Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Infancy of Polling

Sept. 9, 1907
Los Angeles

More than a year before the 1908 presidential election, Republican William Howard Taft is far and away the favorite over Democrat William Jennings Bryan in a straw poll reported by The Times.

Taft has strong support across the board, particularly in surveys at the Hellman Building (144 vs. 28 for Bryan), City Banks (192 vs. 31) and the Soldiers Home at Sawtelle (202 vs. 30). Most of the tallies are quite lopsided in favor of Taft. The closest contest is at the wholesale houses, (75 vs. 62).

The final U.S. vote by county is here

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Friday, September 08, 2006

A Flirtation Goes Awry

Sept. 8, 1907
Los Angeles

Jack Foster, a handsome, blond actor who is the toast of the vaudeville circuit, noticed a young lady standing at 3rd Street and Main after a show.

Seeing that she was alone, Foster said: “Rather late for you to be out all by yourself, isn’t it, girlie?”

The young woman—Mrs. R.C. Wilson—replied: “Let me alone and go about your business. My husband is coming here now.”

It seems that the Wilsons had attended a show and while waiting for the streetcar, Mr. Wilson left his wife at the corner so he could go buy a cigar.

When Wilson returned, he found his wife in tears. She pointed at Foster and murmured that he had insulted her. Wilson responded by taking after the actor and only a policeman’s intervention prevented a fight.

In court, Justice Chambers fined Foster $90 ($1,847.12 USD 2005) in lieu of time on the city chain gang and said: “This insulting of young women has got to stop and it will go hard with anyone convicted of that offense in my court.”

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Aren't We Healthy?

Sept. 7, 1907
Los Angeles

Henry Sief of the health office has released the latest figures on infectious diseases in Los Angeles and the news is wonderful.

There were only 20 cases of diphtheria in August, a 31% decrease from the 29 cases in July. Scarlet fever was down to 9 cases in August, a 55% drop from July, when there were 20. Tuberculosis is down to 10 cases from 24.

Best of all, there were no measles or smallpox cases, Sief says, while there was one smallpox case in July.

Typhoid, however, is on the rise, with 15 new cases in August, compared with 12 cases in July.

Mathematical problems, alas, prevent us from knowing the exact mortality figures for August 1907. The Times reports that deaths included 61 Los Angeles natives, 163 people from Pacific Coast states and 251 from elsewhere in the U.S., then gives the total of 328 as opposed to 475. Sixty-one people, or 12.8 percent, died of tuberculosis, The Times says.

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Interring the Short-Handled Log Implement

An incredibly curious thing happened yesterday. I’ve been taping segments for an “America’s Most Wanted” episode on the Black Dahlia and the producer called to see if they could get some shots of me in the Biltmore bar talking to Detective Brian Carr, who is assigned to the case.

The Biltmore usually charges astronomical fees for filming and sometimes even buckets of money won’t gain access if the shoot is related to the Black Dahlia, which I learned with another TV production. However, Universal came up with buckets and buckets of money to rent big chunks of the hotel, (including the 10th floor with the Presidential Suite) for a press event publicizing Brian De Palma’s upcoming movie.

Of course I agreed, so Brian Carr and I set up in the bar (hyped mercilessly by the hotel as being the spot where Elizabeth Short was last seen—in reality, an absurd claim that shows what people want to believe about the Black Dahlia case. For the record, Elizabeth Short didn’t drink for most of her life and when she did, it was very moderately). We had a nice chat on camera.

Then the producer, Fred Peabody, said that James Ellroy was in the hotel and it would be nice to get a shot of the three of us. Mind you, Brian Carr and I have decent roles in the 2001 documentary “James Ellroy’s Feast of Death” where I get into my Black Dahlia research and James voices strong support for my scenario involving Walter Bayley as a possible suspect. And then, as most people know, James wrote the introduction to Steve Hodel’s “Black Dahlia Avenger” that says “Steve convinced me” that George Hodel was the killer. Brian has even more contempt for the Hodel scenario than I.

So Brian and I were rather curious as to how James would react to us on camera. The five of us (camera operator, sound man, producer, Brian and I) went up to the Presidential Suite to find James. After waiting about half an hour because it was around lunch, Peabody came back with James.

And the first thing James said when he came into the room and warmly shook our hands was: “Don’t anybody say the name ‘Steve Hodel.’ ”

We talked and joked for a few minutes on camera. I said: “The last time the three of us were together, Nick Nolte showed up wearing a bathrobe covered with dog hair” and we all laughed. Brian twisted James’ tail about not getting a ticket to the premiere, so James got him one immediately. And James asked me if I still had the same phone number at The Times. I said yes, adding: “You know where to find me.”

