Monday, March 30, 2009

Early Days in Los Angeles and Venice Beach

These photographs from years ago inspired me to look up some facts from the early days in Southern California: Los Angeles and nearby Venice. In reading a little of the history of Venice Beach, I would say it has kept is character….even today.

My maternal grandparents were from Sicily. My grandfather, born in 1875, came to the United States in about 1882. In 1894 he returned to Sicily where he married my grandmother and they returned to America in December of 1895. In late 1909 they left Colorado and went to Los Angeles to live. Papa immediately found a job building the North Main Street Bridge, which crosses the Los Angeles River, and is near the old Eastside Brewery, and near Lincoln Park. Not long after he bought an Ice Cream Wagon and later owned a gas station but lost it during the Depression. For a number of years he worked at the film studios painting and maintaining movie sets.

My grandfather and grandmother loved the beach and often went to Venice Beach during those early years while living in Los Angeles.

Here are some interesting photos of early days in Los Angeles and in Venice which I discovered yesterday, via my friend Michael. I’ve also included Tidbits from the days gone by that you may find of interest as I have.

North Main Street Bridge, Los Angeles
that my grandfather worked on.

1900, March 15, Los Angeles, California
Editorial Los Angeles Herald Newspaper
Married Teachers
The board of education has established the rule, and emphasized it by dismissing a recently wedded teacher, that female teachers in the public schools cannot retain their positions after marriage… It is needless to give the reasons for such a policy. That ground has been threshed over many times. There are very few women who can manage a home and a school at the same time. The one or the other must suffer, possibly both.

1905 – Los Angeles, Broadway Department Store Sale
Semi-annual $5.00 Suit Sale. Suits for Men, Young Men and Youths. Most of them Worth $10.00. Both Single and Double Breasted. Thousands to Choose From. Extra Salesmen in Attendance.

1908 – Los Angeles
Los Angeles Express, July 3, 1908.
That Los Angeles should be in direct communication by “wireless” with the frozen North appears almost incredible, but this has been accomplished by the new United Wireless telegraph station at Chutes Park.

1908 - Los Angeles
Los Angeles Herald October 3, 1908
House Hunting Through Want Ads

The trials of house hunting have certainly been made easier since THE HERALD began to print the Want Advertisements. There was a time when a man and wife had to walk up one street and down another searching for the right kind of a home. Now the owners of rentable houses either send or telephone the advertisements describing their property to THE HERALD, either daily or Sunday. The advertisements are printed — families wanting to move watch the "For Rent" columns — when the class of a house they want is for rent they go to look at it — if desirable, they rent it. Perhaps the house you want may not be advertised today or tomorrow, but if you watch these column every day, sooner or later you will find the house advertised for rent which will suit you

1908 – Los Angeles

In an address before members of the Hundred Year Club . . . this morning, Dr. L.E. Landone spoke of the evil effects of certain food combinations on the body, declaring that the appetite for drink is caused in children by such combinations as bread, butter and jam. Many, he said, will refuse a glass of whisky, but will take into the stomach a combination of foods which will at once start a distillery in the system.

1912 – Venice
The first bathing beauty contest was started as a promotional feature for the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper.

Keystone Girls, Venice Beach Parade about 1920
Keystone Studios, Max Sennett

Venice Beach, 1920

1915 – Venice
The Venice Gran Prix automobile race was held on St. Patrick's Day. 75,000 spectators watched the 300 mile race. Barney Oldfield driving a Maxwell won the race in 4 1/2 hours with an average speed of 68.5 MPH.

Barney Oldfield, winner of Venice Gran Prix, March 1915

1918 –Venice
Venice was one of only two towns in Los Angeles County where one could buy a drink and a bottle of liquor. Vernon was the other town.

1919 – Venice
In April Venice inaugurated the first aerial police force. It proved useful for tracking fleeing automobile bandits, or finding boats in distress.

