IS AMAZON BOOKSTORE THE NEW RETAIL MODEL?

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July 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

By BOB VICKREY

Now let me get this straight; the corporate giant that virtually transformed modern bookselling into an online industry and drove hundreds of independent bookstores out of business—including our own Village Books—is now opening its own bookstore in the new Pacific Palisades Village?

The irony of this recent announcement is hardly laced with any subtlety. Amazon owner and founder Jeff Bezos once suggested that brick-and-mortar bookstores were practically passé now that customers could find any book they wanted online with a simple click of a button. And as we know, he turned out to be absolutely correct. His company essentially now owns a substantial segment of the retail book business. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: Water Water Everywhere

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July 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

 

Vicki Whicker

My new neighbor, Jim, seems to be a polarizing figure.

His house doesn’t have water because my house doesn’t have water, because the farmer who owns all the land surrounding our houses cut off my water…because he doesn’t like Jim.

No water.

There once was water…from a sweet, cold spring.

It flowed through a series of pipes across a field (now owned by Jim-hating farmer), across Dunga Brook (bubbling water), and into a holding tank in the basement of my (new, old) house. From there, it was piped through a few acres and into Jim’s house and the barn.

It is a mighty spring, with enough volume to quench the thirst of what was a 1,200-acre dairy farm. The water was shared like this because both of our houses used to be the homesteads of that dairy farm. Read more

LA City and County Celebrate First Successes in Reducing Homelessness

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July 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Leslie Evans

About 100 people attended a May 31 invitation-only event outside the PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) offices at 340 N. Madison Avenue where the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released the results of its 2018 Los Angeles homeless count. Some 8,500 volunteers over three days in January covered every census tract in the county. The results, along with thousands of interviews with homeless people, have been under analysis by statisticians at USC.

For the first time in four years the numbers went down instead of up. The gains were modest – 3% fewer homeless in the county, 5% fewer in the city – but at least the motion was in the right direction.

By now everyone has seen the gross numbers. For the county, the homeless are down from 55,048 in January 2017 to 53,195 in January 2018; for the city, it was a little better, dropping from 38,138 to 31,516. We will dig into the details further on. Read more

ELUDING MY NEMESIS: JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH

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July 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Authors John Kenneth Galbraith and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

 

By BOB VICKREY

Upon entering the Presidential Suite of the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I was immediately struck by the imposing figure of famed economist John Kenneth Galbraith engaged in conversation with renowned historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Galbraith’s towering presence at six-feet-nine made me momentarily forget that this man of 90 plus-years was still making the rounds at publishing events. It was almost twenty years ago when he was the guest speaker at Houghton Mifflin’s national sales conference meeting.

During his long, illustrious career, many of his books had been published by our company and that evening’s cocktail party held in his honor afforded us an opportunity to meet the former Ambassador to India and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Read more

ROBERT F. KENNEDY’S ASSASSINATION: THE MORNING AFTER

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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

By Bob Vickrey

For many of us of a certain age, the year 1968 was a year like no other.

The Vietnam War had quickly escalated after the January “Tet Offensive” by the North Vietnamese army, and at one point that year, more than 500 American soldiers were losing their lives each week in a war that had already been deemed by many Pentagon officials as “unwinnable.”

Back home, college students were staging protests against the war on campuses all across the country. Civil unrest in our cities had often turned confrontational and violent.

Civil Rights demonstrations were being met with police resistance, as they resorted to fire hoses and batons in their attempt to quell protesters. Read more

Tom Brokaw hit on #MeToo when I was a young reporter

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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

 

Mary Reinholz

First published May 1, 2018, in The Villager, A Manhattan weekly.

Tom Brokaw

[The writer says when she was a reporter in Los Angeles, Tom Brokaw — after helping her get a police report for a story she was doing for the L.A. Free Press — made a sudden unwanted sexual advance: He tried to put the moves on her, abruptly embracing and French kissing her, she said.]

A recent e-mail from the Newswomen’s Club of New York reminded me that I had been confirmed to attend an April 5 panel discussion called “#MeToo for Journalists: Where have we come from and where are we going?” at The New York Times’ skyscraper, that glassy and classy 52-story edifice at Eighth Ave. and 40th St. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: BINGO

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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Vicki Whicker

May, 2011

After a sparse farm to table dinner, and after a mean (Jim=ruthless) game of BOGGLE, in the semi-dark of his “rustic” farmhouse (because, no electricity/no running water), right before I’m to trudge up the dark and dusty stairs for an unsteady sleep on an unstable old bed, Jim nonchalantly says, “I’m leaving at four a.m. for The City, can you feed Ichabod, tomorrow?”

Did he say leaving? At four a.m.? He’s leaving? For The City? This house has no locks, is missing windows, and he’s leaving at four a.m.? For NYC? That means I’m going to be asleep, no, scratch that, lying awake in the dark for at least two more hours before sunrise…ALONE. And then, if I’m not murdered, I have to go to that barn? For three feedings? Holy F! I can hardly say no, right? I can’t be responsible for the death of a baby goat, can I?

“Sure, no problem.” I hear myself saying. “But I’m staying at a BNB tomorrow night, so…I won’t be around to take care of Ichabod after that…I’m catching my flight back to L.A.” Read more

SIDESTEPPING HISTORY AT THE IVY

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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Photos by Barry Stein.

By BOB VICKREY

Los Angeles has to be the only city in the world where a 35 year-old restaurant could be described as a “landmark” institution.

I’m reminded of Steve Martin’s character in the 1991 satirical comedy “L.A. Story,” as he toured the city while hosting his British girlfriend. He described the sights they witnessed with wonder and awe, as he pointed out the city landscape to his friend, “Some of these buildings are more than 20 years-old!”

Our monthly lunch club decided to dig not-so-deeply into LA’s culinary history for one of those “landmarks,” as we chose The Ivy on Robertson Boulevard for our May dining destination. The Ivy opened in 1983, a year many L.A. residents consider to have occurred sometime during the Paleolithic Age. Read more

THE PERILOUS SAGA OF A BOOK PUBLISHING VETERAN

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May 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

 

 

Houghton Mifflin Publishing offices at Two Park Street in Boston (in the right foreground.) Picture taken in the 1920’s.

 

By Bob Vickrey

As I reported for my first day of work in October 1972, and entered the creaky Boston office headquarters of America’s oldest publishing house, I thought perhaps that I had stepped back into the 19th Century.

Houghton Mifflin had indeed been linked to that century by publishing authors such as Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

One could witness the history preserved there by simply walking the hallways of this 100-year-old charming, but well-worn brick structure located on Park Street just down the block from the ornate Massachusetts State House. The front side faced Boston Common and the backside office windows looked out on the Boston Granary, which was home to considerable Colonial history, including the gravesites of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: Green Acres

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May 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

 

Vicki Whicker

Mother’s Day, 2011

Before we open the front-door, Jim says,

“It’s pretty bad inside— the squatters pulled the electrical panels out and, for some reason, they took the stairs, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed.“

My new/old house:

An 1820’s Federal-style farmhouse cloaked in dirty-white siding, surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland, situated on a two-lane “county highway” in the wilds of central New York.

Awhile back, a friend in L.A. bought a house (it was the 80’s, when you could still afford to buy a house) and called it “my new/old house.” It was probably built in the 60’s but, you know, old for L.A. Read more

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