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For first time readers...my journey begins here: THE VERY FIRST BLOG POST (CC1)

Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I have a new edition to the family. He is a rescue dog from the animal shelter. Yes, they named him Dicky! For some reason people give me funny looks when I tell them I've been playing with my Dicky all day. He's very loving and sooo hyper. I hope I can manage to keep up with him. Isn't he a sweetie?


Sexy Beast!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



Is it safe to come out yet? Is everybody done bitching about America going in the toilet? Can we all just get along during the downward spiral of our country? As with all things in life acceptance is hard...just try dealing with cancer! Cancer has given me a greater understanding and appreciation of life and what is really important. Sometimes I wish everyone would be close to death at least once in their life to gain this understanding. I think we as a planet would be better for it.

 The people spoke last night and many feel they will lose because of it, but again that's what makes this country so great…the majority rules. I disagree with the whole Electoral College crap. I think it should be a popular vote. We can thank our founding fathers for that. But, we have the ability to change that and never have.

 What has always puzzled me about human nature is that we tend to blame others when things go wrong in our lives. I guess it's easier that way, but not very productive. This country was founded by a people of hard work ethics and religion. We are no longer a proactive people, but reactive. Today we have morphed into a bunch of lazy ass people who worry more about their morning latte than they do about the homeless guy on the corner!

 Frankly it's not just our politics that are f*cked up, it's how we treat each other and the lack of getting involved. I'm curious to know how many who read this are active in city government? How many were out donating their time to their candidate that they believed in? Who of you has addressed congress to evoke any type of change for a worthy cause that benefits "others" and not just yourself? When was the last time you said, "Neighbor if you need help, call me and I will lend a hand." or stop when you see and elderly person to help them with a task?

 It's not just our government. The problem is much deeper, but it's easier to blame someone else right? The writing has been on the wall for a long time. We used to be a country willing to fight for our rights and work hard to be a strong nation....now all we do is bitch at each other when shit goes wrong. Not very productive and it doesn't help make a country stronger, it just spreads dissension among the people.

 You want change? Get off your f*cking asses and create it like our forefathers! Run for office, work for your local governments, your city councils, volunteer at a homeless shelter, and show that you are "involved" in this country rather than sipping coffee, in your cozy living room, chatting and bitching on Facebook. It's time people. The shits getting deep! Stand up and take "action" get involved not just bitch about it!

 OK I've said my peace. I'm sure I'll get blasted here because it seems it's what most do best nowadays, so I'll come back when the smoke clears.

 Peace B

Tuesday, November 6, 2012



If ROMNEY wins the election, he will have Air Force 1 equipped with a dog kennel strapped to the roof of the plane. A new law will go into effect requiring all US airlines to follow by adding similar kennels for passengers traveling with pets. I would never put my dog in the underbelly of a plane anyway!

 If OBAMA wins, I will be waiting for my share of all those wonderful free government handouts. Do you think I can get a new car? WHAT? Oprah gives them away like candy. Maybe she should be president!

 If ROSEANNE BARR wins, she will insist on singing and broadcasting the national anthem every morning to all schools and government buildings, including airports. This will grind all national air travel to a halt and there will be a higher rate of suicide among teens!

 If anybody could save this country it would be OPRAH. She would guarantee the auto industry doesn't ever falter again because...You get a car, and you get a car, and YOU get a car!


Since we rely on the Electoral College to determine our next president, maybe we should spend more money on education. What's wrong with the popular vote anyway? Why do we always make things harder in an effort to make things easier?

Political Erection Humor:

In San Francisco the term "exit pole" has a whole different meaning! So does the term "running mate." Put them together and you have a real political erection!

A well known Senator named Larry entered a voting booth today and began to tap his foot while playing with his ballot when somebody reached underneath the curtain waving at him...probably to get him to stop. I think we have another problem like Florida had with Hanging Chads, because the Senator kept screaming Oh my God you're Hung Chad!!! Only in San Francisco!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012



I have been through 4 hurricanes and 2 major earthquakes. Always an ominous experience to be humbled by nature. A time when even the biggest control freaks lose their ability to maintain order. On January 15, 1994, I was in a suite high atop of the Mondiran Hotel in West Hollywood to attend a special event. I was a regular patron of the hotel as this is where I often home based  when filming our national commercials. But this trip was not for business. I was a VIP guest of a benefit show that raised money to aid the homeless in America. The show; Comic Relief VI.

As a large donor, I was given two premium seats to attend the show. Feeling like a big shot I have to say, I found myself laughing with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal. With all access passes for the evening, I was having the time of my life with a long list of stars and comics who shared their laughter for a wonderful cause while attending the private after party. I will never forget being backstage and staring into Kirstie Alley's mesmerizing, yet eerie hazel green eyes. They're like one of the many wonders of the world...all aglow, but nobody was home that night. She was on another planet having a great time.

