Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Slate's Witold Rybczynski Writes Single Stupidest Sentence In History Of Architectural Criticism!!

Normally reliable architecture critic Witold Rybczynski (and superb writer, to boot) has somehow coughed up a staggeringly inaccurate sentence that manages to get every single 'fact' in it dead wrong - and no one seems to have noticed! The overall story in SLATE concerns the lack of any kind of innovative architectural movements in San Francisco - and he's on his usually fairly firm ground there.

But then he tackles Los Angeles and fumbles... badly:

The West Coast suffered by comparison to the East Coast, though there have been at least two significant architectural movements in Los Angeles in recent years: the first in the 1960s, represented by Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, and Craig Ellwood, and the second today, dominated by Frank Gehry, who moved to the city when he was 17 and has become L.A.'s—and the country's—leading architect.

I mean - where do I begin? Well, to call Charles and Ray Eames part of the 1960's architecture movement is beyond lunacy when virtually every single significant building they created was designed - and built in... the 1940's. And Charles Eames started work as an architect in... 1930.

So what about Craig Ellwood? Well, he started in the 1940's and almost all of his masterpieces were done starting with the Hale House in 1949 between then and the late 1950's. By the early 1960's his career had peaked creatively and his firm was by then doing mostly corporate work until it closed in the 1970's. He was one of the quintessential 1950's architects.

And what about the claim that Richard Neutra was part of the 1960's architecture movement in Los Angeles? Well, you be the judge; Neutra attended architecture school during... World War I in Vienna - plus what many people consider his finest building was designed in Los Angeles in... 1927 and finished in 1929. Plus there was the minor problem that in the 1960's he was in his 70's and his finest work was done in the 1920's, the 1930's, the 1940's and the 1950's.

Part of the 1960's architecture movement?

Ironically, each of the named architects was a product of the 1920's Bauhaus/International style of architecture which reached its Los Angeles climax in the 1950's with the Case Study Houses and the almost exclusive use of the glass box in commerical office buildings; then in the 1960's, a variety of reactions to that style developed.

Still even more ironically, though, the only architect mentioned who can be legitimately described as being part of the 1960's movement is... Frank Gehry.

Gehry developed much of his style due to his interaction with the artists of that era. Gehry's use of provocative shapes and unusual materials was also already in evidence in his 1965 Danziger Studio and other designs of the era - plus he set up his office in 1967. He was a creative child of the 1960's in every way.

But Rybczynski is correct in that there was a significant 1960's - and 1970's - architecture movement in Los Angeles.

He just gets the names wrong.

Among the real members of that now fabled generation, besides Frank Gehey, were Cesar Pelli, Tony Lumdsen, Charles Moore, Craig Hodgetts, Tim Vreeland, Robert Mangurian, Thom Mayne, Peter De Bretteville, Ed Niles, Roland Coate, Frank Israel, Michael Rotondi, Coy Howard, Fred Fischer, Eric Owen Moss and many others.

The other flaw in the piece is an extreme example of East Coast myopia:

It's hard to know exactly why some cities develop an architectural sensibility. Clearly, having a local star serves to raise the level of public consciousness of good architecture. In the 1960s, Mies van der Rohe in Chicago and Louis Kahn in Philadelphia attracted and trained a generation of talented young architects from around the world, many of whom stayed to open their own offices. A strong architectural tradition helps, too. Chicago got a running start with Louis Sullivan and Daniel Burnham at the end of the 19th century, Boston had H.H. Richardson, and during the Gilded Age New York City had McKim, Mead & White.

The West Coast suffered by comparison to the East Coast.....

Suffered by comparison??

What he neglects to mention is that in the early 20th Century, Los Angeles had an architectural tradition that equaled or exceeded any of those cities from 1910 to 1950. In addition, no other city in the world had as varied a list of architects - and architectural traditions - as did Los Angeles during that era.

