Sometimes when I’m out walking, I look around and marvel at how great Los Angeles can be. Our sweet neighborhoods hold every type of house and mostly good people. I love seeing what folks have done to their homes and how they deal with drought in their landscaping. Mostly, I enjoy this city when I’m out walking. I lay claim to it, and it lays claim to me.


Road Closed


But not always. Los Angeles, like a lot of the country, is injured. And I’m not talking about nature, with her drought and fire damage. I’m referring to our staggering homeless population and city policies that have contributed to it. Rubber-stamping high-priced developments continues to diminish affordable housing here. Hell – the bunkers going up by our home wiped out the character-filled, affordable homes that once added to our neighborhood. The ugly-ass structures now towering over our street leave me wondering which hideous box will serve as the local fall-out shelter. (They really are that heinous, y’all.) And the unprofessional, callous behavior of the developers themselves is appalling. But I guess they donate to the right campaigns, as they continue to enjoy free rein in this town, regardless of their conduct or product.


It’s “development” like what’s taking place in our neighborhood that is tarnishing my adopted hometown. Now, when I walk around, I see the cracks. I see the failures of our leaders and the trickle-down effect. The photo above captures this perfectly. When the powers that be dump on their constituents, the constituents dump on their surroundings. It ain’t right and I don’t like it. But there’s no denying it’s happening. And no matter how sweet the neighborhood, no one is immune.


I’m trying hard to remember to bloom where I’m planted. And I am definitely planted, y’all. Today – like every day – will find a busload of arriving souls, starry-eyed and hopeful for dreams of L.A. And for her part, Los Angeles will deliver what she can. But she’s not perfect, and those who govern her are as flawed as anyone can be. So while those of us who choose to plant ourselves here get great weather, we also get the weight of the city. And for as long as we remain, we must carry it. That isn’t new. I’ve known that since day 1. It’s just that sometimes, well, it’s hard to bloom where you’re planted when the bloom is off the rose.

So Long, Sucky Year. Hello Hope!


Happy New Year!


Many, many years ago, while living in Boston, I walked along Newbury Street and passed a homeless lady. She was a regular in that area, and I was used to seeing her on that block. As I walked by, she sang out, “Help the homeless! And happy fucking Mother’s Day.” It did, in fact, happen to be Mother’s Day, so her chant wasn’t terribly odd. I did find it to be terribly funny, though, and I’ve never forgotten it.


I bring that up now because in my mind, I’m singing, “Happy New Year! And happy fucking Mother’s Day.” You’re welcome.


Seriously – it’s finally here. That god-awful 20-and-17 is behind us. Personally – I’m hopeful. Last year was ugly and depressing. Truth be told, the ugly hasn’t gone away. But at least now I know about it. We all know. And knowing is good, y’all. We know what we’re up against. And we can choose to be better than those who continue to choose ignorance. Better makes me hopeful. Better makes me smile. It’s the right choice for me, and I sincerely hope it is for you, too.


As for that homeless lady in Boston, I remember crossing her path on another day. It was summer, and my friend Beaver, who was wearing shorts, was walking close to the lady. As Beaver passed her, the homeless lady looked at Beaver and loudly said, “Ha. I’ve seen better legs on a piano.” You’re welcome for that one, too.


Happy New Year.


And happy fucking Mother’s Day.

Driving Into The Desert



“Following is a way to go to Scottsdale — it’ll probably add 45 minutes to an hour to the journey…”





So Mister and I headed off to the desert, to spend the New Year with our buddies. About a week before our trip, we’d run into a dude we know, Brian, and he’d told us about some of his favorite spots along the way. It seems Brian’s traveled off the beaten desert path quite a bit, and his suggestions were much appreciated.


When road-tripping, tips and ideas are godsends. To have the counsel of others who’ve gone before can be more valuable than a map. Or certainly more gratifying than a run-of-the-mill GPS. So we took Brian’s notes and drove into the desert.


But here’s the thing about travel: no one can tell you what your experience will be. They can only share their own experience. Your perception is up to you. And that’s a beautiful thing.



When Mister and I pulled over for a biology break, there was a homeless guy sitting on the ground outside the fast-food joint we exploited. He looked to be a kid, no more than 30. His red hair was matted and bushy. His red, sun-burned skin should have been pale. His dirty cheeks should have been clean. His darkened eyes should have been gleaming. I, like so many others, passed by him as I entered the building. When I exited, I gave him a sandwich and some bottled water. He thanked me then heartily tore into the food. It was Mister’s turn to drive, so I got into the passenger seat of the car and we aimed ourselves toward the desert, away from the main highway (per Brian’s suggestion).


As we drove away from the urban experience, I wondered about that homeless kid. How did he get there? He was wearing a gold wedding band, so where was his spouse? Would he survive the cold desert night?


I couldn’t answer any of those questions. Still can’t. All I could do was send him prayers and brace myself for the impossibly straight road ahead. Surely a turn was coming…