One Large Step For A Child

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.

Tommy’s Burger With A Side Of Bike Hate

photoMy friend David and I have made it something of an irregular tradition to walk to Tommy’s for lunch every few months, and schedules conspired to allow us to do that today, joined by his brother-in-law Mark who was in town to participate in Sunday’s CicLAvia.

So after we got our burgers and fries and drinks, we settled into a section of counter near the end, and conversation included my TAP card travails and, of course, CicLAvia, which apparently caught the attention of an elderly gent a few feet away, who approached after I mentioned coming back to downtown via the Blue Line that day.

He stepped toward us saying how he heard me mention the Blue Line and that it’s his firm belief that bikes have no business being brought on the trains.

I held myself back from saying something impolite  and instead curiously inquired as to why he was so firmly against the acceptable and encouraged practice. He replied that cyclists already have a form of transportation at their disposal and they shouldn’t be crowding up the train cars.

Wide-eyed at such an idiotic statement, I started to point out that by his logic walking was a form of transportation, so why wasn’t he an equal opportunity hater in feeling the same about all those pesky pedestrians loading up the trains, but realized I was in a battle of wits with an unarmed geezer.

And the fact is, there is a kernel of truth buried deep under his bullshit. MTA rail cars are really not designed to accommodate anything but passengers, and I don’t think they ever will be. One needs to remember that back in the early days of our reconstructed light rail system, bikes were not only allowed on trains during limited time-frame windows, but you actually had to be registered and carry an MTA-issued picture ID card that had to be presented upon demand.

We’ve come a long way since then, baby. But it’s been an uncomfortable integration.

Today sure, a couple cyclists with consideration can position themselves out of everyone’s way, but it’s still awkward, at best. Add more cyclists and compound it with the inconsideration that is too often demonstrated in blocking aisles and doors and seats, and to a degree I can appreciate where this grumpy old man is coming from. I could just imagine him on the Blue Line on Sunday with a train car overloaded with raucous bikes and riders coming to or going from the event, and all he can do is get progressively grumpier as the trip went along.

But instead of  commiserating with him, I asked him next if he felt the same about bikes and buses. And he was quick to say they had no place there either. When I mentioned the bikes are stowed outside the bus, that didn’t matter to him. He just shook his head vehemently, spitting out some more generalized negativity that concluded with this doozy:

“Bikes are the reason for everything that’s wrong in this city.”

I stood stunned for a moment, trying somehow to understand how someone could wholesale equate cycling to “everything that’s wrong…” to the city’s struggling economy and to its crime and to its homelessness and to its school drop-out rate, and its gridlock. How does one even begin to counterpunch such a ridiculous haymaker? People with more patience and smarts might know, but for me there is simply no way or reason to continue a discussion or debate with so spiteful an intellect of such a small caliber.

So I didn’t.  Instead, I wished real hard to myself that I never be so hateful and stupid about anything if I’m fortunate enough to get to be this kook’s age, while out loud I brought it to his attention that by insulting and demonizing cyclists as a whole he was in fact insulting and demonizing me — to which he replied that he didn’t care and restated that all of us are inherently detrimental to his way of living (or at least what little living he’s got left).

With that clarifying point of order out of the way I then admonished him for making such a despicably baseless judgment and criticism, adding that though I was personally raised not to make such uninformed criticisms, he and his insults were making it hard for me not to formulate one about him. Raising my voice well over his and in no uncertain terms I insisted that in the interest of stopping his senseless jawing so that he could return to gumming the remainder of his Tommy’s burger, he vacate my vicinity as quickly as was physically possible for a man of his years.

That caught him off-balance, and some flustered words fell out of his mouth whose syllables quickly broke apart into gibberish, before he realized we weren’t ever going to be friends and complied with my directive to cease and desist being audibly inane in my specific direction.

David, Mark and I hung around long enough to finish our meals and for my hackles to lay back down, before taking our leave to ruminate on the walk home the fact that no matter the issue, some people will find a way to magnify it out of proportion and hate on it all the harder.



Here’s One Thing Armstrong Was Truthful About… Maybe

How Tweet It Was.

The night before the CicLAvia that took place in April 2011, I had heard that Lance Armstrong was coming to town specifically to participate. As such, I tweeted a reminder at him and was positively fanboy-floored when he immediately tweeted a confirmation back my way.

