Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Good Word from Don Reeves

About seven years ago I traveled to San Diego working for the Sculpture Foundation to photograph the installation of a 25 foot version of "Unconditional Surrender". The sculpture is a depiction of the iconic moment in history when the war ended - the nurse kissing the sailor - by artist J. Seward Johnson. Following the construction would be an unveiling ceremony with war veterans, bands and the Carrier USS Midway in the background.

The San Diego representative there working with the grounds, the San Diego Harbor, the Midway and general liaison with the community was an architect named Don Reeves. His actual title there I can't actually say - but for the next several years, the many images I shot there that weekend, and others, were used to advertise the Harbor, San Diego, the Sculpture etc. in brochures, websites, articles and more. Among the many images taken was one great portrait of Don Reeve's himself - later professed to have been his wife's favorite.

The following years were hard for Don. I didn't know his family, his business or any of the characteristic things one might know as a friend. We were acquaintances at best - but from the moment I first met him, he was the sort of fellow with the character, demeanor and warm nature that you just could not help but like. Don's health deteriorated over the years and for a time put him on the sidelines. It was sad to hear from afar.

I've interacted with him four times since the beginning, the last was this past February 17 at the installation ceremony of the Bronze replacement sculpture purchased by the people of San Diego through private donations and their local Public Art Trust. So too was there work with the "Spirit of 45"and "Honor Flight" - groups of folks whose mission is to honor and memorialized the men and women of World War II.

At the opening ceremony seated near the front was Don Reeves in his California suit and bow tie. His wife had just broken a bone and was there with him on wheels. During the Ceremony, Don was recognized by the Assemblymen, Mayor and other community leaders as the man most responsible for bringing the sculpture permanently to San Diego Harbor as well as honoring veterans so well with it. I didn't know if he would remember me but I stopped by his chair to say hello and to shake his hand when the ceremony was over. To my surprise, he did remember me and then he thanked me. Why is that I said? Your pictures - he replied. He said that they told the story in a way that made sense to people and that all through the years, the imagery from the first opening ceremony made his job easier - getting the word out, raising money and making the whole thing a reality. And there I was - among all these great surviving war veterans, their families, their friends - the Navy Band, the USS Midway and it made me smile. I was giddy happy that I got a pat on the back from the man himself for helping him to make it all happen.

Update: Don Reeves passed away on Friday, September 20, 2013 with complications from a stroke. He was a real good man - and since the reason to live is to live for something that will outlast you - he did that well too.

"Spirit of 45" - San Diego

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Punctuation - A Politically Incorrect Exclamation Point

I have twice in my long life as a landlord made bad decisions about renting to someone. Way back in the day - when the Police Department was driving the Chevy Caprice that looked like Shamu - I rented an apartment to a girl named Michele. This cop pal of mine asked me to rent her a place saying that she was a single mother - blah blah blah and so I did. She never paid rent once - not even once - only turning tricks for my "cop pal" who every lunch hour would stop by for a quickie and toss his lil-cop loaded condom on the lawn on his way back to his waiting police car. I ended up having to evict her and still have a judgement order sitting someplace in my safe.

The second has been the latest - another favor for someone else. See "The Rental Agreement" and "The Eviction Notice" if you like.

This fellow is a supremely talented musician to whom I rented a room because his son asked me to. His son, my favorite official tenant, lives next door. It is a sad tale of a wife's untimely passing and a husband and life long rockstar - junkie - who lives in a sad and lonely place. His story has been told I'm sure by countless numbers. For a year in anticipation of this - Nick next door lamented often about his father's use of drugs and alcohol and stints in rehab. I thought, mistakenly, that a change of environment might help him, revitalize him - and return him to the living. So too did his son.

Like all marriages - it seems best to play the piano a few times before you move in with it, try on the shoes, pluck the strings. We were an odd couple without doubt - but within just a few weeks of his moving in - I knew my mistake was a big one. He was drunk every day, passed out every other day with intermittent episodes of spontaneous crying. I actually went and bought a bunch of new fire alarms out of fear he might actually burn my house to the ground in a drunken stupor.

