You can check out but you can never leave...


My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

RECOVERY SLAM POETRY LIVESTREAM EVENT: Luke Benoit and Friends Celebrate ALL STORMS PASS 2 BOOK LAUNCH with Healing Poetry Readings


This Sunday, Aug. 1 at 11 a.m. PDT, poets will come together for a “Recovery Slam” online to celebrate the launch of Life Coach Luke Benoit’s second book in his All Storms Pass [The Anti-Meditations] series: Rain and Fire. The live streaming event will feature Benoit reading selected recovery self-help poems from Rain and Fire, along with guest poets who will read their favorite self-healing poems.

In his recent L.A. Now & Then interview, Benoit—a certified Life Coach and professional hypnotist—stated that his anti-meditations are “very purposely written in hypnotic and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) language … self-hypnosis has the power to unlock one’s potential.”

Midwest Book reviewers praised both books, calling the first “an excellent pick for anyone looking for a way to fire their way through life,” and the second “a two-fisted, take-no-prisoners approach to coping with challenges.”

The Recovery Slam poets include Thomas Allbaugh, PhD; Artemis Craig, and Marlan Warren.

Dr. Thomas Allbaugh’s short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in literary journals, including Writing on the Edge; In Touch Magazine; Relief, and Broken Skyline Anthology. He is the author of the chapbook, The View from January and the novel, Apocalypse TV. Dr. Allbaugh is an associate professor of English at Azusa Pacific University.

Artemis Craig is the author of Inspirational Verse for Those Who Hunger and Thirst: A Book of Poems to Feed the Soul. She has her B.F.A. in Screenwriting from USC, resides in Birmingham, Alabama, and is currently finishing her second poetry book, Southern Fried Comfort Food: Recipes to Encourage the Soul.

Los Angeles writer Marlan Warren’s poetry appeared in the anthology, We Accept Donations. She is the author of the novel Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All’s Not Fair in Love or War, as well as a playwright, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker. An excerpt from her upcoming memoir “Tales of Sushi” was published in The Artifactuals Arts and Culture Journal.

Recovery Slam is the brainchild of Warren who is partnering with Nicolas Nelson of Wordsmith Writing Coaches to produce this event via Yardstream.

“We hope to produce more Recovery Slams in the future,” said Warren. “They really fit the themes of Luke’s books, which focus on the power to heal oneself through contemplative verse.”



More Info:


Click one of these links to watch:

YouTube: Luke Benoit Channel (lukethecoach)


Twitter: @marlanwarren

The event will be accessible online permanently after the livestreaming.

To Read L.A. Now & Then Interview with Luke Benoit, click this link:

Thursday, July 22, 2021

New Book Launch Interview: Life Coach Author Luke Benoit re ALL STORMS PASS - ANTI-MEDITATIONS 2: RAIN AND FIRE

What:  Luke Benoit Discusses His New Book In “All Storms Pass” Series on Daniel G. Garza’s "Put It Together Conversations" Show (7/27 at 5pm)

When: Tues., July 27 at 5 p.m.
Where: LiveStreaming Podcast via Daniel G. Garza's YouTube Channel and Facebook, Twitter, Linked In Sites.

We caught up with Luke Benoit, the Life Coach Author whose newest book -- RAIN AND FIRE -- follows up the first book in his ALL STORMS PASS: THE ANTI-MEDITATIONS series.

We're passing along the promo one-sheet provided by Luke Benoit along with our Q & A Interview. 
These books are definitely worth checking out!

Author: Luke Benoit
Publication Date: May 27, 2021
Paperback: 346 pages      $17.95
ISBN-13: 978-0692222119
Available on Amazon
Author Website: Luke Benoit Life Coach
Facebook: Luke Benoit
Facebook: All Storms Pass Recovery Books


Author/Life Coach Luke Benoit presents ALL STORMS PASS: THE ANTI-MEDITATIONS 2 - RAIN AND FIRE as a very different kind of Recovery book. Sometimes dark, sometimes hopeful, his thought-provoking meditations confront and explore universal themes of Healing, Addiction, Self-Help, and Spirituality.

