In this stories collection 23-years-in-the-making, you’ll find 29 articles on a sumptuous basket of subjects originally published in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Los Angeles Daily News, L.A. Weekly and other publications. Hold on for the unexpected and the maddening, the heartbreaking and the mystifying. The feature, investigative and opinion pieces here by Chip Jacobs range from Tommy Koulax’s litigious, chili-cheese hamburger empire, Lockheed’s super-secret Skunk Works defense plant and the deadly, 1913-accident during construction of Pasadena’s famous Colorado Street Bridge, to the hazy, first casualty of Operation Desert Storm, chromium-6 pollution outrages, violent bus drivers and profiles of Southern California political heavyweights Richard Riordan, Danny Bakewell and Richard Alatorre, among others. Vicodon Thieves, which draws its name from a Los Angeles Times feature about pharmaceutical burglars who prey on medicine cabinets at real estate open houses, also includes expanded articles about a high-flying, smog-emissions broker who fell in with shadowy, ex-CIA and military-intelligence operatives bent to “repatriate” forgotten U.S. government aid from around the globe, and the unsolved, execution-style murder of one of suburbia’s most electrifying young mayors blocks from his childhood home. Two new stories grace this compendium, as well. One explores the prodigal life of an early, Universal Pictures director (the author’s great uncle, Nat Ross) gunned down in 1941 by a sociopathic drifter, who’d die in the San Quentin Gas Chamber for his crime. A pair of photographs of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., likely captured hours before he was assassinated in the kitchen of Los Angeles’ old Ambassador Hotel, inspires another original narrative. Few outside of the most ardent of Kennedyphiles probably realize how close RFK came to not being there the night America’s trajectory changed forever, or the cursed, Hollywood enmeshment to his final days.Published by Rare Bird Books / Amazon.com / Barnes & Noble
Tags: assassination · Biltmore Hotel · Dirty environmental deals · environmental policy · EPA · Frankenheimer · General asssignment issues · global warming · groundwater pollution · Historical serendipity meets calamity · killers · L.A. Transportation Matters · L.A. Weekly · Los Angeles History · Los Angeles politics · Los Angeles real estate · murder for hire · Outrageous Legends · paralysis · Paul Jacobs · Paul Schrade · Political assassinations · Political cronyism · Politics · Pure Inspiration · Quadriplegia · Redevelopment · RFK · RFK photographs · Robert F. Kennedy Jr. · Sirhan Sirhan · The Hollywood Way · The Kennedy's · Turf fights · Urban renewal · William Burke
Some news and notes for late December:
* Time to find a new EPA Administrator for Obama’s second term. NBC
“Lisa Jackson is stepping down from her post as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year term. ”I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference,” she said in a statement announcing her departure. Jackson, 50, is expected to depart the E.P.A. early next year. She is the first African-American to head the agency. Her tenure at the helm of the E.P.A. was marked by clashes with some in the GOP and the energy industry who said environmental regulations limited job creation and hurt new innovation. The administration abandoned an attempt early in President Barack Obama’s first term to pass cap-and-trade legislation to address global climate change. That legislation failed to pass the Senate, and the E.P.A. moved instead on a series of regulatory efforts including successful implementation of emissions standards for new cars and small trucks …”
* EPA tightening the screws on soot, a.k.a. fine particulate matter. Washington Post
“The Environmental Protection Agency tightened the nation’s soot standards by 20 percent Friday, a move that will force communities across the country to improve air quality by the end of the decade while making it harder for some industries to expand operations without strict pollution controls.The new rule limits soot, or fine particulate matter, which stems from activities ranging from burning wood to diesel vehicle emissions and which causes disease by entering the lungs and bloodstream, causing inflammation. Fine particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, or one-thirtieth the width of a human hair, ranks as the country’s most widespread deadly pollutant …”
* Jogging risks damage to the modern brain by way of polluted lungs. Men’s Health
“Dodging traffic and weaving through crowds aren’t the only obstacles urbanites face when trying to take their workout to the streets. New research in Belgium shows that people who live in a city and exercise outdoors have higher levels of inflammation and lower scores on cognitive tests than those who exercise outside in the suburbs …”
* Craving that California renewable power? Make sure your checkbook is handy. L.A. Times
” … One of the hidden costs of solar and wind power — and a problem the state is not yet prepared to meet — is that wind and solar energy must be backed up by other sources, typically gas-fired generators. As more solar and wind energy generators come online, fulfilling a legal mandate to produce one-third of California’s electricity by 2020, the demand will rise for more backup power from fossil fuel plants.”The public hears solar is free, wind is free,” said Mitchell Weinberg, director of strategic development for Calpine Corp., which owns Delta Energy Center. “But it is a lot more complicated than that.” Wind and solar energy are called intermittent sources, because the power they produce can suddenly disappear when a cloud bank moves across the Mojave Desert or wind stops blowing through the Tehachapi Mountains. In just half an hour, a thousand megawatts of electricity — the output of a nuclear reactor — can disappear and threaten stability of the grid. To avoid that calamity, fossil fuel plants have to be ready to generate electricity in mere seconds. That requires turbines to be hot and spinning, but not producing much electricity until complex data networks detect a sudden drop in the output of renewables. Then, computerized switches are thrown and the turbines roar to life, delivering power just in time to avoid potential blackouts …” (Related: California lacks coherent renewable energy plan.)
