Who Is Jack Smith, Exactly?

Nina Zippay

Last month I attended a dinner party set amongst the hills of Mount Washington. In the company of several more “veteran” Mount Washingtonians I was bold enough to confess that, although I knew the name Jack Smith (how could one not living where we do?), I had never read anything by the man.  I’m proud to say I live among the civilized, for I was not immediately thrown out on my ear.  Rather, ever so gently, an iPhone was passed over to me with an Amazon app and a link to several books by Jack Smith.  Those fortunate enough to have met him told more than a few entertaining stories.  How embarrassing, I thought, “I’ve been living here on the hill for almost eight years and I’ve never read a single line by this hometown boy.”  Enter my first New Year’s Resolution of 2012. The next day I set out on my quest to discover the written works of Jack Smith.  It wasn’t the easiest search.  On Amazon I managed to find two books - Alive in LA LA Land, and How to Win a Pullet Surprise. They were bought used, not new.  And now my quest is in gear – to discover the writings and the person who was Jack Smith. 

I’m going to take another bold leap and guess that I’m not the only one living in the 90065 zip-code who might like to learn a little more about Jack Smith.  If I’m correct, let me know and I’ll share my insights on his writings each month in the newsletter and try to blog about it on Patch.  For now I’ll leave you with Jack Smith’s attempt at lyrics on Los Angeles.  I like to think Anthony Kiedes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jim Morrison of the Doors would be impressed with his ode to “LA LA Land.” 

L.A., I love your sleaze,
Your palms and jacaranda trees,
I love your Thai and Chinese food,
Your women, slim and seminude;
I love your outdoor barbeques,
Your California wines and booze,
Your weather, warm and sunny;
Your people, laid back, funny;
I love your Trojans and your Bruins,
Your warm Decembers, cloudy Junes;
I love your kitsch, your con and hustle,
Your fads, your health, your muscle;
I love your freedom and your show;
L.A., you turn me on, you make me glow. 

 -   Lyrics by Jack Smith, from Alive in LA LA Land.

May your 2012 L.A. glow.


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