Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DUI on Santa Monica Blvd. circa 1996

The 20th anniversary of a famous trial verdict reminds me of an incident that occurred about a year later. I had just left a friend’s house after watching Evander Holyfield knock Mike Tyson around on PPV and I guess I was feeling my oats. Driving home on Santa Monica Boulevard in my VW Rabbit, I began to feel encroached upon by an erratic driver in a small white sedan. The situation became more irritating through Century City as the driver would speed up, cut me off, change lanes, stop at a green light; then charge through the red as I approached.

The sedan stopped behind a long back-up at Beverly Glen Blvd. so I was able to pull up alongside. Inside were two black men in the front seat and a third in the back. I signaled the passenger to roll down his window. When he did, I ordered the driver to cut in front of me and pull over to the curb across the intersection.
Somewhat hesitantly, the sedan moved to the curb lane and gradually came to a stop as I followed behind. Following standard TV Police Show procedure, I left my vehicle and approached the driver. I told him to turn off the ignition and give me the keys. I ordered the driver and his front seat passenger out of the car and to step to the sidewalk. The guy in the back seat, it appeared, had fallen asleep.

Under questioning, I found that these were three young men from the American south, seriously soused, who had come to L.A. seeking a good time. I could tell the driver was too drunk to drive so I explained that his erratic driving was about to lead to an accident or, at least, the lockup, and I could not let them proceed. The passenger, however, indicated that he was not seriously under the influence so, since I was tired and wanting to get home and felt I had shaken them up enough, I gave him the car keys and suggested they stop up ahead for some fast food and coffee.
As he started to get behind the wheel, the replacement driver asked if he could have a hug. I okayed it, and the late night motorists in Westwood were treated to the sight of a big Black man and old White guy embracing in the street.

I got back into my car, but the original driver jumped out of the car and came to my window. “I need a hug, too,” he said, and reached in to hug me.
I told him to have fun but drive safe. He told me he would do that, and added that, though the trial was over and the verdict was now history, he wanted me to know he thought O.J. did it. So I went home.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fallen Angel

At the time of his death, George was my oldest living friend. During those 60-some years, I lived a fairly satisfying , generally easy and not seriously challenged life. George, on the other hand, met with many serious challenges throughout his life, not all of his own making, and most at which he failed. Yet, despite his neuroses, addictions, debaucheries, failures and the losses, progressively, of everyone and everything he loved and treasured, including the body he wrecked and ruined through his unwholesome appetites, he persisted to live beyond the span of years most of us hope to attain.

At times George seemed to revel in the fact of his bad health, but frequently, in the final years leading to his death, he complained about his frequent falling down. It is common for the elderly to fall down, which can lead to hospitalization and death. And George lived in San Francisco near the top of the very steep Grant Avenue so caution was his byword.

Very near the end of George’s life, my son Joe happened to be having an espresso on Columbus Avenue when George walked by. He greeted George and took this picture, but George didn’t stop to chat and quickly moved on. It appears that this is the last picture taken of George as he was found dead a few days later, on the floor beside the bed he had fallen from.

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