Thursday, January 28, 2010

On a personal note

Today I'm saddened to learn of the passage of a person whose voice I had never heard, but whose voice has been in my head for 40 years.

Author J.D. Salinger's voice reached me in 1970. I had just left the Army a little more than a year after I had returned from Vietnam. It was in an English class that we received what I consider a "gift assignment" -- to read his short story, "For Esme -- with love and squalor."

More than any piece of work by any writer, this moving, personal and oh-so-realistic story inspired me to write and gave me permission to find and embrace my own voice.

I didn't understand why, every time I read the story, my head released a tidal wave of tears and snot and everything else that goes along with mega-sobbing -- I didn't understand, that is, until 30 years later when I was able to find the direct links to the pain of the main character, J.D. Salinger himself.

Imagine that. I had an empathic bond with a superstar, albeit reclusive, writer.

For those who wish to know a little bit about what makes me tick a little off beat today, I urge you to read this wonderful story. Again, it's a short story -- short enough that you can actually give yourself the gift of a few minutes to embrace great writing and a poignant story.

It's one of the "Nine Stories" by J.D. Salinger that's available in most any bookstore. But you can also read it and even print it out from this link:

I urge you to share with me (and others if you wish to comment on this post) the manner in which this story touches a part of you.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Help me help a deserving veteran

Just a quickie posting to alert the world to an important yard sale in Pasadena.
The host is a disabled Iraqi War veteran who came home to find that her mother was about to lose the family house. Fatima Palaez needed help and, thanks to a couple blog readers, she was able to find an attorney to help them.

Fatima "Flaca" Palaez with her mother, Socorro Palaez.

Her beautiful mother died about a week ago and Fatima is putting on a yard sale to raise money for her mother's funeral. The sale is going on as I write this. It will continue on Saturday and Sunday, January 9th and 10th. The address is 500 N. Summit Ave. in Pasadena.

I'm certain that there will be some great bargains there. It's worth the drive if you live near there.
If you need directions or information, you can call Fatima (her friends call her "Flaca") at 626-216-1050. Her e-mail address is

Just to put her difficulties into some more perspective, several months ago someone murdered Flaca's infant nephew right there in their home. Now, her sister (the child's mother) had to go into the a witness protection program, so Flaca is caring for her surviving niece.

I can't even imagine what she's going through. Injuries from a war, post-traumatic stress disorder that has dragged her life to a halt, a fight over the family home, a mother with terminal cancer, a murder of a loved one in her own home and now the death of her mother.

But she served her country proudly. I hope you can visit the yard sale.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Great ATV Caper

Let me tell you a little about this video:

Larry and Donna Brusch made the local news back in the 1990s when word got out that they had teamed up to find his stolen all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and, at the same time arrested the thief.

At that time, I was supplementing my investigative reporting, lecturing and book writing income by chasing down breaking news stories at night and on weekends. If I was lucky, I could sell the raw footage I'd shoot to local and network television stations.

I don't believe that I was able to sell this story -- mainly because I shot it in Oceanside and it was next to impossible to deliver the videotapes to the Los Angeles TV stations within their news cycles.

But like the three previous videos I posted here, this one is finally finding its rightful place in the mass media. And like the other stories, I guarantee you that you're going to be able to view an update. This one, in particular, has a great follow-up story.

Oh, and would you be kind enough to click on the YouTube link on the video so you can rate it and maybe maybe make it your favorite on YouTube? And comments. It really helps if you can leave comments -- here on this blog and on YouTube. Why is it important? Because the more people who see my work, the more stories will come my way.