CROOKED COPS EPISODES 1–10

A new blog series, from the Abby Normal mind of Stan Lerner!

CROOKED COPS EPISODE 1

It was a bright, sunny morning in the suburbs of Los Angeles. And from the Skinner home, a single story ranch-style, emanated rays of happiness, perhaps even more illuminating than those from the big happy face in the sky.

Eight-year-old Joshua ran down the hallway of his family’s modest two-bedroom home. “C’mon Dad were going to be late! Hurry up,” he shouted as he rounded the corner to the living room just before his foot landed on the misplaced Tonka toy.

A skid forward into a tacky twenty-dollar Torchiere lamp, Torchiere lamp tipping over into a 1970’s shag carpet cat tree, filled with a variety of cats, cat tree tipping over sending cats flying, cats attached to living room drapes like magnets to a fridge, one cat landing in fish tank.

The cat known as Pester, a feline with above average human intelligence, looked up from his unexpected good fortune to see that the curtain and its cache of cats were falling down upon him.

“Meow!” said Pester, but in human he was really saying, “Oh F**k!”

While this early morning commotion, was well into motion, Joshua’s dad Richard, a clean-cut, Wonder Bread type of man, in his early thirties, was showering in a bathroom that was quite literally a converted closet. Thinking that something may be amiss, he turned his head to the partly opened door and listened to what sounded like loud crashes and cat cries from the living room.

“Josh what’s going on out there?” yelled Richard, in the most loving and fatherly tone.

“Nothing Dad!” rang back Joshua’s voice, the voice of a precocious youth, not so cleverly disguised as an innocent angel.

In the not yet updated kitchen worked Mona, the beautiful, almost Victoria Secret model, wife and mother. Breakfast was always a challenge, so it was not so unusual that fire had erupted from all four slots of the toaster, in fact Mona hadn’t even noticed due to her several unsuccessful attempts to flip the eggs in the black greasy frying pan. Finally, she did get enough height with her egg toss, but was distracted by the toaster flames, which caused her to miss the catch.

“Oh no toaster fire!” uttered the brunette beauty, as she moved swiftly toward the pantry cupboard, desperately emptying all of its contents onto the floor. “Damn, damn, damn.”

Finally, Mona laid grasp to a box of baking soda purchased in the Brady Bunch times four, super family size. With both arms she heaved its contents towards the toaster covering it completely and extinguishing the flames. The resulting baking soda, mushroom cloud plumed to envelope Mona and the rest of the kitchen. Undeterred, Mona strained to see the eggs through the white fog and then having located them she bent over, in a manner that would have warmed even a dead man’s loins, to scrape the eggs from the floor onto the otherwise empty breakfast plates.

Plates in hand, Mona emptied the charred contents of the toaster onto the eggs sprinkling a little baking soda on top of each for good measure. Cheerfully, she brought the plates to the breakfast room table and set them down atop the red and white-checkered tablecloth.

“C’mon Guys breakfast is ready!” she shouted as she walked out of the breakfast room into the living room where Josh was having a ferocious tug of war trying to free his gold fish from the mouth of Pester the cat. Both were putting up a good fight, stretching the fish like a rubber band to at least a foot in length. The other cats all rolled around hopelessly entangled in what used to be the drapes. The sight of all this caused Mona to pause, “Josh stop playing with Pester you’re going to be late,” she said putting her hand on her hip, which she was prone to do whenever she felt the need to communicate she had had enough.

With resolve Mona continued down the hallway to the bedroom where without announcing her presence in any kind of way she forcefully opened the door to the very, very small bathroom. Unfortunately, Richard was in the process of shaving with his new straight edge razor when the door hit him from behind causing the razor to lacerate his cheek from top to bottom. Continue reading

THE EULOGY

Foreword by Stan Lerner: my dear friend, the great writer, Alec Silverman has mentioned to me, on more than one occasion, that he and perhaps other readers would like a more personal glimpse into my life—one that does not look through my comfortable prism of fiction. Alec suggested a memoir, but for now I can only offer a eulogy—a eulogy that I wrote a few years ago for my Aunt Rose, which until now had never been published.

