All posts by jesswaid

About jesswaid

Currently, I write police procedural novels with the stories taking place in Hollywood during the early 1960s; a period when I was a street cop there. I've moved to Mexico to be closer to my hobby of studying Mexican history. My friend and fellow author, Professor Michael Hogan, is my mentor. I am planning to write a three-part epic story that takes place in the mid-nineteenth century. What has inspired me was hearing about Los Ninos Heroes, martyrs of the Battle of Chapultepec. Also, my father was born in Concordia, Mexico and knowing his family history is an added incentive.

Robert Mitchum

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Robert Charles Durman Mitchum (August 6, 1917 – July 1, 1997) was an American film actor, author, composer and singer. He is #23 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time. Mitchum rose to prominence for his starring roles in several major works of the film noir style, and is considered a forerunner of the anti-heroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and 1960s.

EARLY YEARS

Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, into a Methodist family. His mother, Harry Anniette (née Gunderson), was a Norwegian immigrant and sea captain’s daughter, and his father, James Thomas Mitchum, was a shipyard and railroad worker. A sister, Annette, (known as Julie Mitchum during her acting career) was born in 1914. James Mitchum was crushed to death in a rail yard accident in Charleston, South Carolina, in February 1919, when his son was less than two years old. After his death, Ann Mitchum was awarded a government pension, and soon realized she was pregnant. She returned to her family in Connecticut, and married a former British Army major who helped her care for the children. In September 1919 a second son, John, was born. When all of the children were old enough to attend school, Ann found employment as a linotype operator for the Bridgeport Post.

 

Throughout Mitchum’s childhood, he was known as a prankster, often involved in fistfights and mischief. When he was 12, his mother sent Mitchum to live with his grandparents in Felton, Delaware, where he was promptly expelled from his middle school for scuffling with a principal. A year later, in 1930, he moved in with his older sister, in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. After being expelled from Haaran High School, he left his sister and traveled throughout the country on railroad cars, taking a number of jobs including as a ditch-digger for the Civilian Conservation Corps and as a professional boxer. He experienced numerous adventures during his years as one of the Depression era’s “wild boys of the road.” At age 14 in Savannah, Georgia, he was arrested for vagrancy and put on a local chain gang. By Mitchum’s own account, he escaped and returned to his family in Delaware. It was during this time, while recovering from injuries that nearly lost him a leg, that he met the woman he would marry, a teenaged Dorothy Spence. He soon went back on the road, eventually riding the rails to California.

ACTING CAREER

Mitchum arrived in Long Beach, California, in 1936, staying again with his sister Julie. Soon the rest of the Mitchum family joined them in Long Beach. During this time he worked as a ghostwriter for astrologer Carroll Righter. It was sister Julie who convinced him to join the local theater guild with her. In his years with the Players Guild of Long Beach, he made a living as a stagehand and occasional bit player in company productions. He also wrote several short pieces that were performed by the guild. According to Lee Server’s biography (Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care), Mitchum put a talent for poetry to work writing song lyrics and monologues for his sister Julie’s nightclub performances. In 1940 he returned East to marry Dorothy, taking her back to California. He remained a footloose character until the birth of their first child, James Mitchum, nicknamed Josh (two more children would follow, Christopher Mitchum and Petrine). Mitchum then got a steady job as a machine operator with the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.

A nervous breakdown (which resulted in temporary blindness), apparently from job-related stress, led Mitchum to look for work as an actor or extra in movies. An agent he had met got him an interview with the producer of the Hopalong Cassidy series of B-westerns; he was hired to play the villain in several films in the series during 1942 and 1943. He continued to find further work as an extra and supporting actor in numerous productions for various studios. After impressing director Mervyn LeRoy during the making of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Mitchum signed a seven-year contract with RKO Radio Pictures. He found himself groomed for B Western stardom in a series of Zane Grey adaptations.

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Following the moderately successful western Nevada, Mitchum was lent from RKO to United Artists for the William Wellman-helmed The Story of G.I. Joe. In the film, he portrayed war-weary officer Bill Walker (based on Captain Henry T. Waskow), who remains resolute despite the troubles he faces. The film, which followed the life of an ordinary soldier through the eyes of journalist Ernie Pyle (played by Burgess Meredith), became an instant critical and commercial success. Shortly after making the film, Mitchum himself was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving at Fort MacArthur, California. At the 1946 Academy Awards, The Story of G.I. Joe was nominated for four Oscars, including Mitchum’s only nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He finished the year off with a western (West of the Pecos) and a story of returning Marine veterans (Till the End of Time), before filming in a genre that came to define Mitchum’s career and screen persona: film noir.

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FILM NOIR

Mitchum was initially known for his work in film noir. His first foray into the genre was a supporting role in the B-film When Strangers Marry, about newlyweds and a New York City serial killer. Undercurrent, another of Mitchum’s early noirs, featured him playing against type as a troubled, sensitive man entangled in the affairs of his brother (Robert Taylor) and his brother’s suspicious wife (Katharine Hepburn). The film was director Vincente Minnelli’s only film noir.

John Brahm’s The Locket (1946) featured Mitchum as bitter ex-husband to Laraine Day’s femme fatale, while Raoul Walsh’s Pursued (1947) combined western and noir styles, with Mitchum’s character attempting to recall his past and find those responsible for killing his family. Crossfire (also 1947) featured Mitchum as a member of a group of soldiers, one of whom killed a Jewish man in an act of anti-Jewish hatred. It featured themes of anti-Semitism and the failings of military training. The film, directed by Edward Dmytryk, earned five Academy Award nominations.

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Following Crossfire, Mitchum starred in Out of the Past (also called Build My Gallows High), directed by Jacques Tourneur and featuring the cinematography of Nicholas Musuraca. Mitchum played Jeff Markham, a small-town gas station owner whose unfinished business with gambler Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) and femme fatale Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer), comes back to haunt him. Though ignored by most critics on its release, the film was a modest box office hit at the time and has received a positive reappraisal as one of the greatest film noir movies of all time. Musuraca in the Robert Wise psychological western Blood on the Moon the following year photographed Mitchum again.

