Issue: Summer 2023

Summer Reading

The Hollywood Sign isn’t the only icon celebrating 100 years—Warner Bros. Studios joins the illustrious centennial list. To mark the occasion, Mark A. Viera has compiled Warner Bros. 100 Years of Storytelling, a magnificent 360-page volume featuring its unforgettable stars, untold stories, and rare images from the studio vault bringing a century of entertainment to vivid life. 

The history of Warner Bros. is not just the tale of a legendary film studio and its stars but of Hollywood itself and a portrait of America in the last century. It’s a family story of Polish-Jewish immigrants—the brothers Warner—who took advantage of new opportunities in the burgeoning film industry at a time when four mavericks could invent ways of operating and keep audiences coming back during some of the nation’s darkest days.

Innovation was key to their early success. The studio revolutionized moviemaking introducing sound in The Jazz Singer (1927). It’s the studio that put noir in film, where the iconic Looney Tunes were unleashed on animation, and produced the first anti-Nazi films of WWII.  Counter-culture hits like A Clockwork Orange and The Exorcist brought ‘70s success. Franchise phenomenia like Harry Potter, the DC Universe and more continue to shake a cinematic vision and longevity that is unparalleled in the annals of film history. Warner Bros. history is in good hands with Vieira, a filmmaker, photographer and writer with seventeen books to his credit. This book is a must for everyone who loves filmmaking or just movies in general.

Once in a while something special, out of the box so to speak, comes your way and that’s exactly how I felt meeting Penny Wollan, hearing her story and reading Guest Register.  There’s so much wrapped up in this “coffee table” art book that it’s difficult to sort it all out.

First is the story of a young photography student at Art Center College of Design choosing a photo documentary project for her thesis. There’s a lot of wonder in this such as “I  wonder if…”   Wollan didn’t grow up in Los Angeles and one wonders if the project was one of choice or convenience. Still, renting a room and spending three weeks at the downtrodden St. Francis was no casual occurrence. This was no Holiday Inn.

Each of the 35 images are compelling and the few descriptive lines of text with each tell a story. The photographs are followed by about a dozen pages devoted to the story of St. Francis visit and the years that followed, crediting her success to those three weeks in a hotel in Hollywood. 

Fast forward to today. Reading the story, I was taken by the dignity of her subjects as much as her photography. This was a time when a room could be rented by the week by those living on the fringes. In a note to her from Room No. 540, “Your photo-catalog…is a delicate & definitive realization of a home for those who pretend they are homeless.”  With that observation made nearly 50 years ago, today’s reality of those we call “homeless” is crushing.

When did we lose caring and compassion and provide a room for a week’s rent to keep a roof over their head? Why didn’t we notice when thousands of single room occupancy hotels were repurposed? It didn’t happen overnight. Leafing through the pages and seeing the faces of the lost, the old and the hopeful, one can only ask: “Where did we go wrong?” Guest Register opened my heart and it will open yours too.

In City of Angles, a Hollywood novel, Billy Rosenberg is a workmanlike screenwriter who finds his fate intertwined with would-be starlet Vincenza Morgan in this fiendish and sharp tale of a city where image always trumps reality. Filled with plot twists, wicked humor, and vivid commentary on celebrity culture, author Jonathan Leaf has skillfully crafted a compelling romp which manages to weave murder, drugs, sex cults, modern relationships, and naked ambition together into a tale that lays bare the real Los Angeles—a city where even the angels have an angle.

A smart and sexy modern noir set in the steamy underbelly of 21st century Hollywood, Leaf knows his stuff. In 2018, his play Pushkin was called one of the world’s four best. With his debut novel, he provides readers with an insider’s look at a world he knows—Hollywood. It will keep readers turning the pages.

From the market you haven’t hit yet to the desert getaway you keep meaning to plan, experience something new right here at home with Moon 52 Things to Do in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a magical city that embraces imagination and experimentation. There’s always something unusual and creative to do…and it’s often miles away from the tourist crowds. With Native Angeleno Teena Apeles who grew up in East Hollywood showing the way, this handy book includes cool things to do in and around the city from West Adams to San Pedro and all points in between. You’ll find day trips and weekend getaways, all easily categorized with full-color photos throughout.