Life in the City of Angels: I Am a Traveler

Traveler

I am a weary and a lonesome traveler
I’ve been a traveling long.

I’ve traveled near and I’ve traveled yonder
I’ve been a traveling long and traveled cold and then
I’ve traveled hungry. Lord, I’ve been a traveling long.

Yes, I’ve traveled with the rich and traveled with the poor
I’ve been a traveling long.

One of these days I’m going to stop all my traveling
Going to keep right on traveling on that road to freedom
Going to keep right on traveling long…

Cue The Camels: Ancient Spores and Kim Kardishian

I slid my right boot then my left boot into the hole leading to the tomb’s tunnel. There was the soft, muffed sound of my pants sliding against the rough stone as my feet fell into the tomb. My knees passed and my thighs followed – which was as far as I got. I was stuck between two worlds. My companions started laughing before cheering me on. “Push! Push, Dave”. There was a scraping noise as my 34 waist and belt buckle tried to shimmy. I’ve been told in the past, during romantic endeavors, that I have ‘a booty like a black man’ – something I’ve always thought of as an attractive asset, but which, in this instance, was a real liability. ‘I think I’m too big, guys,’ I told my audience, ‘I’m wedged in!’ as giggles grew louder and escaped from the darkness of the tomb. I too began to chuckle, which was uncomfortable considering the added pressure of stone against my waist.

When I returned to the States and the Tonight Show, I shared my big ass adventure with one of the comedy writers for the show, Larry Jacobson. We both had a good chuckle when Larry added. “You know Dave, if you were Kim Kardashian you’d still be stuck in that tomb.

Life in the City of Angels: The Saint of Sunset

Sanit of Sunset
After a midnight shoot in Hollywood at The House of Blues, I packed my camera gear and headed back to my car that was parked two blocks away on Sunset Boulevard. Stepping off the curb to cross N. Olive Drive, I had to dodge a fast moving black Escalade making a left hand turn off of Sunset which was followed by a contrail of ganja. A block away from my car I came upon the Saint of Sunset sitting on a small swatch of old red carpeting with his back resting against a chain link fence. As I approach he looked up and with bright eyes and a smile he said, “Good evening my friend.”
“And a good evening to you my friend and how is life treating you this fine evening?” I asked.
“Better now that you are here”, he said, “would you like a blessing?”
“yes”, I replied
Closing his eyes the Saint bowed his head whispering, “My friend and I are but actors in a theatre called earth, our stage is small but it is here where we rehears our play of life before the curtain closes.

Life in The City of Angels: Doppelgänger, Michael and Edward

Michael Jackson Impersonator (1 of 1)While flipping burgers at McDonald’s in the early 90’s, Edward Moss was repeatedly told by co-workers and customers of his strong resemblance to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Edward likeness became his asset  leading him from the business of cardboard hamburgers to show business on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One of Edward’s first appearances as “The Gloved One” was at the old Hollywood Wax Museum. Standing at the entrance of the museum as living statue of Michael Jackson. Curious tourist would stop to take a gander at what they thought was a wax figure. As the vacationers gather for a closer look on cue a track of music would blast from the museum speakers. Startled by the music and movement, Edward would start dancing across the polished entrance of the museum to the surprise and amusement of his audience. For the Hollywood Wax Museum they sold tickets and for Edward it was the beginning to a career as a Michael Jackson impersonator.

