MEMORY ~ Bucephalus

I have a great love for animals, and I agree with Elizabeth Taylor who once said that animals are more often than not better than people. They are pure and true and you always know where you stand with them if you know how to listen. I was reminded of this on Sunday when I sat down to watch the film “War Horse”. Horses really are amazing, and I understand this story so well, the connection between the boy and the horse.
When I was in college back in the late 1900’s I used to walk the mile or so to school every morning past a horse pasture on Bayside Road at the edge of the Arcata Bottoms. I would stop and look at the horses in the pasture for a few moments each day. Once morning I met the most beautiful gold colored horse there. He come sauntering up to the barbed wire fence and poked his nose at my chest and then nuzzled me by the ears. He was there every morning from then on. He could be in the trees way on the other side of the pasture with his buddies and I would stop at the fence and click my tongue and he would gallop out of the trees and across the field to me. The other horses just ignored me. I would feed him grass from my side of the fence and he would nuzzle me and Whinny. When it was time for me to go he would walk with me to as far as his pasture went and then stand there and watch me till I went over the hill. In the afternoon when I came home…there he was waiting for me. We became friends for that last year at Humboldt …I even called him Bucephalus after Alexander the Greats horse. When I left school I went down to the old fence to say goodbye. As always he walked me to the end of the pasture I hugged his great muscular neck and swallowed my tears. When I turned at the top of the hill one last time, he whinnied to me and tossed his head while he clawed the earth with his right hoof. That was the last time I saw Bucephalus.


                                  (Horses on the Arcata Bottoms)

I hadn’t thought of him for years until I started watching “War Horse”. Gee I miss old Bucephalus he wasn’t mine but he was a friend.


AURARIUS ROMA DIVUM DOMUS ~ Canali Style by Canali

The gorgeous Piazza Della Repubblica in Rome with its fountain of the Naiads at its circular center is iconic. The circle of the Piazza is built on the echo of what once stood there, the circular center room of the gigantic baths of Diocletian. Here is where the elite of the Palatine hill mingled with the hoi polloi of the Subura in the ancient splendor of the imperial city. On the east side of the Piazza is the church of  Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri designed by Michelangelo which stands in the midst of the remaining ruins of the baths.

(Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome)

What few visitors realize is that the building was not designed by Michelangelo but rather restored. In fact when you are in this basilica you are actually standing inside a wing of the ancient bathhouse. When you realize this it is an overwhelming sight that transports you back to the glories of the ancient city.

Across from the Church on this glamorous Piazza stands the hotel Excedra a Boscolo, a 19th century semi-circular portico lined edifice that just captivates the onlooker.  I am so reminded of this building in the magnificent shape of the bottle design for Canali Style, an elegant classically inspired design which echoes the shape of this building. Here at the summit of the Viminal Hill with the wildly exciting traffic of Rome whirling madly around it the piazza is a vibrant part of the ancient yet modern capital.

Canali Style carries much of this excitement and vibrancy within the juice captured in this beauty of a bottle. The sophistication of the blending of clementine, pineapple and bergamot give the opening a very interesting beginning. At its heart is jasmine and orange blossom, I had my fist blood orange in Rome and this lovely note took me back to the Farnese Gardens where you can actually smell real jasmine and blood orange blossoms in the Roman spring. This loveliness last quite a while and then in the dry down there are rich spicy notes with nutmeg and coriander and a peppery hint as well as some woody aromas. Like the rich smell of the umbrella pines at the eastern end of the Palatine hill after a rain storm. It really is delicious! It smells very expensive to me and very Roman, with its blending of flowers and food aromas, much like the city itself which assaults the nose with just such aromatic notes. Roman life is in the streets where high style and la dolce vita della via meet so perfectly.

(Lanier on the Palatine in Rome ~ photograph by Lane Tibbs)

I have to thank my buddy Nikosculpture from Greece for telling me about this exciting hidden treasure from Italy. The best part is that it is so reasonably priced proving that in the world of perfume you don’t always have to pay top dollar to smell like a million bucks!

5 gold stars *****

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME ~ Acteur by Azzaro

The heavy sumptuous red velvet curtain rose silently. The stage was as dark as 3:am. A lonely amber spotlight widened from a pinpoint at the center of the stage to reveal a lone handsome figure. The Actor.

   “To spray or not to spray, that is the question.”

The audience cupped in the neo classical splendor of the Comédie Française Theater was spellbound in shimmering silence.

“Whether ’tis nobler for the body to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous odors,
Or to take arms against a sea of stench,
And by opposing end them?”

   He raised a bottle of Acteur Azzaro to inspect it and then popped the top and sprayed it out over the assembly. Thunderous applause shook the rafters of the theater so violently as to cause a microscopic snow of plaster to lightly dust the audience.

The following morning the Parisian papers trumpeted the reviews, The Acteur is bombastic, over the top, and in the grand style of another age. Yet despite all of that, it is a fabulous exciting hit.


     And indeed it is. What a perfect name for this late 80’s power fragrance, Acteur, the Actor. It demands attention and carries a natural charisma that only a true star possesses.


The drama of its theatrical opening is huge! It is a tangy spiced cocktail of Fruit, nutmeg, bergamot and cardamom that nearly knocked me over. This opening quickly dissipates into a romantic masculine sublime mix of rose, jasmine, vetiver, cedar and patchouli that carries authority in that special 80’s way some of us love. In this entire olfactory splendor at center stage the Rose is the star of the production.  The dry down is a really scrumptious and sensuous concoction of leather amber musk and Oakmoss. I do have to say that throughout the entire performance of this fragrance the leather and amber move up into the middle notes which complement the rose.  They burnish the rose along with the jasmine in golden tones quite nicely.