James shook hands and promised: “I’ll call you next week and we will discuss times past.” I hope he calls. It was good to see the old boy. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing that life brings to us with age.

Woof, daddy-o.

Ps. Yes, I passed Scarlett Johansson in the hallway. I only got a moment’s impression of her, and I could certainly be wrong. But speaking as a parent, I wouldn’t want my 21-year-old son to be dating her, although he would surely disagree.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Gosh, I upped my bid on James Ellroy's copies of "Black Dahlia Avenger" (the hardback and paperback) but was outbid. Darn. I'm going to do my best to get them over $25, though. Don't you think primo Dahlia material is worth more than a couple of pizzas?

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Little Devil

Sept. 5, 1907
Los Angeles

Poor old Mrs. Moore was ill, so instead of paying the grocer his monthly bill, she put a $10 gold piece in an envelope and told her 9-year-old son, Cecil, to take it to him. But Cecil, of 155 W. 51st St., tore open the envelope, found the $10 ($205.24 USD 2005) and got other ideas, none of them good.

First, Cecil treated his chums to sodas at a delicatessen, then he was off for trolley rides to see the city. For the last two days, he has kept one step ahead of police officers, telling his pals that he plans to visit all the local beaches and “see what’s going on.”

“Cecil has been in the Juvenile Court and is on probation. An effort will be made to send him to the reformatory at Whittier—when he is caught,” The Times said.

What’s this? Google Earth shows that the Cecil Moore Incorrigible Child HQ is still standing.

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I couldn’t stand the thought of James Ellroy’s copies of “Black Dahlia Avenger” going for so little on EBay. After all, don’t people know the book has been optioned by New Line Cinema? Surely books that are inscribed to the Demon Dog of American Fiction are worth more than $20. So I bumped up my bids by 50 cents on the hardback and paperback.


As mentioned on L.A. Observed.

My prediction? Once people see the Brian De Palma movie, the Black Dahlia will be radioactive at the box office for years to come. Read a review from the Venice Film Festival.
During the first hour, the hope that the director has tapped into something really great mounts with each passing minute. Then, gradually, the feverish pulp imagination of James Ellroy, on whose novel Josh Friedman based his screenplay, feeds into De Palma's dark side. The violence grows absurd, emotions get overplayed, and the film revels once too often in its gleeful depiction of corrupt, decadent old Los Angeles. Disappointingly, the film edges dangerously into camp.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

So Rude!

My goodness, one never knows what will turn up on Ebay. This morning I found a copy of “Black Dahlia Avenger” inscribed by Steve Hodel to James Ellroy, who wrote the introduction to the paperback, praising Hodel’s work and endorsing his solution.

And bidding started at $19.99.

Nice way to treat your “blood brother,” James. I don't know whether the gods are laughing--but I am.

But wait!

Can it be?

Here's the paperback version of "Avenger" inscribed to Ellroy, which carries Ellroy's forward to the case!

With bids starting at $19.99? That's only $5.04 over the original price. I just have to put in a 50-cent bid on this puppy. The happy face alone is worth it.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Labor Day Oration

Sept. 3, 1907
Editorial, Los Angeles Times

“I have no patience with the prejudices which exist between alleged classes when the classes themselves do not exist. There is no reason for hostility between employer and employee, between capitalist and wage earner. A condition of class hatred, such as has developed in Colorado, is a curse to this country.”

The utterer of these excellent sentiments was W.R. Hearst, orator of the day at the Jamestown Exposition yesterday—whose string of yellow socialistic newspapers and magazines has done more than any other agency existing to foment prejudice and class hatred and arouse reasonless hostility between capitalists and wage earners.

The first few hundred words of Hearst’s speech read like a prelude to a scathing arraignment of the New York Journal and American for their persistent efforts to teach the working people of America that they are the slaves of the “predatory rich”; that every corporation is a conspiracy to rob; that all capitalists are brainless brutes; that the government of the United States is a corrupt glutocracy; that the non-union laborer is a pest to be exterminated; that a “captain of industry’ is a pirate and that the only hope of salvation for downtrodden labor in this country lies in revolution and the “speeding to Washington of the bullet that killed Goebel.”

In a stern rebuke of his own editorial writers and cartoonists, Mr. Hearst said:

We have no aristocracy save that of intellect and industry, and the proudest title of our most successful millionaire is “captain of industry.”

The true captain of industry is the general of our industrial army. He cannot do without soldiers, and yet, no matter how well the soldiers fight, the victory depends very largely on the general’s skillful conduct of the campaign.

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