Chip Jacobs

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Strange As It Seems: Review Roundup n’ stuff

June 29th, 2016 · No Comments


Jacobs … is an exceptional storyteller, and his lively look at the extraordinary career of Gordon Zahler … is a peculiar page-turner. Zahler, the author’s uncle, achieved success on the margins of show business despite a spinal injury … Jacobs … craft(s) an imaginative biography about this unusual figure, who carved out a distinct place in post-WWII Hollywood by repurposing the music of his father, Lee Zahler, a prolific film composer. Along the way, readers meet a colorful cast of characters, including animator Walter Lantz, actor Burt Lancaster, and fringe film directors Ed Wood Jr. and Samuel Fuller. Zahler’s life was filled with difficulties, but Jacobs refuses to frame his cantankerous uncle as a tragic figure and cleverly uses his story to expound on the larger history of his family. This fast-paced account of a life lived to its fullest is a triumphant tribute …” – Publishers Weekly

“Family memoirs are rife with grandiose tales of triumph over adversity, and while it would be easy to dismiss Jacobs’ portrait of his unorthodox uncle as another such unvarnished encomium, his professional background as an award-winning investigative journalist for The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, and CNN prevents this from being so. With both dramatic flair and detached fairness, Jacobs eloquently reveals the soul of a charismatic and courageous character. Had Gordon’s career taken place on the screen instead of behind it, he would have been the Christopher Reeve of his day.” — Foreword magazine (5 stars) *

“… amazing … Just how does the class clown face death-defying odds … making Hollywood productions and achieving a dizzying amount of fame during the process of shooting films and even marrying? Jacobs captures the turbulent ups, downs, successes and failures of a life well lived in a biography which is vivid, exciting, and thoroughly engrossing.” – Midwest Book Review 

Everyone loves an underdog—and Gordon Zahler, … Hollywood Zelig, and eventual music supervisor of Plan 9 from Outer Space, would seem to be the perfect Boy Alger. Zahler … transmut(ed) the strange horror of physical incapacity into nimble, devilish celluloid miracles …  Zahler’s life was a carnival of mettle, the merging of a Muzak sensibility and an indefatigable, preposterous will to live. In B-movie screenings, as in heaven, the man will endure, unapologetic, undead.” - Film Comment

“Never a book has taken you from laughing to crying within the same page. The book unites two talents: the one of Mr. Jacobs and one of Mr Zahler. And it’s not a coincidence that both are related … The style of Mr Jacobs is, as always, very eloquent, passionate and yet entertaining … sweating of intelligence. For this amazing life, you’ll have an amazing book. Read it, you won’t be disappointed.” - The Culture News

If you are determined to title your book Strange As It Seems, you damn well better deliver. Chip Jacobs does that and more in a loving, funny and well-written biography of his late uncle, Hollywood musical legend Gordon Zahler.” - Bob Andelman @ Mr. Media

” … Strange as It Seems … not only details all of facets of Gordon’s improbable career, but his private life as well, including marriage to Judy, who comes across as a chain-smoking saint in the narrative, his relationship with various friends, cronies, and underpaid assistants, and his ability to live a life that some of us with all our workable limbs can’t match.  A terrific read and one of the best (hopefully movie-inspiring) books of the year. Highly recommended.” - In the Balcony 

“Here is a remarkable tale of Hollywood history that sheds light on the man who provided the music for several TV cartoon series of the 1960s – not to mention the infamous Ed Wood feature Plan 9 From Outer Space … Author Chip Jacobs was Gordon Zahler’s nephew and he throughly traces his uncle’s incredible career – which included providing music to numerous animated series including the King Features TV Popeye’s, Filmation’s Superman and Larry Harman’s Bozo (to name but a few) … It’s a fascinating read.” Cartoon Research

“Gordon Zahler isn’t a member of the Hollywood A-list, but he certainly hobnobbed with many of them … Author Chip Jacobs … explores the man he only knew from a distance … Zahler’s story is a true tale of hard work and chutzpah … and leaves the reader to make up their mind on whether he was brilliant or just lucky. Zahle’s story truly lives up to its title.” Cinema Sentries/Journey in Classic Film

” … In finishing this masterfully written biography, I came away thinking that Gordon Zahler, may well have been the original poster boy for the word Hudspeth.  Strange As It Seems is Twilight Zone Strange but all true and comes highly recommended.” - Steve Hodel, New York Times Bestselling author, Black Dahlia Avenger

