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The failure is catastrophic--and across the board

The state's top three education meddlers of the past decade.  None of these men had any education in education when they began their tinkering.

UPDATE: Twelve hours after the story broke, it still isn't the lead story at any major newspaper.

UPDATE II: Thirteen hours after the story broke, not one mayoral candidate has issued a condemnation, or any kind of statement whatsoever.

UPDATE III: Fourteen hours after story broke, it is top read story at all local media, but not top slotted story anywhere.

How could it happen? How could it be that there are so many reprehensible allegations against the same man over the course of a few years, and yet there is not even one public record of a single complaint against him?

The allegations coming out of the Mark Berndt case today--some of which the LAUSD has had in pocket since last March, when he was fired--are not for the squeamish. In fact, they are barely palatable to hardened detectives. But how--how could it be that there isn't a comprehensive paper trail of parent complaint available? How could not a single child express concern to a single parent, and not a single parent express concern to the failed LAUSD?  "There was no student who ever came forward," Deasy insists.

Beyond that, we are only told that the parents of the children are "mostly poor Latinos." The tipoff that Berndt may have committed crimes came from outside of the system--too late for dozens of families.

The people who dared to tinker with the education system over the past decade--from the Mayor to the billionaires to the board members to the Superintendent to the perpetually sparring groups who say they're all there for the children--the people who have created the climate of perpetual scapegoating, perpetual finger-wagging, perpetual conflict--these are the people who have given us the kind of system, after so many decades, that produces a result like today's.

John Deasy and Monica Garcia should resign their posts immediately. The Mayor should point a finger at himself, for six years of "reforms" that have stressed the District to the point of criminal omission. The UTLA leadership should join him in owning a most grave mea culpa. Education charlatans Eli Broad and Dick Riordan should as well, and should never be allowed to touch education again. Together, these various player-bandits have all failed the children, creating the possibility of this most shameful, most infamous day in the history of public education in Los Angeles, and the nation's worst school day since Columbine.

Communications breakdown

Yesterday, I found a little broken clown.  I took him home and hope to clean the little guy's act up and ultimately put him next to my Mexican office mini-diorama in the basement.  I even named him....

For some reason, I also was reminded to take a look at the Downtown News, where there is a scathing editorial encouraging Carmen Trutanich to declare his intentions for District Attorney.  Now's enough, the editorial declares.  But Nuch's not talking.

Maybe there's some news at his campaign manager's website?

If you thought Nuch's top advisor John Shallman wasn't much interested in online politics before, I encourage you to visit "Shallman Communications"--the Nuch consultant's own website.  The man now exhibits such disdain for the online world that he's had who-knows-who put up this website that looks as though it was built at GeoCities circa 1995.  Except it has less functionality and less content.

If this is communications, I'd hate to see miscommunication.  You would think that a man who has been spending around $250 a vote lately could maybe spare himself reaching two voters and spend $500 on a site that says something.  Anyway, who are we to give one of LA's top political names advice?

Night out

It was my good fortune to see copious amounts of loft jazz in New York in the 1970s.  If you had asked me, "Where's it going to be, what's it going to be like in thirty-seven years, man?" I couldn't have told you, but now that thirty-seven years have passed, I can say, "It is going to be like a new club in LA's Little Tokyo where they aren't afraid to go postdigital but aren't interested in treating improvisation like it belongs in a museum or at a university either."  We made it down to Blue Whale last night (no talking during sets strictly enforced by a credibly-sized enforcer) to see Simplexity, a group of honor-bound yet mirth-driven contemporary jazz and studio ringers who have taken their own inventiveness and added some scattered echoes to produce satisfying ambling sets of fully-absorbing pleasure.  (And those scattered echoes are vurrry scattered--I heard a little of the street-side of William Ørbit, right next to some of Miles' late water-color-like broodings synthesized, and the hard, hard bop snare-slamming wakeup-calls of Elvin Jones).  In ensemble they flesh out new music that sounds exactly like where you might end up in forty years after turning 19 at Studio Rivbea and wondering what life might be like two generations hence.  Top photo, bassist/cool-cat/backbone John von Seggern exchanges time with Steve TavagioneSample here if you like.  Bottom left: when you beach yourself after a set and an Amber Ale at Blue Whale, up on the third floor of Weller Court off of Onizuka, you walk out into a stunning framing of a building I can't seem to ever get away from, much as I try.  Bottom right: you can bet my crew, jealous of my trip to Tommy's after the Shepard Fairey thing a week ago, wanted me to make it up to them--and so we stumble on a rare Saturday night moment: Tommy's, midnight, no line.

