March 28, 2010 |
William Lindsay Gresham's novel "Nightmare Alley" (NYRB Classics: 288 pp., $16) tells the rise-and-fall story of Stan Carlisle, a hustling carnival wanna-be who transforms himself into the Great Stanton, a big-time stage magician, and then into a fake psychic, running a "spook racket" before reaching too far and engineering his own catastrophe. In the end, Carlisle is torn apart by the very same emotional disturbances that have driven him, let down by a woman who loves him and betrayed by another who is even more ruthless than he. The "nightmare" of the title rings true, for this delirious and unstoppable novel -- first published in 1946, famously filmed starring Tyrone Power in 1947 and only now re-issued by NYRB Classics in its full, uncensored version with a new introduction by Nick Tosches -- inverts the American dream.
March 19, 2010 |
Dear Kirstie Alley: Look, I'm fat too. Maybe not as fat as you, but still, I've had three kids and as a TV critic, I spend a fair amount of time on my butt. After 40, it's so easy to gain, so difficult to lose, even with a workout. So I get why you'd think starring in a reality show about losing weight and developing some organic products along the way might seem like a good idea--there's no better motivator than the camera, right? But it's not a good idea. Not a good idea at all. You've always been entertaining, funny and profane and people may tune into "Kirstie Alley's Big Life" thinking it will be reassuring to watch a celebrity struggling with the same issues of over-indulgence and sloth that plague us all. But times they have a'changed since you made "Fat Actress," when everyone thought it was cool that you weren't afraid to play an insecure, self-involved, overly-catered-to celebrity.
March 19, 2010
'Kirstie Alley's Big Life' Where: A&E When: 10 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday Rating: TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children)
January 21, 2010 |
Moustang Brisson is in charge as a founding member of the executive board of the Delmas 36 Committee, representing several blocks' worth of homeless, destitute earthquake survivors. Notebook in hand, he has taken down in careful cursive the names of 389 residents at 36 Delmas Street, all in need of food, water and tents. "If we waited for the Haitian government to help, nou grangou ," Brisson said Thursday, using a Creole expression meaning they'd starve to death. Across Port-au-Prince, block by block, Haitians are arranging themselves into subsets within the chaos around them.
December 21, 2009 |
This being the yuletide season, I made my way to the downtown Los Angeles Toy District the other day, because nothing says "Christmas" to me so much as stepping over piles of garbage to cross the street and shouldering my way past overflowing dumpsters in busy alleys. The Toy District is in a bad way. Established by immigrant entrepreneurs in the 1980s as the center of a thriving wholesale import-export trade in toys and other gewgaws mostly from Hong Kong and China, it has been losing its verve for several years.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 24, 2009 |
It is 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday. Along streets of grimy stucco bungalows with bougainvillea, American flags and "Beware of Dog" signs on chain-link fences, a couple of residents are hosing down lawns. It ought to be quiet, but it's not. Behind the garden walls of Astor Avenue, there's a chugging and a hissing and a clanking and a squeaking. Two yellow locomotives, hooked to cars piled high with metal containers, idle on the track of the Union Pacific. Their stacks spew gray plumes of smoke.
August 14, 2009 |
He dances in the alley when the music's right, remembering the days when he made machine guns during the week and in his off hours slipped on a satin shirt and black-and-white shoes and gathered a band of horn blowers to play weddings along the Nile. He was the singer, a high-rise hairdo and a voice to match. The neighborhood knew him, but the neighborhood pretty much knew everybody; still, Saber Saad felt special, microphone in hand, his two-tones tapping in the lights, the wind carrying his music through marsh grass and out to the desert, dying somewhere beneath the stars.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 4, 2009 |
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has opened an investigation into the death of a man who was found burned in an alley, authorities said Friday. Detectives were called at about 9:10 p.m. Thursday to the 5000 block of Whittier Boulevard near Clela Avenue, where they found the man fatally burned, officials said. Further details were not available. Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff's homicide detectives at (323) 890-5500. -- Ruben Vives