Category: Writing

Looking Back on 2012: An Oral History of American Values

I was young like you once. Don’t laugh. It seems impossible, I know. An old codger like me of 77! You probably can’t picture when I was only 47 and healthy, with all my own teeth and a libido that didn’t yet require boner pills. Sure, that was three decades ago, and I look a...

Gale Holland

Thanks to the book leave of Los Angeles Times columnist Hector Tobar, readers have been treated to a remarkable upgrade: the occasional piece by investigative reporter cum essayist Gale Holland. Whether musing on lottery hangover or Santa Ana winds, she’s simulatenously poetic and precise, with the rhythm and grace of a serious writer. The smart move would...

Paris on the Page

For writers serious and otherwise, Paris has always been a muse, the aesthetically inspiring place-feeling-energy that sends men and women of letters to their journal (or typewriter or, more likely these days, their keypad). We all have something to say about the world’s most beautfiul city — or at least we feel as though we...

Attention All Media: I’m Doing Something Idiotic!

I’ve been doing it all wrong, trying to get folks to talk about and desire my quirky, difficult-to-categorize books, trying to get the media’s attention.  Recent events have demonstrated the truth about how things really work. I’ve got a new book out in 4 weeks about marijuana. It’s called “Reefer Gladness,” and I want everyone...

A Secret I’ve Been Keeping

Most of the people I’ve not met who recognize my name “know” me as a book writer, or as that guy who used to be on television blabbering about poker. A smaller subset might know me as the producer and proprietor of jazz records, or even as a former jazz vocalist.  Those are all cool...

Why I Wrote “Reefer Gladness”

My new book, coming out in a couple of months, is about marijuana. Fans of my gambling and golf and dog books have been wondering what gives. Why this? Aside from not wanting to repeat myself, I sought a subject that’s moving to the forefront of our ongoing cultural conversation, a subject about which people...

Planning for the New Year

Those of us who suffer from Horizon Sickness — always looking ahead to the next thing instead of being fully engaged with the present — tend to be excellent planners. We maintain detailed lists; we’re fantastically organized; our desks are neat. We foresee everything.  Sadly, after several decades of insisting otherwise, we must admit that...

Guest Author: “Chapter One”

For the first time in the history of this space, we have a guest author. This person, who must remain anonymous for reasons that will soon be clear, has written what he calls “a report” about extraordinary events in the place where he lives. We’ve read the whole memoir, and it made us cry and...

Recommended Reading

What do writers read when they’re not writing?  Good writing. Great writing. Stuff that earns professional admiration and profound consideration. Thoughtful poetry. Arguments constructed elegantly. Wit. Lately I’ve found myself increasingly turning to the work of three writers, all different, all ingenious in their own way. If you’re a regular reader of this space, you’ll...

On the State of Publishing

How bad is the publishing business? Not even best-selling authors with a consistent record of “earning out” advances (i.e., garnering more in wholesale sales than the amount paid in advance by the publisher) can count on seeing their most current manuscripts make it to print and occupying dear shelf space at Barnes & Noble.  I...