Arms crossed and mouth set in a tight line, he sat less than a foot away from me on the therapist’s couch, but the gulf between us felt unbridgeable. He gave no indication he wished to speak, so I continued. “After all these years, I’m on a hair-trigger, watching your moods, absorbing your sarcasm, your shouting, always wondering how I could say things differently, explain things just so—all so you’ll understand. But nothing I do, nothing I say makes any difference!” I was really sobbing now. “I don’t want a divorce! I don’t want a divorce! But I just don’t know what to do!” My nose was running and my mascara was too, and I didn’t care. “Our daughter is growing up with this!” I wailed. “She sees it! And I tell her, ‘It doesn’t have to be like this.’ I say, ‘My parents weren’t like this. Most marriages aren’t like this.’ And she says, ‘I know, Mommy. I know. It’s different with my friends’ parents.” Tears rolled down my cheeks. I swiped my nose with the back of my hand. My husband plucked a tissue from a box and handed it to me.Read More
From the blue spruce tree in front of Holly Hills Elementary, I could see the big yellow school buses lined up around the traffic circle. The shouts and laughter of children boarding the buses drifted on the thin, crisp air of a Denver winter to where I waited for my ride, Elaine Krakauer, Josh’s mom. I felt unsettled when school let out, and her blue Volvo wasn’t there.Read More
My mother and I were leaning over her bed folding laundry. I was 12 years old. “Weren’t you worried when you were pregnant with me?” I tried to sound casual, keeping my eyes on the socks I was sorting. Mom tossed aside my question like another folded towel. “Oh, I knew you’d be fine.” The way she said it, the decision to have me had been the easiest one in the world.
Moth Story Slams are live story-telling events where ten members of the audience are chosen to tell a true story without notes on the night's theme. At a recent Moth in Los Angeles, the theme of the evening was "The Darkside," and I told a story about the time my mom hired a call girl for my brother.Read More
I stagger down the stairs toward the landing. In all the excitement, I’ve forgotten my robe, and as my husband and I reunite before the giant window overlooking the street, I have only the poodle to cover my nakedness.Read More
Under her lime green sunhat, my daughter was easy to spot. Standing at the far end of the play yard, her tiny clenched fists were pressed tight against her ears in a futile attempt to drown out the terrifying sound. . . . the jarring clang as the forked claws grasped the enormous iron dumpster, hoisting it aloft with a fearsome screeching and straining then pouring the rattling, clattering contents down inside the beast’s belly for mashing and grinding while those mighty arms slammed the emptied bin back to the pavement.Read More
He undid the latches of the case with an authoritative snap-snap. It was an impressive sound, one that telegraphed Quality. Integrity. The Dependability of the Fuller Brush brand. I sat up a little straighter at the sound of those latches, proud to be in this lady’s living room, proud to assist my big brother as his “Free Gift Girl,” proud just to be Danny's little sister. Snap-snap!
My husband hadn't complained, but the warning signs were clear. Internet shopping one night after dinner, I came across a multi-volume encyclopedia of gastronomy he'd placed in our Amazon cart. More and more often, he'd call to say things were crazy at the office and wouldn't be home in time for dinner. I guess both of us were bored with the same thing night after night.Read More
On my brother’s first day of kindergarten, the teacher called our mother. "Daniel needn’t attend school tomorrow," the teacher coolly informed her. “But don’t worry. The principal has already arranged for Daniel to attend a special school for the mentally retarded.”
To be sure, my brother wasn’t a typical kindergartner. He was smaller and less coordinated than the other kids. His gait was stiff and unsteady and his diction a little garbled. Sometimes he drooled, and sometimes he wet his pants.
Danny had health problems and physical impediments, but mentally retarded he was not.Read More
My brother Danny lost his virginity at age 25. To a call girl named Monique. Hired by our mother. By the time my mother got the go-ahead from Danny, she’d already made the arrangement with Monique. She pushed ahead despite my father’s objections. She wasn’t troubled by social mores or laws against solicitation. There was a reason for my mother’s taboo-busting parenting.Read More
Something primal within me had been awakened. Suddenly, I didn't care what animal parts I was consuming or whether nitrates cause cancer. My jeans felt tight, but frankly I didn't give a damn. I held my manicured fingernails to my nostrils and inhaled the pungent perfume of mustard. But even as I rose to go, casually brushing crumbs from my pants, I couldn't escape the undeniable conclusion. I was a woman possessed.
Jack Barrios, 25, knows a thing or two about war. He is an Iraq war veteran, who suffered brain damage and back and joint injuries while defending his homeland. At home in Los Angeles with his wife and two small children, Barrios is now on the front lines of a new battle.Read More
Franciso and Maria Sanchez figured they had achieved the American dream when they bought their home. But the family budget unraveled under mounting medical bills for Maria's elderly mother and cutbacks at work. That's when their monthly house payments shot to almost $5,000.The couple now owe far more on their mortgage than their modest Pacoima house is worth.
