt by Cynthia to bring her family together to face their mother's illness. After further talks with Cynthia, I realized that she had started several non-profits to help disadvantaged young kids get a chance at a better life. Both Forrest and Cynthia are in their late 20s, and both of them are making big differences in the world. They aren't sitting around waiting for the world to change. They are creating the changes, making them happen.

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to figure out how to best use my talents to make positive changes in the world. Trying to decide how I can best marry my livelihood and my passion has occupied my days. In a sense, I guess that I've been sitting around waiting on the world to change, so I will know what changes to make. Now, though, I'm no longer waiting. And the first thing that I've committed to do is to continue to speak the truth about the injustices and social ills of the world and to continue to act as a voice for those who can't speak for themselves.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Losing My Love

The realization began early one morning last week when I walked out the front door of my apartment building and smelled the offensive odor coming from the trash cans. Although the City Sanitation Department emptied the cans the day before, the building manager had not returned the eight oversized plastic cans to their proper places. In one of my pseudo-Tourette's moments, the words poured from my mouth. "Damn, Shug! It smells like everybody walking down the street took a shit here this morning! Nasty ass people!" Shug pretended not to notice and quickly ran and squatted next to one of the cans. "Oh God," I said to myself, "if she craps there, then I'll just have to get a ticket for not picking up the poop." Well, as fate would have it, she only had to pee, and while it seemed like she was squatting for an eternity, I'm certain that it was no more than 30 minutes. Yet, in those disgusting but glorious moments, I saw how quickly it is for me to lose my love. However, I also saw how quickly it is for me to find it again.

Having my friend Julie in town was a needed treat. I enjoyed sharing my new world with her, and I savored sharing our familiar stories, too. From the beach trips to the hiking venture, we laughed and talked from the heart. Sometimes, though, we spoke from the perverted, gutter part of us. Why not? Anyway, after a sunny and relaxing afternoon at the beach, we strolled down the street to a vegetarian Thai restaurant for dinner. The fake chicken and mixed vegetables made both of us quite happy. And happy I stayed until I heard the dishes hit the floor and felt the wet sensation on my back. Turning to my left, I saw the waiter scurrying around, dropping to the floor, attempting to clean up the broken glass. I then turned and saw the yellow liquid dripping down the back of my chair. I raised my hand to my lower back, and I felt the grossly saturated area, and I knew that the yellow liquid was the culprit. Julie asked, "Did that get you?" I couldn't speak, except to say "Massaman curry." Julie jumped from her chair and came to my rescue. She used her napkin and others brought by the apologetic staff to clean me up. The waiter was oblivious to the fact that he had mistaken me for the InSinkErator disposal, that is, until Julie sternly said, "You got it all over him!" He bowed a few times and said, "I'm sorry. You need more napkins?" "Yes we do," Julie answered for me. Not really angry at all but shocked and irritated, I nevertheless had once again lost my love. However, I found it when Julie sat down and looked at me. She said, "Massaman curry." We both began laughing so hard. In between the laughter, I was able to mimic Julie's statement to the waiter. "You got it all over him!" We laughed even harder.

Tori Amos at the Greek Theatre, an exquisite outdoor venue with trees of many varities all around and massive rocks in the distance, Julie by my side, and I was feeling the love. Of course as luck would have it, Tori's number one annoying fan was sitting behind us. The first twelve times he screamed or squealed, I was a bit amused. I'm not sure how to accurately describe the sound other than to say it conjured up an image of a crazed, bellowing goat with its butt against a blazing brush fire. At times I couldn't control the laughter, but when he let loose with a set of three back to back and extremely loud whoops during Tori's performance of "China," a favorite song of mine, I lost my love. I was nearing the tipping point, preparing to turn around and let the guy know how rude, annoying, and disrespectful he was when Tori began singing a new song. Playing her Steinway with one hand, Tori then turned her body toward the audience. Slightly standing, she began playing the organ with her other hand. The beautiful and ethereal music mixed with the Christ-like image of Tori in her long white dress, her arms stretched and angled, soothed my heart and lifted my soul. At peace, I managed to tolerate the guy and his next 24 bellows.