We were seated next to Kurt Cobain and a friend of his (I think a base player?) in a VIP section of the Shrine Auditorium. My buddy Eric who was working with Fran Drescher at the time on "The Nanny" was with me and is normally very low key around celebrities, but this time was rather excited about the guests seated next to us. I leaned over the friend seated next to me to introduce myself to Kurt, "My buddy tells me you're a pretty good musician, I'm sorry I haven't heard of you before, but my bud is a big fan." He just chuckled and said with a puzzled smile, "How refreshing. Very nice to meet you." Sometimes I don't always think before I open my mouth around strangers in a relaxed environment. I'm just me. I don't do pretense well. It was an odd way to introduce myself, but it was the truth. I think that disarmed him and he was quite cordial and a bit flirty afterwards. I had so much fun that night.

We chatted a bit between acts and later hung out at the after party. It seemed so strange that only a few months later the man would be dead from an apparent suicide. That whole meeting and weekend still haunts me. I don't think he killed himself, not the man I met that night. This was a man full of life and enjoying every minute of it. I have many moments in my life I question, "Why was I there? Was there a reason? Am I to learn something from all this?" But, I never find an answer to, "Why?" This was only two days before the most profound event of my life that would overshadow all that was happening at this event. I would soon realize we are nothing but a small speck of dust in the vast cosmos of space.

January 17, 4:31 AM, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Northridge area of LA causing over $25 billion in damages, ranking it the 4th most expensive natural disaster of all time. (Northridge Economic and Social Impact) I was sound a asleep in my suite as it began to tremble and shake. I was literally jolted out of my comfortable bed. Stumbling to the window I grabbed the drapes to steady myself as the panel ripped away from my grasp and I stared at the panoramic view of the city below in awe.

I thought we were being attacked as there were bright flashes of light bursting in front of me like I have never seen. Bombs of brilliant white exploded before me like a war zone. A flash of light and a section of the city went dark, like pieces of a lit puzzle being plucked out one by one. BOOM-FLASH another piece went missing. I would later learn the electrical transformers that fed the city its power were blowing as the ground rattled beneath them. Then I heard a crash of glass. The mirrored sliding doors of the closet had just fallen across my bed and shards of mirror fell at my feet. Holy SHIT! This is serious!

I heard a sound on the roof above. I was on the top floor and I could hear a loud click, then a hum, and then silence. This would repeat over and over. I was unaware that the emergency generators were trying to kick on unsuccessfully leaving the hotel in total darkness.

Then came a frantic knock on my door from a woman next door screaming, "Help me! Please help me." I was sure someone was hurt, in serious trouble, probably bleeding to death. The panic in this woman's cry was blood curdling. I made my way through the living room naked with shattered glass beneath my feet answering the door in total darkness. As I opened the door, trying to hide behind out of sight from the crazed woman, a bright light flashed into my face attached to a uncontrollably shaking arm. I told the woman if she let me use her flashlight for a moment to get dressed I would gladly help her.

I pried the light from the shaking woman and found an XXL T-shirt in a grab bag that had been given to guests with gifts from Comic Relief next to the door along with my shoes. Thank God the shirt was long enough to cover my knees and hide naughty bits!!! After that I never travel without a flashlight.

The woman dragged me back to her room and into the bathroom saying, "Hurry! In here!" Then she said in a panic, "Hold the flashlight so I can put on my make-up!" WHAT????? YOU WANT ME TO WHAT??? Where is the bleeding husband or the small dog stuck in a toilet? Where the hell is the emergency??? MAKE-UP?? OMG! This poor woman was in full panic mode.

She was a fight attendant demanding me to hold a light so she could put on her make-up and get to the airport so she could get the hell out of town! I tried to explain that during emergencies like this they would be shutting the airports down until inspections could be made, but she wanted nothing to do with it. So I held the light until a loud bang came on her door. It was security telling everyone to evacuate their rooms and go down to the lobby using the stairs. The power was still out and dark is pretty darn...well...dark! Later I found out that the emergency generators failed because they were out of fuel. Yeah for maintenance!

The woman was in full uniform, make-up, hair, and packed ready to go as we crept into the hallway with a crowd of other hotel guests. One man had a large candle in his grasp. I yelled at him and blew the candle out. He screamed at me, "What the f*ck do you think your doing asshole?" I screamed back, "I don't want my ass scattered across the hotel in the event of a gas leak you Dipshit! Don't you know what to do in the event of an earthquake???" I learned most are clueless during emergencies because they are too thick to even imagine anything could ever happen to them!

At that point I was thrust to the front of the group and somebody said, "So what do we do?" We follow the direction of the security guard who was nowhere to be found nor was the flight attendant with the flashlight. In the commotion she fled to the lobby in a just get me the hell out of here kinda way. I have to admit, that was one woman who knew how to fly. A few people had cell phones and I asked who had the one that cast the brightest light. We crept our way down the cascading stairwell aided only by the light of a few phones.

In the lobby were all the hotel guests that followed orders. There were still some so afraid they refused to leave their rooms. The lobby was filled with sobs and trembling people clinging to each other grateful to be alive. I was surrounded by maybe a hundred people in various states of dress and undress. Yes, there were even some naked who bolted from their rooms with only the thought of safety. They were generously given clothes by those over dressed for the occasion.