Starting with the Japanese influenced bungalow styles of Greene and Greene and Alfred and Arthur Heineman and other craftsman architects, the Mission and Spanish style of numerous architects such as John Byer, the early modernism of Irving Gill, the unique style of Frank Lloyd Wright's LA homes, the Bauhaus informed houses of R. M. Schindler and Richard Neutra, rivalist stylists such as Myron Hunt, the older Roland Coate, Sumner Hunt, Paul Williams, Robert Stacy-Judd, S. Charles Lee and Wallace Neff and the ranch houses of Cliff May, the era came to a close with a parade of modernists who appeared in the 1930's and 1940's such as John Lautner, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Thornton M. Abell, Raphael Soriano, Pierre Koenig, Lloyd Wright, Walter Wurdeman, Rodney Walker, Charles Luckman, Douglas Honnold, John Rex, Thornton Ladd, Carl Maston, Gregory Ain, Welton Beckett, J. R. Davidson, William Pereira, Edward Killingsworth, Gordon Drake, Frederick E. Emmons, A. Quincy Jones and many, many others.

Again... suffered by comparison?

Comparison to... what?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Article On How To Improve LA Times - Gets Name Of Project -- WRONG!

On the front page of the OPINION section webpage - the headline is supposed to say that the old name of 'Manhattan Project' is now the 'Spring Street Prtoject. Alas - below is what the headline says:

Opinion L.A.:
Manhattan Beach Project, we hardly knew ye. Welcome to the re-branded Spring Street Project.

Does not bode well for the future of this project....

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What Part Of A Fourteen Year Old Male's Mind Did This Woman Not Understand?

Alexis Luz Garcia, 40, of Corona, was cited for a misdemeanor in May after she allegedly gave the boy, her neighbor, a full-frontal view as he played basketball in the yard next door.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and requires the defendant to register as a sex offender.

Garcia had complained to the boy that he was making too much noise as he played. When he didn't stop playing, she went out onto her sundeck.

"He looked up at her, she looked down at him, and she disrobed," Norton said.

The boy ran inside and told his parents, who complained to Garcia. When she threatened to do it every time he played basketball, his parents called police, Wyatt said.

All I can say that if a women threatened to disrobe everytime the guys I grew up with practiced basketball - we'd have all ended up on the Lakers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Free Opera At The Place Theater Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday!

There are four more performances of a wonderfully sung production of Verdi's second opera, a rarely performed comic masterpiece. See below for details.

And if you go to will call - just say you are with the Brady Westwater party and say how many tickets you want - and they will be free! All I ask is that you donate in the box in the lobby after the opera whatever you feel like giving.

Lyric Opera of Los Angeles presents
Un Giorno di Regno (King for a Day)
by Giuseppe Verdi

September 1733. The rightful heir to the Polish throne, Stanislas, is in
hiding because of a War of Succession. When he decides to return, he
sets up a decoy in the person of a French officer to lodge at the castle
of Baron di Kelbar.

Meanwhile, the Baron di Kelbar has arranged alliances with important
members of Society by marrying off his daughter and his niece. But, to
their grief, the women have other loves.

On the day the real king is maneuvering to regain his throne, the false
king is maneuvering to block the arranged marriages and deliver the
women to their true loves.

This is a 19th century comic opera replete with mix-ups and
misunderstandings. The story was so popular that Verdi was commissioned
to make a new musical setting of this existing text. In only his second
opera, we hear the young Verdi begin to emerge from contemporary musical
models to forge the language that was to become his own.


