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What's so messy about the First Amendment?

PHOTO: Monica Valencia

"The First Amendment is messy," the Mayor told a subordinate media pool today.

Other than that--and the local media sitting on their collective hands and buying it--this is probably the most horrifying thing I've read all horrifying month:

1:48: Fox 11's Gigi Graciette says on Twitter that she was one of three TV pool reporters "randomly chosen to cover arrests in park. Deal was to NOT tweet as to not have advantage over other stations." But she complains that one reporter tweeted all night anyway. 
Let's take a look at some other language I recall.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But there's really no need for Congress to try to make any law abridging freedom of the press when corporate media are so willing to abridge their own freedoms for the sake of shutting out other media.

Local TV stations--making a deal on coverage!

A reporter whining about another station breaking the deal among them!

Whining about "unfair advantage"--on Twitter!

And how does all that all fit in with our expectations for a free if messy press, exactly?

You can now go back to sleep

The bizarre final LAPD sweeping and sani-wrapping of the equally bizarre OccupyLA movement has ended with capitulation on all sides: Mayor, cops, protesters...and media too.  There have been meek criticisms:  KCAL-9 was widely criticized for appearing to lust for more rapacious conflict than what indeed transpired; LAPD were criticized for appearing to police which media were credentialed to cover the sweep; the Mayor was criticized for engineering what unkindly used to be called a Mexican standoff...but mostly it was all good news.

Thus, somehow, from Mother Jones to KCAL-9, the overriding message of all this extraordinary restraint is that all this has been a "success" and so you can now safely go back to sleep.  The LAPD have overcome a thuggish reputation.  The protesters were not provoked to violence, not even by bigger cameras than their own.  And the Mayor did not panic when protesters failed to leave the park yesterday, when the park became officially closed at night--which it has been by ordinance throughout the sixty-day occupuation.

photo: Antonio Castelan, KNBC
A few thorny details remain to be sorted, however.  There are reports of LAPD taking DNA samples from protesters, not only of the arrested.  The way there was an approved media list in a day and age when those outside of mainstream media are the most widely read certainly gives one pause.  And the reported $5,000 bail set on arrested protesters seems hopelessly "excessive" for the crime of pitching tent in a City Park.

For a while, it was indeed a very dangerous situation.  For a while, you were almost invited to pay more attention to what goes on in City Hall, something not even the protesters with their proximity and access did very well.  But everyone in the media pool wants you to go back to sleep now, and I suppose you will, reassured by mainstream media, who are just as sanitized as the park soon will be.


Villaraigosa bungles OccupyLA eviction
Hizzoner says the Park is closed, but drew additional protesters while trying to shut it down.

Summer Math

KPFA's Summer Reese pumps up the ground game with flabby facts.

Everything I've written on OccupyLA to-date.

Report: OccupyLA becoming class distinct

An NPR report suggests all is not solidarity in the City Hall encampment.

Robert Reich: Another #OWS One-Frame Gag

The former Secretary of Labor takes to the streets to try to revive an old banking act that was obsolete years before Congress made it so.

Occupy Fatigue

Civic leaders were pals to the revolution--now they're worried about the mess it makes. 

Council and OccupyLA: tango or fistfight?

Council readies a tepid motion to back the Occupiers; should the Occupiers take it gladly, or redouble their protest? 

Art Walk not so lucky as OccupyLA

Free Ponchos for the protesters, but a big bill for the locals.

Down Dog Protesting

Going to the protest? Bring your yoga togs.

Your grandstanding Mayor and City Council

Running for their photo ops. 

Garcetti grabs onto OccupyLA coattails

Alarcon Meets-&-Greets OccupyLA

A City Councilman happens to have a banking resolution in pocket that may please Occupiers. 

From Crown to Liberty to...Zuccotti

It was a crown jewel of it's a privatized park. 

OccupyLA: small, "peaceful and stable"

Underwhelming crowds to launch the mixed-bag protesting.

The mailbox moves on

Much thanks to Ken Draper at CityWatch, for reprinting a long piece about the Los Feliz of twenty years ago, "The Mailbox That Vanished" that I originally wrote for Zocalo two weeks back.

Both CityWatch and Zocalo are widely-read, leading beacons in the LA political and cultural spheres, and very writerly alternatives to some flailing print pubs.  They each feature thirty or forty pieces a week, drawing top writers from throughout California and also the nation.  Ken's city-driven site hammers most things out at street level; Zocalo is a little more lyrical and a little more literary.  Very glad to be well-though of at both, because I like to reach both kinds of readers.

Mentioned in the piece is the Rustic, among other watering holes around here.  I rolled into the Rustic just today, in fact, to take a Black & Tan--unthinkable twenty years ago--and to chat up Lexi, who was likely cranking a Big Wheel twenty years ago.  Indeed, a few of the places from the Los Feliz of twenty years ago remain relatively untouched.  Lexi tells me I should get out more...

So I did.  And while I did, I encountered Leo Wolinsky's piece, "California Dreaming--a museum relic?" which is of a similar theme, and which appeared today at HuffPo.  Wolinsky is editor of Variety and erstwhile of the former fishwrap of record.

When you see we're all one

NOTE: I wrote the following November 30, 2001--the day after George Harrison died, which was ten years ago today.

Even with his life and his work now complete, it's hard to evaluate George Harrison. He was, on the one hand, probably the Beatle who genuinely wanted to get most "out there." On the other, he wasn't afraid to go Lifting Material from the World in moments in which he was insufficiently inspired. But that's understandable behavior--for a composer. So did Wagner. So did Mozart. And Mahler couldn't stop sampling...himself. Working from things of interest is simply the usual life of the great composer. And I think it's as a composer that people should consider Harrison first and foremost.

Whereas Lennon and McCartney's songs are double helixes, with traces of both songwriters wrapping around the other and popping in here and there in a way that suggests something extraordinary, Harrison's compositions not only bore Harrison's sole imprimatur, but they rode over you with the heaviness that suggested they belonged to a greater oeuvre than the one you are presently hearing. They are all icebergs, lone rugged documents with miles of solid musical history running deep underneath. They are the consequence of being closer than anyone else to the two finest songwriters on the planet at a particular time, and of trying to aim higher still.

His post-Beatles history, while thin in long patches, is nonetheless rife with manic examples of what composing meant to him: everything. The first things one notices about either All Things Must Pass or Living in the Material World is that they were supremely overproduced, just the way a manic composer would do it. They are filled with ideas--even each song has dozens--and lots of which are worked through and then abandoned nearly as soon as they are announced; they wander, they drift, and they float away, but they are there to come back to, even decades later, because, unlike much else in pop, they are not merely riffs, but completed ideas.

