Letter from Marina Del Ray

by Tim Barraza


I came to Tulsa in 1978 at the age of 22 with my brothers Steve and Rick and nothing but a suitcase. We had been in a band playing nationally when we were booked at two local clubs, Whiskers and The Wharf. I was standing at the sound console when Kris Hollis, owner of Sunset West Studios, invited us to record some tracks. That session altered the direction of our lives and found us moving to Tulsa.

Tulsa adopted us. Steve found his writing partner, Rick found his wife and I found I could be a promoter and entrepreneur after all three of us opened Boston Avenue Street Skates at 18th and Boston.

Life is easier in Tulsa; you can create with less friction. Los Angeles is very trendy — things come and go quickly here. If I wanted to produce a festival or build a club in L.A., I’d spend a year just getting through the red tape. In Tulsa, you can have a vision and drive down Peoria and get it done. Where else but Tulsa could a guy say, “I want to start a progressive radio station” and four weeks later be on the air?

I’ve become a long-distance runner since moving to L.A., with eight marathons under my belt and one in Chicago next October. Long runs allow me the time to find clarity. Most of my running is on the beach between Marina del Rey and Pacific Palisades. This path is beautiful and quiet with an occasional view of dolphins and plenty of sea birds. L.A. is loud and bustling but the beach communities are more downhome.

My place in Manhattan Beach is two feet above sea level and 100 yards from the beach. After seeing the devastation in Japan and with warnings for the entire west coast I thought it would be a good idea to wander down and take a look. Me and about a hundred others. I stood there thinking, What would I have done if I’d seen seen a white-cap in the distance heading 500 miles an hour towards me?

Luckily, the swells were minimal, with no serious push, not even enough for the long boarders. The city was prepared for an emergency. I don’t think anyone out there actually thought we would see a tsunami but it was just the idea that maybe we might witness something amazing.

I finished my coffee and took a short run down the beach. Just another day in paradise.

Tim Barraza is the creator of Missy’s keys4cabs, a drunk-driving awareness program that he devised in Los Angeles and launched in Tulsa. Whenever in town, he enjoys a Weber’s root beer float and tater-tots with extra salt.