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Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, July 11, 1959

July 11, 2009 |  2:00 pm


Confidential File

Smog Blinds His Objectivity


Paul CoatesTraveling newspaper correspondents -- for want of something better to report -- get their kicks by diagnosing the ills of each city on their itinerary.

And usually, because of deadlines and harassment by their editors, they have to do it fast. Like, say, 20 minutes after they check into their downtown hotel, they've got to unlock their typewriter and begin recording their impressions.

This gives them time to glance at the headlines of the local press, talk to two bellboys, a cab driver and one waitress and overhear an argument between a middle-aged matron and a room clerk.

The results generally are similar to the following, a recent summation of the city of Los Angeles by a correspondent of London's Daily Express:

July 11, 1959, Mirror "This is America's smog city. The filthy, swirling muck is as much a menace here to health and happiness as it is in London and Manchester...

"Whereas New York goes to ridiculous lengths upwards, Los Angeles goes to ridiculous lengths sideways.

"It is in area the world's largest city -- as all its taxi drivers never fail to point out proudly during their 20-mile, $5 drives.

"The result is appalling for city living.

"Two million, five hundred thousand people are smeared thinly over a 450-square mile area of perpetual suburb.

"Your neighbor is a half-hour drive away, your supermarket a healthy trek, your local pub a plane trip.

"A novelty shop on Hollywood Blvd. claims to sell 'real stardust -- gathered electromagnetically from outer space, with the aid of the latest scientific techniques.'

"Yet all the star-dusted creatures are supposed to live within a few blocks."

July 11, 1959, Houdini Taking this man's comments as a whole, I've got to admit that he encountered some pretty observant bellboys, waitresses, and cab drivers.

But there's one point where I take exception -- that crack about it being a plane trip to your local pub.

That's not true. And it's just this kind of propaganda that gives us a bad name all over the world.

::

While on the subject of plentiful pubs, I'm sorry to report that through some clever lobbying, the proponents of Senate Bill 1093 maneuvered their pet through the House and Senate in Sacramento, and onto the desk of Gov. Brown for signature.

Booze Sale Near Schools

The legislation opens up to retail liquor establishments and bars some previously protected territory around certain schools, institutions and hospitals where it would be dangerous, or at least ill advised, to peddle booze at the premises' gates.

It's pure special interest legislation. It's going to make a few people rich. (Or richer, as the case may be.)

And that's a rotten reason for permitting it to become law.

If you're interested in stopping it, drop a card to Gov. Brown. His veto can kill it.

::

As proof that the public can have the final say in government if it's willing to speak up, an ordinance outlawing pinball machines went into effect this week in El Monte.

The profitable pinball pay-off games -- for years well protected by selfish interests in the community -- were finally put to a vote a couple of weeks ago after some intensive petition passing by concerned parents in the area.

The citizens effected the ban by a 535-to-334 vote.



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