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Iris Berry

Posted in Iris Berry with tags on February 26, 2023 by Scot


Portrait of My Los Angeles…

It’s the earthquake weather in me.

It’s my love for palm trees
and the way they line certain streets.

My love for supermarkets
with their big empty parking lots.

It’s taking long drives
through various canyons.

It’s being in love with
certain silhouettes and views
of trees and telephone poles
as the sun sets
because I’ve seen them
all my life
and they’re embedded in my soul.

It’s having love for certain streets
because they have no sidewalks.

It’s my ability to love the ocean
only through a restaurant window
but disliking it with its direct sun
if asked to lay in it
scantily clad
for more than 2 minutes.

It’s my love for the stars
the ones in the sky
and on sidewalks.

It’s growing up with an empty backyard
and having to drive far
to visit friends and family.

It’s only knowing the changing seasons
by what’s on display
on the shelves at the supermarkets.

It’s having to drive everywhere
just to get anywhere.

It’s being bummed when it rains
even though there’s a drought.

It’s talking on the phone with friends
more than seeing them in person.

It’s my love for the beach
but rarely seeing it.

It’s being guilty of saying,
“it’s hot but it’s a dry heat.”

It’s refusing to go somewhere,
because I probably
won’t find a place to park
and yet there are parking lots everywhere.

It’s all the famous streets and boulevards
with their incredible history.

It’s the many different cultures
and subcultures and cults.

It’s the place where people
come to “Be Somebody”.

It’s definitely a love/hate thing.
Sometimes it’s like the greatest drug
and the best place on earth
and sometimes it’s like telling someone
you love them and they don’t say it back.
But it’s my home
I was born here
I can’t imagine
living anywhere else
I can’t imagine
leaving Los Angeles…


 1/27/23 Midnight…

Iris Berry

Posted in Iris Berry with tags on July 13, 2021 by Scot


Iris Berry is a native Angelino and one of the true and original progenitors of the L.A. punk scene. She is the author of several books including, Two Blocks East of Vine, The Daughters of Bastards, The Underground Guide to Los Angeles, and her most recent release, All That Shines Under the Hollywood Sign. Internationally known, her wit and often dark, factual accuracy and empathy for her subjects has brought her critical acclaim as well as a huge fan base. She writes her experiences with grace and deadly precision. Her lullaby-and bedtime-story voice is like a haunting tour of Los Angeles that lingers like one of the city’s unsolved murders. Berry has appeared in numerous films, TV commercials, documentaries, and iconic rock videos. In the 1980s she was a singer for the punk band the Lame Flames. Later Berry co-founded and toured extensively with her band The Ringling Sisters, who recorded with legendary producer Lou Adler (A&M Records). Berry also sang and wrote songs and recorded with the Dickies, the Flesh Eaters and Pink Sabbath. She’s received two certificates of merit from the city of Los Angeles for her contribution as a Los Angeles writer and historian, and for her extensive charity work. From 2010-1014 she served on the Board of Directors for Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center. She has served as the mentor to many up-and-coming writers. Berry is co-founder, editor and publisher for her imprint PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS, where continues to champion for original voices.



–from Daughters of Bastards

As Good as it Gets

In the past two years
I’ve learned
that just because
you’re loyal
honest and devoted
does not mean
it will be reciprocated
that sometimes, sadly,
no good deed goes unpunished
and most movies
do not resemble real life
especially the ones
with the big budgets
and what my grandmothers
told me about men is true.
I’ve also learned
that no matter how much you know
and love somebody
they can still have secrets
that could break your heart
and possibly kill you.
Don’t rely on fortune cookies
but never let a good wishbone
go to waste
and that nothing is personal
and everything is personal
no one is perfect especially me
and the more mistakes I make
the more human and nice
I am towards you
and the more powerful
I think I am
the more danger
I am in.
I’ve learned
that everyone dies
some quickly
some slowly
so it’s best
to live the life
you really want
it’s taken me forever
to realize
that I still haven’t
and that somehow
I still have the fantasy
that as long as I am
a good person
life will get better.
But what I’ve really learned
is that the clock
is tick, tick, ticking
and maybe
I should do my best
to leave this place
with a smile on my face
and love in my heart
for you
and for me
and maybe
that’s as good as it gets
and if that’s the case
I will consider


–from All That Shines
Under the Hollywood Sign


Thank You Henry Mancini

Thank you Henry Mancini
for all the neon boulevards
and all the city streets
of all the cities
and the jazz
and the poetry
of the downtowns
and the uptowns.
For Sunset Boulevard
in the rain,
Hollywood Boulevard
at twilight,
and Wilshire Boulevard
at dawn.
For the Pacific Coast Highway,
Union Station,
and the view from
Mulholland Drive
both sides;
the San Fernando Valley
and Los Angeles.
For Jazz gliding its way
down translucent highways
at one in the morning
through the steam
of car headlights
in the pouring rain.
For making me feel clean
when I was dirty
and for the fantasy
that my life
was somehow better than it was
and for the romance
when there wasn’t any.
For crazy but surprisingly
smooth hung-over mornings
when an all-nighter
should have been painful.
Thank you
for the lengthy warm
Santa Ana summer afternoons
overlooking a city
from a dingy apartment
with only the view
and you
to save me…
Thank you Henry Mancini
for those
ephemeral evenings
draped across Hollywood
at midnight
like a ghost town
and still
for the exquisite
and the calm
and for the clean
and regal lift of elegance
on to a stairway of stars
leading to a luxurious
and illustrious world
where nothing earthly
can touch me…
Thank you



