It is the light

A single light shines
way beyond comprehension
it shines with bright illumination
with no excuses or apologies

It’s just a light that shines
and we come to it with
our burdens, sorrows and
confusions; the light shines

There is no time for conversation
or abused action with thoughts
of freedom or pursuits of happiness
the light is shining and we are here

So be lost and confused with
burdens of excess and loves
crosses that hold us down
with excessive weight and weariness

The light still shines. And it will always
shine until that day when you
turn away with intent to be right or
to defend wrong that is not so

Remember: We come to the light
and the warmth is good and the
illumination is crisp, the light
is shining and we are fine

It is the light shining that is enough.
It is the light shining that wills us.
It is the light shining that becomes us.
It is the light shining that holds us

It is the light and we give thanks…

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A pathway back

Tumbling downward, spiraling out of control
lasting only a few minutes is the sensation of
loss; “Come back home,” the wind screams.
“Come back home” – there is nothing to see,
nothing to do but acknowledge the postman as
an employee of us and then you and then who
knows?

But it is the postman with the bag and the long
face of weariness like a razor-sharp tree branch
that offers refuge; not of this world but also not of
the next. Just an offering, like the box at a church,
offering for salvation, saving of the soul with a
small donation of coin that glistens, shines for a
moment.

“Such thoughts,” the aged lady grasping a lizard
of rather large proportions mutters. “You should be
ashamed,” she cries after the passersby ignore her
yet again. They always ignore her. She cares. She
cries. She cries a lot. All the time, actually. It doesn’t
help; more like anguish on steroids. Lying is the only
way.

Can’t stop the clock as it winds down further and further,
winding consistently like a relentless water torture, it
drips and drips and drips. Jump up and take control: That’s
the ticket. Jump up, take control. It’s repetition of the redundant
that affords the greatest plan of attack. Ah, yes, attack
with all your controlled might and may the best man
win.

Jeez! I’m tired to my bone marrow with no excuse other
than to know I’m not you who resides in us all. Not of you
who resides in us all. Not with you who resides in us all.
Not by you who resides in us all. Not even the promise
of you who resides in us all. No, I reside where we all do:
now.

Just now…

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Item 33 – Some other thoughts

I sat on a bench the other day;
rainy, windy, cold, bitterly cold,
I sat…waiting for the
proverbial bus

A piece of drenched paper, crumpled,
dirty, driven by the wind
attached itself to
my legs like a hungry chigger

I snatched it from around my shin
to discard with disdain…piece of
wet, scratchy, piece of shit
paper – i noticed some writing

It read, smudges and all:

“What if loss was an introduction
to bounty?
What if darkness was a shortcut
to light?
What if sadness was a decoy
for joy?”

Jesus! My mind screamed silently.
What the f*&^#!! I thought again.
Serious stuff for an old piece
of wet, crumpled paper.

I began to take this seriously.
“What does this mean?” I thought.
“Why did this happen now?” I thought again.
“What do I do?” I thought…

Lot’s of thinking going on here.

Just then an old lady pushing a shopping cart
waddled by, snatched the paper out of my grasp,
blew her runny nose with purpose, such a noise,
and tucked the paper into the
shopping cart amongst her other
life belongings.

She looked at me, winked, and said “thank you.”

The bus came and I got on. Lucky for me I had exact change. Bus drivers get finicky about stuff like that.

 

Talk soon…

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Item 39 – Some say it’s a poem for Chelsea

Down the street,
cobblestones lead to a doorway
oak-lined with promise
of breathless ease;
it deserves only to be
opened. I can do this.

Only to be opened – there is
a smallish, oriental man holding
a sign that reads “Only
to be opened.” “I am here,” I say.
Nothing. The smallish, oriental man
just points, “Only to be opened.”

Night has collapsed all around. Irritated,
arrogantly, I grab for the
sign. I’m ready, I demand.
It disappears. Suddenly. Gone. So is the
smallish, oriental man. The door remains closed.
Oak-lined with promise of breathless ease

I am cold. Night is raining. Street language deafening.
A coat is offered. I take it. I stumble
away from the door, thanking him
for his generosity. It is the smallish, oriental man.
But there is no sign. He smiles. “Only to be opened,” he says.
And so the door does open. Breathless ease…immediately

Talk soon…

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It’s time to say “thanks” to Sheriff Baca

There is a question: Is it better to be a has-been or a never-was? I’ve never been able to answer that question…sometimes it’s one and sometimes it’s another. I do know I’ve been both places.

