Tag Archives: Eve’s Hollywood

The 10 Best Books of 2015

In the humble opinion of one of our editors…

1 2 3 4 5

See what we said about them:

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud

I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Mort(e) by Robert Repino

Jillian by Halle Butler

Eve’s Hollywood by Eve Babitz

Making Nice by Matt Sumell

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The Watts Riots

The Watts Riots

I spent the riots in a penthouse at the Chateau Marmont with this ex-philosophy major from Stanford whose family owned all the more oily pieces of land in Arizona, Mexico and California and who had taken up the profession of herding cattle. He was a Stanford Cowboy, is how I always thought of him in my mind. He showed me his spurs so I’d believe him and his saddle bags. In his saddle bags he kept his prize possessions, books on magic and the works of Alistair Crowley. His horse must have felt like a roving library. The police shot this guy in a car while he was taking his wife to the hospital to have a baby just as Nicky, the Stanford Cowboy, must have been checking into the Chateau that evening, having driven from Indio, the desert where the Santa Ana winds came from.

The guy getting shot in Watts made the winds, I think, like escaping gas, explode.

L.A. was closed.

There were no cars out on the streets. Everyone was home watching tv, where Joe Pine had dumped a satchelful of guns out onto his podium and explained that he was not about to let anyone try and get his stuff away from him, never mind his wife and daughters.

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Eve Babitz

Babitz

To those of us growing up in the Northeast in the 1960s, California was a foreign country and Los Angeles its capital. Actual foreign capitals like London and Paris seemed more familiar. At the root of our deep mistrust was the Yankee conviction that weather is a defining force in shaping human character—that harsh winters instill Calvinist rigor in those obliged to withstand them, that perpetual summer would inevitably corrode morals and the will to work. All those hillsides ablaze, those earthquakes rattling the china, struck us as fire-and-brimstone reminders that people were never meant to live in LA in the first place—reminders unheeded by the local residents, a bunch of confirmed hedonists who lived in the moment, turning their backs on Europe and the past, facing the sunset and the sea.

In short, there was nothing about LA that would have led us to expect that a serious writer could emerge from it. Until one did, and rose to fame as an exalted practitioner of the inventive, highly personal journalism that dominated the 1970s. That was Joan Didion, whose name, alongside her husband’s, appears in the roll call of dedications with which Eve Babitz opens Eve’s Hollywood: “To the Didion-Dunnes for having to be who I’m not.” Didion, along with John Gregory Dunne, had decamped to New York, and from that distant vantage she wrote about Los Angeles in terms that flattered us Northeasterners into believing we’d been right all along.

It was Babitz who finally—unapologetically—gave voice to LA’s unique appeal and laid to rest the by then weary notion of the city as a cultural wasteland. For this, she was supremely qualified. With a father who was a baroque musicologist and violinist under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox, a mother who was an artist, and a godfather who was Igor Stravinsky, Babitz grew up surrounded by a circle of illustrious family friends that included Edward James, Joseph Szigeti, Eugene Berman, Marilyn Horne, Kenneth Rexroth, and Kenneth Patchett, with poetry readings in the living room and premieres of works by Arnold Schoenberg under the palms. Continue reading

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