Category Archives: Obituaries

Tam & Cinthya

“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.

Continue reading Tam & Cinthya

While Everyone Else Is Busy Remembering Daryl Gates’ Life, I’ll Be Remembering Eula Love’s Death

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.

Continue reading While Everyone Else Is Busy Remembering Daryl Gates’ Life, I’ll Be Remembering Eula Love’s Death

Merlin & Me

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.

Continue reading Merlin & Me

Gidget, Taco Bell Chihuahua, dies

tacobellchihauhuaAnother beloved celebrity gone.

The cruel summer of death marches on, this time claiming a beloved star of the small screen. Gidget, the Taco Bell Chihuahua, died from a stroke on Tuesday night in Los Angeles. She was 15 (105 in dog years.)

“She made so many people happy,” said Gidget’s trainer, Sue Chipperton.

According to People Magazine:

The mostly retired actor lived out her days laying in the sun – “I like to joke that it’s like looking after a plant,” says Chipperton – and entertaining at shoots when her trainer brought her along. “Gidget,” says Chipperton, “always knew where the camera was.”

King of Pop is Dead

images-1Wow.  Two icons in one day.  Michael Jackson died today after being rushed to the hospital here in Los Angeles in cardiac arrest.  When he arrived at the hospital, he wasn’t breathing and they couldn’t revive him.

What a shocker… probably more to him than us.  He was just days away from starting his big tour in London and given his penchant for eternal youth, something must have gone terribly wrong.  He forever changed music and really fueled the rise in music videos with his amazing performances.

He was a character. I’m gonna miss him.

Farrah & Me

ffMy 8th grade Le Conte Junior High class picture is all feathered hair, a smile full of braces, and my favorite shirt, a pale blue tee with an iron-on of Farrah Fawcett’s iconic poster.

Farrah and I wouldn’t meet in person, until four years later in 1981. I was working at Hunter’s Books on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. You folks would’ve loved Hunter’s. They had a smaller branch in Sherman Oaks, but the Beverly Hills store was the flagship. There was a loft-like upper floor for management overlooking a vast amount of always bustling floorspace surrounded by dark wood shelving, beneath which was the equally large stockroom — or “dungeon,” as we stockboys called it.

Being on Rodeo Drive, naturally the store drew a sophisticated and monied clientele, and more than a fair share of celebrities. Not to boast but I was a fave of Barbara Stanwyck who’d every other month or so would come to the backdoor and ask for me with a list — sometimes just for her, sometimes for her and her good friend Henry Fonda.

Continue reading Farrah & Me

Farrah Fawcett Has Left Us

images1 Farrah Fawcett died this morning in Santa Monica after a long battle with cancer. She was a shining star, who, when she was on, blazed pretty hot. Best known as THE pin-up girl of the seventies in that red bathing suit, with her long, blonde tresses flowing, she captured many boys hearts for the decade. As a little girl, I remember every guy I knew had her poster up in their room.

On the television screen, she was the interesting one to watch in Charlie’s Angels, running around in the sexiest outfits possible, fighting crime with a wide smile and kitten-like sexiness. As girls, we all secretly wanted to be like her.

As an adult, I had an opportunity to work with her.  All my images of her as a vapid, blonde bombshell vanished the minute I met her.  She saw her powerful sexuality simply as a vehicle to ride to foster her work as an actress.  She was an artist to the core. Not only was she a really fine painter, but in her acting and even in controlling her image, she came from a place of creativity, deep vulnerability and rawness.

Her blonde hair and blazingly bright smile were an easy decoy which frequently made people miss the depth of her soul and what she had to say. Yes, she could be difficult and several times on the set I cursed her. However, there was always a reason that turned out to be justified for the delays and the end result was simply stunning.
When I heard she had cancer, I hoped she would beat it. She was an intensely determined woman and I thought she might sail through this one with grace.  Maybe the truth is…. she simply left this dimension for a place where Angels really do rule.  And no Charlie’s tell her what to do!

Actor Comedian Dom DeLuise passed away Monday

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMK6lzmSk2o[/youtube]

RIP Dom DeLuise you were my favorite actor in the screwball comedies as I was growing up.  Between all the Mel Brooks and “Smokey and the Bandit” movies you added a lot of laughs to my life.  

I’ve attached one of my favorite clips from “Blazing Saddles” to bring a smile to some faces today.  I ask, what greater achievement in ones life than to bring in laughter and a smile? 

