Sunday, March 29, 2009

Last Of The South Coast Cowboy Life!

The appellation cowboy is often used - but rarely earned.

One of the last local representatives of the old style breed is Steve Tellam of Ramona in San Diego County. The above linked story explains why he is the last full time traditional cowboy of his family - and likely one of the last in that part of San Diego County.

But the future of the American cowboy (though on my old range - cowhand - or just 'hand' - was preferred) is - fortunately - not restricted to the daily interaction of man and cow.

In my case, while I did my share of turning little bulls into little steers - though I declined to use my teeth for the task - and while I pulled more than my share of reluctant calves out of recalcitrant cow's rear ends - I found myself quickly gravitating to the catching and breaking of wild horses and - eventually - the training of rodeo stock.

But soon the ten of us found ourselves overseas and rather than roping up wandering cattle - we found ourselves lassoing stolen airplanes for insurance companies. And then - just when we thought we had gotten as far away from our Western ways as we could - there was the day that... well.... that's another story in the life of a 20th Century cowboy....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Steve Hymon Out At Los Angeles Times!

Read Kevin Roderick's post above on just some of the reasons why the Los Angeles Times layoff of Steve Hymon is unimaginable.

What he doesn't say is that with the paper having more than a few reporters who know barely enough to even find their way around the city - and one LAT reporter in particular having proven himself - repeatedly - to be more interested in pushing his own personal agenda than telling the truth - the firing Steve Hymon is also morally indefensible.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Just Watched The First Ten minutes Of The New NBC TV Series - Kings....

But I'm having a hard time figuring out what language the script was so... badly.... translated from.

My guess is one of the more obscure tribal languages of the Southeast Asia mountains. That would explain why the syntax is totally unrelated to English.

But - on the plus side - with a little editing and the addition of a laugh track - it might be a real hit!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tickets For BOXeight Fashion Week Shows Now Available!

The final line-up for BOXeight's fifth season of fashion shows once again at the Historic Los Angeles Theatre - this Friday, Saturday and Sunday - is now on-line and tickets are going fast!



7-10pm Gen Art's Official Launch of BOXeight Fashion Week
8pm Raquel Allegra
Society for Rational Dress

10-2am BOXeight Afterparty Event
& KIN Pop-Up Nightclub
11pm Sonia Vera Swimwear
12am JGerard Presentation

*BOXeight ticket not valid for Gen Art, got to to attend 7-10pm shows)


2pm Jen Awad
4pm Smoke & Mirrors
5pm David Alexander
6pm COA
7pm Future Heretics
8pm martinMARTIN
10pm SkinGraft
11pm UNIF + KIN (Young Hollywood Presentation)
10-2am BOXeight Afterparty Event
& KIN Pop-Up Nightclub


3pm Mike Vensel
4pm Hayley Starr
5pm The Battalion
6pm Sahaja
7pm Yotam Solomon
8pm Sjobeck
9pm Maxine Dillon
10pm Li Cari by Jazmin Whitley
10-2am BOXeight Afterparty Event
& KIN Pop-Up Nightclub

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Oh, God! Please Shoot Me If Ever Read The LA Times Again! Now They've Misplaced The Plaza Church!

I realize this is my FIFTH post about an error in the LA Times this weekend - but - seriously - I had no choice! They made me do it!

Even though working on the upcoming Fashion Week and writing the new website for the Historic Downtown Los Angeles BID and a dozen other projects has left me with barely even time to skim over the LA Times website this weekend - every single time I have, well.... read below the latest crime against God, man and nature.

And just in case you were recently dropped into LA from another planet - or you are a writer for the Los Angeles Times - the old Plaza Church is - and has always been on Main Street.

Quinceañeras get a special Catholic prayer book
The new booklet, developed over a decade, has the Vatican's blessing, but few priests seem to know about it. The aim is to ensure religious meaning in what is often just a lavish celebration.
By Alicia Lozano

5:16 PM PDT, March 8, 2009

As she sat primly under a portrait of the Virgin Mary, 15-year-old Angelica Arroyo's silver tiara glistened against the gold-plated altar of La Placita Church on historic Olvera Street.

