A special Thank you from Coach Bob Leetch
This past weekend Redondo Union High School played host to one of the finest track meets in the nation. What was one of the largest high school sporting events in the history of the South Bay was also an extremely high calibre meet. We hosted 2,200 athletes from throughout the southland to 3,600 events in the span of two days. EPI Elite marks are a standardized level of excellence used to determine high level track and field marks. They are very hard to obtain. The top performing meet in the country so far had produced 60 EPI Elite marks. Last Friday and Saturday the Redondo Nike Track Festival produce 138 EPI Elite marks! In terms of excellence our meet has quickly jumped to become one of the top 10 invitationals in the United States. Pretty big time stuff.
And this was not produced by a group of paid professionals hired to host a meet like the famous Arcadia Invitational or the Mt. Sac Relays. This was hosted by, set up, built up, broken down, cleaned up, escorted, cooked for, picked up after, announced by and run by us. Parents, coaches, friends, family all of us volunteers somehow connected to this track program. Rich Gonzales, our dear friend, editor of PrepCalTrack.com and Meet Director of the Arcadia Invitational said, "To host this large a meet with that much precision and timeliness was amazing. Hats off to your amazing crew. That is one of the finest meets in the country."
The size of the meet was impressive. The level of excellence achieved during the meet was astonishing. But the warmth and personal touch from each and every volunteer is what makes this meet special. To hold a high calibre meet with these types of numbers became a vision of mine the moment our school bond to improve our facilities passed. I knew we had the facilities and I also knew we had the type of people that cared about this program and our fine school. But this weekend we exceeded any of my expectations. We ran an amazing meet close to perfection. But it is the friendly, caring manner that every volunteer displays that makes the real difference. Every athlete and coach I spoke with commented on how much fun they were having and how nice they were being treated. Folks, we run a class operation and it shows. One of the best compliments came from the coach at powerhouse Notre Dame High School. He said, "We love this meet. One of the reasons we come here is to show the kids coming out of soccer and football that our sport is Big Time. The Redondo Nike Track Festival makes all our kids feel like stars. After this meet the kids are really fired up. And everyone is so friendly and nice. How do you do it?"
One of the things I determine in a town's 'quality of life,' is it's sense of community. To me this is how involved are we in our own town. Do we try to shop at a local grocery store, buy our morning cup of joe from around the corner. Do we support our little leagues, local charities or even get to know the people who work and live around us? I think all these things that make up a community are very important in our daily lives. This weekend we showed that we have an amazingly strong sense of community that is very active in promoting the lives of so many around us. This was all of us. Everywhere you looked, we were there helping, leading, assisting all with a smile that said, "have fun, run fast, jump far, be strong, I'm here to help." Our kids performed superbly. How could they not, everywhere they turned was a familiar face offering encouragement. One of the real joys of this meet is the look of pride on the faces of our kids when they see a their own parents making a contribution. I see the pride in their eyes and I know it is making an enormous impact on them.
I would like to thank all who helped make the Redondo Nike Track Festival the amazing event it is. Everyone who helped in any way is responsible for our successes.
We could never do this without the substantial financial support from the Nike team, Scott Lash, Vida Rabizedah and Lino Almeida are the key players who have worked behind the scenes for months in the planning stages all the way to helping decorate the track. They are not just our sponsors, they are our friends. Whenever we need a thing this team is first in line to help. Since this meet began I have work closely with Scott and Vida to shape the concept of this unique meet.
Special thanks to Laurie Baker, Melanie and Kevin Sullivan, Leslie Mull, Cathy Herold, Tracy McMartin, Doug Boswell, Wendy and Tony Ulizio, Susan and Kevin Ryan (the voice of Redondo Track & Field), Dave and Mona Dill for taking many of the time consuming lead positions. And my lovely wife Kirsten Leetch for taking the reins and organizing the whole event. They are the real nuts and bolts of our organization. They put in months of work before the first starting gun went off. Thanks to our friends Debbie Brossard, friend of Leslie Mull, who flies out from Scottsdale, Arizona every year to work the lower concessions and my best man Nick Carr and his girlfriend Wendy who fly down from San Francisco every year to help with field management. Those three don't even have any skin in the game!
On behalf of the entire coaching staff, thank you for all your hard work and efforts. Each and every one of you has touched our program and in a simple way made lives a little better and Redondo Beach a finer community.
Track and Cross Country
Redondo Union HS
1 Seahawk Way
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Gill/USATF National High School
Coach of the Year
We woke up this morning with a police helicopter hovering over our neighborhood. Two women delivering newspapers early this morning were shot about 4 blocks from my house. I sleep like a rock, but once I was up the annoyance was persistent. It turns out that a couple or three counties in Southern California are on alert on the lookout for a manifesto writing ex-cop and Iraq reservist whose name will now live in infamy whether or not they shoot him dead.
You see Dorner has promised to wage asymmetrical warfare on the LAPD, and he sounds like he knows how to do it. So obviously they'll be bringing in any number of hotdog specialists to track down this man who doesn't seem to have any pathological pictures available for the press to make him look crazier than he is. Now that I think about it, I hope they don't bring drones - but I have a feeling this could be the beginning of something ugly for a number of reasons.
Whenever somebody writes a Manifesto, it basically means - "Hey I know I dont' have a legal case but I'm about to go off the deep end - here's why..." In Dorner's life story we learn that he's been fired for not getting some other cops fired, and essentially being zero-tolerance for called 'nigger'. It's rather sad when even Snoop Dogg has more self-esteem. I mean nobody likes being called ugly names, and anybody ought to take offense, but usually a slap in the face followed by throwing breakables across the room generally gets that point across. This nutcase is talking about whipping out the .50 cal and sniping the freeway.
How Many Is Many?
Right now, although it's unclear, Dorner is a suspect in a double murder. A basketball coach and his fiance were the first targets, tangential to some ugly part of his career. Since that happened yesterday, I think he has either shot or killed two or three police officers. So obviously they've got eight or nine law enforcement agencies on a big old manhunt. Last I heard, he hightailed it up to the mountains. So the irony of course is if he's actually up there, then they'll be chasing him through the woods with dogs. So he's some sort of mass murderer, I'm just not sure what the tipping point is. Either way, a lot of us will feel a lot better to see him hogtied.
The Devil You Don't Know
Whatever the manifesto says, whatever the locals report, whatever the amount of dirt you might find in the LAPD, there will be a campaign of shame against Dorner. It's not really necessary though. A double homicide is all the bad you have to know. So that's why this is obligatory seriousness.
Under the Jail
Dude is planning jihad and he's not afraid to die. Blaze of glory? Naw. I say get the gas and the tranquilizer darts. This dude needs to be humiliated. Too bad we don't pillory.
Gang-Related Crime in Los Angeles County
Percent of L.A. County Homicides Which are Gang-Related
The worst thing about the Boy Scouts is that they're awfully serious about their programs. And if you are a traveling consultant like I am, there is no amount of assuaging you can do which is up the level of guilt you must bear by half-doing it. You can't just let your kid be a Scout. They pull you in. Nevertheless, I wanted to participate a bit, got certified in Youth Protection, and helped out with my local troop.
Boy Scout Youth Protection certification is onerous. I will say that without question it is more difficult than traffic school which I've done twice. About 40% of the matters and situations you study are somewhat reasonable common sense. The rest gives you an indication of how little, in our everyday lives, we think about the implications of being around child molesters. I can tell you that's what the Scouts are today and have been since I've been involved for about 7 years as a parent.
Clay Shirky snarked a remark today that rubbed me all backwards. But who am I to take tweets seriously? But the upshot of his remark was that one can expect that pedophiles can get away with more in organizations that are homophobic. My retort was that it is amazing how much slander you can get into one tweet. So obviously I take issue with the charge of homophobia. I also disagree with the counter-intuitive argument. But most of all I resent the attitude.
There's not much I can do about my resentment towards anyone's attitude. It unnerves me when intelligent people who are otherwise deserving of respectful consideration have their mental and ethical transmissions pop into neutral and drift into oncoming traffic. So I'm unnerved; I'll get over it.
What to think about the Scouts? Well, an accusation of homophobia is like an accusation of racism. How much is six pounds of homophobia? That's a matter for you and your neighbors to discuss. Despite the fact that we are chockablock with meddlesome people whose mental wellbeing seems to cry out for their every social desire to be legislated, we still haven't turned over the country to such fashion police. I can't say that I'm sanguine about the longer term prospects, but at least we know political correctness when we hear it. Is New Hampshire more homophobic than South Dakota? If you had to scratch your head more than you might about Michigan vs Mississippi then there might be hope for your objectivity yet. That doesn't change the fact that we're already aware of the stereotypes which affect our judgment. My point here is that people generally live in communities where their social expectations are in the median. So if six pounds is enough to cause you outrage, chances are that your neighbors are outraged too. But what does your outrage matter on the national stage?
That should be a matter of objective measurement.
So I would like to know, as a matter of objective measurement, what can be inferred by the number of pedophiles in the general population and their rate of apprehension, vs that in Scouting. I quite clearly recall that when the matter was dealt with in the Catholic Church that the numbers told the tale that the organization fared better in identifying the perpetrators. After which all of the noise became moot, despite the controversy.
I must say in this and in many matters that I have the advantage of indifference which is quite apart from disinterest. I have a Randian distaste for disinterest. I never say it doesn't matter one way or another. It does. But from my point of view, I'd much prefer that we seek an objective standard. Let it be six pounds without question, how you react is your business.
I've twice taken the USADA to task (up to a point of indifference) for what I percieve to be a radical standard of evidence in its dogged persuit of Lance Armstrong. Considering the amount of power they seem to hold over such matters of the fate of cyclists who break the rules of that sport - to me they seem as much as a civil court - they certainly don't operate in ways that would be acceptable in an actual court of law. The same can be said about the Boy Scouts. The amount of scrutiny we give adults around Scouts at our events is Orwellian. OK let's say six pounds of Big Brother. The fact of the matter is, that it is a clear violation of Scout policy for there to be less than two adults present at any pickup or dropoff point, for example. If an event is over and a parent is late, and there's just one kid left, there had better be two adults present. Think about your kids and how you pick them up and drop them off for school or over a friend's house. I'm sure most families are not up to the Scouting standard, one that is necessary in light of what we know about child predators. I've seen the grated nerves of Scout leaders, personally.
What little I've heard about the news on NPR this evening which might be behind Shirky's reasoning is that the Scouting standard has been responsible for booting suspected gay leaders and suspected pedophiles with a ridiculously tendentious evidentiary standard. Yes, well that's the problem with zero tolerance. We all have that same problem. It is the same problem as zero tolerance of homophobia. The good news is that the Boy Scouts recognize the ambit of their influence and don't go trawling for other people's misdeeds under some inflammatory non-standard. The bad news is others do and so we get unnerved. We'll get over it. The Boy Scouts have defined their six pound weight limits, and you don't get to be a Boy Scout in any way unless you are certified against that standard.
