Obituary: John Albert

Father, brother, friend, author

John Albert, loving father, brother, friend, and celebrated chronicler of Southern California culture, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on May 3 in Los Angeles.

John was born on October 10, 1964, and moved shortly thereafter with his parents and older brother Jesse to Claremont. His parents, Robert S. Albert, a former professor of child psychology at Pitzer College and Julie M. Albert, who was a social worker at Loma Linda University, preceded him in death.

During his youth, the Albert family garage was a kind of clubhouse for neighborhood kids. It was there that he helped start the influential goth band, Christian Death, with friends. Though he left the band soon after it gained a dedicated following, he would go on the perform with other well-known Southern California punk bands, including Bad Religion.

He went on to graduate from the University of Southern California in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in cinema production.

He was intellectually curious and culturally adventurous. He became a central figure in and keen observer of a latchkey generation that questioned the suburban norms of their era. While he experimented with punk-rock, performance art and screenwriting, he found his sharpest means of expression in essay writing and journalism. He was known for his sharp observations and his work contributed indelibly to the cultural history of turn-of-the-century Los Angeles.

In publications such as the LA Weekly, Slake: Los Angeles, Black Book, Los Angeles Times, and several anthologies, he wrote award-winning pieces that investigated suburban ennui, addiction and recovery, and, ultimately, what it was like to come of age in a Los Angeles undergoing rapid transformations. He did it all with a keen eye and a self-deprecating wit that endeared him to a generation of Angelenos, and beyond, who saw themselves reflected in his wry and gritty accounts of life in the city.

His most celebrated work, the novel “Wrecking Crew: The Really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates,” chronicles the misadventures of former punk rockers, Hollywood misfits, and recovering addicts, including the author, who defiantly joined a fast-pitch, hardball adult league in Los Angeles and thereby reclaimed some of their misspent youth. The book is currently in development for a potential television series.

He loved the Los Angeles Dodgers and the many stray dogs he took in over the years including Wally, Porkchop, Newton and Eddie. He was the lynchpin for a vast network of writers, artists, musicians, and friends from many walks of life representing the cultural richness of this region.

Most of all, he was a loving and dedicated father to his young son, Ravi, and a beloved friend and sibling to his brother, Jesse, both of whom survive him along with his nephews Sean Albert and Brendan Albert and sister-in-law Angela Albert.


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