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Somethings from a long weekend

Jesca Hoop, unplugged.

A line about the former fishwrap of record that I have been tossing off all weekend at various spots eastside and west, and you're welcome to it:

"It's like the Times spotted some people outside the moat with slingshots aimed at them, totally panicked, and decided not only to destroy their own castle stone by stone but also specialize in slingshot development."

Something I can believe and not believe: how many people I keep running into who are fans of Rodger Jacobs and Carvers Dog. Most are simply patiently awaiting his return to LA as we once awaited Dexter Gordon's return from Europe.

Something I'm progressively more astonished by: the prescience of this book by Stephen Duncombe--Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy. I re-read it a week ago, it reads like a history of the Obama campaign. It remains, in my opinion, the best of the "re-create the left" books, strongly contending in the derby that includes Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? and Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant.

Happy stately birthday to John Shannon, whose most recent book, The Devils of Bakersfield, has been reviewed by the Arizona Republic but not the local former fishwrap of record, and who can figure out why not?

Local Columbia Records exec to me, Thanksgiving night: "You like her? Well, we signed her, but let her go last week, because she only sold 15,000 cds. You like her [another her...]? Well, we let her go too..."

Black Friday, indeed

hobo's wal-mart

Gathering around a couple of different Thanksgiving dinner tables yesterday, talk inevitably got around to Black Friday shopping. The questions were all the same: Are you going? What time are you heading out? Did you hear there's already a line at Best Buy?

The answers were a consistant No; I'm not heading out; That's crazy! I had stopped the practice of Black Friday shopping after having two children and valuing my time snuggled warmly in my bed. Getting out at 4 a.m. was just not going to happen. Ever. Again.

Little did those of us discussing Black Friday shopping realize how crazy the day would become.

In New York, some poor temp worker at Wal-Mart was trampled to death by shoppers, so crazed and frenzied were they to score that Wii or flat screen teevee on sale, they could not be bothered to help a man up. This shopping business has become so hardcore-serious that those bastards outside that NY Wal-Mart broke down the doors at the hinges to get their shopping on.

Closer to home, local idiots opened fire in a TOYS R US in Palm Desert. That's right, I said Toys R Us ... you know, that place just teeming with children and babies. Two men were killed, and scores of children traumatized as they ran crying and screaming with parents running to hide in a nearby gym and Jiffy Lube.

"They were running fast straight into the car bays. There was a couple of ladies with little kids, about 3 years [old]. They were all pale. The kids were shouting, 'Mom, I'm scared.' We immediately closed the store," Diaz told The Times. His staff immediately locked the front doors and closed the car bays. "We took everyone into a basement bay, where we keep inventory," he said. [LAT]

Is there any electronic item, hot toy or pair of sneakers worth breaking down a door for and trampling a man over? Are there no places considered "off-limits" for gunplay? I used to think houses of worship, schools, playgrounds and hospitals and yes, even a Toys R Us would be considered "safehouses" by virtue of the little lives inside, and who'd ever guess a trip to Wal-Mart would turn violent, but such is the retail-consumer-culture mentality and the gangsta mentality that nothing and no one, not even scores of kids standing all around or pregnant women or babies in their mother's arms are going to get in the way of savin' a buck or settling a score.

This year I'm sticking to Hobo Shopping: charitable thrift shops and handmade goods from both the pint-sized artist in residence as well as local artisans.

No more Retail Black Fridays for me. Ever.

Happy Thanksgiving

I am signing off early, and I'll be signing in late. From your humble and lovable cats and underdogs Debbie Lopez and yours truly, have a very happy Thanksgiving.-- street-hassle

The bug up the westside's ass goes national

NYT, Santa Monica fru-fru.

You never know what you should pitch---surprising quarter just might use it.

For, oh, about the past thirty years, when I get out to the west side and the time is right, I've been watching sunsets from Adelaide in Santa Monica, on the south rim of Santa Monica Canyon.

You would think that a street is a public space, but over the decades I've observed the neighbors to bring every kind of territorial degradation to the scene, attempting to cordon it off as their very own private bluff. Lynn too, in a way; before Los Feliz, when she was on the worst side, she used to do the Fourth Street stairway quite a bit, and of course the locals just owned it, even though she was trekking in from the distant hinterlands of Harvard and Montana. Hey, chick, no stretching! It bugs us.

One guy in Santa Monica Canyon about twenty years ago even put a poster of a guy watching you in a window of the attic of his house, as though to say, "Get off my bluff!" even though his house was three blocks north of the bluff. I think that poster just came down two years ago.

The people on the north rim of Adelaide and on the south rim of Santa Monica Canyon have planted every variety of prickly cactus imaginable to keep people off "their" bluffs. The parking became more and more restrictive. &c.

Comes now a New York Times feature: Where the traffic median is a no-Pilates zone.

Write what you know---what a concept!

For thirty years now, I've known the people of Adelaide have had dementing bugs so high up their asses it wouldn't let their brains think straight. So I guess I should have pitched something to that effect in year twenty-nine of this knowledge. But good job girlfriend to Jennifer Steinhauer for making the locals look like the petty territorial loons they have been for so very long.

Click their slide show too, to remind yourself why you don't live on the westside anymore.

HUD housing kerfluffle ruffles Saenz

Something you may like to know: HUD withdrew part of a fund to the City, endangering the status of the health care centers at five City of LA Housing Department projects, and the Thomas Saenz of the Mayor's Office of Counsel doesn't like it. $8 million at stake; the Feds actually cut a larger grant to fund the health centers. Saenz thinks the move is Republican and capricious.

To protect, serve, and zap

The Mayor and the Chief may have had trouble growing the police force over the past four years, but they're not having trouble keeping it loaded for bear: 1275 tasers and upgrades are coming to LA by year's end.

Tasers, in fact, might be a good thing for the Church of Scientology to get a handle on, as other local institutions have: Scientology Celeb Center guard fatally shoots man with swords.

Absent recall, it's more of the same...

The math is clearcut: with Council almost always voting in a near-unanimous block, in order to change the direction of the developer-beholden City of Los Angeles, the people of LA need to change eight Council seats.

Ron Kaye dropped a bomb on Councilman Jack Weiss this weekend---Kaye thinks Weiss is one of the eight that need to go without being kicked upstairs.

But the math of a path to eight changes looks very, very bleak, as there are no recognizable figures vying for Council seats against incumbents in any Council District, and the term extensions of 2006 have padded everyone for an extra four years if they want it. The Mayor also has no formidable opposition in 2009. How is change to come to the oligarchy that is LA, without a couple of recalls? Who are the eight most deserving of recall?

Obama to Detroit: move back a square

Well, there's your answer. First John McCain ditched Michigan; now, with the state safely in pocket and going nowhere else politically, Barack Obama wants to see more out of Detroit.
He said once he sees a plan, he expects "we're going to be able to shape a rescue."