Drawn by committee

LA Zoo, 2007.

Surely you know the old joke that a camel is a horse drawn by committee.  In that spirit, then, let me opine that the new LA Council committee assignments are mostly sensible, often political, and occasionally frightening.  Here, then, are quick hits on new city of Los Angeles committee assignments.  Assignments as listed at The City Maven:

Arts, Parks, Health and Aging
One of the tightest.  Alarcon has the best demographic mind on Council, which is essential to health and aging matters, and LaBonge is, like it or not, the top parks stakeholder.  Reyes is also very concerned about public health and is a great fit.

Audits and Government Efficiency
The man who wants to be Controller, Dennis Zine, gets a boost on his 2013 aspirations by taking the chair that feeds into the Controller's Office.  I wouldn't call Rosendahl and LaBonge especially talented in this field, however.

Budget and Finance
This has got to please Paul Krekorian immensely, to chair this, the city's most important committee, the one Zev owned way back when.  Englander fancies himself a budget guy--thus far, we've seen nothing indicating as much other than bluster, but it will be good for him with regards to rounding out career aspirations.  Cardenas, Koretz, and Rosendahl get to hang out.

Education and Neighborhoods
Better than nothing, but Parks deserved a better chair than this limited committee.  Perry's the vice chair, and she's undistinguished in these two fields.  Zine? Really?

Energy and Environment
Jose Huizar has had a few bumps on the road towards being the most environmental guy on Council.  He wasn't able to develop a Clean Tech campus downtown and let's not talk about the CLAARTS fund.  Zine is not a logical fit, but the two Paul Ks are.

Housing, Community and Economic Development
This is the city's top slush funding committee, home of the 1818 projects and affordable housing boondoggles, so Cardenas gets the chair.  Reyes might keep it honest--and maybe Alarcon too--even if Perry and Wesson aren't inclined to.

Information Tech and General Services
Jan Perry gets to chair the city's most dismal committee, of course.  Buscaino has to go somewhere, so he goes here, and Cardenas rounds out this highly unspecialized committee.

Jobs and Business Development
Garcetti? Frightening.  He wants it, I'm sure, to be able to say during the Mayor's race that he was doing this, but I don't see him as a quality job creator, only as a retail jobs and SEIU jobs creator.  You might as well give it to Madeline Janis.  Parks and LaBonge are fiscally conservative but neither is particularly imaginative, so it looks like you're on your own, Eric.

Personnel and Animal Welfare
I'd like to see what Daniel Guss et al. think of this one.  Koretz had one bright shining moment in animal activism as the anti-declawing guy.  Zine is a natural for personnel matters; I can see that.  Alarcon? He also had a top animal welfare moment when he was saddled with the new animal center in his district, and tried to block it.

Planning and Land Use Management
Ed Reyes is the natural for this.  Mitch Englander's view of land use is irregular and untested--he appears to be for enterprise zones, for instance.  He loves big development in general in other parts of town.  Huizar has an urban planning degree, but hasn't delivered much on it.

Public Safety
Unrepentantly Republican, Mitch Englander lives and breathes for it and even is traumatized by it.  At least he understands most issues.   Perry is not especially distinguished in this area.  Neither is Krekorian, but certainly Dennis Zine is, and newbie Buscaino gets to roll along.