The silage is fine, a range of about medium and it last a good 6 to 8 hours on my skin.

If you are looking back to the 1980’s for a fine mature fragrance with some authority and panache, Acteur should take center stage for you.


(Photograph of Actor Bryant Lanier by Joseph Moran)


GLAMOUR BOWL ~ A Short Story.



Near death and on a constant morphine drip Theo passed from the hospital bed to his past on a regular basis. When cognizant of the present he knew what was happening. It is said when you die, your life flashes before you in an instant. He was on a slow slide towards death and instead of a flash card review he was, on and off, watching a disjointed, slow drug induced movie of his life. Theo was never sure when he would depart the confines of his hospital bed and float off to a different time, where he would go, or what would start him on that trip. He left on a suggestion instigated by a string of words he would catch from shadow like visitors who resembled his mother, his sister, or his friends.

Today, his lover Jeff was with him, leaning over the bed smiling and holding his hand. His face unlike the others in the room was very clear. Theo smiled up into his eyes. He looked so beautiful and strong, like he always did.

“Hi Scooter.” Jeff said, calling him by his old nick-name for Theo.

“Hi,” Theo whispered. “I’ve missed you.”

“Molly I think he’s coming around.” His mother called softly to his sister. “He’s trying to say something.”

Jeff ignored Theo’s mom and squeezed his hand. “I don’t know why, I’ve been with you all along.”

“You have?” Theo asked.

“Just like I promised I would. You know me I keep my word.”

Theo smiled. “Did you get to go around and visit everyone after you left like you wanted to?”

“Yes, and I gave a gift to each one, a special memory that I dropped off in a dream.”

“I’ve been remembering things today. Things I thought I had forgotten.” Theo said.

“What is he saying Molly? I can’t understand him.” His mother said.

“I don’t know Mom. I can’t make it out. It’s the morphine.” Molly sighed heavily.

“It’s stifling in here. I’m going out for a little while.”

“Ah yes,” said Jeff. “You’ve shown me some things on your journey today that I didn’t know about.”

“You were with me?”

“Yes I was, and today I’ll be with you all the way.”

“All the way?” Theo smiled even though he was confused.

“What’s your favorite memory Scooter?” Let’s have one to fly on.”

“It’s funny you should ask me that. Until now I didn’t have one. Always when people used to ask me that question before, I couldn’t decide. But now I know. My favorite memory would have to be of the most glamorous night of my life.”

“Yes, tell me about it.” Jeff leaned forward.

In the smog laden one hundred degree blaze of noon the bowling alley didn’t look like much, a one story turquoise concrete building next to the Los Perros Shopping Center. It was landscaped in front with semi-tropical plants and tall slanting palm trees.  Along the front was a white cement decorative grill work set forward from the building three feet. Colored lights were hidden behind the grill. At regular intervals of six feet along the sidewalk in front of the alley were tall gas Tiki torches that burned day and night. At the end of the building next to San Tomas Avenue was erected a sixty foot space-age-Vegas sign that said Riviera Lanes  in an exaggerated scrawl, almost a Hollywood autograph. It looked like any other bowling alley in Southern California in 1961.

But when the sky ran crimson somewhere over M.G.M. studios in the west, and the carbon monoxide in the air turned into a heady hibiscus perfume the manager of the Riviera Lanes would switch on the Malibu lights and it was magic.

Wednesday night was bowling league night for Theo’s family. To his Dad it was both family night and one with the boys. For his mother, it was a change of pace at mid-week. Molly, the oldest, hated the bowling alley, so she would spend the evening in the parking lot talking with other girls from her High School who were also forced to be out on bowling night with their embarrassing families. But to Theo it was the most exciting night of the week, even better that Saturday at the Paramount Drive In for a double feature. In this place where no one knew him, he was free of his reputation as an outcast and could be anyone he wanted. Other kids he met there would accept him as whoever he pretended to be. In the most exciting place there was, a place of night and lights, where they served cocktails to the adults and brought cokes with cherries floating in chippped ice for the kids. It was a hint of being all grown up. It was where while the adults were busy playing like children the kids played at being adults.

Theo sat alone sipping on a coke in a curved gold glitter vinyl banquet on the main floor above the lanes. His mother was at the next table talking with the wives of his father’s team as they watched their husbands knocking down pins and knocking back beers.

His favorite waitress Neily came up to the table. She wore her usual uniform, tight three quarter sleeved purple sweeter, even tighter black Capri pants, (you could see the line of her panties from behind!) and purple stiletto heels. She was topped off with a teased and tortured French twist hairdo and referred to its very original color as Champagne Frost. Theo thought she looked just like Kim Novak.

“Hi hon!” She said in her smoky voice. “How’s your drink? You want me to freshen it up for ya? I’ll even put two cherries in it this time. I know how much you like them.”

“Naw Neily. Thanks though.”

“Okay kid.” She didn’t move on. “Ya seen any good movies last weekend?  I always pay attention to what ya say about movies, ever since ya told me about that Jack Lemmon picture.”

“’The Apartment’.”

‘Yeah that’s the one. I just loved the end, ya know, when Shirley MacLaine runs to be with him and then she hears the gun shot. God that got me! I bawled like a baby. It embarrassed the hell outa my boyfriend.  He only likes war movies and westerns. Yech!”  She looked at her Timex. “Look, my break ain’t for a while. I’ll come back then and you can tell me all about the movie you saw last weekend.”