1929 – Venice
Oil was discovered in December on county property just east of the Grand Canal and Avenue 35 on the Venice Peninsula. The well initially produced 3000 barrels per day. Oil fever swept the town, and shortly therafter, Los Angeles allowed drilling south of Lenona (Washington Street), two blocks from the ocean.

Oil Field Venice, 1930

Broadway and 7th, Los Angeles, about 1920.
Thought we had traffic today, huh?

Bellevue Terrace Hotel, Los Angeles, 1900

My paternal great grandfather, John Sanford Anderson Shearer.
This was taken in the late 1920, or early 1930’s
while he worked as a street car conductor in Los Angeles.

Bunker Hill Home, Los Angeles, 1969


Saturday, March 28, 2009

To The Struggle Against World Terrorism Monument in New Jersey

"Peace cannot be kept by force.
It can only be achieved by understanding."
~Albert Einstein

This morning my friend Ricky Kendall sent me an email about this monument dedicated to the people who lost their lives on the 9-11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade bombing. Apparently there has been a photo of the monument circulating the Internet and verification about it at snopes and urban legends. Ricky, nor I, had heard about this monument before by a Russian artist and given to us by the peoples of Russia. I first thought, maybe it is because we both live out West so maybe that is why we had little publicity about it, but doing a little bit of inquiry I discovered people who live in New Jersey where the monument is, did not know of its existence! It is a shame the memorial did not get more press than it apparently did.

World renown artist, sculptor, designer, Zurab Konstantinovitch Tsereteli was born in Tbilisi ( Georgia ) on January 4, 1934 ; and graduated from the Academy of Arts in Tbilisi in 1958. His Monumental and Design Works are throughout Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Great Britain, Spain, France, Israel, Uruguay, Italy, and the United States. He designed the interior decoration of the embassies of the Russian Federation in the United States, Brazil, Portugal, Japan, Turkey, Syria. A philanthropist, he has generously donated his artworks to charitable auction and hospices.

Zurab Tsereteli was in his home in Moscow on the morning of September 11th. Like the rest of the world, he was glued to Television coverage of the attacks on the Twin Towers, and as he watched the towers collapse he was moved to tears. He soon after decided to do a memorial with an image of a tear. Soon after he came to the United States to find a place for the memorial. He found a perfect spot on the waterfront at Bayonne, New Jersey, across from Ground Zero and with the Statue of Liberty in view.

A 100-foot-tall, 175-ton, bronze-clad sculpture, which encloses a 40-foot steel teardrop, entitled "To The Struggle Against World Terrorism," is a gift from Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the people of Russia, to the people of the United States and was dedicated on the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.

The monument's eleven-sided granite base includes the names of all those who perished in the initial explosion at the World Trade Center in 1993 and in the 2001 attacks. “His bronze monument reflects that image with a jagged tear through the center, and a 4-ton nickel tear hanging from the top. The tear represents not only the sadness and grief over the loss of life on 9/11 and previous attacks on the World Trade Center, but also hope for a future free from terror.”

The monument has several reflective elements, so that the visitor becomes part of the memorial. The nickel tear is shiny and mirror like. The granite name plates which make up the stand for the monument, and on which the names of the victims are etched, is also shiny and reflective.

In looking over previous reports about it, I see there was some controversy regarding size, names, or whatever. I also notice Ricky and I are not alone in never hearing or reading about this monument. I’ve now seen comments from a few people who actually live in New Jersey and never heard about it and its dedication of 9-11-2006!

H. G. Wells wrote, "Our true nationality is mankind.” Do you think we will ever get that?!

I now, ask, why did we not hear of it? Why did our press choose to keep quiet about such a beautiful and generous and heartfelt gift?

Thank you Zurab Tsereteli and all the people of Russia. The monument is a beautiful memorial.