Performed in Italian with English Supertitles
Director - Arthur Freeman * Conductor - Robert Sage
with the LOLA Opera Orchestra & Chorus


(4 performances remaining)

* Wednesday, October 11 - 7:30pm
* Friday, October 13 - 7:30pm
* Saturday, October 14 - 2:00pm
* Saturday, October 14 - 7:30pm

Performances are taking place at the historic DOWNTOWN PALACE THEATRE,
630 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, 90014


Ticket Prices range from $15-$60
Visit our website to purchase your tickets, or buy yours at the door


(see website for each artists performance dates)

Aram Barsamian - Cavaliere Belfiore
Roberto Gomez - Cavaliere Belfiore
Joyce May-Tobin - la Marchesa del Poggio
Rebecca Sjowall - la Marchesa del Poggio
Matthew King - Edoardo
Patrick Layton - Edoardo
Amber Erwin - Giulietta di Kelbar
Adrien Roberts - Giulietta di Kelbar
William Goldin - Barone di Kelbar
Cale Olson - il Signor la Rocca
Bruce Wright - il Signor la Rocca

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is New Los Angeles Times Publisher - David Hiller - The Best Of All Possible Worlds?

While not wanting to put too much of a Panglossian... gloss... on the situation - it is possible that what happened today is the best possible thing that could have happened to the Los Angeles Times.

But, first a word about the dead.

Jeff Johnson knew he would likely be fired when he publicly backed Dean Baquet in refusing to make the staff cuts the Tribune headquarters had ordered. But he still made his stand with Dean. He came here a dyed in the Brooks Brotthers suit company man - but left the Los Angeles Times a genuine journalistic hero.

Now for the good news.

Every person I know in Chicago has nothing but not just good - but great things to say about David Hiller. And while he can not be expected to go native as fast as Jeff Johnson did, with the LAT's staff's suspicion and anger towards the Tribune right now - it is impossible for Hiller to start his tenure with the massive cuts that had been previously demanded of Johnson.

Additionally, Hiller has a lot more leverage with Chicago than Johnson ever did. Hiller led their showcase property and is rumored headed towards running the entire show.

He is not expendable. He can not be fired as easily as was Johnson. So if he decides that these proposed cuts will hurt more than they will help - he is in a lot stronger postion to enforce his opinion.

Michael A. Hiltzik
Times Staff Writer

October 6, 2006

... Hiller, 53, is described by friends and former colleagues as a personable, funny and intellectually engaged executive who understands journalistic traditions. But he is not shy about stating that the challenge for newspapers is to do "the absolute best job you can for readers and online customers and still be a strong business."

In the industry's quest to balance economic concerns, investor demands and journalistic mandates, Hiller now occupies one of the hot seats. The Chicago native and Harvard-trained attorney took over Thursday as publisher of the Los Angeles Times, following the resignation of Jeffrey M. Johnson, who had publicly questioned the strategy of parent Tribune Co.


Hiller has been a rising star at Tribune, most recently occupying the publisher's chair at the Chicago Tribune after serving as senior vice president for development and subsequently as head of Tribune Interactive, where he was responsible for the company's Internet strategy.

His background has been varied, including a stint as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, two years at the Reagan Justice Department (where his colleagues included current Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani) and work as a lawyer at the Chicago firm Sidley & Austin, where his assignments included first fighting, then settling, the landmark federal antitrust case against AT&T that resulted in the telecommunications giant's 1984 breakup.


Along the way, Hiller acquired a cadre of admiring colleagues and devoted friends.

"He's a man with catholic interests," said John Zeglis, a former partner at Sidley & Austin who later became AT&T's general counsel and then chief executive of AT&T Wireless.

Hiller, Zeglis and several friends kept up an annual tradition of backpacking in the Rockies or other wilderness areas at which Hiller characteristically displayed the campcraft he learned as an Eagle Scout and maintained the group's travel journal.

"We'd notice that he'd read newspapers cover to cover, even before he got into that business," Zeglis recalled...


At the Chicago Tribune, where he became publisher in November 2004, Hiller quickly became a familiar figure in the newsroom — not the most natural haunt for a publisher. He arrived on election night that year and spent hours observing the operation at a time when a newsroom is at its most frenzied, and later sponsored a series of well-appreciated brown-bag lunches for staff members at which "no questions were off-limits," said Tribune Editor Ann Marie Lipinski.

