Homeless & Poetry, An Unpublished Story

Random Thoughts

In 1994 or 1995, I went through a break-up which led to a search for new employment and new housing. In other words, things went bad quick.

I slept on a friend’s floor for a couple of days, and then I took the couch at my brother’s place. As I got my bearings and confidence, I put the feelers out to everybody and anybody that knew of housing and/or employment.

Finally, one day a girl I worked with in the 1980s at a record shop called and said that her boyfriend was managing a Kinko’s and they needed somebody to run the computer department during the midnight shift. Perfect! As it was, I couldn’t sleep anyway. Break-up, money, one-year-old daughter, on and on, the brain never turned off.

One morning I’m sitting behind the counter at the computer department working on a press release for Michael Jackson’s parents Katherine and Joe Jackson when a very dignified African-American walks up. He asks if he could have a cord to plug his laptop in to the printer. I give it to him. He shoots off a couple of pages. Comes back, pays for the prints and hands me the cord.

This went on for a few months, cord, prints, pays, and leaves. One day, curiosity gets the best of me, I walk over and ask what he’s working on. He tells me he’s a poet and he’s putting together some pieces about his time in Vietnam.

I told him that I had been writing poetry since the early 1980s, then asked if he could look it over sometime. He agreed.

My new poet friend came in a week later. He walked up to me and handed me a book he made of 5 or 6 of his poems. Each one a disparate style, modern, traditional and a sonnet.

I went over and took out a notebook I had of my writings, similar to what I write now, but a bit too heavy on the metaphors. He looked everything over and made comments, like, “This one reads like a song,” and “This is good, but take out the “I,” tell the story without it being in the first person.” Really cool perspectives. Then he said to go to the local bookshop, find the poetry section and buy the first author I recognized. The point was to find my own voice. Don’t write poetry like I think it should be, don’t imitate Shakespeare.

I wandered over to Barnes & Noble. I looked and looked; finally, I see a book by Jim Morrison called The Lords and The New Creatures: Poems. I bought it, read it and moments later declared it as the worst piece of shit I ever read.

I rewrote most of my poetry based on my friend’s suggestions. When he popped up a day or so later, I showed him my updated work and told him that Jim Morrison’s poetry was horrendous.

He read through my latest poetry, offered a few more pointers, and then he asked, “Have you read much Bukowski?” I said, “Not really. I saw Barfly in 1987.”

He nodded, and said, “OK, there’s a book you have to buy. I’d give you my copy, but I probably gave it away already. When you get off work, go to the store and buy Bukowski’s Love Is A Dog From Hell. That should point you in the right direction.”

That man was author Clyde Wray; he has always been an inspiration and a friend.

‪#‎michaelessington‬ ‪#‎broken‬

 

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Robin Williams, An Unpublished Story

Random Thoughts

Back in 2002, shortly after Robin Williams did his On Broadway special for HBO my wife took me to the Universal Amphitheatre to see him for my birthday.

The two things I remember most about the night. The first thing was the table in the middle of the stage. It was a circular table, approximately five feet around. And it was filled with water bottles, absolutely packed, not even an inch of space. Robin would do five or ten minutes of rapid-fire, manic comedy, grab a bottle drink it in one gulp and throw it on the ground and continue. There had to be close to a hundred bottles of water and at the end of the night he finished them all and the table was empty.

The second thing I remember was my wife and I talking in the car on the way to the Amphitheater about the allegations of Robin stealing skits from other comics. As we were leaving the place, I said to my wife, “How could you tell if he had taken your skit. He wasn’t like Bill Cosby; he didn’t take thirty minutes to tell a story. He told five in three minutes. How could you tell if he mentioned your story?”

End the end of the show the stage was a mountain of plastic bottles and his clothes were drenched and pasted to his body. I don’t think I ever saw a performer work harder than he did that night. RIP

‪#‎michaelessington‬ ‪#‎broken‬

 

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Jerry Stahl, An Unpublished Story

Random Thoughts

I got some cool advice a couple of summers ago from author Jerry Stahl. He asked who was going to publish Born Frustrated. I told him that I had submitted to two “punk” imprints. One showed some interest but has ignored any of my correspondence. The second publisher seems lukewarm. I’m not in that particular Hollywood click.