I am reminded by all this of a beautiful and moving poem that Ricky wrote shortly after 9-11. You can read The Eagle Cried by Ricky Kendall here.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Time to Plant Gardens on White House Lawns and Our Lawns

"Come the spring with all its splendor,
All its birds and all its blossoms,
all its flowers, and leaves, and grasses."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807-1882)

Me in my garden

It is now springtime and many vegetable gardens will be planted soon. I’ve had several gardens over the years, growing tomatoes, zucchini, cantaloupe, green beans, carrots, onions, peppers, radishes, lettuce, and once in awhile, corn and potatoes. I never had very good luck growing corn for some reason. Yet, it looks like it is off to a good start in my garden above. Maybe because Daddy was from Iowa and he knew a lot about growing corn.

This week our President and First Lady made headlines when ground was broken on the South Lawn of the White House for an organic “Victory Garden.” According to Friday’s Washington Post, The 1,100-square-foot garden will include 55 kinds of vegetables, be berries, herbs and “two hives for honey that will be tended by a White House carpenter who is also a beekeeper. The chefs will use the produce to feed the first family, as well as for state dinners and other official events.”

White House spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld said, “The White House will use organic seedlings, as well as organic fertilizers and organic insect repellents. The garden will be near the tennis courts and be visible to passersby on the street. The whole Obama family will be involved in tending the garden.”

Michele Obama has talked about the importance of healthful eating and the challenges of persuading her children to eat fruits and vegetables. I believe a garden is fun for a family. I know I enjoyed having gardens when I was young.

And in later years… and as a result of good crops, making zucchini bread, canning zucchini pickles, making jam, and jellies…and trying to give away tomatoes and zucchinis when the whole neighborhood was growing their gardens, too.

This was the best jam ever! I wish I still had that plum tree!

And those darn zucchini squash; you can hear them grow at night if you listen carefully for the sounds hidden somewhat by the breezes.

See what I mean....this happened overnight! :-)

When an apple tree’s in blossom it is glorious to see,
But that’s just a hint, at springtime, of the better things to be.”
~Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)

In 1943, during World War II, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a large Victory Garden on the White House lawn, inspiring millions of Americans by her example. I’ve also read that President Carter had a small herb garden, and the Clinton’s also grew a small garden on the roof of the White House.

War Posters for Victory Gardens

I also wrote about gardens June of 2007 on my Blog.

Friday, March 20, 2009

President Obama in Pomona, Southern California March 19, 2009

President Obama at the Southern California Edison’s Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona, California, March 19, 2009, where he unveiled his 2.4 billion dollar boost for electric vehicle development.
I enjoyed his appearance on Leno, this evening.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Children's Library Books and Lead??

The Group, Consumer Product Safety Commission wants children’s books pulled from library shelves due to possible lead in the text of the books printed prior to 1986. Most libraries are ignoring the request and refusing to comply. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say any danger from lead in children’s books is slight, yet this Consumer Commission wants the books pulled from library shelves before testing is even done.

Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office stated, “We’re talking about tens of millions of copies of children’s books that are perfectly safe. I wish a reasonable, rational person would just say, ‘This is stupid. What are we doing?”’

I agree, this is stupid. The CPSC is interpreting the federal law that bans lead beyond minute levels in products intended for children 12 and under. The law became effective in February, and was passed after a number of toy recalls. The CPSC delayed until next year the lead testing required as part of this new law.

Jay Dempsey, a health communications specialist at the CDC, said lead-based ink in children’s books poses little danger. “If that child were to actually start mouthing the book — as some children put everything in their mouths — that’s where the concern would be,” Dempsey said. “But on a scale of one to 10, this is like a 0.5 level of concern.”

A website was set up by the publishing and printing industries last December to post the results of studies measuring the lead in books. Those results show lead levels were often undetectable and consistently below not only the new federal threshold, but the more stringent limit that goes into effect in 2011.

Those findings were cited in a letter from the Association of American Publishers to the CPSC. The American Library Association said it has no estimate of how many children’s books printed before 1986 are in circulation. But typically, libraries don’t have many, because youngsters are hard on books, librarians said.

Rhoda Goldberg, director of the Harris County Public Library system in Houston, said “Frankly, most of our books have been well-used and well-appreciated. They don’t last 24 years.”

