A magician with words

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Al Martinez, left, with me. The famous newspaper columnist spoke Tuesday night as part of Cal State Fulleton’s Communications Week 2009.

He saw San Francisco as a dream cloaked in fog, a magic city part Paris and part Brigadoon that didn’t exist anywhere else in the world. (on Herb Caen, 1997)


I have pinned on the wall next to me a lined piece of notebook paper on which is printed, “I love you mom.” It is written in black crayon i nthe careful hand of a child who might be 7 or 8 years old. … the piece of paper is special to me. I found it one day at the northern end of the Long Beach Freeway, in a lot once occupied by a group of homeless people.


I have a friend in Topanga named Arlo who is an unemployed actor and an animal activist and who each Thanksgiving lobbies me to preach mercy for the unfortunate turkey. “Arlo,” I said to him the other day, “don’t bug me about brutality to turkeys. I have a cold and a sore throat and am not in the mood to be merciful to anyone. Ask my wife.” “If you are feeling lousy today, Arlo replied testily, “imagine how the bird feels.”
(written on Thanksgiving Day, 1988)


Homicide Detective John St. John used to say that murder has a smell that lingers long after the bodies have been removed and the crime scene cleared.


I keep seeing the face of the boy, a child of 3, looking out at the world through troubled eyes. His expression is pensive, a look caught in the mmicrosecond of reflection, a thought emulsified on film, trapped and frozen, the fading spirit of a young life ended. Who killed Joey Phelps? The question haunts me.


Those are excerpts from some of the best columns by Al Martinez, former Los Angeles Times’ columnist. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed hearing him talk about writing and his life during Comm. Week at Cal State Fullerton Tuesday night.

He has always been one of my favorite columnists, one who injected prose in between the gray and grime of a daily newspaper. He continues his work on his blog (Al Martinez On Everything Else).



Honeycomb made of beeswax, left behind.

They came. They visited. They snubbed.

A pack of bees came to our side yard this week and took up temporary residence under the lid of our composter.

Yup, on Tuesday, my wife picked up the lid and saw the ball-o-bees swarming. It appeared like they were attaching themselves like a modest chandelier to the knob of the lid.

We pondered what to do for a few days. Finally, my wife (check out her blog for all the details) got in touch with a local beekeeper who said he would come to take the hive. By the time it got around to that, the bees had up and left.

I guess our house wasn’t good enough for them.

They left behind a cool calling card: a flexible honeycomb made of beeswax. I was told that they are eatable. But I said no thanks. If only they had left behind some honey…

Not done with local elections

Hang on to your punch cards. Two more elections are coming your way very shortly.

People of Monrovia need to get read to vote on Tuesday, April 14. Contested races include the mayor’s seat and the race for two city council seats.

I was in Monrovia Friday for the Family Festival and saw a bunch of supporters for Becky Shevlin holding signs at the corner of Mayflower Avenue and Huntington Drive. That’s the spirit!

Signs for Kirby, Garcia and Lutz were all over Myrtle Avenue shops. People should send in their letters to the editor before Saturday.

The Arcadia Unified School District is having an election the following week, Tuesday, April 21. There are three candidates running for two school board seats.

And then, all state voters must vote on May 19 for statewide ballot measures that, among other things, keep the fragile budget deal in place.

See you at the polls.

If I missed any upcoming election, do post a comment. We, too, are getting a bit election weary. Democracy takes work.

Prep All-Star classic tonight at APU

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Andy Scauzillo, a Temple City All-Star, goes to the rim during the TC Rams championship season.

I’ve been to two All-Star games so far and they’ve been quite exciting, Makes me think that this stuff is the real deal. Who needs the Final Four.

The games are tonight, Saturday, April 4 at Azusa Pacific University’s Felix Events Center, located on Foothill Boulevard (they call it the West Campus). To get there, take the Foothill (210) Freeway, exit Citrus Avenue and go north. Pass Alosta, pass the college on the right. Turn left at Foothill and the West Campus of APU is about one-quarter mile on the right hand side. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children and students. Buy tickets at the door. The girls game begins at 5:30 p.m. The boys game starts at 7:30 p.m. The slam dunk contest begins at 7 p.m.

Read the preview by Fred Robledo . You can also check out my column today by clicking the link or going to pasadenastarnews.com

See you there!