One Last Lee Mallory Alert!

The 'Love Poet' retires, and OC will never be the same

Mallory admits Bukowski influenced him hugely, "especially when I started to read everything by him I could find. . . . Oddly, [I] was attracted to the futility he saw in life. . . . Bukowski, for me, caught all that in his poem, 'The Shoelace.'"

Writes Bukowski: "With each broken shoelace/out of one hundred broken shoelaces/one man, one woman, one/thing/enters a/madhouse."

And perhaps it's fair to say Mallory has always been cognizant of the madhouse in which he has been writing and promoting poetry, and he has always treated it as such. How else to explain the years of carnival showmanship, the mad, incomprehensible letters to newspaper editors, the almost Quixotic stewardship of poetry readings in places that almost seemed to reject any infusion of culture?

Leaving for Las Vegas
John Gilhooley
Leaving for Las Vegas

"What did I learn?" asks Mallory. "Simply what Lawrence Ferlinghetti had said in his 'Populist Manisfesto'—that poetry is for the people, not only for some elite group of literati hanging in the idyllic hills of Santa Barbara."

Mallory has lived by that idea, eschewing a solely academic career for sometimes-thankless toil in OC's odd corners. Now he's off to inevitably cause his unique brand of chaos elsewhere. And frankly? Orange County's the poorer for it.

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Hello Lee,  I have been trying to contact you. 

Just hoping you can help me with something.  

:) M.    the grocery clerk at the peninsula. NPB.


I sure wish that Ken Mallory could have met Lee Mallory, Jr.  Ken's grandpa was Lee W. Mallory, Sr everyone called him Cap. and he was married to May Cherry Mallory, Ken's grandma.  Ken passed away at the age of 33 from alcoholism, and a world of knowledge went with him.  Ken's command of the English language was stunning and unforgettable.  Ken and I married in 1974, had a nice home near Ken's Uncle, Lee Mallory and wife Muriel Mallory of Yorba Linda.  Ken served 2 tours in Viet Nam as an MP for the Army and worked at Disneyland as a Ride Operator for 11 years.  Ken had many friends at Disneyland and after he quit the Park, went to work on Balboa Island at Bisbee's.  He always was a John D. McDonald fan, Travis McGee series specifically.  He lived out his days in that role.  Again, I wish that Ken had met Lee Mallory, Jr., he would have respected his poetry and electrifying personality.  Thank you for your wonderful passion and poetry, I am buying one of your books tomorrow. 

MatthewTCoker topcommenter

My favorite Lee Mallory moment may have been the first time I met him in person. He'd come to drop something off to me at the long gone Daily Pilot office on Bay Street in Costa Mesa. We wound up in the break room where, in front of the Coke machine, he was in the middle of reciting his love poetry to me with deep passion and fire in his eyes when a sportswriter walked in. Lee never broke character, kept right on expressing his undying love to me. Back atcha, big guy!


Great article on Lee. As much as I loved making fun of him, I also really respected Lee and his passion for poetry. 

While the "Lee Mallory Alert" may have morphed into meaning a missive from Lee, originally it was an inter-office term I came up with at the LA Times in the early '90s, to warn other writers not to answer their phones if they were on deadline, because if Lee called one of us and didn't get satisfaction, he was sure to call everyone else until he did.

Here's a link to a piece I did on him in the LA Times back in '94:

-- Jim Washburn

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