The Third Area Poetry Readings

Part One – May 21st 

To a certain extent poetry has become like a tree falling in the forest: usually there is no one around to hear it.  This is further evidence of the decline of civilization and – make   no mistake – by extension, this area of decline is everyone’s loss, just like the ice sheets falling into the sea in both of our world’s hemispheres.  I recently had the great privilege to hear the work of eight superb poets when I serendipitously arrived at the Pharmaka gallery to do research on the Downtown LA Art Walk.  These writers are like magicians of language and I am humbled to attempt to express how enriched I am for having heard them read their work.

First, let me tell you, dear reader, when and where you can derive the same benefit as I have done. Continue reading The Third Area Poetry Readings


Mexican Light
a poem by Kate Gale

Went to Mexico.  Curved sweet tequila light.  Lay on blankets on the beach, washed our mouths in the morning.  Ate olives with sunshine.  Avocados.  Street vendors sold popsicles.  If someone had a hotel room, we all showered.  Our spectacular young bodies curved under water.  Our breasts moons.  The room was white stone.  We would start with beer in the afternoon.  Hit the cantinas in the evening.  My friend would find weed and Lily would breathlessly come back to my table and say, Katie, I’ve found you a dyke, the cutest one in Mexico.  We would begin shots, chased with lime, tomato juice, the whole evening a tremulous tequila bubble.  They played our rock music in Spanish.  My boy would dance with me while Lily and I kissed the girls one right after another.  Mexico was like that.  When I arrived blue, I would find a blue world.  Time moved the craziest of clocks.  Stretched on sand we waited for the end of loneliness.  Night flies, gulls and beyond them the sea.  The sea spoke low sweet Spanish we could almost understand.  That was when I noticed what I liked best about you was that you kissed like a girl, looked at me like a girl, danced like a girl; the mescal was thick and smoky, your thin arms came up around me as the sun rose.  You said, I’ll be whatever you want me to be.

Kate Gale is the Managing Editor of Red Hen Press.  Author of several books of poetry including Mating Season and Fishers of Men, a novel and librettos, she received her PhD in Literature from Claremont Graduate University and speaks widely on publishing, editing and writing.  Her Opera Rio de Sangre with composer Don Davis is being released as a world premiere at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee in 2010. To contact Kate and to find out more about her writing go to her blog at     


Administering My Dog’s Cancer Therapy I Think About My Sons

a poem by Cati Porter

My thumb and forefinger pinch a pill as I thrust my fist
            back into his throat. His teeth, a bracelet of blunt
           tines, rake gently over my wrist.
           I pull out my hand sticky with his saliva
           and hold his mouth closed
           and stroke his neck
           until I am certain he has swallowed.
At seven years old he is two years older than
            my oldest son. He is my oldest son,
           I tell myself, but of course, he is not.
           He is just the dog, I remind myself daily,
           because, if he were my son,
           I would okay the endoscopy, biopsy
           the lining of his stomach. I would make the drive
           into the next county for intravenous chemotherapy.
Once he ate reluctantly from my hand chicken breasts
            boiled for him on my stove. If he were
           my son, I would not hand-feed him
           the breasts of dead chickens. I would slice
           off my own, boil them
           pink to white in my very best pot.
           I would shred them, feed them to him
           warm, if only to keep him through the night.

Winner of the 2006 Gravity & Light Poetry Competition, first appearance in the anthology White Ink: Poems on Mothers and Motherhood (Demeter Press/York University, Canada), and reprinted in my book Seven Floors UP.

Cati Porter is the author of Seven Floors Up (Mayapple Press, 2008) and small fruit songs: prose poems (Pudding House, 2008). Her poems appear in the recent anthologies Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel — Second Floor (No Tell Books), White Ink: Poems on Mothers and Motherhood (Demeter Press/York U., Canada), and Letters to the World (Red Hen Press). She is associate editor for Babel Fruit, and founder & editor-in-chief of Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry. After ten years of childrearing, she has returned to school and is currently pursuing her MFA through Antioch University, Los Angeles.  To contact her and find out more about her writing go to her web address at

Cirque Berzerk

We hardly noticed—it was a small, but insidious change. Something had invaded downtown Los Angeles. Like a deadly mushroom cap that sprouted after a rainstorm, a large striped tent went up in an abandoned field at the edge of town. Later, after the irreversible damage had been done, the townsfolk would remark that it seemed to happen overnight. Strange people, workers maybe, were seen coming and going across the grounds. Some carrying what looked like equipment, some carrying what looked like…dead bodies. 

Late one night, a posse of Los Angeles’ hardest citizens got together in The Loft at the Santa Fe to discuss a plan of action. A few short hours later, after intense debate (and drinks at Pete’s) the crew set out to investigate…

And I was with them.