Also, the lead is contained only in the type, not in the illustrations, according to Allan Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs for the Association of American Publishers.

Nathan Brown, a lawyer for the library association, said libraries should not even be subject to the law. He argued that Congress never wanted to regulate books and that libraries do not sell books and thus are not subject to the consumer products law.

I would have to wonder about all those books we kept from our childhood, or the books we still have that belonged to our children, and the millions accumulated by book collectors. The Little Golden Books, for instance. The dust mites may get to us but I would doubt the lead in the old ink does any harm and most of us don’t eat books, even children.

Seems too often mountains are made of molehills.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday Night TV Shows, Dancing With the Stars and Castle

Monday Night TV

Well, the Bachelor Jason Mesnick apparently stated last week after Melissa Rycroft was picked to fill in on Dancing With the Stars: “I hope and think she will win it all.”

He could be right about that! She’s good and her partnering with professional dancer Tony Dovolani is a great match. If their dance steps don’t win the votes, their big smiles, laughter, and enthusiasm surely will. I wonder if Jason is feeling pangs of regret in giving up Melissa.

Looks like that girl is going to be just fine.

Tony Dovolani and Melissa Rycroft, March 9, 2009, ABC Dancing With the Stars

I love the new show, Castle. I’m really enjoying the characters, Richard Castle, a mystery writer, and Kate Beckett , a cop. He’s a single father, she a single woman. He’s had two marriages, she has had none.

Castle is played by Canadian born actor, Nathan Fillion. He’s been around a lot, even on Desperate Housewives, but I have to admit he never made such an impact on me with his acting until this role as Richard Castle. He’s good (and very attractive and sexy in this role) and I really like the interplay that works so well between him and fellow Canadian actress Stana Katic. There is just the right amount of tease, playfulness, and “game-playing” to make it an interesting relationship. The writing is excellent, dialogue great, and when you have two good actors that can act with chemistry between them, it is memorable and enjoyable. The rest of the cast is good too, but these two really stand out—for me anyway. (damn he's cute!)

Nathan Fillion, ABC's Richard Castle

And I do not watch any of the detective CSI type shows but this one so far does not focus on the violence, as too many do, but it focuses on the murder plot, unraveling it in much the same way us writers might build a mystery story. Maybe that is why I like the show so much. As a writer, I always have scenarios going through my head and I enjoy seeing them in a well-written program.

Stana Katic, ABC's Kate Beckett

I’m hoping Castle is getting good ratings, and it should, being in the Monday ABC spot following Dancing with the Stars.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

40th Anniversary of Don Pendleton's The Executioner: Mack Bolan Series, Part Four

In Part Four of the Birth of Don Pendleton's The Executioner: Mack Bolan Series , Don Pendleton spoke of critics. This again was in about 1973, at a time the Executioner had really taken off. You may want to read Part One, Part Two and Part Three prior to this one. See Posts below this one.

On The Critics by Don Pendleton

Of course, there is that other thing: the unfavorable comments of the critics. I don’t suppose that I’m any more thin-skinned in that regard or any more thick-skinned than most writers are. This is one of the things that every person in the creative or performing arts is wide open to and we have to simply accept it. Don’t have to like it. My own personal view of the written criticism is that it is a literary cannibalism. The critic is literally cannibalizing another piece of work in order to create a piece of work of his own. It must be recognized by knowledgeable people that reviews, criticisms, are, in fact, a valid art form in their own right. The person who writes these pieces of literature are in their own way attempting to create something. But in order to create something it’s necessary to borrow from another’s piece of work–and it just so happens that it makes much better reading and a much more effective criticism if you can really lace into the other guy and tear him apart. After you’ve said, it’s good, it’s great, it’s wonderful, what else can you say? Of course, there are many, many, very sensitive critics in all fields of the arts who are able to come up with some very meaningful criticisms which do add to a piece of work but, by and large, the average run of the mill critique of any art is a cannibalism. So I sort of accept that unfavorable stuff in the same spirit that it is given–I don’t pay much attention to it. I believe the best piece of criticism that I can read regarding my books are my royalty statements.