On September 1, 1948, after a string of successful films for RKO, Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds were arrested for possession of marijuana. The arrest was the result of a sting operation designed to capture other Hollywood partiers as well, but Mitchum and Leeds did not receive the tip-off. After serving a week at the county jail, (he described the experience to a reporter as being “like Palm Springs, but without the riff-raff”) Mitchum spent 43 days (February 16 to March 30) at a Castaic, California, prison farm, with Life magazine photographers right there taking photos of him mopping up in his prison uniform. The arrest became the inspiration for the exploitation film She Shoulda Said No! (1949), which starred Leeds. The Los Angeles court and District Attorney’s office later overturned the conviction on January 31, 1951, with the following statement, after it was exposed as a set-up:

“ After an exhaustive investigation of the evidence and testimony presented at the trial, the court orders that the verdict of guilty be set aside and that a plea of not guilty be entered and that the information or complaint be dismissed. ”

Whether despite, or because of, his troubles with the law and his studio, the films released immediately after his arrest were box-office hits. Rachel and the Stranger (1948) featured Mitchum in a supporting role as a mountain man competing for the hand of Loretta Young, the indentured servant and wife of William Holden, while he appeared in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novella The Red Pony (1949) as a trusted cowhand to a ranching family.

Mitchum returned to true film noir in The Big Steal (also 1949), where he again joined Jane Greer in an early Don Siegel film.

CAREER IN THE 1950s AND 1960s

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In Where Danger Lives (1950), Mitchum played a doctor who comes between a mentally unbalanced Faith Domergue and cuckolded Claude Rains. The Racket was a noir remake of the early crime drama of the same name and featured Mitchum as a police captain fighting corruption in his precinct. The Josef von Sternberg film Macao (1952) saw Mitchum a victim of mistaken identity at an exotic resort casino, playing opposite Jane Russell. Otto Preminger’s Angel Face was the first of three collaborations between Mitchum and British stage actress Jean Simmons. In the film, Simmons plays an insane heiress who plans to use young ambulance driver Mitchum to kill for her.

Mitchum’s cynical, mischievous attitude through his career had led him to shrug off fame as a fluke. His expulsion from Blood Alley (1955) is frequently attributed to his pranks, especially one in which he reportedly threw the film’s transportation manager into San Francisco Bay. According to Sam O’Steen’s memoir, Cut to the Chase, Mitchum showed up on set after a night of drinking and tore apart a studio office when they didn’t have a car ready for him. Mitchum walked off the set of the third day of filming Blood Alley, claiming he could not work with the director. Because he was showing up late and behaving erratically, producer John Wayne, after failing to obtain Humphrey Bogart as a replacement, took over the role himself.

Following a series of conventional westerns and films noirs, including the Marilyn Monroe vehicle River of No Return (1954), he appeared in Charles Laughton’s only film as director, The Night of the Hunter (1955). Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, the film noir thriller starred Mitchum as a monstrous criminal posing as a preacher to find money hidden by his cellmate in the cellmate’s home. His performance as Reverend Harry Powell is considered by many to be one of the best of his career. Stanley Kramer’s melodrama Not as a Stranger though, also released in 1955, was a box office hit for Mitchum. The film starred Mitchum against type, as an idealistic young doctor, who marries an older nurse (Olivia de Havilland), only to question his morality many years later. However, the film was not well received, with most critics pointing out that Mitchum, Frank Sinatra and Lee Marvin were all too old for their characters. Olivia de Havilland received top billing over Mitchum and Sinatra.

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Following a succession of average westerns and the poorly received Foreign Intrigue (1956), Mitchum starred in the first of three films with British actress Deborah Kerr. The John Huston war drama Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison starred Mitchum as a marine corporal shipwrecked on a Pacific Island with a nun, Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr), being his sole companion. In this character study they struggle to resist the elements and the invading Japanese army. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. For his role, Mitchum was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor.

Thunder Road (1958) was loosely based on an incident in which a driver transporting moonshine was said to have crashed to his death on Kingston Pike in Knoxville, Tennessee, somewhere between Bearden Hill and Morrell Road. According to Metro Pulse writer Jack Renfro, the incident occurred in 1952 and may have been witnessed by James Agee, who passed the story on to Mitchum – who not only starred in the movie, but also produced the film, co-wrote the screenplay, and is rumored to have directed much of the film himself. Mitchum also co-wrote (with Don Raye) the theme song, “The Ballad of Thunder Road.”

Mitchum and Kerr reunited for the Fred Zinnemann film, The Sundowners (1960), where they played husband and wife struggling in Depression-era Australia. Opposite Mitchum, Kerr was nominated for yet another Academy Award for Best Actress, while the film was nominated for a total of five Oscars. Robert Mitchum was awarded that year’s National Board of Review award for Best Actor for his performance. The award also recognized his superior performance in the Vincente Minnelli western drama Home from the Hill (also 1960). He was teamed with both Kerr and previous leading lady Jean Simmons as well as Cary Grant for the extremely offbeat Stanley Donen ensemble comedy The Grass Is Greener the same year.

Mitchum’s performance as the menacing southern rapist Max Cady in Cape Fear (1962) brought him even more attention and furthered his renown as playing cool, predatory characters. The 1960s were marked by a number of lesser films and missed opportunities. Among the films Mitchum passed on during the decade was John Huston’s The Misfits, the last film of its stars Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, the Academy Award–winning Patton, and Dirty Harry. The most notable of his films in the decade included the war epics The Longest Day (1962) and Anzio (1968), the Shirley MacLaine comedy-musical What a Way to Go! (1964), and the Howard Hawks western El Dorado (1966), a remake of Rio Bravo (1959), in which Mitchum took over Dean Martin’s role of the drunk who comes to the aid of John Wayne.

