Local Interest

PART 3 – Robert Kennedy

SERIES: Visions of the Ambassador

[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG4vJxi9Kis[/youtube]
[youtube width=”300″ height=”300″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmc2EzkRDkI[/youtube]
On June 4th, 1968, Robert Kennedy was confident he had just clinched the Democratic primary. He was set to be the next President of the United States, and with his leadership would come change. Kennedy was one of the first leaders of his stature and background to forcefully inspire and include people of all ages and colors, his goal being to create a better nation that would stand together and end racial and economic injustice. Having together witnessed the losses of Kennedy’s brother and Martin Luther King, Jr., many Americans recognized and embraced his urgent passion as genuine, and saw his dreams of change as their own.

Although Bobby Kennedy was staying on the fifth floor of the (now renovated) Sportsman’s Lodge, his political base in Los Angeles was the Royal Suite in the Ambassador Hotel. Kennedy’s last speech was held in the Ambassador’s Embassy Room, and he was fatally shot as he exited through the kitchen.

The first video above was taken from the funeral train which carried Kennedy’s body. Along the entire path of the train’s journey, Americans from every imaginable walk of life gathered together along the tracks to say goodbye to the man who had embodied their hopes and dreams… and was taken from them.

After the jump, photos of the man convicted for the murder of Bobby Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan, then and in 2008. (Click on thumbnails for larger views.) (more…)


SERIES – Knotts: Birth of the Boysenberry

Rudolph Boysen, creator of the boysenberryIn the 1920s, hoping to take advantage of the beach traffic along what was then Grand Boulevard (now known as Beach Boulevard), Mr. Walter Knott decided to set up a berry stand. Originally he just leased the spot, but in 1927 he began to buy up the property where his business grew. Upon crossing paths with Rudolph Boysen (1895–1950, photo at right) – a Napa man who had been experimenting to create a marvelously fat and juicy new berry hybrid – the future of Walter Knott’s little fruit stand was forever changed. (more…)


SERIES – Knott’s: From Boysenberries to Ride Warriors

I’m really enjoying exploring things for more than one post. So today we’re going to head a bit South to introduce yet another series. This time we’ll be exploring a local landmark that *even your kids* are very familiar with (but probably don’t know the history of)… the former fruit stand of Walter Knott.

Basically, we’ll learn more about how this…

Image via image-archeology.com

Turned into this… (more…)


REVISIT – Radiated Runkle Canyon

Every once in a while I’m going to repost certain topics that I feel are particularly fun, interesting or important for people to learn about. This topic is obviously the latter. I couldn’t find any real updates on the current status of the Runkle Canyon development, but when I do, you’ll know.
******
Original post: July 25, 2009

You’ve heard of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.
Have you ever heard of Rocketdyne or Runkle Canyon? [youtube width=”590″ height=”380″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IILp3uAdSLY[/youtube]

Frighteningly, very few people actually have… especially considering that in 1959, what is considered to be the worst nuclear accident in American history actually happened just 30 miles outside of Los Angeles, spreading up to 459 times the contamination of Three Mile Island across Simi Valley. (Note to self: *always* take a Silkwood shower after driving through Simi Valley.)

Shockingly, the scope of the partial meltdown at the Boeing-Rocketdyne sodium reactor was covered up. In September 2005, 100 local residents filed a class-action lawsuit amid fears of cancer and thyroid issues and were awarded $30 million in damages. It was only during this lawsuit four years ago – 45 years after the meltdown – that the extent of the radioactive iodine leak was confirmed. Meanwhile, land developers have been proposing to build 461 residences in the 1,500-acre contaminated canyon (including 138 units for senior citizens) to this day despite legitimate protests. YIKES.

Here is a timeline of the Rocketdyne events. A scary History Channel program about the incident featured after the jump.

(more…)


PART 2 – The Ambassador Hotel All-Stars

SERIES: Visions of the Ambassador

[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIPrZzStLxg[/youtube]
click for larger viewDuring the roaring 20s and 30s, the Ambassador Hotel’s nightclub “house bands” quickly became the most popular orchestras in the world. An issue of (the then-popular and catchy-named) Talking Machine World magazine identified Abe Lyman’s California Ambassador Orchestra (see video clip above) as “Los Angeles’ most famous popular musical organization” in 1923.

