Dec 29, 2013

This happened several days earlier, he said.  He was flying in a small, low-wing, monoplane up the Nile River.  On one side, the white cliffs of Dover, and set in the chalk were huge tablets, hundreds of feet tall, each filled with Egyptian Hieroglyphs. The tablets were endless; the cliffs stretched off to the horizon. At the bottom of each tablet was a translation. Like a caption. But they were difficult to read and he had to keep circling.  The messages were like, "I come from the underworld." But then there were also crazy ones like, "Hey, tell Vinny I want the ova-and-unda."
"Is that what tipped you off?" I asked. "That it was a dream."
He shook his head and went on with this story, which was that when he woke up he was wheezing like mad. He'd been ill for several days.
"You know how sometimes when you wheeze," he said, "you hear things in the rasping. Well, I heard someone crying for help. Yes, in this squeaky little voice but it was clear as a bell.  There was no distortion. Crystal clear! And every time I took a breath there it was the same word, and so for a while I thought, 'well, it's just some kind amazing anomaly', but then I heard, 'Help me.' It was saying help me, and that's when I realized I was into something weird and some part of the exoskeleton must have come loose or God knows what. At that point I just wanted to get back in my plane and continue my journey...  But I woke up my wife and asked if she could hear it.  She got

Dec 2, 2013

Naturally, there was a question of whether to go at all, since we'd not seen her in several years. And the truth is, she was never a close friend, although my wife may have felt a distance I did not.  And so yes, we said, we'll go, we'll do it, why not. After all, it's the right thing.  And so we did, rolling up to Santa Rosa, listening to the game, the sound of the fog horn after each touchdown, and simultaneously trying to see through the nature of her struggle, and imagining what we would say to her, and how long we would stay....

At the hospital, we walked down one long corridor after another until finally we reached her room.  It was crowded, everyone moving around like communicants, coming to the rail, backing away, she, perfectly still, now completely disconnected,  save for oxygen.  She looked different of course, death was tucking her into its embrace and removing the last bit of furniture in what had been a castle of a woman.

Bones and kidneys were now baked from the chemo.  No white blood cells left.  For weeks the doctors had held out hope.  Well, we'll see, they said. We'll take it day by day and see if we can't round the corner.  But the corner was already rounded.  And still now, as we sat there, the oncologist was telling her husband that maybe tomorrow, if the white blood cell count went up, they could get back to the chemo.

Everything to keep the woman alive, at all costs, with no thought to her real condition, or to the preparations she needed to make for such a crossing.

Her husband was seething.  He'd believed the doctors for too long.  The nurses knew, of course. Now, he was ready to smite them all.  He's fired, he said to me after the oncologist left the room.  He doesn't know it, but that bastard is gone. 

The woman herself lay still, surrounded by her paintings and children, her lips chapped hideously, accepting slivers of ice, with the tranquilizing music in the background, and above her bead, photo panels in the ceiling showing the sky and leaves in autumn, the self-administering morphine in her hand. And for moments she was there and good, still with humor and clarity, to underline both the tragedy and the naturalness of it all.   And the meanness of it, we agreed later.

For a moment she recognized me and I held her hand.  She was telling me something but I couldn't hear, the sound of words was so subtle. I leaned in and still couldn't quite make it out.  "In another life," she kept saying and squeezing my hand, just barely.

Nov 20, 2013

A few days after he died my father sent me a message. It arrived through a family friend named Ulrich who for years would drop by my father’s house to have a drink and play backgammon.  This was 25 years ago. Ulrich always wore a school-boy blazer and an ascot; he’d once been a Broadway actor and appeared in several musicals. Later, he became a horticulturist. He married my father’s long time literary agent, Lea, and eventually they left Hollywood for a secluded life up the coast, in the foothills above a place called Zuma Beach. They had a fabulous garden, and occasionally we’d drive up for the afternoon to see it, and also to have a ‘Martini Bugler’, which Ulrich named after the Scarlet Bugler you find in the chaparral of the coastal mountains. He would give you a chilled glass, plunk in a huge red Moroccan olive, and then like a priest at the rail mumble, “This is my body of the New Testament given for you and for many, for the pleasure of our sins….” A couple of those Buglers and you were done. Afterwards, we’d go across the highway, down to the beach to swim...

