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August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Dodgers Pitcher Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers Pitcher Clayton Kershaw

By Bob Vickrey

The Dodgers were down 4-1 to the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth inning with no outs and no one on base. That ominous situation made me wonder why I was still standing in my living room holding the remote control instead of going to bed.

But since I’m not really much of a baseball fan, the larger question was why I was watching the Dodgers game in the first place. In recent weeks, that’s also what my friends have wanted to know. “What’s gotten into Bob?” they ask. They know I’ve always claimed that watching baseball is about as exciting as watching grass grow.

So, just as I started to click off the game and head toward the bedroom, right fielder Yasiel Puig hit a leadoff single and the Dodgers’ crowd slowly began to stand and cheer as if they had seen this scenario before. Read more

More than 120,000 Students Are Homeless in LA County

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August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Leslie Evans

The number seems shocking. Even impossible. The total homeless in LA County from the January 2017 official count only came to 57,000. But the number is real and actually understates the total, as it does not include UCLA, USC, or the Claremont colleges.

The disparity is because the county’s K-12 system, the Community College District, and the Cal State University system have a more inclusive definition of homelessness. The official counts by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority are run under the federal HUD rules, which include only people living in a homeless shelter, or a place not intended for human habitation. The school districts include students with no permanent address, sleeping on someone’s couch or in motel or garage. Read more


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August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
The Proud Bird restaurant reopens.

The Proud Bird restaurant reopens. All photos: Barry Stein.

By Bob Vickrey

The recent reopening of The Proud Bird Restaurant on Aviation Boulevard near LAX offered a different kind of experience for our monthly lunch group with its reimagined “Food Bazaar” and interactive aviation exhibits.

As we entered the open-air food hall with a giant replica of a P-40 Flying Tiger hovering above us from the vaulted ceiling, I thought perhaps they had misspelled the word “bizarre.” Communal tables, lounge seating, and the Mile High Club Bar surround the open kitchen area. The presentation appeared to be “Snoopy and the Red Baron buzz Grand Central Smorgasbord” with a little dash of “Admirals Club” thrown in for good measure. Read more

Toilet Crisis on Skid Row

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August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Leslie Evans

In January and February, 24 people from 15 organizations, calling themselves the Los Angeles Central Providers Collaborative, conducted an audit of toilets available to the homeless in Downtown’s 50-block Skid Row. Their shocking findings became headline news when they released their 64-page report, “No Place to Go,” in late June. For a nighttime unsheltered population they listed at 1,777, they found only 9 working public toilets, all of them at a single location: the Midnight Mission shelter, 601 S. San Pedro Street. This is eight blocks from the northeast and northwest corners of Skid Row and 9 blocks from the southeast border. A long walk at night. The number of estimated users was taken from the 2016 homeless count, and is today more than 2,000. Read more


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August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Photo by Barry Stein

Photo by Barry Stein

By Bob Vickrey

Entering Dinah’s Restaurant brought back youthful memories of my hometown diner where I hung out with friends and routinely argued about how much each of us owed after the bill arrived.

Back in the day, my evening hangout was Angel’s Grill in Pasadena, Texas (yes, we also had a Pasadena.) The place had red-pleated vinyl booths and a mini-juke box on every table—to which we repeatedly fed nickels and dimes to hear Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” The seasoned blue-haired waitresses patiently tolerated our excessive behavior while we stared at the cute girl with a ponytail in the corner booth who looked like Sandra Dee. (But on second glance, we realized all the girls in that booth had ponytails and looked like Sandra Dee.)

Our monthly lunch club group thought a trip to Dinah’s Family Restaurant on Sepulveda Boulevard might rekindle some of the “diner” nostalgia of our past—hopefully, without the ensuing traditional battle over the bill. Read more

Honey explains the first roads through Los Angeles

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


By Honey van Blossom


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

Misperceptions about the role of the aboriginal people of Southern California in building the city begin with the road system, a system possibly 13,000 years old.  Understanding the native American road system is a way to reveal that human behavior is not static, that the world of people is not one thing determined by immutable rules, but that it can be – and has been – much different from what it is now.

“In the New World,” wrote Carl Sauer in his 1932 monograph The Road to Cibola, “the routes of great explorations usually have become historic highways and thus has been forged a link connecting the distant past with the modern present. For the explorers followed main trails beaten by many generations of Indian travel.” Read more