Of course that wasn't always the case. To get fired from the Boy Scouts of America as a suspect of pedophilia is a rather serious indictment and the process is well understood in the here and now. I don't know which other organizations might have publicly disclosed their history, rules and actions to a similar degree aside from the Catholic diocese of various major cities in the US. The stories in the news that I read today gave their egregious examples from the 70s - you remember the 70s don't you? Some standards of those days wouldn't fly today, for that there's no doubt or controversy. But today's Boy Scouts are a strong and proud organization which I defend against flippant charges.
Yes, they are ahead of the law, and when it comes to pedophilia, I think that's a good thing, and so do the people in my neighborhood.
We had just made a deal with the head laundress to process our bulk clothing at $3 per 20 pound sack. She had the hots for my young, aggressive associate Yung, so I encouraged them to indulge themselves. Just after the deal was sealed, Yung decided to stir the pot by spitting on the sacks of our Japanese rivals. (Their sacks are bright red, ours are white with three blue stars and an outline of California). Yung goes left, I go right, the Japanese are chasing us. Meanwhile the people who run the joint are trying to find out what the chaos is all about. So Im scrabling through aisle after aisle packed with shoppers trying to get back to my American group and maintain some dignity and not have to whip out the pistol...
(cliche of man rising up in bed, breathing deeply covered in sweat)
Last night I took my daughter and her friend out to Pasadena for the 626 Night Market. There was no chasing, but there were huge crowds of Chinese people everywhere. The traffic was horrendous, but it was indeed a spectacle.
The Night Market is an old Chinese tradition and if people have any sense whatsoever, it's going to be a new huge one in the San Gabriel Valley. It was a shopkeeper's nirvana. The foot traffic was Times Square intense. For a measly one block setup of no more than 30 odd tents, you had easily 15,000 people.
It was nostalgic for me to get out to Pasadena. I used to live in Altadena and in South Pasadena so I have more than my share of memories about the place and its affinity for Asians of all flavors. The girls, by showing up, practicing a little of their Mandarin and taking photos will get extra credit for their class and there were certainly plenty of opportunities to overhear conversations in all sorts of dialects.
We ended up eating down in Old Pasadena six blocks away to get away from the swell. Great steaming bowls of spicy ramen could be had at Naga Naga. So we had ours after a 40 minute wait. I say go for the kimchee + beef, and the green milk tea is great, but too small - you should order two, or just get a Sprite. The huge fishtank in the middle is cute for about 10 minutes and then you start noticing how disgusting it is in the nooks and crannies. That is if you are sitting at the bar that surrounds it. My advice is to get a table far away.
Ont the whole, it was nice to get out of the house and into the street, but I hate crowds and there was absolutely nothing worth buying. Not even a cool T-Shirt. The experience was rather like Venice Beach, but not as well organized.
Still, even though the demands of war have put a strain on many families, our troops continue to pull from the same side of the rope as one cohesive body. When Hurricane Irene recently threatened the East Coast, including Washington, D.C., the sentinels at Arlington cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns refused to leave their posts. Their willingness to look beyond personal comfort for the greater good is something from which we all can learn.
As the U.S. works her way out of today's economic turmoil, our nation's leaders and the public should follow the lead of our men and women in uniform: Attack this challenge head-on, but as one. The unified spirit in the aftermath of 9/11 could guide us through the troubled waters we're navigating today.
Jim and I are frat. He and my brother went to middle school together. He has always been one of the most destiny bound men I have known, never questioning his duty to do good. It's good to know he's out there, fighting the good fight.
I was going to write a 9/11 piece and I haven't really thought of what I wanted to say. But now I see in my periphery a host of productions now starting to pile up. It's almost as if, having done one dastardly deed, Osama has created a new American holiday. Walk it off America, walk it off.
Dennis Miller is the smartest conservative on the radio because he reads people very well. He is one of those rare individuals who can talk with the ordinary Joes and understand how they're twisting themselves up to be something they aren't in the presence of celebrity. It's a sense that I think all stars get, but few handle well. His lesson to me is to go home. When you start getting emotionally involved in something over which you have absolutely no control, go home.
There is something about American democracy that has been tweaked a little too much - given too much attention in the abstract and not enough direct focus. We all feel that we have some right or duty or function in standing up on our hind legs and barking at the moon of America. There's always some pundit that nobody in any American highschool has ever heard of who can, in his market segement of the long tail, go on about 'the problem with American x'. It brings to mind a conversation I had with a psychologist who said that people overuse their strengths in a crisis. When the crapstorm begins, singers will sing, bloggers will blog, complainers will complain, presidents will preside. Except for those at ground zero whose lives are directly affected, we knit up the metathreads into some narrative tapestry whose patterns need to be familiar. Something about our history keeps reminding us that we the people are supposed to be involved in our little part of history.
I don't think so.
I don't want to be harsh, but I think we are bearing burdens our shoulders weren't meant to carry. It has to do with our judgment in the details of things - details we don't care to know and wouldn't make sense of if we were presented with them. And I think we believe a bit too strongly that our positioning is all that significant. It's easy for me to say that we are all peasants and nothing peasants say matters, although what it is we do is the basis of the entire economy. That should be, in it's own way, self-evident.
But what is not self-evident is the extent to which we are actually not getting added value from adding our voices to the democratic end of our national governance. Mind you I see this in more and more things these days. Are newspapers really improving because they have comment sections? Is there really something to be appreciably gained by reading through all that? I'm tending to think not. Rather I think we're all a bit neurotic about describing what's going wrong in America.
The worst part is that all of this is a function of who we are, that is to say, Americans love America but hate the other-Americans polluting this place. What's emerging is all of that literate discontent in e-text.
En Passant: Gloria Molina, as tenured a pol as can possibly exist, is proposing creating a second Hispanic majority minority district.
He sat at the table next to us, looking to be about 56 years of age, with a new Canon digital camera on a bold black strap. His hair was thinning but not quite grey. He was of average height and wore a pale yellow polo shirt and sneakers. He didn't belong at this California beach, and he kept staring at the viewfinder.
You could see his cell phone in its belt holster. It was the most noticeable thing about his hips. He was armed with the technology. But he did not aim and shoot. He did not send or receive any signals. He merely an air of hesitant confidence, like the driver of a new 1967 Cadillac who had never had power steering before. Empowered.
I look at men and women and imagine their histories, especially the older men and women.
The Asian woman in dark blue shorts walked talking with her Caucasian friends. Her legs were stout but beginning to lose their firmness, and her bangs were now more grey than black. She canted her head at an angle that seemed puzzled that they weren't hearing what she was saying. She was a fifth wheel on an automobile that had lost its pizazz which only made her more their equal than she ever was in her younger days.
The multi-million dollar houses along the Strand have a studied kind of clutter. The grizzled old man who sits staring could be the father of the owner although he looks like he was just rescued from the gutter and hastily cleaned up. There was resignation in his eyes barely following the joggers. He could be jaded beyond the ordinary world of the beachcombers, or he could be hung over, or he could be the owner. There's no guarantee that a conversation with him would yield any greater knowledge of anything. He was just one of the few privileged to be welcomed on the deck, and he didn't have any reason to say anything more. He was there, everyone else was not.
Everyone rests on laurels. Sometimes it's difficult to belive they are earned by acts of greatness this foggy morning on the beach. Everyone has their little crutch that gets them near to the sand. The tourists had their ITALIA shirts and colors. The girls volleyball team had their engagement. The Six Man teams had their warmup exercises started and stopped by the command of a shaken cowbell.
It's a free country and so many people are literate and diversely employed that there is no discernable order in their social intercourse. We seem impossible to judge.
"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty."
I'm not going to be involved with the Runaway Slave thing today. An unfortunate series of events have conspired to keep me home working. And yet I am relieved to be in my hidey hole and not part of that thing which I think begs me to answer questions I'm not sure I have answers to.
It is part of my dilemma as a writer, that I am of a particular sort which defies explanation, except for those of my rivals and opponents who all feel confident that they've got my number. I have a love-hate obsession with describing myself and my purposes because I know them so well, and I fear others know them so tangentially. What am I doing here? Why can't I just do x? These are not questions I ask myself very often because I know the answers - it's just that I don't think anyone else wants to hear them.
Yesterday I went over to Booker Rising and read some of the comments that people over there have been making about what I write here. I have this oddment of conviction about myself that I acquired when I turned 30. I stopped qualifying my statements with 'IMHO' and just said what I meant, and let the counter arguments fall where they may, correcting myself as logic dictates. So I tell you what I really think, all of the time. The problem is, that's all it is. Whereas I think most people assume that I mean to tell other people how and what to think. I don't. I only presume that others might be doing what I do when I speak, which is give them the benefit of what makes sense to me. Still, when I say it, I don't mumble and I guess it sounds evangelistic.
I am quick to take correction when I am mistaken and to de-emphasize my conviction when I am wrong. These are not the qualities of what we tend to call 'Alpha Males'. The assumption, like the social prohibition of fat hairy guys in Speedos at the beach, that only certain types have any business speaking out in a non-subversive manner. So to hear me proclaim loudly some thing, and then to hear me disallow that speech on another occasion augers against the sort of heroism I gather people expect of one so bold.
Which brings me to my relief.
At some point, I'm going to get out to meet Hindraker and Ponzi and other fellows at Claremont. In another life I was destined to attend college there, recruited as I was to the first coed class of Pitzer College in consideration of a Philosophy major with computer classes over at Mudd. It would have made a world of difference to me, I think in retrospect, and I would not be so much of the streets. On my credenza is the Rand Experts Guide 2010. I am open to the page with Eric V. Larson and I sit here with some consternation at the fact that I sat through a Meetup yesterday at Coco's in Manhattan Beach discussing our Afghanistan policy with people I know don't know our Afghanistan policy. When was the last time I read something by Eikenberry or Crocker on the matter? I hate forgetting. I hate not knowing. I hate spending time listening to people who don't know.
But in the mean time there's this place I can walk up to, take a seat and be considered. It's called 'black Republican' and it is essentially meaningless because it is essentially derivative. I know that and I don't believe I can be convinced otherwise. For me to speak up on the matter, as welcome as I am to do so, comprises some element of compromise. That's because I'm not really seeking an audience. I'm not out to gather support for my position. I'm merely curious, and as usual, I'm saying what I say because I'm a writer.
Of course that's not all there is to it, and it's not entirely under my control. But I have a conference call in 3 minutes, and I really have to go...
