Monday, May 24, 2021

Introducing Pico’s John Wayne Formica

Think of Pico’s “Explore the Central Coast Winemaker Series” as Chef John Wayne Formica’s coming-out party. Formica officially became chef of the restaurant, which lives inside the Los Alamos General Store, on March 3, 2020, but then COVID cruelly crashed his party two weeks later. The restaurant, as he puts it, “bobbed and weaved” through the pandemic’s tiers and openings and closings over the next year — Zoom cooking classes for 70, takeout trials, and supporting the Feed the Valley project led by Bell’s down the road. But now, as the vaccines improve our outlook, Pico finally gets to shine under Formica’s vision.

Want to read the rest then do so at the Independent's site. (P.S. You will encounter the pork chop above in the story.)

Monday, May 17, 2021

Growing Up in Public


It’s 1981, a few months after U2 released their debut album Boy. Perhaps the editors at The News-Letter knew a good joke when they saw one, so they assigned a boy to review it. That’s how I, a freshman and not even 18 yet, got to pen a review that’s not quite as embarrassing as I feared it would be upon re-reading it 40 years later. “Since all members of this group are under 21, musical history could be rewritten if this act gets itself together,” I offered in a bet-hedging opening graph. 

Of course, there’s that old line about all criticism being a form of autobiography. The News-Letter was certainly a place where one could get oneself together, and I’m pretty sure the first time I crossed the Gatehouse’s drawbridge I was terrified the crocodiles of my own lack of confidence swam beneath. Everyone inside seemed so much older, wiser and wittier, so I’d drop off my Smith-Corona-typed copy and scamper back to Gildersleeve, convinced the whiff of clove cigarettes stuck to my clothes. (I could be confusing the cigarette smoke with the air in the Hut — yes, in the early 1980s people still smoked everywhere.)

Care to read the rest then do so at the magazine celebrating the 135th anniversary of the Johns Hopkins News-Letter. I did not write there at its inception.... (It was cool to be part of this project!)

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Review of "Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught Between" by Eric Nusbaum


If there were any justice, the names Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop would be as well-remembered a baseball triumvirate as Tinker, Evers, and Chance. But if there were justice, there’d be no need for Eric Nusbaum’s wide-ranging, moving, and powerful history Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught Between. That first list of three names are the Mexican-American communities that existed in what we now know as Chávez Ravine, erased by history. Nusbaum’s book helps us see the vibrant life of those communities, done in at first by what was (arguably) a misguided desire to build public housing, but eventually became the golden real estate opportunity for Walter O’Malley to leave Brooklyn and bring Dodger baseball to the west coast.

Want to read the rest then do so at the California Review of Books.