But there are some valid criticisms about my books which perhaps I should try to answer. It has been said that the books are hastily put together. Haste is a relative term. For a person whose normal writing speed is three or four pages a day or perhaps three or four paragraphs a day, then to put out a full length novel in thirty to sixty days is absolutely a hastily done piece of work.

I average about ten pages a day and I could do double that amount. I have done double that amount, many times. But yes, at some cost to the work. But I suppose that I sweat and agonize over my phrases just as much as any writer who has ever lived. I change, rewrite, revise, carry on as though I was writing the great American novel. I work very conscientiously and with very great pains to put together prose that is easily assailable. I have adopted a sort of conversational style in my writing in these Executioner books, particularly. I try to write more or less as people speak and yet to do so in such a way that there is no ambiguity as to the meaning of what I’m saying. I don’t concentrate on the fine points of grammar. When we run across people in everyday life who are speaking in precise grammatical terms they invariably come off sounding affected, stilted, and I certainly don’t want to write in that fashion.

I know all the rules of sentence structure, use of words, but hell, I’m not writing grammar books. I’m writing fiction. I’m trying to write very hard-hitting, very suspenseful, edge of the seat, eye-ball jerking fiction. I don’t priss around my study with a dictionary in my hand, a thesaurus on my hip, nor do I have a word usage chart on my wall. I’m continually working toward the fast moving, the fast flowing, the evocative, the shocking. I’m trying to keep the reader hooked, page by page, by page. This is my approach. Now to someone who wishes to sit down and tear apart this type of writing, it is the easiest thing to do. I would only like to point out that we can sit down with any of the great works of literature and if we are looking for the weak points, if we are looking for the points where the author had not followed every little rule, yes, we can tear it apart. We can tear Charles Dickens right down to the bone. We could make Ernest Hemingway look like a sixth grade drop-out. It’s not the guys who write by the book who write the books that sell–books that become meaningful. It’s by and large, the guys who say to hell with what I’m supposed to do–this is the way I see it should be done.

I frequently invent words. There are many, many invented words in the Executioner series. I’m not afraid to invent words. The people who compile our dictionaries are constantly working adding new pages to the dictionary. They have to do that because there are people in the world who aren’t afraid to invent new words.

As far as the rules for writing literature–there are no rules. I don’t believe any man ever sat down at a typewriter and began writing a book and did, indeed, manage to write a book that was worthy of being published that followed some sort of formula set down by someone else on how to write the book.

What I regard as my last word to the critics is simply this: No national critic ever noticed the Executioner books until they had become nationwide best sellers. My pitch was made to the readers and the readers responded. If the critics want to come along now and notice me simply because I forced them to notice me by the wide sales of the books, then they can say whatever they please. I simply don’t give a damn. However, if they are going to discuss the books in print, I don’t think it would be unreasonable of an author to ask that they do read the book before they attempt to criticize it. They shouldn’t simply turn to page thirty and pick out a couple to sentences to criticize and then turn to page ninety and then pick out a couple more sentences and call that a criticism of the work.

Don was correct in saying that his readers are who mattered. After all, they are the ones buying the books and coming back for more. Forty years later Don Pendleton's fictional hero, Mack Bolan is still alive and kicking.... The Executioner Series has had at least three generations of readers now. It may be four generations in some cases, as I recall in about 1985 when he did a booksigning at the Pentagon, there was an Air Force Officer who told us his father and son were fans. His son was in Air Force also. So by this time...that Officer's son may have children who are reading the books. I say children because the fans of the books have always included young and older women, along with the boys and men. Everyone loves a hero.

And before I'm asked, no, movies have not been made. I still have hopes that some day Mack Bolan the Executioner may make it to the big screen. When it happens, I hope we recognize him.

The drawing of Mack Bolan was commissioned by Don in 1975 and was done by a young talented artist, Mike Cagle of Indiana.

My thanks to the Gold Eagle writers...keep writing guys!


