Dunga Brook Diary: You Are Here

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January 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Where I Thought I Was

By Vicki Whicker

May 2011, Midnight, Central New York.

Finally, at Jim’s door. The Los Angeles to Albany flight topped by the three-hour drive (that should have taken two) has done me in. I’m exhausted. Shivering. And, it’s fucking dark. A billion stars in the sky but no moon DARK.

Jim’s beast is snorting and bellowing behind the door that I just knocked my knuckles raw on. The doorknob rattles and turns, crazily. I wish the headlights to my rental car were still on. I wish I’d arrived in broad daylight.

“JAX backup! JAX! Back! JAX! Goddammit!” Read more

Fellowship Monrovia, an evangelical church that makes its pop-up home at Monrovia High, finds followers come in all ethnicities and persuasions

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January 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

By Mary Reinholz

First published in the Pasadena Weekly, December 21, 2017

Christian evangelists often get a bad rap, depicted in the media as right wing extremists who preach fire and brimstone to a lily white choir.

But those images of TV preachers like the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson get turned on their head by Albert Tate, the charismatic African-American lead pastor and founder of Fellowship Monrovia, FM, a multi-ethnic pop-up church in the auditorium of Monrovia High School that is being touted as one of the fastest growing congregations in the San Gabriel Valley.

Tate, who once led the Sweet Home Church of Christ Holiness USA in his native Pearl, Mississippi, strides across the stage of the Monrovia High performing arts auditorium 36 Sundays a year, sometimes garbed in a black cassock or red trousers with a brown jacket or jeans and a sock hat. Sometimes he skips, sits down, stands up and breaks into song. Sometimes he thunders exhortations against “me-ism” and promotes the need for sinners to be humble and submit to God, shouting, “Make your bones with the Lord!” Read more


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January 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

My Dad would not be happy if he’d seen our check that day

By Bob Vickrey   

After paying the tab at a local café and noticing my burger and fries came to an astonishing $17.50, I found myself mumbling to no one in particular, “I remember when hamburgers cost fifty cents.”

It was meant as a seemingly innocent comment about today’s rising cost of living, but instead, I heard echoes of my dad’s voice uttering a similar nostalgic theme many decades earlier.

After tossing a couple of bucks into the tip jar for my carry-out lunch, I walked out with my twenty dollar hamburger, realizing it had come from a modest counter-service cafe—not a Michelin four-star restaurant. Read more


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January 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

photos by Barry Stein

By Bob Vickrey 

Singer Ray Price once sang “The night life ain’t no good life, but it’s my life,” and it certainly appears that our monthly lunch club has adopted his famous motto in recent months.

After visiting The Galley in Santa Monica in November, we thought we should continue to visit famous L.A. restaurants that only open for business after dark. One spot that has been on our list is Dan Tana’s, the venerable West Hollywood Italian cucina and watering hole.

We forged into the cold, windy December night despite weather forecasts that had called for Southern California temperatures to plunge below the 70-degree mark. That kind of perseverance and dedication to our mission has become this group’s trademark. Read more

Kate Millett, ‘Extraordinary Woman,’ Remembered By Steinem, Ono, and Clinton

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December 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

November 10, 2017

By Mary Reinholz

Yoko Ono at Kate Millett memorial. (Photo: Mary Reinholz)

Feminist icon Kate Millett, author of the ’70s classic Sexual Politics, received a star-studded Manhattan sendoff on November 9, following her death September 6 in Paris at age 82. The Upper West Side memorial service drew about 500 people, most of them women, and sometimes befitted a state funeral.

Pamela Mataszewski, a blonde bagpiper in a kilt, began the service with a mournful dirge as she strode up the center aisle of a Unitarian Universalist Church to its altar where Millett’s ashes had been placed in a blue jug beside flickering candles. After she departed, still blowing her pipes,  soprano Katie Zaffrann sang “Ave Maria” to mark the passing of Millett, who lived at 295 Bowery for 38 years, residing there when it was in a rundown neighborhood populated by so-called “Bowery bums.” Her late 19th century building once housed the infamous McGurk Suicide Hall, a spot where several teenage prostitutes were believed to have killed themselves by lacing their last drinks with carbolic acid. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: Sight To Be Seen

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December 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

From LAX to ALB

By Vicki Whicker 

I bought an 1820’s farmhouse and one acre for $10,000.

In the middle of nowhere.

Sight unseen.

Ok, not $10,000.

$10,000 plus closing costs plus all back taxes.

How many years of back taxes? And how much was even one year of back taxes in central New York?

I didn’t ask. When I want something, fine details are not necessary. You will encounter this attitude of mine, many times.

The FINAL total for an ancient house on an acre in “The Middle of Nowhere”?


BARGAIN. Read more


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December 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Vespertine’s mango wrapped in sunflower blossoms and wedged into stone monolith.

By Bob Vickrey

Each year when Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold releases his list of “101 Best Restaurants” in Southern California, I realize that I may need to get out more often.

I’ve been to only a half-dozen restaurants that Gold chose for inclusion on his 2017 list, which makes me feel I’ve been living like a hermit in the witness protection program. Maybe it’s time to shed those metaphorical ankle restraints. Read more

Adventure Of A Lifetime

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December 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
By Doug Weiskopf


(Below is a letter and photo I just mailed to a writer for Scientific American Magazine about my experience of a lifetime on Mount St. Helens).


Dear Steve:

I enjoyed and was fascinated by your article in the current edition of Scientific American about Mount St. Helens, having had a decades long spiritual connection with the great volcano. As a student and resident living in the West Hills of Portland, Or. between 1969 and 1980 I had a clear view of St. Helens when it was not shrouded in clouds and was always transfixed by its beauty, looking as it did like a giant snow cone (we used to call it “the Mount Fuji of the Pacific NW”). St. Helens beckoned me for years until I decided to join The Mazamas, a local mountain climbing club, so that I could ascend the mountain and stand on its summit. Read more


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December 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Photos by Barry Stein

By Bob Vickrey

After living in L.A. for almost 40 years, I find myself constantly reminded that we live in the shadow of the Hollywood sign.

Such was the case recently while watching a television rerun of the 1999 movie “The Cider House Rules.” I was once again completely engaged by this unique film, when suddenly my Palisades neighbor Colin Irving appeared on-screen during a dramatic turning point in the story.

I was aware that he had appeared in several movies in his younger years, but I had not yet met him when the movie was initially released. It occurred to me that the former actor—turned fitness guru—would be a perfect candidate to join our lunch club for our November trip to The Galley in Santa Monica. Read more

Pain in Glendale

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November 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Lionel with Tiffany Austin, social worker at the hospital

By Lionel Rolfe

The morning I couldn’t get out of bed because my back went out, I had to be carried down a small elevator to Good Sam Hospital by four members of a Los Angeles Fire Department crew. They listened to my hysterical screaming where I yelled at them to keep me vertical. I was eventually dumped into a bed to save my back—and despite my doctor’s warning they gave me some strong morphine, which also helped. Read more

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