Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Steve Lopez Reports On Nathaniel's Progress,0,6772038.column?coll=la-headlines-california

Nathaniel's gradual return to society has begun and both what is happening to him and to Ernest Adams and to dozens of others each week is that there comes a time when people living on the streets are ready to come in off the streets.

But no one can make them them do this, only they can make that decision themselves.

Sometimes, though, it takes a little help.

Below is the close:

I asked if maybe Nathaniel was one of the lucky ones who seem to rebound from schizophrenia in middle age. He might be in the long run, Ragins said, but that type of recovery occurs over a much longer stretch.

Instead, he said, he thought Nathaniel's new friendships — with me, Stuart Robinson at Lamp and others — have driven his recovery."Relationship is primary," Ragins said. It doesn't have to be more than once a week, and it doesn't have to be someone with an advanced degree in therapy.

"It is possible to cause seemingly biochemical changes through human emotional involvement. You literally have changed his chemicals by being his friend."I wasn't alone on this, but his point is an important one. Mentally ill people often wear out the patience of friends and family. Unless someone else comes along to take up the slack, they can become completely untethered.

Nathaniel has a long way to go, Ragins reminded me. Acknowledging your mental illness is frightening, he said, and so is coming to grips with the lost years. It takes tremendous courage to get through the day, let alone design a new world for yourself — a world of new possibilities also presents new risks.

Don't push him into therapy right away, Ragins suggested. He advised me to remind Nathaniel of the discrepancy between the life he envisions and the hurdles that stand in the way, and gently guide him toward therapy or whatever else might help.

Just before we left his apartment, Nathaniel said it was many months ago that he first considered coming in off the streets. "When you gave me the Beethoven sonatas," he said, "it gave me the idea of living in a house for the sole purpose of having a piano and learning something from the Beethoven statue" in Pershing Square. "The Beethoven statue encourages me to carry on with the most difficult challenges of my life.

"Professionalism, courtesy and respect. I read that on a police car door."

He never disappoints.As I began to leave, Nathaniel called me back and gave me a long, firm handshake. He held me in his glance and sealed something there, too.

My smile followed his, and neither of us needed to say a thing.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Los Angeles Times Publisher's Forum On Homelessness

What a difference a year makes!

Last night Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson hosted the first of a series of forums on the critical issues facing Los Angeles. The problems of the homeless on Skid Row - and other parts of our community - was the lead-off topic.

Now most talking heads panels are a waste of time and deadly dull. So imagine my surprise when the each speaker and each panelist discussed real world solutions to this problem and also brought relevant facts and figures to the audience.

As for who they were and what they have to say, I will link to other people on that topic for the moment as this is a subject I will be going into in much greater detail future posts and articles published elsewhere.

What I do want to address now are the beginnings of major change at the culture of the LA Times, starting with the new publisher.

When I first him speak last year, I was surprised by the passion he seemed to have developed for his new home and I felt that could auger well of Los Angeles. And in the short period he has been here, the focus of the LA Times has once again - more and more - become... Los Angeles. And last night I was struck by the deep concern he has for his subject and it is clear this is an issue that is not going to be a seven day wonder or just a series of articles to get some prizes.

Now as for Johnson's butchering the Mayor's name in his opening remarks (for which I expect he will get a lot of blogger grief this morning), I myself never even attempt to pronounce his name in public - I just call him the Mayor or refer to him by his first name.

The next speaker with LA Times Editor Andres Martinez, who now heads the finest editorial page in the county about which I will talk more later, and he expertly questioned the panelists, starting with Steve Lopez who properly deflected much of the praise of the LAT's coverage to his colleagues at the paper, particularly Cara Mia Massa and Steve Winton.

Steve also graciously mention me - to considerable laughter as he mentioned that my writings about him have not always been completely favorable in the now distant past - as he recounted his own personal efforts at getting Nathaniel and now Ernest Adams off the street and how much each of these two gentleman have taught us both.

I might add that my name badge for the evening rather than my normal Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood affiliation - read - LA COWBOY - to the quite vocal amusement of everyone at the Times who read it.

