We’re exactly a year removed from our son’s sudden death, and if we seem made of Roman concrete, that is a misconception. We are prone, in this year of loss and repair, to periods of reflection and mourning and stupid forgetfulness.
I admire how the sun pings off of San Clemente, like strobe lights off an Oscar gown. I go there to talk about writing and the life-affirming power of the California sun. Out here, even the corpses look better.
A long life happens in a heartbeat. I look at my hometown now, and there is the sense that I never left, that a childhood here helped us raise four kids in the amazing but challenging city of Los Angeles.
Many of us have two homes – the ones where we grew up, and the ones where we wind up. Chicago is where I grew up, on the cold and unforgiving prairie, Land of Lincoln and Capone, Ernie Banks and Saul Bellow.
I’ve enjoyed the recent rains and the way they green the vales and rinse clean our precious strip malls, a point of pride for so many L.A. residents. They've also given me time to pen some thank-you notes.
My son and I went to a lot of trouble to convince the Chardonnay Moms in our town that we couldn’t cook when we knew we probably could. Then it turned out we couldn’t. Dinner now tastes like compromise and defeat.
We’re an odd couple, the movie star and me, self-medicating with classic cheeseburgers and sharing a love of movies. And Lee Marvin stories. And the vagaries of an American life.
There is nothing like 15 friends huddled around a TV with chili on their sleeves to make a winter’s night a little warmer. My son and I gathered a few buddies the other night to do just that.
I take our wolf-dog for a winter walk. She never lets me stay down for long. Bred for snow, a dreary day enlivens her. Besides, most dogs are upbeat by nature, their most-exquisite gift.
Our end-of-the-year plunge missed the sunset, but the cotton candy afterglow lasted forever. The actual swimming? In minutes, we were back in Verge’s hot tub, eating s'mores and toasting the kind of courage that doesn’t come along every day.
Picking an Oscar host these days seems nearly impossible, so why not go back and go big. Who would you pick to host? Moses? Aristotle? Alexander the Great?
Your supportive and thoughtful emails pile up, falling like snow in the dark. And a secret Santa has been watching over us, leaving bags of goodies each day.
What worries people now are signs of obvious physical decay: the forgotten packages spilling around the mailbox, the little guy going off to school with two different shoes.
Now, as they say, life goes on. But does it ever? The girls and I will clean some closets. The little guy and I will try to find our footing, without the woman who worried over our every meal.
A small gesture, a kind and unexpected word. Such encounters change everything … your mood, your outlook, the texture of your soul. And remember, everyone is dealing with something.
The real triumph, for my co-hosts and me, was that so many of our grown children came by the tailgate — not because their parents insisted, but for other reasons. Free beverages for one.
California is a feverish, maddening, magnificent piece of property. A land of perfect weather, it boasts a relentless sun that crisps the land. Before you know it, it’s all on fire again.
November is the month by which I judge all others. It is both ebullient and wistful. As the college kids return, just remember: "A great meal warms you like a hug."
If we didn't have bad luck, we'd have no luck at all. The roof needs repairing, and the kid needs another retainer. And that's not even the worst of it.
I’ve attended many Lutheran weddings, including my own, where I blacked out during the second act – my bride, Posh, scripted it like a three-act Sondheim musical.
Things have been tough lately, but at least the idiot beagle passed his IQ test. We celebrated with cake and the knowledge that you have to make each day a Mardi Gras.
For all its issues, football is still our national waltz, the dance that unites us like nothing else, and there we were celebrating it again, on the soft golf course next to the venerable old stadium.
Some friends had won four theme park tickets, and you certainly don’t let an opportunity like that slip away. In this case, the tickets were to Knott’s Berry Farm, a lovely little development hemmed in by mini-malls and freeways.
If there’s a strange thump in the night, they call me. I'm like the police, they love me only when they need me. But life throws you other, worse surprises.
First, I fired my muse. Then the much-anticipated "Burning Man at the Beach" event fell through. Thank goodness for my hiking club, stinky bars and the relentless optimism of loyal friends.
The young husky doesn’t just inspire me … it’s better than that. I think she loves me, though it’s hard to tell with dogs. Their default emotion is to worship you a little.
For a moment, is was like a Greek tragedy, the fire from the grill, the sprinklers arcing high over the patio, me dashing for the shutoff valve and grabbing my torn schnitzel. You see now why I like fall so much?
I like the cool air and the sense of impending change right now. Seems everyone we know is dropping kids at college. Woooosh, off they go to St. Louis and Philadelphia, Pomona and San Diego.
We ended up on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, too hip by half, where we searched for overpriced sushi amid the moonglow of a thousand cellphones. You know, sometimes life gets away from me a little.
The coast of California is dotted with these dark dives that provide an oasis from the pressures of work and the sameness of suburban living. They are like train whistles in the night.
Forget the fiddle players. At the legendary Hollywood Bowl, the real show is often out in the snug seats, where 20,000 attendees rub elbows, knock knees and make the most of celestial summer nights.
I’m renowned for my ability to adapt, and this new workplace offers a fresh start for everyone. Honk and wave as you pass our beautiful new building. Inside is where the magic happens.
I could ping the kids with tomatoes. Or take the dogs for another walk. Or carry our pet wolf past the attacking cats. In the heat of summer, the possibilities are almost endless.
We've hit that summer sweet spot. For once, no one is talking about their idiot bosses or wayward careers. Instead, they discuss their recent summer trips down the Danube, or how this one restaurant in Spain staged the absolutely perfect feast.
