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street-hassle Sunday Sports Special


Congratulations to the Chatsworth Chancellor's baseball team for winning their third consecutive City championship yesterday at Dodger Stadium!

we are the champions my friends...
photo by john mccoy/daily news

Sandwiched in the middle of that Chatsworth dog-pile (the kid with the hand in front of his face) is player Christian Lopez (no relation) whom we've known since he was a kindergartener. I wrote about Christian's amazing mother Lupe, and his older twin brothers Daniel and Rafael last year over at MayorSam's.

Congrats again Chatsworth!

Felicidades familia Lopez!


Saturday Evening Post

T. Duke, Man with feline, 2.12.08

Bookchat: an editor tells me I might like the work of Annie Arneaux (The Possessions); I am determined to give it a try. Also, a close friend tells me to read or at least watch is Ishiguro's Remains of the Day for insight into what a butler might be thinking in remorse; I'm also going to follow up on that recommendation. And off of some bookchat two Sundays ago, I heard from Professor Alexandra Lord, who tells me she researched Condom Nation right here in LA while at USC (from her home base in Eagle Rock, in fact). Lord promises finagling a review copy.

Speaking of butlers: the book I'll likely be spending the most time with over the next lunar cycle is Judith Butler's Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, which has been a constant source of inspiration for my own scribbling on gender and identity---a category of thought that both fascinates and troubles me. This book is almost two decades old now and nobody has refuted much of it, though some, like Martha Nussbaum, have tried. Butler was one of the happy academics identified as a "rock star" by Francois de Cusset in last years' outstanding University of Minnesota offering, French Theory, and whether or not they are inclined to agree or disagree, her ideas on gender and identity make for excellent reading among people looking for answers to questions they have difficulty posing even to themselves. Also worth noting is the unbelievably lucid Judith Butler / Live Theory of Vicki Kirby, an Australian sociology prof; her parses of Butler's books

° ° ° ° °

Twitter has bookchat too: here's one from Colson Whitehead (author, most recently of Sag Harbor, Doubleday; Village Voice Review here).

RT @jamespothmer My first agent died. My second was fired. But when third quit to go, I kid you not, to clown school I had a crises of faith.

° ° ° ° °

You might have guessed: I've been away. I haven't been away in a while and I liked being away far better than I recall liking being away.

° ° ° ° °

But around our own burg, to which I return tonight even as Mercury turns direct (6:22 p.m. Pacific), news is that LA can no longer afford to support its 311 system. Some are outraged by this, but it's fine with me, as it never worked for me anyway.

Once about two years ago I called for graffiti removal, and if I had let the clowns who showed up touch my garage door they would have made a bigger mess than that graffito itself (which was actually quite handsome) presented. And once I called to get a streets-sign that was leaning like the flag at Iwo Jima arighted. Had no luck. Called again. Had no luck. Called again...finally I had a persistent seputagenarian call on my beahlf. That worked.

But mostly, I have called 311 about five hundred times, to get numbers in the Mayor's office, to talk to the Mayor's media relations people. Never once have they returned a call with anything resembling an honest answer, and lately--say the past three months, or starting when I began criticizing the Mayor for conducting a reelection campaign that effectively denied democracy to the City--they haven't returned calls at all.

So I'm not joining any bandwagon asking to "save 311" because as far as I know it is only there to connect citizens to agencies that don't work for you anyway. Begone, I say.

Saturday Evening Post

Roses: Artistry left, Tiffany right.

Most everyone in town who watches the town is aware that pointlessly pompous Oxy prof Peter Dreier dependably comes down on behalf of the Mayor's pet cause of affordable housing, which is the tool of choice for the limping Villaraigosa machine in shaking down developers for its war chest cash. And just as dependably, Dreier was there to lick the Mayor's wounds again after Los Angeles Magazine stated the obvious in Kit Rachelis' parting shot against the arrogant adulterous Mayor. What's funny about this scapegoating of Los Angeles Magazine by an academic who likes to work the decidely nonacademic side of the fence is that to date Los Angeles Magazine has been a completely neutered party in LA politics. Was more responsible journalism really practiced there when its scribes blew the Mayor kisses on its glossily limpid pages?

