Observing Los Angeles

Mommy's make Sunday Styles

Los Angeles now has a media-anointed Yahoo parents group—introduced to the national spotlight in today's Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. Peachhead has 3,000 members, about 500 of whom showed up recently at a park in Culver City for the group's annual get-together. Organizer Linda Perry is a secretary in a Santa Monica law office and lives in Venice.

Picnic Peachhead is the offhand brainchild of Linda Perry, who started it to e-mail 15 friends in her new-mothers group after her daughter Amber was born in 1997. "None of us knew much about dealing with babies," said Ms. Perry, 41, who, with two children, is as exuberant as a high school cheerleader....

Unlike some of the larger sites for parents, like Urbanbaby.com and iVillage.com, Peachhead does not accept advertising or sponsors. Ms. Perry personally screens all members and monitors the discussion.

This combination of factors has made her disproportionately powerful in the small community of businesses that serve affluent mothers on the fashionable West Side of Los Angeles. A rave or a thumbs-down from her can make or break, say, a children's hair salon or even a pediatric practice. This clout has made her the don to a kind of mommy mafia in the hyperattentive child-rearing circles.

David Hochman, writer of the piece, is a member of Peachhead.

Also in the NYT: Janet Maslin reviews Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack and calls it "a light, foxy mini-library of a novel."

Dora lives on familiar turf: in the well-heeled part of West Los Angeles where cars are costly, vanity plates are cute (US2BHIS for a divorcée) and tastes are discouraging. At the bookstore she frequents, it's possible to overhear someone ordering 20 copies of "Tuesdays With Morrie" for book group purposes.

The handsome proprietor — and of course there is one — will not exactly sneer at such a request, but he is lofty enough to catch Dora's interest. After all, she is lonely. "Nobody I know reads the same books I do," she says. "They read self-helps and thrillers and bios of movie stars."

Photo: Marissa Roth/for the New York Times

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