UPDATED (November 28, 2020): So eleven full years after this encounter, something extraordinary has happened concerning the videos I posted about it over on YouTube. Seemingly out of nowhere those clips that I hung up over at my quiet little YouTube channel have for reasons beyond my understanding suddenly found their way onto the screens of thousands upon thousands. I kid you not, according to analytics of my channel, viewership has rocketed — to date — more than 9000%, with more than 300,000 views in literally the last few days. With that has come a level of appreciation that has been amazing. I have been entirely blown away and moved by the positive, thoughtful and considerate responses from people all over the world. – WC

It was supposed to be a few serene and sunshiny moments this morning spent before work on the north bank of Ballona Creek tossing old bread that Susan had disposed of in the trash can to the pigeons, ducks, coots, gulls and crows seemingly ever-present by the Centinela overpass. And as you can see from the timelapse below caught by the cam I set up where I sat, it started off as such until the pigeons and ducks made room for a gull who stepped before me front and center clearly in dire straits from a three-pronged fishhook embedded deep in its mouth that prevented it from closing its beak. Or eating, or at least eating regularly and properly.

As the first birds on scene frantically closed in gulping my first lobs of bread bits, I saw the gull about 20 yards away and I was curious as to why its beak was open, then it moved a bit and the sun glinted off a cut strand of fishing line dangling out its mouth and my heart sank knowing that unless this bird got assistance in removing the hook — and fast — the poor thing was very much at risk of a horrible death by starvation, or perhaps freezing or drowning since it couldn’t pay the meticulous attention to its feathers that birds must in order to survive.



Can’t tell you why exactly, but yesterday I finally got tired of procrastinating and went into our basement to dive deep in the archives in search of something I was hoping was not long-lost but was moderately sure was.

That something was a keepsake box of mine full of momentos from my youth, one that I’d last seen more than 17 years ago when I’d first moved in with Susan. It was so long ago that I couldn’t even be sure it made that trip and my mind had starting to play tricks on me and left me thinking the box had been gone as far back as 2001 when I moved from Encino to Sherman Oaks.

Several previous basement excursions to find it were unsuccessful and fueled my doubt it was down there. This in part because the basement (better described as a half-basement that I’m pretty sure was built along with the house back in 1906, strictly to contain what was then a state-of-the-art furnace system) is not a place in which one is prone to hang out. Access is through a small set of outer doors the opening of which you have to get down and hunker through to a set of rickety wooden steps. Inside, it’s dank and dusty and narrow, and low. And it’s full of our stuff/junk. And I’m not kidding about low. If you’re Susan’s height, no problem. She could probably skip the width and back without hitting her head. But me being 6’2″ I can seriously count on one hand the number of times I’ve ventured down there and emerged without having doinked/glanced/smacked/slammed my noggin off of one of the huge beams that hold up the floor.

But yesterday I meant business, and went down there for a long duration wearing an old bike helmet for cranial protection and bearing a headlamp, and set to heaving and ho’ing boxes with a dedication to finally determine if the keepsake box was down there or not, once and for all.

It was. Bottom box, two rows back and three stacks in, buried upside down under an old garment bag and a whole mess of journalism awards I got from my glory days at the Pierce College student newspaper. Hallelujah.

But that’s not the point of this story.

With the coincidence that tomorrow is Father’s Day, it’s about what I found in one of the dozens of boxes that I had to move and look through to get to the box described above. Piled loose and in no order whatsoever within was a lot of old magazines and newspapers and film negatives, along with documents related to my stepdad, my mom, and me — the latter everything from birth up to my 12th year. I couldn’t help but deviate from my objective and take a looksee.

Among them was a letter postmarked December 30, 1974, addressed “To the Mother of Master Doug Campbell” at our address on Holly Drive in Hollywood. The letter was from a William B. Campbell at 157 E 57th Street, New York City, and right away I knew what that envelope was holding. I also knew I hadn’t seen it in close to 30 years.

