Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Accountant Who Dreamed Of Fire

Every so often he found himself in that daydream
The one in which he spontaneously burst into flames
All the people around him startled, aghast at the sight
Of his body afire
The white-yellow-orange-red tongues of fire 
Engulfing him from head to toe
His hair burning like so much dry tinder
Cries of horror from the crowd that gathered around
To watch as his skin was seared
The flames like an angry, hungry snake
Consuming his flesh
Until only the charred bones of his skeleton remained
In a gray-black ash heap on the ground

The daydream always made him smile a little
For, he imagined, if it ever were to actually happen
A death like that
Would make him famous
And somehow that would make it all worth the pain

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Office With More Than A Great View

His office was by far the most unique office I had ever seen. It wasn't, as might be expected for the owner of a fairly large Real Estate company, a big corner office with a great view.

No, his smallish office was located on the fourth floor of one of the commercial office buildings he owned that were populated by Lawyers, Mortgage Brokers, Therapists, and the like. It was just two doors down from the elevators, next to the corridor leading to the restrooms.

What made his office so unique, so special, was what he had done with the interior.

Which was, he made it an exterior.

By exterior I mean he had gone to great lengths (and expense) to turn his office into as close an approximation to his favorite place to be as was possible while still remaining in his office.

His favorite place to be was a beach.

A visitor, male or female, paying a visit to his office, was greeted by a receptionist who immediately asked what size shirt and shorts were preferred, and if you desired sandals or flip-flops. 

Once your choices and sizes were determined, you were given the appropriate clothing and directed to the changing rooms.

Many visitors had protested these unusual requests, and once a U.S. IRS agent had even threatened him with arrest, but eventually everyone wanting to engage him in an audience complied with his directives.

Frequent visitors had taken to dressing as he requested before they showed up, which had brought down a bit of ridicule on a few of them from their family members, friends, and co-workers who did not understand the protocols.

Those in the know did not care about the ridicule though, as being properly dressed in his office earned one a favorable ear, and as he was the type of businessman who could make everybody money, having his ear, or better yet, being privy to his insights, was more valuable than an original '66 Beatles Butcher cover of Yesterday & Today in stereo, from the Livingston collection.

The esoteric clothing directive was secondary however to the experience of being in his office. As mentioned earlier, his office had been made to resemble his favorite place - the beach.

And a beach it was. Visitors entering his office were greeted first by a short wooden boardwalk, which led directly to an expanse of sand. Real sand, wall-to-wall sand, to a depth of six inches. 

His desk resembled one of those cheesy palm-frond covered bars that are seen all over the pacific coast. It was right out of Gilligan's Island, built of bamboo and palm fronds, and even featured a hollowed-out coconut pen & pencil holder.

The chairs in front of his desk were, of course, traditional beach chairs. His desk chair was a slight variation of one, looking a bit more like a Hollywood directors chair, but made of bamboo.

The coup de grâce however, was what he had done with the walls. The walls were not bedecked with pictures of the tropics as one might expect...the walls were instead floor-to-ceiling, side-to-side, LCD screens that featured the view from all four sides of his beach house in Jacó, Costa Rica. A live view, from cameras he had installed himself. 

There was audio as well, of the ocean crashing upon the shore, as well as the sounds of birds and people.

It was spectacular.


Monday, July 28, 2014

If You Cannot Act With Dignity...

It has been said that the worst possible Hell would be that, on your last day on earth the person you could have become had you not allowed your fears and insecurities keep you from doing what you really wanted to do with your life, comes over to ask if you're happy now.

Yeah, that would be a pretty bad Hell. Still, not as bad as being poked with a pitchfork in a lake of burning fire for all eternity though. That one's still the bar.

I mean, come on, it's a lake of burning fire. And a pitchfork.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Something Bad About To Go Down

I repeatedly
Asked her
To confide in me
And share my failures

She said no

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Probably Wouldn't Have Listened Anyway, But Worth A Shot...

The other day (well, two nights ago) I was sitting around with a few friends shooting the ol' philosophical breeze when the question was posed, "What advice would the current you give to the younger, say, eighteen-year old, you?"

That question is somewhat of an old chestnut, and one that has been bandied about by my circle of immediate and not-so-immediate friends several times in the past. The only difference in the question when it is re-posed is the age in question of the younger you.

