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December 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Puttin’ On the Ritz in the Palisades.

By Bob Vickrey

The recent Los Angeles Times business section story that described our town using words like “exclusive,” “affluent,” and “wealthy,” had me wondering if I was reading about the same Pacific Palisades where I’ve lived for years

The story was ostensibly about the opening of the new Bay Theater, which is the centerpiece of developer Rick Caruso’s Palisades Village, but the writer’s depiction of our small coastal village made it sound like it had suddenly morphed into downtown Beverly Hills. A spokesman for the Cinepolis movie theater chain was quoted in the same article, and said the Bay Theater was designed to appeal to “the wealthy locals and celebrity clientele.” He also mentioned the “Hollywood heavyweights who make their homes nearby.” Read more

A Crusty Problem about Voluntary Homeless

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December 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Crusties aka travelers outside their Second Avenue “home” in East Village where three buildings fell during a deadly 2015 gas explosion. All photos are by Mary Reinholz.

By Mary Reinholz

A catastrophic illness or job loss can render ordinary citizens homeless in Donald Trump’s supposedly more prosperous America. These U.S. citizens in need of food and shelter have become multitudes.

In 2018, millions of them– many impoverished, others deranged – flooded urban centers like my native Los Angeles County where homelessness increased by 23 percent last year. Homeless amount to almost 65,000 in my adopted New York City, among them an estimated 23,000 children. Single people and couples who do not stay in the city’s homeless shelters often seem to overwhelm the streets and parks of downtown Manhattan, where a few sleep in cardboard boxes around the corner of my eastside block of brownstones near Union Square.

Some begging for cash on the sidewalks are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others are employed men and women who lack sufficient income to pay rent for permanent housing. Read more

“China Girls”

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November 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

By Katherine Hisako Glascock

[Katherine Hisako Fukami Glascock (August 31, 1940-October 15, 2017) was a musician, artist, and was best known as a landscape designer. She was married to Baylis Glascock, who we have featured previously on this website, for more than 50 years. In a May 22, 2003, article on her work in the Los Angeles Times, the paper’s garden specialist Emily Green wrote:

[“Katherine Glascock creates gardens that express the true nature of the land and the people who live there. No two are alike, but all bring together strength and elegance.”

[Baylis has made available to us two samples of Katherine’s writing. The first, “Finding Bambi,” written in the late 1990s, we featured in our October 1, 2018, postings. This month we are publishing her essay “China Girls,” written on May 15, 2013.]

*  *  *

The following is from the program notes of a Los Angeles Filmforum presentation, titled “China Girls”, May 12, 2013, Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian.

“The various faces of the ‘China girl’, sometimes called a ‘China doll’ or ‘girl head’, have appeared in more films than any actress, though she is almost never seen, save for the fleeting glimpses an audience might catch at the end of a film reel. These images of a woman, positioned next to color swatches, have appeared on the leader of every commercial manufactured film since the late 1920s and continue in limited use today. The China girl image is instrumental in determining exposure, image density, and color balance, forming a kind of cinematic unconscious. Her essential but often overlooked role in film history has also made her a compelling subject for experimental filmmakers variously examining issues of celluloid materiality, the behind-the-scenes workings of the film industry, and the often marginal role of women. In some cases, the China girl is no less than the enigmatic icon of a vanishing medium.”

–Genevieve Yue Read more

Finding Bambi

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October 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


By Kathering Hisako Glascock

[Katherine Hisako Fukami Glascock (August 31, 1940-October 15, 2017) was a musician, artist, and was best known as a landscape designer. She was married to Baylis Glascock, who we have featured previously on this website, for more than 50 years. In a May 22, 2003, article on her work in the Los Angeles Times, the paper’s garden specialist Emily Green wrote:

[“Katherine Glascock creates gardens that express the true nature of the land and the people who live there. No two are alike, but all bring together strength and elegance.”

[Baylis Glascock has offered us two of her writings, dating from the late 1990s. We have added notes in square brackets on a few of the people she mentions.]

* * *

At the garden on the Malibu coast I saw him in the distance with his friend. As I recognized him they both looked my way. She was tall and graceful; they were a handsome couple. The light from the ocean and the overhead blue outlined them standing in a green wave of gently lilting fine grasses. Seeing them at that distance across the garden, so beautiful, having stopped in the midst of some conversation, both their heads turned toward me like a pair of deer, alert: a sense of formality, a kind of separateness came over me. And I hesitated to go toward them. And to this day I regret having missed the opportunity. How often I have imagined myself stepping through the long sweeps of grasses, greeting them with confidence and a smile, and all of it turning out differently. Read more


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October 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


By Bob Vickrey

Last Thursday evening I discovered that Palisades Village developer Rick Caruso is a very accommodating guy. He must have known that I’ve become somewhat of a hermit in recent years and rarely travel east of Bundy Drive, so he decided to have his Grand Opening Gala in my front yard—which is only a slight exaggeration.