Jump a little higher, Detroit. California is nearly ready to roll with Teslas, and you're way behind the Prius, which could have landed at GM's Fremont, California plant this summer were it not for Detroit arrogance.

This state we live in is looking better all the time.

Something special at Royce Hall: EPS vaults the stage

I was a little jazzed to look across the aisle at Royce Hall last night. Kelly at UCLALive! situated we scribes together, me in front, the Times scribe behind me, and Alan Rich lurking dangerously one more row back. And though I rarely bring her to the west side for classical as I have some friends out there eager for classical tix and Royce Hall, this time indeed Lynn made the trip. ("It's like driving to Irvine," she said while we were stuck downtown...)

That was the right move, because who did they seat me across the aisle from? The Maestro himself, Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Don't worry, we let him sit there unmolested, though the Times scribe, nameless here, did catch some tough questions from him early on.

The program included a Salonen piece from last year; this work was supposed to be heard in Orange County earlier this week, but owning to a death in the family, the quartet couldn't play it there. In fact, it wasn't even sure as last night's program was distributed if the work would be played here. But the Johannes Quartet found an heroic stand-in who learned the work well enough to brave the stage with the Maestro himself in the audience. The insert caused some drama among the scribes and even the Maestro himself, as it didn't include the piece. (You know things are up in the air when even the insert gets it wrong.) But just before they shut the doors I checked with the house manager who told me that Salonen's piece indeed would be heard.

I'm writing of it elsewhere and don't want to blow the musical side of the review here, but here I'll note the surprise gymnastics immediately after the piece, called Homunculus, was finished. As the applause filled the house, ESP himself rushed the stage.

They don't have steps from the audience at Royce Hall, so Salonen had to leap to get on stage. Leap he did, after a running start, hurdling himself up like a gymnast on a vault. In a move that was a little too smooth for someone who has already had an enormous career as a major symphony conductor, Salonen immediately righted himself onstage to take the applause along with the quartet.

Salonen for what its worth stayed through the entire program and enjoyed it much. This is the Guarneri Quartet's farewell tour, and they combined with Johannes Quartet for a Mendelssohn octet in the final piece of the evening. I thought I had heard faint strains of the descending men's side of Handel's Messiah in this octet, but because I was sitting on the aisle with the Maestro, I kicked myself for having such thoughts. But sure enough, on the way out, I heard Alan Rich Himself singing, "And he shall reign..."

Music is best when the unexpected happens, and last night at Royce Hall was full of that.

Mexico to US: you're culpable in our drug war

The Mexican Ambassador to the US fingered the US as a partner in crime in Mexico's drug war this week.
"Mexico would not be the center of the cartel's activities, nor would it be experiencing these levels of violence, if it wasn't for the United States -- the major consumer of illegal drugs and the principal supplier of arms to the cartels."

The dramatic rhetoric, which one reader told me signified a new, surprising willingness to tell the truth at the diplomatic level, signals that Mexico hopes for a legal realignment under a new administration.

Follow Mexico's drug wars at the LA Times drug war blog.

The Ed Head Oil Treatment

An Ed Headington paragraph.

Will someone please tell me what the hell this opening paragraph of a presser is about?

Los Angeles has done its part to offer some post-election therapy for the political junkies among us and those suffering from PEWS. The Pat Brown Institute had their full-day program last week and the USC Unruh Institute of Politics has their 2-day conference today and tomorrow (Joel Fox, Joe Mathews and Tom Elias are seated in front of me as I write this while Jim VanderHei of POLITICO moderates a panel of eight). Nevertheless, the hoi polloi have gone from smitten to c'est la vie...

Maybe someone could please channel their secret decoder ring and tell me? I think I spy five potential topics in the first paragraph.

It's bad enough that the former news site MayorSam has since the beginning of 2008 chosen to publish straight promo material and press releases. But get this: the guy who posted this at MayorSam is the publicist for the illustrious LA Press Club too.

Publicists blogging...always a dicey proposition. But without an editor, it does tend towards tragedy.

Please, some adult in the room, tell Ed to take a big breath and learn how to resist the temptation to fill paragraphs with names-deserving-wider-recognition the way NASCAR drivers slap product decals on their stock cars. Tell Ed how to contain an actual coherent single thought within a paragraph---even when he's writing straight publicity.

A very lot can still go wrong

Forget her.

Start with Krugman, the Nobel laureate, who reminds us that things went really wrong during the regime change between Hoover and Roosevelt. I remember from my own American history class of the epoch how integrated the auto industry was to the commencement of the collapse: Henry Ford kept building cars even though nobody was buying. The stock market crash just confirmed what piling up inventories already documented. When I saw the helicopter shots of the acres of cars down in the Port of Los Angeles the other night, it brought 1929 to mind.

"We now know more," the economists today are assuring us, so this is not a repeat of 1929. Indeed we do. We knew enough to leave the investment banks unleashed even after they failed us catastrophically in the late 1980s. Now that we're turning them into commercial banks, with access to the Fed window--hah!--we'll lose a little of that wild, mavericky American vitality, but not get caught with our pants down so low again.

I've got a couple of opinions for you that maybe you haven't heard, and they are more from my days as a banker than as a reader of scribes.

One, I believe that Paulson was just joking about that $700 billion bailout, and so was Congress. I believe they passed it to get the investment banks to disclose what their exposure to losses were. Remember, with all the offensive, toxic instruments kept off balance sheets, even the Fed and Treasury didn't have any idea as to the true extent of the damage. But where the carrion is, there the vultures will be, and after the investment banks started applying for relief, then the government had a true snapshot of the damage at last. So then, Congress and Paulson both did an about face.

Two, only a handful of people in Congress were party to that strategy from the beginning. Only a few needed to be.

Three, with the $700 billion carrion passed, the vultures are not in industry, they're in and at Treasury. Paulson of course wants to spend as much as possible but now he's done. Michigan is getting muscled out of the relief package, California is muscling in. It is about goddamn time. If what's good for GM was once good for America, what is now good for California certainly is. Now that GM's share of the auto market is a scant 25%, it's only a little itty bitty good for America these days anyway.

Four, we're not going to let the big three fail, but we're not going to give them money without a whole bunch of trade strings, either. They will have to perform in accordance with Congress's wishes, and they will have to perform in a way that encourages.

Five, the Sarah Palin wing of the Republican party still wants to blame Obama for everything and doesn't realize that we're in this sinking boat together yet. Forget 'em---they're now dead-enders, marginal voices, a waste. They. Don't. Count.

Yes, a very lot can still go wrong as the Bush team scuttles the very boat it no longer has the power to bail out. But two months is a very short time financially, and if some businesses can't hold on for sixty more days, they really weren't in a good position to survive at all anyway. In this case, a lot going wrong may be the first good thing we've seen from the free market in a long time.

Winging the angels

Wonkette's Sara K. Smith knows what all the Nate Silver Lovers know: every time Nate's name is published, an angel gets its wings.