He passed away quietly in his sleep Monday night in his LA home according to his son. All the details and bio in the MSN Movies article that ran moments ago.

(Updated just for lezgull, I searched and found an out takes insanity clip for you, but you have to make the jump). Continue reading Actor Comedian Dom DeLuise passed away Monday

Jack Wrangler, first gay porn star, dies

wranglerJack Wrangler, the Beverly Hills-born porn superstar, has died. He was 62. The reported cause of death was from complications from emphysema.

Although he performed in both gay and straight adult films, he was always open about his homosexuality and considered a hero of the Gay Liberation movement.

Born into a Hollywood film industry family, he first worked in early Christian television before studying theater in college.  After stints  bartending and go-go dancing at West Hollywood gay bars, he went on to achieve icon status in 1970s gay porn.  In the early ’80s he switched to starring in straight porn, eventually leaving porn altogether to marry Margaret Whiting, the film actress and singer (known for her hit, “That Old Black Magic,”) and began producing her cabaret shows.

The first Wrangler film I recall seeing, as an impressionable, newly-out gay youth, was Kansas City Trucking Co., made in 1976. With its hyper-masculine performers and the athletic abandon with which they threw themselves into their work, KCTC is  credited with setting the standard for all-male gay porn.

Photo: courtesy of TLA Releasing

John Leech, founder of Onyx Cafe, passes away

This came to my inbox.

If anyone knows who took this photo, please let me know in the comments
If anyone knows who took this photo, please let me know in the comments

John Leech, the founder of the Onyx Cafe in Silverlake/Los Feliz/Echo Park and beloved patron of the arts and truth in general has passed away.

It apparently happened around Monday or Tuesday March 17th or 18th and has been confirmed by the County Coroner. He apparently has no family but he has a trust and its executors have been notified. There is a votive memorial in front of the former location of the Onyx on Vermont Avenue (now Cafe Figaro) in Los Feliz. Initial planning for a fitting memorial to John has begun. More on that soon.

John was one of the rarest things in this world: a genuine philosophical Bohemian in the very best sense of the word who created an austere unpretentious Cafe which was, by his design, a magical safe zone for artists, musicians, poets, scientists, intellectuals and outsiders of all stripes…

Continue reading John Leech, founder of Onyx Cafe, passes away

Lux Interior Dies at 62

I just heard this, and don’t know what else to say except… shit. Lux died this morning from a pre-existing heart condition, he was 62. I met him a few times through friends and he was incredibly cool, and there’s no arguing how important The Cramps are. He’ll very truly be missed. From MTV.com:

Born Erick Lee Purkhiser, Interior started the Cramps in 1972 with guitarist Poison Ivy (born Kristy Wallace, later his wife) — whom, as legend has it, he picked up as a hitchhiker in California. By 1975, they had moved to New York, where they became an integral part of the burgeoning punk scene surrounding CBGBs.

Their music differed from most of the scene’s other acts in that it was heavily steeped in camp, with Interior’s lyrics frequently drawing from schlocky B-movies, sexual kink and deceptively clever puns. (J.H. Sasfy’s liner notes to their debut EP memorably noted: “The Cramps don’t pummel and you won’t pogo. They ooze; you’ll throb.”) Sonically, the band drew from blues and rockabilly, and a key element of their sound was the trashy, dueling guitars of Poison Ivy and Bryan Gregory (and later Kid Congo Powers), played with maximal scuzz and minimal drumming.

Because of that — not to mention Interior’s deranged, Iggy Pop-inspired onstage antics and deep, sexualized singing voice (which one reviewer described as “the psychosexual werewolf/ Elvis hybrid from hell”) — the Cramps are often cited as pioneers of “psychobilly” and “horror rock,” and can count bands like the Black Lips, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Reverend Horton Heat, the Horrors and even the White Stripes as their musical progeny.

Glenn Goldman Memorial this Friday


If you were lucky enough, you got to know Glenn Goldman, owner and mastermind behind the notorious Book Soup on Sunset.

We were all shocked to learn that Glenn passed away on the afternoon of January the 3rd, 2009, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

A memorial for Glenn is being held at the store this Friday, the 16th of January, at 7pm. Show up and see what all the fuss is about. This is absolutely the best bookstore in this city (and many others), and Glenn will be sorely, sorely missed.

Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd.
W. Hollywood CA 90069