Tag Archives: los angeles

The LA Zine Fest Reading

la_zine_fest_reading_posterI’ll be one of the readers at the official LA Zine Fest Reading this year. Click the image or here for more info.


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Piltdownlad #8 – The Olympic Spirit


Piltdownlad #8:

The Olympic Spirit and Other Stories

Stories from the San Gabriel Valley

“The Baudrey Boys”
At the house there were five of us. We were a pack a marauding pre-teens, wandering the streets of the neighborhood, always on the prowl for trouble. Or candy. Whichever came first.

“The Olympic Spirit”
The Olympics were in town. We were just as excited as everybody else. But not about the sporting events. No, we were psyched about the McDonald’s promotional game called, “If The US Wins You Win.” The prizes were McDonald’s food, which was the holy grail of all fast food. It was the best summer of our lives.

Emmaus sucked hardcore. It was better than public school, but we had the stink of poverty and ridicule on us. And the upper class kids had their own methods for keeping the weak ones down.

“A Totally Different Head”
We all had our own theories on how to blow thirty million in thirty days. Mine was foolproof. I’d start a band. Hire all the best musicians and stage benefit concerts that rivaled anything by KISS or the Rolling Stones.

“Ditch Em”
As far as any of the adults could tell, Rick was a good influence. Around adults he was careful to find his manners. But out of view, he was a ceaseless provocateur. A Peter Pan to our Lost Boys.

“The Joyride”
“So here’s the deal: I work your stick and then you work my stick. A joyride for a joyride. Deal?”

The Summer of The Stalker
That summer, there was a killer on the loose. And high school was right around the corner.

“Marlboro Country”
Across from Mark Keppel High, between a dead end road and the faculty parking lot, there was a small patch of scrub with a few palm trees. This was Marlboro Country. Where the cool kids went to smoke. I lit a Benson & Hedges and tried to fit in.

“Parents without Partners”
For years, the old man sat there, taking the brunt of these dinner-time gripe sessions. Until one night, he set his fork down, calmly pushed back his chair, lifted up his plate and dropped it onto the table. Crockery and tuna casserole went everywhere. “Enough,” he said and walked out the door. Never set foot in the house again.

“The Bachelor Pad”
It was hard to believe that my own father lived in an apartment complex. I’d always thought of people who lived in apartments as different from us. Apartment people. Not Baudreys. We lived in run down houses that smelled like cat piss with old furniture covered in crayon graffiti and food stains. When the old man asked if I wanted to spend the night, I said, “Does the pope shit in the woods?”

typewritten | 52 pages | half-size | staple bound | color cover | illustrated


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The Lords of Altamont – LIVE

These photos are by Phil Kunin, taken at the Echo in LA, around 2003? Something like that. Great live band.





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The Teenage Candy Sales Racket


It’s funny how Junior Careers continues to pop up in the weirdest places.

Over the past few years I’ve had two encounters with kids claiming to sell for the same company I sold for when I was 12 and 13. They were not impressed by my stories, however. They, like I was no doubt when I was in their situation, just wanted to sell a box of candy and make that percentage.

I recently read this article from 2012 on an Indiana local news site. The kids are saying they’re from Junior Careers. They even use the same speech:

A few weeks later, I-Team 8 spotted two boys who said they were 13. Their sales pitch was familiar. The first teen, holding a brown box said, “I work for the Junior Career Program. The JCP is a program to help kids off the street and stay away from violence and drugs. I just wanted to know if you’d like to help us out today and purchase a box of chocolate.”

The Department of Labor is not too happy with Junior Careers In fact:

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Injuries, and even deaths, have occurred as the result of young children engaging in youth peddling activities.” These include “indentured servitude, physical and sexual abuse, and criminal activity.”

All to make that buck.

Oh, hey, check out one of the stories from my zine Junior Careers about my time selling candy door-to-door as a teenager in the San Gabriel Valley: “Primo Territory.”




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The Olympic Spirit

It was the summer of 1984. The Olympics were in town. Everywhere you looked there were advertisements for the games plastered on bus benches, newspaper boxes and billboards. Almost all the commercials on TV had something to do with the games. By the time the torch bearer lit the flame at the Coliseum, the city was rabid with Olympic fever. My brothers and I were just as excited as anybody else. But we didn’t care about the sporting events. We were psyched about the McDonald’s promotional game called, “If The US Wins, You Win.”

The concept was simple. The cashiers handed out game cards, no purchase necessary. All you had to do was ask. On the front of the cards was a round foil medal that you scratched off to reveal an Olympic event. If the US team won the gold medal in that event, you got a Big Mac. For the silver medal, you got fries. Bronze, a Coke.

Of course, we didn’t know shit about politics at the time, but the Soviet bloc had boycotted the games that year. So the US team, with very little competition, was kicking some serious ass. This meant lots of free McDonald’s food for us.

We ate at McDonald’s two or three times a day. Each morning we walked the five and a half blocks to the McDonald’s on Garvey to redeem our winning game cards and get new ones. In the lobby, they’d set up a board with the results of all the events. If we were lucky we got a card for an event that had already been played. Otherwise, we’d add the game card to our collection and wait.