© Copyright Don Pendleton, Linda Pendleton.

40th Anniversary of Don Pendleton's The Executioner: Mack Bolan Series, Part Three

In Part Three of The Birth of Don Pendleton’s The Executioner: Mack Bolan Series of Novels 40 Years Ago, we are looking at Don Pendleton's Creative Writing Style. You may want to read Part One and Part Two before this one. He taped this originally in 1973 and mentions his lawsuit with his publisher, Pinnacle Books, who at the time was trying to claim the Executioner series as their own. Don won the lawsuit and his copyrights were returned to him.

Don Pendleton’s Creative Writing Style of The Executioner SeriesNow a word or two regarding the creative style used in these books. I was asked in an interview recently [about 1973] if I thought this particular formula had reached its logical end. My response to that question was that I simply don’t use a formula so I couldn’t answer the question. Because the Executioner was a trend setter, there are now a lot of imitating series which have become a sort of normal thing in the trade–a lot of publishers developed trending series, that’s all. There is actually no formula involved primarily because of the creative style used by me. My old publisher, Pinnacle, in the present litigation that we’re in [1973], one of his claims is that the Executioner is a House Series, that it was created by Pinnacle and that the character, plot, the situation, what he calls the concept, was given to me to develop. This is ridiculous. I couldn’t begin to work along anything like that. He tried to use the synopsis that I submitted to him of the original book, the first book, to show the differences between the synopsis and the completed book as evidence that they had exerted a great influence in the nature of changes and revisions as evidence that I was working under their direction. But here again, the difference between the original format of story idea and the final version of the work was the inevitable result of the way I work. A synopsis is nothing more than the skeleton of a story idea that establishes mood and thematic movement in somewhat the nature of a motion picture story treatment. It’s not a plot outline which details specific story elements to show how these elements interact to produce a story. I don’t even use the outline method for story development at any time. My method constitutes an evolution of theme and movement through character into a story which is not even conceptualized until it is told. And the characters are seldom more than un-dimensioned shadows until they are confronted with the story elements. That is to say the story does not exist. It does not exist even in the author’s mind until they [the characters] are confronted with the story elements. That is to say that the story does not exist even in the author’s mind until the book has been written.

Now using this method, it is the telling of the story that actually develops the characters and produces the various elements of style, plot, suspense, even the action. In this particular instance, the Executioner books, the story idea which first became expressed in the synopsis was nothing more than a vague thematic treatment concerning a combat trained and highly capable young man with a strong sense of duty who is confronted with a terribly unjust human situation which just may be within his abilities to correct. He accepts the challenge, this call to duty, with clearly no chance, no chance whatsoever, for his own survival, unless, now unless, he can rise to a level of human excellence and greatness, and this rise of the hero, his efforts to maintain that almost impossible level of excellence, are the story elements that provide suspense and action in the unraveling of the story.

Working within such a framework, naturally the author himself is in continual crisis as he attempts to unfold a story which has not even been formulated. The fragments of plot and scene which were necessarily perceived to synopsize the proposed work for a perspective publisher–in my case, anyway, are always abandoned or at least greatly altered as the story unfoldment picks up momentum and begins to propel itself. So it is because of this that Pinnacle’s allegations that they are directing my work and calling the shots and everything, are so ridiculous. Not only has my work never been directed by other persons, it has never been fully directed by myself. There is just no way under the sun that anyone, anyone, could direct my work. Any attempts to do so would be absolutely antithetical–antithetical to the creativity which has produced the Executioner.

I don’t take full credit for the success of the books because I constantly amaze myself with the things that come out in the completed manuscript because I never know where I’m going when I start, where I’m headed. I simply begin with a tense situation and put the guy in jeopardy and allow his own character, his own established modus operandi, his quest for excellence, for justice, to tell the story, to get him out of the trouble, and hell, I never know what is going to happen in the books until I get to the very final shot of the story. So this is about as close as I can come to a description of the creative style of this author, Don Pendleton.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

© Copyright Don Pendleton, Linda Pendleton.