Maybe someday when I'm operating on a higher vibration and have transcended my ego and all of its offspring of stories and tapes, I'll be able to never lose my love. In the meantime, I am happy just to get it back so quickly after losing it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Found an Angel

Walking in the neighborhood, I noticed a smiling young Asian woman sitting on the steps of an apartment building with a whimpering, excited dog by her side. With the tricolor, spotted coat, white, black, and tan, I recognized the breed. "Is that a Mountain Feist?" I asked, as the dog ran toward me, wagging its tail, and then climbing up my legs. Giggling, not understanding, the woman replied, "Angel." I nodded. "So the dog's name is Angel?" I squatted and petted Angel on the head, letting her gnaw on my hand while she danced around. "What kind of dog is she?" I asked once again. "Um...maybe a mixers breed the" Seeing the squirrel playing in the tree on the patio of the apartment building, Angel began barking and pawing at the gate. I pointed toward Angel, "If I needed any more proof, I just got it. Angel is a Mountain Feist, also known as a Squirrel Dog." Laughing, the sweet girl, of Korean origins I'd say if I were a betting man, got up and pushed the gate open, letting Angel seek her fortune. "Angel part squirrel. I think so, too."

I walked down the street chuckling. Here I am on the other side of the country, and I found a Mountain Feist. Nobody in the eastern part of the U.S. where they are prominent knows the breed, so I don't know why I'd expect anyone in L.A. to do so. The only reason I recognize them is that Pop used to label any dog that looked like a mixed breed as an "ole feist dog." I didn't realize they were considered a pure breed of dog until I did some research on them about 10 years ago. I think many people in the South who have a Mountain Feist mistakenly think they have a Jack Russell or a Rat Terrier.

It doesn't matter to me whether a dog has a pedigree or not, but I am inclined to want to work to boost the reputation of the Mountain Feist. Maybe I should call my relatives back east and have one shipped to Paris Hilton. The thought of the starlet with one of the hyperactive but sweet animals makes me a bit apprehensive, though. Can you imagine what the Mountain Feist would do to Paris's miniature Chihuahuas that are dead ringers for floppy-eared squirrels?

On some days I am like Valentine Michael, the character in the novel, "Stranger in a Strange Land." However, I am glad that I don't have to feel that way for too long. I always seem to find a familiar creature, a Mountain Feist, an Angel, if I stay open.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Miss Linda Hopkins Loves Me

Last night, awaiting the showing of a pilot for a new television sitcom produced by a friend of mine, I stood in the lobby of the Regent Showcase Theater. I recognized various television stars that were on shows I watched as a kid. Of course, the one I felt compelled to introduce myself to was Marla Gibbs, Florence, from "The Jeffersons" sitcom. My dad, Pop, loved Florence, especially when she hurled sassy and quick insults at Mr. Jefferson. As a son who was desperate to see a softer side of his father, Florence, Marla, gave me that opportunity. To see Pop laugh and leave his troubled world for a few minutes every week was a magical occurrence. So when I shook Ms. Gibbs's hand, I was doing so for both Pop and me.

I almost missed the beginning of the 30 minute episode. Opening the doors to enter into the theater, I saw this beautiful, elderly African American woman struggling up the aisle. Holding on to her walker, she took slow but confident steps. While others were busy scurrying to their seats or networking, oblivious to the older woman, I knew that the least I could do was hold the door open for her. She said to me in a soft voice, "When you got to go, you got to go." I laughed and replied, "That's true." I looked at all the people milling around in the packed lobby, and I knew that the woman needed an escort, someone to clear a path for her. "Do you want me to help you?" I asked. "Yes," she said. Moving through the crowd with my hands out, all I needed was my safety patrol sash and badge. I heard several of the people say, "That's Miss Linda Hopkins." The bathroom was up two flights of stairs. "Let me grab the rail. Then I'll hold your hand, too," she said. A few steps up, and she looked at me and smiled, saying, "I got a better plan. Watch this." She took both hands and wrapped them around the handrail, pulling herself up like she was climbing a rope.

