Latino Life

Al Martinez, Pultizer Prize-winning journalist, author and recently
annointed "Bard of L.A.," brings humor, wisdom and a sometimes quirky perspective on life to the AARP blog. The former Los Angeles Times columnist riffs about aging, current events, who he is, who we are and everything else.

Not Nice Words at Any Age

I was in Von’s the other day shopping for cat food and cheap wine when the wild screeching of a toddler pierced the afternoon boredom. It sounded very much like a kid going through the “terrible twos,” perhaps stimulated by a mommy who has had it up to here with him and was beating him with a loaf of sourdough bread. I could tell the direction of the screaming by the number of shoppers emerging from the aisle with their hands …

When the World Disappears

A few years ago, I wrote about a lawyer in his 40s who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. We met for lunch at an oceanside restaurant  and watched a restless surge of waves breaking in eternal conversation with the man about to lose his history. “It’s all fading away,” he said to me. And indeed it was. Names and faces were vanishing in what he described as a blue mist that was ever deepening around him, allowing …

Interracial Marriage: The Colors of Love

Through the din of restaurant conversations while at dinner with friends the other night, a question emerged. It was offered in a hushed tone of shock and disbelief, one woman asking another: “Did you know that Donna is going to marry a Negro?” Though muted, it rang in my head like a fire bell, first as a memory from my boyhood, and second, because only those still trapped in America’s terrible days of slavery and segregation would still use such …

When Grandma’s Called to Take Over

Calling all grandmas, calling all grandmas, they’re after you again, the people who have babies but don’t or can’t actually raise them. You are being tested once more on your ability to care for the children of your children in an age that is altering the dynamics of family at the speed of a thunderclap. It is a warning gleaned from reports indicating that more and more grandparents are going to be called upon to raise their grandchildren, stirring the …

News Flash: Great-grandpa on the Way

We were sitting around the dinner table on a warm Topanga evening looking very much like the family of cops on TV’s Blue Bloods, digging into the best Irish stew ever served in America, when suddenly Nicole, still chewing, said, “Guess what? I’m pregnant.” Everyone gulped down their food simultaneously except for Nicole, our granddaughter, who seemed to float in a space of serene detachment. The moment was still-life for a tick in time. No one knew how to react. …

Wake Up and Go to Sleep

I have just returned from an all-night study of my sleep habits that should have been called an all-night study of my awake habits, because all during the study there’s no getting any sleep. You lie there as tense as death, hooked up to 17 electrodes that in turn are hooked up to electronic devices that study exactly how your body and your inner organs are doing while you are struggling to go to sleep, a struggle that keeps you …