Monthly Archives: January 2013

A reunion of car model makers



PHOENIX — By 1953, Anthony Joslin’s parents had saved $3,000, and earmarked it for sending their son to college. But Mr. Joslin was able to pay for his own tuition, room and board at North Carolina State University after winning a scholarship for the 1/12-scale car model he designed and built.

Like millions of other teenage boys from 1930 to 1968, Mr. Joslin entered the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild, an annual car-building and design competition sponsored by General Motors, which asserted that eight million teenagers participated in the guild.

Mr. Joslin and many other guild alumni gathered here last weekend for a reunion, sharing their stories and the model cars they have cherished all these years.


The models are worthy of being cherished. They are futuristic visions of the highway from the 1950s and ’60s, much like a miniature version of General Motors own Motorama dream car shows. Typically, a young man spent 700 to 800 hours creating his scale-model car from wood or plaster or in a few cases, from metal.


In the early years of the guild, boys were challenged to use a set of plans they were provided to build an elaborate scale model of the horse-drawn coach that was Fisher Body’s emblem. Fisher Body manufactured car bodies for all General Motors divisions.

In the early years of the guild, the goal was to identify young men with those skills that might be employed in making cars.

After World War II, it was future car designers the company sought, and thus the original 1/12th-scale models.

At North Carolina State, Mr. Joslin studied industrial, not automotive design, and afterward had a career designing instruments, computers and other products for Hewlett Packard.

For Paul Tatseos, winning a Craftsman’s Guild scholarship not only enabled him to go to college, but also to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., a school known for its automotive design program. After college, Mr. Tatseos worked as a designer at G.M. for 35 years.

Mr. Tatseos grew up in Boston. “My father said, ‘You live within walking distance of M.I.T. and Harvard and you’ve decided you want to go to college in California?’” Mr. Tatseos recalled at the reunion.

The scholarship program had an even more striking impact on the Simone family from Providence, R.I. e brothers Jerry, Eugene and Anthony all entered and won scholarships. Jerry Simone spent five years as a designer at Ford before going to pharmacy school. After college, Eugene Simone worked for 45 years at Merrill Lynch. Anthony Simone became a teacher and international school administrator, working around the world and at the United Nations.

“Our father was a tool-and-die maker,” Anthony Simone said at the reunion.

“Mother and father always said we were going to college, but that there was no money in the till for it,” Eugene Simone added.


But with the scholarships they won for their car design and building skills, the Simone sons were able to attend college.

The Fisher Body scholarships benefited the boys who won and their families as well. With Mr. Joslin attending college on his scholarship, his parents could use the money they’d saved to buy the only house they ever owned.

Ciro’s & the Trocadero


1941, Ciro's Nightclub


Ciro’s (also known as Ciro’s Le Disc) was a nightclub in West Hollywood, California, at 8433 Sunset Boulevard, on the Sunset Strip, opened in January 1940, by entrepreneur William Wilkerson. Herman Hover took over management of Ciro’s in 1942 until it closed its doors in 1957. Hover filed for bankruptcy in 1959, and Ciro’s was sold at public auction for $350,000.

Ciro’s combined an overdone baroque interior with an unadorned exterior, and became a famous hangout for movie people of the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s. It was one of “the” places to be seen, and guaranteed being written about in the gossip columns of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons.

Among the galaxy of celebrities who frequented Ciro’s were Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Sidney Poitier, Anita Ekberg, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Joan Crawford, Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers, Ronald Reagan, Dean Martin, Mickey Rooney, Cary Grant, George Raft, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Judy Garland, June Allyson and Dick Powell, Mamie Van Doren, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Benny, Peter Lawford, and Lana Turner (who often said Ciro’s was her favorite nightspot) among many others. During his first visit to Hollywood in the late 1940s, future President John F. Kennedy dined at Ciro’s.

In the 1960s, Ciro’s became a Sunset Strip rock and roll club, and was the only major venue to make such a transition while keeping its original name. The Byrds got their start there in 1964. Accounts of the period (reproduced in the sleeve notes to The Preflyte Sessions box set) describe a “church-like” atmosphere, with interpretive dancing. The club also served as the host during the recording of the 1965 Dick Dale album “Rock Out With Dick Dale: Live At Ciro’s.”

Co-founder Wilkerson also opened other nightclubs on the Sunset Strip such as Cafe Trocadero, and later The Flamingo in Las Vegas.

The site of Ciro’s became The Comedy Store in 1972.

Notable performers





In West Hollywood, California, the Cafe Trocadero was the center of jitterbug craze in the 1930s. Today, a ” new” Trocadero stands as a nightclub at 8610 Sunset Boulevard on the Sunset Strip. A black tie, French-inspired supper club, the original Trocadero, now demolished, was considered the jewel of the Strip in the 1930s, and became synonymous with stars, starlets, movie producers, and fun. Founded by William R. Wilkerson in 1934, the successful publisher of The Hollywood Reporter who owned other nightclubs nearby on the Sunset Strip like Ciro’s and LaRue. It was also the scene of many famous movie premiere parties. There was a mid 1940s low-budget film about the Trocadero and its history starring Ralph Morgan which bore little resemblance to reality.

