Only in #DTLA! I’m not your mama!

I just saw the craziest thing in DTLA. A police officer was texting while driving one of those two wheeled vehicles, you know the ones where you stand up and zip around? Than she ran into a parked car. She wasn’t hurt and her vehicle wasn’t damaged. A woman in a beautiful burgundy T roof old school 77″ Monte Carlo low rider who was at a stop light told her.
” That’s what you get for texting and driving! And you are a police officer? Crazy! ”
She took a photo of the police officer and started posting her story on FB. The police officer ran over and started writing her a ticket.
” Yes that’s right Mama. I’m a police officer and I ‘m ticketing you for posting while driving.”
” But I”m not driving.” Explained the woman. ” The light is still red. I’m not moving.”
” Your motor is on and you are in a live lane. ” The officer ripped the citation out of her mini ticket computer, handed it to the woman and walked away.
“Have a good day Mama.” she said with a smug smirk of revenge on her face.
It was at that moment when the police officer than noticed that her iPhone was laying face up on the street. It had flown from her hands when she crashed into the car. The light turned green and the woman in the Monte Carlo drove over it, while honking and punching the thickened hot and humid LA air with her left fist .
” I’M NOT YOUR MAMA!” She shouted.

Americans singing Amazing Grace while in US Customs Line at LAX INTL

Last night while in the US Customs line at LAX International terminal. A Black woman was watching President Obama’s Eulogy of Reverend Pinckney on her i Phone. Than suddenly she started belting out the lyrics to Amazing Grace. At first we turned to look at her. Her grief was pouring out  her mouth like a faucet on full open. Than two other women joined in, and two married couples joined in, then three other people joined, than I joined in. ( I knew all the lyrics ONLY because my high school teacher went out of her way to teach us the importance of negro spirituals – Thank you Ms. De Shera). Soon all the Americans in the customs line began singing. We tried to join hands but our hand holding was constantly disrupted as the line moved forward because we had to pull our luggage forward.  But our voices were intertwined, our voices became one voice, and even some of the US Customs workers began singing. It was a powerful and magical moment during which all of us were bonded in mourning of the innocent victims in  Charleston. The Foreign visitors turned to stare at us some smiling some crying. Most of them probably did not understand all the words, but they knew what we were feeling. I was in a good mood on my fight home , my spirits buoyed by the Supreme Court upholding the legalities of the Affordable Care Act, and Equality for the LGBT Community, but I was reminded that there is still work to be done. In any case, I can’t remember when a President’s actions inspired strangers to bond together in unity through song. While waiting for my ride , a vacationing Norwegian married couple said to me ” I like you Americans. Your country is changing, and it’s beautiful.” The two women walked away, lovingly locked arm in arm. They gave each other a kiss. Then they looked over their shoulders and gave me a nice wink. Glad to be home…worship-hands

American in Berlin

Kinda embarrassing when you’re feeling real sportlich ( athletic) running laps on a track on an all pro track while sporting a Derek Carr Jersey. Than a stray soccer ball comes your way during a girls high school soccer practice, and when you try to kick the ball back to them, the ball travels fifty feet behind you. Their muffled laughter does not go unnoticed of course. Than you feel kinda better when another stray ball comes your way, and this time you throw it back to them like a football. I hear shouts of :
“Veil Besser!” “Much Better !” and assorted half hearted clapping.
Then one of the girls ask
“Where are you from?”
” From the US,” I shouted!
“” Typical American Male! Knows very little about soccer!”
” But you only beat us 1-0″ I replied.
“But we still beat you”, shouts another girl.
Than than the goalie makes me an offer I cannot refuse.
” Score one penalty kick against me and I give you a German soccer ball!”
” Alle ist klar!” I replied. ” I am down! I’m thinking, surely I can make one.
I was 0 for 5. She blocked 4 goals and one went over the goal post, but it would have been a perfect PAT or short Field Goal ” She was amazing. She gave me the soccer ball anyway just for being a good sport! Ganz gut!

