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Joel Bloom, 59

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, July 13, 2007, at 12:05PM
Joel Bloom Ed Fuentes

Bloom, a legit actor/playwright and longtime activist in the gentrification of downtown Los Angeles --- whose achievements resulted in the L.A. City Council naming a section of Los Angeles after him --- died mid-morning on July 13th in Los Angeles following a seven-year battle with cancer. He was 59.

Bloom, who owned and operated Bloom's General Store since 1994 in the Arts District of Los Angeles, was one of the forces responsible for bringing the Arts District much needed recognition. A sampling of his numerous achievements included bringing the community a bus route, 30 street lights, 75 trees, plus being active in the naming of the area known now known as the Arts District.

On July 3, the Los Angeles City Council honored Bloom by officially approving the Motion to rename Third and Traction in Downtown Los Angeles Joel Bloom Square.

During the early 1970s, Bloom served as a combat cameraman with the U.S. Air Force in South Viet Nam. Following his discharge in 1974, Bloom finished his degree in psychology from the U of Illinois and then while searching for work with Chicago-based TV stations, he joined the Second City Theatre Troupe as a stage manager. He later worked with the Organic Theatre Company and toured with the 1985-86 production of David Mamet's "Glengarry Glenn Ross."

Arriving in Los Angeles with a bevy of Chicago-based theatre types, he settled in the Arts District of Los Angeles in 1986, serving as a stage manager for Shakespeare Festival/L.A. and later working on his own creative projects.

In December of 2000, Bloom's doctors discovered a tumor and several weeks later he underwent 10 hours of surgery at UCLA where doctors removed three massive tumors. Following his surgery, Bloom read a Veteran newsletter mailed to him which discussed the connection between Agent Orange --- the defoliant used to clear swaths of Vietnamese jungle --- and soft-tissue sarcoma.

The connection ultimately made it possible for Bloom to receive military disability from the U.S. Government.

Bloom is survived by a son, Randy Bloom; two grandchildren, Evan, 6 and Sam, 2; a brother, Michael Bloom and a sister, Lynn Barnau.

Memorial services for Bloom will be announced this evening at 5pm, July 13, when a Celebration of his Life will take place in front of Blooms General Store, located near Joel Bloom Square.

Written by Douglas Galloway with contributions by Eric Richardson and Ed Fuentes.

Added 6pm: A Downtown Los Angeles memorial service will be held on 3rd and Traction Ave, Joel Bloom Square, Sunday July 22. Joel Bloom's funeral will be held in his hometown, Chicago.

Added 12:30am July 14: Joel Bloom, 59; L.A. arts district activist LATimes

Added 12:45am July 17: Lilli Muller, one of the organizers for the Memorial, plans to announce a 3pm start time for the July 22 "block party" that will be held at Joel Bloom Sqaure (3rd and Traction). Final details will be a new post.

Editor's Note: We were honored to have friends and family share their memories on last month's post about Joel Bloom Square. Downtown lost a great voice today, and he will certainly be missed.


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