Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Country Halloween Scream

Halloween in Ojai has been a week-long affair, I guess because it fell on a Sunday this year. Our Country Halloween has been interesting to say the least. This little Shangrila poised between Los Angeles to the south and Santa Barbara to the north has been a respite for the rich and famous for decades.
This week it has also played host to the Ojai Film Festival, political hucksters and a multitude of kids dressed as the screamer from the Scream movies.
I kinda get a kick out of sitting on my porch watching two kids in the same costume running into one another.
You can see their long faces looking like they're screaming and you can imagine their real faces, tucked inside their costumes reflecting their dismay.
I asked my friend Clea, whose kids wore the most original outfits I've seen - a bumble bee (she's 18 months old) and a bear (he's two and a half) why so many kids are wearing the Scream costume.
She gave me a sad look.
"Because they're cheap," she said.
She's not wrong. We have all felt the tug of the tightening belt thanks to the economy. Some of my favorite stores have closed down and I've seen a really good friend sob on her doorstep when her house went into foreclosure.
The political hucksters are here stumping for votes but meanwhile, those of us who live in this still-blessed valley are putting a brave face on things.
I've watched the passing parade of kids and given them candy but I notice the pickings are slimmer this year. My favorite stores are doling out cheap candy and not particularly fun candy.
The belt tightens here.
l took a long walk this morning thinking of all the movie stars who've visited here and the ones who still do. I remember my mom talking about Rita Hayworth visiting and how my grandma had her photo taken with her.
We're still the playground of jetsetters and as I pointed out in a previous post, a few grifters, too.
For me, this is home. And I'm glad I can give the little screamers some halfway decent candy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Small Town Life

My town, Ojai, is the kind of town where everybody knows everyone and everyone has a small price to pay for living in a rural paradise. I love my town. I can drive up the road and be at the Krishnamurti Institute within minutes, soaking up spiritual vibes and contemplating life from the shady vantage of a massive lemon tree.
I have my pick of cool places to eat. I love Reuben's, which has the best Mexican food in California. I can eat at all kinds of places...but, things I love about Ojai are disappearing. The Tottenham Court Tearoom closed, leaving a huge hole in the social whirl here. I loved having tea there with my mom when she came up from San Diego to visit me. She misses the tea. I miss the cute piano player.
Something else has been missing in Ojai lately.
People's stuff.
Yep. Stuff started disappearing here from people's cars.
And sometimes, the cars too, vanished.
I happened to notice a red sedan with a man and woman in front roaring up and down Ojai Avenue. They were conspicuous by sitting around smoking dope in the kids' playground behind Busy Babes (tacky).
These stoners, or as my friend Stacy insists, chemically aware folk, were not at all secretive or even selective. I didn't think much of their presence at first since we are a happening town (honest!) and visitors come here either on their way from LA to Santa Barbara or on their way TO LA from SB.
But these people seemed to drive around and around.
It all came to a head this week when they allegedly stole a credit card from one of their victims and bought a nice meal at a local restaurant - not my Reubens - and next thing we knew, they were being arrested.
They are transients who got wind of the rather nice life here and thought they'd ease us all of the burden of being happy and thinking we were relatively crime-free.
Bridget Campbell, 21, and David Williams, 26 have pretty hefty bonds they have not yet posted so they languish in Ventura County Jail pending arraignment.
Thankfully they were caught midway through a coastal crime spree that began, apparently in Santa Barbara.
The beauty of small town life is that thieves stick out. Especially stupid, voracious ones.
There's another huge benefit to this beauty. Being in a small town means that when you are able to identify your stolen property, the police return it immediately. No need for it to languish in the limbo world of "evidence."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Country Boy

I am so excited. I contracted to publish my first M/M book with Extasy Books. My novella, Country Boy, is all about a well, country boy, who wins a spa holiday vacation package to the Caribbean, only to discover that it's a gay resort. And he's not gay. Nope. Never. Not all all.
Or, is he?
My gorgeous cover arrived today and it all seems to be real now.
This idea came to me after a dear friend of mine won a trip to a nudist colony and he's so buttoned-up it was the nightmare of his life. I took the idea and turned it around. And around and around.
I live in Ojai, a couple of hours north of Los Angeles. Most of the town is about a 90 minute drive, but I live in the foothills of Topa Topa and know all about country boys.
Being gay is not exactly the hottest thing you can be in Ojai, one of the few places left with organe groves and real-life cowboys. It's old-time California and it's peaceful, calm and soooo not gay.
I am excited about my book because it addresses a lot of the ideas I feel about gay life, straight life and areas in between. As I sat writing it, I would look out of the window in the evenings at sunset to watch what we call The Pink Moment, a point when the sky is infused with a sweet, pink hue.
I almost called the book The Pink Moment because just as improbable as a pink sky might seem, so is a man who discovers his true sexuality late in life, and yet, we know it is true.
I write what I know, I write what I believe. On this day when gay marriage is still on hold in California, I have to believe in my dreams, and I have to believe in pink moments.