By Tom H. Brooks 3
“IF I HAVE TO EXPLAIN, YOU`LL NEVER UNDERSTAND……………………………………………..”
THE SHOW MUST GO ON….
The above photo is Ports O`Call Village in San Pedro at LA Harbor (if you`ve never been there, now you`ll have an idea of what a charming little place it is)
I really try to appreciate every little thing in this maelstrom, this chaos, this life. I appreciate this earth,
beneath the wondrous heavens and surrounded by the astounding things of nature and the manmade
alike. Every mountain, every pit, every building and every valley beneath the moon and sun and stars
and across the ice and the deserts and the jungles and oceans; from Ayers Rock to the pyramids, from
Easter Island to Calcutta, I must sing the praises of a world of mysteries, ever-expanding through fractured
landscapes of steel and splintered glass and colored neon signs and night time alleys and streets of
filth and glamour and rainbows and green valleys and forests of autumn fire. There is no stopping the
wonders; all one must do is open the eyes and see what lies before you, behind you, above and below;
all around, an unending universe of possibilities, unfolding like the petals of an infinite lotus flower, the
very center, the blossom of the cosmos, the junkpile of dreams, the good, the bad and the ugly, everything
and nothing, we spin around and around our sun through the great void of space and we dream our
Ali Baba!! The treasure is mine!! OPEN SESAME!!
“can`t sleep, gonna die,
can`t sleep, gonna die,
can`t sleep, gonna die…”
From here on out, it is all guesswork…
Others cannot go where I am going…
This journey is mine alone…
Standing at the bus stop in the middle of the 110 freeway in the foggy, pre-dawn darkness
is a surreal experience to be sure. The freeway overpasses are all around me, above, below,
and to the sides, a tangled cement web of thruways to somewhere else. I am enveloped in
a whirlwind of sound, whizzing, revving, honking, racing cars going every which way in this
frenzied commuting circus that some people call life.
It is now 6:34am and I am sitting with a morning beer (that`s right, NOT coffee) in an empty
and overgrown baseball field in San Pedro. I am on a broken bench of some sort and I am
watching the sun try to break through the mist over the harbor. I am congratulating myself
on being me and my G.P.S cleverness at ALWAYS finding good spots to hide and relax at
perfect moments. I can smell the bread baking at the Wonderbread factory next door mingled
with the exhaust stink fumes from nearby refineries and, of course, I light up a bowl of chronic.
There is also a slight greasy fish smell from the LA harbor but the smell of burning marijuana
soon takes care of that. The birds chirp and the diesel trucks grind their gears with a metallic
screeching, to and fro in the jagged throes of relentless industry. I won 2 dollars in the lottery.
That`s all they gave me. Oh well, better than nothing, it bought me this beer, which caused me
to discover this baseball field and this broken bench, which, in turn caused me to write this
letter across the years for you. Cause and effect.
Damn, I have to be the weirdest MOFO who ever lived. Or perhaps not. Whatever.
Either way, you won`t hear me complaining in a beautiful moment like this. I don`t know what
or when or where I`m going next. Perfect. The day lies golden before me, awaiting my presence
with open arms, like a road of diamonds into the sunset. The world is mine, ripe with possibilities
and sweet surprises. I walk out of the green field and into it….
