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* * MILBANK STREET * *
THE SETUP: "There are places we remember all our lives"...so goes a Beatles classic sentimental song about the days and things in our memories that are forever entrenched. A permanent link to another time, just close your eyes. The house on Milbank Street is etched in my mind, as my first real escape into the world, and my father's beloved home. It was a symbol to him of a step up in society, one where he owned his own pad, instead of living in various rented spaces. He never seemed like much of a homebody to me, even in the early days of my life, when he blew in and out with his band, rehearsing, after parties, sleeping. My mother was pretty normal, but my dad was a different story.
Their marriage did not last long, and he split when I was four years old. I saw him quite often for visits, when he would pick me up in his Cadillac convertible and drive me to the best restaurants, but I always returned home to my own bed. After all, I was not too manageable for a dad who spent his life in front of a camera, or playing the piano or vibes at a club. As the years went by, he swooped in to take me away for a weekend, or to Colorado Springs and the Broadmoor Hotel where he was playing with Mickey Rooney. He was a terrible ice skater (the Broadmoor has a fine rink) but a wonderful father. And then one day, things changed.
THE STORY GOES THAT A FRIEND OF HIS SUGGESTED A PURCHASE OF THE LITTLE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, IN A PLACE CALLED STUDIO CITY. THIS TINY BURG WAS SNUGGLED UP AGAINST THE PEAKS OF COLDWATER CANYON, WHICH DROPS DOWN ON THE OTHER SIDE TO BEVERLY HILLS. IN THOSE DAYS, THE HOLLYWOOD FREEWAY ENDED ABOUT A MILE FROM MILBANK STREET, MANY LONG YEARS AGO! BY THE TIME I HAD MY FIRST VISIT, MY GRANDFATHER WAS INSTALLED IN THE FRONT BEDROOM, AND MY DAD WAS REIGNING KING OF A HUGE LOT BEHIND THE HOUSE FILLED WITH FRUIT TREES AND GRASS. HE WAS IN HEAVEN!
IT DIDN'T TAKE LONG FOR A POOL TO ARRIVE, ALONG WITH SEVERAL WIVES, A BIG FENCE AND PALM TREES. THE HOUSE EXPANDED FOR NEW BABIES AND HE BUILT ME A LITTLE BACK SUITE WHEN I MOVED IN AFTER SCHOOL. ALL THIS TIME, IT WAS HIS CASTLE, WHETHER FLYING TO VEGAS EACH NIGHT ON THE CHAMPAGNE PIANO BAR JET OR PLAYING DISNEYLAND WITH HIS BAND. UP TO HIS LAST BREATH, THAT HOUSE WAS HIS ONE TRUE LOVE, SERIOUSLY! NOBODY COULD MESS WITH IT, ALTHOUGH MANY HAVE TRIED.
SINCE HIS DEATH, HIS SECOND FAMILY GREW UP, WIFE #5 HUNKERED DOWN AND CHANGED A FEW THINGS, BUT THE BASICS REMAIN. THE POOL SHIMMERS IN THE MORNING SUN, THE GRASS IS WET AT DAWN, AND I SWEAR HE ROAMS A BIT, CONCOCTING SONGS AND HANGING OUT. SADLY, THE HOME ON MILBANK IS NOW A BONE OF CONTENTION AS THE FAMILY PREPARES TO DEAL WITH IT. WE HAVE NO DOUBT THAT THE WRECKING BALL WILL LIKELY REPLACE THE HOUSE AND FILL THAT FABULOUS LOT WITH A MANSION, IN TIME. BUT FOR NOW, I CAN ONLY WISH THAT EVERYONE WILL TAKE A BREATH, REMEMBER HIM, AND SMILE. HERE'S TO YOU, DAD!
* * * * * * * * *
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JASMINE DOGS (MYSTIC ADVENTURES IN BIG SUR) VOLUME I
JADE BEACH (MYSTIC ADVENTURES IN BIG SUR)
VOLUME II & VOLUME III
THE BIG SUR TRILOGY
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