“…  Gordon put the American Dream to the test, pushing the boundaries of what is possible if one simply puts his mind to the task. Chip Jacobs infuses Gordon’s story with crisp dialogue and poignant observations … delivering a delightful Man Against Nature tale that has you riveted to the page. You can’t find a better writer … for this type of storytelling. I didn’t want the book to end, and when it did I felt like I lost a good friend. This is a story worth telling, and a book worth reading. Proof that Jacobs is a powerful voice whose work will stand the test of time.” - Stephen Jay Schwartz, Bestselling Author of Boulevard and Beat

*This amazing book is all heart …Chip Jacobs blends the skills of an investigative journalist, the glitz of Hollywood, and the smooth storytelling of fiction to weave a profile of his larger-than-life uncle that will leave you crying, laughing and gasping in wonder, often on the same page. Bravo!” — Denise Hamilton, Bestselling Author of Los Angeles Noir and Savage Garden *

“Readers looking for a glamorous Hollywood story or a tale of gentle uplift should be warned: This is not that book. Instead, Chip Jacobs has written something far better – a witty, clear-eyed account of a charming and utterly impossible man whose ferocious willpower transformed his personal nightmare into a lifelong Technicolor hallucination.” – A. J. Langguth, Bestselling author of  Patriots, Our Vietnam and others *  

FDR’s body and Sammy Glick’s brain? No, but close – and better. Mon Oncle d’Amerique has nothing on Chip Jacobs’ Mon Oncle d’Hollywood, the picaresque, quadriplegic Gordon, who is at least as good a story as anything he helped to put on film: welfare case to Oscar-caliber movies, co-starring Ed Wood and Pope John XXIII, with snappy dialogue and auto crack-ups, lions and tiger rugs and TV bears, one Serene Highness and many spectacular lownesses. Gordon is a premiere citizen of Hollywood As She is Spoken — unsentimental but believing utterly in the art of the possible.” — Patt Morrison, award-winning Los Angeles Times columnist and author *

“Though not about a celebrity or newsmaker, this life being told by Chip Jacobs is an extraordinary one in the history of Hollywood. The raw courage and almost unbelievable stamina of Gordon Zahler – abetted by both love and luck – turns this irresistible biography into a page turner.” — William Robert Faith, author of Bob Hope: A Life In Comedy *

Silver Medal (Biography/Autobiography/Memoir) - Pacific Rim Book Festival

Prime pick, California Bookwatch

(* Reviews from earlier versions of this biography.)

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Guest Post: “Five Years?”

March 7th, 2016 · No Comments

69-Speaker p

By Jeff Charlebois

This year, while visiting the family in Florida for my annual holiday vacation, I ventured over to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis to get an evaluation and see if there was anything new in the world of spinal cord injury (SCI) research. The Miami Project began in 1985 when Marc, the son of Miami Dolphin’s player Nick Buoniconti, tragically broke his neck in a high school football game. As a result, a national research center for spinal cord injuries was set up with a group of dedicated scientists—the goal being to accelerate the translation of new laboratory findings to clinical studies involving humans.

In 1979, I was involved in a car accident in which I broke my neck and became paralyzed. One of the main things that helped me get through this difficult period was the hope that promising SCI cures were on the horizon. For as long as I can remember, a cure was always just five years away. Somehow, five became the magical number. After five years I’d revisit the new research out there to see if anything had progressed. Rats, rats, rats! It was always about the rats. Things were slowly progressing, but as usual, somewhere within the rat trial experimental article were the words “we are only about five years away from a major breakthrough in spinal cord research.” I wasn’t so bothered that things seemed to be taking longer than originally stated, but I just wish they would mix it up a little and at least change the time frame to a less popular number like … 4.8 years. I’ve never trusted round numbers.

It’s hard to believe that rats are the only dumb creatures in the animal kingdom to volunteer for this stuff. Why can’t the monkeys step up? Monkeys could speed up the research process, especially since their DNA is the closest to a human being. Believe me, I know. I’ve been out drinking with my friends and they can be some wild chimps. It’s a slow frustrating process where, after several years of rat trials, the next stage always seems to be … bigger rats. I think the rats have served their time. It’s long overdue to leap forward and bring in the gophers.

