The Man From Pasadena Who Strode The Globes

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

By Lionel Rolfe

Guard Hall at his control console in the Deep Space Control Area.

Guard Hall at his control console in the Deep Space Control Area, November 1980.


Thirty-five years ago in Pasadena I met a young man at JPL from where a device was rocketed to Jupiter. The Voyager was a VW-sized vehicle powered by nuclear fuel, with solar panels and broadcast antennas. Guard Hall was the “Ops Chief” for the Voyager spacecraft. Launched in 1977, the Voyager craft acquired images & scientific data from encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and their moons. He was involved in another related mission, the earlier one to Mars.

Guard Hall—his name apparently came from a military childhood—believed very much in the idea of life  on Jupiter’s largest satellite Titan, and on Mars. He lived a wonderfully scientific life, more mystical than it should have been. He may have been the most mystical around JPL, he says. His job there was to command the Space Flights Operation Facility in the bottom rung of a five-story computer building. Hall, born in 1948, studied psychology, computers and space stations. Read more

The Late Lynne Stewart

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Lynne Stewart on her website (one with her husband Ralph Poynter) not long before she died.


The Blind Shiek, Stewart’s most famous defendant, died Feb.18 –about 3 weeks before Stewart’s passing.


Photo of Lynne Stewart and husband Ralph Poynter at rally in lower Manhattan before she was imprisoned for helping “blind shiekh,” a convicted terrorist, communicate with his followers in Egypt.

By Mary Reinholz

Detractors of the late Lynne Stewart view her as a disbarred mouthpiece for evildoers who was imprisoned for helping a convicted terrorist communicate with his violent followers in Egypt. Her mostly leftist supporters revere the once prominent lawyer from Manhattan’s Lower East Side as a zealous defender of the poor and the grievously oppressed. Read more


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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Hollywood Writer and Director Robert Pirosh

By Bob Vickrey

Writer Robert Pirosh wrote what is likely the gold standard of resumes in 1934 when he penned a letter to Hollywood directors, producers and studio executives.

The well-paid 24 year-old copy editor who was living in New York City decided he wanted a career as a screenwriter and wrote this playful letter that would hopefully catch someone’s attention at the studios. Not surprisingly, this lively and exuberant romp immediately opened doors for him.

April 23, 1934

Dear Sirs,

I like words. I like fat buttery words such as ooze,

turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular,

creaky words such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious,

valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words such

as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like

suave V-words such as Svengali, svelte bravura, verve.

I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words such as splinter,

grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling

words such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Good-

Heavens-my-gracious-land’s-sake words, such as tricksy,

tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, glowery words

such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like

wormy, squirmy, mealy words such as crawl, blubber, squeal,

drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words such as cowlick,

gurgle, bubble and burp. I like the word screenwriter

better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a

New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood,

but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of

study, contemplation and horsing around. I have just returned

and I still like words. May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh

Read more

The Effects on the Homeless Nationwide from President Trump’s Budget

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


[The following message on President Trump’s budget request was issued March 16 by Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, based in Washington, D.C. It is reprinted with permission.]


*   *   *


President Trump’s budget slashes critical resources used to help keep housed some of the country’s lowest income and most vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and formerly homeless individuals. At a time when America’s housing crisis has reached historic heights and the lowest income people suffer the most severe impacts, proposals to further cut these vital resources are unconscionable and unacceptable.

President Trump proposes to cut overall HUD funding by 13% or $6.2 billion compared to 2016 levels. When compared to funding levels needed for FY 2017, the proposed cuts amount to a 15% or $7.5 billion reduction. Read more


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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Du-par's entrance

By Bob Vickrey

Du-par’s Restaurant and Bakery employees take their pancake preparation so seriously that they seem to consider pancakes as their own separate food group. Our monthly lunch club decided to get equally serious and investigate their findings firsthand.

When James Dunn and Edward Parsons founded Du-par’s in 1938, they opened a simple nine-stall booth adjacent to the Farmers Market that eventually became one of the most famous coffee shops in Los Angeles. (The partners combined a portion of their surnames to come up with the name of their new restaurant.) Read more

Threatened Section 8 Cutbacks Will Boost Los Angeles Homelessness

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Leslie Evans

President Trump’s proposed $54 billion cutback in discretionary spending in order to fund a matching increase in the military budget hits hardest at programs for the poor and homeless. The most obvious is the $6.2 billion from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Cuts from other federal agencies that affect low-income people run the total to well over $10 billion, notably $4.2 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services, which operates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The proposed budget also eliminates the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness, the coordinating body for 19 government agencies that work on homelessness. Read more

Honey Continues to Live in Concord, California

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


By Honey van Blossom


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



My house is one of perhaps thirty 1956 houses at the edge of the Canterbury Village subdivision. The thirty houses are regular square houses. Most of the true Canterbury houses are two stories with steep roofs and a brick chimney.

There is no village in Canterbury Village. There are houses and on the nearest main streets commercial businesses but the word “village” does not describe our neighborhood.

The streets of the Canterbury Village are named Shakespeare, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Cape Cod (no cape, and no cod), Chaucer Drive, Pickwick Drive, Lancelot, Churchill, Cobblestone Drive. I live on Shakespeare.

I thought for years that the three men that live on Shakespeare Drive were the same man but recently have been able to distinguish them. They all wear very long gray-brown beards, baseball caps, are stocky, and they all walk in a hunched way as if they had serious back injuries at one time, and maybe they all did. One, however, rides a motorcycle, and another one rides a convertible and plays the same song over and over loudly. The other one just stands at the edge of his lawn. They emerge from different houses. Read more