At the age of 39, life for Peter Darley Miller may be a bit like The Endless Summer. He’s building quite a youthful reel at Stiefel Co. in Hollywood and along the way he’s become sort of a Goodby Silverstein house director. Not bad for a guy who not too long ago couldn’t get much more than the time of day at the top level production companies.

Not that Miller was exactly struggling; this born surfin’ Santa Monica native and Art Center photography grad was enjoying a successful decade long career as an editorial and advertising people still shooter entertainment highlights include the cover of Spinal Tap’s Break Like the Wind and The Shawshank Redemption poster when he felt it was time to redeem his own Shawshank and make the move to film.

So he started doing music videos via The End about three years ago. “I hate my music videos,” says Miller with that laid back surf sincerity. “I think I’ve since progressed into storytelling, and back then I was just throwing images together and learning how to do film.” He did a popular clip for Jellyfish, another for Bobby Brown, and he had a hit on Yo! MTV Raps for Eric B. and Rakim, among other rap and R acts. So how come all the black groups? “Nobody knows the answer to that to this day,” says a puzzled Miller. “All these guys would think I was black when I talked on the phone with them. “When I came home one day with a bunch of hockey film, I knew I had to change my name,” he recalls.

In any event, Miller started a spec reel on the sly, working ideas for products like Timberland boots in on the side during his video shoots, but he had little success. “At first I just got the treatment,” he recalls. “You know, ‘It’s really interesting, but call me later.’ It was very frustrating that I couldn’t move laterally.” Then he did an artsy AIDS PSA for MTV featuring a foreign nude couple and subtitles, and “everybody, went, like, ‘Wow, maybe he can really do this.’ That’s when I showed the reel at places like RSA and Chelsea. However, they still didn’t sign me.”

He ended up at now defunct Velocity Films, which can be considered something less than a top tier outfit, as Miller tells it. Then around the end of ’95, Jeremy Postaer and Paul Venables at Goodby Silverstein, who were familiar with Miller’s still work, came to the rescue with a single bid deal for a Sega campaign. His Sega highlights include a weird custodian of the future who picks up a human tooth while sweeping (a fighting game), and a really nice scene of two mountain climbers who watch as cars plunge over a cliff above their heads, reflected in their mirror shades (a racing game). “Once that happened I could write my own ticket,” says Miller. “All of a sudden I had a lot of new friends.” Ironically, as his career started to pick up, Velocity couldn’t live up to its name and was going under.

Not a problem. “One day, I was walking around a corner in Hollywood and I banged into Frank Stiefel,” Miller swears. “It sounds like a cartoon, but it really happened. This is after I sat for a year 25 yards from Frank’s office while I was at Velocity; he had turned me down twice. But now he could see that the storytelling was there, and the visuals, and he liked the casting, so we had a deal.” Miller got out of his Velocity contract at some considerable financial loss to himself, but what the hell. “It’s not about the money, and it never was,” he says. “If it was just about money, I could’ve stayed with stills. It’s about having really good jobs.”

And now he has some really good jobs. His latest Surge soft drink spots were on the Super Bowl. In an apparent effort to one up Pepsi’s slammin’ Dew, Leo Burnett is trying to launch Coke’s Euro popular Surge in the States with a frenzied youth campaign themed, “Feed the rush.” It’s no talk, all action,
as Xers engage in rad variations on Steal the Bacon,

clawing over each other like animals, rolling in barrels and vaulting over couches to drain the one available Surge. It’s all in good fun, though, like the mosh pit at a Three Tenors conert; no one gets killed.

He would have had his first Haggar spot (from Goodby) on the World Series, but someone might’ve gotten killed, according to the Fire Marshall, after viewers witnessed a guy entering his burning house to save his pants, so it was pulled. Also of Goodby note is his second violently amusing Haggar spot, in which a m nn equin clubs a pants thief with a wooden arm, as well as a hilarious Isuzu Hombre tough truck parody featuring the arthritic defensive line of the 1939 University of Northern Montana Bobcats trying to stop a pickup. Elsewhere, a dumb Xer who writes notes to himself on his hand, then dunks his fist in the soda trough, for AM/PM markets and Rubin Postaer, is slacker perfect. Miller hasn’t done any Goodby milk spots yet, but just wait, he’s a growing boy. Michael Bay and Kinka Usher “are the level I’m moving into right now,” he says, but as far as inspiration goes, David Fincher rules, though Miller’s not doing any more music videos, “my heart’s really in commercials. I was never really comfortable doing music videos, and I never liked the way they were done, the methods, the whole deal. I’m really into the storytelling and I’m still learning how to do it,” he adds with more disarming beach style. And if that’s not modest enough, when asked about features, he says, “I don’t think I’m good enough to do features. If eventually it happens, that’s great.”

As for all the comedy that is happening on his reel right now, that’s as mysterious as the rap videos. “It is a little odd,” Miller muses. “I don’t know. I never thought I was that funny, but people think I’m funny. I do like that demented touch,” he chuckles. “The guy with the walker in the Isuzu spot was my idea, for instance.”