Later, I spend at least 45 minutes talking to a cute and fascinating little old lady. She is an 86-year-old
German woman named Patsy Meizwinkel, born August 19, 1917, during World War One. She took a
liking to me right away and began reminiscing about everything from Havana, Cuba at 6 years old, to
Tokyo, Catalina, and working with the rhinos at the LA zoo. She talked about Ketchikan, Alaska and
Knob Hill in San Francisco where she was born. She had mischievous, sparkling blue eyes. She was
witty and full of life. She had a very expressive face and had a habit of imitating or posing like someone
to explain a story. She almost acted like a young girl sometimes, NOT an 86-year-old woman (although,
she looked it; she appeared in very good health.) A Leo, she appeared to like talking to me but she
also listened to my brief anecdotes and interjections. But frankly, I was more interested in her plethora of
tales. She was sharp, a little kooky like me, but by no means senile or unaware. Her stories had a constant
thread of narrative and precision that was too natural to be false, although she surely embellished like
all good storytellers do. When she was a young girl living with her family in Japan for awhile, the name
Patsy was `too boring`, so they gave her the name Hanako, Little Flower, so she told me. She had an
ancient green, old-school tattoo, thick lines of faded ink on her withered and skinny ankle. It reminded me
of an old man I knew in Lavallette, New Jersey at the Crab`s Claw Inn. He had a sexy hula girl on his forearm
and when he flexed his muscle, she wiggled her body. Point being, old folks, old stories, fascinating, if they`re
not batty or flat-out liars. Patsy was just a pure character and a sweet little thing. Surely, if I make it that
far, I`ll be quite a classic old bastard as well. Anyway, she spoke clearly with a little memory lapse pause
now and then, which is natural when you`re eighty-fucking-six! Her quote of the day was, “And now, I`ll
NEVER know why, `cause they`re ALL DEAD and it irks the hell out of me!” She was most likely once
a rebellious, sassy little thing with an adventurous life to match. She talked about typhoons in Japan,
crash landings in Alaska, and rhino shit at the LA zoo. Frankly, she cracked me up. She has been coming
to Ports O`Call for 30 years to match my 20 and at last we meet. Who knows, maybe I see her again
one day. For some reason, she gave me a pinecone to remember her by. I may have lost the pinecone
by now, but I`m still gonna remember her…
Like I said before, I hope I am that full of life if I make it to that ripe old age. Or maybe I`ll be one of those
grumpy old bastards who wishes he were dead. Anything is possible. I think I`ll try for the former….
Later, as I`m rolling on a bus north on Avalon through Wilmington, I realize how much I`ve missed these
long distance adventures of mine during that damn bus strike. It`s good to be back on the circuit…
All over the city today, buses, trains, and my skateboard…from San Pedro to Downtown, from Echo Park
to Los Feliz, from Filipinotown to Thaitown, from Little Armenia and back to Hollywood after dark, I just
keep rollin`, baby….that`s right, I skateboarded home from Downtown to Hollywood via Sunset Blvd and
some side streets….I cannot be stopped….
When I look into my eyes in the mirror and think about all the fun I have,
I just smile and nod to myself in silent and wordless understanding…
“Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”
Paradise Motel at Sunset and Beaudry is the seediest and saddest hotel
I`ve seen in a while, probably one to rival the Town and Country on
Cahuenga. This place is about as far from `paradise` as I`d ever care to get…
Where`s my camera when I need it?
“Does anything we say really matter if we say it? Maybe if you say it
10 times and keep yelling…”
“A screenplay is a story told with pictures.”
The most important sentence in “Screenplay” by Syd Field…..
There; now you don`t need to read the book. Chances are
you`ll never write or sell a screenplay anyway…
beginning; Act 1 | middle; Act 2 | end; Act 3
set up pgs. 1-30 | confrontation 30-90 | resolution 90-120
(plot point 1) (plot point 2)
pgs. 25-27 pgs. 85-90
There, got it?
“A man does what he can until his destiny is revealed.”
IF YOU CAN`T KEEP UP, GET OUTTA THE WAY!!
“For those of you interested in madness, yours or mine, let me tell you a little about mine…”
“That this is the Gift
and I am ill with it;
it has sloshed around my bones
and brings me awake to stare at walls…”
The greatest thing about television;
YOU CAN TURN IT OFF WHENEVER YOU WANT TO…
or better yet, just LEAVE IT OFF ALL THE TIME…
Are you tired yet of this regenerated swill? No problem…
YOU TELL ME A STORY, GENIUS STARCHILD….
THE CENTER OF THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
(And Other Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption…)
TRY TO MAKE SENSE OF ?
“But after all, when one is speaking of the essence of things, it often happens that one
can only speak in generalities. Concrete things certainly do command attention, but
they are often little more than trivia. Side trips. The more one tries to see into the distance,
the more generalized things become.”