Decades ago, right after my injury, I remember sitting in the hospital room across from one of the country’s top neurosurgeons and asking him if we were close to a cure. I have never forgotten his words, without blinking, he calmly stated, “Not in my lifetime, maybe yours.” I didn’t like his candor, but I was thankful he was old. So far, he has been right. He is dead now. One thing I did take from the brief disheartening exchange was how intricate and complex the spinal cord really is. It’s definitely harder to solve than that Rubik’s Cube thingy.

My hope has always remained high and I am encouraged by the new research that is going on in the scientific community. There are very promising things on the horizon and it now seems more of a question of when, rather than if. Every few months, I see new research of something promising and my excitement level rises. Then, I never hear about it again. I can’t imagine that Facebook would lie to me.

Would I miss my old life in a wheelchair? I guess I would miss the parking spots, the racquet-ball-court-sized bathroom stalls and the joy of running over people’s toes. But, I’m willing to give up all that up to get back to my old self. After all, I think it’s long past due that I learn to stand on my own two feet.

So, at the Miami Project I sat across from the internationally recognized spinal cord expert, Dr. Green, who has been around for a while and on the forefront of spinal cord injury research. If anyone out there would know what’s going on in the world of research, this cat would. We looked at my MRI on the computer screen, and there I saw a small blot, in the middle of my spinal column, that had been the thorn in my side and had sentenced me to a wheelchair for the last thirty years or so. I thought to myself that what happened to me wasn’t a game of inches, but millimeters. The good news was that I would be a prime candidate for any upcoming trials. So, when the stem cell chips fall into place, I could finally live up to my reputation as being a rat.

What is the hold up with these stem cells? Just inject them into me and let them grow. Oh, if life was only that easy. According to the good doctor who, unlike me, is a medical expert, informed me that some of the stem cell treatments have had complications, such as bringing about some pain in the nerves. I’m not into pain so, okay, I’ll be patient. I get it. This isn’t a ninth grade science experiment with a petri dish and some fruit flies.

I mentioned to the astute neurosurgeon that I have read reports of some spinal cord breakthroughs where paraplegics are up and walking after twenty years. Now, granted, it’s always in some third world country like Thailand or Nigeria, which are known for sex slave trafficking and not breakthrough science, which makes it suspect, but maybe they’re trying things like … cells from an elephant tusk or something we never thought of. Why isn’t this happening here? We’re the United States of America, dammit. We have Drones and iRobot vacuum cleaners.

So, I bombarded the doctor with questions about these newfound research phenomena that I always tend to come across and he assured me that if there were something miraculous out there, he would know about it. I wanted to say that maybe you were on vacation, gambling in Macau, and missed the report, but down deep, I knew he was right. If there was a groundbreaking cure floating around somewhere in this world, it would be all over the nightly news, almost as much as if Kim Kardashian bought a new dress.

Will it happen in my lifetime? My two choices are to believe it will or believe it won’t. I am an optimist. Life is a grueling road without hope. It’s what gets you out of bed every day. It’s what propels you forward. It’s those invisible hands that lift you up and enable you to battle the negative forces of life. Hey, it’s how people win the Powerball.

Before I left the doctor’s office I took a deep breath and asked that all-important question that has been on my mind for thirty-some years, “In your expert opinion, how far are we away from a substantial breakthrough with spinal cord injury research?” I braced myself for the “within five years” standard answer. He looked at me and confidentially responded, “I believe in the next year, maybe two, at the most.”

I can live with that answer. Even if it is another five years, at least, we’re not saying that now. So, we must be progressing closer to that cure.

Jeff Charlebois is a comedian in a wheelchair billed as “a sit down comic who’s always on a roll.”  He lives in Los Angeles, where he writes scripts and sitcoms.  He is also a contributing writer for ABILITY magazine and has published several humor books titled, “Medical Secrets Revealed” and “Life Is A Funny Thing.”  

