My mother's boyfriend is quite an accomplished guitar player with a sweet voice. Saul loves to strum and sing any chance he can - before I left the other day he entertained me with a couple songs.
After he retired as a school teacher Saul played for all the assisted living facilities in Prescott and neighboring counties; I think he did a couple gigs a week for some 20 years.
It sometimes entailed a bit of travel and even motel stays but he never asked for a penny - it was his way of satisfying his need to perform and do the community a nice service.
When he met my mother she immediately began going with him - providing harmony, percussion and companionship.
Well, as a result of his health problems the last couple of years and my mother's recent scare he put down his guitar in January.
I'm not clear if it's temporary or permanent but they are still calling him to come back for more. I think the lure of the applause and the fullness of heart he gets from the civic duty will get him back out there.
The other day I was walking my fur-friend Dusty when suddenly I heard a thud and a high-pitched squeal - the unmistakably heart-wrenching sound of a dog getting hit by a car.
I looked in the direction of the incident about 2 blocks away and saw 7 people fanned out running toward me all of them screaming frantically, "STOP THAT DOG."
Well, when Dusty sees a dog (any dog) she barks her damn head off so when she saw this dog running toward us at full tilt she commenced with her barking. It scared the dog so much that he put on his brakes and turned around. He clearly didn't like the look of the 7 people coming after him so he darted down a driveway and got trapped.
It took a bit of coaxing but this guy managed to calm the dog down and carry him out. Through a river of tears his owner was extremely thankful.
It turns out they are in a new home and the dog just isn't comfortable yet and got past her when she was carrying groceries in the house - almost a mile away!
Anyway, the tip of the dog's tail was clipped off but other than that he seemed fine.
As we all disbursed I marveled at how a group of complete strangers to one-another banded together to aid a runaway dog - it filled my heart with a great joy that I was proud to carry with me the rest of the day.
So. I never ever remember my dreams. Seriously, not ever.
Last night I awoke in the middle of the night from a dream I really wanted to remember and I knew I had a couple seconds to write it down before it was gone forever.
In the dream I saw my father and little sister (both no longer with us) standing together in the distance. It was them from when I was a kid - so dad and sis from olden times.
The standout was their hair - my dad with his shaggy mess and exaggerated sideburns and my sister with her long feathered locks. Now that I think about it 1978 visited me last night.
Anyway, I kept trying to catch up to them but I never could - the distance between us always remained the same - which was making me crazy. It was a cruel trick of dreamland that caused me to toss and turn vigorously.
Even more cruel is that they even saw me and waved with big smiles. They seemed content that I never reached them - like they were just stopping by to say 'hi' to me. Of course I am ignoring the 'see you soon' interpretation of the dream.
I longed to talk to them. Hug them. Share in their adventure. But the feeling of frustration over not ever reaching them woke me up before the dream reached its conclusion.
In the end it was sooooo nice to see them again and I was thrilled that they looked really happy. And at peace.
I sure hope I run into them in my dreams again soon. And remember it.
About the photo: Just some random graffiti I saw a couple weeks ago.
Wednesday of last week while I was waiting at the bus stop for the trusty Sunset Blvd line a guy came up to the other person waiting for the bus and asked him a question in a thick Aussie accent, "Do you know where the bus stop is for the tour bus?"
The guy looked completely baffled and asked, "What?"
The Aussie repeated himself and the confused look on the guys face didn't change so I interrupted and pointed the Aussie in the right direction.
After he left the confused guy asked, "You could understand him?"
I replied, "Yea."
He continued, "You must be good with foreign languages."
It was my turn to look puzzled, "He was Australian."
He said in all seriousness, "I don't speak Australian. I speak American."
I tilted my head and furrowed my brow a bit, "You mean English."
He shook his head, "I'm not from England."
Thankfully the bus approached and I let this odd exchange expire.
The very next day at the very same bus stop that very same guy walked by me. He got about 10 feet past me and turned around, "Oh. You're the guy from yesterday who can speak Australian."
I nodded, "Again, it was English."
He shrugged and then we proceeded to have a short chat before the bus appeared in the distance. I couldn't tell if he was actually waiting for the bus or not so I asked in a way to end the converstaion, "Are you waiting for the bus?"
He replied, "I'll catch a later one. I'm gonna go browse around the Hustler Store first."
With that he turned and walked on as I boarded.
From my seat on the bus I immediately shared the Hustler Store part of this story on Facebook and my two favorite comments were quick and apt. Chris wrote, "Hardcore, since 1974." While Jodi proclaimed, "There ain't no shame in his game."
I use the bus stop at Santa Monica & Fairfax a couple times a week.
