Bob Adelman, 85, Is Dead

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May 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Bob Adelman, with marchers in Lowndes County on March 24, 1965 during the Selma-to-Mongomery march. ©Bob Adelman


The first news stories out of South Florida were sketchy. They raised troubling questions about the passing of renowned photographer Bob Adelman, a friend of this reporter for many years who was found dead March 19 at his home in Miami Beach. He was 85 and had been living alone for a month since the departure of a long time live-in girlfriend, a source said.

Adelman, a twice divorced native New Yorker, was best known for his pictures of the early civil rights movement, especially an iconic photograph he took of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his 1963 “I have a dream speech” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He went on to chronicle a wide swath of American society over the next six decades, ranging from the world of high concept pop artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to the seamy underground scene of hustlers and sex clubs in Manhattan.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his “I have a Dream” speech in 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. ©Bob Adelman

According to early reports from the Miami Herald, police cordoned off his art deco house with yellow crime scene tape and began interviewing neighbors after he was discovered unresponsive by a friend at 3 pm in the afternoon. He had a head wound, which fueled speculation of foul play. Other reports stated he had died of natural causes. Read more


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May 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 







Chapter 1

Uh-h-h-h, Where’s my robe? And my slippers?… as I stumble out of bed and down the hall to the kitchen to teaspoon out the last of the coffee grounds for maybe two mugs of espresso. I’ve woken up to the cry of hungry wild birds outside my bedroom window, along with Pauli, one lovable stubborn goat, loudly head banging on the back door for his crackers. I open the front door to warm sunshine and there’s Charli, my very own field cat usually not here until dusk, pushed up against the screen door meowing for crunchies. “O.K. guys, I’m heading down to the mail box.” and get followed by a gang of hummingbirds buzzing for nectar usually dangling from the eaves. Pinkles, our cocker spaniel, is dancing at my heels for jerky as I sort though the mail for my check but it’s not here. God, it’s not here and I’m wondering how the hell we’re going to make it through another day of automatic debits for the lights and gas with literally only one nickel left in my wallet. I’ve been able to ration one lone roll of toilet paper and enough food to last through this morning; we’ve got meat in the freezer but are running out of everything else. Oh the angst…..I have a knot in my stomach so big I’m sure I’m going to be constipated for a week and now just hearing on the radio that only 62 individuals hold the wealth of half this world’s population, I can no longer hold back a flood of pensive tears. Without the money you need, when you need it, you’re frozen mute, deaf, paralyzed to wait and think about the lack of it or what’s left to sell and what did I possibly do to deserve this?! Even if I do find a couple bucks, last night’s trip to the hospital ate up all the extra gas in the car. My partner, sick and disabled but with a Michigan boy’s will of steel, is finally resting comfortably in bed after yet another ordeal of waiting hours in ER only to be butchered, doped up and sent back home by Medicare’s version of health care. Having lived most of my life as a musician, I know what it’s like to live on the edge but this feels more like a slow tortuous death than simply running low on cash. Yeap, this is what it’s like living check to check. And this is what it’s like growing old, low income in America today. This is also November in southern California where frankly, since global warming, at least winter here in the high desert is the most beautifully tropical season I’ve experienced since arriving on Sunset Beach during the summer of 1978. But today, I’m slumped on my porch chair wondering how I got here?! Why do I feel like a victim with ever growing feelings of helplessness, anger and guilt, guilt about, “what if I’d only….. done this, did that, I’d have more money for……..” and man, that kind of thinking will drive you NUTS! But, here I go again, ‘falling’ into a wonderland of ‘what ifs’ and chasing that damn rabbit…… Read more


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May 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Spago sign

Photo by Barry Stein



When our monthly lunch group entered the posh setting of Beverly Hill’s best-known restaurant, I was swept back in time 35 years earlier when I had visited the fashionable Melrose Avenue bistro, Ma Maison.

I had come there representing my publishing firm to meet the young chef and part-owner of the elegant Westside establishment who had completed work on his first cookbook, which was to be released later that year. A youthfully energetic and smiling Wolfgang Puck burst through the swinging kitchen doors and greeted me warmly as he whisked me away toward his private office. “Follow me. I’ve got big news.”

Puck closed his office door and announced he was leaving Ma Maison and would soon be opening his own restaurant on the Sunset Strip. He was excited about the future of his bistro that he would call “Spago,” and we celebrated the impeccable timing of the publication of his new cookbook—Wolfgang Puck’s Modern French Cooking. Read more


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May 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Norman Berg (rt) with Harry Lee (All That Heaven Allows)

Norman Berg (rt) with author Harry Lee (“All That Heaven Allows”)



Best selling author Pat Conroy’s recent death brought back memories of the late Norman Berg, a former book salesman, who had been instrumental in the writer’s success early in his career.

Berg had been a longtime publisher’s representative who developed a legendary reputation in the South for being much more than a salesman. He had worked behind the scenes for decades as a mentor of young authors, and helped shepherd them through the publishing process. In previous decades, he had also been a pivotal influence in the careers of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Margaret Mitchell.

Berg held the distinction of being known as a demanding taskmaster of writers, including Conroy, whom he sought to teach a stronger discipline and dedication in his writing. Shortly after Conroy’s divorce in the early 1970’s, Norman moved him into the guesthouse on his 15-acre estate outside of Atlanta, where he could better focus on finishing his first novel, The Great Santini. Read more

Los Angeles Homeless Update

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May 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Former Westminster Senior Center. Venice residents are divided over Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s proposal, supported by City Councilmember Mike Bonin, to turn this vacant city-owned building into a storage facility for homeless property.

Former Westminster Senior Center. Venice residents are divided over Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s proposal, supported by City Councilmember Mike Bonin, to turn this vacant city-owned building into a storage facility for homeless property.

  Leslie Evans

Mike Bonin Gets the Ball Rolling on Aiding the Homeless in Venice

Mike Bonin, Los Angeles City Council member for District 11, which is centered on Venice, tabled four motions before the council April 15 calling for specific actions to aid Venice’s homeless. The City and County in February each adopted ambitious plans to end homelessness. But as these would cost several billion dollars that doesn’t exist in the current budgets, nothing has so far been done. Mike Bonin has moved to change that with four low-cost initiatives that can make important improvements in the lives of those still living on the streets.

There are currently a little more than 1,100 unsheltered people living in Venice, including about 60 families. Read more

Honey’s literary travels by train

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



By Honey van Blossom


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

The names of Amtrak’s train cars painted on the sides carry messages of places that have geographic and historic meaning, e.g., “Yolo River,” “Monterey Bay,” “Yosemite River,” “Owens Valley,” “Drakes Bay.” Describing the train routes to and within California compresses the landscape of this state’s literature.

The literary traveler that arrives in California by train may take the Zephyr, which runs daily between Chicago and San Francisco, coursing through the plains of Nebraska to Denver, across the Rockies to Salt Lake City, through Reno and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, through Reno and Sacramento into Emeryville. The California Zephyr connects to San Francisco by Thruway Bus Service at Emeryville. Where the Zephyr’s passage over the Sierras passes through Truckee the train roughly follows one of several routes taken by the emigrants — Americans coming into California – before there were roads.


In May 1827, forty-two years before the Transcontinental Railway reached California, Jedediah Smith, born in 1799, and his party of 15 other men crossed the Sierra Nevada (west to east). They sheltered in a Mojave village near present-day Needles, California. Two runaway Indians from the Spanish missions guided them into the Mojave Desert along the Mojave Trail, the western portion of the Old Spanish Trail. This trail began as an ancient Native American trail. Read more