My Dad

My dad is a kingly and supremely generous, compassionate , and loving father. As a lot of you know over a year ago he was diagnosed with colon cancer. When I arrived at the emergency room, he was anemic. He had only two pints of blood in him. Yet he had the strength to sit up and give me a hearty embrace when I entered the room. . Than he offered me cash to buy myself a hamburger and fries ! ” You look hungry son.” He said. That’s the kind of father he is. A few days later on Christmas Eve we all huddled in a quiet corner while he had emergency surgery. When they wheeled him out of the surgery room he gave us an emphatic Joe Mantana-esque thumbs up! I admire his strength and courage. And , I am grateful for his unparalleled come back. I went home a few months later for Easter and he was mowing the lawn! My dad was , and still is a great protector. When my parents hired baby sitters to watch us, he would train the baby sitter how to spot me as I climbed up the tall ladder to the top bunk. He would make the baby sitter practice at least three times before taking my mom out for an evening outing. He was a top notch football , basketball , and baseball coach. He was also a great QB and Point Guard back in the day. He taught me everything I know about sports, gardening, BBQing, and most importantly he taught my siblings and I all about all kindness and compassion. My dad worked his ass off to make sure we had what we needed. He was not able to come to many of my highschool swim meets because he had a stressful job and strict boss. But he showed up to my last swim meet just as I stepped onto the starting block. I was swimming the 100M Breast stroke. My best event, and I shaved 1.56 seconds off my time and took first place by almost half a lap. It was my best time ever. When I came out of the pool my dad came over to pick me up , I got his work clothes all wet but he didn’t care. ” Good job son”, he told me! “I have to get back to work, but I”m glad I got to see you win! Good job son! ” My dad also has a great sense of humor and within him dwells a very warm playful spirit. The other photo is of me and my dad sneaking cocktails while everyone was out shopping lol. Hu guiaya hao dad!dad harry

Me and Nina Foch

At USC Film School I think the best class I ever took was a class which focussed on ” Directing Actors”. The class was taught by the one and only Nina Foch who played Moses’ Mother in the Ten Commandments and played the rich sugar Mommy in ” An American in Paris”. She also won and Emmy. In any case, she was brutal , and I mean brutal to the point of extreme cruelty. She would call people out on their cockiness or ineptitude. For my first assignment I directed a scene from ORDINARY PEOPLE. The exercise was to direct one good scene in one good take. I got two really great actors, and I thought I had done an excellent job, but after my scene screened she glared at me and said. ” You have no idea what you are doing. You couldn’t direct yourself out of a paper bag. You just think you are so clever don’t you Mr. Munoz? You think you can walk into my class and act like you are some famous movie director when you haven’t even been paid to direct anything. Let me tell you something Mr. Munoz with a capital M. You are nothing, and you know nothing about directing, but I will admit to you that you show a hint of promise, I’ll hand that to you , but you and that little clever mouse inside of you is going to trip you up. Don’t get caught up with your own brand of cleverness. Or you can kiss your filmmaking career good bye! ” I swallowed a lump that was the size of a baseball. All my class mates just stared at me with seemingly sincere sympathy. Jennifer, my class mate behind me tried to hold my hand to soothe me, but I pulled my hand away real fast. She made a lot of students cry. I never felt so small in my life after I screened that first scene. In any case the last scene I did was from FRANCES and she liked it. When I thanked her for the praise, she said. ” Oh don’t thank me Darling, don’t thank me. It’s not your job to thank me. You have a lot more work to do before you direct a Diva like me. Next scene! ” she shouted. She taught me a lot. Everyone was fearful of her wrath and moodiness, but she was the best instructor I ever had. What is the point in knowing about camera, exposure, lighting, production design if you don’t know how to direct actors ? Nina had this custom where she would invite all her students over for a delicious Sunday brunch with bottomless Mimosas. She made all the food herself, and her house was completely decorated Dutch style. Everything was white and blue. ” Well, if you survived my class, you can survive anything” she told us before our first bite. Midway back to my apartment I realized I left my back pack at her house, I drove back and when her assistant opened the door, I saw Nina with Barry Manilow singing show tunes in her living room. I never realized how tall and bean pole , and well, kinda dorky Barry Mannilow was. Like a tall brittle twig. ” Oh Alex! Darling, you forgot your back pack! Don’t worry we didn’t snoop or peak. Now remember, there is no need to be over clever when you direct ….breath in before each scene , if you relax you will do fine.” Than she gave me a kiss on the cheek and said ” Good luck”. Thank you Nina. Nina Foch passed away in 2008, may she rest in eternal peace. I would not have the rapport I have with my actors today if I did not take her class. The other funny thing about Nina. She would always arrive at class exactly on time, always with 2 or 3 ICM scripts under her left arm, to communicate to us that her relevance would never fade. “Well, they want me again.” She would say while setting her ICM scripts neatly on her desk ” Which one should I take. Well , I’ll worry about that later when I talk to my agent tonight”. Perhaps we should start the class now. Who is up first. Everyone would either tremble or have to make a spontaneous trip to the rest room.22556

Kruschev, Disneyland and Marilyn Monroe

During his visit to Los Angeles, Kruschev was not allowed to visit Disneyland, because the US Govt did not have ample time to set up proper security measures. The day before he left, he gave a speech and Marilyn Monroe attended. She is often perceived as an air head, but she was actually quite intelligent. She was just a very nervous person. After Kruschev’s speech, the media and press surrounded Marilyn and asked her ” Why did you come to hear Kruschev’s speech? ” to which she replied ” Because I thought it would be interesting “. ” What do you mean by interesting?” asked a LA Times reporter. ” What do you think it means? ” She replied as she flashed her friendly / seductive smile. Than she made a bee line for her waiting limo. Supposedly Kruschev ran up to her limo demading entry. Marilyn just waved at him and told her driver to ” STEP ON IT!|. Kruschev waved , than turned to the press and media and said. ” I have nothing else to say. No Disneyland and No Marilyn Monroe for me. I am now very unhappy man. “