Public Works
I'm most surprised at this.  Things could go really wrong here, and I expected one of the two Paul K's, sober hands, to chair.  Buscaino gets it, somehow--this is a big committee with a lot of responsibility and a lot of things can go wrong.  Babysitting Buscaino, maybe grooming him, will be Garcetti and Krekorian.

Rules and Elections
Wesson, LaBonge, and Huizar.  No comment, other than it could be like the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  For voters too.

Trade, Commerce and Tourism
Nobody knows where LaBonge really is at any time, so I suppose this figures.  Rosendahl, Garcetti, Wesson and Buscaino round it out.  Garcetti, who killed tourist-and commerce-fetching Sunset Junction, is not a logical choice, but Buscaino is.  I would have made him vice chair of this one, and not let him chair Public Works right away.

So Rosendahl can get as mean as he wants to be on Wilshire Boulevard transpo.  Interesting.  Koretz too, and Parks, LaBonge and Huizar, two of three who like failed trolleys, shuttle buses, &c., round it out.  This will be one of the most ambitious committees.

You can do the ad hocs.

Wearing Television

Elizabeth Drew is a fossil, and, predictably, her view of American Democracy is fossilized.  She is about to become another one of these people who have hung on too long.  Now she is concerned about democracy, and money as speech these days.  She is very concerned about positive ID voting and SuperPACs.  It sounds like a Democratic whine.  And it's so wrong it's almost upside-down.  How could a woman who's spent her life in politics come to this?

If you don't know the name--and it's possible if you're under 40 that you don't--Elizabeth Drew was for many years The New Yorker's top political correspondent.  (She may still be--I don't read the magazine anymore).  She was also a more-than-occasional talking head on McNeil-Lehrer (she may still be--I don't watch the Lehrer News Hour anymore).  Those who actually know her work know it on fossilized media.

Elizabeth Drew also happens to think a lot like Parke Skelton, John Shallman, and the occasional if perpetually entertaining LA dabbler Ace Smith.  Who also may be thinking upside-down these days.  All three, like Elizabeth Drew, keep trying to sell to the narrow slices of media with whom they interact that money matters more than it actually does today--because what, after all, can money buy? Money buys, most notably, TV and direct mail--the things that pay the consultant's bills most of all.  But by 2013, those two ways of selling candidates to the public should be equally fossilized as Elizabeth Drew.

In recent years in Los Angeles, we have seen candidates applying the Villaraigosa 2005 formula ("it doesn't matter unless it's on TV") to increasingly dismal results.  We have seen candidates spending ungodly amounts on TV and direct mail smear politics getting jujitsued by people who know how to take their message to the public for a song. 

In 2013, TV is going to matter so little to the Mayor's race as to be a second-tier media consideration, as newspaper endorsements have become.  TV somewhat mattered in 2009 only because local media was only interested in candidates who could afford to buy television time--but even since 2009 the Times's influence has fallen off. 

The fossils vote, too, in higher numbers than the rest of us.   But the problem for the long-standing, big-swinging consultants and their candidates even with this constituency is that the people who watch television are increasingly among the crankiest of the cranky, and they distrust career politicians--the kind of people who have been on TV a lot--most of all.  Candidates who have calculated their whole campaign around as much free television publicity as possible (Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti in particular) are going to be stunned to learn that this is only likely to backfire on them: by the time they get to 2013, they will be wearing the hirsute identity of "television politician" like a Planet of the Apes costume, only looking repulsive for their overexposure.  (Already people are complaining to me about Greuel's ceaseless Controller-controlled one-minute TV grabs).  When the candidate starts actually buying ads, they'll ironically be seen by the only people who watch television--and if you wonder who those are, just look at the other kinds of advertising on TV--not as a steady hand, but as part of the problem. 

Today's successful political consultant is not gruff, as yesterday's was indeed gruff.  Today's successful political consultant is friendly, sunny, and not necessarily a big spender but certainly a big thinker, one who knows how to turn TV exposure inside-out.

