That October, before my ninth birthday, Santa Ana winds blew the bark off eucalyptus trees and brought a wildness to the San Fernando Valley. At school, windows rattled and trash barrels bellowed across blacktop. The air smelled of acorn dust and asphalt, and everything, including me, twitched and sparked with static electricity. . . read more

Views Views Views

It's not you—it's this town that turns everything into a story where sooner or later it all connects and gels into metaphor, blatant as sunset. . . read more

Kon Tiki

I have always been soothed by the presence of tikis, drawn to the artificial jungles of Polynesian restaurants and bars. Although I appreciate actual sand and water, and temperate, plumeria-scented air, I prefer my paradise condensed into tropical grottos with Naugahyde booths. . . read more

The Smokehouse

“Here, Ben,” my father said, holding out a mossy stone. “See how it’s flat on the top and rounds out real nice on the sides? Get some wider ones shaped this way fer the base, then we’ll graduate ‘em up to ‘bout this size to finish. Yez unnerstand?” I hoped to hell I did. . . read more

Continental Divides

I finger a smooth green stone from a vendor’s table. “Is this jade?”. . . read more

Big Bill's Ride-at-Your-Own-Risk Thrills

There she goes. Leslie’s skirt flips over her head and I can see she’s wearing her Sunday panties even though it’s Friday . . . read more

Where The World Is

It is a rich aroma, an earthy perfume, the scent of freshly turned soil. It exudes through. . . read more

$5000 Kitchen Remodel

You'd think the color scheme in our 1950s kitchen would have prompted us to act sooner. The plywood cabinets and walls were painted in various tones of ocher, with a matching sheet-vinyl floor. The vintage O'Keefe & Merritt stove (with patented Grillevator) was pale avocado. . . read more


Through the wall, the rush of water, my daughter’s voice—singing the Decemberists’ “Infanta.” We’ve never been to Boston; we’re here to look at colleges over Thanksgiving break. Not Harvard. She likes Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence. I’m glad she’s an artist—I get the chance to understand more