Dear Aunt Rose,

I wish I could say these words myself, but my heart is too heavy to speak, forgive me. I know my sister feels the same way, as both of us have always loved, and will always love you in the deepest place in our hearts.

To say your name, is to say a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, an aunt, a grandmother, a great grandmother, a friend to many, a business woman, a woman who God blessed with almost a century of life, a success in every possible way. When I say these words to myself, they flow so easily that it gives me pause. The magnitude of a life so well lived is not easily comprehended. A woman of such strength, dignity, stature, and humility, your life towers over most, yet it is your loving smile and kind eyes that always come to mind.

As a young child I felt a special bond with your mother, my own beloved grandmother. A matriarch who possessed the strength and the foresight to move her family from the small village you were born in, to Canada, and then to America. You left a land ruled by a Czar where Jews cowered and barely survived. It was a place where the darkest days of mankind were soon to come. You left to a place of good life, religious freedom, and endless possibility. I think of your parents, my grandparents, and I am utterly humbled by their sacrifices for our family. In my earliest memories I see the way you cared for Grandma in your own home. The warmth, the love, the dedication, could any mother have asked for more? Even as a small child I could see that Grandma, the woman who gave us all so much, saw much of herself in you.

Your brother, my beloved father, simply held you in awe. My dad was a man of many words, yet he was difficult to know. This was not the case with respect to you or Aunt Gerry. My father, a man of large physical stature, a man of considerable intellectual prowess, a man who served his country with distinction during World War II looked up to you and loved you so. I don’t think there was anything my father wouldn’t have done for you. He told me once that you and Aunt Gerry had been so good to him that it troubled him that he had no way to reciprocate.

It’s impossible to think of you and not think of your husband, my Uncle Chuck. Certainly, it’s no surprise that you married such a wonderful man. I saw how you worked by his side, hard work and long hours. How did you do it? Continue reading

GOD’S WORK — A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

Foreword by Stan Lerner: this is a story about the Homeboy Industries Fundraiser, at Union Station, which I attended Saturday night. I did not walk into this event with the slightest intention of writing a story. But I walked out knowing that I had no choice other than to pen some thoughts from the heart about this important and moving experience.

Do you believe in God? I believe that most of us do. However, I think that we live in a world so filled with noise, and by noise I mean all of the material distractions of life, that much of our belief in God is relegated to the quiet of our subconscious. Given that most Americans enjoy a life of considerable physical comfort and an abundance of entertainment we often tend to seek out an individual audience with God primarily in times of trouble, angst and or designated times—around the observance schedules of our respective religious organizations. And while I could write at length about the state of our relationship with God, I will depart from the broader subject and talk about one, ideal, reality—it was very much in the world, very much in the City of Angels, very much at Union Station on Saturday night.

So, I’m asking you now to venture from the norm for a few minutes as you read this blog. Move God from your subconscious belief to the forefront of your consciousness and imagine the world as the place it would be if we all had the strength and wisdom to do what’s right all of the time. Seriously, take a few minutes and imagine this, imagine who and what you would be…

Saturday night’s event brought together a large group of people of different ethnicities and religious beliefs for one purpose, to raise money to support an organization that does God’s work here on Earth. Downtownster has written about this organization before and the story that most of us know, in our day-to-day state of mind is fairly simple—a guy named Father Greg Boyle gives ex-gang members jobs baking, working in a café or screen printing T-shirts. I should add that Father Boyle fits the part, full priest gear, white-beard, round glasses and a way with words. But we all know that there’s much more to the story (Father Boyle knows this.)—our part of the story, the part where on occasion we don’t delegate the responsibility to the guy that looks the part, but we step up onto the stage and say that we’re also part of the show—this is transformation, this is transcendence and quite possibly the dawning of a new age of enlightenment, this enlightenment one of not only forgiveness, but of reconciliation. Continue reading

CROOKED COPS EPISODE 5

A new blog series, from the Abby Normal mind of Stan Lerner.

