I was born in San Francisco CA (did I mention 60 years ago crap). Lived in South San Francisco, the Industrial City, until I was 10. Moved down the Peninsula to San Carlos Ca, in 1964. I moved to L.A.in January 1991.
I was a spoiled, privileged only child. In middle school, I discovered motorcycles. In high school I was introduced to partying. School was easy, but I never stayed focused. I managed two semesters at the local junior college before quitting to work full-time in the fledgling Moto-X industry.
It was a magical time in that field. Moto-X is a form of off-road motorcycle racing and had only recently been introduced in the states from Europe. I was meeting my heroes as they came thru our shop. I had also discovered that I could sing, so it couldn’t take long to be a Rock star, right? The next 10 or 12 years I worked days in the MX industry, raced a little on weekends albeit not very well, and at night I played the S.F. bay club scene. Some good size shows opening for the likes of Huey Lewis & the News, Rick Derringer, Wang Chung, to name a few.
By the early 80’s, the economy and technical advances from motocross manufactures, hit our industry hard. The music thang sure seemed to have hit a plateau, and the partying was at a point that it was either gonna become my life, or I was gonna have to quit. I believe that Life is about seconds and inches. A series of I what I look back on as miracles took place in 1985. A moment of clarity to walk away from partying, and a disagreement with CA DMV, as to how many points you could acquire in a year. Which landed me with no license, and a bicycle instead of a car, for a year. Pretty terrible huh?
I fell in Love with cycling and have ridden over 150,000 miles since then. In 1986 I lost the band, the MX industry job, and a girl, moved back in with mom and dad, for what was supposed to be a few weeks, and really turned into five years.
What I gained. Friends who introduced me to a more selfless way of life, I began doing Stand-up, Improv acting, and racing Triathlons. In 1991 I was offered an opportunity to move to L.A., North Hollywood more accurately, to pursue a career in acting. Twenty-five years later, still persuing that dream, after a number of interesting jobs, some even in acting, lots of miles on a bicycle, and continue to work on the selfless “thang.” I am at another jumping off point to see what the Universe has in store for me, if I am present to notice.
I was a pretty serious cyclist for a while and worked a smorgasbord of jobs. I did a spirited 50-mile training ride every Sunday for years. Well on Sunday, December 3rd, 2006, I got scheduled to see a client in Palmdale, early afternoon. Palmdale is about a 40-minute drive North of L.A. so I was going to have cut my ride short. So for the entire ride I kept saying under my breath “God, I would rather do anything, than go to Palmdale, God I would rather do anything than go to Palmdale”. So I peel off from the Group, and head home muttering under my breath. About 20 minutes into my return spin, I pass a freeway entrance, onto the road, Seconds later I hear the sound of skidding tires getting close, and closer, head down, I peddle faster 24 mph, 25 mph, 26 mph. I’m OK! BAM…Not ok, (later reports indicate 165’ of skid marks) the impact straight from behind pushes me forward, onto the ground and under the front of the car. The occupants of the car are out staring down at me, looking relieved that I am alive, but concerned. They are urging me to not get up. I am in no hurry to get up. Scared, I take physical inventory. Everything seems to be still attached. That’s good, but the way my left shoulder was feeling. FUCK! I knew I probably broke my collar bone. The bane of every bicyclist and motorcyclist is the broken collar bone. Seems to happen to all of us at some point. CRAP!!!! Now I’m pissed off. My afternoon and even was shot. I was really pissed.
A private ambulance showed up. They wouldn’t listen to me. I tell them, “Hey I can get up, and walk to the ambulance.”
