Thursday, June 30, 2005

Los Angeles Once Again - City Of Lights! DWP Building Lights (mostly) Turned On!!

After years of darkness, the lights of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power headquarters and its fountains were turned on tonight. Not turned, on, though, (due to still needed restoration) were some of the exterior lights that are particularly spectacular.

The occasion was a black-tie-dinner at the Music Center across the street to celebrate tomorrow's inauguration of Antonio Villaraigosa and to raise funds for LA's Best, the after school program. The reason was that after the lights had been turned off during a power shortage - even though there was never any power shortage at night - it had became politically impossible for the DWP to re-light the building.

So while the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-light neon signs that can only been seen by a handful of people, the most spectacularly lighted building in LA (visible from many parts of the city) has remained dark.

However, after Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council voted to ask the DWP to re-light the building and its fountains at night, Ron Deaton agreed to turn on the lights for tonight's event. It is up to the powers that be to decide if the building and its fountains should be re-lighted - forever.

UPDATE - Daily News has photo of building:,1413,200~20954~2947509,00.html

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Museum For The City Of Los Angeles??,0,46375.column?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

LA Times columnist Patt Morrison proposed today that the Southwest Museum allow its old Highland Park building to be converted into a Museum for the City of Los Angeles. That would be theoretically possible since the Southwest Museum recently merged with the Autry Museum (AKA The Autry Museum of Western Heritage) and will build a new facility in Griffith Park by the existing Autry building. However, many members of the Southwest Musuem want the old facility to continue to house other activities and exhibits their museum.

But before we go into the pro's - and con's - of that proposal, I would like to address an error in Ms. Morrison's article. Yes! That's right!! The almost always infallible Pat Morrison has made an error!!!

However, this is fully understandable since the error is not about Los Angeles - of which she is the true font of all civic knowledge - but, rather, an egregious error about... New York City!

Morrison states that LA - unlike New York (and virtually every other city and even most... towns) - does not have its own museum dedicated to the city's history. Well, as it turns out, New York City does not have one museum dedicated to its history. New York City also does not have two museums dedicated to its history. Instead, New York City has THREE museums dedicated to the history of New York!

New York has the New York Historical Society Museum, the Museum of the City of New York and the South Street Seaport Museum which, while more specialized, does cover the bulk of the history of New York since its founding. There are also dozens of more specialized museums dedicated to local and more specific aspects of the history of New York.

Now to get back to the idea that the LA History Museum should be at the old Southwest Museum - there are a number of problems with that.

First, it is located in the middle of nowhere. No one is going to just stop by. It is not within walking distance of anything and it is not centrally located. That is one of the reasons why the Southwest Museum is moving from the spot. Second, it is too small. It is not even close to being the size we need to properly tell the stories of our city. Third, the building's layout, room sizes, and ceiling heights all make it an awkward fit for many of the exhibits other city museums have. Fourth, the major expansion that would be needed to make the building large enough, would not be acceptable in a residential neighborhood, nor would the traffic generated ( if it were to get the visitors a museum about LA should get) be appropriate for the neighborhood.

And, lastly - and perhaps, most importantly - it will take $25 million dollars just to bring a too small, out of the way, poorly configured building into code compliance. So even if one were to consider that location for an interim Museum of LA - the cost makes it far, far too expensive for a temporary use.

Plus a museum about LA needs to be in... LA! Not Highland Park! It also needs to be in the heart of the city. It also needs to be within walking distance of the hundreds of thousands of people who live in, work in or visit downtown every day. And it also needs to be within walking distance of the attractions that already bring tourists to LA and it needs to be within walking distance of where much of the history of LA took place.

Plus it needs a large enough space so that it will not have to move in the future. Now I had some time ago pushed for the old 1939 Art-Deco Cal Trans building to be our museum, but, alas! - the new Police Headquarters Building is now going to replace that. And Patt and I talked about that at a LA Times Festival of Books a few years ago.

So where do we put/build our Museum of the History of the City of Los Angeles? And how do we finance it? And what kind of business plan do we need to accomplish this? And where can we put a temporary museum for now?

Well, let the debate begin! And thanks to Patt Morrison for starting the subject!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

More On SCI-Arc!

In this week's Downtown News, Chris Coates expertly navigates the shoals of the Richard Meruelo/Dynamic/Southern California Institute of Architecture lawsuit where SCI-Arc lost its rights to buy its leased headquarters:

"It's a bump in the road. Every road's not smooth," said SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss after the ruling.


Meruelo said he thinks (the Judge's) decision will actually help the sides work together. "Our conversations don't have to get filtered anymore," he said. "Now we can put the lawyers at rest and get the architects and designers working to come up with a plan that's great for the community and the school and the developer. That's what we're going to embark on now."

So those who predicted that SCI-Arc was going to be driven from its home are proven wrong and both parties should now be able to create a uniquely creative urban community in the heart of downtown's Arts District.

Want To See War Of The Worlds - Tonight?

You can buy a DVD at 6th and Broadway.... on the sidewalk, third parking meter from the SE corner.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Killer King Still Killing!!,0,4031103.story?coll=la-home-headlines

It tomorrow's Tuesday Times, reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber, make a clear case for shutting down King-Drew Medical Center, removing the current staff and re-opening it as a privately run hospital with a new staff. LA County subsidies, however, would continue to cover uninsured patients. The one scary aspect of this proposal is the possibility that the fired staff might have to be sent to other county run medical facilities; the same staff that even after two years of retraining and constant supervision, still can not provide acceptable health care.

The only question now is - will the spineless editorial board of the LA Times now demand that the justice finally be done - or will they continue to stick their heads in the ground?

If You Want To Know Who, What, Why And Where - Don't Read The LA Times!,0,6430701.story?coll=la-home-headlines

'Onion Field' Killer Headed Back to Prison -- that's the head line. And in the article it says that the infamous Onion Field killer is going back to the joint for possession of smack after already being on probation of heroin possession. It also states that he is going to have to serve at least 50% of this new sentence. It also states that he received the maximum possible sentence for this crime.

But -- if you want to find out how long this maximum sentence is that he will have to serve at least 50% of - then you will likely have to wait until the Daily News covers the story.

UPDATE!! BREAKING NEWS!!! At 3:35 PM - The LA Times 'discovered' that the sentence was for three years.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Steve Lopez Does Good!,1,5658204.columnist?coll=la-mininav-california

In Steve Lopez's column today on the homeless Skid Row musician (Nathaniel Anthony Ayers) he has been chronicling, he finally found his voice for this series of articles. Gone are the bizarre metaphors and similes and the straining for affect. Instead, he uses simple, elegant language to describe the troubled world of a talented musician whose mental demons have prevented him from living the life he should have been able to have.

Lopez also takes a more proactive approach to the story, trying to get him professional help when Ayers gets a gig at Downtown's famous Little Pedro's Blue Bongo after Alexis Rivera heard him play near the mouth of the 2nd Street tunnel.

But there is no happy ending here and there are no easy answers here; just the start of a long process.

Ironically, I have been working with one of the homeless living in the Third Street Tunnel for some time and he should - finally - be able to get permanent shelter. But, then, another homeless addict I have been working with, who just finished drug rehab, vanished before I could convince him to return home to the Midwest where his brother lives. After searching for him for days, I today found out from one of the newsstand owners on Broadway that he has been arrested again.

And an alcoholic who has been on a downward spiral also recently vanished for a month - and then suddenly reappeared when he finally got out of jail. But when it came time for him to meet me to go into the program I arranged for him, he never showed up.

Again, there are no simple answers, and there are no over night success stories. Just a long process and a lot of patience.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Antonio... Antonio... Antonio...

Mr. Mayor-elect - what is it with you and the Neighborhood Councils?

First, the good news; since winning the election for Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has made several outstanding appointments (more, very belatedly, on this) and he has announced a number of very encouraging policies. So far, I'd give him a 90 for what he has done.

But, when it comes to his attitude towards Neighborhood Councils - he remains a complete mystery.

At today's Congress of Neighborhood Councils at the Los Angeles Convention Center, AV made an appearance at the student workshop held after most of the regular Neighborhood Council seminars. Most in attendance were students, parents and teachers, with only some NC leaders there.

Two things of interest happened there in regards to Neighborhood Councils. First, Edwin Ramirez of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council and the Los Angeles Citywide Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, lobed up a soft ball - right over the plate to the Mayor-elect - asking him about his commitment to the Neighborhood Councils.

However, not only didn't Villaraigosa hit it into the stands, but by the end of his rambling answer - he hadn't even said... anything. Now that seriously disturbed many of NC members present that he would come into our 'house' and still not even clearly endorse our right to exist. But shortly before there, he also bizarrely lectured the DWP for proposing a water rate increase without notifying the Neighborhood Councils - and then accused them of violating our just signed MOU between the DWP and the MOU!