Hey gays, you like Nate Silver, yes? He is a vanquisher of angry cursing wingnuts and the sexual mentor to a hot new generation of polynomials. That’s two things to like! In an interview with Queerty he talks about numbers and gay things by explaining why we should blame the passage of California’s Prop. 8 not on black people but on old people of all colors and hues. (You will all click the “MORE” button now because Nate Silver is your new Sarah Palin: sweet sexy pageview bait.) [MORE]

Ahhh, so it wasn't just teh brownz and teh blackz keeping our gheys down ... it was the OLDZ!

Another point Nate raises in the Queerty piece is one made by some late in the No on 8 game: they were sadly lacking in the Fundraising and Messaging Skills.

The Grassroots Monster that was the Obama campaign utilized their mad community organizing skillz in ways the No on 8 people should have been following. It would have been easy enough to piggy-back on such a massive, already-in-place framework of messaging and campaigning.

The point now is not to poo-poo these post-election analysis as just Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but rather view opinions like Nate's as an educated blueprint for the future. Much in the way Dems learned their lesson (and learned it damn well) after the stinging Kerry loss in 2004, No on 8 organizers would do well to study all the angles the Obama campaign covered: grassroots organizing and fundraising, campaign leader and volunteer worker-education, voter information and messaging.

Understandably, this last election season saw the main focus and manpower going to the Presidential race. It wasn't until the appearance of Sarah Palin and the frenzy-driven rise of the Religious Right rearing its ugly head in overwhelming numbers did the No on 8 people have a clue of just how much trouble they were in. By then, it was too late. Having wielded the massive communication tools they had been honing for two years in advance, the Obama campaign was unquestionably, crushingly victorious (not. even. close.) and now the No on 8 organizers need only look to the example of the winning presidential campaign for clues on the steps they should be taking next.

Metrolink train scrapes freight train; injuries

You might have missed my op-ed last month on what to do with Metro's right-of-ways, but the latest accident with injuries in Rialto tells you what's in store with more difficult-to-manage light rail development.

Latinos getting antsy about Obama's cabinet

These past two years have been quite the odyssey for Latino registered voters. First, they marched down Broadways across the nation---in LA they were half a million strong, like Woodstock---on behalf of eased immigration status. Then they poured their hopes into the fickle figure of Hillary Clinton---who alienated the progressive wing of the Democratic party the longer she contended for her party's nomination, and who had no real connection to Latino politics at all, other than the fact that she was not Barack Obama.

Now, Latinos are wondering where all the Latino faces are in Obama's emerging cabinet. They may also ask themselves whether or not the president-elect has a right to keep them dangling a bit longer. The nominees will come; but first their first-choice candidate, Hillary, has to make up her mind about whether she and Bill want to be inside the administration these next four years, or outside of it.

Silver Lake Coffee

JM, Silver Lake Coffee, 11.18.08

The girl is studying for the GRE. Which reminds me--I thought I was getting old when I took the GRE. Ack!

Sweetheart---don't do it! Bail now! Go live in a truck in Baja, or something...

This photo brought to you by some poor ol' bastard in the doghouse.

Lizard People

Dave Bullock called these to general attention at Twitter. They're awesome, especially because of the simple fact that we get to look at them.

They're sample problem votes in the Minnesota Senate race. Last night, Nate Silver said on The News Hour (!--he was a Kos diarist a couple years ago, now he's a talking head) that Minnesota is doing things properly, and it sure looks like it from here.

"Lizard People" is definitely my favorite. Dave likes the last one best.


It's always a little bit hopeful, a little bit bittersweet to spot for the first time the registration expirartion tag for the not-so-distant year after next.

Tea fire lit by students, but at which college?

Officials are currently keeping mum about which school the students suspected of lighting the fire and failing to put it out attended, and for what purpose the bonfire was constructed. People in Santa Barbara are outraged that the authorities are not sharing more information.

UPDATE: Westmont cleared.

The Post-Nic World

You have heard the last sign that the world as you know it is changing, as Nic Harcourt is leaving KCRW and the very mellow very capable Jason Bentley is taking over the station's music director chair.

There is no complaint about Nic coming from this quarter, as he has been too good for too long. The last few months may have seen him spinning more music that grates, but longtime listeners know that raising your hackles every now and then with a Polyphonic Spree or somesuch is a perennial part of the Harcourt...mix.

French house and the Buddha Bar series, world rap, haunted offbeat folk, nearly mainstream acts like Coldplay, countless great club acts and weird alternative anomalies like a discovery of what Sparks was up to twenty years after they were famous enabled Harcourt not just to entertain but to provide creative stimulus for art directors and tv and film producers all around town, many of whom simply lifted something Harcourt was spinning for their own project, commercial, video, or full length motion picture---projects which he also occasionally consulted himself.

Of course, the Weekly, which can be really small really often, never cottoned to him much, and I'll be curious to see how they dishonor him when he departs the studio. He has been responsible for making the Weekly's music section way more interesting than the Weekly could have on its own, so my expectations are low.

The fact is that with the atrocity the LA Times has become, and the Weekly doing more chasing than leading, KCRW is the City's leading cultural promoter---a fact ceaselessly borne out by the attendance seen at the events it promotes. Jason, as listeners to his show know, is up to the task, but will bring something different, something that may be---dare we say---more cerebral---he is capable of approaching music not just from the outsider angle, but even from the utterly oblique academic angle. It's a new world, and it looks like another good, refreshing move within it at the House that Ruth sorta built.

Center Game

In England, when the left wins, the government starts running immediately because the shadow secretary team already is rife with capitulations to the center. In France, conversely, the left wins elections so infrequently that when it wins it forgets how to govern and stalls for a long time; it took Mitterand ages to start governing.

Here in America, the left wins just infrequently enough for the base to forget that fast starts to governing make centrists essential to early governing. Clinton also forgot this, but the Obama team has not---though many progressives outside of government have.

I know a lot of people on the left are upset about Joe Lieberman retaining his Homeland Security chair. But the reality is that this is nearly meaningless: he'll be on a short leash and he'll be farming out Homeland Security money and reviewing tedious Homeland Security reports---so? He won't be making war policy, he'll be wonking terror and obliged to support the man he campaigned against. The grief is all his.

People may also be upset about Eric Holder, for a very limited reason (he was involved with a presidential pardon that because of politics became far more controversial than it should have been) as they have been with Rahm Emanuel, etc. Some are calling it Clinton's third term; some witchhunters who didn't oust Lieberman are pledging to run a strong campaign against Harry Reid in 2010. These are the Democrats who have forgotten that in America, where we don't suddenly call elections but fix them to a specific cycle, fast starts to first terms of power transitions are necessary. These are the Democrats who have never been burdened themselves by governing.