“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”
LIFE IS THE ART…
There is a rock waterfall on the street downtown at Figueroa and 9th…
“What most moved me in his letter was the sense of frustration that permeated his words;
the frustration of never being able to depict or explain anything to his full satisfaction.“
Hotel Figueroa at Olympic;
a CLASSIC find…off the beaten path; a beauty…
“Hotels to me, seemed a place for people with nowhere else to go.”
Oh, come on, Paul. I got places to go, I just like to use their pools…
A pioneer of the wastelands;
I have skateboarded hundreds of miles through Los Angeles…
I have traveled much in LA….
One of my rings I just hung in a tree in Pershing Square, why not, I say?
I like to leave my mark where I travel.
Sometimes, I just piss there like a dog…
Took a ride through Skid Row…..
They say they`re `cleaning it up.`
Well, if that`s the case, they have A LOT of work to do, `cause it`s FULL of scumbags as always…
On the 6th Street bridge at 2pm, with a beer…
Chillin` in East LA at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights, no problemo, esse….
Why is it these areas with amazing and historical houses end up being `ghettos`?
I, for one, think they`re great. I love them for their history and architecture and
their decrepit nature and feeling of quiet, hopeless desolation…
sometimes I think that we live through things just so we can say they happened….
We live to beat the odds…
Skateboarding through Lincoln Heights, Across the LA River, Elysian Park, Chinatown…..
In the part of the LA river where I like to lurk, they have whitewashed all the graffiti
completely bare…..Oh, it`ll be back within a week.
In the center of the LA River, MY street painting that I put there 3 or 4 years ago has
been partially mutilated by black, spray-painted illiterate chollo scrawlings. It`s still
visible though and I don`t care `cause it was inevitable and it gives it character….
It`s funny, EVERY chain link fence in downtown LA has been cut with wire cutters….
there is no stopping the human swarm…
“Under the bridge downtown…..”
Under the Spring Street Bridge at 4:20pm blazing a fat joint….
The sun goes down behind the towers of Downtown LA as I sit on a grassy, tree-lined
hilltop in Elysian Park with a beer….
Chinatown Nights…..Hop Louie`s and Grand Star Cafe jazz bar; saw that character, Harry from Maui again….
A nasty little Chinese rent-a-cop outside Hop Louie`s; as I walked with my skateboard, he says, “no skateboard
in heah!” I laughed inside but on the outside I gave him an angry glare and slowly and deliberately set my
skateboard on the ground and rode away through the mall at full speed. He tried to give chase but I was already
pulling out onto Broadway laughing when he came into sight again; see you in hell, ya little bastard…
Vine and Yucca; back in Hollywood; there is some kind of candlelight vigil at John Lennon`s star. Is Dec. 8th
the day John was shot? Anyway, Imagine…..
“You may say I`m a dreamer, but I`m not the only one…”
I just found a wallet with around $120.00 on the counter at 7-11 and I decided to turn it in to my boys. See? Temptation
called but honesty won the day. The guy came back while I was still there and didn`t even say thank you….scumbag….
I should have taken it. Karma will be my reward…
Maybe not…..I almost got hit by a car that ran a red light on the street…..
Home Sweet Home
skiing down Mount Stupid
right back into the madness….
“Never allow the flow to be obstructed. Always go with the current of the flow. When it is time for you to go up, find the
highest tower and climb to the top. When it is time for you to go down, dig the deepest well you can and go down to the
The smell of pencils reminds me of elementary school.
(^ this was written in pencil ^)
“People don`t always send messages in order to communicate the truth, just as
people don`t always meet others in order to reveal their true selves. Do you grasp my meaning?”
“In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment.”
Just me and the girls for a home-cooked dinner in West Hollywood;
Mena, Andrea, and the hot German babe, Karola….followed by hot oil massages.
No, I`m NOT kidding and YES, I am very, very HAPPY to be me.
” `you can`t mess with free will.`
`can I ask why?`
`Yes! that`s the beauty of it!` “
LIFE IS THE ART
BE THE MIRACLE
For all mortal men,
there is no safe place…
“He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
and the herb for the service of man…“
Rastafarians LOVE this line and so do I…..SMOKE IT!
