How Important Are Flying Wings In These Coming Years Of City Planning And Grand Universal Design

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October 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 









Back before the Golden State (5) Freeway was finished in the early 1950s, I had a mentor who owned a lab on Riverside Drive in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. He was a short, dark man, a Turkish Jew born in Harlem in 1916 of parents from Istanbul and Haifa. Like his ill-educated parents, futurist Jacque Fresco had no verifiable college degree. But he had nonetheless become famous as an industrial designer, specifically for the flying wing aircraft that he helped create with Los Angeles aviation pioneer Jack Northrop. He was Aircraft Designer for the Northrop Division of Douglas Aircraft, Los Angeles, California, in1939. Fresco and Northrop had disagreements but they nonetheless worked together closely.

This March, Fresco, who has worked as both designer and inventor in several fields, turned 100 years old and the UN presented him with an award for his work in city planning. It was on this occasion that I talked with him.

I had first walked in Fresco’s lab when I was about 10 years of age—probably in 1952. Our discussion immediately took me back to meeting the flying wing guy. Read more

Remembering 9/11 in New York 15 years later

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October 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 



The September morning sunlight was so bright that all seemed well with the world.

It was 9/ll. My computer had just crashed and I needed to get out of my apartment to email resumes to prospective employers. There had been a recent downsizing and elimination of my writing job at a trade magazine conglomerate in lower Manhattan. My socialist lawyer, who worked nearby, had gotten me a decent severance and I was in a good mood.

And so I walked jauntily past Union Square en route to a trendy East Village Internet cafe on University Place called The News Bar. Approaching an intersection, I wondered vaguely why the hell there was a ring of fire around one of the twin towers at the World Trade Center.

The towers, each 110 stories high, were still intact and I could see them clearly around 8:50 in the morning. I had no fear, telling myself that the blaze on the upper floors of the North Tower had to be the result of some kind of accident or electrical malfunction within that famous New York City skyscraper. I knew a terrorist truck bomb had exploded in a basement garage of the building in 1993, killing six, but that incident was now a distant memory. Read more


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Photo by Barry Stein

Photo by Barry Stein


When my 18-year-old niece Olivia told me in April she would be enrolling this fall at Pepperdine University in Malibu, I was excited that I’d finally have some family living near me on the West Coast.

Nashville born-and-raised Olivia has always exhibited a spirit of adventure and had told her parents that she preferred attending Pepperdine or the University of Hawaii to one of the southern schools where most of her friends were headed.

Remembering my own college experience at Baylor and recalling the excitement of living on my own for the first time, I realized that if I’d had an “Uncle Bob” living in Waco back then, he probably would not have been at the top of my speed-dial list—even if we’d had such features back in the day of the archaic rotary phone. Read more


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October 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Bob Vickrey

In the interest of serving mankind and reporting on our monthly lunch club adventures by touring Southern California’s most legendary restaurants, we have occasionally sacrificed food quality for a stroll down memory lane.

We decided it was time to replace some of those palate-numbing experiences by eating at a place that has become synonymous with elegant dining—Chinois on Main in Santa Monica—which became an L.A. institution shortly after opening its doors in 1983. Wolfgang Puck’s sequel to his landmark Spago restaurant provided his introduction to “Asian-fusion” and was praised by critics as innovative and imaginative.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those Westside food snobs. My dining habits range from chowing down on local take-out as I sit behind my T.V. tray to eating while standing over the kitchen sink. My lack of sophistication regarding food runs so deep that I discovered recently that Arugula was not an African country bordering Namibia. Read more

Doug Weiskopf: Documentary Film About Truffaut On Hitchcock

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October 1, 2016 · Posted in Miscellany · Comment 

By Doug Weiskopf

Recently I was watching a 2015 award winning documentary movie, “Hitchcock/Truffaut”, made about Francios Truffaut, French film director, screen writer, actor, and critic about his famous interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, which was based on his classic book on the same subject in 1966. The film included commentary by several noted movie directors, including Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and Paul Schrader.

In both the documentary movie and the book Hitchcock and his long illustrious career in film making was lionized and his influence on several generations of directors was made clear. It was during the long segment on what was perhaps Hitchcock’s finest film, “Vertigo”, that I realized what a master manipulator of audiences the wiley old Alfred truly was, as he has utterly fooled, right up to the present, all of the smart sounding directors and film critics who narrated the Hitchcock documentary. Read more


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October 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 




By Bob Vickrey

When I picked up the morning paper recently and read about the death of Thomas Steinbeck, I was taken aback after having received a message from him only a couple of months earlier.

Even though I had never met the eldest son of Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck, I remember flinching involuntarily when a message from Thom popped up on my computer screen. In today’s world of social media where we all seem to be somehow connected, he had seen the tribute I had written about my old friend and writer Pat Conroy after his sudden death earlier in the year, and was simply letting me know that I had successfully captured Conroy’s spirit and courage as a writer.

I remember sitting at my computer and staring at the Steinbeck name with what could only be described as sheer boyhood wonder and excitement after having read his father’s landmark classics as a teenager. Where does one begin in listing favorite John Steinbeck titles? I remember having loved “The Red Pony” and “Travels with Charley” as a boy. Read more