Since I’m on my second already I am now going to tell you why Budweiser has been my favorite beer since before I could legally buy it, and why it will be my favorite for the rest of my days.

Long story short: Because of the first time I drank it. At 17.

Short story long: At the time I worked at Hunter’s Bookstore on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and I did so with just about the most eclectic group of people one could every work for.

Top to bottom there was Larry Todd, the store manager, a buttoned up gay man with a distinct southern accent who from his upstairs office literally lorded over every one under him.

In the middle on the store floor there were the sales people. Most memorably Margo, a 6-foot-tall beautiful Black Queen with a tightly coiffed afro who was terribly sweet and had a huge fixation with James Dean. Counter to Margo’s infectious personality and energy was Suzanna, an elderly German woman — terribly dour — who looked sideways at everything and everyone, and barked orders from a mouth that never was without a lit cigarette dangling from it.

On the bottom was where I was, working in the basement as a stock clerk. We called it the dungeon. We were managed by Barry, a middle-aged guy from Manhattan Beach, and I worked there with Arthur, who let a giant walrus mustache live between his nose and upper lip and favored any type of clothing as long as it was from Joseph A. Bank. He was in charge of the returns section (unsold stock sent back to various publishers for credit).

Side note about how I once gave Arthur hope for the future. One day down in the dungeon he overheard me talking to Manuel about one of my favorite classical musical pieces, namely Mendelsohn’s “Italian” symphony, to which I’d been introduced by my mother back when I was in the 7th grade and had listened to scores of times.Arthur who overheard me came out and said he was very familiar with the symphony and thought I was full of bullshit as to how a punk like me could be familiar with anything that wasn’t the junk on the radio. Despite my efforts to convince him otherwise it finally came down to him telling me to prove it by singing the first movement until he said stop. So I did, and about a minute in he said stop but I kept on going anyway. And dang if he didn’t get a little overjoyed — not by my singing voice — but by a punk kid like me being intricately familiar with something he didn’t think anybody my age new about, much less had committed to memory.

Back to the roll call: Arthur’s assistant was Wiley, a hulking Black man of few words if none at all, who had a thing for powdered donuts and an even bigger thing for never wiping the leftover powder that would accumulate at the corners of his mouth. I worked directly with Manuel, a 20-something guitarist extraordinaire who I think thought he was the reincarnation of Jimmy Hendrix, and there was Michael an aspiring actor from New York who came west to make it big and had unfortunately subjected himself to Dr. Bosley’s hair transplant process that left him with a line of hair plugs across his forehead that never seemed to grow or fill in. There were a number of other stock clerks who came and went over the time I worked there through to graduation, some just moved on, some graduated to the sales floor, but their names escape me.

Last but not least was the unofficial heartbeat of Hunter’s: Reggie, who worked in shipping and kept everything that was going in, coming in, and everything that was going out, going out. Reggie was a four-foot-nothing very hyper and proudly gay Black man who was always busy, always ultra-polite, always sincere in wanting to know how you were doing, and whether it was his mouth or his body, or both, was always moving very very fast, and always spoke very crisply and articulated every syllable.

And he always called me “Douglas,” not Doug (I went by my middle name back then in honor of my mother’s brother, and in protest against my deadbeat father for whom I was first-named). I really liked Reggie.

PS. He was on a first name relationship with Barbara Stanwyck (though he always called her Miss Stanwyck) who about once a month would come down the alley to the back door with a list of titles that he would then pull and put on her account and she would come back the next day and pick up.

True story tangent: In the summer of 1982 when I had come back from lunch one day through the back door and my jaw dropped at finding Miss Stanwyck there handing off a list to Reggie, it hadn’t been long before that my favorite actor Henry Fonda (of who I knew Stanwyck was his dear friend) had published his memoir. I asked Reggie what he thought about me asking Stanwyck if it might be possible to have Fonda autograph my copy of his book and he assured me she’d be delighted and would get me on her next visit. So the next time she came by, Reggie called me up from the basement and I tore up the spiral staircase from the dungeon with my worn copy of the Fonda’s autobiography, “My Life,” insisting to her that I didn’t want to be any trouble. So gracious, she insisted it would be no trouble at all and took the book from me. On her next visit she made a point of telling Reggie to tell me that she was trying, but that Fonda had been very ill. Two weeks after that Henry Fonda died, and a short while later Reggie called me up to give me back my unsigned book that Miss Stanwyck had dropped off with her apologies and condolences. What a classy lady.

Onward to the point of this deathless tale: Reggie is the direct reason Budweiser is my favorite beer. One day Reggie came down to the dungeon and told us that Larry Todd had given him permission to use the store van to take his broken fridge to get it repaired and he was hoping some of us would be willing to help him. He said it wasn’t broken in the typical fashion, instead the refrigerator section was working too well and freezing practically everything. I didn’t have anything better to do so I volunteered along with Wiley and Manuel and after work together we traveled in the van over to his West Hollywood apartment with a broken elevator and after emptying it out, manhandled his fridge down four flights of stairs and into the van. Carrying a six-pack of Budweiser, Reggie climbed into the driver seat for the trip back to Hunter’s to drop us off, and he handed us bottles that felt frozen. Thanking us effusively he said he couldn’t let such cold brews go undrunk. But as I was four years south of the legal drinking age I looked at the ice-cold bottle that was practically freeze-burning my hand to see if anyone was going to object and no one did. Reggie saw my hesitation and said “Go on. You earned it.”Sweaty and tired in the back of that hot van, I twisted the cap off took a swig and what hit my throat was the coldest best tasting most beautiful and satisfying beer I’d ever had and will ever have. I drank the rest of the bottle on my second chug and its coolness radiated through me like internal air-conditioning. It was euphoria in a bottle.

And that’s the story of why Budweiser is, was, and always will be my favorite beer.

I don’t do much in the #ThrowbackThursday Department either here or certainly not on social media (which I find myself increasingly divorcing from) because most of the time when I remember I want to it’s #ForgotFriday.

However, with my deep archive dive earlier this week finding an old personal stationery logo (circa 1988) and a walk of my dog Shadow (circa 1997), I also came across another couple things that had long been gone.

The first is my favorite childhood picture of me on the third anniversary of the forced eviction from my mother’s womb in May of 1967. I’m in the courtyard of the Hancock Park-adjacent apartment building my mom and I lived in on the corner of Westminster and 4th Street (torn down for condos in the early 1970s). I’m sitting in my brand nü boss-bitchin’ pedal car getting my finger stuck in the business end of the brand nü boss-bitchin’ doublebarreled popgun I’m brandishing, ‘Twas one of the boss-bitchin’est childhood burfdaes I can recall.

Second up seen below are the sequence of images found in a folder titled “Library Trip” that was made in May 1997 by me, my daughter Kate and a young man named Joseph for whom I was a volunteer big brother (myself having been a little brother up into my mid-teens).

I’ve long expressed my jealousy of these recent generations being able to so readily and thoroughly able to document even the most mundane parts of their lives, and here with these image filed created by my first digital camera, I’m reminded I was doing just that.

…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.

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