It's one of those questions that is both enlightening and frustrating, in that we all get a good feel for how much we've matured/developed/re-prioritized, etc., via our answers, and we all fall into the "woulda, coulda, shoulda," trap that sometime springs when one waxes nostalgic.

There is no frustration like the re-imagining-your-present-self-if-your-past-self-had-made-smarter-decisions frustration. Probably best not to go there too often.

The answers to that question varied from "Start investing as much as you can as soon as you can" to "floss regularly" to "stay in school no matter what" to "map out a plan and stick to it."

I myself have given several different answers to that question over the years, everything from the glib "don't let the bastards get you down" and "learn to cook" to the fairly serious "do not seek company simply to save you from being alone."

This time out, my answer was "develop productive habits." Now, that might not seem like the best advice to give to an 18-year old, but as I had yet to develop truly productive habits by my 18th birthday, it is definitely advice I could have used.

Whether or not I would have taken such advice to heart...well, I wouldn't bet the imaginary $1,000 investment in Microsoft I would have liked to have made back then, not even a dime of it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Smothering The Fire

             Her smile was resolute not sweet
             The gleam in her eyes like a dim light 
                                    Reflecting off black ice
             This was not going to be a pleasant conversation
             He looked at his hands and took a seat
             Dreading yet another fight
                                    It was getting so hard to be nice
             Getting so hard to sit still for a verbal castration
             That's when he noticed the large bag at her feet
             And that she was staring at him like a rat might
                                    Like a not-so virginal sacrifice
             He steeled himself for some character assassination

             But she just calmly stated she wasn't there to eat
             For a second she looked a little contrite
                                   And he felt like his head was in a vice
             Wondering what was this new damnation

             "Here is everything I don't want to keep"
             She said as she picked up the bag on her right
                                  He stood up, didn't think twice
             "Thanks," he said, with just a hint of gratification


Monday, July 21, 2014

Picture Taken Of Ordinary Japan, Early 1960's

                                         Taken by my father in the early 1960's

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Thin Slice Of Night Life

For a bit we just sat there like National Geographic explorers, observing the natives in their natural state. The music was loud, bass line bouncing off the walls, sending concussive vibrations through the tables, drinks shaking like that scene in Jurassic Park.

Half a dozen kids had made their way to the dance floor and moved respectably enough to the beat. Two women at a table two over from us were moving in their seats and for a brief moment the thought of asking one of them to dance flitted about in my head.

'Hell no," I said to myself, "The days of asking strange women to dance are long gone. Best to sit and sip a Guinness."

And so it went, for the duration of the night.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Arguments That Are Yours To Lose

                                Somewhere along the Kenai peninsula, Alaska 1989

Ever run into someone with an inferiority or persecution complex? The type of people who take offense to everything you say or do or PERCEIVE you say or do? Well, here's my advice for you in those situations. 

Walk away. 

Their insecurities are not your business.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A More Esoteric Form Of Celebration

Night of the Radishes. Every December 23rd in Oaxaca, Mexico. Using radishes that are not pulled from the ground until several months after they would normally have been harvested, talented local craftspeople carve the abnormally huge (and oddly formed) root vegetables into various objects, from simple Jack 'O Lantern type faces to complex scenes of fiestas complete with musicians and dancing figures to incredibly detailed Nativity scenes.

It's a hoot, thought I'd give it a mention.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Infinitely Mysterious

There are many, many things on this planet that have baffled me, and continue to baffle me. Most of what baffles me regards human behavior. Beyond the obvious things such as the concept of god(s), the lack of an understanding of the absolute necessity for differentiation, and the seemingly universal innate desire to make others miserable, the one thing that has perplexed me the most since I was about ten, when I first read Shirer's The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, is, why do people follow strong personalities blindly?

We are living in the most advanced, most enlightened, most educated time in the history of civilized mankind - every single person alive on this planet right now, with small exceptions, has it better now than any of their ancestors ever had (there are people who do not believe his, but they are idiots, easily and readily ignored) .

The small exceptions mentioned in the previous paragraph is the topic of tonight's rant, and the specific small exception is: North Korea.

Almost 25 million people live in North Korea, and all of them blindly follow Kim Jung Un. He is the current Supreme Leader of Korea, a position he inherited from his father Kim Jong iL, who in turn inherited his position from his father, Kim ll Sung. All of these men have been despotic dictators, and their control of Korea in the 21st century begs the question - Why? 