Weird pre meal ritual makes me flee the dinner table

I was hanging out without with a female colleague of mine. She was going on and on about this guy she’s been seeing. How he is a borderline psychotic, a bad dresser, has pimples on his face, and how he should have his degree by now. Anyhow, she’s going on and on complaining about him. Than she calls him to join us for dinner. He sits down and she giggles. Than she turns to me and asks ” Would you like to participate in our pre meal ritual? I have some hand sanitizer just for the occasion.” She handed me the bottle. I went by my instinct , and the word ” No” raced out of my mouth faster then speed racer on his final lap. She gently placed a dollop of hand sanitizer in the guy she supposedly loathes hands , and then some in hers, and they start laughing and rubbing their hands until the hand santizer evaporates. Than they started sucking each others index fingers simultaneously while giggling like little elves. I’m staring at them in disbelief and the stunned waiter drops the plate of appetizers meant for our table. By the time they finished I was out the door. Strange but true. I keep thinking about that delicious plate of hot fresh calamari spread out all over the black and white checkered floor. Dayum.doritosad

The implosion of law enforcement

I do not believe that all Police Officers are bad people. In fact I have a few friends who are of sound judgement and character and care about the communities they patrol. But the credibility of police departments across our great nation has diminished to a very dangerous low point. Communities are smoldering with fiery rage. I’m disgusted and sickened by the continuation of extreme brutality of Officers of the Law, particularly in disadvantaged communities. I had a young black man in one of my FYI FILMS classes tell me one day. And this was a fifteen year old young black man from the city of Compton tell me and my students ” We are expandable Mr. Munoz,” I asked him why he felt this way, and then he stood up on his desk chair, and with the voice of Paul Robeson, he articulated with the passion of a preacher his reason for saying what he did. ” I probably will not pass the SAT, because I can’t go to school every day cuz I gotta help my mom pay the rent and bills. If I don’t pass the SAT, I won’t go to college, if I don’t go to college, I won’t get a good job, if I don’t get a good job, I won’t pay a lot of taxes and I won’t become a good American consumer. Therefor I am expendable.” These were exact words from a fifteen year old incarcerated youth. Than he sank into his seat , as sadness filled eyes. This kind of mindset amongst our youth much change. He awakened me and my students , so at that moment I cancelled the film class that day and we instead had a productive round table discussion about changes that must be made so that young people from disadvantaged communities can begin to develop a better sense of hope for their future. I still have the list of the incredibly progressive, innovative, and promising ideas on how we can become a more harmonious society and create opportunities for people to rise and fulfill their potential. One day I will organize these thoughts into a cohesive commentary or op ed. But as I drove home from class that day, I drove through skid row in DTLA, and I thought to myself ” This is not the America I was taught about in school. This is not the America my parents, uncles, aunts, and great grandparents told me about. What the hell happened? What happened? We have lost our way. We have gone awry. And if change doesn’t come soon. We will experience an unpleasant upheaval / purging. This downward spiral cannot continue. Temporary top gap measures won’t work. Neither will bandaids. We need long term policy changes, and for that to happen it’s WE THE PEOPLE who must act. As for me, I think that all Police Officers should be required to have a four year college degree, and their needs to be mind blowing and radical measures implemented to reform police Commissions and Police departments across the board and across the nation. Stay tuned for a short video to be streamed soon addressing what I have expressed above. I just saw that video of Police officers throwing black teens to the ground at a summer pool party, and I got steam shooting out of my ears, nose, mouth and fingers right now.

The stapler throwing boss.

The second job I had in LA was working for for a very high strung Hollywood publicist. On my third day at work, I sent flowers to the wrong client. She fired me on the spot and threw a stapler at me. Luckily I ducked and the flying stapler missed me and shattered her favorite vase which made her even more angry. The next day she called me crying. She hated my replacement. She begged me to come back. I told her I would come back if she would pay me more and not throw another stapler at me. On my third day, I didn’t make the Fed Ex deadline and she threw the stapler at me again. Again, I dodged the staper and this time the stapler hit her miniature poodle, which really enraged her to point of meltdown.. I fled the office, periodically peering over my left shoulder . My eyes searching manically for an airborne stapler. The next day she called me crying, more like weeping , because she hated the guy who replaced me. She called him a ” brain dead surfer cretin” . I told her that I would never work for her again before I hung up she shouted. ” If it was possible I would throw a stapler at you through the phone right now!!!!”. Lucky for me that was not possible some 15 years ago.