So far, Obama's transition team has made very few mistakes; it needed to grab the center to begin to govern effectively, and it has. Indeed, the GOP are so aware of this that they aren't even commenting on the transition decisions, and nor are the most dependable rightie pundits. The wisened GOP leadership knows the game and they know they are in some deep trouble yet again. It's fun to watch; the left should calm down and wait to see what actually happens after January 20.

the long dark teatime

Rarely do I embrace teatime notices with trepidation. But I think I might be a little uneasy this one on November 23:

Royal/T and the Los Angeles-based doll shop Valley of the Dolls are pleased to present a Valley of the Dolls Tea Party on November 23rd from 12-5pm at Royal/T. This meet-up event for L.A. Lolitas and their dolls will feature a Valley of the Dolls Pop-Up Store...
More &c.

What's up with Brimmer these days?

Don Quixote, Ed Boks, yours truly; we aren't the only people with deranged anonymous cyberstalkers following their every move. This is all old hat for Rodger Jacobs:

And if I do not make an appearance for days or weeks on end they post “comments” such as: “Just heard that Brimmer was killed in an accident in West Hollywood when a car jumped the curb where he was giving a blowjob to a homeless person.”
To think that these were people I once trusted...

Why is it when I read my own stalkers I'm outraged, but when I read the others I'm outraged but also giggling a little?

Extra! Extra! (Lots of extras...)

I guess they didn't sell out all those special reprints of the November 5 LA Times, because the IT'S OBAMA souvenirs are not only being hawked online, but also at Drudge Report.

Think of it: a newspaper giving bucks to Drudge, where the "firewall" between ads and editorial exists in only in the synapses of a rightwing slime machine. If you wonder what keeps Internet traffic to the Times high, rest assured: they have to buy it, and they'll buy it from anyone.

Hotter down South

Or: Dear LATimes, please get it right...

You know those protests yesterday? The ones you wrote about in a story that you reported "from San Francisco and Los Angeles?" The one with the lede that said "Gay-rights marchers gather by the thousands in Los Angeles and San Francisco, battling heat, expressing solidarity and debating proponents of the measure?"

You might have done well to mention that the protests in San Diego were bigger than the LA and San Francisco rallies combined. So what's the problem here? Do you still think that San Diego is Republican? (Hint: It's not. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the county.) Do you think that San Diego doesn't matter because it's only the second biggest city in the state? What is it, exactly?

Anyhow: Get it right next time, OK?


Every fire and natural disaster triggers an outpouring of expression of empathy. Empathy we don't even bring to the table in our daily lives for people we know far better than those who appear on tv for thirty seconds.

Abstractly, an unknown person suffers an enormous loss, and you feel for the person. Yet you know there are also people of small hearts, somewhere on the periphery of these people's lives, who can only think, "That bastard, it's about time."

Those people with the small hearts---they're also us, watching tv. They're one in the same. Truth may be the man who stands before you, but it's a lot easier to say something nice when you don't know him.

I can see that by reading blog comments, even at this blog, especially at others. The same people who may write with passion elsewhere about what a great job firefighters are doing and how tragic it is that family has lost its home never hesitate to celebrate the misfortune of someone with whom they disagree on a trivial political matter, or in an inconsequential personal dispute, or simply because they are exemplars of a particular cultural grouping.

I've always liked reading blog comments, not because they're informative, but because they so readily demonstrate what's really in the hearts of men and women. In most cases, even among the pious, and for some reason especially among the most pious, it's shameless, naked hypocrisy.

The arm that waives the flag so much more proudly than the other arms when the military walks by, the voice that is so gracious and appreciative of the public servant who works the thick of the calamity, the writer who devotes so much compassion and contrition to people unknown to him---my experience is that these types are always the very same who are most heartless towards the dispossessed when they meet them in ordinary life, where they are untethered to the calamity that ushered them into the dispossession that inspires the snideness, snickering, hate.

It is so rife that I even think that those who wail the most for those unknown to them are most likely precisely the people whose hypocrisy is greatest.

Just Sayin'

It would be a hard question to ask, but maybe others have had the thought---

Wonder if all that emergency resource reshuffling for the Fake Quake on Thursday had anything to do with trouble knocking down these tough fires.

It's good to be prepared---though those of us who work in unconventional spaces don't benefit very much.
But for one, I know for a fact that most of the most vulnerable buildings downtown did nothing for the drill, and two, we give Lucy Jones et al. about a billion a year and they seem no more capable of predicting where and when an earthquake will happen than the roosters were a millennia ago, even after many years of scientists standing over a glorified geiger counter and pinpointing where an earthquake was, but never where one will be.

NYT: Mormon Church indeed made difference in 8 campaign

The New York Times reports how the Mormon Church made the difference in re-banning same-sex marriage in California.
“We’ve spoken out on other issues, we’ve spoken out on abortion, we’ve spoken out on those other kinds of things,” said Michael R. Otterson, the managing director of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormons are formally called, in Salt Lake City. “But we don’t get involved to the degree we did on this.”
Institutions, a fabled French philosopher wrote, gain their power through their scapegoating mechanisms.

In Montecito

People disappear
Even in Montecito. Greenie Taliaferro,
In her white maillot, her good figure almost firm,
Her old pepper-and-sal hair stripped by the hairdresser
To nothing and dyed platinum---Greenie has left her Bentley.
They have thrown away her electric toothbrush, someone else slips
The key into the lock of her safety-deposit box
At the Crocker-Anglo Bank; her seat at the cricket matches
Is warmed by buttocks less delectable than hers...
And Greenie has gone into Greater Montecito
That surrounds Montecito like the echo of a scream.
--Randall Jarrell, In Montecito, from his collection of poems, The Lost World

How we got here

Long Beach Financial was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking home­owners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.

When I entered banking, one of the books I read in prep was Michael Lewis's late 1980's classic Liar's Poker. I've re-read it through the current financial crisis, and wondered what Lewis, who saw the first mortgage meltdown front and center, would think of this one, which seems from the sidelines now to be the '80's on steroids.

No need to wonder anymore. Nine juicy pages from Lewis are up at All of them are quite worthwhile. Or look at it all on one page.

Ron Kaye at the LA Press Club

Ron Kaye is coming to this side of the hill again. Kaye will be at the LA Press Club tonight discussing "The Future of News."

Also on the bill is Trib innovations chief Lee Abrams, the "former radio guy turned innovations guru" as Kevin would have it.

The panel is $20 for the public, but the event is free to LAPL members.

Kaye writes a lot about local politics and is one of my favorite writers on the topic. But he hasn't written anything recently about Prop 8, the City's hottest media topic and also currently its defining political movement. So I hope to ask him about whether the proposition's current relationship to the news cycle is symptomatic of the future of news, and if so whether that's a good thing or not.