Much more later, but right now I am late for a meeting on Project YIMBY at PATH and then have an appointment with a gentleman enrolling in a drug clinic...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Correcting The Corrections Day At The Los Angeles Times!

If at first you don't succeed....

Solar subsidy plan — An article in the Jan. 13 Business section about California's new solar energy program cited past and new subsidy amounts "per megawatt" of production capacity; a correction Jan. 14 referred to subsidies "per kilowatt." The numbers cited should have been stated as the subsidies paid "per watt."


Washington lobbying — A Monday correction dealing with a Feb. 8 Section A article on a lobbyist's ties to Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy) said the House had held hearings on a mining reform provision backed by Pombo but had not debated it on the House floor. A House member held hearings on mining reform in general, but not on the provision.

Plus under this is way too much information category....

Enron trial — An article in Friday's Business section about the trial of two former Enron Corp. executives said attorney Daniel M. Petrocelli wore Chocolat cologne, based on his own account. Petrocelli, who is representing former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey K. Skilling, said Monday that he was mistaken and that the cologne was Tabac.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Job Number One At Tribune Company - Fixing The LA Times!

Courtesy of Romensko, is the below article in Crain's Chicago Business. It describes the Tribune's frustration with the rapidly declining circulation and advertising revenues of its biggest paper - the Los Angeles Times.

Ironically, just when the Times has begun to actually cover... Los Angeles... and fixing many of its weaknesses, those of us who have been critical and were prepared to start cheering on the Times are now confronted with the disastrous new LA Times Magazine - WEST; a publication that so totally misses the mark in every conceivable way- from design to content - that it seems to be specifically created to drive away any readers who might otherwise be tempted to re-subscribe to the Times.

More on that later, but here are some quotes from the article:

Tribune Chairman and CEO Dennis J. FitzSimons faces no bigger task in reversing his company's long slide than repairing its flagship newspaper, the Los Angeles Times.Circulation and advertising at the Times, which account for nearly 20% of the Chicago-based media conglomerate's total revenue, have fallen sharply since Tribune acquired it in 2000.

Now, Mr. FitzSimons and his L.A. management team — the second Tribune has installed there since the $8-billion Times Mirror Co. merger — need to find a solution before Wall Street loses patience."They've been throwing anything they can think of at that paper and nothing seems to work," says media analyst Edward J. Atorino of New York-based Benchmark & Co. "Wall Street likes the company, and we love Dennis, but if results don't start improving . . . it's going to be merciless."

For Tribune executives, the Los Angeles problem is "critical, and it's the most troubling kink in the turnaround story," says Eric McKissack, CEO of Chicago-based Channing Capital Management LLC, which holds more than 600,000 Tribune shares. "It'll be very difficult to turn the company around without turning the Times around."While the Chicago Tribune has suffered circulation and ad declines, its losses have been smaller.

Total ad lineage at the Tribune was flat during 2005, and weekday circulation during the six months ended Sept. 30 dropped 2.5% compared to the year-earlier period.


"Well, it's six years later, and I think they're beginning to understand why Times Mirror couldn't figure it out."In July, Tribune installed a new management team in L.A., headed by Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson, a Tribune veteran. He has continued aggressive staff and cost cuts, reportedly lopping off 8% of editorial department jobs and replacing much of its ad sales staff. The paper also announced some key editorial changes, eliminating the critically acclaimed Outdoors section because of a lack of advertising and relaunching its Sunday magazine as an upscale title called West.

But those moves have yet to improve results — or even stem declines. On a recent conference call with Wall Street analysts, Tribune Publishing President Scott Smith said the pace of advertising revenue growth in L.A. slowed in the first nine months of 2005 and declined 3% during the fourth quarter, when total ad lineage dropped nearly 13%. (He didn't provide specific numbers.) Mr. Smith blamed the declines on a few troubling categories, particularly movie advertising, which analysts estimate accounts for between 10% and 15% of the Times' total, compared with 6% for Tribune's entire newspaper group.


"Our ad revenues grew 8% last year and our movie category grew, too," says LA Weekly Publisher Beth Sestanovich, a former advertising director at the Times. "We've got a lot of advertisers defecting from (the Times) and sending a piece of what they were spending there to us."

