Presenting. . .
BY RIP RENSE.
What's it about?
Read an actual page!
About the author
"ONE OF THE
TOP 40 WORKS OF L.A. FICTION."
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---Dave Lindorff, Counterpunch.org
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The Los Angeles Chronicle
building was a fossil. In 1915, it loomed over the stubby brick office buildings and
whispering beanfields of downtown like an emperor's summer palace. Now, in the year of our
Lord, 1980, it was little more than a bit of history, freakish amid glassy high rises and
maniac buses. Architecturally, it looked liked something based on California missions, and
the Casbah. An Egyptian variation of an Elks' Lodge. . .
© 2002 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
THE LAST BYLINE
--- A dangerous, downright calamitous year in reporter Charles
Bogle's life---part Raymond Chandler and part Bugs Bunny. Enter the baroque
architecture of the 1980 L.A. Chronicle---"Chronic Illness," to
intimates---where ghosts of damned reporters are trapped inside lobby
gargoyles, and the tapping of mechanical typewriters fills the city room.
Bogle treads a line between haplessness and valiance, almost magnetically
attracting murder, maniac editors, union wars, drug overdoses, heart
attacks, even sex. People and events seem drawn to him for definition,
resolution, when all he wants to do is write dog and cat stories. The reader
is taken on a not-so-grand tour of L.A., meeting the likes of Jumping Jimmy
the street saxophonist, priapic Elmer "Ruler of the Cosmos" Cruickshank, and
the rumpled old newsman sage, Shag Hanson. This rambunctious book is a great
tale of what newspapers used to be, and will never be again. (back to
Youll help me, Mr. Bogle. Youre a good man!
says Mary McAbee, silent film star. You aint the type to work for nobody,
Charlie Bogle, says the street sax player, Jumping Jimmy. You lack
grist, spits managing editor Louise Abigail Adams Francis. Youre
nuts, says reporter Beryl Mahoney. Charles Bogle is a lot of things---too many,
maybe. And he finds himself at the heart of absurdity, always---whether spending nights in
an easy chair, nursing old drunks, or trying to break his city editors wrist. This
is the story of a few months of his frightening life, circa 1980, at the Los Angeles
Chronicle, popularly known as the Chronic Illness. In between attempted seductions by
nymphomaniacs and bottles of Scotch, Bogle reluctantly chases down the strange secret of
Elmer Cruickshank, Ruler of the Cosmos--- despite being played for a fool by the LAPD,
FBI, and his own paper. He is beaten, burned, and bamboozled---all the while anchoring the
paper's Back Row, a gallery of journalistic gallantry disguised as a black
militant, coke-head, and hothead. Then there is Bogles avuncular colleague, Shag
Hanson, who between chewing his pipe stem to splinters, observes, The thing to
remember about condescension is that we are all descended from the same con. Bogle
casts a deciding vote in the destiny of all concerned. Or does he?
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