“I’ve never seen an October rain like this in all my years in LA,” says my friend David Starrett as we arrive for lunch yesterday at Gus’s Barbecue in South Pasadena. At the back door we drop our umbrella in a bucket full of other half-dead umbrellas.
David was one of my art teachers when I was a student out here. Later he was the model for Lee Crabb in Dinotopia. He’s the nicest 82-year-old gentleman you’ll ever meet. His ear is the model for “subsurface scattering” on page 155 of the book “Color and Light.” He’s also a natural actor, and he obliges me by being a character actor while I sketch him.
He orders barbecued ribs and I order coffee. I unholster my colored pencils. Robert Johnson’s blues pour out of the speakers. Rain gushes out of the gutters outside. David turns up his collar. I squeeze the handle of my black Niji brush pen. A drop of Higgins Eternal bleeds out of the tip.
Somehow he starts to look like a hard-boiled film noir detective, the kind of guy who works best after hours on rainy nights when the rest of the guys have gone home. “That’s when they dump the evidence,” he mutters, as he saws loose a rib.