* The bridge that stole my heart, the bridge that defined a people, will be a mysterious character in my debut novel. A little eye candy for now, also via the L.A. Times.
* As mentioned earlier, William J. Kelly and I are collaborating on a sequel to Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles that Penguin/The Overlook Press published in fall 2008. Our new subject is one that’s sizzling ’round the world, and centered in East Asia’s emphysemic tiger. Not long ago, Neon Tommy, the fine digital publication put out by USC, did a piece comparing L.A. and the good, ol’ People’s Republic. Bill’s in there.
* Think we’re helpless against climate change? Well, innovations like this might mean those ice caps last a bit longer. “Ford Motor Co. will debut a solar-powered plug-in hybrid at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. The C-Max Solar Energi Concept has solar panels on its roof that can charge the vehicle’s battery. If the technology proves viable in testing this year, Ford thinks it is a way to free some rechargable vehicles from wall sockets.But there’s a catch. The solar panels on top of the C-Max can capture only enough energy to charge up the battery to about one-eighth full — good for maybe three miles of electric-powered driving — during the day. “While solar panels have been making strides in terms of efficiency, even if we put them on the hood, you still couldn’t recharge the battery enough,” said Mike Tinskey, Ford’s director of vehicle electrification and vehicle infrastructure.To make the system more useful the automaker has developed a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass, directing intense rays to solar panels on the vehicle’s roof, Tinskey said …” Story link
* Besides a novel and new environmental book on deck, I have a super-secret other project that I’ve completed. Shhhh. You may one day learn about it if the winds blow the right direction.
* In my stories’ collection, The Vicodin Thieves, one of two new pieces is about my big brother Paul’s encounter with Robert Kennedy, probably a few hours before he was assassinated in the kitchen of the old Ambassador Hotel. Here’s a photograph of his hearse leaving Good Samaritan Hospital, where he died from a killer or killers’ bullets, from the L.A. Times. You can get a sense of my article about RFK and Paul from this excerpt, exclusively pulled from my award-winning little offering. Here goes …
“Suddenly he was there, inside a chic Lincoln Continental, spectacularly unprotected as he grinned at onlookers woozy at what dumb luck had plunked into their midst. The city of movie stars and rock gods had been expecting him, just not in the cool shadows outside of downtown’s Biltmore Hotel. Clearly, history had pulled a fast one. A brown-haired college student palming a metallic device when he stumbled across this scene had no intention of squandering his brush with it. With nobody cordoning him off, he edged close enough to the man-of-the-hour to read his expression.
The whole world was gnawing its cuticles watching to see if the polarizing face in the car could reproduce Camelot within any reasonable facsimile. Of course, the mob despised him, the political left was torn over him and Wall Street and the Kremlin harbored their own sharp opinions. But, as the college kid discovered in the year of the Tet Offensive and LSD-mixed Kool-Aid, the guy behind the excitement was mortal—a floppy-haired man weary around the eyes, facing backwards in the rear seat of somebody’s chrome-and- leather luxury sedan. Robert Francis Kennedy might have wanted to take a whiz or grab a Phillipe’s French Dip nearby if not for his excursion in the filtered sunlight near Fifth Street and Grand Avenue.
RFK, an adventurer, the first to dive into frigid waters and an armchair philosopher apt to quote the ancient Greeks, was achingly aware of his vulnerability to assassins by the time he had arrived here for the 1968 California primary. Outwardly, the New York Senator and former U.S. Attorney General in his older brother’s administration ridiculed his fear of being murdered as tiny com- pared to his determination to achieve a higher good. Even so, palpable threats made him flinch, if not more fatalistic where the public could not see. “Everybody,” one insider explained, “remembered Dallas.”
But did anyone learn from it where it counted? The young man with the camera—my older brother, Paul Jacobs—was able to get within about a dozen feet of the next potential leader of the free world until, finally, a staffer shooed him away. The resulting two photographs from a borrowed Nikon Nikorrmat 35mm camera caught RFK in unscripted poses, and not just any, either. Because Paul likely took them hours before infamy doubled down in the kitchen of the sprawling, Myron Hunt-designed Ambassador Hotel, he unknowingly had on film a pair of the last privately captured photos of the second Kennedy to die on the job …”