Abe Lyman (August 4, 1897 – October 23, 1957) was a popular bandleader from the 1920s to the 1940s. He made recordings, appeared in films and provided the music for numerous radio shows, including Your Hit Parade… For an engagement at the Cocoanut Grove in The Ambassador Hotel on April 1, 1922, Abe added a violinist and saxophonist. Opening night drew a large crowd of 1500 guests in the Cocoanut Grove, plus another 500 more outside.”

For a five year run in the 30s, a dapper group of musicians known as Gus Arnheim’s Orchestra (see video below) was then stationed at the Cocoanut Grove and widely considered to be the most popular band on the West coast. In 1930, the band began to feature male singing trio The Rhythm Boys, featuring a young singer named Bing Crosby. Arnheim Orchestra alumni also included Stan Kenton, Russ Columbo (seen playing violin and singing in the middle of the trio in the clip below), Charlie Spivak, Woody Herman, and actor Fred McMurray (on saxophone).
[dailymotion width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1u2m8_gus-arnheim-and-his-ambassadors1929_music[/dailymotion]


PART 1 – The Ambassador Hotel 101

SERIES: Visions of the Ambassador

[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5jPhsvONao[/youtube]
ambassadorI’m aware that many readers may not know much about the topic, so here’s a short film explaining the beginnings, the importance, and the demolition of The Ambassador Hotel to start our series on this lost landmark. It features a great narration by Cindy Olnick of the LA Conservancy which helps to explain just how important the Ambassador Hotel’s existence was (and still is) for our community.

Running time: 15 minutes, 40 seconds


VIDEO – The Night the Wall Fell on Wilshire

We predicted David Hasselhoff would show up on Sunday, but he must’ve been busy eating cheeseburgers. Also, in order to avoid angering motorists stuck in traffic for three hours on a weekend afternoon, the event time was changed: the temporary construction of a “Berlin Wall” near LACMA was re-scheduled to happen shortly before midnight and be symbolically toppled at midnight by artists who would paint on the symbolic wall. Apparently the event went relatively well, according to the LA Times:

About 700 people gathered on Wilshire Boulevard near Ogden Drive to take part in the Wende Museum’s “A Wall Across Wilshire” event, a symbolic re-creation of the Berlin Wall that once separated East and West Berlin. It was part of the museum’s Wall Project, which commemorates the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the wall…

“I wasn’t too optimistic,” (City Council member Tom) LaBonge said about turnout for the event. “I felt the same way I did about the Berlin Wall: I thought it would never come down. And I never thought this many people would come out on a Sunday. It’s nice to see. Everyone is having a good night. I’ll probably get a few noise complaints tomorrow for the loud music … but it’s well worth it.”

After watching the video below, I’m now eagerly awaiting the upcoming Berlin Wall ride and stage show at Universal Studios. Okay, I just made that up. Or did I?
[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS6OcmnYvxM[/youtube]
Video via LAist


SERIES – Visions of the Ambassador: Introduction

ambassador2Today I was remembering a fancy corporate event I witnessed in the mid-90s. It was the kind of an all-out, over-the-top shindig people simply don’t *have* in economic times like these. The theme of this party was the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub… so for one night, Disney paid to have the Ambassador Hotel returned to its former glory. A friend had been invited by a client, and I won the lottery as his plus one.

ambassadorUntil I physically got out of the car that night, it really didn’t register what I was about to experience. I knew about the Cocoanut Grove and I knew Robert Kennedy had been shot in the kitchen… but walking up to the front, surrounded by klieg lights, the night ended up being more profound and emotional for me than I’d expected. There was plentiful food and drink, and fortune tellers and games scattered around… but it was the building that entertained me. At one point I remember walking through the nightclub just mesmerised by the palm tree columns that still existed. After a few drinks, while everyone else was busy shmoozing, I then became obsessed with seeing where Kennedy died. A small group of us convinced a waiter to let us sneak back into the kitchen and I remember tipsily wandering around muttering “Where is it?” until a busboy pointed down at the ground. I sobered up instantly as a very haunting image flashed into my brain and wouldn’t leave. The past became so vivid for a moment that I felt a bit of an Overlook Hotel vibe. I was a bit quieter for the rest of the night.

When the party was over, I knew in my heart that I’d been touched by a place that wasn’t going to exist much longer. The importance wasn’t lost on me… as I walked outside I felt like someone hesitating to leave their sickly grandparent’s house, knowing they probably weren’t going to see them alive again. And sure enough, I didn’t… as the Ambassador faced the wrecking ball, I avoided driving by it. I found its destruction too depressing to think about.

