USC and the nearby West Adams neighborhood where the double murder took place April 11 are still in shock. Police are hunting the cold-blooded killer in a widening manhunt, and a new wave of fear is settling into the neighborhood after two decades of reductions in local crime. As president of the Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association, the block club for the area where the murders happened, I want to express the most profound sympathy from all of our neighbors to the parents of Ying Wu, who lived among us, and of her male friend Ming Qu.
I met Ying Wu only once, in the home where she rented a room, four doors away from mine, and remember her as lovely and laughing. She had come from distant Hunan in China’s interior to study electrical engineering at USC. She was living with a nurturing couple and their daughter who are among my closest friends and in whose home I have spent many happy hours. On the day we met I had visited to watch Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western, Once Upon a Time in the West, with the homeowner, my friend David. As it was ending Ying Wu and her roommate came home. We were introduced and shared momentary pleasantries, they sampled the snacks I had brought and went up to their room. Yesterday the wanton violence of our celluloid afternoon became real and she was struck down at the age of twenty-three while talking in the rain in her boyfriend’s car. She was shot in the chest; he in the face. Trying to save her, Ming Qu, mortally wounded, made his way from the car, up the walk to the house. He banged on the door to summon help, breaking two small glass panes before falling unconscious. He died on the way to the hospital, also twenty-three. Under China’s one-child policy they were both only children. Read more
I met up with my old friend Gerald Nicosia the other day at Beyond Baroque in Venice where they were holding forth about Jack Kerouac on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
Nicosia, whose book Memory Babe has remained the major biography of the man, was joined by Harry E. Northrup and Aram Saroyan and lots of other beat poets in a moving celebration. There was talk of Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Kenneth Patchen and Kenneth Rexroth. There was a religious fervor to the moment, even if Gerald was obviously tired. He’d been traveling to promote his new book One And Only: The Untold Story Of On The Road. But when a special moment from Kerouac was mentioned, his face lit up and the tiredness vanished and he burned with an intensity that belied his aches and pains.
People who tend to write off Bohemians as politically left miss the fact that Kerouac’s friendship with William F. Buckley was based on two pillars they shared: Catholicism and conservative politics. Kerouac even had real anti-Semitic animosity to Ginsberg. Read more
When the world is too much with you, the inanities of politics have you down, and the fount of insoluble crises discourages, it is a good time to read something by Lord Dunsany. An Edwardian Irish aristocrat, much of his voluminous work is long out of print, but what is available is mostly his early wonder tales, probably his best. Dunsany is usually described as a fantasy or science fiction writer, but such terms mislead. He is often compared to the more widely read H. P. Lovecraft, who readily acknowledged Dunsany’s influence, yet their work shows more differences than similarities. Read more
By Honey van Blossom
(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)
I debated with an acquaintance about where a very-well known writer, journalist, editor, activist, historian and lawyer lived in Echo Park, so I researched the question and found that he lived in several places in Echo Park and Silver Lake.
Carey McWilliams ‘ friends included Jake Zeitlin, John Fante, Robinson Jeffers and H.L. Mencken. His first published book was a biography of Ambrose Bierce (1929).
In the 1930s, he worked with the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild and represented workers, helped organize unions and guilds and served as a trial examiner for the National Labor Relations Board.
His Southern California: An Island on the Land (revised edition 1973) is the seminal book on injustice in Los Angeles and inspired the screenplay for Chinatown. His Factories in the Field (1939) shattered myths about Central Valley agriculture. The book condemns the politics and consequences of large-scale agribusiness. Read more
By Phyl M. Noir
The whirring blades of a police helicopter broke into the blue hour.
“That day,” he said putting his hands on his wife’s shoulders, “you brought tomatoes to my mother. Minda took you out on the balcony – what did she say to you?”
“She said that if I came back from New York for you that I was mistaken but I hadn’t come for you.”
“You came for me.”
“Perhaps I did,” she said but it wasn’t true.
A broad light beamed from the helicopter and illuminated their yard. Their dog ran from door to door, barking and trying to get out.
“Hey!” Bruno yelled at the dog.
“It’s a police state. Only the police organize the city,” Celia said. “It’s a pity.”
She opened the gate and stood in the beam of light and waved and smiled. She put up her hands with the first fingers meeting the thumbs to signal “OK.” The dog rushed out through the partially closed gate. He barked.
“Hey, moronic young men and women up there! Hey! You are idiots!” She yelled at the helicopter. The dog showed he agreed with her by barking louder.
The helicopter light went off. It headed across the sky in the direction of Frogtown.
“I’m going to mass. Do you need me to stay?”
Bruno stood at the stovetop looking at the burners. “No.” He laughed.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Do you ever want to turn the knob to the left to turn the burner off?”
“I keep doing that.”
“I’ve fried five tea kettles and I was going to do it again. I took the whistle off. They should make tea kettles that don’t work unless the whistle is on.” Read more