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Strange As It Seems: Official Book Trailer Flies Through Space

February 22nd, 2016 · No Comments



FROM THE WONDERFUL SITE, CARTOON RESEARCH  “Here is a remarkable tale of Hollywood history that sheds light on the man who provided the music for several TV cartoon series of the 1960s – not to mention the infamous Ed Wood feature Plan 9 From Outer Space. The son of poverty-row movie composer Lee Zahler, Gordon Zahler was paralyzed as a teenager in a ninth-grade gymnastic stunt gone horribly wrong. But that didn’t stop him …  Author Chip Jacobs was Gordon Zahler’s nephew and he throughly traces his uncles incredible career – which included providing music to numerous animated series including the King Features TV Popeye’s, Filmation’s Superman and Larry Harman’s Bozo (to name but a few). Zahler also partnered with Walter Lantz … It’s a fascinating read …”


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January 2nd, 2016 · No Comments


I’ll have plenty to say, post and blather about this one in the months to come. For now, Gordon up.  


The life of Gordon Zahler was simply so miraculous that it might as well have been science fiction.  Born into an entertainment family in suburban Los Angeles in the mid-1920s, Zahler was a lovable prankster and class clown, exasperating his parents with his endless teenage feats of derring-do. But Gordon Zahler’s promising career as a public miscreant went pear-shaped one day in 1940 when he and his buddies where fooling around in their high school gym with a spring board.  An unsteady jump no the board vaulted Gordon on a deadly trajectory landing him squarely on his neck, severing his spine. He was 14-years old. That’s when the miracles began.
Strange As It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler, the journey of former nobody who defied odds and biases racked upagainst him to frolic in Hollywood, is vividly retold by his nephew, writer Chip Jacobs.  More than just a biography, Jacobs’ portrait evokes an early, Day of the Locust, Hollywood where art and fortunes were made by a colorful set of foreigners, weirdos, obsessives, and freaks. During the 1950s and 1960s, Gordon became a kingpin in this milieu, as his music/sound effects post-production house scored films for low budget sci-fi films, genre movies like Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor, Popeye and Bozo the Clown cartoons, as well as hundreds of other projects. Gordon, best known for his clever soundtrack on Ed Wood Jr.’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space, was always a better story than the scripts he accentuated.
 Eventually wealthy, with a house off the Sunset Strip, a devoted blond trophy wife and raucous, star-filled parties, Gordon – 95-pound dynamo – built an existence from scratch that mere able-bodied mortals could only dream about. How many of them could say Lucille Ball adored them, or they were partners with Walter Lantz, Woody Woodpecker’s cartoonist and producer, or Ivan Tors, the brains behind Flipper, Gentle Ben and the nature-drama field still red-hot today? Bored confining himself to one area, Gordon tried developing futuristic concepts, from audible books to talking gas-station pumps. He kept a powerboat for boozy excursions, traveled from Beirut toThailand, was thrown out of moving cars, nearly died after being blessed by the pope and had a Forest Gumpian-knack for being in dangerous places at the wrong time. 
As a boy, Jacobs was not overly fond of a voluble relation with a spidery physique and witchy arms. As an adult hungry to understand his family’s past, Jacobs’ trepidation gave way to awe and curiosity. Strange As It Seems is the culmination of one man’s quest to live a life that was almost denied him, and another’s to bring that untold legend out of history’s shadows.

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Chip’s Q&A In The South China Morning Post: “How The US And The West Contributed To China’s Addiction To Dirty Development”

November 18th, 2015 · No Comments

UnknownLos Angeles-based author Chip Jacobs became well known in China for his book, Smogtown, about  pollution in the Californian metropolis, which he co-authored with William Kelly. The pair have now turned their attention to China’s struggle with pollution in their book, The People’s Republic of ChemicalsJacobs spoke to LI JING

What are the root causes of China’s pollution problems?

I think it’s connected with China’s tragic history – whether with the foreign occupation, the Opium Wars, the Japanese invasion or the cold war. All those historical events in some way encouraged China to continue using coal to fuel its industry, warm its homes and maintain development. For years, China was stuck in old-fashioned coal dependence.

In the 1990s, the US was eager to bring China into the world of nations. The cold war had ended and the Soviet Union had dissolved, but China remained a mystery. The US leadership of Bill Clinton and Al Gore wanted China to be involved in the global economy, but they made a fundamental mistake that led to a fight with Washington. Gore wanted any deal that brought China into the World Trade Organisation to include controls on China using dirty coal, which increased global warming and created air pollution. But he lost his fight.