There’s no mystery at all, however, about all the dude ‘tude. Though some people may think he’s black on the phone, “everybody thinks I’m an Xer,” says Miller, not without a touch of pride. “I surf and do all those Xer things.” Miller is so much the Xer, in fact, he cautions, “I don’t want to appear, like, really serious. I like to have a really good time. Frank and I have a good time making commercials.” So it’s a safe bet he has no problem getting into the extreme Xer mentality? “I steal waves from those guys,” he scoffs. “I go out on the water and take waves away from them! That’s my competition. I never think of myself as a certain age,
I just keep doing what I’m doing. Grace Slick put it the best:

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She is 53 and trapped in a facility for the old. Her left arm hangs limply at her side; in the right she cradles a baby doll she named Little Missy. Saliva drips from the corner of her mouth as she talks about her invisible boyfriend.

She speaks with a Southern accent and sounds like a much older woman, partly because of a massive stroke a dozen years ago. So it’s jarring when she suddenly switches to the high pitched, sing songy voice of a little girl and speaks with shocking clarity about one night in October 2015.

“I had been attacked, attacked by a man sexually,” she tells us, lying in her bed and fully dressed in high heeled boots, with other clothing and shoes mixed in with her sheets. “I was cornered between a closet and a bathroom, me with one arm. . I couldn’t breathe.”

Occasionally, as she recounts her story, she closes her eyes and looks as if she is falling asleep. Then she’s suddenly alert again. She’s proud of her reputation for being feisty and difficult she says she’s always being told she complains too much. She recites correctly the phone number for the state hotline where nursing home residents can lodge their grievances.

It could be tempting to dismiss her story as drug induced hallucinations or the confusion of a stroke survivor. Police might find her the very definition of an unreliable witness. But she is adamant she is telling the truth.

She says the man who aggressively cornered her that day, sticking his hand up her shirt and fondling her breasts, was a nursing aide named Luis Gomez.

“It sticks in my mind the same way every time,” she says. “After it’s over is where the anger comes in. While it’s happening, you want to cry. You think, why is this happening to me?”

It took her about two weeks to summon the courage to report what happened. She uses the word violated.

“I was embarrassed. I thought, ‘I need to tell someone,’ but I was afraid no one would believe me.”

She was right. At first, no one did.

The woman told police that the director of nursing at the Brian Center Health Rehabilitation, Gail Robertson, reacted to the story with disbelief. She told the resident “to go live under a bridge, because nothing like that happened” in her facility, the woman recalled.

The police showed up but not to investigate the allegation of sex abuse. Instead, an officer was asked to take the woman to a nearby hospital. There she was escorted to the sixth floor and locked in the psychiatric ward.

No one there believed her either.

“I am really telling the truth here, and it’s really not fair you’re turning a deaf ear to what I’m saying,” she remembers telling hospital workers in the ward, where she had been a patient before.

Discharged after a few days, she had no choice but to return to the Brian Center. She left there as soon as she could, ending up homeless at one point before landing at her current residence.

She’d been dismissed as a complainer, a troublemaker, an attention seeker. But as it turned out,
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she wasn’t the first nursing home resident to complain about Luis Gomez.

Meet Luis Gomez

Sometime around his 40th birthday, Luis Gomez started a new life in an unlikely place.

Waynesville is a town of less than 10,000, a mix of lifelong residents and so called halfbacks, retirees from the North who tried living in Florida, then ended up here, less than an hour from trendy Asheville, in the Great Smoky Mountains.

It’s also one of the whitest towns in the state.

The move was a big adjustment for Gomez, who’d come to the United States from Guatemala and spoke only Spanish.

“It was such a culture shock to him,” said Rob Burns, a close friend and neighbor. His first American home had been in New Jersey, he told Burns. There, Gomez told him, “my boss was Spanish, the place I worked was Spanish.” In Waynesville, he discovered, he would need to learn English “in a hurry.” So he enrolled in classes at a local community college.

It was the late 1990s, and a construction job building racks for warehouses had brought Gomez to Waynesville. Soon he learned of another opportunity: a program at the community college that would help him become a certified nursing assistant, or CNA. That likely sounded promising, given the aging population in the area and the handful of nursing facilities that dot the country roads in Waynesville and surrounding Haywood County.

After earning his certification in 2000, Gomez first worked as an in home caregiver. Then he was hired by a nursing home at the base of a tree covered hill called Autumn Care of Waynesville. During the next 15 or so years, he would bounce between Autumn Care and at least four other nursing homes, including the Brian Center.

Haywood County spans more than 500 square miles, but many of the facilities where Gomez worked are just a short drive from each other and not far from his home in the heart of Waynesville.

As with any nursing assistant, Gomez was tasked with the most intimate of duties: bathing residents, taking them to the bathroom and changing their diapers. It’s unglamorous work that doesn’t pay much, but he seemed to enjoy his job.

“He loved it. He loved helping people,” his neighbor Burns told us, adding that Gomez often came over to his house for dinner and Bible study, and they talked about life and work.

A former co worker said most nursing assistants rarely went the extra step for their patients. But Gomez did. He would alert a nurse that a resident needed a new bandage, for instance,
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and he took the time to get to know his patients and their families.