Miller Time

Thanks To Mick

UNITED STATES—My parents and sister showed up on my doorstep in Los Angeles to tell me Mick, my cousin had died.  I didn’t even know he was sick. No funeral, they told me; the preacher at the gravesite made mention of how young he was— the Savior’s age, 33. A lot of things have gone my way, but Mick’s going...

Last Man Still Sitting

UNITED STATES—Part of the mystique of Cafe Om was for people to gather at this hole in the wall and know people by face and remain ignorant of their resume. Which goes contrary to what is usually so up front here when it comes to small talk: what project are you doing? What is your goal? There’s something nice about...

Caulking By Matisse

UNITED STATES—Redoing the caulking on a bathtub is a lot like marriage. The task is embarked on with great hopes and images of perfection, both omnipresent and taken for granted, held steadily before one's eye. Then, afterward, one must face the reality. The whole thing is so downright weird in our well packaged, standardized world. I must have been six...

Keeping Up With The Joneses

UNITED STATES—Mac Murphy got out of the honor camp near Baker, in the high Mojave, and came to take one last look at his upstairs room with the window bay, where he’d imbibed during Christmas, toasted us in the driveway, and cranked up his stereo like he was driving a hundred miles down a Montana highway straight as a...

Shockwaves

UNITED STATES—In the weeks after the play’s successful run (one satisfying performance celebrated to the hilt), I showed rooms out and distributed three-day notices. “The agony,” I noted in my journal. The ecstasy was handing old good tenants, like Pedro and Tava at Estrella Avenue who were moving on and out and hopefully up, their deposit refund check. The weeks...

The Mogul’s Mom

UNITED STATES—Pete Mohr was a suit at one of the legacy studios which are kind of elite hotels for nebulous folks, subdivisions that shuffle in and out of offices that have suffered more coats of paint than a New York brownstone. And then there were the likes of Pete Mohr, a hot indie producer, a slick dresser with seven...

Regrets

UNITED STATES—Regrets, I’ve had a few, but not too few to mention. In fact, regret has been a dynamic force for change and improvement. I will even go so far as to say that it is one of the secret secrets of success: of course you must put shoes on regret and walk forward with the knowledge so painfully acquired. One...

Hard Boiled

UNITED STATES—Working for Wylie, a door opened at Fraser Bros. Boiler Company, the ersatz office of Wylie properties. The location next to a beauty parlor on La Brea had been adopted because the wife of the owner was doing accounting, straightening out the business of Jim Wylie. According to Cheryl, the receipts for the first year had previously been housed...

4. Home Free

UNITED STATES—She was a good-natured house, robin’s egg blue hidden in a drab, soot-muted gray, where I’d have my free room on the corner of Estrella Avenue and 22nd Street. Brad, my mentor and savior, gave me a brand-new receipt book where I’d be recording all the names of those USC students clambering to live here. A telephone was...

Grand Finale

UNITED STATES—The filmmaker Everett Lewis with whom I was collaborating on “The Strawberry Butterfly” used to peer down and say “yep yep yep” when a scene in the screenplay clicked. The pages mounted, almost effortlessly; the Brother Word processor kept humming. Finally, come December, Everett took one last look at the batch of pages, now over 105, and said...
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