One Thursday in Los Angeles: A Type-in near LAX

We’ve been hurriedly planning this get-together, hastily come about due to serious work requiring travel by one and desire for wonton escape from a new dreary work for the other.


But it happened and here is the story.


Peter was working probably until past 5 so we decided to meet at his hotel lobby around 7:30ish.


Since i had about 3 hours to kill before then, i checked yelp and made some calls to nearby antique shops if they had any typewriters in – sure enough i found one in nearby Hermosa Beach, which has a reputation to be full of “cool LA people” unlike the trendy ass plastic people in Hollywood, especially West Hollywood.

I located Stars Antique Market and i decided to have a go because it looks like a big red barn and its on the street where the pier is.

























Well, the lady lied. She said they had a bunch of typewriters, all over the place, she said. I get there and there is one space with typewriters.

I toured the whole place and half near scared myself to death a couple times because this place was indeed eerie! Observe:


























And here are the typewriters i saw:





Nothing good enough to buy. Most without cases and all of them completely overpriced. I left exasperated and disappointed. That did not last long since I was meeting up with my first typospherian!

Peter luckily was able to escape work and our type-in occured inside the Crown Pointe Plaza LAX’s dining area – in the cafe area of the coffee shop and just outside of its Sushi Bar (this is LA) and Jazz Bar (This is LA).


We got along like old friends. Conversation was easy. It is easy when the center of the conversation is typewriters. I brought my Consul and my Corona Speedline. Of course, once we warmed to each other, we got to know each other better than just our machines. He’s an interesting fellow. Defintely passionate about typewriters. And quite knowledgeable as well.

For me, it being my first type-in, it was ackward at first. Usually, writing is a private affair for me. Late at night. Everyone’s asleep. Only the moonlight sort of thing.

Only now, we were in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Lots of people getting coffee. Winding down. Staring.

The first real person who dared to engage us was this younger african-american lady with a giant tattoo down her left arm that read “DADDY’S GIRL”. She also had all her boobs out to see. If i had to compare her to someone, I’d say Meagan Good during the most recent season of Californication (my favorite show, btw). Our lady wasnt as hot obviously but she certainly could have been a rapper’s girlfriend or mistress.

She kinda opened the floodgates. After that, we had steady visitors, almost always with very positive things to say. After awhile, you kinda forget about all the people and just want to type.


To close this abbreviated blog (it deserved a lot more attention but im tired), it was great fun to meet Peter and participate in my first type-in. Next time, hopefully we get more typospherians involved!



















The Olympia and the Beast Within

7/17/2012 Hello all –

I have a special treat for this blog entry and unfortunately, no typecast due to time & energy constraints (but i did buy a new printer/scanner this past weekend so we should be copacetic once i get some freakin sleep!)


First, i shall mention the boring: The new job.

It’s going okay. Nothing to get excited about. There are some new things but its mostly old. It is nothing like i dream my dream job to be. But heck, theyre compensating me well enough for me to put my dreams on hold for the time being; furthermore, there are other goals to pursue such as putting food on the table and being able to support my family and getting the baby’s college savings going again (not to mention, fueling this typewriter addiction). And remember this little tidbit too: i have a 2nd son on the way come december! And 2-under-2 is no joke!


Being away from the little one is tough and quite honestly a lot more challenging than i imagined. It’s a hard adjustment to be going from spending 10 straight hours with him during the day to none at all except for the ride to grandpa/grandma’s house and then back home. I think of him nonstop and miss him so ridiculously much.




Now on to the business at hand.


A couple nights ago, i submitted an entry real late just letting you know that i had a pretty worthwhile typewriter adventure once again in Los Angeles.


Now who’s crazy enough to drive to LA the night before his first day on a new job? Apparently, i sure am.


I thought i was being rational thinking: once i start this new job, i probably wont have as much opportunity to just leave on a whim and drive to LA.


Well, so i took off at 8:30pm and drove what was supposed to be 45min to LA. Of course, being LA, there was traffic and it took me 1hr 30min to get there. So now it’s about 10:15pm.





Why go to LA? well, typewriter business, of course.


And not just any typewriter adventure either.


This one had the makings of something memorable, and it was.



