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Ariel Swartley

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Blood Sacrifice

Ah, family values. Somehow an engagement is never so official, turning 75 nowhere near such an achievement, the reunion not anything like as warm, unless the occasion has been anointed with the blood of rare-cooked beef and the gut-fluttering sacrifice of a bill that tops out the yearly budget. No......
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Life Is Sweet

At about the same moment that gray was becoming the new black -- though with far less fanfare -- caramel was becoming the new chocolate. It was taking over as the perker-upper of innumerable cappuccinos, as the zigzag trim drizzled across a plate of mango macadamia mousse, as the swirl......
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True Quest

Like fishermen, writers and scholars are highly susceptible to the belief that something really huge -- call it a meta-fish -- is lurking out there among the eddies; a catch that, if only one is patient enough to snag it, will make sense of the whole operation -- transcendent views,......
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The Green Stuff

www.timbiskup.com With the shape of a mule’s ear and crinkles worthy of an elephant‘s hide, the dusky blue-black vegetable aptly nicknamed dinosaur kale seems unlikely to inspire passion. And yet this ancient Tuscan member of the cabbage family, known in its homeland as lacinato or cavalo nero, is the newest......
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The Chai Life

The designated brew person at the Los Feliz Coffee Bean bobbed his head and timed his stirring to a ska beat. ”Chai?“ He caught my eye and screwed the cardboard cup into its waffle sleeve. I nodded. ”This one‘s gonna be really slamming.“ His smile as he shoved the cup......
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Scars of Sweet Paradise

“She was an interesting junkie,” Janis Joplin’s friend, sometime lover and shooting partner Peggy Caserta tells Alice Echols near the end of Echols’ far-reaching biography of the singer, recently released in an Owl Books paperback. “I’d end up with a hundred syringes in my nightstand . . . But she......
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Boho

Illustration by Hadley Hooper There may be no truer test of New York Times rock critic Ann Powers’ ability to engage a reader than to say that reading Weird Like Us, her prickly, combative, overly schematic memoir of the last 20 years — years between the approximate ages of 15......
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Writing in the City

"There’s a lot of waste in novel writing," Mona Simpson admits from the depths of a low-slung chair in the tiny anteroom of her Santa Monica office. She seems resigned but not altogether pleased. As a woman who attended Beverly Hills High from the south side of Wilshire (read: wrong......
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Guns and Roses

Art by Paul Lee How like the French, who understand that style is content, to have a word for it — noir, that gritty negative antidote to Southern California’s dreamy lusciousness. In the 65 years since James M. Cain wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice, the novel often credited with......

Opposites Attract

Art by Justine Szeto I don’t think I would have liked Wendy Shalit in college; and from what the recent graduate of Williams lets fall in A Return to Modesty — her ambitious, sprawling, argumentative and, yes, immodest proposal to restore romance, Eros and long-term love to her contemporaries’ sadly......
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