Los Angeles Times columnist Chris Erskine is known for giving readers candid glimpses into his life as a husband, father and suburbanite through his “Middle Ages” columns and in distillations of that work, like the recently published “Daditude.”
Since the book came out in April, the La Cañada Flintridge resident has been on a whistle-stop tour of book signings, public talks and book club appearances, even sharing the “joys and absurdities of modern fatherhood” during La Cañada’s own One City, One Book community-wide read-in last October.
But as “Daditude” rounds out its first year of literary life, Erskine is finding his social calendar more packed than ever as organizations invite him to stretch the mantle of columnist/author across several new and varied roles.
The 62-year-old father of four served as emcee for the Jan. 30 annual meeting of the La Cañada Flintridge Sister Cities Assn., which convened local dignitaries with their Spanish counterparts from sister city Villaneueva de la Cañada.
And Erskine will soon try his hand at guest conducting the Burbank Philharmonic as members perform “The Star Spangled Banner” to start off a special free concert Feb. 23 in La Cañada’s Lanterman Auditorium.
“We’ll find out what a conductor can bring to the national anthem — can we get some fireworks going?” he joked by phone. “I’ll have a home-field disadvantage.”
But that’s not all. On Memorial Day, Erskine will lead a local tradition as grand marshal of the 46th annual Fiesta Days Parade, a highlight of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce’s Fiesta Days Memorial Weekend festivities.
News of the columnist’s selection was announced during the chamber’s installation gala and awards ceremony on Jan. 17, at which time officials announced the parade’s theme “Family First.”
Chamber president and chief executive Pat Anderson said members scour local rosters in search of potential marshals who are well-known in the community and who fit that year’s parade theme.
“He certainly is a family man, as evidenced in his years of column writing for the L.A. Times, and recently this was underscored by his book,” Anderson said of Erskine’s selection. “It all seemed like it was coming together and the right thing to do.”
The local author said he was surprised and thrilled to hear he’d been chosen grand marshal of a parade he, himself, regularly attends.
In a tumultuous year — the author lost 32-year-old son Christopher in a vehicle accident last March and then wife Cathy, aka “Posh,” to cancer nine months later — Erskine says he draws comfort in the small-town treasures of friendship and tradition.
“There’s something about the sameness of it that is reassuring. In a world that changes every minute, I think the traditions are really great,” he said.
Typically, grand marshals have the option of selecting the vehicle they’d like to ride down Foothill Boulevard for the Memorial Day parade, with most favoring vintage, convertible options. But Erskine pondered a different, more family-centered approach.
“I have a red minivan I’ll be standing on top of,” he quipped.