* Environmentalism in the land of Anti-Americanism and sanctioned oil. L.A. Times
“TEHRAN — His son is named after the river born where the Tigris and Euphrates meet. His wife once complained that he loved a rare species of yellow deer more than her. His realm runs from sprawling salt deserts to the snowcapped peaks of the Zagros Mountains, from southern marshes along the Persian Gulf to damp northern forests known as the “cloud jungle.” Mohammad Darvish, 47, is Iran’s green gladiator, engaged in a quixotic, often lonesome quest to elevate his homeland’s environmental IQ. In a nation where security and economic concerns overshadow threats to a varied and fragile ecosystem, he even dares to oppose nuclear power, sacrosanct to Iran’s leaders. ”It is budding, but it is far from being a movement,” the indefatigable Darvish says of environmental consciousness in Iran. “But I am sure the environment will be a full-fledged movement one day, and Iran will have Green [political] parties that will send members to parliament.” Darvish, working from a state-run botanical reserve on the western outskirts of this traffic-clogged capital, is a subtle but persistent voice, direct but non-threatening in his message as he warns about desertification, deforestation, pollution, climate change and other perils to this mostly arid land …”
* Carbon cap-and-trade may have sputtered nationally, but in California it’s just gettin’ started. Orange County Register
“California is soon to launch a bold attempt at climate-change reversal: a cap-and-trade program allowing businesses to buy and sell credits for emission of the most notorious greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. The first auction of carbon credits is scheduled for Wednesday – despite a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the California Chamber of Commerce that seeks a court ruling to invalidate such auctions. The program itself is set to begin Jan. 1. Some 360 manufacturers, utilities and other businesses are expected to take part, representing nearly 600 facilities across the state. The cap-and-trade market is part of the state’s controversial 2006 climate-change law, AB32, which also includes low-carbon fuel standards and promotion of renewable energy projects. The goal: reducing California greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Scientists say civilization’s emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, are the primary cause of a sharp rise in global average temperatures over decades. We have a large enough emission of greenhouse gases in California that it certainly would affect United States output,” said Dave Clegern, spokesman for the air board. “And we have a large enough market for carbon trading. We believe it’s a good foundation to build on.” Each of the businesses participating in the program – refineries, cement makers, large food processors, electricity providers – starts out with 90 percent of its emissions credits, or allowances, provided for free. But over the years, an overall cap on the total emissions allowed for carbon dioxide ratchets down tighter and tighter. That’s the “cap” part of cap and trade …”
* Megacities and smog aren’t going away. Healthline.com
“China is a leader in manufacturing, but it is also releasing enough emissions to significantly increase U.S. air pollution, says a new report by the World Meteorological Association (WMA) …”
Tags: American history · California · Clean Air Act · environmental policy · EPA · global warming · ozone · Pacific Ocean · Smoggy China · Smogtown book · Uncategorized
– “In Chip Jacobs true-crime, The Ascension of Jerry, we are whisked back to LA’s Kodachrome world of the Seventies. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Jerry, the “bright colors and greens of summer” quickly change to the real life black-and-whites of mayhem and murder. But, this is not just another Hollywood Whodunit. In the end we find it is really about one man’s search and struggle to find his own personal truths and redemption. Well written and highly recommended.” — Steve Hodel, LAPD Hollywood Homicide detective (ret.) and Bestselling author, “Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder.”
– “Jacobs delivers a seductive tour of an L.A. rife with murder-for-hire plots, political corruption and sociopathic schemes. Against this backdrop the young Schneiderman comes of age, to ultimately emerge as the last man standing. A terrific book – I couldn’t put it down! — Stephen Jay Schwartz, L.A. Times bestselling author of “Boulevard” and “Beat.”
– “Chip Jacobs’ chops as an accomplished newspaperman are on brilliant display in The Ascension of Jerry, a delightfully off-kilter true-crime tale of a hero (sorta) who is neither especially loathsome nor lovable … maybe just lucky to get out alive. Jacobs’ prose is intimate, darkly funny, and crisp as he follows the twisted path that leads SoCal businessman Jerry Schneiderman through a series of weird events – including crossing paths with some dumb-ass hitmen and some burning corpses – only to emerge as a merry prankster with a jones for social activism. (If you haven’t yet deduced that this book is not your Mama’s supermarket true-crime trash, then you’re doing it wrong. But here’s the thing: Jacobs’ ear for a good story is pitch perfect, and he tells it with all the smoggy pastel colors of post-noir LA. The Ascension of Jerry isn’t an old song in a new key, but an entirely new song about crime, fear, and a weird kind of redemption that could only happen in the general vicinity of Hollywood. Jacobs is a genuine writer, not a wannabe scribbler. He knows what makes us keep turning pages. So for those few true-crime readers who like their mayhem served up in a sumptuous story, seek this one out.” — Ron Franscell, celebrated true-crime author.