Among the celebrities who frequented the Trocadero were Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Jackie Gleason, Henry Fonda, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Jean Harlow, and Norma Shearer. The Trocadero was featured in the 1937 movie, A Star is Born starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. That same year, vaudevillian and Three Stooges manager Ted Healy died shortly after a fight in the parking lot, allegedly at the hands of fellow contractee Wallace Beery and MGM studio executive Eddie Mannix. A 2004 documentary film claimed that Healy’s assailants were actually Wallace Beery, gangster Pat DiCicco, and DiCicco’s cousin Albert “Cubby” Broccoli.

Actress/comedienne Thelma Todd, who died mysteriously in December 1935, spent an evening at the Trocadero at a party thrown by Ida Lupino and her father Stanley. Todd had formerly been married to Pat DiCicco, and was angry that he had shown up there with another actress, Margaret Lindsay. The party was one of the last times she was seen alive.

The dance club was parodied in the 1938 Warner Bros. cartoon, Porky at the Crocadero. The club also received a brief mention, via actual film footage, in 1944’s What’s Cookin’ Doc?.


Parker Center — end of an LA era



After over 60 years of service, on Tuesday, January 15th at 2 PM, the Los Angeles Police Department closed the tinted, large glass doors for the last time to its headquarters in Parker Center, located downtown at 150 North Los Angeles Street.

Originally called the Police Administration Building (PAB), groundbreaking for the Center occurred on December 30, 1952, and construction was completed in 1955. The architect was Welton Becket. The building combined police facilities that had been located throughout the Civic Center area. The location was previously home to the Olympic Hotel.

The PAB was a state of the art facility, and the envy of other police departments across the nation. So great was the demand for public tours that the Department assigned policewomen full-time for the first year to give tours several times a day.

It was later renamed in honor of Chief William H. Parker, who died in office on July 16, 1966 from a heart attack. Chief since 1950, he helped establish the LAPD’s reputation as a world leader in law enforcement.


Soon after his death, the Los Angeles City Council renamed the building “Parker Center.” The building was one of the sites of unrest during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, following a not-guilty verdict for the four police officers involved in the Rodney King matter.



Probably Parker Center’s greatest early notoriety began with the fifth season in 1955 of the television drama by Jack Webb’s Mark VII Productions, Dragnet, and again in the late 1960’s when the show returned to TV, this time in color.




This was only the start. The PAB appeared in several establishing shots for the Perry Mason TV series between 1958 and 1966. This was followed by the popular NBC drama Hunter that also used the building in its sixth and seventh seasons, as did the TNT series The Closer. Parker Center is also featured as one of the main locations in Police Quest: Open Season, the fourth installment of the Police Quest series, a 1993 PC video game by Sierra Entertainment.

Parker Center is often mentioned in the novels of the Harry Bosch series, written by Michael Connelly.

Featured as a backdrop in countless other movie and television features over the decades, Parker Center was a place where the line between art and real-life truly blurred.

At times art imitated life, and at times life imitated art in the fictional and real life dramas that unfolded at Parker Center. High profile investigations took place there, and it was not unusual for occasional big-name celebrities to be booked into the Parker Center Jail—tagged “the glass house” by arrestees because of its large glass-walled holding tanks—on anything from minor charges up to homicide.

It also was the scene of occasional public protests and raucous police commission meetings. If the PAB’s walls were to talk, how much they would have to say!





With time, the Parker Center became outdated and was in need of expensive seismic retrofits. After considering a number of downtown sites for a new facility, the city council selected a property directly south of City Hall, Caltrans‘ former Los Angeles headquarters. Ground was broken for the new building in January 2007. It was dedicated on October 24, 2009.

Since 2009, Parker Center continued to house portions of the Department’s Scientific Investigations Division (SID). This division has since been transferred to the nearby C. Erwin Piper Technical Building.

Until recently LAPD’s Robbery – Homicide Division operated from a Parker Center annex.

The heliport at the new facility is marked with an ‘H’. The Parker Center’s heliport was marked with a ‘5’.

Viva Mexico!




The following blogpost was written by Terry Denton. As a recently arrived resident of Mexico, I found it well worth sharing.


The Media’s Myopia

If you look up myopia in the free you will find it defined as ” . . . a visual defect in which distant objects appear blurred because their images are focused in front of the retina rather than on it; nearsightedness.”  What you won’t find there, but probably should, are pictures of almost every major U.S. cable and broadcast news network.

Most of us have long since figured out that the 24-hour news cycle demands a relentless stream of drama dripping, nerve-jangling “Breaking News” alerts every half-hour. God forbid eyeballs should be allowed to wander. That reality is unfortunate on a number of levels, but nowhere more so than here where an entire noble nation is callously maligned.

Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that the media “has it in for” Mexico. Not at all. This is not another rant against media bias. What I do maintain, however, is that in their insatiable thirst for the salacious, Mexico and its 112 million proud people are in the minds of the media – assuming they bother to think about such things at all – unfortunate collateral damage. Just like the definition above, the media’s image of Mexico is blurred precisely because their focus is on one relatively small, admittedly ugly reality and thus falls woefully short of the retina of responsible reportage.

