Hollywood Hills by Joseph Wambaugh: They’re Back

8709703

Former cop turned author Joseph Wambaugh is one of my favourite writers. His books and the characters who reside in them are brilliant. They are full of black humour, pathos, tragedy, and fun. Each and every participant in one of his books breathe. You find your self becoming attached to them all, even the villains.

He writes pretty impressive non-fiction books as well. Check out his Lines and Shadows for an in-depth and amazing look at how one San Diego policeman tried to help the problems faced by immigrants crossing the border. Innocents being slaughtered and raped by the gangs that prowled the empty desert canyons for victims.

But I digress.

Hollywood Hills is the fourth in a series of books about the cops that make up the Hollywood division in LA. Most of the familiar cast are back. “Hollywood Nate” Weiss the Screen Actors Guild card carrying cop, Flotsam and Jetsam the two surfer cops, and ex-basketball player Div Taylor and her partner ex-marine “The Gypsy” all feature heavily in this tale of Hollywood homicide and hokum.

There is a crime ring that is hitting all celebrity homes and robbing them blind. They use social networking to plan their robberies. Butler Raleigh Dibble works for Julius Hampton, a miserly skinflint that keeps Raleigh on a short leash. While at lunch the two men run into gay Art Gallery owner Nigel Wickland. Wickland tells Raleigh of an employment opportunity with widowed Leona Brueger, a member of the Hollywood elite and voracious cougar who has an interest in Hollywood Nate.

Soon Raleigh has jumped the Hamilton ship and set sail with Leona looking after her ill brother. Wickland now has Raleigh where he wants him and the two men plan to steal two very expensive pieces of art from the widow.

Twenty-two year old druggie Jonas Claymore and his equally drugged out girl friend Megan Burke decide to emulate the celebrity crime ring, dubbed the Bling Ring by the local media, and improve their chances of keeping supplied with the drug of their choice OxyContin. It is their entry into the world of crime that causes a serendipitous intermingling of their crime wave with Dibble’s and Wickland’s.

Meanwhile Hollywood Nate thinks he’s going to finally get the big break he’s been waiting for and the rest of the gang at the Hollywood division carry on dealing with the “not-so-normal” dealings with the nuts that make up the local citizenry that they are pledged to protect.

Like the other three books in this series, Hollywood Hills is damned entertaining. Wambaugh continues to treat us to our favourite characters everyday dilemma’s and introduces a few new ones. The pages of his books exude a poetic irony and delicious amount of crazy.

I do have to say that the “secondary” criminals in this book do seem to shadow some characters in his other books. But dealing with criminals on a daily basis for 10 years myself, I can say with pretty firm conviction, there isn’t a whole lot of variation between the folks who populate the world of the law-breaker.

A real 5 star addition to Wambaugh’s series about the Hollywood precinct.

Author Joseph Wambaugh. (courtesy of nndb)
Author Joseph Wambaugh. (courtesy of nndb)

Dick Van Dyke to Get Lifetime Award from SAG – Loverly

English: Dick Van Dyke in December 2007.

I grew up on a steady diet of Dick Van Dyke. I watched the eternal re-runs of his brilliant television program The Dick Van Dyke show. At the same time he was on our big screens in various Disney films and not Disney films.

I adored the man and his ‘obvious’ talent for comedy. I thought, when I was really small, that he was the perfect father and I would set in front of the TV set and laugh at his trials as Rob Petrie. I do have to admit that my understanding of what he did for a living in the show was a bit hazy.

By the time I saw him in Mary Poppins, I knew what Rob Petrie aka Dick Van Dyke did for a living. He was an actor. But like many things we learn when we are younger that was an oversimplification. It was a few years later that I discovered that Van Dyke was not just an actor, he is an entertainer.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

I can think of only one other individual who fills the job title of entertainer and that was Sammy Davis Jr. Both men fascinated me with the amount of sheer talent that God or whoever plunked into one body.

Like Davis, Van Dyke can dance, sing, act, do various different accents and the only thing that I can think of that he cannot do is impressions. But he might just be able to do that as well.

This is the man who fought alcoholism and won. In fact he wouldn’t talk about his role of Bert in Mary Poppins because he couldn’t really remember a lot of what happened. Alcoholism is like that. You can function, sometimes really well, but you lose a lot in the way of memories. I know about that because it’s very similar to drug addiction in that you can function but so easily forget.

This is also the same man who, at 81 years of age, did a soft shoe routine in the 2006 film Night at the Museum. That is on top of acting in the film. I don’t know many octogenarians who can be so supple or industrious.

I think it’s about high time that Dick Van Dyke got a lifetime achievement award from somebody.

This incredibly talented man who has fought his personal demons and still continued to entertain us while doing so. He made us laugh in his television shows. He made us smile at his infamous cockney accent in Mary Poppins, and he enthralled us as the crime solving doctor in his show Diagnosis Murder.

I know I keep harping on only a small part of what this talented man has done. If you want to see just how prolific his career has been, check out IMDb or Wikipedia.

Hell, I’d give him an award, not that it would mean a lot, but I’m pleased that he is getting one. I only have one wish.

I hope that he can continue to do what he does best.

Entertain.

The cast, 1993-1995: Victoria Rowell, Michael ...
The cast, 1993-1995: Victoria Rowell, Michael Tucci, Barry Van Dyke, Scott Baio, and Delores Hall, with Dick Van Dyke in the center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

21/08/2012

%d bloggers like this: