Gooch and the Big Hotel (April 7, 2004)

“I can’t believe it,” Gooch said, after swinging open the polished door to his hotel room. “Imagine you and me, both right here.” I hadn’t seen Gooch in a long-assed time. Not since back in the day when we both lived in a group home in California, a foster care facility for criminals and the […]

Cafe Life (June 25, 1997)

Two middleaged men are sitting at a sidwalk table at Enrico’s in North Beach. Their mood seems foul as if they have been stewing in their impotence for so long the broth has begun to slop over onto the sidewalk. A couple years earlier, journalist Warren Hinckle spotted me having a heave-ho at Tosca, and […]

Remembering René

“Check out the rider for René Auberjonois,” our line producer suggested a week into the chaos of shooting an independent film in New York City; over budget, not making our days, rewriting the script nightly, pounding espresso, swallowing pride, coming down off twenty hour work days with Maison Premiere martinis and holding back tears.  As […]

Kay Starr

As unhip as it may sound — until you really listen to her voice and get past some of the cornier material and arrangements — I confess I was a huge Kay Starr fan. For a long stretch, I listened to her almost as much as Billie Holiday and Miles Davis. She was my favorite […]

A Sin To Stay Down: A Boont Noir (Chapter 8)

Javier sat cramped in the second van’s cargo area smothered in brightly colored piñatas; Sponge Bob Square Pants, Dora The Explorer, Emmo, classic Mexican burros, and a cluster of canteros where Satan lurked inside the clay centers and tempted you with the decorated conical points, one for each of the seven deadly sins. Alma had explained the history and superstition of the canteros to him one better day when they were stuffing one full of candy for Alfredo’s birthday. She had told him that their used to be eight deadly sins, but good Catholics only believed in seven.

A Sin To Stay Down: A Boont Noir (Chapter 5)

By the light of the moon, the last thing Javier thought he’d see in the middle of the barren Arizona desert were all these empty water bottles. No humans for miles, other than his group in loose single file behind their guide who picked a steady path through the dark like the lead cow of […]

A Sin To Stay Down: A Boont Noir (Chapter 4)

The electric gate wasn’t working and Ella had to get out of the truck and drag it open herself, which probably screwed things up worse and would make the gate harder to fix later, then she had to get back into the gargantuan gasguzzling Tundra that as an environmentalist she hated, drive the polluting monstrosity through the pie wedge opening, park on the outside of their property which had a steep incline just before the white line that marked the skirt of the two-lane highway – meaning some beer-drunk asshole could easily drift off course and hit her – set the parking break, get out again to close the stupid gate, and then climb back into the truck and hope the engine didn’t stall or the emergency brake didn’t slip. Rose was with her too, which made her worry even more about the beer-drunk assholes and the part where she had to leave the truck to close the gate.

A Sin To Stay Down: A Boont Noir (Chapter 3)

Behind the crumbling Anderson Valley High School, Billy Lee held a scuffed football on a weedy field that resembled an over-grazed cow pasture. It wasn’t going to seed, so much as becoming a miniature desert. The ground was harder than the parking lot out front but not nearly as smooth, pocked with gopher holes and tufts of star thistle. Nobody would call this crap turf.

A Sin To Stay Down: A Boont Noir (Chapter 2)

Javier didn’t recognize their faces, but he had seen the chairs before; white, plastic, cheap. Stackable. Their center of gravity was off kilter. They strained, almost buckled on weak, ill-designed legs to hold the nine men reclining with their heads lolled back in the middle of the traffic roundabout in the center of town. If […]

A Sin To Stay Down: A Boont Noir (Chapter 1)

“I should have buried Dad here,” Billy Lee Riley thought, standing in the unfinished grave up on Panther Rock, digging deeper with a pointed shovel – the wrong fuckin’ tool for the job. Outside the hole was a dead Mexican. Billy Lee’s father had told him more than once that you should always use the […]

Letter from Paris (to Ishmael Reed)

All is well here at our house. Religious fanatics were on other side of town. But religious fanaticism is a threat all the way around the globe. Not just the Islamic stripe either. And freedom of press under siege everywhere as well. One could write a novel about all the connections from Bible times to […]