As an unrepentant lover of Mexico, I confess it is hard not to take this personally. What if day after day you had to read gross exaggerations, half-truths and outright, and often outrageous, lies about someone you cherished? You don’t need to respond to my rhetorical question because we both know that it would make your blood boil. So imagine how I feel, laboring away in the vineyards of travel and being subjected to a flood of negative news reports about Mexico, a country of incredible beauty, rich history and some of the finest people God ever planted on this planet.


The Three Metrics That Matter

Let’s turn our attention to three practical metrics you can use for measuring the safety of Mexico.

Metric One:  Geography



Allow me to share a couple of realities that seldom get mentioned by the media.  The first is the fact that the vast majority of the security problems in Mexico are restricted to towns along the border and a few other scattered sites. It is worth noting that Mexico has over 2500 municipalities, and security problems have been concentrated in just 18 of them. You probably won’t run across this embarrassing little jewel either, embarrassing to the US that is. It almost makes you question the wisdom of staying at home.

The second fact rarely discussed is the immense size of Mexico (roughly the size of Western Europe) and the distances between historical hot spots and resort cities. Take a look at the map below. You may be surprised to discover that it is roughly 1000 miles from Juarez to Cancun, and almost 800 miles from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas. How head-scratchingly strange we here in the U.S. would find it if a potential visitor from a foreign country shared with us that he was apprehensive about visiting San Diego because he had heard of a recent ugly incident in New Orleans.


Metric Two:  Statistics

4-305-Cancun Mexico Beach

Here are a few interesting facts you probably have not heard in the media:

1)              The Mexican Ministry of Tourism revealed that 2011 was a record-breaking year for tourism with 23.4 million international travelers visiting Mexico in 2011.

2)              The Mexican Ministry of Tourism announced that 4.99 million international tourists visited Mexico between January-April 2012, representing an increase of 5.3 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

3)              Mexico is currently rated 10th in the world rankings for most international visitors, and has publicly set a goal to be in the top 5 by 2018.

4)              There are currently no US travel advisories in place for popular tourist destinations like Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum, the Riviera Nayarit, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende, Leon or even Mexico City.


Metric Three:  Experience



If you were to ask me the number one reason I believe Mexico is safe I would say it is based on my own personal experience. I have been traveling there for over 25 years, multiple times many years, without ever once being threatened or harassed. My story is but one of millions as the statistics above corroborate.

If you would like to hear some real stories from real people talking about the real Mexico, just visit the Mexico Taxi Project. These are unscripted comments from consumers just like you on their way home from the airport upon returning to the US. OK, there may be a couple of folks in those clips still feeling the negative effects of over-indulgence but hey, hangovers don’t reach the threat threshold set for this blog post.



I hope I have demonstrated that striking Mexico off your list of vacation destinations based solely on money driven media reports is, dare I say it, illogical, irrational and well, myopic. The real shame is that you are depriving yourself of one of the most value centered travel experiences available anywhere in the world. Mexico has world-class hotels, incredible dining, exciting activities and rich traditions, all tendered to the world by humble masters of unparalleled service.


200397092-001_mexico city_tcm530-378257


Unfortunately, this poor blogger doesn’t have a prayer by himself of making the least dint in the news coverage of Mexico. Unbowed and undeterred, however, I shall keep on lending my own voice to many others crying in the wilderness. I shall attend Mexico, I shall defend Mexico, I shall recommend Mexico!  My only hope is your decision, fellow traveler, when it is made, will be based on a basic grasp of geography, a familiarity with a few simple statistics and a confident reliance on the consistent testimony of a legion of travelers to Mexico with irrefutable firsthand knowledge.

Whatever you eventually decide, I will fully respect your decision. But please—and again I say please, don’t let a myopic media’s thirst for mayhem rob you of experiencing one of the world’s great treasures. Take if from one who knows, you will be the poorer for it.

The Gamewell




The police call box, or callbox, is a metal box containing a special-purpose direct line telephone or other telecommunications device. Before the introduction of two-way radios, some police agencies installed call boxes at various street locations as a way for beat officers to report to their dispatch office.

In 1852, Dr. William Channing and Moses G. Farmer developed the first practical fire alarm system, utilizing the telegraph system. Two years later, they applied for a patent for their “Electromagnetic Fire Alarm Telegraph for Cities.”

In 1855, John Gamewell of South Carolina, purchased regional rights to market the fire alarm telegraph. He obtained the patents and full rights to the system in 1859.

During the Civil War, the government seized the patents. John F. Kennard subsequently bought the patents and returned them to Gamewell.

In 1867 the two men formed a partnership, Kennard and Co., to manufacture the alarm systems. The Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Co. was established in 1879.




Gamewell call box systems were installed in 250 cities by 1886, growing to 500 cities by 1890.  A new factory was opened in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts. By 1910, Gamewell had gained a 95% market share.