– Chip Jacobs uses his boundless reporter’s energy and well-honed sense of Southern California to tell a gripping tale of serial mayhem and the curious life of Jerry Schneiderman. It’s reassuring to see the right writer was paying attention.” – David Willman, Los Angeles Times Pulitzer winning investigative reporter and author of “The Mirage Man: Bruce Irvins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America’s Rush to War.”
– “Chip Jacobs explores the underbelly of an L.A. murder-for-hire ring that leaves many dead and a successful space planner, Jerry Schneiderman, so affected by PTSD that he embarks on a widespread muckraking campaign that targets major political forces in Los Angeles and beyond. Pitched as a “roots of Occupy story” (aside from Mark Twain’s, of course), The Ascension of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen, and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman (A Vireo Book/Rare Bird; April 2012) will leave you closing your blinds and forever looking behind your back for the crazed psycho-killer disguised as an ordinary blue collar guy.” – Foreword magazine staff pick, late-summer 2012
– “The pay for some deals is wonderful, but the drawbacks that can come along with it may be too much to swallow. “The Ascension of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen, and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman” follows the life of Jerry Schneiderman, whose (space planning) career prospered, then quickly spun out of control when his business (partner) ate a bullet via assassin. Fearing for his life, he was on the run for (months), before he found his … life’s calling. “The Ascension of Jerry” is an enticing true tale of getting one’s life back in the midst of … skullduggery, highly recommended.” – Midwest Book Review, September 2012
– ” … a title for your shelf … a fascinating story” – Foothills Paper, July 27, 2012
Tags: 1979 Los Angeles · assassination · Chip Jacobs · hitmen · Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman · Hollywood · Jerry Schneiderman · killers · La Brea Tar Pits · Late-1970s America · Los Angeles politics · Los Angeles real estate · Los Angeles underbelly · murder for hire · Murder triangle · Paul Fegen · Societal Disenchantment · The Ascension of Jerry: Murder · tragedy · Urban renewal · Westside Memorial Park
Air conditioning system in Burbank may be a source of water contamination.
August 22, 2012
By RICHARD VERRIER AND CHIP JACOBS
Federal and state regulators are investigating whether a vintage air conditioning system at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank played a role in contaminating groundwater with chromium 6, a cancer-causing heavy metal widely used in aerospace manufacturing and other industries.
A consultant hired by the Environmental Protection Agency recently identified the Disney property among a list of facilities being “investigated as potential sources of chromium contamination in groundwater,” according to an April 2012 report recently posted on the agency’s website.
Authorities have long been aware of chromium 6 contamination in San Fernando Valley groundwater and have already identified a number of companies responsible for contamination, including aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. Lockheed paid $60 million to settle claims with roughly 1,300 residents in 1996 alleging that exposure to chromium 6 and other toxins at its former aircraft manufacturing plant left them with cancer and other maladies.
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The Disney site has recently come under scrutiny by state and federal officials as part of a broader investigation into groundwater contamination, records show. Citing community concerns about contamination, the California Department of Public Health in 2010 tested soil in a nearby park that historically had received discharges of water from Disney’s cooling system and found Chromium 6.
The levels were not deemed to be a threat to public health. Even so, the EPA sent a letter to Walt Disney Co.and its president, Robert Iger, last year, asking them to “describe in detail and in narrative fashion, the cooling system and cooling towers used at the facility, and changes to the cooling systems and cooling towers since the beginning of Disney operations at the facility.”
The Disney headquarters was among several locations being investigated as a potential source of contamination, in part because it used cooling towers, a known source of chromium 6 contamination at other sites, Lisa Hanusiak, remedial project manager for EPA Region 9, said in an interview this week. Hanusiak also cited the 2010 health department’s soil tests.
“We’re trying to determine the source of chromium — why is it there?” Hanusiak said. “We had these soil samples downgrade, so that led us to think, What was going on at facilities upgrade?”
Disney has denied using chromium compounds in its air conditioning system or cooling towers. The company said in a detailed response to the EPA on May 17, 2011, that it stored a small amount of chromium-based material used to clean equipment in film processing and that the hazardous waste was properly disposed of through the city of Burbank. Disney said tests of the wastewater discharge showed low levels of chromium that were “well within the effluent limitations allowed by the city of Burbank.”
According to Disney’s response to regulators, the company’s original cooling system dates to 1938 and used groundwater pumped from wells to pre-cool and pre-heat buildings on the site, at one point circulating up to 1.7 million gallons of water a day. The wastewater was discharged into settling basins and then to the Los Angeles River, as well as to Burbank’s storm system. In 1993, Disney replaced the system with cooling towers that relied on water supplied by the city of Burbank, the company told regulators.
