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June 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Carmine's Booth featuring cast picture of Oceans Eleven

Carmine’s Restaurant booth featuring picture of cast members of “Oceans Eleven” Photo by Barry Stein

By Bob Vickrey

The atmosphere at Carmine’s restaurant in West Los Angeles was so authentically old-world Italian that one would have thought our lunch club group had just taken an exit off the New Jersey Turnpike and slipped into Tony Soprano’s favorite hideaway.

So, like I was sayin’, my pals Pauley, Vito, and Johnny ‘Sack’—better known as Arnie, Barry, and Josh, were seated in our favorite corner booth and were a bit uneasy about who might be coming through the back door. Vito (a.k.a Barry) always seemed to have our backs so we could enjoy the best food in town without looking over our shoulders. Read more

The Fat Man Returns; The Elusive Hunt for California Bohemia and Other Matters

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May 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Review by Mary Reinholz

Peripatetic author and journalist Lionel Rolfe has slimmed down considerably judging from the cover of this slender 155-page collection of personal essays first written for the Pasadena Weekly and the Huffington Post and compiled nearly two decades after the publication of his 1998 volume, “Fat Man on the Left: Four Decades in the Underground.” In these short chapters, Rolfe, now in his 70s, makes it clear that he still maintains many of his hefty lefty beliefs. He’s all for unions to help working folks deal with the bosses despite his memories of unsavory mob figures in the background.

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May 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

The Lobster- Bob & Arnie

Bob and Arnie arrive at The Lobster with the Lunch Club Photos by Barry Stein.

By Bob Vickrey


It may not look like the “Seafood Shack” of old, but the latest version of the old landmark at the beach still offers that same breathtaking 180-degree view of the crystal-blue Pacific.

Our monthly lunch group decided it was time for some seafood, so The Lobster, located adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier since 1923, was an easy choice. The old seafood house has gone through several incarnations during its 94 years, and the latest upgrade completed in 1999, transformed it into an upscale restaurant that reflects the ever-changing economic climate in Santa Monica. Read more

Will Community Resistance Prevent Building the Homeless Housing Voters Have Funded?

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May 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Contested lot at Lorena and East 1st Street in Boyle Heights, proposed site of a 49 unit apartment house, half for mentally ill homeless people. El Mercado shopping center (at the right of the photo) has led the opposition to the project and been supported by Jose Huizar, chair of the Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

Contested lot at Lorena and East 1st Street in Boyle Heights, proposed site of a 49 unit apartment house, half for mentally ill homeless people. El Mercado shopping center (at the right of the photo) has led the opposition to the project and been supported by Jose Huizar, chair of the Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

Leslie Evans

Last November 76% of Los Angeles voters said yes to Proposition HHH, the $1.2 billion bond measure to build 10,000 units of homeless housing over the next ten years. While the vast majority of Angelinos are ready to spend money get the homeless off the streets, it is a very different story when it comes to where to put them. It seems that most people want them somewhere else than in their neighborhood. A disturbing test case has been a proposed 49-unit apartment house at east 1st and Lorena Streets in Boyle Heights, which has been stalled for three years by community opposition and reluctance by LA City officials to confront the critics and move forward. Read more


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May 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Is the Lime Jello "Surprise" looming in my near future?

Is the Lime Jello “Surprise” looming in my near future?

By Bob Vickrey


I’m trying to remember exactly when my friends all began having dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. It has occurred to me that this phenomenon could possibly have something to do with their age—and yes, possibly mine.

It seems that every time someone asks me to join them for dinner lately, the invitation begins: “Why don’t you meet us at Ferdinand the Bull’s at 4:30. The early-bird special there is fantastic and it’s only $9.95.” Read more

The Man From Pasadena Who Strode The Globes

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

By Lionel Rolfe

Guard Hall at his control console in the Deep Space Control Area.

Guard Hall at his control console in the Deep Space Control Area, November 1980.


Thirty-five years ago in Pasadena I met a young man at JPL from where a device was rocketed to Jupiter. The Voyager was a VW-sized vehicle powered by nuclear fuel, with solar panels and broadcast antennas. Guard Hall was the “Ops Chief” for the Voyager spacecraft. Launched in 1977, the Voyager craft acquired images & scientific data from encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and their moons. He was involved in another related mission, the earlier one to Mars.

Guard Hall—his name apparently came from a military childhood—believed very much in the idea of life  on Jupiter’s largest satellite Titan, and on Mars. He lived a wonderfully scientific life, more mystical than it should have been. He may have been the most mystical around JPL, he says. His job there was to command the Space Flights Operation Facility in the bottom rung of a five-story computer building. Hall, born in 1948, studied psychology, computers and space stations. Read more

The Late Lynne Stewart

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Lynne Stewart on her website (one with her husband Ralph Poynter) not long before she died.


The Blind Shiek, Stewart’s most famous defendant, died Feb.18 –about 3 weeks before Stewart’s passing.


Photo of Lynne Stewart and husband Ralph Poynter at rally in lower Manhattan before she was imprisoned for helping “blind shiekh,” a convicted terrorist, communicate with his followers in Egypt.

By Mary Reinholz

Detractors of the late Lynne Stewart view her as a disbarred mouthpiece for evildoers who was imprisoned for helping a convicted terrorist communicate with his violent followers in Egypt. Her mostly leftist supporters revere the once prominent lawyer from Manhattan’s Lower East Side as a zealous defender of the poor and the grievously oppressed. Read more


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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Hollywood Writer and Director Robert Pirosh

By Bob Vickrey

Writer Robert Pirosh wrote what is likely the gold standard of resumes in 1934 when he penned a letter to Hollywood directors, producers and studio executives.

The well-paid 24 year-old copy editor who was living in New York City decided he wanted a career as a screenwriter and wrote this playful letter that would hopefully catch someone’s attention at the studios. Not surprisingly, this lively and exuberant romp immediately opened doors for him.

April 23, 1934

Dear Sirs,

I like words. I like fat buttery words such as ooze,

turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular,

creaky words such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious,

valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words such

as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like

suave V-words such as Svengali, svelte bravura, verve.

I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words such as splinter,

grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling

words such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Good-

Heavens-my-gracious-land’s-sake words, such as tricksy,

tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, glowery words

such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like

wormy, squirmy, mealy words such as crawl, blubber, squeal,

drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words such as cowlick,

gurgle, bubble and burp. I like the word screenwriter

better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a

New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood,

but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of

study, contemplation and horsing around. I have just returned

and I still like words. May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh

Read more

The Effects on the Homeless Nationwide from President Trump’s Budget

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


[The following message on President Trump’s budget request was issued March 16 by Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, based in Washington, D.C. It is reprinted with permission.]


*   *   *


President Trump’s budget slashes critical resources used to help keep housed some of the country’s lowest income and most vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and formerly homeless individuals. At a time when America’s housing crisis has reached historic heights and the lowest income people suffer the most severe impacts, proposals to further cut these vital resources are unconscionable and unacceptable.

President Trump proposes to cut overall HUD funding by 13% or $6.2 billion compared to 2016 levels. When compared to funding levels needed for FY 2017, the proposed cuts amount to a 15% or $7.5 billion reduction. Read more


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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Du-par's entrance

By Bob Vickrey

Du-par’s Restaurant and Bakery employees take their pancake preparation so seriously that they seem to consider pancakes as their own separate food group. Our monthly lunch club decided to get equally serious and investigate their findings firsthand.

When James Dunn and Edward Parsons founded Du-par’s in 1938, they opened a simple nine-stall booth adjacent to the Farmers Market that eventually became one of the most famous coffee shops in Los Angeles. (The partners combined a portion of their surnames to come up with the name of their new restaurant.) Read more

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