MUSIC CAREER

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One of the lesser known aspects of Mitchum’s career was his forays into music, both as singer and composer. Mitchum’s voice was often used instead of that of a professional singer when his characters sang in his films. Notable productions featuring Mitchum’s own singing voice included Rachel and the Stranger, River of No Return and The Night of the Hunter. After hearing traditional calypso music and meeting artists such as Mighty Sparrow and Lord Invader while filming Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in the Caribbean island of Tobago, he recorded Calypso — is like so … in March 1957. On the album, released through Capitol Records, he emulated the calypso sound and style, even adopting the style’s unique pronunciations and slang. A year later he recorded a song he had written for the film Thunder Road, titled “The Ballad of Thunder Road”. The country-styled song became a modest hit for Mitchum, reaching #69 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart. The song was included as a bonus track on a successful reissue of Calypso… and helped market the film to a wider audience

Though Mitchum continued to use his singing voice in his film work, he waited until 1967 to record his follow-up record, That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings. The album, released by Nashville-based Monument Records, took him further into country music, and featured songs similar to The Ballad of Thunder Road. “Little Old Wine Drinker Me,” the first single, was a top ten hit at country radio, reaching #9 there, and crossed over onto mainstream radio, where it peaked at #96. Its follow-up, “You Deserve Each Other,” also charted on the Billboard Country Singles Chart. He also sang the title song to the western Young Billy Young, made in 1969.

Mitchum also co-wrote and composed the music for an oratorio that was produced by Orson Welles at the Hollywood Bowl.

Tony Bennett & Dave Brubeck, live in Washington, 1962

I had an opportunity to meet Tony Bennett once at Sandpoint, Idaho, during the summer festival there. I went to Sacramento College to see and listen to Dave Brubeck and Cal Tjader in the mid-fifties. So of course this article I’m re-posting by Charles Gans of the Associated Press resonated with me.

 

Tony Bennet & Dave Brubeck, together in Washington
Tony Bennett & Dave Brubeck, together in Washington

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 11:00 AM CDT

Long lost Bennett-Brubeck recording discovered

by Charles J. Gans

NEW YORK (AP) — Tony Bennett never forgot the first time he performed with Dave Brubeck more than half a century ago. But the tape of that memorable collaboration between two American jazz masters lay forgotten in a record label’s vaults until its discovery by an archivist just weeks after Brubeck’s death in December, and it’s just been released as “Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962.”

President John F. Kennedy’s White House made this jazz summit possible when it booked Brubeck and Bennett to perform at a concert on Aug. 28, 1962, for college-age summer interns. The crowd was so big that the concert had to be moved from the Rose Garden to an open-air theater at the base of the Washington Monument.

After Brubeck and Bennett each performed with their bands, the pianist came back on stage with his drummer Joe Morello and bassist Eugene Wright to accompany the singer on four encore numbers: “We haven’t rehearsed this, so lots of luck, folks,” Bennett joked with the audience.

“It was very spontaneous — a real jam session, where you really don’t plan what you’re going to sing or how you’re going to play it,” said Bennett, who had never previously performed with his Columbia Records label-mate. “I just gave Dave the key and the song, and we just went for it. The audience went crazy, and you can hear the reaction on the record.”

Columbia Records had sent its mobile recording unit to tape the concert. But only one song, their version of “That Old Black Magic,” surfaced years later on several compilation albums. The nearly one-hour tape had been mislabeled as “American Jazz Concert” with no reference to the two jazz legends and ended up lost in a section of the massive Sony Music Entertainment archives mostly devoted to classical music recordings.

Matt Kelly, director of the archives, was doing routine research last year into Columbia recording sessions done 50 years ago when he pieced together the paper trail that would lead to the tape’s discovery. He cross-referenced incomplete logbook entries for an Aug. 28, 1962, live recording in Washington, which didn’t list the performers’ names, and separate listings for Bennett and Brubeck sessions that same day. After Brubeck’s death at age 91 on Dec. 5, Bennett’s camp prodded Sony to see if a tape of the Washington concert existed and it was quickly located.

“I was shocked they even had it,” Bennett said in a telephone interview.

John Jackson, Sony Legacy’s vice president of A&R and Content, was surprised to find the tape in pristine condition and decided it had to be released.

“Both Tony and Dave are absolutely at the top of their game,” Jackson said. “It’s the only time they were recorded performing together and to have them on tape together was just too good to be true.”

Brubeck’s classic quartet — with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond — begins the set by playing the odd-metered “Take Five” at a faster tempo than on their groundbreaking 1959 album “Time Out,” which the year before had peaked at No. 2 on the pop album charts. The rest of the set includes Brubeck compositions inspired by the rhythms of countries where he had performed — “Nomad” (Afghanistan), “Thank You (Dziekuje)” (Poland) and “Castilian Blues” (Spain).

The smooth-voiced Bennett, accompanied by pianist Ralph Sharon’s trio, sings Broadway tunes such as “Just In Time” and “Small World” in his set, which closes with a song that had begun climbing the pop singles chart a few weeks earlier — “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”

Their joint performance offers a rare chance to hear Brubeck perform Great American Songbook standards with a top-flight jazz singer and Bennett unleash his jazz chops often kept in check on his more pop-oriented Columbia recordings.

They begin their impromptu performance with a brisk “Lullaby of Broadway” in which Bennett unexpectedly changes the lyrics to “Come along and listen to the lullaby of … Dave Brubeck” and the pianist quickly jumps into his solo. On “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town),” Brubeck’s solo gets somewhat funky. Bennett starts off singing “There Will Never Be Another You” as a slow ballad, but suddenly shifts to a fast tempo displaying some daring jazz phrasing, accompanied by Brubeck’s rapid-fire bop lines.