Now if you look back to my DWP posts on June 8th and 14th, you can see that due to an erroneous Daily News article - which was latter 'corrected' (though not before it had been picked up by KFWB news radio), it was briefly claimed that the DWP had violated our hard fought MOU. But since there was no truth to this, those of us who wrote and negotiated the MOU, came to the aid of the DWP and defended their actions. Janice Hahn even called a special committee meeting where we were able to give public testimony to this affect.

We also called the current Mayor's office and we also talked to most members of the city council to let them know that this was simply not true. I also personally called and talked with two of the Villaraigosa transition aides plus I left a cell phone voice mail message for a third advisor to explain that the report was in error and that the DWP had totally fulfilled every detail of the MOU with the Neighborhood Councils. Other DWP taskforce members did the same.

So... how could AV stand before us and say the exact opposite?

Puzzling... to say the least.

Now I am sure that once AV understands that the NC's can - and want to be - his strongest ally in fixing the problems of this city, we will be able to develop the same kind of close relationship we had with the previous mayor. But right now, we are not only not on the same page - we are not even in the same universe.

Friday, June 24, 2005

New York Times Cultural Myopia!

In a story where facts seem to have been have been at least partially selected to fit Procrustean conclusions, the New York Times examines the decline in symphony orchestra attendance, making special reference to summer concerts and outdoor summer concerts in particular. And an excellent case is made with shocking statistics such as that the esteemed Chicago Symphony can only draw an average of 2,300 listeners to their beautiful Ravinia summer home.

What is not mentioned, though, is that 2,300 listeners can be found just waiting in line for the restrooms at the Hollywood Bowl when the LA Philharmonic plays. Nor is the record setting attendance at the new Disney Hall mentioned, though, that, of course, is a bit of an unique situation. But is does seem odd that in examining outdoor, summer, symphony concerts - that the LA Phil and the Hollywood Bowl - the single largest summer venue of its kind - would not even be mentioned.

Why LA Needs A Museum Of Its History!

Thanks to for the above linked story where the LA Independent states that if Jose Huizar wins a council seat - he would be the first immigrant ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

Uh, excuse me? Not only have we had quite a few council persons from a number of countries over the years - but we have also had several immigrant mayors. Just two that come to mind instantly are Damen Marchessault of Quebec and Jose Marcarel from France and there may have been others.

As far as council people - it is a far, far longer list. One, in fact, Manuel Requena, was born in Mexico (the Yucatan) - and he was the acting Mayor for awhile in his postion as president of the City Council, and another, David W. Alexander of Ireland - was the first president of the City Council.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Silence In Seattle! US Senator Criticizes Getty While LA Times Editorial Page Remains... Silent!!,0,6898546.story?coll=la-home-local

While the editorial page of the LA Times continues to ignore Barry Munitz's on going rape of the Getty Trust and Getty Museum (I guess the LA Times is hard to find in Seattle coffee houses), the LA Times news section covers a US Senate hearing where Bad-As-He-Wants-To-Be Barry Munitz and his hand-picked Board of Stooges get raked over the coals of Vesuvius:

'Amid national attention to excesses at nonprofits, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has rebuked the board of the J. Paul Getty Trust, saying it has failed to curb Chief Executive Barry Munitz's lavish pay, perks and travel.

"Charities shouldn't be funding their executives' gold-plated lifestyles," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said this week in a statement to The Times. His committee is considering the first major overhaul of laws governing nonprofit organizations in 30 years.

"I'm concerned that the Getty board has been spending more time watching old episodes of 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous' than doing its job of protecting Getty's assets for charitable purposes," he said.

Grassley's comments came in response to a June 10 Times story that related how Munitz, who makes more than $1.2 million and is among the nation's highest-paid leaders of nonprofits, had traveled the world first class at Getty expense, often with his wife. Records showed that even when the trust was cutting staff, Munitz used Getty resources on pet projects and favors for friends.

"The board's failure is especially troubling, because the Getty is a private foundation that doesn't rely on outside donations and therefore doesn't need to be responsive to potential donors," Grassley said.'

LA Times writers Jason Felch and Robin Fields also enlighten us that many of Munitz's expenses are ' independently reviewed' (my phrase) by two employees he hired instead of being reviewed by the just as toothless non-independent board of directors.

And so the saga... continues...

Will Munitz complete his sack of the Getty billions?

Will his Plinian ways - finally - fully engulf the Getty Museum?

Or... will the Getty - at last - become Munitz's own personal Herculaneum, entombing him forever, and saving the Getty billions for the citizens of Los Angeles?

Stay tuned!!

PS --,0,6476739.column?coll=la-home-headlines

Philadelphia columinist Steve 'Call Me Philly' Lopez, during his recent visit to Los Angeles, editorialized above on the almost two week old LA Times revelation that Barry Munitz is using the Getty Musem as his own personal ATM.

And, being the fish shooting-in-a-barrel story this is, all Lopez did was recite the facts cited in the article - and then he labeled it... satire. Lopez, though, went no further, and in the true spirit of the LA Times, he ignored the civic consequences of Muntiz using the Getty billions to buy prestige for himself around the world, rather than using the funds to build a world class museum in Los Angeles.

Now, needless to say, if this was a museum in Philadelphia - or Chicago - then Lopez and the LA Times' owners would be demanding justice. But, of course, those are cities that the people who own or work at the LA Times actually care about.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

No Joy In Smogville Today! Mighty Gagne Has Been Struck Down!!

Last Rites were held for the Dodgers yesterday when it was confirmed that Eric Gagne is lost for the season due to elbow surgery. Final services and an internment date for the Dodgers will be announced shortly. Local florists are advised to start stocking up on blue flowers.

SCI-Arc Loses Court Case To Buy Home!,1,4153087,full.story

The LA Times reports today that the lawsuit architecture school SCI-Arc filed claiming that it had a right to buy their campus failed in court yesterday. The verdict, unfortunately, was no surprise to those who were familiar with the merits of the case.

But now that the lawsuit is over, more serious negotiations can now continue to craft a compromise that will allow developer Richard Meruelo to create an exciting urban community on the two vacant parcels (as opposed to the two Miami Beach high rise clones originally planned) - as well as allowing SCI-Arc room to expand, and giving SCI-Arc time to eventually purchase the third parcel with its primary building.

And despite what some press reports would have one believe, SCI-Arc's tenure on the site was never threated. They hold a long term lease on their present campus and Richard Meruelo has always stated his firm committment to their remaining on the site. All the lawsuit accomplished, was to make some very rich lawyers... even richer.

A second option, though, might be for the city to swap its land at First and Alameda not being used for the Public Safety Complex - and which is located on a busy street next to a light rail line - for the SCI-Arc property. This would allow Meruelo to build his relatively dense market rate housing in a more appropriate location. It would also give the city the opportunity to protect SCI-Arc, and to then find a developer who could build much needed artist-specific housing within the Arts District along with market rate housing and retail.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

More on Barry Munitz, The Getty Scandal And The Failure Of The LA Times!

Below is a post from my comments section about how the Times will not take the steps needed to stop the looting of the Getty Trust and Museum:

I agree 100% with you. The real story is not that Munitz is who he is. The story is what he is doing that to our museum. He is a trustee; he has a fiduciary duty to us. J Paul Getty, who never saw his museum and lived half a world away, left his money to his LA museum because he always had a passion for art and he wanted people from LA to experience that art. He wanted to give people access to art, people who might not have access to Europe, where he widely traveled and lived. This nonsense of grants to foreign places, grants to universities, and a lack of emphasis on display and collection goes completely against J Paul Getty's intent.

How much money does the Met or the National Gallery give to Harvard for building conservation? How many painting from the Kroller-Muller have those two institutions conserved? For free? How many millions do they spend on funding other institution's scholars to do other institution's work? I honestly pray that the suv rolls down to the 405. It's not his money and it's not his trust. The Getty can learn a lot from the Met, a museum poorer than the Getty by several billions. The Met bought a $40 million Duccio by getting the trustees to pony up some of the money and by using some of its endowment money for the likely last painting by a great master. The Met gets a collection of impressionist paintings far superior to the entire impressionist collection of the Getty for free! How? They court Leonore Annenberg, a very rich collector, electing her to the board, making her a part of a real organization. Who is Ramon C. Cortines? What does he know about art? What art does he own?