Record pollution levels in Beijing regularly blot out sunlight during the daytime. Image: SCMP

China went on to become a gigantic export powerhouse. At that time the central leadership was looking for an edge, to make China competitive. It was a perfect storm for China to have a very dirty industrial revolution. The US had a very dirty industrial revolution at the dawn of the last century – and a lot of people died. It’s as if the lessons were never remembered.

China was so hungry to pump up its economy and to export its products, which it produced at a cost that did not fully reflect their true environmental cost. Americans, through buying a huge amount of those goods, only encouraged China to manufacture in a dirty way. I realised that was the byproduct of globalisation – a story that no-one had really told.

Severe pollution and haze chokes Beijing. Image: Simon Song/SCMP

Could tougher rules have avoided China’s environmental crisis?

Yes, the US helped create this environmental Frankenstein. On the one hand, we brought China into the WTO – on the other, we feverishly bought its cheap, non-environmentally friendly products. When Barack Obama visited China last November he said that he wouldn’t let his daughters breath Beijing’s polluted air. I wish he had said that the US bore some of the blame here. I don’t think he was telling the full story. Within a few years of joining the WTO, China’s greenhouse gas emissions were exploding.

But didn’t China willingly choose that path of development?

I think China’s leadership faced a great dilemma. It had elevated between 300 to 400 million people out of poverty, but at the same time a respected study – [whose findings were released this year by Berkeley university] showed that that about 4,000 Chinese were dying every day from its air pollution. The Communist Party must have felt it had made a pact with the devil, because China doesn’t have many energy resources other than coal .

Where I do think the Chinese government needs to change is how it disseminates information. Only recently did it officially acknowledge the existence of cancer villages [that have abnormally high rates of the disease, linked to pollution].

What I don’t get about China is why such a powerful country cannot accept valid criticism. Whenever people demonstrate about a polluting factory, state censors block blogs, track down those writing them and crack down on electronic communication.

I think that creates a lot of resentment and suspicion [towards the government]. I just hope China’s leadership will feel more confident to allow people to become informed, without worrying about whether it would cause social unrest.

Industrial pollution in China. Image: SCMP

Do you think mounting public pressure will force real change?

I believe China is getting on the right path. The leadership pledged big funds for a cleanup, even though China still lacks a national air quality plan that everybody can understand, or an air pollution inventory.

But things are getting better. Besides promises of more funds, and making firm plans such as peaking coal consumption in 2030, China’s anti-corruption campaign has arrested “tigers and flies” in the energy sector. To me, it’s the Communist Party’s way of tackling the head of the problem, because some of the big state [energy] companies were blocking reform.

I do believe that the more China’s becomes a middle-class society, the less its leadership can get away with stifling information. And I think they’re realising that they can no longer play the same game – getting mad at people who are victims, or passing responsibility for problems to the lower-ranking officials.

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Smogtown (and PRC) Stay Ever-Green in their Tales of Searing, Brown Climates

November 4th, 2015 · No Comments

Peyri Herrerapolitifact-photos-BrownLASmog103015P-1

And it’s both thrilling and depressing. 

- From environmental writer/professor/activist Jon Christensen in LA Observed’s piece: “From ‘Smogtown’ to Model for the World?” 

“It’s a tantalizing idea, isn’t it?” Jacobs responded when I asked him what he thinks of California as an example. It’s true, he said, that Chinese officials have been visiting California for years to learn how to monitor and reduce air pollution. In some cases they’ve implemented solutions in a few years that took California several decades. 

But Jacobs offers some important caveats. Most of LA’s smog came from cars, but some of it came from manufacturing that has gone overseas in recent decades. “Be careful when you ship something off to another country: you’re exporting pollution,” he said. “We allowed corporations to go and set up in cheaper more authoritarian places,” he added. “They don’t have to build in costs for pollution control. But the discount you’re getting is at somebody else’s expense.” 

As much as 20 percent of China’s pollution is caused by exports to the United States, Jacobs said. Some of that pollution drifts back over the West Coast on the prevailing winds, and the carbon dioxide China pumps into the atmosphere adds to global warming. 

Jacobs also said that while Chinese officials–and officials from other governments as well–are often eager to learn about scientific and technological solutions, they’re not as quick to embrace another element of California’s success: the ability of citizens to get access to information and to sue the government to take action. Some technocrats here have sometimes publicly wished that they could have the power of authorities in China just for a day. 