“Okay Neily. That’ll be great!” Theo beamed up at his vision of movie star loveliness.

“I’ll bring some French fries from the lounge.”

Theo watched the little dance her panties did under her Capri pants as she walked away. She was just about the neatest grown-up he knew. She talked to him like she understood him, like he was grown-up too. Hell, she even said “Hell” in front of him. He watched in fascination as she disappeared into the Thunderbird Lounge.

To Theo the combination cocktail lounge and restaurant was the romantic heart of the Riviera Lanes. He had always wanted to go in and see what it was like. But it was off limits, adults only. If a kid was hungry he had to eat in the over lit florescent brilliance of Stardust Coffee Shoppe. He just had to get a peek at it some how and see if it was as wonderful as his mom said it was.

He jumped up from his seat and sidled over to the double black walnut doors of the Thunderbird Lounge. He stood there for a moment if he slipped in real quick maybe no one would notice and he might get to stand there for a while before he got caught and was thrown out. As he was about to push the door inward the other door swung open.

“Where do you think your going?” Neily said with an amused grin.

“Aw Neily, I just wanted to take a quick look.”

“I’ve told you before you can’t go in. Not till you’re twenty-one.  Believe me hon it ain’t nothing special. And Twenty-one will come soon enough. What grade are you in anyway?”

“The eighth.”

“Yeah that’s what I thought. Don’t rush it. Those that come in here,” She gestured toward the Thunderbird. “Don’t have as much fun as you do out here. Now run along and I’ll see you later.”

“Aw Neily, I’m bored.”

“So am I but I got to get in gear, so shoo!”

He turned back to where he had come from. His sister and some of her goofy girlfriends were now sitting in his booth. He didn’t want to sit with them. There were no kids he recognized.

He walked idly over the blue and gold universe patterned carpet to the side exit. If he liked pin ball he would have played that till it was time to go home. But he hated pinball, and for some reason he hated the best place in the world to be on a Wednesday night. For the first time ever he hated the Riviera Lanes. When he opened the heavy glass door to the outside the stored up heat in the sidewalk rose up to envelope him. He walked along the San Tomas side of the bowling alley toward the lights of the parking lot.

“Pssst!” hissed an oleander bush next to him. He jumped.

“Hey kid.” came a whisper. “Can you see the others?”

“Jeez!” Theo said peering into the bush where he could just make out the eyes of a boy hiding here, a boy about his own age. “The way you hissed I thought you were a rattle snake.”

“A rattle snake!” the boy laughed. “You dummy, rattle snakes don’t hiss, they rattle. That’s how they got the name. Besides there are no snakes around here, their up in the hills. Too much civilization for em’ outside a bowling alley.”

Theo laughed. “I guess so. What are you doing in there?’

“I’m hiding from those little kids in the parking lot.”

“Why,” Theo asked. “Are you playing hide and seek?”

“Yeah something like that. Hey, come in here. They might see you and figure I’m in here talking to you.”

“Naw, I don’t think I should.”

Don’t be a sissy. I won’t bite you.”

That was all Theo had to hear. He didn’t want that tag to stick to him here. If it did then there would be no point to going to the bowling alley to pretend he was free. He pushed his way into the dark center of the bush. He felt a spider web tickle his face, and brushed it away in a frantic gesture. He might be standing beneath a giant pulsating Black Widow’s nest. When the boy turned back form checking out the parking lot and looked up at him Theo covered his panic with a weak smile. The boy was astonishing to look at. He had crystal blue eyes like the sky at noon and short cropped thick blond hair. He almost looked grown-up. How could a boy like that be here?

“Hey,” Theo said without thinking. “You look like…”

“Yeah, skip it. I hear it all the time. ‘You look just like Ricky Nelson.’.”

“Ricky Nelson has black hair. I was going to say Steve McQueen.”

“McQueen huh?” The boy squinted and cocked and eyebrow at Theo. “Well that ain’t so bad. I get tired of the girls moon’n over me cause of that damn ‘Hello Mary-Lou’ guy. But McQueen, he’s a rugged guy, ain’t what ya could call cute. I hate being called cute.”

“You’re not cute.” Theo looked toward what he could see of the parking lot. “I don’t see anyone out there. How long have you been hiding in here?”

“Not long. What’s your name?”

“The…ah…Ted. What’s yours?”

“Erik. Do you live in Los Perros?”

“Yeah,” said Theo. “Do you?”

“Nope. I’m from Santa Monica.”

“That must be 50 miles away. What are you doing way out here? ”

“My mom’s boyfriend lives here.” Erik said with a sneering groan. “She wanted to watch him bowl.”

Gee, Theo thought, he had never met a kid from a broken home. He seemed older and so much more self confident than Theo.

“Shit!” Erik said. “Here come those kids.” Five figures appeared from the alley behind the building, just forms backlit by the street lamp behind them. One of them called out Erik’s name.  “Shhh, don’t say anything.”  He whispered to Theo.  “I don’t want them to find me.” He put his arm around Theo’s shoulder and pulled him down into a crouch next to him. As five pairs of tennis shoes scuffled past Theo looked at the boy who still had his arm draped casually over his back. It was obvious that the good-looking boy was probably popular at this school, good at sports, someone the other kids looked up to. All the things Theo wasn’t. And he had his arm around Theo! No one ever did that. The arm didn’t move, even after the others had passed out into the parking lot. Theo felt a wonderful flipping sensation in the pit of his stomach. Erick turned back to Theo and smiled, and the sensation multiplied into something like the first drop on the rollercoaster at Pacific Ocean Park. No it was more like when you were squashed up against the wall spinning on the Davey Jones Locker ride and the floor fell out from under you.

