Great Reads

TODAY'S GREAT READ

  • What's hot in Japan right now? Los Angeles, circa 1976

    What's hot in Japan right now? Los Angeles, circa 1976

    What’s hot on newsstands in Tokyo this month? Believe it or not, a 200-page Japanese magazine about life in Los Angeles — reprinted from 1976.  Twenty-seven pages are devoted to life at UCLA during the Gerald Ford administration, including a campus map and photos of dorm life and Ackerman Student...

  • A day in the life of Nyquist: ice boots, exercise, maybe even acupuncture

    A day in the life of Nyquist: ice boots, exercise, maybe even acupuncture

    You would think that winning one of the world’s most famous races would be life-changing for an athlete: instant celebrity, selfies with adoring fans, fancy meals and even a day or two of well-deserved rest and relaxation. Not so much for Nyquist, winner of the Kentucky Derby. As he prepares for...

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'Guilty. Thank you God.' A victim's brother sketches the Grim Sleeper trial

Donnell Alexander’s pen smoothly sketched a torso on a fresh page as he listened to the witness describe a woman’s murder 30 years earlier. A pathologist was explaining in excruciating detail how a bullet had followed a downward trajectory as it tore through the front of a woman’s chest. On Alexander’s...

  • How an anonymous blogger stands out on California water policy

    How an anonymous blogger stands out on California water policy

    On a Thursday in February four years ago, the self-described "low-level civil servant" who produces OnthePublicRecord.org, an anonymous blog about California water, posted an existential lament about life amid the policy wonks. "Sometimes I wonder what terrible thing I did wrong in a previous lifetime...

  • On a spiritual prowl for the elusive, endangered snow leopard

    On a spiritual prowl for the elusive, endangered snow leopard

    High atop a mountain in Mongolia, a team of trackers splits into three groups to check their traps each morning. Their goal: to catch a snow leopard, one of the most elusive creatures on Earth, so rare that few have seen one of the big cats in the wild. After failing to catch a leopard during the...

  • Not bound by history, L.A.'s Caravan Book Store continues to turn pages

    Not bound by history, L.A.'s Caravan Book Store continues to turn pages

    A shuffling step carries Leonard Bernstein onto Grand Avenue. The pilasters and garlands of the PacMutual Building rise above him. Nearly 70, a balding man with a gray cattle-catcher mustache, he finds his keys and stoops to the lock in the threshold. Two bells tied to a red ribbon jingle as the...

  • In Myanmar, a young Rohingya dreams of leaving despite foiled boat journey

    In Myanmar, a young Rohingya dreams of leaving despite foiled boat journey

    He was small for his age — still a boy, really, with spiked hair and pimples speckled across his cheeks. He looked even smaller in a pair of oversize flip-flops, curling his toes so they didn't slip off. School was never his thing. Back before his home was bulldozed and he was displaced in his...

  • A night of violence that shattered a South African's view of her white privilege

    A night of violence that shattered a South African's view of her white privilege

    On a lazy summer's night, a South African family drifted indoors after arriving home. A gunshot rang out and the evening flipped. Gunmen materialized in the low light. A second shot, and Tracey Lomax saw her husband fall. "You're not the boss!" one of them kept yelling furiously at him. Lomax didn't...

  • Casey Wasserman carries the torch to bring Olympics to L.A. in 2024

    Casey Wasserman carries the torch to bring Olympics to L.A. in 2024

    The glasses are unusually large and square, with thick, dark rims. Casey Wasserman keeps them in a display case behind the desk in his Westwood office. They belonged to his grandfather, Lew Wasserman, the late studio boss often described as Hollywood's last mogul before corporations took over. ...

  • 'Miss Kay,' broken by loss, finds love and care at life's end

    'Miss Kay,' broken by loss, finds love and care at life's end

    A small, stuffed pink elephant rests in the crook of Hayok Kay's arm. A ventilator tube snakes down her throat. After 61 years, her life has come to this: Bleeding on both sides of the brain. A broken nose, eye socket and ribs. A punctured lung. And, beneath all that damage, cancer. Patients like...

  • A shadow hangs over Mexico's 'magical city' of Ocotlan

    A shadow hangs over Mexico's 'magical city' of Ocotlan

    The children paid no heed to the priest from Jalisco as he celebrated a fiesta Mass in the backyard of a La Puente ranch, or to their parents urging them to sit still for themisa, or even to the rooster crowing nearby. They were too busy studying the animals they didn't see in Los Angeles every...

  • Nuclear accord paves way for importing Persian rugs into U.S. again

    Nuclear accord paves way for importing Persian rugs into U.S. again

    The earthy smell of silk and wool fills a showroom piled waist-high with thousands of hand-woven rugs, some of them centuries old. It is a familiar scent, one that links this Westwood shop to Tehran's bazaars nearly 8,000 miles away. Some of the carpets, dyed with natural ingredients such as walnut...

  • Dreaming of a happy ending: Bedtime stories capture the longing of deported parents and their children

    Dreaming of a happy ending: Bedtime stories capture the longing of deported parents and their children

    The nighttime ritual has always been the same for Emma Sanchez Paulsen and her three sons: They pile onto her bed as she begins to weave a tale. The bedtime stories in their home in Vista, Calif., used to be about her childhood in Mexico — running through green pastures or strolling through city...

  • Team of sleuths stalks cancer in L.A. County

    Team of sleuths stalks cancer in L.A. County

    Three men hunch over a table, scrutinizing a document. Maps paper the walls around them. The moment, captured in a black-and-white photograph, marks the beginning of a quest to catch a villain. For more than four decades, this team has been stalking the killer's every move, trying to identify patterns...

