Melrose, A Story From Broken


I was driving through Hollywood one day, with my son and my nephew. And the huge difference in class hit me. I’m at a stoplight on Melrose and right in front of me is a guy in a $100,000.00 Mercedes and to my right, on the sidewalk, is a homeless guy digging out cans. I asked them to look over. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it would be a “Stay in School” speech. But it came out more like, this world isn’t fair.

I know for a fact that without family and that safety net that I could’ve been that guy in the trash can. And the guy in the Mercedes would not have batted an eye at me.

Heading out of Hollywood, on Highland between Hollywood and Franklin, I see two police officers walking along, uniforms crisp and pressed, laughing and talking. They walk past a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk against a building. They don’t look over or notice.

Then an idea hit me. What if it was a requirement for every police officer to carry a stack of postcards listing every place that had things for the homeless? Restaurants that gave free coffee, organizations that gave free blankets, soup kitchens, missions that offered a cot for the night, any place that could help the homeless, hell even libraries that throw out old books.

The officers had to give one out to every homeless person they passed when they were on foot. Might sound nutty, but I see dozens of pages on Facebook to help animals (nothing wrong with that), but what about the people we treat like animals?

#michaelessington #broken





Richard Ramirez, A Story From Salvation

Back in the late eighties, I was dating a girl whose brother was a sheriff with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. They had to put in two years at one of the County Jails before they could go out on patrol.

On one of his first duties at County Jail was to watch Richard Ramirez. He told me that with “High-Profile” inmates they had to be monitored 24/7. And all of their activities written in fifteen-minute increments. For example, 8:00 inmate sleeping, 8:15 inmate using the restroom.

Ramirez would creep the guards out; he would be in a deep sleep, then jump out of bed and launch into some kind of Kung-Fu/tai chi thing for an hour. Or spend 12 hours staring at the wall, smiling.

Some sheriffs would volunteer for these types of celebrity inmates, but my friend would pass after that first night.

#michaelessington #salvation



Honoring Death, A Story From Salvation

Over the last decade, I have noticed that how we, as a society, deal with death has changed so much since I was a kid. Growing up death wasn’t talked about much and neither were those that passed on.

Nowadays, every other car I pass by has a tribute on their window, a nickname with the date of birth and date of passing.

I was out doing errands and I passed by a street corner and there were about eight women kneeling down crying and lighting religious candles. There were close to fifty candles around the street sign, along with balloons, letters, and poems. Over the years I’ve become accustomed to the candles on the corner, but this felt like I crashed a private funeral. It was sorrowful.

Another thing I’ve seen a lot of (and I had to look up the meaning) is the spray-painted white bicycles. I see one at least once a day.

So I guess my thought was, is there much more death or are we more open and vocal about death?

In the seventies, no one I knew would have taken a candle to the curb.

#michaelessington #salvation



A Writer, A Story From Salvation

I always wanted to write.

Stories that would resonate with the common man. The guy that shines shoes or sells flowers by the freeway.

I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the volcanoes on Mars. Or about the guy that is looking for an electrical plug for his Tesla.

So, when I get hounded for not buying a house twenty years ago, I don’t know how to explain that I wasn’t meant for that life.

I was meant for subway rides at night. Backroom scuffles. Women that I don’t need, but mostly I was meant for words on paper.

Lastly, a few empty wine bottles.

#michaelessington #salvation



The Burning of The Dream, A Story From Last One To Die

Years ago, my dad and I had an argument on the phone one night and it resulted in us not talking for two or three years.

While this was going on with my dad, I was also not in communication with my mom or brother. After two years of this, I missed my dad.

I’ve gone through this with my mom and brother a few times. But it bothered me with my dad. I never saw him as being this petty.

So after a shit-load of soul searching and talking to myself, I decided I was just going to go to his house to see what would happen. My wife was pregnant, and I figured a little one coming into the world would be a great reason to end a quarrel. No calls, no letters, just a pop-up. If he didn’t want me there, he could tell me to take a hike or hit me.

He opened the door and said “Hey Mike, come on in. I hear you got a baby on the way.” I walked in and we talked for a few hours and made plans for lunch the next week.

This was a case of us both sulking and then time just getting away from us. No hatred or petty bullshit. We were mad and then once we saw each other we put it behind us.

It’s a good thing too because, inside two to two-and-a-half years, my father would pass away.

In this time period, we shared a lot of conversations, music, and lunches. One of my favorite stories is this:

My dad and I ate lunch at a little Mexican restaurant called Vic’s on Tampa and Sherman Way in Reseda. I’m not sure if the place is still there. My dad and I hold the record for napkins used in a single meal. Pass by our table and you see dozens of balled up napkins all over the table.

Anyway, we’d eat lunch there at least once a month and then grab a cup of coffee somewhere and hit a bookstore, or record shop.

This afternoon, we would have a two for one. We headed down Tampa towards Borders bookstore, to read, drink coffee and shoot the shit.