As we pulled into the parking lot a great flame rose in the sky, illuminating the apex of the big top against the dark clouds. Something wicked this way comes, I cried! My crew, men and women (and hairdressers) around me, trembled with fear. We crept toward the opening of the tent and slid inside, as a man’s voice cut through the darkness. Terrified, I tried to run for the exit, but I tripped and fell right into a chair.

It was Cirque Berzerk! And we were just in time for the show! Continue reading Cirque Berzerk


Foreword by Stan Lerner: Sometimes the mind needs the type of rest that can best be found in the world of fiction. So take a few minutes each week and enjoy downtownster’s new superhero The Guardian. If you miss any installment of THE GUARDIAN each post ends with the entire story to date.

Part 2

Dr. Vincent steps over the security guard’s dead body just as the blood from the wound he’s inflicted begins to pool into a dramatic sea of dark red. It’s of no consequence to him as he is intent on joining his men at the bank of elevators.

In the security office a second security guard watches the wall of monitors as he has for the last twenty years. He is still a man in his mid-forties, not an old-timer, but a solid veteran. Of course being a veteran he should not be watching the television, brought into the office against regulations. The show goes on as he sips his fifth cup of coffee, then notices a monitor has gone out.

He shakes his head and picks up his radio intent on reaching his partner—not possibly imagining that he his dead.

“Harry, come in where the hell are you?” He turns back to the monitor and taps on its screen. “Twenty years and never had one of these go out.” He shrugs. “Well there’s a first time for everything I suppose.” He sips his coffee and adopts a more serious tone as he speaks into his radio this time. “Harry where are you? Harry, come in. Are you okay?”

The muscles of his face tense as he leans forward toward the monitor. On closer inspection it appears to be working, the blackness he’s seeing caused by some obstruction to the camera’s lens. And just as his mind processes the possibilities he is jerked out of his seat by a wire around his neck. Instinct to survive causes him to kick wildly as the man in the white coat quite calmly strangles him. With each kick his boots shatter the glass of one of the monitors he has watched diligently for the last twenty years—though, he gains no leverage to free himself. Only a fraction of a second before his right foot reaches the last monitor on the panel does his lifeless body go completely limp—dropping from midair to his attackers feet like a sack of potatoes. 

The storm outside has not abated; rather it has taken on a fury, appropriate to the presence of the dark figure that stands on the ledge looking through the stained glass dome of a part of the museum long closed to visitors. Continue reading THE GUARDIAN PART 2

Follow the Leader: L.A. Coaching Questions and Answers

School’s Out, But Not For Long

University of Southern California Athletic Director Mike Garrett can breathe a little easier this week. Garrett happily announced Kevin O’Neill as USC Men’s Basketball Head Coach Saturday afternoon.

O’Neill returns to the college ranks to replace Tim Floyd. Floyd suddenly resigned on June 9 amidst NCAA investigations surrounding his involvement in barred recruiting practices. Floyd allegedly delivered cash to a man who helped convince former Trojan O.J. Mayo’s to sign with the program.

O’Neill brings with him a strict coaching principle. Although his 171-180 in 12 seasons as a head coach is not the most impressive, he found recent success in a stint with Arizona and helping prime a young Memphis Grizzlies team at the NBA level.

“He stresses defense and I’ve always believed that defense wins championships,” Garrett said of O’Neill. Continue reading Follow the Leader: L.A. Coaching Questions and Answers

Hello Wine Lovers!

Hello Wine Lovers, join us tonight Friday, June 19, 2009 from 5pm to 8pm for a taste of one of California’s Noble wine making families.  Sebastiani and Sons Winery. And tonight is a recession buster—only six dollars for four glasses of wine.

August and his wife Silvia started the family winery in the heart of what is downtown Sonoma today.  The family winery thrived and became one of the most popular wineries in Sonoma County.  August and Silvia were true pioneers in the wine business in Sonoma Valley. Continue reading Hello Wine Lovers!


Foreword by Stan Lerner: the blog you are about to read is simply the best and most comprehensive guide for this years Los Angeles Film Festival–see you at the movies!




Okay folks!  I’ve been waiting all year for it and so have many of you.  It’s time for the Los Angeles Film Festival!!  Now in its 15th year, LAFF 2009 promises to be one of the best festivals ever.  Running from June 18th to 28th, with screening venues located in Westwood as well as the Ford Amphitheatre, LAFF is world renowned for its level of excellence and the quality of its festival programming and films, and promises to show us once again why LAFF is one of the leaders among film festivals.  I, for one, am always amazed at the consistency and quality of films at LAFF and this year is no different.   The slate of films is as diverse as it gets, showcasing some old friends as well as the new wave of insightful, visionary and entertaining filmmakers.  Always with its pulse on the beat of the world, this year you can expect controversy, political commentary, humor, drama and as always, entertainment.