The only one fully dressed was of course good ole Mary Kay, the flight attendant from hell, who was ready for her flight, just not getting it at all. Even after her superior, who was still in her nightgown, tried to explain there would be no flight today. She did not want to listen. She was leaving LA and headed to the street to hail a cab for the airport. She was going home! She was in charge! She didn't stop to think that even if she made it to the airport, she needed a pilot who was still in the lobby with the rest of us. Yes, of course she was back a short while later still having a hard time with it all. There were no cabs to hail, not even a crosstown bus. EVERYTHING had ground to a halt.

Cell phones were dying around me and I remembered mine was in my rental car in the parking structure. I was told by the car attendant that we were not allowed to go there, but he would get my phone for me. When he returned, he had some bad news. A portion of the parking structure shook some concrete loose and damaged the Porsche I had rented for the weekend. That was the furthest thing I could worry about right now.

I called my personal assistant to explain I didn't know when I would be back in the office as this might take several days. I called my mom to let her know I was safe to avoid worry. Then I passed the phone around the lobby until the battery died to let others notify their families. It was a surreal moment. You don't know how you will react in the event of an emergency until you are actually in one. I was as calm and level headed as could be until I saw the damage in my room.

The sun had risen as the staff was inspecting the hotel for structural damage. We were told we could go back to our rooms and if there was a major mess that needed cleaning to inform housekeeping. Clean-up was going to take a long time. If structural damage was found we were to report it to the front desk to be moved to another room. When I entered my suite there was glass everywhere. The TV had fallen onto a glass coffee table in the living room. The full bar and broken drinking glasses scattered the floor. The refrigerator door was open and the contents lay with the glass along with a broken jar of salsa that began to permeate the carpet.

It was many hours after the catastrophic event and for the first time I felt my chest tighten. The reality of the situation set in as I looked upon the damaged suite as though it were the set of The War of the Roses. I left this behind unseen in total darkness to help a panicked woman put on her f*cking make-up and now it's real, visual, and seriously happened. I learned that day I have a delayed reaction when facing emergencies. The panic will come after the event has past. Not really sure why that is. I'm wired wrong I guess.

The phone rang and some guy (another hotel guest I didn't know or maybe even a hotel staff member trying to get guests out of the way of the clean up) said, "Grab all the liquor bottles from your bar and meet down by the pool in an hour. We are having an After Shock Party!" I called housekeeping, gathered all the unbroken liquor bottles and headed to the pool ready to shake all this off. That afternoon a majority of the hotel partied poolside and exchanged their war stories of the great earthquake. All the tables that surrounded the pool were filled with hundreds of empty mini liquor bottles and very happy to be alive guests mingling with strangers from all walks of life oddly enjoying the tragedy.

As night fell I was growing hungry. We were all a captive audience with the same problem and nowhere to go. Everything was shut down and we all had to eat. That evening we were forced have dinner with total strangers to fill all tables in the dining room with little choice of meal. The only food available was what was already in the hotel before the earthquake as all deliveries had ceased after.

The room was filled to capacity and yet there was a hush that engulfed us. We spoke softly almost in a whisper learning about each other, grateful to be alive. Peace be with you, and also with you. Like the way you speak in a place of worship with honor and reverence for all. It was something in my whole life I had never witnessed. It was humbling.

I met record producers, writers who were in LA pitching scripts, a few Hollywood elite and their managers. I was even taught a few words of Chinese, by a young male model sitting at our table who traveled between LA and Beijing for work. But that night we were all the same. None greater, none less. Just a collective of peaceful happy (probably from all the alcohol) people humbled by mother nature and all her majesty. It was the most profound event of my life as we were one big family, soft spoken, grateful, and humbled beyond belief with respect for all. Comic Relief with its cast of spectacular stars should have been my highlight for that weekend, but the Academy Award goes to Mother Nature, hands down!.

When I went back to my suite now cleaned up, I looked out over LA once again with some of her dazzling city lights ablaze, something was ominously different. It was so peaceful and beautifully surreal. There wasn't a soul nor car on the street. The stoplights changed from green to yellow to red for no one. The only sound was a wistful breath of wind dancing across my balcony. That night there was peace on earth. A night I will never forget.

Nature has a way of humbling even the biggest of control freaks, the high and mighty, the prim and proper, the holier than thou. You are educated by that fact that as much as you think you have control...you do not. This is the whole premise of the book of my life. This modified excerpt from my book I never intended to post here and has nothing to do with cancer, but it seemed fitting given the current events. My prayers to all those on the East coast dealing with the aftermath of Sandy. I understand your mixed emotions. Be strong. You will be better for it.

