The World’s Greatest Vegan Bartender, Mai Tai Mati, Meets Up With Talia Caldwell

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December 1, 2013 · Posted in Miscellany · Comment 

Here’s a couple of Lionel Rolfe’s favorites–Mai Tai Mati, the world’s greatest Vegan bartender, and her friend Talia Caldwell, the famous basketball center from the UC Berkeley.



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December 1, 2013 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Black Fridays take aim at replacing Thanksgiving Dinner”

By Bob Vickrey

The Black Friday spectacle of the huddled and frantic masses lining the sidewalks outside front doors of big- box retailers sent an uncomfortable shiver down my spine as I observed this annual ritual on television news reports from the comfort of my easy chair at home.

Thanksgiving night has long represented the unofficial commencement of Christmas shopping for frenzied customers impatiently awaiting the midnight rush for what they perceive to be the best deals for items on their gift list. In recent years, the ante has been upped and the clock moved forward by retailers—all hoping to cash in on consumers who will push and shove their way toward that coveted 60-inch big-screen television. Read more

The Secret Behind L.A.’s Literature

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December 1, 2013 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

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Lionel Rolfe (left) with Gerry Nicosia, author of “Memory Babe,” the major biography of Jack Kerouac and the beats. The photo was taken at Beyond Baroque in Venice.


 It all began in the coffeehouses a couple of centuries or more ago in London where such institutions as media and insurance took on their modern forms, for better or for worse.

The coffeehouses had names like The Fifth Estate and Lloyd’s of London. They all shared something in common. They imbibed a highly seditious drink, a coffee brew from Turkey called Kaufy. Most folks regarded the potent new drink the same way police viewed pot in the coffeehouses of Los Angeles and San Francisco in the ’50s and ’60s.

After the Gold Rush, Bohemia and coffeehouses developed in San Francisco with such characters as Herman Melville and Mark Twain. The bohemian was the foundation of good writing in California, first in San Francisco and then in Los Angeles. Read more

Honeyed Frankenstein

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December 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 


By Honey van Blossom

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

Eighteen-sixteen was “the year without a summer.” An historic low in solar activity combined with a volcanic winter event caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped by the 1815 eruption of MountTambora in Indonesia caused severe climate abnormalities. Average global temperatures decreased by 0.7-1.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the wet miserable summer, nineteen year-old Mary Godwin Shelly, Percy Bysshe Shelly, aged twenty-six, Lord Byron, also twenty-six, and John William Polidori, twenty-one – Polidori was to write the 1819 short story, The Vampyre, one of the first vampire stories in English – stayed in a rented villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. Mary and Percy had lost their first child, born prematurely. He had left his wife for her, and his wife committed suicide.

Forced to remain indoors by the weather, they read horror stories from the book Fantasmagoriana. (1813) The group also discussed experiments by Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin’s grandfather) with galvanism, the contraction of muscles stimulated by electricity.

The poets proposed a contest between all of them to write horror stories.

The framing of Frankenstein’s in the artic, its many water passages, its sense of disassociation of people from the environment, may have been drawn as some writers believe from Shelly’s fascination with indigenous people but can also be because that year’s extreme cold, and because the villa was on Lake Geneva. Read more