The Getty doesn't know how to manage itself. It has been managed as though it lacked a sense of purpose. Each president succumbs to the power inherent in the throne of the castle and declares himself a dictator. The process is simple, the president nominates the board and within a couple of years the president is the board. A solution could be to expand the size of the board dramatically (from the current 12 to perhaps 24) and make some of the new seats outside the nomination of the trustee or of the board. For example, a seat could be given to the deans of the important art school in Los Angeles (UCLA, CalArts, USC, and Art Center), to museums with which the Getty does not compete and therefore has no conflict of interest (MOCA, the Hammer, and the Huntington Library), and, because the Getty is an international institution, the museum could give a rotating seat to the director of an important museum located outside America (Tate, Pompidou, or the Neue Nationalgalerie). Creating these seats would solve the Getty's two perennial board problems: lack of independence and lack of knowledge about art and museum operation.

Twice I submitted letters to the LA Times but nothing came of it. The LA Times lacks the interest to launch a crusade to end the mismanagement of the Getty, whose endowment probably surpasses the combined endowment of all other art intuitions in Los Angeles by several billions. The LA Times is simply happy reporting on the story. Whatever happened to advocating for change?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Things You Learn Reading The New York Times!

While reading an article about breaking an addiction to smoking (which was interest to me due to my dopamine shortage, even though I have never smoked), I came across the follow, amazing (at least to me) fact:

"One treatment for smoking addiction is bupropion, marketed as the antidepressant Wellbutrin, but also sold as Zyban for smoking cessation. Like nicotine, it increases dopamine transmission, but to a much lesser extent. It is thought to decrease the pleasurable effects of nicotine by pre-empting some of them.

Zyban seemed like a good option for Larry. But its cost, or the cost of any smoking-cessation treatment, for that matter, is generally not covered by health insurance. On the other hand, Larry's insurance would generously reimburse him if I wrote a prescription for Wellbutrin - same molecule, different name."

OK - so if you (or, more importantly, your wife/girl friend) aren't happy with the quality of your erection, increasing numbers of medical plans will cover one of many drugs for that - but when it comes to a drug that will stop you from killing yourself by smoking - according to the New York Times... most medical plans will not cover those drugs.

Is this correct? Can this be correct??

LA Observed Reports Jim Flanigan To Leave LA TImes!

LA Times Business columnist, Jim Flanigan, is not fully retiring - he is going to write a book - but after July 1st, he will no longer be with the LA Times. One of the few real LA voices in the LA TIMES (despite originally being from New York), Flanigan not only has/had a unique voice, but he was always a strong proponent for business in Los Angeles.

His loss is another nail in the coffin of the Times as it is highly unlikely that they will ever again hire anyone with his passion for this city.

Take Fountain!,0,966096.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

In just two words, Sandra Tsing Loh manages to encapsulate what is wrong with the LA Times. As any native of Los Angeles knows, one of the dark secrets to be passed down from generation to generation is that if you want to drive across Hollywood - take Fountain!

"Graduates! As you sit on Beckman Lawn, ruminating over your last four years here - or five, or eight - you might be asking yourself: "What does my Caltech past mean? What of my present? Most importantly, what philosophical advice do I need to carry me, ship-like, into my future?" You may not actually being thinking this - we certainly weren't at our graduation - but this is a commencement speech so let's get to it. The advice.

And historically, the one thing we know about advice is: So much is given, so little is remembered, and the little that's remembered is short. Think of Elizabeth Taylor. When asked what advice she had for tomorrow's actors, she said just two words: "Take Fountain." Fountain is a lesser known boulevard in Hollywood, a great shortcut across town. Unusual: Advice that's pithy, useful and still relevant today."

This simple joke, based on that shared common knowledge (though she, alas, felt it necessary to explain it to her audience), was easily the funniest thing in her commencement speech at Cal Tech, excerpted in today's Opinion section of the LA Times. And it is exactly the lack of that type of humor and that type of shared common knowledge that has created the rapidly widening gap between the barely Los Angeles Times and its ever increasingly vanishing readers.

For in 90% of the stories published in the LA Times - even if they are about LA - they could just as easily have been written by someone phoning in researched facts from Chicago or New York or Philadelphia without having to ever set foot in Los Angeles.

PS -- The idea of Sandra writing again for the LA Times came up in the recent "Use Eric Stein As A Pinata" blog....

.... so if you want to judge yourself who has won this comedy showdown - here is Joel's latest column to compare with Sandra's:,0,3557748.column?coll=la-sunday-commentary

.... and here is Sandra's again:,0,966096.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

What If The Los Angeles Times Was To Write About... Of All Things... Los Angeles... But Nobody Noticed?,0,7589520.story?coll=la-home-headlines,0,5716582.story?coll=la-home-headlines,0,3194005.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Today was the conclusion of a three part series on gasoline supplies and prices in California in the Los Angeles Times - and I have not seen a single blog post on any of the articles.


And this is a shame as Elizabeth Douglass and Gary Cohn have done an excellent job researching and telling the story, and allowing each of the many sides to tell their stories in their own words.

Now if the LA Times had followed up with several op-ed articles giving more detailed solutions than those in the final article (though I hardly call price controls while not increasing product or conservation... a solution), along with an editorial - and they then opened that to public comment - true civic engagement might have happened.

Alas - where're the wickitorials when you need them?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Wicky Wacky Wickatorials Post Mortem!!! What The &%$%#% Went Wrong???

First, what is a wickitorial- wicky wacky or not? Read the Times' definition below, or skip to the paragraph below the link.,0,4157492.story

Basically, it is a DIY (Do It Yourself) Editorial. You take a LA Times editorial (selected by the LA Times) and use Times supplied software to rewrite it. Then, if they deem it worthwhile (or, at least - not totally moronic, no wait - they publish Robert Scheer, so that barrier is not insurmountable) - they post it. The (theoretical) goal is a more interactive newspaper and a more engaged public.

Now as for the results? Well, its failure was not quite of full Hidenburgain proportions, due to the lack of loss of any lives. Also, the most accurate reports of bloggers running down streets crying out, "The Horror! The Horror!" appear to be in the low four figures and the oft-claimed reports of self-mutilating injuries to one's eyes whiles looking at one's monitor are - so far - strictly anecdotal.

Now to determine why the end results were so... dismal... I submit the editorial itself:,0,6259238.story

For those of you were unable to remain awake long enough to read through the whole editorial, after much thumb sucking and pointless finger pointing, the Times said if the Iraqis can't defend themselves in one year, we should fire all of our military commanders. Honest! That's it!!

My God, why didn't Roosevelt think of that during WW II? Or Lincoln during the Civil War? They could have wrapped up both of those wars in just one year just by firing Eisenhower and Grant!

Now while there are dozens, if not hundreds of variables that might have been intelligently addressed in what might be done to solve the situation in Iraqi, there is nothing else of a concrete nature in the endless wasteland of cliches.

So, the first thing that the Times did wrong, was to select an editorial that was basically about - nothing; an editorial about a subject so complex that it was impossible to debate within a single editorial.

The second offense though is far worse and even more puzzling. Since the goal was claimed to be to develop a sense of community in Los Angeles - why select an issue as your first building-a-community editorial that the community has no direct involvement in and which does not affect our daily lives?

Now of course, any war has long and short term impacts on our lives, and any war has overwhelming consequences for those most directly involved, but a foreign policy issue is simply not a unique a part of our daily common, shared problems - such as traffic, the failing school system, air pollution, the lack of affordable housing, crime, and Steve Lopez.

Additionally, Iraq is an issue that has been argued to death and which is so highly emotionally charged that it is very hard to debate in a rational, reasoned way. It is also an issue about which the average citizen of Los Angeles really does not have enough facts about to argue when it comes to detailed real world solutions.

So, if there was any single subject virtually guaranteed to generate lots of heat and absolutely no light - this was that one issue. As proof, I submit that the Times has shut down the site due to all the -objectionable - posts that were flooding in.,0,1349109.htmlstory?coll=la-news-comment-editorials

So why chose the one issue guaranteed to split us apart as a community as opposed to an issue that could bring us together to intelligently debate a common, shared problem?

Again, it all comes down to one simple thing. At the very top of the masthead of the LA Times - there is not a single person from Los Angeles - and not a single person who cares about LA. Experiences like this prove once and for all that the people who run the putative LA Times all really want to be working at the New York Times, and not having to bother covering Los Angeles.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Happy Father's Day, LA Cowboy, Senior!!


Myself, my grand-nephew who is my father's great-grandson, my sister and my now still active and vigorous 89 year old father when he was in his mid-80's.

As I entered adolescence in the 1960's, a common criticism of 1950's sit-coms such as 'Leave It To Beaver', 'Ozzie and Harriet' and 'Father Knows Best' was that the they screwed up the kids of my era by presenting an unrealistic view of family life. I really didn't understand this, however, as the families in those shows did not seem all that different from my own family. It was only much later when I realized how exceptionally unexceptional my own upbringing, and my own parents, had been.

From the earliest I can remember, we were always treated more as young adults than as kids. Our parents talked to us about everything (and never talked down to us) and, even more importantly, they always listened to us.

