As a reporter published in the Los Angeles Times, Daily News of Los Angeles, CNN, The New York Times, L.A. Weekly and our own Pasadena Weekly, Chip Jacobs has uncovered some of the most unique and offbeat tales to be found in Southern California. And as the author of two previous books — “Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles” (with William J. Kelly) and “Wheeling the Deal: The Outrageous Legend of Gordon Zahler” — he has taken readers along on in-depth explorations of fascinating people and issues.
His new book, however, “The Ascension of Jerry: Business Lies, Hitmen, and the Making of an L.A. Muckraker,” should prove to be Jacobs’ most intriguing one yet. The book details the story of Jerry Schneiderman, a Los Angeles businessman whose business partner was executed by an assassin in 1979. It features bumbling hitmen, burning corpses and the wildly unpredictable mix of darkly humorous and highly dangerous events that transpired when Schneiderman was forced into a life of hiding after his own son was threatened before finally emerging as an activist prankster fighting Los Angeles City Hall.
“The reason that I wrote this, not being a crime writer whatsoever, was because it’s not only a ‘Fargo’-like murder triangle in Los Angeles, of all places, where bad things like that aren’t supposed to happen, but that it’s really about post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Jacobs. “Jerry, the subject of the book, was terribly scarred by this experience, which cost him everything. So where other people with PTSD, particularly soldiers, get involved in drugs, alcohol, domestic abuse or going homeless, Jerry channeled his energy into being an audacious activist fighting city hall. You don’t see that everyday.”
Better yet, Jacobs notes that a lot of the book’s action takes place in Pasadena, since the crime boss running “a murder corporation to kill people for profit” operated out of the famed former Bullocks store in the Crown City. And as Jacobs prepares to host a book signing and discussion of his new work at Vroman’s Bookstore Tuesday, he assures those who want to attend that they will be free from similar danger.
“I wouldn’t be writing this unless the two main bad guys were dead,” notes Jacobs. “They were scary.”
Chip Jacobs discusses his new book “The Ascension of Jerry: Business Lies, Hitmen, and the Making of an L.A. Muckraker” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Call (626) 449-5320 or visit vromans.com.