Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Book on Johnny Carson fails to qualify as biography


Like millions of other Americans, I enjoyed watching “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” during the 30 years Carson hosted the late-night TV staple.

I was often curious about the private life of the impossibly suave and seemingly imperturbable man who did such a wonderful job as host and comedian night after night. But Carson apparently was a rather unhappy and mean-spirited individual who spent all his free time drinking, smoking and chasing women, at least according to Henry Bushkin, author of “Johnny Carson” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).

To be fair, Bushkin’s book is not really a biography of Carson – a more accurate title would be “Carson and Me.” There is precious little information on Carson’s early family life in Nebraska, apart from a description of his mother as a heartless, impossible-to-please woman.

The author, who spent most of the 1970s and 1980s as Carson’s lawyer, confidante, tennis partner and general all-around fixer, provides plenty of behind-the-scenes snapshots of the man behind the public figure, but most are descriptions of the things Carson and Bushkin did together.

I felt a certain guilty pleasure while reading “Johnny Carson.” There are details of the parties Carson threw and attended with his many rich and famous friends, most of whom were his drinking buddies. He maintained a friendship with Frank Sinatra, though Sinatra might have been the only man who intimidated Carson.

The book fully chronicles Carson’s many failings as husband and father. After all, he was married four times, cheated remorselessly on all of his wives and spent no time with any of the three sons he had with his first wife, Joan.

Bushkin was certainly a good lawyer and friend to Carson. He negotiated numerous contracts for the Carson show; the rental and purchase of various properties, homes and businesses; and the shows Carson performed in Las Vegas for years. But along the way, it is clear that Bushkin lost some of his morals through his association with the entertainer. Bushkin’s womanizing eventually led to his own divorce.

Carson ultimately fired Bushkin, like he did so many other of his employees, in a cold and casual manner, the apparent victim of unsupported rumors.

What was Carson really like? According to Bushkin, he was “an incredibly complex man: one moment gracious, funny and generous; and curt, aloof and hard-hearted in the next.”

“Johnny Carson” left me feeling rather sad: both for Bushkin, who lost his way while attached to a rich, demanding man, and for Carson, who died alone and seemingly adrift from his family.

Bushkin’s tome should make an entertaining read for book clubs that enjoy nonfiction and biographies, though a thorough biography of Carson, one of America’s most beloved hosts and entertainers, remains to be written.

Leslie Ashmore is a longtime Mountain View resident who belongs to two book clubs.

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