But the truth is that both apologists and enemies of the Mayor alike had little to crow about this past dystopic week, in which the March sinking of the Mayor was cemented in a way that was clear enough even for local journalists to understand. The Mayor's people may be circling the wagons, but the opposition has few ideas that look inclusive of people of color. In fact...

I personally feel progressives will regret electing a death-penalty advocate above Jack Weiss once they get to know the real Carmen Trutanich, but I hope his position on that issue "evolves." With local print trumpeting sensational, racially-charged stories such as the Hawaiian Gardens gang sweep in the news this week ("'VHG gang members have expressed a desire to rid the city of Hawaiian Gardens of all African Americans and have engaged in a systematic effort to achieve that result by perpetrating crimes' against them, the document states...") cranky talking heads will have plenty of instances of irresponsible journalism at which to wag their chubby fingers.

We above all hope that Tru does not get caught up in the coming Minuteman panderings. As the City's quotidien print fishwraps decline, they're likely to play race cards more and more, each and every way, looking for more readers from their reactionary but mercifully diminishing pool of cranky finger-waggers. Godwilling, our pols won't get caught up in the same kind of muckslinging the outgoing scribes (and some academics) have already sold themselves to.


Rodger Jacobs just hit the new XXXX. Wish him well. After a certain age, they deserve Roman numerals, like Super Bowls.

They Want You

Almost eight years since 9/11/01 and after enormous subsequent failures, we are beginning to make inroads in depoliticizing national security. Obama's national security speech today emphasizes the fact that we should not turn our back on our values when taking measures to preserve our nation.

The issues so hotly discussed by left and right---the closure of Gitmo, the sovereignty of Pakistan, the wish in Europe for war crimes tribunals in Europe---they all come down to the same issue: whether or not the military must play by rules made by civilians.

The War Machine---which always exists external to the State, rather than within it---is naturally at odds with attempts to keep it sworn to the same laws by which the rest of us must abide. It exists in lawless lands and rarely does it play by rules. Some practices may be counterproductive to our goals---not all lawless practices are, however.

In fact, it is precisely the quality of lawlessness that makes the War Machine effective; and it is the quality of lawlessness that also makes it dangerous. When you enlist, you cross over from on country and enter another. Your eyes should be wide open to that fact.

Post-wake trend analysis

You know who you are: you are, if you read this site a few times a week, a political trend watcher.

Here's one trend for you: even KCET recognizes the libertarian voice within the GOP.

Here's another for you: the right wing is too saturated with shrinking, aging pools of white trash ignormami to be bothered thinking about.

Here's the capper: the idiots in editorial at the LATimes, namely Jim Newton and Sue Horton, value the shrinking aging cesspool over the nacent libertarian voice that is trying to rescue the two-party system and the GOP.

The City staggers towards tribal implosion--again

The City had a chance to veer towards change and the future yesterday. Instead, it opted for the status quo and the tribal past.

Paul Koretz, a status-quo lipsynch-liberal in the tradition of Eric Garcetti, was narrowly elected to Council, where he will perpetuate the devolution of westside civic life. Most westside voters aren't fully acquainted with how much a machine hack he is, but in just barely passing the District's tribal litmus, he's all set to be the Fifth's next $178,000-a-year developer's doormat.

Carmen Trutanich, a chest-thumping death-penalty advocate and a tribal throwback to whiter days in the City, looks more like a Vegas pit-boss than a savvy, sang-froid Angeleno, but the anti-incumbency mood enabled him to trounce Jack Weiss anyway. His first oppositional, uncharitable comments are not encouraging. For those of us who actually care about the way the City prosecutes its criminals, this is not a good marriage. But if you thought Bradley-Gates was good for the City, I'm sure you will love Villaraigosa-Trutanich.

Of the two races, the Times and Daily News really blew it in endorsing Tru---if they did it simply to show up the Mayor, it was out of dislike for the Mayor's record. They should have voiced their opposition when the Mayor was running, not when one of his friends was. These two newspapers can't fold up their tents soon enough; we'll be so much better off when they go bye-bye at last.