It was a Christmas card to my father, William Lloyd Campbell. It was the first and last time I would ever reach out directly to him. A textbook deadbeat who abandoned my mother and me as a newborn and then failed to pay the ridiculously low court-ordered child support, my mother had been urging the LA County District Attorney’s Office to find him and haul his ass back here to face the music, and the New York City address was the last one she knew of his. For its part the DA’s Office did attempt to serve my father there with a subpoena to appear, but they found William B. Campbell, not William L. Campbell.

Nevertheless, as Christmas approached my mom was certain my dad had been up to some trickery, and when I asked her if I could contact him, she helped me pick out the card, on the back of which, I wrote:

Dear Dad,
I really miss knowing you. I am 10 years old now. I go to a private school. I have a Big Brother who takes me to movies and ball games. I wish I could go to a movie and a ball game with you some time.

Merry Christmas,
Yours Truly,
Doug Campbell

It’s interesting the words I chose to use. Certainly the sadness and loneliness is heaertbreakingly there, but I appreciate how matter of fact I was — I didn’t mess around. And what impresses me is the subtext of how I’m doing OK without him. I mention private school. I tell him I have a Big Brother to do fun things with — and I sign it using my middle name, a defiance against taking his name that would last until those days in the early 1990s at Pierce College where it was just easier to accept my name as it was called during roll.

We mailed the card to 157 E. 57th Street on December 23. The response, dated December 30 from William B. Campbell, included my envelope and card, and the following:

Dear Madam,
I am returning the enclosed cared with I inadvertently opened. Frequently I receive mail with a mistaken middle initial.
I am sure it will be helpful to know that Wm. L. Campbell does not reside at 157 E 57th St., NYC. When I asked the doorman (Charlie), he told me he remembered a Mr. Campbell, who, with a younger wife and child, living in the building until about three years ago.
For a while after, Mrs. Campbell and I moved in, I received several calls for a “Bill Campbell,” but not from anyone I knew.
Several months ago, I was awakened about 6:40AM by two process servers with a subpoena for child non-support. If by chance this subpoena involved your family, please accept their report as correct — that the Campbell in question does not live at 157 E. 57th Street.
While I am sympathetic to the problems, I am certain that you want to know NO William L. Campbell is or apparently has been at the address for about 3 years. Perhaps an attorney could assist you in locating the proper Mr. Campbell

William B. Campbell

No efforts made by my mother or law enforcement after that ever succeeded. The opinion was he most likely relocated to Canada to continue his life with his wife and child, content to pretend I didn’t exist.

It took me a while longer to gain a similar contentment in my disinterest and disavowal of him. Throughout most of my angry teenage years and even into my early 20s I entertained a “Boy Named Sue” revenge scenario involving me motorcycling across the country until I found him, presenting myself, kicking the shit out of him and collected what he owed me plus interest. But I eventually came to reject the anger I held on to and to accept his complete absence fro what it was: a favor. A low worthless man who couldn’t be bothered to support and acknowledge his son benefited me the best way he could by staying the hell out of my life so completely. Not knowing him was my gain. Him not knowing me, was his loss.

And though it took 12 years after that Christmas of 1974 to get comfortable with that reality, there was something final in that card sent to a father who wasn’t there and never would be by a sad boy grappling with unanswered questions, rejection and desperate wishes to do something as trivial as see a movie with him. I never could be bothered to contact him again. It’s the only lesson he taught me and I learned it too well.

In 1980, when the only automobile in our household was my mom’s 1965 Ford Mustang, my primary mode of transportation to/from Beverly Hills High School and work at Swensen’s Ice Cream Shoppe was a dust-covered derelict 10-speed I’d liberated from a nearby garage. I’d done so in response to my previous bike of the BMX variety being so also uncermoniously liberated from our apartment garage.