And so it goes again. I spent the last 14-plus years serving one of the great minds in law enforcement, Sheriff Lee Baca. By the way, he will always be Sheriff Baca. Just like former presidents are always President Clinton, Sheriff Baca will always be Sheriff Baca.

And, if you’ve not been living in a cave, you will know he has retired – suddenly, you might say, but most assuredly retired. I have been his spokesman for 14 years and by extension, the department spokesman for the same amount of time. That is done. Gone. Over and out. I am grateful that Sheriff Baca gave me the opportunity to serve him and by extension Los Angeles County. I have been honored and humbled for this opportunity. But that is not what this is about. It is about gratitude for a job-well done. Certainly, not by me, but by the Sheriff.

That’s why I chose to visit with you today because I have not heard too many people, especially those elected folk, thank Sheriff Baca for his public service to the department and Los Angeles County.

The Sheriff served with distinction – yes, that’s right – with distinction for 48 years. He was Sheriff for 15, elected in 1998. And, also, – this is a side note for sure, but this ill-informed chatter the Sheriff wouldn’t have won if Sheriff Sherman Block – God, rest his soul – hadn’t passed days prior to the election is utter nonsense. Sheriff Baca was way ahead in all the polls and would’ve won outright, regardless. And, another thing, think about this for a sec: During the 1998 campaign Sheriff Baca refused to refer to Sheriff Block by any other title than Sheriff. “He is my Sheriff and will always be my Sheriff,” Sheriff Baca would say to me many times. This used to drive his political consultants crazy. They used to say, “You give him credibility when you refer to him as sheriff. Call him Mr. Block or Sherm,” they would say. Sheriff Baca was adamant, “The voters gave him that title and he deserves it. We just have a different vision for the department.”

Sheriff Baca went on to win in a landslide. Then, there’s the list of what he’s done as sheriff: One of the first things he suggested when he took over was to recommend an Inspector General for the jails. That was back in 1998. The Board of Supervisors would have none of it. What do we have now: an Inspector General for the jails. The Sheriff pushed for oversight by civil rights attorneys. The board resisted again but the Sheriff got that. The Board now wants a civilian review board with no real power. The Sheriff pushed for education in our jails. They resisted. He got that. The Sheriff pushed for stronger core values, stating exactly how deputies should do their jobs. He got that. He added three new sheriff stations. He got that. He opened up the Sheriff’s Department to all through his advisory committees; everybody, he believed, deserved a seat at the table and a voice to go along with it. Resistance again. He got that.

After 9/11 and Muslims were unjustly being violently targeted, he put together a 30-minute news video featuring all the news anchors at the time, discussing the important heritage of American Muslims in our community. The program aired and has been commended for easing tensions after the horrendous attack that took 3,000 of our brave citizens. This video cost nothing. Everybody volunteered their time. Try to get a news anchor in today’s market to do anything for free. Sheriff Baca did that.

I haven’t mentioned the state-of-the-art crime lab at CalState L.A. that Baca single-handedly brought to fruition – yes, there were others, always are, but the Sheriff drove that bus – and it doubles as a classroom for college students. Sheriff Baca did that. There isn’t enough room to mention the commitment to the mentally ill; the homeless; budget cuts without layoffs; Measure A, transgender helicopter pilot, growth spurt from 13,000 to 18,000 employees, 40-plus contract cities, courts, community colleges and the fight to preserve the downtown hall of justice; a  landmark that preserves LA’s architectural history.

I will be coming back with more. Perhaps less serious matters involving certain celebrities and what happened behind closed doors. But for today, I want to thank Sheriff Lee Baca for a job well-done. Whoever takes over will discover the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is in remarkable good shape. They will be gratified to find that yet again public reports are over-stated, and just not true. This is due to the men and women – both past and present – of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and their leader for the past 15 years – Sheriff Leroy David Baca.