MayorSam: Home of Schizosexual LA Politics

With Sarah Palin's candidacy, there were progressively loonier views on sexual politics coming out of the MayorSam website through the summer and into autumn. But now there's a new blogger at MayorSam who is even more schizosexual than the ones they've dumped in the recent past as the site scrambles for credibility and to hold readers through its own sexual misfirings. The newbie's name is Sarah Michelle Spinoza, and here she comes--her own words in italics:

No on Prop 8 just sent me this bulls*&t:

“We achieve nothing if we isolate the people who did not stand with us in this fight. We only further divide our state if we attempt to blame people of faith, African American voters, rural communities and others for this loss. We know people of all faiths, races and backgrounds stand with us in our fight to end discrimination, and will continue to do so. Now more than ever it is critical that we work together and respect our differences that make us a diverse and unique society. Only with that understanding will we achieve justice and equality for all.”

I don't think anybody is BLAMING African-Americans for Prop 8...
No? That was one of the most innocuous and peaceloving emails the movement has sent out to date. Ms. Spinosa has tried to vilify it.

As for the Republican tactic of blaming blacks for the elimination of gay marriage, and this O'Reilly clip aside, Ms. Spinosa herself proceeds to throw shade on African-Americans:
"...their community ironically doesn't seem to see the value of equal rights..."

Huffy-little-pooning along, after much more schizo doubletalk, Ms. Spinosa maintains:
First of all, it's going to take a GREATER amount of time, money and energy to convince these people of what they've done. It's wasteful since people were already so quick to believe the Mormon scare tactics which successfully played on faith-based people's already default position that homosexuality is immoral. Good luck trying to change their minds.
Please help me try to find a next step in there---or even a collective noun on which to hang a coherent opinion. Which people? What Mormon scare-tactics? And who is preaching to the choir hoping to change their minds?

Nobody is; which is precisely why gay marriage advocates don't vilify particular voter blocks. Instead, they target the organized religions that think that religions rather than the state own marriage, even though the state regulates what marriage can be.

In short, their aim is nearly perfect, even if Ms. Spinosa can't find which end of the rifle to fire.

Ms. Spinosa concludes:
Another miscalculation by No on 8. Nice job, guys. You run a hell of a campaign, ignoring thousands of years of theocratic 'fact' and begging, 'please don't take our rights away. Pretty please?'
One thing we sure didn't see in the last election cycle is gay marriage advocates like Senator Feinstein and Mayors Newsom and Villaraigosa begging. Who begged? It was, in fact, a great coup to enlist a high-ranking Senator (as well as a high-profile actor like Samuel Jackson) in the civil rights battle that No on 8 eventually became.

It's hard to tell why Ms. Spinosa is as angry as she is. That she knows absolutely nothing about either politics or gay marriage advocacy is far more obvious.

The messes are old, and they are all religious

The first political mess created by the election of a Democrat to the presidency that will not go away anytime soon is the problem of Senator Joe Lieberman. For campaigning for the McCain/Palin ticket, liberals want Harry Reid to strip Joe of his committee rankings. An observant Jew always interested to legislate morality, Lieberman also has tried to tell Hollywood to stop making naughty films and record companies to stop publishing naughty music. Liberals will be disappointed that Lieberman stays in the caucus, which will make Reid himself vulnerable in 2010, but it's really not a fight worth fighting, lest Dems also want to strip, say, Robert Byrd of his committee ranks for his status of Exalted Cyclops in the KKK. There should be no litmus for being a Democrat, not even staunch opposition to the head of the party.

The second mess is that of renegade overpolitical Catholic bishops. The Catholic Church is famously not a democracy, but the the bishops like to pretend they represent Catholics across the nation in addition to the Pope in Rome; in fact, they represent neither. Because of their powerlessness, Catholic bishops are becoming more brazen in their insistence that Catholics submit to their edicts, to the extent that they are flirting with compromising the church's not-for-profit status, which would be a great tragedy for social services in America, especially in California and Louisiana.

The third mess is the fact that a high percentage of churchgoers in California happened to vote both for Obama and against gay marriage. Because black voters attend church in higher numbers than white voters do, gays are being asked by Republicans to feel like they were there for one civil rights battle, but they were abandoned for their own. This is a wild misreading of events, because none of the marketed opposition to gay marriage came from black leadership; it all came from Republican church groups. Nonetheless, Republicans are trying to use the statistical lie---that it is blackness, not churchgoing, that eliminated gay marriage--to split the Dems.

All three messes owe to the Republican party's pandering to religious fundamentalists and observants of every stripe for the past generation. This is the very side of the party that got so soundly drubbed in this election, especially by America's youngest voters, who represent our future. The fact that these three issues have presented themselves so soon after the election is encouraging, not discouraging, to the future of the Democratic party. As they were in the great civil rights battles, Republicans are on the wrong side of history.

The Seer

A memorial for Rochelle "Rockie" Gardiner, who for over two decades told you when your career was being thrown into retrograde by mercurial Mercury and if angry Mars or the plutocratic Pluto was in your money house, will be this Saturday, November 15, from 3-6 p.m. at Boardner's Hollywood.

Rockie died on Halloween, the ultimate stargazing date for exiting, at age 70. A few things you don't know about her: she went to Barnard; she became a widow in the very year she was married, the turbulent year of 1968; that year was the last time Saturn squared Uranus. And Rockie's last horoscope duly noted the occurence, happened again on Election Day, four days after Rockie's own death.

From the comments at the Weekly site:

Rockie in my opinion was a high Priestess , a prophet, a master of astrology and the most eloquent astrologer of our era...

Not to take anything away from the rest of L.A. Weekly, the great newspaper that I've been reading since the eighties, and since moving from L.A. have continued to read online, but it just won't be the same anymore. I am truly grateful for all of the insights that were to be found in Rockie Horoscope over the years and the help it provided my attempts to figure out how the stars and planets might influence my own corner of the universe. Thanks, Rockie!...

The only reason I used to read the LA Weekly when it first came out was for Rockie's column. She was magical, mystical and always right on the money. Hers was the best astrology column in the US for very long time....

Wasn't she the inspiration for "LA Woman" by The Doors?...

She was indisputably a defining voice of Los Angeles...

For twenty-five years I have been planning every big event in my life with Rockie, and she never let me down...

As the son of an astrologer I've been reading Rockie's weekly ever since I moved to LA in March of 1984. It took me about 2 years just to figure out what the hell she was talking about! But the column itself somehow trained me in astrology...

The professional astrologer got her " in" jokes and she raised the bar for those that weren't fluent in "astro- babble" as we professionals call it. She made astrology fun, factual and nailed accurate predictions! I have read her everyweek since I moved to Los Angeles in 1988....

I have always loved the fact that you gave a balanced perspective, and were kind to Capricorns, as not every astrologer is...

I met you in 1981 when you gave me a 2 hour reading of insight into my life past, present and future. It was an afternoon I have never forgotten, since you were so "right on" about me, and my past at the time. Now, 27 years later, the majority of your insights and predictions have materialized and are still unfolding...

Rockie's column has been my homepage for the past 10 years after moving from the LA area where I was always anxious to pick up the latest paper edition...

So many, feeling void of course. I don't think another Weekly scribe informed my life as dependably as Rockie over the years.