And then I noticed my medications started disappearing. I have a drawer that I keep every prescription in - from Levaquin to Vicodin - and the latter was dissipating into thin air. He'd already expressed verbally his affinity for opiates and his long time history of abusing them. So, one night, Bronwyn my neighbor and I counted all of my pills that might have some abusive character. And within an hour of doing this, Marshall came home drunker than a cooter brown - and pilfered more. Bronwyn and I watched him from the living room. We confirmed our observations and discovered a handfull of various narcotic drugs missing from the very bottles we'd just counted.

The next day I talked with Nick and the tenants of our relationship - between he and I and that of his father changed. Nick says "welcome to my World and what I've been going through the past ten years." The "Rental Agreement" was written as you now see it. He was put on probation - and alas to no avail.

Just two weeks ago now. Marshall was admitted into the ICU with a bleeding ulcer. Nick says again, "welcome to my World" saying that he almost died the last time. Within five days of being released - he was drinking again. I warned Nick. The writing was on the wall.

In the mean time, I'd had surgery - my first full on body invasion ever. Bronwyn was staying with me and got to see first hand the peculiar behaviors that she'd heretofore only witnessed occasionally. And then on Thursday, February 21, 2013 in what can only be described as absolute insanity - Marshall  started cleaning the railings of my wood staircase in the middle of my solid wood historical home with Gasoline. I was asleep in my room - the day after surgery and I smelled Gas inside my house. My torn gut felt like fire as I rolled out of bed to find out what the fuck he was doing. I could hear him on the staircase scraping on the wood. What the fuck I said - why do I smell gasoline. He says he's just using orange oil on the staircase. I say, what is that smell - it smells like gas??? He says, it's some sorta solvent - and then - maybe it came in on my shirt, I was using gas on my van. The varnish on the railing had dissolved and tarnished where the gasoline had moistened it. The whole house smelled like Gasoline for hours. Can you imagine someone so absolutely crazy? Really - it's nearly incomprehensible!

I called Nick on the phone and said "that's it dude", he's gotta go - and that's where we are.

And so today I will speak to the kind of people who live in that place of sad, lonely despair where they are afforded only two choices in their lives - 1) get their shit together, or 2) kill themselves - and of them, those who haven't the balls to do either one.

As compassionate and generous as I am, I have absolutely no consideration for people who wallow like a muddy pig in a pond of sewer without the strength to get their lives in order or to actually kill themselves and put everyone else out of the misery they cause.

It's completely different when it's a young person with a lot of life ahead of them and their despair is irrational and seated in youthful inexperience. But for old farts who demonstrate year after year their inability to cope, manage or get through life on a daily basis. who always blame everyone but themselves for their maladies - Jesus Fucking Christ, go off yourself in a parking lot and stop forcing your miserable drama on everyone around you! Overdose, blow your brains out - die in a hospital bed from some abuse related affliction - but just fucking DO IT and stop pussy footing around and constantly coming up short!

I am not inconsiderate of those who are stricken with mental infirmity or ailment who haven't the capacity to butter their own toast - much less make informed life changing decisions. But a time does come for everyone where being put out to pasture is best for everyone else. That's also where we are.

The Eviction Notice

Friday, February 22, 2013


I suppose that I should just keep this to business. It would be nice if we could have an amicable separation but this seems unlikely.

Your lease here expires on February 28, 2013. Although I have heard otherwise, if you have not found suitable living arrangements elsewhere, please do so without delay.

The terms of the existing lease are at my will and although I do not need to explain anything, I will take a moment to express my concerns.

I am not without empathy for your loss. It is not my cross to bare. You deny your assorted dependencies, which all of the people around you blatantly observe, talk about and worry about. I don’t feel sorry for you any more. You have squandered the opportunity I gave you.

Leaving the stove on, oven on, all the lights, crashing into my wall and gate a hundred times is notable. Using gasoline to clean the railing of my 115 year old staircase inside of my all wood historical home is so completely asininely crazy – I can’t ignore it. You are going to hurt yourself or you are going to hurt someone else and I will not be a part of it.

If you are planning on staying past the 1st of March, we will discuss your daily rental terms in advance, paid in advance. Utility bills run five weeks behind and you will have an advanced obligation there are well.

I do wish for you the best.

Carl H. Deal III

The Rental Agreement


Rental Agreement

This rental agreement is a contractual arrangement between Carl H. Deal III (property owner) and Marshal Stiler (renter). The purpose of this written instrument is to articulate a well-understood account of the duties, obligations and responsibilities of each party.