Our post-newspaper State

Proposition: 1A 1B 1C 1D 1E 1F
San Francisco Chronicle Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Santa Rosa Press Democrat Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Los Angeles Times Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sacramento Bee Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
San Francisco Bay Guardian No No No No No No
San Diego Union-Tribune No No No No No No
Riverside Press-Enterprise Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Los Angeles Daily News Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
San Jose Mercury News Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Orange County Register No No No No No No

From the SF Chron, via Matt Welch at Reason: why our local fishwraps are especially dead: editorial boards that have completely lost it.

If you think it's a good idea for our vapid State Legislature to, say, borrow against future Lottery takings (1C) when they don't have the political guts to tell you what they'll spend it on, well, you'll get the State you deserve. What are you clowns thinking?

For City Attorney: Jack Weiss

I don't care much how you vote on the State props---they're going down, which is fine with me...maybe 1F has a chance, but that's a bagatelle. But the race for City Attorney is close, and I'm casting my vote for Jack Weiss.

The reason I'm supporting Weiss is very simple and clearcut. Trutanich made a death penalty conviction a centerpiece of his campaign. That was wrong, on two levels.

First, it's wrong to anyone who opposes the death penalty. I am opposed to the death penalty, so for me this is wrong prima facie. But I also understand when a City Attorney anywhere wants a job, he has to flaunt how tough he is.

However, even if I supported the death penalty, I believe Tru went much too far in flaunting a death penalty case in a City Attorney's race. His would-be office only prosecutes misdemeanors. It would be acceptable that Tru had won this case; but to win and brag later, willfully flaunting the public's ignorance of the scope of the office he seeks, is not acceptable.

You know I'm not a big fan of Weiss, and there has been much idle talk on what might happen if the top three elected officials in the City are general friends. But Zahniser's "expose" on the coming City Hall iron triangle of Villaraigosa-Weiss-Greuel earlier this year was an unusual blemish on the work of a fine reporter. Any businessman knows that when there is one boss and two friendly subalterns, the underlings quickly find ways to distinguish themselves from each other---it's competitive and healthy.

The race is close, very close. I don't wish a loss on Tru; my differences with him rests on philosophical grounds. I'm voting for Jack Weiss for City Attorney.


Sensitive instruments

The one on the right costs nothing.

Sometimes being a bit of a birder has its rewards. Another little tumbler rolling through the region affords a perfect opportunity to explore the achievements of Lifetime Ward of the State Lucy Jones and her crew of well-fed knight-errants at Caltech on one of the world's longest-running and least-fruitful research grants.

Yesterday afternoon, happily, I had a chance to compare Caltech's work in earthquake prediction (choke, wheeze, cough) against a murder of crows in the deodar cedar across the vale.

The crows appeared startled by life itself, and suddenly flapped high above the deodar into the sky above it---an unusual ascent for them, as they typically swoop low from tree to tree in the ravine. A few seconds later, we felt the quake.

Do crows know? Maybe, maybe not. But we don't hand them over billions of dollars over generations to tell us that there was an earthquake (which we were just dying to know), that there may or may not be another one (ditto), and that this particular one was eight miles below the surface. All these things we could compute with three well-placed seismographs and a slide rule, as they did it in 1971.

Caltech knows the public doesn't want answers, only bread and circuses. We've given much for fifty years, and they still can't tell us what might happen, only what has happened. Even a crow does it a little better.

Not the last valse

Very nice NYT piece on how Misha at 61 is still inspiring choreographers and still performing with verve.

Just in time

Of the seasonal book catalogs I receive, I look forward most to the one from The Johns Hopkins University Press--America's oldest university press. (I get academic press catalogs the way Katharine White got seed catalogs). The titles from Johns Hopkins are the most notoriously encyclopedic of all academic catalog offerings.

And this most recent one, in step with what must be on the minds of lots of academic-leaning Americans in the downturn, Johns Hopkins for Fall 2009 features quite a few books on what we do when nobody's looking.

The Orgasm Answer Guide
by Barry R. Komisaruk, Beverly Whipple, Sara Nasserzadah, Carlos Beyer-Flores and perchance Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice too answers such questions as "Can orgasms cause a heart attack?" as well as something our friends at Metblogs LA are worried about, "How can I tell if my partner is faking an orgasm?" and also something the bloggers at LA Observed are quite worried about, "Do orgasms end at a certain age?" The book is called "A must read for every couple" by Mark Schoen of, which is not a Valley production company.

