New Book by Lionel Rolfe: “The Fat Man Returns”

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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

The_Fat_Man_ Returns_Cover

This is a sequel to The Fat Man on The Left: Four Decades in the Underground, published in 1998. The first book came about when author Lionel Rolfe wrote about Rush Limbaugh in the San Francisco Chronicle, before Limbaugh was particularly famous. From there it traced many curious byways of the newspaper business and characters that business comes in contact with. The new volume is a series of essays focused on the Bohemian life and literature of California. It tells about musicians and actors, writers and poets, but also politics, philosophy, city planning, and the ugliness of human beings toward animals—everything from elephants to birds. Here you will find keyboard pioneer George Duke, Yoga teacher Indra Devi, dying Sierra glaciers, the coffee house scene of the 60s in Venice, labor organizing, Echo Park bohemians, the decline of the Los Angeles Times, the once-famous L.A. Free Press, and other matters of great import. Rolfe also squarely faces his own left wing politics, and admits it hasn’t changed him during the decades of his life. At the end, he returns to our brutal treatment of the animal world—“Are We Really The Smartest Creatures on Earth.”

Available now from Amazon:

Paperback: $12.95  Kindle: $9.50


Trump’s Attacks on the Press get Fierce Blowback from Top NYC Journalists

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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Sold out crowd at NYU’s Skirball Center auditorium


From left, Lydia Polgreen, Huffington Post; Jacob Weisberg, Slate; Borja Echevarria,  vice president and editor- in- chief of Univision and David Remnick, The New Yorker


CNN’s Brian Stelter, moderator

Photos by Mary Reinholz


Article 12, Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776: “…The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.”

He has demonized reporters as among “the most dishonest creatures on earth.” Stephen K. Bannon, his rightwing chief strategist, has called them the “opposition party” and said they should just “shut up.”

Donald J. Trump’s long running war against the traditionally Democratic press grinds on. But five days into his first term as Republican president of the United States, the former real estate mogul turned commander in chief got some fierce blowback from a group of top journalists meeting on stage at New York University’s Skirball Center auditorium in Greenwich Village.

They had gathered there for a panel discussion, titled “Not The New Normal,” on how to cover America’s new president in a changing media landscape pockmarked by fake news, “alternative facts” and outright lies, many emanating from the White House, they said. Read more

What Is A Nation?

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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Trump says if you don’t have borders you don’t have a nation. That’s wrong. A nation is not geography, it’s a group of peoples with a common culture who agree to be a nation. There are no borders in nature. Look at a rainbow. Red blends into orange, blue blends into green, and so on. Borders are like children drawing a chalk line on the playground and play fighting over the line. Great fun when applied to football games; deadly when applied to reality. If there are no borders, there are no border wars. As John Lennon said, “Imagine there’s no countries, it’s easy if you try.”

John Owen

Los Angeles

What Happens If There Are No Borders?

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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Leslie Evans

John Owens raises an understandable discomfort with national borders in the era of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. Their unfeeling extremism and ultra-nationalism are reprehensible and contrary to more widely accepted American values.

Our country has gone back and forth on this issue for a long time. The massive wave of immigration from Russia and Eastern and Southern Europe from the 1880s led to the extremely restrictive rules of the 1924 Immigration Act, which set quotas that virtually excluded everybody except from the major West European countries like Germany and France, and from Great Britain.

The 1965 revision opened the gates pretty broadly, especially with its family reunification provisions. Nevertheless, even that liberal reinterpretation did not simply throw the doors open to all comers.

Nations are not at all just groups of people who think alike and chose to live together. Great Britain is the result of centuries of warfare with the Scottish, Irish, and Welsh. Spain, France, Germany, and Italy, are all states that were formed through the forcible unification of many rival principalities. Read more


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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Spitfire Grill-1


Photos by Barry Stein

From the moment our monthly lunch club entered the Spitfire Grill restaurant in Santa Monica, I began envisioning a place like this in our own village.

This informal neighborhood bistro and bar across the street from the Santa Monica Airport felt immediately like home as we were escorted to our table—and as I simultaneously began helping Rick Caruso plan his Palisades Village Project with an excellent restaurant choice for his consideration.

The “Spitfire” had its roots in the old Lindaire Coffee Shop that opened on the same site in 1954 by a young Air Force Lieutenant who had grown tired of the complaining by his fellow pilots at Douglas Aircraft about having nowhere to eat in the airport area. The restaurant quickly became the favored dining spot and hangout for the aircraft workers at Douglas as well as for the employees of nearby Clover Field. Read more

Living in Your Car or RV? Here Are the New Rules on Where You Can and Can’t Park

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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Portion of map to guide homeless parking in Southwest LAPD area.

Portion of map to guide homeless parking in Southwest LAPD area.



Leslie Evans

In November the City Council adopted a revised law restricting living in vehicles on city street. The revised law took effect January 7, 2017, but police are holding off enforcement until early February. The change takes the form of a revision of Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 85.02 – Vehicle Dwelling.

A previous total ban was struck down by a federal court in 2014, on the grounds that it was too vague. That law defined a violation as being seen sleeping in a vehicle or a car filled with household goods, which the court ruled could apply to anyone.

The new version of 85.02 prohibits living in a car or RV within one block (500 feet) of licensed schools, pre-schools, daycare facilities, or parks. It also prohibits living in a vehicle at night on any residential street. The new rule is a test. It is scheduled to expire on July 1, 2018, at which time it will be reviewed by the City Council and a more long-term decision made. Read more

Honey Talks About Two journeys through California from Los Angeles in 1912

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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 


By Honey van Blossom


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


1912 driving costume.

1912 driving costume.


An Englishman named J. Smeaton Chase settled in Southern California in 1890, when he was twenty-six.  The best known of Chase’s books is California Coast Trails: A Horseback Ride from Mexico to Oregon, published when he was forty-seven about his travel on horseback on trails from San Diego to the Oregon border wearing a broad-brimmed Stetson hat, riding breeches, leather puttees and a tweed coat.

From Chase’s California Coast Trails:

“Carl Eytel the painter and I were riding down the south road from El Monte one midsummer morning, with our blankets rolled behind our saddles and other appurtenances of outdoor living slung about us. Ever since I had lived in California I had been waiting for an opportunity to explore the coast regions of the State. At last the time had come when I could do it; and Eytel, my companion on other journeys in the mountains and deserts of the West, was free to join me for the southern part of the expedition.

“Our object was to view at our leisure this country, once of such vast quiescence, now of such spectacular changes. Especially we wished to see what we could of its less commonplace aspects before they should have finally passed away: the older manner of life in the land; the ranch-houses of ante-Gringo days; the Franciscan Missions, relics of the era of the padre, and the don, the large, slow life of the sheep and cattle ranges, and whatever else we could find lying becalmed in the backwaters of the hurrying stream of Progress.” Read more