Jonathan Winters passed away in quietly in his
Encino *home overnight. He was one of my favorite comedians. He excelled at improv, but he also was a scene stealer on TV and movies. His Web Site HERE, Wiki and IMBD. That should give you plenty to read, laugh and enjoy. A few more vids after the jump. Read the rest of this entry →
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Jonathan Winters passed away in quietly in his
Its been widely reported that Annette Funicello, one of the original Mouseketeers passed away today. Her TV programs and movies about growing up in the ’50s and ’60s helped make the beach party a part of L.A. and American culture. Never mind all the folks she enticed to make it behind the Orange Curtain for a trip to Disneyland. Complete WIKI on her HERE.
The body of missing Canadian tourist, Elisa Lam of Vancouver, British Columbia, was found in the water tank of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Lam had traveled to California by herself on January 27, en route to Santa Cruz, and was last seen by workers at the hotel on January 31.
Although Lam was scheduled to check out of the hotel on February 1, she had disappeared, despite being in daily contact with her family up until this point. By February 6, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) had released details about the suspicious disappearance of Lam and on February 7, a press conference was held about the case.
A week later, on February 14, the LAPD released a disturbing surveillance video of the 21 year old University of British Columbia (UBC) student darting in and out of the hotel’s elevators.
Earlier this week, on February 19, guests at the Cecil Hotel complain about low water pressure and a worker checks the hotel’s water tanks and discovers Lam’s body. Guests staying at the hotel had likely been bathing, brushing their teeth and drinking water from a tank in which Lam’s body had been likely decomposing for more than two weeks.
Photo courtesy: LAPD
George Aratani, a survivor of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and later successful businessman and philanthropist who founded Mikasa and Kenwood, passed away Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at the age of 95.
His legacy in philanthropy through The Aratani Foundation has supported many Japanese American organizations, but especially in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. One literally cannot walk a block in Little Tokyo without passing by a space endowed by George and Sakaye Aratani: Japanese American Cultural and Community Center’s Aratani Japan America Theatre; the Japanese American National Museum’s George and Sakaye Central Hall; and the Union Center for the Arts’s Aratani Courtyard.
The Nisei Week Foundation mourns the passing of George Aratani who passed away peacefully today [Tuesday, February 19, 2013].
Aratani successfully launched post-World War II international trade enterprises. His first was Mikasa, a tableware company which was doing $400 million in annual sales when it was sold in 2000.
Influenced by his late father and motivated by the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, Aratani and his wife Sakaye have donated a sizable amount of their wealth to Japanese American organizations and causes.
For More Information:
Hirahara, Naomi. An American Son: The Story of George Aratani, Founder of Mikasa and Kenwood. Los Angeles, CA: Japanese American National Museum, 2001.
I was seriously saddened to read in today’s LA Times that Charles Ray Walker (aka Bamboo Charlie) was found dead August 26. I first learned of him and the wonderful Boyle Heights space he transformed a couple years ago:
From the LA Times story today by Hector Becerra:
What Walker did, over two decades, was turn something grim into a wonderland garden of edibles and toys. He grew fruits and vegetables on bare slopes. He took discarded toys and whimsical signs and decorated terraces and elaborate stairwells he carved out of the dirt. He built a shack, and under the cool shade of a tree, a home entertainment room with a television set and sofa.
I’d always meant to go there and say hello. Now it’s too late for that. Now, all I can do is go and pay my respects.
RIP and thanks for all the laughs over the years.
Do turn up the audio on the video as it isn’t that good of a sound quality.
Permit me, with a photo my wife Susan took of him a couple months before he passed, to recall one of Silver Lake’s beloved cast of street characters — El Circo Loco (né Antonio Ruiz) — whose death was five years ago today.
What I wrote on the one-year anniversary still covers how I feel:
Every time I’ve since passed the corners of Golden Gate and Sunset Boulevard where I most often saw him living his life out loud and leading his one-man parades, I still look for him and I still can’t believe he and his colorful extravagance now live only in the hearts and memories of those who miss him so, like me.
Viva El Circo Loco! Viva Antonio Ruiz!
I’d heard of the house fire in the Hollywood Hills Wednesday night and of the firefighter on-scene who was gravely injured as a result of the blaze. It just so happens that the day after the tragedy, a morning bike ride took me past the LAFD training center in Elysian Park. Veering into the parking lot I found myself before the 9/11 memorial and saying a prayer for the firefighter’s recovery.
It’s a prayer that went unanswered and I was saddened to hear that Glen L. Allen, a 36-year veteran of the department, succumbed to his injuries yesterday. He is the 61st Los Angeles firefighter to die in the line of duty in the department’s 125-year history.
The department is a collective force of many but its core strength comes from individuals like Glen Allen who without fail are ready to plunge headlong into danger, to risk their lives in service of others. It’s important to remember not just those heroes who we lost yesterday, but those who will not hesitate to put the uniform on and endanger themselves similarly tomorrow. To Firefighter Allen and to all emergency personnel who answer the call, who put the lives of others ahead of their own, all I can say as a proud citizen of this city is thank you from the bottom of my heart.