But then again, given what we know now about his long-running penchant for dishonesty, since I didn’t physically SEE him anywhere on the course the next day I can’t be 100 percent certain he wasn’t lying out of his spandex-clad ass.

One thing is for certain: this brief exchange went from being my most favorite tweet ever to my least.

It wasn’t the first time I rode/sat/stood in awe of my hero Mr. Doodyhead McLiarface (and there was also this previous encounter during the 2009 Amgen Tour of California). But it is the last:


Racial Coventry In Our Own Backyard — Literally

I’m familiar enough with the history of this country to be aware of and repulsed by the prevalent use of racially restrictive covenants that prohibited property ownership and occupation — a completely legal practice that stood in place until it was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 1948.

A restrictive covenant is basically a legal obligation imposed in a deed by the seller upon the buyer of real estate to do or not to do something.

As an aside, it should be noted that it was a lawyer from right here South Los Angeles named Loren Miller — the son of a slave –  who was instrumental not only in winning many local cases against racial covenants, but also the most celebrated one: Shelley v. Kraemer (1948),  which he and partner Thurgood Marshall argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court. Miller would later go on to be named Justice of the California Supreme Court by Gov. Edmund G. Brown (our current governor’s father), serving until his death in 1967.

But back on topic. Cleaning out her files, Susan came across a copy of the original grant deed for our property made out by the parcel’s original owners George and Katherine Palmer, dated September 26, 1907. It starts off with some pretty standard normal conditions:

  • that it be used for residential purposes only;
  • that any out-buildings not be erected less than 75 feet from the front line of the lot;
  • that the value of the dwelling built must be greater than $2,500 (remember that’s 1907 dollars);
  • that anything built be not less than 1.5 stories in height;
  • that the home should be built no fewer than 35 feet from the front of the lot nor within four feet of the sides.

Then there’s a cool one, specified:

“That this property shall never be used for the sale of intoxicating liquors.”

Then it gets repulsively nasty, see for yourself:


Click it for the bigger picture or read the transcribed abhorrence below:

“That the party of the second part, his heirs, administrators, executors or assigns shall never convey lease or rent these lots or any portion thereof to any negro or to any person of African or Asiatic descent.”

Despite too-regular reminders provided by our past, I am always ever-amazed and embarrassed at how those in this country so shamefully and selfishly managed to subvert and disregard the second line of its Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

What’s That Old Adage…?

I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out!

For the life of me I have never understood why such unchecked criminal violence in hockey is not only tolerated, but so flagrantly condoned — even appreciated! Seriously, the most embarrassing aspect of this video isn’t just the despicable behavior of the players so much as the detestably laudatory announcers and the gleeful spectators shown in the stands.

And even if someone could sit down with me and by talking slowly and using small words definitively and irrefutably explain why stopping the game so that opposing players can slug each other repeatedly and with reckless abandon on the ice is a necessary component of that game, I’d thank them for their time and still suggest they take the entire sport and shove it sideways.


Of Prowling Trespassers & Punk Taggers

Wow. This morning was a double whammy full of assholes. At 5:20 a.m., Ranger started barking her “this is for real” bark and sure enough after bolting from bed and looking out the bedroom window there was a shady looking creep casually walking the brick walk on the north side of the house like he owned the place.

I got dressed and downstairs and out to the street in time to find the prowler — who turned out to be our block’s most notorious nuisance transient — coming back onto the sidewalk from a house a few doors south of ours. He wore a blue hooded sweatshirt pulled up over his head. Of all things he had a golfbag handcart and was carrying an arm full of magazines.

When he saw me approaching he commenced walking away  but I caught up close enough to inquire how it was that he came to be pushing a bagless cart down the street at such an odd hour. “Bought it,” he responded without breaking stride. I let it be known I didn’t believe him, then I advised as we arrived at the cross street that parasites such as himself are not wanted on this block, and that it would extra-especially be in his worst interest either to be found by me setting foot on my property or anywhere near it for that matter.

“In case you don’t remember which house was mine that you cased, it’s the one overly decorated for Halloween,” I said. “Should you decide to come back. I’ll be waiting.”

