Just Above Sunset
April 3, 2005 - So many books to review, so few free lunches to help sway the decision!

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Book Wrangler

April 2, 2005

By Bob Patterson


It was one of those typical California winter days, not a cloud in the sky, the temperatures were in the 70’s, and we needed some time to think up a new topic for this weekly feature of Just Above Sunset online magazine; so we went for a walk along Ocean Front Walk at the Venice Beach.  (OFW is where New York residents marooned in LA, who long for some real pizza, can find temporary relief from their gastronomical homesickness.) 


Among the street performers along the way, we found one rather unique example.  It was someone promoting a new book, Beverly Hills Youth: from Riches to Rags to Riches A True Story, written by G. C. Borquin, with 16 pages of illustrations and a website.  The cover promises: “This amazing true story will inspire and challenge anyone who is courageous enough to read it.” 


Apparently it is a tale of life’s ups and downs for a Beverly Hills guy who gets into drugs and …  One of these winter days, when the winds howl and the snow is piling up around our front door, and we are feeling brave; we’ll have to read it and do a review.


(Old Winter humor from Lake Tahoe: What advice do new arrivals get regarding shoveling the snow?  They are told: “After a snowstorm, open the front door, and dig toward the light.”)


We tucked a copy of the book under our arm and continued our stroll along the tourist packed walkway. 


Next we bumped into a man who is a well known Venice personality.  Jeff Stanton has been an author, post card entrepreneur, political activist, computer pioneer, and proprietor of a web site that covers Venice’s historyHe has been a regular on the Ocean Front Walk for about thirty years.


He informed us he is in the process of proofing and polishing a new book, which he hopes to have available for sale when Venice celebrates the 100th birthday of the famous canals on July 4th this summer.  Stanton has produced several other books about Venice and its colorful history.


One of the street performers offers writing of a sorts.  Someone will write your name on a grain of rice.  That reminded us of an Irish-Hawaiian lass we knew who bragged that she had been mentioned in Ripley’s Believe It or Not because her first name was a Hawaiian word with 43 letters in it.  She said she was also listed in the Guinness Book of Records.  Seeing that name written on a grain of rice would be something.


As we approached the north end of the Venice area, we noticed a guy sitting in one of the outdoor dining area for one of the cafés.  The older man was wearing a cap that proclaimed “writer.”  Curiosity got the best of us and we asked if that was brag or fact and his companion vouched for him saying that he had several children’s books in print several years back.  We didn’t catch their names, but we will take her word for it.


When we reached the borderline with the City of Santa Monica, we realized that our mission to find material for this week’s Book Wrangler column would have to include a recounting of the walk itself.


Speaking of New York (and real pizza), we have noticed that a portion of the Just Above Sunset readership is enthusiastic about the fact that Monty Python The Musical has opened on Broadway (hey, even folks in Concordia have their tickets already – while friends in Jersey could care less).  Those pro-python readers might also be interested in the fact that Eric Idle hasn’t been goofing off, because in addition to the musical, his new book The Greedy Bastard Diary (23.95 HarperCollins) has just been published.


[Heck, when an online audience is really small, niche journalism can include an item just for one reader: Nik, be sure to check out the new spoken word album called Henry done by Henry Rollins.  It was for sale at Benway Records, which is close to the stop where the LA bus dumps tourists who say they are going to visit Venice Beach.]


Shell Silverstein is our nominee for the 20th Century’s leading candidate for the title of Renaissance Man because he was a staff cartoonist for Playboy magazine, he was a songwriter (many songs for Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show including The Cover of the Rolling Stone) and an author of best selling poetry books.  He died a few years ago, but a new book has been published.  Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook ($17.99 HarperCollins).  Folks who are unaware of this man, who was an American cultural treasure, are urged to find out what they have been missing.


Ogden Nash wrote (In a poem titled Reflections on Ice-Breaking):


Is Dandy

But liquor

Is quicker.

Now, if the disk jockey will play Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Will Not Take The Garbage Out, we’ll schlep on outta here for this week.  We don’t know what next week’s column will be about, but now we have a valid reason to go to the Borders Book Store up in Westwood and browse for an hour or two.  Have a good week and remember that, for some people, silliness is a serious business.




Copyright © 2005 – Robert Patterson

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