It is also understood that no household or business runs without the faithful contributions of its component parts. As a member of this household, Marshal Stiler must put forth proportional contributions to the welfare of the house, its grounds, its animals and its magnificent view. Contributions can include but are not limited to, taking out the garbage, doing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning, maintaining, mowing, building, repairing, preparing, studying, learning or paying rent and reasonable bills.

This agreement will not be considered normal or standard by anyone interpreting the same. This agreement, by the mutual understanding of parties, will be judged solely by the content of its four corners.

In exchange for a rental fee of $600 per month, Marshal Stiler will occupy a room furnished with a bed, some furnishings and Internet access. As a member of the household, Marshal Stiler may have unfettered access to all common areas of the house, use of appliances, electrical power and air conditioning. This rental agreement is a monthly agreement and will continue month to month until such time that Carl H. Deal III chooses to modify or end the agreement at will. Any modification will be mutually agreed upon between Carl Deal and Marshal Stiler – unless no agreement can be made. Further – rules and regulations will apply to conduct and care of this agreement, behaviors and all properties herein. Violations of said rules can result in the suspension of this living agreement immediately and will result in the forfeiture of any forward paid rents, fees, deposits or utility payments.

The assessment of utility payment obligations will be based upon monthly usage – discussed gentlemanly each billing period.

As a renter in this house Marshal Stiler – you - are expected to do the following:

Keep your room clean
Do laundry.
Do dishes.
Contribute your own food.
Be frugal with the use of water and power.
Screen all guests – inviting only trustworthy, lawful, morally sober and tenured comrades to visit.
You will not lie.
You will not steal.
You will drive safely.
You will be considerate of the house, its valuable belongings, its security, fire safety and its advanced age.
You or we will resolve any pending “issue” early and peacefully.
You will pet and love the dogs.
And always keep your friends and family informed of where you are and who you are with – and especially inform those with whom you live.

As a renter in this house you may not do the following:

Host unscheduled parties or events.
Demonstrate disrespect for the house, its belongings, its animals or its age.
Waste resources.
Commit unlawful behavior.
Force people to worry about you.
Raise your voice in anger, frustration or rage.
Disrespect your housemate(s), their privacy or belongings.
Squander opportunities to learn and grow and to find purpose and meaningful, happy living.
Disregard family obligations and responsibilities.
Play with matches, fire, or smoke on or about any wooden structure in or near the house. Any candle will be enclosed in a fire safe receptacle.
You will remain sober to my satisfaction and to the satisfaction of your son Nick, therefore; you will not drink irresponsibly to the point of intoxication. Intoxication will be interpreted as the loss of the normal use of mental and physical faculties. This will include the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs and medications – which will be used only as recommended by a licensed physician, by written prescription or as proscribed by law.

Because you have had a history of dependency for which you have been treated, and because it is a matter of grave concern to the members of your family who both love and need you the most – you will strive at all times to behave in a manner that can facilitate the life and success of your children, their children, their progeny forthcoming - as the kind loving man they speak so highly of – a virtue robbed from them by your drug and alcohol dependency.

In simple words – this is a monkey I am not willing to carry on my back. I cannot and will not accept the liability that inappropriate behavior presents to my life long achievements, and further, to witness your self-destruction. You have reason to live and to make the most of your moments. I expect you to be the best!


The purpose of this agreement and arrangement is to make the very best out of a bad situation, and to provide for Marshal Stiler a safe and intellectually challenging environment in which to live and thrive and create, to be close to his family, to facilitate a tranquil and meaningful relationship between Marshal Stiler and his son Nick, and to ensure that Marshal Stiler achieves his highest potential – maximizing his use of educational tools and the opportunities presented to him, and to better secure and broaden his prospects for an independent and successful life experience.

At the onset of this agreement - we have a friendship that is based upon the highest level of mutual respect and regard and moral principles. No expectation for your behavior or enforcement of the same pursuant to this agreement and arrangement, by either you or I, throughout the term of this agreement - however long or short that may be - will jeopardize that friendship. However, if you take for granted my generosity and love for you, my efforts put forth for your safety and welfare, or my efforts to help secure your future, I will quietly disappear.