“Some people will backpack or scale mountains to remember who they really are. Some dive to the blackest ocean depths or don boxing gloves or parachute into thin air. I found a different way.”
THE BITCH IS BACK: OLDER, WISER, AND (GETTING) HAPPIER editor Cathi Hanauer shares an in-depth overview of the BITCH series, insights into powerful essays by 25 prominent women writers, and the joy and method of her rigorous editing process.
In a pulsing excerpt and personal Q&A, John Doe, from X, recreates an unforgettable night at the Whisky a Go Go and reflects on his journey from the early days of punk L.A.
An excerpt from Deanne Stillman’s epic MUSTANG, with excerpts from the just-released audio version, narrated by Anjelica Huston, John Densmore, Frances Fisher, Wendie Malick and Richard Portnow.
“Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’ /
I was layin’ in bed /
Wonderin’ if she’d changed at all /
If her hair was still red.”
A first-look excerpt from Chris Morris’ candid memoir, “Together Through Life: A Personal Journey with the Music of Bob Dylan,” published on Dylan’s 75th birthday.
After a traumatic adolescence and seeking shelter in a “safe” life that no longer fit, writer Bernadette Murphy found her way back to her true self through risk taking. In a riveting excerpt and Q&A, she describes crossing paths with her childhood idol character, The Fonz, in a surprising way.
“I never told you that I saw you kissing her, that I watched you do it without hesitation, inching closer to her instead of backing away. I watched long enough to see her curl her fist under her chin to get more comfortable, the gesture natural and familiar, as if she had done it before.”
Robin Rinaldi’s crafted, riveting and honest memoir, recently released in paperback, follows her self-ascribed, year-long open marriage project she felt compelled to undertake at the apex of midlife. The experience profoundly changed her, as a woman, writer and wife.
“I was 8 when my mom, brother and I rode the maiden voyage of the California Zephyr Dome-line train from our hometown in San Francisco to Los Angeles to start our new life. During the following years, I’d go to bed conjuring the youthful hope of that train ride so that my dreams could make it so.”
“I wept and screamed until finally I saw the path opened wide before me — freed from the attachment that had caused me suffering. I didn’t need a baby to be happy.”
Ridesharing may be an oversaturated market, but as Jonathan Tipton Meyers discovers, drivers and passengers are yearning for the same thing on the streets of Los Angeles: real, human connection.
When writer Matt Powell came back to L.A., he embarked on a noble, dying Angeleno tradition: the backbreaking, exhilarating thrill of driving and resuscitating a classic car. There was one problem — he didn’t know shit about cars.
“Indie — as in work for free?” I asked, but I didn’t wait for her answer. “You’re going to have to pay your own way back to L.A.”
“‘I’m talking to you, zebra.’ His words still reverberate, like sounds bouncing off the steep canyon walls.”
“As the Magic 8 Ball says:
‘All signs point to yes’
That you stole my Klonopin
I’m talking evidence not voodoo.”
“How did I get here? I was standing in a Capitol Records recording studio holding Sinatra’s microphone in my hand. I had dreamed about doing this all my life but I never really thought it would happen.”
A personal piece inspired by the words and people that do not exist in Confucius’ Analects.
“No sunscreen. No seat belts. No helmets, knee pads, cell phones or parents. Just free-wheelin’ with nary a care in the world.”
“At 4:15 a.m., January 17, 1994, I was asleep in my bed. At 4:20 a.m., I was awake, terrified and confused about how I had ended up feet from my bed on the floor of my closet.”
“The religion of the bus is superior to many others since its devotees, unlike those of other belief systems, are almost always rewarded, eventually. Even in Los Angeles, a bus does come.”
“‘Stanzi. You should know who you are,’ he said.
I shook my head, though he was right. But who was I? I held out my hands and pleaded with my eyes.”
“Dearest L.A., with your light and your wings, shadow-love of my life. I’ll always be back, Los Angeles. Because now I know: ‘You like me, you really like me!'”
“Someday, I’ll return to the land of hiking and green juice, but until then it will remain the ex-lover I left because of bad timing.”
“I would like to light a lantern and watch it float off into the night sky — leading the spirits safely to their homes. I would like to see the ceremonial dance.”
“I get impatient for the pill to kick in, because this bitch is growing, it’s blossoming. Xanax is next. Two hours later, I pop another. It’s time for ER. And not the one on TV. My brain is about to explode.”
“On the one hand, there was always New York, the place that says, ‘Do I look like I’m off duty to you, pal?… I don’t see your name on the list … Why are you wearing pastels?’ On the other, there was always California, the place that is just there, doesn’t particularly care if you are, but when you arrive, lies on its back and says, ‘Hello, may I help you?'”
“My son starts doing the cooking. He serves me a hot banana-nut muffin with cinnamon, butter and brown sugar melted inside, and I start to regain my appetite. I begin to see a glimmer. While this isn’t the life I had planned, it could work.”
“I realized I was surviving on isolation, wounded and harboring, and that that does not make for very good love. Sometime after the bridge, I began to realize that I already knew everything I needed to know.”
Author Wendy C. Ortiz gives a visceral exploration of love, loss and transformation in the hills and streets of L.A. in an excerpt of “Hollywood Notebook,” a memoir of her 20s and 30s coming-of-age in Los Angeles.
AFLW co-founder David Lott reflects on the loss of a close friend by examining his dreamlike grief and tenuous memories of adventures in the high grounds of the Doheny Estates.
“My little terrier mutt is quintessentially L.A. This is not to say that she’s an item I throw in a $1,500 handbag when she matches my ensemble, but she was born here and by the end of her first year she had already left home and walked more L.A. streets than Charlie Sheen’s last ‘girlfriend.'”
“My dad wanted me to be more ‘American,’ so they only spoke to me in English. But I didn’t mind because I hated the sound of the Spanish that I’d hear at home. It was the weapon Dad used against Mom.”
“Dear Los Angeles: You are not perfect. But I love you. I’m, like, super-into-you.” A Valentine’s Day love letter to L.A. from our debut “love/hate” issue by comedian, author and Brooklyn transplant Sara Benincasa.