I remember when I once complained to my father as he was dropping me off at Miss Francis' Nursery School on Occidental Boulevard (just north of Third as I recall, near the Precious Blood School) that I didn't want to go there; they simply didn't have any good books to read (as few of the other kids could yet read) and we spent way too much time napping and that it was just generally... boring. So after a short discussion, he took me home and I no longer had to go there and other arrangements were made until I could start kindergarten early.

Conversely, however, when my teachers wanted me to skip grades, my parents always consulted with me, and we agreed that it was better for me to remain with my own friends and my own age group. They also agreed with me that I should stay in a public school as opposed to going to a private school. Even then it was clear that I was going to self-educate myself and so they - and I - preferred that I experience the social interaction of public rather than private school.

Then, a bit later, when I was recruited by a East Coast prep school, while I knew my parents would never want me to leave home, they also made it clear that the decision was totally mine. So even though the catalogue of classes and the immense range of activities at Phillips-Exter was quite tempting, I knew even then that I would never want to grow up without my family, nor that I would ever want to leave the City of LA, even for my schooling. Still later, when all my friends were going Ivy - or to Cal Berkeley or even just around the corner to Claremont, I only applied to UCLA.

Now to get back to the sit-com analogy - once I and my siblings were born, my parents no longer had (or wanted) any independent life other than as... parents. When they went out, we all went out. When they went on a trip or to a movie or to a store - or anywhere - we all went out. Now while there must have been many other occasions, I can only recall both my parents going out once and leaving us with baby sitters - my grandparents - when they went to see the Music Man at the now demolished Biltmore Theater.

My mother worked at E. F. Hutton on Spring Street before I was born (when she quit her job) and my father worked at a law office in the Doulgas Building at 3rd and Spring while he got his degree from Southwestern Law School. This was after the War had interrupted his education from 1941 - 1945 as Pearl Harbor happened while he was enrolled at UCLA. He later set up his own office there and stayed there until the upper floors were vacated for seismic concerns.

My father never smoke or drank and I do not recalling him ever even once using a four letter word in my presence during the entire time I was growing up. I also never heard any kind of racial joke or insult at the expense of anyone's race, religion or background in our home, which was a literal United Nations of kids coming and going while I was growing up. I might add that my parents were Goldwater/Reagan Republicans.

My father also coached the Hollywood YMCA's basketball team and was the sponsor of the Y Groups I was apart of such as the Indian Guides. He also became the surrogate father for the many kids I knew who no longer had their own fathers in their lives, taking us on trips, to Dodger's games and to our cabin in the mountains.

His own father, correspondingly, also had a long history of public service between working with Gifford Pinchot (founder of the National Forest system) on conservation matters and helping run war relief in the Balkans after WW I, before his early death when my father was but one year old during a 1920's flu epidemic.

My father also quietly participated in many other community projects including serving as the honorary Mayor of Westlake Park, which was, ironically, kind of the neighborhood council of its day. But what made even more of an impact on me was how he treated people in every day life. When Christmas and Thanksgiving came, he did not just write a check to a charity, but we - as a family - took food and gifts to families ourselves and we then shared their food with them and accepted gifts from them so it became an exchange of gifts from one family to another and not charity. And as a lawyer, whenever potential clients did not have enough money to hire him, he was always willing to accept barter in food, a painting, used cars (we never once had a new car) - or any other medium of exchange.

I also remember when we went to McLaren Hall (where kids whose parents were unable to take care of them were often housed temporarily) to visit the son of a single parent client who was in jail and he discovered that the kids who wanted to play baseball did not have enough balls and bats. So my father not only went out and bought them balls and bats but he also went back on weekends and hit balls with them to show them that someone cared about them.

It is all those the simple, day to day acts that I most remember and cherish about my father. And it is only now that I have slowly realized that all of what I do now in my life is only my following behind him in his footsteps and my trying to apply all the lessons I learned from him as a boy so many years ago.

So even though the trail this poor cowboy has ridden - due to life's all too common tragedies - has not always been an easy one, or a typical one due to things often beyond my control, my deceased mother and my still alive father still never gave me anything less than their full love, their constant support and their ceaseless understanding, no matter how off-trail my life at many times seemed.

So Happy Father's Day - Ernest V. Shockley in the 82nd year of your life!

PS -- As you the more discerning reader may notice, my father and I do not share the same surname. These is because in my 17th summer when I discovered that I was born to ride the cowboy trail (however brief that period of my life was allowed to be) and that I was also to become a writer, I then took Brady Westwater as my pen name.

However, as those aspects of my life soon became my primary lives, by the time I was 18, it was the only name I was publicly using to the point that by the time I had left UCLA, even my family had changed over to it. So this is just another of the many examples in their never ending patience with the life I have chosen for myself.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Self-Help Graphics Shut Down!

On June 7th, legendary Eastside cultural institution Self-Help Graphics appears to have been shut down by its board of directors. Details are sketchy as to how permanent - or temporary the closure is, but there will be a public meeting with the board of directors 7 PM June 28th at the Avenue Studio 50 in Highland Park. See above links for more details.

Wicky Wacky Wikatorials! Great Concept - But Disastrous Start! LA Times Blows First Effort!

Too depressed to post on this now (and, too busy, too - gotta get those crime cameras up!) but will
pontificate... later.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Summer In The City! Hot And Gritty! And Mothers - Don't Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Bruins!,0,5185724.story?coll=la-home-style

Some weeks (months?) ago, LA Times writer, Steve Barrie-Anthony, posted on a local downtown list-serv that he wanted to interview people who held parties and socialized on their rooftops.

I quickly reviewed my dozen best rooftop experiences downtown. I then did some rough calculations, and even more quickly realized that the statue of limitations had not quite run out - and declined to participate. This (undoubtedly) was why this was such a 'G' rated story.

The article also failed to investigate the forbidden pleasures - and parties and art events - and the romantic (hell, we're talking... wild monkey sex) liaisons - that took place on forbidden rooftops during the 1960's, '70's and 80's long before the current crop of loft dwellers arrived. I remember one night in particular after we stealthily broke onto the roof of the...

But I digress.

Getting back to the article in question, it gets both the mis-en-scene and the gestalt of the current loft/roof top scene dead right. I have nothing to add to that aspect of the story, so if you are interested in the present scene - read the article.

Related to this, though, at the Central City Association (CCA) annual Housing Luncheon, Tom Gilmore did yeoman duty as panel leader/MC - and stand-up comedian. (And I did my part by delivering up to Tom the soft ball straight line of the day, for the biggest laugh of the day.) But what was increasingly interesting, was that as each developer showed the slides of his projects, a clear case of... pool envy developed.

Yes, the 'p' word was repeatedly used - and it became very clear that size does indeed matter.

As each of the latest projects boasted of their new roof-top pools, the few, older projects presented - without the increasing mandatory roof-top pool, now felt compelled to... apologize... for the lack of that amenity. Tom Gilmore did counter, though, that when he hosed off his sidewalks daily, if the storm drains backed up just right, there was the occasional... puddle.

In closing, I wish to present a clear case that the apocalypse is indeed, upon us.

To wit, an illustration that holding a high position at a major university today requires the complete absence of common sense and a total inability to relate to the real world. Please read the below mind-boggling quote:

"These rooftops are "private heavens," says Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, chairwoman of the urban planning department at UCLA. "What concerns me is the increasing tendency to take activities which were for hundreds of years part of the public realm, and privatize them. Then we'll have parks only being used by low-income and minority people, and affluent people will use private parks.

"This is not only a moral issue; it is also a practical one. The cost is the vibrancy of the city. The more we segregate cities, the more fear there is that we'll never become a community of citizens, that everybody will follow their own individualistic interests."

I mean - can you believe that... dribble?

According to her... the very fabric of society is threatened because these horribly immoral people (remember - this is a moral issue, according to her) downtown - gasp! - use their own roofs as outdoor space! My God - let's take these... criminals... and shoot them! How dare they have individual interests! Off to the Re-Education Camps! Mao shirts for everyone!

The real irony is that the people she is attacking are those who are moving into the heart of the city and revitalizing the urban fabric. But, no, that's not enough. She won't be satisfied until we're all stripped of our personal identities, working in collective farms and singing songs about Father Stalin and happy farm implements.

LA Times Goes To Work!


The new 'Thinking Out Loud' section of OPINION - where the LA Times will run a series of articles examining a subject rather than writing another dumb ass editorial about it - debuted today. The inaugural subject was - surprise! - traffic!

They kicked off the series with the ten members of editorial page staff each reporting on the length, obstacles and pleasures - however ... fleeting - of one day’s commute to work.