"We didn't always see eye to eye on things, but he was comfortable with disagreement," Lipinski added.

Whether, or how much, Hiller will stand between The Times newsroom and what newsroom employees see as Tribune Co.'s unrelenting demand for cost cuts is unclear. Tribune editors note that his engaging personality and his sensitivity to newsroom culture don't obscure the fact that he is unmistakably a corporate manager.

"At the end of the day, he's a business guy," said one newsroom executive who asked not to be named. "On budget issues, he'll make the decisions he has to make as part of management."

That said, a Tribune newsroom source noted that in reducing costs, Hiller tended to try to avoid cutting personnel, instead seeking operational savings elsewhere, "and that was appreciated by the staff...

Now there are those at the Times who feel that this change is merely a short term turnaround to put some lipstick on the pig by cutting costs, raising net income - and then selling the LA Times.

But I don't think so.

I can not imagine the Tribune selling the Times when it brings in the revenue it still commands nor can I imagine David Hiller taking this job if it was just to conduct a close out sale.

Under Johnson, Baquet and Martinez - the Times has dramatically improved in the past two years. Now with a publisher with more clout in Chicago at the helm and one willing to explore more ways for the paper to engage the public along with more creative ways of cutting costs - he just might be the person to not just finish turning around the LA Times creatively, but also - finally - financially.

Chicago Tribune Coverage Of Los Angeles Times Turmoil!

Pretty straight coverage at the Chicago Tribune on the LA Times defenestration of Jeff Johnson:

L.A. Times publisher asked to resign

Chicago Tribune publisher stepping in

Tribune media columnist

October 5, 2006, 2:04 PM CDT

Jeff Johnson is out as publisher of the Los Angeles Times, asked to resign today by Chicago-based Tribune Co. a month after he publicly backed Times Editor Dean Baquet's defiant protests against the parent company's demand for staff reductions.

Tribune Publishing President Scott Smith said Chicago Tribune Publisher David Hiller has replaced Johnson as publisher and president at the Times. Smith, a former Chicago Tribune publisher, will temporarily supervise that paper's operations in addition to all of Tribune Co. publishing concerns.

"Jeff and I agreed that this change is best at this time because Tribune and Times executives need to be aligned on how to shape our future," Smith said in a statement. "We thank Jeff for his leadership of important advances at the Times and his significant contributions during his Tribune career."

Later, in a note to Chicago Tribune staff, Smith said, "The strong management teams in place at the Chicago Tribune and the publishing group will allow me to effectively oversee both."

Whether Baquet will remain in charge of the Times newsroom was uncertain, though Times employees suggested it would be difficult for him to stay if Hiller asked for the same staff cuts that Johnson resisted.

Now below, it seems they are referring to the LAOBSERVED:

Baquet was meeting with senior executives at the paper, as word of Johnson's exit leaked out. One Times newsroom source said he heard Baquet would stay.


Tribune last month announced that it would consider restructuring the company, potentially selling assets or breaking the media conglomerate into pieces. Tribune bought the Los Angeles-based Times Mirror Co. in 2000.

Dean Baquet To Remain Editor Of LA Times!

LAOBSERVED reports that LA Times Editor Dean Baquet and new Los Angeles Times publisher David Hiller sniffed each other's butts over coffee this morning, liked what they smelled and agreed to work together:

Baquet staying

Times editor Dean Baquet told an editors meeting at 11:30 that he can work with new publisher David Hiller. Baquet had coffee with Hiller this morning and apparently was told to make his strongest case for the Times fending off deep newsroom cuts. Hiller is expected to address editors this afternoon.

But can Andrés Martinez work with Hiller? I've no reason to think not, but the publisher of the Los Angeles Times directly oversees the editorial and op-ed page editor. It was Johnson who encouraged Michael Kinsley to leave, installed Martinez and signed-off on (or more) the removal of longtime columnist Robert Scheer and reinvention of the editorial page and the Current section.