Yes, no one at the Los Angeles Times can even tell the difference between Main Street - and Olvera Street.

I Didn't Mean To Make This A What The Hell Is Happening At The LA Times Weekend - But - When Did Lincoln Height's Avenues Become Part Of Downtown?

With the 'ID the neighborhoods project' going on at the LAT - how can a man be killed in Downtown in one sentence - and then also killed in Lincoln Heights in the next sentence? And yes, that area is NEAR Downtown - but it is - as the story says - in Lincoln Heights.

Police are searching for killer of homeless man
4:42 PM | March 8, 2009

Los Angeles police are continuing to search for a suspect in the stabbing death of a 66-year-old homeless man downtown over the weekend.

Carlos Green was pushing a shopping cart on the sidewalk on Avenue 19 in Lincoln Heights about 11 a.m. Saturday when he was attacked by an unknown assailant who stabbed him several times, according to Los Angeles police.

Why Did The Los Angeles Times Withhold A Key Story Point Until The Very End?

In the above linked story, a family accuses the Army of covering up their daughter's murder by saying it was a suicide, and they present some compelling evidence. The article also suggests there might be a pattern of covering up such murders.

Then, further into the article, the Army makes its case and it seems hard to reconcile the two points of view. Then at the end of the article, it turns out the family also hired their own private coroner and in paragraph 41 of 48 paragraphs - if you are one of the few who have made it that far - you will find his conclusion:

"I saw no evidence that it was not self-inflicted," Graham said.


That is what the family's own privately hired coroner told them.

Now that is something if I had known earlier, I would have looked at everything else in the article ... a bit differently.

However - since their private coroner was still lacking some key evidence - his verdict is not a final answer to the story (and he does state that) - and there are other important issues the family does raise which still need to be addressed.

But by this point, I am just a little suspicious about everything I just read. When I read fictional murder mysteries, I always enjoy a good surprise twist at the end. But in news stories - not so much.

Reason #4,673 Why Los Angeles Needs A Museum Of Its History!

In today's Los Angeles Times, Steve Harvey does his usual excellent job on the re-opening of the historic Cole's bar/restaurant in the old Pacific Electric Building - but he also repeats a few of the older urban legends of Los Angeles.

Cole's occupies the bottom floor of the 10-story Pacific Electric Building, the city's tallest skyscraper in the early 1900s and for years the terminus for the Red Car trolley line, which clacked over more than 1,000 miles of track in Southern California.

Founder Henry Cole moved into the former headquarters of some horse-drawn streetcars. One of the first things he did was sprinkle sawdust on the floor.

First, the building, as it states on the owner's own website - is nine stories tall and not ten.

Second, it was never the city's tallest skyscraper - or it's first one, as other sources have claimed. The Braly Building - which is now the Continental - at the SE corner of 4th and Spring - reached 174 feet in 1903. The City then passed a 150 foot height limit on all future buildings in 1904. But even though the PE Building was designed in 1903, built in 1904 and opened in January of 1905 (which is why those three dates are given in different sources) - it was still built well below even the new 150 height limit.

Third, as far as Cole's being the former home of horses for horse drawn street cars in a building opened in 1905, I have always heard that horse drawn street cars were all replaced first by cable and then by electric cars by the mid/late 1890's before Huntington bought any of his lines. And I do know that the last cable line was electrified in 1902, by which time there were no horse drawn lines. So it is impossible for Cole's to have ever housed any horse drawn street cars.

Lastly - one often quoted fact NOT stated is that the PE Building was the largest building in square footage west of Chicago for many years - though some sources have amended that by saying, largest office building. Now I have no idea if that is true or not, but it would seem to me that some building in San Francisco or Kansas City or St. Louis (if those last two cities are considered west of Chicago, of course) should been larger - but I'll leave that for someone else to fact check.