My house on Monument Street sits near the intersection of Swarthmore Avenue, which has become the new retail nexus of our town—and judging by the recent Wall Street Journal profile of Caruso, the retail shopping and entertainment model of the future.

Last Thursday’s special occasion honored members of the project team who planned and built the new shopping complex. The Wolfgang Puck-catered dinner was also held to introduce the new tenants who are opening shops and restaurants in the village center. Several city dignitaries attended, but more to the point; what would a grand opening in L.A. be without a bevy of celebrity guests for such an august occasion?

When members of my party arrived on the red carpet walkway—sans entourage and the obligatory black Escalade—I immediately spotted actresses Charlize Theron and Kate Beckinsale, as well as Palisades Honorary Mayors Janice and Billy Crystal. This auspicious scene naturally begged the obvious question: What the heck was I doing here? Read more

Pacifist/Socialist Leader David McReynolds dead at 88

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September 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

David McReynolds in 2014. Photo by Ed Hedemann



The first version appeared in The Villager, a downtown Manhattan weekly.

 For nearly 40 years, the late pacifist and democratic socialist David McReynolds traveled the world as field secretary for the War Resisters League on missions of peace and social justice. He burned his draft card in Union Square during a 1965 protest against the war in Vietnam when it was a felony to do so. He later became the first openly gay candidate for president when he ran twice on the Socialist Party USA ticket in 1980 and 2000.

But this courteous and kindly man, a native son of Los Angeles who had planned his own memorial, beginning with blues by Bessie Smith and ending with Beethoven’s Ninth, did not go gentle into that good night.

On the evening of Wed., Aug. 15, friends discovered him lying on the floor unconscious with a “gash to his head” inside his first-floor railroad flat in Manhattan’s East Village, his beloved Siamese cat Shaman nearby. He had apparently fallen. His friends called the police, whose officers gained entry to the unit by going into the basement, and then to the back of the building, finding an open window. Read more

The Girl in the Sousaphone Box

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September 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

New London, Missouri, High School band, 1954. Baylis Glascock is in the front row, last on the right. Click to enlarge.

Baylis Glascock

It was the first year our rural school district had a band. The basketball coach had a brand new ’54 Buick and I had a new cornet. The inside of the cornet case was incredibly plush and reeked of pungent newness. The excitement of possessing this splendid thing was almost as overwhelming as the disappointment at not being able to make a musical sound the first time I tried to play it.

The notion of having a school band was a grand and heady one. It had always seemed that other schools had a band but not us, and now we would have one. The Band Mothers was formed to raise money for uniforms. They held bake sales in the front window of Thomas’s Hardware store. They held a chili supper in the Vocational Ag shop space and they asked for donations. And finally, after great effort, they were able to buy some other school’s cast-off used uniforms. The uniforms had the smell of aged wool and evaporated sweat; buttonholes were frayed, and little hooks that held the coats closed at the collar needed repair. But we forgave all imperfections. The uniforms seemed the very essence of splendor and importance. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: Catch Me If You Can

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August 2, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

May 2011, Albany to LA, SW Flight #4938

Vicki Whicker

The morning sky is orange and pink and purple, the ground is a lush patchwork of greens and blues.

I’m on my way back to the relentless sun and baked neutrals of Southern California.

I already miss central New York.

I pick up my pen and open my journal…but how to describe the first taste of my future?

This Mother’s Day weekend trip, from Los Angeles to central New York, was my first visit to my new-old house.

Back in April, I bought the house, sight unseen, from a post on Facebook. My soon to be New York neighbor (a former LA acquaintance), Jim, is responsible for this purchase. He posted a photo of a forlorn little house for sale and asked, “Who wants to be my neighbor?” And, there it was, my little house, in a field of mud and snow… Read more

Dershowitz dishes on not impeaching Trump

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August 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Alan Dershowitz in his Twitter photo.


Another version of this article first appeared in The Villager, a downtown Manhattan weekly.

Alan Dershowitz, famed criminal defense lawyer and professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, has been taking heat from fellow liberals for criticizing Special Counsel Robert Mueller and defending the civil liberties of right-wing Republican President Donald Trump, the subject of Dershowitz’s latest book, “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.”

But last Wednesday evening, the lifelong Democrat and contrarian who is nearly 80 and best known for representing notorious clients like O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow over five decades of courtroom combats, received a warm welcome on the fourth floor of Barnes & Noble at Union Square in downtown Manhattan. There he was interviewed by Josh Barro, a senior editor of Business Insider. Read more


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August 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


By Bob Vickrey 

Many years ago, and far away from the bright lights of packed football stadiums filled with cheering fans, there was another annual ritual playing out more quietly on sandlots in just about every Texas town across the state.

Thousands of boys like me, who had never played varsity football, gathered for our own version of the game on deserted and dusty schoolyard fields.

Houston’s scorching, humid summer months were hardly a deterrent for the boys of our town to assemble in the late afternoons and engage in competitive games of touch football. By early August there was already a sense of anticipation in the air about the upcoming fall football season, and many of us gathered as if we were training for the first game—even though few of us were actually members of any organized team. Read more

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