It took Joe Trippi a long time to get it right, but he got it right in the Jerry Brown campaign: he turned Whitman's own ability to buy media against her, making her appear like she had already been around for too long.  That is the new formula: mainstream media, television in particular, belongs to the opponent, not to you.

Council preens for cameras on symbolic anti-corporate issue as city finances erode

In December, City Council followed KPFK's lead and took action to oppose the "corporate personhood" Supreme Court decision, Citizens United.
  In December and January, a spike in capricious city billing has been reported all around town.

Three is a trend, and I have now heard three anecdotes of capricious billing or citation in Los Angeles.  They would be funny were they not so anxiety-inducing for the victims, and were the city not, on other fronts, trying so hard to demonstrate that it is citizen-friendly and anti-corporate.

One is narrated by Stephen Box.  This is of course in Eric Garcetti's district, the one with the bicycle fetish, where homeowners are very few and far between.  A resident receives an unwarranted bill for $10,000, and is told at a "hearing"--conducted through bullet-proof glass--to pay or else.  Two months later, the bill drops out of the cycle, with no conformation or follow up from the city.  After two anxious months, the resident calls the city and hears from a clerk--nothing on paper--certainly no apology--that he now has a balance of zero.

In the second one, a Building and Safety inspector cites a homeowner in Ed Reyes' district.  The citation is for an inadequately painted garage door jamb--of which there must be 7,500 in Reyes' district.  The homeowner tries to explain that the garage door is being repaired as quickly as the workers become available, and some of the repair work, which is being undertaken expeditiously, is responsible for the flaking.  No matter to the city; it's going to keep the citation on track and keep inspecting, even as the homeowner documents the progress on the work.

In a third in Tom LaBonge's district, a homeowner reports to me that he typically pays a DWP bill of about $500 every two months.  He gets a bill three months ago for $1500 and protests that usage has not gone up.  The DWP sticks by its guns.  In the next billing cycle--the most recent one--the DWP sends him a bill--for $28,000.

The city, in short, through its ever-hopeful, capricious finance departments, is becoming the most ruthless corporation of all.  And what has City Council done in response to this disturbing trend, in which LA cites and charges its own?

It most recently passed an empty, symbolic, lofty back-scratching declaration, becoming the first City in the nation to advocate the overturning of the Citizen's United decision and to declare that corporations aren't people.

It is, in short, taking a stand in an entirely symbolic battle that will take a minimum of five years (and perhaps a Constitutional Amendment) to overturn--while preening for cameras and explaining why their action was more than "symbolic."

It was symbolic indeed.  It was symbolic of every Councilmember's desire to get cheaply-bought camera time.

This is Villaraigosa's Los Angeles: the city of KPFK politics on the public side and kleptocracy and failure on the private side.  It is a city in which Council preens for the camera while civic life erodes and citizens are thought of increasingly as suckers with money.  It is a city in which its own employees are only here to insult, dupe, and shake down its residents today even as the elected officials ally themselves with tomorrow's revolutionaries.

Everyone seems to know now that the Mayor is politically mortally wounded and his mayoralty is universally acknowledge as the worst in their lifetimes.  Last year was the year that finally broke the Mayor's political machine.

But nearly every seated Councilmember is also guilty of the malfeasance of Villaraigosa--and seem only too willing to follow his fraudulent example.  Now, nearly all of them, as the mayor did, prefer camera time to real action.  Now nearly all of them support the "smart growth" policies that have, ironically, brought more car-drivers to transit hubs, congesting the city.  Now, nearly all of them have supported various stripes of costly affordable housing projects that add rentals to a city that doesn't need anymore.  Now, nearly all of them have enabled the absentee-landlord planning culture to such a degree that they are surprised to find that people actually own property and live in the city as well.  And now, certainly all of them have received complaints from residents about capricious billing from Finance departments, from the DWP, and citations from renegade inspectors at Building and Safety--an agency at which we could see many criminal convictions soon--and turned their backs on the problems they heard, pleading that their hands were tied.  All the while they have tinkered with symbols for the sake of garnering cheaply-bought camera time.