“Some mon jus deal wit information. An some mon, him deal wit
da concept of truth. An den some mon deal wit magic. Information
flow aroun ya, an truth flow right at ya; but magic flow right t`rough ya…”
(A Jamaican Bush Doctor)
“Facts an facts, tings and tings; dem`s a lotta bullshit, mon. Hear me;
Dere is no truth but de one truth, an dat is da truth of Jah Rastafari…”
And home again, by candlelight…
I dream the visions….
and all is well in the land of Nod….
Sometimes, I set my alarm for EARLY morning, just so I can wake up
and KNOW that I DON`T have to get up….
I had a dream that I was standing on a mountain top holding a pack
of Tarot Cards and they all blew away except for one;
I was left holding The Magician……what does this mean?
I just saw a big fat motorcycle cop; complete with a mustache and
mirrored aviator sunglasses with a giant half-smoked cigar stuffed
in his hammy jowls….
WHY do I not bring my camera everywhere I go?!?
“We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…
Today, if you go up on hilltop in Las Vegas and look west, you can
almost see the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
Hunter S. Thompson
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
A sunbeam shone directly through the window on my face, right in my eyes…
Literally, I was blinded by the light….
Sunset 4:38pm the same day…
a surreal color pattern and waving palm leaves in the window of #309, Blake`s and Dave`s place….windy!
“Oh, I`m a character…”
“Brothers you should KNOW, not believe…”
“The latest sleeping on my pillow
catches window lamplight
through the mists of alcohol…”
Bukowski (slightly revised by me….)
12/12/03 217 bus….a crazy old black dude`s monologue about crack;
he seems to be quite an advocate…
he looks it too…
If you can`t find your own personality,
that`s your problem…
“Don`t forget who you are and where you stand in this struggle…”
“TV and nightmares have joined forces to teach me a lesson…”
“Here now on this rail car rattling across Corsica under the massive benevolence of this godlike
mountaintop–this for the moment was all that mattered to me, and I was reminded of the intense
privacy, the intimate whispers, the random glimpses that grant us the epiphanies of travel.”
“The Pillars of Hercules”
“The Grey Havens” …sail into the light….someday, this will be me…
“Life is one big road with lots of signs,
so when you`re riding in the ruts
don`t you complicate your mind…”
A.D.D.+lack of interest=0
I DIG MY OWN GRAVES EVERY DAY;
I HAVE SO MANY GRAVES NOW,
I COULD DIE A THOUSAND TIMES OVER…
“The Art of public life lies in knowing when to stop,
and then going a bit further…”
Saki (H.H. Munro)
12/18/03 A Day of Contrasts
Alone, I sit on Venice Beach, staring at the vast ocean on a screaming, white-hot LA day,
especially for this time of year. It is high noon and the beach is nearly empty. The sea
is calm and a modern day remake of a Spanish Galleon is moving slowly south along the
coastline for no good reason except to make my day better and more surreal…
walking along the water`s edge, the inside of intact mussel shells shining metallic silver in the bright light…
High noon reggae music on the Venice boardwalk…
“Look thy last on all things lovely every hour…”
12/18/03 A Day of Contrasts (continued…)
Venice in the morning followed by Downtown in the afternoon into evening…
I`ve been EVERYWHERE today…pure madness, as only I can do it. It is now 5pm, dusk
on a Xmas season winter`s eve and I just made a full-speed banzai skateboard run down
an upper Broadway street miraculously devoid of traffic. Between Temple and 1st Street,
I FLEW, gliding effortlessly down smooth asphalt in the purple light. It is now me sitting
on quiet bench beneath an electric blue-lit sky turning into black, writing this future memory…
I look up at the pyramid atop City Hall, a beacon lit against the approaching dark of night…
A big fucking rat just ran across the street…
I`m now standing amidst crickets, trees and waterfalls under the night sky in the middle of a
vast metropolis. I am in the “1000 Cranes” restaurant Japanese garden rooftop at the New
Otani Hotel in Little Tokyo. Nobody but me….the town, the night is mine…
Olvera Street by night at Xmas, very active, traditional shows, many people, Feliz Navidad music,
a manger scene, Xmas lights…..the whole bit. I sit alone in the plaza and I watch the Latino
families enjoying the traditional dress and dancing and music and little girls and boys laughing
and smiling….there`s even a piñata with the blindfold and the candy…
I get sick of all the ethno-phobic white folks on the West Side that are afraid to go east of Crenshaw;
this is why I wander the strangest, unknown-to-tourists areas of LA. It is almost as if I`ve been to
China, Japan, Central America, Mexico, Jamaica and Ethiopia today….