Disney officials on Wednesday declined to comment beyond their statements in the documents.
The EPA has been working with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to assess the contamination threat. In an Oct. 18, 2010, letter to Iger, posted on the EPA’s website, the board wrote that it was investigating the company’s water discharges, and cited a chemical questionnaire that indicated chromium 6 was “used and stored at (Disney’s) 500 South Buena Vista facility.”
The board also said Disney’s consultants nearly two decades earlier had failed to supply specific water-quality data the board had requested to “evaluate the chromium contents of the discharge waters or the water in the onsite groundwater wells.” The board ordered the company to submit a plan for testing soil and groundwater on the site.
“The cooling system wastewater discharge, containing aqueous chromate salts, constitutes a significant potential threat to the groundwater quality of the regional aquifer in the San Fernando Valley,” Sam Unger, the board’s executive officer, said in the letter to Iger.
The EPA announced in February it would dig 30 new chromium 6 monitoring wells throughout the Glendale-Burbank area to gauge the extent of contamination and to determine which companies are responsible.
The wells included two locations east and west of the Disney property, one at the 11-acre area in Griffith Park known as Pollywog, where the health department conducted soil tests.
Chromium 6, also known as hexavalent chromium, has many uses, including preventing corrosion of pipes in air conditioning systems and eliminating microbes in cooling towers.
According to a report last year byURS Corp., a consulting firm hired by Disney, chromium 6 was “detected in 97 of 139 soil samples,” though most readings were below government health standards for industrial land use. Groundwater samples showed chromium 6 levels were below state standards. URS said that chromium 6 is a “naturally occurring metal in this area.”
The city of Burbank received complaints from neighboring residents about potential chrome 6 contamination from the Disney site in 2006. The neighbors subsequently filed lawsuits in 2009 and 2010 alleging Disney dumped chromium 6 contaminated wastewater into settling ponds near the Los Angeles River.
Disney called the allegations meritless and cited the results of the California Department of Public Health study that found there was no threat to public health from the discharges. The department did note “conflicting information as to Disney’s past use of chromium 6 in cooling water,” according to a Feb. 18, 2010, letter from its director, Mark Horton.
The suits were dismissed.
Chromium 6 captured wide public attention in 2000 with the release of the Academy Award-winning movie “Erin Brockovich,” about residents sickened by a Pacific Gas & Electric plant in the Mojave Desert city of Hinkley. PG&E had used chromium 6 as an anti-rusting agent to prevent corrosion in cooling towers, and has paid more than $600 million to settle lawsuits.
A Times series in 2000 revealed widespread chromium 6 pollution in the aquifers of Glendale, Burbank and North Hollywood. Federal officials detected the chemical in 30 of 80 eastern San Fernando Valley groundwater monitoring sites.
The presence of carcinogenic material in those wells is especially perilous because all three cities pumped some of their drinking water from the aquifer, and until recently there was no proven method to safely remove chromium 6 from drinking water. Burbank officials met state health standards by diluting the tainted water with cleaner water from other sources. Glendale dumped much of what it couldn’t use into the Los Angeles River.
Los Angeles Times link
Tags: AQMD · Chip Jacobs · chromium-six · Clean Air Act · environmental policy · EPA · groundwater pollution · Hollywood · Uncategorized
My July 2012 appearance on the “Connie Martinson Talks Books” show discussing my latest book, The Ascension of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman. The woman knows her stuff — and does her homework like few others. As for me, well, you be the judge. YouTube link.
Tags: assassination · Chip Jacobs · Jerry Schneiderman · murder for hire · Murder triangle · The Ascension of Jerry
My cherished college, the University of Southern California, was gracious enough to feature me in their alumni magazine about my favorite books. I let it rip below, with humble apologies to so many brilliant writers — T.C. Boyle, Ernest Hemingway, John Irving, Mary Carr — that don’t make my little list. Give me an archipelago for my top 100 and then I’ll really grin.
Chip Jacobs is a Los Angeles-area author and journalist who still writes for a living because nobody will hire him to do anything else. His most recent book is the true-crime creeper The Ascension of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman. Before that, he co-authored with William J. Kelly the social historySmogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles. Jacobs’ debut book,Wheeling the Deal, was a biography about his hard-living, quadriplegic Hollywood uncle. (Say that with ice in your mouth.) His reporting has appeared in the Los Angeles Times,LA Daily News, LA Weekly, New York Times, CNN, Southland Publishing and nada on Mars. His website is www.chipjacobs.com. Jacobs, a rabid Trojan and hack guitar player, has two children and is married to a USC public relations professor.