The biggest surprise is that 30% of them take public transportation. Of those three, two of them drive to get their respective bus/train station while one of them walks the three blocks. This is considerably higher than the average of high paid white collar workers.

The other not so surprising observation is that as individuals writing in their own voices - they are a lot better writers than the deadly collective voice (however singular the actual writer may be) that writes the editorials.

Cool LA Times Earthquake Coverage!

The recently promised more interactive LA Times seems to be stepping up today. First, stories about how the LAT's editorial board commutes to work (more on that later), then prompt coverage of the quake (I guess they actually have reporters in the building on Thursdays as opposed to Sundays) - and, finally, the new breaking news blog kicked in to allow readers to report their reactions/responses to the quake.

As for my downtown report - nothing.

I must have been galloping along the the sidewalk or was in the subway when it hit as I felt zip - nothing, nada, nor did anyone else around me say anything. But when I did get down the stairs to the subway at 7th and Flower after the CCA lunch at the Wilshire Grand, the North Hollywood train was being held and no Union Station train came for sometime - so maybe they stopped service until they checked that everything was OK.

It was actually not until I got back to my office after two more meetings that I even found out about it due to e-mails I had gotten.

Fascincating Article On The Inner Workings Of A Newspaper!

If you want to see how sausages, I mean, newspapers are really made - read the above link, courtsey of Romenesko. Comments later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Today's Best Press Line About the Press!

In today's New York Times article describing, among other things, the press seige of the Jackson ranch in Santa Maria.

"Now and then, the front gates parted part and a vehicle would appear - an S.U.V. carrying a middle-aged woman hiding her face behind her hands, a propane truck - and, each time, security guards would order camera crews to move off Mr. Jackson's land to the far side of the road.

But as soon as Mr. Jackson's father, Joe, appeared, the crews poured back across the street and attached themselves to his vehicle like metal shavings on a magnet"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

DWP Hearing Before City Council Committee.,1413,200~20954~2921027,00.html

Janice Hahn chaired today (June 14th) a hearing at the City Council's Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources committee to determine if theLos Angeles Department of Water and Power had properly notified the Neighborhood Coucnils of a proposed rate increase. This hearing was necessary after mistaken press reports last week that this had not properly occurred.

Many of us who wrote and negotiated the just signed MOU between the DWP and the NC's were there and we verified that the DWP had fulfilled the letter, the intent and the spirit of our agreement.

And now that the DWP has approved it's budget, an indpendent review will take place to see if the budget and the possible rate hike are warranted. The the NC's will be given a minimum of 90 days to exmanine the rate hike after it has been officially taken to the City Council.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Superb LA Times Article On SCI-Arc - Other Than It's Totally Wrong!!,2,5836473.story

LA Times architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne (another all too recent arrival in LA), last Friday June 10th, proposed that the dispute between SCI-Arc (alas, misspelled - endlessly - in the 'LA' Times as... Sci-Arc) and its landlord be resolved by SCI-Arc leaving its present home and joining the Related Companies Project along Grand Avenue on Bunker Hill. Read the above linked full article, but below are a few of his thoughts:

"Over the last few weeks, two seemingly unrelated architectural dramas have been playing out in downtown Los Angeles.

Inside Department 18 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, or Sci-Arc, has been fighting a nasty legal battle over the fate of its single-building campus on the eastern edge of downtown. A decision in the case is expected shortly, perhaps as early as today; a victory for Sci-Arc, allowing it to buy the renovated rail depot it's been leasing for five years, appears unlikely.

Meanwhile, along Grand Avenue, New York-based developer Related Cos. has been working to flesh out and win final approval for a plan to build two huge mixed-use commercial parcels to accompany a 16-acre park. The $1.8-billion project doesn't include a single educational or cultural component or, at least so far, any prominent local architects to complement its roster of established and largely risk-averse firms from Chicago, Boston and New York. Without a change of architectural course, its commercial sections may provide little more than a shiny, joyless parade of high-end chain stores.

Remarkably, there's an attractively simple solution to Sci-Arc's real estate woes and the Related plan's essential conservatism that no one has suggested: Dedicate one of the publicly owned parcels in the new Grand Avenue development for a new, free-standing Sci-Arc campus building, and give the job of designing it to an emerging, experimentally minded architecture firm based in Los Angeles.

In a single stroke, the gesture would give Sci-Arc the permanent home it has been seeking downtown and offer an early sign of reassurance that Related is committed to more than the bottom line. It would bring to the heart of the new development hundreds of architecture students, not to mention audiences for evening lectures, exhibitions and other Sci-Arc events that are open to the public.

More than that, the move would provide the youthful and architectural energy that the project is now lacking.

Sci-Arc's 450 students and 80 faculty members, once in place, could help transform the development from within. Their presence could help attract a diverse mixture of retail outlets as well as, in time, residents who might not otherwise consider living there."


Now while I very much like Christopher Hawthorne as a writer, as an architecture critic and as an urban critic (which are three very different things), he is operating under a considerable handicap.

As someone new to Los Angeles, much less downtown, he is not yet fully able to understand the differences between the two neighborhoods (other than the obvious) the cultural history of SCI-Arc (or even how to... spell its name), the financial aspect of the Grand Avenue deal, certain political realties or the true nature of the relationship between Richard Meruelo and SCI-Arc.

To begin with, Hawthorne does not even label SCI-Arc's existing neighborhood as the Arts District - so I am curious how much he actually knows about the long history of that neighborhood. I also wonder if he is at all really aware of just how deeply the arts community and the architecture community have been intertwined in this city - particularly since the 1960's.

I know he must have read in the textbooks about Gehry and the artists and the car culture in Venice, but seeing, living and breathing that relationship is far different than reading about it in a book. From my personal experience, it's no accident that most of the architects I know, I first met in an art gallery - or in an artist's studio.

Nor is it likely that Hawthorne fully appreciates how the loft buildings in the Arts District are places where young architects can afford to live and set-up their practices long after they leave their dorm rooms and thus form a true rather than a merely transitory community; a community where they can daily interact with their peers within the living and working spaces of other visual artists and architects and designers - something that could never happen on Grand Avenue.

Nor does Hawthorne likely fully comprehend that the opportunities for building small projects - and loft remodels - are far larger in this area - making it a potential living showcase for young architects. Nor has he likely considered how the ever endless recycling of (comparatively) inexpensive spaces for shops and restaurants and the newest art gallery will also provide opportunities for upcoming architects in a way that the more homogenized - and far more expensive - retail and restaurant spaces along Grand Avenue would never be able to do.

It is also unlikely Hawthorne is fully aware of the essentially blue collar history of SCI-Arc itself and its old factory building on Beethoven. And he might not be completely cognizant of how perfectly the school fits into its linear space, and how it makes the campus a wonderfully urban/suburban hybrid strip city - the perfect metaphor for the linearity of Los Angeles with its open air freight docks ideal for barbeques and parties and outdoor Southern California living in a way that could never be done on Bunker Hill.

It is obvious that no one could - or would - ever again build a building this way again in the heart of the city - thus making it a uniquely oddball place perfect for human interaction where everyone has to walk through and share and experience everyone else's space to get any where.

No high rise or traditional low rise could or would ever create the sense of community that SCI-Arc now has within its walls; its own community within the heart of a true urban arts community.

As for the Bunker Hill option, Hawthorne neglects to mention that the Colburn School for the Performing Arts is already on Grand Avenue or that Colburn is building a massive expansion far larger than the existing campus - complete with dormitories. Therefore he does not consider how that that will already bring 24/7 student life into the area - along with the students from the arts magnet high school three blocks down, past Grand Avenue's performing arts palaces.

And that synergy is why Colburn belongs on Grand Avenue with the Music Center/Performing Arts Complex and the many theaters and rehearsal halls that are all a perfect complement for Coburn. On Grand Avenue is where performing arts students can find the inspirations and the mentors they need for their careers, and here is where they can daily experience music and dance and drama, making them active participants in this neighborhood in a way that the architecture students at SCI-Arc would never be.

As for the non-social issues of Grand Avenue, Hawthorne seems to be unaware that the land on Bunker Hill is being sold to a developer - and so it can not be given to SCI-Arc by the Country or the CRA.

(UPDATE! - After talking to some more people, it is not impossible that the County could arrange a land gift, but not in the first phase; this still does not, though, make the project any more financially feasible as SCI-Arc would have to build a very expensive campus - far more expensive than buying their existing building. This fact alone fully negates the reason for the move. It simply makes no financial sense to do this, anymore than it makes any social sense.)

There are also a number of other observations and conclusions about Bunker Hill and the Related proposal in the article that are not valid, but my main objections to the site those already stated.

Lastly, the present courtroom antics and the adversarial role playing between Meruelo and SCI-Arc described in the article, makes the true dynamics of what is going on among the principals impossible to know without a first hand knowledge of the players and their pasts, much less their past and present interactions - or their long term goals.

