By Bob Vickrey
The list of Texans that have spent their writing lives chronicling their roots is rather long and impressive, and includes names like Dobie, Webb, and Graves.
For many years J. Frank Dobie was considered the preeminent voice of Texas and Southwestern culture. Walter Prescott Webb was the esteemed historian whose books put the American West in a broader national and international perspective.
John Graves evoked the spirit of the land and its people, and capped his career with his beautiful elegy to the meandering Brazos in Goodbye to a River. Few American writers have fully captured the depiction of small town life like the late playwright Horton Foote.
Katherine Anne Porter, William Humphrey, Billy Lee Brammer, and Terry Southern were among other native sons and daughters who made their own indelible marks on the literary landscape. Read more
Homelessness has been increasing in our city and county year by year. It has spread outward from its confines in Downtown’s Skid Row throughout the county. There are now 28,000 homeless people in the city and 46,000 in the county as a whole. Tent camps are springing up in alleys, under freeway bridges, in empty lots, and on street corners everywhere. This is a human misery crisis for those living this life, a public health and livability crisis for everyone else. Only a major redirection of resources can stop this unacceptable situation from growing worse.
Short-term shelters, though they are of great value in providing beds and often meals, have little or no effect in reducing the numbers on the street. The one proven method, in many cities, is permanent supportive housing. This means some kind of small housing units, backed up with on-site professional case management. Some 90% of homeless who have received such housing in other cities remain off the streets two years later. Read more
By Bob Vickrey
Say it ain’t so West Hollywood! We’re told the venerable Barney’s Beanery restaurant is going to be displaced soon by a new upscale hotel.
The developers there are making singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell appear prophetic when recalling lyrics from her 1970 hit “Big Yellow Taxi.”
They’ve paved Paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique, and swinging hot spot
Plans call for the 89-year-old landmark to be completely disassembled and eventually restored on the same property during the construction of the five-story boutique hotel. But many longtime customers are skeptical about their favorite haunt returning as the same unconventional homey spot that it is today.
A recent Los Angeles Times’ story regarding the controversial addition of yet another hotel cited citizen concerns about traffic congestion and parking in the already-dense corridor along Santa Monica Boulevard. Read more
NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND
By Honey van Blossom
(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)
In Los Angeles, the disagreeable Santa Ana winds originate inland. Raymond Chandler, in “Red Wind”:
“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”
Many of the streets in downtown Los Angeles are cocked at an angle. They run north-northeast to south-southwest instead of north to south, east to west. Streets begin to run north to south at Hoover. Unsettling winds might be the explanation for why streets around the plaza downtown are set at an angle. Or not.
Raymond Chandler’s plots were so convoluted even he couldn’t always follow them.
The plot of the mystery of why Los Angeles streets run at an angle is as serpentine as a Chandler story.
The simple solution to the street mystery is that the plaza next to the Olvera Street marketplace downtown – laid out between 1825 and 1830 – was cocked at an angle during the years when the plaza was a rectangle. The plaza’s left top corner pointed north, which meant that the streets established after the plaza was laid out followed the plaza’s angle. Read more