“It was a matter of listening to one another and we turned each other on,” Bennett said. “It’s always a joy to perform with people that you’ve admired your whole life.”

They didn’t perform together again until the 2009 Newport Jazz Festival when Brubeck sat in with Bennett to reprise “That Old Black Magic” — an encounter encouraged by jazz buff Clint Eastwood, who was producing a Brubeck documentary. At the time, Brubeck expressed his admiration for Bennett.

“Tony has such great command, control and power that it’s a thrill to hear him really start to belt it out,” Brubeck told the AP. “It’s a wonderful experience when somebody has all that power.”

His 1962 performance inspired Bennett to work with other jazz pianists. Bennett says he met Bill Evans for the first time at that Washington concert and they would record two albums in the 1970s that rank among the best of the singer’s career. He recently recorded an album of Jerome Kern tunes with husband-and-wife jazz pianists Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes for later release.

Bennett, who will celebrate his 87th birthday in August with a Hollywood Bowl concert, is also planning to record a jazz CD with Lady Gaga later this year. He was impressed by her performance of “The Lady Is a Tramp” on his Grammy-winning 2011 “Duets II” CD.

“We just hit it off and I realized, ‘Oh, my God, this woman’s a really great jazz singer,’” Bennett said. “She’s going to surprise everybody as to how well she’s going to sing on this record.”

Here’s That Old Black Magic, and There Will Never Be Another You from those historic sessions — enjoy!

http://jesswaid.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/16-that-old-black-magic-with-the-dave-brubeck-trio-live.m4a

http://jesswaid.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/17-there-will-never-be-another-you-with-the-dave-brubeck-trio-live.m4a

Tommy’s

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Original Tommy’s was opened on May 15, 1946, by Tom Koulax (October 26, 1918 – May 28, 1992), the son of Greek immigrants, on the northeast corner of Beverly and Rampart Boulevards west of downtown Los Angeles. The stand, which still exists today, sold hamburgers and hot dogs topped with chili. At first business was slow, but started to pick up. During the 1960s, the entire lot at this intersection was purchased. Soon after, the northwest corner was acquired for expanded parking and storage of goods. Not long after that, a second service counter occupying the building at the perimeter of the northeast lot was set up. The food was essentially the same from both locations, except for longer lines at the original shack counter, perhaps for nostalgic reasons.

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Koulax credited the students, both as workers and customers, from nearby Belmont High School for making Tommy’s a success. He supported the school by placing advertisements in the school newspaper and yearbooks. In his last will and testament, he left a scholarship fund for Belmont.

In the 1970s, Tommy’s initiated a conservative expansion plan, growing from the original location to 30 locations in 2006. Tommy’s did not expand to more than a handful of locations per year. Most Original Tommy’s restaurants are found in the Greater Los Angeles Area. There are also Original Tommy’s restaurants in San Diego, Barstow, Palmdale, La Habra, Riverside, Henderson, Las Vegas, and most recently, in Lake Forest. In recent years several locations have closed.

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The company is based in Monrovia, California, after years at Glendale, California, and is run by the late Mr. Koulax’ family. The restaurants are all company-owned, and there are no plans for the company to offer any franchised locations.

A ladle or two of Koulax’ signature chili tops nearly every available menu item, even the breakfast sandwich. Original Tommy’s chili is a mixture of an all-beef chili con carne base, flour, water, and a “secret” blend of spices, and resembles a condiment more than a conventional bowl of chili. The flour-water mixture allows the chili to “set up” and adhere to the burger or fries.

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Except for an occasional television commercial and a brief flirtation with radio advertising in the 1990s, Original Tommy’s has relied on word-of-mouth and local newspaper advertising to gain popularity.

The Ranch House

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By Jim Weaver

 

[West Los Angeles Division – “Bel Air, 1980’s”]

It was a cold Saturday night in November, My partner Larry Gardner and I were enjoying a cup of coffee and donuts at “Arnie’s,” located at Santa Monica Boulevard and Bundy Drive. I was listening to “Walk of Life” coming from the vehicle parked next to us. The blonde driver was flirting with Larry; business as usual for him.

“Eight-Adam-three, thirteen, and twenty-one meet Eight-L-Twenty at Sunset and Bel Air Road, Code two.”

“Larry, listen up, we just got a call.”

We knew it must be serious as two other units were dispatched to Twenty’s location besides us. Without saying a word we emptied our coffees on the pavement.

Kicking over the V8, I accelerated out of the parking lot and sped to the meeting place. A few minutes later we pulled into the parking lot next to 8-L-20 Sergeant Jesse Escobar.

Escobar climbed out of his Black and White, as usual his hair was perfectly styled, his uniform looked like it’d just been pressed, his two-toned badge gleamed, and his black shoes shone like glass, even under the dim overhead light. I’d known Escobar for several years; he was known as a policeman’s sergeant.  We were lucky to have him. as the three-striper was going up the LAPD ladder.

Shortly, we were joined by the two other assigned units.

“Guys we have a real situation. so pay attention.” The sergeant laid out a hand-drawn map of a residence located at 2 Benedict Canyon Drive.

“We recently received information that a possible shooting occurred at that location, we’ve got nothing more. So let’s get over there and have a look.  We’ll park farther down the street and move in on foot.  Turn your radios and headlights off before we get there. Any questions?”

As we followed Sergeant Escobar’s black-and-white station wagon, we were silent, lost in our own thoughts. I wondered what we would run into. I had a real uneasy feeling about this one.

When we parked in tandem and were on foot, Escobar once again pulled out the map. Using his flashlight, he ordered the others to the four corners of the house.

Why did he leave me out?

Escobar then focused on me. “You and I will take the house.”

After the other officers were in position, Escobar said in a low voice, “Let’s do it, Jim.”

We quietly moved to the rear of the house, where a light could be seen. A closer look determined it came from a laundry room hallway.

Sergeant Escobar tried the screen door. Unlocked.

