Tag Archives: Darnell Hunt

The School on 103rd Street

The School on 103rd Street by Roland S. Jefferson is a fine political conspiracy novel as well as a stunning roman des riverains about early 1970s Los Angeles
The School on 103rd Street by Roland S. Jefferson is a fine political conspiracy novel as well as a stunning roman des riverains1 planted firmly in early 1970s Black Los Angeles
Today’s book is The School on 103rd Street, by Los Angeles author and psychiatrist Roland S. Jefferson. It seems reasonable to review it here for two reasons. First because it so vividly evokes the peculiar time and place of early 1970s Los Angeles, a spatiotemporal locality that’s dear to my heart and second because its subject matter, racial politics in Los Angeles (including a vast conspiracy the nature of which I can’t really reveal without spoiling the plot, which is something I’m not willing to do) aligns closely with the focus of this blog.

I’ll move on to the serious matters below, but first, check this description of protagonists Elwin Carter and Sable having an evening out in 1973:

The Cyrano building at 13578 Mindanao Way under construction in 1967.
They had dinner at Cyrano’s in Marina Del Rey and then went to the Name of the Game on Century Boulevard for some dancing. At midnight they went down to the Lighthouse to hear Gabor Zabo, and, on the way home, they dropped by Shelly’s Mann Hole and caught the last set by Gerald Wilson. Carter had taken the Ferrari, and, although Sable offered no resistance, she didn’t encourage him. From Shelly’s they headed down Highland toward Wilshire…3

Now, I don’t just read novels for Los Angeles geography porn, but I’m always happy to find it, especially when it has restaurants! Cyrano was a “fine dining” or “continental” sort of place, opened early on in Marina Del Rey. Given the character of the Marina in 1973, at the time Elwin and Sable had dinner there the joint was probably full of cocaine, swinging-in-the-worst-sense, disgusting 1970s facial hair, and gelatinous sleaze coating every surface.

Advertisement from the Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1969, announcing the grand opening of Cyrano.
Advertisement from the Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1969, announcing the grand opening of Cyrano.

The Name of the Game was a dance place in Inglewood at Century and Crenshaw. Here’s how the Los Angeles Sentinel described it on September 2, 1971:

It’s called The Name of The Game, and to many, many persons it’s the name of the place they find attractive and a lively cynosure for a truly good evening of pleasure. Located at 3000 W. Century boulevard, it has music by Dave Holden, and dancing space for frisky feet or those who just love to move and groove. There’s no cover charge, either. The Name of the Game also affords daily luncheon specials, and daily half-price cocktails. So what could be better for the jaded tastes than a visit to The Name of the Game?
4

Unfortunately I can’t find a picture of the place. Note also that there was a sensational killing there in 1973. I don’t have space to go into it, but it was well covered in the Sentinel, starting here.11

Next they head off to the Lighthouse, a famous and still-active jazz club in Hermosa Beach which I’d discuss more if I gave even a fraction of a shit about either jazz or Hermosa Beach. Finally, “on the way home,” they head to Shelley’s Manne Hole which, coincidentally, played an important role in my last recommendation, so I won’t belabor it here. However, these two live in Baldwin Hills, meaning that the Manne Hole, at 1608 N. Cahuenga Blvd., is in no sense but the sense that this night should never end on the way home from Hermosa Beach. Ah, youth!

Now, despite my breathless temporogeographical musings, this novel is much more than a travelogue. It’s an immensely important document about the state of racial politics in Los Angeles eight years after the Watts Rebellion, with more than a little relevance for the present day (as well as being a bitchin’ thriller). Read on for details!
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Between the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the HPOA: 95 Years of Anti-Japanese, Anti-Black, Anti-Brown White Supremacism. “GET BUSY, JAPS, AND GET OUT OF HOLLYWOOD”

A member of the Hollywood Protective Association and spiritual forebear of the modern BID, with the backing of the 1923 edition of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, announces to the world that she's a moron.  Note sign in window stating "Member Hollywood Protective Association."
A member of the Hollywood Protective Association and spiritual forebear of the modern BID Board member, with the backing of the 1920s edition of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, announces to the world that she’s a moron. Note sign in window stating “Member Hollywood Protective Association.”
Long-time readers of this blog will recall that, last month, we broke the story of Hollywood Chamber of Commerce biggity-wig Marty Shelton’s bizarre distaste for black, brown, and poor people visiting Hollywood. Inspired by that, we recently wrote on the white supremacist roots of our beloved Hollywood sign and the inwrought caucasians-only policies of the real-estate development it once promoted. This line of inquiry got us interested in the jim crow history of Hollywood, which turns out to be quite rich.

For instance, a brief discussion in Scott Kurashige’s interesting book The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles1 led us to read up in old LA Times articles on anti-Japanese hysteria in Hollywood in the early 1920s. It seems that in April 1923, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce gave some advice to a bunch of angry white people. The article is here, but the short version is that some Japanese people bought eight lots in Hollywood, four near Bronson and Sunset and four on Tamarind and Gordon, and had the nerve to wish to build some apartment buildings and a church.

Jess E. Stephens, City Attorney of Los Angeles in April 1923 when pitchfork-waving torch-bearing howling Hollywood lynch mobs came whining to him about how Japanese people were being meanies and building a church in Hollywood.  His response doesn't seem to be available in the historical record.
Jess E. Stephens, City Attorney of Los Angeles in April 1923 when pitchfork-waving torch-bearing howling Hollywood lynch mobs came whining to him about how Japanese people were being meanies and building a church in Hollywood. His response doesn’t seem to be available in the historical record.

The white people got all in a tizzy, you can see one in the image above, and went to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce screaming for help. The Chamber, as opposed to the presence of non-white people in Hollywood as they are today, directed the howling mob to the City Attorney to seek a restraining order and they also started circulating petitions “urging the residents to agree to restrict the use of land to those of the Caucasian race.”2 They were even inspired to poetry! See after the break for an especially creepy example.

By May of that year things had really gotten out of hand!
Continue reading Between the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the HPOA: 95 Years of Anti-Japanese, Anti-Black, Anti-Brown White Supremacism. “GET BUSY, JAPS, AND GET OUT OF HOLLYWOOD”

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