Again, a newcomer to the city can hardly be expected to parse out what is really going on here - much less what is really likely going to happen - as opposed to what is going on in public in the press and in a court room.

Now this returns this cowboy to a well ridden theme - how the ceaseless purge of LA voices from the LA Times by a Chicago corporation and its hired hands who care not one lick about this city... is the major civic tragedy of our time. A local urban critic such as Sam Hall Kaplan would be far less likely to misunderstand a situation like this.

However, on the other hand, when on the very rare occasion where a fait of corporate deus ex machina does give us a true advocate for serous architecture, great urban design - and true urban communities (such as Christopher Hawthorne), at least we can be grateful for that.

And Hawthorne has already shown a passion for his briefly adopted city that his universally despised predecessor, Nicolia Ourooussoff, never bothered to even try and fake. So when one adds to this his willingness to throw out some very exciting ideas to get a public debate going, this makes Hawthorne one of the very few new hires of the Times to add to this city rather than subtract from it, as most of the new hires do (take Steve Lopez - please!).

Hawthorne is a keeper!

In closing, as I said up front, Christopher Hawthorne has a wonderfully thought out idea in proposing to move SCI-Arc to Grand Avenue - other than the simple fact that he's completely and totally wrong.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

West Hollywood Annexes Wilshire Boulevard! Or At Least That Is What The New York Times Says!

Just when the New York Times was reaching a long streak of error free innnings about things LA, they drop a seriously easy infield out - big time - in their 'Boite' article about the restaurant Dominick's:

"Over in the corner the installation artist Jennifer Steinkamp had come with a dozen friends from her art opening at Acme gallery in West Hollywood."


In... West Hollywood?

Well, Acme - once called Food House - has been in several places (more if you count Robert Gunderman's first downtown LA effort - Opus as one of its ancestors), but none of them had been in - or are in - West Hollywood. The famed gallery long owned by Robert - don't ever call me Bob - Gunderman and Randy Sommer is presently the keystone tenant at the famed 6150 Wilshire complex just down the street from LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) - in the heart of Los Angeles' Miracle Mile.

Now this is the type of gaffe one would expect to find in the LA Times... but in the New York Times?


New York Times Take On LA Times Editorial Shake-up!,0,6629536.story

First, go to the above linked story in the Sunday LA Times Opinion section where Editorial Page Director Andres Martinez described the proposed changes for the editorial page. The bullet points are below:

* There will be a modest cosmetic redesign.

* On occasion, board members will write, under their byline, "A SoCal Life," articles that reflect on life in this region.

* A box on this page, in the letters space, will appear some days, critiquing editorials in other newspapers.

* Analytical editorials that grapple with fundamental principles underlying a policy debate will be labeled "Framework." These will be archived on our website ( and also in a separate outline by subject matter that we hope, over the years, will evolve into a coherent and consistent political philosophy.

* On Saturdays, you may have noticed, this page usually has a unifying theme - say, three editorials on aspects of the weather, or France.

* "Thinking Out Loud" is an experiment in making up our minds in public. Starting with two national issues, immigration and traffic, that are especially important to us in Southern California, we will devote space in all of our precincts - editorials, Op-Eds, the Sunday Opinion section (and watch out for a redesign and name change there!) and our website - to exploring aspects and alternate views of these subjects. We don't have a solution, and there may not be a good one. But that is no excuse for failing to come up with the best one. We hope this process will help us do it.

* We will allow board members to dissent from editorials they disagree with - though only once a year each. Judy Dugan has already used up her 2005 allotment with a strong rebuttal to our editorials endorsing the Republican Senate leadership's efforts to kill the filibuster

* Watch next week for the introduction of "wikitorials" - an online feature that will empower you to rewrite Los Angeles Times editorials.

Then go to the above link to see an independent view of the proposed changes by the New York Times. The most interesting points were those taking a skeptical view of Editorial and Opinion Page Editor Michael Kinsley. See below:

"Some at the newspaper have found Mr. Kinsley distant and uncommunicative, saying that he rarely answers internal e-mail messages. They said that situation was not helped by the fact that Mr. Kinsley still primarily lives in Seattle and flies to Los Angeles every other week.

"I'm not known for being uncommunicative," Mr. Kinsley said. "I'm known for being overly communicative. The commuting is working out O.K.. It's not ideal but it's pretty great for me."

(well... as long as it works for... someone)


"Mr. Kinsley is not unaccustomed to controversy. Earlier this year, he got into a bitter public fight with the feminist writer Susan Estrich, a former Harvard Law School classmate, when she tried to get him to run more opinion pieces by women.

Last week, the newspaper's entire editorial column was filled by an unsigned 1,400-word article arguing that malaria does not receive the attention or money it deserves. The article noted that Mr. Kinsley's wife, Patty Stonesifer is co-chairwoman and president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The foundation is overseeing an anti-malaria campaign, but some of the newspaper's staff thought the article's appearance was a conflict of interest. Mr. Martinez addressed the issue by saying "the idea that we can't bring more attention because the Gates foundation is trying to find a cure is a bit mind boggling."

Interesting, huh? Now as for what LA Cowboy thinks... I don't know. Obviously, the status quo is not working. All we can do is watch, wait - and hope.

New York Times (and LA Daily News) Scoop LA Times... on LA Area Earthquake!

While the New York Times first posted word of the mild (estimated 5.6; UPDATE - now 5.2) Southern California earthquake at 8:59 LA time... it took the LA Times until 9:33 to report the story via the AP wire.

As KAUSFILES says, the LA Times would rather be late, but get in all the details (interviews, etc.) before they report that something has actually happened.

Guys - get a clue!

It's called a NEWS-paper!


Quote from LA Times AP wire written belated article -

"The quake was felt as far west as Los Angeles and as far south as San Diego, 75 miles southwest of Palm Springs, where hundreds of scientists gathered for a diabetes conference."

Say, what?

"... where hundreds of scientists gathered for a diabetes conference."

I SUPPOSE there is a reason for that factoid to be in the article (maybe AP is now charging clients by the word)... but it sure beats the hell out of me why it's there. And when the NY times later updated with the same AP story, they left out that... fact.

I mean, there are probably a hundred other events going on in that area today - so why list that one? Is there a newly discovered link between earthquakes and... diabetes? Has the wearing of copper braclets suddenly been determined to cause... earthquakes?

Tell us LA Times! Enquiring minds demand to know!


In the LA Times' latest AP wire update (Still relying on AP for this story? What gives? Not enough money left in the budget for LAT reporters to work on Sundays?)... the Times has dropped the... zzzz.... diabetes convention... zzzz... and added - a NUDIST resort!

Giggling naked bodies!!

Finally - someone at the LA Times who knows their audience!!!


Two and one-half LA Times reporters later (two credited, one assist), the LA Times has - finally - covered the quake story first hand. Alas, though, there are no first - or even second - hand reports of the affect of the quake's rhythmic swaying on naked bodies at the nudist resort. Instead, the closest thing to moving, naked flesh is the head of a stuffed mule deer falling off a wall.

Sic Transit Gloria.

Even Freakin' Gold Fish Are Scooping LA Cowboy These Days!!

Well, if LA Cowboy had nothing better to do with his time than swim around in circles over at FISH BOWL LA, he might actually have time to read the LA Times.

But guess what!

He doesn't!

So while he is busy preparing the NEW LA Cowboy, the old LA Cowboy is now an impotent old crone (if crones can be impotent...) incapable of scooping even.... fish.

So if you want to find out latest screw-up at the LA Times and how they simply just don't understand this city (and couldn't find the lede of a story if it was handed to them in a... fish bowl...), well... you'll have to read it elsewhere.

And, adding to LA Cowboy's never ending shame, not only did he misss the LAT article, but he even misssed the Fish Bowl post (and speaking of Fish Bowl - when am I getting my well deserved prize for the funniest caption in the last KCRW contest?? I mean, it's been almost a month now) and this poor cowboy had to read about THAT two days late in... where Mickey scooped us on YET ANOTHER LA Times snafu...

However, LA Cowboy's shame is nothing compared to the shame of the LA Toothless Times. Not only did they blow both of those stories, but they were scooped by the New York Times on stories that were... IN THEIR OWN BACK YARD!!

(last phrase, alas, courtesy of Fish Bowl LA)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sleeping Cowboy Screws The Pooch AGAIN!!

First, our ailing cowboy missed how the LA Times managed to leave out the actual story in the John Kerry - finally - releasing his military records story; the fact that Kerry's grades at Yale were even lower than Bush's! And now we equally missed the fact that the LA Times has repeatedly stated that Kerry has/had/will/kinda/sorta released all his military files - when it appears that he has done no such thing - as shown by PATTERICO!

