Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Ben Pleasants: "No Shushing Here: Support Your Local Bookstore" @ This Can't Be Happening!
I am a Los Angeles resident who has spent most of my life on the west side of the city. After leaving Long Island, New York in 1963 and moving to San Diego for a year, I’ve lived in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades and Westwood with six months off for good behavior in Kona in 2009 and a total of two years in France during the 1970’s. Those were the best ! My life has been mostly about writers, theatre and books. From 1967 on, I covered small theatre, poetry and literary profiles for the LA Times. At my best I reviewed and rediscovered John Fante in 1978 and introduced him to Charles Bukowski that same year . The John Fante tapes from five different meetings are available online in text and audio from 3 Am Magazine thanks to Susan Tomaselli, editor. That’s something books can’t do unless they contain CD’s. In the sixties, I wrote a piece on Bukowski for the Free Press when we were both employed there. It was a Symposium on LA writers taped live at the newspaper. Steve Richmond, Ron Koertge and Gerald Locklin chimed in. It was fun. Bukowski did drawings to match.
Each time I worked on a piece for the Times or the Free Press or Reader, I was in and out of bookstores. It was a place to check up on facts, from the owners like Ken Hyre and Phil Mason, to the readers and writers who congregated there. “Do you have a copy of The Green Hat?” Phil Mason had several. Later, when I did pieces for Los Angeles Magazine on Bukowski the week he died and on Fante long after he was dead, I went to Larry Edwards on Hollywood Blvd. and Williams in San Pedro. The owners had the books I needed and they had met either Fante or Bukowski. And then there was always Vromans in Pasadena, the town where Bukowski’s father was born. They’ve been there for more than a hundred years!
Every time I took on a controversial subject, I checked in at bookstores. If Phil Mason didn’t have the info I needed at Yesterday’s books, say on Mencken and Fante, he knew someone who did. Like Ken Hyre or Jake Zeitlin.
When I upended the Bukowski fans who deny Buk’s involvement in Nazi organizations before World War II and followed it up with a novel Bukowski suggested I write titled “The Victory of Defeat,” I called one my friends, Ira, who owned a bookstore off Vermont . Ira knew all about the Nazi archives in California. And their first amendment rights for members of the Bund, at least before Pearl Harbor. Again and again I went to bookstores first, libraries second...
For the rest of this article by BEN PLEASANTS in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1643
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