As many things do, It began with a craigslist ad:



in case you cant read it:


Not only did i want this typewriter but i was curious: a forthcoming documentary about typewriters…

Yup, It’s this film. And the author of the ad introduced himself as the Director of the film who needed to sell some of the typewriters used in the film because he didn’t have the space to keep them. So we arranged for me to pick it up at his place near the Griffith Obsevatory and Griffith Park – totally awesome location!



Christopher Lockett is a real cool guy  -cool bc he simply is. And also cool bc he gave me permission to blog about my visit!


He took the time to show me his place which is decorated sparingly but with sublime artistic flair such as his own photography. He’s also a scotch guy, and that’s something i really want to learn more about.


I checked out the typewriter i was to buy and it’s nearly perfect.


Later he showed me his other typewriters including a Hermes 3000 with Techno font and a Hermes Baby. Stupid me, i forgot to take pics – but Mr Lockett will be sending me some pics that i can update this entry with. He really likes typewriters and knows their history. Also, being primarily a cinematographer, he has a true passion for photography; and consequently has a real nice collection of vintage cameras.



Perhaps the coolest part of the night was when he graciously let me watch some of the film. If you haven’t seen any of it yet, check this out on YouTube. I saw some interviews – including some of Richard Polt, Ruben Flores of US Office Machine and Bill Wahl of Mesa Typewriter Exchange.



I’m sworn to secrecy on what i saw but it looks pretty darn good and it is right for us typewriter enthusiasts and collectors to be excited.



Mr Lockett knows the film by heart, knows all the people who participated including Michael ClemensTon Sison and Ted Munk among others in the typosphere as well as all the repairmen and authors. He passionately narrated the sequences i was shown.


And the typewriter i bought? The Olympia SM3? Mr Lockett says that my machine is not only in those cutaway scenes but also appears on the movie poster – so that is nothing short of badass!!! Unfortunately the movie poster is still a secret.


Finally, as far as the hint i provided the other night…


“The Beast Within”


Well, that’s in the movie and this i can share: It is what John Steinbeck etched into the back of his Hermes Baby – which so made an impression of Mr Lockett that he had to go get a Hermes Baby of his own. It’s impressive!







Can’t Sleep

7/17/2012 It is the eve of my new job. I start tomorrow.


I’ve never been able to sleep the night before a big day: the start of a new grade at school, SATs, Prom, college, my wedding.


Tonight is no different.


So I went on a typewriter adventure!


It’s past 1am and a little too late to tell the tale, but I promise I will soon.


A sort of hint: “The Beast Within”


It was cool and a lot of fun. I just got home from it a little bit ago.


For now though, good night Typosphere!

Firsts and Last


Today, Friday the 13th marks my first ever typecast. Today is also notable because it is my last day staying home to take care of my son. It’s been me and him since my wife went back to work march 1st.


It was amazing bonding time. We got to know each other very well and I was fortunate enough to have this time with him. He literally grew up in my arms and I’ll miss everything about these days with him. I’ll miss seeing his face any time I want. And he’s really trying to talk a whole lot more now and his voice is so freakin cute. I’ll miss that too.



This week I’ve really been trying to take it in and hold back some tears when it struck me that I wouldn’t be able to do this again – like “this is the last time I will feed you a mashed up banana. This is the last time we will go for a morning walk. This is the last time…”


I cherish the time I got to spend with him.


Sorry I can’t exactly focus on my typecast. Originally I wanted to follow the established (though I understand completely flexible) format of introducing your typer and discussing its feel and its mechanisms – I was looking so forward to doing that but I just dont have it in me today. I’ll make up for it in the near future.


Now I sit on our bedroom sofa and watch him sleeping in our bed, his little but growing body at rest. I see his chest rise and fall – its a real nice rhythm. He’s in deep sleep and dreaming.






Origin Story

At the heart of every character is his origin story. Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider, Vito Andolini murdered another don and became Don Corleone, Rasputin was an uneducated wanderer who somehow developed powers of healing on his way to becoming the mad monk.



How did you get into typewriters?