JM, Shakespeare Bridge Balustrade, 11.10.08

When I cross over the bridge at just the right time of day, the patches of sun left by the bridge's gothic balustrade resemble a constant bombardment.

The Onyx Sequel, ten years later

JM, The Sequel at the Echo, 11.09.08
Pardon my diversion. The Onyx Sequel closed down on November 28. That small event in the cosmology of LA has really not altered my perception of art in the least. Has it? The Onyx was LA's first coffee house. It closed in the early '80's and then relocated to Vermont Avenue (first a walk down the stairs, then down the block, and finally across the bridge for me), hence, "Sequel". The art was always bad, and the music always worse. The place looked perpetually in construction. The staff was not obnoxious, but never friendly. When handing you your coffee, they looked at you often in the uniquely Diesel runway model heroin addict way that says, "Now, I know how much change you get, just give me a minute to figure it out, OK, and get off my back about it,'ll just be a's all relative" cop a line from Barthes: Like phosphorous, though, the Onyx Sequel was shining best at the moment it was about to die. First came the Barbie exhibit, hundreds of photographs of Barbie and statuettes of Barbie, almost all suggestive of something really bad, even the double commotization of work was a Barbie hot dog, a Barbie between two hotdog buns...another a Barbie daisy chain, nude Barbies linked in an orgy was entertaining and angry and provocative and much more shocking without being truly offensive than anything I see at MoCA...Then there was Icarus's exhibition, which I described about four months ago, the 7-11 One World exhibition, with bewildering posters of 7-11 as a kind of UN militia company, sometimes with a revolutionary Che chugging a slurpee, all in Soviet-style poster art...Ultimately there was the last night. Everyone I had seen there in the past fifteen years, including a guy who seemed to have a laptop every time I had been in there in the past ten, was there. An impromptu band showed up, and played until 6 am, after which some went over to Griffith Park to watch the sunrise...What is it about these places that makes them when they are alive so very apparently incomplete, half-gestures everywhere, chaotic ideas everywhere, shabby and declasse and we roll our eyes and think, Oh, we're not going there again, are we? and then they pass away and they seem so much more fertile, more womblike every time you look inside at what has been just a bit more...when you're out from them forever postpartum they are so different...alive they are almost nothing, dead they are just like the immensely important interior of a yet unrecognized artist's soul...Since 11/28, I have been going out of my way so much more to see art in galleries, and I think I understand why...

-JM, 11/29/98

Folks and especially poets who knew the Onxy Sequel held a ten year commemoration party was last night at the Echo, and it was just as effed up as the place itself ever was. Richaro got crazy once again---it was crazy, man....

The space, of course, is now Figaro. When I first moved to Los Feliz in 1990, I lived in the very building. Then I moved down the block, to the coolest apartment building. Then I went to where I am now. That was the way you were supposed to do it: bachelor, apartment, house. That was the way the City was laid out before Garcetti, before Antonio, before Gail Goldberg. Now they expect you to jump straight from your bachelor pad into a $2K a month simulated urban cultural tourism zone.

Obama? The victory was all theirs. Maybe he even hung there when he was a student at Oxy back in the day.

LA's emerging edge city

The San Fernando Valley voted in astonishing numbers for President-Elect Obama and against Prop 8, Rick Orlov reports, exceeding even County of LA percentages in enthusiasm for Democratic candidates and principles.

The article seems to refute recent Republican efforts to stigmatize Prop 8's defeat as an African-American phenomenon, rather than a Christian Fundamentalist phenomenon.

Exit polling conducted by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles and other agencies also finds that the largely multicultural City voted against Prop 8 with the same amount of force that enormously Anglo Oragne County voted for banning gay marriage: 57%.
The Valley results reflect the continuing evolution of a region that has moved considerably to the left since it was known as a mostly white, conservative suburb a few decades ago, analysts said.
Orlov also points out that Vals Grieg Smith and Dennis Zine are the City's two lone Republican Councilpeople.

The Seance Remark as Brushback

It certainly stood out, even if MSM didn't comment on it right away. When asked about consulting with fomer presidents, President-elect Obama said:

"I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances."

The transition team said it was off-the-cuff, but it was, I believe, a reality check for the nation to heed. It was a brushback pitch. Superstition and sorcery, whether practiced by the Reagans, the Clintons, a praying Bush or a cheating Karl Rove, as of now is out of favor. The rational world would be ascendant.

Let some rightwing nutjob or fundie site come out and defend Ms. Reagan for her astrological forecasts, or Ms. Clinton for conducting her seances. The remark smacked two foes in one, and sent a message that this kind of thing wasn't happening here and now. It was scripted, and it was gold.

Now safely off campaign trail, Sarah Palin needs an intervention

Defeated white-trash veep candidate Sarah Palin has proven to have an even more scrambled brain than the McCain campaign allowed us to glimpse.

A few recent Palin quotes:

"If there are allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about NAFTA, and about the continent vs. the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context," she said.

It would be great to talk about the continent vs. the country of Africa with Sarah Palin. So exactly where is this country of Africa, guvnor?

Said Palin on Friday: "The Alaska voters have spoken and me not be a dictator, won't be telling anyone what to do."

"Me not be a dictator." Priceless. The brain cells controlling grammar and logic both in wild disarray.

When asked if she would call on him [Stevens] to resign, Palin said: "Not after the will of the people has been made manifest via that vote."

So the vote matters more to you than the criminal conviction, eh, guvnor?

Oh noes!

Your new President-Elect Barack HUSSEIN Obama is having a press conference.

Flanked behind him, some of the better minds of the financial and intellectual world...


What the ...

Is that who I think it is standing in the midst of that group, with my new Preznit? Oh damn! It is!

There's Los Angeles Mayor Antonio "Have You Seen Me?" Villaraigosa standing among the impressive crowd. Oh dear gawd, why?

The Official First Press Conference:

Barack HUSSEIN Obama: For now, Bush is still President. Until January 20th, people. Then I'm on the Mother. First thing: I will confront the economy.

First Question Ever As President-Elect (he picks a girl journalist, yay):

Girl Journalist: Thank you Mr. President-Elect. [That sounds so awesome! - Deb] What's your priority on Day One:

President-Elect Hopey: Restore confidence and speak to the needs of the economy.

More First Press Conference Tidbits:

-- Oooh, I can have another stimulus package?! Hooray!

-- President Bush has invited the Obamas over on Monday to get the low-down. Hopey doesn't anticipate any problems.

-- He's proud of the choice of Vice-President because "we did it right" "we made choices and weren't so rushed that we made mistakes." Ha ha. No comment.

-- He asked about a journalist's arm sling. Awww, he cares. He really cares.

-- He's spoken to all of living former presidents, so far. He's leaving the dead ones alone. He's re-read some of Lincoln's writings. President Carter and 41 (George H.W. Bush) have all been gracious and offered to help with the transition.