This book follows his acclaimed ALL STORMS PASS: THE ANTI-MEDITATIONS.

“Benoit does not attempt to offer readers magical solutions, but supplies aid as a fellow traveler who has come many times to a crossroads that asks him to choose between Light and Darkness, and he continues to choose Light. A 2-fisted, take-no-prisoners approach to coping with challenges.”
—Midwest Book Review (Book 2)

“The power to change one's life lies in one's own hands. ALL STORMS PASS is thoughtful and powerful reading that will resonate clearly and fully on many levels ... an excellent pick for anyone looking for a way to fire their way through life.”—Midwest Book Review

Luke Benoit is the author of the ALL STORMS PASS [The Anti-Meditations] series. He is married and lives in Orange County, California as a Certified Life Coach and a Professional Hypnotherapist. Luke has worked in the areas of Recovery, Personal Wholeness and Mental Health for 15 years, and touched countless lives as he helped people achieve sobriety, overcome addictions, depression and raise their self-esteem. He has his B.F.A. in Film from USC and his M.S. in Education from CSU Long Beach.

Mystic Journey Bookstore, Venice, CA


Q – How were the anti-meditations born?

A - I started writing these meditations as teaching tools and springboards for discussion in some groups that I was running. Initially, they were short and more like 12-Step slogans. They eventually took on a life of their own, and expanded until they assembled themselves into ALL STORMS PASS: THE ANTI-MEDITATIONS, the first book in the series.

Q - How would you classify the Anti-Meditations books?

A - They are about recovery from trauma with many 12-Step and Codependency references. Truthfully, they are intended for anyone they might help. They are their own animal in that way and hard to classify. But there is probably something in them for almost anyone.

Q - What was the best experience you had launching the first book? 

A – Hearing people from all walks of life say how much the book has impacted them. That has always been amazing and incredibly gratifying. Just last week someone thanked me profusely for the book—saying how much it’s helping and that it moved her to tears. That has always been the most powerful part of the experience to me. It’s very humbling, yet it also makes me very proud to be the channel.

Q - All the anti-meditations seem very personal and also "Universal.”
Is this by design?

A - I can’t really say that the meditations are by design. They gestate very organically, forming themselves, and in that process I really become some kind of channel and they move through me. It’s not like I know what they are going to be or say. In some way, they remind me of haikus with beginnings, middles and resolutions that have a certain rhythm to them.

Q - How would you suggest a reader in need of recovery approach these books?

A - I would say have no expectations. “The Statement of High Self-Esteem” that opens the book is extremely powerful and resonates throughout. With the other entries, I think it’s a sort of “take what you like and leave the rest” kind of experience. Let what hits you hit you. What moves you move you. Not everything is going to be right for everybody. But more than one should create significant, maybe even profound, awarenesses that could be life changing.

Q – All your books have humor. What is your relationship to humor as both Life Coach and for you personally?

A - The idea that sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying is a very powerful concept. I come from very sarcastic people and the energy of that definitely informs me as a person, a writer, and even a coach. There is something always very appealing to me about a Gestalt-ish confrontation that involves humor. It can be really eye-opening for us all.

Q - How close to the bone are these anti-meditations for you?

A – Each anti-meditation comes from my own life experience and what’s up for me at the moment that they are written. I have to get very present when I am writing these—thinking about what I am going through right now and entering into the flow that moves through me. Each one is about what is happening right now in the time that I am writing them.

Q – You are both a professional life coach and hypnotist. Does the latter influence your writing?

A - These anti-meditations are very purposely written in hypnotic and NLP language. Writing for me is always a trance process. I need to be ready and drop into it to be able to generate the work. Self-hypnosis (which we engage in all the time, often unknowingly) is incredibly powerful and can do so much to unlock our potentials.