Five “Must Reads”
by Pete Dexter
How could someone like me, a USC-educated writer, not become intoxicated with this razor-sharp portrait of two go-getting newspaper reporters who free a guilty man (who produces a mother lode of ear wax to go with his sociopathic personality) en route to a Pulitzer? While Paris Trout and Deadwood made the world genuflect to his word-craft, Dexter’s morality play here captures people’s cores with extraordinary insight while employing muscular, Hemingway-esque word economy that I will aspire to, however long I sweat behind a keyboard. The ending of this book is a salty stunner.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
Yeah, I know, Huckleberry Finn is Twain’s ultimate boy hero, a raft-bound desegregationist forged from a runaway river kid. But for me, it was his buddy Tom’s self-growth after his aunt punishes him for his endless shenanigans that was a literary wormhole. The title character’s adventures teach him (and us) how we eke into mistrust from youthful acts; and how a kid’s spit-shine conscience is the only honest thing in a world of adults’ snap judgments. Injun Joe made Tom and Huck see through that picket fence into a skin-conscious America, but Tom the manipulator can already see plenty — like Becky Thatcher’s ample heart. Besides, no one ever faked a funeral like Twain’s stars.
What Makes Sammy Run?
by Budd Schulberg
The next time anyone tells you that The Day of the Locust or You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again are the archetypal books about showbiz margin-living and ceaseless backstabbing, tell them to get their Schulberg on. Anybody in any facet of life who has encountered glad-handing, crocodile-smiling self-promoters who’d gladly steal your job, story ideas and innocence like it was a castoff pen has met Sammy Glick. But it’s the Mack Truck narrative by one of Sammy’s victims as the two wend to Hollywood from New York that does the impossible: It forces you to pity Sammy’s black heart as much as you censure his people-trampling penchant. All these decades later (it was published in 1941), Schulberg’s examination of Hollywood, anti-Semitism, hucksterism and self-loathing remains a masterpiece of the deplorable.
by Christopher Moore
If you howled in laughter at the organized religion skewering movieDogma for mocking the contrast between spirituality and spiritual suckers, you’ll adore Lamb. In Moore’s novel, the roughly twenty years between Jesus’ boyhood his higher purpose are imagined through Jesus’ best friend Biff, the “Ringo of disciples.” Jesus is boy God, Biff is all-boy, as the two traveling the world trying to learn the identities and motives of the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus in that animal-infested manger. On the road to enlightenment, Jesus and Biff spend a little time with prostitutes, prank Roman sentinels like Monty Python clowns, even throw right crosses in the ocean. Biff becomes a human vessel of wonder and ecclesiastical worry as his pal begins seeing that he can execute miracles (with practice), until it’s his fate not to for mankind. I learned volumes about Jesus’ real life and the contradictions of religion and friendship, all the while laughing so hard I just about ordered a pallet of Depends. Bar none, one of the funniest historical novels of all time.
The Martian Chronicles
by Ray Bradbury
Few authors — make that zero — have milked the sci-fi domesticity of humanoids living on another planet to explain the soulless, pre-programmed fascism of machines and the affliction of loneliness like the master writer who refused to ever own a car, lest more blood from technological madness stain the freeways. The Martian Chroniclesshares parallel themes with the supposedly genre-pioneering movie Avatar, except that the imagination of automated houses that continue operating long after their occupants have died — and the pining of natives for earthlings’ visits to infuse them with joy — says more about acclimation, loneliness and misguided belief than James Cameron could ever stutter. Time after time, the Martians invest their dreams in Earth, instead of looking inward for happiness — a lesson all of us on our warming, cynical rock could benefit from now.
In other news …
The local Foothills Paper gives my latest book, The Ascension of Jerry, a hearty reception (minus the lack of photos, that is.) Other reviews on the way.
Tags: Favorite literature · Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman · Jerry Schneiderman · Late-1970s America · Los Angeles History · Miracle Mile · murder for hire · Murder triangle · Uncategorized
News about Ascension of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman
* Book signing and talk on Wed., July 18 with Jerry’s ex-colleague, Paul Fegen (a.k.a. the magician “The Fantastic Fig” at the Santa Monica Public Library. Here’s the Fig’s website. Here’s how it spins his legend: “the walk-around psychic magician ‘Fantastic Fig’ is the alter-ego of renowned Personal Injury attorney Paul F. Fegen whose name has also become synonymous with law suites or the Fegen Suites. Paul F. Fegen is a native of Los Angeles who attended Los Angeles High School, UCLA as an undergraduate, and USC Law School. He worked his way through school as a dance instructor, a clown, and a juggler. In June 1961, he was admitted to the bar. Still a clown at heart, Mr. Fegen can impress with his legal prowess, but he is guaranteed to amaze as the Fantastic Fig. The Fantastic Fig’s brand of walk-around magic is sure to liven up any function wishing to infuse a combination of fun, excitement, and a healthy dose of astonishment.” In the video ad for Clear Internet above, Fegen is “Fantatic Larry,” the birthday magician who’s not leaving after the birthday.