Christmas in Van Nuys at Ralph’s Market at Midnight

The lights are cruel
at Ralph’s Market
in Van Nuys at midnight.
Apparently, it’s Christmas
according to the aisles
at Ralph’s Market.
But if I had to guess
by the customers
I’d say it was Halloween.
It’s desperate
here in Ralph’s
at midnight
and the lights don’t help.
Florescent lights
are never good for the complexion.
There’s a young homeless couple
walking the aisles buying food
and looking happy
at least they’re in a relationship
I think to myself.
Freshly home
from a trip to The Big Apple
I went with my boyfriend
and came home single.
We had to go
3,000 miles to break up?
It happened
in bed
in the dark
at 3 in the morning
in a dingy
Times Square
hotel room.
It was epic
and when that plane landed
20 hours lateron California soil
I clicked my heels
and quietly chanted
there’s no place like home
there’s no place like home
there’s no place like home
And now I am home
in my neighborhood Ralph’s Market
feeling like I don’t belong.
The thing about California
with its constant sunshine
the only way to tell the seasons
is by what’s selling on the shelves
at the Supermarkets.
I have a thing for the Supermarket
it’s a form of meditation
nothing in here
reminds me of my life
I can do this…
I’m a spiritual giant
in the frozen food section
I’m Gandhi
in the Greeting Card section
and I’m Mother Teresa
in the check-out line
forgiving all the tabloid sinners
and connecting with something
greater than all of this.
“Credit or debit?
Paper or plastic?”
“Peace… please?”
I’d like to give it a chance
after all,
it is the Holidays.



L.A. River Lullaby

It’s 2:06 am
I can hear
the sounds
of a distant train
as the constant
passing of cars
drive the 5 freeway
alongside the L.A. River
heading north
and heading south
going to places
called home.
Home for me
is not a place
with walls
windows and doors
where framed photographs
are placed on mantles
over fireplaces
and lined hallways
or embedded in refrigerator magnets.
Home lives in my heart
and in my breath
and in the unsaid exchange
of knowing glimpses
with loved ones
and kindred spirits
ignited by the reciprocity
of trust
and the generosity
of a spirit
that goes beyond
material items
beyond coaxing words and gestures for planned outcomes
beyond any exchange
of anything
or needed.
Home is not the room for the life
but for the life in the room.
Home lives
in the conversations
that our souls
are having
with each other
without words
where truths
are unspoken
with an unconditional love
that rings louder
and with more power
than mere words
could ever express
with an emanating
Home is anywhere the heart thrives…
As the passing cars
on the 5 freeway
get quieter and quieter
until all I can hear
is the distant train
and the unspoken words.



Shooting for the Stars in Kevlar

We run
from hot summer days
and broken air conditioners
we run
to chilled movie theatres
make out like teenagers
who’ve never had sex
never been kissed
by tender mouths
and never cradled in the arms
of an unconditional love.
We make
our own movies
back in the back
of the theatre
laughing like there’s no yesterday
yesterdays that begged us to stay
and tried to kill us
in our sleep
then chased us
in our waking hours
begging for salvation
and a hall pass.
We are the bright spots
in the road found in dark alleys.
A pair of lives
lived hard
treated hard
and discarded harder
and as we
hit the pavement skipping we forgot
that we were only playing hopscotch
to the tune of songs
lead by a symphony
of sirens and howling dogs. Can we believe
that we can believe in love?
After we have let so many
put their unloving hands
around our hearts
souls and throats
x-drug habits
x-drug dealers
still trying
to strike a better deal
with empty promises
empty pockets
and empty souls.
Leaving open wounds
like bullets holes
as the winds blow through them
hollow and scarred
and that sometimes
most often are unhealable.
A catalog
of catastrophic events
shaped our lives
and sculpted us
into who we are.
It doesn’t always mean
that who we are
can carry us
into who we want to be…
but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop trying.
As we dry our eyes
while no one’s looking
in dark theaters
waiting for the next
movie to start.



The Ghosts of Punk Rock Past


The First time we met
was on a Saturday night in 1978 or ’79.
He was running down Sunset Boulevard
with about
five other people,
they were all covered in peanut butter.
He stopped right in front of me
and sweetly said,
“We’re smearing peanut butter all over ourselves,
you wanna do it with us?”
My friends were horrified
and pulled me away.
I was intrigued.
About a year later
we were in his apartment
on Cherimoya and Franklin
which was literally
in the shadow
of the Hollywood Sign.
There was about 10 kittens
running around
and bouncing off the walls,
it was a flying cat circus.
He liked to say my name backwards,
“Hey, Siri! Give me your arm?”
and before I knew it
he grabbed my wrist
and just as his lit cigarette
was about to hit my skin
one of the kittens
flew into us
and knocked it
out of his hands.
The last time
I saw himwas at Oki Dog
It was about 2:30
in the morning
he was walking around
saying goodbye
to people
one by one…
and the next day
just like that
he was gone.
Since then
there’s been
so many others
and I think about it
these encounters
brief and fleeting
and otherwise.
These bonds
surreal and otherworldly
in life as in death.
These chance meetings.
And I don’t know
what any of it means
I’m just glad
we met
along the way.