One of the toughest things about being particularly literate and attempting always to be well read upon the subtleties of the day is that one often finds oneself in the company of those who are not. I am reminded at this particular moment of my first visit to Fenway Park. Not being a huge baseball fan, I wasn't particularly interested in buying expensive tickets, and so I found myself in the bleachers. If you've ever been in the bleachers at a Red Sox game, you must know what it's like to be surrounded by loud, rowdy fanatics on the very borderline of public drunkenness. Not my crowd. But it was still a good game and I rooted for the home team.
It's often like that when I present myself as a Republican or as a conservative. I'm not so fanatical about it that I buy the expensive placements, but it doesn't mean that I particularly enjoy being associated with the rowdies. I'm a conservative and a Republican because my experience and thinking dictate that I should be. I didn't do it for the company.
So this puts me in the odd position of, well, being a bloody individual who chooses what he chooses as an expression of will, not as some existential crutch. I do so with the express understanding that some conservatives have unfairly earned all conservatives the reputation of not having such a vocabulary as 'existential crutch'. Then again, there's a certain kind of projection going on in the minds of the opposition.
It is with this sort of situation in mind that I deal with the loaded brickbat terms 'Tea Party' and 'Runaway Slave'. You see, this week I intend on attending an event with 'Runaway Slave' in the title. A certain minister C.L. Bryant is making a film about black American conservatives, and I'm very curious to check it out. Having been apprised of the situation, I'm going. It turns out that Breitbart is involved, as is Jesse Lee Peterson, two lightning rods.
I've encountered Peterson only briefly, and about 20 years ago through his association with BOND. It was at a Black Family Reunion in Exposition Park back in the days when that was going strong in Los Angeles. BOND reminded me of a gang for squares, a kind of bush league Alpha Phi Alpha for the kids who never made it to college. Snob that I am, and liberal that I was, it was easy for me to look down my nose at the whole program. But I did respect the young man I did meet, took his business card and smiled at the thought that there were still some people around who believed in the propriety of marriage, wearing a shirt and tie, and minding one's English. One is hard pressed at times to deal with the reality of hard knock cases trying their damnedest to become and remain respectable in a slavishly cynical society as ours can be. Such young men are so vulnerable. You never want to see their modest dreams upset, and wonder if they are properly self-possessed rather than merely enchanted by such a fearless leader as Minister Peterson.
Without going back into the sort of scathing excoriation I might have served up to Peterson in my early days of 'black' conservatism, I know that he is not the sort who inspire the loyalty of bloody sophisticates such as myself. So I'll not belabor the analogy to Fenway Park. But we are on the same side, and we root for the same team. Or perhaps I should say we are in the same American League. But, truth be told, I'm more of a Yankee fan.
The same kind of disdainful fellowship I share with those addicted to analogies to slavery when speaking of the fate of contemporary black Americans. Powerful, tired, over-freighted metaphors keep peppering the dialog - enough to make me sneeze. How many times have I heard 'off the plantation' or 'house vs field' or 'Uncle Tom'? But there it is. And so it is with 'Tea Party' and other symbols of liberty and freedom that are abstracted into abuse by every partisan who joins the fracas.
There's no way around the history. You can't avoid the terms, but I hope that Bryant and his collaborators can move beyond them quickly and smartly towards issues of import. Yet and still I know that it is impossible to corral all of the African American interest in the broad Right. So I'll be checking out the general progress of black conservative politics as it becomes manifest in its various ways, especially in Los Angeles.
The first thing you notice about Breitbart is that he's a lot more energetic and natural in person than he's appeared to be in videos I recall of him. When he busted ACORN, I seem to recall him as smarter than the average bear and a lot more disciplined and articulate than the wildman he appears to be today. But I think he's just getting his groove. He's riding a large beast and has drawn a sword across the noses of some fierce enemies. But Breitbart has something very powerful going for him. He's genuine, and he's motivated to unite people.
What's more, in some important ways, we two think alike. We think alike about Hollywood. He sees the big cultural picture. It turns out that my day today was connected to David Mamet two ways. You see, I went to the FOB to see Breitbart and Ricky Jay. As Andrew and I were walking, he mentioned to me that there's a book coming out by David Mamet that's going to turn the country, or at least the chatting classes of it, on its ear. But wouldn't you know that Ricky Jay was a consultant via Deceptive Practices to David Mamet in a number of films I always loved but didn't know Mamet was involved in, including Ronin, House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner. Triple wow. What Breitbart and I see about Hollywood is that it makes you love the bad guy and turns Americans against each other, and that finally all of the wickedness in the entertainment industry is just become that banal evil. It's boring, that decades long rehash of acceptable rebellion.
Like me, Breitbart is a recycled liberal who thought his way out of the paper bag. He grew up in Santa Monica, and now finally looks the part - rather like we all want to look, perfectly comfortable with ourselves and other people on a sunny day in Southern Cal.
Breitbart is smart in the way that people who have a million connections to other people are smart. He's heads-up smart. I didn't see it today, but I can tell he can get things done through other people and that is because even though he is clearly a lightning rod, he's the first to connect dots and see what it is that other people do well. In the half hour we spent together, I had to make him talk about himself. I watched him get off the ETC stage where he had been rescheduled and hang out with friendly folks while other folks had stalking debates with him about controversies. On stage, he was polemical in the way you are for the media, offstage he was, quite literally, a man of the people. Kaus was in the audience. He noticed.
Breitbart's strategy is to disintermediate what he calls the Hollywood Democrat Media Complex or something like that. The Yang to Hillary Clinton's VRWC. But he's not so shrill about it and understands what he's up against. He's up against money and the inability for journalists to talk out of school. So he's going to use judo against them. He'll be nimble and he'll be quick and watch big media trip on it's own, eh petard. It worked for the ACORN videos, what else can it work for? Hard to say, but he's got common sense on his side. I think he could be too clever by half - I see he's in the middle of the whirlwind right now, but he doesn't show any signs of fatigue. I think it's because, even though he drinks from the media firehose, he's got a very good sense of when people are trying to snow him. I watched people walk by and call him a racist, I could see the smug contempt on their faces. I could anticipate them jumping to their conclusions. Breitbart doesn't try to be wonky and out-wonk them, and that's why he survives.
His dust jacket speaks of Commonsense Conservatism. He told me that he didn't set out to support the Tea Party, but that after 30 times seeing them all over the country he realized that they were people he couldn't deny any longer. He had come to know too many of them to let the lies go unanswered, and I think that's where he is at his center. He just hates the arrogance of the lies and he wants to bust the liars. He's got a big streak of honesty in him, and I think he genuinely loves people.
Breitbart walks around in big man's shoes. Almost anonymous in the crowd but the guys at McSweeny's know him. One of the booth dudes gives him a book for free so an author could sign it. It's some kind of in-joke I don't quite get, but Breitbart handles it smoothly. He reminds me of Dennis Miller when Miller knows some fan is buttering him up for the big snarky remark. He's got the sense of when people are being real or fake. He doesn't hate the fakes, but you can tell he's out to expose them. We went over to the RAND tent. He knew somebody in that organization and left his regards. He can distinguish the distractions from the serious stuff and didn't give Birther Madness much of his attention. He's working on bigger plans.
It took me a while to determine if and how I should approach him, and I'm glad I did. He doesn't strike me as a wonky guy, and my interest is much more political philosophy than media presence. But media presence is a critical part of the game - and the game is melioration of moral, honest ideas - something for which this is a false oligopoly in the Media Empire. Breitbart naturally understands it, and now he is a double agent. That's dangerous, of course, but he seems relentless and up to it. For now. He's going to be, through his websites, a force to reckon with.
Famousity is an interesting beast. You cannot undo it. So Breitbart has to parlay his name into something that channels the common sense energy he sees in the Right into something that conveys the ability to see through the information conspiracy. I remember when I moved to NYC and tried to find more intellectual writing and all I heard was about The Nation. I had nowhere to go and it took me 8 years to find it on my own. I too am sick of the Frankfurt School and am not a joiner. Breitbart is aiming to defeat the naysayers and put the Democrat Media Conspiracy on its heels and beat back the Marxist social experiment.
I'm on his side.
Yesterday, over in Gardena, about a mile from where I work, one teenager shot two others. It was an accident, but it was a school shooting. Today, about 20 miles from where I work, there was another school shooting. How many days ago was there an assassination attempt in Arizona? I don't know, but it's enough to put politicians into overdrive to *do* something. I think the something will inevitably be bad, if it's allowed to happen.
For the record, I say this is a criminal justice problem. No legislation or executive action is required. Those two branches of government should sit down and shut up. Bring the guilty parties to justice, nuff said. I mean, we know that aggravated assault and attempted murder have been crimes for thousands of years. We don't need to hear anything new. We don't need to do anything new. But we've got peasants addicted to new, so new they will get.
For Gardena High School it's likely going to mean metal detectors and searches, TSA-style. I'm trying to think of a more obvious sign of social failure but I cannot.
There is, my gentle friends, a difference between bloviation and blather. Bloviation is the process of expounding upon passionate intellectual subjects without any sense of purpose. Blather is the product of purposesful rhetoric that has no real intellectual substance. While I enjoy bloviation, I try my damndest to stay away from blather.
After enough alcohol, any discussion of a serious subject descends into bloviation, or bloviated debate. At some point, bloviated debate devolves into blather. I had the good fortune last evening to get into an almost unending zone of bloviation that never dropped off the precipice into the blather zone. My interlocutors were, The Large Professor, Red and Doctor V. (The Kid left early).
Doctor V offers me a challenge which I am eager to understand completely and I am wary of earning his distrust. You see, he represents the humanist I think it should be my duty to reform. He is a person centered person who requires a revolution. The sort of expectations he has of people and society are both annoyingly high and benign. And so as with most humanists, he requires a thorough undoing of what has evidently been done wrong. It probably wouldn't go too far afield to say that the good doctor is a Liberal, but I am no longer interested in means, so all those political matters are tending towards the insignificant. I hope earnestly that I can learn the proper meaning of revolution and understand exactly how much directed chaos we can sustain for the sake of Progress. But I sense that our great difference may lie in the following matter of principle.
Mankinds great challenge is not with the nature of civilization, it is with the very existence of civilization.
It is for that reason I seek to concern myself not with matters of reform but with the consequences of that with which we don't control. I am conservative because I doubt that we can control what we learn and direct in society in revolutionary ways. But more importantly our economics and wars reflect exactly what mankind actually does, all intentions aside. To talk about reform and making humanity better without any consideration of war and deprivation as the means to that end is naive and shortsighted. My humanist friends don't seem to recognize that they are the scions of victory in war and business, and they are deluded by the promise of improving that which has been achieved by war through peaceful means.
Which puts us on the doorstep of the Large Professor, who is a cherub of deliberate delight. But I'll talk more about those guys next time.
