Deserved or not, people in Los Angeles have acquired a reputation for eccentricity. Today there's evidence that we normal, ordinary folk may be the victims of borers from without.
Into our placid, humdrum community about a week ago came Will Jones, Minneapolis Tribune columnist. He visits L.A. several times a year to check on movies and television.
While here he saw a great many people and went a lot of places -- on a bicycle. Yes, bicycle. A man of firm beliefs despite his Wally Cox appearance, he contends it's the only way to travel -- in Minneapolis or Los Angeles.
To prove his point he pedaled one day from MGM in Culver City to downtown L.A. Another time he went from Hollywood to Santa Monica. He covered Errol Flynn's funeral at Forest Lawn by bicycle.
HE WAS ASKED to move from a certain Hollywood hotel because he insisted on keeping his bicycle in his room. It is a large hotel and he argued, in vain, that it was practical to ride his bike to and from the pool and the dinning room. He moved to a smaller place where his bicycle was socially acceptable.
Then there was the time he had an engagement at a restaurant with Merrilyn Hammond of Capitol Records. He arrived late. To his dismay the parking lot attendants were reluctant to assume responsibility fro his bike.
While here, Jones must have created more consternation than 100 local conformists. Obviously, these outlanders are partly responsible for giving the place a taint of screwballishness.
THURSDAY, Oct. 29, the 30th anniversary of the black day in 1929 when Wall St. laid an egg, was not unnoticed by John Arrington, the sage of Bunker Hill, who observed. "It couldn't have happened again because most of the buildings that people would have jumped out of have been torn down to make parking lots."
O come with me my pretty
And be my protege;
We'll live and laugh and
love and whirl
Upon our merry way-
And none will find a stone
If you're my protege.
DURING HIS lunch hour a few days ago Virgil Raymond, Water & Power employee, bought an alarm clock! While he was away from his desk, fellow workers opened the package, set the alarm for 5:30 and re-wrapped it.
Shortly before 5:30 Virgil boarded a No. 25 Griffith Ave. bus and became engrossed in his newspaper. A man carrying a lunch box came and sat next to him. As the bus reached City Hall the alarm went off. Virgil, a sly one, lowered his paper and glared at the lunch box. So did the other passengers and as the alarm continued ringing the poor guy tore into it. Just then the clock stopped ringing.
All this was duly reported by Virgil and the conspirators are pleased with their success. But they feel it would have been a greater triumph if some terrified passenger had grabbed the lunchbox and heaved it out a window.
TODAY'S BAFFLER has to do with two phone calls Jack Tobin made in quest of basketball information. He talked to coach Howie Dallmar at Palo Alto for six minutes and the operator told him the charge was $4.25 plus tax. He talked to coach Slats Gill at Corvallis, Ore., considerably farther, for six minutes and the charge was $2.70 plus tax. Jack doesn't get it either.
FOOTNOTES -- Sponsors of the Glendale Kennel Club show tomorrow reminded entrants of Maurice Maeterlinck's line: "A few creatures fear us and endure our laws and our yoke but none of them loves us. Only the dog has made an alliance with us" . . . The headline, "Kaiser Signs Pact," referring to the steel strike, had Janet Siskind wondering momentarily if we were back in 1941 . . . A teen-ager named Wendy hates windy days on account of the weak gags about her name.
Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Category: October 2009
|Oct. 31, 1958: “The Spider/Earth vs. the Spider” and co-hit “Terror From the Year 5000” play in Los Angeles.|
(Oh come on! TFTY5K only gets two stars on imdb? Nothing gets less than six stars on imdb! And only three stars for “The Spider?”). If long, artsy junk like “The Mother and the Whore” (which, yes, I sat through, all three+ tedious hours of it, when it came out) can get eight stars then there’s no reason “Robot Monster” can’t get at least seven stars.
Guess what happens after a plumber connects a butane line to Crestview, Fla.'s water supply
Someone, we're not sure who, reminisces about Halloweens of the past. I figured out how to make the "ticktack" the woman describes, but the first problem is finding a wooden spool.
War Admiral dies ... Racketeer Frankie Carbo admits having a role in boxing ...And Ernie Nevers plans pro football for Oakland.
|Oct. 31, 1959: The federal government approves $58 million for urban renewal of Bunker Hill. The Times' Ray Hebert notes that the extensive project to clear "the substandard downtown area" won't cost local taxpayers a dime. By 1966, "the ultramodern commercial and industrial center envisioned on Burnker Hill will be a reality," Hebert says. |
In a phone conversation, former Daily Mirror mystery guest Pier Angeli tells ex-husband Vic Damone that she's slashed her wrists after he informs her that he plans to remarry. Police rush to her Bel-Air home to find her crying but uninjured.