If you're looking for something a little more politicosexual, the promising title Unspeakable: Father-Daughter Incest in American History by Lynn Sacco, an assistant prof at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (presumably an optimal research nexus for this topic) asserts that in the nineteenth-century, "father-daughter incest was understood to take place among all classes," but in the so-called Progressive Era, white Protestant devils found it a useful tool for demonizing immigrants and blacks, even as media find pedophilia useful for demonizing Catholics today. This book is a promising triple-scoop of taboo, prejudice, and political manipulation. Can't wait to get a copy...really.

The fabled poster "She May Look Clean---BUT" part of the jacket copy for Condom Nation: The U.S. Government's Sex Education Campaign from World War I to the Internet. Written by Alexandra M. Lord, who both received a Ph.D. from UWMadison and served as a historian with the United States Public Health Service---and if you've ever spent time on the istmus you know that both resume points are special qualifications for this kind of book.

Menopause Matters: Your Guide to a Long and Healthy Life
, is, according to the catalog, "in a class by itself when it comes to menopause books." I cannot argue. Julia Schlam Edelman, M.D. F.A.C.O.G. covers it all, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, poor sleep, and...memory loss. Amazing how contagious some of these symptoms are.

Don't worry about Johns Hopkins tacking too much to trade winds with these kinds of titles for Fall: the catalog is also filled with the usual arcana of Baltimore row houses, historical bacteriology, muddled urban planning, and weepy railroad nostalgia, some through softly-focused academic lenses, some through sharp bifocals. (A book about waterpower in Lowell, Massachusetts looks particularly promisingly arcane.) But the gender and sexuality offerings I think are opportune in a year when money is tight and winds are shifting in curious ways.

I haven't read any of these books yet because they haven't been released. But I hope to get a couple of them from my second-favorite academic press (University of Minnesota Press with its French Theory devotion and support is always on top) and report back in time for fall.

The active and distracted in the LAUSD

PHOTO: Nick Ut, AP, because just like the Times we can't be in two places at once...

While soccer moms and Sandra Tsing Loh sported faux Che berets and offered parental distraction in Balboa Park, a few dozen teachers were arrested on Beaudry in a melee of a protest over teacher layoffs.

Musica Angelica tries Hadyn, Mozart, Bautista Sancho

Hadyn's wife used music to line pastry pans, I once learned in a poem. Maestro Martin Haselböck conducts some of the stuff that didn't end up in the strudel dish, as well as orchestral works by Mozart and Juan Bautista Sancho at Herbert Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School, 200 S. Grand Ave. Saturday at 8 p.m.

The Musica Angelica program of sacred music includes Haydn’s Organ Concerto for Violin, Organ and Strings in F Major and Salve Regina, Mozart’s Church Sonatas, and his rarely-performed, early dialog with an angel, Grabmusik.

Also, the ensemble will feature Spanish composer and missionary Juan Bautista Sancho, who wrote a mass for angels ("los Angeles" as it happens) as a California colonial. Musica Angelica will play the Kyrie and Gloria from Missa de los Angeles. It's a fabulous program and a chance to hear some very rarely performed works, including one of the first European classical pieces written in California.

Tickets range from $39-$55, and student ID gets you in for $15. The program also plays
May 17, at 4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica. Baroque guitar specialist and local prof Craig Russell (photo) will not only perform but also give a pre-concert talk, so arrive early enough to enjoy it.


When life gives you lemons

JM, Goooo-oool, 5.15.09

It is said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. History will decide if the battle of Beaudry will be won on the soccer fields of Balboa.

About three-hundred non-title-one (read: Anglo, occasionally Jewish) parents came to Balboa Park's soccer fields this morning to listen to Elissa Taub, Sandra Tsing Loh, and LAUSD Valley board member Tamar Galatzan proclaim that they were mad as hell and not know. The Lemonade Initiative, formed in recent weeks as an apolitical flack-catcher for disenchanted parents fed up with baking Snickerdoodles to supplement LAUSD Category I budgets, also marched on the District office of...LAUSD's Tamar Galatzan, one of the speakers (?).