I have watched a number of documentaries about North Korea on the 'net (check out this one on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtuFaEy4jzE) and all of them have left me wondering why. Why has not one person in that country had the brass to rise up and rebel against the tyranny? Why in almost seventy years has not one person in that country been able to free themselves from the cult of personality that surrounds the Kim family and incite a revolution?

North Korea is a country bereft of basic human rights. Every aspect of an ordinary North Korean citizen's daily life is controlled by the North Korean government. How is this possible in the 21st century?

I suppose we could blame it on the Russian communists.

The Kim family was basically given North Korea by Soviet Russia, that long-since dead totalitarian dictatorship. But that was in 1945. How is it possible that the Kim family still wields absolute power nearly 25 years after the Soviet Union fell? 

And more succinctly, how is it that the rest of the civilized world has allowed it to happen? Why has nothing been done by the global leaders to ameliorate the situation? Do the people of North Korea just not matter? Are their lives insignificant?

Of course their lives matter, of course their lives are significant. Unfortunately, removing the people who are holding the reins in North Korea would involve a direct action against the leader of a government, and while it is perfectly okay to arrest a bank robber, apprehending a man who is killing tens of thousands of his countrymen every year...well, that's just not done.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shallow Yellow Sky

Avoid pain and discomfort. That is my answer. 

The question was, of course, "What is the secret to happiness?" 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Only Person In The World

As a struggling young man, he always hoped and dreamed that someone would come along who would make him want to be a better person, someone who would be able to magically bring out the best in him on a daily basis, and allow him to reach the full limit of his potential.

Unfortunately, that fairy tale never happened. Fortunately, he eventually realized that there was only one person in the world who would be able to really help him achieve everything he ever wanted to achieve, and that person looked back at him every time he was in front of a mirror.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Down At The Hard Soul

                           Tonight's moon, taken with a Nikon D5300

Just hangin' out   
Killin' some time at the ol' waterin' hole
Me and the boys shootin' the bull
Ain't got nothin' to do
Betterin' that

Sure as sun TJ will start runnin' his mouth
Then start backtrackin' for damage control
We might shoot some pool
Jerry's gonna break, probably sink the cue
He ain't no Minnesota Fats

Down at the Hard Soul
We're all havin' a good time
Down at the Hard Soul
We're all wastin' away in our prime

Davis keeps goin' on about headin' south
Offerin' a watch for sale we all know he stole
Dude is everybody's fool
Harmless enough, just another crazy wahoo
Lives with seventeen cats

Cheryl has to leave, got to get up early to make her route
Caked on makeup to hide a mole
Wishes everyday she'd stayed in school
Prays the Rosary to get her through
Wonders if she should get another tat

Down at the Hard Soul
We're all havin' a good time
Down at the Hard Soul
We're all wastin' away in our prime

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Refugee From The Dada Movement

Too much nonsense, not enough logic. That was the only reason he gave for his decision to leave the movement. Sure, it was great being able to make a statement against war and at the same time throw a pie in the face of capitalism...but then it grew stale, becoming a parody of itself.

He latched onto surrealism fairly quickly, said it gave him a greater sense of self.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Something Strange Going On In L'wood

Maybe it's the heat. The last few days my little corner of the world has seen an increase in violence or threats of violence. This past Saturday a man reported to be "despondent" shot two police officers as they approached his home and he in turn was shot by a third police officer. Fortunately, no lives were lost in that incident. 

Today, a man barricaded himself in a house. He was said to be armed and dangerous and a day long stand-off ensued which ended with his peaceful surrender just moments ago. The Lakewood police department sent a robot into the house to help get the so far unnamed man out of the crawl space where he had holed up.

Both of these incidents occurred just a few blocks from my house. This is by far the most police activity I have experienced in the fourteen years I've lived here. I'm hoping it's the last of it, too.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tips For Handling The Break-Up Of A Dysfunctional Relationship

First, don't get into a relationship with anyone you do not actually consider a friend. That's right, I'm going all preemptive here and stating that if you are in a relationship with a friend, then chances are you will not treat each other like crap after the glow of whatever it was that attracted you to each other (physical appearance, attitude, life-long fantasy/desire, convenience, etc.,) wears off.

Friends have a lot in common, and do things with each other that are fun, sometimes funny. They are usually a joy and desirable to be around. That's why couples that claim they value each other as friends stay together. Who woulda thunk?