GUCCI CLOTHING STORE

Larry followed his wife Chenoa and son Bryant into the very, upscale Gucci Store, already weighed down by several bags from at least five other Rodeo Drive clothing purveyors.

“Don’t you think we’ve bought enough for today?” he asked, thinking that his well conditioned arms might be cramping from the weight of the newly acquired luxury apparel items.

“Just one more outfit,” said Chenoa waving her right index finger in the air. “I’ve been waiting for this one to come in for months.”

Knowing that there was no turning back and that he would definitely be getting some loving later, Larry followed Chenoa and Bryant into the salon area and took a much needed seat—as it turned out next to Stanley O’Neal the former head of Merrill Lynch.

“Mrs. Jacobs, it’s so nice to see you it’s been days!” the snobby sales girl practically shouted, as she ran to the salon to greet the store’s best customer.

“Tell me about it. Time just flies. It feels so good to be back,” responded Chenoa, genuinely excited.

“You look fabulous,” chimed the sales girl, lowering her voice to sound as sincere as possible.

“I’ll look even better if you got my dress in.” Chenoa raised her right eyebrow to signal that she had room on her new card and a husband craving sex.

The sales girl almost jumped out of her pumps. “It’s here, it’s here!” And then for the first time she noticed Larry and Bryant sitting next to the disgraced Wall Street crook, whose money even she felt bad taking. “Can I help you two?”

Chenoa gestured elegantly toward her out of place immediate family. “Oh, I forgot this is my son Bryant and my husband Larry.

The sales girl came to life at hearing this. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Jacobs, I don’t know what you do, but you get my best husband in the world vote.” Her words became still more effusive. “The way you let Mrs. Jacobs shop, if you don’t mind me saying so is an inspiration. All those credit cards, I mean what a freakin turn on!”

Larry smiled uncomfortably. “I just became five times more of a turn on this week, didn’t I honey?”

“You two behave yourselves, while I try on my dress,” warned Chenoa, before leaning over and giving Larry a kiss on the lips. “I’ll take care of you in a little bit,” she whispered before once again straightening her posture.

Larry realizing that a little drool had escaped the corner of his mouth brushed his fingers across his lips then rubbed his hands together in anticipation. Continue reading

CROOKED COPS EPISODE 4

A new blog series, from the Abby Normal mind of Stan Lerner.

The giant Samoan’s fist landed on Richard’s nose like a sledgehammer. FADE TO BLACK Flat on his back Richard stared up at the peaceful blue sky listening to what he thought might be birds chirping. The moment was rudely interrupted by the Samoan beast, who had decided to punctuate Richard’s butt kicking by hoisting him into the air WWF style.

“You got him now Dad!” yelled Richard’s son Josh, just before the Samoan launched Richard head first through the windshield of his car.

Satisfied that Richard had had enough, the Samoan walked past the front of Richard’s car and laughed at the sight of the lower half of Richard’s torso, which comically protruded from the windshield out over the hood.

“You kicked his butt! Good Dad,” chuckled the Samoan’s oversized son, as the Samoan wedged himself back into the cab of the truck.

“A cop without a gun, boy…” mumbled the Samoan, as they exchanged radical-surf signs.

Josh finally summoned the courage to move his hands from in front of his eyes and look at the carnage. “Are you okay, Dad?”

“I’m fine son, I don’t think he’ll be bothering us anymore. Listen, reach in the glove box and take out my cell phone.”

Josh complied with purpose. “Ok what now?”

“Just dial 911,” gasped Richard, the first wave of pain from his injuries washing over him.

Back at the Skinner home, Mona worked to clean up the kitchen, post worse than usual breakfast disaster. Continue reading

CROOKED COPS EPISODE 3

A new blog series from the Abby Normal mind of Stan Lerner

Richard Skinner’s partner, Larry Jacobs, an athletic black man in his late thirties, sat in, what could only be described as, a lavishly appointed kitchen surrounded by bills. One after the other he opened the horrible white envelope’s and shook his head in disgust.

