First-Time Dad at 50: My Daughter Arrives

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Column 1 – The day she was born, things got real, real fast.
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Mutt and Joe

first published in the Los Angeles Weekly a long time ago.

by Joe Donnelly

A beautiful day in my neighborhood begins with a cup of coffee and my dog, Max. Together we indulge in an early-morning stroll along the root-mangled sidewalks of Bronson Canyon. He sniffs. I sip. I wonder what happened to my youth; he wonders where his teeth went. I size up single-family homes with back yards; he sizes up more toothsome dogs with bouncy legs. We both glare at speeding cars.

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The Spark At Rest

Posted August 20, 2014 by The Argonaut in Columns

Jay Adams, the coolest of the Z-Boys cool, 1961 – 2014

By Joe Donnelly

Jay Adams rides again during the April 12 Flex Jay Boy Classic at the Venice Skatepark | Photo by Edizen Stowell

Jay Adams rides again during the April 12 Flex Jay Boy Classic at the Venice Skatepark | Photo by Edizen Stowell

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Underdogs in L.A.

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Originally published on takepart.com

Congressional hopefuls will travel a long way for some Tinseltown support

Los Angeles and politics can make strange bedfellows.

What other city can boast of/apologize for sending the Terminator to the governor’s mansion and the Gipper to the White House? Not to mention L.A.’s greatest policy legacy, Proposition 13, the regressive-tax Rosetta Stone of the “I’m OK, you’re a parasite,” Ayn Rand-inflected philosophies of young-gun conservatives such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan, and late-blooming-but-making-up-for-lost-time Mitt Romney. In case you want to know how this story ends, check out California’s public education, once the envy of the world and now scrambling to keep pace with Alabama.

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The Occupation of Los Angeles

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What were we supposed to do, march on the Hollywood sign?

With no great metaphor for what’s plaguing our nation readily available, somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 protesters, depending on which news source you prefer, assembled on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Pershing Square in Los Angeles (not exactly a brand-name landmark) and marched a mile or so to City Hall. This was part of the nationwide wave of Occupy Wall Street Protests, except we had no place like Wall Street to occupy. Our City Hall building is a lovely beaux arts/classical mash-up on Spring Street, right across from the equally magnificent Los Angeles Times building, whose denizens, not surprisingly, took little notice of what was going on under their noses.

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Dogma: Is the Power of Now About Chasing Garbage Trucks and Peeing on Bushes?

Originally published in the LA Weekly

DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR … Buddhism! Or, at least reading about it, if the number various Buddhism-for-beginners books foisted upon me over the past tumultuous year or so is any indication.

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Coming Home on Oscar Night: Twilight’s Empty Streets on L.A.’s Indoor Mardi Gras

Originally published in the LA Weekly

MY HEAD IS THUMPING with nostalgia when I touch down at LAX on Sunday night after a long weekend with family and friends in the mountains near Vail, Colorado. The occasion, under the ruse of my sister’s engagement party, was a last hurrah at the house that’s come as close as anything to being a home for our peripatetic family. It’s a beautiful house with a 180-degree view straight up into the humbling, adrenal beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Currently, it’s on the selling block, and as I wait at the curb for a cab on this thick and balmy Los Angeles night, I’m thinking a familiar thought — I’ve just left the most beautiful place on earth again, and, I’m not sure why.

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Silver Lake Anxiety Attack: The Rowena Avenue Crime Wave

Originally published in the LA Weekly

IN LINE AT THE BANK last Saturday morning, I overhear a man explain to the teller that he has no identification because his “wallet got jacked.” He points to a manager type on the other side of the glass and, with the quiet urgency of a man besieged, says, “That guy with the hat on knows me.” Before long, the customer is sequestered in a glass-doored office with one of the bank officials.

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In the Doghouse: A Leash-Law Miscreant’s Day in Court

Originally published in the LA Weekly ~

ON ONE OF THOSE GLOOMY, wet winter days when Seattle sends its weather south, I arrive at the Hollywood branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court at 8:30 a.m., with my partner in crime — we’ll call him Dave, because that’s his name. The idea is to be among the first in line when the clerk’s office opens so you can be among the first to be sent somewhere else to wait. Around me are the usual suspects: parole and probation violators, petty thieves, hustlers, wife beaters, street people, gypsy cabbies, a few thugs of various affiliations, and one pretty boy who seems to have taken a wrong turn off the set of High School Musical 4. There is a lot of coughing. Some of it sounds tubercular. Bad enough, but to make matters worse, Dave and I are here on a bum rap.

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Banking on Disaster: A Day in the Life at the End of the World

Originally published in the LA Weekly ~

YOU’RE PROBABLY FAMILIAR with the ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. The curse has two other parts that are progressively more dire: May you come to the attention of those in authority, and may you find what you’re looking for. Well, these are certainly interesting times, days like the one not long ago that begins with a hike in Elysian Park and ends with the biggest bank failure in the history of the world.

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