Nov 6, 2013

In the eye of the eye of the beholder,
And a worthy beholder of skillful means,
Still another eye, behind closed gray lid,
the heart’s aperture, a mindful glass,
It sees no parody, no ill, no anomaly;
only the trapeze and two ariel artists,
mysterious, fragile, like two small ships
plying their trades, leaning on a breeze,
and a tight reach across the faces below.

Nov 1, 2013

Western Approaches, Eastern Empire;
Northern Alliances, Southern Command;
Lady Drake drawn from the four corners,

In your admiral’s blue tunic,
top button unbuttoned;
The scent of salted skin and windless passage.
And above it all, that watchful smile,
Part beacon at land’s end. And yes,
To mix all metaphors,
twin hearts ever on a reach,

But joined in beauty and sensibility,
A completely unchartered anchorage,
Known only to black freighters,
men soaring by on their machines,

‘It’s all alright,’ you want to say,
Listen to a plumb bob come to rest.

Believe your sextant’s eye and fix….
“it will be alright’  as you always say.
Ever grace, gracious and kind.

Oct 16, 2013

Grief, coming out of nowhere.  Something you forgot to do years ago, maybe tried and couldn't; the lines were busy, now suddenly it's here. Appearing like a letter slipped under the door. The writing is so familiar. But is it genuine? That's always the question: where is this coming from? 'Have you some identification, sir?'
'I'm sorry, I don't.'
And that's the fear. But then you look at something as plain as a library's beige brick wall, and for no reason, the tumblers fall into rhythm. And suddenly breakdown, Edvard Munch time, you've been hit, all hands will be lost, and thank god because you'd begun to wonder about that, and whether you'd ever record that death properly, accurately, in full proportion.

Oct 14, 2013

Letter to the Near East:  ... And for the countless time will you tell us again where is the intersection between the ideal and real in the 'Arab world.' Tell us once more how we are to reconcile such things as Assad's joke about how he should have been nominated for the Nobel Prize with yet another ghastly video of a paramilitary execution; and reconcile those with an alluring new pop hit — or the life and times of Malala, although of course, she is not Arab...

There an infinite number of extremes to throw in the pot.  And of course don't forget the interminable lights of Cordova and the wisdoms of Ibn Khaldun.  But how do you make sense of any of it?

Oh, what you've brought to the world. Oh, the romance entwined in your gift; and oh, the horror. And still again, looking in the window, you wonder at the reawakening and you shudder.  If only someone would intervene and change it all... Isn't that the hope?  That some outsider, or some kindly tyrant come and clamp down a piece.  Like the Prophet did.

It never occurs to you that you are your own Prophet.

But looking at the paramilitaries, Hezbollah perhaps, dragging the wounded civilians, all men in this case, out of the back of a lorrie, then shooting them and howling in the glory of it, you think, 'but why not just let them all kill each other, why interrupt that dream.

And you think, you should be so much more ashamed than you are, than perhaps you are capable of.

And Islam?  It's become your veil but nothing else.

When will you have had enough of your predispositions.  When will you understand the real meaning of surrender....

Sep 16, 2013

Here are directions to Dante's Inferno from San Francisco. Take Hwy 280 south to San Jose. Look for the 9th Circle exit and follow that to "Round 2".  Not 1 or 3.  They're easy to confuse. From there go to the corner of Sunol and Auzerais. People in the neighborhood don't pronounce it the way it sounds.  They also can't describe where the entrance to the Inferno is. You'll have to find that yourself.  The word above the door is nearly unintelligible. Look closely: Mater Dei Towing (not the actual name but the same shenanigans). This is Round 2. You've arrived. Ask for Virgil. He'll be expecting you.  He doesn't look anything like you'd think. Go inside. It's very dark. He'll leave you at that point.

The place is nearly the size of a football field, with the ceiling as high as an old Hollywood sound stage.  Off to the right you may notice Count Ugolino gnawing on the pate of his one time colleague, Archbishop Ruggieri delgi Ubaldini. You remember the story of those two!  Well, that's why the nickname for this part of the Inferno is "Treachery."

