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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.

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.

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.

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!

Note: This site has long been too dormant and been dormant too long. I may change that or I may not not. But going on week seven cooped out with  the COVID-19 emergency, I’ve started wondering what I want to do with the rest of my life. And as a result I’ve been pounding keyboards with some of the stuff in my head — most of which gets deleted. Writing has always been a passion and equally a pain. It’s something I know I am good at, but for too often don’t have the patience. Few stories flow from me. They have to be dragged out, and then endure ridiculous tinkering. But more than a year after my last post, I posted to Facebook this little window into a few weeks of one childhood summer that I banged out relatively effortlessly a cou0ple early mornings ago, and definitely wanted to port it here to live and perhaps to breathe a breath of life into this comatose old blog rather than just leave it to disappear from  a social media platform. Anyway, here it is…

It was the early 1970s. I was at my grandmother’s house in Carbon Hill, Alabama, for a part of the summer. Just me and her. I was six. Maybe seven. Carbon Hill is a small town in the northwestern part of the state, outside of the larger town of Jasper, which I read once had the distinction once of being the top coal producer in the entire world. Grandma had a dusty little wooden house with a coal-burning stove in the kitchen that sat near the the crossroads of two strips of asphalt.

The nearest building was across one of the roads that had once housed her flower and gift shop shop, but now stood empty. The next nearest was the small church down one the other road aways, at which my grandma used to teach Sunday school in a damp dirt-floored basement underneath the pulpit. During a different summer visit, I sat in that basement with my cousins and Grandma going on with some story about David, transfixed at a large hornet might have been the size of my eyeball that flew to a s midair stop and hovered so beautifully in the open basement doorway. I couldn’t decide if the hornet was afraid to come in or was just taking its time figuring out which one of us it was going to sting, until finally grandma got fed up with me staring at it dumbstruck and slammed the door shut.

The nearest neighbor was my great aunt Nellie up a nearby dirt road who I visited even though Grandma didn’t seem to keen on it. Aunt Nellie was sweet and gave me Milky Way candy bars and told me to mind her sister Ola and that she loved and missed Lyndell. That confused me at first because everyone who knew my mom called her Casey, which is how I learned the difference between birth names and stage names.

The room I slept in was in the rear of the house near the screened-in back porch. It had wood paneling and a ceiling fan in the center and bare floors and a large down bed with down pillows and a down comforter all positioned at an angle that when you’d fall in it would almost fully swallow you up. The bedding gave the room a deep, dense, and absolutely wondrous musty smell that has never left my nose, nor will I ever hope the day comes when it does.

Above the room’s ceiling and under the roof in one of the corners was a beehive so very large and active that you could hear endless droning of its workers day or night. So loud was it that often it seemed they were either in the room or on the verge of breaking through, but I never was freaked out by it. For that I can thank my best friend back in Van Nuys who was allergic and would run crying a mile like a baby in the opposite direction of where a single honeybee minding its own business might be. His embarrassing tantrums were a great lesson in how not to act around bees, most of which I’d encountered in my life had much better things to do than sting you. In fact, the incessant buzzing coupled to that thick aroma would often conspire to lull me off to sleep even when swaddled almost to suffocation in the humid-hot nights.

To the west of the house was a creek (which grandma pronounced “crick”) full of crawdads and the occasional cottonmouth. Behind the house was a chicken coop, and beyond that were towering sunflowers and corn stalks as far as I could see. There were also masses of beans growing somewhere, but their location I don’t recall. I only know they existed because of the many evenings spent shelling bushels of them on the front porch with grandma, done so under a bare bulb porch light that drew skies full of noisy flying things from the next county. Under the light stood a large bowl of water, and in the mornings it would be full of a fair percentage of those winged creatures who had the misfortune to land in it.

As a child of six or seven what terrified me weren’t the bees or the bugs or the critters in the crick. I became petrified by the black panthers I’d overhear grandma talking about on the phone and how there was no stopping them and they were coming to get all of us. I had no idea at the time or for years to come that she was frightened by the militant activist group so often in the news of the day. From my Jungle Book mentality all I figured she was talking about was a legion of bloodthirsty Bagheeras lurking out there somewhere in the darkness.

And damned if on one of those steam-soaked nights when something made a noise louder than the beehive and startled me from sleep, instead of my room the following morning, Grandma found me sprawled out on the backporch couch, garden hoe gripped tight in my hands from the vigil I’d stood in the dark, guarding over the house and the hens and beyond it the impenetrable sea of sunflowers and corn, where every whisper of the wind and sway of a stalk was a deadly black panther to which I’d defiantly stomp my weapon to keep them at bay and away from my grandma.

When she woke me frowning at my location, I told her what I had been keeping watch for, and Grandma gave me a sideways look stared out into the field and walked back into the kitchen wondering aloud where I’d gotten such a silly idea like that.

A wee bit o’ the tardy in arriving, but here’s a 70-frame slideshow I just tossed to YouTube from beginning to finished-product end of our roughly 10-week kitchen renovation that took place from the middle of August to the beginning of November:

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