I followed as he crept cautiously down the dimly lit hallway, past the laundry room and toward a room where the light was bright. It was the kitchen.

Escobar peered into the kitchen and then he looked back at me. He held up one finger and then pointed it down.

I knew that meant one down. Escobar stepped into the kitchen. I followed on his heels. I spotted the lifeles,s half-open eyes of a female staring up at me. The dead woman was lying in a huge pool of blood that almost covered the entire tile floor. I could clearly see powder burns on her bare breasts and stomach.

Quickly looking about, I could see blood all over the kitchen walls, ceiling, refrigerator, stove, and cabinets.

I stepped over her and felt my shoe soles picking up a sticky substance. Blood.

I spied Escobar in the living room hand motioning for me to go to the left as he was going to the right.

OK, I signaled back with a head nod.

He disappeared into the darkened next room.

I slowly moved down the partially lit hallway. Almost immediately, I spotted a body lying in the middle of the hallway ahead of me. As I approached I could now see it was another female. One half-open lifeless eye stared into space. A contact wound had blown out her left eye.

I stepped over her body, wondering what the hell was next?

Seeing a lighted room ahead, I crept forward and peeked around the open doorway. I saw a leatherette recliner chair with a human arm hanging over the side facing me.

I eased up to the chair and gave it a swift kick to surprise whoever was seated on it.

The chair swiveled to the left, and a male slumped forward and onto the floor. His clothed body ended up on his knees as if he was praying. A large collection of coagulated blood stained his back. It appeared to be an exit wound from a large caliber firearm.

I was startled when Escobar, in a calm voice said, “The rest of the house is clear. Looks like we will need the detectives for this one,” he continued.

He went outside and released the other two units.

My partner and I secured the scene. Several hours later the detectives arrived and began their investigation.

The coroner’s deputies later drove up. After they scanned the scene, they took the bodies and transported them downtown to the Coroner’s office. They would join other corpses awaiting autopsies.

Released from the scene I turned to Larry. “Hey pard, we still have time for Code Seven before EOW. (End-of-Watch.)”

 

The Bradbury Building

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The Bradbury Building is an architectural landmark in downtown Los Angeles, California. Built in 1893, the building was commissioned by LA mining millionaire Lewis L. Bradbury and designed by local draftsman George Wyman.

It is located at 304 South Broadway and 3rd Street, and has been the site of many movie and television shoots, rock videos, and works of fiction. It’s the location of the office of Eagon Quinn, a character in my Mike Montego novels, set in 1960’s Los Angeles.

Lewis L. Bradbury (November 6, 1823–July 15, 1892) was a mining millionaire – he owned a mine named Tajo in Sinaloa, Mexico – who became a real estate developer in the latter part of his life. He planned in 1892 to construct a five story building at Broadway and Third Street in Los Angeles, close to the Bunker Hill neighborhood.

A local architect, Sumner Hunt, was first hired to complete a design for the building, but Bradbury dismissed Hunt’s plans as inadequate to the grandeur of his vision. He then hired George Wyman, one of Hunt’s draftsmen, to design the building.

Wyman at first refused the offer, but then supposedly had a ghostly talk with his brother Mark Wyman (who had died six years previously), while using a planchette board with his wife. The ghost’s message supposedly said “Mark Wyman / take the / Bradbury building / and you will be / successful” with the word “successful” written upside down. After the episode, Wyman took the job, and is now regarded as the architect of the Bradbury Building. Wyman’s grandson, the science fiction publisher Forrest J. Ackerman, owned the original document containing the message until his death. Coincidentally, Ackerman was a close friend of science fiction author Ray Bradbury.

Wyman was especially influenced in constructing the building by the 1887 science fiction book Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, which described a utopian society in 2000.

In Bellamy’s book, the average commercial building was described as a “vast hall full of light, received not alone from the windows on all sides, but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above … The walls and ceiling were frescoed in mellow tints, calculated to soften without absorbing the light which flooded the interior.” This description greatly influenced the Bradbury Building.

A Bradbury Building interior
A Bradbury Building interior

A restoration and seismic retrofitting was undertaken by developer Ira Yellin and project architect Brenda Levin Associates in 1991. As part of the restoration, a storage area at the south end of the building was converted to a new rear entrance portico, connecting the building more directly to Biddy Mason Park and the adjacent Broadway Spring Center parking garage. The building’s lighting system was also redesigned, bringing in alabaster wall sconces from Spain.

The building features an Italian Renaissance Revival -style exterior façade of brown brick, sandstone and panels of terra cotta details, in the “commercial Romanesque Revival” that was the current idiom in East Coast American cities. But the magnificence of the building is the interior: reached through the entrance, with its low ceiling and minimal light, it opens into a bright naturally lit great center court.

Robert Forster, star of the TV series Banyon that used the building for his office, described it as “one of the great interiors of L.A. Outside it doesn’t look like much, but when you walk inside, suddenly you’re back a hundred and twenty years.”

The five-story central court features glazed brick, ornamental cast iron, tiling, rich marble, and polished wood, capped by a skylight that allows the court to be flooded with natural rather than artificial light, creating ever-changing shadows and accents during the day.

Cage elevators surrounded by wrought-iron grillwork go up to the fifth floor.

Geometric patterned staircases and wrought-iron railings are used abundantly throughout. The wrought iron was created in France and displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair before being installed in the building. Freestanding mail-chutes also feature ironwork.

The walls are made of pale glazed brick. The marble used in the staircase was imported from Belgium, and the floors are Mexican tiles.

During construction an active spring was found beneath the work-site, posing a threat to ongoing work on the building by weakening the foundation. However, Mr. Bradbury was very committed to the project, which he believed to be the greatest monument possible to his memory. Consequently, he imported massive steel rails from Europe to bolster the building and allow its construction to continue.