* Wins silver medal for best general non-fiction at the Hollywood Book Festival
* Vroman’s bookstore bestseller
In other news …
* Making Olympic history with carbon fiber limbs. (Gordon Zahler, my paralyzed uncle, the protagonist of Wheeling the Deal, could only dream of such breakthroughs. Of course, he also dreamed about South Africa business glory, water skiing, flying and hands-for-hook surgeries, so maybe a portent reached him thirty years hence. Or not.) From the L.A. Times:
– “Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee known as the Blade Runner, will get to compete in the London Olympic Games in not only the 1,600-meter relay but also his favorite event, the 400 meters. South Africa named Pistorius, 25, to the team as a competitor in the 400, making him the first amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympics … Pistorius was born without a fibula in both legs, leading to the amputation of each leg halfway between the knee and ankle. He now has artificial limbs that are made of carbon fiber … The spring-like step in his stride was considered an unfair advantage of able-bodied athletes and in 2007 the governing body of track and field, the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, amended its rules to ban the use of “any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device.” But the Court of Arbitration, an international group that settles disputes, ruled in 2008 that Pistorius did not have an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes.”
* Now, this is real accessibility, courtesy of BraunAbility. The L.A. Daily News feature:
– The company “converts vehicles from Dodge, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda to be wheelchair accessible by taking the base of the vehicle and lowering the floor up to about 12 inches and installing a ramp with a computer system to run it all … “”I think one of the worst things about being disabled is being dependent on other people,” Juliene Dallara said. “So I had to rely on family, friends, whomever to drive me places … When she first became disabled, Dallara saw people with vans that had ramps enabling those with wheelchairs to get in and out easily, but she never thought it was possible for her since they are relatively expensive – a new BraunAbility vehicle can cost from $45,000 to $60,000. Finally, a friend suggested she apply for the money through a charity, which she did and received $30,000 to buy a used wheelchair-accessible van. This changed not only how she gets around, but has also given her a feeling of independence. ”Well, my 15 minutes of the one-arm bicep curl and the walker and walking around, that’s been changed to just press the button on the remote, wheel up inside, transfer into the transfer seat and you’re done. I mean done,” Dallara said …”
Tags: 1979 Los Angeles · Chip Jacobs · Chip news · Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman · Jerry Schneiderman · Los Angeles History · Los Angeles real estate · Oddballs in L.A. · paralysis · Paul Fegen · The Ascension of Jerry: Murder · Uncategorized · Wheelchairs general · Wheeling the Deal: the Outrageous Legend of Gordon Zahler
* “Why is civic activism and journalism legal and who was Jerry Schneiderman” – KCET, June 11, 2012
“America,” Chip Jacobs says, “is still that enviable place on the hill.” Jacobs — journalist and gonzo author extraordinaire of titles such as “Smogtown” and “Wheeling the Deal” — is claiming American exceptionalism here with particular regard to free speech. That’s a topic likely near and dear to anyone reading these words. Free speech is also the unspoken foundation on which Jacobs’ new James Ellroy meets Jane Addams, true crime meets civic activism title, “Ascension of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen, and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman,” was built. (Presumably, an alternative title, “The Jerry Schneiderman Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” was already taken.) The book’s Los Angeles protagonist, Schneiderman, found himself unwittingly entangled in bad doings circa 1979 and then came out the other side as a creative, ambitious, unusually thorough and successful citizen crusader. Time and time again, Schneiderman grappled with what he — and others — perceived to be local government arrogance, corruption and incompetence. His successes were legion, and he was more than just a nag, merry prankster or, too common today, government access television glory hound …”
* My extended interview with the gravelly throated, Fedora-dreaming Eric Martin, docent to L.A.’s underbelly, a man who’d like Chinatown to meet South Park with a parodying style sure to tickle the nostrils of NPR devotees. “Kid – this is Diamond Bar.” Here’s the segment teaser on This American Wife that aired on June 8, 2012:
“L.A. Stories” – Todd Zuniga, creator of the worldwide phenomenon Literary Death Match, tells new tales of Tinsel Town. Steve Abee tells the story of Johnny Future, lover of all that exists (specifically in the East Hollywood area). And Chip Jacobs tells the unbelievable true story of money, muckrakers, and a murder for hire corporation that stretched from Wilshire Blvd. to the far-flung suburbs. Los Angeles, I’m yours. *
* Vroman’s Bookstore Bestseller! – link
In other news …
* Could paralyzed rats taught to run again be the first step for getting people with spinal cord injury back on their feet, literally? From the L.A. Times:
“Paralyzed rats learned to walk, run and spring deftly over obstacles after they were put on a physical training regimen that included electrical and chemical stimulation of their broken spinal columns and a “robotic postural interface,” a new study reveals. The study, published Thursday in Science, suggests that for humans with spinal cord injury, the trick to regaining lost movement may lie not in regeneration of the severed spinal cord, but in inducing the brain and spinal cord to forge wholly new paths toward each other. The Swiss authors liken that process to the way that infants, their nervous systems incomplete and learning by experience, sync up their brains and limbs so they can progressively crawl, stand, walk and play …”