Naturally, you'll take in the very tasteful decor.  There are may be 30 limos for hire, for all the local Kardashians; and then a dozen wrecks for ordinary people. Everything is neat and lined up. There's the sound of tow trucks getting ready to go out; engines revving, radios blaring. And heavy metal coming from somewhere else. There is also a large mobile home, at the end of a ramp — for those who arrive in a wheelchair. This is the devil's office. There's fake grass here and there. And fake plants. And a giant fan. And the lights from the mobile home make you think it's night, even though it's broad daylight just out the door. There's something vaguely cinematic about the whole thing; a place Rod Serling would appreciate immediately.

Now why would you ever come to such a business? Let's say you are in car accident. It's not your fault, and this is a no-fault state anyway, and here these people have been kind enough to tow your badly wrecked car to their business. But there's a little more to it. Hwy Patrol officer, Broderick Crawford at your service, complete with raspy, angry voice, arrives on the scene and with all the charm of a mortician's dead father asks for your information. 'What happened here?' 'Exactly how far were you from the car in front?'

Now let's say that there are three cars in the accident and it will take about 15 minutes to write up a report from each driver, do a visual inspection, say any inane thing that comes to mind, and offer no sympathy to the poor woman standing beside her totaled vehicle, and after all that, complete the report.  You're an accomplished officer. You've done hundreds of these.  And while no one notices, you call up Count Doldrum down at Mater Dei Towing.  You've asked the weeping woman who has no idea what's going on if she's okay. She has no idea but she doesn't want an ambulance so you follow your procedure.  You tell the Count to get right over with a truck.  You scratch my balls, I scratch yours. The truck comes. But the truck can't leave with the lady's car until all the reports have been completed.  That's the gimmick.  I call you as soon as I get to the accident, knowing it's going to take at least an hour, and you come right over and start that clock, and nobody's the wiser. It's all official. It's on triplicate. It's like clocking in.

The candy for the towing company is $200 an hour.  And remember they always round up.  Two hours and 15 minutes is two and a half hours. Two hours at 35 minutes is 3 hours. And then you pay an $80 storage fee per day.  Now let's say this accident happened at 7 p.m.  Well at midnight that's one day.  Any part of the day is a whole day.  Before you can say Ruggieri delgi Ulbaldini you owe the inquisitioners $380.

Now let's say this is a Friday night. The storage facility is closed until Monday, unless you wish to pay a $100 gate fee. So let's say you get there on Monday first thing — because you're donating your vehicle to KarsforKids, if only to get away from that ad, which is like stuffing earwhigs in your ears. So you get there on Monday and you ask the lady behind the counter what the damage is and she says that will be four days plus $300, so that's $620.

You mean 'what's the damage' facetiously because there are all sorts of damages already associated with this wreck. Time lost, job endangered, vehicle destroyed, marriage made uninhabitable. Insurance won't cover any of that or reimburse you for letting the fake priests take you away.

Are you kidding you want to say. But you look at the lady who is a 400-pound chunk of flesh and tattoo.  And lip rings, cheek jewelry, all the lewd and lascivious ideas you can record on one human's body. Diderot's human encyclopedia. And clearly a totem in this part of the world.  You look at her and suddenly all questions and answers are absorbed. Her presence is too overpowering. You have to take her in.  Like coming into a dark room late at night.

Naturally you want to appeal.  No problema. It means waiting for the boss. He's not back from the gym. But he will be. And then suddenly there he is. Just back from the gym, with what looks like two bodyguards, UFC types.  Not caucasian, not asiatic, not black. All three genetically wired together in a video-gamey sort of way. With muscles drawn as it were.

The boss is friendly, forties, ear ring in the left ear, in black attire, black court shoes. You wonder what sort of gym he goes to. The S&M Gold Gym perhaps. 'Where we put your imagination on the wrack and you love it.'

You say to him, 'your driver quoted under $200 for the tow. Your telephone person agreed to $200 for the tow.' And this lady, and you are hardly able to look at her, now says $300.  How can that be? That doesn't seem fair, you say.  And how can you make five hours into a whole day. That is black magic. That's unfair.

By golly.

And later you have to smile, as though fairness was ever a value in the 9th Circle. You forget where you are kind sir. Oh you endlessly naive bastard; and so you make your case. And along the way you try anger. You've already pleaded with the driver, so add pleading. You throw in indignation and outrage, and all of your most cutting Black Irish charm. You throw in ideas and threats and the meaning of it all. You nearly make a rude remark about Rush Limbaugh. But finally you just look at him. You make him your judge. And now everyone is looking at the boss. And he's loving this moment. Oh my God, does he do these moments well, is he not Ray Liotta, bless his pock-faced soul; the power of the owner of a big tow company in a mid-sized town, with his little 'agreements' with Broderick Crawford, with his power over his folks, just out of prison or wherever: meth heads, car thieves, fraudsters and gangstas. He's got them, and they're all smiling faintly. They know this scene so well and they owe him.

