Martin Barrett

Author's posts

Life Cycles, pt. II: Human kickstand

When I was 9 I found my kickstand rotting off; it seemed to have crept under my bicycle. I asked my brother John to fix it. “There’s two types of people in the world, Mart,” he said, using an abbreviation of my name that means shop or store. “People who need kickstands and people who …

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Life Cycles, pt. I

Several times a month I ride my bike to work across seven miles of city streets. It takes me 45 minutes, depending on traffic. I rarely stop, even when I should. The Atwater Bridge stands less than halfway through my journey, but it is the hardest part. It is the one place I must stop, …

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Return to “Crack Street”

There have been a lot of changes to Lowell, Massachusetts, my birthplace, since I left; the city has embraced native son Jack Kerouac, it has a Single A baseball team, and it has finally gone ahead and christened a thoroughfare Crack Street. “High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell” is a 1995 HBO documentary …

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On the trail of the Kogi truck: Coming to terms with Twitter

Like thinking people everywhere, I see little use for the social networking site Twitter. My life is complicated; can it really be summed up in 150 characters or less? Do the people who depend on me for guidance and moral leadership deserve to only know part of my brain? Furthermore, what can they glean from …

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Esta es mi enfermedad terminal

Manny Ramirez has a new billboard in Los Angeles, but former teammate Jonathan Papelbon would probably approve of my redesign. Previously: Sixth inning and the Dodgers are winning; NomahSee also: Jonathan Papelbon grinds his teeth (Esquire)

Thoughtful perspectives on selecting your upscale grave

Large, freestanding, and often rectangular outside advertisements are known as billboards. Here in Los Angeles there are a number of them, alerting potential consumers to available goods and services. The Forest Lawn Memorial Parks, a franchise of high-quality, well-maintained, tourist-friendly ossuaries and crematoria, advertise their trendy boneyards via billboard campaigns that speak to our gentle …

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With a girl as fine as she was then: The Psychopathological narrative in “Raspberry Beret”

Nearly a quarter century after she “walked in through the out door (out door),” the woman wearing the title garment of Prince’s 1985 song “Raspberry Beret” continues to puzzle and intrigue scholars. But it is the narrator who has emerged as a dangerous and unstable sociopath. “I was working part-time in a five-and-dime ,” the …

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Lawry’s of Beverly Hills: An Airstream Full of Meat

The Valet took my car and parked it 30 feet away. Later, his coworker would charge me $6 to get my keys back. But I know how this scam works and I’m getting too old to fight it. It used to be that if I could see where valets were parking my car, I would …

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To kill an antichrist

Matches come in a box, tobacco in a pouch, milk in a carton or bottle. Perhaps the scariest part of “The Omen” is that knives were transported in a towel. “State law requires I ask you a couple of questions,” the guy said. Recently I went to have knives sharpened. While hacking at a carcass …

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“Pigs must have been here.”

Steve Martin’s “The Absent-Minded Waiter” (directed by Carl Gottlieb, who wrote the screenplay for “Jaws“) is a wholesome, good-natured sketch that would not have worked had anyone else played the waiter. Everyone delivers such an assured performance that it seems the joke is simpler than it is, even though there are so many subversive bits …

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