Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles… Frank Lloyd Wright

L.A. noir : the struggle for the soul of America’s most seductive city  John Buntin  New York : Harmony Books, c 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 419 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [349]-408) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Midcentury Los Angeles. A city sold to the world as “the white spot of America,” a land of sunshine and orange groves, wholesome Midwestern values and Hollywood stars, protected by the world’s most famous police force, the Dragnet-era LAPD. Behind this public image lies a hidden world of “pleasure girls” and crooked cops, ruthless newspaper tycoons, corrupt politicians, and East Coast gangsters on the make. Into this underworld came two men – one L.A.’s most notorious gangster, the other its most famous police chief – each prepared to battle the other for the soul of the city.

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Former street thug turned featherweight boxer Mickey Cohen left the ring for the rackets, first as mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s enforcer, then as his protege. A fastidious dresser and unrepentant killer, the diminutive Cohen was Hollywood’s favorite gangster – and L.A.’s preeminent underworld boss. Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, and Sammy Davis Jr. palled around with him; TV journalist Mike Wallace wanted his stories.

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William H. Parker was the proud son of a pioneering law-enforcement family from the fabled frontier town of Deadwood. As a rookie patrolman in the Roaring Twenties, he discovered that L.A. was ruled by a shadowy “Combination” – a triumvirate of tycoons, politicians, and underworld figures where alliances were shifting, loyalties uncertain, and politics were practiced with shotguns and dynamite. Parker’s life mission became to topple it – and to create a police force that would never answer to elected officials again.

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These two men, one morally unflinching, the other unflinchingly immoral, would soon come head-to-head in a struggle to control the city – a struggle that echoes unforgettably through the fiction of Raymond Chandler and movies such as The Big Sleep, Chinatown, and L.A. Confidential.

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For more than three decades, from Prohibition through the Watts Riots, the battle between the underworld and the police played out amid the nightclubs of the Sunset Strip and the mansions of Beverly Hills, from the gritty streets of Boyle Heights to the manicured lawns of Brentwood, intersecting in the process with the agendas and ambitions of J. Edgar Hoover, Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X. The outcome of this decades-long entanglement shaped modern American policing – for better and for worse – and helped create the Los Angeles we know today.

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A fascinating examination of Los Angeles’s underbelly, the Mob, and America’s most admired – and reviled – police department, L.A. Noir is an enlightening, entertaining, and richly detailed narrative about the city originally known as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles, “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels.”

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Comments Off on Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles… Frank Lloyd Wright

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Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them… James A. Michener

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Vision or villainy: origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles water controversy College Station [Tex.]: Texas A&M University Press, c 1981 Abraham Hoffman Water-supply California Los Angeles History Hardcover. 1st. ed. xix, 308 p., [20] leaves of plates: ill.; 24 cm. Bibliography: p. [277]-297. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Photograph shows a bird's-eye view of a large reservoir with mountains in the background and highway in the foreground, in Los Angeles, California.

Photograph shows a bird’s-eye view of a large reservoir with mountains in the background and highway in the foreground, in Los Angeles, California.

A century ago William Mulholland oversaw the creation of one of the greatest engineering projects of the 20th century – the building of the 200 mile long Los Angeles Aqueduct – and the growing city of Los Angeles, amid considerable conflict, appropriated water from a rural area 250 miles away. Still unresolved, the controversy surrounding the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Aqueduct has long since moved from the personal, even violent level fictionalized in the movie Chinatown to the dry realm of court proceedings, injunctions, and environmental impact reports.  But water remains a problem in California, and the questions raised by these events — the rights of a rural area versus a growing metropolitan area, environmental issues, and levels of government responsibility — are of recognized national importance today.

Stereograph showing view from elevated vantage point of the Kerckoff Dam and spillway.

Stereograph showing view from elevated vantage point of the Kerckoff Dam and spillway.

Much of the history of the controversy has been incompletely or imperfectly reported. Conventional accounts have focused on city versus valley, overlooking the role of the federal government. Others espouse the “conspiracy” theory popularized in Chinatown, dealing in plots and personalities.

