Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Jay, Jim, me and 10 bags of chips

Jay Leno autographs bags of chips in 1987 at his Beverly Hills home. I’m the terrorist-looking guy behind him. Photos by Jim Skovmand.

Recently, my old friend and colleague Jim Skovmand was searching for some papers on his computer when he came up with these photos, which he sent to me on Tuesday. What a great way to unlock a memory!

Jim and I joined the Copley Press organization around the same time, he in the photography pool and I with The (San Diego) Evening Tribune. The photo pool then was more like a deep lake – more than 50 photographers, editors, managers, and lab staff serving the Tribune and the rival morning paper, The San Diego Union.

As Jim recently pointed out, it took five years before we had an assignment together – that’s how big the new-gathering organization was in those days.

This was the assignment we shared and it was a doozie. 

Continue reading
Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

That time Romeo proposed to Juliet? Well, yes, but it wasn’t quite as we remembered


Davit Karapetyan’s proposal to Vanessa Zahorian came at the end of their performance in “Romeo and Juliet” with the San Francisco Ballet. We may or may not have been there to witness this amazing moment …

Last night, Rose and I watched the streaming performance of “Romeo and Juliet” by the English National Ballet. It was an exuberant performance of the Rudolf Nureyev production with the music of Sergei Prokofiev.

Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernández are the young lovers of Verona. The ballet was filmed in October 2015 at the Bristol Hippodrome.

Quite by coincidence, it was exactly 10 years ago — to the day — that we attended a performance of “Romeo and Juliet” by the San Francisco Ballet at the stately War Memorial Opera House.

Like I said, to the day. Continue reading

San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Remembering to dance like nothing else matters

Mural by Thomas Hart Benton


Enough. Stop.

 Let the outrage machine simmer.

Turn off the echo chamber. 

Take a breath. Exhale.

Invest six minutes in some simple joy. 

Maybe a memory or a YouTube video

Search for something like:

“Crazy good dancing”

And see what comes up.

Wantonly happy dancers

All legs and jazz and smiles

Effortless abandon belying the practice, practice, practice.

Lose yourself in the motion

In the ecstasy

In the rhythm and youth and heat and sweat.

Remember all the times you

Could have danced and chose not to.

Too late for regret but ample time

To remember.

And wonder if every step not taken

On some lacquered floor

Now rises up like bile,

Angry fingers dancing across a cold keyboard

Dance, dance in your room.

Dance, dance in your yard.

Dance, dance in the office.

Dance, dance in your cubicle.

Dance, dance in the post-op.

Dance, dance in the checkout line.

Dance, dance on ZOOM with everyone you know and strangers.

For once, we have the space to dance.

Social distancing creates its own stage.

Dance as if the sanity and safety

Of the whole world depends 

On your awkward, gangly, unique

Beautiful, joyous, free steps.

Don’t post, don’t throw more flames on

Facebook fires already consumed.

Step away from the keyboard

And dance, dance, dance.

Recall that long-ago Sunday trip

To storied Rosarito Beach Hotel,

Safely south of Tijuana’s gamey streets.

A womb of illusions and harmless fantasies,

Behind ancient stone walls,

 And thick oak doors. An escape

For those who could not afford a flight,

Could not afford a house in Palm Springs,

Missed the invite to Malibu.

The bar on the bluff

Overlooking the crystalline capped surf

Contained like a landscape in glass windows

And tinkling bar glasses

All glass and lapping cerulean expanses.

Like flying. Above it all.

With a white baby grand on a lemon oak-panel floor.

And kids, Hollywood kids

Refugees from the studio lots and unemployment lines

And waitress jobs, and parking lots

All tumbled down to Rosarito, answering a primal cry 

For something exotic, something foreign

Something away, just far enough away

To rekindle thwarted dreams

Here, in the Rosarito’s bar

We’re all somewhat mysterious celebrities,

Stars on the lam, like Gable, Lombard, Bogie.

Bar the doors to the imaginary paparazzi,

Warm up the piano, 

Let the revue begin! What

Did they say … Let’s put on a show!

Kids with a thick dossier of rejections

And even more talent

Leap to the floor

Singing and dancing with abandon

Sweaty abandon, finely honed and practiced abandon

From high school musicals and college debuts

And second rows on stage

And gaudy rock-star glutted stripper bars.

Icy margaritas fuel scorching  moves, 

torching songs.

Saucy, sultry, racy chops

Designed for the lines of thin summer dresses

And nicely fitted khaki slacks and T’s.

Star-struck dreams are tossed, 

With flaming hot ambitions, 

Into the dance floor bonfire,

Like nothing matters, when

Come Monday,

Everything will.

But not now, god willing, not now.

Now is only the music and the chops

And the hothouse air and tropic sun

And shimmering mirrored ocean below

And Spanish exclamations from smiling bartenders

And the illusion that we are all 

In a Cinemascope Technicolor

Foreign film, the script of which,

Is within our own power

To write.

Every moment is a closeup

Everyone is a star. Everyone is

Hitting it big.

Monday is an opening-night away.

More margaritas, amigos.

More music, more dance, more song

For up North, a thousand more

Just like us

Are having their dreams coddled and crushed

On the mercilessly hot streets of Hollywood.

But not you, not me

Not today.

The war will still be raging when we return.

 But we will rejoin the fray with smiles

A new, fresh look for the face. 

Isn’t that worth it?