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Which Way Indeed

I guess it was a big secret that Grand Park, a County venue and not a City one, will be getting between $350,000 and $400,000 for whatever Jay Z and Live Nation and Bud throw together on Labor Day weekend. Who knew? Only the Mayor's office and the Music Center and the principles, and nobody said anything about that before  last night.

That kind of money if applied to the City of LA's own Rec and Parks Department could sponsor more than 20 different events through the year, some of which have already been forced to go elsewhere because of park fees that have climbed steadily higher since 2009. But the money will not be going to the City; it's going to the County, for its own Park and its own park programming.

I can understand why the principles to this (or any) deal want to keep the public in the dark about it until the show is announced.  Given that much, however, Mayor Eric Garcetti's and Jay Z's announcement two days ago a tease that has invited nearly equal amounts of inquiry and suspicion along with fanfare looks all the more bizarre.

I listened to the Warren Olney show on the subject last night and nobody had much new to say except Stephen Rountree of the Music Center, who seemed in a position to break as much news on the topic as he liked, while everyone else had to speculate about what's going on and what might happen.  The $350,000 fee Rountree tossed out was the first anyone reported it. And it led to nothing new anyway.

This is a problem with Which Way LA these days the show born of the '92 riot and maybe past sell-by date by now. It makes the City and County administrators sound better than they should because they have facts in hand and aren't telling much, except when it pleases them to and makes media sound worse than they should, because they are obliged to scramble so much for real information.

I don't think it's especially the fault of Olney's producers, but rather the paucity of information available to media on anything civic at all, thanks mostly to the LA Times' lethargic coverage of all things involving City Hall and its ceaseless promotion of all things Garcetti. For nine months now, the Times has taken mulligans on matters involving Garcetti with a grim consistency that makes you wonder if the Times is being subsidized by City Hall the way so many smaller outlets are. They've not done any serious journalism on this matter, either, barely engaging skepticism and perhaps hopeful of landing the biggest promotional deal.

As for WWLA, I haven't been on the show since well before Garcetti became Mayor but it sounds to me like when you're on the show these days you really don't even know what to prepare for, because not everyone has access to remotely similar facts, making for little meaningful civic debate. You have a small corner of knowledge, some of which may be erroneous, and all of it hard-won; that other guest has another corner that barely touches yours, and so on. It's hard to have civic debates on important matters when nobody knows the real topic or has a straight of facts at hand.

Nobody on the show mentioned the way Garcetti killed Sunset Junction, alas.

Nine Hundred and 99 problems

Noted: maybe by now you've heard about the $15 cans of tall Bud at Made in America events. And maybe that the pre-sale for tix to our own at Grand Park are going for between $125 and $155. Also, our city and our Mayor yesterday served up its DTLA for two choice days to a guy who hawks pebble-lined humidors with 21 cigars in them for $999.

A New Voice in LA

I am not entirely optimistic about the debut of the LA Register to-day, but I will try it anyway for a few weeks. I've been following some of the principle folks on The Twitter, and it seems to me they are going to have to double down on effort to have any impact on City Hall. I also think they've underestimated the role of the local online enviornment in saying what's what.

Our Corporate Phoenix

Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. the City of LA and Jay-Z will announce that LA will host two days of concerts  in the new Grand Park, sponsored by Bud and with some proceeds going to United Way. The festival-styled outdoor concert and some other acts will unfold the final weekend of August, as Sunset Junction used to be held the final weekend of August and already folks downtown are making noise about leaving DTLA that weekend.


Though my 2013 book on LA's decade of decline became fodder for the Mayor's race while remaining eccentric to local media, I am finding that this present one has found some favor in academic circles elsewhere and frankly, I wrote it with academic urbanists most of all in mind. So to-day I was pleasantly surprised to see an urbanist named Roy Christopher include a favored essay from my most recent book LA at Intermission, on bicycling Hyperion Bridge and what may become of it, in his own round up on some recent urban reading. A good recent compendium here by a visiting lecturer at a Chicago school, including my book and some others, urbi et orbi. Christopher tweets "love the book" —I've heard that from profs in three cities now.

Los Feliz's Less Than One Percent

Only 344 people voted in my own Los Feliz Neighborhood Council election yesterday less than one percent of the community's 37,000 residents.  This was despite paid advertising up and down the commercial strips, including on bus benches (?), and also despite the community recently going through a very controversial issue in shoehorning two small baseball diamonds into the Crystal Springs Picnic Area in Griffith Park.

A Corrupt, Vacuous, and Dunce-Driven City

I am very glad I got my book on LA in the Garcetti mayoralty out when I did, because watching this clown prince and his macabre court closely for three more years would be far too annoying to endure.

Promote the Best

I didn't need a blue ribbon panel to note that LA was in decline when I wrote my first book on the subject a year ago, but now that such a commission has issued its notes (and they are merely notes), the NYTimes has gotten around to noting it too. And the report doesn't make a lot of tangible suggestions, so I'll repeat my own: the City's Mayor and local media have to quit indulging crooks and charlatans and start luring and appointing and promoting the best and brightest.

Tolle Lege

I read mostly for pleasure, but also in the hope of accomplishing something: I also read in the hope of changing this City. This is probably not working, but I do it anyway.

What Else Has Been Going On?

It is three days and nine months into the new mayoralty. That is plenty of time to evaluate something, but I'm getting the response in some quarter: "It's just too early to draw these conclusions." My counter: If it were, I wouldn't have been able to make them.