How did you become an enthusiast? a collector?


we are all asked this, by our wife/girlfriend/significant other, by other siblings, by our friends or acquiantances, by our parents, by strangers, by each other – other typospherians, by ourselves.


usually my answer is short, followed by some validation. it appears in some form in my “About Me” section and goes something like this: i suppose ive liked and admired typewriters for a long while, even dating back to pre-adolescence and really ramping up during my teen years when i was reading a lot and adored certain authors who wrote their work on typewriters. i loved their look and what they symbolized: creativity and expression. however due to lack of funds or space or realized imagination, i didnt acquire one until now at age 34.


when i look more closely at that answer and investigate it thoroughly in my mind, i discover the circumstance that allowed this thing called the typewriter to be suddenly a physical part of my life.


and for something to manifest itself in a physical form takes movement, action, and reaction.

many things exist in our minds, dirty thoughts, naughty trysts, wishes, wants, desires, healthy or not, selfish, usually more selfish than we’d like to admit to ourselves, and especially keep secret to those who might be abhorred by it or shocked because it doesnt fit their mental construct of who you are. Therefore, a great many things, even if we admit it or not, continues to exist in our minds, in our daydreams, rem sleepdream, or wetdreams, or dreams where we dream we are having a wet dream. in our minds, we can be different bc we dont risk alienating or insulting those people who supposedly know us. but sometimes that thing in our mind crosses over to the physical realm and we make it real not just for us but for everyone else.


this happened with me and typewriters due to circumstance. and we should all readily admit that while there is fate and luck, there is also circumstance that intervenes and makes it possible.


let me describe this circumstance that led to typewriters


while being home and taking care of my newborn son, he required us to be his bed, human beds. both my wife and i took turns initially. for some reason, W didnt like to be put down, especially at night. so my wife and i had shifts where one of us would stay up and keep him asleep, carrying him.

this can be especially boring bc its difficult to sleep while carrying a baby. we filled the time with movies, netflix, twitter, reading on the iphone. during one of these nights, i stumbled upon a picture where there was a typewriter in the corner – i do not remember this picture any longer but i can tell you it spoke to me and it rekindled something within me.


i typically am not a materialistic person. i have stuff, but not much. i suppose my only materialistic extravagance is my book collection  probably numbering around 500 (pic to come) which i have since stopped probably around 2009 due to space constraints. usually though i dont want anything for birthdays or christmas. seeing that typewriter though really made me want one on my lap, under my fingers and in my ears and nose and reflected in my eyes.


i slowly began to seek out information, coming across some articles about a dying thing. i purposefully avoided blogs because i thought them to be self-serving inane selfish egofeeding pointless drivel.


then my wife went back to work and i was home alone with my son. just him and me. at least before i got to take some breaks. not anymore, i had him from 8am-5pm. and i had to do all the diaper changes, both #1 and #2 and sometimes in the face if you didnt keep vigilant alertness. and feedings, which was fine except since he had a 100% liquid diet, you had to burp him and keep him upright for at least 30min or else he might puke. and he still spit up pretty much no matter what. so sometimes if he spit up enough you might have to change him bc that gets all over the place, even past the bib.


so being alone, save a baby, i used the time he was asleep to read on my kindle or watch some tv, and generally de-stress and then my mind would focus on the typewriter. i then started reading about them again and found those typewriter websites: Alan Seaver’s machines of loving grace, Will Davis’ sites, Richard Polt’s typewriter page, and my first blog: Robert Messenger’s ozTypewriter.


Those 4 sites introduced me to so much information that i perused them esp during W’s naps during the day. Eventually i found other blogs but by then i was eBaying. at first i mostly just “watched” auctions. typewriters were already so expensive!!! what were these bloggers talking about with their $5 typewriters or even $20 eBay wins???


Because typewriters were so expensive, i decided to acquire only the best one and that was it. After reading so many articles and personal essays, blogs and entries and those 4 websites over and over, i determined that the best typewriter to own, if i were to own just one, is the Olympia sm4.


however, i also wanted to own my favorite author’s typewriter and Philip Roth use(s)/(d) an Olivetti Lettera 32 (Thanks Richard!)


since eBay was so expensive, i checked craigslist. i happen to find a lady in newport beach selling her corona silent (the one that Ruben Flores returned to me earlier today) for $300. I had to see what a $300 typewriter looked like so i texted her and she sent me some pics and i was smitten. I told her, i cant afford $300 but if you can take $70 then thatd be spectacular. To my astonishment, she accepted the deal. BTW: i plan to profile the story of acquiring this typer in its own entry one day so ill spare some details. Anyways, i also happen to find a Lettera 32 on craigslist the same day and took that deal face value.