Well maybe there's hope, you think. There isn't and you can see what this but you can't do anything about it. He looks still again at this homies standing with him, he's got that quizzical expression, this is when you have to watch out, and that weird, rippling little smile, like something coming apart, and then with the speed and force of Queen Mary's executioner, he comes down on you.

Sep 2, 2013

There's always a new trick. A year ago, three Chinese ladies approach you in the street. Out in the Avenues. They tell you bad news is coming and the only way to deter it is to let them bless your moneys and valuables. Now, in Fremont, the trick is that a man or a lady, or both, come to the door. Usually, two people. They are in uniform; they're from a utility.  PG&E, Recology, sewer cleaners, telephone line maintenance, animal retrieval. They tell you there is an outage in the block caused by a runaway python. Oh my God, you say. Could we check your backyard and we'll take care of it? Of course you can, please come this way, and as you lead them to the backyard through your house the less memorable person in the background is picking up whatever there is, a wallet, a phone, an ipad, an itouch, a knick or a knack, a watch, cash, and the more memorable man quickly looks through your backyard and nope, I don't see one, but it's important that you stay in doors and be careful.  Do you know where your pets are? And suddenly the two people are gone, in their truck, but I don't remember what it said on the side, but then i noticed things were missing. I have a terrible fear of pythons....  How did they know that?

Jul 11, 2013

Notes to myself on creativity, based on Richard Diebenkorn's, "Notes to myself on beginning a painting"
  1. attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.
  2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued — except as a stimulus for further moves.
  3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.
  4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.
  5. Dont “discover” a subject — of any kind.
  6. Somehow don’t be bored — but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.
  7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.
  8. Keep thinking about Polyanna.
  9. Tolerate chaos.
  10. Be careful only in a perverse way.

Jul 7, 2013

"Do you know what I'm saying? she asked again, and over her shoulder, a view of all the world, from Feiffer Pt., 120 degrees of horizon, and now with the evening coming in, ocean and the marine layer became indistinguishable. As she appeared in her way.

"Do you know what I'm saying," she asked still again, always looking to her right and up.  Is that the indication of a liar? I couldn't remember.  Or else she was like a renaissance figure, those longing eyes and her arm outstretched, to a swan perhaps.

In fact, a clothing designer, at 43.

Still, I kept asking questions, and to those who say, 'you ask way too many', I respond, 'but don't you see that everyone wants to be asked, everyone wants to be on Fresh Air?' And not asked, 'what do you do', but 'who are you?'  Young people don't ask those questions of each other these days.  So she herself implied.

"I'm telling him the story of my life," she said to someone standing close by, a championship skateboarder it turned out. And she meant it.

She asked if I'd seen the Charlie Rose interview in June with John Galliano, the bad boy designer from the House of Dior who made anti-semitic remarks in 2011 and not just once — someone else who has never read the history of Poland during WWII, and not of the ghetto in 1939, but of the rest of the city in July and August, 1944. I hadn't seen the interview but since then I skimmed it. Galliano seemed beaten, undone, a man capable of only modest reflection.  And what was the point? He admits he's an addict and in recovery for the rest of his life, and he's trying to make amends however he can.  And so what. Charlie Rose's curiosity this time seemed an unworthy bet.

My father is an alcoholic, she went on.  Along with one of her brothers.  She went on at some length to say she could understand perfectly well that Galliano, the addict, could say such things and yes they were horrible, but to ban a man of so much talent for the rest of his life? That seemed unduly cruel.

I didn't agree but said nothing, and then like a loyal brushfire the conversation jumped back to her father, and how she remembered so well every nuance of his affliction, she knew just when he was drunk and coming by the sound of his feet on the stairs, the pattern of his step down the hall, the way he turned the doorknob, the very first sound of his voice, and all the bits in between...