On the 24 acres where the Ambassador once stood, a $571-million kindergarten-to-12th-grade school campus is gradually opening its doors now. I’m not complaining about this… what’s happened has happened and as I see it the hard facts here are simple ones. Both of these statements are true and indisputable: 1) Schools are good. 2) We have lost something very special. So this month I’m going to do a little series focusing on the incredible glory of Los Angeles’ former jewel The Ambassador Hotel. It was too fantabulous and important of a place for one single post to do it justice.


RIP – Mama of Babe & Ricky’s

mama Somehow I missed the sad news that on October 3rd we lost beloved Laura Mae Gross, matriarch of Liemert Park’s iconic blues bar Babe & Ricky’s and one of the few participants left from Central Los Angeles’ swinging days of hot jazz.

Before South Central became famous for violence, its main thoroughfare was known worldwide for glamorous packed nightclubs and swinging ballrooms. As late Saxophonist Art Pepper described the scene:

“It was a beautiful time. It was a festive time. The women dressed up in frills and feathers and long earrings and hats with things hanging off them, fancy dresses with slits in the skirts, and they wore black silk stockings that were rolled and wedgie shoes. Most of the men wore big, wide-brimmed hats and zoot suits with wide collars, small cuffs, and large knees, and their coats were real long with padded shoulders. They wore flashy ties with diamond stickpins; they wore lots of jewelry; and you could smell powder and perfume everywhere. And as you walked down the street you heard music coming out of everyplace. And everybody was happy….

T]here were all kinds of places to go, and if you walked in with a horn everyone would shout, “Yeah! Great! Get it out of the case and blow some!” They didn’t care if you played better than somebody else. Nobody was trying to cut anybody or take their job, so we’d get together and blow.” (SOURCE)

Open for 45 years, Babe’s and Ricky’s moved from Central Avenue to Leimert Park in 1997 after financial difficulties, but the club’s heart and soul always stayed the same. While she never made much money, Mama nurtured (and fed) generations of Angelenos and provided a safe haven for jazz and blues lovers to network with link minded musicians. Babe & Ricky’s remains open without Mama and still hosts their famous Monday night jam session complete with their traditional $10 soul food dinner. (more…)


WEB – Angelyne 101, via Metafilter

angelyneThe first time you have a flesh and blood Angelyne sighting in the real world, it’s hard not to freeze and feel like you’re getting a glimpse of Bigfoot. Wow. She exists. And wow. She’s aging just like the rest of the world. And yet… inevitably she’s still standing near a pink Corvette. She’s still wearing tight pink clothing and heels. She may be the age of your grandmother, but she still has pink eyeshadow and big hair and seems to wear her sunglasses day and night. Say what you want about Angelyne, she’s one of the most consistent things in the entire landscape of Los Angeles and God bless her for that. Creepy though she may be to look at up close.

Don’t know who I’m talking about? Well, there was a huge post about her on Metafilter yesterday so check it out, it’ll tell you more than you ever needed to know. And if you think you *do* know who I’m talking about then take Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!‘s “How Well Do You Know Angelyne?” quiz and see how you do.


SERIES – Harry Golden: Epilogue

PART SIX (of 6): Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960.harry_small

In closing this series, I’ll leave you with the final two paragraphs of Harry’s essay on Los Angeles and his fifty year-old predictions for this city’s future…

“In the next generation, as it has come to all frontiers, a rigid stratification will appear in Los Angeles. Mobility will come to an end and the city will take its place as the greatest single empire in the western world.

And here, too, it is well to record that in the tempest and turmoil among faith healers and movie stars, Rosecrucians and baseball fans, I have met some of the kindest people in the world.”

THOUGHTS: Wow, the GREATEST SINGLE EMPIRE of the Western World? Looks like Harry really overestimated us, eh? I’m actually glad he was a little off there though, because he also predicted we’d have 25 million people living here. And man, that would suck. (more…)


RIP – Pierre Cabrol, Architect of the Cinerama Dome

cineramaPierre Cabrol, an architect with Welton Becket and Associates who was the lead designer for the Cinerama Dome and other projects, died Oct. 8 at his home in Los Angeles, his family said. He was 84 and had dementia.

