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January 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

The Story of Civilization set

“Go ahead. I dare you to convince yourself that you will eventually get around to reading this behemoth set of history books!”

By Bob Vickrey

 As a newly married young man in my twenties, I belatedly discovered the pleasure of reading, and began my life-long love affair with books.

I had recently taken a job with a book publishing firm, which immediately led to a growing book collection in our small Houston apartment. The initial experience of receiving complimentary books from my publishing house was thrilling for both my wife and I, as we buried ourselves in our favorite new novel each evening.

We found ourselves living out the old adage, “So many books; so little time.” That first year, we were making great progress in reading just about everything that arrived at our front door. That is—until the day one of our friends dropped by with a house-warming gift, which would ultimately haunt our lives for many years in the future.

Our friend’s generous and well-meaning gift was a complete 11-volume set of Will and Ariel Durant’s landmark series, The Story of Civilization—all 38 and 1/2 pounds worth. Read more

Altadena Boy From The South Is Wanted By Atlanta

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January 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 




Altadena’s Boyd Lewis spent more than three decades in the news game, starting with editing newspapers in Atlanta at the height of the civil rights movement.

Ending his career after moving to Altadena and first becoming a copy editor at the Pasadena Star-News and later a teacher in Sun Valley, Lewis also did a brief stint at CNN in the mid-1990s.

But Lewis was perhaps best known for hosting “Southwinds,” an “All Things Considered”-style program covering news and featuring interviews on Atlanta Public Radio station WABE. Read more

Farmers Market Trip Becomes Sentimental Journey

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January 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Farmers Mkt-large files-Farmers Mkt sign

By Bob Vickrey

 Maybe our moods were altered somewhat by the cold, gray December day we had chosen to visit the historic Farmers Market on Fairfax Avenue, or perhaps it was simply the memories of trips there in our younger days that triggered a nostalgic feeling among us, as we walked the aisles of one of the great Los Angeles institutions.

Our monthly lunch club get-together took on a different tone than some of the earlier trips in the past year. The conversation was more reflective that day as we each shared stories about our early memories of time spent in the old market that had always best symbolized the cultural melting pot that is Los Angeles. Read more

Volunteers Needed for January 28, 2016, South Los Angeles Homeless Count

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January 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 



Leslie Evans

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) is now conducting its Los Angeles County-wide homeless count every year in place of the previous every two years. The next count is set for three days in late January 2016.  Of those days, the South Los Angeles count will take place on Thursday, January 28. This is one of the poorest sections of the city with a predominately Latino and Black population. The count results here are particularly important as the numbers will affect federal and state funding to combat homelessness. As a long-time resident of South LA, I am serving on LAHSA’s committee planning the January 28 count.

Last January 5,500 volunteers turned out to cover 89% of all the blocks of every street in L.A. County. They found more than 44,000 homeless people in LA County and 25,000 in the city, a 12% increase since 2013, with an 84% increase in home­less camps and people living in vehicles.

The January 28, 2016, count takes place between 8:00 pm and Midnight. Teams, usu­ally of 3, go out with Census Tract maps. One person is the driver, one the navigator with the map, and the third is the Counter. Some 6,000 volunteers are needed for the county as a whole, and about 600 for just the South Los Angeles portion. At this writing many more volunteers are needed to get enough to cover this huge territory.

Sign-up now at the link below:

The county for many agencies is divided into Service Planning Areas (SPAs). Be sure to sign up for SPA6, which is the South Los An­geles area, to stay in our South LA neighborhoods.

Honey on El Camino Viejo

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January 1, 2016 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 


By Honey van Blossom


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



This is the map of downtown, courtesy of The Los Angeles Public Library with the Ord survey of 1849 as an insert. You can also see City Hall built on the streets that were configured in 1928. Click on map to see a larger version.


A billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles welcomes travelers to Dodgertown. Dodgertown is not a town although it has its own zip code, thanks to the Los Angeles City Council. It is a stadium and nearby Dodger-owned property. If the Mayor leaves City Hall at 200 North Spring and drives along Sunset Boulevard to Stadium Way and then up through Dodgertown, he will travel along the trunk of what was called El Camino Viejo in the now City of Los Angeles.

When the first Europeans arrived in Southern California, they encountered a plain of tough chaparral – the plants impenetrable in their hardness and thickness — ground squirrel holes, rivers that were then much more like rivers than they are now, big rocks, steep hills, creeks and marshes. The explorers traveled through this rough terrain on a native trail, guided by natives, and greeted by friendly natives that presented them with trays of seeds. The trails the explorers traveled along were eventually called El Camino Viejo. El Camino Viejo was composed of several trails that all came into aboriginal Los Angeles and left from it. Read more