A+ to this book


Unauthorized excerpt:


Lot of the feel of David Markson’s books, Boyland’s copies of which I read all in one fall in NYC.

This novel contains much information and true stories in it, which I always enjoy:

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This was so interesting was that I looked into more about Komarov:

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He successfully re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on his 19th orbit, but the module’s drogue and main braking parachute failed to deploy correctly and the module crashed into the ground, killing Komarov. According to the 1998 bookStarman, by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony, as Komarov sped towards his death, U.S. listening posts in Turkey picked up transmissions of him crying in rage, “cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship.”


As always, the more you read about the story the more interesting it gets.  Did they really hear his screams?

Komorov is one of the people honored in the Fallen Astronaut memorial left on the moon by David Scott on the Apollo 15 mission.

fallen astronaut

If you’re looking for that it’s over on the Hadley Rille:

Hadley Rille

According to NASA, the origin of lunar sinuous rilles remains controversial.[1] The Hadley Rille is a 1.5 km wide and over 300 m deep sinuous rille. It is thought to be a giant conduit that carried lava from an eruptive vent far to the south. Topographic information obtained from the Apollo 15 photographs supports this possibility; however, many puzzles about the rille remain.


Hank the Cat gets it

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(Thanks to JK for the photos)

Jim Harrison

Briefly shared a publisher, Grove/Atlantic, with Jim Harrison, which made me feel cool.  Some gems in his New York Times obituary:

There was the eating. Mr. Harrison once faced down 144 oysters, just to see if he could finish them. (He could.)

“If you’ve known a lot of actresses and models,” he once confided with characteristic plain-spokenness to a rapt audience at a literary gathering, “you return to waitresses because at least they smell like food.”


Mr. Harrison had his detractors. With its boozing and brawling and bedding, his fiction was often called misogynistic. He did himself no favors with a 1983 Esquire essay in which he called his feminist critics “brie brains” and added, in gleeful self-parody, “Even now, far up in the wilderness in my cabin, where I just shot a lamprey passing upstream with my Magnum, I wouldn’t have the heart to turn down a platter of hot buttered cheerleaders.”

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Pigment Collection

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The history of pigments goes back to prehistoric times, but much of what we know about how they relate to the art world comes from Edward Forbes, a historian and director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University from 1909 to 1944. Considered the father of art conservation in the United States, Forbes traveled around the world amassing pigments in order to authenticate classical Italian paintings. Over the years, the Forbes Pigment Collection—as his collection came to be known—grew to more than 2,500 different specimens, each with its own layered backstory on its origin, production, and use.

from this Fast Company article by Diana Budds (great name) about a color library at Harvard.


cuba 1

Air Force One carrying US President Barack Obama and his family flies over a neighborhood of Havana as it approaches the runway to land at Havana’s international airport on March 20. (Alberto Reyes/Reuters)

Two good ones from The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture

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Local residents look on from a hilltop as police block off a road outside the Hemmingway House, where US First Lady Michelle Obama was visiting, in the San Francisco de Paula district of Havana on March 21. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

No! We do it like this.



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So much that is amazing in this RuPaul interview in NY Mag, but this jumps out:

Is there anyone who interests you in pop culture right now?
The only person who interests me in pop culture right now is Judge Judy. That’s it. Because of the realness — she has kept the story of mankind. There’s a certain decorum and civility that keeps our society together, and it has crumbled so much in the past, really, 20 years. But when you watch her during that hour in the afternoon, she has remembered it and is saying, “No! We do it like this.” And I love it! She remembers the rules of civility. Because if you’ve gotten to the point where you need to go to court to figure out what to do, then you’ve lost your right to be cocky. You need someone. You need a mediator. And she’s that person.


Hurray for Bookstores!



Bookstores are so pretty.  Here is a bookstore I saw in Barcelona.  I mean man.

