The Urban Sages
BY LIONEL ROLFE
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
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
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.
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
By Umberto Tosi
(Umberto Tosi, author of Ophelia Rising, was an editor and staff writer for the Los Angeles Times from 1959-1971.)
CHAPTER 14: CRY ‘THE COMPASSIONATE COUNTRY’
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
NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND
By Honey van Blossom
(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)
Giant Redwoods of California by Alfred Bierstadt,
courtesy Berkshire Museum
Edwin Bryant’s What I Saw in California grabs you by the lapels and pulls you into the past. When Bryant crossed the country with a wagon train in 1846, San Francisco had 200 residents and 1500 lived in Los Angeles – then the capital of California. With no true roads to follow, no food eat except after a while beef when it could be found or sometimes milk, once in a while, frijoles and chili, tortured by flea infestations, Bryant journeyed through the a foreign country that was gorgeous, hostile and dangerous, inhabited by people whose names now are on road signs on our freeways.
Bryant (1805-1869) was a Kentucky newspaper editor, born in Pelham, Massachusetts. His father was frequently imprisoned for debt, and his uncle Bezabiel Bryant raised him in Bedford, New York, which is in Westchester County, an area north of the Bronx, until he was an adolescent. He studied medicine with another uncle, Dr. Peter Bryant. Dr. Bryant was the father of William Cullen Bryant, nine years older than Edwin. Read more