Today the company is called Gamewell-FCI (Fire Control Instruments), and is owned by Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions. They develop self-programming, networked, and sophisticated voice evacuation systems.

“Let’s fire it up!”





Sgt. II, Pat Connelly retired from the LAPD in 1996.  He was elected to the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club (LAPRAAC ) Board of Directors, and presently serves in the retirement position. A member of the Baker to Vegas Race Committee, Connelly was appointed the “Official B to V Team Coach & Coordinator.”



A while back, I went to the Police Academy in Elysian Park to attend a LAPRAAC Board of Directors meeting. I walked past the security office and up the road to the Chief Daryl F. Gates Lounge. Making my way, I passed between the familiar stone walls on each side of the roadway. My walk brought back memories of the first time I did so, over 46 years ago.

Before the Watts Riots in August 1965, I joined the LAPD Reserve Corps. My training commenced on a Saturday morning in the Academy gym. Greeting our class were Officer Les Jenkins and Sergeant George Morrison (the late Morrison retired at the rank of Commander). Both men were spit and polish; standing tall in Class A uniforms, impressing all 30 members of a nervous and unsuspecting recruit reserve class.

The first thing Sgt. Morrison did after mustering the class, was speak about the heritage and history of the Los Angeles Police Academy, and the role that LAPRAAC played in its development.

Starting at the two rock pillars supporting the arcing Police Academy sign, the two men in blue took us on a tour of the grounds. As we walked along, Sgt Morrison pointed out different structures, landscaping, and memorable and historical landmarks. He spoke softly, and the steady tempo of his words radiated his strong sense of pride. It was obvious he was honored to be a member of the LAPD, as well as a member and in his day a noted athlete in LAPRAAC.

Sgt. Morrison explained the rock formations that divide the narrow roadway and then stated, “As you can see,, the walls are made of slabs of concrete, broken chunks of sidewalk brought up here in 1935 by trustees and a cadre of police officers. I will say more on this project later.”

As we walked, he told us the Academy’s history and how it became what it was on that day in 1965 and still is today.

In 1926, Chief James Davis was instrumental in the development and the formalizing of training for officers. The first such training was held in an armory downtown, where officers were instructed in all aspects of criminal justice and street police training. However, no firearms training was provided, except for a makeshift firing range behind the Lincoln Heights station. Today, it is known as Hollenbeck Station.

In 1931, Chief Davis set his sights on obtaining an area in the City of Los Angeles that would provide a formal shooting range for firearms instruction, qualification (including a bonus shoot) and shooting practice. Griffith Park was first suggested, but subsequently disapproved by the Recreation and Parks Commission. An alternative site in Elysian Park, consisting of 21 hillside acres, was then selected and approved; the rugged land was situated above Chavez Ravine.

Chief Davis put out a call throughout the Department for any officers skilled in building, and in electrical and plumbing installation. Sgt. Henry Fricket, assigned Lincoln Heights Station, was the first officer to answer the call. He applied his expertise in carpentry, constructing a 25-yard enclosed pit area, target frames, and firing points. The Department finally had a place to improve one’s shooting skills with the newly approved .45 caliber revolver. Officer Ronald French was the first range master.

In early 1931, eight officers formed a competitive pistol (revolver) team. The “Bulls Eye” shooting specialists were Chief James Davis, and Officers Stanley Stone, Jack Bartley, Joe Dircks, Bud Buchanan, R. J. Ward, J.J. Engbecht, and Mark Wheeler. The team was the first of many championship pistol teams to earn prestige and national fame for the Department and LAPRAAC.

The 25-yard range design and construction was professionally laid out and so complete that it was chosen as the venue for the 1932 Summer Olympic Games pistol competition.

In the fall of 1934, the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club filed and obtained legal status. It then took on the responsibility of maintaining the Academy grounds. Under the supervision of Chief Davis (at the time he was President of the LAPRAAC Board of Directors), Sgt William H. Parker, also a lawyer, was assigned to draw up the necessary documents. Sgt. Parker would later become Chief of Police and rebuild what had been a corrupt entity into a professional police department, respected throughout the world. A bust of Chief Parker, commemorating his contributions during his long and distinguished career, currently stands in an honored spot on the Academy grounds.

Once the legal paperwork was approved, signed and delivered, the “club” started focusing on recreational and athletic outlets for its membership.

Officer Fred Eberhart obtained the services of the Department of Forestry. This action brought pine trees and shrubs to the Academy that stand today. Club members supervised 400 trusties that were put to work constructing the rock garden, landscaping, and building the pair of entry pillars and high walls traversing up the hill alongside the Academy roadway. The walls, made of rock and concrete chunks, had been pedestrian walkways on both sides of Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.

Tons of concrete from the sidewalks torn out for road widening, utilizing a federal worker program (WPA) during the Depression, were transported to Elysian Park. In addition, the Department of Fish and Game donated 200 quail, 18 gray squirrels, and many fish to create a natural habitat within the hillside rock garden and its several waterfalls and shaped pools.

