But don't take our word for it. The National Book Critics Circle launched its inaugural Best Recommended List, compiled by polling its members, former book prize winners and finalists. (The NBCC's excellent blog is here: bookcriticscircle.blogspot.com/ )
Here are the lists they came up with, along with links to LA Weekly reviews of the books, where applicable.
1) Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead)
2) Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
3) Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (HarperCollins)
4) Philip Roth, Exit Ghost (Houghton Mifflin)
5) Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses (Graywolf)
1) Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying (Knopf)
2) Alan Weisman, The World Without Us (St. Martin’s)
3) Noami Klein, The Shock Doctrine (Metropolitan)
4) David Michaelis, Schulz and Peanuts (HarperCollins)
5) Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes (Doubleday)
After the jump: Poetry winners. (Poetry never gets a fair shake.)
Charles Bukowski’s bungalow is safe – at least for now. On Thursday morning the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted three-to-one in favor of making the writer’s former home on De Longpre Avenue a cultural landmark. Recent allegations by the bungalow’s owner, Victoria Gureyeva, that Bukowski was a Nazi sympathizer, had threatened to derail the cultural landmark process, but the Commission apparently paid these accusations little heed. “If I thought that any of the claims were true, in no way would I consider this,” said Cultural Heritage Commission president Mary Klaus-Martin.
Despite Gureyeva’s previous threats to “get the whole Jewish Westside involved in the debate,” no Jewish groups showed up at the hearing to condemn Bukowski and Gureyeva’s lawyer Joseph Trenk was the only person who spoke in opposition to making the bungalow a cultural landmark.
The bungalow’s fate is now in the hands of the City Council’s planning committee, where its designation as a cultural landmark already has the support of City Council President Eric Garcetti.
You can read about the Nazi allegations and the effort to save Bukowski's bungalow here.
Thousands of strikers and supporters made their way down Hollywood Blvd. this afternoon as the WGA strike continued.
All photos by Steven Mikulan
“Every place has a completely different personality, like, Sony is kinda angry, Fox is where all the really cool people hang out and [CBS] Radford gets started at, literally, 5 am…” Stephen Scaia said last Wednesday.
The Jericho writer was giving picketing pointers to Joshua Jackson (the dreamboat from Dawson’s Creek) and Ashley Scott (the hottie patoddie in Jericho). The group had just retired from striking at Universal Studios, where the star power of SAG along with WGA marchers made the studio hip for the day.
Today was "Below-the-Line Picket Day" and Fox had a high potential of being "uncool" for the day. Assistants and more assistants were out marching as well as a few teamsters.
Along with them were these folks, who rumor has it will give it up for only 8 cents.
“My boss had me get him water,” Kacey Arnold laughs.
The beverage gofer works as an assistant for writing partners Jeff Ventimilia and Josh Sternin of Touchstone T.V. Ventimilia joked to Arnold, "Are you gonna bring me my lunch?" on his way to the strike.
The writer's assistant says she’s lucky that Disney has been kind enough to continue to pay half of her salary. Fox’s assistants got laid off the first week of the strike.
At Fox’s main gate at Pico and Motor, the strikers did not disappoint the “cool” status. The uppities were out to support the lowlies and Larry David (Seinfield), Eric Roth (Forest Gump), Steve Zalilian (Schindler’s List), James Brooks (As Good It Gets) and Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) were all spotted among marchers.
Absent to the march were more below-the-line employees, including make-up artists, camera crew and other production staff.
A WB assistant explained there’s a mixed response from other below-the-lines who are out of a job. Several are frustrated with the strike because of the halt of their paycheck, while others realize it's the writer's creation that’s responsible for their position.
Adam Dasilva, a writer’s assistant for K-Ville, said that his show is filmed in New Orleans and that the locals are feeling hurt by the stop of production. The strike is not as visible in “The Big Easy” and out of state staff do not fully understand the impact of the strike. Still, Dasilva hoped there would be more below-the-lines - he’s surprised there aren’t more people out.
One writer disagreed, “I’ll get trampled like a Who concert in there!” she shouted, leery of taking her first steps to join the march.
Also “C,” “double O,” “L" worthy was this black and red Lance Armstrong-style rubber bracelet that read “United Hollywood”—Hollywood can only hope.
Photo by Craig Calkins
A Whiskerino competitor in his natural habitiat.
Sweet Jesus I've waited so long and now it's finally here. Whiskerino, the amateur beard growing competition that dares to suggest "We are alienated from our own facial hair," has finally awakened from its two-year slumber and stormed the Internet with waves of scruffy goodness.