I have never not seen "B" hanging out there drinking.
"A" is sometimes with her and they are always battle singing.
They tend to scare the old people. But me? I find them fascinating. Natch.
I have never spoken to them, until yesterday. As follows:
"A" singing: Love my way, it's a new road. I follow where my mind goes.
"B" responds to the song: Oh yea, I love Annie Lennox.
"A" recoiled: Bitch, that ain't no Annie - it's Simple Minds.
I interjected: Nn-uh, you're both wrong. It's Psychedelic Furs.
"B" gave it some thought: Ok, that might be right.
-- They were quiet for a couple seconds then "B" started a new song --
"B" in full voice: Please don't talk about love tonight...
I cooed: Ooooooh, Alicia Bridges!
"B" kept singing and really growled the chorus: I love the nightlife, I love to boogie on the disco round...
Me: That was one of my rolling skating jams!
"B" rolled back the years: Bitch please. I was on Alicia's float at Pride in 1979. We did the whole song over and over for the entire parade. Honey, I owned the damn Disco Era. It was the best of times eva.
"A" just chugged her drink and laughed: He a fool.
"B" rolled his eyes: Shut up bitch and drink your shit.
The bus rolled up and I boarded to the cool sounds of La Donna,
"B" with arms a-waving: Toot toot heeeeeeeey beep beep.
My little sister spent a long weekend in a hospice before opting to go home to die in her own bed. Scratch that - she never wrapped her mind around the fact that she was going to die, she was going home to LIVE. And she did not appreciate that she was stuck in a place designated for end of life patients.
So home she went. It was about 10 days later that we lost the poor dear to the ugly grip of breast cancer. She was surrounded by family and I am assured that that made her happy. If for no other reason than she was finally the center of some long-term familial attention.
Anyway, this morning I was thinking about that weekend in the hospice and a scene I witnessed between two 70-something men - one a patient, the other his friend.
I was taking a needed time-out in the lobby when a man came in and asked to see his friend. A few minutes later one of the angels (a term I affectionately call hospice nurses) wheeled out his friend.
For the next half an hour they barely spoke to each other. They mostly just soaked up the powerful presence of one another. When they did talk it was awkward small talk - like the way a lot of guys do in emotional settings. Neither really knew what to say or how to say it, I suppose.
For instance the visiting man might say, "Well, the weather has been pleasant."
And the patient might reply, "That's nice."
Their conversation really was that simple.
I have no idea who they were to each other. Bothers, friends, work associates? No clue - and they didn't provide one either. I tried not to pay attention to them but it was hard not to as the waiting room was fairly small and they were just a few feet away from me. But as an intense people watcher I sat back and tried not to watch.
The main thing I took away from this meeting was fear. Fear permeated every look, every gesture and every word. Both men tried to navigate around it but there was no escaping the fear. I couldn't conceive what might be going on in their heads. Or their hearts.
I could just tell that neither one of them wanted to enact this painful scene. I imagined that they'd rather be on a boat somewhere fishing and not talking to each other. Or sharing a couch together yelling at the TV because some bum intercepted a football in a crucial payoff game. You know, like in the good old days.
After about half an hour the visiting friend said in a low voice, "Well, I guess I should get going. I'll try to see you one more time before..." He stopped himself before he finished his thought.
The patient replied with a slight nob of his head, "I understand. Thank you."
They shook hands and the visitor departed for what I would assume was a great gulp of fresh air from that nice February day while the patient was wheeled back to his room and returned to his bed to wait for the inevitable - in fear.
Yesterday as I was walking along the Hollywood Walk of Fame I overheard one 70-something man coo to another, "Oh look, it's Morey Amsterdam's star." Then he paused before continuing, "These kids today have no idea who he is."
I turned to them and said, "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
They smiled and the other 70-something man said shaking his head with nostalgic wonder, "And so much more."
Twenty feet away I heard the first man (now slightly behind me) coo again, "Oh, and now look, It's George Gobel."
I turned to them and said with a pistol finger, "Hollywood Squares."
Again the second 70-something replied, "And so much more."
It was really touching. I was pleased that Morey and George were getting some love because I'm certain that's not happening all that often.
The 70-something are right - I often see people look at a star and say to their companion with a laugh, "Who?"
Anyway, later in the day I recalled these two sweet 70-something men and allowed my mind to wander to the future...
I hope in 30-something years when I'm walking down the Walk of Fame with a fellow 70-something and coo, "Oh look, it's Olivia Newton-John's star. These kids have no idea who she is."
And some whipper-snapper turns and finger pistols me, "Grease."