Wendy Estrada had occasional work cleaning houses when organizers at her church helped her enroll in Los Angeles community college. Within a few months, the 30-year-old mother of two had brushed up on her English and math, and earned her accreditation as a certified nursing assistant. Estrada just landed her first job as a home health aid, pulling in $15 an hour.Read More
State officials had just issued the worst unemployment report in 15 years, but Steve Factor was decidedly upbeat. In the packed auditorium of San Fernando High School one recent Sunday, the SolarCity executive told Rep. Howard Berman, “My company’s hired over 200 people in the last 18 months. Leave it to a guy in the sunshine business to see opportunity in bleak times.
Cohen-Marks, Mara and Christopher Stout. 2011. “Rating Los Angeles’ Top Cop: Descriptive Representation and Support for the Police Chief.” Race and Justice. 11 (1) 341-361.
Cohen-Marks, Mara and Christopher Stout. 2011. “Can the American Dream Survive the New Multiethnic America? Evidence from Los Angeles.” Sociological Forum. 26 (4) 823-845.
Cohen-Marks, Mara and Jim Faught. 2009. “Perceptions of Race Relations in Contexts of Ethnic Diversity and Change.” Sociological Perspectives. 53 (1) 73-97, ISSN 1533-8673.
Cohen-Marks, Mara, Stephen Nuno and Gabriel Sanchez. 2009. “Look Back in Anger: Voter Reactions to the 2006 Immigration Demonstrations.” Urban Affairs Review. 44 (5) 695-717.
Cohen-Marks, Mara. (2009) Book review: Berkeley: A City in History by Charles Wollenberg, Berkeley: University of California, 2008; and Berkeley Bohemia: Artists and Visionaries of the Early 20th Century
by Ed Herny, Shelley Rideout, and Katie Wadell, Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2008. California History.
Barreto, Matt, Mara Cohen-Marks and Nathan Woods. 2008. “Are All Precincts Created Equal? The Prevalence of Low-Quality Precincts in Low-Income and Minority Communities.” Political Research Quarterly 61 (December).
Cohen-Marks, Mara. 2009. “Absentee Voting.” In Encyclopedia of American Government and Civics. Ed. by Michael A. Genovese and Lori Cox Han. New York: Facts on File.
Barreto, Matt, Mara Marks and Nathan Woods. 2007. “Homeownership: Southern California’s New Political Fault Line?” 2007. Urban Affairs Review, 42 (January) 315-341.
Cohen-Marks, Mara. 2007. “Community Redevelopment..” The Development of Los Angeles City Government: An Institutional History, 1850-2000. Ed. by Tom Sitton. The Los Angeles City Historical Society: 415-445.
Cohen-Marks, Mara. 2007. Book review: “Making a Better World: Public Housing, the Red Scare, and the Direction of Modern Los Angeles” by Don Parson. California History. 84: 70-71.
Barreto, Matt, Fernando Guerra, Mara Marks, and Matt Streb. 2006. “Do Absentee Voters Differ From Polling Place Voters? New Evidence From California.” Public Opinion Quarterly. 70 (Summer): 224-234.
Barreto, Matt, Fernando Guerra, Mara Marks, Stephen Nuño, and Nathan Woods. 2006. “Controversies in Exit Polling: Implementing a Racially Stratified Homogenous Precinct Approach.” PS: Political Science and Politics 39 (July): 477-483.
Marks, Mara. 2005. “Shifting Ground: The Rise and Fall of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.” Southern California Quarterly. 86: 241-290.
Marks, Mara, Matt Barreto, and Nathan Woods. “Race and Racial Attitudes a Decade After the 1992 Riots.” 2004. Urban Affairs Review. 40 (September): 3-18.
Marks, Mara. 2004. “Structures Matter but Leadership Matters More: The Practice of Politics in a Fragmented Region.” National Civic Review. 93 (April): 28-38.
Marks, Mara, Elizabeth Gearin and Carolyn Armstrong. 2004. “The Experimental Metropolis: Political Impediments and Opportunities for Innovation.” Up Against the Sprawl: Public Policy and the Making of Southern California, eds. Jennifer Wolch, Manuel Pastor, Jr. and Peter Dreier. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Marks, Mara. 2002. “Getting it Together? Local Elected Officials’ Opinions Regarding Regionalism.” Journal of California Politics and Policy. 6 (July): 38-58.
Guerra, Fernando, Mara Marks, and Matt Barreto. “Chasing the Dream: Latinos and Housing in Los Angeles County.” Part of the Latino Scorecard 2003 and 2005 Update. United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
Guerra, Fernando and Mara Marks. “Rebuilding the Dream: A New Housing Agenda for Los Angeles.” October
2001. Center for the Study of Los Angeles Working Paper.
Guerra, Fernando and Mara Marks. “Quality of Life in Southern California: Public Opinion Survey of Residents
in the SCAG Region.” 2001. Center for the Study of Los Angeles Working Paper.
Marks, Mara. “Los Angeles at the 21st Century: An Assessment of Race and Human Relations.” 2000. Los Angeles: City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.
Marks, Mara. “Shifting Ground: Bureaucratic Capacity and Redevelopment in Los Angeles.” 1999. Ph.D. dissertation.
Reed, James and Mara Cohen. “State-Tribal Relationships: Jurisdiction over Nuclear Waste Transportation on Indian Tribal Lands.” State Legislative Report 16 (May 1991).