Saturday, April 23, 2011


After 28 years, my friend Ash and I met at a Denny's with a big windmill on the roof. The staff were neither Dutch nor dressed as traditional Dutch people. Inside were no Dutch decorations, no rows of tulips, no dikes holding back syrup, no Mexican waitresses clopping about in wooden shoes. It was a Denny's and someone thought a windmill on the roof would be shit hot. It kinda was.

Today Denny's offered a number of breakfast dishes rich with hickory-flavored bacon. They called it "Baconalia." I went all in. Ash got fish and chips in which the fish arrived looking very much like a breaded boomerang.

Back in the early 80s we worked together at a security guard company. Ash was a supervisor and I was employed monitoring burglar alarms and making sure guards arrived on-time at our various accounts.

Often the guards were drinking and didn't want to be bothered showing up to their posts. This pissed off the clients, who then called me to yell about the missing guards. I could send the patrol supervisor to cover the post until I located someone to fill in. But the patrol supervisor was moonlighting from his city day job and usually slept in his patrol car—deep rem sleep, impervious to summoning radio. This led to vexing nights but everything usually worked out. Plus I smoked a lot back then and that helped mitigate the tension.

Our company had alarm systems all across LA and parts of Orange County in shops, private homes, studios and factories. In the 18 months I worked there, I phoned in hundreds of burglar alarms to the police. All but one was false. Rats set off a fair number of the motion detector alarms while earthquakes could trigger every bell alarm, causing more racket than a lunatic brigade with pots and spoons. If you wanted to break into a warehouse or a factory 30 years ago, the best time was during a Santa Ana wind. (Alarm signals traveled through phones lines. Wind whipped the phone lines agitating the signals which showed up on our monitoring equipment as multiple break-ins everywhere at once.

We had former movie stars working as undercover employees at various companies to find out who was pilfering what. (Actors and actresses excelled at these masquerades.) Our crack after-hours service department consisted of a 21-year old guy who didn't care to have his pot smoking interrupted by things like fixing busted alarm systems. We worked with people who wanted to be movie directors and comedy writers (me) and others who were happy with dispatching guards and monitoring burglar alarms but had other problems.

Ash and I met at 1:00 and parted at 6:00. My Baconalia was long since digested. But we're getting together in a few months. Hopefully next time we'll locate a Denny's with a sphinx on top. In Los Angeles anything is possible.

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