-- The Dog. This is a major issue. It's generated more interest on the website. Two criteria must be reconciled: Malia has allergies. They need a hypo-allergenic dog. But their preference is to resuce a shelter dog. "Shelter Dogs are mutts like me".

--Michelle is scouting-out schools. They'll decide about public vs. private at a later time.

-- Reiterates his tax plan as lowering the tax burden for the middle class.

"Thanks guys." - President-Elect Obama.

The end.

I feel smarter just listening to him. I always felt less intelligent listening to George W. Bush speak about anything. But most especially during Press Conferences.

This is change I can believe in.

It's Weasel Day at MayorSam. Again.

Rick Caruso is not running for Mayor, even though "sources" at MayorSam "confirmed" two weeks ago that he was.

And how does the site respond to its error?

MayorSam, October 21

"Inside sources are telling us that as per speculation here on Mayor Sam, megabucks developer and longtime civic leader Rick Caruso will announce that he will challenge Antonio Villaraigosa's re-election as Mayor of Los Angeles."

MayorSam, October 23:

"We broke the "news" that Rick Caruso is going to announce for Mayor. And that two very high profile local elected officials are prepared to endorse him. I can't say who but one might have a mustache."

MayorSam, today:

Wimp! It's Weasel Day!... &c.

It responds completely childishly. But it's MayorSam, where any day can be Weasel Day.

When the newspaper publishes erroneous information, the paper typically apologizes. But when this site MayorSam publishes fictitious information, they call the man who proved them wrong a "wimp" and a "weasel."

You've just learned why I left the site six months ago, and why I also was obliged to de-list the site from my blogroll two weeks ago, after four years of supporting it.

The site has always been eager to peddle rumours, and that performs a civic service. There is no tabloid journalism in Los Angeles, and the city would benefit from such, and MayorSam for a long time came closest to providing it.

But the rumours it has peddled this year, and the bloggers it has brought on this year, have been progressively more and more detached from reality. Instead of seeking out political truths, the site's founder Michael Higby decided to shore up readership this year by pandering to two of the City's political movements: the No 2 Home Depot effort, and the reactionary crowd that supports overturning Special Order 40.

Either movement, framed by integrity, could have made the blog a catalyst for change within the City. But with the concomittant inclusion and subsequent dismissal of so many unethical and anonymous bloggers this year, the decline of reliability, and the paucity of bloggers who present political rumors that turn out to be accurate, the site has become too unreliable and erratic to take seriously any longer, even as a rumor-mill.

The site should apologize to the City for presenting ill-founded rumors about Rick Caruso, which always seemed more wish than truth. Beyond that, it should scrap its strategy of pandering to local political movements for readership, and try regaining credibility by making the necessary effort to acquire truly reliable sources in City Hall.

WashPo wrongly scapegoats minorities, not white flight fundies, for Prop 8 approval

In a wild misreading of California voters, the Washington Post has attempted to scapegoat Latinos and especially blacks for the bare approval of Prop 8, not assigning the elimination of gay marriage to fundamentalist white flight congregations in Orange County, where the blame truly belongs.

Relying on exit polling alone, the WashPo concludes:

Seven in 10 African Americans who went to the polls voted yes on Proposition 8, the ballot measure overruling a state Supreme Court judgment that legalized same-sex marriage and brought 18,000 gay and lesbian couples to Golden State courthouses in the past six months.

However, within a far more formidable block of voters, the Orange County Registrar records the Orange County vote to be:

508,443 (57.4%)

376,752 (42.6%)

The 57.4% against in Orange County represents a far more formidable opposition than the less-than-1% difference between yes and no in Los Angeles County. In fact, blacks account for only 1.9 of the populations in Orange County and not even 7% of the people of California, yet Orange County had a far higher vote for the elimination of gay marriage than all Counties in the state with higher concentrations of blacks than the state average.

Sometimes the WashPo sounds like the Drudge Report; neither do regression analyses very well, sad to say.

UPDATE: A rigorous statistical examination at DailyKos thoroughly debunks the scapegoating.


JM, SoapPlant/Wacko/La Luz de Jesus, 11.04.08

SoapPlant sells Tarot cards, counter culture books and counter culture candy, but not runes.

"A newspaper should have no friends"

Joseph Pulitzer said it. Ron Kaye has some intriguing thoughts on why people pick up souvenir editions of newspapers such as Wednesday's, but are less inclined to pick up the quotidian fishwraps.

I was a newspaperman for 44 years and saw first-hand how competitive journalism turned into corporate monopoly journalism, how drunks and misfits were replaced by college graduates trained in journalism school and how a lot of the vitality and passion went out of the business.

That has as much to do with the decline and fall of newspapers as the changes in technology and demographics.

We're using computers day and night and the news is at our fingertips, on our cells, in our cars. News is like background noise in our fast-paced lives and a newspaper seems old by the time we read it.

The most basic question in a newsroom is where do stories come from? Government actions, tragedies, press releases? Or the creative imaginations and instincts of journalists who make sense of what the hell is going on out there and bring it to life with facts and quotes and insight.

A new journalism is being born on the Internet in blogs and the vast array of original information sources from nonprofits to corporations to public agencies.

It's a thrill for an old newsman to be part of this era of reinvention where news and social interaction are connected. It's where the penny press came from, where it was at when the First Amendment was written.

To work for a corporate newspaper, today's journalists are expected to lead bourgeois lives and remain beholden to everyone. They mostly don't know risk, so they don't reap rewards; they are fearful to lose "access", so they mollycoddle pols and only snipe after other scribes.

Time was when they were riverboat gamblers, beholden to nobody, sniped at the powerful rather than the powerless, and felt that if they weren't pissing someone off, they didn't write a good story. If more than two people showed up at their funerals, that was an indignity.

California by Rep district

NYT always does it best: California's new Representative list, and how the districts voted.

County busy counting, pols busy spinning

While some blogs are reporting that voter turnout in the County of Los Angeles was 82%+ as per the County's press release of November 4, Mayoral Candidate Walter Moore says that City of Los Angeles voter turnout was only 57%.

Moore's appraisal is misleading. Indeed, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, while 57% of the City's registered voters showed up on election day to vote on Proposition A, and 100% of those votes have been counted, this total does not include provisional and absentee ballots cast by City voters, believed to be as numerous as 250,000.

Meanwhile, the City's proposition A violent crime abatement parcel tax remains parked on the razor-thin margin of 4,700 votes short of passing, with a first update coming on Friday.

The County must certify election results within 28 days of an election, and posts its progress on Fridays and Tuesdays.

Drill, Baby, Drill

The Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, (CCB - or Criminal Courts Building to you O.G.'s) at 210 W. Temple (directly across the street from City Hall) has just been evacuated.

The District Attorney's Office has been evacuated; courtrooms, judges chambers, jurors, defendants, plantiffs, mid-trial even -- everyone had to high-tail it out -- no elevators, just the stairwells.

The Sheriff's Department is going floor by floor to make sure everyone is out safely.

This is only a drill.