  • A java man's adventure in Japanese coffee roasting

    A java man's adventure in Japanese coffee roasting

    How, exactly, did I end up on the roof of a coffeehouse in Tokyo, kneeling over a single-burner camp stove and something called a Whirley Pop? Sweat soaked my T-shirt as the wind kept blowing out the fire. To make matters worse, the sun made the flame nearly invisible, so I couldn't even tell when...

  • For former professional drummer Robin Russell, no gig tops Griffith Park

    For former professional drummer Robin Russell, no gig tops Griffith Park

    For 14 years now, sometimes three times a week, Robin Russell has gotten up around 3 a.m. and driven his maroon van from Pasadena to the same spot in Griffith Park, not far from the zoo. In the dark, he rakes out a small clearing under an oak tree, unpacks a six-piece drum kit and sets up, everything...

  • After 30 years of helping gang members, Father Greg Boyle is slowing a bit but still determined

    After 30 years of helping gang members, Father Greg Boyle is slowing a bit but still determined

    In a small mortuary in East Los Angeles, a mother wept over the silver casket holding her son. Behind the pews, photos of Roger Soriano showed a young man throwing up gang signs with friends, a tattoo reading "J13" for Jardin 13 etched into his scalp. He had been killed at 21, shot dead as he allegedly...

  • Can the 'worst kid ever' survive probation camp and thrive?

    Can the 'worst kid ever' survive probation camp and thrive?

    On her first day of freedom after a year locked up in Camp Scott, teenager Stephanie Valdivia headed straight to San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills. She began crying as soon as she turned the corner and saw her grandfather's name etched on a bronze plaque. Daniel Valdivia was 69 when...

  • An American magician takes his tricks to China

    An American magician takes his tricks to China

    Magician Franz Harary is driving through the Las Vegas of China, trying to remember the last time he did a show in the United States. "Three years ago, maybe?" he says tentatively. "I think it was some Christmas thing. Or maybe it was an Indian casino." As he pulls into the parking lot of a new...

  • Russia's military clubs for teens: Proud patriotism or echoes of fascism?

    Russia's military clubs for teens: Proud patriotism or echoes of fascism?

    In a playground outside a shabby warren of cinder-block apartments in north Moscow, children play on swings and climbing bars as Stepan Zotov instructs a squad of teens in knife-throwing nearby. Thirteen-year-old Andrei Polivoi is aiming his knife at a foam cushion about the size and shape of a...

  • Retailers are exasperated -- and empathetic -- over number of homeless streaming to Sylmar strip mall

    Retailers are exasperated -- and empathetic -- over number of homeless streaming to Sylmar strip mall

    Florist shop owner Bonnie Bernard found him sitting behind a dumpster at the Sylmar strip mall, wearing a hoodie in the mid-July heat and staring at a cinder-block wall. He was new. Was he going to be one of the scary ones? "How long have you been here?" she asked. He slipped the hood off his head,...

  • Tethered by a string and trust, a blind sprinter and his guide make history

    Tethered by a string and trust, a blind sprinter and his guide make history

    The shoelace is worn and frayed, with loops tied at each end. David Brown curls his fingers tightly around one loop, then Jerome Avery grabs the other. "Four inches," David says. "That's all we have between us." The sprinters keep hold of the cord as they burst from the starting blocks, charging...

  • In India, the slow (slow) death of a black-and-white film maker

    In India, the slow (slow) death of a black-and-white film maker

    In a musty reception room high in the southern Indian hills, a photo booth the size of a walk-in closet promises black-and-white pictures in four minutes. Groovy track lights illuminate a display table piled with X-ray film and movie-reel canisters. They were among the flagship products of Hindustan...

  • Survivors tell the camera the hidden tale of China's Great Famine

    Survivors tell the camera the hidden tale of China's Great Famine

    When Li Yaqin was 16, she ate what her family could scavenge: dandelion leaves, alfalfa, rice sprouts, corn husks ground and pressed into cakes. As her college-age granddaughter quietly captured her on digital camera, the 73-year-old told of watching her father starve to death. "He was sleeping...

  • Young adults with autism work on building social skills — and dating

    Young adults with autism work on building social skills — and dating

    Standing in front of a conference room table on the UCLA campus, Albert Miranda fixes a wide smile on his face and stares at Elina Veytsman, giving her the once-over. Elina fidgets, growing increasingly unnerved. The students around the table giggle as the tension rises. Then Elizabeth Laugeson...

  • The 7-foot Chinese tourist boxing in Oscar de la Hoya's world

    The 7-foot Chinese tourist boxing in Oscar de la Hoya's world

    The new Chinese-language sign had been up for only a few weeks outside George Gallegos' personal injury law office in Monterey Park when a 7-foot-tall tourist from Beijing walked through the door. Taishan Dong was on his honeymoon, and he wanted information about green cards for him and his new...

  • In India, a legend keeps a town nearly door-free

    In India, a legend keeps a town nearly door-free

    Nanasahib Bankar, a prosperous farmer and entrepreneur in this small temple town, worries about a lot of things: sugar-cane prices, the health of his cattle, the success of his son's new hotel. One thing he doesn't worry about is losing his keys. His house, like nearly all the others here, doesn't...

  • Jesse is a typical boy in probation-run foster care: unwanted

    Jesse is a typical boy in probation-run foster care: unwanted

    Jesse Opela hunched on a plastic chair in the "music room" at Central Juvenile Hall, a cramped space with no air conditioning, an old CD boombox, a keyboard and a bookshelf filled with aging bestsellers. Tears rolled down the sturdy 17-year-old's face as he apologized to his probation officer. ...

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