Ms. Sestanovich attributes the Times' advertising problems to ad rates that have become more expensive relative to the Times' sinking circulation. Ad buyer Kathy Gardner of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Palisades Media Group shares those pricing concerns: "I don't think the circulation justifies what they charge.

The circulation story isn't much happier. The Times' declines have outpaced those seen at local rivals the Orange County Register and the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Weekday and Sunday circulation numbers at the Times have dropped about 9% since 2003, despite an industry-leading 10 Pulitzer Prizes during that time...

The good news is that despite all the cuts since last July - almost all the good news from the Times in its actually covering... Los Angeles... has come since Jeffrey M. Johnson came on board last July.

So I assume the train wreck called WEST Magazine was sent speeding down the tracks long before his tenure and - hopefully - he will either quickly pull the plug or take the drastic steps necessary to fix it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Why I Live In Downtown Los Angeles....

At last night's Create-Fixate art opening/party in the Spring Arts Tower, I reminiscenced with one artist about the glory days of Buenos Aires and with another person about a particularly infamous/famous brothel in the Recoleta section of the same city. I also spoke with a collector about an equally famous infamous street (for other reasons) on the outskirts of Beirut in the early 1970's, with a lady from Slovenia about hanging with the artist collective IRWIN in the East Village in the late 1980's and the early 1990's, with another lady about theater in London in the 1990's and with all of them - and quite a few others - on why they are all now living or working - or both - in Downtown Los Angeles.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Speaking of Corrections --

When one considers that the Los Angeles Times has yet to correct Mike Davis' lie about the San Francisco housing market, the fabricated quotes in the LA Times Magazine article on Wyatt Earp and their getting every possible fact wrong in the Katrina/San Francisco earthquake editorial - plus the hundred other blatant but still uncorrected factual errors of just the past year - I am always amused at the minor details that the Times does see fit to correct...

Reiner novel — An item in the Words listings in Thursday's Calendar Weekend previewing a book reading by Carl Reiner at the Skirball Cultural Center on Feb. 16 misspelled the title of Reiner's latest novel. It is "NNNNN," not "NNNN."

Ganesha High — The two photographs that ran with the article on Pomona's Ganesha High School in Friday's California section were portraits of students taken after class, not during a class presentation as the captions stated.

Does At Anyone At The LA Times Corrections Page Ever Read the... Corrections Page?

For at least the tenth time in the past year, an article about 'corrections' - i.e., the penal system - appears on the Corrections Page. Now granted this error is computer generating, but seeing as the Corrections Page is generally updated only ONCE a day - how hard would it be for someone - anyone - to bother to read the page after it is posted to see if the corrections are actually ... correct?


It's now almost 4 PM - and the corrections article is still on the Corrections Page since last night. Mistakes on one thing (hell - even I made one.... once), but for no one at the Times to bother even to even look at the website to proof read it is embarrassing.


And still not fixed...

Thursday, February 09, 2006


That's what a tipster tells me!

To all Getty Staff: I wanted to let you know before we send out our news release that the Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust will announce today that Dr. Barry Munitz, president and CEO for the past eight years, has decided to resign, effective immediately. He indicated that he made this decision after lengthy consideration so both the Getty and he can move forward. THANK GOD!!!!(I feel like singing a round of "Ding dong the witch is dead...")
--Posted by Anonymous to LA Cowboy at 2/09/2006 06:53:17 PM\n",0]

Duplicating Dromedary Daguerreotype** Development!

As seen in my previous post...

.... responding to a post a LAOBSERVED, the unique image of camel in Wilmington - as opposed to the mislabeled San Pedro - have all come from one original image which may - may - now be about to be in the hands of the Drum Barracks Museum in Wilmington:

A camel is returning to Wilmington museum

Director spends $4,569 on e-Bay for Civil War-era photograph showing the beast of burden outside the Drum Barracks.

Josh Grossberg Daily Breeze

Where it's been the past 143 years, nobody knows. But a rare Civil War picture that proves camels once served in the U.S. Army is finally heading home to the place it was first photographed: the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington.