“Don’t you want them to find us…you?” He asked not knowing what else to say.

“Not really, their just kids and I only played hide and seek with them because I was bored.” His arm slipped from Theo’s back, and he shifted into sitting cross legged on the ground. Theo did the same. “Let’s just stay here for a while. If we run into them, they will follow us around the rest of the night.”

Theo liked the idea. There was something exiting and oddly dangerous about hiding with Erik under the oleander bush. As if an adult were to suddenly stumble upon them they would be in trouble. But for what? They were only sitting under a bush.

In the reflected light from the street Theo could see by the way Erik’s tee shirt fit him that he was more mature than Theo’s first impression of him suggested. He looked like he could be as old as sixteen. The wanted Erik to touch him again.

“How old are you?” Theo asked.

“Fourteen, how old are you?”

“Thirteen, I’ll be fourteen next June.” He picked at a dead oleander flower in the dirt.

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

“No, I don’t like girls. My mom says that’ll come later. What about you?”

“I just broke up with one. She’s in High School.” Erik said with a wink.

“High School!”

“Well, the tenth grade.”

“What happened? Why did you break up with her?

“Cause she was getting too serious. She always wanted to be with me all the time. That was okay at first. But it got to be like she thought she owned me. I don’t like that when a girl gets to close I gotta get away. You’ll see when it happens to you.” He smiled and looked out to the street. “Look how orange the moon looks. It’s the smog that makes it look so big and that color.”

“I guess there are some advantages to having smog. It looks beautiful.”

‘Yeah, I guess it does.” Erik looked back at Theo. “There’s something different about you. I saw you sitting in there by yourself when I first got here.  I watched you for a while. The only person you talked to was that bimbo waitress.”

“She’s not a bimbo. She’s nice and she talks to me like we’re the same age. She says I remind her of her brother who lives in New York.”

“Well if you say so.”

“And I am not different. I’m just like anybody.”

Erik raised his eyebrows inquisitively. “Too bad, cause I like people who are different from just anybody. It’s neat to find someone who is different. What do you do for fun? You play sports?”

“No, I’m not good at that.” Theo said softly.

“Hum? What about camping and fishing?”

Theo cleared his throat. “Not that either.”

“What do you do?”

“I like to go to the movies and I read some. I draw a lot and stuff like that.”

Erik smiled in a funny way and Theo wished he had lied like he always did at the bowling alley. Now it wouldn’t be long before Erik found an excuse to go off with the other younger kids he was hiding from.

“Don’t kid yourself, you are different. I know how you feel. I hate sports too. I like jazz though, and I don’t tell that to many people either.”

“But you look so athletic.”

“I lift weights. I used to be real skinny and the other kids picked on me. So my mom got me some Joe Weider weights. Now the kids leave me alone. Here,” He made a Steve Reeves pose with his right arm. “feel this.”

Theo reached out very slowly and squeezed Erik’s arm. “Wow!” That’s great.” He didn’t know what else to say and he didn’t want to remove his hand from Erik’s bicep.

“Feel my chest.” Erick said. Theo moved his hand to the place over Erik’s heart. “Hard as a rock. You should get some weights too. I bet you’d look great in no time.”

“I don’t know.” Theo let his hand slide away from Erik’s chest.

“Too bad we don’t live in the same town. We could hang out; you know and go to the movies and stuff. I bet we would get along.”

“You like me?”

“Yeah, I like you, why not?” He knit his eyebrows together. “I told you a lot a stuff I don’t normally talk about. Maybe too much. I guess because we’ll never see each other again.”

“Yeah, we won’t I guess. When I meet kids here I pretend to be someone else. Someone they would like. I tell them that I play baseball great and things like that. The never make fun of me like the kids at school. I was going to lie to you too. I’m glad I didn’t.”

“Yeah, I know.” Erik said. “We’re only friends for tonight so it’s okay.” Theo watch the expression on his face turn sad. “You kinda talk like a girl. Are you queer?”

Theo was shocked and frightened by the question. “I don’t know.” he finally squeaked.

Erik looked down at his shoes for a moment and then up into Theo’s eyes. “I am.” He said.

“I guess I am too.” Theo’s heart was pounding wildly. What would happen now?

“I thought I was the only one.” Erik said. “No one else knows, except you.”

“Everyone knows about me. It shows I guess.”

“Yeah it does a bit. That must be hard to take. I mean when they make fun of you.”

“It is. I just try to ignore them when they call me a sissy and throw things.”

“I would never make fun of you.” Erik put his hand over Theo’s and squeezed it. “Hey let’s go inside and play pinball.” He said and stood up.

Theo didn’t want to leave their secret world under the oleander. A place where magic seemed suddenly real and the truth felt as safe as Erik’s hand had over his own.

“Do we have to go in?”

‘Sure! I want everyone to see me with my best friend.” He held out his hands to Theo. “Come on.”  Theo took his hands and let Erik pull him to his feet.

As they walked across the universe carpet towards where the hide and seek kids were now playing pinball Theo saw his sister notice the boy he was with and her casual look turned into a log hard stare.

“Hey,” Erik said. “You know what I’ve always wanted to do?”

“What?” said Theo forgetting all about his sister’s look.

“I’ve always wanted to see what one of those places looks like on the inside.” Theo followed the direction of Erik’s glance. He was looking at the door of the Thunderbird Lounge.

