Marking Michael Kinslow’s First Anniversary in Heaven (or Whatever Ain’t Hell)




Mike, at right, at his last Democratic Party convention, doing that sweet karaoke with his friends (and my brothers in law) Oni and Jeff.

Mike, at right, at his last Democratic Party convention, doing that sweet karaoke with his friends (and my brothers in law) Oni and Jeff.

Michael J. Kinslow, Esq.
c/o Heaven or Whatever Passes for It

Dear Mike,

Hey, buddy.  You missed quite a year.

It was one year ago today, Boxing Day, that you fell to pancreatic cancer in what was still the prime of your life.  You had lived with your knowledge of it for about four months.  You had lived with your knowledge that you wouldn’t long survive for less than half that time.  At the end, even unconscious after weeks of excruciating pain, you offered one final act of kindness to those around you by not dying on Christmas Day.  That would have been too hard.  Several of us had predicted that you’d make it past Christmas, but I don’t know you you actually did it.

Boxing Day, the day that we clean up after finishing the celebrations, was much more fitting.  It’s also now a commercial holiday, about which I expect you would have walked the tightrope by both disdaining slightly (you had a real, populist religion in your heart) without making people feel bad for jumping into the post-Holiday clearance sales.  Few people master the etiquette of pushing people to do better without pushing them away like you did.  Fewer political leaders do so without seeming inauthentic — a big word in 2015 politics — but you managed that too.

I wanted to give you a report on what’s happened since you’ve been gone.  This will skew political; on the personal side, I’m in touch with Georgie almost exclusively on Facebook these day, but she and Tristan seem to be doing reasonably well despite the tragedy of your premature departure.  And people still remember you often and fondly.  You can check out your Memorial Facebook page for that.  I presume that, if you have Internet where you are, you’ve already read my piece from a year ago, but it’s nice to go re-read it again.

OK, county politics: as I promised, the DPOC Chair’s race in January was not won by acclamation.  We tried to nominate you in absentia, despite your unfortunate condition, but that was ruled out of order because strictly speaking you were no longer a member of the Democratic Party.  (Ever courting unpopularity, I thought that that was the right ruling; nevertheless, I was happy that you did get several votes.)  After your nomination was rejected,  I put my name up so that there would be some opposition — meaning that I got to give a speech that I think you’d have liked, something about wanting “bottom-up” rather than “top-down” politics or something like that.  I hadn’t expected to put my name forward, but that was how it shook out, so I ended up speaking off the cuff.  (Better me than nobody, that’s my motto!  But so, so, so much better had it been you, as we’d hoped, rather than me.)

Most of your casework related to sexual abuse victims was absorbed by your old firm; your widow Georgie handled most of that.  There were two cases that she couldn’t place, so I took responsibility for them.  I placed one (after somewhat haplessly kept it bobbing on the surface through a couple of court hearings) with a Democratic politician here whom I don’t think you know.  He has done a good job with it — settling on terms that I think you’d like with all parties but the perp, who remains in his sights.  I can’t discuss the details with you here — the communications are privileged and all — but let’s just say that some justice has been done and more justice is a-comin’.  I’m hoping that you get your turn at the omniscience machine at some point so that you can get the rest.

For the second case, the one on which I was conflicted out, you’d like the result.  This was the sexual assault case involving a Buddhist monk.  Your (and my) friend Craig Beauchamp took that one over and did a bang-up job preparing the case — and then someone whom I think that you don’t know, Doug Pettibone, took over at trial against an excellent lawyer for the perp from (or not from) Nepal and wiped the floor with the guy.  You’d have loved seeing that one play out.  And the other women from China, the one you deposed?  She’s bringing her own suit as well, under Craig’s care, with Doug again slated to do the trial if and when it gets that far.  Everyone who you helped so much is quite pleased.  (I’ll tell you more about another big victory — the part I was most involved in — when we have more privacy.)  You made this happen, my friend, start to finish.  I thank you for the referral.

Readers may take this the wrong way, but you know that they shouldn’t: my wife misses you too.  She mentions at least once a month how much she wishes you were still here, not only because of the good legal advice you were giving her on her business plans but because of your overwhelming good humor and decency.  She’s not overly fond of most political figures — not just in OC, but anywhere — but she made and continues to make a big exception for you.  I think that she’d probably rank you ahead of me and her brother-in-law Jeff — and I can’t argue with that.

It’s been a wild year in politics.  We think that we have finally got Anaheim moving in the right direction — not so much in the results of City Council votes, so far, but in terms of public interest in and understanding of the issues.  Jordan completely fell on his face over the past couple of months, enough so that a vote of his on the City Council was unanimous condemned (!) by the DPOC.  Maybe he’ll wise up in the end; too soon to tell.  I know that you were a strong believer in forgiveness and redemption; if you can manifest before him some night and give him the whole Christmas Carol treatment it might help.

Meanwhile, I hope that you’ve gotten the news on the Bernie Sanders campaign.  I’m not certain where you’d have come down on this one, but I’m confident that the success of a left-populist movement like this would have warmed your heart.  (And I have a feeling you’d have worked out a dynamite Trump impression by now too.)

I — we — miss you, my friend.  I know that you wanted to make your mark in life; I think that you did.  Check that: I know that you did.  And you will, I believe, continue to be a beacon by which we can chart our course for years to come.

(Now get to work on those pro bono appeals you have to file for repentant sinners in purgatory — which is what I imagine is taking up your cheerful eternity, which for you must be heaven.)

Your friend and student in life,


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)