"I found out about it the minute it went on eBay," Ogle said. "I got six phone calls the first day. 'Have you seen? Have you seen?' "

The picture didn't come cheap. Competition was stiff and late bidding pushed the selling price to $4,569.63. But Ogle said it was worth it.

The image itself is well known around town. A copy already resides in the Drum Barracks, and versions of it also exist at USC, the Los Angeles Public Library and the Huntington Library. But the one Ogle bought may be the one all the others were copied from, making it both historically and aesthetically important.

"If you've ever looked at these old pictures, they have a unique quality to them," Ogle said. "There is a depth and richness to the print. It's like looking at a print of the Mona Lisa and then at the original. It's two different things."

Ogle, who has a master's degree in art history with a concentration in photography, won't know for sure until she examines the photo. But she said the seller is reputable and she has three days to return the photograph if it turns out to be a copy.

"I won't know until I get my hands on it," she said. "But from what I've seen (all the others) look retouched. The eBay one doesn't look retouched. We have to compare the images and try to see what came from where. All these little strings will pull together."

The grainy, splotched, black-and-white image measures a scant 4 ¼ by 2½ inches. But when museum director Susan Ogle heard it was being sold on an Internet auction site, she knew she had to have it.


After moving around a bit, three dozen wound up at the Drum Barracks in early 1862. They left a little more than a year later and were auctioned off to private parties.

The back of the photo incorrectly identifies the location as "quartermaster department, San Pedro." And it was once in a collection owned by photographer C.C. Pierce, who claimed to have taken it, but he didn't arrive in Southern California until years after the camels left.

"He would copy negatives and would publish them," said Jennifer Watts, curator of photographs at the Huntington Library.

Ogle believes the image was probably not taken by a professional.

"I'm thinking it's a good possibility it was taken by a military photographer, but we don't have any information anywhere that nails the photographer down."

As far as spending thousands of dollars for the image, Watts said it was money well spent.

"Given what it is and in terms of the unusual subject matter and the early date of the image, that's quite reasonable," she said. "You get to see if someone made alterations to the negative at the time or if things have been cropped out over the years."

Los Angeles historian Brady Westwater did his own research on the image. He said that even though he has books with the picture in it, he'd love to have the original.

"If it's the only Civil War camel photo around, you want to own that," he said. "If I had the money, I would have bought it."

The great news is that if the photo is THE original - it is now in a local museum. And this will give local historians a chance to compare all the various images - now that we all know who has all the various versions - to see which is the original and also how the image has been retouched over the years.

As for the article saying that Pierce claimed to have taken the photo, I suspect that came from a library saying it is from the Pierce collection as I doubt Pierce would have claimed to have taken a photo that was taken over twenty years before he arrived in Los Angeles.

Hopefully, though, now that too can be corrected when the photo arrives in Wilmington and it can be verified if it is the original and if all the other prints have been made from it

The article also clarifies that the photo might not have been taken in 1865 as was stated in Robinson's TICOR book - Panorama - that I quoted from as the camels were only in Wilmington from 1862 - 1863 unless of course - one camel remained behind. And I have read stories about what people who bought the camels later did with them so that would seem to preclude any of them being left behind in Wilmington. But as just one camel was in photo, that possibility can not be totally foreclosed upon.

** Read the comments section to find out what kind of photograph this really is....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Confounding Camel Confusion! EBAY Camel In 'San Pedro' Photos Multiplying Like... Rabbits!!

When LA OBSERVED linked to the 'unique' camel photo from c. 1863 - which was taken in Wilmington and not San Pedro - I thought it looked familiar. I quickly found it in W. W. Robinson's 1953 book - PANORAMA. And every detail down to the shadows is identical in each image, though the book's image appears to be a clearer print and it is dated 1865, and not c. 1863.

Then checking back with LAO, Kevin now links to that same photo at the LA Library collection, crediting it as C. C. Pierce image.