“Really? Me too! I’ve been trying to get inside of that place since they first opened this bowling alley, As a matter of fact…”

Erik stopped walking and a wide grin transformed his face to pure light. “Let’s do it, let’s go in.”

“We can’t. I tried to sneak in earlier but Neily caught me.”

“Well then she isn’t excepting you again so soon is she?  We’ll get in and we won’t get caught.” Erik said with a glint of glee in his eyes.

“How?  We’re just kids.”

“We’ll get in by going in the same way the adults do. Like we belong there. We’ll just walk right in.”

“If that works what do we do then?”  Theo said. “They’ll catch us.”

“Maybe and maybe not. I’ll think of something once we’re inside. Come on!”

Theo followed Erik’s broad back as he strode across the remaining distance to the doors of the lounge. Erick pulled the door open and let Theo go first. It was so dark at first Theo couldn’t see a thing. Erik followed and pushed him to one side of the door.

“Over here.” He whispered. He pulled Theo into the telephone booth that was built into the wall. Automatically Theo started to shut the door. “Don’t do that, the light will come on.”

Together they both turned to look out into the Thunderbird. There was a curving “S” shaped bar on the other side of the room with hundreds of bottles behind it, all illuminated from beneath with colored lights of red and amber. A large tropical fish tank was above the glowing bottles. The bar stools were tall and coved with red leather as were the chairs around the tiny round cocktail tables. In the center of the room, which was curved like the bar, was a huge round sunken fire pit made from sooty grey lava rock, with a highly polished copper vent suspended above it. Just beyond the last bend in the bar part of the actual restaurant was visible. There were only a few patrons at the bar; the rest of the room was empty. Neily was filing an order at the near end of the bar where her station was by the door to the alley


“Wow, it’s really neat, like something out of a movie.” Theo whispered. “I can’t wait to grow up. I’ll live in some big city and go to real Broadway shows and meet lots of wonderful and exciting people. I’ll live in an apartment and…” Theo looked at the grown up splendor before him. “I think it’s wonderful. Things happen in a place like this. Life and love….” He suddenly realized that Erik had his arms around him, holding him so that they both could fit in the phone booth.  “Thank you for showing me the way to get in and to see all of this. I will never forget you, and this night as the most…”

“Shhh!” Erik put his hand over Theo’s mouth. “That waitress friend of yours is coming this way.” He pulled Theo further back into the darkness of the cramped booth, his arms strong and natural around his waist. Neily walked past their hiding place.

“You gonna play the juke box Neily?” The bartender called to her.

“Yeah, I gotta drown out those god damn bowling pins.”

“Play anything but hat sappy Ferrante and Teicher theme from ‘The Apartment’.”

Neily laughed. “You ain’t got no romance Jimmy.” She dropped some coins in the machine. ‘Moonriver’ came on and she walked back to the bar, picked up her full tray and headed for the double doors.

“I ain’t never seen real romance in a bar.” Jimmy said with a snort.

“It’s here; you just gotta know where to look. This one’s for you hon.” She tossed the words over her shoulder.  “I’ll play ‘The Apartment’ for me when I get back.”

Erik let his hand drop from Theo’s lips. And then without warning he kissed him on the mouth. Theo pulled back.

“Oh.” He managed to whisper. Blinded to the rest of the world he grabbed Erik by the back of the neck and pulled him closer to kiss him back. His eyes slowly closed has his lips parted.

When he opened his eyes Jeff was holding him. The bar was dark and deserted…no music. Strangest of all the sound of the crashing bowling pins was gone. Only silence and he in Jeff’s arms in the center of the Thunderbird Lounge exactly as he had remembered it looking thirty one years ago.

“That was a wonderful memory Theo….the best.” Jeff said.

“You’re not jealous? You always used to be.”

“No room for that kind of foolishness now.”

“I never saw Erik again. I often wondered what happened to him.”

“Wonder no more.” Jeff said.

“What do you mean?”

“Come with me now and you’ll see him. He’s waiting outside with a lot of other friends you haven’t seen in a while.”

“Is it time?” Theo asked.

“Yes Scooter, it’s time.”

Theo looked back over his shoulder and saw his mother and Molly in a hospital room that seemed so far away.

“They will be fine.” Jeff said. “And you’ll see them before you know it.” He took Theo’s hand and led him to the double black walnut doors.

“I’m scared.” Theo said.

“For the last time.” Jeff said like a man who had been there.

Just as Jeff pushed the doors open Theo heard Neily’s voice. “This one’s for  you hon.” The theme from ‘The Apartment’ flooded the abandoned Thunderbird Lounge and carried the two men out through the doors into the brightest light Theo had ever seen.


Michael C. Smith (Lanier)

San Francisco, California

July, 26, 1992

WHAT A SNOB! ~ Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

It isn’t my fault! Chandler Burr and Katie Puckrik made me do it. HONIST!  You see since I have fallen into the pit of perfume I must have hit my head on a protruding rock on the way down and when I came too I found I was a bit of a perfume snob. Not mind you in the school of thought that goes: “It has to be expensive to be any good.” No the other kind of snob. If I noticed a gaggle of paparazzo following a bottle of perfume I could be seen rubbing the tip of my nose on the ceiling. You can loose a lot of skin doing that and trip over your Italian loafers and end up looking rather foolish not to mention narrow minded. So I turned a blind eye to Celebuscents by everyone from Alain Delon to Zazu Pitts.


