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April 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Photos by Barry Stein

By Bob Vickrey

During our ongoing three-year tour of famous Los Angeles restaurants, our monthly lunch club has often encountered difficulty escaping Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack’s shadow wherever we decide to dine.

It seems these guys had the same taste in restaurants as our roving foursome. This time it was Matteo’s on Westwood Boulevard, where we were once again forced to deal with their legacy.

Owner and founder Matty “Matteo” Jordan opened his restaurant in 1963, with the help of his childhood friend Sinatra, and fellow Hoboken, New Jersey native. That collaboration made Matteo’s an instant LA hot spot, which featured a great mix of fine Italian food, tuxedoed waiters and a friendly, upscale supper club atmosphere. Read more

#MeToo is going too far for some veteran feminists

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March 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Shirley Jonas atop the Whitney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort St. Photo by Mary Reinholz


Longtime West Village resident Shirley Jonas is a woman of a certain age, a former freelance television producer for outfits like Fox Broadcasting. She also spent 15 years working on staff at another national news division.

She now supports #MeToo, the new feminist movement which has spurred a tsunami-like wave of working women calling out bosses for sexual misconduct, many apparently after reading exposes in The New York Times and The New Yorker about alleged assaults by now-disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

“It’s about time,” Jonas said during a lunch Saturday at the Bus Stop Cafe on Hudson St.

Accusations of sexual harassment have swiftly ended the careers of famous men in media, government and entertainment, among them decades-long television hosts like Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose. The latter’s persona as a genial Southern gent interviewing people on CBS and PBS stands in sharp contrast to complaints last year that he greeted female staffers in his bathrobe, made unwanted advances and pranced around naked. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: Mother’s Day, 2011

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March 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


The barn

I arrived in Los Angeles in 1986, a small-town, young woman with nothing but the desire to see what I could do in the big, bad city.  And I did plenty. Dead-end temp jobs to a career in fashion. Five-figure income to six. Fly-by-night boyfriends to single mother of a son who is now on his way to graduating high school and, very soon, off to college. Read more


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March 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Photos by Barry Stein


By Bob Vickrey

You’ve driven by it numerous times on Pico Boulevard, but like most Westsiders, you’ve probably never considered stopping for a meal at this old-fashioned diner.

Rae’s Restaurant has been around since the days when you could actually find a parking spot in Santa Monica. Rae’s turns 60 this year, and is still plugging along for those locals who don’t mind a little grit and authenticity with their meals.

As our monthly lunch group entered the restaurant, we were convinced Rae’s must have been where they shot the movie “Time Stood Still.” The modest menu prices also underscored the apparent time-warp that occurred here in 1958. Read more

Yippies vs. Zippies: New Rubin book reveals ’70s counterculture feud

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March 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


The late Yippie leader Jerry Rubin, a onetime West Villager who morphed into an investment banker and died in 1994 after getting struck by a car jaywalking in Westwood, California, comes back to flamboyant afterlife in Pat Thomas’s coffee-table book biography, “Did It!”

Published last year, Thomas’s book offers plenty of photographs of varied gurus and goblins of the counterculture, and sheds light on little-known internecine conflicts among the young politicized hippies who came under scrutiny by federal agents and undercover police for their opposition to the Vietnam War.

The cover of Pat Thomas’s new coffee-table book on Jerry Rubin.