Update - I just did some very cursory research on the size of the largest office building in the major Western cities in 1905 - and it appears the PE Building... probably... was the largest Western office building in square footage.

FURTHER UPDATE - info on the last horse drawn street cars in Los Angeles - and the date of 1896 I had in my head - turns out to be pretty close - by a few months:

In "Street Railways and the Growth of Los Angeles," Robert C Post says that the Los Angeles Railway's last horse car line, West Ninth Street, last ran on 08-June-1896 (page 131). The Main Street & Agricultural Park's last horse car ran in April 1897. If there were other indepedent lines that converted later, I couldn't find them in the book.

By the way, it's been ten years since I wrote up the Los Angeles cable car lines on my website, so I've been updating the articles. This month I also added a nice article by James Clifton Robinson, General Manager of the Los Angeles Cable Railway/Pacific Cable Railway. I also added contemporary newspaper articles about the Second Street and Temple Street cable lines. Next month I'm updating my article about the San Francisco cable cars that ran around the parking lots at Knott's Berry Farm.

Joe Thompson
The Cable Car Home Page (updated 01-Apr-2009)
San Francisco Bay Ferryboats (updated 30-Sep-2008)
Park Trains and Tourist Trains (updated 31-Oct-2008)
The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion (updated erratically)


Here's a little more information, all from the Los Angeles Times archive, which includes the inevitable new questions that seem to accompany new answers.

The June 9, 1896 edition confirms Joe Thompson's mention of the West 9th St line, "Electric cars are now running regularly on the Ninth-street line. The work of tearing up the old horse-car track and replacing it with a heavy modern track of big ties and heavy rails has been pushed to its completion." And so on.

The May 5, 1897 edition seems to be pushing the Agricultural Park horsecar line's finale from April into at least May, 1897, "By the end of May, the Main-street car line will be entirely changed to an electric system. At present, the Main Street and Agricultural Park Railway Company's new electric cars are running as far as the corner of Grand Avenue and Jefferson Street. From that point, passengers are carried to the end of the line, at the entrance to Agricultural Park, by the clumsy little horse cars." It goes on to cite late delivery of rails as the reason for the delay, and the expectation that all would be completed "perhaps within fifteen days." I could not find the exact date on which it finally happened, but the article goes on to mention that this will be the last horsecar line in the city "except the old Mateo-street line which runs parallel with the Santa Fé tracks, beginning near the Santa Fe Depot."

A lengthy article about Agricultural Park on September 28, 1897 simply gives April 1, 1897 as the date on which the Main & AP electric line opened, so that may be a reason for the discrepancy about the date, not asterisking the trackage south of Jefferson and Main.

Looking for the Mateo Street horsecar line, I found a few Times references before and after April 1897.

June 14, 1896, "Reopening the Santa Fe-avenue Horse-car Line." "The new car service on the line of the Mateo street and Santa Fe avenue Street-car Company was inaugurated yesterday afternoon" and on, describing the 15-minute headway in each direction and 22-minute running time for the three-mile trip, and that "Fifteen unusually large and fine horses have been purchased, and good service is assured." It also says that "as soon as Mateo street has been opened [completed?] the line will be double tracked and electrized (sic)."

The following year, on June 5, 1897 is mentioned that the city Board of Public Works recommended that the petition "from the Mateo-street and Santa Fé avenue horse-car line" asking for an ordinance legalizing the "straightening of the track."

If anyone has maps and interest, the 6/14/1897 piece gives this line's route as being from the Santa Fe depot south to Le Grande street, then east to Santa Fe avenue, then south to the city limits. That is a head scratcher, since the Santa Fe La Grande depot was on Santa Fe Avenue, but who knows what the streets did at that time, or what became of Le Grande Street. It also states that the line passed "the Southern California's roundhouse [?], the Los Angeles Rolling Mills, the Crystal Salt Works, the Ninth-street Oil Refinery, the Stimson lumber yards, the Union Oil Company, the Producers' Oil Company, and the city crematory."

