Miller Time

The Best

UNITED STATES—This was the best year of my life. I shall make no feeble attempt to hang onto the unhangable and give up any pretense of clinging to a past even before the calendar relinquishes the year’s final dates. Nor shall I bore you with why this was the best year for me (you and I are so selfish...

Christmas In The Hood

UNITED STATES—The owner of the store had moaned and whined about the neighborhood before the shooting. The porch homies affected his business as well as mine. He moaned and whined about it more afterward. “Oh the gunshots and the graffiti,” the Korean said, “they keep me awake at night!” The bags under his eyes deepened, and his skin tended to...

Aftershocks

UNITED STATES—I had no time to worry about the earthquake in Watsonville. Everything seemed to be falling apart at the house I was managing. The young couple from Mexico who shared the downstairs bay-window room off the other side of the kitchen had a new person living with them: Pedro’s dad from Puebla. Though his son wasn’t much more...

A Lotta Shaking

UNITED STATES—One Tuesday afternoon, sunny and cool, lullabied by the sound of cars streaming from the 10 to the 110, I neared the end of another day on my Olivetti. Mac, the electrician, ran into the kitchen. “I was watching the World Series on TV,” he panted, his voice congested with emotion. “The camera started shaking. Then TV went...

Best Of Both Worlds

UNITED STATES—After Lawrence Brown rented his downstairs turret room, it really looked promising for everything being rented out at the house. Then I could screenplay like a monkey’s uncle. The attic room got taken by a white woman, Rachel, a fragile young thing with long fine hair, hairline worry wrinkles around the eyes, and translucent skin. She was deathly...

Austere Hedonism

UNITED STATES—Austere hedonism. It’s an approach that springs from my morning espresso. Alone, beautiful, black and biting. More often than not that single espresso is enough, more than enough, though I balked at it as a caffeine-swilling kid. Take it back; serve me a real cup of coffee—that was my attitude. Now what a difference! That little cup when...

Lawrence Brown

UNITED STATES—I was on the porch when a man came walking down the street and stopped to look at the front of the house. It was Lawrence, right on time. I met him that morning on the patch of sunlit earth in front that wasn’t doing so hot sprouting the grass seed I’d scattered. Unlike leagues of other prospective...

Grady Of Figueroa

UNITED STATES—While I was waiting for that first renter, er, sucker, to walk through that door, see a room and say ‘I love it,’ I got to know the hood. I got to know some of the homeys who hung out on the porch of 1980 Estrella. They slouched and got high, their ink-covered arms raised beer and pot to...

A Freeway Runs Through It

UNITED STATES—At 1980 Estrella Avenue I was free to pursue my screenwriting. I was free to check out “Crime and Punishment” from the library and let it take over my life. I had a lot of hustle and ambition. One night’s extra acting work and window washing in Malibu weren’t enough to put me on easy street. I was...

Carpe Diet

UNITED STATES—Since writing my own diet book, chronicling my hilarious fat-to-fit journey and culling my diet secrets, to join the towering heap of diets all vying for your undivided, I realize there’s a million diets out there. All YOU have to do it pick out two or three of the million to integrate a plan that works for you....
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