I came to discover “Lovely” by Sarah Jessica Parker when I read Chandler Burr’s mesmerizing book, “The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris & New York.” I am sure you have all read it but if you are new to this like me then grab a copy or download it to your electronic reading device.  It is an education in the creation of two perfumes, “Un Jardin Sur Le Nil” by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermes and “Lovely” by Miss Parker for the house of Coty.  No recapping synopses here …go read the book and find out why I had to try “Lovely”. I wouldn’t want to ruin any part of that reading experience for you. (Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is on my must buy list).


Now how does Katie fit into this? Well, anyone who reads her blog, or watches her very entertaining and extremely informed video reviews over at YouTube on her channel   will tell you that the lady in question smells. She smells real good. “Lovely” is in her top ten best female perfumes that men can wear. So that spoke to me. After all this His smells Her smells approach to perfume only began in the early part of the 20th century when the middle class was on the rise. The perfume houses wanted to grab the attention of men who might not want to smell “pretty” or like a Dandy. Before this segregation of scent was imposed on the world everyone who could afford perfume wore the same scent. Eau de Cologne Imperiale and Jicky were unisex!  As far as I am concerned if you love it, wear it! There is a certain thrill to being a daring pioneer of perfume. If Joel Cairo in “The Maltese Falcon” had the balls to wear Gardenia ….so can you.


“Lovely” opens like rain on predawn cobblestoned side streets in Soho. Not a clean rain but a bit dirty and risqué. The kind of rain you would love to walk in after an sweaty sexy all nighter in a dance club. The top notes of mandarin, bergamot shimmer lightly on the skin and are fleeting as they soak into the lavender and Brazilian rosewood which add a cosmopolitan sophistication. A dirty patchouli downs an Apple Martini grabs the hand of the bashful orchid and runs through the burst of rain down the street to hail a cab to midtown dry down. This is the woodsy central park of the fragrance with musk scampering in the early wet morning of Lovely though woodsy notes and cedar. As the sun dries the earth there is an echo of  balmy white amber which richly warms the skin to a new day.

Yes “Lovely” is confident. Self-assured and shows in its progression from opening to closing that it was indeed a labor of love in its creation. Thoughtful and not rushed it is more than lovely, it is superb.

It is all about what is in the bottle. Sure there are going to be lots of Celebuscents that are not good. Cheap thoughtless creations with a name tacked on who had nothing to do at all with the creation of the perfume. But somewhere in there in the midst of the rushing crush on the red carpet there may be a fragrance worth trying even in the glare of paparazzi flash bulbs exploding in a night filled with promise and possibilities.


LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON ~ Barneys New York, San Francisco

Spending the afternoon with Hilary Randall in the perfume department at Barneys New York ~ San Francisco is like spending the afternoon with Audrey Hepburn. An afternoon of charm, grace, beauty, a bit of a “Charade” in Paris with a little Holly Golightly on the side. It’s love in the afternoon perfume style!

It all began when my best buddy Lane and I were planning an afternoon of lunch n’sniff for this weekend.  The Union Square jaunt was centered on picking up the next big ticket on my perfume parade, Les Exclusifs de Chanel Sycomore. The boutique has been out of the travel size for a few weeks so they advised me to call ahead. I had saved up my pennies in anticipation only to hear when I checked in on Friday that it would be another week until it came in. Lane and I agreed not to let this little set back detour our adventure and agreed to meet Saturday morning anyway and make a day of it.

We timed our trip downtown so precisely that we ended up meeting on the M Ocean train on Muni. The plan was lunch first then a bit of perfuming.

“Let’s go to Barneys now and do lunch after” Lane said as we surfaced from the Powell street station into one of those glorious October Saturdays that seem like summer will never melt away into the rains of winter.

“Yes and we can say hi to Hilary” I agreed.



   As we crossed Market Street dogging the Giants fans running amok with the hordes of last minute tourists I recalled that it was only last week that I had popped into Barneys to say hello to Hillary whom I had met last month at the Diptyque Premier of Volutes.  She had greeted me so warmly the week before, as if we had known each other since the fall of the French Monarchy at Versailles. In the course of that visit she introduced me to L’Artisan Parfumeur, Arquiste, and Aedes de Venustas. She is so incredibly knowledgeable about perfume and the history of it. All aspects really that she is, simply in my eyes the Muse of Perfume at Barneys. (Everyone that I have met there are expert in their department that is one of the things that makes Barneys so interesting and a pleasure to visit.) As I left that day I was loaded down with a captured cache from a hijacked caravan of exotic niche perfumes. (Reviews forthcoming naturally) When I shared the samples with Lane last week at work he returned them to me with one mysteriously missing. Aleksandr by Arquiste.  He had fallen in love with this perfume based on the last day of Aleksandr Pushkin’s life. Russian fumehead, DrBatson’s review at Fragantica even says that it smells like winter in St. Petersburg Russia. Well if that is what winter smells like in St. Petersburg book me a flight!


    We entered Barneys and as always were greeted by warm smiles and friendly hellos. As we descended the last steps into the subterranean perfume vault (like a wine cellar, cool with no sunlight to harm the perfumes) we heard our names and turned to see Hillary beautifully dressed as always coming toward us with outstretched arms.  I told Hilary about the missing vile of Aleksandr. She laughed and we were off for the next forty minutes on a wonderful tour of the treasures of the fragrance world. We heard the stories of the histories of the various perfumes and the noses behind them. Lane became enamored of Oranges and Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clement’s by Heeley of Paris (Like Worth, another Englishman making good in Paris)  That has to be the longest name for a perfume I have every heard.