Crossing Borders: Stone House of God and Mother Nature

Church and Field WebBreaking away from the Edinburgh International Book Festival I hitched a ride with newly made friends, John and Kyra. We drove north from Edinburgh through the countryside on narrow lanes near St. Andrews, Scotland. We took in the sights, talked of life, family and photography when Kyra pointed out a solitary stone church sitting on a hill. It was at that very moment that the dark clouds started to spit rain, but not to be deterred from a photographic moment we pulled over and ran from the car to the middle the field and began shooting the stone house of God. Not one word was exchanged as each of us were lost in our own thoughts to capture a moment in time. It’s interesting what goes on in my mind when presented with an opportunity to seize the moment as pressure builds from mother nature who is ready to unleash her blessing of baptism on the earth.The consequences of not getting the “money shot” has always

Solitary Church Webweighed heavily on me. I frantically ran looking for the point of view that would satisfy my hunger as I scan the field trying not to fall. I stopped, pointed, framed and hit the shutter release not knowing what the settings were on my camera then ran again across the golden field firing more shots. As droplets of water became larger and heavier I ran back to the car in the parking lot snapping two more frames before getting inside. It was not until last night in the comfort of sitting next to the warmth of a fireplace that I was finally able to view my efforts and the possibility that I just might be lucky to have captured the elusive money shot.

Beirut L.A. Graphic Novel and Preview Trailer


A Graphic Novel

So, I’m gong to write a graphic novel, I’ve never written one before but the idea has been brewing in the back of my mind for years. I own several graphic novel’s, Sin City by Frank Miller, Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by M.K. Perker and DMZ written and artwork by Brain Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. Being aSin_City_Hard_Goodbye child of the 60’s I collected comics books as most kids did and we would barter and trade the comics like baseball cards. At that time comic books weren’t without their critics, conservative and religious parents called them “the ten-cent plague”, it was so bad that some of my friends would leave their comics at my house in a separate box with their name written in crayon. My collection ranged from Amazing Adventures, SilverSurfer and even amazing_adventures_2_post_cards-r5c5b358ac51b45618e4fe7c9b4cf9ed8_vgbaq_8byvr_324Uncle Scrooge. The artwork of these comics kept me in engaged as I dealt with the reading disability of dyslexia and attention deficit disorder (ADD). While thumbing through colored pages of eye candy, my ADD would settle and eventually I would scan the panels of narration and the dialogue balloons of the characters and read. In many ways the comics became my visual aid to keep me reading – even if they  weren’t the leather-bound classics, I was reading. AA1_Workout

In 1966 the social fabric of American culture changed with civil rights, anti-war demonstrations and the Beatles. I left my beloved comics in a cardboard box on the floor of my closet as I grew into adolescents and started watching TV. My attention and imagination was capture by an NBC television show called Star Trek. In an interview with Gene Roddenberry, Gene_roddenberry_1976the creator of Star Trek, he is quoted as saying, “I have no belief that STAR TREK depicts the actual future, it depicts us, now, things we need to understand about that”. Real issues of Racism, Sexism, Militarism and Peace were disguised in his science fiction teleplay and broadcasted to the American public – which I can only now appreciate Gene’s boldness and forward thinking. As my hair grew to shoulder length wearing puka beards and flashing the peace sign from my Volkswagen bus, I joined the counter-culture and gave financial support in buying R Crumb’s comics at the local head-shop. My favorites are Zap Comix’s, Keep on Trucking’ imagesand Mr. Natural. Crumb’s comics were filled with wonderful countercultural values of gratuitous sex, drugs, and violence.

So, as I start this project I bring with me a more mature attitude, experiences and a growing sense of awareness of how our world is changing. As Gene would say and I’m paraphrasing here,  “not to depicting the actual future, but depicts us now and things we need to understand”.

Beirut L.A. Journal Entry, July 14, 2025,

 After 17 years in the Middle East covering the war in Israel and North Africa, I have come home to an America that I know longer recognize. Ever since the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court back in 2010, a shadow government by Multi-National Corporations now controls America and all media outlets. The First Amendment no longer protects journalists and I can be arrested for having a camera in public – all as a result of the Patriot Act. The take over was insidious as the public was distracted with non-news, pop culture and celebrity gossip. There are riots, refugees, vigilantes, a serious water shortages, genetic food that is making people sick and private armies protecting pockets of wealthy communities from the rest of society — none of which is being reported. I have come home to Beirut L. A.    – Vito De La Luca

