Subsidized on and off with freelance contributions to the German Playboy and Oui, I also have beginner’s luck in selling three short stories between German Lui and Playboy. But all in all, I live on a tight budget devoid of any frivolous expenses. Even my beautiful Buick languishes under the gentle protection of the car port most of the time. My friend and Goleta guru, Mark (Stevens) has required me to buy a swift and shiny brand new ten speed Azuki, which I have equipped with a rubber banded back career to comfortably transport my groceries and books. The bike also helps me stay fit as I spend at least an hour every day sprinting along the ocean front and shed about thirty pounds along the way.

Just like in Munich, my apartment in Goleta becomes the center for all of us to come together, cook, party and hangout at the neighborhood’s cheap student joints, among them, the popular McGill’s – the Mexican restaurant where you can have a 12” (26.2 cm) succulent flauta stuffed with chicken, avocados, lettuce, tomatoes, all blended together in his most delicious (secret?) sauce served with refried beans and Mexican rice. We would share a pitcher or two of the dark Dos Equis beer – all for about five dollars or less a throw.

Thanks to Ann (Stevens) and Guusje (Sellier) and my own culinary repertoire, we cook a lot at home and I still can feel the taste of Guusje’s Nasi Goreng and Ann’s fresh fish fried with onions, served with brown rice and soy sauce. At times we would get lucky and one of Mark and Ann’s diving buddies would show up with the tender-most abalone steaks, which Ann would prepare with her delicate touch without turning them into chewy white rubber. And we would make do with beer and cheap but good wines from Two Guys, settling for semi-sweet German Liebfraumilsch, and when we could afford it, a bottle of California Cab or a Zin. And sometime even treat ourselves to a good cigar. All in all, I could say, I manage to live well on the cheap. The life, if not Munich affluent, is as exciting and full of fun.

On and off I would have visitors from all over as I usually do. Among them, Raimund Le Viseur – the first editor-in-chief of the German Playboy. His then girlfriend and now wife, Inge Grams too worked with us in Munich – the couple I remember as donning what looked like very expensive matching long fur coats – swaying as they walked. Now a freelance journalist, Raimund, or as we all called him Levi is on an assignment in the USA, following the first lady Betty Ford and her entourage covering their campaign trail of 1976 Presidential Election. Levi calls me from L.A. wondering if we could meet up and have dinner together.

I drive a hundred miles (160 km) to Los Angeles to Beverly Wilshire in Hollywood. He is traveling with two photographers. Steve from Sygma and Ron from UPI. Even though Levi and I were never that close, away from Munich we’re delighted to see each other and catch up. Talking with him makes me homesick for Munich. What blows me away is Levi pulling out photos of their newly born son. Unbelievable!! Or like the Germans would say, nicht zu glauben. Because I remember clearly the lunch I’ve had with Levi and Inge at Zur Kanne in Munich, about three years earlier and them telling me that they could never imagine themselves being parents. Levi hated the idea of anyone ever calling him father. Absolutely not. And here he is, as incredibly delighted as can be, drooling over the wallet size photos of Inge and their little boy.

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