The Concert for Bangladesh, which Harrison put together with great energy, willed a whole new concept into being: music as helper to the newsreel needy in the world. It moved pop music even further, far further, towards altruism than the Beatles had brought it; it brought pop to nearly foreign policy status. If Bono and Sting hang with world leaders and UN committee types today, it's Harrison's vision in Bangladesh that got them there.

Bangladesh was also Harrison's acknowledgment that he needed other musicians around to be fertile. More than anything else in his career, I think, it shows what Harrison was always thinking, and who he wanted to be. It was, in a very short time, a supremely distant kind of energy from the gesture of jotting off a Savoy Truffle or two for a Beatles album; it was the energy of a fully realized composer, which Harrison only became near the Beatles' end times.

With regard to his Beatle life, it's hard to believe that someone could be both in something as visible as the Beatles and still underrated as a musician/composer, but I think Harrison was this. Later in life, as for Beatle music, it's Within You and Without You, not only for its Indian orientation but for the Stravinski-like measureless refrain, that most interests me and many others; including, say, Patti Smith, an artist now known mostly for covers, who only covers this song among all the Beatles catalog.

A gentle soul, Harrison came away from India far more affected than the others. And of course Here Comes the Sun, which has never lost its warmth, not even in the dead of winter with the ice slowing melting, remains for me the sole tune which feels both like it belongs near the top of the Beatles canon and is also recognizably and purely Harrison top to bottom.

Like anyone interested in the manic deep art of composing, rather than the effervescent surface art of songwriting, he never was much of a pop star. Evidence:
There'll come a time when all of us must leave here
Then nothing sister Mary can do
Will keep me here with you
As nothing in this life that I've been trying
Could equal or surpass the art of dying
Do you believe me?

There'll come a time when all your hopes are fading
When things that seemed so very plain
Become an awful pain
Searching for the truth among the lying
And answered when you've learned the art of dying

--Harrison, Art of Dying, All Things Must Pass
And so finally, there is death, everywhere in Harrison. Perhaps not death so much as cognizance of its uncertain adjunct, the bus-stop of life. Death is in almost every single lyric of note--even Blue Jay Way suggests someone lost in fog, never arriving, and that is death too, but it's also passage.

It wasn't a surprise when Harrison was obliged to fight cancer against long odds--he always looked frail, and death was his great fascination, over and over. One suspects he was prepared for it.

School is out at OccupyLA

I followed an OccupyLA "People's Collective University" tweet advertising classes today. But an email from the anonymous contact tells me that "all classes cancelled now."

Email for your own updates!

Villaraigosa bungles OccupyLA eviction


"That is why tonight, City Hall Park, where protesters and others have camped for nearly 60 days, will officially close," Mayor Villaraigosa said in an announcement yesterday.

But it didn't happen. In fact, the OccupyLA presence only grew larger and more defiant.

The Mayor and the city made a very large mistake in forecasting the very hour of the de facto order to vacate.  The Occupiers had a chance to enlarge the protest and the media had a chance to focus attention on the deadline.  Both made the evacuation order impossible to implement.

The broader city, including its already beleaguered business community, has a chance to bear witness to how weak and especially how administratively ineffective this Mayor truly is.  He promised to restore order to the public property entrusted to his watch; instead he inspired more defiance on it.

UPDATE: Villaraigosa tells KTLA that the special operation that accomplished nothing cost the city $160,000--roughly what it shut down the Sunset Junction Street Fair for.

UPDATE IA: Villaraigosa also says, "“The park is closed as of 12:01. When enforcement will occur or when action will occur will be a time when it’s safe for our police officers and makes the most sense."

UPDATE IIChief Beck quoted as saying it was not the intention of the city to shut down the park at midnight; KPCC reports that a third of the tents have been taken down.  Occupiers seeking TRO in court based on action of City Council in support of them.  City Attorney's office will claim city's Parks ordinance will trump this.

UPDATE III: Downtown News simply calls it a "waiting game" and adds: " It remains unclear if and when police will move to clear the park, and if that happens, whether the protests would continue in a nonviolent manner."

Summer Math

On the eve of eviction for OccupyLA--which happens tonight after midnight--I am wondering if some of the people's folks at KPFA/K are having any buyer's or listener's remorse electing Summer Reese as their president.

Ms. Reese is one of the voices of the movement, even if the movement's voices always profess to speak for themselves and not for the group.  This dodgy kind of accountability presents enough credibility problems--it's as though to suggest, "This movement has no accountable voice."

But Reese does command recognition as an agitprop media figure--and her voice is often more blathery than it is rhetorical.

In this Occupy LA video meeting with various City Hall minions, she says at 1:27, for instance, that "We have 30,000 people sleeping on Skid Row--all of my life--it's never been addressed."

Most agencies count not over 5,000 on Skid Row, and not more than 1,000 sleeping outside. I've never been able to count much above 500 any night I've tried myself.  Indeed, most agencies think the count is very fluid, but nowhere near even 10,000--and I'm sure Jan Perry would be surprised to learn, along Police and Fire and the dozen or so agencies servicing Central City East, that the city's Skid Row population problem has never been addressed.

This is a fairly enormous error for a president of a political radio station to make.  But the whole movement has been error-prone and rhetorically challenged.

I watched some of the OccupyLA videos in which they interact with city officials yesterday, and also heard them on the radio as some scattered members howled through the Mayor's press conference, and came away even less impressed with the movement than I have been.

For some reason the Occupiers have lately been petitioning City Hall directly, rather than the population at large, to do something about corporate America, which is like petitioning your local auto mechanic to do something about your car manufacturer's engineering legacy.

I also have to say that when I write this blog, I get as many readers a day on most days as OccupyLA gets Occupiers who camp out on City Hall.  Of course, nobody's offering street-hassle any free office space, I promise you--although I did recently get a Communications Director wagging his finger at me, insisting I "went yellow" on his boss when I criticized him.  The criticisms I've offered here and in other media have been nowhere near as yellow and treacly as the Occupiers have--yet the city has treated its Occupiers to-date with kid gloves and even bestowed gifts on them.  I admit that it's not been a consolation to watch for to see these johnny-come-latelies enjoying an ongoing, direct dialog with the Mayor's office while those who have far longer critical dialogs with the city are more typically met with indignities and even contempt.

