California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA


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Jack London in Paradise: Author event at Book Soup in L.A. Jan. 15

Paul Malmont presents and signs Jack London in Paradise, his new book about the eminent Californian.  From the Book Soup website:

Explorer. Social activist. Romantic. Self-educated genius. White Fang. Call of the Wild. Martin Eden. The Sea-Wolf. Generations worldwide have been thrilled by his tales, probably never realizing how true to life they really were. He did not imagine the hardships and brutality of life in the Yukon, on the high seas, or in the back alleys of Oakland. He lived them. Few men were his equal and only one woman ever fully captivated his heart. By the time he was forty, no American was more famous. And in the winter of 1915, the great writer set sail on one last adventure.

Thurs., Jan. 15, 2009, 7:oo p.m., at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood CA 90069.


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Smogtown: Author Event at Book Soup in L.A. Jan. 8

At Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Chip Jacobs presents and signs his new book, Smogtown.  From the Book Soup website:

Smogtown is the story of pollution, progress, and how an optimistic people confronted the epic struggle against aerial poisons barraging their hometowns. With wit, verve, and a new look at history through never-before-compiled sources, it highlights the bold personalities involved, the corporate-tainted science, the terrifying health costs, the Buck Rogers-like attempts at cleanup, and how the smog battle helped mold the modern-day culture of Los Angeles.

Thurs., Jan. 8, 2009, 7:oo p.m., at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood CA 90069.


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UC San Diego Libraries Acquire Papers of San Diego Pioneer Ephraim W. Morse

The University of California, San Diego Libraries have acquired the papers of Ephraim Weed Morse, an energetic and ambitious mover-and-shaker who lived in San Diego from 1850 until his death in 1906, and played a leading role in the development of early San Diego.

“This rich and substantive archive forms an important cornerstone of early San Diego history,” said Steven Erie, director of UC San Diego’s Urban Studies and Planning Program. “Having this treasure trove of letters, civic papers and records, and other memorabilia here in San Diego is a major benefit for students and scholars of San Diego history, at UC San Diego and beyond.  The mid-late 1800’s were a critical time in San Diego’s development as a city.  The Morse Papers reflect that history in a very candid, open, and accessible way.”

For more information, click here.


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“It Came from Berkeley” – Author event at Books Inc. in Opera Plaza store (San Francisco)

Local author Dave Weinstein promises to take readers on a magical (and historical) tour of Berkeley with a discussion of his book It Came From Berkeley. Books Inc. in Opera Plaza.

Time: Friday, December 12, 2008 7:00 p.m.

Location: Books Inc. in Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94102

For more information click here.


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David Stark Wilson author event at the Marin Book Passage Bookstore on California’s highest peaks

At the Marin branch of the Book Passage Bookstore, on Dec. 6, at 7:00 p.m., David Stark Wilson will talk about Above All: Mount Whitney and California’s Highest Peaks ($35.00). Photographer and mountaineer David Stark Wilson captures the treacherous beauty of these summits and the surrounding panorama, evoking a broad range of emotion—from excitement and allure to a quieter sense of peace, reverence, and awe. Steve Roper, a well-known climber and historian, provides accompanying text.

Sat., Dec. 6, 7:00 pm.

Book Passage Bookstore, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925, Phone: (415) 927-0960.


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Men of a Different Nature: John Muir and Wallace Stegner; Lecture and book signing at the Autry Museum

As one of the Autry National Center’s new Nadine Carson Forum series of programs, the Autry will host a program on Saturday, December 13, 2008, 3–4:30 pm, about John Muir and Wallace Stegner, entitled: “Men of a Different Nature: John Muir and Wallace Stegner.”

Donald E. Worster, author of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir, and Philip L. Fradkin, author of Wallace Stegner and the American West, discuss their respective new books about these pioneering Western environmentalist. A brief reception and book signing follow.

For more formation, see the Autry’s calendar.


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“A Mulholland Christmas Carol” – 5th run of L.A. Christmas Tradition

From Julia Stein:

Los Angeles now has its own holiday play tradition with this 5th run of Bill Robens’ musical A Mulholland Christmas Carol. The play is at A Sacred Fool theater, 660 No. Heliotrope, for a pre-Christmas run and is presented by two fine small theaters–Sacred Fools and Theater of Note. The play, the best written about Los Angeles since Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit, shows the choice between greed or generosity and is particularly appropriate for the 2008 holiday season in the new recession.

Robens rewrites Dickens class tale “A Christmas Carol” about greed, poverty, and justice making Ebenezer Scrooge, the mean spirited wealthy man, into William Mulholland, the man who built Los Angeles Department of Water and Power at the beginning of the 20th century. A small band with violin, keyboards, guitar, bass, and drummer played the score while the excellent cast sings the wonderful musical numbers. The show also has fine choreography including the Owens Valley farmers dancing traditional country dances while they sing “Our Owens Valley Song,” a song of praise to rural California.

The story begins the day before Christmas when Mulholland at his DWP office won’t give the drought-struck Owens Valley farmers any water and threatens to lay off his clerk Van Norman. That night Mulholland is visited by four ghosts. The first is Fred Eaton, ex-mayor of Los Angeles who helped Mulholland steal Owens Valley water, now a ghost in chains. The next ghost is explorer John Wesley Powell as Ghost of Christmas past who shows Mulholland scenes of his youth when he first came to Los Angeles as a poor idealistic young man who sings “Los Angeles River,” a lovely song to L.A.’s very own river.

The play delightfully satirizes water politics and corruption in the song “Land Grab” with Harrison Gray Otis, builder of the Los Angeles Times newspaper; Moses Sherman, developer of the city’s first electric car system; and rest of the cast singing and dancing out how a few Los Angeles wealthy men led a land grab to get all of Owen’s Valley Water leading to a twenty years water war.

The next Ghost of Christmas present is Teddy Roosevelt who along with Mulholland sing Roosevelt’s mantra “Bully” about forging ahead to get what you want before the Ghost shows Mulholland the suffering of Owens Valley farmers in the drought-stricken region as well as the poor Christmas of his clerk Van Norman and his family.

The Ghost of Christmas Future, a black robbed figure, points out to old Mulholland two alternative futures. He can continue to build the Saint Francis Dam which will then burst–it really did spectacularly burst onstage–to drown hundreds or he can stop building the dam and share his water with the Owens Valley farmers and his wealth with his clerk Van Norman and his family helping them have a better Christmas. The alternative futures in December, 2008, are California alternative futures.

So rush to this show if you want to have a real Los Angeles holiday play. Also, hopefully the play will be videotaped as well as a recording made of the score and songs. The play is the most wonderful way to teach history, so a videotape as well as CD should be in Los Angeles’ libraries as well as its schools.

For more information:
Sacred Fools Theater Company
660 No. Heliotrope, Los Angeles Ca 90004
310-281-8337
www.SacredFools.org