The longtime LA Times columnist died Monday at age 85 of congestive heart failure.
I met him in Pomona in 2009. He was at Pilgrim Congregational Church as part of the Big Read for Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” to talk about his career, which included a book about his dog, Barkley. I had him sign my copy of “Dancing Under the Moon.”
I was, darn it, too shy and awed to really engage him in conversation, what with so many people around, but I did write a few paragraphs about what I observed at the dinner afterward. Martinez and his wife, Joanne, whom he called in print Cinelli, her previous name, had a conversation about his speech that was much like the exchanges that enlivened his columns.
Martinez: Could you hear me all right?
Cinelli: I could hear you pretty well.
Martinez: What does that mean? Could you hear me or couldn’t you?
Cinelli: I could hear you fine.
Martinez: Then why did you say ‘pretty well’?
Cinelli: You don’t project.
LA Observed, the site where he continued to write after the Times retired him, has a tribute.