At any rate, the Occupiers will be evicted tonight, and I don't mind that outcome at all--like many in media too, they're just trying to make a mess without the sufficient expertise to know how to clean it up, and now to make their statements about whatever they're asking for, they'll have to compete with the rest of us on more equal footing.

The videos I watched are often unintentionally comic.  I wonder, for instance, who in the movement spelled "liason" the way they do on the films.  It's been good to have civic dialogs, but what's been presented in these dialogs has been very shabby and often undignified--and dignity in LA, perhaps around the nation, is in too short supply right now.


OccupyLA should work to optimize LA
If the movement is hazy on cause, maybe it can co-opt some neighborhood memes.

Report: OccupyLA becoming class distinct
An NPR report suggests all is not solidarity in the City Hall encampment.

Robert Reich: Another #OWS One-Frame Gag

The former Secretary of Labor takes to the streets to try to revive an old banking act that was obsolete years before Congress made it so.

Occupy Fatigue

Civic leaders were pals to the revolution--now they're worried about the mess it makes. 

Council and OccupyLA: tango or fistfight?

Council readies a tepid motion to back the Occupiers; should the Occupiers take it gladly, or redouble their protest? 

Art Walk not so lucky as OccupyLA

Free Ponchos for the protesters, but a big bill for the locals.

Down Dog Protesting

Going to the protest? Bring your yoga togs.

Your grandstanding Mayor and City Council

Running for their photo ops. 

Garcetti grabs onto OccupyLA coattails

Alarcon Meets-&-Greets OccupyLA

A City Councilman happens to have a banking resolution in pocket that may please Occupiers. 

From Crown to Liberty to...Zuccotti

It was a crown jewel of it's a privatized park. 

OccupyLA: small, "peaceful and stable"

Underwhelming crowds to launch the mixed-bag protesting.

Small Business Saturday

Atwater boutiques.

I get my slippers in Chinatown.

Wine and spirits? Topline, off San Fernando Road.

Silver Lake: hip small businesses, especially at Sunset Junction.

So are Vermont and Hillhurst in Los Feliz.

So is Avenida Cesar Chavez.

So is York Boulevard.

So is Abbot Kinney.

So is Melrose.

So is Broadway.

There are still a few Japanese nurseries on Sawtelle.

You can see a play on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood.

All the golf shops in the Valley!

The only "Target" for me is Verdugo Hills Archers in Sunland-Tujunga.

Cool surfwear for Xmas on PCH.

Still antique shops on Mohawk Bend.

Urban Experience Bookstore in Baldwin Hills.

How about relaxing at a K-Town spa on Olympic?

Or a bar in Glassell Park?

You could even try that micropress book in the sidebar.

And tamales are...everywhere.

Pilgrim's Progress

There is too much to parse here, as there often is when holidays are involved.  First, I never knew there was a Wal-Mart in Porter Ranch, so that's parse one.  Then there's the fact of the pepper spray now as a product shoppers carry with them, to get a leg up on other shoppers; not even in Filene's Basement have we seen something like this before.  And, wait--is that my associate's son reporting from the eye of the storm, even as mom is so often caught in the middle of the melee?  The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree--again!

LA Thanksgiving

I loathe the way you call
attention to yourself — you deserve it
when you’re ignored! You do. Who can stand
someone so persistently brash? Your gaudy flash —
I don't esteem myself like this.
You are so flawed. I have to step out, embarrassed…

You know, it’s only because of all that drama
that they cheer for all your troubles.
The stories they promote about you are
mostly about your wickedness.
They won’t acknowledge your intelligence
your highbrow side at all.  They want you to be
tinsel and seasonless palms, nothing more. 
They’re so persistent at it, you
believe these things about yourself.

Sometimes I believe them too. I have not been
faithful to your generous patience, nor
the anonymous comforts that you give.
You lure people with promises to lives
you later fix in post. I forget the way
you present, dutifully through our endless spats,
those carne asada quesadillas,
your quiet stunners of street art,
your Salonens and Sunset queens,
splenetic catastrophes, quirky intersections,
civil rights, sunny fashions, urban dread,
your west coast cool, your endless makeovers
(gifts to the world, which is ever
in need of makeovers) — and most of all,
the way you slink through neighborhoods,
quietly modern and linear, like nobody else.

So, so what if you’re a siren after all?
Those who hear the call will laugh
along with you, this inside joke we have:
Though everyone falls from Eden — a garden
of fruit, branches, and the wicked — you
are an Eden without repentance, closest to
the true in human hearts, as gardens are.

Happy Thanksgiving!

From your humble and lovable underdog on the terrace.

Sunny side of the street

This narrow, wicked city, as everyone knows, deserves to be bestridden by a Colossus of writerly contempt.  And my own role is to make it so.

But the sweetgums have turned color on the street, the day is full of sun, the holiday presents itself, and I don't feel mean enough today to express the contempt you all so richly deserve.  So have a nice day.

OccupyLA should work to optimize LA

Not occupying LA by choice.

Yesterday's bizarre overtures by the Mayor's office towards OccupyLA, offering the protest group building space and even farmland, are representative of how afraid the status quo is of anyone calling any attention to City Hall.

[UPDATE: 24 hours later, City backpedals on offer, Occupiers say.]

What of those who are not homeless and hungry by choice?  When I proposed that the City offer the homeless yurts instead of costly affordable housing spaces where developers bag all the money, the idea was widely derided.  But now, with a different class of people begging at City Hall's doorstep not for money but for change, the City is going so far as to offer not only a suddenly-available building but even a farm to the new, willfully homeless who constitute OccupyLA.

Should OccupyLA gain amenities for being a thorn in the City's side, the organization owes it to the real homeless of Los Angeles to insist that 500 of their homeless counterparts in LA's skid row can tag along.  But since they evidently have the Mayor's ear, there's even more they can do...

While the City's homeless go begging even as City Hall rolls out the red carpet for the protestors, council treats its own very well.  Yesterday, the MayorSam blog published staff salaries in Councilman Jose Huizar's office.

It is already well known that at City Councilmember makes $178,000 a year.  It is less well known that a Chief of Staff also makes well into six figures.  A Chief of Staff largely determines who gets to talk to a Councilmember and who doesn't, both within the office and from outside of it.

This function is duplicated all throughout the City, as Chiefs of Staffs share information on who is status quo enough to talk to and who isn't.

A Director of Communications, all of whom make over $5,000 a month, determines who gets on the Councilmember's press contact list and who doesn't.