Peace B (with you)



I'm staying in tonight. I wanted to go as Romney, but nobody would let me borrow their dog to strap to the roof of my car :/

Why does Halloween only have to be about kids asking for candy? I think I'll start a new tradition and go door to door with a giant flask asking for liquor. By the time I get to the next house, I'll be ready for another drink. I'll call it a Halloween Crawl and show those little bitches how to really celebrate Halloween! :-)~

I'm not handing out candy this year. I'm passing out all my unpaid bills. I read we will be leaving all our debt to the next generation. I figure why wait, I'll start now and give it to them while they are really young and can appreciate it more! :-)~


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Insurance Woes and Understanding Coverage

The last few months have been pure HELL! So much is going on and I'm exhausted, depressed and maybe even a little bitchy! (Alright...A LOT BITCHY...SO THERE!) My blood pressure has been a roller coaster. I had this cyst on my cheek that has come and gone for years and the doctor at MD Anderson just throws antibiotics (Bactrim) at it which tears up my stomach. It finally blew up last week and my face looks horrid. I've been trying to grow out my hair to donate it to Locks of Love but I CAN'T STAND THE LONG HAIR...adding to my misery. I now have a new health insurance plan and frankly with all my research I'm still a little worried about. I had to drop my private health insurance when the premiums reached over $800 a month and I'm still paying MD Anderson for last year's medical bills! Oh...and there might be a little stress involved here.

During this time I had a roof leak and I was told it was not covered on my homeowners insurance, but the damage to the interior is, subject to my deductible. So I paid the full cost of the roof repair while they have issued a payment for interior damage that is about $1,400 shy of the estimates and nobody will return emails or phone calls from the insurance company! I could affect repairs with the money given if I do the paint myself, but that's not why I have insurance and I'm not really well enough to do all that. AND if you remember last time I climbed a latter I fell and spent over 6 weeks in bed recovering from a pulled groin muscle and had to use a walker for several weeks after, but then that was with a chainsaw not a paint brush. Dare I??? Hum...The whole thing just sucks!

After realizing I might be a bit under insured, I called my homeowners insurance to increase parts of my coverage. I was told, "You have an open claim. We cannot make changes to your policy with an open claim. Would you like to close that claim out?" Ah...NO! Not until somebody calls me back to discuss the inadequate payment that was made for those damages!!! The rep told me she would forward the message to the adjuster and his supervisor so someone would call me back...TWO MONTHS...NADA!

Now let's talk Health Insurance! I know many of you have had trouble attaining or maintaining your health coverage and there are so many options out there if you are well, but it's harder at the moment if you end up with a preexisting condition. I don't want to get too detailed here because there are so many variables that affect your choices and availabilities. You need to do plenty of research before you decide to drop or modify your coverage.

You might have coverage from your employer or continue to pay your own privately. Perhaps you are disabled or over 65 and on Medicare. With Medicare comes many choices. If you are healthy you can get a supplemental plan (at an added cost to you) to cover things Medicare doesn't pay for. I had this setup for my mother after General Motors canceled health benefits to all retired salaried employees. It worked out well with the exception of having to enroll her in Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) which left her to payout thousands of dollars after hitting the infamous "donut hole" after her first order of scripts.

Some only have the option of staying solely on "traditional" Medicare or choosing a Medicare "Advantage" plan (Part C.) Some of these plans throw in the Medicare Part D drug coverage while you must continue to pay your Part B. This can get very complicated and expensive if you are a cancer patient taking a lot of medications, but remember some medications might be covered under your Part  B. For a better understanding of Medicare Part D from the American Cancer Society click (HERE)

One thing you cannot do is have a supplemental plan with the Advantage plan, that's only reserved for tradition Medicare. Advantage plans try to keep you "in network" allowing lower co-pays for using doctors or hospitals that accept this plan. These plans also put a cap on your yearly out of pocket whereas with traditional Medicare you are subject to a 20% co-pay on almost all services. Have your eyes glazed over yet from trying to comprehend this little bit of information? There are a few different Advantage HMO. PPO, POS, and Regional plans offered making it even more confusing and if you get an agent involve to try and help you, they will most likely guide you towards a company they get a referral fee from.

Just hit up AARP and they will fit you into a United Health Group plan that might lead you to believe you are fully covered. But that wasn't the case when in 2008 Lisa Kelly walked into MD Anderson in Houston (my understanding is, they are "out of network" or don't accept this plan at all) for treatment of leukemia and she was told she was grossly under insured and they asked for $45,000 up front to care for her. Full Story HERE

READ and understand everything about any changes to your policies as they seem to change yearly and you only have a short window of opportunity to exchange plans or go back to traditional Medicare. There are many companies out there offering these plans and they all seemed to be different yet still labeled "Medicare Advantage." Also make sure your doctor's and hospitals accept your plan BEFORE signing up for it. Providers can leave the network even if you still carry the plan, so stay on top of that and review everything each October when you have the chance to change plans.

What seems to make this even more complicated is that even the providers don't seem to know the differences. I went to a new doctor last week, one I waited months to see and researched extensively. He quit and walked out days before my appointment leaving me with a new, new doctor I know nothing about (that's a whole other story! AND NO, it wasn't my fault...I had nothing to do with it!!!)

I was charged $40 for the office visit and since this was the very first time using my new insurance I didn't think much of it. Then I read I was entitled to one free yearly "wellness visit." So I called the insurance company to ask exactly what that was, mostly because the doctor wanted to see me again for a full physical since I was a new patient. In conversation I learned that a standard office visit is subject to a $10 co-pay if the provider is "in network." Since they were in network, I realized the doctor's office overcharged me by $30.