Some of my all-time favorites are The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge:


Marfa Book Company in Marfa, TX:

Marfa Book Co

Elliot Bay Books in Seattle:

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(their Instagram is like 50% adorable dogs)

and Three Lives Books in NYC:

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LA is a great bookstore town, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  There is Book Soup, right on the Sunset Strip:

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And Skylight:


The Last Bookstore is almost like a book theme park:

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Iliad Books in North Hollywood:

Iliad Bookshop

And the granddaddy in Pasadena, Vroman’s:

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I will be coming to some bookstores to promote my new book, The Wonder Trail: True Stories From Los Angeles To The End Of The World, in June of this year.  My book cover straight up looks good:



and will brighten any bookstore.  Can’t take the credit for that, it goes to kickass cover designer Anna Laytham, who says:

I’ve done a fair bit of traveling myself in the last couple years, and as a designer find all the vibrant color and beautifully imperfect handtype to be one of my favorite parts of being in an unfamiliar place. I was happy to express some of that feeling on your cover!
And hell yeah people judge books by their cover! I certainly do. Thats why I design them 🙂

Especially looking forward to a trip down to Laguna Beach Books:


If you work in a bookstore and want me to come visit, get at me!

helphely@gmail.com.  If at all possible I would love to do it.

And thank you for your great service to our nation!

(photo credits: Helytimes / Harvard Book Store / Marfa Book Co. Facebook / Elliot Bay insta / Google Street View / Google Street View / Skylight Twitter / Helytimes / Iliad Twitter / Helytimes / Rachel Orminston Caffoe for Vroman’s found here

That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine

is it time

for this Everly Brothers classic to be repurposed as a gay anthem?

Would they like each other?

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Before you say look at this fucking hipster re: Saki, remember that he was a lance sergeant in the Royal Fusiliers.  Last words before he was killed by a sniper?:

Put that bloody cigarette out!

There is no grave for him, just the Thiepval monument, he is literally one of the missing of the Somme:


Shoutout to Stephen King’s 11/22/63

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which sent me to Saki’s “The Open Window.”

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King is such a boss.  First line of his about the author:

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Frank Gehry, William Pereira and SoCal architecture


Is this a good building?

Is Frank Gehry, who designed it, a good architect?

How would we answer that?

What is good or bad architecture, really?

INTO this NY Review of Books piece by Ingrid Rowland which explores these questions.

gehry bilbao

http://www.archdaily.com/tag/guggenheim-museum-bilbao, credited to flickr user Iker Merodio

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I can only find one of those three “exquisite little paintings” on the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum’s very decent website.  The Annunciation:

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Here, Rowland talks about Gehry’s house in Santa Monica:

FullSizeRender (32)Let’s have a look, photo from Google Street View:

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Maybe the most eye-opening part of this piece to me though was Rowland talking about earlier SoCal architect and Gehry mentor William Pereira.  This guy designed so many buildings that I see every day!  5900 Wilshire

5900 Wilshire, for example.

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Pereira’s Oscar was for Reap The Wild Wind:

Did he design boats or something?  The history of Irvine is topic for another day, but here’s some of Pereira’s work on the UC campus there:

murray krieger hall

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The Theme Building of LAXtheme

(Wikipedia doles out the credit a bit more generously:

It was designed by a team of architects and engineers headed by William Pereira and Charles Luckman, that also included Paul Williams and Welton Becket. The initial design of the building was created by James Langenheim, of Pereira & Luckman.

Luckman was no slouch himself, he went on to do Boston’s Prudential Tower:



Wikipedia asks me to credit user RhythmicQuietude with the photo

Luckman did the Forum here in LA as well:


A modest sentence from his Wiki:

Then in 1947, President Truman asked him to help feed starving Europe.

Here’s Pereira’s ziggurat for the Chet Holifield Federal Building:

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which is of course modeled on Chet Holifield’s head:

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More Pereira from UC Irvine:

library at uc irvine

The Disneyland Hotel:

CBS TV City:


dope tumblr Jet Set Modernist has some good classic pics of CBS TV City in all its Mad Men era glory.

Not sure which of these buildings in Newport Beach Pereira did, but they all have a style we might call Pereiraesque:

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Wiki asks for attribution to user: WPPilot

More more! :

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Here’s the Assyrian-revival tire factory turned Outlets:

And the Patriotic Hall I always wonder about when I see it south of the 10:

Bob Hope Patriotic Hall

You can see Frank Gehry in the first few minutes of Kate Berlant’s episode of The Characters:



Merrick Garland

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from The New Yorker:

Kagan, when she was the dean of Harvard Law School, said this about that shift, when introducing remarks he gave at the school in 2001: “Merrick made one of the coolest and gutsiest career moves I’ve ever heard of: giving up his highly lucrative and prestigious partnership in A&P to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the not-so-wealthy and, quite frankly, not-so-prestigious Washington, D.C., office.”