Yes, the City pays fifteen different individuals over $60,000 a year each not to talk to those of its own citizens who pose questions that are too thorny or too inopportune to answer directly.

This is all repeated x 15 throughout the city, and in many City departments, and repeated by another multiple in the Mayor's staff.  Yet the degree to which the staffers in the fifteen City Council offices all share information with each other indicates that they are working in concert already.

There is plenty of room for more efficiency here--and optimizing these efficiencies should be one of the goals of OccupyLA--especially if they are going to gain building space and even farmland that the City won't give to its own homeless citizens.

Thanksgiving aide for thankful souls

So many people will give to anonymous, skid-row souls downtown.  In fact, they'll even turn their backs on the needy they actually know to do it, because remote giving for many is just as satisfying as personal giving.

If you knew the stories of the people you gave to, you'd either give far more or far less--I can't tell.

And I can't tell if you are eager or not eager to hear about Rodger Jacobs on Thanksgiving eve.  The man and his companion have faced perpetual dire straits for well over a year, and face more now, counting many hours without a meal.  I'm not questioning any of it; I'm not judging any of it; I'm just letting you know.

As per usual, if you can help, paypal

As for me, I am once again stepping out very early, and returning very late.


Choosing beggers wisely
Jacobs facing really tough times

Times scribe insists poor are eating cake
Your love offering 7/8ths living
Writers and other strangers
Jacobs v. Ulin
Sunday, bookchat Sunday
A book to review
Pub scrawl

British ledes we love

"A leading architect has launched a scathing attack on Government planning reforms and warned that large parts of the country could resemble Los Angeles."

Read more:

Sixth Street--We love it.

Nothing fades into the past so quickly as our vision for the future. Why don't our civic leaders feel competent enough to save this bridge? Wouldn't it make sense to scrap the Broadway Trolley and do this instead? Can't we encumber Federal funds? I fear that given the way our idiots downtown consigned the Sixth Street bridge to its fate, now no credible case can be painted to more responsible agencies.

Thanks to Will Campbell--who writes more on the matter here--for taking the time. I had sort of forgotten that the former fishwrap of letters still publishes letters to the bungler of an editor.

Paseo del Mar/Sunken City West--"nothing new"

As usual, an ordinary citizen has a longer view than anyone at a fishwrap, who go chasing the wrong people for info again.  One Mike V. Bennett comments at the Daily Breeze's site, begging at least one question about a geological report: what kept you?

This is nothing new and in my humble opinion, should be common knowledge to everyone living in the area. Sad & Frightening perhaps, but not surprising, as the History of the area speaks for itself.

1929 Six-Acres of Point Fermin Park began to slide into the ocean, today known as Sunken City.

1933 A Japanese constructed a seaside resort centered on a sulphur spring bathhouse at Royal Palms, closed due an earthquake, which sealed off the springs,

1956 Portuguese Bend slide began destabilizing 260 - 300 acres of hillside on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

1969/1970 A 300-foot-long crevice opened up at edge of the slide area in Sunken City and along the “Palisades” portion of Paseo del Mar, due to heavy storms eroding the cliffs and poor storm run-off. More cracks appeared a few streets away, from an Active/Historic land-side area; a few blocks East of the current slide area.

1999 A landslide at Trump’s Ocean Trails Golf Course sent 16 acres into the ocean.

2010 Another large chunk of Sunken City dropped 100 feet into the surf.

As presented by Pipkin & Ploessel, in “Coastal Landslides of Southern California,” “Between Abalone Cove and Cabrillo Beach …53% of the shoreline has undergone some form of land sliding, and the remainder has experienced rock falls.”

While I sincerely hope a means of stabilization can be found quickly, having lived on Paseo, for the last 33 years (seven blocks from the area), I for one am going to once again, enjoy the solitude I lost a couple of decades ago.

Carmen the Geo-Clown also made more noise.  Sunken City is not a bad name for the whole region south of Newhall, actually.

Jim Newton: doubling down on incompetence

If you ever doubted that Jim Newton was so incompetent as to be dangerous, this should lay all doubts aside.

When the Times made Newton a member of its editorial board, rather than someone with an actual opinion pedigree, the paper was destined to watch the former news schlub say things like this:

Villaraigosa sometimes gets less credit than he deserves. His critics run the range from the reasonable to the histrionic, and the most shrill among them often accuse him of gobbling up the spotlight while achieving essentially nothing. That's not fair or accurate. He's presided over significant declines in crime; he secured passage of Measure R and with it a bevy of transportation projects; he's been innovative in responding to gang violence and dedicated, if not always successful, in his efforts to improve schools.
So did you get that straight? A prominent Times editor is using precious space on the paper's editorial pages to defend the Mayor against criticism.

Is that the job of a "newspaper"? To defend a sitting mayor against its critics?

If that's anywhere near the function of an editorial page scribe--kill me now.

Newton's job is not to evaluate the Mayor's critics, who have no power at all, but the Mayor, who has it all. Idiot.

But doubling down on his own idiocy--maybe even tripling down--is what Newton's up to here.

When Newton does get around to criticism, he says that he's unsettled by the fact of the three Mayoral candidates for which he fawningly moderated at a UCLA conversation last week sound more or less the same. He says that "all three have largely the same vision, one that views City Hall from the inside out rather than from the outside in."

What a surprise!

This clown could have made sure that there were other visions present easily. As moderator, for instance, he could have reminded the Los Angeles Business Council that they hadn't invited, say, Kevin James to the debate--a fact they told me they weren't even aware of, thanks to Newton's newspaper.

But he didn't. As he didn't in April. And he didn't invite City Hall outsiders in during the last election cycle either.

So--why is he now so surprised that all the candidates sound the same to him?


Jim Newton as moderator
Newton hypes Janis, LAANE yet again
Madeline Janis "tight as ticks" with Times, Newton
Boycott Amazon? Garcetti might like to...
Madeline Janis in the headlights

Cupcakes and word counts

What's better to make, and what's better to devour, a cupcake or a book? A cupcake offers immediate gratification.  A book may transform a life in either the writing or the reading.  Several of both have come my way lately...

Here is a book that much captivated me in recent weeks: Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones.  It's based on tapes of the legendary drummer, who I saw a dozen times, and perhaps dozens, when he held court Wednesday nights across the street from my college, at the West End Cafe.  When explaining to the uninitiated whom Jo Jones might be, I like to tell them: "Have you ever heard that anecdote about a drummer throwing a cymbal at Charlie Parker for playing too poorly? Well, Jo Jones is the guy who threw it."  Before I read this book, the book's editor, Paul Devlin, told me that he deliberately excluded reference to this anecdote in this book--it's already well-known enough, adds little, and Jones's legacy is too enormous to let a single brash act stand for it.  Jones's musicianship was much more advanced than most drummers, and the anecdotes reveal that there is no part of show business he didn't know.