Last night I made a grocery run to my local super market. I needed to stock up for the weekend and catch a few 'personalized' deals before they expired.
I know this store like the back of my hand and chip aisle is my trouble area. I tend to avoid it at all costs. I mean, I could eat chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And for my mid-morning, mid-afternoon and mid-night snacks. And anytime in between. Chips and I - we have a problem.
Anyway, last night I made an error in navigation and turned down the chips aisle by mistake and as I succumbed to its gravitational pull I scrunched up my face as if to communicate, "Shit. I'm doomed."
A twenty-something girl saw my face and agreed, "I feel ya."
I feigned a panicked voice, "No. No. No. No. I can't be on this aisle."
She picked up a bag of chips and held them like a newborn to her teet and cooed, "But they are Flaming Hot Cheetos!"
Ewww, that's a chip I'd never ever consider. But for comic effect I sprinted away from her evil Cheetos to the end of the aisle and then turned to proclaim my victory - arms raised over my head, "I did it!"
I have this client that always seems to overpay. Several times since our relationship began I have had to pop him a message alerting him to this monetary mistake. His reply is usually along these lines, "I'd rather be over than under."
The other day he did it again to which I texted a friend saying that if I wasn't an honest guy I could totally be ripping this guy off.
The reply to that was, "That's not you."
Well, there was an episode from way back in olden times...
Rewind to an 9 year-old Chuck. For a couple of years my family bounced around the South. From Muscle Sholes to Raleigh - then on to Charleston, North Augusta and our final stop before heading back to California was Atlanta.
During our 6 month stint in Atlanta my older brother and I shared a paper route. And since this was the mid-70's we were also in charge of collecting payments in person. If memory serves it was $8 or so.
Well, there was this one woman who was pretty ditzy and always wrapped in a post-shower towel. Every time we knocked at her door for collection she was always in a hurry (looking back I'm thinking she was a woman of many gentleman callers) and never had time to fuss about a receipt.
Eventually a scheme was hatched... As I'm sure you just figured out.
My brother and I went to her place to collect a week later. It didn't phase her. She paid, struggling to keep her towel from popping off. Then about 10 days later we went again. She handed us more money. She didn't have a clue. So we tried it again after another 10 days. This time she actually said, "I feel like you guys are here every week."
I froze-up with guilt and simply shrugged. I took her money of course but the comment was enough to scare us back on the path of decency. Which I have rarely strayed from since...
But hey, my cut of the heist that afternoon paid for a bunch of Zotz and Wacky Packages.
Every year I like to go down to the Kodak Theater and watch them set up the Red Carpet and absorb some of the Oscar hoopla. It's truly can be a zany adventure.
Friday I made the short trek from West to proper Hollywood and toured the encampment and was extremely fortunate to stumble upon this reporter filing her segment. Dressed as a disco ball, no less.
I am pretty sure she is a foreign correspondant. I wasn't close enough to hear her speak but I'm guessing Latin America somewhere.
Well, before I knew it this lady dropped to her knees and began to passionately rub her hands on the Red Carpet like it was a lover about to be mounted. It was bizarre. And awesome. I mean, you ain't gonna get this kind of realness from Mary Hart.
Patience is so rewarding in photography. It's my secret really.
I flew out to Phoenix February 3, 2004 to prepare for the loss of my little sister as did the rest of my family. Nancy hung on for 10 more days before leaving our family on Valentine's Day. The process was brutal and mind-numbing.
This might sound awful but I just couldn't wait to get back home. I needed my bed. I needed my friends. I needed a drink. I needed to cry privately. I needed LA. I needed to do nothing. I needed to do something else.
About 20 minutes after she passed I called Southwest Airline's and booked my ticket home for later that afternoon. Then I called my friend Edwin for a pickup and ride home. He didn't answer and as I was leaving him a message my voice broke and I hung up. I think I managed, "Hey, she just passed and I um..."
It wasn't long before he returned the call and we sorted out the details of my arrival at Burbank Airport. Sure enough he was waiting curbside and after a warm and generous hug he asked, "So, what do you need? Home? Or do you need to get drunk?"
I replied, "Drunk please."
Well, it was a Saturday night. And I was really happy Edwin wasn't going to leave me alone that night.
We ended up at my usual watering hole and over our first beer Edwin and the bartender were bitching about how dumb Valentine's Day is as I remained silent - still frightfully numb from the events of the day.
Finally the bartender asked me, "What about you? How do you feel about Valentine's Day?"
He knew my sister was ill already so I said, "I watched my sister die today."
He cooed, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry. Let me help you out."
And he did. One shot after another. Until I went from one kind of numb to another. With one of my best friend's keeping up at my side.