“You don’t have to pass as a Negro in California. If you aren’t black you can pass for anything.”
|Oct. 31, 1919: A fascinating glimpse of African American life in Los Angeles surfaces in divorce proceedings. A black soldier says he sent his wife money to buy a home in Los Angeles, which was segregated at that time. Instead of locating in an African American area, she bought a house in a white neighborhood, passing as white and telling her husband that he could pass as a Mexican or some other ethnicity. He said: “I don't desire to pass for other than I am.”|
A Senate committee endorses a bill that would deport about 500 men and four women held as enemy aliens during World War I. People in custody include spies, anarchists, revolutionary radicals and convicted criminals, The Times says.
A cheese elephant from “The Terrors of the Tiny Tads” by Gustave Verbeck/Verbeek.
A five-passenger Cadillac is stolen – police say it’s a prank.
|Oct. 31, 1909: Three motorcyclists are charged with going almost 30 mph, in violation of the city ordinance … The proprietor of the Optic Theater is charged with letting people stand in the aisles … Four deputy district attorneys move out of crowded offices at the Central Police Station … And a husband is sentenced to 50 days’ for having “encouraged his wife to lead a dishonorable life for the pecuniary gains it would bring for him.”|
In case you’re too young to understand Matt Weinstock’s reference, Crest toothpaste had a famous – and frequently satirized – ad campaign in the 1950s.
Seized by Indians* Last Saturday as Hildred M. Hodgson, a lively grandmother, was walking along N. Beverly Glen Blvd. near her home, a big yellow bus marked "Special" stopped and a friendly gentleman inquired, "Where are you going, my pretty madam?"
"I'm going to the village to shop, kind sir," she said.
At first she wondered if anew bus service had been established in the Glen. Then, from the convivial singing, with banjo accompaniment, emanating from the bus, she realized she'd been captured by a band of Stanford Indians -- alumni, that is, some of whom were neighbors.
"You don't want to go shopping on a day like this," the man continued, "in fact, how would you like to be kidnapped and taken to the football game?"
"Oh, my," Hillie said, "I haven't been to a football game since I left Lincoln, Nebraska, 23 years ago!"
"Consider yourself kidnapped," he said. She couldn't think of any reason to decline so she went. Inside she was handed a pennant and urged to enter the spirit of the occasion.
En route to the Coliseum she was warned that Stanford didn't have much chance against the terrible Trojans. "I'll send out hypnotic suggestions," she said. "Maybe that'll help."
Another man asked with some concern what her family would do when she didn't return home. "Oh, they'll probably check the jails," she replied, looking around the bus.
As everyone knows, Stanford frightened SC badly before loosing 30-28. And each time Stanford made a large gain or surged ahead, her exuberant companions marveled, "Wow, that woman's sure sending out those wave lengths!"
Tomorrow Hillie again will embark on her weekly hike to Westwood Village to shop. She expects to make it. This week it's UCLA and Washington. Stanford is playing up north.
TWO YOUNG MEN who yearned for the casual living they couldn't afford singly some time ago pooled their resources and rented a cottage in Malibu. They found life ideal but recently one of them reluctantly announce he'd have to pull out. He was taking a new job which made living at the beach out of the question.
The other, unable to go it alone, and disquieted at the prospect of leaving the place, got an idea. He posted notices in nearby stores stating, "Help. I can't pay my rent!" and announcing a rent party. The deal: "All the beer you can drink - contribution $1."
Last Saturday 200 understanding persons, mostly strangers, showed up at his place and contributed, many without taking any beer. And so the happy beachcomber's rent is paid up three months in advance
A HARD WORKING writer I know recently hit a jackpot. His agent sold his book to a studio for $25,000. Then the author sat down with pencil and paper and his jubilation turned to despondency. His agent will get $2,500, the publisher another $2,500, about $6,000 will go for income tax and he is paying off a loan and other debts contracted to enable him to work on the book. He has never been able to afford a new car and he had his eye on a cute $2,500 number -- but won't have enough.
"But for a while," he philosophizes, "I certainly felt rich."
He sits upon a nearby roof
Drinking drafts of
Not hundred proof of rye,
But hundred proof of sky.
MISCELLANY -- Apparently the war of slogans has started among the "compact three." George Nakamura, a Ford mechanic, calls the Corvair the "Shrivelet" (shriveled Chevrolet) . . . Speaking again of that offensive TV commercial, a man named Smith appeared at his office with a new set of china clippers and, smiling expansively to show them off, shouted, "Look, everyone, no cavities!" . . . Cryptic penciled message on an anonymous postal card: "There's one thing you can believe for sure -- you can't believe nothing you read." Nope.
RIP Stanford Indians.
*And no, Stanford isn't the Indians anymore. It's the Cardinal.
Columnist's Face Saved at Low Cost
TOKYO -- In today's lesson, boys and girls, we will turn our rapt attention to the strange Japanese preoccupation with "saving face."