If you have to eat cupcakes--and who doesn't have to?--may I suggest that if you don't make them yourself, you walk to your purveyor?  It will do you good.  My own favorite cupcakes in walking distance--barely--are the ones at Lark, 3337 Sunset.  In my private experimental Martha moments, I've found they make good gifts too, carefully slipped into little mylar gift boxes.  Tie the boxes with twine or something foppish and artful.

Give and you shall receive.  If I give cupcakes, somehow hopeful out-of-town academic presses still send me books, I'm pleased to say.  One that came my way this week (addressed to the editor of Martini Republic) was Eisenhower and the Cold War Economy, by two academic gents, and one a business law prof, William M. McClenahan, Jr. and William H. Becker.  The book was well-timed and well-played: as our local former news schlub turned weak-kneed opinion schlub Jim Newton--now of decidely anti-democratic practices, whom Ron Kaye recently took to task as I have, even for a few years now--has written a hagiography about safely-deceased Ike, I have felt inclined to bone up on our likeable fifties president with some real scholarship as well.  And this is indeed real scholarship, and should also be required reading among local politicians who might get a clue or two about how to land a defense contract from it.  (Don't you think it's funny that our local pols tout all the business they are doing with China while so many businesses right here in the U.S. are relocating?)

[Speaking of hagiographers hopefully clinging to the halos of another era, did you see that that David Ulin was at it yet again with memento mori fetishist Joan Didion? Whenever I even hear the name Didion, I now automatically associate it with the Buddha's parable of the mustard seed; Didion a Kisa Gotami, still knocking from house to house, alas.  And that's pretty much the way I am thinking about Pacific Daylight Time itself too as it unspools.]

Lastly, this week I found that in 2004 Keith Richards was reading one of my own favorite tomes from the time: Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence.  The book is in a way the product of the consequence of being a historical academician and living to a ripe old age.  Its five-hundred-year sweep is far more majestic and its hit-and-run approach far more playful than anything in the Barzun canon that went before it.  I picked up my copy in Tampa Bay in 2000 and didn't stop reading it for about three years.  Of course, we need far more book reviewers like Richards even as we need more books like that.  BTW, Barzun will be 104--you read that correctly--CIV--in ten days.  That's even older than Keef, isn't it?

Snooping for cameras

San Pedro's ex-Republican camera hounds Carmen Trutanich and Joe Buscaino showed up at the site of a San Pedro landslide Wednesday.  Why? Neither has an engineering degree; neither has any geological expertise.  That particular day, the City Attorney's office was busy capitulating to a property contamination lawsuit over a property it never owned.  But at least Carmen the Clown was able to find a camera somewhere.

Occupiers, wandering...

We used to have a saying when I was in banking in the late 1990's--banks are changing owners so quickly, it would be best if the signs were hung with velcro.

So it occurred to me that Occupiers ended up at Fourth and Fig yesterday because they weren't even able to find a Wall Street in LA.  Naturally, this does not speak well for our declining city--the fact that we can't easily find a financial district.  But the Occupiers wandering the Sinai of downtown may not be the Occupiers' fault, because the signage in LA does not always make it obvious where the top corporate firms reside.

Occupiers at Fourth and Fig yesterday were far from...anything.  This dystopic, bridge-and-ramp beleaguered intersection, a haven for delivery cycles and patient taxis, offers almost nothing financial or Fortune 400-level corporate.  There is the Bonaventure, scarcely a corporate despot (just check the perpetually empty vendor stalls--they've been largely empty since the place was built in the 1970's) and there is what LA charitably still calls its "World Trade Center" (ditto) and there is a Marriott.  This is hardly the financial center of Los Angeles...

But it led me to wonder--what is the financial district, the Wall Street, of Los Angeles, anyway? Is it Eli Broad's Grand Avenue, our Champs-Elysses of monuments to Himself? (At least that one has a Wells tower or two on it).  Is it Flower with its bland BofA twin towers? Where is Citi in all this? (That's at 787 W. Fifth).  Where is west coast newbie Chase, anyway? (In an old Washington Mutual, of course, at Fourth and Hope--but not even WaMu had a sign up while they were there, and I don't think Chase does yet either).

In fact, most all of these top-four banks are clustered around a strip of Fifth Street between Hope and Fig.  A secondary Wells location is on Flower at Fifth.  BofA and Citigroup abut Fifth.  Chase is nearby on Fourth and Hope.  For good measure, the tallest building in LA--once a "First Interstate Bank", later acquired by Wells--is there too.

There's a nice park there at the Riordan Library, ripe for daytime occupation, right at Fifth and Flower.  It's run by the CRA and it has a great fountain with some words of Frederick Douglass ("Power concedes nothing without a demand--it never has, it never will").  Good library access and attendant homeless population too.

If there were a logical place for occupying, that would be the place--again, during daylight hours.  At night, I recommend the Occupiers pooling their money and sleeping in cars--maybe even buying a few monthly passes at a parking lot across the Harbor Freeway.

It may take some panache to pull off--for starters, the park is right next to the California Club, and the fact that it's adjacent to a tony restaurant would present a dilemma.  Protesters--next time march down Flower to Fifth, not Fig to Fourth.  It makes way more sense.  And at least you won't be dealing with the riff-raff politicians in City Hall anymore--at the Library garden, you're even more likely to spot some of the people who own them.

Developer's math gone awry

The price strikes me as about $55 million too high.  At least.  The real estate is purportedly worth $40 million.  I doubt the organization is worth a tenth of that.  Nonetheless...
Developer buys San Diego paper for $110 million
Do you think the Union-Tribune is worth a tenth of what, say, the Dodgers are worth?

There's also this nettlesome problem:
[New owner] Manchester has also drawn fire for his support of Proposition 8, the gay-marriage ban that Californians passed in 2008. Manchester donated $125,000 to the petition drive that got the measure on the ballot, prompting a boycott of his Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego hotel by gay rights groups.

Yeah.  I know I'll think twice before I click again.

"One step out of your comfort zone"

Dorli Rainey is a heroine for the day, and may become an American folk hero forever. Her narrative is compelling, but if you hang with her for five minutes--where she starts comparing her native Nazi Germany media to present day American corporate media, and in a compelling way--you'll especially see why. She straddles both local and national issues...that's how she got pepper sprayed, and that's why she was where she was yesterday.