And finally, there is a Mark Twain quote – interestingly enough it’s actually a misquote that has found its way into American mythology perpetrated by the press. Regardless, take note. It may prove prophetic: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Talk soon,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chosen ones are not who you think…

Holidays are a funny, taxing time. No need to say that. Everybody knows that. Even the most devout Christians among us are strained by the commercial madness preceding the day of the 25th. The demands of what must be or should be haunt so many, pushing doubt, eroding worth to the point of submission.

During this time, my thoughts always turn towards those less fortunate. Those who are estranged from their own or are coming from behind; running on empty but still running on overdrive. Smoke rising from the engine, metal grinding on metal. No where to turn and escape seems hopeless.

They are the chosen ones. Weird to say that; those lost are the chosen ones, but it’s true. They are the ones whose voices must be heard. It is not easy but it is a requirement.

This is more than just thinking of others, which, granted, sometimes is not my best calling card. It is taking action on behalf of the chosen ones. Whether it be food, clothing, shelter, money or just being there, it is their time – not ours. They are the chosen ones.

As some of you know, when I was much younger – significantly younger – I was one of the chosen. Yep, I was running the streets of madness, fetching lower companions like a captain of industry.

It didn’t start that way. It started in the very lap of luxury. Pop, now dead for a few years, God rest his lovely soul, was an actor of fame and fortune. He provided an incredible upbringing for us; his three sons. We grew up in a luxurious enclave known as Rustic Canyon where the environment mirrored a private forest of creeks marked by swimming holes and million-dollar homes populated with millionaire eccentrics plying their trade in books, theater, and motion pictures, to name just a few of the professions.

Names like academy-award winner Lee Marvin; “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling; actor James Arness of “Gunsmoke” fame; among others, dotted the landscape. Even future president Ronald Reagan was hanging his celebrity hat nearby before becoming governor of this great state and then ultimately becoming the 40th President of these here United States.

To not put too fine a point on it: this was the mother of all beginnings.

Alas, I didn’t take advantage of this, or even grateful for the blessings reaped upon my undeserving soul. I was to enter the world of the chosen, whereby a doctorate in streetwise maneuvering was required in the daily diet to achieve survival. Talk about living by your wits. No joke here, because a miscalculation could cost you more than just a missed meal. Sidewalks were home and hand-outs a profession for 15 long-years.

That all changed in 1977 when a man of strong Catholic faith decided my life was worth saving and he lifted me out of the drunken, self-absorbed madness and placed me on the road to redemption. His faith was re-introduced by way of a sober God.

He never preached. He never pressed his Catholicism on me. He never pushed or pressured. He just quietly guided me to a better life. A life where I graduated from college with honors. Where I married – still am after 26 years – raised two great sons; one a recent graduate of California Lutheran University and the other a junior at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Where I attained a small measure of success in the newspaper business before entering public service.

His name was Will Campbell and I will be indebted to him forever.

So, my thoughts, prayers and actions are for the chosen ones. Those without and those alone. They’re worth their weight in gold for they raise us all to heights of spiritual peace and an abundance of joy.

May the blessing of a power greater than yourself, which I choose to call God, enter your life and introduce you to the possibility that hope is more than a swear word.

You are the chosen ones and you have chosen us to be there with you, and we are. No longer without. No longer alone. Together, we are safe. Together, we are sound. No question about it.

Talk soon…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Untitled No. 1

The bastards of the realm stutter;
they convince those to be
nothing as long as they agree without hesitation

Agree. They say. Agree. They warn. Agree.

And then fall back. Fall back into the mud where
we all crawl, wet, cold, tired; lost is
not the right word: maybe there is no right word

Agree. They say. Agree. They warn. Agree.

No fault is driven by children, family; days on
end of more days on end costing
warped sin of desperate failing light, shadowless

Agree. They say. Agree. They warn. Agree.

Emerging from the corner like a beacon to
quickly shrink, whimpering,
back-peddling as if promising a concurrent smile

Agree. They say.  Agree. They warn. Agree.

Contradictions remain silent, looking for an
opening only to yet again fall,
sickeningly short; a door slams, a baby cries

Agree. They say. Agree. They warn. Agree.

What to do with the baby? So young. So loud
when it cries. Movement random,
unheralded, unleashed. What to do with the baby?

Agree. They say. Agree. They warn. Agree.

Ah, but what to do…

     

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