1977 Yamaha Champ

I don’t recall the particulars of how it came to pass that my mom considered getting me a Yamaha Champ (as shown), I know it had something to do with me needing to have some form of transportation to help her with early morning delivery of newspapers in and around Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Echo Park, which was her territory as a distributor for the Herald Examiner. I’m guessing that since a car was out of the question at that point in time, conversations on that topic were ultimately had with Bruce, a gay man with a cleft palate, who she knew primarily through her job, and who probably told her he could hook her up with a scooter, to which she hesitantly agreed.
I liked Bruce because he was a genuinely nice guy, and one who abided by my mom’s insistence that if he touched me in any way shape or form that was even remotely sexual in nature she would kill him. With a spoon.
One night mom said she had a surprise and we drove to the Farmer’s Market parking lot and met Bruce who hauled the Champ out of the back of his Mustang hatchback. She showed me how to operate it and that was that. It was love at first throttle pull.

Now the Champ was very unique both from its looks and its availability. Yamaha offered it for sale in the U.S. for just one year, 1977, and marketed as something of a hybrid, one more powerful than Yamaha’s previous 50cc street scooters, but more nimble than its 80cc off-road versions. Powered by a 72cc, two-stroke, single cylinder engine, paired with a three-speed automatic clutch transmission, top speed on level pavement was about 38 mph, which was like the speed of light to a 16 year old on a beat-up road bike (which I then subsequently returned to the garage from which I’d taken it).

The Champ and I became inseparable. I couldn’t have asked for a cooler form of transport. In addition to school and work and all over the sleeping hills and dales of predawn Silver Lake and Echo Park, I rode her everywhere — to the beach and back, all the way out to Northridge for a friend’s birthday party, even once through a torrential downpour through Sherman Oaks I got caught in that left Ventura Boulevard wall-to-wall water.
One of the few times she let me down is actually a combo example of geographic coincidence and a true minor miracle… bear with me this tangent:

I had been out helping with Saturday redeliveries to subscribers who’d called saying they either hadn’t gotten their paper or it had been stolen. When I’d finished I was cruising down Silver Lake Boulevard approaching Bellevue when she stalled out and would not restart — which is the geo-coincidence in that it’s just a couple blocks from where I’ve lived the past 17 years. I checked the gas and oil, cables and wires and spent a good 20 minutes trying to kickstart and popstart her back to life, but in the end I was left with nothing to do but park her on the sidewalk next to Mikron Liquor and start walking it home along Beverly Boulevard, which then led to the aforementioned minor miracle.

I was crossing Hobart, a couple blocks east of Western Avenue, trying to wrap my head around the six or seven mile walk still ahead of me, when my mom was just suddenly there, coming to a stop heading south down Hobart. She didn’t even recognize me in the crosswalk until I yelled “Mom what are you doing here!?” And she did a double take and yelled back “What are you doing here!?” And I climbed in and told her. She in turn told me that she couldn’t explain why, but that she had been driving on Melrose when for no reason she turned left onto Hobart and kept going south.

I’ll leave it to you to rationalize this convergence away, but factoring in the overall municipal population, the prevailing wind speeds, road conditions, time of day and general economic and political outlook, I figured out the odds of a mother driving and her teenager on foot both of them anywhere in a roughly 40-square-mile zone between Beverly Hills and Echo Park that then end up in the same random intersection at the exact same time and I came up with a 2,146,285 to 1.

Epilogue: As I just couldn’t leave the Champ parked naked on the sidewalk next to Mikron Liquor (still there, by the way, and still two blocks from where I’d be living begining 23 years into the future), I ended up making that walk. Mom dropped me off a few days later and after charging at and tossing an empty milk crate at some punks who were sitting on her like she was theirs, and then trying again unsuccessfully to kickstart and popstart her, I had to push her dead ass aaaaaall that long way home. Down Silver Lake Boulevard onto Beverly Boulevard all the way across to Orlando, south across San Vicente down to Wilshire to Hamilton Drive and down into the garage, where she then sat until I made unauthorized use of the delivery van from my day job by that time at Hunter’s Books on Rodeo Drive and drove her out to Glendale Yamaha for repairs. Digression complete, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Other than that and some occasional mechanical issues, my Champ was practically indestructible. Proof of that came with the flooded garage at our apartment building, which in the winter of 1981 filled with six feet of water during a freak storm. I barely got the Mustang out in time. The Champ was not so lucky and sat submerged for as long as it took to pump all that water out. Nevertheless, after cleaning all the mud and gunk coating her, draining and replacing the fuel and oil and sparkplug, allowing her to dry out, and putting a new battery in, she fired right back up and was on the road again.