Mayor's flipper costs the City $2.5 mil more

The City of Los Angeles voted to settle with the LAUSD for $2.5 million yesterday over contamination of a piece of property it never owned that became a high school in Glassell Park. 

The City was negotiating with the LAUSD over the railroad property known as Taylor Yards Parcel F when Legacy Partners suddenly sold the property to the Mayor's crone, Richard Mereulo, who was "forced" by an eminent domain judgment to flip the property to LAUSD for what turned out to be a large profit anyway.  The property cost the District $18 million more than what they would have paid for it had they bought it from Legacy directly.  Mereulo's firm has since faced bankruptcy.

No apology was heard from the City Council to the taxpayers for settling a case in which they didn't really own the property at all.  At a debate yesterday among mayoral candidates, the three elected officials, Garcetti, Perry, and Controller Greuel, couldn't identify much that the present mayor's done wrong; Garcetti, in fact, said he deserves more credit.  The money will come from the mayor's killjoy Andrea Alarcon's sewer repair fund.

Richard Mereulo and the unconnected dots
"The Mayor's precise relationship to Mereulo remains half-explored territory even to this day. Early on, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo did some of the initial heavy lifting, which likely cost him dearly politically. But the media have only applied a thin patina of innuendo between the Mayor and Meruelo, not in fact connecting many many dots."

New Los Feliz market owner backed Prop 8 heavily

This is insulting to Los Feliz, and people are very upset.  Lassen's Health Food, which recently took over the fabled Nature Mart in Los Feliz, was a large backer of Proposition 8, hoping to ban gay marriage.  This wasn't a $500 contribution either--this was $27,500.  The health food chain's owner, Peter Lassen, is a Mormon, according to a niece: Mormons were key financial proponents of the anti-gay marriage legislation in 2008.

Jim Newton as moderator

The City Maven tweets....

[UPDATE: Report of the debate is even worse than supposedEric Garcetti fears that "we're not optimistic as a city anymore" (after ten years of Garcetti, we note) while Jan Perry announces that she wants to sit on the School Board and meddle with the LAUSD even more than the present Mayor has.  Also, declared mayoral candidate Kevin James was not invited--and moderator Jim Newton has a history of excluding James on the Times' editorial page too.]

No actual journalist would be willing to pander to a group of mayoral candidates to the degree indicated in the above Tweet--but the Times' Jim Newton may no any longer be an actual journalist.  Why did three candidates have figures and stats in front of them as Newton lobbed them softballs at a low-stakes mini-debate at UCLA today? It's worth a little inquiry, given his track record of late.

Lately many around town have been expressing contempt for Newton's love affair with Madeline Janis's Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a group with no known economist on board, and to which Council President Eric Garcetti is especially dialed in.  The group is a pastiche of the Villaraigosa coalition of affordable housing developer apologists and SEIU shills.

LAANE most particularly acts as a lobby for the SEIU, and that is a very worthy cause, but for some reason top civic leaders look to it for broader economic policy, as does Newton himself--which has been an unmitigated disaster for the working middle-class population of Los Angeles over the past decade.

I once went to a Mayoral "summit" at UCLA--and while there I identified 29 panelists who all agreed with the Mayor's approach to affordable housing, and zero panelists against.  Cisneros was the salesman/moderator at that event; I guess this time they finally owned that they needed an actual journalist to moderate, and asked the ever obsequious Newton to oblige--but on their own conditions.

By the way, for all the problems and shadowy deals of City Hall, today the Times publishes an op-ed about: what to do with the lawn there.

More City Maven tweets on mini-debate below.


Newton hypes Janis, LAANE yet again
Madeline Janis "tight as ticks" with Times, Newton
Boycott Amazon? Garcetti might like to...
Madeline Janis in the headlights

Perry needs to crib a bit more

Last night before a stunned Venice Neighborhood Council, Councilmember and mayoral candidate Jan Perry was asked what the size of the City budget was, and was unable to come up with a number on her own, a reader reports.

That may at minimum explain why Perry and other Council candidates needed notes today even when dealing with softball-lobbing Jim Newton in a makeshift debate at UCLA.

Clinton on local sports show

"And how do you spell 'D-Fish'?"

President Clinton called in today on The Loose Cannons, Fox's local afternoon sports radio show, with Pat O'Brien, Steve Hartman and Vic the Brick Jacobs.

He was on the show to tout his own book Back to Work: Why We Need a Smart Government for a Strong Economy, but he also gave an analysis of LSU/Arkansas, predicting that if they if the Razorbacks get past Mississippi State they'll have a good shot in LSU too.  Clinton also reports that his mother-in-law, the recently deceased Dorothy Rodham, was a great Keith Richards fan.

"We've obviously failed"

Williamsburg in Los Angeles.

The young political consultant nodded along politely.  I unspooled my own experience to him; I have endured New York City's time of troubles in the late 1970's.  Now, that was a city that was in a political and economic mess.  Trash wasn't picked up sometimes for a few weeks.  Toll booth workers went on strike.  Subway fares went up, and up again.  The murder rate was through the roof; there weren't just murders every day, there were murders on the subway every day.  There was no way for the city to pay anything...

How did we cope? We didn't.  Mostly, we tuned it all out and made art and culture.  And everyone else, they were doing it too.  The City at that time produced what it would become known for--in arts and culture.  Pavarotti.  Richard Serra.  CBGBs.  &c.  It was dilapidated and decadent.  However they were going to fix the city, it was their business.  We were going to have our city life anyway.

The young pol asked for the check.  It came--two coffees over two hours.  "Whatever we're doing politically, we've obviously failed," I said.  "Just look at San Pedro--an open race, all those candidates--and even there we can't crack 15% of the voters [NOTE: City Clerk final total is 18%].  But maybe we're not failing culturally.  So I'm trying to reach people with culture right now.  Like that piece on Playa Vista I's really a chance for someone to see what's happened to a part of the city.  And that piece I did for Zocalo on Los Feliz, and the quiet one on downtown."

"New York took some bad turns in solving its crisis too," I said.  "The city sanitized itself, but it produced Williamsburg too, some yuppie haven, a kind of re-enactment of revitalization.  NYC and LA, both have too few homeowners.  We have little Williamsburgs, they're spread all throughout the city.   To give them credit, the Latino councilmembers excepting Garcetti seem to worry about the number of owner-occupied homes available to own in their districts.  But the Anglos and Blacks don't, and Garcetti doesn't."