Outside the restroom, waiting, I asked an actor whom I had just met if he knew who the elderly woman was. "Oh, that's Miss Linda Hopkins. She's a well-known blues and gospel singer. Sung on Broadway. Had a hit record or two. Sung with B.B. King. Mahalia Jackson discovered her."

"There you are," she said, coming out of the bathroom. "You gonna laugh at how I get down the stairs. You gonna laugh." I smiled. "Well, my mama has arthritis and knee problems, so she always backs down steps. "That's what I do," she said, laughing. "Do you have arthritis?" I asked. "No. I think it's from the stroke."

We missed the first few minutes of the show. As I held the door open for her to enter the theater, she turned to me and kissed me on the check. "I love you, baby," she said. "Thank you."

After the show I waited in the lobby. I had to say goodbye, and I had to honor the strong connection to her that I felt. "Hey," she said, "I need something to drink." I nodded. "Okay, I'll get it. They have water, wine, Coke, beer, liquor." "Wine," she said. "White." "They only had red," I said, holding the cup. "You want to try it?" She took a sip of the Merlot, scowled and then handed me back the cup. "I'll get my own when I get home." She kissed me on the cheek again. "I love you, baby."

It wasn't until I got home and found the YouTube videos of Miss Linda Hopkins singing that I realized I'd been in the presence of one of God's finest. She may have been known as a blues and gospel singer, but she was nothing more than a brilliant soul singer. Though her voice is now weathered and fragile, the words coming out of her mouth still have as much an impact as her commanding singing voice did, for the words are coming from a precious heart and wise soul.

I implore all of you to take a few minutes to listen to greatness.

Yes, I met Miss Linda Hopkins last night. And Miss Linda Hopkins loves me. And the Miss Linda Hopkins who loves me isn't the famous blues and gospel singer. The Miss Linda Hopkins who loves me is the one who after 84 years here still loves life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Surreal World

Last evening on the rooftop patio of a beautiful hotel, French in name and design, Le Petit, and I was over the waxing, almost full, moon. Surrounded by exquisite lighting, a lovely pool, and about twenty-five, physically stunning international hotel guests, my two friends and I sat on a sofa with a fireplace roaring behind us. Feeling cultured and high-brow, I was expecting some classic Jean Cocteau film. Instead, I laughed out loud when I heard the music and watched the opening scenes of a classic film of another sort, "Vacation" with Chevy Chase. While my two friends and I were heartily laughing at some of the lines and scenes, I noticed that many of the idioms and suggestive remarks weren't translating that well with the other audience members. When the young cousin in the film mentions that her father told her she was an expert French kisser, I don't think the Italian male model to my right understood the humor in the crass remark, for I saw him quickly turn away and ogle the Brazilian beauty next to me. Of course, I was eyeing the beautiful Brazilian woman, too. A blind man would have been eyeing something that exquisite looking. Our waitress decided to come check on us again after we were there for about an hour. Upon our arrival, she had asked if we wanted to see a menu, and we declined, instead ordering tea and coffee. From her accent, I discerned that she was French. She decided to come check on us again after we were there for an about an hour. One of my friends decided that she was hungry and asked the pretty and self-assured French waitress if she could see a menu. The waitress scowled and replied, "I ask you a while ago if you want to see a menu and you say no." Aunt Edna died just in time. Even though I found the waitress's abrasive response amusing, I didn't know whether my friends did or not, so Aunt Edna's dead body on the roof of the station wagon in the rain really diverted the attention away from the comportement grossier.