The group already has its special argot: the main buzz distinction from other PTA groups is to carefully distinguish between "Teachers" (good) and "UTLA" (bad). In this way, it looks like an unwitting adjunct of the charter movement, whose longterm gameplan to villify teachers in order to cherry-pick public schools for private profit is well-known. The politically mercurial Ms. Loh artfully scapegoated "tenured health benefits for teachers" as one of the coming causes of the budget problem (it is not presently a problem), and claimed that "noone understands how district funding is done," then conceding that "six consultants in Sacramento" do indeed understand. One of the "not exactly political" (Loh's phrase) manifesto points as articulated by Taub is for "purchasing power for our local schools"---Cortines's decentralization plan of ten years ago, which caused some of the greater funding messes in the first place, finding new expression.

Galatzan, peddling lemons

Galatzan spoke without doing much speaking, ultimately promising to "to continue to be your partner in this fight" that isn't exactly political. Then the group marched up Balboa, on...wait for it...District offices, including Galatzan's office. For this revolutionary activity, Ms. Loh, whose publicity person passed out flyers on her behalf for an upcoming performance, sported a Che beret. The march, indeed the event, felt more like crossing a picket line than storming the Moncada Barracks.

Tin Soldiers

Facing cuts and facing criticism, City workers may become increasingly indignant, and even express an arrogance of power we more typically expect from the Mayor's office. The latest public payroll people to join the assault on ordinary citizens are some public faces of the LAPD, who let a Hummer run over several bicycles without citing the driver.

LAUSD attorneys flaunt teachers' First Amendment privileges

"I fear the District has become a basket case."--Rob Greene, KPFK

Connie Llanos is covering the LAUSD beat now for the Daily News, at least this time, and she says that the LAUSD was back in court today, trying to block the teacher's walkout-that's-not-a-walkout, but a protest, tomorrow.

Locals voted up or down on whether they would walk out tomorrow or not. Some will and some won't take part in the before-and-after-school protest.

You need a lot of hypens when you cover the LAUSD.

UPDATE: Sour Val parents stage Lemonade rally tomorrow in Balboa Park, 10 a.m., RSVP requested, and that means you too, Mekahlo Medina and local satellite truck teams!

YESTERDAY: Debbie Lopez on Cortines' robo-calling parents.


HuffPo courts daddy's money for RFK Center

This is awful: HuffPo auctions off media internships for charity...
"Jumpstart your career in the blogsphere," the listing suggests, "with an eye-opening internship at The Huffington Post in New York or Washington."

The auction's beneficiary, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, seems exceptionally worthy. But are unemployed media wannabes really this worthless?

Yes, they are. If you're young and for some reason want to work media, work politics first. At least they'll pay you.


Special Matt Szabo issue of Los Angeles Magazine soon to hit newsstands

So, Matt has patronizing some scribes while stonewalling others worked out for you?

Now that the news of the failed Villaraigosa mayoralty has reached Los Angeles Magazine, which never gets anything first, second, third, or even nineteenth, it won't be long before even the equally failed local op-ed pages get the courage to print actual opinions about Antonio, rather than little fluffy bunny stories about where people live.

The very first thing the Mayor can do to redeem himself from "failure"---which he already has been doing, ironically enough---is fire his failed communications man, who hitched up to the wrong post only because he thought there were posts to hitch up to.

Now ~

Six nations in search of an enemy

My old chum Doug Bandow asks What's NATO for again?

Last month also: Really, what is NATO for?

Bella Donna

Rodney Punt, Tod Mesirow and I are all very pleased that Donna Perlmutter has joined us at LA Opus. Donna's debut review is of last Friday night's concert with the LA Philharmonic under the sturdy and authoritative baton of Maestra Xian Zhang.

Donna Perlmutter reviewed classical music for many years at the LA Times and most recently at now-defunct LA Citybeat. Her Viking book Shadowplay: Anthony Tudor's Life in Dance is a biography of the Cockney-born choreographer, and stands as one of the rare books that makes the often difficult-to-describe topic of dance not only approachable to general cultural readers, but also documents the transformational quality of the art form itself as it worked through Tudor's life. We couldn't be more proud to have Donna in the mix.

