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.
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
BY DOUG WEISKOPF
I read an interesting review recently in The LA Times on the new movie, “Kill The Messenger”, with great interest, as it reminded me of a young man I met back in the late 1990′s who was a neighbor of mine (I used to take care of his dog while he was out of town, which always creates strong bonds with their owners). I knew he had been a Navy Seal who had abruptly chosen to leave the service and one evening over beers I asked him why he left.
The story I was told in answer to my casual question could have been the subject of a movie like “Messenger”. He said that he had been assigned as a machine gunner on a navy helicopter which flew a mission in Columbia to pick up a large load of cocaine from a local drug cartel. When the crew landed to unload the coke the officer in charge at the scene was none other than the infamous Oliver North, whom he described as an overly officious and unpleasant fellow. Read more
OPHELIA Rising by Umberto Tosi is a NEW NOVEL BY THE Author of Our Own Kind, which is running in this issue of Boryanabooks.
What if Ophelia had survived and lived to tell her story. That’s what this novel is about. This picaresque, historical novel is a lively re-imagining of the fair Ophelia’s life before and after Hamlet. In the novel’s alternative world, she hasn’t drowned after all. She was fished out downstream from where she fell by that those traveling players who – at Hamlet’s urging – had caught the conscience of the King Claudius, and now were fleeing his royal wrath fast as their carnival wagons could carry them out of Denmark.
Thus begins young Ophelia’s great adventure – a new life thrust upon her, while her mind and broken heart are on the mend – as player and fugitive, lover and warrior, mother and poet, seeker and survivor. Moving from town to town, across war torn, 16th century Europe with her performing troupe, she plays many roles and encounters a cast of vividly drawn characters, including some of the most powerful, audacious, Machiavellian, prophetic and creative figures of the late Renaissance – real and fictional. Inevitably, Ophelia crosses paths with Horatio – now the author of a book chronicling his late Prince Hamlet’s tragedy – and a diplomat and spy for the ruthless, newly crowned Norwegian-Danish King Fortinbras.
With a nod to the Bard, the Melancholy Dane’s ghost shows up as well, along with Barnardo, Marcellus and other characters from the play. Ophelia comes into herself in the liberating company of the players – particularly their two bickering principals, Isabella and Carlo. No nunnery for her. She struggles through adversity to find new loves, new passions and she fashions herself into someone to be reckoned with. Now she must decide which path her new life will take. Perils abound – bloody religious conflicts, assassinations, persecution, disease, palace plots, pirates. There are those who want her dead.
The novel is steeped in meticulously researched, authentic details conveying the events, look and feel of its period. One experiences the vistas, texture, smells, colors, customs, attitudes, fashions, foods, arts, politics, weaponry, rituals, beliefs and diversions of Ophelia’s times, particularly in the worlds of theater, the church, the emergent merchant class, printing, art and ruthless, all-powerful royal houses. The swiftly moving narrative remains consistent with Shakespeare’s tragedy throughout, flashing back to Ophelia’s motherless childhood, as well as weaving a credible story of the play’s aftermath. The ebook edition of “Ophelia Rising” will be published in November, 2014, followed by a print edition in the spring of 2015, by Light Fantastic Books.
By Bob Vickrey
A restless publishing conference crowd appeared slightly impatient as it awaited the arrival of acclaimed novelist Jerzy Kosinski for his scheduled luncheon speech at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. Kosinski was running noticeably late for an appearance that would officially launch his forthcoming book later that year.
When he finally arrived at the semi-annual Houghton Mifflin sales conference, he emerged visibly shaken, and was steadied by a company publicist. As he wiped his forehead with a handkerchief, he described an incident that had just happened on the sidewalk outside the hotel entrance. Kosinski said a plate glass window which was being installed in a nearby office tower had fallen and barely missed hitting him as it shattered on the concrete sidewalk directly in his path to the hotel.
When he composed himself and began his prepared remarks, he told the story of another potentially fatal event which happened to him in 1969. He was on the way to Los Angeles from Paris to visit his friend and fellow Polish countryman Roman Polanski, but during his New York stop-over, he discovered his baggage had been lost in route. The overnight delay in New York ultimately prevented Kosinski from accompanying Polanski to actress Sharon Tate’s house the night she was murdered by the Charles Manson followers. Read more
(Copyright c 2014 by Umberto Tosi)
5. WAR AS A WAY OF LIFE
Six weeks later, just as things seemed to settle down, Sid phones and tells Ben that Lori is back in L.A., like nothing happened.
“News to me.” Ben tries to sound nonchalant. He hadn’t heard anything from Lori, nor had she phoned the girls. “It’s like we severed diplomatic relations, seeing as we’re at war.”
Ben hears Sid’s secretary say something in the background. Then Sid cups the phone and all Ben hears are muffled sounds.
“Sorry about that.” Sid is back. “Listen. Now her counsel claims that your ex is fit as a fiddle. He’s accusing you of stealing the kids.”
“… But you told me…”
“Hey. Don’t worry about it kid. We’re on legal ground here.”
“Yeah. And there are no earthquakes in California”
“Her attorney is just trying to make a case so they can bargain.”