Today, I had a few moments to spare, and I needed to refuel after a weekend of sleep deprivation caused by the antics of the fireworks aficionados. I headed to the beach. A last minute decision, and I didn't have time to eat lunch. I was starving by the time I got close to the ocean. So, I ran into Ralph's grocery store in the chic, expensive Pacific Palisades area. At the prepared foods counter, I spotted fried chicken, tacos, and every unhealthy thing you could possibly eat for lunch. It's quite a misnomer that L.A. is the land of healthy eating habits. I think there may be more places here serving fatty food than there are in any major city in the South. "Are the chicken flautas made with flour or cornmeal," I asked the Latin woman behind the counter. She nodded her head and said, "Chicken. Yes." I smiled. "Are they made with flour of cornmeal?" I asked again. "Chicken," she said, frowning. "Um...the outside. Flour or cornmeal," I clarified. She grunted, and then she picked up one of the chicken flautas with the tongs and walked to the other end of the counter to ask a co-worker. "Flour," the co-worker shouted to me. "You want?" the employee asked, walking back toward me, holding the greasy treat high in the air. "I'll have two corn dogs," I said, as I pointed to the ones inside the case. Back in my car, and driving through an area with million dollar homes, I was happier than ever when I bit into the first of my two corn dogs.

Tonight, on our pre-bedtime walk, Shug and I met our neighborhood coyote again. Is it just me, or is there something strange about a coyote resting on the steps of the house across the narrow street from my apartment building? With front legs crossed, head in the air, looking at Shug and me as if we were the undesirable intruders, the coyote didn't get up for a few seconds. Only after Shug softly barked did Trixie LaRue (a name that I've given the slight and seductive coyote) run up the hill, off to who knows where.

The only predictable thing about L.A. is that it is unpredictable. Indeed, it is a land of contrasts. However, I am okay with that, because it's teaching me to be present with whatever comes my way. How great to be in place where the real world is also the surreal world!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Becoming Phoebe (WWPD)

I know that fireworks and firecrackers are fun and patriotic, but when people begin setting them off at sundown on July 3rd, and they continue lighting them nonstop throughout the night and all day on July 4th, it's friggin' rude. Shug and I have barely slept, and her heart rate has been at an all-time high. I'm quite irritated by the senseless escapades, too, and my irritability index has reached a record high. However, Phoebe had the right answer. She was in a Zen state, not paying any mind to the infinite spectacle. Of course it helps that she's grown rather deaf over the last few years. The only sounds that matter to her are the sounds of her cries for food and attention. She briefly watched the official show out of the big living room window. Within a few minutes, though, she'd had enough, directing her gaze to fly that landed on the coffee table. Wouldn't it be nice to only hear what you wanted to hear and see what you wanted to see. I think I am going to practice becoming Phoebe. To remind myself of my devotion to her way of life, I'm going to have a rubber wrist band made, purple, Phoebe's favorite color. And I'll have the initials WWPD encased in the rubber.

My only venture out of the apartment today was a trip to The Casbah Cafe and Coffeehouse. I thought getting Shug outside was a good idea. Wrong. Her nerves were shot worse than my mama's nerves, which from years of drama, real and unreal, are in terminal disrepair. The pops and booms subsided for a few minutes, long enough for us to get to the coffeehouse, but not long enough for me to drink my decaf americano. Before we had to rush back up the street, I sat at an outdoor table with Shug, panting and trembling, at my feet. A substantial short woman attempted to peddle her ice cream bicycle/cart across the street in front of us. Not coordinated enough to try to sell to the pedestrians and peddle at the same time, she braked in the middle of the street and clumsily climbed off the seat. An irate Hispanic woman, who was probably irritated from lack of sleep, too, honked at the ice cream lady. I couldn't make out all the Spanish, but I clearly heard the words "loca" and "puta." The woman recklessly drug the bike/cart to the corner of the street. After a rest, she unsuccessfully tried to push the bike/cart out of the dip in the sidewalk. The first time that she pushed forward, the bike/cart rolled back toward her. With a harder, unsuccessful push, the bike/cart rolled back and almost knocked her over. The thought to get up and help went through my head, just as an ancient, flamboyant gay man, wearing a straw hat and a rainbow scarf around his neck, who was walking his two ancient, flamboyant Lhasa Apsos, both wearing pink tutus, decided to assist the distressed woman. Together, they managed to get the bike/cart out of the dip in the the sidewalk and into the street. Without regard to grace and the fact that she was a lady, the woman managed to position herself on the seat. As she haphazardly peddled, she massaged her right breast, proclaiming, "It's bruised." She looked toward me and the two men who were at the other outdoor tables and said, "The least you could have done was to get off your ass and help me." No sooner had she chastised us than another irate Hispanic woman came driving down the hill. The honking began and so did the Spanish. Maybe she was becoming Phoebe, too, but the ice cream bicycle/cart woman pretended not to notice the screams and honks. She simply peddled on, struggling to get up the hill, tapping her bell.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tiptoe Through L.A.