And it is from the pioneer photographer C. C. Pierce's Collection part of was sold to the Huntington Library but the bulk of it - including this image - was then later sold to the Title Insurance Company. The TI collection was still later donated to the USC Library. The image, though, was not taken by Pierce, though, as he arrived in LA in 1886, but he did buy many earlier collections.


Finally followed Kevin's link to LA Public Library and it does credit the same photo as the one on the eBay site - which APPEARS - to be less clear of a print than the one in the Robinson book. But the TI collection is now at the USC library and not the LAPL collection. Are there THREE prints out there?


While TI collection was never acquired by the LAPL - the LAPL did independently acquire 3,000 prints from the Pierce Collection. Now if they were originals, or copies made from the TI collection of negatives of photos taken by Pierce - which the camel was not - I do not know.


Finally found image at California Historial Military Museum the eBAY seller referred to - and it appears to be same image once in the TI collection and it does appear to be possibly somewhat retouched to make the camel image (and the men standing by the camel) clearer, but equally as likely may not be retouched.

But this photo is credited to a private person, Herbert M. Hart, and not TI or any library. Is it a fourth image?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Nathaniel Comes Home!,1,3496297,print.column?coll=la-story-footer

More on this later, other than to say that Lopez gives more me credit than I deserve and gives himself far less credit than he deserves.

Senior Lead Officer Kathy McAnany Makes New York Times!

All Units, We've Got Cops Dancing at the Academy


LOS ANGELES - In six years with the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer Mike Fernandez has seen many things. Modern dance, not surprisingly, is not among them. "I've seen guys' arms blown off with AK-47's," he said. "I've seen kids molested to where they can't walk."

He and his partner, Officer Kathy McAnany, were cruising past the dirty hotels with half-lighted neon signs at the heart of downtown here. They watched as sprightly men in wheelchairs (who were probably sitting on weapons or drugs, Officer McAnany said) and women with no front teeth watched them.

"I did see the original cast of 'A Chorus Line' a million years ago," Officer McAnany said.
Souls audacious enough to consider dance and the Los Angeles Police Department in the same breath are most likely to level a single, rough judgment: incompatible.

But Heidi Duckler, the artistic director of Collage Dance Theater, a multidisciplinary performance group based here, thought differently. Her newest work, "C'opera," is a piece for seven dancers, one singer, one actor, three musicians and a number of special guests from the Los Angeles Police Department. Performances run from Thursday through Feb. 19 at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park, about 10 minutes from downtown.

The article is an amusing look at the intersection or, more properly, the almost complete lack of an intersection between two contrasting cultures. But the more interesting part of the article is the part that talks about what it is like to be a police officer down here on the Nickel...

Officer Fernandez said he would see "C'opera," schedule permitting. Officer McAnany said she would be out of town. Dance was really the last thing on her mind. She had been up since 4 ahoy and had a number of pressing issues to consider, first among them finding Lionel Johnson, 54, a place to sleep.

Mr. Johnson had just been ejected from the hotel where he had lived for eight years, and the sum of his earthly possessions spilled forth from five large garbage bags at his feet. "If we leave that guy on the street, he will get killed," said Officer McAnany, who managed to negotiate a bed for him before sundown.

The one overtly artistic moment of her day came at dinner. "I want to 'Be an Artist,' " she said, reading from a pizza menu. "I'll make my own pizza: mushrooms, olives, garlic, anchovies, pepperoni. And a Sprite."

The last time I saw Kathy was a little before 3 AM one morning a few days ago as I was dropped off the latest flier of a missing woman around Skid Row. Kathy had just signed off after an 18 hour shift and she was heading home and I was the very last person on this planet she wanted to see. But she still did look at the picture and said she had not seen her.

The point is that the above paragraph from the New York Times tells the truth what is is like to be a police officer or any other kind of worker down here on Skid Row. Half your job is doing your job you are paid to do - the other half is being a social worker.

And few do both those jobs better than the LAPD officers and the BID security forces whose job it is to keep the peace on the streets of Skid Row.


LAOBSERVED also observed this article...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Brilliant Christopher Knight Article In LA Times On Getty Museum Future!