Jerry Brown is serious. Meg Whitman is full of rhetoric. Neither of them deserve my vote and neither will get it. I listened to about 20 minutes of this so-called debate on the radio on my drive home. When I got home, I found my 13 year old daughter transcribing the rhetoric using a pencil, paper and DVR. She says they're both childish, blaming each other for the problems of the state.
The only interesting moment of the entire farce was Brown qualifying quite precisely what the limits are to the Governor's power in speeding up capital punishment. The answer, throw better lawyers at it. And he was right of course. The other interesting moment might have come if I had the stomach to wait for it, but it was implied in much of what Whitman was saying in her nominal comparisons between California and Texas. Texas has no state income tax and they're not broke. California does have state income tax and we're broke.
Whitman flubbed her question about her experience negotiating with labor unions. She said she'd negotiate, and then she said she'd punt to the initiative process. There was supposed to be a third leg to that stool but she started blustering. It's all rather fraudulent, I think, and perfectly astonishing how someone supposedly as intelligent as she is is reduced to the exact same caricature of a blowhard candidate.
She's weak, and she's going to get stomped. It's astonishing that she actually clicked the wayback machine and brought Rose Bird into this campaign. And then she had the temerity to suggest that the $800 fee for an LLC being waived would spur economic growth.
Where's Duncan Hunter?
Scholar, aka F15, aka Coco Loco, my oldest daughter is once again contributing to the arts. This time around she's in the Belasco production of Grease. If you happen to be anywhere in Southern California between now and the 11th of July, you could do far worse than spend a couple hours in Hermosa Beach enjoying this musical. I guarantee that you will be impressed by what these young people can do.
Opening night jitters have now been dispensed with and the company is confident. They had a celebratory dinner last night at CPK and Loco is very excited about how things are going. I've seen these kids do The Wiz and Fiddler on the Roof, and they're very good. Check them out. All you need to know is right here.
They say that if you can't say anything good about somebody, you shouldn't say anything at all. This may be a short entry.
Yet I don't have any words to malign Daryl Gates. He stood in opposition to a lot of his peers who came down on him hard in the wake of his oversight of the police beating heard around the world. Rodney King and Daryl Gates are a pair whose lives are intertwined in the public consciousness - a consciousness which has slept for quite a while. After Gates came Williams. After Williams came Parks after Parks came Bratton. There's a new guy in charge today since Bratton left, and I don't even know his name.
But Gates' LAPD is the LAPD of the Batterram, of SWAT, of DARE, of CRASH. Before Gates modernized and started recruiting from all around the country, including for God knows what reason, Alabama. The LAPD lived under Ed Davis. Davis was easy to hate. Davis could easily substitute in my mind for any irrational defender of Dixie, but then again I was a kid. Gates was rational. Gates was disciplined. Gates was a hardnose and Gates had black cops. Not a huge amount, and famously, many of them were meter maids under a new recruitment program. But no matter what the weather, Gates had a program.
Sometime his program didn't work. Sometimes it worked to a scary degree. The LAPD as everyone knows it, paramilitary was created by Gates. He got the hardware out there, including most notoriously, the Batterram. But for me it was Blue Thunder that most characterized the sort of feelings I got most viscerally.
Almost every weekend, where I grew up in 90016, it seemed like there would be some kind of robbery and police action on Saturday night. Ice Cube wrote a rap song called Ghetto Bird that described the situation. Gates ran the helicopters with their powerful spotlights out to crime scenes like there was no tomorrow. Being under the huge kleiglights of the modern helos gave one the kind of Big Brother feeling that had no equal. You were the target. The helicopters were loud and they flew low. They rattled windows and woke children from sleep. When they flashed on your house you knew that a foot pursuit was in progress. The public transit bus had a number on its roof. Your neighborhood was a sector on a grid for air surveillance.
We used to pretend to have guns in those Bruce Lee days. We would aim and shoot with broomsticks at the police helicopters flying over us in the daytime. They would circle, looking for somebody. We could see them looking at us. Yeah. We hated the pigs. They wouldn't let us ride our minibikes on the street. They took our nunchucks and threatened us with juvy.
If you can unseal my juvenile record, you'd find that. I was told by my parents in no uncertain terms not to ask the judge why Pep Boys could sell minibikes if they were illegal to ride on the street. They were obviously too fast to ride on the sidewalk. Who did they think we were, suicidal? So I shut up and was forgiven.
Gates had his own adjective. It was 'embattled'. It seemed like there was nothing he could do without raising the ire of my fraction of the public. He initiated the chokehold in response to his claim that suspects on PCP were immune to pain. Somebody died, or at least that's what I remember. Some wrongful death suits went on for years in our political memory. Gates gave no quarter to gangbangers. Whole neighborhoods became unsafe for civilians due to the battles between Gates' cops and those perceived to be gang members and affiliates. He initiated sweeps where your hangout became no-man's land, sweeps with arrest percentages in the 2s and 3s. You'd get in the system simply for being there, detained and let go - like human fly fishing. It earned him no sympathy, no friends and no cooperation. Everything Gates did was by the book, with no room for warm and fluffy. LA had no beat cops, no friendly cops, because there was no way on earth he could hire enough for them to leave their squad cars.
Every criticism of Gates ultimately came down to that controversial and unavoidable calculation. LA taxpayers would never spend enough on hiring officers such that the ratio of cops to people would be comparable to other big cities in the East and Midwest. We joke about donuts, but there were no fat cops in LA. They were soldiers in patrol cars, and they didn't get out of those cars in 'hostile territory' for no good reason. There was never a friendly Irish 'top o' the marnin t ye laddie'. It was 'put your hands where I can see them, sir'. Sir with a sneer.
I've often told folks that I had been detained something on the order of 27 times between the time I was 15 and 30 in LA. I was cited 3 or 4 of those times. I came to know the excuses by rote. Well I'm running a check on you because there's a Michael Bowen who just escaped from jail in Chino. Gee officer, this is the third time. Then the look that says, OK you know the drill don't you wiseguy. They hold up their maglites and check out my forearms for jailhouse tattoos, and let me drive away with a warning.
Back in my post-buppie politically radical days, I would sit in my beater in Beverly Hills parked on a side street and wait to see how long it would take some cop to tell me that I was in the wrong neighborhood and should go home. I do those kind of things, you know. I don't take anybody's word for it. I recognized the difference between the LAPD and the Beverly Hills cops, and the Sheriff's Deputies and California Highway Patrol as well. The LAPD was on a mission. The BHPD was legendarily polite. The CHP actually cared about your safety. The Sheriff's deputies were not to be trifled with, but encounters were rare. None of them were the cowboys of the notorious Hawthorne PD. Whatever could be said about Gates, he tolerated no rogues.
Hawthorne, back when I was growing up, was from my perspective, a 'white trash border zone'. Between the 'hood where I grew up and quiet upscale beach cities where I live now were two towns where our very own rednecks lived, Hawthorne and Lawndale. If I remember correctly, Torrance, immediately south of Hawthorne was one of the last places where racially restrictive covenants were defeated during the Civil Rights Movement here on the West Coast. It might have been Hawthorne, but who wants to live in Hawthorne? Lawndale is still living down its reputation. Hawthorne has since been overrun by blacks and latinos of all sorts. Legendarily Don Jackson, a black officer in the Hawthorne PD who has since changed his name to Diop Kamau organized stings once he was run off the force. This crusader has since dropped racial revenge from his agenda and serves the public trust in what I consider to be more honorable manner. But everybody has got to get through their rage. Jackson had plenty good reasons.
After Rodney King, I chased down reality with the same vigor as I loitered in Beverly Hills. I found cops doing their jobs. Good, important jobs. Long before Gates stepped down and Williams took over, I paid more attention to the politics of policing and I recognized the distance between public opinion and police policy - I recognized how race blurred the picture and ultimately served to make the police a proxy between people who didn't know each other, but trusted in stereotypes to hate each other. Gates didn't care about being the politician who could smooth things out, and so there was never any such thing as community policing under his rule. That is something that had to evolve and could only do so after Gates was out on his ear.
Daryl Gates is dead and has been politically dead for a long time, to the benefit of LA politics. I missed the Riots and what Reardon did to fix things. But today I see a much less tense Los Angeles over his dead body.
Every once in a while, I am invited or encouraged to to join an organization aimed at improving the lives of young black men. I am mostly flattered by the invitation, but I almost never join. So I'll take a moment to talk about this and related matters.
I asked some folks, when Cobb was interactive, how many men they would trust with the keys to their house, without a second thought. That's the benchmark. Why? Because it really doesn't matter what happens to 'black men'. You can get up on a podium and proclaim that you are sensitive to the pain of the world, but you ain't Jesus, so what are you trying to say? What really matters is what happens to you, your family, your friends, your people. And that all depends on your ability to handle your business. Unfortunately there's a lot of marketing and not a lot of product that goes under the heading of 'organizing to help'. When we look back at black American history, what stands out are the towering individuals, but those institutions that survive are mostly conventional. A church, a college.
I say to young black men that you must come to understand the difference between weak links and strong love. And my experience tells me that many black organizations end up as weak links and not as strong love, the exception being black fraternities and sororities. In my opinion that's because fraternities are organized only secondarily about abstract uplifting principles, but primarily around relationships. Organization racial uplift fails because such organizations don't scale and they are too abstract to be practical.
There's a couple of caveats before anyone takes it that I am badmouthing black organizations wholesale. The first is that I come from Los Angeles, a big city where people with big mouths try to make big organizations. I haven't seen it work much better than a good church, and well that's already done. In a smaller city, I think there might be a more pressing need and a greater commitment to make strong love out of weak links.
Secondly, the objective progress of black Americans means that on average the organizational ability latent on the black communities is greater than it was when I was a young black man. So the chances of an honest effort ending up okeydoke is smaller today than it was 20, 30 years ago.
All that said, the biggest skeptical brick I have to throw is this. If you are middle class, the chances that you are going to lift poor people into the middle class are slim. Especially in times like this when times are hard and messianic politicians are taxing you back down into the ditch. If you're rich, the chances are better. What I'm saying is that if you've got a 50k job, it's likely that the time you spend trying to get somebody with a 20k job into a 35k job might often come at the expense of you getting a 75k job. So volunteer your time very carefully, because it's the man with the 150k job who has the time to recognize the ways and means of the rich that paves the greater path. And if you don't believe that, then why aren't you moving to Cuba, comrade? But then again, that's just all about money.
