Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Tuesday, 17 February 2004

Topic: Local Issues

Fewer items here...

Tomorrow, the 18th, I report for jury duty downtown in Los Angeles Superior Court.

I will blog as I am able - late in the day or in the evening.

I don't have a laptop computer so I suspect I will be reading... books!

Posted by Alan at 21:29 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Election Notes

New information that will have some impact on the upcoming election...

Disclaimer. My mother's side of the family is Czech. Her family came from Prague. My father's side is Slovak, and rural - from the fields and forests of Bohemia, so to speak. I note this wire item below. Perhaps I should vote for John Kerry, as an "it's in my blood" sort of thing. We shall see.

Note: Czech Town Mesmerized by Kerry Campaign
Revelations of John Kerry's Czech Roots Mesmerize the Town of Horni Benesov, Population 2,400

Here's the scoop:
HORNI BENESOV, Czech Republic Feb. 16 - American presidential politics don't normally cause much of a stir in this far-flung corner of the Czech Republic. But revelations that John Kerry's grandfather was born here have mesmerized the mountain town.

Suddenly, Horni Benesov's 2,400 people can't get enough of the Democratic front-runner's quest for the White House or his Czech ancestor, an ethnic German Jew who fled rising anti-Semitism for America's shores at the turn of the last century.

If the Massachusetts senator clinches his party's nomination, Mayor Josef Klech is ready to offer Kerry a more obscure post - honorary citizen of this former mining town in the northeastern Czech Republic's Jeseniky mountains.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed for him," Klech said.
Of course. If Arnold Shwarzenegger can have his Austrian fans, so Kerry can have his Czech mates.

This whole thing is, curiously, the product of busybodies in Boston, a town where genealogists can, one supposes, actually make a living. Out here in Hollywood we have anti-genealogy, as here one loses one's past, where Archie Leach becomes Cary Grant, and Norma Rae becomes Marylyn.

Here's what happened in Boston.
Word of Kerry's Czech connection first surfaced last year, when an Austrian genealogist hired by The Boston Globe discovered that the candidate's paternal grandfather, Frederick A. Kerry, was born in Horni Benesov as Fritz Kohn in 1873.

The news reportedly astonished Kerry, a Catholic, and it sent a thrill through the town 175 miles east of Prague, whose history dates to 1253. Two townsfolk thought the tale so fantastic, they accused the mayor of making it up.

"We were taken by surprise," Klech said. "Who could expect that?"
Yep. Who could? Particularly since this town isn't that much different from Hollywood in forgetting its past. It seems now there is nothing left in the town even to suggest Jews ever lived there: no synagogue, no traces of Jewish tombstones. Nazi work? Perhaps just no one thinking much about the past.

But here are the Kerry details:
Fritz Kohn, a son of Benedikt Kohn and his wife, Mathilde, once worked in the local brewery. Czech government archives reveal that Fritz Kohn changed his name to Frederick Kerry on March 17, 1902, and emigrated to the United States three years later.

Tomas Jelinek, the leader of Prague's Jewish community, said many Jews left for the United States at the time to seek a better life and to escape anti-Semitism.

Kerry first settled in Chicago before moving to Boston, where his wife, Ida, gave birth to John Kerry's father, Richard, in 1915. Frederick Kerry, apparently despondent over mounting debts, shot himself in the head in Boston's Copley Plaza Hotel in 1921 and died.
Well, let's see. The family worked in breweries. Good sign?

No. The fellow who left the old world couldn't make it in the new world, at least financially, and blew his brains out. Yep, fodder for Karl Rove and the Christian-Right Bush team to attack the man. Lots of stuff to use - something to do with alcohol in the family (Bush gave it up long ago when he found Jesus), and financial failure (shows the family didn't have the right positive attitude for success), and a suicide (could Hillary Clinton be somehow involved as she was with her murder of Vince Foster that a bunch of leftist doctors tried to cover up?). Yep. Juicy stiff, and typical eastern liberal Jewish evil. Expect this all to come up sometime in the next months.

But back in the Old Country?
The Kohn family house is gone, and the remains of the brewery are now a public sauna. But the people of Horni Benesov are closely following Kerry's progress.

"We are grateful for him," said Eva Bambuskova, 55, a music teacher. "All this is good for our town."
Don't be so sure. Matt Drudge is on the way.