Later, when asked, she said really didn't want to have children, and now it was too late anyway, although she spends time volunteering at an organization that helps the children of addicts.
So there have been all these abductions and stories of missing people. The BBC journalist in Gaza, the 3 soldiers taken prisoner south of Baghdad, a four-year-old girl last seen possibly in Morocco, and then Ingrid Betancourt, who has now been held for close to 5 years by the FARC in Columbia. She was a Leftist candidate for president; they are a Leftist organization. Go Figure. A man escaped a few weeks ago and said that because she has tried to escape 5 times Ms. Betancourt now wears a shackle around her neck, which is linked to the other prisoners by a chain.

I am thinking of a film in which all these people appear at the same time. Here is the micro screenplay....

Jun 30, 2013

Less than an hour ago, I returned from Beijing. Yet was I there at all? I have no proof. I may have been. But don't ask me true or false questions.  One day let's say I may have gone to the 18th floor of a building in downtown.  In the middle of the day, you could barely make out buildings a few blocks away; buildings that are home to all the world's greatest corporations.

If I was there I had no sense of the city whatsoever. The sun was no more than a yellow peephole in the gloom.

"It's complicated," someone said. Referring not merely to the city, referring to everything Chinese. To simplest thing, to the tiniest detail. Such is the refrain in China these days. Or has it always been. But perhaps especially a refrain among Chinese-Americans, caught by the endless paradoxes, the discrepancies; above all, the desire to go home and yet once there the longing to get away; the strangeness of the place even to those who know it. The forbidding quality... And all the while life underground, a Blade Runner's world of modernity and small comfort.

"It's complicated", she was saying one evening, just the two of us in a restaurant a thousand miles west of Beijing.  She was about to say something personal, as though to a friend, which she reminded me I was not. But then she held up. It's complicated, she said again.

If that's true it is because you can never let your guard down China (I say that, having never been). Even for a moment, even though you would like nothing better. Betrayal is on every corner, on the tip of your tongue. And so you have no choice. Otherwise, you will be compromised. Someone will have an edge over you.  Or else you will have to go back to the beginning. Or worse they will leave you and your anonymity will be all the greater.

Such is the rhythm in Beijing. But I was never there. I intended to go; I was all set, I had my ticket, I had planned and gathered expectations, but I was never there. Such is the rhythm of thinking you were in Beijing — although not in Ningxia Province, 13 hours by fast, overnight train to the west, and then a bus riding north to where the Hui farmers live. They have little or nothing to hide, and so their dramas are huge: rain, good health, enough food to get through winter.  Forget the corruption, the government reservoir never finished. I was there in spirit certainly, but I can tell you honestly I have never been to China.

Apr 2, 2013

“I am betrayed — always,” he said the second and last time we met to discuss his project.  We sat outside a Starbucks in Danville. As proof he went on to recount a recent coup among senior executives in his company, which ships natural gas containers out of China. He even mentioned his wife. “She thinks I am crazy”, he said with disgust. “She undermines me.”

And then there was the time as a young teenager — from a well-off family during the cultural revolution no less — that he went to confront school authorities because of the ever-filthy dining room. 

This was in a small coastal town in southeast China where he lived in an oppressive Catholic boarding school. He said he was often pulled out of bed at daybreak by the dormitory priest; the academic schedule was draconian; and the food usually frozen. I didn’t quite understand that bit but it was one of many details I intended to clear up once the project got underway. 

Anyway, he said he went to the principal’s door with a dozen other students to launch a complaint about the dining room but when he was finally let in to say his peace the others left the room and he stood alone to take a stand.  It did not go well, and I think he said he was beaten. He was always difficult to understand, and as he said of himself, “I’m not a forceful person.”  His voice periodically fell away and so I was always leaning toward him, or asking him to repeat, or simply watching him with no idea what he was saying. 

When I first met him he asked if I was surprised that he looked so young. He was in his late 40s; I was not surprised, and merely smiled. He added that he was in ill heath and listed several physical ailments, including problems with his rectum. He went into great detail.

But the sum of it all was that he imagined himself a “troublemaker”, in part because he’d been to jail several times, albeit for short terms, because of his progressive political beliefs.  We agreed that would make a good working title for a novel he wanted me to write based on his life.  Frankly, I would never have gone on with the negotiation as long as I did had he not told me several intriguing stories.

One of the best was about the time he found himself on a bus crossing a flooded bridge. The bus stalled. Everyone got out and went to one bank or the other of the river.  I don’t remember the river’s name if he told me.  But in this part of the country, it was the flood of the century, and drew whole houses down out of the surrounding mountains into the vortex. 