So these days if you want to know what's really going wrong at the LA Times - you need to go to or read KAUSFILES or LAOBSERVED.

But fear not!

The long non-awaited revamp and reinvention of LA Cowboy is now only weeks away and once that has transpired - full time coverage of LA Times screwups and cover-ups will resume!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Barry Munitz And The Getty - Reader Response! Or Will Little Eva Make Her Escape Across The Ice Flow!!

If you look back two posts to my musing on the LAT's excellent expose (other than the minor fact that they missed the real story, of course) of Barry Munitz's disastrous tenure at the Getty Museum, you will notice that there are zero comments.


But I did get some e-mails.

Quite a few e-mails.

In fact - lots of e-mails.

And they are still coming.

And tonight the phone calls started.

Some are anonymous, but many are willing to give their names to establish their credibility, as long as I do not post who they are or give the identifying specifics of what they are saying. But their stories are all the same.

First picture the spawn of hotel heiress Leona Helmsley and Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. Then picture the bad seed spawn of that spawn breeding with Marie Antoinette's evil twin sister. Then picture that spawn running the Getty.

The climate of fear and hatred up on the hill is considerably worse than the Times could ever communicate in cold print.

But... when it comes to the feelings of the refugees from the hill, well... when the revolution comes, Mr. Munitz will be lucky to keep his head. There are plenty of peasants out there with pitch forks and torches ready to storm the gates of the Getty.

Antonio Villaraigosa Pledges To Involve Neighborhood Councils In New Planning Director Search!,1,7912530.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Today's LA Times reports that Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa has agreed to honor Mayor Hahn's pledge for us to be involved in the selection of the new planning director for the City of Los Angeles. Mayor Hahn had proposed that each NC appoint a member to a city wide body and then that body would select seven reps - one from each planning district. Those seven would then question the final three applicants for the job.

Hopefully, the NC's will shortly be able to have a meeting with the Mayor-elect and/or top staff members to discuss the details of our involvement in the process.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Greed At The Getty! LA Times (Partially Redeems Itself) - But STILL Misses The Big Picture!!,0,4932458.story?coll=la-home-headlines

While the LA Times does a superb, wonderfully researched job of showing how Barry Munitz has looted the Getty for his own personal gain (and I have to admit that his borderline crimes are pretty entertainingly... Baroque)... the Times inexplicably ignores the two aspects of the story that most impact this city.

First, on the plus side, the LA Times impeccably covers and documents the over-the-top payments made by Munitz to friends and people he wanted to impress. But what the Times does not adequately cover, is the tendency of the Getty (i.e., Barry Munitz, since the two are now seemingly virtually the same entity) to fund very expensive projects everywhere in the world but in Los Angeles.

For years Munitz has been quietly cursed by many in the local art world for cutting off resources that could have helped comparatively art poor Los Angeles while he continued to rain down money around the world, making him a jet-set player in both the international art and social worlds.

But far worse than that, is the disgraceful record of art acquisitions under Munitz. As masterpiece after masterpiece - including some of the last examples by some of history's greatest painters have come to the auction block - in almost every case - the Getty has not even been a bidder. And with a finite number of these masterpieces left, the last chance for Los Angeles to have a world class pre-20th Century art museum is about to vanish forever under Munitz's reign.

And yet this fact - the one fact that is of most interest to art lovers in Los Angeles, and the only fact that has any long term impact on the civic life of LA is... totally unmentioned!

Only the (cough, cough) LA Times could write this story and totally focus on petty graft, and then miss the long term impacts of Munitz's policies on the city’s cultural life. But I guess since no one at the Times plans on being in LA for more than a few years, anyway - why should they care about the future of this city?

What is mentioned, though, is that even though the LA Getty has a very minor painting collection by international - or even national - standards, Munitz now wants to consider building multiple Getty's around the world, dispersing the already inadequate collection.

Also mentioned is the almost total freedom Munitz has been given to run with Getty by the 13 trustees - a number of whom live in on the East Coast, particularly in New York. But what it is not mentioned, is that they only meet four times a year - and that even then, it is not always in Los Angeles.

And, equally not mentione, is that most of these trustees have been virtually hand picked up Munitz, making the board simply an extension of his social life rather than a true board. The non-mention of these last facts is particularly puzzling as the Times has in the past called attention to these defects, and these defects are clearly the underlying reason for the problems that the article does address.

I can only hope that follow up articles are already written - or at least, planned. One needs to be done on the failure of the board to function... as an independent board or as a board that is run by people who live in this city. And another follow-up is needed ASAP by Christopher Knight on the disastrous legacy of Munitz in not building a museum.

To repeat myself, what was in the article was brilliantly done. But what was not in the article, was totally inexcusable... unless parts 2 and 3 of the story are to shortly follow.

Otherwise, the LA Times will once again have brilliantly told a story - except that it wasn't the story that should have been told.

Lastly, is it too much to hope that the LA Time writes an editorial calling for the head of Barry Munitz - and demanding that the Getty Board be immediately reconstituted with arts world professionals and LA based public watchdogs rather than asleep at the wheel social friends of the director?

Well... since you ask - yes!

It is far, far too much to expect.

Kausfiles Scoops Cowboy On LA Times AGAIN!!

While LA Cowboy struggles with his latest dopamine drop... KAUSFILES continues to do the barely functioning Cowboy's work by raking the LA Times over the coals of its own making.

In the Los Angeles Times story about the release of Kerry's Navy records - they declared there was... nothing of interest! So while the rest of the national - and local – media gleefully ran with the story that John Kerry's grades at Yale were actually slightly LOWER than President Bush's - that fact was totally omitted in the LA Times article!

So if that's how they edit Kerry stories now - imagine what they were leaving out during the campaign - or what they leave out in any other campaign when covering one of 'their' candidates.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Daily News Goes Wild On DWP & Neighborhood Council Story! Total Madness Ensues!!

In a breaktakingly incorrect article on the front page, the Daily News yesterday headlined, "Surprise! 4.3% Hike for water?", it describes how the DWP has - supposedly - broken its promises to the Neighborhood Councils about an independent financial review.

This is totally and completely...wrong.

Now unlike the NC members quoted, I was at the very first meeting with Jerry Gewe well over a year ago when we first signed an agreement to agree on a MOU, and then after fifty meetings, I was also on the final negotiating team who worked with Ron Deaton on the last changes to the language of the document.

And Ron Deaton and the LADWP have fulfilled every single promise they have made to us - and even more so.

We have known all along that more money was going to be needed to deal with both improved water quality control standards and for post 9/11 security concerns. We have also been kept informed of the status of the budget every step of the way with repeated briefings.

We also know that a budget has to be proposed and adopted with a recommendation for needed revenue increases BEFORE the independent audit can take place to see if this is justified. And we also know that the rate increase will not be formally proposed, much less voted on, until the budget is approved. And then we will be given the 90 days to study proposal

Now how any one article can get so many facts in it dead wrong - I do not know.


Special City Council Committee meeting today (June 14th) to investigate if the DWP was following the rules of proper notification of an rate increase to the neighborhood councils. A number of us spoke - and we vindicated them. Then the reporter who wrote the above story - on a very short deadline, she said - interviewed us all and very graciously apologized for the parts of the story she had gotten wrong.

Class act!

Hunger In Los Angeles - Fact - Or Fraud? Or... Mothers... Don't Let Your Boys Grow Up To Be Bruins!

Challenged by Joseph over at Martini Republic's latest new festering sore of a site - (which, of course, I mean in only the nicest way, see above link), for fellow bloggers to examine the hunger story in the LA Times and Daily News, my carefully evaluated judgment is that the story is... strictly from hunger.

Let's start with the first line of the LAT's article:

"Hunger and poor nutrition are increasing in California, with nearly 3 million low-income adults reporting that they struggle each day to keep food on the table, according to a study released Tuesday by UCLA researchers."

OK - the operative phrase here is - "struggle each day to keep food on the table".

Then let's go a little deeper, scratch that, more accurately, let's go further into the article:

"In Los Angeles, 34% of low-income adults - about 957,000 people - experienced periods when they could not afford enough food in 2003, up from 31% in 2001."

OK - so which is it - these surveyed people daily struggle to feed themselves as it states in the lede, - or they experienced periods (of no specified length - one day - two days - three hours - fifteen minutes) when they could not afford enough food.

These are two very different things.

Now based on having reviewed the questions and methodology of many surveys that were heavily biased to create a desired result, my very totally off-the-cuff opinion is that this study is largely bogus. But I would, of course, need to see the actual survey myself to see how much it created this 'growing' hunger problem.