So, Mr. Stahl said (I’m paraphrasing here), “If you can sell thousands without a publisher, put it out on your own.”

‪#‎michaelessington‬ #‎broken‬

 

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Advice From A Barber, An Unpublished Story

Random Thoughts

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a parent lately. I don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with my Daughter turning 22, and my Son is about a month away from turning 12.

It takes a long time before you can see if you’ve done a good job or not. I think that’s what concerns me the most.

I remember, years ago, I had an ex (she was Puerto Rican) that every time she was mad at me, she would start saying how she had the best Mom in the world, and how my family hated me. Usually, I was pretty numb to this and didn’t say much, but one day I had had enough, and I said “How do you figure you have the best Mom in the world? Both your parents were addicted to heroin; all three kids dropped out of school, were on drugs, and did jail time before you were 18. How in the hell do you call that good parenting?” She gave me a nasty look, and said, “At least she loved us.” But I didn’t stop, I said: “Sure, she did that’s why she threw all of you out of the house before you hit 18, so she could have more alone time with her heroin and her many boyfriends.” That was pretty much the end between my ex, and me.

Back in 1998, I was living in Canoga Park, and I took a stroll down to the corner to get my hair cut. I got to talking to the Hispanic barber about kids (at this point I only had my four-year-old daughter), and he says that he has a Son, and a Daughter and that Daughters are the best. I agree, what else am I going to say? Then he explains why, he says, “You have a Son, he grows up, gets strung out on drugs, joins a gang, and gets shot, and dies, but with a Daughter, she grows up, gets strung out on drugs, joins a gang, and gets knocked up, moves back home, gets off of drugs, and raises her kid.” I just sat there stunned, this is why Daughters are better because their ability to get knocked up by gangbangers? I don’t think I let my four-year-old daughter out of my sight for the rest of the weekend.

About four years prior to this I was talking (and drinking) with a friend of mine named Jeff, Jeff is African American and has many anti-Black views. Jeff and I were throwing back a couple of bottles of St. Ides (hey, it was in 1994, and Tupac said it was a good beer), and my Daughter was a few months away from being born, and in his drunken state Jeff was telling me that I had to step up, and be a good Dad, and be pleased with every decision she makes, then he said raise her the opposite way that Black people raise their kids. I asked, “How is that?” He said, “Black people are like a bucket of crabs?” I said, “What?” He replied, “Yeah, watch crabs, sometimes, if one starts to get away, they all pull him back down. That’s Black people, man. As soon as one of us starts to do well, or leave the neighborhood, everybody pulls us back down. They suck man.”

OK, it’s OK to do heroin, and throw my kids out as long as I love them, no gangbanger activity for my kids, and keep them away from crabs, check.

There used to be an entertainment magazine called Icon (not the gay magazine), and for a short time in 1998, until early 1999, it was one of my favorite magazines. It covered music, comics, movies — you name it. One issue they had a small interview with Black porn (male) star Sean Michaels. Now, not a subject I would be interested in, but I read everything. If I was in a doctor’s office, and all they have is Good Housekeeping, well, I’ll read the whole thing cover to cover. Then offer great decorating tips afterward. Anyway, Sean Michaels starts talking about his twelve-year-old Son that he doesn’t see. Then he says, “I’m not the father I want to be because I’m not the man I want to be.”

What? This damn quote has been stuck in my head for about twelve years. I never thought that was a reasonable excuse. I can’t be a good Dad because I’m not rich enough, or I haven’t accomplished enough. WTF? There isn’t a parent in the world that makes enough or has accomplished enough.

Another interview I read about five years back was with Mike Ness. Mike explains how he didn’t meet his son until the boy was five years old. Now, in Mike’s case, he was in all kinds of legal trouble, and he was pretty addicted to drugs. Now me, I can’t imagine not being around my kids when they were born, or all those early years. Mike was smart to stay away until he cleaned up, and got on the straight and narrow. Nothing worse than subjecting your kids to your downfall.

So, how do you know if you did a good job or not? Every once in a while, they will plop down in your lap for no reason at all, and smile at you. And hopefully, this won’t be followed by “You know what I’d like to get?”