Sitting in Chinatown at 7:45pm for no good reason. Just had a beer and a smoke in an empty dark
parking lot. Now, I`m under a streetlamp reading Paul Theroux…
Topping off my epic day…..finished my Theroux book at Union Station by the water fountain trickling
in the empty side garden. Now I will take the red line subway home to Hollywood, have another beer,
smoke some herb, and shoot some rockets off into the night sky with Dave. Then, I`ll sleep like a baby…
I must thank the Universe for this GREAT day…
“It was something to dream about, for unvisited places inspired greater dreams than places I had seen.
The existence of the unknown was the wellspring of my dreams.“
“The Pillars of Hercules”
Back to stupid work….it`s lucky I had that adventure yesterday in the good weather because the
weather switched today…it`s fucking cold!
FOR A STATEMENT
Music of the City
Thoughts fall upon me
on this gloomy Sunday morning
like a gentle mist
The streets are damp
although I don`t have either…
down avenues of broken dreams,
and the lost morals of yesterday
are gone like cars on
the Hollywood freeway
They hiss by on wet asphalt
like motorized snakes
A morning like this
invokes deep thoughts
and deeper memories
All that has been lost
in every cloud
and the sorrowful
music of the city
goes on and on
through the rivers
and the gutters
of dirty water
Yes, the song
despite the fact
that few people
seem to be listening
and even fewer still,
cartoon vision, two-dimensional….
my head feels like a helium balloon
tethered by a frayed string….
NOBODY GET HURT…”
“The person with the fewest possessions is the freest…
Thoreau was right.”
I`m a firm believer in Rimbaud`s ideas about the disorganization of the senses…
Each day is a new masterpiece
EYE OF THE MAELSTROM
THERE IS NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT
FOR MORE PROCRASTINATION
A MAJOR PROJECT
IS IN THE WORKS…
I`LL JUST GO AHEAD AND
DO THAT TOMORROW….
is stitched into
the fabric of time,
woven into our lives
and intricate precision
is a new tile
in a vast mosaic
that tells a million
call out from the void
opening new doors
looking through windows
on new realities
There is no end
to this road
so we move onward
to a light
that is infinite
seems tantalizingly close
yet somehow just out of reach…
“To deny your instincts in life or love is to be dead.”
David Bateman (Can you BELIEVE Bateman said this?!?)
I have to wonder if he was quoting someone…
I guess I`ll never know for sure….
“keeps turning up like a bad penny…”
It is an indisputable fact that older Hollywood buildings from the 1920s and 1930s have retained
much more class and elegance than the dilapidated and deteriorating buildings of clapboard and
aluminum and cheap stucco that were thrown together hibbledygibbledy in the 70s. Old Hollywood
is the beautiful Hollywood of dreams; the newer stuff is just plain SAD….
“YOU`LL NEVER SEE THE CROC THAT EATS YA, MATE…”
I`m dreaming of a GREEN (bud) Christmas….
suck on that, fanatics…
Cops are edgy this morning. I see them on the Boulevard pulling up on ALL the hoodlums for `morning cleanup.`
I was sure they were gonna roll up on me too but I got lucky. I saw them do a 180 degree high-speed peel out
turn in the middle of Hollywood and Cahuenga, mothafuckin Starsky and Hutch up in here…..!
“We live, we die,
and death not ends it…
Back in those days
everything was simpler
and more confused
Where are the feasts
we were promised?
Where is the wine,
the New Wine,
dying on the vine?”
Sometimes I feel like there is a GIANT gulf between me and the rest of humanity….
and I really can`t say why…..? ? ?
New Year`s Day 2004
The bus driver was the cutest little black girl I`ve ever seen, maybe 20 years old with an Edie Sedgewick 60s haircut.
NOT a bad way to start the New Year….indeed…..
“OH, LOOK AT THE DELICATE GENIUS!”