Crickets in the Kitchen

As I sit here to write this blog entry, I am on the receiving end of a concert by the crickets who inhabit my kitchen. For many years, I thought the sound was coming from my Amana refrigerator—until I actually started seeing the crickets, usually as I smashed them with a fly swatter thinking they were one of the mega cockroaches, which, alas, also inhabit this apartment.

The apartment building in which I live is almost as old as I am, having been built around 1946. As I have been told, my building as well as several others in the immediate vicinity, were meant to house the Cleveland Rams, which were soon to be called the Los Angeles Rams. The apartment in which I live could once have been the home of William “Bud” Cooper, Harry “The Horse” Mattos, or Stan Pincura.

I moved in here in 1985. My landlady was the kindly Anna Ficele, who was the original building owner and a terrific cook. After she died in 2001, her slightly retarded son took over, until he passed on a few years later from a life of dissipation. The next owner lasted only a few years. His widow, as I understand it, now owns the papers. Fortunately, we only have to deal with the management company.

We have no intention of complaining about the crickets. I rather enjoy their music.

Bookstores and Greedy Landlords

“Book Window” in Downtown L.A.’s Last Bookstore on 5th and Spring

Sometimes I think the silent movies had it right. The landlord was always a miser who thought nothing of evicting widows and orphans for late payment of rent. Now as bookstores are shutting their doors forever because some landlord was a richer tenant and a more upscale clientele. Let’s face it, selling books is not the easy way to wealth. And, what is more, many bookstores have a scruffy air about them. Not the sort of people who would be invited to Mar-a-Lago or the Trump Tower.

In most bookstores, the top price for an item is usually around $30 for a hardback and $20 for a paperback. Compare that with the money that could be made by selling a fashionable handbag or a stylish outfit to some empty-headed poltroon. Of course, even fashionable boutiques have off days, because there are not enough rich clients around to make owners of commercial real estate happy.


Curiously, I don’t even like to visit a retail establishment unless there is a nearby bookstore to make the trip worthwhile. I used to walk into Santa Monica on Sunday mornings to go to Barnes & Noble. Now that it has closed down, I would not be put off if the whole 3rd Street Promenade slid into the ocean. It is well known that I don’t care for anything fashionable or stylish, and I do not throw money around to buy fancy bling-bling or even gourmet meals.

If more malls had good bookstores, one result would be more sales in the surrounding stores. There is always likely to be some dinosaur like me who disappears into the bookstore while the wives and children exercise their credit cards buying frou-frou.