All we've known about it in the past, of course, is what we've learned from the highly unreliable school of the American movie.
From the dim, distant days of the silent pictures up to the present era of the wide screen, we've watched countless Japanese bad guys (all of whom were Sessue Hayakawa) behave atrociously through every reel, but the last.
In the final scene, after being properly embarrassed by defeat at the hands of the hero, they would invariably take, what was for them, the easy way out by committing hara-kiri.
That, according to Hollywood's experts on Far Eastern affairs, is all there is to it.
But, after a brief look around the Orient, I can assure you that the ritual of saving face is, in practice, far less drastic and far more confusing.
I've been in Tokyo some days now. I've looked everywhere. But I've yet to see one humiliated Japanese gentleman skewer himself on a samurai.
However, I have seen the tradition of face-saving at work. And, while I can't say I really understand all its subtle ramifications, it apparently is an integral part of Japanese life.
Women Are Too Busy
At least, the life of the Japanese male. The woman in Japan is far too busy being properly subservient while actually running things in the country to worry much about face-saving.
My first brush with this unusual custom came the other day. A friend at Japan Air Lines had arranged for me to have an audience with one of the country's public officials. Because of the whims of Tokyo traffic, I got to my appointment 10 minutes late. An assistant to the man I was to see glanced nervously at his watch, bowed low and led me to the inner office.
The public official was seated beyond a huge desk. While the assistant and I stood there, he continued to study a newspaper he held in front of his face. After about half a minute, he put the paper down, and stood up to greet me.
Apparently, that little tactic had evened the score for my being later and had kept him from losing face in front of his subordinates. From then on, he was a charming host and we had a pleasant, informative interview.
Token Gift Averts Shame
The custom of face-saving has its economic aspects, too. Yesterday, I went to Osaka to do a TV interview on tape at the local station. My guests were a lady member of Parliament, a geisha girl and the multimillionaire owner of the TV station.
After I had taped the interview to bring back for my KTTV program, one of the station officials whispered discreetly to me that it was customary to give a token gift of money, so the person interviewed would not feel unworthy.
The going rate for tokens, he informed me, was $7 for the geisha, $10 for the member of the Parliament and $13 for the millionaire owner of the station, because it would be bad form if such a rich man didn't get more money than the others.
I then was invited back to the station last evening to appear as a guest myself on a news broadcast. My token gift -- $11.
And it really saves my face to know that I am four bucks more expensive than a geisha girl.
|Aug. 9, 1959: The Times profiles KNX announcer Bob Crane, who became the star of “Hogan’s Heroes.” Somewhere at the Daily Mirror HQ, I’ve got an LP that KNX released with Bob Crane on one side and Pat Buttram on the other. If I ever find it I’ll add some clips. |
Los Angeles Times file photo
Update: Josephine Dunn in an undated photo
Shostakovich meets the press at the Ambassador Hotel. Wouldn’t it be great to go see it? Oh, wait, we let L..A. Unified tear it down.
Oct. 20, 1959: Dmitri Shostakovich leads a group of Soviet composers on a tour of the U.S. After Mayor Norris Poulson’s headline-grabbing stunt with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviets are justifiably worried about what sort of greeting they will get in Los Angeles. American envoy Ken Kertz, who is escorting the Soviets, angrily squelches any comments upon their arrival at Union Station.
In a news conference at the Ambassador Hotel, Kertz turned off the TV lights, but composer Dmitri Kabalevsky encouraged reporters to stay. An unidentified reporter asked about Soviet reaction to Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 and Tikhon Khrennikov replied that orchestras “"vied for the opportunity to lead their programs with the 11th.” Khrennikov isn’t an immediately recognized name these days, but he was head of the Soviet Composers Union and caused misery for Shostakovich, Serge Prokofiev and Alfred Schnittke.
The old saying that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes certainly seems true. Here we have high winds sweeping Los Angeles and burglars who targeted a movie star, in this case Joan Fontaine. The Times also carried a Charles Hillinger story about the system of dams used to catch ash and debris in the anticipated flooding of areas burned in the recent wildfire, the same problem we're facing after the Station fire.
Yes, there was a time when the Defense Department was working on nuclear-powered aircraft. A key component of nuclear reactors – lots of lead – posed unusual problems for the designers. And if it crashed, that could be messy.
The Ebony Showcase Theatre, at 4366 W. Adams Blvd. stages a new musical comedy.
John L. Mitchell interviews Horace "Nick" Stewart of the Ebony Showcase Theater. In the profile, Stewart takes stock of his career (he played Lightnin' on the "Amos 'n' Andy Show." "Almost every important black performer, at one time or another, has come through Nick's operation," says C. Bernard Jackson of the Inner City Cultural Center.
Jeane Hoffman visits UCLA football coach Billy Barnes and his wife, Frances.