vito-email_1The Lazarus Report is Vito’s public moniker and news service. Much like a graffiti artist, Vito uses any means to get his reporting out to the public. Needless to say, Vito’s life depends on his anonymity. As a result of leaking real news to the public by bloggers, journalists and photojournalists, Corporate America a.k.a. SG (Shadow Government) is out to censure Vito and others like him permanently. Empowered by the Patriot Act and the Clear and Present Danger doctrine, SG’s private security detail is the US Enforcement Bureau, a.k.a.  Black FlyThe street name comes from the use of drones, quadcopters, stealth helicopters and close circuit camera. Beyond Black Fly perks and pay rate, handsome bonuses are given to those who find dissidents and eliminate them and the truth.

Beirut L.A. Trailer   Beirut L.A coming in 2015. Stay Tune !

It’s A Potpourri of Images!

Link: http://instagram.com/davebanksimages

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 9.37.39 PM

 

Dog Biscuit, Once in a Lifetime and David Byrnes

 

Excerpt from Cue The Camels, Chapter Eight, Dog Biscuit and Noah’s Ark Cue-The-Camels

We waited another half an hour after the Turkish patrol had disappeared out of sight before we hauled ass off the apron of Mt. Ararat and on to flat ground. My knees were shot and my feet were thrashed. We crossed numerous gullies, sliding down their drops then trudging back up their inclines, which rapidly depleted our Mt.Ararat-On plainremaining energy reserves. 

Stumbling forward, my boots scraped against the rolling rocks as I repeatedly stabbed with the ski poles for an opening between the rocks to right myself. The flare must have burned out because it became dark again. I faltered a number of times but kept an eye on my fellow climbers Cronuck and Stublich and watched them move at a steady pace towards the faint yellow and white lights of Doğubayazıt on the horizon – which I affectionately call Dog Biscuit

My feet felt warm and soggy which was a sure sign of blood. 

Mt.Ararat-2nd paragraph-BlogIt was at this point – stemming from many things, such as dehydration and sheer exhaustion – that I fell into mild delirium and David Byrnes of Talking Heads became my chaperones. 

‘And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may ask yourself: well, how did I get here?’

‘You know, David, you’re holding me hostage with that broken record. I mean, I can appreciate your words but after a while it gets a little old. Know what I mean?’

I didn’t get a straight answer from David; instead, he gave me his advice. ‘The sound of gunfire, off in the distance, I’m getting used to it now…’

                 At that moment, a second flare burst in the night sky. It was a couple of seconds later that we heard the low boom of the flare gun, which meant there was a good distance between us and the Turkish military. I made it to the edge of the stone field; Cornuke and Stublich stopped long enough to ask me if I was okay. My lips were cracked, my tongue was swollen and all my saliva had evaporated. I could only answer with a nod and a whisper: ‘I’m okay.’

Ahead, I could hear Dick slapping the iridium satellite phone repeatedly, trying to get enough charge out of the dead battery to make a call to Micah, our Kurdish fixer, so that he could meet us at the predetermined rendezvous point.

George grumbled. ‘This is fucking stupid. Let’s go to the main highway and catch a ride to town.’

Mt. Ararat  3rd Paragraph Sepia-BlogDick stopped smacking the sat-phone and directed all his attention towards George. ‘Shut the fuck up, George. The Turkish military use that road all the time. What do you think they’ll assume if they come across us on that highway with all our gear?’

George didn’t listen and relentlessly argued his point as the sound of the dogs’ howls grew louder. There was a gunshot in the distance followed by the hiss of another parachute flare. That was all the motivation we needed; the five of us turned and hauled ourselves across the plain. David followed nearby. ‘We make a pretty good team. Don’t get exhausted; I’ll do some driving. You ought to get some sleep.’Mt.Ararat-003-Blog copy

‘You know, David, it must be Mercury in retrograde with all the hurdles we’ve had to clear,’ I muttered.

