Ponch and Judy

A series of articles in the Los Angeles Times reminded me that the 20th anniversary of the 1992 riots is coming up on Sunday. One of the features shows side-by-side photos of impacted locations then and now.

When the riots started, I was staying at the home of my friend Bean and his wife Donna. They had a house in the Hancock Park neighborhood, between Melrose Avenue and Beverly Boulevard. It was not far from Koreatown, one of the affected areas. The smell of smoke was everywhere.

I was working at Power 106, which responded to the riots with special programming, including a Stop the Violence special hosted by Arsenio Hall. Because of the city-wide curfew in Los Angeles, my boss decided that several of us should stay at a hotel close to the radio station in Burbank. Morning show writer Rodney Lee Conover and I were among those who checked-in to the Holiday Inn.

It was one of the most bizarre nights of my life. As we arrived at the hotel, we saw dozens of California Highway Patrol motorcycles parked near the front door. CHP officers from across the state had been sent to help the local police forces. At the same time, there was a gathering of transvestites at the hotel. No matter which way I looked in the lobby, hallways or restaurant, I saw uniformed officers and men dressed as women. Of course, the surreal situation in the hotel was overshadowed by the harsh reality outside. Now that it’s 20 years later, I wish I had taken a picture of the cops and cross-dressers.

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