He grunted, and I apologized that I couldn’t stay and chat longer but I had to go call the police on his thieving ass.

“Go ahead,” he said, as if I needed his permission.

It was in walking back home that I noticed the graffiti tags, freshly sprayed in silver and black paint sometime in the evening on garage doors and walls along the west side of the block, including mine:

Since it didn’t look like any of the local gang tags I’m only all too familiar with (and since our block is rarely hit and never so heavily), my first hunch was it was done by the prowler who really is a multi-tASSker who counts theft, squatting, harrassment and arson among his suspected crimes. But after notifying the police I attempted to erase it with some graffiti remover and elbow grease (the smaller black one came off quick, but the larger silver one didn’t). While down there scrubbing a car pulled up and the guy inside said he lived down the block and was trying to see the extent of the vandalism.

The reason being he had just rented out an apartment to a single mom with two teens who regularly had classmates over, and coincidentally some silver spray paint he had stored in his yard had been stolen.


Dear Butt Head,

Hi. Question for you: Are those cigarette butts yours?  They’re mostly Camels, but there’s a lone Marlboro among them. Go ahead, click the pic to take a larger look. I’ll wait.

The reason I ask is that as part of my regularly scheduled yard work this morning — done because I take pride in my house and keeping it trimmed and swept and generally presentable — I found them. They were dumped presumably from a car’s ashtray into the street. Coincidentally right in front of said house in which I take the aforementioned pride.


Before I get all up in your figurative and hypothetical grill, I must commend you on using your ashtray. So many smokers don’t, choosing to keep the specifically developed devices spotless while just carelessly and thoughtlessly ashing out their windows and pitching their butts out of their cars one by one on the fly. Zing! Pwing! Fwing! But you, Huzzah! Rather than leave your filters infilterating the areas of the city you blithely infect and pollute at least you blithely consolidated your pollution in one place. Trouble was that place in this case was the street in front of my house, which adds to one of the great mysteries of urban life as to what exactly is it that triggers smokers unable to hang on to their butts until they’re near an actual trashcan and rahter makes them so egregiously and compulsively clear their ashtrays rightthatfuckingminute directly onto the road. My road.

What was I doing on that road wondering why some sociopathic shtupwad decided that and then would be the perfect place and time to litter so fucking heinously? Fair question. See, in addition to the house’s front yard, I have this wacky habit of sweeping the sidewalks in front of the place  — and get this: even the gutter! Crazy, right? A touch compulsive even. I mean, who the fuck in this day of personally irresponsible entitlement actually gets all up in a street’s gutter with a broom and a dustpan without a hazmat suit or it being mandated as some sort of court-ordered community service? Certainly not the same assholes who’ll dump their cigarette butts out in the street, that’s for sure!

So anyway, there I was off the curb entirely of my own volition and sweeping the leaves and some styrofoam packing peanuts and an empty Starbucks cup down to my driveway apron when I saw one butt, then two in front of the car parked next to me.. Then I came around the driver-side quarter panel  and found the scene pictured above, right next to the door.

Though I knew instinctively it was a dump-and-run — they all are — I immediately cased the adjacent automobile’s interior through its closed windows to see if I could find anything identifying it as a smoker’s sedan. You know: lighters, matches, a freshly emptied ashtray, burns in the upholstery, an unopened package of Nicorette, any residually exuding cigarette stank, ashy bits accumulated where the windshield meets the dash, or perhaps a telltale pack of Camels or Marlboros. Nothing. I even checked the rear bumper just in case there was sticker that read “I’m literally stupid enough to inhale toxic smoke into my lungs regularly and voluntarily and think it won’t fuck with me later on — and I’m so big an entitled jerkbag that I believe the world is my ashtray.”

Surprise: no bumper sticker. Couldn’t hurt to check though.

Had I found any connection between your buttdump and that vehicle, I wouldn’t be writing this letter. I’d’ve gained closure by duct-taping each and every motherfucking butt to the hood (and that’s only because I’m out of staples for my staplegun). I was tempted to anyway, but common sense and benefit of the doubt prevailed and instead I did what you couldn’t be bothered to do: I added your mess to the pile-in-progress, picked it up and put it in its appropriate trash receptacle, in hopes some day someone does the same to you.

Catch you later! Fucker.