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February 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Chez Jays-decor-2

By Bob Vickrey

 As you make the drive down Ocean Boulevard in Santa Monica, there stands a modest—almost ramshackle—building amid the bustling growth of new condominiums and hotels there.

The late Jay Fiondella, the founder of Chez Jay’s bar and restaurant, might well have taken exception to his beloved watering hole being listed on several sites under the designation of “LA’s Favorite Dives,” but he also might have had to acknowledge that his half-century-old iconic haunt does appear that it belongs to another era. Read more

Aussie Kron’s Wildest Bloke Is A Fellow Named Bill Jolly

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February 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Billy Jolly (left) and Kron Nicholas (right)



Bill Jolly was the wildest bloke I’ve ever come across in all my years as a pilot for Quantas. He was also one of the best instructor I ever had. We used to fly from about 2 in the morning at a place called Blyth in the desert in the Mojave Desert. Just a lonely strip with no back up services 35 minutes from San Diego. On return we’d drive down to Mexico in his pickup and drink all day at a place on the beach an hour south of Tijuana. Sleep the night and repeat the performance every other day.

Bill was an alcoholic presenting himself in whatever outrageous way the currant climate allowed at the time. Bars, women and fighting were part of the whole scene followed by indepth discussions of why the world was as it really was. Mixed in my spoils were free trips to see my grandparents, Aba and Nonnina in Los Gatos who I hadn’t seen in a life time, who for some odd reason I got on well with. Don’t really see why as I was in a state of drying out most of the time between another trip to Blyth finishing up in Mexico again. Read more

Los Angeles Strategizes How to End Homelessness

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February 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

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Leslie Evans

Faced with deepening public concern over the growing homeless crisis, both Los Angeles city and county in early January issued major plans. The more ambitious was from Los Angeles City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, a 237-page “Comprehensive Homeless Strategy” presenting a ten-year plan to reduce homelessness in the city to zero. The County posted a 113-page unsigned document titled “Draft Recommended Strategies to Combat Homelessness” that offered funding on a range of homeless-related issues for the year ahead.

Both documents contain many good ideas, make clear how complex the homeless population is, with its many distinct components, each with different needs, and propose spending very large amounts of money. We all hope the money and commitment will be found to follow through on this long-term project. Many of us remember the last ten-year plan to end homelessness. Called Bring L.A. Home, it was announced with much fanfare in 2003. It largely died by 2005, and today there are more citizens living on the streets than ever. Read more

P.S. Burbank, Horses & Bicycles…

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February 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Last month I wrote an open letter to The Burbank Leader thanking our City Council for voting 5 to 0 on a compromise measure last Dec. 14 to have the Mariposa Ave. Bridge continue to be open to all, including bicyclists. Little did I dream that immediately afterwards the local horse riding community would be organized by the owners of the Circle K Horse Stables to use their considerable local political power to reverse that decision, although I suspected something was amiss when I saw one of the Council members meeting at the bridge with Circle K people only a couple of days after the vote. He would say to me then that he was there “for personal reasons only” and then refusing to say more to me.

I was not surprised, then, when I learned that a second vote was scheduled for Jan. 26 to reconsider the previous vote, which I sadly then expected to see reversed as a result. I was unprepared, however, for the throng of horseback riders who showed up for that Council meeting, all bitterly angry at the previous vote to allow bicyclists to walk their bikes over the bridge and go southward on the asphalt service road towards the Victory Blvd. overpass and the LA River Bike Path beyond. Dozens of the horse folks got up to address the Council to angrily denounce bike riders as interlopers on “our bridge”, stating that there would be inevitable horse stampedes, injuries, and an end to their neighborhood way of life itself! None of them, however, were able to cite any accidents or injuries that had ever occurred on the bridge resulting from the presence of a bicycle, and none seemed to understand that the bridge does not exclusively belong to them, but is owned by ALL Burbank taxpayers.

I later asked a Leader reporter present at the Council meeting if he was aware of any previous unanimous decision being re-considered for a do-over only six weeks after a decision had been made, and then being it reversed by another 5 to 0 vote, and he said he was not aware of any such precedent for that, but that’s what did happen at that emotionally charged meeting on Jan. 26.

So now, for the first time since the Mariposa Bridge was first opened in 1938, it is still legal to hike across it but its forbidden by the City of Burbank to not only ride, but also push or even carry a bicycle over it, which can then result in a citation for “Unlawful Possession Of A Bicycle”.

Doug Weiskopf

Honey travels through California’s geographic, plant, animal and bird past

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


By Honey van Blossom






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


Credit for the image is Bonnie Lambert’s “Palisade,” tall palms against the sky in Santa Monica.

Copyright 2015. Permission to use granted by the artist.



Kern County in the southern end of the Central Valley of California began keeping tally of drowning deaths in the Kern River in 1968. As of May 2015, the sign at the entrance to Kern Canyon states that total is 271.

Before Kern County began its tally, children swam in the Kern River. Those of us who survived remember the powerful rush of water pushing us through champagne-colored water, flecks of gold swimming around us glittering like gold minnows in the place just before the rapids.

The Kern River is one of the main waterways that drain the southern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. In 1853, Richard M. Keyes discovered gold in a quartz vein a few miles from the present community of Lake Isabella in the Kern River Valley. An instant mining town called Keyesville sprang up at the site. In 1858, an Indian called Lovely Rogers chased his mule. He picked up a rock to throw at it, and the glint of gold in the rock caught his eye. Rogersville began at the entrance to the gold mine, shaded by California bay laurels. Read more