The first building constructed at the Academy had been an Olympic Village mess hall, located in Baldwin Hills during the 1932 Summer Games. It now is called the Chief Daryl F. Gates Lounge. Club members disassembled the building and reassembled it at its present location. After its completion, a large pool and athletic field and track were constructed across the street.

To cover the cost, members of the Department donated 1% of one month’s salary.

The Academy’s first graduating class of forty recruits, numbers 1-36, called their group “Club 40.” A plaque is on display honoring their place in Academy history. A photograph of class members is on the wall in the public café. The first female class graduated ten years later, in 1946.

The indoor gymnasium was constructed in 1935 at a cost of $181,000. Included in the project were a stage, a locker room, handball courts, administrative offices, billiards room, barbershop, beauty salon, steam room, and a massage alcove. A licensed masseur was available.

Officer Bob Burke (retired LAPRAAC Club Athletic Director) revealed a legendary story about a closet in the Academy Commanding Officer’s office. At one time it opened to a wet bar, designed and constructed for the comfort (possibly on and off duty) of Chief James Davis. Burke says if one looks hard, one will see a piece of the old liquor cabinet still in the office.

Only months after the start of WW II, police recruits in training lived on the grounds; they were allowed to go home on the weekends. A barracks type bunkroom was set up in the present day lounge. A small, separate, square-shaped building just inside the wall near the security office, is where meals were served. That area and the barbeque pit are still present. The building used to be the Law Instructor’s Unit; it currently is leased to a commercial real estate business.

A consultant for the residents’ living and training needs was Melvin Furbish, a retired Marine Corps general. General Furbish patterned discipline of the recruits after his beloved Corps. He included the class “A” uniform style worn today by the Department, and still worn by the USMC.

Another Academy landmark is the concrete seating area on the athletic field. The long and tiered seating, three levels high, is located behind home plate, where LAPRAAC’s baseball team plays. Many Department participants were former college and semi-professional baseball players. They played other local pro teams, including the Hollywood Stars and the Los Angeles Angels, as well as university teams from USC and UCLA. The LAPD diamond-field hardball athletes have won their fair share of games.

On March 3, 2013, the Department baseball team will have been playing continuously for 100 years.

A former member of a LAPRAAC post-WWII baseball team was my watch commander at West Valley Division (1967), Lt. Frank Mullins. At the age of 48, he participated on the Department’s long distance running/relay team, sponsored by LAPRAAC. Frank retired out of Robbery-Homicide Division, RHD. He loved to talk about the Club’s all-star team and how proud he was to wear the LAPD logo on his baseball uniform.

Frank’s baseball-playing name was “Moon” Mullins. He got his nickname playing shortstop as a member of the Chicago Cub’s farm team, the Vancouver Canucks. His moniker is not to be confused with 1959 Dodger, Wally Moon. However they did have one thing in common: hitting a home run, a short distance over a high fence.

Moon claimed he mastered his swing with a flick of his wrist, often hitting a very high pop fly over the Academy’s 50-foot-tall right field fence. The arcing balls would either bounce onto the road and roll down to Chavez Ravine, or would splash into the pool. An unlucky class recruit, usually on discipline, had the task of retrieving each ball.

Lieutenant Frank “Moon” Mullins, a Medal of Valor winner, passed away in 2010. He is another part of Academy history.

Sergeant George Morrison ended his Academy history lesson and tour where it started an hour earlier. He closed by stating (I believe with a tear), “Don’t ever take this place for granted. Be respectful of its history and legacy and be thankful for all the Department personnel who funded, sacrificed, and labored to make this place unique in American law enforcement, along with its notable athletic history. Now you can enjoy a place to recreate, increase your physical fitness, and have family and partner privacy. Complementing all we have seen today, you too, can proudly wear a sports competition uniform displaying the logo LAPD/ LAPRAAC.”

So you wanna be a paperback writer?



(The New York Times is always a great source of news and (usually) thoughtful commentary on literary matters. I thought this brief overview of the differences between the two main types of paperback books out there — mass market and trade — might be of interest to readers and authors alike. So with the indulgence of our friends at the Times, here it is — and by the way, be sure to check out the Times’ various best-seller lists at the end of this post).


Besides being somewhat larger in size, trade paperbacks are generally printed on more expensive paper and with sturdier binding. Because they are more expensive to produce they are higher in price and often (not always) printed in smaller numbers. Unlike mass-market paperbacks, which are usually sold on racks, trade paperbacks are sold in bookstores (“to the trade”) and are shelved with their spines facing out, like hardcovers. Sometimes they are sold on display tables, lying flat so that customers can respond to their cover art. Trade paperbacks may be originals, which are not preceded by a hardcover edition, or reprints of hardcovers. A trade paperback, in short, is the book you’d want to be reading if you were sitting at Les Deux Magots and Simone de Beauvoir was looking straight at you.

In recent years, the distinction between mass-market and trade paperbacks has been eroding. So while content and genre no longer determine whether a book is a mass-market or trade paperback, the book’s size, the quality of its paper, the way it is displayed, its price, the way it is distributed and the place it is sold all go into the definition. R. R. Bowker, the company that assigns International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) to books published in the United States, has developed codes and identifiers that define which books are trade paperbacks and which are mass-market.