But if the history of Smogtown is any guide, the power of the people is key to success. Public protests, environmental organizers, nonprofit lawyers, investigative scientists, crusading journalists, dedicated public officials, and democratically elected leaders all contributed to enacting laws and policies that have steadily ratcheted down pollution levels through regulations, taxes, and incentives. 

Perversely, that success now leaves Jacobs worried about his hometown, too. “My biggest fear is public complacency,” he said. We’ve paid our way out of our biggest problems, and we no longer “have an active, zesty engagement,” he said. Aside from the hardcore activists and Prius drivers, “I’m not convinced Californians are dynamite environmentalists. People hate smog but they love their cars more. It’s a passive environmentalism,” he said.

“We’ve improved technology. We haven’t changed the culture,” Jacobs concluded. “We’re a stabilized pollution island.”

- Then there’s good, old Jerry Brown, as visionary and sweepingly rhetorical as ever. So what if he embellished about L.A. inventing smog to make a point? From Politifact California

First, it’s clear L.A. has no ownership over the term smog. Brown sounds like he was having some fun with the “invented in Los Angeles” portion, from listening to him speak. Still, he was literally and blatantly wrong.

News articles from as early as 1905 credit London doctor Harold Des Veaux with coining the word smog to describe natural fog contaminated by smoke, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Great Britain’s affliction with foul air is referenced in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, written in 1606. But its soot-choked skies date as far back as the 12th century, when wood became scarce and residents turned to burning coal to keep warm, according to a history of the country’s air pollution by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s clear that other urban centers fought the effects of smog long before anyone imagined the metropolis we call Los Angeles.

So, what kind of smoke was the governor blowing?

“Jerry Brown — brilliant as he is — is confusing some facts,” said Chip Jacobs, author of Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles. ”We didn’t invent smog. Smog has been known to arise in many parts of the world well before he was born.”

We were headed for a False or Pants On Fire!

Then, Jacobs added this comment: “Brown did have something right in his jumbled pronouncement — the Caltech professor.”


→ No CommentsTags: atmospheric karma · Beijing · California · Chip news · climate chaos · environment · environmental catastrophe · environmental policy · global warming · Penguin Random House · People's Republic of Chemicals · Rare Bird Books · Smogtown · The Overlook Press

News and Notes from a Broiling Planet

October 30th, 2015 · No Comments



2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year Ever Recorded – The New York Times

China Confronts the Pain of Kicking its Coal Addiction - Washington Post

Atmospheric chemistry: China’s choking cocktail – Nature

Apple Announces Factory Upgrades In Plan To Help China Reduce Air Pollution– Huffington Post

New Megalopolis a Fresh Chance to Clean China’s Skies, Report Says – Wall Street Journal

IBM’s Watson Could Hold The Key To Fighting Beijing’s Brutal Pollution – Gizmodo 

How Angelenos Beat Back Smog – Zocalo Public Square 

Los Angeles, Beijing agree on plan to promote clean air as part of Obama-Xi deal– Los Angeles Times

India Announces Plan to Lower Rate of Greenhouse Gas Emissions – The New York Times

 Revealed: The 116 Things That Cause Cancer – According To World Health Experts – Daily Mail





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Mandarin and Paperback Writers On Our Minds

August 20th, 2015 · No Comments

 11822786_10207441487863207_8367628389245871588_n-150x150-1Smogtown paperback rough cover

Ladies and gentlemen: may we present a few covers for you. The People’s Republic of  Chemicals Mandarin language version is the one on your left. This edition, published by the Beijing-based Central Party School Publishing House, should be out soon. Chip was recently interviewed about it in Xinhua and the South China Morning Post, among other outlets.

 The People’s Republic of Chemicals, of course, is our sequel to our critically  acclaimed Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles. The paperback version of it, updated and expanded with a new chapter on the global air pollution epidemic buffeting the Third World, will be available in mid-October through The Overlook Press/Penguin Group USA.

Smogtown Mandarin, distributed by Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, has exceeded our expectations. Not only has it been a bestseller on Amazon China, but it’s notched three national awards there in 2014, including being named the country’s “Most Influential Book.”