There is information about the Mateo street line in which mentions in one place that its motive power was horses, and then says that the Los Angeles Railway acquired it in April,1901. It doesn't say whether it was horse-car, cable, or electric at that time, but a May 16, 1901 Times item talks about residents on Mateo between Le Grande Street and Palmetto wanting LARy to clean the street up, as the company tore it up and scattered dirt all over the street when they "electrized" the line. Did it remain horse-powered until 1901?

See, we're right back to the question we started with.

Paul Jackson

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Staggeringly Inaccurate Los Angeles Times Headline - And The Story Isn't That Much Better!

There has been a battle for up in the Owen's Valley Inyo County over - what else? - water rights.

But instead of the local residents fighting the City of Los Angeles for taking their water - they are battling a power company that wants to pump more water out of the aquifer which would lower water levels throughout the area, damage local rural resident's wells, possibly drain a lake owned by a hunting club and likely damage the entire rural environment. So the local water committee supported the rural residents and the hunting club and recommended that Inyo County reject the plan.

And that is what the story very clearly says. But what does the headline say?


nyo County weighs rural residents' water needs against hunters' interests

The Planning Commission is expected to vote next week on whether to back a geothermal plant's request to pump water from an aquifer that also supplies a hunting club's scenic lake.

By Louis Sahagun

March 7, 2009

The Inyo County Planning Commission is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to recommend approval of a permit that would allow a geothermal plant to pump water from an aquifer that is the lifeblood of a 50-year-old hunting club, Little Lake Ranch, and its wetlands along U.S. 395.

Coso Operating Co. said it needs an additional 4,800 acre-feet of water a year to keep operating what it calls environmentally friendly steam-driven turbines already providing about 250,000 homes in the region about 200 miles north of Los Angeles with electricity.

Attorneys for the club of mostly Southern California hunters have argued that the pumping would irreversibly damage their scenic lake, local wells and the surrounding environment within a few years. The Inyo County Water Commission agreed and recently recommended that the county reject the proposal.

Yes, the water is being taken FROM the rural residents - as well as from the hunters. It is not the hunters versus the needs of the rural residents.

And then there is the error at the end of the 2nd paragraph - the claim that the plant services the 250,000 homes in the area. Well, between Inyo and Mono County combined - they don't even have 20,000 households - much less 250,000. The power is all sold to Southern California Edison and just added to the grid.

And not mentioned in the description of the 'environmentally-friendly' description of this project is the fact that this plant will ultimately destroy the existing aquifer - just as in just 20 years it already almost completely destroyed the aquifer it has been drawing water from. And the reason why this destruction of natural resources is being allowed?

Well - it's the state requirement that we generate 20% of our power from renewable resources - even though - in the long term - this type of energy generation is more damaging to the environment than coal.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Roberta Smith On The Heirarchy Of American Art

New York Times art critic Roberta Smith indulges in the guilty pleasures of 18th and 19th Century American naive painting - and then bemoans the lack of imagination of museums in displaying pre-20th Century American art.

And I agree with every word.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Jeremy Strick Deconstructs MOCA Disaster

CultureGrrl blogger, Lee Rosenbaum, has an exclusive interview with former MOCA Director, Jeremy Strick reachable by the above link.

The coda for this whole story is the time honored mantra - it seemed like a good idea at the time. The only real income MOCA had was donations for programming and if they cut back on programming, donations fell so they had to keep on programming.

But without major gifts, government funding or a large endowment, even in good times, they was never quite enough money to cover the bills and then when things got tough - things got very bad real quick.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Prop B Has Lost - But Times Still Has Hours Old Story On Website!