You may still wonder why we decided to separate the mass-market and trade best-seller lists. The reason is that mass-market books — no surprise — tend to sell in larger numbers than trade. A list based on the number of copies a paperback sells will usually be dominated by mass-market. (Similarly, advice and self-help books sell more than most general nonfiction, and they dominated the nonfiction best-seller list until they got their own property in 1984.) But the Book Review — like most review media — focuses on trade fiction. These are the novels that reading groups choose and college professors teach. On the paperback best-seller list for Sept. 16, the week before we switched to the new system, only 7 of the 15 entries were trade fiction, but the new list of Sept. 23 presents 20 trade paperbacks. The seven books that made the list the week before, including “The Kite Runner” and “The Alchemist,” are still there, near the top of the list. But now there’s also room for Irène Némirovsky’s “Suite Française” and Kiran Desai’s “Inheritance of Loss.” And there’s a fuller listing for mass-market novels and paperback nonfiction as well.


Inside the LAPD’s elite airborne unit



(Originally published in the Palisades Post online, January 3, 2013, by staff writer Reza Gostar)


Negotiating traffic on Sunset Boulevard and PCH may be challenging for police officers on the ground, but not for officers piloting the airborne units of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Air Support Division (ASD).

These elite helicopter units have become legendary not only in movies like ‘Blue Thunder’ and ‘Terminator 2,’ but also on the streets where they are often referred to as ‘ghetto birds’ by the criminals they chase.

Somewhere over southeast L.A. on December 20, LAPD Pilot David Swanson is flying a AStar B-2 helicopter to the scene of a potential robbery. The victim’s neighbor has spotted the two suspects, Swanson tells a Palisadian-Post reporter who is along for the ride.

Tactical Flight Officer Renee Muro, a veteran LAPD officer and one of only seven women in the ASD, is listening to several police radios simultaneously as she coordinates the response. In less than four minutes, the helicopter arrives at its destination and, down below, neighbors are peeking out of their homes to see what all the commotion is about.

Swanson keeps the helicopter at 600 to 700 feet in elevation as he circles the perimeter. This is standard practice for LAPD helicopter pilots, who avoid hovering in one place. They keep the aircraft moving because in case of an emergency, such as a malfunction, there needs to be enough wind speed built up for the blades so the pilot can attempt to land. News media helicopters fly 500 feet above the police to avoid interfering with any activity.

On the streets below, the scene is chaotic. Curious neighbors have started to come out of their homes, adding to the number of bodies visible by air. Suddenly, Muro, who is not using binoculars, spots two pairs of sneakers underneath one of the home’s overhangs and quickly coordinates with the officers on the ground. Within minutes, the two suspected robbers are placed in custody.

Not three minutes go by before Muro picks up another call over the radio’this time a gunshot victim. The helicopter is again the first to arrive and quickly directs the first responders to the victim.

‘This is a known gang and drug area,’ Swanson says, adding that it is unlikely that any witnesses will come forward. After he and Muro canvas the perimeter, the calls begin to slow and the helicopter sweeps over congested freeways to Venice, and then to Pacific Palisades.

‘I landed there once when I had engine trouble,’ says Swanson, pointing down to the Field of Dreams at the Palisades Recreation Center. He was one of the units that responded to a burglary call at a home on Alma Real Drive last August. (The Post ran a photo of the downed helicopter.)

Established in 1956 by a group of Korean War veterans, the ASD units are in the air 20 hours a day patrolling L.A.’s 470-plus square miles of steel, chaparral and concrete landscapes. ‘We try to be as proactive as we can,’ said Lt. Phillip Smith, assistant commanding officer.

‘The helicopters get up to 140-150 miles per hour,’ Smith said. ‘If I leave the deck here [at the LAPD Hopper heliport near Union Station] and get a call way out in Chatsworth, it’s probably going to take me seven or eight minutes but that can still seem like forever when you have an officer screaming for help.’

Separated by the Santa Monica Mountains, there are two police helicopters patrolling at any given time. One works the San Fernando Valley and the other handles everything south of the Cahuenga Pass, Smith said, noting that rapid response is the reason why the helicopters remain in constant flight.

‘We are a force multiplier’that’s really what we do,’ Smith said. ‘We do the job of between six and eight police cars out there. ‘

Smith said that ASD helicopters are able to quickly determine if indeed there was a crime and whether or not additional units are needed. ‘Our big thing is getting to the scene and offering some security, and painting a visual picture for the officers responding.’

The Air Support Division, which averages more than 300 police car pursuit calls a year, currently operates 19 helicopters, including 14 Eurocopter Astar B-2s, four Bell Jet Rangers, and one recently acquired Bell Uh-1H (Huey) that is replacing an older one that retired about four years ago. The Huey is used by the division’s special flights section for special operations, which involve such missions as rapelling Special Weapons and Tactics officers onto the tops of buildings and other operational activities, Smith said.