Have fun walking back up 17, Dave. If you see Steve in the stairwell, tell him I said "yo!" Ha.

RedState conducting GOP snitch hunt

The Palin true believers at the popular conservative blog RedState are very upset that their candidate is being vilified by McCain operatives and GOP brass. So they're conducting a witch hunt/snitch hunt of their own.

It's called "Operation Leper."
RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper.

We're tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to Carl Cameron and others. Michelle Malkin has the details.

Who else? Leadership of the Real America is at stake. Knives out on both sides.

Anomalies in Alaska strongly suggest election fraud

With a native daughter on the national ticket and a hotly-contested Senate race involving a recently convicted Republican Senator, how could the vote count from Alaska be 14% LOWER than 2004?

Lavender mob forming

Perez Hilton talks of Prop 8 protest tonight at San Vicente and Melrose.

Leaping Corpse!

Double-decade pressman Ed Padgett of the former fishwrap of record reports to a broad Twitter audience that the Times 100,000 extras for November 5 are a sellout and the paper is printing at minimum 42,000 more copies.

City Gang Tax to be determined by provisionals and absentees

The City of Los Angeles's Prop A, the measure that would assess a parcel tax on any City of LA landowner to fund gang abatement programs, with 100 precincts reporting, is 4,674 votes short of a two-thirds majority---about half of one percent. However, provisional and absentee ballots, which accounted in sum for nearly a third of the City vote, have not all been counted.

The current count:
567,560 (66.12%)

290,799 (33.88%)

Revenge of the Community Organizers

Palin faces questions, different landscape when she returns to Alaska. [Anchorage Daily News]

Dear Sarah,

Later Hater. You know-nothing-nitwit. If I never see your dopey face or have to hear your completely unintelligible run-on, grammar-bashing, platitude-spewing, RACE-BAITING sentences ever again it'll be too soon. Please leave those of us in the Lower 48 to take care of business. We will leave you to your moose.

Gawd help the moose.




Deep Dish, Chicago Style

JM, Deep Dish, Chicago Style, 11.04.08

Deep Dish Chicago Style pizza, election night, from Masa of Echo Park, where we observed dancing in the streets.

Democracy is Coming

JM, Hyperion and La Paz, 7:30 a.m., 11.04.08

I've not seen this kind of a line in twenty years of voting in Los Feliz.

Joe's EZ Voting for count

I've covered most of the state and citywide decisions, as well as the national decision. Click through for preceding arguments.

The County recommends voting between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. if possible, when the lines aren't as long.


Barack Obama / John McCain. Don't be caught on the wrong side of history in this historic election. Don't be embarrassed of your 2008 vote for the rest of your life.

State Props

1 2 3 5 7 YES

City of LA Props



Local Measures




Joe's EZ County props: J YES Q NO R NO

I know that beyond the big races and the State propositions, which I've already discussed, there's a lot of confusion about what we're all voting on, as different City and other jurisdiction propositions go by a series of letters assigned to them by the County. If you're curious, here's a complete list of County of LA props for all our different jurisdictions.

If you live in the City of LA, you're voting on Props A and B, which I've also already discussed, and also on J, Q, and R. I'm voting for J and against Q and R. Here's why:


Especially when times turn bad, students turn to community college education; it's more important than ever. Prop J helps along vocational education especially. These people are the backbone of the City and the County; they are the people we depend on most. It's a small bond and the return on investment is enormous.


We've handed the LAUSD blank check after blank check after blank check, and they've returned the favor by giving us some of the least prepared for life students in the nation. The administrators have spent these kinds of bonds on boondoggle after boondoggle. There's no money in this for teachers; say NO to the District.


This is a lot of money; it's a half-cent sales tax for the County for thirty years, to step in and do for public transit what the State can no longer do. It's an enormous thirty year gamble, a blind bet on administrators who aren't even in college yet, on contractors who haven't even been born yet. It's too much of a leap of faith; the plan is not specific enough for voters to decide that it's the right thing to do.

Beyond these measures, I'd recommend clicking on the above link to read the questions that voters from Beverly Hills to El Monte will have to answer in their own local municipalities.

To All Souls

JM, Flower vase, with begonias and pumpkin, 11.02.08

The holidays of calendars of both nation and church are perfectly calibrated to the mood we feel along the cycle of the year. Mid-autumn, failing leaves and shortening light, is a time of remembrance, not only for veterans but for all. The green turns warm, the gourd is snapped off the vine, the flowers you are gifted flush a sober hue.

In a country whose inhabitants are increasingly youthful, which is hopeful, but also increasingly forgetful, which is not, today is a good day to take time to remember those who we knew who are with us no longer. Peace to your remembrances on what some know as All Soul's Day, or Dia de los Muertos, or simply the day the clock falls back. It is sobering, even a call to live: their stories are complete; they are what we will be.

Joe's EZ City of Los Angeles Propositions: A YES, B NO


The tiny parcel assessment for gang abatement programs is not likely to pass. But it's got a big heart, and it should.

Janice Hahn's best hope is that the property owners in town have $36 a year to spare for hundreds of programs that will keep at-risk kids out of trouble. In my neighborhood alone, that would be about a $400 savings a year, as we get tagged about once a year and Lynn insists on calling the painter to sand and repair it---which is also a good public policy. Keeping kids out of trouble is a simple no-brainer good investment for the average property owner. The rest aren't really affected and might as well vote YES, because they are affected by gang crime too, and hey, it's not their money anyway---they have nothing to lose.


Let's not even debate policy. Let's not even debate the chronic hyperineptitude of Mercedes Marquez's department, which will become the chief beneficiary should this turkey pass, or Gail Goldberg's department, which will be called upon to cut and paste quite a bit of longstanding and pointless code if it passes. For why you should vote NO against the convoluted, abstract, hopelessly muddled Prop B, just read the question:

Shall existing voter-approved authorization for low rent housing be revised to remove impediments to federal and state funding and requirements not compatible with current housing needs, and authorize the development, construction or acquisition of low rent housing by public entities in the City of Los Angeles, maintaining the previously authorized voter-approved level of 3,500 units per Council District, subject to availability of funding and all City development requirements?

Do you really think the voters you know and love--your doddering gramma, your down-the-block gangsta, your next door ESL learner, your typical time-wasting blogger--is in a position even to ANSWER such a question, let alone VOTE on it?

This is such a policy-specific pile of rubbish that even longtime policy wonks who have masters degrees in urban policy aren't sure what the hell the ramifications of this proposition will be. And: how often has the City enjoyed success by tinkering with code and development through the ballot box? It would be absurd to pass this plan.

Mid Autumn

JM, Ballona Creek Bridge, Playa del Rey, 10.26.08

Summer fled 9.22.08 @ 8:45 a.m.
Winter is icummen in @ 12.21.08 @ 4:04 a.m.
Autumn's midpoint is 11.06.08 @ 6:44 a.m.

World AIDS Day

Freddie Mercury, died 11.24.91