Trouble at the Yoyodyne plant

Our own local nuke disaster! Two cheers for Rocketdyne.

An odd thing about Rocketdyne. There was an incident at that same Simi plant in the 1980s where they had some bad rocket fuel chemicals they had to get rid of. To avoid the complicated and expensive right way of doing things, they sent a couple of guys out on the range to burn the toxic rocket goop. Instead it blew up and killed both of them. One of them shared my (very rare) last name and is therefore almost certain to be my relative.

Another odd thing about this story: The Rocketdyne plant and the nuclear accident were both up in Santa Susana, which is where Charlie Manson lived. Hmm.

Study Says Lab Meltdown Caused Cancer
Scientists say details about the 1959 accident near Simi Valley continue to be withheld. Other contamination at the site is much clearer.
By Amanda Covarrubias
Times Staff Writer

October 6, 2006

Radioactive emissions from a 1959 nuclear accident at a research lab near Simi Valley appear to have been much greater than previously suspected and could have resulted in hundreds of cancers in surrounding communities, according to a study released Thursday.

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The Sunken City of San Pedro

When they said that California would fall into the sea, they weren’t kidding! Well, at least that was the case of San Pedro, California. In 1929 a sizeable section of land in the southern tip of San Pedro began to unexplainably slip into the sea. The 600 block of Paseo Del Mar began moving seaward in 1929 and continued to slip until the mid 1930s. Movement was measured as high as 11 inches a day. Due to quick action, all but two of the houses on the seaward side of the street were moved before toppling into the sea. The eastern section of Point Fermin Park was lost and the entire area is very unstable, yet not moving at the present time. Geologists have termed this phenomenon as a “slump” and this area has been featured in many geological studies and books. This geological mystery also occurs about 4 or 5 miles up the coast from this spot at Portuguese Bend in Rancho Palos Verdes. The Portuguese Bend Slide Area is still moving and slipping into the sea. Palos Verdes Drive South, the main road through the area, has to be refurbished continuously and frequently as it is constantly being displaced by the movement. This area is closed by chain link fencing, but may still be viewed at the south end of Pacific Avenue or the east end of Pt. Fermin Park at Paso Del Mar and Gaffey Street. —

San Pedro’s Sunken City – Flickr Photoset

via this post on, which also has a fascinating link to a shipwreck site in Palos Verdes.

Shipwrecks and sunken cities right here in Southern California! Neato!

Edward Hopper at Dolores Restaurant at 3 am, 1987

When I lived in Los Angeles and didn’t have a car, I walked the city a lot. Frequently I did this at night because I was nocturnal and having depressive problems.

There were a lot of hours spent on the streets of West L.A. and Hollywood. I peered in store windows, read newsboxes and flyers, talked to street people. I read cheap paperbacks in all-night coffeehouses to keep my mind off whatever was eating me. When they were running, I took buses, but walking was more reliable.

When you’re a pedestrian at night on a street like Pico Boulevard or Bundy, you’re invisible. Cars blow past you at 50 all lit up and blasting music. Buses will leave you at the bench yelling and waving as the driver zones out heading for his turnaround. Even the other night pedestrians keep their heads down and look straight ahead much of the time. Only an occasional cop will see you, slow down and shine his light for a moment, or maybe even get out and make you play “who am I?” in case you’re trouble.

That’s how I learned that the world is made of broken concrete and asphalt. It’s a dry, chilly place lit by fluorescent bulbs. In the distance you can always hear a freeway and a siren or two, and there’s always an airplane in the sky. Other people are crazy, dangerous, or just boring. Everything costs money. And a cup of bad coffee and a book are not much of a defense against that or the enemies within.

childhood heroines


At the Elks Lodge police riot, at which L.A.P.D. stormtroopers launched a violent and unprovoked surprise attack upon an actually placid punk rock audience…Barb flattened 10 L.A.P.D. officers simultaneously with an uprooted ‘No Parking’ sign. They had hurt her sister. She got arrested. In court, when the judge asked to see the ‘weapon’ used to assault the police officers, this 12 foot long ‘No Parking’ sign was carried in, as the judge gazed at skinny alone blond Barbara and formed a mental picture of the 10 officers eating dirt. Do you have to ask if this girl can sing?

more at Alice Bag and her blog, Diary of a Bad Housewife.

Westwood Memory (I may have posted this before)

Some time in the late 1980s I was in Westwood Village, which is the part of L.A. just south of UCLA. It had been a big entertainment district, the place to be on Friday and Saturday Night, but was in a steep decline. Most of the fancy stores and restaurants had gone, things were dirty, and most of the pedestrians were lost souls. I was among them, since I was taking the bus from my unsuccessful psychotherapist back to my grimy Hollywood apartment.

It was maybe 9 pm, cold and blustery, and the first drops of rain were moistening the blowing trash so it stuck to people and objects unpleasantly. Coming up towards the bus stop, I came upon this scene:

In the doorway to an office building, one of the local homeless poor had set up camp. He was about 35, dressed in what had once been a decent suit which was torn and stained and shedding buttons. He himself had a mop of blonde hair and a dirty face wreathed in a joyous smile. He had a boom box going full blast and was singing along lustily, with a cap on the ground in hopes that someone would reward this piece of impromptu street karaoke.

The song he was performing? Barry Manilow’s 1976 hit “Looks Like We Made It“.

I still wonder about that guy. He certainly wasn’t seeing the dingy, damp, urban failure in front of him, or the RTD bus or the other bums or me in my jeans & jacket & backpack looking at him in horror. He was in heaven, maybe onstage in Vegas. Maybe he even was Barry. Looks like we maaaaaaaade it! I wonder what happened to him?

Calling local crazy guitarists: be in a Branca performance

Via Mike Watt on Myspace:


Here’s the info for the upcoming performance of: “Symphony No.13 (Hallucination City)” for 80 guitars, 20 basses and drums. The original version premiered at the former WTC on June 13, 2001. The revised version, in four movements, premiered at the Kasser Theater at Montclair St. University, NJ. on Feb. 4, 2006.

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