 "What's the ratio in NY?" the consultant asked.

"It's about the same as in LA, about 60-40 rentals to homes.  It's 50-50 in healthy cities, and in healthy parts of the city.  Young couples there can't find real affordable housing either.  But here, people who should be finding a starter home are forced to rent way longer than they should be.  The city just keeps building rentals and pretending the city is growing, even though the city already has enough rentals to last for two decades and hasn't grown for one."

"Doesn't Garcetti think about these things?"

"He must, but I don't understand why he hasn't been more interested in making more homes to own in his district.  Instead, he and the Mayor went off on an affordable housing and transit hub rental binge.  But if affordable housing as the city practices it really worked--it's been around for twenty years now--wouldn't the city already have enough of the stuff by now? Every affordable housing project is really just a redevelopment project--which raises prices in neighborhoods instead of lowers them--and a little lottery for about fifty to two-hundred Section 8 people to win.  Really, developers are the only winners.  We're about two steps away from Cleveland--Cleveland with a movie colony."

Report: OccupyLA becoming class distinct

Maybe an unnamed NPR editor slanted it this way, maybe the reporter sought the kind of story she wanted to tell.  But you get a feeling from this audio report on Occupy LA that the protesters are drawing up class distinctions among themselves and don't really know what they're protesting anymore.

Also: a hundred protesters, on hearing of the crackdown in New York last night, marched to the Nokia Theater and back, and the City issued a tactical alert.  If you find it interesting that the city worries more about protesters marching on the Nokia Theater than it does about protesters buying nickel bags at City Hall, so do I.


Robert Reich: Another #OWS One-Frame Gag
The former Secretary of Labor takes to the streets to try to revive an old banking act that was obsolete years before Congress made it so.

Occupy Fatigue
Civic leaders were pals to the revolution--now they're worried about the mess it makes. 

Council and OccupyLA: tango or fistfight?
Council readies a tepid motion to back the Occupiers; should the Occupiers take it gladly, or redouble their protest? 

Art Walk not so lucky as OccupyLA
Free Ponchos for the protesters, but a big bill for the locals.

Down Dog Protesting

Going to the protest? Bring your yoga togs.

Your grandstanding Mayor and City Council

Running for their photo ops. 

Garcetti grabs onto OccupyLA coattails

Alarcon Meets-&-Greets OccupyLA

A City Councilman happens to have a banking resolution in pocket that may please Occupiers. 

From Crown to Liberty to...Zuccotti

It was a crown jewel of it's a privatized park. 

OccupyLA: small, "peaceful and stable"

Underwhelming crowds to launch the mixed-bag protesting.

Fields of Dreams

Jon Regardie in the Downtown News this week called for the city to consider or even contemplate the Dodgers moving to still disenfranchised Farmer's Field.

The city presently only knows one major league baseball stadium, the present one, erected at the very beginning of the era when ballparks ceased to be gritty, street-level ballparks and became oversized, antiseptic stadia instead; Regardie wonders if a sequence of events involving AEG might unfold that enables us to know something new entirely, maybe neither a ballpark nor a stadium but a baseball...field.

I have strong magazine memories of Forbes Field and Crosely Field, which even at the time we let go of them seemed part of a past that we let go of with enormous remorse.  (I'm not certain if Regardie was recalling the time when the word "field" naturally appended to the name of a ballpark, as was also the case with Ebbets Field and of course remains the case with Wrigley Field--but by this common semantic tic alone, Farmers Field may be a natural as a baseball host).

The return to ballparks with a more urban feel to them began in earnest in the late 1980s, and the LA Times own architecture critic in the mid-1970s, John Pastier, was at the vanguard of the movement that paid some architectural homage to the old ballparks.  One imagines that if AEG were to become involved with the Dodgers, the field would not become a throwback park like Camden Yard but something new entirely.

It's admittedly hard to imagine a Chavez Ravine without a mound on which Koufax stood; I'm sure there is a natural repugnance for long-standing Dodger apologists to imagine life without Dodger Stadium, but it is also true that in five years, the Dodgers will have been in their present facility for as long as they played at Ebbets.

...But as for me, never a strong Dodger apologist...

The present stadium with its ceaseless noise and blinking bands of lights have cheapened the hallowed grass and dirt and the feel of the sport anyways.

The Regardie plan also calls sticking affordable housing somewhere, as a kind of civic reparation for psychic damage done two generations ago; I'm not for that, but otherwise I don't mind the idea at all. 

Wendy trumps Jan

On a day that Jan Perry releases the kind of endorsement that may or may not raise $100, Wendy has released the kind of fundraising letter that can raise $500K.  With Spielberg, Geffen and The Golden Retriever on board, Wendy should bounce Jan Perry out of the race very soon. What was the name of the guy who endorsed Jan Perry today? I already forgot. A former Assemblyman, wasn't he?


Yesterday I was at the Luma Lofts downtown.  There's a deck with a pool on the fourth floor between two towers.  The deck has bamboo and silk floss trees.  The trees and bamboo are in's slightly removed from your space.  The silk floss trees still have lots of green leaves on them--at home, mine doesn't this time of year.

There's a docile spill fountain with large Mexican pebbles in the base.  There are a few scattered heat lamps but they are standing in the middle of nowhere; they aren't even near any chairs.

The south end of the deck, beyond the pool, offers a good view to the south...and these days the sun is setting as much south as it is west.  If the sun was setting, it really was time to go.

After the event, I walked up Hope to the Metro.  Hope is not much of a street for pedestrians; it was deserted from Olympic up to Seventh.  The trains on Sunday were crowded; in every car there was standing room only.  The wrong train came first, but I took it for two stops anyway, transferring at Wilshire and Vermont.

When I entered the next train, I was obliged to pass a man with a parrot on one shoulder and a cockatoo on the other.  He had tattoos on his arms and the designs incorporated lots of tropical birds.  Sometimes he offered a finger for the cockatoo to nibble.  I wondered what the seemingly wise cockatoo was thinking as he felt the train jerk and speed and slow and stop.  A young man wore a shirt that said "Smart Handsome Mexican."  He had a pronounced pair of lipstick lip traces on his neck and I couldn't tell if they were a tattoo or a fresh arrival.

The human and winged threesome got off at Vermont and Santa Monica.  I got off at the next stop.  It was now dark.  I've taken this walk home so many times, I even know how many steps it is (2400).  It's almost a quarter of the minimum amount of steps I like to make sure to take in a day (10000).