“Damn that woman can spend money. Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, Tiffany, Gucci, five hundred channels?” Larry was in the middle of saying out loud to himself, only to have his thought interrupted by the entrance of his wife, Chenoa, dressed head to toe in Gucci—revealing a body so hot that it made fire jealous!

“Ta Da! Do you like it?” asked Chenoa doing a spin. “It’s right off the runway in Paris.”

“Baby you look fine, but I think you look great in jeans and a T-shirt.”

“You want to put this body in jeans and a T-shirt?” asked Chenoa gesticulating with her hand along the length of her fine curves. “You know what baby? Maybe you just need it a little less so you appreciate it a little more.”

Larry felt his resolve melt like ice in a microwave. “Baby I appreciate it,” he pleaded pulling her to a seat on his lap. “It’s just these bills, I mean do we really need five hundred cable stations?”

“Would you rather have little Bryant home watching cable or out running the streets?” asked Chenoa with just the right mixture of sass and sex in her tone. “Besides, I’ll be able to help out soon.”

This news raised Larry’s brow. “Oh really now?”

“I will. I’m working on something.” Chenoa ran her finger down the side of her man’s face. It wasn’t so much different than the guitar she learned to play as a teenager—just pluck the right strings and it would play any tune she wanted.

“Honey, buying five hundred lottery tickets a week isn’t a plan,” quipped Larry, lowering his voice to the end of its baritone range.

“I’ve got something even better than that. I’m going into business with Mona, but I can’t say what. It’s a surprise and don’t you tell Richard.” She punctuated this warning with a sharp jab to his chest, and then quickly closed in with a deep open mouth kiss and some ear bighting for good measure.

Larry had completely forgotten about the family’s financial problems at this point and was in the process of one sweeping arm gesture needed to clear the table of its paper clutter when their eight-year-old son Bryant walked in dressed in head to toe Tommy Hilfeiger.

“Knock it off you guys, the stores open in twenty minutes.”

Chenoa jumped off of Larry’s lap and pulled him straight to his feet, still in an “almost had sex” daze. “All right baby, I got five new credit cards this week, let’s put them to work. Chenoa leaned closer and lowered her voice to a whisper. “Than we’ll come home and you can put me to work.”

Through the haze of his raging testosterone he was able to understand the important implications of his next words, which he needed to choose, oh so carefully.

“Let’s go,” he managed to say loudly and with considerable enthusiasm.

Thankfully, Josh had spotted a couple of prime parking spaces still vacant in the parking lot closest to the movie theater.

Richard checking to see that the coast was clear flipped an illegal u-turn, hardly noticing the truck he had just cut off as he pulled to the gate at precisely the wrong angle to easily pull the ticket. Continue reading

CROOKED COPS EPISODE 2

A new blog series, from the Abby Normal mind of Stan Lerner

Subsequent to the early morning mishaps in the otherwise happy Skinner household the family sat, as it always did, for a hearty morning breakfast—kind of. Mona drank her coffee, in a caffeine-induced state of rapture while her husband Richard and son Josh tried to determine what was on their plates—as it resembled nothing close to being digestible. Richard, now fully dressed with gun and shoulder holster over his shirt, sported a large gauze badge across his cheek, as he poked his fork curiously into the hash before him.

Mona rested her coffee cup on the table and looked lovingly at her boys. “You look very handsome with that big bandage on your face.”

Josh’s face tightened into an expression of absurdity. “He does not, its dorky.”

Sadness fell on Richard, the sadness of having a disapproving child.

“Don’t listen to Josh honey. Its sexy, it makes you look dangerous,” said Mona raising her eyebrow just noticeably enough for Richard to understand that there might be some guilt sex coming his way.

Richard shrugged. “I’m the only one in this house that’s not dangerous.”

Mona smiled and said, “I think Josh inherited his accident proneness from me,” then took another sip of her coffee.