The Empire Strikes Back


After a looong evening of meetings (Girl Scout Leader followed by Northridge West Neighborhood Council) I was greeted by this cheery message on my answering machine last night:

Our LAUSD Superintendant Ramon C. Cortines was robo-calling parents, assuring them that he had effectively bitch-slapped UTLA into submission and school was on as scheduled for Friday.

Oh... and parents, with the proper I.D. he said, would be welcome on campus this Friday.

In case Supt. Cortines forgot, there is still CST testing on Friday and parents are not allowed on campus at all during testing. D'oh!


For the longest time, I kept wondering why the message creeped me out so much; the tone, the tenor of the Superintendant's voice ... I couldn't really put my finger on it.

Later that evening, the text messages, emails and private Facebook missives started trickling in on my phone: "That Cortines sounds like a jerk" "His phone message makes me feel like keeping my kid home on Friday after all.." "Got Ray's message. Ugh" "Why can't we ever have a Superintendant who sounds both educated AND caring?" and on and on...

In the middle of the night (as it often happens), I finally figured out why I was so skeeved out: that phone message and voice creeped me out so darn much because they reminded me of this Dude:

what is your bidding, master antonio?
Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars

[Update: The drama continues]

from UTLA:

UTLA weighs next steps in light of court decision

Friday morning picketing will continue -- LA Superior Court judge issues a temporary restraining order against the one-day strike. UTLA will comply with the judge's order. The march to Beaudry is cancelled, but Friday morning picketing will continue. (Details coming later today)

With all the game playing, jockeying for power and capitalizing on the anger, frustration and fears of parents for their own political futures (certain school board members, perhaps?) both sides of this equation (LAUSD & UTLA) aren't making this situation any easier for either parents or students.

May the Force be with all you LAUSD Parents. You're going to need all the help you can get.

Argonaut, Again

JM, Engagingly dull, 5.13.09

One of the shortest streets in LA also is one of my favorite street names. Is there another street shorter than Argonaut in Playa del Rey? Sleepier? More poetic? It's always gray in the morning, sunny in the afternoon, proximate to so many things that haven't changed (inside one right now that has changed without changing: Cafe Milan---was last here on Derby Day and marveled at all the incongruous photos of Laffit Pincay, Jr. on the west wall). So far away from elections, gangs, City Hall, peeling out, car dolce vita at last. The ALS is hugging the south curb.

EARLIER: Argonaut (1.31.09)

This is not satire.

Vintage tries a "multi-tiered social networking approach" to promoting the next would-be Weetzie Bat, this one titled Undiscovered Gyrl, a novel by Allison Burnett. The novel is in the form of a blog written by a seventeen-year-old girl. The Vintage publicist calls the book “'a very literary, fast-paced coming-of-age story'” that is equal parts Go Ask Alice and Twin Peaks."

No further comment.

"Better know a District--the Mighty 36th"

Whoa. Marcy Winograd is running headlong into the teeth of the booming gale again, feeling there might soon be a windshift. Winograd, a local progressive, kicks off her campaign this afternoon at Venice Pier against AIPAC-lovin' Blue Dog Dem Jane Harman.

Winograd also challenged Harman two terms ago, and garnered 38 percent in the June 2006 primary. The issues were similar. In this HuffPo post, Winograd talks of feeling even in 2006 that Harman needed "to be challenged -- on the wiretaps, on the war, and on her collusion with the Bush mob."

It's a seat that has also long been coveted by Hillary backer Janice Hahn, who has not declared interest in this particular election. The District is fairly evenly split between Dems and GOP but has trended Democratic through the past decade.

Keeping you perpetually pedalling

In case you missed it, this is Bike-to-Work Week and Thursday is Bike-to-Work Day.

I am glad for boosting cycle use and cycle rights, but I wish council prez Eric Garcetti would work as hard on bringing new homeowners into the City instead of perpetually mollifying renters with consolation prizes such as this one, while unaffordable rents eat away the renters' real incomes.

Also, serial cyclist Will Campbell (who lives in Garcetti's district) recently completed a ride from Silver Lake to the Watts Towers and back to Boyle Heights. I'm watching for what he might have to say about Bike-to-Work Day/Week, as his own route to work by bike is typically fraught with peril.

