Tom Lutz interviews Lionel Rolfe at December 11 tribute

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December 15, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Tom Lutz, chair of the Creative Writing Department at UC Riverside and editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books here interviews author Lionel Rolfe at the December 11 tribute to Rolfe sponsored by the Public Works Improvisational Theatre at the Warszawa Loft in Santa Monica.

Hyla Douglas sings at December 11, 2014, Tribute to Lionel Rolfe

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December 15, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Hyla Douglas, Lionel Rolfe’s  daughter, sings at the December 11 Tribute to Lionel Rolfe staged by the Public Works Improvisational Theatre at the Warszawa Loft in Santa Monica.

Mike the Poet presents at Lionel Rolfe Tribute

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December 15, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Mike Sonksen, better known as Mike the Poet, is a 3rd-generation LA native acclaimed for poetry performances and published articles. Poet, journalist, historian, tour guide, and teacher, he graduated from the University of California Los Angeles and is currently pursuing an advanced degree at California State University Los Angeles. Here he performs one of his poems at the December 11 tribute to Lionel Rolfe staged by the Public Works Improvisational Theatre at the Warszawa Loft in Santa Monica.

Lionel’s Been Relaxing For Years, Awaiting His Big Dec. 11 Event; His Daughter Hyla Douglas To Join In

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December 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Photo from Aug 17, 2007



Are We Really The Smartest Creatures On Earth? If So, So What?

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December 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Photo from Boryana&LionelMore than 40 years ago, my then wife Nigey Lennon and I were on our way home to Echo Park when suddenly she said to stop. I thought it was because she saw a garage sale. Instead it was a woman who had set up a bunch of cages with cocatiels for sale. Some were in the cages and some stood on top of the edge of the cages.

“Oh hell,” I said. “I don’t want birds. They’re messy and they’re…well…bird brained. Stupid.”

Nigey, of course prevailed, and as we approached the birds, I was amazed that as we were looking them over, they were giving us the once over. That unnerved me. And it began the process where I began to realize we share this earth with a lot of creatures who are every bit as sentient as us.

Over the next few years, other birds impinged on my life and took me into their soap opera lives. The bird we bought that day was named Mo. Gurly came next because we walked into a bird store on Melrose Avenue near my old alma mater Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. As we walked around the cage, one rather drab gray bird was intently following us with her eyes and body. She peeped and squawked, obviously saying, “I’m here. Look at me. I want to be with you guys.” Read more

Mary Reinholz Plunges Onward Into Chapter 18 Of Her Novel, “Exit From Eden”

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December 1, 2014 · Posted in Miscellany · Comment 


Ever since she arrived in the Big Apple, the author of “Exit From Eden” has hung out and interviewed some tough customers. Here, she’s interviewing the leader of the New York City’s Hell’s Angels.

By Mary Reinholz

It generally breaks my heart when tough guys cry.

So I felt a twinge of sympathy as corpulent New York porn king Harvey Jewell shed copious tears over the murder of his wise guy distributor in a double homicide. I didn’t know what to say or do as he sat bawling on a wooden work bench a few yards from VdeQ’s office where the capo de cino also known as Vinnie DeQuattro still sat at his desk, shot dead by a single bullet to the juggler.

But when Jewell’s nose started running, I handed him some Kleenex from my shoulder strap bag, patting him on the head as if he was a small boy stricken with grief over the sudden loss of his favorite choo choo train.

“VdeQ helped me launch F.U. nationally,” Jewell blubbered. “Nobody else would distribute it except him. Together we put an honest sex tabloid on the map. . He was a sensitive guy. I brought him a gift today. A cigarette lighter with his initials on it. It’s sterling silver and it cost me. But VdeQ was worth it.”

Jewell heaved dry sobs as he showed me the lighter. Yes, I mused, here was a smut merchant with a deeply sentimental side. There was something endearing about his feelings for a thin well dressed mafia killer who was probably getting ready to slit his throat for bringing me unannounced to his mob warehouse. Meanwhile, the shooter of VdeQ and another man in his office was at large and the cops were on their way. Jewell needed to get himself together for a grilling. Read more

MILAGRO ON 34th STREET by Umberto Tosi

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December 1, 2014 · Posted in Miscellany · Comment 

Conservatives talking about impeaching President Barack Obama for his November 20 executive order easing up on undocumented immigrant parents and their children, might want to include Santa Claus in their rants after reading this story. “Milagro on 34th Street,” ( ) a novella by Umberto Tosi out in a new edition December 1 – recounts what happens when a little girl tells an accidental, department store Santa that she wants her about-to-be-deported mother home for Christmas. Like the classic 1947 Edmund Gwen film from which the title derives, the novella plays itself out on the tense, serio-comic edge between the super-sized consumer Christmas of Macy’s on Herald Square and the loopy magic realism of Kris Kringle’s jolly world. Boryana Books presents this opening excerpt as a holiday greeting to all our readers.