At one point during my time downtown, I passed a sign on the side of another loft building that said URBAN RENTAL LIVING. The sign made me laugh but it also made me melancholy.

Might Playa Vista be good for something?

Yesterday my wife and I went to see a community art exhibition in the community center in Playa Vista pretentiously known as The CenterPointe Club.  (L. noted to me the community center's carpet was knocked off a Mackintosh design--indeed, the site bills itself as "Frank Lloyd Wright inspired" and the contemporaries are often linked).  Spouse's godmother Barbara was exhibiting and she greeted us at the door; her husband Jack was obliged to come down the hill to Playa Vista too when we showed up, which threatened to make him grumpy as it tore him away from a UCLA game.  He sportingly betrayed no grumpiness on arrival.

[Clicking around Playa Vista Living's site, you find some real oddities, by the way.  Apparently, most buyers are significantly under water there--there's a page devoted to "Successfully selling in Playa Vista" and one titled "Do you qualify for a short sale?" and also one titled "Mortgage solutions."  Shouldn't the occupiers be here? Maybe San Pedro's Joe Buscaino, reported to be significantly under water himself, can give these people some pointers if he gets elected to the $173,000 a year job of Councilmember].

We learned on entering that Barbara herself took best of show.  It's not her first.  One of her other paintings sold to a neighbor--a neighbor, that most potentially ferocious of all art critics.

Something I immediately found curious was that the exhibition was sponsored by the Culver City Art Group--Culver City, recognizably not a part of the City of Los Angeles as Playa Vista is.  The group does an annual show in November of each year--last night was the sixteenth--and many artists in the adjacent City of LA sleepy hollow of Westchester belong to it, so many, in fact, that it made sense for the group to exhibit outside of Culver City proper.  This is the first year that the exhibition was held at Playa Vista.

At the exhibition was a longtime friend, John August Swanson, one of LA's best known, who now resides in Westchester after spending most of his adult working life in Los Feliz.  Louis Stephen Gadal, who often paints maritime subjects, was also on hand.  The exhibition must have been attended by over five hundred people through the course of a single day.

Many of the attendees and exhibitors were what we falsely call of "retirement" age, all working very devotedly in their own imperturbable manner.  Mostly, they don't live in Playa Vista, but do enjoy coming down the hill from Westchester to the new development  They don't generate art that finds favor with LA's publicity-driven gallery scene, but their careers are supported by significant economic forces nonetheless.  It occurred to me again how this is the kind of event that government agencies and Cultural Affairs departments should be far more supportive of than they presently are.

Walking around the exhibit I felt more like a conspirator than a critic, successfully ducking the media avalanche of commercial noise attendant to the collector-fluffing goings-on of Pacific Daylight Time for yet another weekend.  I also reminded myself that LA County is moving a rock to LACMA for $10 million, and that LA's Downtown Art Walk recently received a bill from the mayor's cultural killjoy, Andrea Alarcon for apparently being too successful.  I also wondered if Arts for LA, a top local arts lobby, which receives sustained support from our City's Department of Cultural Affairs, supported this stripe of art event too.  And I wondered if the single art "event" of moving the rock will eclipse what the County spends in aggregate on community events such as the one at Playa Vista.

But I also learned how most of the artists in another of Barbara's groups, which ordinarily exhibits at the Westchester Community Center, vastly preferred the community room at Playa Vista, where there's a knock-off Mackintosh carpet, commodious seating for presentations, and a far less institutional vibe.  So it may yet prove that Playa Vista, the long-planned, environmentally-challenging, long-suffering, economy-draining development on the former Hughes site, is good for something.

One thing is going right in town

We really have a blessing in town, a profound distraction from the tedium of political life and antidote to the slapdash ceaseless joke-panels that make up the purportedly important Pacific Daylight Time as well as all the counterfeit celebrity chicanery to which our purportedly important media subjects us.

The blessing is named Nino Machaidze, and I loved her in Il Turco in Italia in the spring.  But now she's in LA Opera's production of Romeo et Juliette, and for this relief much thanks.  A review of mine of this production is over at LA Opus.  I went Wednesday--as I did with her other recent production here, I hope to try to go again.

Scribe dismisses 9/11 novelists as ambulance chasers

D'Souza in studio

I sent a note to Tony D'Souza, author of a drug trafficking novel called Mule, this morning, following his appearance on Michael Silverblatt's KCRW show Bookworm, and I think I should send it out to the readers here as well.  The note went something like this.

I really wasn't fussy to hear him call people who wrote 9/11 novels "ambulance chasers" and even suggest they were in it for some commercial success.

His precise quote at 26:15--in fact, it's the last thing he says in the interview, is:

What I feel, you know, proudest about my book, is that writers can be ambulance chasers--we all know that. A moment can come of, you know, 9/11 or the Wars in Iraq or whatever it is, and a bunch of writers [emph. his] will jump on board trying to capitalize on that, and I have no guilt on my conscience about trying to capitalize on the Great Recession because we have lived it, we have lived it as we struggled through it like everyone else.  And so I feel I had a right to write this book.
My own belief is that in most cases, writers who wrote 9/11 novels were not jumping on board of any trend.  They were trying to understand something about our culture and the transformations that were happening in America immediately subsequent to the event.  They simply felt themselves to be writers who thought that the most politically and socially inverting event of our American lives deserved the kind of scrutiny in fiction that we afford other subjects.

I know I went on to write mine, I was thinking, "Things are changing really fast, and I could barely stand myself as a writer if I didn't write something about this."

I had hoped that D'Souza would revisit his opinion on this, but no luck there.  He wrote to me:
I'm sorry I offended you and that you were caught up in my sweeping generalization. I stand by my point, however. Writers can be the very worst sorts of ambulance chasers extant in this world, even elbowing lawyers out of the way in their drunken, egoistic hustle for money. From novelists, to poets, to memoirists, to non-fiction journos, they are out there, their track shoes on, chasing the ambulance of the story. 'It will sell! It will sell! It will sell!' whirling like maniacal laughter in their heads. Maybe not you in 'The Plasma of Terror...
Well.  As for novelists "capitalizing" on 9/11--there couldn't be a topic that's presently more commercially toxic to readers under forty.  In fact, my 9/11 novel is the only novel of mine that I have never even considered submitting to a commercial mill.

I doubt that the general public will be ready to read about the run-up and aftermath of 9/11 even for another decade.  We're still too much involved with the often terrifying political, cultural, and social consequences of all the changes that followed.