From 1957 to 1987 Cabrol worked for Becket, the noted Los Angeles architect whose designs include the iconic Capitol Records building in Hollywood and the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. Cabrol, who had worked for innovative architect R. Buckminster Fuller while attending graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, used Fuller’s geodesic dome concept for the modernist movie palace that opened on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in 1963. (more…)


SERIES – Harry Golden: LA Cemeteries

PART FIVE: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960. harry_small

“(In Los Angeles,) the Jewish cemetery has billboards advertising plots with the single word, “Foreverness,” and the Christian cemetery (owned by the same syndicate) advertises with a similar billboard and the single word, “Devotion.” The chapels of both are air-conditioned, with flourescent lighting in all crypts, and a Muzak which plays Bach and Schubert for the Christians, Verdi and Rossini for the Jews.”

THOUGHTS: I’m pretty sure he’s referring to Forest Lawn and Mount Sinai here, and I’ll confess I haven’t spent much quality time in either so I can’t report on the current status of their muzak or crypt lighting. I was driving to the LA Fair last month and I did notice a billboard for Forest Lawn in Covina that got my attention, though. The billboard showed a photo of an old woman… and then next to her the headline said something like: “26 year old football linebacker, father, son.” Confusing, right? See, that’s the point… the payoff tagine underneath said, “Don’t have someone else’s funeral.” Ahah! I get it!

Moral of the story, I guess people nowadays don’t expect quite as much “devotion” and “foreverness.” They just really want to make sure the mortuary’s gonna give them their money’s worth and get their names right on the tombstone. Sigh. Our expectations of customer service have really been sadly lowered over the last 50 years…

COMING ON THURSDAY… THE EPILOGUE: Harry Golden on LA


HALLOWEEN – CreepyLA.com

halloweenLooking for some local spookiness to celebrate? Creepy LA is your best guide to all things Halloween in Los Angeles. Period!

The site is filled with cool stuff and features haunting events and new content year-round, not just for two weeks in October (including a map of Haunted Los Angeles!), so check it out! FYI, since this is CreepyLA‘s busy season, the server may be slow. Just try again later. It’s the right address.

Creepy LA


ODDITY – The Late, Great, Tower of Pallets Monument

Even the National Enquirer was taken aback after the city of Los Angeles designated Daniel Van Meter’s Tower of Wooden Pallets a historical landmark. A photo spread of the Sherman Oaks structure was accompanied by a headline that said, “No kidding! This pile of junk is a historic monument!”

Robert Winter, a former member of the Cultural Heritage Commission, joked later that the 1978 vote might have been influenced by fumes emanating from the pallets, which were discards from a brewery.

“Maybe we were drunk,” said Winter, a prominent architectural historian. (SOURCE)

Photo Credit: BigOrangeLandmarks.comDaniel Van Meter began construction of the 22-foot-tall structure in 1951 using 2,000 wooden pallets tossed out by a local brewery. The slatted wood was stacked like bricks and placed in a circle with a radius of about 22 feet wide. According to Van Meter, the tower, his own personal sanctuary, was built around the grave of a child buried in 1869.

“I have a place where it is quiet, despite the apartments, the noise of the boulevard and the hum and screeches of the rat race on the freeway 200 feet away,” he said.

At night, Van Meter said, he climbs to the top of the tower and looks at the moon and the stars. “To me, this is a spiritual place.” (SOURCE)

The tower was bulldozed in 2006 and in January 2009 the 2.5 acre property was sold by Dan’s heirs for $4.5 million. Construction began almost immediately on a new apartment building in its place, just as Van Meter predicted almost forty years ago while lobbying for his tower’s landmark status:

“… in a few years this piece of the good earth may be covered by apartments for the storing of surplus people. In the meantime, pray, let this strange structure be, let it continue to be a haven of rest for an individual – that endangered species – who once knew how sweet was our Valley.” (SOURCE)


SERIES – Harry Golden: L.A. and Religion

PART FOUR: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960. harry_small

“On the old frontier there were fortune tellers by the dozens. In Los Angeles, by actual count, there are one hundred and twenty-eight different religious sects, all of them going strong. Rosicrucian crosses line the hillside, and there are neon lights which proclaim the tabernacles of dozens of obscure sects and fellowships.  There are also innumerable faith healers. Los Angeles is the only place in the world where a Jewish convert urges you to become a Buddhist. In addition there are thousands of people in Los Angeles who talk to the dead. Tables rock and furniture is shifted mysteriously and ectoplasm suddenly materializes. For spiritualists as well as for healers the world over, Los Angeles is the happy hunting ground.”

THOUGHTS: Some things haven’t changed.