For all you facial hair enthusiasts out there, be forewarned, Whiskerino isn't nearly as visually impressive as the World Beard & Mousache Championship -- at least not yet. It's only in its second week of competition and contestants are forced to begin with a "clean palette." But what it currently lacks in facial landscaping artistry it more than makes up for in Ron Jeremy participation.
It's too late to join, but here's hoping Angelenos will show some civic pride and rally behind local competitors Os Mutante and Juanzo. We might not have a football team but Goddammit we have a beard team -- and that's pretty good too.
Today was Bring-Your-Kid-to-Picket Day at the WGA strike, and the three-foot-and-under marchers were in abundance proudly waving their signs. A favorite among strikers was a little cutie with a sign that read, "I'm little but I know how to share." She looked so tired from all that marching in the sun I didn't ask for her photo. But this guy was glowing with enthusiasm:
"Seeing the kids with their signs really raises the morale of the writers," Melinda Corazon Foley, the diversity coordinator for WGA West, says.
Strikers' spirits have also been boosted by the influx of goodies donated to the movement. While scoping out the action at the gates, I've been offered hot cocoa, McDonald's cheeseburgers, bottled water and Girl Scout cookies -- the WGA strike captains are generous.
Jay Leno has donated donuts, Ellen DeGeneres' editors have offered In 'N Out to picketers, the producers of Entourage have sent full meals to the marchers at CBS, and Jimmy Kimmel sent a burrito truck around. The list goes on.
"P.F. Chang's brought lunches and French 75 brought lunches, Dakota's brought tri-tip sandwiches. That was everybody's favorite--they were like Holy Crap," Foley says.
NBC marchers have been showered with caramel apples, rice crispy treats, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, popcorn, bagels with cream cheese - and tuna fish sandwiches from a nearby neighbor.
One writer picketing at CBS was relieved that the food has gotten healthier this week. She said there's been more fruit, Luna bars and string cheese -- and a truck dropped off a massive amount of Glaceau VitaminWater. The health-conscious striker laughed at the irony that a conglomeration of corporations were donating food when that's who the writers were up against. Still, she's appreciative of the freebie grub.
Despite all the food donated to the strikers and the commotion they're causing on the sidewalks, neighboring eateries of NBC say they haven't seen business slow down.
"For us it's no problem," a cashier at Choza Mama says with a grin. The award-winning Peruvian dig is directly across from NBC, where honking by passers-by in support of strikers is so loud it can be heard several blocks away.
Neighboring Wienerschnitzel is also unbothered.
"We've been really, really busy ... we can hardly hear it over here," the wiener-toting cashier shrugs as a number of people wait in line.
Yesterday, one of NBC’s head writers marching on the picket gripped his high-tech cell phone and waved it in frustration.
“Someone at NBC screwed with my Blackberry," the writer said, explaining that he hasn’t been able to e-mail anyone. “They messed everything up on my Blackberry—I can’t even use it any more.”
As the networks are upping their ferocity, the writers are becoming just as fierce. Today, an estimated 3,500 protesters marched in the street and blocked off the Avenue of the Stars (how appropriate) and Pico in front of FOX Studios in Century City on LA's tony Westside. WGA members, families, friends, member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Teamsters (the guys who drive the trucks in Hollywood who have a history of striking) rallied together.
I rolled up to the scene after a hectic search for parking and just missed Tom Morello’s (from Rage Against the Machine) rendition of “Fight the Power.” But the strikers were still out in full-fledged regalia.
One writer said he went to pick up his daughter from school and she handed over her Christmas list to him. On the bottom of the wish list for a teddy bear and kitty cat was “contract for writers”—so he enlarged it for his sign.
Kids were getting in on the action too. This little girl was here to support her mama.
Cast members from Reno 911 came out to support the strikers.
With all the fun - a sax player jamming out for the crowd, free fried churros being handed out, celebrity sightings (Tom Arnold was also in attendance) and striking participants lining up on the sidewalk to spell “WGA,” writers were still focused on what brought on the march.
“This is about a level of corporate greed that’s reached its capacity … there’s something inherently socio-pathetic about it,” a writer who asked to be identified as Guy Fox said.