The hands have not been too tied to advocate for a new Constitutional Amendment.  But they have been too tied to take care of local billing and citation matters.

Next time you have a complaint that the city is billing you in error, I would recommend you complain not only to your Councilmember, but also to the people who lead him around by the nose--at KPFK.

Council District Maps, Council District Problems

The old lines, left; the proposed new ones, right.

"They didn't listen," a resident of Sunland-Tujunga tells me, as her community gets slammed into CD 7 in a draft of the redistricting commission's new map for LA, made public today.  "Not happy with today's map release."  They in this case is mostly Craig Miller, who probably knows CD 5 a little better than CD 2--but that's who Paul Krekorian appointed to represent his district, CD 2, on the city's Redistricting Commission.  The lines for CD's 2 and 7 approximate their old lines in the 1970's.   Miller was unavailable for comment.

The new CD 7, which likely will host a provocative battle between Felipe Fuentes and Andrea Alarcon in 2013 when Alarcon's father is termed out, absorbs most of Sunland-Tujunga, and will remain one of the top homeowner-centric districts in Los Angeles.  Jan Perry has already scheduled a news conference for tomorrow, as she's losing downtown north of Olympic and wants some of it back.  Tom LaBonge's CD 4 would lose Hancock Park and pick up Vals galore clustered along the southern, tony end of the 405.  The new CD 2 would threaten to become a very different place, a kind of Burbank-lite.  CD's 3, 11, 12, and 15 all stand fairly pat, with 11 ceding some territory around Mar Vista to CD 8.  CD 5 extends more into Hollywood where Paul Koretz can keep the skyscraper "dream" alive.

Drive til you qualify to be a "mini-philanthropist"

The plan was to have some local Starbucks to distribute gift cards worth $10 simply for buying something at one of the coffee houses.  (And look at the free advertising Starbucks gets from lamestream media for this "generosity"!) Then the recipient could designate the gift card to any LAUSD school of their choice.

The problem is, Starbucks chose all the locations at which you could grab a gift card.  And for some schools in the LAUSD, notably in the West Valley, there isn't a participating SBUX within 15 miles.

Tamar Galatzan, the former Council District 2 hopeful who represents the West Valley on the LAUSD Board who once encouraged her district to make "lemonade" of the lemon-like situations in her region, thinks this is a pretty cool arrangement.  In fact, she's completely down with the fact that her own district residents have to drive far til they qualify for a donor card.

Of the SBUX situation, Galatzan said the following on her Facebook page this morning:

We talked to those in charge here at LAUSD & it turns out the Starbucks/ Wasserman / DonorsChoose campaign is separate from the LAUSD/DonorsChoose/ Wasserman campaign. The campaign that kicks off Monday is Starbucks’ effort to give back to the teachers, parents & communities of the entire LA region. Starbucks is trying to encourage everyday citizens to be mini-philanthropists at their schools.

[Before we analyze the statement--don't you just love that lead-in? "We talked to those in charge here at LAUSD..."  Never has there been a more naked admission that when you vote for an LAUSD Board member, you aren't really voting for someone in charge of the district.]

But back here on earth--to recap, here's what Tamar says the problem is....

She says--and forgive us for not quite catching this the first time around--that the...

Starbucks/Wasserman/DonorsChoose campaign

is separate from the
LAUSD/DonorsChoose/Wasserman campaign.

Which all of us who had never heard of either campaign before were just dying to know.  All in all, a delicious red herring meant to throw mommies far off the blame track and to feel bad that poor Tamar as a Board member doesn't get more say over these kinds of things.