The initial estimate for the construction of the building was $175,000, but the final cost at completion was over $500,000—an extremely large amount for those times. Using the GDP Deflator method, this amount translates to more than $11 million in 2008 dollars.

Lewis Bradbury died months before the building opened in 1893, although it stands as a testament to his and George Wyman’s vision.

The building has operated as an office building for most of its history. It was purchased by Ira Yellin in the early 1980s, and remodeled in the 1990s. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

The building has served as headquarters for the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internal Affairs division and currently is used by other government agencies. Several of the offices are rented out to private concerns, including Red Line Tours. The retail spaces on the first floor currently house Ross Cutlery (where O.J. Simpson purchased a stiletto that figured in his murder trial), a Subway sandwich restaurant, a Sprint cell phone store, and a real estate sales office for loft conversions in other nearby historic buildings.

The building is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors are welcome daily and greeted by a government worker who provides historical facts and information about the building. Visitors are allowed up to the first landing but not past it. Brochures and tours are also available. It is close to three other downtown Los Angeles Landmarks: the Grand Central Market and the Million Dollar Theater (across the street) and Angels Flight (two blocks away). The building is accessible from the Los Angeles MTA Red Line via the Civic Center exit three blocks distant.

The Bradbury Building is featured prominently as the setting in films, television, and literature – particularly in the science fiction genre. Most notably, the building is the setting for both the climactic rooftop scene of Blade Runner (1982), as well as the set of the character J. F. Sebastian’s apartment in which much of the film’s story unfolds.

The Bradbury Building appeared prominently in the noir films D.O.A.’(1950) and I, The Jury (1953). M (1951), a remake of the German film, contains a long search sequence filmed in the building, and a spectacular shot through the roof’s skylight. The five-story atrium also substituted for the interior of the seedy skid row hotel depicted in the climax of Good Neighbor Sam (1964), supposedly set in San Francisco but almost entirely shot in Los Angeles.

The Bradbury Building is also featured in The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), The Indestructible Man (1956), Caprice (1967), Marlowe (1969), the 1972 made-for-television movie The Night Strangler, Chinatown (1974), The Cheap Detective (1978), Avenging Angel (1985), Murphy’s Law (1986), The Dreamer of Oz (1990 TV movie), 1994’s Wolf and Disclosure, Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), Pay It Forward (2000), (500) Days of Summer (2009), and The Artist (2011).

Television series that featured the building include the 1964 The Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand.” During the season six episodes (1963–64) of the series 77 Sunset Strip, the Stuart “Stu” Bailey character had his office in the Bradbury. In Quantum Leap the building is seen carrying the name “Gotham Towers” in Play It Again, Seymour, the last episode of the first season (1989). The building appeared in at least one episode of the television series Banyon (1972–73), City of Angels (1976) and Mission: Impossible (1966–73), as well as in the “Ned and Chuck’s Apartment” episode of Pushing Daisies, which debuted in 2007. The building was also the setting for a scene from the series FlashForward in the episode “Let No Man Put Asunder.” In 2010 the building was transplanted to New York City for a two-part episode of CSI NY. The Bradbury Building and a fake New York City subway entrance across the street were also used to represent the exterior of New York’s High School for the Performing Arts in the opening credits of the television series Fame.

The Bradbury appeared in music videos from the 1980s by Heart, Janet Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire and Genesis, and a Pontiac Pursuit commercial. Part of Janet Jackson’s 1989 film short Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 was filmed in the building as well. The interior appears in the music video for the Pointer Sisters’ 1980 song, “He’s So Shy.” The Bradbury Building was also used for Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “Let’s Get Down” music video.

The building was featured in the photography on the Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 box, while the personal computer game SimCity 3000 shows the building as one of many built in the so-called Medium Commercial zones.

The Bradbury has been frequently alluded to in popular literature. In Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, the protagonist refers to Philip Marlowe, who would “feel homesick for the lacework balconies of the Bradbury Building.” In the Star Trek novel The Case of the Colonist’s Corpse: A Sam Cogley Mystery, the protagonist works from the Bradbury Building four hundred years in the future. Other allusions occur in The Man With The Golden Torc by Simon R. Green, and the science fiction multiple novel series The World Of Tiers by Philip Jose Farmer.

DC Comics and Marvel Comics – the latter of which has offices in the real Bradbury Building – both published comic book series based on characters that work in the historic landmark. The building serves as the headquarters for the Marvel Comics team The Order, and in the DC universe, the Human Target runs his private investigation agency from the building.

 

 

Our Move to Mexico

Jess-Poster-shot

Hello folks. My nom de plume is Jess Waid. My hobby in retirement is novel writing. Currently, I am penning my fourth book, a police story. No, I am not a best seller, perhaps because I don’t have the gumption to go out and be a peddler. Did you know there are 22 million books being published each year? That’s a far cry from the 12,000 a decade ago. Of course, thanks to the Internet, most are Print-on-Demand, self-published works that shouldn’t see the light of day. Then there is the Fifty Shades of Grey exception. Whatever.

I mention this only because cheery Karen McConnaughey, apparently thinking I might be able to entertain you by describing my experience traveling from the southern coast of Oregon to Ajijic, Mexico, had no idea what she was unleashing. Actually, I think she expects what I have to say to be informative, perhaps helpful to future travelers. We shall see.

OK, here I go. Having reached my so-called “Golden Years” well ahead of my wife, Barbara, I commenced upon a search for a final place to retire. I sought a location somewhere on this planet that would be kinder to my aging joints than the blustery coast where I’d spent the past ten years. Before that, it was a dozen years on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille, in northern Idaho. Brrr.

When I discovered the Focus on Mexico website, I was intrigued. The year was 2009. That September, Barbara and I participated in their excellent eight-day seminar package, extending our stay several days because we liked the area so well. Soon, we decided that living lakeside in Ajijic was what we wanted to do. The temperate climate, the large lake, the terrain, and the warmth of the Mexican people convinced us.