The ASD staff and personnel include 35 police officer pilots, 10 sergeants who are pilots, three lieutenant pilots, 28 tactical flight officers, which totals to about 100 staff members, counting civilian employees and support staff. Some officers serve as both tactical flight officers (TFOs) and pilots, Smith said. However, all of the TFO and pilots have to serve as regular patrol officers for at least five years before being considered for a position in the elite division.

How effective is the ASD? Of the 51,000-plus incidents that the ASD responded to last year, ‘probably 16,000 times we were the first on scene,’ said Smith, who moonlights for the security firm ACS in the Palisades once a week.

Many aspects of the ASD’s missions are classified, such as their special radiological equipment (which can be used to detect terrorist activity), monitoring for environmental dangers, and high-altitude surveillance flights, which involve multimillion-dollar cameras and other equipment.”

The helicopters are also equipped with the famous ‘Nightsun’ spotlight, which is linked to the helicopter’s 360-degree infrared camera system that is mounted underneath the aircraft. During night patrols, the spotlight can be activated to track the camera’s position, which is remotely controlled by the tactical flight officer inside the helicopter.

However, the officers themselves are the most valuable aspect of the arsenal. Accumulating thousands of hours of flight time a year (about 18,000 hours in 2011), the ASD pilots are some of the most experienced aviators in the world. Subsequently, the ASD trains multiple other agencies from around the country, including foreign allied military units in their use of special police tactics, especially the ‘Nightsun’ spotlight. The instruction room is located on the aircraft carrier-size heliport on top of the Piper Technical Center in downtown.

Yet, despite all the technical gadgetry and their elite status as one of the largest and most sophisticated airborne law enforcement forces in the nation, the ASD’s humble motto exemplifies their commitment and attitude to the job: ‘The mission is the same, only the vehicle has changed.’


Aries – my birth sign





According to mythology, in Hellenistic astrology, the sign of the ram was associated with the golden winged ram that rescued Phrixos and his sister Helle from the altar where they were to be offered as a sacrifice to Zeus. The golden ram carried them to the land of Colchis, but on the way Helle fell into the sea and drowned.

When Phrixos arrived at Colchis he sacrificed the ram to Zeus and presented the Golden Fleece to his father-in-law, the King of Colchis. The fleece was then hung upon a sacred oak and guarded by a dragon until rescued by Jason and the Argonauts.

The myth recounts that Zeus was so moved by the ram’s fate that he gave it the greatest honor of being moved to the heavens.

Thus, the astrological sign of Aries, the ram.

I was born in April under the sign of the ram, a couple of days before the heavenly sign of Taurus the bull. Mother, bless her heart, told me that she had willed me to be born on a Sunday. She never explained why, and she didn’t mention astrology. Well, I arrived at 1:36PM  on a Sunday afternoon. She said I wanted to come days earlier, but she got her way.

Could that explain why I tend to be impatient?

The ruler of Aries is Mars, the Roman god of war. Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace; Mars had a love affair with Venus. I hesitate to comment on how that might have affected me, however, upon thinking of Venus considered a detriment in the Aries sign, I wonder. I’ve been wedded four times, although my last wedding, in 1989 to Barbara Kay, worked. Perhaps, like John Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex, suggests, it must have been a Venus-Mars matter regarding my first three unsuccessful marriages. No further comment.

Although the zodiac element of Aries is fire, I am rarely passionate about things, although I often seethe below the surface whenever faced with intolerant people. Perhaps I’m fierier than I care to admit.

Another Aries quality is cardinal. I am not certain I know what bearing that might have on me, only that deep scarlet is my favorite color.

Under Aries, the exaltation is the Sun. Well, I do like living in a sunny clime. And now I’ve settled in Mexico. Thankfully, Barbara loves the area, and the people, too.

Anyway, most of my life I’ve paid little attention to the astrological sign I was born under, yet, as I grew older and thought about events in my life, brought about in large by my behavior, I thought about Aries and the ram sign. I compared what I’d experienced in life to what people who specialized in horoscopes wrote, like the late Sydney Omarr. Often, I found I could fit what astrologists claimed to some little event that had occurred to me that particular day. It was easy to read into their comments only what I wanted to see.

Having said that, I don’t know if there is a connection to the alignment of planets with my actions, but I have heard that we humans generate energy that can cause things to happen. I say “things,” because I can’t put a label to it. I’ll leave that to the specialists.

I recall, however, when I was a youngster riding the red car into Hollywood from my foster home in the San Fernando Valley, seeing a large billboard on Cahuenga Boulevard; it was located where the winding pass became Highland Avenue. It displayed a pair of clasped hands along with the words: Prayer Changes Things.

I’ve thought about the energy thing and have wondered whether there truly is power in prayer to change things. I’ve read when people mentally concentrate in unison on a specific thing, that the sought result has happened.

Anyway, astrology and phenomena that can’t easily be explained fascinate me.

And then I should mention numerology. I’m not well versed in it, but when it comes to numbers, my favorite is 48. I think that came from being born in the fourth month when the U.S.A. was made up of 48 states. Also, World War II ended when I was eight years old.

