Yesterday marked the beginning of the twentieth year of my living in Southern California.
I came to Los Angeles in 1987, stayed with a friend from high school and liked the city enough to want to move from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Most of my first ten years in L.A. were spent either doing film work, working for the Glendale Public Library (during my first year) and working for the LOS ANGELES TIMES poll (for a time after I left Hollywood in 1997).
In 1998, my life changed for the better. I became involved in the Los Angeles poetry community (a more welcoming arena then; less so now where newcomers are concerned) and met the woman who became my wife.
The past almost-two-decades have been rather mixed. Some good moments working on films from what the late director Fred Zinnemann (who started out as an extra) called "the worm's-eye view." Some not-so-good moments (working on Barry Levinson's JIMMY HOLLYWOOD took about two years off my lifespan). Made some lasting friends (mostly through films and poetry) and also suffered fair-weather friends as well. Some very happy times, and some bouts with loneliness, depression and anger. And I miss my father, grandfather, father-in-law and mother-in-law; all of them passed away during the past three years. These days, whenever I see paramedics driving through the portion of the San Fernando Valley where I live, I start to wonder if I'll get to do all I aspire to in my remaining lifetime.
But I have a lot to look forward to. I'm working on a "legitimate" book called HOLLYWOOD POETRY (compiled from two self-published chapbooks), starting a once-monthly reading in Tarzana on the 15th--reading in Austin, TX (at the Austin International Poetry Festival) and San Diego in April. And, in May, my wife Valarie and I are going together to Hawaii to see a mutual friend; it's my first trip and her second.
During the first few months of my residency in SoCal, I was overwhelmed with depression. I knew almost no one here, and felt out of place and out of step with the more unsentimental lifestyles of people working in the lower levels of Show Business (it didn't help that I went to a photographer who charged $300 for mediocre headshots and composites--a lot of money for me at the time).
Late one afternoon, I had fleeting thoughts of suicide; a few minutes later, I decided it was far better to live and look forward to better days.
I'm very glad to have made that decision.