COMING SOON… PART FIVE: Harry Golden on LA’s Cemeteries


SERIES – Harry Golden: Real Estate

PART THREE: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960. harry_small

“What this frontier (Los Angeles) substitutes for the six-shooter is the real-estate advertisement. All of the daily papers carry from twenty to thirty pages of classified realty. This is the greatest mobility in all history within a single community. A welder from Akron moves into a $14,000 house and a month later finds he can sell it for $17,000, which he does, and finds himself a second home to live in for $15,000. He probably even has a charge account at all the newspapers’ classified advertising departments – “For Rent,” “For Sale,” “Want to Buy.” Six hundred people come into the city every day. The welder has no trouble.”

THOUGHTS: Okay, so clearly 1960 was a LONG TIME AGO.

COMING SOON… PART FOUR: Harry Golden on LA and Religion


COMING SOON: CRAZY GIDEON CONDOS!!!!!!

MOVE INTO ONE OR YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR HEAD!!!! 
[vimeo width=”590″ height=”420″]http://vimeo.com/6617001[/vimeo]

 

PREVIOUSLY:  RIP Crazy Gideon’s – Gideon is Retiring after 35+ years


FOCUS – Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

**SUPPORT SMALL, LOCAL BUSINESSES!!!** 

WHAT: Galco’s Old World Grocery 
WHERE: 5702 York Blvd, Highland Park (323) 255-7115 
DETAILS: Galco’s purveyance of vintage sodas and candies is clearly a labor of love for owner John Nese. He took over the business from his father, who originally ran the Highland Park market as a grocery store. With 174 rave reviews on Yelp, John’s enthusiasm is definitely contagious… so go there and drink up the fun! Literally.  :)
[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPbh6Ru7VVM[/youtube]


HAPPY SUNDAY – Go outside and look at birds!

“Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles,
watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.”

David Letterman

bird watching Click on image to view a larger version.


VIDEO – Golden Eras of L.A.

This video explores the “epicenter of kitsch” is hosted by Charles Phoenix, Billy Shire and architectural historian John English.


SERIES – Harry Golden: LA’s Heritage Clubs

PART TWO: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960.
harry_small

“In Los Angeles there are thousands of fraternal organizations and societies based upon places of origin. There is the Minneapolis Canasta Club, the Iowa Society, the Friends of the Mid-West, the Lower East Side Association, the Oregon Friendly Social Club.

In this, the newcomers to California are following the pattern of America’s immigrants from Europe, who organized themselves into fraternal societies of people from the same town or area.

One of the real reasons for so many societies was the fact that a fraternity could have only one president, one secretary, and one treasurer, and there was always the need for another organization. History hasn’t changed much since those days. Many of our organizations today are broken down into five or six separate groups – Mr. and Mrs. clubs, adult study groups, auxiliaries, and of course “youth.” And each organization has a staff of officers, banquets and social functions.

I can just see the old gents of the “Zegeefska Chevra” stroking their beards in wonder at the “Tuesday Ladies of Flatbush” playing canasta in a vestry room of the San Fernando Valley.

The very composition of the City of Los Angeles has banished one form of bigotry. No one ever sneers, “Why don’t you go back where you came from?” because if anyone took this to heart, the whole joint would empty overnight and the only ones left would be a few bemused Indians.”

THOUGHTS: Seems our vast array of domestic heritage societies, canasta clubs and social vestry rooms faded into the shadows over the last fifty years. (But what the frickity frack is a “Zegeefska Chevra”!!!??? Does anyone here know what he’s talking about?) I actually don’t think we’ve become such a melting pot that people don’t congregate towards finding comfort in heritage the way they used to, though. By the warm reaction to my North Dakota post, I know that people do still light up when they find something here that reminds them of home… but it seems like where you’re from isn’t always worn as a lifelong badge of bonding the way it once was. Long Beach is no longer ground zero for people from Iowa and Minneapolis (it was once called Iowa By The Sea for a reason), and it’s no longer common knowledge that Pasadena was actually a colony settlement of people solely from Indiana. Our modern-day Indians are less bemused, too.

After thinking about it a bit, I realized that perhaps the key reason we don’t have all of these clubs has nothing to do with anti-socialism or lack of civic pride, though. A lot has changed since the Camelot of 1960 when this article was written and John F. Kennedy had just been elected President. Truth is, contrary to the image this article describes… people aren’t fighting each other to be the President of much of anything any more. In 1960 that title was the highest and proudest aspiration you could aim for, but the shine has long since worn off the turd of power. Clubs always need leaders, and not only is leading is a lot of work, but it always involves politics. Our perceptions have changed a lot since 1960: perhaps we’ve seen for ourselves that being President can be kind of a crappy, thankless job we might not want to take on. But I could be wrong.