* “Push Girls” is a show I can get behind, not just because they’re cool, smart, brave and pretty but because they are the generational evolution to life in a wheelchair that my uncle, subject of my first book, Wheeling the Deal, never experienced. Back then, “cripples” were warehoused. Today, the disabled are a lot more able. From the Daily Beast:
“Push Girls,” which premieres on June 4, isn’t like other unscripted franchises that put women together in the hopes of headline-grabbing catfights. The show, produced by Gay Rosenthal (Little People, Big World), depicts the reality of living with paralysis and how it doesn’t have to define a person’s life. That may sound really hokey, but spend some time with knockouts Angela Rockwood, Auti Angel, Mia Schaikewitz, Tiphany Adams, and Chelsie Hill, and you might be left pondering how you’ve handled your own setbacks. “The people in our immediate lives have been able to deal with the paralysis and realize that this is not a tragedy,” said 33-year-old Schaikewitz, who became paralyzed at 15 when an arteriovenous malformation ruptured in her spinal cord. “It’s uplifted us and uplifted them. Only people we’ve had these intimate relationships have experienced it. What’s great about the show is the audience is going to be able to see that, whether they met us in person or not …”
Tags: Ambassador Hotel · Chip news · Ed Wood Jr. · General asssignment issues · L.A. Marathon · Los Angeles politics · murder for hire · Paul Jacobs · Paul Schrade · Societal Disenchantment · stampede · Wheelchairs general · William J. Kelly
Anyone following the listing giant we call California might have noticed that the Chicken Littles have once again hoarded the microphones for their narrative of downsized expectations.
Except for taxes and pensions, few subjects leave them as screechy as the bottomless environmental ethic they blame for pushing demoralized residents out of state in search of common sense, not taxes on supermarket plastic bags.
How can Governor Jerry Brown support a billion-dollar blueprint to lop emissions of greenhouse gases while foreclosure ghost towns sink California cities such as Stockton and San Bernardino, naysayers ask? Why is Brown, whose quixotic liberalism won him the Governor Moonbeam moniker during his first stint in office in the 1970s, suing to curb sprawl when thestate unemployment rate is near 11 percent and the budget gap is $16 billion?
Because, they hypothesize, a future with social engineering that favors a low-polluting, electric-car lifestyle over lunch- pail jobs is Brown’s naked agenda. Because bellwether stewardship of reasonable protections for clean air and water a generation ago have transmogrified today into policy zealotry about to collapse under its own biodegradable hubris. Beyond Facebook andGoogle (GOOG), the West Coast spirit of innovation is withering. A business climate that once nourished oil giants, defense juggernauts, agribusiness and the country’s smartest entrepreneurs has died off faster than dial-up. Look at the latest population numbers showing that since 1980 four million more people have left California than have come in from other states.
This story line of a Green Hulk run amok in a state whose economy is in the top-10 in the world would be essential reading, an SOS even, if only our past didn’t trample it.
In 1955, a dozen years into the Los Angeles campaign to eradicate eye-watering smog, air pollution generals realized they needed an emergency plan in case ozone and other airborne poisons approached life-strangling levels. (A year before, a frighteningly thick haze led officials to seal the harbor, redirect planes from the airport and deploy the California Highway Patrol in case of evacuation.)
Industrialists, embittered by years of being scapegoated for pollution that mainly puffed from cars, revolted against this crisis planning, including a last-gasp contingency that they idle their plants for days to let the atmosphere cleanse itself.
An executive of Richfield Oil Co. announced that its refinery would only halt operations on written orders from the Air Pollution Control District. If the shutdown was later found to have been overkill, Richfield expected the district to write it a check for lost income.
Hollywood, meantime, desired a return of blue skies for its backdrops. The chemical air was costing showbiz millions. “Every morning before we leave the studio we say a few Indian prayers that the smog will have blown away,” said an actor in the Western drama “Brave Eagle,” filmed in the San Fernando Valley in the mid-1950s.
So they all vamoosed, right, showbiz and Big Oil, to Seattle or Phoenix or Kansas City, where breathing wasn’t painful and where regulations were relatively pain-free? No! In the murky 1950s, roughly 100 polluting industries a year relocated to Southern California. Behind them caravans of family station wagons entered the state, with occupants dreaming of jobs. By the time of the first Earth Day in 1971, with every car, truck and smokestack in California under the sternest regulations on the planet, the populace had doubled, to 20 million, since 1950.
The defense companies, whose many smokestacks and machines disgorged any number of scary chemicals, remained as well. Fine- print-loving bureaucrats didn’t crush their business. Superpower peace eventually did much of that.
Today, 40 million souls live in California, not all of them heel-clicking, but few packing their suitcases with green- migraine syndrome, either. Even during the Great Recession, when manufacturing swooned, Californians trounced by an edge of 2 to 1 a 2010 ballot initiative to delay the state’s global warming law until the jobless rate dropped.
