Roger Steffens, Reggae Encyclopedist and “Family Acid” Photographer

Roger Steffens, Reggae Encyclopedist and “Family Acid” Photographer
If you know anything about the world of reggae music, you know the name, Roger Steffens, the  man who began the first radio broadcast of the “Reggae Beat” on KCRW (along with Hank Holmes) on Oct. 7, 1979. It was the only reggae show in Los Angeles at the time, and it went on to set annual fundraising records for the radio station, LA’s local NPR affiliate, still going strong. Eventually “Reggae Beat” was syndicated to 130 stations worldwide. Steffens first guest on the show was Bob Marley, and Steffens spent two weeks on the road with Marley in 1979 on the original...
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Still Alice?

Still Alice?
I finally watched STILL ALICE with Juliane Moore on Netflix. I was sitting in my deceased father’s red leather chair in my bedroom, and my 8 year old, adopted nephew-to-be, from Indonesia, was sitting on the huge, king size bed, playing with his iPad. I had heard that Ms Moore’s performance, which won an Academy Award for her, was spectacular, but that the movie was only so-so. In fact, I had been warned not to watch it just the day before by a German artiste who absolutely hated it. Nevertheless, I watched it and… I was completely captivated from the start. Sure, it was a tragedy, a...
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July 4th, 2015: Cassius & the Kid Soften the Curmudgeon

July 4th, 2015: Cassius & the Kid Soften the Curmudgeon
Yeah, ok, so I’m a curmudgeon. A parsimonious tough guy. On first approach, I have a stern face and a menacing growl. I put people off. I’m not very open to meeting new folks and not very easy to get to know. Some take it for arrogance, but c’mon, you know that’s not the real me. I’m just a big, over-sensitive softie. Inside, where it counts. All that barking and menacing? It’s just a front… a defense… a performance persona… to keep the hostile world at bay. It’s been that way ever since… well, forever. Or at least ever since I...
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Finding My New Voice in the Windy City

Finding My New Voice in the Windy City
Ok, so I’m climbing another old creaky, wooden staircase, up into the unknown. Up into my future. It’s the summer of 1970 and I’m in the Windy City of Chicago. In “Old Town”, the refurbished, creative hub of the city on the near north side, where the Second City comedy troupe of Paul Sills and Alan Arkin fame will soon become home to the next comic crew of John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray. Where tourists can bring their suburban kids to have hand-made, miniature glass-blown animals delicately crafted for them by pretty girls with perfect smiles and steady...
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Pigs, Pestilence & Rats

Pigs, Pestilence & Rats
I’ve gotten 4 traffic tickets in the last 2 weeks. The first was for speeding on the 2 Freeway in Glendale, where the cop was in hiding under an overpass. An obvious speed trap! He said I was going 80. I said I was going no faster than anyone else in the left lane. Let’s see who’s right. I’ve called the Ticket Clinic. The 2nd was just a $73 parking ticket right here at Echo Park Lake. I was showing a new friend around the neighborhood. I was probably just in too expansive a mood, was unaware of the No Parking sign on Fridays 10-12, so no doubt I was rightfully punished by the...
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Losing My Old Voice to Find A New One

Losing My Old Voice to Find A New One
Just about everyone who knows me knows I have a big mouth. Not just the size of it (I once fit 12 eggs into it), but also my compulsion to say whatever I want. Because of it, I have burned far too many bridges, hurt far too many feelings, and stepped on far too many toes. More than I would ever like to admit. But… I like to see how far I can go… to get away with something… to fight for “the right”… right up to the precipice… before I pull back… without injury or damage… to myself or the other party… which I’m able to do… 99 out of...
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He Was a Friend of Mine: Jack Slater

He Was a Friend of Mine: Jack Slater
“Friend” is a word I value. I don’t use it lightly. As in “Facebook friend”. The word has more respect about it than that. At its core, it resonates with words like trust, loyalty and longevity. Because it also has substance about it, something Facebook and merely “acquaintance” simply don’t have. And there is a beautiful song about friendship that I love. it’s called “He Was a Friend of Mine”. My favorite version was sung by Dave Van Ronk, the salty, crusty folksinger with the raspy voice who was sort of the Mayor of Greenwich Village...
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The Irrational and Fantastic World of Dreams

The Irrational and Fantastic World of Dreams
“I think, therefore I am.” I’m a rational man. Logical, knowledgeable, and down to earth. Science fiction? Forget it. I prefer Dostoyevsky, Durrell, & Philip Roth. Cartoons? Super heroes? Fantasy? No thanks. I’ll take the psychological, conflicted realism of our three great American playwrights: Williams, O’Neill, and Arthur Miller. Religion? Bah! Humbug! “The opiate of the masses.” I’m a confirmed atheist. We were not made in God’s image; he was made in ours…. out of our unknowingness, out of our fear. Messiahs? Immaculate conceptions?...
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Eduardo Galeano, Latin America’s Leftist Literary Giant and Poet Laureate

Eduardo Galeano, Latin America’s Leftist Literary Giant and Poet Laureate
The great, subversive, political, and poetic Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano died on April 13, 2015, after losing his second bout with lung cancer. Galeano was one of my favorite writers. He was little known in America (of course he would poignantly call us, the rapacious and hegemonic “the United States of America,” in contrast with his own, much-maligned and violently-exploited “LatinAmerica,” but that made sense since he always compared the European rape and conquest of the New World in the 15th-18th centuries to the USA’s current exploitation and subjugation of Latin America in...
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“Dog Wars” in LA’s Elysian Park

“Dog Wars” in LA’s Elysian Park
“Road Rage”. We all know what that is, right? That explosive and provocative malady driven by frustration and self righteousness, overtaking ordinarily peace-loving auto drivers, at unpredictable (or perhaps very predictable) moments of pique anxiety and stress “on the road”. Especially in LA. Perhaps you have a touch of it. I know I do. Sitting in traffic, late for work, I sometimes “tap” on my horn to just “wake up” all the absent-minded, dull and distracted drivers in front of me. To get them to just “step on the gas” a bit, or perhaps… torun that yellow light, just a...
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