On June 13, 2012, it was announced that after more than 50 years of family management, the King Eddy Saloon had been sold and would be closing at the end of the summer. This news has been received with great concern by the many people who consider this last Skid Row bar to be an essential part of the cultural and social life of downtown Los Angeles, as well as a place of pilgrimage for fans of the great Los Angeles novelist John Fante, whose anti-hero Arturo Bandini famously squandered his first royalty check on the b-girls of the King Eddy’s basement speakeasy.
LAVA co-founder Richard Schave loves the King Eddy, and has done extensive research on the place and its role in LA’s literary and cultural history. In addition to the John Fante connection, it is the last bar standing in the neighborhood where novelist James M. Cain came to soak up the vernacular speech that he adapted into the hard-boiled American lingo of his breakout novel The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934).
In recognition of the importance of the King Eddy as a place of abiding human comfort and cultural significance, LAVA is pleased to present this night of poetry and fiction, featuring three presenters who are great voices of Los Angeles:
- Dan Fante will read selections both from his poetry and his recently published memoir about growing up with his father, novelist John Fante, Fante: A Family’s Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving.
- Novelist and poet Jonathan Shaw will read a short story about his meeting with Charles Bukowski and the fist fight which ensued.
- Ruben Ortega is a local L.A. writer of short stories.
LAVA co-founder Kim Cooper says: “Anyone who cares about the fragile coral ecosystem that is the culture of this city should make a visit to the King Eddy this summer, while it’s still under the Croick family’s ownership. They’ve made a haven in a very hard part of the city where folks who don’t have much money can feel respected and safe. That means everything. As we lose these ports, we lose our community and our history. Once that’s gone, it will never come back.”