At this point I have to give major credit to my health insurance rep on the phone who has promised to call the doctor's office and straighten it all out and inform them my next visit should be classified as my yearly wellness visit and there should be no charge. We'll see how it goes. Pardon me if I think it won't be as simple as all that.

Dealing with insurance companies (or people for that matter) has never been more difficult due to how complicated the policies are. I think they should limit ALL available plans to THREE: Bronze, for young and healthy, Silver for people with some reoccurring problems, and Gold of the disabled, over 65, or severely ill. Make it that simple! I think it's criminal to make this so complicated!!!

Peace B


Thursday, May 24, 2012

EPIPHANY - I Have Cancer, Therefore Officially USELESS!

Many of you have probably wondered where I have been. It’s been a very long time since I’ve updated this blog. For me it’s been a difficult few months. I have done much thinking and realizing how much my life has changed in the last five years.

April was my five year Cancerversary. Something I should be celebrating. I have always known I am one of the lucky ones having a cancer with a 70% mortality rate and still breathing five years later, but at what cost? There is great sadness and depression associated with this unprecedented feat.

When I left Detroit fresh out of college, for a new life in California, I was on a high. Everything I touched turned to gold. I have to admit my life was very blessed. Everywhere I turned were rewards and overwhelming opportunity. I was the golden child often referred to as the young Maverick.

I opened my first Little Caesars restaurant when I was 24. At that time we only had about 500 locations and I was the youngest franchisee. My second restaurant followed a few years later. By the time I was 29 I had three restaurants, became president of a co-op of 70 more, organizing all the marketing and working with Cliff Freeman and Partners out of New York on our national ad campaigns. It seemed I could do no wrong and I was a natural at it all. It never seemed difficult.

Opening Invitation for My First Restaurant

 I bought a big million dollar home in the hills of Fremont, California and filled the driveway with boy toys. Stanley Burell AKA MC Hammer was a neighbor and regular customer. I even secretly employed a member of his family. Kristi Yamaguchi and her family frequented my restaurants and I began to chair the San Francisco Easter Seals Telethons. Everywhere I turned, life had something or someone fascinating to offer.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony  #2
©Brian N. Walin

I was always in my restaurants meeting my customers while being very involved in the Bay Area community. I worked with DECA, an organization that prepares emerging leaders and young entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. I taught students at the high school level about entrepreneurial skills and how to be successful in business. I also taught classes on how to enter the job market for the first time, concentrating on the do's and don'ts of a first interview. I was even honored and respected enough to judge DECA competitions at the state level. I was so involved and well recognized locally that my grocery shopping had to be done late at night because people would stop me and want to talk and I never had that much extra time.

Ribbon Cere"money"  #3 Ribbon Laced with $20 Bills Donated to Easter Seals Staff (left) cut by Mayor
©Brian N. Walin

In those days, sleep was nonexistent. On a good night I got 6 hours. I always began my days late, 9 or 10 AM, but then worked long into the late night hours catching up on my accounting or marketing for the company. There was nothing I wouldn't do. One day I might be making dough and grating cheese, the next I was fixing an oven or snaking a drain, then getting on a plane and flying to Los Angeles to film an upcoming commercial. It was never dull and I was always needed somewhere.

I designed and constructed my own stores, negotiated all the leases with the guidance of attorneys whom I only called in if I got over my head. I hired my staff and personally trained them all.  I planned the marketing layouts, negotiated rates, and worked closely with our national ad agency developing television commercials and ad campaigns. I didn't even take a day off for the first two years and a personal vacation took ten years to accomplish.

©Brian N. Walin

Sponsoring and check presentations of the Easter Seal Telethon 
©Brian N. Walin

Before Little Caesars, I wanted to get into the entertainment industry. I sang in night clubs, was apart of college productions as an actor, learned how to build sets, and direct. In my heart, I wanted to be an actor or sing, to make people happy. During college breaks, I would find jobs in entertainment to learn and make contacts.

I worked with Universal Studios one summer on  the film "The River" with Mel Gibson, Sissy Spacek, and Scott Glenn in the hills of Tennessee and Virginia. I learned a lot about the harsh realities of film making. It's not all flash and glamour and working on location was no picnic. I still enjoyed every minute of it. Working on set in a sound studio was much more my style. I wanted to be an actor! But that would all change upon meeting a very kind man whose advice I took to heart (to Hart) and that changed my life path.

University of Michigan Press Release

Being involved in the entertainment industry, I gravitated towards like minded people. One afternoon I was on the 20th Century Fox lot. They were the filming a finale of the hit show Hart to Hart. I spent the afternoon with friends from my old neighborhood in Michigan on set. After the shoot there was a big wrap party planned on the sound stage. I wanted to leave, tired from the long day, but upon exiting we were stopped by Robert Wagner who wanted to talk to us. Frankly, I thought we were in trouble for something as his approach was extremely brisk.