And here's the place now:
At the end of the 19th century, Horni Benesov was a lively mining town and textile industry center in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its mines yielded gold and silver, then later zinc and lead as the precious metals petered out.

... The last mine closed in 1992, and joblessness here is 16 percent. Klech, the mayor, hopes his town could become a gateway for tourists to nearby ski resorts and that perhaps a Kerry connection could help.

"We'll certainly invite him," he said. "But of course it's up to him to decide whether he wants to see a place where his ancestors used to live."

Bambuskova, the music teacher, said she'll be happy to have him as an honorary citizen.

"Why not? He's got his roots here, and we should let other people know about it," she said.

"His case shows that someone whose family came from a small town like this can have a chance to become president."
Well, the Republicans will see about THAT!

Everyone knows Bush grew up on the family ranch, wrestling cattle to the ground, quickly tying their legs and branding them with a hot iron, when he wasn't drilling for oil with his pappy and Uncle Dick. Never went to any school but grew up to be president anyway, in spite of his humble "ah shucks" background. May or may not have flow jet airplanes in defense of the nation (some dispute there).

And the man of central European Jewish heritage, now a Catholic from "Gay Marriage Boston," from a family of failures and drunks, is going to compete with the cowboy?

Should be interesting to see how the Bush campaign spins this one.

Posted by Alan at 15:26 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 16 February 2004

Topic: Bush

President's Day

Today is the day we honor great American presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. George W. Bush is working furiously to secure his place in history alongside the greats. Here's an updated list of accomplishments so far. Forward as appropriate.

Posted by Alan at 21:05 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Sunday, 15 February 2004

Topic: In these times...

New issue of JUST ABOVE SUNSET MAGAZINE now online!

No blogging today.

Sunday is the day I do final assembly and post the week's new issue of this: Just Above Sunset Magazine.

Check it out.

Much of what appears here is extended and expanded there, and you might like the detailed photographs of the seashells, but you may not.

Do visit.


I have a visitor for the next few days - my sister, up here in Los Angeles to do some serious shopping. We're talking Barney's and Sax's and Bloomingdale's and the shops on Robertson and at Sunset Plaza - - Nichole Miler and all that. But that's NOT where I need advice.

We just got back from The Grove and I see that on Friday the 20th at the Barnes and Noble down there Bill O'Reilly will be signing his new book and chatting with people. Now this is a short drive down the hill - in my neighborhood. Five minutes away. Should I go? If so, what should I say to him? What should I do?

Send suggestions to of course.

Posted by Alan at 21:17 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Saturday, 14 February 2004

Topic: Oddities

A Valentine's Day Item - Presented Without Comment
Chocolate Obsession Leads to Physics Discovery
Fri February 13, 2004 06:11 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Princeton physicist Paul Chaikin's passion for M&M candies was so well known that his students played a sweet practical joke on him by leaving a 55-gallon drum of the candies in his office.

Little did they know that their prank would lead to a physics breakthrough.

The barrel full of the oblate little candies made Chaikin think about how well they packed in. A series of studies have shown they pack more tightly than perfect spheres -- something that surprises many physicists and Chaikin himself.

"It is a startling and wonderful result," said Sidney Nagel, a physicist at the University of Chicago. "One doesn't normally stop to think about this. If you did, you might have guessed what would happen, but you'd have guessed wrongly."

The issue of how particles pack together has intrigued scientists for centuries and has implications for fields such as the design of high-density ceramic materials for use in aerospace or other industries.

Chaikin and his colleague, chemist Salvatore Torquato, used the candies to investigate the physical and mathematical principles involved when particles are poured randomly into a vessel.

Writing in Friday's issue of the journal Science, they said they found that oblate spheroids -- such as plain M&Ms -- pack surprisingly more densely than regular spheres when poured randomly and shaken.

When poured in, they said, spheres occupy about 64 percent of the space in a container.
M&Ms manage to pack in at a density of about 68 percent.

"We just stretched a sphere and suddenly things changed dramatically," said Torquato.

"To me, it's remarkable that you can take this simple system with common candies and probe one of the deepest problems in condensed matter physics."

Mars Inc., which makes M&Ms, did not help sponsor the research although it donated 125 pounds of almond M&Ms to Chaikin, Princeton said in a statement.
It's not about love, but it will do.

Posted by Alan at 09:25 PST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink

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