However, I can’t say the number 48 has ever been a lucky number for me.

And that’s all I have to say about that.












1962 is right in the temporal sweet spot of my Mike Montego novels — Shades of Blue, 459-Framed in Red, The Purple Hand, and He Blew Blue Jazz. Here are a few fun facts about this swingin’ year...


1962 Tidbits


Tobacco: Philip Morris introduced “Marlboro Country” to advertise its top filter-tip cigarette against R. J. Reynolds’ Winston brand. The cowboy theme will make Marlboro the leading brand worldwide.


Lt. Co John H. Glenn, Jr., Marine Corps pilot, became the first American in orbit February 20th when he circled Earth three times, covering 81,000 miles at an altitude of 160 miles in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7.


President Kennedy on February 14th announced that U.S. military advisers in Vietnam would fire back if fired upon.


Supreme Court on March 26th backed “one-man one-vote” apportionment of seats in state legislatures.


Europe’s Arlberg-Orient Express goes out of service May 27th after nearly 79 years of operation between Paris and Istanbul; and the Simplon-Orient Express ends service as well. Both have been victims of the airplane that has cut travel time between the cities to two hours.


Economic, Finance, and Retailing: K Mart discount stores are opened by the 63-year-old S.S. Kresge Co., whose five-and-ten-cent stores are losing money. By 1977 Kresge sales will be second only to those of Sears, but Wal-Mart will pass it in the 1980s.


The first Wal-Mart store opens July 2nd at Rogers, Arkansas. Retail merchant Sam Moore Walton, 44, had run a Ben Franklin store with his brother James at Bentonville; Sam proposed a chain of discount stores in small towns; Ben Franklin dismissed the idea and Walton goes into business for himself. His chain will surpass sales of Sears, Roebuck by 1991.


Food and Drink:  Diet-Rite Cola, introduced by Royal Crown Cola, is the first sugar-free soft drink to be sold nationwide to the general public. The cyclamate-sweetened cola will soon have powerful competitors.


First U.S. communications satellite is launched in July.


Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring launches the environmental movement.


James Howard Meredith, 29, an Air Force veteran, became the first black student at University of Mississippi, “Old Miss,” October 1st after 3,000 troops put down riots. His admission was ordered by a federal appellate court and upheld by the Supreme Court.


President Kennedy revealed A Soviet offensive missile buildup in Cuba October 22nd. He ordered a naval and air quarantine on shipment of offensive military equipment to the island nation. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev reached agreement on October 28 on a formula to end the crisis. Kennedy announced November 2nd that Soviet missile bases in Cuba were being dismantled.


Cigar smokers are the chief U.S. victims of President Kennedy’s embargo on trade with Cuba. U.S. cigar sales exceed six billion per year with 95 percent of Cuban cigars rolled and wrapped in U.S. plants, but without Cuban tobacco cigar sales will fall to 5.3 billion per ear by 1976 despite population growth.


Sports: Ohio golfer Jack William Nicklaus, 22, wins the U.S. Open by defeating Arnold Palmer in a playoff.


Sonny Liston wins the world heavyweight boxing title September 25th. Now 28, he knocks out Floyd Patterson in the first round of a championship bout at Chicago.


New York Yankees win the World Series by defeating the San Francisco Giants 4 games to 3.


Technology: Electronic Data Systems (EDS) is founded by Dallas salesman H. (Henry) Ross Perot, 32, whose data processing firm will make him a billionaire.


Polaroid Corp. introduces color film invented by Edwin H. Land. The high-speed film produces color prints in 60 seconds (Polaroid’s black-and-white film produces prints in 10 seconds).


Films: Roman Polanski’s Knife in the Water; David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia; Sidney Lumet’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night; John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country; François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player; Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo; Perter Ustinov’s Billy Budd; Hiroshi Imagaki’s Chushingura; George Seaton’s The Counterfeit Traitor; Blake Edwards’ Days of Wine and Roses; Pietro Germi’s Divorce—Italian Style; Luis Buñuels The Exterminating Angel; John Huston’s Freud; Tony Richardson’s The loneliness of the Long Distance Runner; John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate; Artgyr Oebb;s The Miracle Worker; Kon Ichikawa’s The Outcast; Richard Brooks’ Sweet Bird of Youth; Robert Mulligan’s To Kill a Mockingbird; Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?; and, Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light.


Music — Popular songs: “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” by Hoagy Carmichael; “Days of Wine and Roses” by Henry Mancini (title song for film about alcoholism); “Dream Baby” and “Leah” by Roy Orbison; “Ramblin’ Rose by Noel and Joe Sherman; “Roses Are Red, My Love” by Al Byron and Hugh Evans’ “The Wanderer” by Ernest Maresca; “I left My Heart in San Francisco” by George Cory; “The Lonely Bull” by California trumpet player-vocalist-composer Herb Alpert, 27; “Surfin’ Safari” by the Beach Boys Brian Wilson, 20, Dennis Wilson, 17, Mike Love, 21, Al Jardine, 19, and Carl Wilson, 25.