That day, my wife picked up the Olivetti in Irvine, CA and later that night, we picked up the burgundy/magenta Corona Speedline Silent in Newport Beach, CA. Later that weekend, i dropped both off to US Office Machines and my jaw dropped when Ruben gave me the estimates.


That convinced me to pay top dollar to get a machine in good shape. i still wanted my Olympia so i spent the days finding the right one.


Thats how i got into acquiring typewriters. It became a daily, all day obsessions to find the perfect Olmypia sm4, which at the time were all going for over $100 easily.


I was on eBay and craigslist basically all day. I was emailing sellers like crazy. Im sure many of you have a similar story.


But basically that habit is still strong today. Months later and nearly 20 typewriters and i still check ebay and craigslist and the pennysaver and recycler and some goodwills and some antique stores. i obviously do mostly ebay and craigslist bc i cant be driving to antique shops and goodwills all the time with my baby.


soon the madness will stop though. My garage is nuts bc i have no room to keep them in the house. The house belongs to the baby. and soon, the next newborn.

Best $370 i ever spent

My corona silent is back from US Office Machines!! It’s one of the last meccas for typewriters.

Ruben Flores was in the area and dropped it off just a couple hours ago. Talk about service!!

He stayed and chatted for about 45min. I showed him my collection and he did some estimates on future repairs. He said his favorite typewriters are Olympias and Olivettis. He doesn’t care much for Hermes.

He has 2 or 3 Groma Kolibris but none of them are in perfect shape. He said he has one in all magenta that he’s been meaning to fix for years. The other two would be parts machines possibly. I showed him mine and he thinks mine was dropped. One of my keys is detached. Also some of my type bars are bent. Lastly, he thinks my carriage is depressed a bit. My platen is good and everything else.

He estimates costs for labor, parts, cleaning an repair to be at least $250. He said German typewriters are fun to fix.

So $370? If you’re curious, it breaks down like this:

– $250 labor

– $80 feed rolls

– $30 bail rolls (3) (from his own stash)

– $0 ribbon

– the rest: tax

I was also supposed to get a new or redone platen for $90 but then Ames shut down.

I don’t mind the $370 too much. Good experience: I got to meet him and see his shop and hear his stories. Plus I plan to do my own repairs in the future (except for truly difficult ones which I will likely leave in Ruben’s capable hands).

I wish I could download the information and experience he possesses into my brain. He’s lived a lifetime of typewriters. Very cool.


Looks like Ruben not only cleaned my typewriter, but he cleaned both the inside and outside of my case. Before it had this ridiculously disgusting stench, seriously like a rotting corpse. I think a lot of these older coronas unfortunately have this smell, the the dozen or so ive come across at least. Seems like Ruben also somehow tightened my front latches bc it closes and opens easily now.

Here is my typewriter all shiny. Before, it was covered in dirt and grime, spiderwebs, hair, dead grass, and probably lots of other unmentionables. It is completely clean inside and out and it smells like fine american engineering.

This is my typeface… not the best pic bc im using my iphone.

Resistance is Futile: an LA Story

It happened again. My feeling – not completely unlike that which Jay Chandrasekhar’s character Barry experiences in the movie Beerfest. Cobwebs, disbelief, utter contempt?


It happened like this.

Yesterday was a sweltering day here in the suburbs of Orange County. Damn the sweat though because I was busy coordinating a deal for a typewriter I didn’t really want or need. Is that a productive use of limited time? Damn be logic.

These people lived in Los Angeles. Inglewood. Near the cities Compton and Watts. That there should have been enough to stop anyone figuratively dead in their tracks, the real threat of being literally killed way too excessive for some forgotten typewriter.

