Lionel Rolfe and Julia Stein to Give Reading at Skylight Books, March 30

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Lionel Rolfe and poet Julia Stein will hold a reading from their works at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles, on Saturday, March 30, at 5 pm. Rolfe will read from his new book, The Misadventures of Ari Mendelsohn, while Stein will read from her What Were They Like? For more information see this link.

Pat Derby, Savior of Elephants, Dies

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Pat Derby, founder of Ark2000, a 2000-acre refuge for elephants in the Mother Lode where at least one of the alleged pachyderm victims of the Los Angeles Zoo lived out her last days in happier refuge, has died.

Pat Derby died Friday at 69 from throat cancer, with her long-time companion Ed Stewart at her side. She was born June 7, 1943 and died Feb. 15.

She and her former husband Ted Derby were famed animal trainers in Hollywood and after working a stint in the late ‘60s with movie animal trainer Ralph Helfer who had a place in an isolated canyon north of Newhall, they opened up their own place, first in Placerita Canyon in Newhall. Read more

KCET Interviews Lionel Rolfe on His New Book, “Ari Mendelsohn”

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KCET’s Mike Songsen both reviews Lionel Rolfe’s new book, The Misadventures of Ari Mendelsohn, and interviews the author, along with some musings about a fatal shooting just outside Songsen’s door, in a February 22 column in KCET’s online feature Departures.

Songsen concludes that “The book is chock full of self-deprecating jokes, while still possessing life-affirming passages like his early days as a journalist in the Central Coast or his quirky romance with a Bulgarian woman. A hybrid of Rolfe’s earlier books, this new collection reads quickly. The blend of humor and pathos within were clearly cathartic for the author and paint a fascinating account of the last half Century in Los Angeles. ” For the full story, see


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March 1, 2013 · Posted in Miscellany · Comments Off on THE DUTTON’S CULTURAL GIFT TO THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES 



Doug Dutton Of Duttons Brentwood




By Bob Vickrey


As I was chatting with Doug Dutton in his backroom office at Dutton’s Brentwood Books, the back door suddenly opened and a well-dressed entourage stormed into the room and introduced their special guest, alienated writer, Salman Rushdie.

Rushdie entered the room with several body guards in tow and proceeded to the front of the store where the staff had been assembled for this hastily planned drop-by visit to promote his latest book. Doug explained that a publicist from Random House had called to set up a private meeting with bookstore employees to talk about his new book. Rushdie had been forced to live covertly with 24 hour protection after Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a lethal fatwa after the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988. All subsequent promotional book tours had promptly been cancelled. Read more

California Road Scholar: More Stories Of The Golden State

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The cover of "Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz." In this -- volume 4 of the Oz series -- Dorothy starts out in California.



Joan Didion wrote, in The White Album (1979):

“Kilimanjaro belongs to Ernest Hemingway. Oxford, Mississippi, belongs to William Faulkner… a great deal of Honolulu has always belonged for me to James Jones… A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image.”

Didion shaped the way we see California.  She descended from pioneers in northern California and often writes with great and clear love but the enduring image I have of her writing is of the protagonist in Play It as It Lays (1970) driving endlessly and compulsively on the roads and freeways of Southern California, wandering through motels and bars, drinking and having sex with second rate actors. Read more

Honey walks in Mt. Diablo

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March 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comments Off on Honey walks in Mt. Diablo 


By Honey van Blossom

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

The soundtrack to Conquered is the sound of individual car engines not the roar of multitudes like the LA soundtrack.  All of the engines run well.  The owners maintain their cars.  Everyone knows how to check her oil including for the first time me.   Entire enclaves of mechanics work on side streets off Main in Walnut Creek and someone will always give you a lift home to wait until he returns.   In the shopping malls – not real malls but 1950s stores on parking lots – auto supply stores sell fan belts, wipers, polish, transmission fluid and oil.

Just before dusk, an owl hoots.  At dusk two dogs at opposite ends of blocks bark, probably at each other because they have nothing else to do in Conquered.   If there are intruders, I haven’t seen them but I once saw a homeless man with a shopping cart, and the man who runs an antique store only a mile from me said there are schizophrenics only they don’t come out much.   No one sleeps on the sidewalk.  No one lives on the canal.  It’s fenced and there’s a sign saying the water is public drinking water, which is a horrible thought because the water looks black.  At dusk, the sky turns orange now, pierced by the bare branches and twigs of large trees. Read more