The hefty tome, subtitled, “From Yippie to Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, an American Revolutionary,” recounts how a younger radical group known as the Zippies surfaced before the 1972 Democratic and Republican National Conventions in Miami. The Zippies engaged in fierce feuding with Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, Rubin’s more-famous fellow Yippie prankster and rival. Rubin reportedly regarded the Zippies’ founder, the late Tom Forcade — who ran the Underground Press Syndicate and started High Times magazine — as a provocateur and cop. Read more

L.A. Review of Books Features Article on Lionel Rolfe

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February 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Lionel Rolfe

The January 10, 2018, issue of the Los Angeles Review of Books carries a lengthy sketch of journalist, author, and Boryanabooks founder Lionel Rolfe. Anthony Mostrom, under the title, “Lionel Rolfe and the Rise and Fall of the L.A. Coffee Houses,” begins:

“AUTHOR LIONEL ROLFE is a retired Los Angeles journalist who has written for nearly every newspaper and magazine that’s existed in or near the city in the last 50-plus years. Indeed, though a frequent traveler, Rolfe has never lived far outside of L.A. These days he lives in a small apartment in Atwater Village. He’s lived alone for almost a decade, since his third marriage ended in divorce. There were many women in his life, many friends and enemies, many loves and many hates.”

The full text can be found here:


Strand Owner Fred Bass Honored By Krugman, Talese, Lebowitz at Memorial

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February 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Mary Reinholz

First appeared in the January 29 issue of Bedford and Bowery, a New York magazine website.

Fran Lebowitz. Photo by Mary Reinholz

The late Fred Bass, longtime owner of the Strand Bookstore who died January 3 at age 89, is getting posthumous bear hugs from the City of New York, which is expected to name a bench after him in Washington Square Park. It has also named January 26 “Fred Bass Day,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who on Friday night presided at a public memorial for Bass at the iconic East Village store.

“Yesterday the family was told by the mayor’s office” about the city’s tributes, noted Wyden, who is married to Bass’s daughter Nancy Bass Wyden, now the sole owner of The Strand. She has been credited with modernizing the store starting in 2001 and now works daily with general manager Eddie Sutton in dealing with the store’s mammoth inventory of used, rare and new volumes.

Wyden did not mention that the Strand last week slapped the city, Verizon and Con Edison with a $160,000 lawsuit for negligence in the wake of a series of morning manhole explosions and fires that blew out front windows and damaged the independent bookseller last March, forcing a day’s shutdown. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: Not Rocket Science

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February 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


By Vicki Whicker

Mother’s Day, 2011, 6 am. Central New York.

A breeze touches my cheek and I open my eyes to a room full of light and fresh country air. Outside, leaves flutter on the branches of giant old trees.

First thought—Home.

Second thought—Jim’s home.

Third thought—This is so not LA.

I’m wrapped like a mummy, wearing every bit of clothing I brought on this trip…leather jacket over down jacket, hat, scarf, fingerless gloves, two pairs of socks, and cowboy boots. Read more


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February 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Old habits die hard. Bob Vickrey enjoying his morning routine of coffee and newspaper in 1994.

By Bob Vickrey

Columnist Chris Erskine of the Los Angeles Times has become a trusted friend in recent years, although we’ve never actually met.

Reading his funny and gentle family-themed columns has become an addictive habit for me as I sip my morning coffee. Some people like sugar and cream with their morning brew, but I prefer a daily dose of “Erskine” with my coffee.

Before Chris, there were Al and Jim—better known in Southern California as the late L.A. Times’ columnists Al Martinez and Jim Murray. Those talented writers always helped connect me with the world-at-large with their personal and humane reflections about daily life.

Yes, I’m probably out of step these days with most folks, as American readers have slowly abandoned the traditional print version of the news and have opted for online access to the happenings of the day. In fact, when a young friend of mine catches me with my head buried in the sports section, she loves to tease me with her familiar refrain, “So, I see you’re once again catching up on yesterday’s news.” Read more


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February 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Palisades Drugstore Cafe, mid-1970’s

By Bob Vickrey

When I first walked into the Palisades Drugstore Café almost forty years ago, I thought I had stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting.

Jeff Kool, the longtime owner of the Palisades Bookshelf, had told me one of the best lunches in town was right down the street at the local drugstore. As I entered the back door and passed the pharmacy counter, I made my way toward the unmistakable buzz of lively conversation emanating from the busy lunch crowd seated around two adjoining horseshoe-shaped counters. Read more

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