Are you curious about what the name Larktavia is all about? Sit back, buckle up and I will tell you the tale.
In the early 80s I had a small group of friends in high school. My little group did dorky things like starting the “Duck Club”. Being in L.A. where it rarely rained, we worshiped the rain when it did arrive. We would stand out in the middle of the yard at school in the pouring rain, enjoying it all. We had a Duck Club hand slap/handshake. That’s about all we did. Stand in the rain, do our dorky handshake, make fun of stupid people.
One of these school friends was a guy a year younger than me named Joe Powers. After I graduated high school in 1984, Joe and I started hanging out in earnest, solidifying our best friendship. He and I didn’t like any of the same music. Punk rock was one thing he never got into but I was fine with that. We hung out as much as possible. We were still young and still into doing goofy shit. For some reason, I don’t know how it started, we invented a bunch of random characters with detailed backstories. We would morph into these characters and do what one would now call larping. This was way before that word was a word. One place we went to frequently was Orcutt Ranch in the far west corner of the San Fernando Valley. No one would be there during the week. We would run all around the grapefruit orchards doing battle with mushy grapefruits harpooned on long sticks as weapons that we would fling at each other, one of us in the muddy creek gully and one up on the banks of the orchard. We had names and stories for all the areas of the park and for the two stone otter sculptures at the back of the park. I don’t think I have done anything as nerdy or purely fun as that in my whole entire life.
My first character I invented with Joe was Octavia Larkspur. She was named after the Street in San Francisco and the city in Marin County. I was still living in Southern California and I fell in love with those names after visiting the Bay Area in my very early 20s. In addition to Octavia Larkspur, here are some of the other characters we created – Chondor Magnolia, Chelsea Applegate, Pasqual, Jujubee Thorndyke, Wolfskill Kewen and his son Hewitt Kewen, Christopher Robinson and the Gorlax, and Ginger Tucker and her boyfriend Corky Russell (“the kickboxing/professional wrestling/basketball without the ball” champion. Yes we invented that sport and yes Joe and I have played that sport in real life). One day I wrote the backstory for Octavia Larkspur. A nom de plume was born. Here it is in all its glory:
Descended from a family of Czech immigrants, Octavia Larkspur was born and raised in Lodi, CA. Her father started a tallow rendering facility naming it Larktavia Enterprises Inc. after his only beloved daughter. Upon his death, Octavia became the sole heir to the thriving company. By investing heavily in real estate, she turned the profits into a fortune beyond her Father’s dreams. Today she is one of the ten wealthiest women in San Francisco. Though she had many suitors in her youth, she never married. She lives in seclusion in her Pacific Heights home with a handful of Siamese cats, all named after American abstract expressionists and one ancient milky-eyed blind dachshund named Dickens (a gift from Julia Child). She has been approached by numerous publications for interviews including W, the New Yorker, and Wired, but requests are always declined. Octavia has always been known for her penchant for red wine which, on rare occasions, draws her to walk late at night in the Presidio with Dickens in tow.
There you have it. My inner nerd laid bare for all the see. No regrets!!!
Sadly, I lost contact with Joe after I moved to San Francisco in the early 90s. A little bit of him is still in my heart. I hope one day we get to go camping with each other’s families like we had planned to when we were 20.