Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Nov. 4, 1948: "A Song Is Born" opens in Los Angeles.
Nov. 5, 1948: The Times reviews Howard Hawks' remake of "Ball of Fire" as a showcase for jazz musicians Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnett, Lionel Hampton and Mel Powell.
Prize for Pungency
Every year the San Francisco Chronicle has a crayon drawing contest for youngsters. Top prize is $25. Among this year's entrants was a bold, impressionist drawing of a pig delivering the Chronicle to a farmhouse, sent in by Roselita Gomez, 11, of Elk, Cal. It didn't win.
A few days after the winners were announced the contest editor received a letter from Roselita stating bitterly, "You work and work and work and all you get is a kick in the pants." (She used another word.)
It was the feeling of the staff that no one had ever said it better and they chipped in and raised $35 -- $10 more than first prize -- and sent it to Roselita.
Now when a discouraging word is heard in the Chronicle city room, the complainant is warned he better be careful or he'll develop a "Gomez complex."
ONLY IN L.A. -- A girls' group planned a hayride and one of them called Information and asked if there were any horse stables in the area. "How do you spell the last name?" the operator asked ... A downtown editor received a printed invitation requesting "the pleasure of your attention" to a TV program -- with an RSVP. If this is living modern he doesn't know if he can stand it.
SPRING IS FOR THE BIRDS
Oh joyous robin of the spring
I too a sprightly song would sing.
Were I forever free , as you,
From internal revenue
-- Guy Mullen
THE PHONE RANG at William Adams' home the other night and a recorded voice told him he had won a set of carving knives sponsored by a vacuum cleaner company and asked when he and his wife would be home for a demonstration.
Fascinated by such salesmanship, he phoned the number given in the message and reported that he was unmarried. This disqualified him, he was told. "We only give out knives when there is a demonstration to both husband and wife," the lady said severely.
The remark haunts him.
PITY THE poor, confused writer in an era like this.
Weekly Variety has this item: "It's an open secret that Hollywood is giving originals the brush." In an adjoining column, this: "After a period of decline the original screen story is coming back to Hollywood."
THERE'S A STORY going around about a boy who unaccountably stopped talking. His parents took him to one psychiatrist after another but he failed to respond. Then, one night at dinner, he exclaimed, "My bread is not buttered!"
The parents excitedly called in the neighbors. Everyone waited to hear his next words. Despite coaxing, he remained silent.
"Johnny," his mother soothed, "We know you
can talk. But why in the world when you started talking again did you
say such an unimportant thing as 'My bread is not buttered'?"
"Well," he replied, "up to now everything has been all right."
AT RANDOM -- A man pushing a market shopping cart on Imperial Highway in Downey was waving a red kerchief to ward off motorists, who honked anyway ... Some City Hall saboteur is sending out disparaging comments about Norrie [Mayor Norris Poulson -- lrh] on office memo stationary ... Ivan Nemo hasn't quite recovered from a sign on Highway 395 between Riverside and Escondido, "Eat and Gas 500 Feet"... Radio people are talking about the interruption on a religious program last Sunday on KHJ. As the minister said, " And God said..." the announcer broke in with, "This is a SigAlert bulletin!"
There Was no Dame, That Was a Duchess
The telephone on my desk jangled.
"Hello," I said. It seemed a logical thing to say.
"You heard about Goya?" the breathless voice at the other end of the line wanted to know.
"You mean old Francisco Jose de?" I asked brightly, "The Spanish painter?"
"That's the one," the voice informed me. "He's been banned."
"Serves him right," I said knowingly. "Carrying on with that Duchess de Alba. Him with a wife and kids."
"No, no," said the voice. "Goya is dead."
"Cholesterol . . .?" I began hesitantly.
The voice cut me short.
"Goya's BEEN dead for 131 years."
I thought I detected a patronizing tone.
"It's a picture he painted that's been banned," the voice continued. My name is Scholl. I'm with United Artists."
"Oh?" I murmured. "I must have missed your last picture."
"I'm not in pictures," the voice assured me. "I promote pictures."
Ten seconds of oppressive silence followed while I digested the confession.
"Promote...?" I asked fearfully.
"Promote!" the voice declared.
"And that's my problem," he continued. "They won't let me promote 'The Naked Maja.'"
"Ruddy shame," I sympathized.
"Ruddy right," the voice agreed. " All I tried to do was use a reproduction of Goya's famous painting in newspaper ads. Papers wouldn't accept 'em.
"Just because the dame in the picture is nude."
"That was no dame, that was the duchess," I corrected. "Anyway, it does seem pretty narrow-minded."
"And that's what Goya's life is all about," the voice said.
"Really?" I replied.
"Really, About how Goya painted the Duchess de Alba in the nude. Andy how her husband, the Duke, found out."
I brightened. After all, these spicy little tidbits are always good. Even if they are 131 years old.
"You say the Duke found out?" I asked.
"Everybody did. It was all over town. Quite a scandal."
Try, Try Again
"I'll bet," I said.
"So Goya had to do it all over again," the voice said.
"You mean...?" I began.
"Yep. Goya painted her with clothes on."
"Ruddy..." I began.
"Shame," he concluded. "And how's it going to look if I use a painting of a dame with clothes on when I'm trying to promote a picture called 'The Naked Maja'?" the voice demanded.
"Beats me," I admitted.
"Wouldn't be right. No punch. No socko, No sell," the voice insisted.
"Just not box-office," I added helpfully. "But what can I do about it?"
"Write something," he said.
"What?" I asked.
"I don't know," he confided. "Just something to arouse the people."
I promised him I would. And I will.
So, all right, everybody, up!