After earlier saying that Prop B was going to win, the Times' last update before everyone at the paper went to sleep was before the 'no' votes took the lead. And the article doesn't seem to understand that for an incumbent Mayor with not a single credible opponent -and unlimited funds - to only get 55% of the vote is a staggering upset.

Hopefully, this will be a wake up call to City Hall that the status quo has to change and the selling out of the city to campaign donors and special interest groups must stop.

PROP B - LOSES! With over 99% of the votes counted - Prop B appears to have lost!

The neighborhood councils of Los Angeles and the people of Los Angeles have defeated the lies and deceit and the money of the local power structure.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

If You Live In The City Of Los Angeles - Vote NO On 'B' - TODAY!

The above link has the Los Angeles Times editorial against the phony solar energy measure that's on today LA City ballot along with other editorial and articles explaining that besides possible costing us an extra billion dollars - or more - that this is the worst possible way to get green energy.

The fact that this is also one of the most corrupt actions every taken by the City of Los Angeles is yet another reason to oppose this measure.

NO on B!

Monday, March 02, 2009

14 Pigs Spotted Flying In Sacramento!

Now that the state of California is tens of billions of dollar in debt - and the situation for the next two years looks even... worse.... the state Assembly has finally decided to investigate if - just possibly - there might be some fraud and waste in all the rapidly expanding entitlement programs. Now I have seen estimates that as much as 1/4 to even 1/2 of Medi-Cal expenditures are fraudulent - or unnecessary - but no one really knows.

But I do know that Medi-Cal pays for all drugs are being sold on street corners throughout this city by drug dealers and that vans drive into Skid Row ever day to pick up 'patients' for $5,000 or $10,000 work-ups and treatments.

I also know the local gyms are filled with weightlifters during the day who are collecting workman's comp since they are too injured to work and I also know many if not most of the local drug dealers live in government subsidized housing.

So if this is what can be learned just by walking down the street - do the math and figure out how much organized, sophisticate fraud there is going on in these programs. And it's not just the taxpayers who are paying for this fraud - it is also the people who rightfully deserve these benefits who are now seeing their benefits being cut.

Below are excerpts of George Skelton's LA Times column on the subject:

New Assembly panel goes on a quiet hunt for Capitol waste
If it works, it could mean the budget deficit had one positive aspect.
George Skelton
Capitol Journal

March 2, 2009

From Sacramento — In a small hideaway hearing room at California's Capitol, something unique happened last week. A new legislative committee convened with the single goal of making state government more efficient and less costly.

The event drew no attention. There were more committee members (14) than people in the audience. No reporters.

But, unlike most low-profile committees, members here didn't duck out soon after a quorum was counted. They hung around attentively, participating for the entire two-hour hearing. They seemed to be curious about whether this committee concept might actually work.

Creation of the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee -- an eye-glazing name, unfortunately -- is at least one positive result of the state's deficit debacle.

Democrats now are acknowledging that waste -- if not its fabled cousins fraud and abuse -- exists throughout state government. And they intend to work hard at rooting it out. That's what they say.

It's the least Californians should expect after being told to dig deeper for $12.5 billion in higher taxes to help rescue the state from a $42-billion budget deficit. It's less about the dollar amount of any savings than about a sincere effort to eradicate government waste.

The committee chairman, Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate), describes government as "an onion," with politicians "layering on programs and pet projects layer after layer."

"Nobody ever doubles back and checks to see how the money is being spent and whether it can be spent better. This committee will be about looking back."

And why don't lawmakers reexamine their products?

"Term limits," replies De La Torre, who plans to run for state insurance commissioner when he's termed out next year. "Nobody cares to look back when your time is up in only six years. It's not sexy. It's the grunt work of government.

"Most politicians prefer to check the boxes. Do an education bill. Check the box. Do a public safety bill. Check the box. Do a healthcare. . . ."

The committee was De La Torre's brainstorm. "I'm a cheap progressive," he asserts.