And so as he left the bus he noticed an old man, a farmer, in the middle of the river sitting on a roof with several chickens, a duck, and a large snake. The roof, which was covered in grass, was bearing down on the bridge. It became quickly apparent that there wasn’t enough clearance to pass under the bridge and the people on the shore encouraged the old man to try to steer his roof closer so that they could catch him.  He had some sort of board that he used to steer, and he made some headway. In fact, he got very close and you could see the chickens, the duck and the large snake. The old man reached out and several people reached out to him, including the ‘troublemaker’.  For a moment they all held the old man’s arm, and he was about to be saved but then suddenly the arm slipped away, and the roof was drawn into the current and under the bridge and the old man and his animals all disappeared….   

“I was very curious who this man was,” my would-be patron explained and went on to describe how after the river had returned to its banks some days later he went to find out who this farmer was. He tracked him to a village, found what was left of his house, and from neighbors learned the various mythologies in the area along with the farmer’s battle with the snakes eating his chickens and some other ducks he’d had. 

Actually, there were the two snakes but the old man managed to kill one and was endlessly at war with the other.  There were a series of encounters, including one in the middle of the night when the old farmer took his flashlight and went from hole to hole looking for the snake and finally found it, staring back at him with huge yellow eyes and its mouth wide open about to strike.

“It could be a metaphor,” said the troublemaker.  “We are stuck with our enemies even in calamity. And this is why I want you to write my story, to find these metaphors and abstractions in my life and explore their meaning.”

I was anxious to do it and I quoted him a price for nine months work, which was quite reasonable according to the various people I spoke with, including agents, ghostwriters, editors, and other writers I know.  I even said the figure was negotiable.

I assumed money must have been the reason he withdrew, even as he had told me he was the CEO of $220 million company.  But I don’t know.  In his last email, he wrote, “I need to reconsider my plans due to various reasons.” 

It also occurred to me there was some kind of betrayal involved somewhere, either real or perceived, and perhaps I became another on his list of traitors.  In any case, I will always think of him as a farmer floating down a swollen river with all of his treasure and travail, headed for oblivion under a bridge. 

Mar 13, 2013

Sex is always such an interesting topic, but what's left to say.  What's left to know....  And then along comes Esther, sounding like she's with a cabaret audience...  The rest of her offerings, on her website for example, are not nearly so compelling, but this adds something.

Mar 9, 2013

The Rushbot insists that the majority of Americans agree with him.  It's always the majority that hates the president, longs for guns, fears healthcare, ridicules sequestration, bucks the debt ceiling, dismisses immigrants and gays.  "The majority of Americans feel this way," is always his mantra. "It's just the state-run media and low-information voters that don't know that."

I'm suggesting a moratorium on public opinion. (This included). A stoppage for two weeks of everything.

But also, what about a new show for reality TV. "Four Amigos". The Rushbot, Hannity, Savage and Levin. In diapers. Behind glass. In an infant ward. Four adult-sized cribs, each with mobiles and suckers. And then we can watch the amigos be with each other.  Of course, there's an app to hear them live. Or you can just watch. Any time of day. They don't have phones, micro or otherwise. They have only themselves to convince or destroy.

How would the conversation change. With something other than Obama to talk about what would they sound like?

Feb 28, 2013

This is worth looking at, if you haven't seen it orbiting the Internet: A blue speck in the great nothingness: An old view revisited (my title) The old view is of the earth from Apollo. The revisionist view is simply a reminder that the earth is finally fragile and the arc of the story is from me to we.  We're moving from I-earth to We-earth.  Slow as that is.  The actual title of this is, "Some Strange Things Are Happening to Astronauts Returning to Earth."