(a service I want to provide here when possible is pulling out the most interesting parts of articles you may be too busy to read)


Che’s daughter


from this interesting 2010 article in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg about a visit to Cuba, we learn what Che Guevara’s daughter is up to:

che daughter

Well now I’m wondering

Downton abbey

from The Washington Post, Hillary Clinton and Chris Matthews “caught” on mic during a commercial break:

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Atypical cinematic take on Boston

The other day I was home sick from work, and Field of Dreams was on TV.  Readers will recall Ray Kinsella goes to Boston to track down Terence Mann.  What a specific take on Boston!  No one is Irish or has much of an accent, and the biggest Red Sox fan is a black guy.  Kudos to director Phil Alden Robinson for taking things deeper.

Buzz Aldrin at The Oakwood

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for years my fav trivia about The Oakwood Apartments here in Greater Los Angeles is that Buzz Aldrin used to live there.


learned it from his memoir, Magnificent Desolation, which chronicles his difficulties with alcoholism and depression after his return to Earth and troubled stint running the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base here in SoCal:

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I mean, how you gonna come back from:

lunar dust buzz

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I mean, there were some good times:FullSizeRender (27)

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Buzz did live in the Oakwood — the one in Woodlawn Hills, not the one on the Cahuenga Pass that every Hollywood person has driven past a thousand times:

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His lifestyle:

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(I’ve described this story to many male friends who often look off to the distance wistfully and say “that sounds great”)

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Once had the chance to shake Buzz’s hand when he was on 30 Rock.  What a true hero.

A rough moment on CBS News Super Tuesday broadcast

Brother, I’ve been there.

World’s oldest liberry

al Qarawiyyin

The ancient al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez isn’t just the oldest library in Africa. Founded in 859, it’s the oldest working library in the world, holding ancient manuscripts that date as far back as 12 centuries.

so I learn from this interesting thing linked by Tyler Cowen.

The al-Qarawiyyin Library was created by a woman, challenging commonly held assumptions about the contribution of women in Muslim civilization. The al-Qarawiyyin, which includes a mosque, library, and university, was founded by Fatima El-Fihriya, the daughter of a rich immigrant from al-Qayrawan (Tunisia today). Well educated and devout, she vowed to spend her entire inheritance on building a mosque and knowledge center for her community.


picture of Fatima from this strange pseudo wikipedia: http://america.pink/fatima-fihri_1528345.html

Among the library hounds was Ibn Khaldun who wrote Muqaddim, The Introduction, which is full of interesting ideas:

Topics dealt with in this work include politics, urban life, economics, and knowledge. The work is based around Ibn Khaldun’s central concept of ‘‘aṣabiyyah, which has been translated as “social cohesion“, “group solidarity”, or “tribalism“. This social cohesion arises spontaneously in tribes and other small kinship groups; it can be intensified and enlarged by a religious ideology. Ibn Khaldun’s analysis looks at how this cohesion carries groups to power but contains within itself the seeds – psychological, sociological, economic, political – of the group’s downfall, to be replaced by a new group, dynasty or empire bound by a stronger (or at least younger and more vigorous) cohesion.


By م ض – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6287905

Perhaps the most frequently cited observation drawn from Ibn Khaldūn’s work is the notion that when a society becomes a great civilization (and, presumably, the dominant culture in its region), its high point is followed by a period of decay. This means that the next cohesive group that conquers the diminished civilization is, by comparison, a group of barbarians. Once the barbarians solidify their control over the conquered society, however, they become attracted to its more refined aspects, such as literacy and arts, and either assimilate into or appropriate such cultural practices. Then, eventually, the former barbarians will be conquered by a new set of barbarians, who will repeat the process. Some contemporary readers of Khaldun have read this as an early business cycle theory, though set in the historical circumstances of the mature Islamic empire.

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By Khonsali – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4550966


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