The malecon, Lake Chapala, Ajijic
The malecon, Lake Chapala, Ajijic

Like most reasonable people, we tried to plan for everything well ahead of our departure date. Before we left Ajijic on that first visit with Focus, we started the process for IMSS coverage, and eventually got our FM3s. Fortunately that occurred before the rules changed. Recently Julie Vargas, our pretty and capable facilitator, advised us that new regulations now require us to change to an FM2 status. But then you likely know that. Hey, this is Mexico.

Folks, I don’t handle major moves well. I believe it has to do with not having had a stable home life as a youngster. So be it. Still, I told myself to take on the transplanting process one final time. I’ve got to say it has been quite an adjustment; one I am still dealing with; one I do not expect to repeat.

OK, on to our move to Mexico.

While in Oregon, Barbara was tasked with getting our personal house in order: bank accounts, utility, telephone/TV service bills for the house, etc., and getting our bookkeeper set up to handle the payroll account for our Mexican restaurant business in Brookings, Oregon.

My assignment was to set about ensuring that our unsold beachfront house and restaurant would be properly maintained; also, that the house-sitter, Maryjane, a talented artist, was up to snuff on the little things that continuously happen to buildings on the coast, due to the salt-laden and blustery air.

FYI, when the house sells, we will have an estate sale, and the big items we wish to keep will be packed, hauled and stored by Strom-White Movers to our Ajijic home.

What vehicle to use for the trip? After much discussion, we decided to keep our 2001 Silverado 1500 model, with its enclosed camper shell. It only had 86,000 miles on it, and best of all, it allowed us to bring down our computers, printers, and sundry personal items. We couldn’t see subjecting a newer vehicle to the narrow cobblestone passages and topes of Ajijic. Nevertheless, for my tummy comfort, I purchased new black wheels (the latest fad) and new tires. I had the pickup gone through completely, fitting it with new spark plugs, ignition wires, hoses, brake assemblies, wiper blades, a thorough cleaning, and a rust-preventive painting of the undercarriage.

Not exactly our vehicle, but here's a 2001 Silverado 1500
Not exactly our vehicle, but here’s a 2001 Silverado 1500

I should mention that earlier, in a Guadalajara paper, we noticed an advertisement for legalizing vehicles for Mexico. Deciding that was a good idea, I contacted Bella Flores Exports in Riverside, California. The owner, David Flores, assured me he could take care of our needs. As one might expect, we had some concerns and questions that, hopefully, his answers would satisfy. That meant a lot of phone tag during the subsequent weeks, a bit frustrating, especially the time when we were told he’d call us back the next day and no call came. We later learned that he was in France negotiating a deal with Fiat and Renault to import cars into Mexico, much cheaper than bringing them in from the States, he informed me.

Anyway, when Flores claimed he could legalize our truck for Mexico for $1100 as opposed to the $3,000 it would cost if we did it after arriving in Ajiic, we said OK. Then he explained that our Chevy pickup had to be empty. That meant unloading it at daughter DeDe’s hilltop home in Jamul, California, 128 mostly freeway miles south of Bella Flores. We had no choice but to do so.

Meanwhile, we sent him the original pink slip for the Silverado, along with copies of our Oregon insurance papers, our drivers’ licenses, and a utility bill from our future home in Ajijic proving our Mexican residence. This all occurred weeks in advance of our planned departure date. It was during this period that the phone tag took place.

Per Flores’ instructions, we delivered our empty truck to the Riverside address on a Wednesday afternoon, only to find his office closed. Numerous other businesses were located in the building, so I talked to the receptionist in the downstairs lobby, and she contacted him by phone. Fifteen or so minutes later, Flores’ assistant arrived. The man was pleasant but had no specific answers to my questions. So my daughter and I waited another ten minutes for his boss’ arrival.

When Flores showed up, he had his assistant examine our truck while Flores filled out some papers.  He asked me what the amount of the fee was that he’d quoted to me on the phone. I told him $1,100. He gave me a look of doubt, and pulled out a sheet of paper with figures for different types of vehicles. The fee for my truck was $1,600. He apologized for any misunderstanding, and said he would waive the $150 he normally charged for his personal services, whatever that meant. I thanked him.

Already committed to the process, I signed the agreement. Then he told me how fortunate I was, as Mexican federal law required all vehicles to be “smog certified,” but that it was the individual Mexican state’s prerogative whether or not to require the certification. He said that Jalisco had decided to adopt the federal smog law on January 1st and that meant registered owners, many of whom he suggested would be caught unaware, would have to bring their vehicles up to standard at a cost of around $500. I thought the difference between $1,100 and 1,600 I was paying very interesting.

Next, he told me I could retrieve my Chevy pickup on Friday at 6 o’clock.

On that day, DeDe drove me to Riverside early to avoid the expected heavy traffic. We arrived in town at 3 o’clock. Thankfully, the weather was pleasant because we found ourselves waiting outside the Bella Flores office well into the dark hours, when my pickup was finally delivered. Flores had called earlier and said his hauler was delayed at the border. In a subsequent call around 7 o’clock, he said they were only 30 minutes away as they were in Colton, a nearby town. Actually, it was 90 minutes later.

Apparently, the actual reason for the delay was something else. In retrospect I think I know why, because later, Flores said the camper shell, considered an accessory, meant there would be duty fees attached. I remember when we dropped off the truck, the assistant checked it over for damages, et cetera. It is reasonable that he told Flores about the shell.  So, did Flores, for whatever reason, wish to avoid the extra fee, and have the shell removed and stored in Colton before hauling it to the border for the legalizing process? I think so. Likely the delay was because they were remounting the shell.