#michaelessington #broken

 

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Chupacabras, A Story From Born Frustrated

Born Frustrated

Years ago, there were a number of shows on the Sci-Fi channel that played “real” videos of monsters or supernatural occurrences that viewers caught on film. If I remember right, it was mostly blurry Big Foot tapes or and the occasional flying saucer and/or hubcap flying behind a cloud.

So, one day there crazy idea/prank popped into my head — I’ll go to Mexico and catch the Chupacabras!

I first told my sister-in-law that I needed her to come with me to Mexico. She would be my cameraman (or camera person). Now the most crucial part of this project, my wife.

You see as part of the capture of the elusive Chupacabras or as he’s known to his friends: Chupa, I would have my wife dress up as a sheep and walk around a Mexican farm yelling, “Baaaa,” until Senor Chupa swoops down for the attack and my sister-in-law would film it and I would rush in and bag Chupa.

The problem is, no one knew if I was joking or if I was serious. My sister-in-law cracked up, but my wife was pissed. She said, “You wouldn’t save me. You’d let the Chupacabras kill me.”

Now death never entered my mind. Just the possibility of seeing her run around on a farm yelling, “Baaa,” killed me.

I don’t know if I could have caught the Chupacabras or how much the Sci-Fi channel would have paid me, but the wife’s reaction alone was worth me pretending to keep the project alive for over a year.

‪#‎michaelessington‬ ‪#bornfrustrated

 

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The Redline, A Story From Broken

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Yesterday, I went downtown with my son. We took the Orange Line to North Hollywood. Then hopped aboard the Red Line and eventually the Expo Line.

Once we boarded the Red Line a homeless man came on. He had a huge bundle with him. Bags and sleeping gear all tied to a shopping dolly.

After the homeless man sat down, a rat-faced man in a Member’s Only jacket boarded. He stood in the middle of the train with his back to the doors.

Just as the doors were closing a Hispanic woman rushed on with a suitcase on wheels. She came in hurriedly while talking on her cell. While searching for a seat she banged into the homeless man’s belongings.

The rat-faced man yelled:

“God damn it! Get back here and say sorry. That’s just fucking rude. You are banging into people’s shit! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

The train went quiet. Everybody looking around to see what would happen next. The woman never looked up from her phone.

I guess Ratso was unhappy with the non-reaction. So, he turned to the homeless man and started yelling:

“And what about you? You leave all your shit blocking the aisle. What the fuck is wrong with you? Show some fucking class.”

Again, everyone went silent. The Rat spoke again:

“Shit, I’ve had it with you fucking people.”

And he walked off the train. The homeless man looked at me and shrugged. I returned the shrug.

#michaelessington #broken

 

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Jose Luis, A Story From Broken

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Years ago I worked as a Radio Research Director for a company that owned sixteen TV stations, and twenty-nine radio stations. I would put together rating sheets, promotional items, you name it.

It was a good paying job, and I was with them for about three years. The funny thing about this job was that two things that were most important for this job were two things I didn’t know shit about.

Number one: the company was Hispanic. I didn’t know Spanish, I knew enough to curse out your average a-hole but not much more. I’d learn.

Number two: Everything in this company was done in Microsoft PowerPoint. I never opened the program. I’d learn.

The company had an in-house AM radio station and the more popular FM station also in-house. It was always a blast to watch the various Ranchera bands come in to play live on one of the stations. They’d have their trumpets and accordions. It was wild.

Of the many people I met, including Jenni Rivera, Jose Luis, a guy who hosted a TV show, which was the Spanish equivalent of the Jerry Springer show, seemed to have the most impact on the Hispanic community. At my initial interview, I was taken to the set of the show. They showed me which chairs would be covered in some kind slime that dropped from overhead when audience members disliked a guest.

The biggest thing I noticed was the communities’ love of Jose Luis. Let me explain if I have a problem in my life I would never in a million years think to contact Jerry Springer in hopes that he may help me out.

One morning I got to work early, around 7:30 or so, and there was a woman waiting outside the building. She waved me down, from what I understood, as she only spoke Spanish, was that she wanted Luis to help her to stop being ripped off by her racist landlord. Apparently, the guy knew she was illegal and he changed the rent every month with an attitude of “What are you going to do about it, you’re illegal?”