We hop in the car going north on Tampa and for those of you who know the Valley, we get to the Pony Rides (near Parthenia) and there is a crosswalk there with no light. Dad is busy chatting away and doesn’t notice the crosswalk until the last second. He stops two-feet before these two twenty-something guys. I say nothing because I can tell he’s shaken. But the guys crossing the street weren’t so smart. One guy throws his hands in the air while mad-dogging my dad and says “What the fuck, man?” The other guy does the finger.

My dad was a tough ole guy and wasn’t going to take any shit, so he jumps out of the car and says: “What did you say?”

These two clowns decided to be tough and surround my dad. My dad was 58 or 59 at this time. Through all of this, no one saw my fat-ass in the car. As the two started to get close to my dad, I shot out of the car and said something melodramatic like “You fuckers are dead.”

One of the guys started to bolt, I reached out to grab him, but he was moving so fast all I could do was give him a kick in the ass.

So, I turned to the other guy, who was now the target of my anger and said “You think you’re a bad-ass, trying to fight an old man? You fucking punk!” He turns to face me as I have my hand around his throat, with his voice shaking and says “I was scared, man! I thought he was going to run me over!”

“Bullshit, ” I say, “scared guys don’t flip people off, or curse people out.” I then lifted this guy off the ground and tossed him onto the hood of my dad’s car.

Then, as I have my arm cocked back and ready to put a little dent on this guy’s nose, my dad honks the horn and yells at me to get into the car.

I yank the guy off the hood and toss him into the street. He scampers away like a crab.

I get in the car, buckle up and get ready to ask my dad how he is? Did he get hurt, etc.? He unloads: “What the hell are you doing?! You have to control your temper! Were you trying to kill that guy,” etc.?

My jaw dropped a bit. All I could get out was “No, sir.” But in the back of my mind, I was yelling: “I just saved your ass. I did what any son would do if they saw two guys coming to whip ass on one of their parents.” But I didn’t say that I just nodded and let him chew me out and tell me about my temper.

I told you all that to tell you all this:

In early 2004 I was given a flyer for a Hell’s Angels show, by one of my delinquent friends. I tell my dad about it, as we were both bike fans. Jesse James was going to be showing a couple of his bikes there and Chuck Zito, of the New York chapter, was going to stop by. So, dad and I thought it would be a cool thing.

We get to the place in Woodland Hills, find parking and start walking around. My eyes light up when I come across a few parts built by Arlen Ness. Met him, with my dad in the ‘70’s and he’s been a bit of a hero ever since.

Anyway, after we walk around for a while, we sit down for a minute and my dad turns to me and says: “Look, I’m not feeling really well today, so if you start some shit today, I won’t be able to back you up.”

My jaw drops, for a number of reasons. First, I didn’t start the shit we were in last time. He almost mowed people down and then jumped out of the car. Second, if I was feeling feisty and wanted to start shit, would I be so bold as to start shit at a Hell’s Angels convention?

So, I was a good son and said: “No problem. If I decide to take on the Angels, I’ll leave you out of it.” He gave me a look, and then said: “Yeah, let’s go to lunch.”

As we head towards Tampa, on our way to Vic’s, I give my dad a glance. As crazy as he seemed sometimes, I love him. Never in a million years did I know on that day that I would be delivering his eulogy in a year.

I miss him every day.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie



The Paper, A Story From Salvation

In September 1983, at the start of my senior year in high school, I was put into journalism class. They required me to take an English elective; journalism class fits the requirements, so I took it.

The teacher was a guy named Mr. Clyman. Mr. Clyman was an eccentric old guy who was on bad terms with the head-honchos at the school and had a weird magic trick he’d show some students, he’d make his leg disappear.

I never saw it but had something to do with the angle of the desk.

Anyway, Clyman hated it when seniors took his journalism class. He felt you should take it in 10th grade and devote the rest of your high school years to his newspaper. 12th graders only have one semester to devote to the paper before graduating. So, Clyman would mention this 12th-grade situation every day. I tried to block out this cranky old dude, but one day I asked him what his beef with seniors was?! He ranted again, but I cut him off by saying:

“Fuck the paper.”

I don’t know where this came from, but the class fell hushed. Clyman repeated what I said, and then the bell rang, and I booked out of there. Within 15 minutes 80% of the school knew about my little outburst. Funny thing was — I didn’t get in trouble, and it was never mentioned again.

At the end of the semester Clyman came up and said with my shocking mouth, I should write stories for the paper that would shake things up. I thought about and dove in.

Two years prior a few of the guys who were in the deaf and hard-of-hearing program at the school had tried out for the football team and were cut for being deaf. So I combed the DHH department and found several guys that had the same problem.

I wrote the article and Clyman loved it. But the football coach, Mr. Sink let me know if I wasn’t a student, he’d whip my ass.

The good thing about this is after the article ran a deaf student named Sean became the first deaf guy allowed on the football team. So, sometimes a foul mouth can get things accomplished.

