Over at his blog From the Desert to the Sea, John Stodder goes literary and recalls that the reclusive author Thomas Pynchon wrote much of Gravity's Rainbow while high and living in Manhattan Beach. After the Watts riots in 1965, Pynchon also submitted a non-fiction piece, “A Journey Into the Mind of Watts,” to the Sunday New York Times Magazine. Excerpt via Stodder:
In the daytime, and especially with any kind of crowd, the cop’s surface style has changed some since last August. “Time was,” you’ll hear, “man used to go right in, very mean, pick maybe one kid out of the crowd he figured was the troublemaker, try to bust him down in front of everybody. But now the people start yelling back, how they don’t want no more of that, all of a sudden The Man gets very meek.”
Still, however much a cop may seem to be following the order of the day read to him every morning about being courteous to everybody, his behavior with a crowd will really depend as it always has on how many of his own he can muster, and how fast. For his Mayor, Sam Yorty, is a great believer in the virtues of Overwhelming Force as a solution to racial difficulties. This approach has not gained much favor in Watts. In fact, the Mayor of Los Angeles appears to many Negroes to be the very incarnation of the little man: looking out for no one but himself, speaking always out of expediency, and never, never to be trusted.
Stodder writes that he began reading Gravity's Rainbow in high school, continued over the summer and onto college, and "I still haven’t completely finished it, having lost my way in the endless and completely surreal third section that seems to take place in the immediate aftermath of World War II. I did finish his first two novels, V. and The Crying of Lot 49."