Last night at the Skirball Cultural Center, Norman Podhoretz asked the question (or at least, quoted the title of his book), “Why Are Jews Liberals?”  Tonight, if he's still in town, he'll get an answer from Paul Krassner, the iconic iconoclast whose latest book is called Who's to Say What's Obscene? Politics, Culture, and Comedy in America Today. Krassner's long career includes a close friendship with stand-up provocateur Lenny Bruce, creation of the satirical monthly The Realist and recurring appearances at the 1968 Democratic Convention, with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters and in the FBI's undercover archives. He'll be reading and discussing his anthology's essays at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; 7-9 p.m. (323) 660-1175.

For a somewhat more scholastic approach to how politics and economics have shaped

culture and vise versa, at least with regard to California, Kevin Starr


discuss and sign copies of Golden Dreams, the final volume in his

vaunted Americans and the California Dream series. This last installment,

subtitled, California in an Age of Abundance,

focuses on the state's postwar period from 1950-1963 — when things

truly became golden. The event is sponsored by Vroman's Books but is held

at All Saints Church,

132 N. Euclid Ave.,

Pasadena; 7 p.m. According to the store's Web site:

“The tickets are free, but there is a limit of 2 (two) per customer,

while supplies last” at the main store, 667 E. Colorado Blvd.,

Pasadena, (626) 744-1834; or at its Hastings Ranch store, 3729 E.

Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 351-0828.

Speaking of the main store, Vroman's will also host an event with John Buntin, whose L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City,

really gets to the dirt (and blood) under the City of Angels'

fingernails, by tracing the parallel career tracks of LAPD Chief

William Parker and Boyle Heights-raised gangster Mickey Cohen. 7 p.m.

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