“Dad you’re off today. Don’t wear your gun to the movie, it scares people.”

“Son I’m a cop. Even on my day off I have to be prepared to stop crime.”

Josh turned to Mona with the pleading look of a desperate child. “Mom, tell him not to take his gun.”

“Honey just this once. Josh needs to feel like a regular kid. Besides what can happen at a Sunday matinee?”

“Are you two happy now?” Grumbled Richard as he removed his gun from its holster and laid it down on the table like a poker chip.

“Honey buns you’re the best!” said Mona tossing her napkin over the gun and throwing her arms around Richard with a bear hug like grip.

“Thanks Dad,” added a truly appreciative Josh.

So caught up in the moment was Mona, that she came to totally disregard the bandage on Richard’s cheek, seeing it more as a landing pad for a big affectionate kiss, rather than the only protection for a cut that went clean to the bone.

Richard’s eyes went wide with pain as he leapt to his feet not realizing that he had accidentally tucked the red and white-checked tablecloth into his pants. For a moment they all stared at the contents of the table, which had just crashed together in a familiar cacophony, which had signaled the end of several meals at the Skinner table.

Mona considered the good fortune of her coffee mug still being in her hand and perked right up. “Don’t worry I’ll clean up. You and Josh can go off to the movie.”

On the driveway of the Skinner household Mona clutched Josh as if he was going away for a week. Continue reading

CROOKED COPS EPISODE 1

A new blog series, from the Abby Normal mind of Stan Lerner!

It was a bright, sunny morning in the suburbs of Los Angeles. And from the Skinner home, a single story ranch-style, emanated rays of happiness, perhaps even more illuminating than those from the big happy face in the sky.

Eight-year-old Joshua ran down the hallway of his family’s modest two-bedroom home. “C’mon Dad were going to be late! Hurry up,” he shouted as he rounded the corner to the living room just before his foot landed on the misplaced Tonka toy.

A skid forward into a tacky twenty-dollar Torchiere lamp, Torchiere lamp tipping over into a 1970’s shag carpet cat tree, filled with a variety of cats, cat tree tipping over sending cats flying, cats attached to living room drapes like magnets to a fridge, one cat landing in fish tank.

The cat known as Pester, a feline with above average human intelligence, looked up from his unexpected good fortune to see that the curtain and its cache of cats were falling down upon him.

“Meow!” said Pester, but in human he was really saying, “Oh F**k!”

While this early morning commotion, was well into motion, Joshua’s dad Richard, a clean-cut, Wonder Bread type of man, in his early thirties, was showering in a bathroom that was quite literally a converted closet. Thinking that something may be amiss, he turned his head to the partly opened door and listened to what sounded like loud crashes and cat cries from the living room.

“Josh what’s going on out there?” yelled Richard, in the most loving and fatherly tone.

“Nothing Dad!” rang back Joshua’s voice, the voice of a precocious youth, not so cleverly disguised as an innocent angel.

In the not yet updated kitchen worked Mona, the beautiful, almost Victoria Secret model, wife and mother. Breakfast was always a challenge, so it was not so unusual that fire had erupted from all four slots of the toaster, in fact Mona hadn’t even noticed due to her several unsuccessful attempts to flip the eggs in the black greasy frying pan. Finally, she did get enough height with her egg toss, but was distracted by the toaster flames, which caused her to miss the catch.

“Oh no toaster fire!” uttered the brunette beauty, as she moved swiftly toward the pantry cupboard, desperately emptying all of its contents onto the floor. Continue reading

Two Great Downtown Wine Tastings on Tap Tonight and Friday


The legendary “rolling wine bar” at Ralph’s market downtown has been reactivated from time to time in 2010 by its superlative host Mike Berger, like a rock star dropping in unexpectedly to play a stunning set of live music unbilled.  This week Mr. Berger is announcing two winery-themed tastings: tonight, Wednesday the 14th, and Friday the 16th.  Both tastings will run from 5pm until 8pm.