    On the way to L’artisan Parfumeur for my sniff beyond Saville A L’aube  (oranges, incense and corn tortillas)  we took a side trip for a test of Fredric Malle’s Portrait of a Lady. (Glorious but I am no lady) and in the mix we discussed how Americans love the clean scents and in Europe it is more about diversity and skank.  Hilary mentioned that the French have a saying when a fragrance is too clean like fresh laundry. “il n’ya pas de cul.” She said and then translated with “Pardon my French.”  At the end. In the 19th century as she told us, it was like this “Good girls wore light florals like orange blossom, and the bad girls wore tuberose and jasmine to cover up how busy they had been with their clients.”  I mentioned to Hillary that I like the heavy Orientals, like I said before, I am no lady.

Then it was on to L’Artisan Parfumeur where we revisited Saville A L’Aube. Yes we agree the three of us that there were corn tortillas at the top, the best and freshest in the land. I mentioned that I had heard about Dzing and Hillary smiled with a knowing nod. “Yes a trip to the Circus, sawdust, and leather and even a bit of the animal cages” she said.  I loved it…It was a trip to The Pickle Family Circus indeed! Then somehow we ended up at Al Oudh.  Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Yes I heard bells!


Hilary by now had us loaded with samples just when beautiful Adrienne whom we had also met at the Volutes opening arrived to take her to lunch. We agreed to all take a lunch break and meet back in a few hours.

After lunch and much smelling of wrists over sandwiches Lane and I dropped in to Diptyque to say hello to Madeline and thank her for the invitation to the holiday candle event this Wednesday. Madeline is so much fun to pop in on and always has something new and interesting to show you.

On the way back to Barneys we passed Mr. Jacqueline’s but had no time to stick a head in the door and take a chance on hello. Next time Monsieur Andre.  When we reached Barneys I knew it was decision time and it was between the Circus and Sex…Dzing and Al Oudh I tested my wrist and clearly those bells were still ringing off the harnesses of the caravan camel’s carrying the rare and wonderful Al Oudh from the East. Lane was leaning heavily toward the Oranges and Lemons etc. and while Hillary and I agreed that Dzing was for Spring and I bought my bottle of oud scented dreams Lane caved in and bought his Bells of St. Clement’s. Hilary decanted a sample for him. Spritzed him and his Barneys bag then did the same for me. There were hugs all around and a lovely goodbye until we meet again. (And that will be very soon for Hilary has invited Lane and I to a very Special Event next month which my friends will be a secret for the time being. But one hint…. There will be nothing old about this new look coming to San Francisco this November. So stay tuned.)



Lane and I ended our day having coffee and croissants in the window of Tout Sweet overlooking Union Square recalling what fun we had on our olfactory adventure. And on the way home as I walked though Patricia Green along Octavia Street I realized that an afternoon with Hillary was even better than spending an afternoon with Audrey Hepburn.


(My Granny and Grandpa, Vera Opal Agan and William K. Agan)

William “Bill” Kaywood Agan

Everyone loved Grandpa Bill. The ladies adored him and all the men in Carthage Missouri counted him as the best guy around for a good story and a fair shake. Bill was a flirt with the ladies and could make anyone’s day a little brighter with his smile and good natured optimism. Everyone who knew him has told me that I am just like my Grandpa.

I loved him of course, and as a little boy I could twist him around my little finger because I was his special boy “Lanier has the sun and the stars in him.” He used to say. The day he died I was 9 years old and for some reason I played sick that day and stayed home watching old movies on channel 13.  I can still hear Granny screaming as she ran the half block from her house to ours and Mother’s face when she heard her. I followed down the street in my pajamas and Roy Rogers cowboy hat. I saw Granny collapse in the yard. She couldn’t go back in to the house where he had fallen dead from a heart attack in the kitchen. Mother went in as the neighbors pulled me away.

Ten years latter when I was 19 it was a low point in my life. I was coming out of the closet and madly in love with a boy who didn’t care. I was in Jr. College and at night between one A.M. and four I delivered the L.A. Times to the University neighborhood in Riverside California. I was so beaten down by my struggle to just be me, the one and only me.  It was the very year of Judy’s death in London and Stonewall that very night in New York. I was so down I was trying to figure out how to kill myself. If I drove fast enough and then swerved for the concrete streetlamps in the center of Central Avenue it would all be over.

The speedometer was at 65 when I suddenly realized someone was sitting in the empty seat next to me. I slammed on the breaks and skidded to the side of the road. I turned to look at the passenger seat. Grandpa Bill was sitting next to me smiling. He didn’t say a word as he faded into nothing. I knew at once why he was there.

Each night for the next month he rode with me until I found the courage to move forward and embrace who I was with pride.

Vera Opal Eden Agan

Granny always reminded me of Bette Davis, She had those big blue eyes the same mouth and that wonderful laugh that Bette had, even more so in old age. I loved to make Granny laugh. And it was fun having my very own Bette Davis when I was growing up. The funny thing is that everyone in my family looked like a movie star. Mother looked like Rosalind Russell, Aunt Betty, her sister looked like Linda Darnell, Uncle Bud looked like John Wayne with a bit of Bob Hope around the nose …and my father looked like Clark Gable.

Anyway back to Granny, she  was also tough like Bette, no nonsense. Once after her shift in the ship yards during World War II in Long Beach some guy pinched her bottom on the way down the gangplank. Granny whirled around and slapped him just like Bette slapped Errol Flynn in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” and then said. “Do that again buster and you will be scratching your head with a hook wondering what the hell happened.”