Feb 26, 2013

Here is a corrected version of a wikipedia entry that I was unable to edit online. I was also unable to reach a talk page to suggest proper changes.  My hope is that at least search engines may find this.  For those interested in the case please contact me at

Doug Clark (serial killer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Doug Clark
Background information
Birth nameDouglas Daniel Clark
Also known asThe Hollywood Slasher
The Sunset Strip Killer
The Sunset Strip Slayer
BornMarch 10, 1948 (age 64)
Number of victims7
CountryUnited States
Los AngelesCalifornia
Date apprehendedAugust 1980
Sorry! We could not process your edit due to a loss of session data. Please try again. If it still does not work, try logging out and logging back in.
For other uses, see Douglas Clark. Doug Clark Background information Birth name Douglas Daniel Clark Also known as The Hollywood Slasher The Sunset Strip Killer The Sunset Strip Slayer Born March 10, 1948 (age 64) Pennsylvania Conviction Murder Sentence Death Killings Number of victims 7 Country United States State(s) Burbank, California Los Angeles, California Date apprehended August 1980 Douglas Daniel Clark (born March 10, 1948) is an American serial killer.[1]
Clark and his accomplice Carol M. Bundy are known as the "Sunset Strip Killers". They were accused and subsequently convicted of a series of killings in Los Angeles. Clark, a boiler operator in a Jergens soap factory, previously worked at a San Fernando power station, but was fired due to a high rate of absences and threats of violence made against his coworkers. After his marriage failed, he met Bundy in 1980 and began living with her.[2] According to Bundy, Clark's relationship with her became physically and mentally abusive, and he also began paying less attention to her. She also claimed he began to share his violent fantasies with her.
In June 1980, Clark, by himself, or with Bundy — or Bundy with another lover named Jack Murray whom she had known for several years — made their first kill.[3] The majority of victims were prostitutes who, according to Bundy, Clark killed during or after sex. Clark has always denied he killed anybody, although he admits to other crimes. He claims he had been having sex with prostitutes for many years and had no reason to suddenly begin killing them. Bundy told police investigators that Clark was striving to fulfill his fantasy of killing a woman during sex and feeling her vaginal contractions during the death spasms.[1] In one of the murders, in North Hollywood, Bundy bought a young prostitute for Clark's birthday. Bundy's story was that she was in the back seat of a car, Clark and the prostitute in the front seat, and while Clark was receiving an act of fellatio Bundy placed one of two identical guns the couple owned in Clark's open palm. Bundy claims Clark then shot the girl in the head. Clark's story is that he was in the back seat, Bundy in the front seat, and it was Bundy who took one of their little silver guns out of the glove compartment and shot the girl in the head.
In one of her most improbable assertions Bundy once claimed Clark told her that if either of them were apprehended, he would take the blame in the hope that Bundy would be allowed to go free.[4] Clark has always claimed that shortly after they began living together he began to loathe Bundy and endlessly berated and humiliated her. On one occasion Clark and Bundy allegedly saved the head of one of the murder victim and stored it in a freezer for use as a sex toy.[5] They later put it in a hat box and left it in an alleyway.
After his arrest in August 1980, Clark acted as his own defense, insisting that he was being framed by the prosecution for the murders. In fact, almost all the evidence against him at trial came from Bundy who initially claimed to investigators that she only knew about the murders through Clark — except for the murder in North Hollywood, which she admitted to having been an accessory.
But there were disturbing parts of the case that were never resolved. For instance why did Bundy kill Jack Murray, a married apartment manager who she had known before meeting Clark. Bundy shot him, stabbed him, and cut off his head — to make police think it had been the work of a "Manson like group". Clark has speculated that Murray was perhaps becoming skittish as Bundy's partner in the murders and killed him to protect herself. Bundy would claim she murdered Murray because he had asked her to arrange a sexual liaison with a 13-year-old girl that Bundy knew and who had been sexually abused by Clark. No forensic analysis was ever done of the bodies of Jack and the prostitute who had been beheaded to see there might be some similarity. Bundy claimed she knew nothing about the beheading of the prostitute, although she admitted finding the head in the refrigerator. And finally there was a piece of bloody scalp found in the air vent of Jack's van. It's not clear whether that was ever analyzed to seek a match with any of the victims.
Sentenced to death in 1983, he sits on California's death row.[2][3] Bundy plea bargained and, in return for her testimony, received a life sentence. See also

