Voice (25)


Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, ‘Nigger.’

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.


How Well Do You Know Your City?

YOU DON’T only traverse L.A. via its boulevards, streets and avenues. So much of what we learn and understand about the city is a busy map that’s comprised of personal experience, memory and ever-evolving point-of-view.

This weekend we will be gathering at a few spots around the city to talk about what’s not always easily discernible on the city’s East-West/North-South gird. And,  while we’re at it, we’ll be celebrating publication of LAttidudes: An Angelenos Atlas.

If you’d like to join in, this weekend you have a couple of events to choose from:

Saturday the LAttidues crew will be A Clockshop in Elysian Valley (AKA Frogtown) for an event called “Uncovering LA” It will be in an opportunity for readers and Atlas writers to interact. Guests will spend 5-10 minutes with each writer, rotating from table to table at the sound of a bell. Josh Kun, Wendy Gilmartin, Michael Jaime-Becerra and I will be on hand sharing stories from our essays. (I’ll be reading a little bit from my essay, “The View from the Air” — about L.A. radio).  Atlas editor, Patricia Wakida will join us as well — and Josh and I will be “spinning” music after the talks are through.

Your admission includes on the house tacos plates (vegetarian optinos) by María Amezquita. Special drinks based on LAtitudes by mixologist Forrest Hudis will also be available for purchase.

Sunday is the LAttitudes Launch Party @ Skylight Books

May 3, 2015
5:00pm 7:00pm
Skylight Books
1818 N Vermont Ave in Los Feliz

There will be readings, a presentation by cartographer David Deis about what went into the design of the maps, and a signing afterward. Also, you’re encouraged to join the short walking tour beforehand (at 4pm). Led by LAttidues contributors, the tour will begin at the Sunset/Vermont Metro station and will make Atlas-related stops along the way, finishing up at Skylight.

For more info about LAttidues and other upcoming events, please click here.

“Jelly Rests His Case”

THURSDAY WAS a research and reconnaissance day, sweeping mostly through East and South L.A, with Gary Krist, author of the excellent “Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans.” One of the highlights was finally visiting New Orleans pianist Jelly Roll Morton’s grave at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles. We were given a map as well as very precise directions to the plot/memorial. We trudged out under a somber sky and there he was, below a tree. I wished I’d brought along some sort of token offering, perhaps for next time.

“On 2pm on July 10 Jelly Roll Morton died in Los Angeles County Hospital, a victim of ‘cardiac decomposition’ due to ‘hyper-tensive heart disorder,’ according to the death certificate….On the morning of July 16, when the casket containing Morton’s body was carried inside, a church that could seat a thousand looked almost empty. Fewer than a hundred people assembled to mourn a man who had helped bring the sound of jazz to the world . . .The newspapers barely noted the passing of the first great composer in the American music the world embraced as jazz, but Down Beat devoted several pages to the man’s demise. One headline though, said it all: “Jelly Rests His Case.”

— from “Jelly’s Blues: The Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton” by Howard Reich and William Gaines

And here’s a little bit of that “Spanish Tinge” that JRM loved so much. Thanks for the suggestion GK:


LA Times BookFest – 2015


JAM PACKED weekend. Was able to participate in a great panel in which we discussed the changing landscape of California and the challenges of covering it as reporters. I wandered into some good conversations and eavesdropped on others. L.A. was out in full force.
Until next time.

L.A. Off Map

It’s here … A collection of maps and essays that swerve off the city’s formal grid. LAttitudes: An Angelenos Atlas maps L.A.’s more abstract or hidden territories.   I write about traveling the city via the radio band and what one  might learn about Los Angeles if you only had radio as your guide. 

For more, stay tuned.