Groundworks Coffee in North Hollywood’s old train station is a writer’s paradise. Twenty years ago Starbucks were designed with old wood floors and velvet couches where one could hang out and read or just listen to jazz with their coffee. Today, their barebones “buy our mass produced liquids and leave” philosophy has made an American “hangout” not overcrowded by the homeless very difficult. Americans have always loved a coffee shop in order to conduct life. LA Confidential, Pulp Fiction, and The Big Lebowski all use this venue to deliver their best scenes and lines.
Writers love coffee shops and bars. Period. Life waltzs by and stories pour out naked and unafraid. Groundworks is built in a historic train station where the Southern Pacific ran electric lines through the Valley one hundred years ago. In the 1920’s it was one of the largest such sytems in the world. Groundworks sits in that same era. Wooden and old school, their coffee is good and there is plenty of room. Even when it is almost full, it doesn’t seem crowded. The spacious dining area is complimented by a giant outside balcony where the platform used to hold ticket holders.
A cute young couple sprinkles sugar, grain by grain into their common cup while forking their kale salad in each other’s mouths. Serious writers type away into Final Draft and are joined by dwellers without home internet who conduct business and wireless realtionships around the world. Buses and sirens infrequently break the sound barrier but the overall atmostphere is calm and quiet.
A three bladed ceiling fan stirs a graveyard of LA Weekly copies that rustle and snap. I recently boycotted the LA Weakly and want to explain my frustration.
LA Weekly has been around since 1978. Jay Levin, Michael Douglas, and some other fine humans pooled their resources and founded our mainstay of an alternative newspaper. Printed and distributed weekly (hence the name), it soon became Los Angeles answer to New Yorks’ own Village Voice. Edgy and topical, LAW served us with the hard to find out word on the street, trends in music, art, theater, and food. Movie reviews were world class, and polictial insight was topnotch. Stories of police brutality, cruel landlords, and homeless situations brought about change when no other voice could. It was always free. Supported by ads from strip clubs, marijuana doctors, restaurants and bars, it was rare to find a copy by Friday as the paper came to call on Thursday. The payroll included many Pulitzer Prize winners along with my favorite, Henry Rollins.
November 2017 was a dark day here in SOCAL. A mysterious group of investors with dubious motives called “Semanal Media LLC” bought the beloved paper and immediately fish gutted it. Men with ties to Orange County politics and Tea Party money fired most of the talent as Henry Rollins quit in protest. They now produce a shadow of the former paper certainly not to ever offend a conservative again. I resolved to boycott the paper I so dearly loved and read. Recently I picked up a copy to see what I was missing.
Not very much.
The type of paper they now use is a much thinner quality that Motel Six rejected for use in their toilets.
The volume of pages is shrunk in half.
The main story was a complaint about how pot smokers will now be taxed in legal stores. The Tea Party abhors taxes unless they bail out bankers or bring relief to second homes after a hurricane.
The diet size content is mostly ads.
The number of copies is less, much less.
This week’s edition is more of the same crap.
Dull, boring and non-entertaining.
Darkest Hour, a movie in the 2018 race for an Oscar, has a memorable line that sums up the new LA Weakly. One of Churchill’s contemporaries complains ” The man has one hundred ideas a day. Four are good.”