Friday, November 28, 2014

Musical and other weirdness in Southern California

Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, Los
Angeles. All photos by Peter Rozovsky,
your formerly humble blog keeper.
I dined with a friend Wednesday evening at Berri's Cafe in Los Angeles, which had the exquisitely awful idea of piping in throbbing, droning club music during the earlyish dinner hour. Not only were we subjected to the worst music ever created, but at a time that not even lovers of that music could like. This is music for 3 a.m., not 8 p.m.  The food was not bad, though.

Did I say the worst music ever created? That's the New Age trance music that a Marina Del Rey-area Starbucks pumped in during yesterday's coffee. For all its top-down corporate paternalism and its mangling of the English and Italian languages, Starbucks generally offers good music to drink one's mispronounced doppio macchiatos by. But not here. There are many great things about Southern California, but the music offered for public consumption is not one of them.

Sunset off Malibu Beach
Then I landed in Philadelphia, where a television in the baggage claim area blared a  breathless news story about arrangements for the White House Christmas party. You expect that sort of thing from entertainment channels like Fox or MSNBC, but this was CNN. I understand that "serious" and "American television news" are mutually contradictory, but CNN was once considered serious, wasn't it?

Wigwam Inn, Rialto, Calif.
Lying Los Angeles bus-shelter sign
And then I went to wait for my train into the city, where loudspeakers lent an Orwellian/Kim Il Sungian aspect by blaring, indoors and out, soft rock and power ballads — the worst music ever created.

Also from the Page Museum
© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Executioner pursues me across California

Selfie at California Citrus State Historic Park,
Riverside. All photos by Peter Rozovsky, your
not so humble blog keeper.
Not much to note from yesterday's crime reading, except that Don Pendleton's second Executioner novel, Death Squad, takes its hero and his cast of associates on a path through Southern California nearly identical to that I have followed in recent days. Yesterday that took them to the citrus groves around Riverside, where I had just spent the day, and let me tell you: Having one's steps dogged by Mack Bolan and his gang of Mob-hating, authority-snubbing, police-respecting gang of expert killers gives a jasper a screwy feeling.

Mission Inn Riverside
Yesterday's book yield, from the Downtowne Bookstore in Riverside: a collection  of secret wartime cables between Dwight Eisenhower and George C. Marshall.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I took some pix on Route 66

I visited no bookshops yesterday, though I did buy the book at right at last night's lodging place, one of America's most fun destinations.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Monday, November 24, 2014

No cats, just books

Book Carnival in Orange was closed when I was in the neighborhood Sunday, but no worries; I bought some books from them in the dealers' room at Bouchercon in Long Beach last week.

A trip to the nearby Bookman yielded two novels by Joe Gores and three Executioner novels. The latter fit a trend I've noticed in secondhand bookshops here to take vintage paperback originals in general and men's adventure in particular more seriously than do bookshops on the uncivilized East Coast.

Here's the men's adventure section at The Bookman:

Here's my photographic version of an, er, iconic American painting, as shot by me at Knott's Berry Farm:

And here's what Orange County looks like after a hard day's driving, eating, and book shopping:
© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

More book shopping, more cats

Basketball players and midgets can take their custom elsewhere. (Photos by Peter Rozovsky, your humble blog keeper)
First, San Diego's Balboa Park is now one of my favorite places in the world. What more could one ask than botanical wonders, lush grass, a good restaurant or two, and more museums than you could shake a palm frond at?


Saturday's book shopping at the Adams Avenue Book Store and Marston House in San Diego and Counterpoint Records & Books in Los Angeles yielded Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities; two by P.G. Wodehouse, including a collection of his one-liners; thoughts on evolution from E.O. Wilson; Mischief, by Bouchercon discovery Charlotte Armstrong; and a good photo of one of the Adams Avenue shop's two cats.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Detectives Beyond Borders goes back Off the Cuff, with pictures

I'm up once again at Dietrich Kalteis' Off the Cuff, one of my noirish photos illustrating Dietrich's discussion with Martin J. Frankson and their guest, author-filmmaker Glynis Whiting, of how writers do their thing.

