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26 Questions with Joseph Mailander

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Joseph Mailander is like many native Los Angelenos that you will run into -- softspoken, easy-going, but sharp as a tack, and eloquent. Head honcho of the left-leaning Martini Republic, Mailander had the opportunity to meet Ann Coulter (pictured, above) this summer and had nice things to say about her in this exclusive interview -- the same can't be said for his feelings about The Grove, Little Green Footballs, and the L.A. Times.

1. nickname:
Lynn makes me keep that private.

2. birthplace:
I was born a block west of La Brea.

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3. LA neighborhood you live in:
It's called Franklin Hills by the street sign, but we know it better as Los Feliz. I live very close to the Shakespeare Bridge. I could easily hit it with a nine iron.

4. how long have you lived in LA?
All my life---49 years and change---excepting a few college years in NYC and a turbulent year of marriage in Marin.

5. other than your own, what's your favorite LA neighborhood?
Hands down: Playa del Rey. It is pretty much the same as it was in 1957. The Harbor Room is great---there's an effing autographed photo of Frank Layden there...The Shack is great when you're outside on the patio looking at that Culver streetsign, feeling the ocean, the occasional ancient 747 from 26R banking off to Hawaii. There are some really nice residential properties there now, yet there is almost no pretension in any commercial corner of it. You go there to drink with people who remember the City from forty or fifty years ago.

6. what film has captured LA the best for you?
That's a great question! Chinatown lent the whole city gravitas, but Repo Man was closer to its failling, flaky bones. Pulp Fiction is the best LA feelgood movie, and I do love Shampoo as well. But I think I'm going to have to go with The Graduate. The hotel affair, the alcoholic mom, the sexual confusion...no film has brought the special zeitgeist of VSOB (Valley South of the Boulevard) to life so chillingly.

7. Has LA getting better or worse in the last 25 years?
Are you kidding? Twenty five years ago, the City ignored its pronounced Latino presence. Now Antonio is Mayor. It's way healthier. Twenty-five years ago, we had to wait until the New York City Opera came around in November to see opera; now we have a great company with a real season and a real repertoire and real drama. Twenty-five years ago we had way more smog. Twenty-five years ago, there were almost no coffee houses. Twenty-five years ago, we had almost no homegrown fashion biz other than Carole Little. Twenty-five years ago, going to an art gallery meant going to La Brea. Except in pop music, twenty-five years ago, we had a topline sampling of culture, and now it is everywhere, and it is good everywhere.

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Yet there are strains, and they are the natural strains of cosmopolitanism. Everyone was middle-class twenty-five years ago---now "middle class" is a class of mosty paralyzed, property-rich wage slaves, and it only exists in pockets. Twenty-five years ago, social services were just beginning to deteriorate, and now they have morphed into something else entirely, into a strife of advocacy groups ironically promoting the causes they would like to eliminate. This is, unfortunately, becoming a harder place to be poor. But it's better in so many other ways, especially for people who have been here a while.