Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Naked Truth

I was driving south on Western Avenue in Hollywood recently when the strangest thing happened. I had just crossed Sunset Boulevard when I saw a rather large woman walking north. She strutted her stuff with confidence and had a huge smile on her face.

She also had no top on. That's right, her boobies hung like lanterns against her ample belly. At first it looked like she was wearing a shirt with two big buttons, but as they bounced up and down it was clear they were naked boobies.

Looking lower I saw what I thought was a very skimpy black bikini bottom. It wasn't. Her kitty cat was on full display.

I swerved and almost hit the oncoming traffic.

She saw me and laughed so hard she almost fell off her high heels. Yes, she was wearing black shoes.

She waved.

I waved back.

She continued walking.

I continued driving.

Ah Los Angeles!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I Remember Tracy

Red hair.

Beautiful smile.

Incredible personality.

Her name was Tracy Hadinger. We went to grammar school together.

When we were in fourth grade she fell in gym class. No one thought anything of it but it turned out to be the beginning of a nightmare. She had bone cancer.

She was sick for a very short while and died the week of Halloween. Her funeral was the day before our Halloween costume party.

One of my favorite memories I have of Tracy is at a school pageant. I cannot remember what we were celebrating but I remember Tracy in a bright green dress singing like an angel. Her smile was as bright as her hair.

It's been over thirty years since then yet every October I think of Tracy.

I'll never forget her.

Monday, October 16, 2006

MacArthur's Park Is Melting…

"MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again"

Richard Harris first sang those often-misunderstood words in the 1960s and Donna Summer lit up the dance floors with her disco version in 1978.

When I first moved to Los Angeles I was curious to see this magical place immortalized in song… and what a dump it was! Just driving by the park made me yearn for a shower and disinfectant. There was no way in hell I'd get out of the car and walk through the place. I was certain I'd never get out alive. The MacArthur Park of song was nothing like the actual MacArthur Park.

But surprisingly over the past few years something wonderful has happened. MacArthur Park is no longer the drug and rat infested eyesore with lake water that could burn holes in your skin. Now it's a beautiful urban oasis with green grass, lake, lights, and a wonderful sense of community.

So what brought me back to MacArthur Park?


I love tamales and will travel far and wide for the best tamales possible. A Latino friend of mine took it upon himself to introduce me to the best kept secret in Los Angeles: MAMA'S HOT TAMALES CAFÉ located at 2124 West Seventh Street overlooking MacArthur Park.

What makes Mama's so unique is that it's a non-profit apprentice operated business-training restaurant for street vendors. The apprentices prepare, cook, and serve tamales from various Latin American countries.

This past week I feasted on two tamales: the Acapulco pork tamale and the Valley of Oaxaca chicken tamale made with black mole.

Next week I'm going back and will try the Michoacan beef tamale made with pasilla chile sauce and the Honduras chicken tamale made with potatoes, olives, raisins and rice.

Besides tamales Mama's also offers salads, burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, and tostadas.

But for me it's all about the tamale. Mmm, mmm, good!

Be sure to check out more on Mama's and the "Rediscover MacArthur Park" project at

© 2006 MC528. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My Lesson In Unconditional Love

Raising a child is a daunting, sometimes terrifying task that not everyone is capable of doing successfully. I admit I would not make a great parent. Mediocre at best, and that's on a good day. You would never find me coaching Little League, participating in community activities, creating arts and crafts, or running for president of the PTA or the Suburban Historical Society.

I guess you could say my household, if I had children, would be a cross between The Addams Family and The Osbournes. There'd be lots of love and creative expression, but little conformity.

A parent I'm not but an incredible uncle I am. I have a niece and a nephew I adore more than life itself. Because we live 3,300 miles apart our relationship is based on telephone conversations (sometimes many a week) and visits whenever possible. I'm west coast, they're east coast. I work very hard at being part of their lives and my reward is their love. Sometimes it overwhelms me.

What I've noticed is that as they're getting older (heading into those teen years) our conversations have become more grownup, sometimes touching on pertinent issues where the lines between right and wrong are blurred. To my surprise I've found we share differences of opinion. It's like we're from two totally different families, two totally different worlds.