What I do believe we all should be involved in no matter what our background is the principle and practice of advanced civility. What America lacks is a firm sense of practical decorum. The proper way of doing things is in doubt. We haven't completely forgotten our manners, but we've seen them beat down so many times that we think they don't matter any more. And it has practically destroyed our ability to communicate trust and strong love in public. Everybody is putting on a game face. Everybody is self-promoting. The people this hurts the most are those who have not experienced the ways and means of power, because they see the game but they can't tell where the game ends and the realness begins. I think that especially counts for young black men who are not in close proximity to the ways and means of social power in the mainstream. When the mainstream carries power over you and your boss is gaming rather than authentically civil, then you will instinctively reject. You'd be right, but you sacrifice your own promotion. People who come up like that carry the dual consciousness, it destroys confidence in self and society.
Gaming generates many weak links, fans, groupies, hangers on. It doesn't lead to trust.
The author of choice in the ways and means of decorum and civility is Stephen L. Carter. Read him and then read him again. First read his Confessions of an Affirmative Action Baby. I avoided it because I thought I knew exactly what he was going to say. I stereotyped him. It turned out to be a much deeper book than I expected. So then when I read his books Integrity and Civility, I wasn't surprised that they would be so excellent.
Carter is not a man you hear about every day. But he's been out there for years teaching law at Yale. Not many of us are going to get a chance to hang out at Yale University and speak with the man. It is an organization, perhaps of weak links or of strong love, that the overwhelming majority of people will never experience. But we do have the mind of Carter on paper and his lessons to learn. And if you're reading me, you know that reading can be a valuable connection.
So my advice to everyone is the same. Read Carter and know that civil people with integrity are out there, dispersed and often unavailable, trying to express something better than a game face and working with integrity to earn the trust they deserve. That's the civilized world I'm living in, person to person in America, because I don't have time for anything else.
I'm not the most diligent reporter in the world, but I went searching for black local news and from what I can tell, ain't no more. From this point forward, when it comes to large enough news, if it ain't mainstream, it ain't happening.
Local Radio + Local Blogging
I think they are calling it the Inglewood/Hawthorne or the Lennox Quake. It happened last night about 8:45 while we were watching America's Funniest Videos. I could hear and feel it coming and was on my feet in a half second after it was clear that some real shaking was going on. I grabbed my daughter and my wife and pulled them towards the back door after something crashed off of a shelf.
I had to do some quick calculations and guess which way glass might be flying if we were outside rather than inside as I paused in the doorframe. But even as I could hear car alarms going off and see powerlines swaying, I sensed that it was just about over. So I didn't worry about glass. Everybody was fine although my daughter was still cowering a bit. Five seconds after the first aftershock I headed to the computer and began recon.
Flap was the first one to Twitter. He must have been sitting at the terminal when it happened. I first tried for CalTech but could only get to the front page of their website. Slashdotted. Twitter was alive so I sent several messages. My youngest daughter was en route from her best friend's house. She had just sent me an SMS two minutes before the quake asking about who was the artist who recorded 'Man in the Box'. Sent back 'Alice in Chains' and then 'OK?' almost back to back. Her SMS didn't get back to me until she was already home. 'Did you feel the earthquake'.
I didn't even bother trying to use the phone for voice. I figured everything was tied up and so as I sent my fifth tweet, there were voices in the house confirming that suspicion. Facebook seemed to be alive - several message were coming through, Twitter style, from local friends. My brother Doc finally got a text message through. I tried to send a reply but it wouldn't go. There was nothing at Google News yet, but the TV news guys were breaking a story.
LAX area they said. It felt to me like a 5.5 but it was very short. So 5 sounded reasonable. I got to the USGS and filled out a questionnaire for their records. Their site said 5.0. Next I decided to check my XBox Live buddies. One out in Fontana felt it and kept right on playing Guitar Hero. FB friends from San Diego chimed in. Lots of people who never felt one spoke up. This one was really very short which was surprising given the joltiness of the big jolt. It wasn't a surprising earthquake, there was a good number of seconds of twitching before the big shake slammed home, but then it was over. Still, I figured aftershocks would be coming. I felt two.
Some of our paintings were all crooked. I never figured out what fell down off which shelf. But everything was pretty much back to normal within half an hour. And that's the way it was.
Don't tell people what you're going to do. It just gives them an excuse to second-guess you. Shutup until you're done, then tell people what you did.
-- D. Bowen
Doc and Pops treated me to lunch yesterday. It was all Doc really. He's not angry, he's a happy man but you have to listen a long time until you know that. He's deep in the middle of a struggle, the dimensions of which seem to be beyond him and all of us. But that's how he lives. He's the manly man - the one that rushes into the middle of the conflict. He enjoys donning the armor and putting on a heightened sense of awareness so that he's always prepared. He said that we don't understand, that he's made of cork and nothing can sink him, but you can tell that he's surrounded on all sides by deep, dark, cold water. That is the life of one LAPD officer.
The context of the quote comes from Middle America, the America of South Dakota, the one that doesn't exist here. He said that he told people that he was going to buy property in South Dakota, something that is supposed to be a crazy endeavor for a black man, in certain minds. But he got there explaining the dimensions of fear.
He put himself in the shoes of fear. He was walking near his home in downtown LA and a white woman was coming up the street towards him at night. He described himself in silks, carrying groceries - but he knew what was coming. Her jaws were clenched, she was scared to death. What could he say to put her at ease? A second scenario. The Asian woman alone in the elevator with the black man. Scared to death, but he's a cop. She's actually safer around him than anyone else. People in Los Angeles are living with Black Pathology Television in their heads, and that's all they know. It's not America.
Switch gears. What is the black man's greatest fear? He has run out of gas out in the boondocks and is lost. He has to get service at the lone gas station run by Bubba. Out front is Bubba's red pickup truck with the gun rack and inside is Bubba wearing a plaid hunting jacket. What can Bubba say to put him at ease? Doc runs down the specs on the pickup truck - he finds where Bubba's love is and the bond is made in 20 seconds. A second scenario, reality. He's driving from Yankton to Wakonda South Dakota. He talks to the man who tells him a shortcut. Wow, thanks. Takes 15 miles off the trip but you have to go through some cornfields.
One hour later it's dark and he is at the corner of Corn and Stalk. The sky is clear and the land is flat. The stars are out and they come all the way to the horizon - not that he can see it because he's in 8 foot corn as far as the eye can see. He stops the car and puts on the blinkers. He's lost in South Central South Dakota in the dead of winter and it's mind-numbingly cold. The car pulls up slowly. A woman gets out, white woman and she asks what she can do to help. "I'm lost and I'm trying to get to Wakonda". Wakonda is a five block square of houses in the middle of 1000 square miles of farmland.
She says "Follow me".
That's where America is, Doc says. Not here in the Los Angeles where officers of the law are not permitted to look at anyone's breasts lest they get written up administratively. Here, everyone is afraid of men who have to be men. It's enough to defeat the courageous. So he's out to rescue liberty and wondering where everybody's honesty has gone.
Doc has got a fantasy. It's about living where the living is honest and good. Right now he's got some small parts of middle America but in the future it's in Western Australia. Out there where people don't step on each other's feet you understand that you have to look out for your neighbor. Western Australia is like Africa without the Africans. There are no tribal conflicts, no wars. Millions of acres of unpolluted wilderness and gorgeous shorelines in a constitutional republic with liberty. Western Australia is like what America used to be before it got too crowded and hated - where people had to work to make life work rather than spend all their time trying to vote themselves into existence and politick themselves into the receiving end of demographically proportionate patronage.
I don't know much about Kenny Chesney. That's something both Doc and Pops share that I know very little about, but I do know the effect he has on people that love and respect his music. It was on the list of basics that you need for a life of liberty in Western Australia, including the four-wheel drive, the Brazilian wife, the cargo pants, Tommy Bahama sandals, and a year's supply of Chimay Ale. Silly me, I kept wondering if he was going to say broadband access. But I couldn't disagree. I mentioned Bora Bora, but he said no. Not enough land, you'd get cabin fever. You need to see out to the horizon full of land and know that the land is free.
Pops still sends all the emails about Obama in 48 point caps. Sometimes he sends them in different colors. On the way to the spot yesterday I saw a poster from the Californian Medical Marijuana League inviting people to Celebrate Change at some rally. At the bottom of the poster was the notice that smoking of medical marijuana was not allowed at the rally. Funny we were just talking about that. Funny they had to mention it. Funny I can't remember when so many people made such a big deal about going to any Inauguration. But Pops doesn't care really about winning any political battles - really, not any battles at all. All he wants is to spend enough time with his 10 grandchildren to enjoy the fact that they're not engaged either. So that's why there is no method to his madness. He's just being, as the kids say, 'random'. Well he does know how to pick a good ale.
I'm watching romantic comedies because people knew, back in the days of Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, and before, what their roles were. They knew how to be men and women and not issue administrative citations for improper breast observation. Masculinity and femininity have lost their moorings because the Boomers felt obligated to reject EVERYTHING and celebrate that as freedom. But now all of the descendants who watch television and movies don't know how to deal with each other's passions, and the land doesn't require them to meet people on the road and be something more than 'a young hispanic female', or however the description comes across the network. Because when Americans react to each other in the modern terms, it's based on demographically assigned fears. Walking on downtown streets and riding in elevators and shouting out of cars in traffic doesn't require people to be Americans, and so America is lost here in Los Angeles, which very few people identify as land that goes out to the horizon where the people are free.
So the votes are in and the symbol is in place but life doesn't change. It's no surprise that people of a sort would vote for the man who talks the right game, but the talking is not going to change. The clenched jaws of fear are unable to open and ask "How can I help", not here in the urban jungle. That counts for the Los Angeles with the Latino mayor and for the America with the African president. It's not the adjectives that count, but the verbs.
Living in fear vs living in freedom is always a matter of reaching out to touch in truth with passion. I sometimes wonder if we do that enough, and today when its 20 below in South Dakota and sunny and bright here in the Southland, I think the difference has to do with the demands of the land. Out here we wear sunglasses and only smile if we've had our dental perfection done.
The last time I shed a real tear, as in cried, it was when I realized that I had allowed the application deadline for freshman year at Loyola High School to pass for my son. 'Nuff said on that. Since then, I have gotten used to the idea that Boy will accomplish what he needs outside of that well-wrapped universe, but every once in a while it stabs me like a splinter in my mind.
Whenever that stabbing pain arrives, I console myself primarily with the knowledge that he will be in a better position socially than I was, and that as a Loyola alum myself, I am quite capable of transferring those lessons I got. But then again, he won't live it.
Be all that as it may, I am coming back around into the old high school family slowly but surely. It has gravity. Last night I attended the opener against Mira Costa High one town over from me in Manhattan Beach. It was the second high school football game I've attended in as many nights (Boy's frosh team stomped North Torrance High something like 45 - 7 on Thursday - he got one unassisted tackle.) and also the second in about three decades. I can tell you that it's truly weird not to be able to see the replay or hear the commentary, but extra cool to be one of the few with binocs and see the fumble before the crowd does. Still, I have to bone up on my football observation skills.
