“At Home” by Bill Bryson

“At Home: A Short History of Private Life” begins on the roof of the Victorian rectory that Bill Bryson and his family occupy in flattest Eastern England. Surveying the surrounding countryside, the American-born author invokes a local archaeologist who once explained to him that the region’s stone churches aren’t sinking. No, they are slightly below ground because the sheer numbers of bodies buried around them over the centuries have caused the earth to rise.

Having imparted this grisly delicacy, Bryson retreats from his roof but not his house. The author best known in the U.S. for his travel writing uses home to anchor his new book; every room in it is a departure point to discuss how those generations of bodies once lived, how their homes functioned and, surprisingly only recently, began to provide a certain level of comfort.

Click here to keep reading the review of “At Home”

Interim phantom

The slaughterhouse at La Villette, 1929. Photo: Eli Lotar. Source: Documents magazine, November 1929.

Austin Beutner, interim general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, wants to sell assets and the department headquarters rather than ask for rate increases to pay for renewable energy reports the Los Angeles Times. The Times describes Beutner as the fifth general manager in three years, a break from the standing bio note that he’s also the ninth GM in 10 years.

Given that all GMs seem to be interim, if the department does sell its headquarters, it could always relocate the general manager’s office to Farmer John in Vernon. Click here for a sketch Beutner budget released last week, or here for KPCC’s Molly Peterson’s preview of today’s plans for specific divestments. LA Observed says Beutner and City Council president Eric Garcetti will appear today on KPCC’s Patt Morrison show

Dry gardening column begins in LA Times

No, it wasn’t Saturday’s chorus of boos over the interview with the landscapers of the new Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters. It is the beginning of a weekly column, The Dry Garden, dedicated to ways to conserve water in the garden, whether that garden has lawn or a saintly collection of Mediterranean and native plants.