After finding out we were all from Michigan (RJ was born in the Detroit area) we instantly bonded. He invited us into his trailer and we talked for a long time, like old neighbors. This was just before his wife, Natalie Wood died off Catalina Island. He was so very kind and I could see the deep love for his family. The entire trailer was lined across the top like crown molding with family photos.

Mel Gibson and I on set of The River
©Brian N. Walin

Mel and Julie on set of The River
©Brian N. Walin

At this point in my life I was setting myself up in the entertainment industry, but had not gotten a big break. During the conversation I asked RJ what I need to do to make it in the business. His advice…“Don’t do it.” He continued to burst my bubble with his advice making tremendous sense. He explained how hard it was for him throughout the years and how long it had taken to get where he is today and how many waiters there are in Hollywood trying to survive waiting for that big break that probably would never come.

I took what he had to say to heart. It made a deep impression upon me. I respected what he told me as he dished out fatherly advice. I had a lot of connections in the industry which kept me busy working, but my natural talents were not singing and acting. I was in college getting my Business Degree at U of M and working in the entertainment industry during my time off.

That fall I returned to college and realized, with an education I could do anything, but as an actor I would most likely be waiting tables. I will forever be grateful for RJ’s advice. To make money during college I had a few jobs, but one was the cornerstone of my life with Little Caesars. This blog is a condensed version of my book (still in progress) and this chapter ends with me becoming the youngest franchisee at the time. After college I made a permanent move to California and opened my first restaurant, the first in the San Francisco Bay area. Hollywood was a memory.

No matter what I was doing, I was happy and for some reason I thought life was like this for everyone. Anything I wanted I could have. Not in a cocky way, it was just how life was for me. I want a new sports car, write a check, I want a Rolex, write a check, I want another restaurant go to the bank, get a loan, no problem.

After only six short years of being in business, I was inducted into Who's Who Worldwide Platinum Edition of Global Leaders for the first time. I had amassed a wall full of awards and celebrity photographs. And it didn't hurt that I owned the second highest volume restaurant in Northern California. My life was so fast paced. I never stopped to compare myself to others because I honestly thought everybody could have it all if they just applied themselves. It was never just handed to me. I worked hard for it, but for some reason doors always opened. I was never turned away.

First year induction into Who's Who

If I have one thing I can pinpoint as a strength that helped me get where I am, it's good communication skills and trusting my gut. I have always been comfortable talking with anyone from CEO's to janitors. Celebrity or power doesn't impress or intimidate me, I could care less. I have always been curious about everything in life, so I can find common ground. I don't care for pretense and often I'm underestimated because I don't act the part which I learned early on gave me an advantage when swimming in uncharted waters. You want to F**k with me? Let's play ball. I've taken out a few competitors over the years. I might appear meek and mild, but I'm hell on the dance floor! After the music stops, you better hope you have two legs to stand on when the dust clears. I've always tried to play nice so that everybody wins, but sometimes in business it's not always that simple.

On the set of  The Love Boat  with Fred Grandy "Gopher and Former Congressman"
©Brian N. Walin

Throughout my life I have gleaned information from those around me. I have filtered the bullshit and used the good to further my life and career. My instincts have been crisp and decisive. I seek out interesting people with similar goals and learn. Over the years I have been helped and educated by so many others who took the time to care and teach as I intently listened and learned. I only took advice from those who were on or have been on my same path. Only the people who have proven themselves I listen to. That in turn has garnered me great success.

I began to teach others how to become successful. People would ask my advice all the time and I tried to be brutally honest because I ALWAYS heard RJ in the back of my mind “Don’t do it” and for me he was so right. I believe you will be most successful in life if you follow your natural talents. If you suck at painting, you're not a painter. However, if you still aspire to be an artist, clay might be a better medium to attain your goals. You need to experiment to find your niche. Just because you enjoy doing something doesn't mean you are good at it and can make a living doing it. I was very careful to make sure if someone asked my advice, I would give both pros and cons. If I didn’t think they were capable, I would try to suggest ways to get them to realize a goal they wanted, but always being brutally honest if it wasn’t going to happen from my perspective.

I was blessed with a team of the best accounts, lawyers, and bankers that I had put together over the years. To them I am eternally grateful for all the advice and guidance throughout the years. Life to me is a series of learning from one another. I was surrounded by talented people and the energy was always so positive and enjoyable. I never stopped to realize most everyone I was working with was much older than I was, but that never seemed to be an issue.

Over the years I had trained and watched thousands of employees, as well as franchisees come and go. I worked with some of the most creative people on the planet. One of the most talented I still keep in touch with, Cliff Freeman who has since retired. Cliff Freeman and Partners was our ad agency who created all our memorable national television commercials. I was on set as Cliff gave birth to the very first Origami Pterodactyl commercial. Remember..."What am I going to do with a box?"

After that, the camera ready pizzas for the next few commercials were made on set by me, after learning some tricks the studio food techs taught me. Life was a blast. I was always learning, moving forward, and having fun. By now we had amassed over 3,200 locations world wide within our Little Caesars family. Being apart of that and contributing to the growth was more than I had ever dreamed of.

