Here’s a couple of Lionel Rolfe’s favorites–Mai Tai Mati, the world’s greatest Vegan bartender, and her friend Talia Caldwell, the famous basketball center from the UC Berkeley.
By Bob Vickrey
The Black Friday spectacle of the huddled and frantic masses lining the sidewalks outside front doors of big- box retailers sent an uncomfortable shiver down my spine as I observed this annual ritual on television news reports from the comfort of my easy chair at home.
Thanksgiving night has long represented the unofficial commencement of Christmas shopping for frenzied customers impatiently awaiting the midnight rush for what they perceive to be the best deals for items on their gift list. In recent years, the ante has been upped and the clock moved forward by retailers—all hoping to cash in on consumers who will push and shove their way toward that coveted 60-inch big-screen television. Read more
Lionel Rolfe (left) with Gerry Nicosia, author of “Memory Babe,” the major biography of Jack Kerouac and the beats. The photo was taken at Beyond Baroque in Venice.
By LIONEL ROLFE
It all began in the coffeehouses a couple of centuries or more ago in London where such institutions as media and insurance took on their modern forms, for better or for worse.
The coffeehouses had names like The Fifth Estate and Lloyd’s of London. They all shared something in common. They imbibed a highly seditious drink, a coffee brew from Turkey called Kaufy. Most folks regarded the potent new drink the same way police viewed pot in the coffeehouses of Los Angeles and San Francisco in the ’50s and ’60s.
After the Gold Rush, Bohemia and coffeehouses developed in San Francisco with such characters as Herman Melville and Mark Twain. The bohemian was the foundation of good writing in California, first in San Francisco and then in Los Angeles. Read more
BY LIONEL ROLFE
Okay, it’s not all a tragedy. It’s the river of life. The only way to keep from dropping to the bottom like a stone is the pursuit of pure, unadulterated, unrestrained libido. Throw orgasms up in the face of the Grim Reaper, I say.
Fornicate until you and her swim in a river of Jism. During wartime, they say, people breed like cats. It’s biology. Perhaps in the face of death, or of divorce, the impulse is the same.
So, okay, one day I was so damned horny I went out prowling, with the full intent of finding someone. I did.
Her name was Eve. I found her sitting in a mall parking lot in Silver Lake. It was just natural for me to sit down beside her and strike up a conversation.
Eve was half-Irish, half-Mexican. And a kind of a street person. She had a most memorable face, one that I thought combined the most handsome aspects of the two peoples. Read more
Joseph Cotton and wife Patricia Medina
By Bob Vickrey
The day my old friend Frank Winans entered the front door of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel with actress Shirley MacLaine clutching his arm, he turned toward me with a wry grin and coyly nodded, as if to say, “Ho, hum, just another day at the office.”
Frank was a publisher’s representative who was escorting Ms. MacLaine to her book signing engagement at Brentano’s Bookstore in Beverly Hills, which was located adjacent to the hotel lobby.
We publisher’s reps often found ourselves in unexpected and sometimes fashionable company when our authors were on their promotional book tours, as we served as media escorts in guiding them from venue to venue throughout the city. My company, Houghton Mifflin, was not a firm known for publishing celebrity biographies, but there were occasional exceptions that paired me with unlikely traveling partners for several days. Read more
CALIFORNIA ROADS SCHOLAR: Space opera, cowboys with ray guns, swordfish regalia, monsters, dystopias, utopias and urban planning in California
Chumash rock art, which looks like it was done by an astronomer. Santa Barbara Museum
BY PHYL VAN AMMERS
“I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… (laughs)] Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like (cough)] tears… in… rain. Time… to die…”
(Tears-in-rain death soliloquy of the main antagonist replicant-engineer Ray Batty in the movie Blade Runner (1982), based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968).) Read more
Norman Geras died in Cambridge, England, on October 18 of prostate cancer; he had turned seventy in August. He was little known in the United States, but was a seminal figure in a decades-long battle to rescue the humanitarian and democratic traditions of the socialist Left from a drift toward support to right-wing totalitarian governments and movements in the Third World, particularly Islamic radicalism, in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism. He was also a voice of reason in opposing the wave of demonization of Israel that has grown up into a distinctive form of left-wing antisemitism. Read more
In my mind, there’s little doubt that Barak Obama will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents. He is presiding over a country almost as torn by divisions as it was in the Civil War. Our greatest presidents come out of troubled times.
You would have to be totally blind if you ignored the fact that the source of the strident words is one thing–pure unadulterated racism. It’s there on the faces of the tea party goers. It’s there on the faces of even the suavest of Republican politicians. They can’t hide the otherwise inexplicable hatred writ large on their pasty visages.
Years ago I was much more tolerant of Republicans than I am now. As a journalist, I covered a lot of Republican politics. I became a drinking buddy with Ed Reinecke, the former California lieutenant governor and congressman who went to prison for 18 months in the Watergate scandal. I always felt he was a patsy, taking the fall for other higher ups who should have been not just been sent to jail, but given a fair trial and then hung. We both liked women and booze and had a belief that the Warren report lied about who killed John Kennedy.
As part of my duties in covering politics, I used to go to Republican parties in the late ’60s where I regularly flirted with Maureen Reagan, daughter of the then California governor. She loved her father, but also knew that he was not the sharpest knife on the shelf. She hated Nancy, her stepmother, who had turned her father from Democratic to Republican politics. Her mother was Jane Wyman, who divorced her husband in part because of their political differences. Read more
Our Gaza correspondent, Mohammad S. Arafat
By MOHAMMAD S. ARAFAT
I don’t think that the story of mothers told in this article is unique to Gaza where I live. I think it’s a story that can be found not only in Arabic nations, but in many other countries in the world, in London and perhaps New York. The names of the mother and the son are being withheld, for reasons I think you will find obvious. A friend of mine got this letter from his mother and it affected him a lot. You’ll see when you read it. His mother called her son harsh.
To my dear son who I loved and still love and will love forever.
I don’t know where to begin. I’m not even sure how to say it. But I know there are things that must be said. I’m talking about things that have been on my mind for a quarter of a century. You should listen to what I say. My neighbours tried to persuade me to tell you my story, your mother’s stories, in the way they thought best, but I realised I had to chose my way so you can understand what I have learned in this lifetime. Read more
By Bob Vickrey
As I thumbed through my copy of Tony Verna’s entertaining memoir, “Instant Replay,” I became mesmerized by the pictures in the book’s photo section of the celebrated figures he had worked with during his long television career. There were pictures of him with Jonathan Winters, Joe DiMaggio, Kirk Douglas, President Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul II.
I sent my old friend an email alerting him of one significant omission—a picture of him and God. He immediately shot back, “I’ll be seeing ‘Him’ soon enough.” Read more