Illustration showing bird's-eye view of mountainside, tunnel opening, canal forming Owensmouth Cascase, and crowd celebrating the opening of the gates releasing water from the Owens River into San Fernando Valley via canal.

Illustration showing bird’s-eye view of mountainside, tunnel opening, canal forming Owensmouth Cascase, and crowd celebrating the opening of the gates releasing water from the Owens River into San Fernando Valley via canal.

Relying on primary sources, many unused until now, Dr. Hoffman demonstrates how the utilitarian views of Theodore Roosevelt and his agents in the Geological Survey, the Reclamation Service, and the Bureau of Forestry helped determine the future of Los Angeles and the fate of Owens Valley. A model of historical reporting, this book redresses the balance in a record that too often has been oversimplified, usually at the expense of the city and often in terms of heroes and villains.

GRANT LAKE DAM LOOKING SOUTH - Los Angeles Aqueduct, From Lee Vining Intake (Mammoth Lakes) to Van Norman Reservoir Complex (San Fernando Valley), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA

GRANT LAKE DAM LOOKING SOUTH – Los Angeles Aqueduct, From Lee Vining Intake (Mammoth Lakes) to Van Norman Reservoir Complex (San Fernando Valley), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA

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It’s never happened in the World Series competition, and it still hasn’t… Yogi Berra

World Series baseball used to be a time of great excitement. The two best baseball teams in America met head on for a title that could only be won by a combination of brute force and astonishing guile. There was always a poignancy to the games because you knew that when they were over baseball was finished for the year and the long winter stretched in front of you. Sure there was football – but that was just one game a week – and basketball but that was a yet to be acquired taste at the professional level.

The joy at the beginning of October generally revolved around how often Maris and Mantle would put them over the fence or how Stengel and Berra would outwit their latest challenger and continued through the years of watching Torre out think his opponents until a late inning rally that could be nailed shut by Mariano Rivera. Sure there are other players, other teams and now other sports but none have ever recaptured the cachet of the pinstripes in the Bronx for this fan.

Now, in order to keep hope alive in the moribund – and more importantly to continue to sell tickets to games being played by the terminally inept – we have a wild card system that makes a mockery of the best playing the best. The next step we suppose is that every player who shows up will get a trophy and 300 names will be drawn at random for “championship” rings – well not quite at random there will have to be adjustments made to represent the rainbow that is America! Eventually there will be a “special” league composed of only major TV markets and teams that can score a Nielsen 10+ rating in any market in order to decide who should play in the new “whirled” series.

But this is only the lunatic grousing of an old baseball purist. In 1966 the World Series was still old school and this book is the best account we have come across – enjoy!

The Orioles had defeated baseball’s newest dynasty and they had done it with less-than-spectacular stats. In the end, their scorecards totaled a meager twenty-four hits and ten earned runs in four games. However, the Dodger’s boasted an even lower total (setting an all-time record) with two runs, seventeen hits, a .142 batting average and pathetic thirty-three consecutive scoreless innings.

Black and blue : the golden arm, the Robinson boys and the 1966 World Series that stunned America New York : Little, Brown, and Co., 2006 Tom Adelman Los Angeles DodgersBaltimore Orioles, World Series (Baseball) (1966) Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. 278 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [235]-266) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG  

The most surprising World Series ever? Many baseball fans would agree that it was the epic 1966 clash between the reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers and the perennial underdog Baltimore Orioles.

Sandy Koufax had led the Dodgers to victory in two previous World Series, and had finished the season with twenty-seven wins, a personal best. Few outside Baltimore gave the Orioles – slugger Frank Robinson leading a young team of no-name kids and promising prospects – more than a fighting chance against such series veterans as Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, and the rest.

Experts were betting that Los Angeles would sweep it in four. What transpired instead astonished the nation, as the greatest pitching performance in World Series history capped a redemption beyond imagining.

Comments Off on It’s never happened in the World Series competition, and it still hasn’t… Yogi Berra

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