I spent almost 20 years working myself to a point where everything I said was trusted, respected, and I had the track record to prove it. Then one day after being sick off and on for several months, I was given 3 months to live. AW SHIT! I'M GOING TO DIE!

Even then I made the best of it. I told only a select few about my health issues. I planned the biggest party you can imagine. I had many contacts and pulled together a spectacular chain of events. I took over a local steak house at Christmas for a holiday blowout. I retrained their employees on how to properly serve like a 5 star restaurant, putting them all in tuxedos, white gloves...the whole nine yards. Secretly, I always wanted my own 5 star restaurant.

I insisted on real silver, fine china, and crystal to be used for the evening. A champagne fountain, ice carving, and fresh flowers with mounds of garland filled the rooms as well as a tree that the staff gave to me decorated by them with gratitude for teaching them how to reach higher and be better at their craft. I chose the meals and how they were to be prepared. Every detail down to what type of coffee, where it came from, and how it was to be served was decided upon by me. After all, if I’m going to die, I’m going out in a big way, My Way! (Cue Sinatra) This was all made possible because of a bizarre twist. The current manager was a very good friend who used to wait on me regularly at another local haunt of mine and also was my massage therapist for awhile during my recovery. So, he knew of my health issues.

The limo for the evening was so big it could not turn around in the cul-de-sac, so the driver had to back the car in all the way down the street carrying its two hot tubs and case of champagne in the trunk. Cute side note: My mother had flown out for the event and was late getting ready. The limo driver actually did my mother’s hair for the event. He treated her like a queen. I thought it would be a disaster given my mother was a hair stylist when younger and a model for Clairol, but he did a great job. Even as I was dying, life always had a way of coming together and surrounding me by talented and interesting people. Dinner that evening was beyond expectations!

The next party was Las Vegas. With a suite at the top of the Mirage Hotel the festivities continued with gambling, shopping, and seeing every show I could fit in. My friend Joy and I went shopping chalking up a closet full of hand tailored suits and clothes I would probably never wear, but always wanted. The bill for all this…close to $150,000. Hey, I thought I was going to die, so the checks flowed like champagne.

The three months passed and I was getting stronger. AW CRAP! I'm going to live! I spent all that money, but I had a blast! Over the next few years it was obvious I had to cut back on my work duties. I didn’t have the strength to keep the old pace up. I slowly cut back until all I had left was Walin Enterprises, Inc. I needed to keep something income producing to refill my retirement nest egg I just pissed away on a month long life ending rock star party.

The next five years were not all that easy. I found, because I was not in my restaurants enough, the temperament had changed both with the employees and myself. Negative things began to happen and when they got dangerous, I planned my final strategy to move on with my life. We had several robberies where people were injured. I had managers held up at gun point, pistol whipped, tied up with phone cords, and chased through the parking lot with steel pipes. I always knew these things existed in life, but not in mine.

On the local news was a story about a pregnant manager at Taco Bell located a block from one of my restaurants. She was murdered with a shotgun because she couldn’t open the safe. The poor mother with child died for no reason. You see, it was common for businesses to use time delay safes that could only be opened during predetermined hours to access the cash. Usually hours the stores are not open and often only one time a day. They must have thought she was lying about not being able to open the safe and shot her and the unborn baby in cold blood.

That was the catalyst that prompted my decision to begin plans for an early retirement. I don’t think I could live with myself knowing someone died in one of my restaurants for money. We had already had a few brushes with criminal activity. I had cameras in the stores, time delay safes, and even personal wireless holdup buttons for all the managers. But, all that wasn’t going to stop a catastrophic event.

My days in the pizza business were numbered as my health was still a major issue and the thought of the criminal activity bothered me. It was time to move into the next phase of my life. I began construction of a third home to retire in. I sold all my assets and put it all in the hands of my trusted money managers and planned a rockin retirement at the young age of 39.

Things were going pretty good for the first seven years. I was happy traveling and doing anything my heart desired. Then I got smacked with another reality that plagued my past. I was given my second death sentence. I was given a longer sentence this time, perhaps three to five years. I was told cancer would take most of my tongue and the odds of survival weren't good given the fact the cancer had traveled to my lymphatic system. I had plenty of time to recharge my battery before this so I had the attitude...Bring it on bitches!

As you know, if you are a regular reader, that was 2007 and I am still here, a few body parts rearranged but still kickin! The fanciful life I was once so blessed with is fading as I press on into an ever evolving life unfamiliar to me. So many people would love to have the life I have today, but I’m feeling a bit lost. So many realizations are coming to fruition that are getting me down and depressing the hell out of me. For everything I’ve done in my life, all that I know, and all I have learned and accomplished along the way, I am feeling useless.

I know I have had a great life, but my future seems bleak. I spend a lot of time with my feet in the sand at the beach or watching the golfers pass as I relax in the pool. I wake when I want and stay up all night watching movies and eating popcorn. I spend countless hours with social media chatting with people from around the world. A skill I learned spending so much time in bed recovering from cancer. Sounds perfect right? For all intensive purposes I’ve become a shut-in with the activity level of a sloth, but unintentionally.