COMING SOON… PART THREE: Harry Golden on LA’s Real Estate of the 1960s


SERIES – Harry Golden on LA Smog & Sprawl

PART ONE: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960. harry_small

“The City of Los Angeles lies in the flat part of a huge saucer. The Indians, who prowled and hunted in this saucer long before the arrival of the white men, called it, “the place of everlasting smoke.” Long after they had broken up their hunting camps, the smoke from their fires would hang over the saucer. Today Los Angeles is enveloped by a smog from the factories which makes the eyes sting and produces a rasping cough. Eventually, however, they will dissipate this smog – as soon as Los Angelenos muster the courage to stand up to the oil and rubber industries which produce it. Right now these industries pay over a hundred million dollars in taxes, but the day is fast coming when the citizens of the city will no longer tolerate this blemish, a hundred million or not.

Because Los Angeles will one day have 25 million people. It is inevitable. Even now it is the phenomenon of mid-twentieth-century America. It has been described as two hundred suburbs in search of a city, but this is only because Los Angeles is the new frontier. The reason writers have not made literature out of this fantastic city is that they associate the frontier with the wide-open spaces, Tonto, and the six-shooter. They have not yet realized that there is an urban frontier, too. Los Angeles in 1960 is the perfect symbol of the urbanization of our civilization.”

THOUGHTS: Unfortunately, even though we did fight to get those World War II era factories to stop pumping smoke into the air… we still live in a smoke crater with some big ozone issues. But as far as the quality of air particulates we’re breathing, the people of Pittsburgh, Cincinnatti, Birmingham and Detroit have it worse than we do. So do the people of Fresno and Bakersfield, for that matter. Truth is, the air quality in Los Angeles today is actually significantly better than it was in the 1960s. And thank God, our population is nowhere near 25 million people yet! I cringe at the thought.

People around America *still* love to use that “suburbs in search of a city” quote about L.A. Fact is, the phrase was originally coined by Dorothy Parker – but she said Los Angeles was only 72 suburbs in search of a city. (We’ve grown since then.) As any local knows… it doesn’t even seem a reasonable goal to reduce the vastness of what Los Angeles offers down to something that fits the stereotype of a single-minded metropolis, though. Rather, Los Angeles often feels more like a small world with many different countries nested inside of it. There are a variety of independent heartbeats here… not just one. Many of us love that about it, but in some ways, perhaps that’s our problem. That vastness is what makes Los Angeles still seem like a barbaric, untamable frontier to people from more easily digested and categorized places, which in turn makes it a far cry from a “perfect symbol of urbanization of civilization.” By sheer size, it seems too overwhelming to be palatable. Such opinions probably won’t be changing any time soon, but a few more Dorothy Parker quotes come to mind: I don’t care what anybody says about me as long as it isn’t trueand “I shall stay the way I am because I do not give a damn.” :)

Coming Soon… PART TWO: Harry Golden on LA’s Heritage Clubs


SERIES – Intro: Harry Golden on Los Angeles

enjoy, enjoy!I have a love for thrift store books. I’ve discovered the most amazing, unexpected things through them.

“Enjoy, Enjoy!” by author, humorist, publisher, ex-convict, buddy of Carl Sandburg and civil rights proponent Harry Golden (1902–1981) was this weekend’s found treasure. I wasn’t familiar with Harry Golden before, but wow… I wish I knew the guy for his openly sarcastic stance towards bigots alone. As a Jew living in racist South Carolina in the 60s, he came up with various methods to fight racism with humor… one being his proposition that if black people were to be called colored, white people should in turn be referred to as “colorless” (as in, “This is Joe, my colorless friend”). Also…

“Golden’s various schemes for solving the racial problem in America were most memorable. Observing that white Southerners were loathe to sit with African Americans on buses or in restaurants, but noting that whites often stood in line with African Americans at grocery stores and other places, Golden called on the public school to remove all chairs from their classrooms. This “Vertical Negro Plan” would thereby overcome Southern reservations about sitting in the same room with the other race.

Heh.

But I digress. Starting tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of Harry Golden’s 50 year old impressions of Los Angeles with you. What’s amazing is how in so many ways his insights were so brilliant. But in other ways, he makes it clear that Los Angeles in 1960 was a very, very different place with very different priorities… for better and for worse. I hope you find it as interesting as I did. :)