The assemblyman was looking for a new gig last year after being fired as Rules Committee chairman by then-Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles). De La Torre had opposed Nuñez's proposal to provide "golden handshakes" for Assembly staffers who retired. The shakes were approved, and 55 aides grabbed them. Some were leaving anyway.

"I was cast out in the wilderness," De La Torre recalls. After Nuñez left, he proposed the anti-waste committee to new Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles). She endorsed it.

Republicans have been advocating such an effort for years. But they're perpetually the minority party.

The ranking Republican on the committee, Assemblywoman Audra Strickland of Thousand Oaks, says she's "very hopeful this will turn into an opportunity to look at the fraud, the waste, the abuse."

"I don't know why we can't make that No. 1," she says, "rather than always cuts in programs for foster kids and seniors and pink slips to teachers."

What fraud? I asked. She cited the filing of charges last summer in Los Angeles County against 21 people accused of bilking more than $2 million from a state-funded in-home care program for the disabled and elderly. Some defendants have pleaded guilty; other cases are pending.

"If that's the tip of the iceberg," Strickland continues, "we have a lot of work to do."

In fact, the state Senate is looking hard at the $1.6-billion program, called In-Home Supportive Services.

"It's one of the fastest growing programs and gets accused of having fraud, waste and abuse," says Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "I feel very strongly about its need. When people can get support inside their home, they don't end up as often in nursing homes that cost the taxpayers a whole lot more money."

But Steinberg adds that Democrats who advocate such social services have an obligation to make sure they're run efficiently and as intended. So he has created a new Office of Oversight and Outcomes to investigate their effectiveness.

The Senate's new "strike force," as Steinberg calls it, also expects this year to look at Medi-Cal, prisons and education.

Legislators have a special motivation to probe costly programs. Hardly anyone expects the recent deficit-reduction plan to hold up. They're anticipating that hard times will continue and tax revenue will keep slipping below projections. So they'll be forced to make more spending cuts.

During the maiden meeting of the Assembly committee, it learned about one striking example of inefficiency and incoordination. The Legislature over the years has ordered up more than 2,800 reports from state agencies that still haven't been delivered. Some are "in the mail." Some have been ignored. Some no longer make sense, if they ever did.

"This is a snapshot of state government at work and some of its inefficiencies," observed freshman Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills).

In truth, many report requests are sops to lawmakers whose bills have been killed and who, as a consolation, are allowed to order up a study.

The committee told the agencies to compile lists of useful and wasteful reports -- and report back for orders.

I suppose it's a start.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Los Angeles May Still Not Be The Most Corrupt City In The Country

With the underhanded way Measure B - the fraudulent 'solar power' ballot measure (which exists only to payback to union bosses for campaign contributions) - was put on Tuesday's ballot - it would seem with this multi-billion dollar give way of money from the pockets of Los Angeles citizens, it would seem that LA does deserve the title of the most corrupt city in the country. But with the way public officials have their hands out in New York and Chicago at every level of government, we may still be a few years from claiming the title.

As an example - look at the 'pay for play' game as it is played in the Bronx. And the only reason this was even noticed in New York - is that the person who got the pay - is about to run urban policy for this country:

Buildings sprang up as donations rained down on Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion


Updated Sunday, March 1st 2009, 1:35 PM

The man who is President Obama's newly minted urban czar pocketed thousands of dollars in campaign cash from city developers whose projects he approved or funded with taxpayers' money, a Daily News probe found.

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion often received contributions just before or after he sponsored money for projects or approved important zoning changes, records show.

Most donations were organized and well-timed.

In one case, a developer became a Carrion fund-raiser two months before the borough president signed off on his project, raising more than $6,000 in campaign cash.

In another, eight Boricua College officials came up with $8,000 on the same day for Carrion three weeks before the school filed plans to build a new tower. Carrion ultimately approved the project and sponsored millions in taxpayer funds for it.

Carrion resigned as borough president effective Sunday and begins his new job as director of the White House Office on Urban Policy Monday.

Much more at the above link.