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Opening Night at Joel Bloom Square

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Sunday, July 22, 2007, at 09:22PM
standing o Ed Fuentes

The Joel Bloom Memorial block party is still going on at this hour on Traction and 3rd where earlier this afternoon people representing the City, the State, improv theater, family and residents shared stories about the activist who worked from the small general store. Longtime friend and employee Edward Walker kept things moving as MC for a memorial that had everyone with detailed stories about Bloom.

Before returning to his watch at the Beckham party being held around the corner, Commander Andrew Smith announced that the LAPD Central Bureau Volunteer of the Year Award will be renamed after Joel Bloom, its 2006 recipient.

9th District Council member Jan Perry spoke about the at-first intimidating Joel who was really warm and commitment to a neighborhood, and the fact that the square is a rare honor for someone living.

14th District Council member José Huizar talked about of introducing himself to Joel when he was a young law student, and later after being elected receiving a visit from Joel, who was wearing a new suit. Huizar asked what's with the suit? Bloom answered like a proud father; "Because I'm meeting my new councilperson."

One friend present was actor George Wendt, who brought a touching tribute before reading messages from other members of Second City. He also told how of he and Joel were once stopped by two policemen. Peering into the car, the two officers then looked at each other, shook their heads and let them go without questioning the two actors. They found out later there was a dragnet for a male prostitution ring and neither Wendt and Bloom fit the M.O.

A letter from Second City/SNL's Tim Kazurinsky was dispatched from the Chicago funeral and displayed. It wrote about the touching service with complete military honors, and about the Rabbi who apologized for not knowing Joel––yet still gave a warm loving tribute. The letter said:

Clearly he had listened to the family's frank and affectionate tales of Joel. And he'd obviously put a great deal of time into researching Joel on the internet

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All in all, this was quite an outpouring of affection for a man whose idea of a conversation starter was "What the hell are you looking at?

One local resident spoke, and after doing a bad Joel impression, asked the crowd to join in a theater tradition in the street that was Bloom's domain: A standing ovation.

It was the only way to have an opening night in Joel Bloom Square.

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