Miss Lonelyhearts

July 18, 2012

Nathanael West, born Wallenstein in NYC, died in a car crash in El Centro, CA, buried in Queens.  Two novels make his name:  Miss Lonelyhearts, the story of soul tortured by religion and self-contempt in 1930s Los Angeles, making his living ‘writing’ an advice column; and The Day of the Locust, a harrowing story of degradation and violence in Hollywood.  Both are great, but Locust is far the best of the two, I think. 

Funny, I don’t read West’s name in association with noir, but then, he is way beyond noir into his own vortex of human tragedy.  Noir is too ironic and entertaining for real tragedy, I think…

Story goes that he ran a stop sign and died in a crash, his wife died too, when he heard on the radio that his good friend F. Scott Fitzgerald was dead.  In El Centro of all places, and one that I actually visited.

The face of America today

August 13, 2009


Senator Arlen Spector faces off against a dissenting constituent, a member of one of the posses of crazies who say Obama is “making our country like Russia.”  We don’t need no stinkin’ health care!!

Meanwhile, in southern California, thousands line up to get free dental care, general exams, and other medical attention.  Thousands, with families, some employed, some insured! But they can’t afford this care that is being offered free by a philanthropic organization.  I guess they don’t have time to harass and shout down their congressmen what with having to stand in line all day to get a tooth pulled.

And finally, a hard-hitting story on NPR about the California prison system.  You know, where the inmates were rioting.  And judges are ordering men released because of the inhuman crowding they are enduring on the inside.  And why are the prisons so crowded..?  Filled to the brim with rapists and murderers?  No…the population on the inside has exploded by a factor of eight over the last 20 years because of unbelievably harsh “three strikes and you’re out” laws.  If you are convicted of a third felony, like shoplifting more than $500 worth of stuff, you are in for life.  INSANE!

What sort of magical thinking led people to believe this would solve the social problem of crack addiction?  Lock them up, and throw away the key.  Fortunately, we are still more civilized than that, and now the people are having to pay the piper.  Who is that piper?  According to this report, it is the Corrections Officers Union, which benefits mightily from the growth of the prison population.