This is not to suggest that all companies adore inspections, permitting and fees, or are embracing carbon markets. But CEOs certainly know, if only in the abstract, that the estimated $28 billion in health costs from dirty air would explode to gargantuan levels without rules on the books. That’s why they are CEOs, not window-washers.
No, the trouble isn’t the existing green ethic. Only about 50,000 out of more than 7 million homes in the state have solar panels. The problem is a lack of leadership imagination. Brown & Co., for all their gallant intentions, have yet to inspire Californians by connecting environmental problems with what could be a rejuvenating, self-sustaining economy that electrifies California cleanly while shopping its products to an energy-parched globe.
At a speech to 200 energy experts at University of California, Los Angeles, last summer, Brown floated a goal of the state creating enough clean local energy to support 3 million homes. Developing those 12 gigawatts is “going to take all manner of investment, risk taking and collaboration,” he said. Some idea of collaboration! Instead of chin-wagging inside a university lecture hall, Brown should park a Prius in front of small-business leaders and just about anybody he can buttonhole, to solicit their ideas.
About 430,000 Californians, or roughly 4 percent of wage- earners here, work in clean-energy production, new-generation batteries, recycling and green education. Brown should be hollering that we must do better.
Yet, too often, the skeptics are doing the talking about our eco-obsessions as if they were the indulgences of an insufferable diva. Remember Solyndra, the solar-panel maker that went belly up, despite a half-billion dollars in federal support? Tell me which is more vital for our national security: public investments to harness solar rays in a world bloodied by oil, or the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor project, where each jet fighter is estimated to be $269 million over budget, meaning that overspending on two of them exceeds the taxpayer loss for Solyndra?
Just as the state once engineered carbon-graphite bombers during the Cold War, Brown 2.0 should man the bully pulpit to speak directly to average Californians. The UCLAs and NRG Energies and Wal-Marts of the world can book the messianic one another time.
With an honest spirit of green invention, perhaps some of those who left the state will flip a U-turn, plugging their ears to the opinionated cluckers on the drive home.
Bloomberg View link to Op-Ed
Tags: environment · EPA · global warming · Jerry Schneiderman · Murder triangle · Smogtown · Smogtown book · The Ascension of Jerry: Murder · William Burke
“Jerry Schneiderman: The Rabble-Rouser you’ve never head about but should know” - L.A. Weekly, May 22, 2012
Jerry Schneiderman was not your ordinary real estate developer. For years, he was a rabble rouser who took on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority after tunneling for the Red Line subway collapsed parts of Hollywood Boulevard. ”You can never stop a government public works project entirely,” Schneiderman told me last summer for the L.A. Weekly cover story “Beverly Hills Versus the Westside Subway.” But “you can starve it.” Schneiderman died in December 2011, but years earlier, in 1979, his business partner had been murdered by a hit man. Schneiderman was never the same, and was always on the lookout for his own safety. Los Angeles journalist Chip Jacobs has written a gripping book about Schneiderman’s story – The Ascension of Jerry – which took years to research and write. Jacobs and I recently talked about Schneiderman, who struck up a friendly working relationship with me back in the late 1990s…
L.A. Weekly: I talked with Jerry a few months before he died. He said you were working on a book with him for years. Why did you decide you wanted to spend so much time and write a book on a man the average person has never heard of?
Chip Jacobs: Having written only about a half-dozen crime stories during the course of my career, I had no outward business devoting myself to a book about a whacked murder triangle in ’79 L.A. — one bubbling out of real estate greed — that scared Jerry so badly. I might as well have applied to the Navy SEALs, experience-wise.
But the more I learned about his past, not just the spectacle of lame hit men and violent, blue-collar embitterment in an angry age reminiscent of today, the more I realized that people who survived such terrible ordeals frequently had no one who’d believe their psychic damage and few avenues to release it.
So though Jerry was hardly a household name, even during his prolific political shenanigans of the 1990s, the dark pain fueling his activism was extraordinary, if not gigantically entertaining. Come on: a brilliant, former space planner-turned-developer-turned-civic-prankster dressing up like a corpulent councilwoman, or spreading rumors of a vapory creature busting the MTA for subway safety violations. Jerry was unique and invisible all at once, perfect, too, because he was a smirking contradiction …
Also about The Ascension of Jerry …
“Author Chip Jacobs details Jerry Schneiderman Murder Triangle in New Book” - KCBS-KCAL TV, May 17, 2012 Author Chip Jacobs visited the KCAL9 studios Thursday to talk about his new non-fiction murder mystery book, The Ascension Of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman.
[Read more →]
Tags: assassination · assassins · danger · Gordon's big ideas · Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman · L.A. Transportation Matters · L.A. Weekly · La Brea Tar Pits · Late-1970s America · legal Catch-22s · Los Angeles History · medical advancements · Miracle Mile · murder for hire · Murder triangle · paralysis · Pasadena · Quadriplegia · The Ascension of Jerry: Murder · The Hollywood Way · Wheelchairs general · Wounded Warriors