Back in the Saddle Again

Gelson’s, 4738 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, CA 91607
7:47 AM

The first blog in nine years! I’m back! I’m Bad! And I’m packin’ heat.

Blogging for CoffeeHouseBlog.com Again!

Blogging for CoffeeHouseBlog.com Again!

Just to catch you up… Wait! I know no one is reading this yet so the “you” is you who’ve finally found your way here. Hopefully, not after another nine years.

So, just to catch you up, in the last nine years, I have:

  • Spent 70 days in hell in Los Alamos, New Mexico where I:
    • Donated my time in finishing a home remodel for a dear friend that was hijacked by a psycho contractor who I had to work with and who:
      • Had just gotten out of jail for breaking a Sheriff’s Deputy’s jaw after a high speed chase out into the mesa.
      • Had left the house almost destroyed
      • Confessed to me to have been an accomplice to a quadruple murder.
      • Was 6’ 4” and weighed about 300 pounds.
      • Was going to murder me in a morning showdown in the middle of the street near the end of me completing the job.
    • But that’s not all and that 70 days in high altitude in the middle of winter was so crazy that it’s in the process of becoming a screenplay. (In humble deference to military combat personnel, I always have to mention that I would never claim that any of my crazy life experiences could come close to what those brave people experience.)
  • Landed a job as a sales Specialist at an Apple Store in Los Angeles.
  • Father died
  • Mother died
  • Got married.
  • Discovered the simplicity and immediacy of taking photos with the Apple iPhone and decided to specialize in iPhoneography with a website: iPhoneImages.com.
  • Got promoted to Personal Shopping Specialist at the Apple store I work for.
  • Got promoted to Creative, doing training of customers, team members, and businesses in all things Apple.
  • Started a Memoir writing business called LegacyMemoir.com.
  • Joined a men’s bible study group reading the bible together from cover to cover over the course of a year.
  • Started playing keyboards in different church worship bands around Los Angeles like Radius Church LA, Conejo Church, and Resonate Church. I had played previously for 7 years at Calvary Church of Pacific Palisades. All wonderful places of worship with great music and fantastic LA musicians.
  • Landed agent representation with BBA talent for voiceover work.
  • With my wife, began an interest and passion for RV, Tiny House, and possible Boat living.
  • Stayed employed, albeit part-time now.
  • Stayed married – happily.

Ok! Enough about me.

Where am I at today? I’m in the Gelson’s at Riverside and Laurel Canyon Boulevard. If you don’t live in LA and Laurel Canyon sounds familiar, that’s because it has been both the subject and location of music that goes back to the 60’s and 70’s and on after. Joni Mitchell sang of Laurel Canyon on her album, Ladies of the Canyon. Blues legend John Mayall tilted an album, Blues from Laurel Canyon, and a host of other songwriters, musicians and celebrities claim their roots in Laurel Canyon.

According to Wikipedia, “Laurel Canyon found itself a nexus of counterculture activity and attitudes in the 1960s” and that may give a clue into the mindset and origins of the current governor of California, Jerry Brown – nicknamed “Moonbeam”, who had a home in the Canyon during that time.

No stories of that kind here today – or the mass murders that occurred there – because this end of Laurel Canyon is in the North Hollywood area of Laurel Canyon.

Now, North Hollywood is not to be confused with Hollywood. For instance, there’s no North Hollywood sign to be found. No hills to put a sign on – it’s flat as a pancake here in the San Fernando Valley. There’s no actual canyon here, either. And yes, this is the area known around the world as, The Valley. Don’t get me started…

I will say this, though – the Valley is home to many, many retired actors and Hollywood film people. Many in the production end of the entertainment industry live here. Most of the major pornography producers and distributors are also here in the Chatsworth area of the Valley. Yes, well… I do not work in that industry. Not any more. But then that’s yet another story in what is becoming the Long and Winding Road of my life. Maybe I’ll share that sordid and seedy past with you sometime. Maybe.

The Gelson’s Supermarket here on Laurel Canyon in Valley Village is the best one I’ve found in LA, in my opinion. It’s the kind of grocery store that you come to: A. If you’ve got an income that supports shopping here, or B. You just want to feel like those who can afford it. It’s immaculate. It’s well-stocked. It offers foods and produce you can’t find anywhere else. It’s service is top-notch.

It’s where we’d all shop if we had the cash.

Ah, but I do shop here. Here’s my secret: I only buy red tag sale items. No red tag, no buy. The main attraction for me is this wonderful, high-domed floral department with lots of chairs and tables to sit at with floor-to-ceiling windows. And free wifi.

Side Note: It’s not as simple as that, though – the LA grocery shopping experience. Because of the way we’re programmed out here to at least aspire to a healthy life, one cannot procure all of the comestibles necessary to achieve said lifestyle. I must shop, as do most Angelenos (does that make me hispanic?), at more than one grocery store. I have to go to, in no particular order, Ralph’s, Whole Foods, Gelson’s, and of course, Trader Joe’s.

Oh! Hold on, let’s digress for a second. Warner Bros., ABC, and NBC studios are nearby as well as Universal Studios and Universal City. Maybe that’s why the name North Hollywood? Can someone shed some light on this?

Where was I? Ah, Gelson’s has a very ethnically diverse clientele and I like to write and work here because of that. Different languages and faces stimulate the writing process.

A key to Gelson’s Supermarkets’ appeal is that they all feature Viktor Bene’s Continental Bakeries. Most excellent pastries and cookies as well as warm and cold coffee and tea beverages.

I have a memory of Viktor Bene’s pastries that goes way, way back to 1973 when I had dropped out of high school and had moved out of my parents house at age seventeen to Iowa City, Iowa, which was thirty miles away from our small town of Washington, Iowa.

Three days after moving into a tiny trailer (Wow! Full circle! see above bullets) I had rented with a guy from high school who had just graduated, I managed to talk my way into a job hauling salvage ACT testing materials from their warehouse. Odds are high you’ve taken the ACT test. On my last day of moving salvage, I wandered into the printing shop and somehow landed a job there because I had worked in a print shop in Wisconsin two years before when I was fifteen.

Within a few months of helping run printing presses, I found myself under the wing of a senior vice president who recognized that I was a fast learner and since I had taken a drafting class in high school, put me in a group designing test forms and application forms. I could write a whole essay on my adventures at ACT as an eighteen year old from Iowa thrown into a national corporation. What I remember about Viktor Bene’s though, is that my mentor always brought back to our small design department, boxes of Viktor Bene’s cookies from his trips around the country that were so delicious. I’ve never forgotten the logo for Viktor Bene’s. It was always a very special treat for the three of us in the department to receive and I remember the cookies and my mentor fondly to this day.

It wasn’t until I came to this Gelson’s Supermarket here in the Valley, forty-four years later, that I finally discovered where those wonderful cookies were from.

Since this is the first day I’ve written any kind of essay or creative writing at all in the last 9 years, let’s speak of that a bit.

I was having a Subway lunch the other day with Nate, a fellow writer and an Apple Genius from work and we were talking about what it takes to write. He asked me my secret and I looked over at the brightly-colored yellow seat at our outside table and pointed to it.

“What, the color yellow does it for you?”, he asks.

No, I responded, I have to sit to do it.

“You can’t sit? You have a problem down below somewhere? You’re sitting now…”

No, I have to put myself in a chair with the intent to write, or more accurately, with the permission to write.

“Oh… yeah…”

You see, I have not given myself permission to write in nine years. I love to write more than anything. I think it’s what I do best out of all the things I do – but I’m biased toward my own writing. I’m bulletproof in that department. Maybe to my detriment? It’s also the easiest thing I’ve done. Now, why the heck would I not give myself permission to write?

Maybe more therapy is needed… No, seriously, I have had a healthy amount of therapy for life issues and it’s been a huge help and would recommend it to anyone. Thankfully, I don’t believe I’m one of those tortured writers who will end up an early obituary subject because I couldn’t exorcize the demons that drove me to write.

But in any event, I’m cured! I’ve beaten it! I’m here Writing! Well, this post may be no great shakes, you say, and that’s all right with me.

It’s a start. And PC notwithstanding, the saying goes that even dwarves started small. I’m just getting started…

I AM the coffeehouse blogger. Hear me type.

About this CoffeeHouse:

As mentioned earlier, this particular Gelson’s Supermarket is the best and probably most pleasant coffeehouse I have come to write at. Sitting next to rows of flowers and plants with the morning sunlight streaming in when it’s a ridiculously inclement sixty-five California degrees out is just sublime.

Gelson's Supermarket Floral Department

Gelson’s Supermarket Floral Department on Laurel Canyon Blvd.

The coffee latte I am having is made all the better by the fact that Viktor Bene’s now offers Almond Milk – the new non-dairy dairy.

It’s not a Starbucks or Coffeebean – make no mistake – just the basics. But add some Jasmin or Heliotrope or Tuberose fragrances to your medium roast and a Viktor Bene’s muffin and you’ve got a blend to gently ramp you up into your day.

Seriously, take a break from Dogtown Cafe and make the drive into the Valley to visit Gelson’s Supermarket for a cup. Buy a few red tag items for the day or better yet, allow yourself to take home bag or two of groceries and produce that will satisfy your desire for great food. Oh! Gelson’s has amazing meats – especially their steaks.

Then on your way out, stop and smell the flowers, as they say.

Gelson’s, 4738 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, CA 91607

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