It's getting kind of scary. Almost daily the LA Times has articles about... Los Angeles. It's as if Martians have landed and taken over the LA Times.

OK - now for Knight's article. First read it. Then read my take on... his take.,0,2335413.story?coll=cl-home-more-channels

To begin with, Knight says the Getty now has two secluded tourist attractions and that they are separated from the daily rhythm of the city's urban fabric.

However, I don't feel this is necessarily a bad thing. We may not daily visit these places, but we now have two magnificent groupings of buildings complete with bucolic gardens and spectacular views and art collections; two unique escapes and respites from urban LA that are within the city.

Now for the first of Knight's five ideas on reforming the Getty. He feels the photo collection needs to be in a more visitor friendly location for several excellent reasons. What he does not say is since the Getty Center's building permit's restrictions prevent even a single square foot being added to the main campus, any new building for that collection has to be built off-site.

He suggests two sites and Grand Avenue is by far the better of the two locations. The problem, though, is that with the existing plans for Grand Avenue and the price of the land, it might be hard to fit the Getty in. Plus there is the pesky problem of what to do with MOCA since despite its two buildings - it still has no room for a serious permanent collection and barely enough room for the traveling and MOCA originated shows. So if there is going to be room for only one museum - it needs to be MOCA.

Additionally, MOCA does wish to expand along the Grand corridor, but it does not have the money to buy the land - and, additionally, raising the necessary funds will not be easy with so many competing capital campaigns for cultural and educational institutions.

So we need to find (essentially) free land for both, to develop a businesses plan to help finance the new buildings - and to find a way to have both institutions to expand within easy walking distance of Grand Avenue.

Now those of you who have attended my walking tours of Grand Avenue over the years know that the DWP Building(across from the Music Center) is surrounded by acres and acres of parking lots, parking garages and hillsides - along with a lengthy access road. You also know that this property runs all the way down to Figueroa from Hope Street.

This is the unspoken for site in the areas that contains acres and acres of unused or highly underutilized land. Plus the topography of this land can easily allow for far over a million square feet of new buildings WITHOUT obstructing the view from the wrap around terraces of the DWP building which are now the second greatest public space in LA since the Getty Museum was built.

So now we have the land. And I can already see a Pei styled Louver entry directly across from Disney Hall as the entrance of a sprawling megastructure wrapped around the DWP - all the way down to Figueroa and then over to Temple on three sides of the existing DWP Building. I can also see a hotel, shops, restaurants, art galleries and condos that would help pay for two museum's construction costs - along with added office space to cover future DWP's office needs, some of which might even be developed by the project developers in payment for the land.

Knight's second idea - which I can only hope is a joke - is to use an increase in the art buying budget - which is really just a return to previous way too low levels - to buy Contemporary and Asian & Latin American art instead of expanding its current inadequate collections.

Now this is just so... wrong, wrong, wrong.

First, there countless collectors buying these types of art (and the newly developing collectors also tend to buy this kind of art) - and there is no shortage of art to buy in these categories. Additionally, virtually no one in LA is buying what the Getty currently - or I should say - used to collect and every few months the last major - or even only - example of a great master's work vanishes into a museum, never to again reappear on the open market.

For this really, seriously bad idea, let us tightly roll up a copy of The Art Newspaper and strongly apply it to a certain art writer's snout.

Bad Christopher! Bad Christopher!

Third CK idea; have the Getty publish an international arts journal.

Agreed and I have opined on this before. I have nothing further to add to Knight's ideas here.

We'll now skip CK's fourth idea for the close and instead address Knight's fifth idea - the Getty holding an international art fair in Los Angeles. I have three additional takes on this.

First, invite ART COLOGNE do what ART BASEL is doing in Miami - an American branch that is ready to go. Then enlist LA INC. and Eli and the others to help bring that fair to LA and the convention center.

Second, also develop our own version of a non-profit DOCUMENTA type of event independent of the Cologne art fair at scattered venues all over the city and then also have a quirkier commercial side fair during that event.

Third, develop some art spaces to show what is going on in the rest of the world 365 days a year; shows such as what is happening in all the top galleries and non-commercial spaces in one city - or works by the top graduates of all the art universities of China or whatever strikes the fancy of the curators.