However, based on my personal experience, I feed myself on 3 to 4 dollars a day, when I have to, 5 dollars on an average day and around 6 dollars a day on a very good day. Now I do not buy processed or packaged foods or expensive fast foods, nor do I buy wine or beer. I am also not addicted to drugs and the only people I ever regularly see who do not have the money for food in my neighborhood, are those who use all their money to buy drugs or alcohol. And that is a not insubstantial percentage of the very poor in this city.

I also shop only in low income stores (downtown, Pico-Union, McArthur Park) and when I see people buying with food stamps, most of the time - they have plenty of cash to buy non-essential, alcohol and plenty of pre-packaged foods. And this is something I observe on a daily basis. Only once in a great, great while do I see an older man or woman strugling with a decision if they can afford an item when they come up to the cash register, and then I try to slip them a dollar or so, but more often then not, they refuse it.

Plus in the heart of the skid row district where I live and work, the biggest problem is diabetes from over-eating as even the homeless can easily score five hot meals a day by going from mission to mission. Now that is not to say that there aren't families that do have periods of time they might not have as much food as they want at the end of the month. I have that, too.

Now is there some on-going hunger in LA County? And is this something we need to concern ourselves with? No question! But first we need to be truthful about the realities of the problem, and the true underlying reasons for that hunger.

And from daily watching the way people shop in the local markets, and by daily talking with and living among these people and by watching the hugely obese younger children in the poorest neighborhoods in the city, I can really see the poor nutrition part. But do I actually believe there are substantial numbers of people permanently nightly going to bed hungry?

My carefully rendered opinion is - bullshit!


Just read Daily News article - and get a load of this quote:

"The report makes a distinction between what it calls food insecurity, or being at risk of going hungry, and hunger, in which adults actually complained of being hungry or missing meals on several occasions."

So... if you have ever been hungry or if you have ever even missed meals on several occasions, then you are apart of the hard core hungry category. But, besides them, there are those people who aren't hungry and who never miss meals (if the paper is accurately reporting thier criteria) - but there is the chance that they might at some time in the future, just maybe might miss a meal or feel hungry. And they are also listed as being among the millions of hungry people in California.

So to use those definitions to create a 'hunger crisis' in LA - is beyond bullshit. It is deliberate and blatant dishonestly.

Kausfiles Reaps While LA Cowboy Sleeps While LA Times... Remains Asleep At The Wheel!

After an all night writing session, LA Cowboy missed checking the LA Times and so KAUSFILES scooped us by noticing that the four hour shut down of a major freeway - which gridlocked a large part of greater Los Angeles was buried on page three of their 'B' section. This even though the Daily News - which does not even service the area most affected - had it on their front page (and the story was covered by the National version of NBC news). To quote KAUSFILES:

Update: The L.A. Daily News, the LAT's smaller, Valley-based rival, of course makes the freeway drama its lead story. That's because the Daily News is a newspaper. [As opposed to?--ed. A giant wet blanket smothering any spark of civic engagement in America's second-largest city! ... Sorry, that just sort of popped out.]

Sunday, June 05, 2005

LA Times Has Blog! Sort of...

The above link will take you to a very limited blog at the LA Times on which we are allowed to post on only two subjects - parents and students in school, and your opinion of Joel Stein.

Joel, who?

Yes, I know. No one knows who he is, which is why they are plugging him on their blog. And as I suspected, since only his friends know who he is, they seem to be the only ones posting so far. However, with all the major plugs this blog has gotten in the blogosphere, I am amazed at how few posts there have been.

Lastly, since the TIMES edits and reviews before they publish posts, here is my uncensored post below:


As for the alleged convergence of Joel Stein and humor, I understand the basis of the theoretical construct. Take a self-identified loser, have him make deliberately pompous and idiotic statements about other people - and then label it cutting edge satire.

Hey, it worked for Pauly Shore - so why not the Times?

The problem with this particular theory is that the few people who appreciate this type of humor - would never be caught dead reading the LA Times.

As partial proof of this, I write a blog that is partly about the LA Times; I am also in the film and TV business; I also wrote and sold many TV pilots back in the day; and, yet, I have not once heard one person mention Joel Stein. And even when I called around to people I know who would be in his target audience and I asked them what they thought about Joel Stein - out of twenty people, not a one of them knew who he was.

There is an even larger problem, though. There are many people in LA who might be interested in the story of a so far unsuccessful sit-com writer trying to make it Hollywood. Unfortunately, though, the LA times will only hire people who are not from LA and who know nothing about LA to write about LA, which is why no one in LA cares about the LA Times.

Anything to do with LA has been deliberately extracted from the paper.

This is why we have do not have a column about a writer who grew up in LA and has many common shared experiences with Angelinos. This is why the paper is filled with stories about Red Socks/Yankee fans.

Now a column by someone who has spent years dealing with the ins and outs of the Hollywood might make for an entertaining read. But a column filled with cultural references that mean nothing to people to LA - will be ignored, just like the rest of the LA Times.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

LA Times Covers DLANC's Town Crier Competition!,0,3680365.story?coll=la-home-local

The LAT's Calendar section has an excellent article on the Downtown Los Angeles's Neighborhood Council's Town Crier Competition. It tells how our very own town crier - Don Garza - became first DLANC's and then LA's town crier and how he arranged the competition.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Neighborhood Councils? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Neighborhood Councils!

Recently released from City Hall is a ten (or nine, depending on the format) page document entitled:

A Fresh Start - The Villaraigosa Administration - Preliminary/Executive Summary May 31, 2005.

In it the new mayor states his overall philosphy about Los Angeles. He opines on schools, jobs, police, city commissions, traffic, ethics, fire, public safety, civil rights, terrorist attacks, ambulances, business, taxes, and many other subjects.

But there are two words that do not even appear in this statement about his Fresh Start - Neighborhood Councils.

This was definitely not what LA Cowboy was expecting as a one year anniversary gift from the new adminstration.

Maybe all the NC's should marshall our meager resources and buy our new Mayor a copy of the old city charter.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

College Term Paper On Brady Westwater - Four Pages For ONLY - $39.80!!

The things you learn when you have a GOOGLE news alert on your name.

There is a a four page essay for sale on-line about my views on Mike Davis and it can be yours for the bargain price of only $39.80!!

Hell, I 'll pump four pages myself on any subject you want for half the price!!!

Cowboys Lasso Drug Dealer in Heart of Downtown!

Well, maybe not exactly... cowboys... and no lasso was actually used except in the figurative sense - but two Stetsoned members of the LAPD mounted unit apprended a drug dealer at 5th and Spring in front of the notorious Alexandria hotel this afternoon. And one of the horses assisting in the arrest was a quite fine looking almost near black Morgan.

I mention that because the first two chapters of LA Cowboy's soon be be excerpted here memoirs are largely about LA Cowboy's own black Morgan horse and their somewhat... rocky... initial relationship.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Happy Birthday LA Cowboy! One Year Old Today!!

Or at least that's what the LA Times reporter said to me at the crack of dawn this morning. And then I checked out this disturbing claim, I discovered that he/she was right! I am one year old today!

LA Cowboy was born precisely one year ago. And then when two other LA Times reporters called - also at a time they both knew I would still be asleep - it was clear that there was a conspiracy afoot to deprive LA Cowboy of his sleep - leaving him unable to battle the forces of evil!

So, now aware of the significance of the day, I checked my e-mails to see if there were yet any congratulatory messages from either the Editor or the Publisher of the Times.


Not yet.

But the day is young!

The wonderful irony of this is, of course, how many reporters at the LA Times appreciate LA Cowboy's views on the leadership of the LA Times, not that any of them would ever dare comment on my site or call me from a LA Times number, of course. In fact, even some bloggers say that can not leave any comments on my site for fear of never being able to write for the Times again.

As for the future of LA Cowboy, well, big changes are in store!

The original plan was to comment on the new Neighborhood Council movement and other aspects of LA life. But, when I was quite unexpectedly elected president of my own neighborhood council, I realized that blogging on the day to day activities of my own council - when I was its president - would make for an awkward situation; thus, after a period of hibernation, I decided to write a more general view of the city and the NC's.

But as I was doing this, from stage far left, entered the villain of the drama, The LA Times! And LA Cowboy found its first true voice; keeping track of the errors, omissions and general cluelessness of the LA Times.

But now that LA Cowboy is entering its adolescent, it is time for another change. There is a new Mayor, a slightly reconstituted city council and much work to be done in fixing the City of LA.

So - shortly - besides continuing to battle the forces of evil Chicago has brought to besiege our city - the main focus of this blog will be the interaction of the Neighborhood Councils, the City Council - and the new Mayor.

And, even more than that, it will be a place where the serious issues that face this city can be examined in detail and then debated with a soon to debut new format!

So watch out! A new improved LA Cowboy is headed straight for you!

So... Cowboy Up!