Print may be dying, but journalism isn't

Journalism is fine; it's readers and the people who chase them who have all the problems.

David Barstow won an investigative Pulitzer for his investigation into the Pentagon's too-close relationship to retired generals who performed as propagandists during the early stages of the Iraq War.

The Department of Defense's Inspector General, after observing the award and receiving sharp blogosphere critiquing in the fallout, recanted an earlier report that trashed Barstow's version of the facts.

The marriage of print prestige and interactive pressure achieved this rare result. The people who ceaselessly bewail the death of journalism should actually try practicing some sometime.

Twitter to rescue books?

Missed this one from the always excellent Leon Neyfakh yesterday, but it's about Twitter as the new Oprah in the book world. Also makes mention of, an important service.

"A lot of people feel like it's scary times out there—newspapers are closing, book publishing is having so many problems—but I think there's a contingent of us who feel excited," she said. "We used to be dependent on the newspapers and Oprah, and we were always on the begging end of it. Always." Now, she said, "you can feed it out in all directions ... and the media comes calling. The power is definitely shifting."

Come to think of it, the last two books I picked up, I first got a hankering for at Twitter.

France's bold foray

France's Consul General, former Sarkozy aide, and newlywed David Martinon has a blog.

The city's Spanish, English, German, and Mexican consulates do not. They do, however, advise you to call the tourist office if you have questions about the way their countries do business here.

Nor does our own Mayor's office does not have a blog. Nor do Ace Smith, nor does Parke Skelton, nor does Robin Kramer, and nor do Mariel Garza or Jim Newton. There is no direct or indirect path to communicate with the leadership of Los Angeles, or even their flacks, if you are a citizen here.

Yes, that's right---in Los Angeles, you matter more to the President of France than you do to the Mayor of Los Angeles.

By the way, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been to China, Latin America, Israel, and Ireland---but never to continental Europe.

Former backup fishwrap grows even more timid

Save me, Earwin, save me...

Can you imagine a slide show more vapid than Magic + Mayor? We've seen five hundred of these already. While most locals know how weakened the Mayor is, the Daily News remains afraid to state the obvious.

First National Bankruptcy

Everyone everywhere is tongue-tied, quite. They don't know what to say. They're getting positively elliptical.

On the national level, there is the realization that Geithner is Wall Street's poodle. He had to blog the national fishwrap of record yesterday, to validate his choice to buttress rather than tear down. The key line is this one: "Some banks will be able to begin returning capital to the government, provided they demonstrate that they can finance themselves without F.D.I.C. guarantees." In short, so as long as banks continue to fail any stress test, they get to keep the money he gives them, without payment.

Geithner is shaping up to be like a bankruptcy trustee who errs on the debtors' side, putting off the creditors---a practice that only extends the bankruptcy as long as possible.

Fishwrap, Cortines buy into charter "scapegoat the teachers" tactic

As though LA Unified's teachers weren't beleaguered enough by class size and students who don't speak the language of the classroom, the former fishwrap of record continues to scapegoat them, as does Villaraigosa hatchet-man Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

Hot in the south

Geographers map the preponderance of the seven deadly sins by county. Hat tip to Billy Jensen.

When Weiss rolled the dice

Jack Weiss helped sew up the westside Jewish vote for Antonio Villaraigosa with this opinion/endorsement in the Jewish Journal of May 17, 2005.

The pairing of a Latino council member from the Eastside and a Jewish council member from the Westside and the Valley might seem an unusual match, yet Antonio and I have more in common than one might expect.

Each of us believes that leadership means taking a stand and fighting for what's important, even when it's politically unpopular. Each of us believes that we were elected because our constituents wanted us to make a difference. Each of us strives to address the big issues of citywide public policy, while continuing to meet the day-to-day needs of our districts.

We have grown closer together with our shared goal of making Los Angeles a better place to live. Antonio and I collaborated to find additional funding for new police officers without raising taxes. We fought to stop an airport expansion plan that increases our vulnerability to terrorism, and we have begun to implement better management policies for city funds, so residents and businesses in the city can be certain that public resources are not being wasted.

There are too many urgent needs in the city to accept anything less than a dynamic and determined leader to be mayor. Improvements in areas such as preserving the environment, creating meaningful mass transit and enhancing public safety are desperately needed and have gone unaddressed for too long.

