Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"During the Gay Nineties, Europe sent us beef and brawn to tamp railroad ties on our section gangs. Since the World War, she has sent us brains and culture – to be filtered into American life through the crude screens of Hollywood studios. There are more than four thousand White Russians hanging around Hollywood – Cossack generals running cafés... chief of staff of a great Russian fleet baiting his hooks from a San Pedro fish boat... art critics who were known the length and breadth of Europe fussing with the decorations on studio sets – the architect who built the German government buildings in the Camaroons, designing gangster dives... barons, grand dukes, counts who have commanded Imperial boy-guards taking orders from assistant directors who were corporals.

Europe has sent us also a ragged fringe – fakers, slickers, imposters. A war correspondent of some celebrity who had invaded royal palaces to sit with kings said that the only potentate who really over-awed him was a Cincinnati tailor masquerading as a Romanoff, bumming free board at hotels. Meanwhile, the Austrian grand duke who was real was sleeping on the sand at Santa Monica with his devoted and unpaid valet – starving until he found a way to get one square meal a day by his promise not to expose the 'Commander of His Imperial Majesty's Household Troops, Sir,' as a servant in an officers' mess."


from Los Angeles: City of Dreams (1935) by Harry Carr