Honey Talks About Water

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August 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)


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Vernal Falls Copyright 2015 Bob Layport

A few weeks ago, my friend Susannah Wilson drove her eight-year old granddaughter and me up to Lake Almanor in Plumas County. Susannah and her brothers own a cabin on Lake Almanor. Their grandparents built the cabin, so she has been going to the lake on and off most of her life.

We drove up there from Grass Valley, stopping once to look at Yolo River as it streamed over giant stones, and stopping again in Quincy to go to the local museum.

Spanish Captain Luis Arguello named the river up there “Rio de las Plumas” in 1820. The Feather River is the main tributary of the Sacramento River. After the discovery of gold in 1848, towns sprang up in the area. The Beckwourth Trail, established by James Beckwourth in 1850, was the predecessor route to State Route 70 built in 1934. Ina Coolbrith’s family entered California on the Beckwourth trail, led by James Beckwourth on the first trip he guided over the mountains. Although Susannah is an expert driver and knows the routes like the back of her hand – some of her ancestors homesteaded up there – I cannot imagine my driving that route much less imagine how people crossed that formidable terrain before paved roads. Read more


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August 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Dining Club- s- 2

The Dining Club- (left to rt) Arnie Wishnick, Bob Vickrey, Josh Greenfeld, Barry Stein


 By Bob Vickrey


When our group arrived through the traditional back door entrance of Musso & Frank’s Grill and surveyed the dining room, we all breathed a sigh of relief that there had been no major changes in the appearance of the legendary restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard.

When we had called for reservations the previous day, we were told the place had just reopened after a week of renovations. I’m happy to report the vintage Hollywood grill has still maintained the same atmosphere of its 1919 origins. Read more

Thou Shalt Not Steal

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August 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

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By Les T. Zador, Atty. at Law


In the past, I have written about protecting yourself, i.e. getting your ducks in a row, if you’re involved in a car accident. I told you about how best to guard yourself against insurance companies which make it a practice to take advantage of the unwary and use, for example, poorly written emergency hospital records to undermine an accident victim’s case. This month I want to tell you about my case against a major bank. Banks, just like insurance companies, also tend to overreach, depending, of course on the bank. Small banks, i.e. community banks, generally care about their customers and make a real effort not to give them grief; but when you’re talking about a large bank worth many billions, the customer is far too often just another number. Read more

New Laws on Removing Homeless Camps Harsher Than Reported

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August 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Leslie Evans

Mounting protests over the two new Los Angeles city ordinances, one for sidewalks and one for parks and beaches, that reduces notice for clearing homeless camps from 72 to 24 hours, adopted by the City Council June 23, have prompted Mayor Garcetti to order city departments to withhold sweeps until softening amendments are added. The mayor chose to let the ordinances become law without his signature. These decisions unhappily are mostly cosmetic.

The amendments that are under consideration are minor: mainly to exempt from seizure homeless persons’ identification documents and prescription medications. The most positive proposed amendment is to eliminate the misdemeanor penalty, carried over from the previous law, for failing to remove a camp on time. This can still go to warrant as a violation and have essentially the same effect. Read more

The Final Chapter Of Umberto Tosi’s Novel, “Our Own Kind”

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August 1, 2015 · Posted in Our Own Kind - Umberto Tosi · Comment 

Our Own Kind cover Kindle edition—————————————————-

(Umberto Tosi, author of Ophelia Rising, was an editor and staff writer for the Los Angeles Times from 1959-1971.)




Vietnam War U.S. CasualtiesThe body bags

Makeda rips a half-typed sheet from Benny’s clunky Underwood and crumples it into a over-filled wastebasket by the kitchen table. “I can’t write about this shit!” She hobbles to the small fridge, still using a crutch. Ben has stocked it with snacks, milk and Keesha’s mini-cartons of juice. She finds some leftover takeout chow mien from the previous night, and takes to it, cold. She’s healing, but it still hurts to move around. She’s not that hungry, but if she eats she can take another codeine and mellow out. That won’t help the writing.

It’s a Saturday. Benny has taken Keesha and his own two daughters to Santa Monica pier for a few hours. He’s been a brick, but she wishes he wouldn’t hover around her so much some time. I still don’t know where we’re going with this, but it feels right. Up until last year we could have been jailed for getting married in some states. The Supreme Court ended that, and the bigots are saying it will end civilization as we know it, mixing the race. We can get married in Virgina, but fucking Nixon’s probably going to be President now. It’s sex, drugs and rock’n’roll out on the Strip, and cops still killing black folks down on Crenshaw. Forgetting doesn’t change anything. But does it really matter anymore? Not that Benny and I are talking marriage or anything like that. Don’t get me wrong. Okay, maybe I protest too much. Read more


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July 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


The Urban Sages


I’m beginning this essay by chipping away at a giant writer’s block. That big ugly monolith plunked itself down in front of me the other day when the boyfriend of my ex-wife discovered I was still texting and phoning and even meeting her for nice dinners on rare occasions. She didn’t even tell me in person. She texted me that she was cutting me off. I even think that was the word she used. I was indeed cut.