Q - Which is your favorite anti-meditation in RAIN AND FIRE?

A - The one that I always think of first and really stands out for me is the one about the trapeze. I am proud of it because I think that somehow it’s really insightful about relationships and at the same time I think it’s a really well-crafted poem. I even like the way it lays itself out on the page.


so he asked her:






and she said:


"I just always

get distracted

by the





when all I wanted

was something to

grab onto

so I could




and someone to

catch me




and he said:





Q - How did you come up with the second book’s subtitle RAIN AND FIRE?

A - Turbulence. The years during the writing of RAIN AND FIRE were rough for me and full of all kinds of storms. Storms may come in many forms but surviving them all is the trick or key.

Monday, June 28, 2021


If anyone ever told you that you were anything less than wonderful—they lied. 
                         —ALL STORMS PASS: RAIN AND FIRE 
Life Coach Luke Benoit has followed up his book, ALL STORMS PASS: THE ANTI-MEDITATIONS with a second book in the series: RAIN AND FIRE. Warning: This is not a book for the faint of heart in need of recovery from trauma. It’s a two-fisted, take-no-prisoners approach to coping with mental, emotional, and psychosomatic traumatic challenges.

This book offers ways to soothe the suffering and liberate them, if they are willing to face their demons.

As with the first book, Benoit presents verses he calls “anti-meditations” (which are the same as meditations, only different). RAIN AND FIRE continues to riff on therapeutic themes of recovery, addiction, self-help, and personal spirituality. A former psychotherapist with extensive 12-Step Recovery knowhow, Benoit proposes that these anti-meditations may occasionally serve as puzzles—jumping off places for discussion, self-assessment, or prayer.

As a philosopher and poet, Benoit strikes a balance between his own truths and universal truths. Yes, he went through the Valley of the Shadow, but he points out that his experiences are not unique. The question ultimately is not necessarily how can we avoid trauma, but how can we flourish in spite of it?

RAIN AND FIRE’S hybrid of searing poetry, confessional naked rage and heartfelt love is tempered with popup humor that keeps the reader smiling through tears while turning pages. Instead of titles, the meditations have subject-oriented headlines such as:

“When will it be success and how will I know it when it gets here?”

“Today, I will admit that sometimes BEING STUCK IS A CHOICE”

“Today, I will accept that LIFE is not an ALFRED HITCHCOCK MOVIE”

“There comes a time when no matter where you've been and no matter what you've been through, you have to MOVE FORWARD anyway”

And my personal favorite:

I will WALK MY DOG -
no matter what else is
going on.

Even Benoit’s Dedication starts out with a smile:

For my Auntie Cia,
my Mom and Dad
and the Tall Dark Stranger
I thought might bury me
in the basement.
In a poignant, highly personal passage, the author reveals that after writing the first book, he suffered a physical and mental breakdown that was eventually diagnosed as severe vertigo—a health crisis that ended his progress for a time, except in the arena of healing, which eventually did happen. 

Benoit does not attempt to offer readers magical solutions received from On High, but supplies aid as a fellow traveler who has come many times to a crossroads that asks him to choose between Light and Darkness, and he continues to choose Light.

I highly recommend this book to advocates of 12-Step Recovery and those who wish to learn more about it; seekers of recovery from trauma or life itself; spiritual seekers; and poetry lovers.

Author: Luke Benoit
Publisher: Luke Benoit
Publication Date: May 27, 2021
Language: English
Paperback: 346 pages $17.95
Available on Amazon

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Yoko Japanese Antiques Needs Our Support - South Pasadena, CA

Japanese Antiques & Fabrics
1018 Mission Street, #2
South Pasadena, CA 91030
(626) 840-1284
Closed Mondays

Yoko Japanese Antiques is an enchanting Old School shop with a friendly, chatty, knowledgeable owner (Lisa) who runs it now that the former co-owner and her mother, Yoko, has passed away. Lisa wears a mask and keeps social distance while telling lively, entertaining stories and overseeing the mass of jewelry, vintage kimono fabrics, Japanese books & DVDS, miniature dolls, and gorgeous carved pieces.