I myself was not so indestructible. Coming home one afternoon from trying to collect from deadbeat subscribers I detoured down an alley that paralleled San Vicente north of Wilshire and the driver of a bright yellow Cadillac Coupe de Ville backing out quickly and without looking hit me and punched a quarter-sized hole in my right thigh that booked me in to a Cedar-Sinai emergency room for stitches. My leg must’ve protected the Champ because aside from some scratches and a broken mirror she emerged unscathed.

I think that tore it for my mom. She had already purchased the “Charlie’s Angels” car, her blue-and-white 1978 Ford Mustang II Cobra with racing stripes and louvers on the rear window straight out of the TV series, but had hesitated signing over the old Mustang to me. Once I had access to four wheels even if it was a beat-up primer-coated Mustang with 230,000 miles on the odometer and no reverse gear, the Champ was relegated to occasional errands until her last years were spent forgotten in the garage of the Sherman Oaks house my mom moved to in 1983 after marrying my stepdad. A few years later, nostalgic for my old pal, I asked her where the Champ had gone and she told me she given it away to a construction worker.

I can remember once having a photo of me astride the Champ during our glory days together, but it too has been lost to history.

A recent description of outgoing disgraced President Donald Trump as a “sore loser” reminded me of when I myself was last a sore loser. Thankfully I was 11, not 74. And it wasn’t a presidential election I lost and a Republic I then tried to overthrow, it was just a Big Brothers/Big Sisters fun softball game at a park in Hollywood.

The team that I and my volunteer Big Brother Lloyd Miller were on had run up a huge lead — something seemingly insurmountable like double digits — that we then somehow managed to blow in the last inning and lose. When their winning run crossed the plate and the game was over I was furious. I mean like ugly-crying furious. I didn’t congratulate any of my opponents, I didn’t shake any of their hands. I ran from my position at first base into the outfield almost out-of-control bawling and screaming to the point where when Lloyd caught up with me he didn’t yell and he didn’t scream. He just tersely told me to go finish my tantrum over by his truck in the parking lot, which I was more than happy to do because I couldn’t stand that everyone else was laughing and enjoying themselves and couldn’t have cared less about the outcome of the game.

When he finally came over we got inside and he drove me home. He was quiet for the first mile or so. Then he told me he apologized to everyone on my behalf. Then he told me he absolutely hated having to do that. Then he asked me why I’d gotten so upset. I told him because we lost. He asked if that was the first time I’d ever lost at something, and of course it wasn’t. Then he matter of fact told me that he hated losing too, and asked me if I’d ever seen Steve Garvey or Jack Youngblood or any of my sports heroes behave similarly when they lose, which of course I hadn’t. He said they probably hated losing more than me because it was their job to win, but that they behaved the way they did because they were Men, which if I was going be one I’d better learn and quick how to be mature and not only handle my emotions and reject such bad behavior but also be polite in treating my opponents and the sport I play with respect and decency whether I win or lose.

He finished by saying how ashamed and embarrassed he was by my disgraceful behavior and that because of it we were going to take a couple weeks break from getting together, during which time he wanted me to think long about if I wanted to be a good sport and a better person or continue to be a bad sport and a lesser person, and to give him a call ONLY if or when I made the RIGHT decision.

I called him a few days later. We remained Big and Little Brother for another six years.

Little has changed from how the field looked in the mid-1970s. Thankfully I changed plenty.

PS. I have never gone past that field still there at Cahuenga and Santa Monica Boulevard without feeling both shame and pride, the latter because of my Big Brother Lloyd, thanks to whom I left a petulant child behind in the outfield that night and took my first steps towards being a man.

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.

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