Author: georgedrurysmith

34.7 years of Argonaut history — a personal view

The 35th anniversary that The Argonaut celebrates this week brings to mind nearly half-a-lifetime of memories, rendered all the more poignant by the tragic premature death in May this year of the newspaper’s founder, editor and publisher, my dear friend David Asper Johnson. I met Dave nearly 35 years ago. I was the founder in 1968 of an avant-garde literary magazine called Beyond Baroque, which by early 1972 was also a cultural center located on what was then West Washington (now Abbot Kinney) Boulevard in Venice, and had just become the nonprofit Beyond Baroque Foundation, now in the Old Venice City Hall. To support myself I ran a small printing business, and when I saw an early issue of the twice-monthly Argonaut, I wanted to place an ad in it for that business. Only a post office box was listed as an address for The Argonaut, so I telephoned. Eventually I spoke with the newspaper’s publisher himself, and he insisted he would come to pick up my ad. It soon became obvious that The Argonaut was published out of Dave Johnson’s residence in Playa del Rey, and that his public office was his tiny but sporty yellow Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia. As we sat in his car office talking, one editor to another, he offered me a job proofreading The Argonaut every two weeks and I jumped at the chance to...

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Leiden, Netherlands has many scenic sites

Those who have read our March 9th (see 03/09/columns/travel/gm.txt) have discovered the small Dutch city Leiden, which, with under 120,000 residents, has a great deal to offer the tourist. It’s only 15 minutes by train from the Amsterdam airport (AMS) Schiphol, and 35 minutes from Amsterdam itself. Whether one spends a few hours or a few days, there’s a variety of things to suit most any taste. Those walking from Leiden Central Station (Leiden CS) might start their visit along Stationsweg (Station Way) which leads from the station, curving a bit to the right. On the right, look for a big sign that says “VVV” — the sign of tourist information offices all over the Netherlands. Here one can find a number of different free walking tour brochures, including one that “follows in the footsteps” of Rembrandt, born here in 1606, when Leiden was still a medieval town. Leiden had grown from 10,000 to 22,000 between 1574 and 1600 and it had become the second largest city in the Republic of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam. On the left one catches sight of De Valk (The Falcon), a windmill that is now the Molenmuseum (Windmill Museum). Those interested in the technology of earlier times, or indeed perhaps the precursor to a source of energy rapidly gaining new importance in the light of global energy concerns, might want to detour...

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Lots to see in Leiden, even in late winter

LEIDEN, NETHERLANDS: As we look out the broad floor-length windows of our friend’s apartment overlooking the little marina near the eastern gate of the old central part of Leiden, there’s a light snow falling on the gabled rooftops. Although late winter is not the season we would recommend for a trip to the Netherlands, there’s enough to keep one busy for several days within walking distance of the center of this old university town of under 120,000 inhabitants (nearly one-fifth students) without relying on public transportation or a taxi. Trying to get to the major attractions by car would be foolhardy, as most of the streets are narrow and the area is laced with canals. Parking is very limited, but for those looking for a day trip from Amsterdam, Leiden is just 34 minutes on trains that run every ten to 30 minutes, and it is 12 minutes from The Hague and 15 from the Amsterdam Airport (AMS), Schiphol by train. Those traveling by car who might stay overnight should book a hotel near the center and leave the car there. For those just passing through by car, there is public parking near Leiden Central Station (CS) and the nearby Windmill Museum De Valk, which are walking distance from the central area. A number of free pamphlets are easily available in hotels, museums and the “VVV” tourist information on...

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