It was the greatest summer of our young lives.

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Rickey the Pirate T-Shirt Fiasco – A Piltdownlad Excert


RIP Rickey “the Pirate” Taylor

I’ve always been grateful that I made amends with Rickey. Sometime after the events detailed below, I left LA for a few months and gave Rickey the final t-shirt, the one we’d been holding onto for ourselves. They were cool shirts after all. Rickey was ecstatic. Not just to have a shirt to sell, but I think he was also grateful to break the detente that had existed between us for months. Who knows. It was hard to tell with Rickey. When I returned, he ran down the street to greet me warmly, remembering I’d been away and noticing I’d lost weight on my journey. From then on, our encounters were short, but warm and friendly. I never gave him any money. Maybe he asked if we wanted to buy something a few times. He wasn’t pushy. He often tried to hug us or help with bags… the same old Rickey from before all this nasty t-shirt business. And then we moved to Oakland. During our last visit downtown in May, we saw Rickey. It was a pleasant reunion right there on the corner of Sixth and Spring. He tried to sell us a video camera. We kept it brief. Like always. Rest in Peace, Rickey. I’ve had a lot of beefs with people over the years, but none ended with truly letting bygones be bygones. You were a class act. There will only be one Downtown Pirate.


An excerpt from Piltdownlad #5.

Rickey illustration by Nick Knudson.

Downtown illustrations by Irina Dessaint.

Read more »

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Vintage Found Postcards: Watts Towers

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Photos from Griffith Park Fire – May 8, 2007

On May 8, 2007 a major wildfire erupted in Griffith Park that burned more than 817 acres (3.3 km), destroying the bird sanctuary, Dante’s View and Captain’s Roost, and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people. The fire came right up to one of the largest playgrounds in Los Angeles, Shane’s Inspiration, and the Los Angeles Zoo, and threatened the Griffith Observatory, but left these areas intact.

These photos were taken in front of my apartment on Evans Ave in Franklin Hills, up the hill from Marshall High School.

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A Celebrity Encounter

I used to sell books at the Melrose flea Market in Hollywood. It was fairly common to see minor celebrities. Michael Des Barres was a regular. Alice Cooper showed up periodically, as well as people like Richard Belsen, Kelly Lynch, Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jason Lee, that kid from Malcolm in the Middle, one of the guys from Freaks and Geeks. Lots of people you recognized from bit parts here and there. Most of the time I didn’t even notice, unless they came into my booth or one of my neighbors pointed them out. Occasionally I saw somebody who’s work I admired, like JG Thirwell, Chris D., or Laila Nabulsi. A couple weekends in a row Julie Delpy came into my booth. Of course I never said anything or showed any sign of recognition. But, still, it was cool to have an interaction with somebody who’s work means something to you.

One Sunday an older couple came into my booth and started looking at the books. The guy pointed at the copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby on the table and said something about how he hadn’t liked it. I asked if he liked Palahniuk’s other books, and we agreed that Fight Club was pretty good, though he preferred Invisible Monsters. I pointed out the copy of Survivor on the table that I considered a decent read. He said that one was good too. The woman said to the guy, “Oh, should I read that?” As I handed her the book I noticed she was wearing a Gun Club shirt. I told her they were one of my favorite bands. She goes, pointing to the guy, “He produced this album.” I looked at him and said, “Oh, yeah, what’s your name?” Thinking, they could very well be insane (you get a lot of crazies at the flea market as well). He shook my hand and said Chris. I said, “Chris? Chris who?” He shrugged and said, “Just Chris.” I looked closer at him and then at the woman, and then at the guy again and then at the woman. As the recognition sank in–I’m sure it was obvious on my face–the woman said, “Yeah, it’s us.”

Us being Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. (Chris Stein produced Miami, the second GC album and Debbie Harry sang on it, credited as DH Lawrence.)

It took about 8 1/2 seconds for the internal freak out to pass… Then, for some reason, I just went on talking about the Gun Club, the new documentary coming out and again about Palahniuk. I didn’t mention anything about being a member of the Blondie fan club when I was a kid, or how much I loved the band, or anything…

After perusing the books a little longer, she asked me how much for the copy of Survivor. $2. She gave me a five, I gave her change and they left.

End of story.

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Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing

From the Stuff I Wish I Still Had files:

Wet Magazine was an LA based magazine published between 1976 and 1981 by Leonard Koren. Wet inspired many zines that came out during the eighties as well as the desktop revolution of the nineties. Its focus was, as the masthead claimed, “gourmet bathing and beyond,” but it quickly incorporated many themes that defined the times: fashion, art, photography and punk. Wet started out as a one-man operation, but soon increased in circulation and staff. Besides the articles on bathing, the graphic design was a major part of the appeal, developing a style that represented both New Wave and Los Angeles.

I found several copies of the years:



Leonard Koren also wrote several great books on design, Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers, Gardens of Gravel and Sand, and, my favorite, Designing The Bath, which is out of print.


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