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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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