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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

Two Hills in Concord

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June 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 






BOTH PAINTINGS; Copyright 2015 Bob Layport



A multi-use trail that runs behind schools, houses and shopping malls from a road near the Delta at Bay Point down to Walnut Creek is a lesson in history. That history is camouflaged by the transformation of the East Bay by freeways, water and sewage systems, and intense real estate development.

To many Californians, the geography of that area is unknown. I have to start off with, “Go east from Oakland.” Most people know where Oakland is. Even those who know where Oakland is don’t know anything about the California Delta. Read more

Los Angeles Homeless Numbers Continue to Grow as Weak Recovery Enters Its Seventh Year

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June 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Flower n of Vernon 5-17-2015

Leslie Evans

There are 25,000 homeless people in the city of Los Angeles; 44,000 in the county. Those are the raw numbers found by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority from its late January three-day point-in-time nighttime count, in which 5,500 volunteers, this writer included, went out and covered every block of 89% of the census tracts in Los Angeles County. The bad news is that this is 12% more than were found two years ago.

The findings were presented by LAHSA’s Executive Director Peter Lynn at a well-attended May 11 meeting of its Commission at its Wilshire Blvd. headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. I  was one of those in the audience.

As Lynn expanded his report, the subpopulations showed worse damage. Those found to be unsheltered in the city in this year’s count, that is, living in the streets, were 17,687, up 18.6% from two years ago. The rest on the nights of the count were in various public and charity homeless shelters. And of those on the streets, there was an incredible 85% increase in people living in tents, under plastic tarps, in RVs, and automobiles. Read more

Umberto Tosi’s ’60s Yarn Continues With Chapter 13; Shotgun Psychos

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


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

Detective Sergeant Jacob Imhoff was just another burned out cop, tough-but-fair, maybe a decent guy, hard to read. Roy could see all that – and knew what else.

They sit opposite each other in a booth at the back of Clifton’s Cafeteria on Broadway near Sixth Street, a place with a history, catering to mixed downtown clientele of drifters, downtown workers and tourists. It’s unfrequented by cops or newsmen, which makes it a good spot to meet. Roy examines Imhoff’s fleshy face for clues. With his graying crew cut and massive shoulders, Imhoff resembles an ICBM emerging from its silo. Imhoff plays off of his bulk and a striking homeliness that he’s made into an asset, alternating between King Kong and the Jolly Green Giant, menacing or jovial, always imposing. Read more

Chapter 24 Of “Exit From Eden” By Mary Reinholz

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





About an hour before the meeting with Ted Katz , I got a call from Jason Slade at my new sublet near the Chelsea Hotel, saying he was having problems with my magazine piece on runaway girls in the East Village.

“It has some holes in it, Ryder,” he grumbled. “You should try to interview more pimps who take those little girls in from the cold and then turn them out as street prostitutes. You just have one quote. I want to nail those guys. ”

“I’ve only seen a few small time pimps in the Village,” I told him. “They look pretty down and out themselves.”
“I’m thinking of someone known as Midtown Slim, a flashy pimp,” Slade said. “I hear he generally dresses to the dimes in a three- piece suit and carries around JP Donleavy’s cult novel, ‘The Gingerman,’ He might tell you about his fellow gents of leisure.” Read more

Artist Yuri Elvin: Golden Under a Solar Deity: A Profile By Anna Broome

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May 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


photo credit: ding ya lan


A star in his own universe this California born kinetic, pornographic, cultivated painter explores, sets down in reds, yellows, black and white every aspect of savage warriors, mind-soiled thinkers, war-torn, machine-gun-carrying prostitutes, cloned parishioners and excess-driven dictators. Yes, the work has an apocalyptic style but one from the perception of an enthusiast there as much for the ride he creates for himself as the viewer.

 The work is controlled as Elvin seems free working from within his mind as he expels characters and scenes.

 Elvin begins painting as a young child with few memories only evidences of sleep-created art work. “I would wake up with drawings all around me. I wouldn’t remember any of it.”

Elvin’s artistic talent is a birthright of sorts as both his mother and father are accomplished artists. “My Mother didn’t start painting until she was 40, but my Father was always an artist, renegade of sorts.” Read more

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