What struck me most about this whole deal is that the spirit of the Loyola fan base is monstrous. I can't say that I know what to compare it to, but it was truly pretty awesome to see first hand. I never hated football, but I've always disliked the whole 'fan' thing. I'm not a very good booster. I like to play, I like to make a difference personally. But last night I put on the hat and sat in the bleachers and shared the binocs and met a whole lot of people I hardly expected to meet. It got to the point when I was asking strangers if perhaps I knew them. Marlon and Darryl, I knew and I rather expected to be there, pillars of the Family as they are. But seeing Michael and Kirk and Ty and Frank was pleasantly unexpected.
The game itself was jerky. It had no offensive continuity. As Coach Porterfield said, it looked like a bad soccer match, nothing happened until one team made a mistake. We counted at least five illegal procedure calls. There were about 4 sacks, several fumbles and interceptions. A pass interference and a technical foul within a couple plays of a punt return had everybody scratching their heads. And if that announcer says 'Boom Shacka Lacka or 'punting situation' one more time, I was going to scream. I don't know how bad high school football kicking games are supposed to be, but some of this was straight Keystone Kops. Nevertheless, there were some breakout plays especially by a kid named Jones, I think #84 and especially Loyola's #2, an unstoppable hole-splitting running back who seemed to break tackles just for the fun of it.
Most impressive to me was the energy of the place. It was standing room only from the opening kickoff until pass the closing 'boom shacka lacka'. I couldn't catch the chants that the Loyola student section was doing with their tomahawk motions, but that block of them about 20 wide and 8 rows deep was pretty awesome.
I think I could make this into a habit, that is, when Redondo Union is away. Go Seahawks! Go Cubs!
I couldn't predict, but I would make a fair guess that something of import is going to come from the collected efforts of this group. Things are just getting started, and the lead dogs have a great deal of enthusiasm. We'll see.
Me, I'm just really glad to get in personal touch with folks I've always gave the benefit of every doubt. I tend to think more about myself as measured by them as anything else in that way we always feel about our hometown.
Among others who showed up (a lot more than I expected) were Jackson, Butler, Pugh, Shields, McKinley, Gabriel, Davis, Martin, Shepherd, Harvey, Houze, Meredith, Thompson, Walker, Sanford, Vicknair, Stewart and Baptiste. I wish I had more time to talk about the present with folks I didn't know very well but I had other commitments that day.
State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas dropped by to say a few words as well. A key group to be sure. Go Cubs!
Here is the correct piece of news from the LA Times. The link in that blockquote of Patterico's did not contain the proper information bolstering the arguments I have made on behalf of the police, citizens and businessmen who have to deal with the crime of the dumping zone called Skid Row.
This was a compromise that hasn't resolved the problem. It remains. Here is another article that illustrates varying approaches to solutions. Joseph Mailander proposed New Yurt City. I like the idea and furthermore I would extend it as a kind of microlending solution. In other words, I would grant a sort of partnership / ownership of a yurt. Let's say that the city owns 51 percent of each yurt and that the city or county also subsidizes a grant for the person 'buying' in. As they get on their feet and have a job, they move out of the yurt and sell it to the next occupant.
We should keep in mind that this is exactly how Brazil has creatively dealt with favelas, or that seems to be the message among some of the blue sky and semi-radical testimony of Robert Neuwirth. It makes sense to me that some sort of financial incentive be given to users of the yurts and that it is made to benefit the city that these turn over - that people don't squat in yurts permanently, but that some provision be made that they are accommodating to people who might take 3-6 months to be restored to normalcy.
From today's LAT, emphasis mine:
Hoping to find a successor to popular Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and end the decadelong shellacking that most other Republicans have suffered when running for statewide office, a group of GOP leaders and well-heeled donors Wednesday announced plans to stock a "farm team" of candidates they hope will put their party back in power.
The organization includes former Gov. Pete Wilson and a crew of moderate Republican donors from Orange County.
Although they insist that potential candidates will be judged by their quality and electability -- not their ideology -- some conservatives are already critcizing the move as an attempt to undermine their leadership in the party.
California Republicans Aligned for Tomorrow will work with the California Republican Party to find candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and state office seats starting in 2010, when Schwarzenegger terms out of office.
Among the potential gubernatorial candidates courted by the group is former EBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman, the 51-year-old billionaire who is now campaigning for Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain and once served as a fundraiser for his rival, Mitt Romney, according to one source.
It gets better.
Hudson noted that a number of the Republican group's board members also belong to the New Majority, which was founded primarily by Orange County executives who for years have tried to nudge the party away from social conservatives and their emphasis on issues such as abortion and gun rights.
Also, many members of the new group have close ties to Schwarzenegger...
That's what I'm talking about.
City Councilman Dennis Zine has read us right. That's responsive and responsible politics. The LA Times actually fairly accurately reports:
"If an officer stops an individual . . . who is determined to be a gang member, and it's determined they are also illegally here, then the department should notify immigration," Zine said. "It directs the resources against the gangs. Immigration needs to use its resources to go after gangs."
Zine's proposal would not overturn Special Order 40, which states that "officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person." But Zine's amendment would be more specific as to how officers can inquire into the immigration status of suspected gang members.
LAPD Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz said such actions were not directly prohibited by Special Order 40. Some officers already check the immigration status of gang members they detain -- but others don't because they believe it's not permitted under department rules.
Diaz said the new rules would spell out how officers deal with such cases.
"Special Order 40 prohibits only two things. It prohibits our officers from arresting individuals for illegally entering the country, which is a federal misdemeanor," Diaz said. "It also does not allow our officers to initiate an investigation solely for the purpose of discovering a person's immigration status."
I was on the radio with Deputy Chief Diaz, and he admitted that jurisdiction and rules can be complex. This clarification is an excellent first step that makes the PD more proactive. It gets more bad guys off the street quicker - a one-two punch.
I still suspect that there's a bottleneck somewhere in the judicial and penal end of this train of criminal custody. That gangbanger can be detained and arrested, but if ICE throws up their hands, as Villaragosa rather flippantly asserted last week, then there can still be suspects floating through the cracks and illegals sent back to American streets. What is not clear is the efficiency with which such persons, identified as in the country illegally are actually deported. I don't think that the reform's most critical feature is in aggressive policing, but in fast-tracking those known Mexican national convicts back to Mexico.
I am glad to see Deputy Chief Diaz do his part in this and I hope and expect that people who are specifically concerned about a chilling effect on other illegal immigrants cooperation with police recognize that the distinction between those who might be on an eventual path towards naturalization and gangbangers is a sound and reasonable distinction. Nobody should live in fear of gangs in America. You can be a good neighbor even if you are not a citizen.
Support your local police.
I just listened to the show, I think it went very well and gave a fair hearing to what is actually a bit more complicated than was let on. I think I did a pretty decent job.
What was not mentioned in the show was the extent to which there's a great deal of jurisdictional overlap and borders. I could not determine, for example, whose responsibility it is to make the call on whether a Mexican national convict is actually deported or released to the streets of LA. The deputy chief made it clear that LAPD marks the forms that notifies ICE, but not what percentage of those violent or gang criminals are actually deported. Clearly it's not the LAPD's responsibility.
So I'm sure lots of people can say that they're doing their part to share databases and have information, but whose head rolls today? Who should be voted out of office?
Ms Salas said that the LAPD should spend its time apprehending dangerous criminals instead of being advance men for the Migra. I agree. In fact, the thousands of Mexican nationals in California jails and prisons attest to the efficiency of the system in doing part of its job. But if these ex-cons are released back into the California population and then can hide under the cover of the political protections of 'latinos' when in fact they are Mexican nationals, then something is wrong. And I don't think that latinos should be on the hook for being part of that 'community'.
I think it's rather astounding, in retrospect, that the Chief and his deputy are bringing up the matter of arresting jurisdictions. The LAPD in the end can no better hide behind the border of Culver City than Jamiel Shaw could hide behind the US border. And the City Council is not going to be able to hide behind its jurisdictional borders either. All the borders are porous and the political effects of this are going to spill over in all different directions. I'm sure we would want it to be neat and compartmentalized, but it's not.
In the meantime, I'm still looking for a hero, but I don't see a lot of guts out there.
Jamiel's Law is a spirit that I think is going to go to the next level. It's not going to end with LAPD policy reform. I know a lot depends upon the willingness of the family to step beyond being a symbol. Who knows the chances of that. It's the worst way of all to become famous. But this is another chapter in the long history of failed immigration policy, a bloody and tragic chapter. The problem will not go away, neither will I.
Here's a law and order issue that deserves a good deal of attention. It's very hot on local radio.
Jamiel Shaw was gunned down by an illegal alien gang member who had just gotten out of jail. Jamiel was not in a gang. If Special Order 40 didn’t stand in the way, the illegal would have been deported, and Jamiel would be alive. It’s as simple as that. We say that Mayor Villar, Chief Bratton and the City Council have blood on their hands! Call City Hall and tell them to support Jamiel’s Law. Jamiel’s family needs your help.
Here's the story:
Stanford University called about Jamiel Shaw a week or so ago, intrigued by the slight but speedy running back for Los Angeles High School, the Southern League's most valuable player last year. Rutgers University called a few days later.
The Shaw family already had reason to be proud. Jamiel's mother, Army Sgt. Anita Shaw, was on her second tour of duty in Iraq.
On Sunday night, it was Jamiel's father on the phone and then his son's girlfriend, Chrystale Miles. Jamiel Sr. called to tell him to hurry home from the mall. The 17-year-old boy was three doors away when someone shot him to death while he was still talking on his cellphone to Chrystale, friends say.
Jamiel Sr. heard the shots almost as soon as he hung up. He ran out of the house, raced around the corner and found his son lying on the sidewalk, bleeding.
The Shaw family is pissed, and they are on the verge of becoming the new face of anti-illegal immigration in California if not the nation. Their son Jamiel was an all-star and a very popular kid. This will not be swept under the rug.
Already, Chief Bratton is being accused of being a lapdog to the Mayor Villaraigosa who already has very bitter enemies over matters of illegal immigration. Nobody forgets how the Mexican flag was waved onstage at his inauguration, and how he has consistently pretended that Mexican gangs are not a real problem in Los Angeles. The recent spate of drive-by murders, killings of blacks by latinos have forced the Chief to say publicly that they are not racially motivated - meaning 'cool it baby'. And now he's waffling on that, semi-off-the-record. The black backlash has the potential to be ferocious, and as I said, local Right Radio is all over this. Talk about chickens coming home to roost.
I have a gut feeling that this story is about to go large and that the City Council is going to have a lot of explaining to do. I expect Ted Hayes to raise the roof. Patterico is on top of the story and the Deport Illegal Alien Criminals First, an idea I support wholeheartedly should gain some headway as well. I'm going to stick this one onto the Kwaku Network, but it's already on YouTube.