I explained, with my less than stellar Spanish, that Jose Luis doesn’t arrive until about 11:00, so I could take the message or any info she wanted, and I’d track him down to deliver the message.

She pulled out copies of a dozen Xeroxed sheets of paper, leases, notes, and receipts. I put them into an envelope and said, “I’ll hand him these in a few hours.”

She looked pleased and said in broken English, “Mexicans don’t need to be treated like this.”

I nodded and walked away.

Hours later I found Luis, right as he was walking to his dressing room. I handed him the papers and explained the story. He said that he received about five of these a day. But he would have his assistant look into it. If he couldn’t help, he could tip someone at the paper to investigate.

I don’t know what the outcome was, but I do like that it wasn’t blown off.

Unfortunately, when radio rating dip layoffs happen, ratings dipped I was let go.

#michaelessington #broken

 

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Tex Cobb, A Story From Broken

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In 1993, I went to a weird little club with a friend of mine, Ed, who was managing a local band at the time, called 13th Love. Ed is a six-foot-five black guy, who on first meeting seems intimidating, but was always the coolest guy to hang with. They had just released a CD that was financed and produced by former Vivid Girl, Tori Welles, cousin of the singer, Joe.

Anyway, Ed calls me up and tells me to meet him and the band in front of The Roxy, on Sunset, as the band, except for Joe and Ed, lived together in Hollywood. And from there we’d see where we would end up going. I got there around 9:00 pm in my black and silver smoking Thunderbird; smoking because of the horrible oil leak, not because it was a cool car.

Ed was standing in front of the Roxy on his cell phone, he looks up and asks if I have ever heard of a club called the Sunset Social Club, I shook my head and said no. Ed says it’s a new jazzy-type club that Mickey Rourke has been hanging out at lately, interested in going? I was game.

We got to the Sunset Social Club right around 10:00 pm, Ed whispered a few things to the big guy at the door and we walk in without a cover charge. The place was an old house turned into a club, so each bedroom had a different feel, one was dark, and another room was lit in red with a guy playing the saxophone. It was cool. The living room was the bar/restaurant, seating and tables were along the walls facing the center of the room.

Anyway, I’m wandering from room to room listening to different music playing in each room, when, after 3 or 4 beers, I need to find the can. I look, and look and find myself back in the living room. I look around hoping to find Ed, he’d know by now where the restrooms are, when I notice at a table in the middle of the room is Randall “Tex” Cobb (you saw him in Ace Ventura), so I figure I need to talk to him, I was trying to make a living as a boxer so I used to rap with anyone who had a living at this. Tex Cobb fought Earnie Shavers, Michael Dokes, and Larry Holmes. Around this time in the 1990’s, Cobb was disqualified for using cocaine before the fight, as it turned out so did the other fighter.

So, I take a deep breath and go up to him and ask “Tex, I don’t mean to bug you, I think you’re a great fighter, could I ask you a couple of questions?” He sat there mumbling to himself for a minute, and then growled, “Get the fuck out of my face.” In my younger years, this didn’t fly with me, so I said back to him, “What the fuck did you say to me?” To this Cobb jumped up and flipped the table and came at me, so I took two steps back, put up my fists and waited for round one to begin, that second four or five bouncers jumped on him and took him to the floor, and from behind Ed picked me up around the waist and ran outside with me.

We went to the 13th Love house and the guys were watching an old Traci Lords flick and eating pizza, the night was a wash.

No Mickey Rourke sightings, I never found a bathroom at the Sunset Social Club and to this day I don’t know if I could’ve beaten Cobb. His drinking and coke use would’ve made him a helluva contender; he could’ve been somebody.

#michaelessington #broken

 

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Pancakes, A Story From Broken

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I was having a cup of coffee this morning at McDonald’s because the coffee is better than Starbucks and I don’t have to see thirty people stare at their laptops. I was there for fifteen or twenty minutes when I felt like I was losing my touch. Absolutely nothing weird had happened.

As I stood up to leave, a short (five foot something) white woman comes running in the side door. She opened the door for the trash bin. Peeks at the counter opens the next trash bin, looks at the counter again. Pulls out a plate with three uneaten pancakes goes to sit down. As she’s walking, a short (an inch shorter she would’ve represented the lollipop guild) Hispanic, a female manager came over to ask her to leave.