There was no response.

We’d been tramping about in the darkness for hours and we were spent, physically and emotionally. We walked on autopilot, using the light of Dog Biscuit as our beacon.

‘You know, David, I could’ve stayed in L.A. picking up work shooting a mindless sitcom and watching a celebrity with two soft, protruding organs give us the local weather report. I could have, but I wouldn’t have had this wonderful field trip to remember. Know what I mean?’

David paused then caught up with me. ‘You may ask yourself: well, how did I get here? You may ask yourself: where does that highway lead to? You may ask yourself: am I right; am I wrong? You may say to yourself: my God, what have I done?’

Cue The Camels available at: www.cuethecamels.com, www.oodlebooks.com,  Also available at: Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena, California www.vromansbookstore.com/book/9780957438385, and Book Soup in Hollywood, California,  booksoup.com/book/9780957438385

Rucksack Essentials: La Musica, Kabul Afghanistan

Cue The Camels, Chapter Six

It’s not that I’m a snob about music but any world traveler will tell you that one of the most essential items in your rucksack is your music. My choice of tunes has become the soundtrack for many of my journeys, often saving my sanity. I can attest that there is nothing better then listening to your iPod on a transatlantic flight, it evokes a wonderful state of being that takes you away from the crying babies and exasperated mothers. Music has protected me from exasperation when Egyptian wedding parties have still been going strong at two o’clock in the morning, as well as helping me pass days (not hours) while once waiting for a flight out of Kabul.

For me, Justin Bieber’s mindless pop just doesn’t lend itself to the experience of tearing across sun-bleached sands in the Sahara desert in a Toyota Land Cruiser. The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’, however, does a terrific job and always sets the mood.

Kabul 1-1In Kabul, Afghanistan, I spent an afternoon eating lunch that had been cooked on the sidewalk, in front of a carpet store on Chicken Street. The owner and his son stayed and had lunch with me so that they could practice their English. When Kabul was under Taliban control, paper bags, white socks, kite-flying and music were forbidden. This was serious oppression; for instance, possession of a paper bag constituted the death penalty. If they viewed that so severely, imagine what they’d have done if a flash mob broke out to Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ – the Taliban would have nuked all of Chicken Street.

To celebrate my host’s and his son’s newfound freedom we played ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain on his chrome-trimmed ghetto blaster that he’d kept hidden from the Taliban. It must have been very amusing for the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops to see a couple of Afghans and one big white guy jumping to the beat of the music in front of the old carpet store. To this day, when I hear ‘Jump Around’ I can smell the pilaf cooking, feel the heat of the day and, in my mind’s eye, see the physical expression of freedom on the owner’s face and that of his son’s, as they danced with sheer joy.

Cue The Camels available at: www.cuethecamels.com, www.oodlebooks.com,  Also available at: Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena, California www.vromansbookstore.com/book/9780957438385, and Book Soup in Hollywood, California,  booksoup.com/book/9780957438385

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas

Asleep and protected from the desert heat and drunk predators, Donna finds refuge on a city  bus in  Las Vegas. She wears gold shoes with a white jump suit that is divided by a belt with sea  shells glued to it. Donna’s hair is resting on the top of her head with a gold comb parked in front. She has grown accustom of sleeping over the sound of the diesel engine, air brakes and the frequent stops. Her head rolls from side to side with every turn the bus makes as it travels the back streets of Las Vegas. At first glance, Donna looks as if she has been shopping but the plastic bags are full of clothing and personal hygiene items which props her up right to a vertical sleep. The bags are her only worldly possessions.

A black man sitting next to Donna stares out the window to the lights of the casinos and hotels. He clutches a paper bag. He has no rings on his fingers or a watch on his wrist. His attention is focused on the world outside the window. Here, they are both protected from the elements of Las Vegas and lost in their own world.

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