In fact, those of us who watch such things suspect that the LAUSD campaign is the bogus campaign to which District people can point when parents and citizens express curiosity about the Starbucks campaign--the real campaign, whose top purpose is to get people into business-hopeful Starbucks of Starbucks' own choosing, has already been declared a success on TV, and that's all that matters.

So there goes Tamar Galatzan, explaining to her sub-district--which only has 105,000 students--why there are so few Starbucks sites in her own district participating in this program, even if "mini-philanthropists" can spend $20 on gas getting to a Starbucks to make a $10 donation.

At some point it may be important to remember that if you pay property taxes around here--even if you don't have children--you already are a "mini-philanthropist®" to the Los Angeles Unified School District.  On the average LA home, thanks to Prop K and other school bond measures that we've passed over the past dozen years, you pay $555 extra every year on your property taxes--that's beyond what you pay the state--to LAUSD for the sake of educating the kids down the block.  Other districts don't get this; but you voted yourself this philanthropy which other districts don't seem to require.

And believe it or not, you'll continue to pay that $555 each year through 2044--all for school buildings and athletic fields, and not a penny of it goes to either teachers, or books, or other tools of learning.  It all goes to marble, concrete, electricians, astroturf, bleacher seats, and plumbers, most of whom don't even live anywhere nearby.

The Deasy Regime at the LAUSD has been more than anxious to take some more from you.  Deasy's a corporate guy, so he likes to partner with corporations.  In this one, however, some boundaries should have been drawn--literally and figuratively, and very differently, both ways.

The Clown is in--or wasting time--and other civic snips

He still hasn't officially declared his candidacy, but Carmen Trutanich is appearing this evening before the LA Association of Deputy District Attorneys as a candidate for DA, according to the anti-Trutanich site LA Dragnet.

Jim Newton scribbles a rather banal exploration of what it might mean that Herb Wesson is now Council president. Short answers: alienated blacks, more mayoral accord.  He didn't even ask him what Wesson thinks the top problem facing the city is.  He also calls the City Council a "notoriously difficult to manage body" (?!)  Newton doesn't like to talk to elected officials about actual issues--that much is clear.

I never knew that Tim Rutten ever got off a line this good: he said that Bill Boyarsky, when he was hoping to raise hell while on the City's Ethics Commission, was merely "treated like the drunken uncle at a Seder.”  It's not only the commission's reluctance to face reform that makes that line funny.

The two Austin Beutners--or, Who's sleepy, really?

I had a chance to read something cogent about Austin Beutner's candidacy for Mayor, at the Downtown News. Jon Regardie sits down and interviews the candidate before he makes a Town Hall speech last week. I think he's sat down with the candidate once before.

That's coverage.

Then, elsewhere, I read--and kept reading, still elsewhere--about how Richard Riordan nodded off during Austin Beutner's talk. With a link to the canned speech.

That's coverage?

You know who's really sleeping in this scenario, of course. The lazy scribes who would rather report on a doddering member of an audience of a canned speech than sit down and try to discuss the issues that face LA with a mayoral candidate.

Street-hassle and many others have had the "Doddering Dick Riordan is an idiotic, drooling, doddering old man" story in pocket for a long time.

This Riordan-is-sleeping angle is precisely the kind of pointlessly snide journalism that enables the the Weekly to manage political access far less well even than most unpaid bloggers, let alone far savvier scribes at weeklies across town.

I would guess that most consultants are already consigning the LA Weekly to the untouchable margins now for the mayor's race too, as most have for a long time now in nearly all other local political matters.

° ° ° ° °

For what it's worth, the Weekly whiffed on the biggest story out of downtown last week too: the eviction of the Latino Theater Center by the City of Los Angeles after a scant four years on a twenty-year lease.

This was an enormous hit for the Mayor, who pulled strings to insert the LTC into the vaunted if troubled space.

It took some actual reporting--by Ryan Vaillancourt--to get to the bottom of the story--a story on which the Weekly whiffed entirely.