I am liberal, outspoken, with a somewhat skewed sense of humor. I couldn't care less what people think of me. My niece and nephew are being raised in a more conservative environment. Our different ways of thinking have made me stop and wonder how to react to some of their comments without causing undue commotion.

As an example, I made an anti-war comment to my niece during one of our Saturday night conversations. Her reaction took me totally by surprise. She was appalled I felt the way I did. I didn't know what to say. I honored her opinion and I hoped that she would honor mine, but that wasn't the case. She refused to think my thoughts were valid.

I was torn. Should I insist she acknowledge my opinion and possibly create a rift with her and my brother or should I respect my brother's wishes and not interfere with his parenting and not interject my alternative views? With anyone else I would have turned it into a larger conversation, maybe even a healthy argument, but I refrained from saying anything more.

It’s not always about politics either. It’s other issues like watching too much television, eating unhealthy fast foods, and accepting people no matter who they are. How far can I go before I am crossing the line? My brother and his wife trust me completely with their children. I don't want to break that trust though I want to stay truthful to myself.

My niece and nephew are my family and as with all families having different opinions can cause major strife. I know people who no longer speak with family members over the most trivial issues. I do not want that to happen to us. They’re my brother's children and I certainly do not want to interfere with how he's raising them. The fact is he's doing an incredible job. They're well behaved, fun-loving, intelligent, kind hearted children. Am I being selfish for wanting them to understand my beliefs?

Friends give me lots of advice from "speak up" to "keep your mouth shut" to everything in between. I don't think there is a right answer here. All I can do is accept my niece and nephew's opinions. I might not understand why they believe what they do, but I need to honor it. Yes it can be frustrating but my love for them is too strong to let these differences put a wedge between us.

I have to remind myself that I am the uncle, not the parent. If they were my children would I want relatives undermining what I was teaching them? Probably not.

So I've decided to hold my tongue and not incite arguments, though I do look forward to the day when they enter their rebellious phase (maybe I'm still in mine). Until then with each conversation I am learning lessons of acceptance and love, unconditional love.

© 2006 MC528. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Wine, Kids, and Nightmares

Not long ago a friend and I took a day trip and visited the wineries in Temecula, California. It's beautiful country. We stopped at numerous wineries to taste the various Merlots, Cabernets, and a spectacular dry Grenache Rose. We listened to the histories of the wineries and learned all about the wine making process.

At the last winery we visited I was beginning to feel the effects of wine on an empty stomach. I decided to take a break and sit on the patio and people watch.

Suddenly I thought I was seeing double. I blinked. I squinted. I blinked again. I felt dizzy, dazed. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Sitting across from me was this little girl with her grandmother. She was maybe four years old. A cute little thing with a page boy haircut and rosy cheeks. Clutched in the girl's arms was another little girl that looked just like her - identical - and in a matching outfit.

I assumed it was her baby sister until she got up and walked around the picnic table dragging the identical twin by the arm. My heart sped up. She was gonna injure that child!

The grandmother was sitting there watching this brutality without saying a word. I yelled out for her to rescue the child.

The grandmother looked at me and smiled. "It's her identical twin doll."

The little girl sauntered over to me and showed me this porcelain creature.

"Isn’t she beautiful?" she asked.

All I could do was muster a faint smile and say "adorable." The truth is I found it weird, freaky. I felt I was trapped in an episode of "The Twilight Zone."

Ever since then I've been having this recurring nightmare where I'm being chased through the streets of a pristine suburban neighborhood by something I cannot see. It's the most terrifying feeling. I run and I run and I run and the terror is hot on my heels.

Suddenly I turn down a side street; a dead end street called Purgatory Way. Beautiful houses are everywhere. I try opening the doors but they're all locked. At the end of the street is a huge red brick wall. I try crawling up the wall but cannot scale it. I let out a primal scream that echoes in the silence that surrounds me.

I slowly turn around and see hundreds and hundreds of dolls that look exactly like me. Their eyes are crazed. Their tongues are wagging like they haven't eaten in weeks. I fall to my knees and beg for my life. Their tiny little arms reach out for me…

And then I wake up in a cold sweat all tangled up in the sheets.

I now hate dolls.

(c) 2006 MC528. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Joke

What do you get when you cross a donkey with an onion?

99.9% of the time you get an onion with very long ears. But 0.1% of the time - if you're lucky - you get a piece of ass so good it makes you wanna cry!