Suddenly all the insights I thought I had gained during my seven decades on this earth slipped away. My ability, even my desire to write disappeared. A river of mundanity flooded my floundering ship. In that mood, I walked down to the corner liquor store for a friend of mine who wanted a small bottle of scotch. I peered down at the sidewalk which I check out much more carefully nowadays because of my age. I didn’t want to slip and fall. Read more


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July 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Will Aldis

Screenwriter Will Aldis

By Bob Vickrey

 When Will Aldis enters a room with his remarkable energy, this tall commanding figure often causes heads to turn and conversations to momentarily subside.

His extraordinary life story has surely shaped his personality and has added a decided authority to his animated presence. The veteran screenwriter of numerous feature films combines intangible charismatic qualities that usually leave a lasting impression on those he meets.

Aldis’ latest film, Stealing Cars, a project he wrote more than a dozen years ago with his longtime writing partner Steve Mackall, had a successful debut at the recent Los Angeles Film Festival where it won the prestigious Zeitgeist Award. The film stars William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, and John Leguizamo. Bradley Kaplan directs the picture and Rachel Winter (Dallas Buyers Club) is producer. Read more

Chapter 25 Of Mary Reinholz’s Novel “Exit From Eden”

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July 1, 2015 · Posted in Exit From Eden -Mary Reinholz · Comment 


NEW YORK was an amazing place in the ’70s, which is the period Mary Reinholz is writing about in “Exit From Eden.” Xaviera Hollander, the so-called “Happy Hooker” was a figure in the NYPD’s corruption scandals of the 1970s.

police officer nypd

 Corrupt NYPD patrolman Bill Phillips, charged with murder back in the day 


 Frank Serpico (testifying above) seemed like the one honest cop in the corrupt 1970s NYPD.

It felt lonely that New York night after I left Ted Katz and went prowling for pimps to question for my upcoming cover story on runaway girls.
All I found in the East Village was a wiry black apprentice in the trade, a mere boy of about 19 wearing a baggy three piece suit too big for him as he bought sodas for himself and a little flower child in a deli near St. Mark’s Place. She couldn’t have been more than 14. Read more

A New Chapter In Umberto Tosi’s “Our Own Kind”

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July 1, 2015 · Posted in Our Own Kind - Umberto Tosi · Comment 

By Umberto Tosi

(Umberto Tosi, author of Ophelia Rising, was an editor and staff writer for the Los Angeles Times from 1959-1971.)




Benny drifts through the restless, election night crowd packing the Embassy Ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire., hungry for a big win. Everyone is jazzed. He should be swept up in it, but his mind is on Makeda. Waves of hoopla roll outward from strategically placed TV monitors where spectators bunch up, obliviousness to the drab-carpet, commercial ordinariness of their surroundings. Not much glamorous about this spot now but the famous name. The cheering grows more ebullient with each morsel of good news as precincts report.

Drinks overflow; there is too much smoking. It’s been only a hard-to-believe two months since Martin Luther King was gunned down in Memphis – with his killer or killers still unnamed – and it has seemed an eternity of despair for most in this crowd. The days of dysfunction stretch back way longer, of course, with the Vietnam War growing ever bloodier while the bright triumphs of the civil rights movement and the War on Poverty gave way to the recalcitrant realities of inequality, racism and urban decay. Now some tangible measure of hope for a real shift had seemed about to arrive out of the depths. The good news coming from the TV sets seemed almost alien. Read more


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June 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


in-n-out-burger- LAX

By Bob Vickrey


It’s official. As of last week, In-N-Out Burger and I have called it quits. After more than 35 years, we have decided to go our separate ways.

The split did not just happen overnight. We have been seeing less and less of one another in recent years and connected only a couple of times in recent months. I cannot fully explain how we ultimately lost the magic in our long meaningful relationship.

But how do you go about breaking up with a veritable Southern California institution? Adults spend endless hours talking about their last meal at In-N-Out. It’s such a popular place that kids want its burgers to be served at their birthday parties. I can already tell that this is going to be a difficult separation. How do I explain to my friends that we’re through?

I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on the beauty that was—and is—an In-N-Out “Double-Double”—double meat, double cheese, accompanied by a fresh slice of garden tomato and crispy lettuce—all neatly wrapped in carefully folded wax-paper, alongside those crispy, dry, and salty French fries. How could I not have fallen in love? Throw in a perfectly blended strawberry shake and suddenly you found yourself a virtual slave to its magnetic appeal. Read more

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