USC Credit Union
Foundation for Jamiel Shaw II
1025 W. 34th Street
King Hall, 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Right around the corner from my office in West LA is a new jumbotron billboard. This is the new outdoor advertising. It's very impressive to see. The guys with the crane were out here last week and they put this together in just a couple days. On the current rotation are three movie ads. There are two for Sweeney Todd, and this one for a movie called 'Cloverfield'. (Is that the JJ Abrams thing? Yes.) I noticed the crout of suits staring up at the billboard today at lunch. I figure they're from CBS Outdoor or one of the movies or ad agencies involved. This is a marquee sign in a really great location. Next to Sunset Blvd, I can't think of many better places for a movie billboard.
Today I had lunch at the world's most luxurious food court, the one in Century City at the Westfield. The place was lousy with Hollywood types, as usual. Today there was an additional heaping helping of writers. You could tell because they had on one of four sorts of T shirts that let you know.
"My movie was on You Tube and all I got was this lousy T-shirt".
With humor like that, one wants to sympathize with the studios and producers. In fact, all during lunch as i was eyeballing the crowd, I kept coming up with better slogans. For example, a picket sign with no writing. Or at least one with the small print "This picket sign left intentionally blank". I couldn't help but notice that writers were enjoying lunches at the most luxurious food court in the world. I sat near the wireless powered speakers that were carrying the tunes strummed by the strolling acoustic troubadour. I asked, and he obliged my request for "Hotel California".
As the troubadour played, I wondered about the mentality which would ask for a cut of his tip cup. After all, Hotel California is surely a copywritten song. And I'm sure that somewhere there are entertainment intellectual property lawyers out there who know exactly which clause in the law which allows street musicians to ply their trade of playing and singing popular songs without being forced to fork over a percentage.
Gerard reminds us that most writers, especially in the news business, write to be read, not studied. Hmm. what about bloggers? I know in fact that most of the time, well anytime I write under the category of Critical Theory, I write to be studied. Since I am a syndicated blogger and I do NPR I catch a little money on the side. Something like 170 bucks a month, in a good month. I hardly think that qualifies me as a professional. But I think I'm a good writer nonetheless, and I count myself fortunate that I don't have to work for the kind of asshats that would make me feel as though I needed the benefit of collective bargaining. I don't know, there's something about the very idea of a writer's union that sounds oxymoronic - it is bound to the assembly line of entertainment product. That's all we've heard in the news this week, how this disruption of labor is effecting the economy of Los Angeles. Nothing could be more un-writerlike from my perspective. I suppose that's because of my intellectual bias. I think of a writer first and foremost as an intellectual, a facilitator of an environment for the critical exchange of ideas central to ... yeah well that's my conceit.
In reality, the writer's strike is going to put more people out on the street at night. I mean with nothing good to watch on the tube, people are going to have to face their misery without relief. Good news for bars, taxis and eventually divorce lawyers. Just imagine the ripple effects. That's what they want you to do.
In the end, however, I fall into the same camp as Bill Handel, who explained the deal this morning on the radio. Writers get, from the sale of every DVD, approximately 4 cents. The studios get about 3 bucks. The writers want 8 cents, which is still less than what the guys get who make the box. I think that's reasonable, under the circumstances.
Not very long ago, the Spousal Unit and I were figuring out how to make sense of California real-estate for us. We have openly speculated about moving to North Carolina and to San Diego. Before I landed this gig headquartered in LA, we were potential short-timers to LA County. Although it hasn't gotten much easier to plot our way through the shoulder crushing expenses we are aiming to bear, we are counting our blessings today for not having moved to San Diego.
All of our friends down that way are doing fine at this moment, one was directly in the path of the conflagration and then the winds shifted. The areas we planned to consider most seriously, Poway and Rancho Bernardo are today under constant threat as are thousands of families.
Like earthquakes, Southern California suffers greatly from wildfires. We call it Red Flag Season, and it also seems to bring out the arsonists as well. We managed to escape fairly well last year, but I've been up close to the scene of tragedy and it's damned scary. Just a few weeks ago, we dealt with a fire on the way to Big Bear. Growing up in Southern Cal is growing up with wildfires in memory.
Last night on the way home from a late evening at work, I stopped at Dockweiller State Beach just north of LAX. I could see the orange flames across the Santa Monica Bay northeast in Malibu stand out in the night sky. Just 200 yards below, folks sat around bonfires at the beach. I have a mustard cardigan that was ruined from bonfire smoke at Dockweiller but the smell is a familiar one. The crisp of manzanita and pine flakes in the air. We don't have limbago in our joints that tell us that storms are coming, in Los Angeles we sniff the air and check the coatings on our cars. Today is our hell time.
There's talk about raising taxes on the Malibu types who suck up fire resources on the regular. Mike Davis is likely waxing elegaic about the cosmic justice we are suffering today. I don't really go for the politics of tragedy, although I must admit that I get a good dose of schadenfruede when Californians lose million dollar homes to the fickle finger of nature's fate. Way back when, I used to wonder, as prompted by Davis, why the homes in Orange County should have such high values. Most of the OC is on sandy ground which is subject to liquifaction during earthquakes whereas much of South Central LA ground is bedrock. Location location location my black ass. But that was then. Now I'm gearing myself to be a proper grandfather and wise man, when every man's death diminishes me. So I don't wish ill for anyone nor retribution against the few. I merely hope we all try not to forget where we live and what we face.
I took the family downtown for an afternoon at the Music Center. There we enjoyed three dance pieces by the Mark Morris Dance Group. There were three interpretations of Mozart piano concertoes and we most thoroughly enjoyed the second piece, Double.
The odd thing about dance is that, well for me, there's not much vocabulary I have to describe it. For me it's all about enjoying the poise and the positions. I will pick out a dancer among the troupe and observe their hair, build and movement then try to understand what the choreographer sees in him or her. Then I reinterpret what I see from that assumed perpsective.
MMDG is largely uniform, but there are four breakout dancers. The first, most obviously was the soloist in the first piece, Eleven. She is petite with a short curly blonde cut and falls into her moves transparently. There is absolutely no effect or cant with her, she simply moves. The second is the darkest man, who is bald and medium thick build. He played the 'prince' in Double. His motions are consistently bold and regal. The third is a man who is visibly more graceful than any of the dancers. His arms are simply perfect and something changes when he is on stage, even and especially in the minimalist settings. The final man is the tall one with the pony tail. Something about him I liked - I can't put my finger on it.
All of these acts, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion took place on a black stage with a Franz Klein-esque swishes on a large white backdrop which was alternately lit in deep green or organge depending on the mood. Mostly the brushstrokes were left on the white. The dancers were dressed in simple togs, rather like what I imagine Greek peasants would wear, close and simple off whites but not too clingy and mostly sleeveless. All were barefoot and oftimes their movements would be accentuated by the squeak of their feet on the matte floor.
There were very signature moves in this set, most notably plain walking, brisk running and the most graceful kind of falling down one might imagine. I tended to recall Morris as the gropey troupe, but they showed none of that orgiastic slithering in the Mozart performance. Rather it was a well balanced set of motions one would expect for allegro-speed concertos. Classic but not too leapy at all, and not too much with the strange feet. Rather a set of unique arm motions done smoothly reminiscent of angular trees, budding flowers and falling leaves.
In our favorite, Double, the dark man wearing a black outfit which reminded me of a minimalist samurai robe began solo. Then the thinner men wearing off white vests would shadow him on angles up and down stage. It was a sort of teaching game at the end of which he marched off stage left. It was the first bit of humor in the performance. Then six men in vests began a complex set of moves across the stage in a prayer circle, finally working a sort of sets of assistance to each other and a seventh man. The seventh man then returns to the prince and these two men engage in a friendly pas de deux. Finally women appear on the edges and the entire village echoes the moves the prince originally performed alone. It was a marvelous entertainment that I found fulfilling on many levels.
The occasion was that we got free tickets from the school and that allowed one of Boy's teachers to gush about his artistic talents. We took photos out front. I rather enjoyed the crowd which I found rather unusual for Los Angeles. LA dowagers deeply freckled and makeupless, or wearing large brass hammered ornaments and oversized tortoise shells. Men in light jackets without socks in deck shoes. A smattering of students, women in African dress, men in sweaters. Small girls with ballet frocks. It was a perfect afternoon, summery, different. And now there are three new Mozart pieces I can dig which were surprisingly unboring.
I've been writing restaurant reviews for the past six months and it has been a lot of fun, but what I haven't really done that I've now got an occasion to do is put together an entire cultural tour of the joint. So as I ease into that, I'm thinking of the top ten things you have to do as a tourist in LA. I know the list will grow to 50 but I gotta start somewhere. What things would I just not want to miss?
Any trip to LA is really not complete without a stop by Leimert Park Village. So the first stop has got to be the Lucy Florence coffee shop and gallery. The way to get there is half the fun too. I would recommend the back door side which is to take La Cienega to Slauson and come East on Slauson to Angeles Vista down to the village. That would give you a glimpse of the part of black LA few people know or talk about, my old stomping grounds. Or you could come in the front door from the 10 South on Crenshaw right down the strip. Either way is a tour through the core of Southwest LA, as contrasted with the more infamous and often mis-represented South Central LA. A Sunday afternoon is the perfect time since the drummers will be out in the park.
On a Friday or Saturday night, one absolutely must cruise Sunset Boulevard. Depending on the amount of time you want to spend you can do the Full Cruise, the Eastside Cruise, the Westside Cruise or the Core Cruise. If you're going to do anything but the Core, you need to start at least one hour before sunset, especially if you want to head to the beach. The Full Cruise starts downtown at the LA River. There it's called Cesar Chavez. Head East through Silverlake and begin the right hand side of the Core at Vermont. Then drive through the seedy grit of Hollywood in the Core that gets gradually more cool until you're right in the middle of it at around Fairfax. Then drive west on Sunset to the sea, turn that jungle music up, as you go through Beverly Hills past UCLA to the 405, the end of the Core. If you want to continue on, the Westside Cruise goes all the way through Brentwood to Palisades. Then you can take your final left turn at Temescal Canyon and down to PCH.
The ultimate LA beach experience would have to be centered at Hermosa Beach for eyeballing. That is, if you want to check out the dudes and babes, the culture and the glitz, ground zero will be the Hermosa Beach Pier. This is the get out and walk part of the beach, as opposed to the cruise in your car with the windows down on the coast road part of the beach.There are plenty of joints of all sorts to cater to your beachy needs. If you want to get some authentic high quality beachwear, this is the place to be. Grab a beer at the Poopdeck and check out the volleyballers, or take a long walk on the long pier.