Just Hangin Out

I’m stronger today and I want to get involved in life again, but on my terms as it has always been. Oddly, when I try to offer advice about business or finance I seem to get shut down. People seek my advice about cancer, which I gladly try to provide, but I don’t want the rest of my life to be defined by that. I have more to offer.

During a visit to MD Anderson I was asked to speak to some staff about giving better customer service from a patient's perspective because of some problems. (See December 31, 2011 post) It was even discussed that I might be involved with training to better experiences at the hospital. I really felt excited that I might make a difference and be useful, but that was shut down making me feel useless once again.

The problem I seem to face most often, when people meet me, their first impression seems to be…Oh that’s the guy with cancer. NOTHING I have accomplished in my past seems to matter. With all my knowledge, contacts, experiences, and life lessons to share to help people grow and become more successful, I’m known as the sick guy!

I have noticed this increasingly more over the last several years, but this epiphany was the result of an online friend who pretty much shut me down when I tried to offer advice to help grow a brand. Something I spent 20 years of my life doing and I have no doubt I could have added something positive to an already outstanding career. The experience left me with an overwhelming feeling as if I had nothing to offer. I know I shouldn't take that too seriously since they have no idea who I am as an online entity, but it was a big slap in the face. My life as I know it has vanished and frankly nobody cares because I’m now defined by cancer. My body doesn't always allow me to do some things I used to, but my mind is full of knowledge and advice ready to be put to use and given freely just so I can feel useful again.

I noticed this effect years ago while playing caregiver to my mother. She landed in rehab more times than I can count and always had new and interesting roommates. I  had a fascinating conversation with a woman who shared a room with mom. She had been a Rockette in New York and during her rehab we had plenty of conversations. One afternoon a group of children came to perform and the old woman tried to offer advice to the children's director on how to keep the girls in sync during the dance routine. They were cute, but rather sloppy. The director blew her off and didn't want to hear it. Out of curiosity I asked the director later what the old woman was trying to tell her. The director said, “That old lady knows nothing about dance. She’s got to be 90!”

If that director would have taken a moment to listen and get to know the old woman, she might have learned something useful. Unfortunately the old lady was defined by her age and  the disability that put her in a wheelchair, making her appear useless and knowing nothing about dance...or life for that matter. It’s a sad reality, but so very true.

Even though I’m only 51 with a phenomenal career, I’m being defined by the very same problem. I was immensely successful because I listened and learned. I took myself out of the rat race by choice, but cancer took away my life as I know it. Now that I have information, lessons learned, and education to share, the fact remains…I appear incompetent...what the hell do I know…I’m the sick guy who doesn’t work and obviously has nothing to offer! Pardon me while I go back to my trivial life and do nothing but soak in the pool and watch the clouds go by with a margarita in my hand! (Cue Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville)

What are you doing with the rest of your life?
Peace B

©Brian N. Walin - No portion of this blog may be reproduced or used in any way without expressed written consent.

Friday, May 4, 2012


The young seem better equipped to handle cancer from my experience. I have met so many much stronger than I.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Have you ever gone through something so earth shattering like cancer, a death in the family, or a severe injury and when friends hear about it they say, "Oh I'm so sorry." I always think, "Why are YOU sorry. You didn't do it to me! There is no reason to apologize to me for something we have no control over."

Now, I realize I'm wired backwards for this planet, but why don't we state the positive like...I'm so glad you are beating your cancer, Gee he lived such a good life, I sure enjoyed having him in my life, or I'm sure this is just a temporary set back, you'll be better in no time.


Now back to your regularly scheduled program...

Saturday, March 31, 2012


If God was dyslexic, things would be different...he might have said "Let there be ghilt!" and we would live in darkness and misery.

If God made us all dyslexic...we would all be saying our prayers to Dog.

If dogs were dyslexic, they would all be thin because every time you yelled at them, they would think you were telling them to stop karbing!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


People ask me all the time how I can be so happy or make fun of situations like cancer when I have been through so much tragedy. Tragedy is a perception. Happiness is a decision, not an event. If you find you are unhappy about certain circumstances in your life you don't need to change the circumstances you need to change your perception of the circumstances. When you are in difficult times you often think you are the only one that is. You feel detached from the world. Yet all the problems we face are the same problems that have always existed. We need to change our focus and view these problems differently. We need to transform the mind.

Chose to be happy! Stop the perpetual negative comments about these problems. If the horse is dead stop beating it! Snide comments only reinforce your unhappy state. Stop constantly complaining about the kids, the husband or wife, your job, the government, were you live etc, etc. Positive communication often helps one understand what has gone wrong and can put one on a more productive path. When things go wrong in life, we have to face them and correct them, but don't focus on the negative. Look for the things to be grateful for.

I'm not saying that you should not fight for what's right or stand up for yourself when needed. Being overly passive can be a counter productive. But, if you are an unhappy person in your heart, you have the power to change that. If you are still breathing, you have a lot to be grateful for.

Peace B

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Random Thoughts

Some people lose their faith because Heaven shows them too little. But how many people lose their faith because Heaven showed them too much?

Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi