Photog Susan McRae captures images of “counterculture” icon Art Kunkin, who is now an alchemist and plans to live forever.

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Deep In Echo Park, A Bohemian Nexus

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Siquieros and Stein In Mexico City


Long time Echo Park residents Anne Stein and Gary Leonard  are planning to showcase the paintings of Anne’s father, Philip Stein, at their Take My Picture Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. They are doing so  as the restored Siqueiros mural “American Tropical” is about to be unveiled in Olvera Street.

The timing is not just coincidence. Read more

On the Track of the Elusive Baron Long

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Leslie Evans

Baron Long

I first heard of Baron Long twenty years ago. My wife Jennifer and I had bought a 1910 Craftsman house near USC in the West Adams section of Los Angeles and we were researching its history. We had discovered that from 1921 to 1958 it had been owned by a branch of the Furlong family, founders and effective co-owners of the small industrial city of Vernon five miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, incorporated in 1905. I had worked in Vernon for a year in an electric motor repair shop in the early 1980s and knew it to live up to its motto, “Exclusively Industrial.” Our research at the Los Angeles main library turned up a small out-of-print book, Leonis of Vernon by James Kilty, that revealed an extraordinary story of the little town’s early days, when it was the hard-drinking center of Los Angeles night life, boxing capital of the nation, and the bane of the Los Angeles Times and at least some of polite society. Read more


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June 1, 2012 · Posted in Commentary · Comments Off on THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF A RELUCTANT CORPORATE POET 

The old headquarters of Houghton MIfflin at 2 Park Street

By Bob Vickrey

As I reported for my first day of work in the fall of 1972, I stepped into the creaky old Boston office headquarters of America’s oldest publishing house and 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 might have guessed the history preserved there by simply walking the hallways of this hundred plus year-old dilapidated brick structure located just down Park Street from the ornate 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 grave sites of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. Read more

Commentary On Denis Johnston’s Shaw Article

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June 1, 2012 · Posted in Commentary · Comments Off on Commentary On Denis Johnston’s Shaw Article 

Dear Editor:

The latest Boryanabooks issue is, as you say, the biggest and best to date. I very much enjoyed Denis Johnston’s tour of the Shavian personality and life. In high school I started reading Shaw avidly and fell in love with “Heartbreak House,” Caesar and Cleopatra” and “Man and Superman.” In later years the attraction of these and other plays dimmed, though “Joan” still holds up well.

Johnston is also right about the T. E. Lawrence and Charlotte Shaw relationship. She and Shaw (as he was officially named then) entered into a kind of epistolary friendship that lasted for years. Both confessed to each other things they wouldn’t confess to anyone else, particularly the rape they both suffered, his at Deraa by the Turks and hers at home by her father. This was the reason she only agreed to marry GBS if the relationship was to be strictly sexless. TEL was one of the four or five greatest English letter writers, and the combined collection of correspondence between them fills three large volumes. The copyright to all TEL’s writings is owned by Jeremy Wilson of Castle Hill Press, which has been printing superbly edited but very expensive volumes of all his writings. TEL’s younger brother transferred copyright before his death because Jeremy published what is still the longest, most detailed and most accurate biography of TEL. He thought very highly of Shaw’s plays, though in private he was sometimes critical of the socio-economic-philosophical underpinnings of many. GBS himself played a very important role in helping to edit the 1922 Oxford Edition of “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” after he finished the hand-written manuscript. He had eight copies printed in double-column newspaper-type pages at the Oxford Times. This edition ran to 350,000 words but lacked literary polish. Shaw made massive editorial changes in shortening, tightening and simplifying it. That produced the famous 1926 subscriber’s edition, published for the mass market after TEL’s death without all the magnificent typography, binding, design and commissioned art that he had reproduced in color prints. The huge expense of printing the subscriber’s edition nearly bankrupted him, so he published a cut down and bowdlerized potboiler version of “Seven Pillars” to pay expenses, “Revolt in the Desert.” That potboiler was an international success, though Lawrence always disowned it, but he used the money to pay off the subscriber’s edition and put all the profits into an account for retired RAF aircraft men and widows. Read more

What is to be done, Honey?

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June 1, 2012 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comments Off on What is to be done, Honey? 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)
Honey van Blossom

Solar Living Institute in Hopland

In 1754, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, in his Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men that private property — which could not have been imagined before the neolithic revolution – was the beginning of the end of the human race.

“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said ‘This is mine’ and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or by filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: ‘Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.’”

Marx and Engles called the hunter-gatherer form of communism “primitive communism,” which had no hierarchical social class structures or capital accumulation. Looking at the political and economic changes that evolved in response to agriculture, the enclosure acts, the industrial revolution, Marx and Engles concluded that scientific socialism meant the inevitable withering of the state as a product of social revolution. Read more