Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pedantic? What Else Could I Be with my Arcane Knowledge of Early Los Angeles History? The London Independent calls me pedantic for pointing out the historical errors in James Frey’s debut novel Bright Shiny Morning.

That’s a criticism I can live with.

Besides, Frey could care less. His book is a best-seller.

But I was pleased by the vignette Leah Garchik ran in the San Francisco Chronicle about a bottle of Isaias Hellman’s 1875 port that sold at a benefit for the Magnes Museum.

"Frances Dinkelspiel, whose "Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California" will be published in November, was keynote speaker at a fundraising event for the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley last week. Hellman is Dinkelspiel's great-great-grandfather, and he ran Wells Fargo Bank from 1905 to 1920.

A silent auction at the event included a bottle of 1875 Port from Cucamonga Vineyard. Hellman bought the vineyard in 1871, and the wine is from among the oldest grapes in California. Dinkelspiel says the family used to have many cases of it, but a few years ago, it was sent to a warehouse in Vallejo for storage. And that's the warehouse where 6 million bottles of wine were destroyed by arson in 2005. The single bottle fetched $850 at auction."

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