…adding to the countless this past year and a half or so, where I’m juuuuust at the crest of that wave about to plunge me down into slumber when suddenly I’m yanked back into a random sadness for any one of our beloved animals no longer with us.

This time the image was Jig in our arms at the moment he ceased last Thursday. On Tuesday it was Pepper enfolded by us, purring to his end. Tomorrow night on the one-year anniversary of Buster’s horrible death, it might very well be me finding her lifeless body on its carapace near the top of our backyard walkway, as if the raccoon involved in her destruction then playfully knocked her lifelessness around the yard.

With some of these as if by a miracle (and increasingly of late with the help of an AdvilPM… or two), I’m able to catch that wave and escape into sleep. More often though I find myself suddenly pulled back to full consciousness , wide-eyed with a sharp inhale as I lay there in a visceral sorrow until I finally rise and come downstairs to occupy my mind with television or the internet until exhaustion finally drops me.

Example No. 14287 of how an innocuous photo of a horribly designed shopping center the year it opened can be worth a recollection of a thousand werdz.

In the summer of 1982, shortly after the Beverly Center opened that year as shown above, Barry Tietler, my boss at the old Hunter’s Books on Rodeo Drive brought to fruition a pretty interesting retail idea at the time and ended up quitting Hunter’s to build and open a combination bookstore and cafe on the street level of this side of the Beverly Center as shown. The shop was greatly named Food For Thought.

It opened around July, but he had left at the end of the previous year. There was some controversy in Barry’s exit from Hunter’s because shortly thereafter it was discovered that boxes containing the store’s collection of rare books no longer did. Much presumption and scapegoating was made given the timing of Barry’s departure and the disappearance of the books; that he had made off with them either to furnish his shop and/or to sell to help finance it. None of this elevated above gossip or was ever proven. The couple times I visited Food For Thought I saw no evidence to support it and when I told Barry what the scuttlebutt was he vehemently denied doing so. Fact is those precious volumes were kept unsecured in Hunter’s dungeon (aka the basement stockroom where I worked ) and anyone could have taken them.

Full disclosure/backstory/digression: I liked Barry. He was a good and fair boss. Middle-aged, short, graying, giant mustache until he one day shaved it and it looked weird from then on out, smoked like a chimney, never hesitated to share his cigarettes. I ended up working for him at Hunter’s because in chemistry class at high school I’d overheard a classmate named Marc Sugarman telling a friend rather disinterestedly that he’d been set up with a job there and all he had to do was show up that afternoon and it was his. I’d been out of work for awhile after getting fired from Swensen’s Ice Cream Shoppe, and was desperate for something/anything to help my mom out with the bills. So I ditched school at lunch and showed up, instantly falling in love with the huge old-school place. Barry asked if I was Marc and I told him I was not. He asked me how I knew about the job and I told him the straight-up truth; that I’d overheard Sugarman talking about it at school and figured I’d beat him to it and that, besides, he didn’t seem all that crazy about working there anyway. Barry smiled said, “You’re hired.”

PS. Sugarman never showed up.

Barry was cool in that he’d tap me on the occasional weekend or after-hours to help him with chores around his Manhattan Beach house. Once he paid me $50 for a couple hours work moving stuff. Fifty dollars! It was during that gig that he told me all about his upcoming plans, finishing off with “And I’m calling it ‘Food For Thought.'” Excellent name.

Unfortunately the great name didn’t translate to great business, and it closed in November 1984. I had no idea why until its demise made minor news a few years later when Barry successfully sued the Beverly Center claiming fraud and false promises and a jury awarded somewhere in the neighborhood of $625,000. I thought, good for him.

I also thought that was the end of the story, but the wonders of the internet never cease. A search both for “Food For Thought” and “Barry Tietler” yielded some interesting information: 1) a complete freakin’ copy of the Beverly Center’s filed appeal to the original verdict against it, and 2) a complete freakin’ copy of Barry’s filed response to the Beverly Center’s appeal. Links to those online docs are below. I was later also able to find out in another document that Beverly Center’s appeal was granted and a retrial occurred in 1991, in which Barry prevailed, though at a reduced award of $425,000. Again, good for Barry.

Beverly Center’s appeal: https://tinyurl.com/y8rlzno7
Barry’s response: https://tinyurl.com/ydyuzseo
Petition for rehearing: https://tinyurl.com/yd3qsps5

The last fact found was sad but not unexpected: Barry died last year at the age of 75. A resident of Cave Creek, Arizona, I’m guessing it was his smoking that did him in as his obituary requested that contributions in his memory be made to Lung Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Rest in peace, Barry.

I was struck this morning, not only by the subject matter (Jig rarely lounges on the side bureau in the dining room bay window), but by the luminous quality of the light. Click the image to enlargify.

UPDATE (May 22): If you had told me that a week after this photo we would be euthanizing our beloved Jig I would have spewed a string of flavorful invective in your specific direction. But that’s just what happened and I am heartcrushed. A couple days after this snap Jiggy became a bit lethargic and reclusive, not in and of itself cause for concern. Then on May 20, his appetite diminished and he completely refused breakfast and dinner the day after. We knew something was up and planned to address it medically, and on Friday morning we found his head had swelled so badly that it was pushing his left eye outward. Two local hospitals were unable to see him (one not until the following Tuesday!), so we got him to an emergency hospital with my hope given the sudden inflammation that it was an abscess caused either by a bad tooth or perhaps an embedded foxtail. The doctor counseled that her examination did not show that relatively simple explanation and that it appeared to be a growth more than likely malignant — or if it was an infection of some sort it was from deeper inside his head. The suggestion was to do a CT scan for the most definitive view, but that would come at a tremendous cost and seemed most likely would lead to a surgery of which Jiggy’s survival was in doubt and his prognosis poor. So we elected with much difficulty and much sorrow to say goodbye. Thankfully, though in this Covid-19 era of telephone-only veterinary treatment, Susan and I were allowed to be with Jiggy at the moment of his passing (coincidentally in the same room we said goodbye to our beloved Ranger in November 2018). Farewell my dear Jiggy.

PREFACE: I wanna walk this a step to the rear and backstory why I went to all the trouble of this project. See, since its demise, the amazing Joz Wang took it upon herself to foot the bill in keeping the group blog Blogging.la alive as an archive. I think she had long-simmering planshopesdreams to reinvigorate it but hadn’t been able to because LIFE.

In those ensuing years, having never kept copies of my 12 years’ worth of posts as they occurred in real-time, I frequently fretted over the potential day when Joz might very well and rightfully pull the plug and all that work I put into it over all those years for the love of doing so might be lost forever.

There were several false starts back when life was quote/unquote normal, wherein any initial motivation to complete the ginormous task got crushed right out of the gate after copy/pasting a few posts. So in essence, Covid19 provided the perfect opportunity to allow me to see it through because, as stated to death below, I wasn’t doing much the fuck else. So in closing, I wanna give a huge shout-out thank you to Joz for keeping things going long enough for me to finally tackle such a task. Covid19 may have provided the environment to get it accomplished, but without Joz’s dedication to what Blogging.la was, the following never could’ve happened.

I have not done much this Covid19 “lockdown.” I have not learned a new language. I have not lost weight. I have not taken an online course. I have not Zoomed. I have not cleaned the windows. I have maintained weedwhacked. I have not played Animal Crossing. I have not gone to Costco. I have not mastered the piloting of a drone. I have not donated blood. I have not ridden my bike. I have not converted a single cassette tape of mine to digital. I have not volunteered. I haven’t even been able to make it through one fucking book.

I did get my ass in gear and plant a backyarden, but hell, I do that pretty much every spring so DOES NOT COUNT.

BUT. When years pass and if I’m lucky enough to still be in this world, I will look back over this strange timeless/formless suspended animation of life in all its iso/quarinsanity, and there is one thing for which I will be proud. For all that I didn’t accomplish, I did do something for which I am terribly pleased and impressed. In looking back over this void of two months I may have done not a lot, but with a little bit here and a little bit there I accomplished something rather monumental earlier yesterday afternoon that I loooooong dreamed of doing but honestly never thought I would.

Suffice it to say it was a daunting task. Not on a vaccine-development scale but daunting nonetheless.

I went on to the admin side of the long-dormant Blogging.la website, a group blog for which I wrote for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ,7, 8, 9, 10, 11, TWELVE years, and with the simple act of cutting and pasting each and every single one of my posts over that period from 2004-2016, I created a Word document archive some 948 pages in length of the 1,251 things I wrote about. All in it involved more than 328,000 words.

Whew!

Beyond having all that in my own possession, I’m not sure what I’ll do with it now. Maybe I’ll comb through it and find a Top-10. Maybe I’ll compile whatever might be its best parts into a “Blook,” to borrow the term Blogfather Tony Pierce coined. Maybe I’ll just sit back and be glad it’s a click away and pleased I made it so.

Acanthus mollis, commonly known as bear’s breeches, sea dock, bearsfoot or oyster plant, is a herbaceous perennial plant with an underground rhizome in the genus Acanthus.” — Wikipedia

Our dependable patch did something very unusual this time around in sprouting its leaves in November. Typically it doesn’t emerge from the otherwise barren soil at the landing atop our front yard steps until February, January at the earliest. So when it started to rise shortly after Halloween, I shook my head, expecting those leaves to die off.

Except they didn’t. They just kept going and going and going thick and lush until at this point (coincidentally later than as is usual), the leaves have begun to yellow, signalling what would and should be a typical rapid decline that ends with me chopping it all down and looking forward to its return next winter.

As such, I figured it was best to document what has been the absolute best bear’s breeches display in the 16 years I’ve been marveling at the unique perennial.

