Steve Zelt . . .
. . . was born in Alhambra, California, but his family moved east to live in a new suburb called Diamond Bar. That was in 1960. Pomona was the big city where his mom did her shopping and Steve went to school.
In Pomona is the Fox theater where in 1942 Orson Welles tested The Magnificent Ambersons to disastrous reviews. Years later, Steve saw many movies in the Fox theater; it was still magnificent, only slightly less.
Just down the street from the Fox is the Pomona Unified School District Auditorium. In the 9th grade, Steve starred on the stage there as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Unlike Welles, he got strong reviews.
Welles tried out Ambersons a second time, in Pasadena. Steve's uncle graduated valedictorian from the Pasadena Playhouse along with cohorts such as George Reeves and Dana Andrews.
When he was 21, Steve married and moved into a duplex a few blocks north of the Fox theater, which had been closed in disgrace by then. Not too long after that, he moved to the city of Ontario, into a little house-behind-a-house off Euclid Ave, which intersects with Foothill Blvd.
In the late 1970's he attended a small seminary in Thousand Oaks, but when it came time for him to be ordained, he heard a little voice say, “No.”
So, he raised a family and worked for himself, pinstriping thousands of cars. He made signs for many years. He chose love over money, but did okay anyway.
Tick-tock. In 2009, he went back to college at Cal Poly, Pomona. He minored in theater.
One night, from the parking lot of the college, he saw the twinkling lights of Diamond Bar. Then it was he knew for sure that he hadn't gone very far in life.
After he graduated, he became an adjunct professor in local colleges for a couple of years.
Then he left California, and moved to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to many of his grandchildren. Now he has a job working as an adjunct professor of English at the nearby community college.
Other interesting facts: Steve hasn’t watched broadcast news for over 45 years, and doesn't listen to radio.
He has never heard President Trump speak.
He never heard former President Obama speak either. He heard George W one time, on September 11, 2001.
He did read the print edition of the L.A. Times every morning for 40 years, so he sort of knew what was going on in the world. Now he reads The Wall Street Journal. He likes newspapers because they report the news that happened yesterday, and the writers have had at least a few hours to think about it. And they’re soundless.
He hasn’t watched a television show for 20 years, either. That’s a lie: his wife made him binge-watch Downton Abbey (twice) and the first two seasons of The Crown. And some Sherlock Holmes -- if you count all that as television.
If you ask him what his favorite movie is, he will usually say, The Best Years of Our Lives. One of the stars in that was Dana Andrews.
Other times he will say his favorite movie is Tender Mercies, or The Apostle.
He definitely thinks the most overlooked best movie of the 21st century is Win Win. But then he must also mention No Country for Old Men.
Steve surprised himself last summer by discovering how much he likes the writings of Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald. One reason is because their stories take place in Southern California.
In Chandler's story, The Lady in the Lake, Marlowe has breakfast in Alhambra. Then he drives east:
We reached the long slope south of San Dimas that goes up to a ridge and drops down into Pomona. This is the ultimate end of the fog belt, and the beginning of that semi-desert region where the sun is as light and dry as old sherry in the morning, as hot as a blast furnace at noon, and drops like an angry brick at nightfall. . .
. . . We'll be coming to Ontario in a minute. We'll switch over to Foothill Boulevard and you'll see five miles of the finest grevillea trees in the world.
Steve still drives the same Nissan truck that he bought new 28 years ago. It never had a radio or air conditioning. It doesn't have power steering or brakes either. You have to crank the windows up and down by hand.
He thinks his kids are the greatest, even when they're not.
Currently, he receives daily Google News Alerts for Pope Francis, Morgan Meis, and T Bone Burnett.
He drinks a Manhattan every night before dinner. In the summer, a martini. These are the only true cocktails. (n.b., martinis are made with gin; there is no such thing as a vodka martini.)
Other miscellaneous facts: He smokes $1 cigars, can speak in tongues, and would be a Catholic -- except for a kink in the process: while the Catholic Church doesn't mind if you smoke, drink or speak in tongues, they frown on a past divorce. Steve called the Vatican to ask if anything could be done about this. He got their answering machine: "Leave a message and we'll get back to you in 500 years." Beep.
That's an old joke.
He noticed today in his closet that he tends to buy a lot of yellow shirts. He used to own a yellow '67 Cutlass Convertible. It would be fair to say that he has always had a sunny disposition.
You can reach him at email@example.com