Celebrated in the past numerous times in downtownster as the best happy hour wine value in Los Angeles, the ephemeral return of these events is cause to rejoice anew.  While still often stunningly great experiences for the money, Mr. Berger has lost a large share of his creative control of the tastings.  For over two years he had complete autonomy in presenting his selections of wines for themes of his choosing.  To the true wine aficionado many of these tastings could have been subtitled “Operation Shock and Awe”, such were the sensational attributes of the wines, their savory accompaniments and the seamless grace of the host — all for a price that was close to ten dollars.  The same price range is still in effect and all-inclusive: wines, food and no tip allowed.

Tonight he will be joined by his compatriot in the world of wine, Joe Montoya.  Mr. Montoya will be pouring, along with our local hero, wines from two of the most prestigious wineries he represents – Château St. Jean (of Sonoma) and Beringer (of Napa).  In the world of Northern California wine, and therefore, the world of fine wine at large, these wineries have great reputations.  St. Jean produces one of the most honored meritages in the short history of that term, Cinq Cepages.  It is a blend of five red grape varieties that has received wine-of-the-year honors from The Wine Spectator as well as copious other important awards.  Beringer’s top-rated red wine has even more impressive accolades.  For decades their Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has been considered one of the elite Cabernets from Napa Valley, the United States’ greatest region for its most vaunted red varietal.  Along with a handful of other producers, this wine has been dubbed a premier cru – a nod to the five French Châteaux who produced unrivaled Cabernet Sauvignon-driven wines for nearly two centuries before the emergence of California and Italy as rivals.  I would not expect either of these wines to be offered tonight.  I do expect a marvelous tasting of at least five wines that will range in retail price from $16 to $60.  Both wineries are known for exceptional Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as many other superb varietal wines including Merlot, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.  The list of fine wines from current vintages to draw from numbers in the twenties and Mr. Berger will pair the selected wines with four super-premium artisanal cheeses and La Brea Bakery bread.  It should be noted that Mr. Montoya, while co-hosting these tastings in the past, was known for his generosity and, “the wine flowed like water”. Continue reading

162,000 New Jobs! Not!!!

Last week I wrote a blog that identified the fundamental flaw at the core of Health Care Legislation—FREEDOM! This week I’m compelled to write a blog that identifies not only the fundamental flaw at the core of all economic stimulus efforts to date, but the one game changing idea (for the better) that is now being discussed at the White House and beyond. This initiative and public support for it are so important that I urge all readers of this blog to share it with others and to voice support.

The title of this blog “162,000 New Jobs! Not!!!” exemplifies the fault of all economic stimulus efforts to which I speak, in its absolute entirety—INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY!!! An administration and a media that suggests that the U.S. economy has turned a corner as demonstrated by a jobs report that encompasses temporary jobs, created by the government, funded by deficit spending, is engaged in cognitive dissidence, at best, and outright intentional deception at worst. And for those who are not as familiar with the specifics of this report as I, let me just point out the most obvious—48,000 Americans have been employed temporarily to take the U.S. Census.

Problem solving is a function of truth. Politics, self-interest, and ego are abhorrent to the problem solving process and must not be present if absolute answers are to be found. To date the problem solving process that has been utilized, with respect to the most recent collapse of the U.S. economy, has been completely polluted with the three previously mentioned toxins. Imagine the damage a small business could do to itself if it were to spend money on capital improvements believing that the economy had indeed turned the corner as reported—it could be a deathblow. The current administration would do itself and the country a service if it were to simply tell the truth—the stimulus, to date, has not worked. The baseless prediction that unemployment would top out at 8% was wrong. There’s no shame in being wrong and moving on. Problem solving, by definition, is a matter of trial and error. If President Obama would just say the truth, not bother with endless rationalizations, and tell the American public what he plans on trying next, the public would support him—I suggest this highly!

So what’s the good idea? The administration is considering legislation that would reduce capital gains on investments into small businesses to ZERO. Continue reading