Prices run from a couple dollars on up.

I bought two lovely pins for $8 each.  And plan to return to buy more of these one-of-a-kind treasures.

Twenty-five years ago, I commissioned Yoko to make me a "noren" (Japanese door curtains). She let me pick the fabric, and made it for me. It was on the recommendation of Amy at Ai Restaurant, who had several beautiful noren by Yoko.

Now, more than ever, this lovely shop needs shoppers!

I hope we can keep this South Pasadena gem going.

Thursday, April 8, 2021



The online arts and culture magazine “The Artifa[ctuals]” is currently running an excerpt from Adam Novak’s upcoming hallucinogenic Hollywood novel, Rat Park (slated for release in 2022 by Red Giant Books). Novak is also the acclaimed author of Take Fountain, The Non–Pro, and Freaks of the Industry through Sunday, April 11 (after which, you can read it in the archives).

On Monday, April 12, the magazine will feature an excerpt from Marlan Warren’s upcoming novel, Tales of Sushi. The story focuses on the attraction between a lonely Caucasian American divorcee and a charming Japanese chef, who forge a cross-cultural friendship amid a lively sushi bar scene in the L.A. area.

“The story is based on my diaries from when I frequented this Cheers-type sushi bar in Pasadena in the nineties,” says Warren, who is also the author of the novel Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged [All’s Not Fair in Love or War].

Editor Aris Janigian created “The Artifa[ctuals]” in the spirit of the Large Hadron Collider: “Our aim is to create a collision space for critical thought and artistic expression, and we welcome fellow travelers on our ever-evolving journey towards ‘a more perfect Union.’”

 Janigian is an author in his own right. His novels include Waiting for Lipchitz at Chateau Marmont, (17 weeks on the Los Angeles Times best-seller list), This Angelic Land, and Waiting for Sophia at Shutters on the Beach.

Artifa[ctuals] Website:

Monday, January 4, 2021

Who makes sure the homeless get their stimulus money?

This is not him. But similar. ©Photo Marlan Warren

Today I took a long walk through my hood early this morning, and as I passed the unopened Starbucks an old Black man, who was swaddled in a blanket and crumpled in a corner between the building and the sidewalk, muttered something that sounded like an ask. I stopped several feet away (he was unmasked, I wasn't) and looked in my wallet. It's been a long time since I handed a street person money. I used to automatically do it in San Francisco. A counselor whom I was seeing at the time told me that my spontaneous generosity inspired her to try it out. But I have stopped. For various reasons. It hasn't felt right for a long time.

So I reached out to him with a dollar in my hand and he didn't reach out to take it, so I placed it on his tattered knee. He growled:

"I don't need money! I NEED FOOD!"

I was in a hurry to get to my destination (the home of a stranger in the Facebook Buy Nothing group who had specified a time for me to pick up some free nails), and unsure what to do (the Starbucks appeared closed, as did the taco stand across the street).

I mumbled something about being sorry and hurried on. But my head was chattering the rest of the time about what to do. In this upscale, shuttered area it's not that easy to grab a bite for a homeless stranger in need at that early hour. I thought wistfully of McDonalds. So cheap. So accessible. And rather a long walk for me.

In my mind's eye, I saw myself stopping at a nice takeout place and getting him something, bringing it back after my nail pickup. But what did he want? There was a Chinese takeout joint, a donut shop, a gourmet Mexican takeout grill...

The IRS dropped the $600 Stimulus money into my account yesterday. Why not help out someone in need with a bit of it? Or was I taking excessive responsibility? No. This man clearly needed help. And clearly needed to eat!

Or maybe he'd already gotten someone else to help.