 *       *       *


“China’s Carbon Dioxide Emissions May Have Been Overstated By More Than 10%” - The New York Times

* ”China Air Pollution Kills 4,000 People A Day: Researchers - Bloomberg Business

* ”Mapping the invisible scourge: A New Study Suggests That Air Pollution Is Even Worse Than ThoughtThe Economist 

* ”Fear of Toxic Air and Distrust of Government Follow Tianjin Blasts“ - The New York Times

* China Is Exporting Ozone Pollution To The U.S. — Which Is Only FairGrist

* California Drought: Climate Change Plays A Role, Study Says. But How Big? - Los Angeles Times

* Garcetti, Officials Release 20,000 Shade Balls Into L.A. ReservoirLos Angeles Daily News

Genetically Modified Algae Could Replace Oil For Plastic - Scientific American 

* This Dutch Windwheel Holds 72 Apartments And Could Power An Entire Town - Science Alert


→ No CommentsTags: California · Central Party School Publishing House · Chip Jacobs · greenhouse gases · Penguin Group USA · People's Republic of Chemicals · Rare Bird Books · Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers · Smogtown book

Beijing & Notable Book News, Miscellany & More

July 31st, 2015 · No Comments

Can Opener Building


Stuff I just learned abroad:

* The Mandarin Version of SMOGTOWN: THE LUNG-BURNING HISTORY OF POLLUTION IN LOS ANGELES, was voted in 2014, the “Most Influential Book in China, the Best (Translated) Book, and an official National Library Recommended Book. More details about these commendations as they become available. Our house there is Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers. A few months later, on October 13, The Overlook Press/Penguin Group U.S.A. will publish SMOGTOWN the paperback. Inside it is postscript on the global pollution outlook. 

Stuff I just confirmed  abroad:

* The Mandarin Version of THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHEMICALS will be published next month by The Central Party School Publishing House. We can’t wait to hear the reaction.


 Al Gore was the featured speaker at the first-ever China-U.S. Clean Air Conference held on the outskirts of Beijing in late July. I was lucky enough to be one of the keynote speakers, and despite a bout of laryngitis, I gave the talk I wanted to about smog-crazy 1950′s Los Angeles, signed and sold a few cartons of books, tripped around the city, took a couple of harrowing taxi rides and sussed —  intellectually and in my lungs — the enormity of reversing China’s air pollution crisis. More about this later.





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Summer Readings, Plaudits and Coming Attractions

July 13th, 2015 · No Comments


* “Bailing Out the Earth: 10 Books that Propose Solutions to Climate Change”The People’s Republic of Chemicals makes the cut! “

“So many science fiction novels depict humans of the future seeking out new worlds after having nearly destroyed the earth. But where is the fiction set in the present showing people attempting to save the earth today? If there isn’t much fiction, at least there’s nonfiction, written by top notch scholars and journalists, that can help us better understand what we’re doing to the planet and its atmosphere, analyze possible solutions, and lead us in the right direction.”

The People’s Republic of Chemicals, an IndieFab book of the Year finalist, earns Gold and Silver at the Green Book Festival 

* Here’s the conference where Chip will speaking about L.A.’s experience digging out of its poisonous culture in a speech drawn from Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles



Amazing Video Shows What LA’s Night Skies Would Look Like Without Pollution - Iflscience 

“Light pollution sounds fairly harmless, and not like the heavy stuff of air pollution. However, it is a serious problem, and actually refers to the way in which city lights interfere with the visibility of dark skies. To raise awareness of the problem and to show us what we are missing out on, the Skyglow Project - brainchild of renowned timelapse artists Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic- released the mesmerising timelapse video shown below of dark skies in North America superimposed over urbanscapes in Los Angeles.”

World is on a collision course with fossil fuels, Gov. Jerry Brown says - Los Angeles Times

“After two days of rubbing shoulders with an international collection of politicians, Gov. Jerry Brown emerged from a climate-change conference here with new partnerships in the fight against global warming. In a speech Wednesday to government officials and environmental advocates that capped his trip, the governor took aim at “troglodytes” who deny the threat of climate change, and insisted that all aspects of modern life must be scrutinized to save the planet. “We have to redesign our cities, our homes, our cars, our electrical generation, our grids — all those things,” Brown said. “And it can be done with intelligence. We can get more value from less material …”

* Coming soon:  news about Chip’s latest book, Strange As It Seems: the Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler, set for release in January. (The Amazon page will be changed soon to reflect it all).

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