Walking, Shopping, Noshing
For urban sophisticates, (read people from NY, Boston & Philly) who feel like they don't want to get too immersed in doing LA things, one can exercise well-rehearsed street walking skills in crowds at the Santa Monica Promenade. There are bookstores, movie theatres, coffee shops, clothing stores, shoe stores, restaurants, bars, street performers, kids with balloons, babes on roller skates, dudes with tattoos, the entire microcosm of LA urbanity. Now there are alternatives. You could do Citywalk. You could also do the Irvine Spectrum, but my money is on the Promenade.
Speaking of sophistication. You really don't know anything about Los Angeles until you have been to the Getty Museum. The first and foremost reason is the view from the South balcony. It is *the* way to view the city, and (if it's a clear day), you can suddenly see the beauty of this place from an angle you have never seen in any movie, photo or painting. The museum itself is spectacular and relatively uncrowded, but you do need a reservation.
Ports O Call
For a flavor of Latino LA, I haven't found anything to match the Sunday brunch at Ports O Call Village in San Pedro. There's something about ordering a huge amount of fresh seafood to order and sitting down with your family on the large wooden tables in the incredible hubbub of the place while mariachis play. It's a great solution for the big hungry. Plus, if you feel like it, you can take a harbor cruise for a fairly reasonable price.
OK I know that it sounds cliche, and yes it's in Chinatown, but man you simply must experience the Dim Sum service at the Empress Pavilion. If you've never had dim sum served in the traditional style.. well it takes a little getting used to, especially if you're a pushover. Women push carts full of steaming delicacies and seduce you into trying a little bit of everything. It's all good from the simple to the adventurous. If you're really feeling wild, ask for the chicken feet. If not, everybody loves shumai and har gow.
Farmer's Market is right in the heart of West LA and it's a perfect way to waste all kinds of time, walking around and gabbing with your buddies. Some nights there is public karaoke, and it's a great place to watch the big game in one of the open air bars. There is every kind of food on the planet, all fresh and delicious. If you can walk through Farmer's Market without eating, either you have the greatest discipline on earth or your jaw is wired shut.
That's all for now. But there is so much more.
Sec'y of State Debra Bowen decertified most of the voting machines in California yesterday. OK now you've got our attention. So who's going to fix this mess. I say there needs to be somebody like Schneier and Lessig to sit on a board for an open source project to solve the electronic voting problem once and for all.
Because the infrastructure - the plumbing - of our society is something we pay very little attention to. And yet when infrastructure fails - as we saw in Minneapolis last week or Manhattan two weeks ago - it fails spectacularly. Our electoral plumbing is also creaky and in bad shape; Florida in 2000 was bad - but at least the votes could be recounted (over and over again). With today's insecure DVR technology, the problem is that we will have more races like the one in Sarasota Florida in 2006 - in which there was a 15% under-vote possibly due to a glitch in the ES & S DVR systems. The final results in the race can never be audited, and the loser litigated to try and get the election run over again. Look, no voting system - no human system - is perfect, or exempt from error, fraud, or challenge. But just as our bridges need to strong enough to ensure that they don't spontaneously collapse, our voting systems need to be robust enough that we're not left in bitter dispute after an election on who voted and how. We don't need voting technology less secure than airport poker machines in Vegas and less auditable than Enron's books. This isn't a partisan issue. It isn't something that 'we can get to later.' A political system everyone agrees is legitimate should last us a long time. And if officials at all levels of government have to work a little harder and spend a little money to maintain and defend the fairness of our political system, I can think of nothing better for them to work on. Can you?
200 Portofino Wy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
People with a few clues and a few grudges against all things Bush seem to be delighting in telling us how bad things are out here in California and how that augers ill for the economy. The keyword of disaster is foreclosure.
I've been seeing ads on telephone poles for many months that promise 100,000 cash on seconds for something like 400 bucks a month. That sounds very tasty, and in fact I have been restraining myself from asking Pops to put up his house so I could have that kind of cash for less than the price of my Beemer note. Alas when I called the 800 number on that telephone pole ad, nobody answered. So I put the notion out of my head. Something fishy is going on.
And yet the advertisements on the AM radio persist, and while I think that the Mortgage Minute Guy is above board, there has been a lot of fakery going on. It's easy to get lost in the fine print and it's in almost nobody's best interest to decipher all that for the average Joe. Still, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand 'buyer beware'.
The California real-estate marked defies description and common sense. That's because there are some of the richest people in the world here, and some of the nation's poorest. The house that I grew up in was purchased in 1966 for about 30,000. The payment, which went to a mortgage company called Lomas & Nettleton, was $177. That house today would sell for something like half a million dollars. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, except in California. I had a chance to buy it for 180K back in 1989, but I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. In retrospect, I can say that was a financial mistake. On the other hand I know somebody was murdered on that block that year. I rented on the beach instead.
When the king of subprimes, New Century went under a couple months ago, we started looking at the problem seriously. At the time, subprime was about 20% of the market and the default rate was about 13%. The last figures I saw was that they are now about 18% of the market and the default rate is up to about 18%. Even though this is a small part of the overall mortgage market, there are evidently a goodly amount of mortgage backed derivative securities that are at risk and this is hurting the big boys. Over at Tigerhawk, they are saying that the health of all lenders may be in question, but it's too early to tell if this is a big deal that requires tweaking from the Fed or something we can get through without a heavy hand.
So the crisis isn't about foreclosure itself, but my inclination to
say that foreclosures are a blip may be premature. I know the craziness
in California and so take stories about foreclosures in Northern Cal
(having lived through the Dot Com Boom) with a grain of salt. There's
more to it than that. It is the cascading effect that foreclosures have
on big lenders that should concern us.
The Jungle got its name in a positive light in the 60s. It was a neighborhood of brand new apartment buildings just adjacent to Baldwin Hills. When they first opened, they were 'themed' apartments, mostly with tropical and island themes. They had swimming pools and banana & palm trees, so it was affectionately named The Jungle.
Around the mid 70s it started to go downhill, like the rest of America at the time, and then they opened up some of the apartments to Section 8. By 1980 it was ugly. Shortly thereafter, during the Crack Wars, it got dangerous as well as ugly and became the defacto headquarters of the Bloods.
The Jungle singlehandedly reduced the demographic profile of South West LA and negatively affected all of the surrounding middle and upper middle class communities. Affluent residents of View Park and Baldwin Hills during the 70s wanted to shop somewhere closer to home and lobbied to get an upscale shopping center built at what is now the Baldwin Hills / Crenshaw Plaza which was one of the very first shopping malls built in America.
Infamously a politician named Ruth Galanter lobbied for a new shopping center to be built in largely white Culver City, a couple miles to the west. It wasn't until Magic Johnson became a force in local politics and real-estate that the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza was upgraded. Still, the high end anchor tenants pulled out because of the Jungle. Instead of an Ikea or a Nordstrom, both of whom announced early interest because of Baldwin Hills, we got Sears, and later Wal-Mart.
Upscale black families continued to shop at the Fox Hills Mall, where I got one of my first summer jobs as a teen, but 'The Element' was never far behind. In more recent times, it has been taken over by the Westfield company and updated, but people still call it the Fox Hills Mall and you are very likely on any weekend to find styling black teens (and their cell phones) hanging out.
Magic Johnson did finally bring a first-run movie theater to Crenshaw. After the loss of the long lamented Baldwin Theater which was catty corner to one edge of the Jungle, the community waited for about 15 years to get those black dollars recycled.
About 7 years ago, a serious economic revival took place in the Crenshaw district spearheaded by Magic's investment as well as Wells Fargo and Bank of America and some of the promises made by Rebuild LA, the organization founded after the riots. The Jungle is still what it is, dangerous and dirty, but other parts of the Crenshaw community are doing better including Leimert Park Village.
The AP reports the secret story.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is in the midst of divorce proceedings with his wife, acknowledged Tuesday that he is in a relationship with a Spanish-language television reporter.
The leader of the nation's second-largest city insisted at a news conference that his relationship with Telemundo newswoman Mirthala Salinas would not interfere with his job, and he pleaded for privacy for his family.
"I have had a relationship with Ms. Salinas over time. It has evolved, and today I have acknowledged that relationship," said Villaraigosa, who announced his separation from his wife, Corina, last month after 20 years of marriage.
The other day Doc told me a shocking rumor. He told me that word around the LAPD is that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's wife filed for divorce last week. The reason is that one of the local TV reporters for the Spanish language station Telemundo is pregnant. Evidently, the LAPD is about to prank him by putting a plastic stork on the City Hall lawn. Doc says, all hell is about to break loose.
Nobody is talking about this, but a lot of people know. You heard it here first.
All the LA Times said was this. They shouldn't print rumors, but I really never even heard a hint of the story until he told me last Friday.
We all expect a little graft from politicians. Fixing tickets is probably the first lesson in Corruption 101. We also expect that family members might get a favor from time to time, but the situation with Rocky Delgadillo's wife is getting ridiculous.
After stonewalling for more than a week, Delgadillo finally admitted Monday that his wife needed to get to her doctor's office in a hurry in 2004, while he was out of town. Her car wasn't running, he said, so she took his city-owned GMC Yukon and accidentally banged it into a pole.
This little escapade could not have surprised anyone familiar with Michelle Delgadillo's driving history, which has included license suspensions, failure to show proof of insurance and in 1998, a bench warrant for her various misadventures.
Rocky Delgadillo's staff handled the paperwork on his wife's 2004 accident, and the city attorney said he was unaware that a required report on the accident was never filed with the city.
Of course that doesn't explain why he thought you and I should pay for the repairs. Delgadillo said he thought it was OK for his wife to use the car. The city's policy, he claimed, is ambiguous.
Good story. Wife has to get to the hospital. Let's hope that her doctor is dead and that she has a new doctor now, that way if somebody asks for a note from the doctor, she doesn't have to provide one. In fact she can say that particular trip, well the next one, is the one the finally cleared up the condition she no longer has, since there will be no record of it at the next doctor.
It's really time for this sucker to go, and this is exactly the prurient level of comedy to which the situation must descend for apathetic LA voters to contribute towards a solution.
Back in the day, Uncle Jam's Army was all that. Google would tell you that Cobb is the only place on the whole of the internet that talks about those days. But I just found something else:
This month I am going to tell you how it was in the 80's when Uncle Jam's Army gave dances for 10,000 party people. It all started with High School dances at lunch time, then local parties at Hotels, then auditorium parties that held 2,500 people, then the Big One The L.A. Sports Arena. The main guy in Uncle Jam was Roger Clayton and he was the brains behind the way we promoted the dances. He made the commercials (That was off the Hook) and also programmed the music for the parties. He was the one who taught me about how to rock a party.
Yeah I remember those days.