Above and right is the photo in question, and here (at left I think) is one of Dietrich that I took at Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach. The rest are a few shots from Southern California, with signs of habitation by humans and earlier creatures. All photo by Peter Rozovsky, your humble blogkeeper.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Book shopping in Southern California

Cat at Gatsby Books, Long Beach, Calif. Photos by Peter
Rozovsky, your humble blogkeeper.
Secondhand bookshops may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Southern California, but there are some good ones here. Gatsby Books in Long Beach, welcomes crime writers in to give readings, and I bought a handsome book on Long Beach architecture in its local-history section.

Booktown USA in Anaheim offers antiquarian books, a big mystery section, and shelves full of Western and men's adventure books, which one does not often see these days. I bought titles in the Executioner and Destroyer series, a Pocket Books edition of Donald Westlake's The Hot Rock, and a nice old hardback called Pictures of the Gold Rush, and I got change back from a twenty-dollar bill. You might well stop there on your way to Disneyland or the Mexican border. No cat there that I could find, though.

And, because one must keep up one's strength while buying books ...

(For more independent bookshops, go here. For more In-N-Out Burgers, go anywhere in Southern California. You can't miss them.)
Don't let me forget Dave's Olde Book Shop, in Redondo Beach, where I bought Line of Fire, by Donald Hamilton.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bouchercon 2014: I never knew there was a police code for "dinner"

Relaxing in my local coffeehouse (my L.A. local, not my Philadelphia local), regaining my power of coherent thought after six days of hard drivin', low-sleepin' fun at Bouchercon 2014.  Here are some things that stuck with me from the convention's panels.

Lots of these in Long Beach. All photos by
Peter Rozovsky, your humble blogkeeper
1) Connie Dial, a Los Angeles cop turned crime novelist, said during Thursday's panel on crime in Hollywood  when she worked patrol in South Central L.A., "You'd ask for a Code 7, which was dinner, and they'd say, "Take twenty more calls."

2) Nathan Walpow recalled the lavish spread provided for the crew during filming at a police precinct house, a spread whose appeal extended well beyond the police station in question? "Cops came from everywhere to eat." Walpow also recounted the snacking habits of the movie's star, Paul Newman: "Newman wandered around the station ... He ate them out of jelly beans."

Kwei Quartey
3) Kwei Quartey's suggestion that writing crime fiction set in his native Ghana poses challenges that fiction set in large American cities does not. Why? Because Ghana is changing so rapidly, over the course of months rather than years.

John McFetridge
4) John McFetridge recalling a rewriting of the history behind his novel Black Rock, whose principal crime is a series of killings of young women based on real-life killing in Montreal in 1970. His research turned up suggestions that authorities had issued warning for young women to be wary, but McFetridge's sister, about the same age as the victims, said she recalled no such warnings. "I thought that was a bit of revisionist history," McFetridge said, "`We should have warned them, but we didn't. Now we're claiming we did.'"

Ragnar Jonasson
5) Ragnar Jonasson's debunking of the popular belief that weapons are scarce in his native Iceland. Guns are plentiful there, he said, and so, in a nation of hunters, are guns.
Chris Ewan

6) Chris Ewan, crime novelist and resident of the Isle of Man, on a difference between Manx Halloween customs and those in American and England: "It's not easy to carve a turnip."

7) I wish I could remember which author described the process of research and writing this: "You get out in the world. Then you go hermit. You don't wear pants for nine months."

8) DBB favorite Adrian McKinty won the Barry Award in the best paperback original category for I Hear the Sirens in the Street.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Still too Bouchercon-bushed to post ...

... so here are a few more pictures from the invigorating, stimulating, immensely enjoyable Bouchercon 2014:

© Peter Rozovsky 2014 


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bouchercon, Days 1 and 2

A few highlights of Bouchercon's first two full days:

Sara Blaedel
John McFetridge

  • Both panels I moderated Friday went supremely well. Many thanks to panelists Gerard Brennan, Paul Charles, Stuart Neville, Max Allan Collins, Sara J. Henry, Charles Kelly, Gary Phillips, Saeah Weinman.

  • Two women at the bar mistook me for Jon "Crimespree/organizer of Bouchercons/center of the crime fiction universe" Jordan, though one conceded she was drunk at the time.
    Mark Billingham

    Kwei Quartey
    Ali Karim, Stav Sheewx
    Mike Stotter, Bob Truluck
    © Peter Rozovsky 2014  

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