Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Friday finds

In which the pioneering rapper talks up a Los Angeles architectural landmark. Learn more about the Eames House here. Some of Ice Cube’s best raps here, here, here, and here. NSFW, unless you work at Death Row Records.

You know you want to hear Flannery O’Connor reading “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” So what are you waiting for?

Ace thriller writer J.D. Rhoades talks about why he decided to go indie and start publishing new books (and out-of-print backlist titles) as e-books.  His new one, Gallows Pole, will scare the snot out of you.

Madam Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, interviews Solveig Eggerz, author of Seal Woman.

When you’re introduced to a fencer, don’t do the squiggly arm thing. Just don’t.

In which Frederik Pohl reminisces about the Battle of the Douchebag, the Battle of the 4-Color Border, and the night spent with Harlan Ellison on Long John Nebel’s talk show.

From Psycho to Casino, from The Man with the Golden Arm to Anatomy of a Murder, it’s a tribute to the title sequences directed by Saul Bass.

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Friday finds

This interesting New Yorker essay about the continuing appeal of vampire stories came along just as I watched the new DVD edition of  Let the Right One In, one of the most original horror movies I’ve seen in years. I’ve already sung the praises of John Lindqvist’s novel, and I was happy to see the movie more than does it justice. The essay mentions it on the way to a lengthy discussion of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which obviously deserves pride of place in the history of the genre, but which has been surpassed many times by writers following in Stoker’s train. One novel that’s overdue for reappraisal is George R.R. Martin’s Fevre Dream, which ingeniously blended a variation on the classic vampire tale with a lovingly researched historical novel set on the Mississippi River in the mid-19th century.           

Famed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris has directed movies about the ease with which an innocent man can be convicted of murder (The Thin Blue Line), the delusions of the powerful (Robert McNamara: The Fog of War) and the future of robotics (Fast, Cheap & Out of Control). He’s also directed a series of commercials for Miller Beer, and you can find all of them here.

Lemony Snicket reveals the formula for the perfect bedtime story. I particularly like the first point (Ask your child what the title should be. This stalls for time and spreads the blame if the story’s no good.) and the third (When you get stuck, remember Raymond Chandler’s advice: “When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.” The bedtime equivalent is a clumsy talking animal holding a tray of cream pies).

Timothy Lim blends Charles Schulz’s Peanuts with Frank Miller’s Sin City to arrive at — Schulz City.

Hey — New Jersey just got listed as one of the “Eastern Edens” for birdwatchers in Audobon magazine.

The Grim Sleeper is a prolific serial killer thought to be responsible for nearly a dozen murders in Los Angeles. If you’ve never heard about this one, maybe there’s a reason.

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On any street in any town

Hey, you know people, I’m not black but there’s a whole lotsa times I wish I could say I wasn’t white.

That line from “Trouble Every Day,” inspired by the race riots that scorched through the Watts section of Los Angeles in August 1965, is probably the most nakedly emotional lyric to be found in the Frank Zappa song catalogue. The man was not a confessional songwriter, to put it mildly; sarcasm and absurdist humor were his chief methods for facing the larger world in his music. But when a drunken driving arrest became the spark that sent black residents into the streets to burn, loot and fight with police, Zappa — like anyone watching the smoke rise from the skyline of his own city — could only respond with confusion, anger and sadness. Those feelings burn through “Trouble Every Day,” the best song on Freak Out!, the 1966 debut album from the Mothers of Invention, released barely a month before the first anniversary of the riots.

Well I’m about to get sick
From watchin’ my TV
Been checkin’ out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean they say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it’s gonna change, my friends
Is anybody’s guess

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day


Wednesday I watched the riot…
I seen the cops out on the street
Watched ’em throwin’ rocks and stuff
And chokin’ in the heat
Listened to reports
About the whiskey passin’ ’round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin’ down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash
And slash and bust and burn

And I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Well you can cool it,
You can heat it…
‘Cause, baby, I don’t need it…
Take your TV tube and eat it
‘N all that phony stuff on sports
‘N all THOSE unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head began to hurt
From checkin’ out the way
The newsmen say they get the dirt
Before the guys on channel so-and-so
And further they assert
That any show they’ll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say that if the place blows up
They’ll be the first to tell
Because the boys they got downtown
Are workin’ hard and doin’ swell,
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street,
They say that no one blabs it faster
Their coverage can’t be beat

And if another woman driver
Gets machine-gunned from her seat
They’ll send some joker with a Browning
And you’ll see it all complete

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Hey you know something people
I’m not black
But there’s a whole lotsa times
I wish I could say I’m not white

Well, I seen the fires burnin’
And the local people turnin’
On the merchants and the shops
Who used to sell their brooms and mops
And every other household item
Watched the mob just turn and bite ’em
And they say it served ’em right
Because a few of them are white,
And it’s the same across the nation
Black & white discrimination
They’re yellin’ “You can’t understand me!”
And all the other crap they hand me
In the papers and TV
‘N all that mass stupidity
That seems to grow more every day
Each time you hear some nitwit say
He wants to go and do you in
Because the color of your skin
Just don’t appeal to him
(No matter if it’s black or white)
Because he’s out for blood tonight
You know we gotta sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won’t be many left
To see it really end
‘Cause the fire in the street
Ain’t like the fire in the heart
And in the eyes of all these people
Don’t you know that this could start
On any street in any town
In any state if any clown
Decides that now’s the time to fight
For some ideal he thinks is right
And if a million more agree
There ain’t no great society
As it applies to you and me
Our country isn’t free
And the law refuses to see
If all that you can ever be
Is just a lousy janitor
Unless your uncle owns a store
You know that five in every four
Won’t amount to nothin’ more
Then watch the rats go across the floor
And make up songs about being poor
Blow your harmonica son!

This isn’t the place to analyze the roots of the Watts explosion: you can read the McCone Commission’s report on the riots, released in December 1965, and explore the numerous articles from the period. I’ll just note that the title of the report — Violence in the City: An End or a Beginning? — seemed downright prophetic as the decade progressed and the phrase “the long hot summer” took on a newly menacing sound. I wonder if that echoed in Zappa’s head as he wriote these lines:

You know we gotta sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won’t be many left
To see it really end

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