Check it out: Mark Lacter has background on Hiller at LA Biz Observed.

Edited post

And Just Who The Hell Is This David Hiller - New Publisher Of The Los Angeles Times?

Well, according to the Washington correspondent of The Nation - new LA Times publisher David Hiller at least isn't totally the spawn of Satan. Some quotes from a panel discussion they both served on:

John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, followed with an account of the responsibilities of the press in a democracy, harkening back to the writings of the Founding Fathers and the conception of the media as an “essential check and balance on executive excess, especially during war.”


David D. Hiller—president, publisher, and CEO of the Tribune—defended his paper’s independence from the government, citing the Tribune’s history as an “equal-opportunity discomforter.” He emphasized that accessibility to free news on the internet is pressuring newspaper business models.


The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper lauded by Nichols for its “robust conservatism [in its editorials] in a time of neoconservative drift,” as opposed to the “crooks, conners, and thieves who currently use the name.” Nichols also lauded the Tribune for its expose journalism on such issues as the death penalty, and Warren reiterated the Tribune’s commitment as a government watchdog.

Hiller would seem to fit the mode of a social liberal who is conservative on economic issues (he clerked for Justice Stewart at one time) and that would fit in quite well with the new LA Times of Jeff Johnson and Dean Baquet.

Wikipedia also seems to be impressed by the Tribune's move to the center:

Apart from electoral endorsements, the Tribune has taken on a centrist editorial position in recent years. It has, for example, criticized the Bush administration's record on civil liberties, the environment, and many portions of its foreign policy. At the same time, it has remained economically conservative, being widely skeptical of increasing the minimum wage and entitlement spending. In many ways, this has given the modern Tribune editorial page a libertarian bent.

At the local level, the Tribune has long been -- and remained -- the chief antagonist of the Chicago Democratic Machine, particularly the system of patronage. It has written dozens of editorials criticizing former Cook County Board President John Stroger, for example, and while it has endorsed Mayor Richard M. Daley, it has been strongly critical of hiring policies and other allegedly corrupt deals, including the Hired Truck Program, in his administration. The newspaper has also devoted considerable reporting resources to investigating the machine, running large investigative pieces on irregularities in campaign finances, the delivery of city services, and governmental contracting.

Other hopeful signs (and... admittedly.... we are grasping for straws here...) are that he was in charge of interactive media and also recently oversaw their Hispanic - Chicago-speak for Latino - media.


Tribune Publishing's David Hiller Expands Responsibilities, Group CFO Jerry Agema Promoted

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Tribune Publishing today announced that David Hiller, president/interactive and senior vice president/publishing, will expand his responsibilities to include oversight of The Baltimore Sun and Tribune Publishing's Hispanic media. In addition, Jerry Agema, vice president/administration and chief financial officer, has been promoted to senior vice president, effective immediately. Agema will continue in his role in administration and finance, and will also oversee strategy and development, human resources and technology within the publishing group.

"David and Jerry are two of the most talented and experienced individuals in Tribune Publishing," said Jack Fuller, Tribune Publishing president.

Hiller is currently responsible for Tribune Interactive, Tribune Classified Services, Tribune Media Service, The Hartford Courant and CLTV. His expanded role will add responsibility for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sun and Tribune Publishing's Hispanic media division that coordinates group activities among the company's Spanish-language newspapers, including the New York and Chicago editions of Hoy.

Hiller was appointed senior vice president/publishing in February 2003, and president of Tribune Interactive in May 2000. From 1993 to 2000, Hiller served as Tribune Company senior vice president/development, with responsibility for strategic planning, acquisitions and new-venture investments. He was Tribune's vice president/general counsel from 1988 to 1993...

Los Angeles Times Publisher - FIRED! Jeff Johnson Out!