But you can't say Weekly wasn't put on alert for the possibility, even two years ago:

By everyone's admission, the last time the Department of Cultural Affairs allowed its own real estate to be managed by an outside arts organization, it made a mess of it.

In 2006, after a long and intensely political battle, the city department awarded its prized downtown facility, the long-struggling Los Angeles Theatre Center on Spring Street, to the Latino Theater Company, which now holds a 20-year lease to operate the venue. The choice of the Latino Theater Company was openly supported by Villaraigosa over the equally prestigious Will & Company, a performance group devoted to bringing Shakespeare to underprivileged audiences nationwide.

Some local observers thought that Latino politicians, in the words of one newspaper editor at the time, "played the race card behind the scenes" to give an advantage to the Latino group over the nationally noted Shakespeare company. The mayor himself said, on the occasion of the award to Latino Theater Company instead of Will & Company: "Some argued, 'Oh, this is too ethnic.' I say, 'Why not?' "

I think Council satisfactorily followed up with the answer to the Mayor's question last week. They had already killed Sunset Junction, after all. They trotted out the Mayor's killjoy once again for Downtown Art Walk. And someone thought that Council was also going to let the Mayor's pet cultural project, LTC, skate? Not hardly.

The Year of the Water Dragon

For those of you born after 1952, this will likely be your only Year of the Water Dragon. I am told it is the peak creative year of all the sixty years of the Chinese zodiac. That doesn't surprise me, as Los Angeles in 2012 reminds me of New York in the late seventies--the city is such a political and economic monstrosity that the masses are simply tuning it all out to create.

I'm sure most readers of this site know by now that I don't much like the city at a political level (and, it follows, at an economic one) but I do like its culture. Even here, however, things can go either way. And I detect it is like this in many other cities across America--the local politics are simply too corrupt to devote much attention to, and the local topline culture only mimics the politics.  A scant two years ago, for instance, the Ring cycle that LA Opera produced ran to farce for many--and nearly broke the twenty-five year old company to boot--but now things are on an even keel again, maybe even better than ever. I also have to admit I'm not fussy for the whole idea of the soon wrapping Pacific Daylight Time extravaganza--these shows have largely touted the whimsical and the static in a time when fine arts need more gravitas and kinetic expression--of which there is plenty, but it doesn't have marketing machines behind it. And let's not talk about Hollywood's output in recent years--but even here, the indie scene is the only scene.

The most historically grating thing about LA culture, however, and yet now also the most promising as well, at least for me, is linked the perilous state of New York commercial publishing. For a long time--decades--commercial editors in New York have not brought to light the best of LA, but rather the books that best describe their own hackneyed vision of the place: gritty detectives, vapid landscape, surfer boys. Now, thanks to Kindle (left coast, that) and the Espresso Book machine, LA has far more elbow room in fiction and fine letters. I expect we'll see a flourishing as local authors simply elect to bypass the New York mills should they continue to move at less than real time, and in less than good faith, on their manuscripts.

We don't need to get into the gangsta wars in any arts, even hip hop, to put our best creative self out to the world. The plain truth is that economic crisis when conflated with economic support makes for the kind of unstructured time essential to creativity. When you meet the Water Dragon this year, engage, embrace.

Peace and boat drinks,

Joseph Mailander

Culture clashing

To me, Native Americans dancing on a sidewalk in front of a farmer's market in a Wells Fargo parking lot in Atwater gains something and loses something.  But it was colorful.  Below left, my writer's group downtown, spreading out, making no demands, making no noise at all, on a fourth floor rooftop at 11th and Hope.  Below right, a rock at FIDM downtown--I checked another rock and discovered that the poems were by a CRA arts administrator I knew from way back, Mickey Gustin, who died four years ago.  There were about a dozen such poems on rocks--I thought this was the best one.

