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.

A Grandpa’s Dream, a Child’s Nightmare

There’s a tendency among us grandpas to control, or at least direct, the lives of our grandchildren, theoretically filtering into their futures what we wish we had accomplished on our own. I see it in relation to my granddaughter Nicole, a gifted painter who, at 27, is working hard to win notice in the art world. She is accomplishing that slowly but too slowly to suit me, so I’m pushing her to ramp up the tempo, to haunt the galleries, …

Attack of the Killer Sepsis

Science is once more reminding us that there are predators stalking the land no larger than a speck of dust but with the killing power of a herd of hippos. They are so small you can’t see them but you only have about a 50-50 chance of surviving their attack. They are called bacteria and the sepsis or blood poisoning they engender is killing 250,000 Americans a year. I was almost one of them. I am alerted to the danger …

Facing the Perils in Paradise

There is a place beyond imagination and beyond the rattle of the inner city, beyond the housing tracts of suburbia and even beyond the relatively distant semi-wilderness in areas around Los Angeles known informally as exurbia. We call that settlement of heavenly dreams Nowherebia. It is an area that the soul yearns for on those days that freeway traffic is jammed bumper to bumper from the ocean to the desert where crime is on the rise, where tract houses of …

Facing the Enemy Within

I was telling my wife Cinelli about a Carole King album called Tapestry I had purchased online when I was stopped by the word “album.” I couldn’t say it. I said “alume” and “abul” and “alome,” but not “album.” It just wouldn’t come out. It was not only annoying, it was eerie. “What’s going on?” asked Cinelli, studying me. By then the word had popped back into my head. “I’m trying to say album,” I replied. “There, I said it! …

Seeing Life From a Rolling Chair

It’s only been a few weeks since I joined the ranks of 1.6 million Americans who use wheelchairs, and it has already changed me. I feel helpless in some ways and useless in others. I am in a different world, downsized and looking up, dependent upon others to get me where I’m going. There is a terrible loneliness to that. I use the chair only occasionally as the effects of COPD impact my ability to breathe easily, ergo my ability …

Doris Roberts Leaves ‘em Laughing, but No One Knows Why

Doris Roberts is the kind of dinner partner who can keep you laughing through the French onion soup, the Waldorf salad, the poached salmon and even the strawberry short cake, although afterwards you wonder what it was she said that made everything so funny. I pondered the subject over a glass of cognac one gentle summer evening during a party at the home of a mutual friend while Roberts entertained a guest on her other side who, later, also couldn’t …