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.

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 …

When Life’s Race Nears the End

It was quite a contrast. When Cinelli and I married in 1949 I was 20 years old and could run like the wind. Life was a thunder clap back then and my very existence was packaged in a race to a goal I never bothered to define. There was a kind of glory to the rush that trailed fire and dust; we were young and strong and loud, raucous children of a hurricane that never stopped forming. That is no …

Rocking and Rolling on the Coastal Starlight

Here we are rocking and rolling down the coast out of Seattle, not with a band, but aboard an Amtrak train that bumps, jumps, sways, jerks and hurtles all at the same time, knocking me around like a dog in a shipping crate thinking that at any moment I might go airborne. I love it. It is our transportation of choice for a week in the Northwest, and now we are on our way back to the homogeny that is …

A Deer in the Garden, a Cat in the Box

These are the gentle years, beyond the rages of youth and the desperation of middle age, seasons of summer warmth, and skies so intensely blue that it hurts the eyes to gaze upon them.  Only God and the artist Magritte could paint such skies and implant such peace on a softening day in July. I was sitting on a bench in our garden, a half-acre spread that my wife has transformed into Eden, when it occurred to me how much …