My thoughts are with Allen’s family and friends and my hopes are ever for the safety of all his fellow firefighters.
Television icon Stephen J. Cannell died last night. He was only 69. Television might not be what it is today without all the amazing characters and shows that he created and wrote. Among many others were: The Rockford Files, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, Baa Baa Black Sheep, The Greatest American Hero. (And my personal sentimental favorite Tenspeed and Brownshoe.)
We attended a Writer’s Guild Panel a few years ago about his legacy and career and no one had a bad thing to say about him. He was clearly a man who was open to helping anyone out, offering support and creative criticism and encouragement to all who showed gumption and talent. His own work ethic was legendary, cranking out scripts after script and later, novel after novel.
Mr. Cannell’s work might not be considered “art” but he created entertaining, fun, full-of-life tv. He will be sorely and sadly missed by so many in the business, myself included.
I’m entirely dumbstruck to learn that one of Silver Lake’s most recognizable and mobile icons, Dr. Marc Abrams — aka The Walking Man, The Walking Dude, Doc Walker — has died. His age is being reported as 58 and he was apparently found dead Wednesday in the backyard hottub of his Silver Lake home.
In my seven years in Silver Lake, I’ve of course seen Abrams in his element countless times (and photographed him on any of several occasions). By chance one day a few years back while I myself was walking the hills west of the reservoir I found him coming out of his house to begin one of his marathon treks and felt like I’d graduated; not only did I know of The Walking Man, but now I knew of where he lived!
It’s a funny thing. Though he was in essence a stranger, there was nevertheless something very reassuring in seeing him out there on the sidewalks in his shorts, reading something or talking on his cell phone. Whether I was having a crap day or the world was in some way greased and going to hell, a fleeting encounter with him was a reminder that everything wasn’t entirely out of whack.
But now it is. And I know that sometime in the next few months I’m going to be biking or walking or driving somewhere in Silver Lake and wonder why it is I haven’t seen him in so long. Then I’ll remember, and it won’t surprise me if I get choked up like I am right now.
It is at least some consolation that so revered by the community as he was I can find him in at least three neighborhood murals I know of, including Nicky Gagliarducci’s 2009 mural next to Local Restaurant (pictured above; click to enlarge). He has — sigh, had — a habit of popping up our of nowhere so maybe he’ll surprise me by showing up in other street art I don’t know about.
In the meantime I’ll fondly recall the last time I saw him in person, which was prior to the start of one of my Bike Every Saturday In May group bike rides. As he strode past where we’d gathered in the Silversun parking lot at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Parkman Avenue, one of us asked him if he had any advice. He stopped, turned and thought about it for a second. With a smile he fittingly gave us Satchel Paige’s “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”
Then he walked away.
Rest in peace, Walking Man. Rest in peace, Dr. Abrams.
Every now and then we Trojans have to join up with those annoying Bruins on some things (and not just hating on Cal). This weekend, we join together on a sad note – mourning the loss of former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
I’ve been making some plans lately for the upcoming World Cup. I don’t follow soccer (football?) but I wanted to take part in the magnificent exercise in sports fandom that will be USA vs. England. Whatever their sport, fans tend to unite over great communal experiences like the World Cup, the Olympics, the Super Bowl or the Lakers in the finals.
We, as lovers of sport, also unite in recognizing legends, regardless of rivalry or affiliation. We all recognize the greatness that was John Wooden.
And all of us, Bruins, Trojans, whatever, felt our hearts sink a bit at the news that Wooden was “gravely ill”, and then when he eventually passed away last night. He may have been 99 years old and hadn’t coached in decades, but the loss of Wooden still leaves a big gaping hole in the sports world. Coaches with his level of success and, more importantly, his level of influence are one-in-a-million.
Well before I moved to California and learned about Trojans vs. Bruins (and on which side I stood), I learned about Wooden. I remember my 7th grade basketball coach preaching his wisdom to us in the locker room. His name is all over buildings in Westwood. My favorite monument to him is the bust carved out of wood that sits in the lobby at ESPN Zone in Anaheim (the “wooden Wooden”). He’s practically required reading for teachers and coaches of all levels.
Wooden represented the best of UCLA, of basketball, of Los Angeles, hell, all of sports in general. While normally I would be reveling in seeing the Bruins cope with a loss (like, say, in a football game), this time, I, and fans everywhere, will be right there with them.
“I wonder if getting a PhD in American studies is going to prove I’m an American?”
– Tam Tran, quoted in an article in the Los Angeles Times
I suppose death is the time to reflect and celebrate a life – but what of the black void leading up to accepting the fact that a life should be celebrated because of a death? Shrug. I knew of Tam Tran for quite some time before I finally met her, at a party in which we bantered about the best way to serve cheese. I also met Cinthya Felix then, and I snapped a few photos of both her and Tam with their best friends. The picture still lingers in the electronic halls of Facebook like a Post-It reminder waiting to be appreciated, if only I were brave enough to look at it again.
Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix, both graduates of UCLA and from Southern California, died in a fatal car crash over the weekend. Both were undocumented immigrants, brought here as children. As they went on in their academic careers, they discovered they were ineligible for financial aid thanks to a myriad of statutes barring the release of such funds to undocumented individuals. Private loans were not an option so long as applications required proof of legal status. Heck, without proper ID, the pair would have had problems proving they were of age to watch The Hangover. And so, Tam and Cinthya had to figure out some way to pay the bills in cash. Cinthya came up with a pretty great website straight up asking the public for donations towards her graduate tuition at Columbia (she wanted to be a doctor). Tam juggled as many jobs as she could (she wanted to be a filmmaker). When they didn’t have enough funds, both took off entire quarters until they could re-enroll with the requisite price of admission in hand.
Recognizing they were not alone, the pair advocated tirelessly in support of the as-yet-unpassed DREAM Act, which would grant a carefully defined class of undocumented students residency in this country. Tam testified before Congress in support of the legislation; her efforts drew the attention/ire of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who, out of sheer coincidence I’m sure, arrested her parents and brother three days after her public stance.
I didn’t know either well enough to presume that I know how they would want to be honored, but I do know that they wanted others to understand their cause, even if one, in the end, did not completely agree with their stance. To that end, I’m posting a pretty great video Tam created called “Lost and Found (Story of a DREAM Act Student)”. It was screened at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific American Film Festival in 2009. It’s after the jump.
For those struggling with the loss of such honest-to-goodness great people, I suppose the best we can do is trust that the void won’t always be so dark. And when we’re ready, the Post-Its will still be there to remind us all of Tam and Cinthya, and of our dentist appointment tomorrow at 3pm. Don’t be late.
Daryl Gates had been LAPD chief for about a year when Eula Love was gunned down by his police officers on January 3, 1979.
Eula Love was a 39-year-old mother living in the West Athens area of south Los Angeles near Hoover and 120th at 11926 S. Orchard Avenue, in a neatly kept bungalow on a street of neatly kept bungalows in a proud and quiet neighborhood. Eula Love was a widow. Her husband had died of sickle cell anemia six months earlier, leaving her to raise their three young daughters and make the mortgage payment and other ends meet on $680 a month in social security benefits.
Eula Love’s $69 gas bill had been past due for as long as her husband had been dead, and when a utility worker from the Southern California Gas Company showed up that afternoon to shut it off if she didn’t make a $22.09 payment, she became irrational and abusive. When he made a move toward the meter she picked up a shovel, struck him in the arm and then chased him off the property.
While the gas man was advising his superiors and making an assault complaint to the police Eula Love walked to a nearby market and purchased a money order in the amount of $22.09. Returning with it in her purse, she was verbally abusive toward a second gas company employee that had arrived and who she found sitting in a truck at 120th and Orchard. Leaving him she returned to her house only to emerge brandishing an 11 inch-long boning knife, 5 1/2 inches of which were handle.
Next came the cops.
When I was a Pop Warner-sized punk back in the early-mid ’70s my mom was dating a guy named Jim who was with ABC Wide World of Sports in some capacity and thus he knew a guy named Carroll Rosenbloom who happened to be the owner of a professional football team you may have read about in the history books that used to live and play here (what a concept) called the Los Angeles Rams, which was my fave team, of course, and pretty much as beloved as the Dodgers, up until Rosenbloom drowned in 1979 and his wife Georgia wasted little time and tears moving them to Anaheim the next year after the team triumphed through a strange season to come pretty damn close to winning the 1980 Super Bowl. But that’s another story.
Anyway. One day my mom comes home from work and hands me a pamphlet promoting something called the “Olsen Brothers All-Sports Camp” taking place for a couple weeks that summer in a faraway place called Logan, Utah. On the front is a picture of Merlin Olsen and his brother Phil in their Rams uniforms, the two having played side by side in 1971 and ’72.
“Jim says if you’d like to go, he’ll pay for it,” she said.
I indicating my willingness by jumping up and down screaming joyfully, so too young to have any clue that Jim’s generosity was not only providing a vacation for me from them, but also a vacation for them from me.
And so it was that I flew first class to Utah with Rosenbloom’s son Chip and Rams General Manager Don Klosterman’s son (whose first name I can’t remember) Kurt (thanks for the reminder DK!), and I came to stand eyeballs-to-kneecaps with some of the sports gods of my youth: Jack Youngblood, Harold Jackson, Jack Snow, Jack Reynolds (lotta Jacks going on, eh?). But I worshiped none more than Merlin lordhavemercy Olsen, who was my biggest hero, literally and figuratively.
I just found out that Bob Biniak, who you probably know as one of the original Dogtown Z-Boys suffered a cardiac arrest last sunday and passed away earlier today in Florida. He was 52. He was an inspiration to an entire generation of kids and will certainly be missed. (Above memorial image by his longtime friend Glen E Friedman, the obituary he wrote can be found here.)