“I told you to stop doing that.”

“I didn’t do anything. These are mine, I bought them.”

“One more time and I’m calling the police.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

The manager walked away. I stood up, about to offer her a cup of coffee to go with her hotcakes. Once I was, about, six feet from her, she leaned forward and, kind of, hissed. As much as I wanted to help, I passed this time. She was dirty and seemed to be either high or possibly unbalanced. Another time.

#michaelessington #broken

 

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Help, A Story From Broken

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Over the years I’ve gotten the reputation as being a magnet for crazy people. A crazy whisperer, if you will. Almost every time I’d go out with my friend Dave Diamond we’d be accosted by someone that may or may not be an escapee from a local asylum. It would always be a middle-aged to older white male. Topics would vary, from riots in Ferguson to steam-engines during World War II. We’d be sitting there and some guy would come up to us and start a lecture. There would never be a pause in the conversation so that either of us could talk just this lecture with no way out.

In the beginning, I’d let them talk. I figured because they were different or maybe crazy didn’t mean they weren’t lonely. And I did this for the first dozen or so times. Then after a while, I felt like I was being held, hostage. Another thing, I didn’t believe it was just me that they were trying to hold hostage. Since it was Dave and me together, I figured it was the combination of us hanging out that attracted the insanity gene.

Then one night I ran to the market to get some milk for the boy and as I get to the aisle with the dairy products, there he was. A guy that looked like the bearded man from the Oak Ridge Boys. He was camped out in front of the milk with his cart. He starts waving me over, “Hey, come here. They’re having a great sale on milk.”

It clicked. They are out there waiting for me. I’d never seen this guy before, but he felt that I was coming. It was late and I was tired and I didn’t want to be held captive in a conversation that I couldn’t break out of. So, I said, “Not today, motherfucker.” And I sped down another aisle. Circled the entire market and did a little peek down the corner and he was gone. Fuck.

So, I called Dave from the market and said, “You know how we joke about crazy people finding me? Well, it’s not a joke. They’re here in the market waiting for me.” He laughed.

Today we agreed to meet for lunch at about 12:15 or so. As we left my place and drove down the block there was a guy laying in the middle of the street, face down with his fingers laced behind his head. The cop arrest style. We pulled up to him and he didn’t flinch. Either he didn’t hear us or the “arrest” is so intense he can’t break concentration.

We backed-up and Dave said he was going to call the cops before he gets hurt or hurts someone.

Dave pulled up the number for Devonshire Division, called and got placed on hold. Two gardeners pulled up and tried to talk to the guy in the street. He got very aggro and was yelling something about having “guns aimed” at him. He yelled something else and the gardeners threw their hands up and started backing away . The guy went back face down on the street.

An operator finally answered Dave’s call. He starts to say, “There’s a man lying in the street.” Then I hear Dave yell. “Holy fuck!” I’m looking all around because I don’t see a thing, and then Dave tells the operator a man has been run over.

I look out the back window of the truck and sure enough, a guy in a black Honda or Toyota ran over the guy and only his legs are sticking out. The guy backs up and the street guy gets up and runs for the sidewalk, yelling, “I didn’t deserve that.”
I don’t know how the guy didn’t see him in the street. At first, it appeared the guy was going to flee. I took out my camera to snap a picture of his license plate just in case. He backed up and then parked.

An ambulance and fire truck raced by. Passed us. I was waving them down; they did a U-turn and came back. By the time I made it over to Dave and the street guy, it sunk in how bad this guy got messed up. His head was shaved so you could see a six to an eight-inch wound on the back of his head, it was bleeding. There were a few wounds on his face. His shirt was torn to shreds on the back with a tire print and blood stains all over. How he was standing was beyond me.

The chief paramedic asked Dave and me if we knew the guy, we said no. Then he told us to take off and “give the guy some privacy.”

I figured they’d want us to stick around, considering no one else had seen the whole incident, from lying in the street to being under a car. We slowly walked away. The medics put on gloves and started to check him out. The street guy was completely amped and I was afraid he’d try to run away before being checked.

Another lunchtime experience.

#michaelessington #broken

 

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