We need a mayor who will bring everyone in the region to the table to solve these problems. We also need a mayor who will use his public prominence to tackle issues traditionally thought to be beyond the purview of the job, such as education and health care.

Also: in 2005, we needed a Mayor whose team would return phone calls from ordinary citizens. We needed a Mayor who wasn't a developer's doormat. We needed a Mayor who could appoint local talent, not failed outsiders, to crucial City departments. We needed a Mayor whose press team could tell you something completely ordinary about his day, like where he went to Mass on a given Sunday, or why he wasn't wearing his wedding band. We needed a Mayor who wasn't beholden to the likes of Ace Smith and Parke Skelton for policy making. We needed a Mayor who worked more at making the City's traffic flow better.

A note from your apothecary

It was bound to happen: a Swine Flu Cocktail, in time for Cinco de Mayo, with an obligatory half-shot of tequila in it.

1 shot bacon-infused bourbon (recipe here)

1/2 shot reposado or anejo tequila

juice of 1/4 muddled lemon

splash of limoncello (up to 1/2 shot)

Shake with ice (or stir), strain and pour over ice. Garnish with superfruit (blueberries, blackberries or mango slice)

Is that the cure or the disease?

Patt Morrison is lost again

It's all about...where people are from.

Will someone please help out Patt Morrison? Maybe get her a Thomas Bros at last? She continues to wonder where people are from.

EARLIER: The LA Times: A poor joke on local democracy

Unsavory appointment

From the tale of the Mary Cummins-Cobb/Ed Boks entanglement, we learn:
Court documents said Boks used vulgar and sexual language, emailed or phoned her up to 20 times a day, frequently asked her out and also showed at her house, uninvited and apparently under the influence of alcohol.
A settlement has been reached that the Mayor must approve.

The Cummins-Cobb/Boks saga has been an enormous headache for local online community, as the dispute has often spilled into various comment pages, including ours, MayorSam's, and WitnessLA's.

Cummins-Cobb is headed for a $130,000 settlement for enduring whatever discomfort she endured, and would likely receive 60-70% of that after contingency. It's not an enormous payout for a sexual harassment case. Still, it is something the taxpayers must pay, and thus warranted the lead story status it received in Saturday's Daily News. It seems almost worth it to have the matter behind us; maybe it will get all warring parties to shut up and stop bugging us.

But also we dutifully note that with the the LA Weekly following up on some of the work we've done on developer doormat Gail Goldberg, this hasn't been a good week for the Mayor's out-of-town department head appointments. With Gloria Jeff already long gone, Boks out, and pressures building on Goldberg, we can only wonder how well these people were vetted, if at all.

Antiseptic Left Turn

JM, Banal crossroads, 5.1.09

Thirty years ago, Hollywood and Vine was like Times Square---and I mean that in the worst way. Today, Hollywood and Vine is like Times Square---and I mean that in the worst way.

The CRA's scrub brush has brought inlaid crosswalks, sand-blasted facades, fashionable jeans, too-trimmed palms and a guy on a Harley to this old time grubby intersection formerly for man-whores, cracked actors and a perpetually drooling newsboy. I liked it better the way it was, when nobody liked it the way it was. And I had a memorable internship in the Taft Building in 1984---when you could open a window and hear sirens and queens breaking glass down in the parking lot.

Good gratuitous view of east Hollywood Boulevard/Argyle in the driver's mirror, but too bad it's not wide enough for that old Pep Boys....

The right reader

For scribes like you, this is noteworthy:

The Early Reviewers program [at Library Thing] is f’ing effective at putting books into the hands of the right reader.

I wonder about that. I wonder if we lose something by being targeted by complex algorithms rather than stumbling upon something incidental, tangential, but surprisingly transformational.

Memory banks do not lend themselves to browsing, George Steiner once said, before all this happened. That may no longer be true---it's easy to browse online---but maybe "right" is simply the word that bothers me. The right reader is not always a buyer, but online communities often seem to prioritize buyers above browsers hunting for ideas. I'm guessing that such targeting only widens the gulf between academic and trade, which is, to my mind, in need of narrowing.