During the early part of the Depression Grandpa was shot in the leg after putting a stop to some drunk and over zealous boys who got fresh with his wife at a barn dance, Well sir, Granny ran the farm and did all the plowing, took care of the kids, nursed Grandpa back to health and drove the truck to market. She kept the family going and when it was time and the farm was lost she said “California here we come”.  She never looked back, always forward, always to the West.

My best memory of Granny was when I was in my twenties. Granny lived up in Windsor a small town near the Russian River and Santa Rosa. I was up at the river with some friends at a bar along Guerneville Road. I called granny to say hi. She asked where I was.  “I’ll be right there.”  I told her it was a gay bar. “So what? I like happy people. I’ll be right there.”

Ten minutes later the door opened into the bar and with the low slung sun backlighting her tiny five foot two frame she strode in like Margo Channing.  She smiled and nodded to a couple of lesbians playing pool. I half expected her to say “Enchanté to you too!” but she didn’t. Instead she came to my table to meet my friends and as I stood, like always she gave me the biggest hug and kiss.

“Just like your grandpa, I find you surrounded by the best looking people in the room. And just like him I bet you are filling their heads with all kinds of wild stories. Don’t believe a thing Lanier tells you… He is Irish just like my Bill. ”

(At the Agan Turkey Farm in Fontana where I killed all the turkeys with the Chicken Pox. Granny never let me forget that!)


“Ew!” ~ Touch by Fred Hayman

“Your advertising’s just dandy… folks would never guess you don’t have a thing to sell.” Bonnie Parker


     Faye Dunnaway might as well have been talking about Touch for Men by Fred Hayman when she said those lines to Warren Beatty in the classic 1967 film “Bonnie And Clyde”.

The bottle for Touch was so pretty and elegant that I was seduced by its classic apothecary bottle design. I bought it blind and on the promise of the notes it claimed to have. Three notes to be exact, Lavender, Spices, and Amber, a simple yet masculine Oriental Spicy, right up my alley. It sounded uncomplicated and elegant and like something that might hark back to the glamour of Beverly Hills in the 90’s when Fred Hayman was a big name people still remembered on Rodeo Drive.

Then it arrived….. I opened the package and took one look at the box.  Not good. It was rather gaudy… Oh well it was the 90’s after all.

I unboxed the bottle… Now it looked a little better with its oversized black cap and the red plastic “wax” seal with an H stamped on it in the center of the bottle… no name just the stamp. Well that was kind of classy; if you stood back a few feet and squinted. Then I opened the bottle.

I spayed it on and in a Newport Beach second I morphed into Summer Roberts from “The O.C.”

“It smells like Chino, Ew!!”

It stank like the inside of the plastic head of a Jerry Mahoney ventriloquist doll. I know because when I was 12 I smelled my cousin’s Jerry Mahoney Doll, and it smelled BAD. What is that, Lavender? I have never smelled lavender like that. Is it plastic flowers melting on a sidewalk in the summer?  The spices are from the back shelf of an old taco truck abandoned on the old I 5 just north of Gorman. Amber? No not amber but something akin to burning tires in a junk yard in the San Fernando Valley.


   It not only stank but it stank in the most obvious obnoxious way. IT WAS CHEAP!

Was this a joke? All I could think of was Divine in “Lust in the Dust.”

DIVINE: Yeah, I came here for the gold, because I’ve been poor all my life.
MAGRUERITA VENTURA: You’ve got it all wrong, honey. You’ve been cheap all your life.
DIVINE: Cheap?
[picks up a chair, and breaks it over Maguerita]
DIVINE: This furniture is cheap.

I have no idea how long it lasts because I had the hazmat team in here giving me the “Dr. No” decontamination scrub down about thirty minutes after the first spay.

Lets just put it this way, It had me, and not in a good way, at “Ew”.




In the ever expanding universe of fragrance we can find perfume being made by automobile companies, pop stars, shoemakers, Las Vegas casinos you name it. Many of these houses I shy away from. Who wants to smell like Caesar’s Palace at thee in the morning? The world of fragrance is not just the domain of perfume houses such as Guerlain, Molinard, and Caron anymore. Still these houses are the standard by which all else must be measured. But it is not the name of the house that is so important. It is the creation by the Nose that is where the true magic of scent lies. A master perfumer can create for anyone and create wonderful things. In this instance the nose is Maurice Roucel.


With Lalique Pour Homme we have a stunning masterpiece from the “House of Glass”. The cache is refined, and dripping with class and it all begins with the finely crafted bottle. Lalique is famous for its crystal, world renowned and sought after by collectors and museums. The bottle clear and bold with its iconic lion head is a little piece of art. But what it contains is ethereal bliss. If you have not discovered Lalique Pour Homme then you are missing a magnificent olfactory experience.


Monsieur Roucel who has created for everyone from Guerlain to Gucci has blended a veritable garden of delights. Lalique Pour Homme puts me in mind of an afternoon in May at the center near the great fountain of the Luxembourg gardens in Pairs. Fresh flowers blooming amid trees warmed by the sun and the smell of vanilla from an ice cream vendor dance though the experience. It is an incredible blend by a brilliant artist. For me the best part is from the middle as it moves into the dry down when the flowers begin to fade. Lavender, iris, lily of the valley, and jasmine melt into a rich delicious vanilla supported by golden toned amber with a provocative hint of sandalwood and patchouli. These last two notes really richly round out the dry down beautifully. Lalique Pour Homme lasts on my skin for a good 6 to 8 hours. A lovely long day in the park!


This is a self assured masculine fragrance for a man with discerning taste and urbane style. It has fluid lines, great style and a strong masculine complexity. It says something unforgettable.

Five Gold Stars *****


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