#michaelessington #salvation



I’m The DJ, A Story From Salvation

One night, after I got home from Disneyland, I got a frantic text from a DJ I know. He was anxious, He said, “Somehow you are an admin on my page. I need you to remove yourself.”

It was 11:30 at night, I was in bed, I spent all day walking around between Disneyland and California Adventure, so I was trying to figure out how I could be an admin on someone’s page and he wasn’t able to remove me.

So, I replied with, “Remove my articles from your site and I’ll remove myself from your page in the morning.”

It went back and forth for another hour:

“Here’s the link to remove yourself.”

“How come I wasn’t informed of your articles before tonight?”

Then the kicker:

“Since I don’t talk about you behind your back, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t talk about me.”

At this point in my life, I don’t even deny this shit. You know why? Because any and everyone that knows me knows well enough that if I have anything to say I say it. If I don’t like you, some jerk-off across the country will not know what I think of you before you do.

So, I replied with, “What did you hear?”

The response was, “Nothing.”

No reason to continue this, it’s making my ass hurt.

So, I removed myself as admin and got a text that said: “No hard feelings, call me.” If he handled this more on the up and up I would, but it went sour within 5 lines of text.

#michaelessington #salvation



2013, A Story From Salvation

One day my son was playing with the assholes — I mean kids’ next door. They talked about what their fathers do for a living. One kid said his Dad worked in an office, the other kid said his Dad fixed things (in other words he’s unemployed, sleeps and drinks beer). Then my boy said my Dad writes books. Then one kid said no if he writes books where is all the money? When my son told me this I had to break down the writing class.

I told him you got guys like John Grisham and Michael Crichton; they write books; they become movies, and they’re rich.

Then there are guys like Charles Bukowski that lived on skid row for years at a time and was broke most of his writing years, well Dad is closer to that end of the spectrum.

#michaelessington #salvation



Shock Value, A Story From Last One To Die

With telling stories I’m what Charlie Murphy would call a “habitual line-crosser.”

I don’t filter and I don’t leave out any detail.

I don’t love disgusting or filthy humor, per se. But I love shock value. Here’s an example, the movie Something About Mary was too much, but the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles should’ve won an Oscar.

About a decade back, my dad took my brother and me out for dinner at some little café or diner in Canoga Park/Fallbrook area. Not sure what anybody ordered, but I remember the waitress was somewhere around my dad’s age. In her mid to late fifties.

Every time she would come to the table, she would, ignore my brother and I and only look at my dad. He was cordial and would smile, but initiated no conversation, or pick up on her.

After the second time, she was at our table my brother tells my dad “I think she’s digging you.” He smiles and nods and plays it off.

I figure I’d push it up a notch. So, I lean over and whisper to him: “I think she wants to fuck your face.”

I got the response I wanted. He spits out his drink and yells, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

After his shock disappeared, he laughed. One of only a few times I got a real belly laugh from him.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie



Barbequed Bear Shit, A Story From Born Frustrated

Born Frustrated

My father collected comic books as a kid. When he and my mom got married, he brought with him a box was about three feet tall and about three feet wide filled with comics. Everything from superhero books to Three Stooges. The box was off limits. Though when no one was looking, I’d go to the room, find a book, take it to my room and read it then toss it back in the box.

Then one night, about 8:00 or 9:00, some guy came to the door. My dad answered, led the guy to the back room. The guy went through the box, he and my dad talked for a while, the guy handed my dad some money and left with the box. It shocked me.

What they didn’t know was that I had one of his Three Stooges books in my room as I was still reading it. Even though I wasn’t supposed to touch these books, I didn’t know what to do with it. I ended up hiding it for years. I gave it to my dad when I was around twenty-five. He smiled. I knew I would not get in trouble.

Looking back now at the books, the age and condition — I’m sure the books would be worth a half a million. But back then — maybe a hundred.

About twenty years after that box was taken away, I would meet Jack Kirby at a comic convention in Agoura. I sat and talked to him for about thirty minutes. I told him about some books from the box. Some I knew he drew. He said it was a treasure chest. I asked to get some of my books signed by him, but his arthritis was so bad it hurt him to shake hands. Instead, he gave me his address in Thousand Oaks. He said to come by some afternoon and we could have coffee and he’d sign my books.

I was so overwhelmed, this was better than being asked to meet the President of the United States. After six months of driving past his house, I got the nerve to go to the door. I knocked, he wasn’t home.

The next day I mailed my books. Some early to mid-sixties Fantastic Fours and some early seventies DC stuff. He had everything mailed back within a week with a note saying something like, “Feel free to drop on by.” I never made it over there and Mr. Kirby passed away two years later in 1994. And eleven years later in 2005, my father passed away. Everyone I connected to that box is gone.

Two weeks ago I caught my son sneaking into my closet and taking a graphic novel of mine, Kraven’s Last Hunt. My first reaction was, “Hey, leave my books alone,” but I remembered my comic book raids. So, I stopped and said, “That’s a good one, you’ll like it.”

#michaelessington #bornfrustrated