I was blown away last year that it had produced a record 26 of those flowery stalks, but this year’s total eclipsed that big time. There’s 31 up, with the tallest being more than six-feet.

The blooms have no discernible fragrance and according to its Wikipedia page pollination occurs only by bees or bumble bees large enough to force their way into the flower, so that they can reach the nectar at the bottom of the tube.

With our patch there’s always a fair amount of the oval-shaped fruit that results containing two to four large black seeds.

If I had to name a Second Favorite Baseball Player of All Time behind Jackie Robinson, it would be Satchel Paige. No doubt. I’ve known of and about him almost as long as I’ve known about baseball and he was truly amazing.

By Scott Hodges

As it just so happens out there on the internut, I was moseying through my twitter feed yesterday and I found that my friend Tony Pierce had retweeted an amazing career highlights poster (at right, click to biggify) of the immortal Paige that an artist the name of Scott Hodges (@IAmScottHodges) had lovingly created.

Of course I combed through it slowly reacquainting myself with Paige’s illustrious career. And afterward, given the nostalgia I have for the long-gone Wrigley Field that stood as the home of the Los Angeles Angels until the ’60s at Avalon and 41st Street in South Los Angeles, I posted a comment if anyone might know if Paige had pitched at that venerable old baseball stadium.

Wouldn’t you know this afternoon I found I got answers back from another Twitter user @HeavyJ. The first was a little vague, a short article, but the second one a video knocked my socks off as legit. The article was about Paige with Cleveland pitching in a spring training game in March 1949 against the Cubs in Los Angeles. I’m a bit of a stickler for detail and it’s relatively well known that from the 1920s through early 1950s (except during WWII) Cubs spring training and games took place at their facility in Avalon on Catalina Island. The article doesn’t specify the location, so that may have been wehre Paige was at and not Wrigley Field.

The second answer was a link to a YouTube clip titled “Rare Satchel Paige Color Footage: From the Academy Film Archive,” which was described as “…16mm film preserved by the Academy Film Archive features rare color footage of the legendary Satchel Paige pitching in an exhibition baseball game at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles on November 7, 1948.”

Mind. Blown. I mean, written proof is one thing, but the odds were kray of there being actual video from 72 years ago to answer my question definitively!

PS. It’s worth noting that later in that year of 1948, 21 years after he had made his Negro League debut in 1927 with the Birmingham Black Barons, Paige made his Major League Baseball debut at 42 years old as the oldest “rookie” ever. He went 6-1 with two shut outs. He refused to be considered “Rookie of the Year.”

But I digress. Folks who go back a ways with me might recall my deep affinity for what was Wrigley Stadium, including it as a last stop on my long-dormant Watts Happening bike rides to regale those in attendance with the loooong story of the Los Angeles Angels franchise, and the ancient history of the likes of young Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams being some of the future legends who had played against the Angels there in the Pacific Coast League. Heck I even once went to some painstaking triangulatory topographical detail (http://www.wildbell.com/2010/06/20/finding-home/) to determine that while the old home plate is now covered up by a building, the area where the mound once stood is accessible in the parking lot.

It’s the mound you can see Paige standing on in the below embed of the video (or you can watch it via its YouTube link). It’s really an incredible bit of film with wonderful shots of the crowd, the stadium and yeah, that’s MGM head honcho Louis B. Mayer seen multiple times in the stands.

It’s an honor and a privilege knowing now that Paige, one of the greatest that ever was, once stood upon it.

At long last, reunited.

After posting yesterday about the long-missing vintage watch rather accidentally found as a result of a plush toy rescue, I brought out its matching partner for a reunion and then did a little e-digging to find out more details about the dynamic duo.

To accomplish that I had to remove the mechanisms from the cases in order to get at the identifying numbers, and I managed to do so without damaging the delicate devices.

A most intriguing part of that was getting closer looks at the engravings on the insides of the cases — not just the maker’s stamp, but if you look closer there are several others appearing to be hand-etched either indicating the various craftspeople involved in the building of the watch and/or any repairpersons who serviced it.

Inside the King case.
Inside the Queen case.

I learned via Pocket Watch Repair Dot Com (http://www.pocketwatchrepair.com/histories/longines.php) that the watches’ serial numbers corresponded with a manufacture approximately in 1951.

From Vintage Watch Resources

Then from Vintage Watch Resources Dot Com (https://vintagewatchresources.com/longiness-year-identifier/) I found that the model closest resembling mine was called “King” with the smaller version called “Queen.”

The primary difference in the King model shown (at right) on that website is the chessboard pattern of the face whereas the faces of mine are both monochromatic. I suppose that may be due either to a different model year or possibly to fading over time, but the latter seems unlikely. I’ve been familiar with these watches since the late ’80s so if any such change occurred it was well prior to that, and I’m pretty sure my stepdad kept these watches stored and not exposed to any elements that would cause such a change.

Of note Vintage Watch Resources lists the watch’s original price as $405. In 2020 dollars that equates roughly to $4,020. Cha-ching!

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