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By Umberto Tosi

(Copyright © Chicago 2012, 2014 by Umberto Tosi, all rights reserved.)

This is an excerpt from the first chapter of Tosi’s book…

A tear teetered on the edge of Santa’s right eyelid. He brushed it away with a white-gloved hand before it could mess up the rosy blush on his cheek. Damn allergies – probably from his clown-white beard touch-up. He liked to think so. Not that he was getting weepy, antidepressants and all. No business like show business.

¿Por qué estás triste, Santa? No llores.” The little girl on his lap was about four – thankfully beyond the age of Santa terrors. She patted Santa’s big white glove with a plump little hand and gazed up with earnest, wide-set eyes, dark as her straight-cut bangs. She sat erect, balanced and prim in her forest green Sunday-best velvet dress with white lace collar, gold Virgin of Guadalupe medal hanging from a fine chain, legs restless in red leotards and black patent leather Mary Janes.

As Christmas as they come – a perfect look for the Santa’s-North-Pole-Fun-Zone special, annual super-sized holiday photo, in deluxe gold frame, flocked or embossed, with extra prints for the entire family and free candy canes. Read more

Nightcrawler film review

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December 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Phyl van Ammers

 Only two other people sat in the theater in downtown Concord to see Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhall and Rene Russo. Perhaps because tonight is Thursday – the day the theater adds a new movie. Perhaps because people thought it was another Halloween movie, and Halloween is over. Or perhaps prospective film viewers thought that this Nightcrawler was the comic book superhero Nightcrawler in the Marvel Universe, who is able to teleport across both short and long distances and has adhesive hands.

After the movie ended, I listened the two other people that had been in the audience. One said she wasn’t going to be able to sleep after seeing this film. The other said she didn’t like Jake Gyllenhall anymore.

I thought the film was predictable from almost the beginning: the protagonist is a psychopath in a corrupt world; his flawed but human partner “Rick” (apparently Latino but the actor Riz Ahmed is a British actor, writer and rapper of Pakistani heritage who graduated from Oxford– Middle Eastern) is going to die, and Lou Bloom (Gyllenhall) will be the cause. Bloom is going to sacrifice Rick, and Rick is going to deserve it because he allowed himself to get sucked in. That Rick dies and Lou thrives is a twist on noir. Noir, which grew out of Greek tragedy and French realist writing, means the psychopathic protagonist will die, sometimes from falling, say from a train, as Joseph Cotten died in Hitchcock’s 1943 Shadow of a Doubt, or sometimes his partner in crime kills him, like in Double Indemnity (1944).

Noir protagonists are sympathetic, and they look normal. Read more


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November 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 




A PDF ebook edition of Lionel Rolfe’s
“The Uncommon Friendship of Yaltah Menuhin and Willa Cather”
is currently available for $1 in the bookstore at americanlegends.




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November 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Lionel Rolfe

I surprised myself by how much the movie “Kill the Messenger” affected me. I hadn’t gone to it expecting that it would upset me. I wasn’t a close friend of Gary Webb, the journalist (pictured above) whose story the movie was based on. But I had made a couple of calls at his request, trying to get him a job. He was desperate after the San Jose Mercury News dropped him when he published his powerful series, “Dark Alliance.”

At the end of the ’60s, I did a stint as a police reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle–and then in 1981 Chronicle Books published my book Literary L.A. and in the mid-’90s I wrote a few op-ed columns for the paper.

I had knocked around with some of the best of the ’60s journalists in San Francisco. Most were deeply influenced by the counter culture. I hung out a bit with Warren Hinckle, editor of Rampart Magazine, he of the infamous eye patch. I dealt a few times with Bob Scheer, one of the bright spots of the Los Angeles Times during its days of glory under publisher Otis Chandler, and was much awed by his talents. I was proud to count Dave McQueen, who along with Scoop Nisker made KSAN radio the first of the “underground FM stations,” one of my good friends. KSAN never really was “underground”– it was owned by Metromedia, now long swallowed up in some other corporate behemoth. But I had partied with the likes of Janis Joplin because of my friendship with McQueen. Read more

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