The Misadventures of Ari Mendelsohn: A Mostly True Memoir of California Journalism

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Lionel Rolfe

Please accept for your thoughtful consideration THE MISADVENTURES OF ARI MENDELSOHN: A Mostly True Memoir Of California Journalism. This picaresque memoir by noted author and journalist LIONEL ROLFE recounts the sexual and political travails of the irascible, blacklisted title character, a reporter still harboring his besieged idealistic belief in humanity’s innate goodness and America’s dubious potential for good amid a reality of avarice, pragmatism, cynicism, and materialism.

With his usual sharp self-deprecating wit and affable honesty, ROLFE describes Ari’s astonishing array of encounters that run the gambit from the hilarious to the horrific, from the astute to the bewildering, from the desirous to the dangerous, from the death-defying to the life-affirming. As he searches for purpose in a life of drudgery and debacle, along the way Ari must contend with a Military Academy captain with an all-too-avid interests in the students under his “command”; old-time police reporters and the corrupt detectives whom they depend on for the inside scoop; old Stalinists and labor radicals; the long-established, well-entrenched defenders of America’s conservative, God-loving majority; porn stars and gurus false and true and a holographic pin-up; and the all-too-real one-dimensional political operators and kingpins. Read more

More from the Shaggy Man: Essays by Leslie Evans

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386 pp. in paper. Kindle price: $9.50

This second volume of Leslie Evans’ Shaggy Man essays offers fifteen new selections. “On the Track of the Elusive Baron Long” offers the only extensive biographical sketch of one of Southern California’s most fascinating characters, creator in the little industrial city of Vernon, California, what is reputed to have been the first real night club in America. Long later hired a nineteen-year-old high school dropout to design the most exquisite and expensive hotel and casino in the Western Hemisphere.


Two pieces look at Peak Oil, challenging today’s hype that fracked oil in North Dakota and Texas will solve America’s energy problems. “Symptoms of U.S. Decline” presents statistics that show the United States has fallen far behind all the other advanced countries and even many from the third world on a wide range of indices from education to infrastructure, poverty, homelessness, healthcare, upward mobility, economic inequality, and prison populations. Read more

Literary L.A. – Lionel Rolfe

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Expanded From the Original Classic and Featuring the Coffeehouse Scene Then and Now

Lionel Rolfe

Beyond L.A.’s self-promotional glitter is a hotbed of writers, bohemians, mad poets, exiles and refugees from every form of oppression – and this book tells their stories. The new additions include • bohemian and apocalyptic streams in L.A. writing • the thriving coffeehouse scene, including the new L.A. poets • additional chapters by John Ahouse. Among the transients, literary gypsies, bohemians and writers in imposed or self-imposed exile are Oscar Zeta Acosta, Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, Ken Kesey, Carey McWilliams, Charles Lummis, Jacob Zeitlin, Louis Adamic, Nathanel West, Robinson Jeffers, Malcolm Lowry, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser, and many others. Read more


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Phyl van Ammers

Long serialized here on Boryanabooks, Phyl van Ammers generations-long tribute to the people of the near mythical Edendale in Los Angeles’s northern hills, now better known as Echo Park and Silverlake, is now available as an Amazon Kindle book.

Los Angeles lacks the human presence on the streets that other large cities have. This city is at the end of America: socially fragmented and spatially dispersed. It sometimes seems as if this city exists without people.
One of the pockets of vibrant urban life in Los Angeles includes the districts of Silver Lake, Echo Park, and part of East Hollywood: Edendale. Read more

Shaggy Man’s Ramblings: Essays by Leslie Evans

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Leslie Evans

Here from The Shaggy Man’s Place (, everything from ecological crises and religious wars to Edwardian authors, the scandal plagued city of Vernon, early computer games, and local Los Angeles history.

International oil production has been frozen since 2005 while demand from our 7 billion and growing global population continues upward, forcing prices of oil, gasoline, and food ever higher. Our political leaders stake our future on a strategy of economic growth just as the planet is hitting its physical limits on nonrenewable resources, from oil to farmland to potable water. Here is a close look at what we really are up against — along with a review of the really bad experience with the Marxist alternative system. Read more

Fat Man on the Left: Four Decades in the Underground

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Lionel Rolfe

From Booklist

Why might a reader pick up this anecdotal memoir of an unusual life? Rolfe’s uncle is Yehudi Menuhin; both belong to the Schneersohn family from which leaders of the Lubavitcher movement are drawn. Rolfe has written for several dozen major publications (and been blacklisted out of several dozen more, thanks to his politics). He wrote two books on “Literary L.A.,” where he grew up, and has met, interviewed, and/or interacted with dozens of writers, politicians, actors, rock stars, and other notables over the past several decades. In this volume’s 16 essays, he discusses Menuhin, Frank Zappa, the Communist Party, literary L.A., anti-Semitism, health care, animal welfare, the founder of the Emmy awards, the birds he and his ex-wife (a member of Zappa’s entourage) have cared for as pets, Israel and Zionism, and California, “home” for much of his life. Read more

Presidents & Near Presidents I Have Known

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Lionel Rolfe

Lionel Rolfe, the author of Presidents & Near Presidents I Have Known, has written seven books, but none is devoted directly to politics. His books, including such titles as Literary L.A. and The Uncommon Friendship of Yaltah Menuhin and Willa Cather, have been about classical music, history, religion, philosophy, literature and culture. But Rolfe has also been a working newsman for years, published in such newspapers as The Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The Guardian of London described him “an LA-based raconteur and journalist” when heralding his book Literary L.A. Even though he has written widely on politics in newspapers and on websites, he has never penned a book about politics. Read more

The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey

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Lionel Rolfe

The Menuhins is the story of a miraculous family of great musicians and religious leaders. It is told here for the first time by the nephew of Yehudi Menuhin, the violinist regarded as the greatest musical prodigy since Mozart. Elements of the story have been told before: how two Russian Jews living in San Francisco, Moshe and Marutha Menuhin, raised a brood of child prodigy musicians that astounded the world. It seemed the stuff of legend. Yehudi, with his violin and his younger pianist sisters, Hephzibah and Yaltah, displayed as children a musical gift rarely equaled by the finest musicians. Read more

Reflections from Elsewhere – Lionel Rolfe

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By Lionel Rolfe

Lionel Rolfe’s paean and expose, tribute to and critique of California’s unique place in the American public consciousness.

A nearly lifelong resident of that fabled state, and having worked full-time since age twenty at some of its most prestigious newspapers (the Los Angeles Free Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle), ten-year editor of B’nai Brith’s Messenger (the second oldest newspaper in Los Angeles) and an editor for Psychology Today, as well as the author of the classic Literary L.A., he offers readers the unparalleled vantage point of the insider-outsider as well as a personal tour of California as it was – is – might have been – and will never be. Read more

Outsider’s Reverie

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Leslie Evans

Leslie Evans grew up in a home steeped in the lore of ghostly apparitions, spirit guides, star charts, and the astral plane. His parents met at a seance conducted by a dead thirteenth century crusader. In high school he called himself an outsider, beginning a quest for mystic experience. At Los Angeles City College he organized a student political party with black nationalist ideologue Ron Karenga.

In 1961 he was recruited to the Socialist Workers Party, American followers of Leon Trotsky. Over the next twenty years he rose to serve as managing editor of the English news service of the Trotskyist Fourth International, under Joseph Hansen, who had been Trotsky’s secretary and had captured Trotsky’s assassin. He was editor of the party’s theoretical magazine and the group’s China specialist, where he befriended Peng Shu-tse, an early leader of the Chinese Communist Party who once outranked Mao Zedong. Read more

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