Still my typelust defied danger. I spoke to these likely hoodlums – yes I provided my cell phone since they weren’t too great with email communication. They seemed too nice on the phone but the street quality in their speech belied their soft spoken voices. You cannot escape the hood once it is a part of you. No doubt they were luring me into a trap – to get me there and then steal my wallet, my car, and end my life.

I worked out the deal and to my naive amazement they even seemed pleased with their $25 sale – unquestionably all profit since they probably robbed it along with the rest of some poor old lady’s possessions. And this sum was probably just enough for them to score the crack that was the main culprit for Whitney Houston’s demise.


Let’s worry about my impending demise!


So what do I do? I employ the company of my younger brother, who is visiting for the week from New York. This is a good move, you must be thinking, my brother must be a lifelong practitioner of some lethal martial arts and not only that, he packs some serious heat, right? He’s a computer programmer. Yes, in my desperation and growing concern, I somehow manage to involve my brother so that tonight’s 10 o’clock news headline is


“Brothers murdered in LA while in pursuit of typewriter.”


He doesn’t care. He’s loyal. While he was in high school, he once pushed back a 6’7 Shawn Kemp clone for dunking on me. Protective, perhaps to a fault. Gotta love and appreciate blood.


We then make arrangements to drop off my beautiful 7 month old at my parents’ place so my mom can watch him. W is too young to be around gang members. And he has his whole life ahead of him. I kiss him on the forehead and the cheek and in my head, promise to make a safe return, though it felt somewhat hollow and empty because I’ve already made too many mistakes. Let’s count them?


1 – Inglewood (nuff said)

2 – deal too good to be true: $25??? And they seemed downright giddy and impatient about it.

3 – meeting at their house. Oh, I didn’t mention this yet? Yeah so instead of insisting on meeting in a well-lit, public place in an open area, I agree to go to their house

4 – backhouse – they said they might be in the backhouse and not the normal house. Do you know what happens at backhouses?

5 – I am driving my BMW: now that’s just completely stupid and inviting bad things

6 – I don’t have a gun

7 – I’ve brought my beloved younger  brother and he doesn’t have a gun

8 – it is a Tuesday midday: who isn’t at work besides consultant new dads and visiting brothers from new york? Easy: gang members who rob and kill idiots


Which I clearly am.


But off we were there anyway, armed with nothing but GPS. The cars on the freeway change and after a while, we are suddenly surrounded by mostly nothing except cars that are probably registered as “totalled” and should be salvaged for metal: cars that could be small boats going at their top speed of 40mph, former cop cars with the fading paint job, beat-down rusted imports from the 80s albeit with nice rims, the occasional heavily-tinted buick, and requisite el caminos that I am sure are responsible for LA’s smog issues.


As we near our destination and doom, I call and they say they’re in the back house. Of course. They say to just walk in to the back but be careful of the dog. Of course.


The street is lined the cars we saw on the freeway. So this is where they park. Shit. All grass on the street is yellowed dead, dry and brittle as the bones from an animal carcass. Power lines swoop low on both sides like nooses; the wood beams are like the last scene of all those crucifixes in Spartacus. There are no children playing even though it’s summer break. It’s so quiet. Fuck!


We find a spot eerily convenient right in front of the house. Still no sounds. We don’t speak either lest we wake the rest of the monsters. We survey the yard, our deathbed: full of forgotten junk. Doll heads and broken mirrors. A rusted tricycle and a plastic pool with bullet holes – there were children here once. A McDonald’s bag: at least they eat fast food – that’s one thing we have in common. As we go through the gate to the back, we see it.


It’s not some rabies-inflicted, man-eating pit bull on the loose, but a tiny chihuahua on a leash.

And they aren’t gang members, or at least not any more, but tax-paying hardworking Angelenos, and white-washed at that. “Gosh it sure is hot. I hope you found the place easy and hope you’re having a swell day so far. Would you like some lemonade?”


I wanted to hug them but instead opted to profusely shake their hands in absolute joy.


We declined the refreshments, our bodies still in survival mode, recycling our sweat for its liquid. I pay the $25 happily even before they show us the machine: a burgundy/maroon Corona Speedline, Sterling model. We hardly look at it and relieved, picked up the typewriter case and left immediately. I missed my son. It’s wonderful to be alive!