Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Everybody’s parents or grandparents seem to have purchased this little red-bound book with the blue title on the spine. There was a time when you could find a copy in just about any secondhand store or used bookshop in the Southwest next to “Inside U.S.A.” or one of the WPA guides. And with good reason: It’s lighthearted and informative, in the Lee Shippey school of California writing. He talks about the market for wooden sabots among the Dutch dairy farmers living in Belvedere (now Bell Gardens), the tale of how Los Angeles was founded and briefly looks at various government reform movements and crackpot religions. And the movie stars.
It certainly doesn’t have the scope or grander aspirations of “Southern California: An Island on the Land.” It’s a beach book on L.A. history. Anybody can pick it up at random, read a little something and think they know more about Los Angeles. The whole book reads like this: “The only [traffic] signal I know with a personality is at the northeast corner of Adams and Hauser. As the GO sign drops into position, passersby may observe that someone has written in crayon on it TO HELL.”
Weinstock died of cancer in 1970, his obituary giving the newsman’s usual resume: The college paper (sports editor of the UCLA Daily Grizzly, yes that’s right) , reporter and then columnist for Manchester Boddy’s Los Angeles Daily News (he was managing editor and claimed he couldn’t find anyone to replace E.V. Durling, who was going to The Times, so he wrote it himself), then the Mirror and finally The Times. In addition to “My L.A.” Weinstock wrote “Muscatel at Noon.”
After Weinstock’s death, Jack Smith (it seems superfluous to describe him as Times columnist because 10 years after his last piece, he can still fill the room at the Huntington Library) wrote: “Matt Weinstock was Los Angeles in a sense that no other man has been. He lived in and observed and wrote about a Los Angeles that existed only through him….. Hundreds of thousands of nobody people, who could not find their likenesses in the newspapers or on television or in the other mass outpourings of the modern media, read Matt Weinstock and knew they were still alive.”
The day after he died, the marquee outside Chipper’s Nut House said: “WHAT WILL L.A. BE WITHOUT MATT WEINSTOCK?”