About 30 minutes later, I returned and saw his spot was vacant. I looked around. So he's ambulatory. Maybe off to a more lucrative area. But then I saw him—sitting on a bench in a bus shelter looking exhausted and dejected—across the street.

The shelter is in front of the Bank of America where a very long line of customers were patiently waiting, doing their best efforts to socially distance. Perhaps to retrieve their $600?

I approached him and casually asked: "Do you still want food?"

He nodded yes.

"Okay, what would you like? I'll get it for you."

"I want a burger," he said. Now I could see his only teeth - two on the bottom of his mouth. And that mouth was shaking hard when he tried to form words. "And a bag of chips and a soft drink."

He indicated the Fatburger that was a few blocks away.

"They have fries, not chips."

"They got chips..." He nodded in the direction of the gas station quickie mart, even farther than the burger joint.

"Okay, and what kind of drink?"

"Orange Crush."

"And what do you want on your burger?"

"Tomatoes and cheese."

"Mayo? Mustard?" He shook his head no.

I have to say I admire his specificity.

So I'd made this commitment. Now all I had to do was see it through. We were in the exact spot of East Hollywood (aka "Los Feliz") where Hollywood Boulevard, Vermont Avenue, and Prospect Avenue intersect in a rush of heavy traffic and lights that take eons to change. It was 10:30 a.m. and folks were starting to buzz about—including the ones in the tents that have sprung up on a traffic island nearby.

Thanks to the long waits for the lights, the whole mission took about 20 minutes. The quickie mart was quick. And Fatburger was surprising devoid of customers. (YAY!) It was the first time I'd been in there for a couple years. And the only time I've been inside any eating establishment in about a year. The sign on the door claimed:


There wasn't even a line for the drive-by window. What luck!

Staff had changed since I was last there. I hoped it might be efficient. I ordered his burger...and one for me. The couple hamburgers I'd eaten there before were not great. But it was 10:30 a.m. and I was getting hungry. Why not live dangerously?

A few minutes later, the place filled up with masked, agitated men who looked on a lunch break. I counted 12. Behind the counter, the manager was on the phone taking an order -- with his mask hanging under his nose. I saw a customer note this and adjust his own mask more tightly. (L.A. has lost over 1,256 people to Covid-19 as of today, and 26,000 are known to be or have been infected.)

I went to the door and opened it and just stayed there with it open, far from the action and letting fresh air inside (or as fresh as L.A. air can be). Another customer exited and waited outside, not making eye contact.

There was just one young Latina working the grill by herself. Eventually she was joined by another. This felt like the longest wait of my life.

But I had time to think. His meal would total $11.00. Why was this man unable to even buy food? What happened to his IRS deposit? Is he on S.S.I.? Would it have been dropped into his bank account somewhere? Or is there nothing like that for the disenfranchised of our fair city? A social worker who could help him gain access to his rightful government money? He could even qualify for EBT.

Just buying someone without a mask a meal seemed to stretch my limits. After all, I'm one of those "at risk" folks who needs to be locked down, and I am usually in my apartment nursing whatever latest physical ailment has decided to visit me. This is the first time that I've been outside for a good length of time.

I can't get involved with a maskless homeless man in trouble.

Or can I?

"Maria! Mary!" one of Fatburger workers shouted. That was the name I'd given them. I grabbed both bags and headed back.

Of course he'd moved.

I walked inside the bus shelter. Looked across the street at Starbucks. Looked at the B of A parking lot. And I was about to give up when I saw that he was lying in his blanket on the top of the cement barrier of the parking lot, several feet away from me.

Was he sleeping? But he recognized me as I moved towards him, and he sat up, a long line of drool falling out of his mouth (lack of teeth can do that).

I handed him the bag and set the chips & soda next to him.

He said: "Thank you very much."

Then I wished him well and moved on. I walked home, munching my burger with pickles and lettuce, which was hot and tasty. The best one I've ever had.

But that one nagging question remains:

Who is making sure these American citizens, these "street people," get their government money?

Search This Blog