L.A. is known more for its vanity than its creativity. However, I'm quickly seeing that the town is overflowing with really talented people. Musicians, writers, actors, artists, stylists, filmmakers, designers and many other creators walk the streets and populate the coffee houses. What the world sees on the their televisions and in the theaters is not an adequate representation of the depth of imagination and dreams of the innovators here.

Yesterday at The Casbah Cafe and Coffee House, waiting for others to join me for a meeting, I listened as this beautiful woman sat at a table and sang "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" for two hip, rock musicians. From overhearing the conversation, I discovered that she was auditioning for a back-up singer gig on the two guys upcoming tour. She sang the entire song a capella, and when she finished, all the patrons all clapped. One of the guys then pulled out his computer and played some of the band's music for the woman. She should have been the one auditioning them, since her talent was far superior.

At the table next to me, a thirty-something male sat and quickly opened up the small case. He pulled out the ukulele and quietly began strumming a bit. Watching him write the musical notes on the white paper, I determined that he was either writing a song or a score. My only prior knowledge of the ukulele involved Elvis playing it in "Blue Hawaii," the overweight Hawaiian guy, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, sitting on the beach singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" while he played the instrument, and Tiny Tim playing it on "The Tonight Show" while he sang "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" in a shrill voice. And the more the guy next to me strummed and played, the happier I became. How can you not smile when you hear the sweet, joyful sounds coming from the ukulele?

On the other side of me, an older gentleman with a wide, loving smile had his chess set ready for someone to join him for a match. While he waited, he wrote and recited poetry. I asked him what inspired him to write poetry, and he said, "My wife." "That's nice," I said. "Where is your wife now?" I asked. "She's designing costumes for a film." "What do you do?" I inquired. "Write poetry, play chess, drink coffee, and enjoy life. What more do I need to do?" I nodded and smiled. His young opponent arrived, and he immediately began focusing on the match, forgetting his wife, the poetry, and me.

To repay my young neighbor downstairs who assisted me on Sunday when I locked Shug and myself out of the apartment, I took her and her boyfriend to dinner at a vegetarian Thai restaurant down the street. Both of my dinner guests grew up in Northern California to very bohemian, hippie parents. Before we walked to dinner, I had to wait for them to partake of a few hits off the pot pipe. I knew from our earlier conversations that they were singer/songwriters and musicians, and I listened and admired their fresh perspective on life and the world. In discussing their parents, I learned that the boyfriend's father was an English teacher and a writer, and the boyfriend's middle name was Eliot, a product of his father's fondness for the works of T.S. Eliot. And in a discussion about the young girl's family, I learned from the boyfriend that her mother slept in a chicken coop. She corrected him. "It's not a chicken coop." He said, "Well, it looks like one. It's outside, and it's like a coffin made from plywood, and it is inside a coop. She shook her head, correcting him. "It's not a coop. There's no chicken wire around it."

For inspiration, I don't need to go far. How many people get to sit next to a good ukulele player and listen to his creations? Right now, I'm happy tiptoeing through L.A., singing and dancing to whatever music comes my way.