May 22, 2020
Two guys named Nick Chance, both with clairvoyant dogs named Royo, both inventors living in Pasadena, California – in 1913 and 1993. The original Nick, who starts out working on an ostrich farm, is drawn to the Colorado Street Bridge and manages to meet some of the great personalities of the period: Teddy Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair and Adolphus Busch all meet Nick. He parlays an idea for lighting into a job on the bridge and survives the lethal collapse of one of its arches during construction. Eighty years later, on the anniversary of the bridge’s inauguration, the second Nick Chance is pulled into rectifying the mistakes of the past. Pasadena, which had a millionaire’s row even back then, is nothing like the original, romanticized version of the town. There’s some magical realism, lots of fascinating historical detail about Pasadena and southern California, and lots of eating.
Today I talked to Chip Jacobs about his new book Arroyo (Rare Birds Books, 2019) Jacobs is a Los Angeles Times bestselling author and journalist. Chip Jacobs is a Los Angeles Times bestselling author and journalist. His books include the biography Strange As It Seems: the Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler; the environmental social histories The People's Republic of Chemicals, and the international bestselling Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles (both with William J. Kelly); the dark-humor true crime caper The Ascension of Jerry; and the story collection, The Vicodin Thieves. Jacobs has also contributed pieces to anthologies, most recently for the bestselling Los Angeles in the 1970s: Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine. His reporting, which has garnered seven Los Angeles Press Club awards, has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Daily News, CNN, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and L.A Weekly, among others. He is currently at work on a follow-up novel and a non-fiction project. Jacobs trusts dogs, plays electric guitar, and is an avid reader, runner, and prankster.