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The Collected Writings of Antonio Villaraigosa: Imagining the Mayor’s Literary Pursuits - Los Angeles Downtown News - For Everything Downtown L.A.!: News

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The Regardie Report The Collected Writings of Antonio Villaraigosa: Imagining the Mayor’s Literary Pursuits

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Posted: Monday, February 13, 2012 6:00 am | Updated: 5:04 pm, Thu Feb 12, 2015.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Villaraigosa said he’s going to take a break when he leaves office in 2013, telling the class: “I want to take a time out.

“I want to write,” he said. “I want to speak.”

—Los Angeles Times, Jan. 30, 2012

Fiction: Excerpt from The Man With the ‘Born to Raise Hell’ Tattoo, by Antonio Villaraigosa:

After vanquishing his enemies he felt refreshed, energized. They should have known better than to cross him, to tell him he can’t plant a million trees or move America forward fast. He looked down, their bodies on the ground limp and useless, like lutefisk that had fallen to the floor.

He took a deep breath, listened to the quiet, savored the faint odor of Listerine Breath Strips. It smelled like victory. Despite the ferocious battle not a drop of blood had splattered on his $3,000 suit. It seemed like 2005 all over again, fresh off The Inauguration, before All The Evil had begun. He placed his left hand on his right bicep where the “Born to Raise Hell” tattoo had once been. It’d been erased from his skin, but never from his mind.

He felt nearly six-feet two-inches tall.

But what was that sound? He recognized the click of high heels on Italian marble and the whirr of a television news camera. Instinctively he flashed the megawatt smile.

She stepped from around the corner, the brunette news reporter whose hair spilled over the shoulders of her Jil Sander suit like oceans of possibility. She smiled.

“You did it,” she said, the lilt in her voice both loving and admiring. “After all this, you survived. You’re still the mayor.”

Yes, he was. 


Haiku: “Leadership,” by Antonio Villaraigosa

Oh! L.A.’s burden.

Layoffs. Jobs. Media trolls.

He is a hero.


Play: Scene from The King Who Would Be a Regular Man, by Antonio Villaraigosa:

MATTY: Boss. Day in, day out they just keep comin’ at ya. They’re like locusts they are, trying to tear this city apart. How da ya deal boss?

TONY: It’s not like there’s a choice. Some men choose to be union organizers. Others have it thrust upon them. I don’t ask what my city can do for me, but rather what I can do for my city. I have the audacity to hope. 

MATTY: But boss. They’re trying to tear you down every chance they get. It’s not fair the things they print about you. They’re not even true! There’s gotta be a law against it, libel or sump’n. Right?

TONY: Let their small pens and small minds write what they will. Our purpose is true. Our motives are honorable. We’re working not for ourselves, but for something greater — we’re working for the city of the 21st century. Say it with me Matty. 

MATTY AND TONY: We’re working for the city of the 21st century.

TONY: Great men and women have come before me. They’ll come after me too. Just like we’ve been inspired by Barack Obama, they’ll be inspired by us. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

MATTY [plaintive]: But boss, they don’t ever stop. There’s this burden on your shoulders and, I know you’re right, but they don’t. They won’t be satisfied until you resign or, worse, until you’re dead.

TONY: I’ve got the courage of my convictions Matty. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil, for I hold sway over the lobbyists. Let my opponents bring it. I welcome the challenge.

An Aide sticks his head in the door.

AIDE: Excuse me boss. The newscaster is here.

TONY: Show her to my chambers.

Tony turns to the audience, winks and strides off stage.



Limerick: “Life at the Top,” by Antonio Villaraigosa

There once was an honorable mayor

Who fought hard like a dragon slayer

Then the economy tumbled

And doomsayers rumbled

Still he pledged to help every taxpayer.


Detective Novel: Excerpt from City Hall Never Sleeps, by Antonio Villaraigosa:

Of all the gin joints in all the towns she’d had to come strolling into his. He was off the clock. Technically. But a good private dick never stops working. He’d shut the office door at 5 and had been at the bar across from City Hall ever since. The coppers and suits were perched on the stools, trading stories and trying to squeeze out the pain of the day. He was squirreled away in a booth, his tie loosened, his hat pulled low. Cash flow had been weak, nothing in the past month except a husband who’d been hiding, trying to avoid alimony. He’d located the guy in four hours. He charged the client for three days.

He remembered back when he was mayor of a small cow town. Maybe coming to Los Angeles had been a mistake. Now he was on his third whiskey, three fingers each time.

Another whiskey landed with a thud on the scratched table in front of him. It was attached to a hand with long red fingernails.

“Are you detective Tony?” the holder of the hand asked in a doe voice.

She said her name was Veronica, but he knew it was a fake. He mentally IDed her as Trouble. Her raven curls reminded him of one of those TV reporters, the dames always trying to pry information out of the clueless police gumshoes. It might work on them, but he’d seen her kind before.

She told a story about a brother who’d gone missing, saying the kid went to City Hall to ask about getting water rights for a project. She hadn’t heard from him in four days.

Tony didn’t believe a word of it. He’d been around the block too many times. He wasn’t sure what her story was, but he knew the one she was telling wasn’t it.

He knew he shouldn’t take the case, but he needed the money and he wanted to help others — that was his burden. Then another whiskey landed, and this time the hand with the red-painted nails moved from the glass to his arm. It rested there. 

His wife had left three years ago. Sometimes he thought he could still smell her perfume.

“I’ll take the case,” he said.

A media troll at the bar perked up. That’s when the trouble started.


Poem: “Atlas on the Third Floor,” by Antonio Villaraigosa

They are unaware

Of the decisions

The choices

The pain he bears for them.

Atlas had it easy.

Some ask for favors

and others just assume.

Silently he endures

On the third floor

Of City Hall.

The glimmer off the camera lens

At a press conference 

Is both pain and a jewel.

The lobbyists believe

They run the town

But no.

History shall prove his worth.

Contact Jon Regardie at

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2011

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