They insist on sliding me on a back board, erring I feel on the side of caution. I say, “I want to go to St Jo’s in Burbank”. They say it’s been a busy morning, St. JO’s is full, they are gonna have to take me to Glendale. Then like the Calvary L.A.F.D engine 13 shows up. I like these guys, they ask how the ride had been up to this point, they are mostly riders too I find out. They reassure me that my bike looks great, and they will take care of it, and best of all they have some pull at St Jo’s and can get me in. THANK GOD. In the back of engine 13’s bus on the way to St Jo’s I make calls, rearranging my day, rescheduling clients, letting Dad know his lil boy fell off his bicycle. Explaining how it’s probably a broken collar bone. Should be home in a few hours. The EMT seated next to me seems very amused by this. At St. Jo’s again everyone seems concerned, x-raying everything. I keep telling ’em, “ it’s my collar bone”. Rolled into an ER room and Randy from the ride shows up, somehow the word is out, and he suddenly has the same look the driver had, he’s not really laughing at my jokes, and I am pretty fucking funny. Ask him to hand me the phone by my bed, trying to get an evening commitment covered in case this collar thing takes too long, and reassure Dad. I hang up the phone, I notice it’s pretty bloody…hmm…guess I’ve sprung a leak, so that’s what they had been wiping off of me huh?? A guy in a white coat enters, I’m Dr. Powell, Randy exits. Dr. P, “So here’s the deal, you’ve probably noticed ya got some facial lacerations, there’s the road rash, yea there’s road rash, you’ve broken your shoulder blade, or as we call it your scapula, I’m not worried about any of that right now. Your hip is snapped, it’s bad, I rarely work here, my luck of the draw to be on call this Sunday, I got my team here ASAP, and they are prepping now. If things go well, we can repair your hip with 3 large screws, and ¾ horse power drill. Me, “So I am not going how today?”. Dr P with, I think a bit of a smile “Oh noooo!” Me, “So when will I go home, and I am a cyclist, will I ride again? “ Dr. P “with luck 2 weeks, definitely before Christmas. I figured that from the shorts. Can’t guarantee that you’ll ever ride again, but I am positive that we can have you walking again, in a while”. WOW.
So 10 days in Hospital, where I was never left alone, so many friends showing up. Things happened in that room, trudging buddies, met cycling buddies, me acting buddies. People whom would not normally have met. Friends with an autistic child meeting friends with teenage autistic kids, solutions found hmm? Then home, minimal weight-bearing crutches for weeks, no walking. I set a bike up on a trainer, and actually started pedaling before I was walking. Once the stitches were out I would hobble out to my pool, and find a way to slide into the blessed water. Who needs those pesky ice bags when then water temp is 40. Big ol’ smile. In May, a bunch of folks met me in Griffith Park for my triumphant return, an easy 15-mile spin. Almost 10 years later, with one leg 1/8 shorter than the other as a result of the surgery, I still work on stretching, and strengthening every day. Much like losing my drivers license, which seemed like the worst thing ever…It was actually a blessing in disguise, in so many ways. Most important blessing for me, is I now know without a shadow of doubt, that GOD answers prayers…..I did not have to go to Palmdale that day…
I believe everyone should be known, from the stars of stage and screen to the homeless person asking for a buck at the gas station. We all deserve to be known.
I am most proud of my Dad, of how he allowed being there for him. Of how despite what my head said, I was able to be there, his last 10 months, and help walk him home, as his ‘Visit’ ended so he could once again Dance with his girl (my Mom).
I am passionate, about Peace/Love, about being here, right here, right now, in this moment, comfortable/uncomfortable who cares. Reminding myself that we/I are all ‘Just Visiting’. We/I am ‘Just Visiting’ this place, this second, this feeling. So I try to cut the other ‘Visitors’ some slack, they have never done 3:30 pm July 19th, 2016 before either. I try to take responsibility for myself, respect my surroundings regardless of where I might be, to leave my current surroundings, as good, or better for the Next ‘Visitor’. Maybe reach out to see if another ‘Visitor’ might need a hand. BAM, drop the mic, step off the friggin soap box, lmao.
Here are Tommy’s answers to the bonus questions.
If you could cure one disease in the world what it be? Why?
I would cure Fear, it is a disease. It is a disease that infects, and colors so much of the world, is not just the cause, of violence, and unhappiness, but I believe that it is often the underlying cause of many physical aliments.What a bright healthy place, a world without fear.
What is your favorite Inspirational quote
“If you can’t make a situation better….try not to make it worse.” The Dali Lama, when he was asked to explain spirituality.
Do you think humans should be concerned about the planet?
WE have to be. We are at I believe a tipping point. The world population is getting to a point of unsustainability. Watching the Rio Olympics, the beautiful beaches that people are to ‘don’t go in the water, if you do. Do not submerge your head, waist deep only’ because of pollution. The ice caps, as well as the snow of Kilimanjaro, are melting. What are we leaving our children?
What makes you laugh?
Pain makes me laugh
What makes you cry?
What is the coolest thing you ever won?
Have you ever cried when a celebrity died?
Phil Hartman…weird right?
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Yes in the eyes of a practicing addict/alcoholic
What do you think is the meaning of life?
42..yep 42, if you get it, you get it lmao
What do you think drives violence in this world?
What one song have you listened to more than any other?
Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen, performed by Jeff Buckley, off of ‘Live at Sine’ it will tear