Now, if you entered into a relationship with someone before developing friendship, before actually discovering whether or not you are truly, deeply... compatible and wake up one morning to discover you are involved with a demon...well, then you have a problem on your hands.

Let me clarify what I mean by a "demon." I am not talking about someone you just no longer have feelings for or don't find attractive on some level or other anymore...I am talking about the kind of demon that desires not just you...but your life. The demon I am talking about is the type that starts to chose your friends, picks out what clothes you're going to wear, tells you exactly how it's going to be from now on in...and gets either physically or verbally abusive when things don't go their way. The type of demon that creates an air of tension so thick it makes it nearly impossible to breath. And then, when you do give them back some of what they're feeding you, somehow turns your reaction back on you and makes you out to be the problem.

To those of you who have never experienced life with one of these demons, bravo - you have won at life, or are at least currently winning. Those of us who have experienced one of these demons...know well what I mean.

Here are a few tips on how to deal with that problem.

1) Run away. Immediately sell all of your possessions that you cannot pack into your car, break your lease or put your house on the market (pray that it's a seller's market) and get on down the road. Someplace very far away that has little or no infrastructure is preferable. If possible, fake your own death.

2) Get rid of anything and everything that could possibly remind you of the person you're fleeing. You do not need sentimental reminders of a demon. The friend of theirs you kinda got to know and really sorta like? Ditch city. Seriously.

3) If it is absolutely necessary to communicate with the demon, do so in a decisive manner. There's no need to be mean, but you also do not have to be nice. Say what you have to say and get out. 

4) Do. Not. Look. Back. Not physically. Not mentally, and Lord knows, not emotionally. This is not one of those "closing-a-chapter-in-a-book" dealios. This is a "sealing-a-demon-in-a-demon-proof-tomb-that-will then-be-hidden-in-the-base-of-an-active-volcano-that-is-guarded-by-frost-giants-riding-dragons" dealio.

5) Once you're gone, move on. Get back into the dating scene with a renewed energy and focus. The focus should be on finding a friend who is compatible with you on as many levels as possible. Do not look for someone based on appearance or attitude or wish fulfillment. Sanity is what you want. Sanity and pleasant companionship. If the new person is also smart, fun, funny and attractive, sacrifice a chicken to the gods for favoring you.

Good luck. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Look Back In Laissez-Faire

It's easy to look back on a situation long since gone and wish the moment could be recaptured. The thing is, those special times, those seemingly exquisite, glorious days of youth, when all was right with the world...they didn't exist. 

It's easy to romanticize the past, to re-imagine it as something it never was...but that's wallowing in nostalgia, that's forgetting the day to day struggle of trying to fit in, of trying to feel like you belong.

The trick to enjoying the here and now is to get up everyday with the intention of creating moments that are as great as those you think you remember - but in the here and now.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Shapes Of Things That Were

Claiming to be a Pharaoh's bride
She sat on the edge of the fountain and cried
Lamenting the life she claims she's been denied
Since Egypt fell and Ptolemy died

Her clothes are covered in grime from the road
On her hands and her face the years of hardship showed
Some of the people who pass by toss a coin in her cup
Everyone walking past wonders why she gave up
On pursuing her dreams, on engaging in life
She tells all who ask it's the curse of the Pharaoh's wife

In the middle of the day she snacks on stale bread
While rocking back and forth, nodding her head
Wishing and hoping for the chance to lay in bed
With the Ptolemaic son she said she had wed

"He was the real ruler, not his harlot sister"
She says under her breath in a mumbling whisper
"The jealous witch who took Romans as lovers"
She says as one who genuinely suffers 
"She poisoned my King, so vile was that Cyprian"
She says with her eyes dulled, dark as obsidian

So she spends her days sitting on the edge of the fountain
Lamenting a fantasy life and reeking of sloe gin

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thoughts On The Fourth Of July

I did not have to take any extraordinary risks
To get here
Didn't have to make my way 
Across a temperamental ocean 
Crammed aboard an overloaded boat 
Full of people leaving behind 
Everything they had ever known
Common language
Common culture
Didn't have to pay some stranger 
To stow me away in a truck full of people 
Packed in like sardines 
All hoping to make it across the border undiscovered
 And with at least a chance of blending in with others like me
Didn't have to forge papers or identification
 Didn't have to steal an identity
Didn't have to live in fear of being taken back 
To the homeland I fled
All of  that was taken care of by my ancestors
 The people I never knew from whom I am descended
They risked their very lives on a chance 
That life here would be better than it was there
 That here there would be opportunities 
Opportunities to work
To learn
To become something more 
To make something more
 For themselves and for their children 
And their children's children.