Important to note is that not only does LAFF shine a light on new and emerging filmmakers while providing the audience with top flight entertainment, but it awards the filmmakers with Jury and Audience Prizes in four categories, as well as a $50,000 Target Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature AND a $50,000 unrestricted cash prize provided by Target, both of which are the largest cash prizes bestowed by a U.S. Film Festival, which we hope these talented filmmakers will use for their next project or, to pay off their debts from funding the winning films.


Over the years, LAFF has debuted or showcased some rather notable films – 2005 brought us the Oscar winning “March of the Penguins”,  2006 gave us  “Little Miss Sunshine” and the world premiere of “The Devil Wears Prada” starring Anne Hathaway who skyrocketed to stardom with this film. Continue reading SPECIAL EVENT: 2009 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL

A Day At The Downtown Yacht Races–Paper Yacht Races

So there I was today at 5th and Flower, the City National Bank building, covering the second annual PSOMAS Paper Yacht Challenge to benefit the Los Angeles Food Bank. It was 5pm, and the racing crowd was assembling while a live DJ played in front of the buildings’ entrance. First I checked out the competition; paper boats of all shapes and configurations on the tables set up behind the fountain. Then I bumped into Carmen Rodriguez, Assistant VP of City National bank, and we headed over to the silent auction table to have a gander. Looked like a good turn out with sponsors like Bark Ave, the Dodgers, Wolfgang Puck, the Grammy Museum, and Universal Studios.

I sat down to enjoy my wait and have something to snack on. Someone was blowing soap bubbles into the wind, and the crowd amused themselves watching the spheres as they wound around the red stair-like sculpture in the fountain. I almost crashed the paper yacht party when a stiff wind coming from the southwest threatened to launch my paper hot dog canoe into the fountain. Continue reading A Day At The Downtown Yacht Races–Paper Yacht Races


Foreword by Stan Lerner: It is true as stated in the most recent post of “Thought Tools” that wisdom is found in the unemotional ability to understand facts. But sometimes the mind needs the type of rest that can best be found in the world of fiction. So take a few minutes each week and enjoy downtownster’s new superhero The Guardian.


Like a dream, Empire city at night lays between the world of all that is possible and the danger of such. One can imagine hovering above such a place. Staring at each and every rooftop, loud claps of thunder deafening to the ear, bright flashes of lightning blinding you in an attempt to prevent your from seeing. But your vision will not be denied. You see the black figure running on the ledges of the rooftops through the driving rain. So intent is your focus that you can see his feet land on the ledge of a slightly lower roof. The water splashes from the puddle—an enormous flash of lightning, much greater than the others. And the black figure is gone.

Through the sheets of rain the sign fades in and out. It reads: “MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY” but this sign is not welcoming. Rather, it seems to stand guard at the base of the massive steps that lead to the museum’s entrance. And still more lightning flashes cause it to transcend into menace as the white van pulls to a stop.

The rear doors open violently and ten men in white lab coats disembark running up the steps. The hand in the black glove pushes the doorbuzzer repeatedly—impatient. And then there is a dim light through the wet glass and the distinct silhouette of a security guard making his way to the door.

The elderly security guard looks out the door. He strains to see out of the glass, but the water and its refraction of the lightning make it impossible. All that is visible are several figures in white coats.

The old-timer shakes his head, annoyed and somewhat in disbelief. “Lab guys at this hour? What the hell are they thinking?”

The buzz of the doorbell is insistent. And builds to a crescendo congruent to the old-timer’s annoyance. Perhaps it is this state that pauses his thought process. He inserts his pass card into the wall and punches in his code to unlock the heavy wood and glass door. Continue reading THE GUARDIAN

L.A. City Council To Remove Marijuana “Hardship” Exemption

In what will be a disappointing move for medical marijuana providers and beneficiaries, the Los Angeles City Council is in preparation to close a legal exemption to the city’s marijuana law. Voters may remember when, in 1996, they approved Proposition 215 (the Compassionate Use Act), which made legal the production and consumption of marijuana for medically prescribed pain relief with a doctor’s approval. However, because “the spirit and intent of Proposition 215 has been exploited and abused for both profit and recreational drug abuse by many of the medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles” the city council voted in 2007 to adopt Interim Control Ordinance (ICO). The ICO effectively halted the creation of any new dispensaries but did allow an exemption for those dispensaries that could prove they faced “hardship” and could provide an adequate reason why they should be allowed to open. Councilman Greig Smith now recognizes the exemption as a “tragic mistake.” Continue reading L.A. City Council To Remove Marijuana “Hardship” Exemption