As you well know, it’s been a brutal July so far. So we take our summer visitors to the sea. "The cure is salt water," a writer once said. Turns out she was right.
Three hundred years ago, New Orleans was founded on arranged marriages and broken promises. It shouldn’t probably exist at all. It burns down. It floods. In summer months, it stews in its own juices. I kind of like it.
The old Times building is located at the vortex of privilege and sanctimony, a squat, imposing, limestone shoebox soaked in smog and surrounded by courtrooms and mouthy politicians.
After a good trip to the heartland, I'm paying the price: a canceled flight, hours to kill and the spotty allure of an airport bar. Bloody Mary, anyone?
Father’s Day is such an afterthought it’s almost not a thought at all. No one is tougher to buy for. So instead of tools or neckties, how about you just play a little catch with him again?
I wake each weekend to the thought of blending fun with obligation. Obligation usually wins. Then along comes this beautiful new smoker....
You’d look at this house, with peonies everywhere and whiffle balls in the flowers from when the little guy last took batting practice, and you’d think: “It’s not such a bad house, really."
We seem to have survived another raw So Cal winter and have taken to the backyard again, for crawfish, family and frosty margaritas in old jelly jars.
Graduations are coming up, as is Mother's Day. Dress up. Dress down. But try to avoid that joyless, blank-faced stare — a.k.a. the Gelson's Grimace.
The Happy Hour Hiking Club provides a break from chores, blending generous pals, old and new. And a photo from Chicago proves to be a real home run.
The top is perfect, but the drawers are blemished, like chalk along the sidelines, craving – as we all do — human touch and a certain degree of manic obsession.
This weekend's book fest is a chance to celebrate the written word. Call it the Coachella of ideas and poetry, wit and wordplay.
The cards, the candles, the casseroles, the pies… they all help, including soulful little notes from total strangers who watched our son grow up.
The boy, who was killed on the freeway March 4, grew up on these pages. He didn't have a fancy resume or elite education. Just a great spirit and a zest for life. There are no words.
Childhood used to be so much simpler. Amid the pressures and the expectations — and another national tragedy — they are reminding us what is really important.
In a sea of brake lights, during an endless rush hour, an angry woman jumps from her SUV. Just another defining moment in the land I love (Los Angeles)
January is dads on ladders taking down the lights and moms deciding when to toss the half-dead poinsettias. January is obligation and diets. But it's real.
I think it was a successful season, though there are always misfires – something I said in jest taken seriously, a flubbed or forgotten gift.
As the old song says, we were happy in a million ways this past holiday, amid our fellow misfits and malcontents. In fact, it's sometimes hard to tell friends from family.
Here’s the thing: If you get Christmas 60% right, you’ve still got a lot of Christmas. Chasing a perfect holiday leads to stress and disappointment.
As gifts, I’m giving my kids a digital currency based on the value of mermaids and unicorns. I mean, who even knows what bitcoin looks like?
Under this new holiday plan, the first day of Christmas would be Dec. 20, roughly coinciding with the first day of winter. Pancakes and PJs would also have their own day. This 12-step plan would mean more friendship, fewer things.
The 300-pound beagle has more ego than I do. But at least the new wolf loves me. At least I think that's love. Do I care?
This is the stuff of real life. The faucets leak and so does the roof. You sure don't see these issues come up on "This Is Us."
During a pediatrician visit, Dad voices concern over the boy's behavior. But it turns out that being goofy is quite normal for that age.
On a road trip up the coast, I linger too long over lighthouses and eat way too much pie. Surprised?
Off I went, in a cheesy rental car, ugly as a fire truck, on airless tires that rattled over every road seam.
The lake is the color of Charlize Theron's eyes. And the weather? Much like the Med (at least for now).
It's a village smothered in sour cream. Fifty years ago, I roamed the backyards barefoot, snatching apples and other kids’ Schwinns.
Sure, 20% of the population believes in unicorns. But don't judge too quickly. Besides, L.A. changes from minute to minute anyway.
Readers reach out to Los Angeles Times columnist Chris Erskine and his wife, a.k.a. Posh, after he revealed her cancer diagnosis.
You can’t see the answers because there is A.1. steak sauce all over his homework. Where his name should be, there is ketchup. Like Jackson Pollock, the little
So we’re getting into the new school year routine, and it’s going very well. We wake at what must be 3 in the morning. My coffee tastes like cigarette butts.
It’s late August and the dog needs a bath. Actually, he needs three baths. After his third bath, he needs to be rolled in powdered sugar. He’d still stink, but
Chris Erskine's younger daughter has moved to Cincinnati but visits L.A. often on business. He's trying hard not to let his feelings show.
I used to write with music playing in the background till I realized the rhythms were interfering with my work. Like music, writing relies on attractive
Go ahead, moms and dads, try to solve parenthood. Chris Erskine ponders the issue while tallying the cost of hiring a math tutor for the little guy.
My goal this summer is to get the little guy to listen to one Harry Chapin song. And to paint his bedroom. That's it. One song, one bedroom. Simple dad, simple
If you’ve had teens before, you know what flawed yet wonderful insects they are about to become. They lose their freckles. They lose their puppy breath.
The one where our columnist finds himself caught between one kid who won't grow up and another who's flying the coop.
Someone had a funny line the other day about barking dogs. He wondered if, when we yell at the dog to stop barking, the dog is thinking: "This is awesome! Now
Chris Erskine makes 60 new friends who are just off-kilter enough to join the Happy Hour Hiking Club.
Chris Erskine goes jogging and has a close call with a Prius; then some cyclists get involved. All he wanted were banana pancakes.