L.A. Noir: The Donut Man

“I was driving for a tow company in L.A. We had official police tow contracts for three cities and it was busy, with lots of freeway work. Towing stuff for cops, AAA stuff, and crashes. You know, the crashes can get gory as hell.”

“There was this one driver named Ralphie Bermudez. Ralphie liked crashes, gory ones. The gorier the better, stuff that nobody wanted to see. He loved that shit.”

“So he’d show up at just about every really splattery gross crash, but he’d stop on the way. And he’d get a dozen jelly donuts and bring them to the scene.”

“He’d walk up eating one, try to hand them out, kinda squeeze them at people. ‘Who wants a jelly donut? Jelly donuts for everyone!’ People would get grossed out, like, c’mon Ralphie. That’s not cool. He’d just keep chuckling.”

“Yeah, that was Ralphie. Jelly donut Ralphie.”

From the top of a mountain over Los Angeles

My friend Greg lives on Mount Washington, looking down on much of Los Angeles. He and his friends are all musicians, and we BBQd and played and listened and talked yesterday and last night. I’ve known him since 1985. He’s a great musician and a good friend.

This is looking down on Lincoln Heights and East Los Angeles with a couple of the musicians jamming in the garage behind me.

The whole thing was magical.

Today in Punk Rock History: Elks Lodge Riot ’79


That’s a good starting point. St. Patrick’s Day, 1979: An all ages show at the Elks Club in Los Angeles degenerates into a police riot. The cops just invaded and beat the hell out of everyone. There are photos on a few of the linked sites of various injured punks.

As others have said, that was the end of innocence. It was war between the LAPD and punks after that.

This all happened when I was just finishing junior high school in Orange County, so I didn’t have the opportunity to be attacked by the LAPD until my freshman year of college when I was in a crowd at the Street Scene and they charged us with horses, medieval style.

LA Stories: The Mysterious Gang

For the first half of the 1990s I worked at a hospital near downtown Los Angeles.

The hospital itself is an old, fine institution that provides excellent care. I was proud to work there. The neighborhood, however, was dangerous. The Pico-Union/Westlake district, otherwise known as the LAPD’s Rampart Division, had the worst numbers for population density, low income, and violent crime in the entire city.

Drug sales and gang gunfights were common, and strongarm street robberies were a constant threat. Central American, Mexican, Filipino and even Japanese gangsters were all competing for drug territory.

For the last two years of my employment I lived in hospital-provided housing. The commute was across the street and the rent was subsidized: great deal! But I had to deal with the neighborhood: not great.

Around the corner from my building (“The Pink Palace”) there was another hospital-owned apartment building. It was used as a kind of hotel for patients’ families who had to come from afar, and also housed some aged poor people per the donor’s charter. You could see these old folks lurching about the neighborhood looking frail, and I was always afraid they’d be killed and eaten by the locals.

There was a lot of graffiti. Most of it was incomprehensible but I enjoyed trying to figure it out. I knew what a crossed out name or 187 meant, but most of the rest was a blur. The gang members’ names were great too. But I was unable to predict oncoming battles or anything neat like that.

One day I noticed a new graffiti pattern. Near the hospital, on sidewalks and news boxes and transformer cases, I saw sharpie’d tags of the typical kind, but with a weird message: GRINGOS WORLDWIDE. Some of them said GRINGOS WORLDWIDE KILLERS.

What the hell? I’d never seen an obviously white gangbanger around here, except maybe some guys who got in one of the Spanish-speaking crews. And who would call themselves gringos? That’s not even proper street talk! I wondered if some college kids were commuting in to prank, or if the LAPD had finally snapped and gone into surrealist mode.

Coming back from the liquor store that week I saw one of our impoverished senior citizen tenants strolling down 6th Street He was a typical old white guy: polyester sansabelt pants, old sneakers, nylon windbreaker, fishing hat. He stopped in front of a transformer box, whipped out a Sharpie, and wrote GRINGOS WORLDWIDE FOR LIFE on the green metal. He then turned and looked at me defiantly.

I avoided his gaze and just strolled by, murmuring “sup.” Because that’s what you do with gangbangers. Otherwise, who knows what might happen?

As goes the nation, goes the LA Weekly

The neocons take over in the expected putsch after the New Times bought them.

I assume the OC Weekly is on the list for the same treatment. Should be easier here, since finding someone who isn’t a right-wing loudmouth is nearly impossible.

Nothing is enough for these people. They’re not satisfied with owning the national news media outlets, the cable TV news, the newspapers, the magazines. They have to go after the free weeklies where seldom-read lefties tag along after the entertainment listings, and root that out too. It’s not like Harold Meyerson et al. were hugely influential — everyone reads a paper like that for the listings and the ads — but the Big Right-Wing Crusher Hand has to get everyone.

And now the New Times neo-con talk-radio-style tabloid monster has eaten almost all the notable free weeklies in the country.

These people want more than a voice. They want to reverse and destroy every single thing about the rebellion of the 1960s, go back and win every argument they lost about the war and Watergate and race and gender, eat and shit out every pop culture item that might contain subversion, and burn down the universities where their professors confused them with suspiciously foreign intellectualism.

Welcome to Talk Radio Nation: Boomer sell-outs, ignorant neo-cons, privileged post-literate suits, and their slaves.

Long live the LA City Beat.