At this point I must jump to the present. Several days ago we met with Julie Vargas at her “satellite office” at the Chapala de Real Hotel. The purpose was to ensure there would be no problem picking up our Jalisco license plates for the Chevy truck. Boy, was I glad we did. Julie said there were several steps that had to be gone through, including getting a letter from the police clearing our vehicle, and then going to Guadalajara at 5:30 a.m., likely standing in line indefinitely, and signing papers and paying a fee. Gloria is handling all of that for us. Yes, more pesos left my wallet, but soon we will have our truck properly legalized. I don’t know why David Flores didn’t advise us about the subsequent steps and fees that would be required.

OK, back to our move to Mexico.

Early Saturday morning found DeDe, Barbara and me loading the truck, getting all of our stuff stashed securely. It took us a good hour. Yes, the warm weather had me swiping at my wet forehead.

Guess what? When I tried to close the rear hatch, it wouldn’t seal. More sweat beads dripped from me when I discovered why.

The camper shell was skewed nearly two inches forward on the truck’s bedsides. Obviously, it had been reset on the bed in the nighttime hours, and likely in a hurry. To get to the mounting bolts meant unloading the bed. That wasn’t about to happen.

DeDe gave me three bungee cords to keep the shell’s rear lid shut while in transit.

Securing the lid was a security issue and a minor inconvenience on our nightly stops, when I had to unload dog crates and food bowls. Oh, guess I forgot to mention that we brought along our three small dogs: Beau, a 10 year-old six pound Papillon; Teri, a 10 year-old 14 pound Papillon mix; and, Chico, a two year-old 16 pound Schnoodle (papa a Poodle/,mama a Schnauzer).

A last comment about the truck situation: when we unloaded it in Ajijic, I discovered that the brake light wires to the shell had not been reconnected, so the added safety feature was missing during the drive. Not critical; we did have the regular taillights that worked.

Had Flores told me about the shell being lifted off, however, I would have checked to see that it was mounted properly. I’d gone through the process before we left Brookings when I’d removed the shell to repaint the truck bed. I knew it had to be squarely mounted to ensure the rear lid would seal. Ah well.

When we left Jamul, we headed for Camp Verde, Arizona to pick up our new pet, a nine-week-old Doberman Pinscher with ears freshly cropped. Ouch! I found Thor online when we decided, because of all the horror stories about bad guys in Mexico, that we should have a dog specially bred for protection. What attracted us to the Arizona breeder was the size of their dogs. Thor is expected to reach 30 inches at the shoulders and weigh close to 130 pounds. I recently invested in a grain shovel.

Our four-legged security system, Thor, at four weeks
Our four-legged security system, Thor, at four weeks

We spent the next night, Sunday, our first with four dogs, in Rio Rico, a small town 14 miles north of the border. It was a lovely, pet friendly hotel. Barbara had spent much time searching out such inns along our planned route. What had made it difficult was her not knowing what nights we would be arriving where, due to the phone tags with Flores and being unable to learn the exact date for delivery/pick up of the truck until we were already heading south. It’s a two-day drive to Riverside from Oregon.

In fact, Barbara spent hours online searching pet-friendly websites, like bringfido.com, gringodogs.com, and others including hotels.com. What she found was all of them were out of date, and their website information inaccurate. For instance, when she contacted the listed hotels in Guaymas, she was told they didn’t accept pets.

Go figure.

Obviously, this entailed changing our planned itinerary once we crossed the border.

Our advice: contact the hotels directly to ensure accurate information if you intend to bring your pets.  I suspect they have different rules for high and low seasons. Barbara finally called a number listed on a website for a hotel and got hotels.com.  She had the representative actually call the hotels in Los Mochis and Mazatlan to make sure that they were in fact pet friendly. Our stays in both locations were as pleasant as one might expect, having four dogs to contend with, one a puppy that wasn’t about to be left alone.

Our biggest surprise, a pleasant one at that, was the actual crossing of the border. We had all our paperwork in hand ready to show to the authorities. As we wheeled up to the guard kiosks and observed the dark-clad troops with their automatic weapons slung from their shoulders, I prepared myself mentally for the unknown. I envisioned getting the scary red light, then unloading the truck, and showing proof of ownership papers for the dogs, their shot records indicating they’d been properly inoculated within the past ten days, and that nine-week old Thor was three months old (the information about dogs needing to be three months old was confusing. As a precaution, the “dobie” people had pre-dated Thor’s whelping date).

Perhaps it was the holographic decal in the upper right corner of the windshield or maybe our rather non-descript and tightly loaded truck, but they merely glanced at us as the green light flashed. Our travails with Bella Flores had been worthwhile.

We were waved through!

A, the charm of crossing the USA-Mexico border.
A, the charm of crossing the USA-Mexico border.

Not convinced of our good fortune, I drove several kilometers, continuously checking the side-view mirrors for the policia and the federales before I accepted reality and found my breathing returning to normal.

Because of the pet-friendly hotel fiasco (finding a place to stay), the day we drove to Los Mochis found us riding along for nine plus hours. I had planned to be on the road for a maximum five hours because of the dogs. Thankfully, our pets put up with the rather cramped space on a blanket laid over suitcases behind us. We kept the extended cab’s rear and side windows open along with the AC fan for the entire trip

We used only the toll roads when available—one glimpse of the free (libramiento) roads quickly had us shelling out the pesos at the tollbooths. The fees varied at each one, and I gave up trying to reason why. All of the attendants were pleasant.

The route south was easy to follow, until we left Mazatlan. Ongoing roadwork had me missing the dirt transition lane (poor signage, plus I was behind a dump truck and couldn’t see the road ahead very well) to the toll road. We ended up in Concordia about half a marathon’s distance east of Mazatlan. It was a fringe benefit for me, as the small town, noted for its furniture makers, many of them of French descent, is where my father was born in 1911.

A bit of traffic in Guadalajara
A bit of traffic in Guadalajara

The downside of the scenic detour was it used up a critical hour, as I had planned to arrive in Guadalajara before the peak traffic hour. We hit it at five o’clock.

Aiee chihuahua! Never again.