I'm just a descendant of very brave
 Very strong 
Very determined 

And for that I am grateful

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Another Fact Of Life That's Difficult To Comprehend

Influences. Life is full of 'em. And there must be something inherent in human nature that allows bad influences to carry far greater weight than good influences. There has to be. 

Not one human in the history of humans has had to put up much of a fight against the temptations of a good influence. It's always been, "Sign up for a Pilate's class? Naw, I think I'll sit in front of the tube and drink some beer."

That's because bad influences are coercive to the Nth degree. They come at you with all the firepower, speed, and relentlessness of a Blitzkrieg...but insidiously subtle like.

Not really fair when you think about it. Good influences should be given the same ability to overwhelm us as bad influences have. Wouldn't it be cool as all get out to be able to say, "I don't know what came over me - I just couldn't stop eating low fat, nutritious food and going to the gym 5, 6 days a week, and now I've ended up fit and healthy."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Bouquet Of Ashes, A Detective Sonia Gilman Mystery

The Detective stared off into the distance, eyes unfocused. 

Mentally however, she was as focused as a Sniper's scope. Several questions presented themselves as she methodically reviewed what she had learned about the events leading up to the discovery of the body of Mrs. Lynda Towne.

The most telling would be whether or not Mrs. Towne was indeed the woman that was captured on video leaving the B of A branch on the corner of Garnet and Bayard at 3:30 last Tuesday afternoon. If so, why was she wearing clothing that concealed her appearance? It was 98 degrees at that hour in P.B., and all of that clothing would be extremely uncomfortable.

There was also the issue of the safety deposit box. The annual fee for the the large metal drawer was paid by automatic withdrawal from an account at the bank - an account that was now empty save a token $25.00.

The woman who came into the bank claiming to be Mrs. Towne, and who presented what the bank clerk swore was valid ID, had the original key - the bank clerk swore it wasn't a duplicate. 

Mrs Towne had not been in that branch of B of A for almost eight years, and no one working that Tuesday had ever had any contact with her, save for the employee who had answered the phone when she called in that morning to inquire as to the possibility of accessing her safety deposit box.

When the warrant was finally approved and they were able to open Mrs. Towne's safety deposit box, all that was in the large metal drawer was a small coin purse with twenty-eight pennies in it. All of the pennies bore the date 1978, and all of them were well-worn. Were they left behind intentionally? Was it just an oversight?

Detective Sonia Gilman returned her attention to the notecards on her desk. The 5" X 7" cards all had three or four short sentences scribbled on them in a small though very legible script. As had been her habit since she first read the Confucian adage that the faintest ink is better than the strongest memory, Sonia wrote all of her observations down as soon as she could. It was a habit that allowed her to graduate top of her class in High School, College, and the Police Academy, and it was a habit that facilitated a quick ascension from evidence gathering scrub to full-fledged Detective.  

It was a habit that helped her solve problems. The problem in front of her today appeared fairly simple - a body was found in one of the many canyons that surrounded the enclave of La Jolla. The body had been identified as that of 73-year old Mrs. Lynda Towne, a woman who had not been seen by her neighbors in nearly eight years. Mrs. Towne was dressed for hiking, or some outdoor activity, and she was found only a few hours after the time of her death. 

At first her death had been attributed to heat stroke, a probable result of hiking on such a blisteringly hot day. However, after the Coroner had made a more thorough examination (at the insistence of Mrs. Towne's daughter, an attorney in Costa Mesa) two small puncture wounds were found in the back of her right thigh, directly above the femoral artery.

And the puncture wounds were clean, made with an extremely small and sharp pin. The tip of which had been dipped in Aconitum.

Murder by wolf's bane was almost a cliche - but not here in the dry, though irrigated desert that is Southern California. This was something new, something unexpected. This was a challenge, and it was a challenge Sonia Gilman relished, macabre as the motive may be.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Photos From 1943 Of The Little Country Church On North Argyle Ave In Hollywood, Ca.,

More of my Father's old pics - these three are of the Little Country Church of Hollywood, which burned down in 1997.