Lastly, there is Knight's fourth idea - and this starts to get scary as this is the fourth of his five ideas that I have also been proposing for the past ten years for the Getty.

He wants the Getty to purchase, restore and rent out to students and teachers some of the great residential structures in LA.

Now this is a wonderful concept, but, unfortunately, it does lack anything resembling a business plan and it only addresses the most easily saved type of structures in Los Angeles, single family homes. This is particularly so since so many buyers are now willing to buy and carefully restore those homes. Plus it misses out on a superb opportunity for the Getty.

First let's considered threatened single family homes in single family neighborhoods areas; the Getty can still buy these endangered homes, restore then, and then covenant both their exteriors and any interior features worth preserving and then resell those homes with the proviso that the covenanted features can not be changed and that the house would be examined each time title closes and that once or twice a year, each home must be held open for the public.

Now this might reduce the price a little (or not), but by doing this, the Getty will not have hundreds of millions tied up in essentially non-revenue producing properties which are still not on public view plus it will also not have the responsibility for maintaining these homes or paying property taxes on them which alone would come to far more than the rents collected under Knight's proposal.

Now my primary proposal in this vein was for the Getty to either buy threatened historic buildings of all kinds in situ or to move them when they are going to be demolished (and there is almost nothing that can not be moved) and then develop mixed use projects around them (using the finest upcoming architects) and have the historic building's qualities add value to the overall project.

The Getty would then keep the more income producing parts of the project and sell off any elements - such as the historic buildings, possibly - that will not create as much income in the future - but only after landmarking the historic buildings, of course

This way the Getty can re-fi these properties with 15 year mortgages that will be low enough to ensure cash flow and within 15 years not only will the buildings have appreciated - but the properties will also be completely paid off.

So we get historic preservation and an increase in the quality of the built environment in Los Angeles - and Getty Trust makes a ton of money.

Plus the Getty can also develop examples of specific LA building types - the two story apartment house, the hillside canyon hanger, a gas station, a small retail strip and infill condos - and have the best architects in LA demonstrate how great architecture can be created on a budget - and thus help elevate the level of spec building in LA.

Then with the fifteen year mortgages, the equity will build up faster than in stocks since there will be a cash flow higher than mere stock dividends plus depreciation plus there is leverage since on real estate you only have to put part of the cash down and - as the final bonus - if you trade up to another, larger property - if you do an 1031 exchange - you never have to pay one cent in capital gains taxes. And if the Getty needs money beyond the cash flow to run the Trust, they just refinance to pull out the cash.

Better art through better financial planning.

Works for me!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Good Day On Skid Row! The Cowboy And The Columnist!

Steve Lopez's column today describes one small step in getting one more person off the street. He also hints at another possible success and not long his column went to press, I got another phone call from a mother recounting yet another small miracle.

Three miracles in one day.

Now if I can only get Stevie to quote me properly...

When he asked me to describe myself - I called myself a 'pain in the ass', even though I expected that to get edited to being a 'pain in the butt'. Alas - he went for a totally different and far less accurate physical description.,0,6301786.column?coll=la-headlines-california


A Homeless Man Needs Pushy Friends Steve Lopez Points West February 1, 2006

They camp at the western ends of two downtown Los Angeles tunnels. Nathaniel on 2nd, Ernest on 3rd, and occasionally their paths cross. This week, each man's story took a turn.

I'll start with Ernest Adams, who has been living at the spot where he was nearly beaten to death last August by two animals inspired by a bum-bashing video. Adams didn't want to go to a scheduled doctor appointment Monday morning, but his pal Brady Westwater was trying to talk him into it."

Feel free to step in here at any time," Westwater, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Council, said to me.

I might add that in describing that exchange, Mr. Lopez has (charitably) chosen not to reflect the extreme degree of sarcasm in my voice as after I had given him a second - if not third - cue to offer Ernest a ride to the doctor's - totally clueless Lopez was still standing there like a bump on a log.

Other than that, though, the rest of his story is pretty accurate.