“What about her mental illness. She’s been in a psych ward for weeks. Can’t we show that?”
They’re claiming that she was just recovering from exhaustion.”
“I wish. You know that’s not true. What about the hospital records?”
“That’s just it. We would need a court order to get them. Patient privacy and all that.”
“So? Get one.”
“Not that easy. But we can threaten to get one as a bargaining chip.”
“Franz Kafka could have done something terrific with this. Me? I’m not so sure.”
“They’re demanding that you bring the kids back to her forthwith.”
“Just like that? Ping-pong with children? I don’t even know where she’s living now, or what condition things are in. Her old apartment was a sty. Pure chaos. Beer cans and cigarette butts: early saloon décor.” Read more
EXIT FROM EDEN: The Author During The Times She’s Writing About
El Quijote restaurant was right next door to the Chelsea Hotel. I’d been told it was a well established joint with chandeliers, exotic wall hangings and moderately priced Spanish cuisine. So I checked out the menu and ordered seafood paella with a pitcher of white Sangria, figuring such a feast would fortify me through the night and into the next morning for my meeting with porn king Harvey Jewell and his mafia distributors.
“Make that two pitchers of Sangria,” I told the solemn Spanish waiter, who was decked out in a black jacket. I brazenly pinched his cheek. He scurried away, muttering, “Si si, Senorita.”
A swarthy man in blue jeans and a turtle neck sweater raised his glass in salute from his place at the crowded bar. I could barely make out his features from my booth. But when I nodded to acknowledge his greeting, he came over to me still holding his drink. He was about 40, with high cheekbones and a full head of black tousled hair streaked with white around the temples.
“I’ve seen you at the hotel near those creaky elevators,” he said. “I’m Peter Gasolini, and I know where most of the bodies are buried at the Chelsea.” He paused and smiled at me as if we shared a secret joke. “Between you and me, I think the corpses are down in the basement with all the old furniture. Chairs and sofas with torn cushions are lying around like broken dreams.” Read more
By LIONEL ROLFE
A half century or so ago, I took a trip to the top of the Sierra, where I made the acquaintance of the fragile land of delicate meadows and lakes and dramatic ice fields and glaciers just below the jagged peaks that form the spine of the Sierra. As I recollected my adventure, it became more and more like a dream, hyperrealistic, a place I know I could never really return to.
There is no Trans Sierra Highway that crosses the John Muir trail along the spine of peaks anchored in the south by Mt. Whitney and in the north by Yosemite. Much of that pristine land would be destroyed if there were such a road. Some years back, the freeway bureaucracy wanted to build such a road, but luckily, wiser heads prevailed.
The only way to get there is to hike in, carrying your sleeping bag and provisions. Physically I am no longer up to such a task, and that means I will never see God’s country again, which makes me sad.
But in my mind, there is one moment I can not lose. It was the moment I stood next to a glacier at the top of the Sierra.
We had parked our cars at Florence Lake, the source of which is the Stanislaus River, along whose banks we’d climb to where the river begins. We slept bone tired that evening beside the Stanislaus, which at that point was racing down a narrow heavily wooded canyon with the speed and noise of a thousand steam engines. We slept among the aspen groves along the dank forest trail under the luminous stars and brightly burning falling stars. Read more
The Author As A Young Man
By Stanton Kaye
© Stanton Kaye, 2014
Communication may be more of an art than a science:—Some people take no account of what’s being said, so we can say they lack the appreciation of the art.
My father was just such a person;—indirectly through a business associate, a Mr. I. Lugosi, who was selling him sweaters from Mexico or China—wholesale—at the time. The associate, Mr. I. Lugosi, operated (usually retail) from a small double storefront located just across the street from the Dupar’s side of the Farmers’ Market on Fairfax Avenue.
I was only sixteen. It was the fifties in Los Angeles and the early and late migration of Jewish businessmen liked to live in the proximity of a lot of Kosher amenities. At the time, this part of town—including the C.B.S. TV crowd—was like a pickle barrel of amenities from butchers to bakers; from Deli owners to deal makers; from Rabbis to ruminations on Zionism; yet my father still had room to swim between the pickles, so to speak:—That was maybe the most important thing about his business, perhaps more than profit margins. Read more
By Mary Reinholz
Jason Slade’s corporate cubicle at The Daily Bugle had a bay window with an expansive view of The East River. I could see tugboats through that window towing freight cars on barges heading to the Hunters Point section of Queens on the other side of the river. There the cars were lifted by giant float bridges on the water’s edge and connected to railroad tracks bound for Long Island.
For a few seconds, I was transfixed by the scene. After all, I was carrying my own heavy boatload of information, hoping for an uplift, a big picture of it all from the mind of Slade, my editor. But he looked frazzled and not especially organized in his blue jeans and work shirt.
“I’m moving into a larger office,” he explained, greeting me with an apologetic smile. “Everything is a shambles right now.” His voice conveyed both amusement and despair. He was somebody who didn’t like messy personal situations.
But Slade perked up when I mentioned my lunch with porn king Harvey Jewell from the day before, noting Jewell’s proposal that I join him and two of his Mafia distributors for a shark fishing voyage on Long Island Sound. Read more