Feb 22, 2013

   "You could say that, Matty — you could very well come to that conclusion — but I couldn't say that."
   The eerie refrain of Francis Urquart (pronouced 'Irkit'), with his signature smile, the infamous FU, Ian Richardson's right wing, great white shark, ever on his way up, and less for the sake of power, as compelling as that is, his wife always reminds him. No, he's in it more for  the game, being an addict of mischief, the way some small boys take the finest pleasure in burning up small animals.
   But what better portrait of evil incarnate.  And how precise his strokes, from bemused to infuriated in an instant, from wise to churlish in an instant, as though his character has no foundation, which of course it doesn't.    
   He accompanies his evil; he doesn't lead or follow it.  They are a brace and they look at each other with that knowing ironic look.  And so the asides to the camera, because of course we are the accompanying evil.
   "You might very well think that, Matty, but you know I couldn't say that."
   It is also the powerbroker's cliched way through the thicket of non-denial denials, and the euphemism of 'on background only.'
   I mention this by way of contrast to the less refined FUs 20 years later, in America, one of the Texas GOP delegates, perhaps, one of those who last July voted on an educational platform to deny the teaching of critical thinking skills.  That you could say is Urquartish, but without his cleverness. He would have disguised the whole thing.  Or Florida Gov. Scott, reversing himself on Medicaid.  Or John McCain with some of his reversals.
   There are countless examples these days on the eve of sequestration — which sounds so much like a word that means, "the next to be castrated." But who is FU's equal these days in America? No one. We don't have a character so sophisticated, or interesting.  Ah, but what about Ted Cruz? He has that look and pedigree.  William F. Buckley was a kind of FU, although more pompous than cruel.  The real FU would have done him in, found some adultery or addiction and forced him to cower.
   Maybe Nixon would be the equivalent.
   Now we have only the likes of the Limbot, Boehner-boner, and the Koch heads.   No match and yet just as calculating, just as evil. Which is not to indict solely conservatives.  After all, there was LBJ, and you could argue that Bill Clinton  in office was the most Urquartish of all.

Feb 21, 2013

Vinny had just gone to see Stand Up Guys.  "Loved it," he said sitting in his new wheel chair. "Just loved it."
   I hadn't seen him in such a good mood in ages.  "I am Alan Arkin," he said, adjusting his oxygen.
   "What else is new?" I asked.
   "Just got my 'I-Cremation'."
   "What's that?"
   "Special deal. Pay now; you don't have to worry later. Everything's taken care of.  You fill out an online form: where you want the ashes spread: sea of somewhere, top of a mountain, the backyard, in your old out basket, or get this: they put a lil'-dab'll-do-you in envelopes to your family and friends on the very next Christmas.  Or on your birthday for years to come.
   "So you never go away."
   "Well, isn't that the fear: A few months later no one remembers you were even here much less gone. Plus it goes with my I-Phone, my I-pad...  My 'I'.  Forget this 'we and our' shit. I got my I."
  "Gotta go," he said and rolled off down the street.

Jan 29, 2013

The world war was over, but by how many days I didn't know.   The streets were filled with debris. As we walked among the bombed out buildings, I worried about the danger of collapse.  We finally reached the hotel and went up to the apartment on the second or third floor.  It was the most gorgeous Mediterranean day, blue and warm.  There was a woman and her family walking small dogs; the dogs looked like Dobermans, and small enough to put in your hat.  The woman wore a long Russian coat and a fur hat.  I had a brand new, yellow tennis ball. I was going to throw it to the dogs but then it occurred to me I should ask her if she would like to throw it herself.  I asked. She was not as thrilled as I would have thought. But after a moment she smiled and reached out her arms.  I let the ball drop.  A year earlier she caught it and threw it toward the bay below the town.  The dogs gave chase but the ball went into the water and they stopped. The bay was full of activity: boats, balls, swimmers, people on boards and strange rafts with cabanas, and killer whales sounding. The Bay of Naples, by Vernet. Who knows. At first, the water was absolutely flat. We went out on a surf board, the boy and I.  Everyone was relaxed.  What if we're under one of those whales when it comes up, I wondered.  The wind picked up.  Just then someone, an authority I knew from somewhere, expressed the possibility of disaster and advised us to go back to shore.

Jan 2, 2013

The old man's head popped to the surface of the hot tub. The night was pitch black but the stars were dim and unelectric. He retook his seat on the stone bench under the water.  Lately, he has been saddened by this film, Amour.  He is a filmmaker himself and if he had been offered that script, he would not have considered it.  Not on your life.  Not even for a moment.  As beautiful as the film was.  As tender as they were to each other.  He was overwhelmed by the idea of such an ending.  Meanwhile, the night was strangely unfriendly; the moon, wordless.