Anytime I have an opportunity I love to read books about Los Angeles. I lived there for three years in the mid 1970s, and the city and surrounding area is filled with stories. I particularly enjoy the old LA noir type books, and when I got a chance to read Bad City by Paul Pringle I felt I had been transported back to the 1940s. You see nothing changes in the city of angels.
I don’t know what it is about Los Angeles, but there always seems to be problems, cover ups, conspiracies and bad guys everywhere you can look. Maybe it’s because it’s such a huge metropolitan area with such a diverse population. No matter what something always is happening in Los Angeles and my, oh my, do we see that front and center here in this wonderful expose by Paul Pringle. There are actually many things that are wrapped up in this book including cover ups by the city of Pasadena Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the University of Southern California and the list would go on and on.
This all begins with an overdose of beautiful blonde girl in upscale hotel in Pasadena. Luckily one hotel employee was brave enough to contact 911 and continued his inquiry into the well-being of this young lady, which led him to contacting the author who was an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Ah, but the Los Angeles Times is not like the LA Times of a generation ago. It has been sold by the Chandler family to the Chicago Tribune, and the tribune corporation could care less about journalists, less about quality investigative reporting and more about the bottom line. All of this plays a part in this book and why it took over a year for this story to finally make it to the front page of the LA Times. You see the overdose was not a normal event, instead it appears that the overdose was the result of illegal drugs which were being supplied to a young girl named Sarah Warren by the head of the USC keck medical school. Oh yes, 69 year old Carmen Puliafito had his eyes set on young girls, and in order to keep them under his control he supplied them with money, drugs, rehab and yet more drugs. He paid for their apartments and anything that they would want just so he could keep their control
And while this is a wonderful book and a great investigation it is another sad chapter in the history of Los Angeles come on as nobody wants to rock the boat against good old USC. Nobody wanted to discipline or remove Mr. puliafito, instead for years she continued his pattern of supplying both Sarah and other individuals, some of whom were under the age of 18 with all sorts of drugs and money. It was not until this article broke that finally they decided to do something. And yet it did not stop with him as there is yet another doctor, a male gynecologist who had been treating female patients for years in a rather “creepy” manner. Once again, no matter who reported this doctor USC did absolutely nothing and once again it became the LA Times who broke this story which resulted in his removal. And just when you think things can’t keep any getting any more bizarre, it was during this time that the varsity Blues scandal broke, and you know which institution got more illegal money and bribes than anyone else, that’s right good old USC.
This is a wonderful book about bad things that still continue to happen out in Los Angeles, but it is also a book that is a cautionary tale about the need for independent and quality investigative reporting. By independent I mean the editors don’t have to be constantly sabotaging the work of investigative reporters as they did in this case, by independent I mean without fear of repercussion from leading institutions be it the government, the police or the high and mighty institutions of higher education.
A shocking book, a fast read, and a wonderful bit of journalism by the author. bad city is a must for everyone to read, and sometimes I consider myself lucky that none of those bad things that always seems to happen in Los Angeles ever happened to me when I was living out there. As I said nothing changes in the city of Angels.