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Andy Romanoff : Stories I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You #3 : California Stories – The First Place I Ever Lived in LA


Andy Romanoff has been The Eye of Photography’s Los Angeles correspondent since its first days of publication. He has written about museums, galleries, festivals, and artists, always bringing his idiosyncratic viewpoint to bear.

But for all we knew about him it turns out there was much we had never suspected. Now he has revealed much in a memoir called Stories I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You. Starting today we are going to publish a chapter a month from his tales of criminal life, drugs and parties, San Francisco in the sixties and Los Angeles in the seventies and eighties, his life in the underbelly and at the top of the movie business and always, always his love of photography.


California Stories – The First Place I Ever Lived in LA

Chicago, 1960. I’m eighteen years old and the cops have just come through Billy Caponigro’s apartment and warned us that if we don’t get out of town we are all going to jail. I’d like to tell you that it’s a phony beef but it’s not. We’ve been causing a lot of trouble in the neighborhood and the cops know it. We are me, Billy and…..another guy whose name I can’t remember although I’ve tried for years. He’s seventeen or eighteen too, his wife has thrown him out of their apartment and he has moved into Billy’s where we live on mattresses and couches and the radio is always playing. We empty out the apartment, a first floor on Leland near Kedzie and load it into my car, a fifty Plymouth four door, faded grey. There isn’t much to load. Clothes, the canned goods we’ve been stealing from the grocery store, my tools and a few maps. We are headed to California.

The trip takes four or five days driving pretty much non-stop. None of us have ever been west of Joliet. The road is a revelation, Route 66 for thousands of miles. We have adventures, breaking into a junkyard in the middle of the night to steal a generator we need to fix our car, seeing the Grand Canyon as dawn breaks, hanging a canvas bag filled with water from the antenna for the desert stretches, driving with the windows down and the hot air parching our skin, and then coming into California to the unbelievable heat of Needles in summer, meeting some local kids and swimming in their pool not far from the railroad tracks while we wait for the darkness to come

Andy Romanoff


To read more,  Stories I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You is available as an eBook or a printed edition here

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