Two frosted haired ladies walk stiffly through the ebbs and flows of sidewalk traffic on West Alameda Avenue in Burbank. The street is lined with WGA strikers circling the Disney, NBC and Warner Bros. studios. The ladies, residents of the O.C. are here to enjoy their recent retirement. Tops on their tourist to-do list is to join audiences at a few of their favorite NBC shows. Their plan nearly went awry yesterday when Ellen: The Ellen Degeneres Show was canceled along with Jay Leno’s Tonight Show - until the pair got a call today to come on down to see NBC’s funny woman. With all the strikers hitting the streets, the two are still unsure if the show is actually going to go on.
Brent Bradshaw, a writer for Last Call with Carson Daly confirms that the Ellen show is still happening. Tourists - gleaming in their I’m-gonna-be-on-TV outfits - line up behind the fence near Bradshaw and his fellow protestors. A number of the NBC-based strikers are disappointed that Ellen's program is up and running. However, Bradshaw says the strikers have been able to convince some of the show’s attendees to join their side.
Friends Stacey Loera, Prince Villa and April Lopez from Sylmar have been marching with the WGA strikers for over six hours. The trio played hooky from school to see Chris Brown (the easy-on-the-eyes, 18-year-old, hip-hopper who sings that song that goes "she want that lovey-dovey, kiss-kiss") on Ellen's show. But after talking to a number of passionate members of the rally, the three decided to join forces with the writers.
“We understand. If we were in their position we would be out here too,” Loera says, looking older than her sixteen years and blinking behind her bangs.
They're not the only non-WGA members supporting the strike. On Alameda Avenue, Bob Oedy, an electrician and Union member/supporter, enthusiastically waves his “W.G.A. STRIKE” sign. Alongside Oedy, Phil (bashful about giving his last name) joins the protest simply as a fan of NBC shows who wants to support the writers.
Richard Eagon, head-writer of Last Call with Carson Daly, wishes everyone in the union was as enthusiastic. He’s disappointed that Ellen DeGeneres, a WGA member, has “crossed their picket,” not joined in on the march, and continued to host and write for her weekday episodes.
“She has seven writers and all seven writers walk this line every morning. She will not drive through here either, she drives through an underground gate,” a disappointed Eagon says between honks in support of the struggling strikers.
Almost all the other show runners called in sick for the week including Carson Daily, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel and Steve Carrell - who said he was ill with an “enlarged testicle” Eagon explains. Nearby, a red-haired writer can’t help but taunt the Ellen-goers, “dancing, get ready for dancing.”
“Be sure to tell people," a WGA colleague says with a Valleyspeak inflection, “that Ellen is guh-aay!”
For more coverage on Networks/Studios vs. Showrunners and the W.G.A. Strike go to Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily.
Protestors rally as the audience gets reigned in for Ellen DeGeneres' show.
"What kinda horn you got on that thing?" Ben Watkins yells into his megaphone as a bus crawls to a stop before Fox Studios' main gate.
The bus driver grins back and lets 'im have it, and a loud, low bleat lets loose. Around Watkins, the some 200 TV and movie writers assembled wave their union issue strike signs and cheer.
"Let Hollywood know you believe in fairness! Honk those horns!" screams Watkins, a writer for Burn Notice (never heard of it? Me neither). Passing cars and trucks heed him, and show the Writers Guild of America some love. These protesters were up at 9 a.m. and will be picketing till around 1 when another batch comes in to relieve them.
It's a pretty cut-and-paste rally for a slice of the studios' internet profits over in West LA. We kept an eye out for some creative posters, but nothing but the union signs were being hoisted into the air. (Boo! C'mon, creative people!) Nikki Finke posted some photos of the East Coast rally over at her blog, and it looks like a similar scene over there (though they appear to have a marching band of some sort pumping energy into the strike).
"Today we're just letting people know we're out here," said Erich Hoeber, WGA studio captain. "The longterm goal is to shut down production across Hollywood until we get a contract."
Darius Ever Truly, who played Bobby Seale in Odyssey Theatre Ensemble's stage production of The Chicago Conspiracy Trial, was fatally stabbed last Saturday morning after a Halloween party. Police have been frustrated by uncooperative witnesses.
On Friday night, October 26, following the performance of Frank Condon and Ron Sossi's docudrama, The Chicago Conspiracy Trial, at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles, many in the cast were milling about at the opening night reception for Screwballs, a comedy playing at a different theater in the same building. 26-year-old Darius Ever Truly, who played co-defendant Bobby Seale in the docudrama, was asking members of the cast and theater staff to join him at a Halloween party 17 blocks south on Bentley Avenue. Truly asked house manager Tiffany Simms if she would go with him, but she had a bad feeling about the late-night party.