LAOBSERVED.COM has the story:


Just when the gradual improvements at the Los Angeles Times have reached a critical mass point and the paper is once again not only worth reading to find out what is happening in this city - but mandatory reading for anyone who cares about Los Angeles - one of the two people most respsonsible for this happening has been fired by the Chicago Tribune's bean counters.

Now the only question is - will the Tribune's death wish for the Los Angeles Times be completed if Dean Baquet now resigns?



LA Times reports that David Hiller new publisher of Los Angeles Times. Still no word if Dean Baquet will quit.

James Rainey
Times Staff Writer

11:20 AM PDT, October 5, 2006

The Tribune Co. forced out Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson this morning, a little more than a month after he defied the media conglomerate's demands for staff cuts that he suggested could damage the newspaper.

Tribune Publishing President Scott C. Smith was huddling with top managers at the newspaper and was expected to announce after the meeting that David Hiller, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, would immediately replace Johnson as chief executive at the 125-year-old newspaper. Hiller would become the 12th publisher of The Times.

Hiller was expected to ask Times Editor Dean Baquet to stay on the job, despite the editor's sharp protests against further job cuts by the Chicago-based parent corporation. Friends of Baquet said the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist had not yet decided to remain with the paper....

Suck.Com Comes To LATimes.Com!

Tim Cavanaugh most recently of REASON, but most noteworthy for his tenure at the pioneering (1995 - 2001) , fabled and never since equaled media site of www.suck.com - is now running the opinion section of the LA Time's website. This was reported today by FishBowlLA, one of the few worthy successors to the old Suck.

Tim was, for those not old enough to recall the early days of original online (and hopefully... advertiser supported) free content, was the infamous ... BarTel D'Arcy... before he left for Reason. Once there, he then shamelessly purloined Suck's 'Hit and Run' feature for only slightly less evil purposes.

And despite Suck's occasional and thoroughly misguided comments about my personalty and writing qualities - which I am certain were, of course, only meant in the most ironic of ways.... its wit and intelligence and irreverance - which can still be read courtsey of GOOGLE - is as fresh today as it was back in the days of the first internet boom.

Now if the Times can only get former Suck illustrator and artist extraordinaire - Terry Colon- to come onboard - profitable advertiser supported free on-line content might no longer be an oxymoron.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Trona May Be Hell On Earth - But It's Still One Up On Los Angeles!

Once a prosperous and tidy company town with desert vistas, Trona is in decline, cherishing its memories but living with crime and blight.

By David Kelly
Times Staff Writer

October 4, 2006

TRONA, Calif. — Fed up with the crime, congestion and cost of Orange County, Fred Hermon went looking for a place where he could be alone, a place so remote, so unappealing that few would ever want to live there.

His strategy was simple: Locate the popular, pricey towns on a map and move steadily outward. That's where he found Trona.

When he searched the Internet for information, the word "hell" kept popping up — 'Is Trona Anywhere Near Hell?," "Where the Hell Is Trona?," "Long, Lonely Ride Through Hell."

Hermon didn't actually expect to find perdition as he descended through Poison Canyon into Trona three years ago, but the smell of sulfur, the blast-furnace heat and barren landscape made it feel uncomfortably close.

A real estate agent showed him a neighborhood with block after block of burned-out homes.

"I said, 'Oh my God, no,' " he recalled. "Another area looked like Los Angeles after the riots.

Pretty bad - huh? But even Trona has one thing Los Angeles for all its attractions does not have - a musuem dedicated to its history.

The pride of Trona is the Old Guest House Museum, a shrine to the town and the minerals that made it. There are old photos of John W. Searles. His violin sits behind glass. Small bottles of potash, borax and fly ash are displayed, along with maps, history books and assorted mining and railroad paraphernalia.

Margaret Brush, 79, is curator and the town's most energetic promoter. She recently won funding for a kiosk along the road to Death Valley offering information about Trona.

"We needed something to attract people to Trona and to our museum," she said.

So if even Trona can support its own museum - why can not the City of Los Angeles?