"South Carolina conservatives pull the lever for Obama"

When it comes to watching Republican news, I believe I have the best Twitter feed of all--but I'm sure so do you.  My own first place: Matt Welch (as usual); second, Nate Silver (Silver gets the silver), third SE Cupp (always great).  Single most interesting chrip: John Carney, with rumor about Party trying to reel Newt in before he made his speech. And honorable mention this time around to David Axelrod--drill all the way down for that single-stroke masterpiece. 
°     °     °     °     °

David Gergen
Striking that in age of Internet, this GOP race is turning so heavily on an old technology: television.
Joe Trippi

There has to be a room full of adults in the GOP sitting around somewhere tonight asking "now what do we do?"
Matt Welch

Here is a possibly relevant 2005 piece I wrote about "The Gingrich Legacy." Talk-radio demagoguery vs. cutting gubmint.

Nate Silver

Intrade Sees Romney as 60/40 Favorite in Florida

Matt Welch

Swear to God, Wolf Blitzer just described Newt's speech as "taking the high road."
Matt Welch

Yeah, you really wouldn't want the American government to be secular. Wait, what?
Matt Welch

I think if Newt Gingrich won the GOP nomination -- which he won't -- he would lose to Obama by double digits.

Strategically located next to the best Newt hype man ever, who has yelled about Bill Ayers like five times
Peter Suderman

More people were added to food stamps under Bush, who expanded eligibility in 2002, than Obama.
Matt Welch

Always timely: 's "No Newt":
Matt Welch

When a would-be president talks about "eliminating dictatorial religious bigots," meaning judges, it makes you wonder about his supporters.
Jim Newell

"blargh blargh blarhrhrhhg," the loyal Gingrichians chant
Matt Welch

"Just think how radical he could be in a second term." He'll have less and less support from Congress, media, and public.
Matt Welch

Very hard for that crowd to clap about Dr. Ron Paul.
Matt Welch

It is true, I am constantly trying to force people to become non-American.
Nate Silver

Obama Campaign Needling Romney
Matt Welch

"Elites in Washington and New York"! DRINK!
Nate Silver

Gingrich, Romney Close in Popular Votes after 3 States
Garry Shandling

Getting my hair cut like Calista, tomorrow!!
Matt Welch

I wish my knives were as sharp as wife #3's haircut.
Debbie Cortez Lopez

Haha. RT If this were a drop-out speech, I think we'd see a certain daughter crying

John Carney

Source in S.C. tells me national GOP heavies trying to reach Gingrich and influence his speech. Unclear if Gingrich is listening.
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GOP establishment is moving towards a "declaration of war" against Gingrich. A FL win would lead to huge "panic." - Steve Schmidt
Pat O'Brien

Can't wait to hear what Gingrich comes up with in a few minutes. Will it be one of those "I told you so" deals? Ugh..
John Podhoretz

Romney guy Stuart Stevens: "We feel very very good about going on." Translation: Hello. I am the guy in Munch's "The Scream."
Phil Jennerjahn

When Gingrich went on Greek cruise & his staffers quit, he was done. Tonight, he's destroying Romney in S.C. & now in drivers seat for nom.
Kim Hubbard

It would 'almost' be worth having Newt win the nom to see him lose the general by 30 points.
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Matt Welch

"Tweaker" was Romney, tells me. I don't think that word means what Alex Castellanos thinks it means.
Matt Welch

"He comes across as a tweaker" -- Alex Castellanos on CNN, talking about Gingrich (I think).
S.E. Cupp

I don't know if I can wait until Weds to file my column about the SC primary.
Patrick Ruffini

You know which state could potentially prove decisive in a long slog? Virginia.
John Podhoretz

I guess a candidate who believes in nothing really is challenged facing a candidate who believes in just about anything.
S.E. Cupp

South Carolina conservatives pull the lever for Obama.
S.E. Cupp

Has anyone brought up the uncanny role Newt played in ousting of former Speaker Jim Wright? It's surreal. Wiki it

Matt Welch

Ron Paul is tired. "Thank you, Mitt," he signed off his (very interesting) interview w/ Wolf Blitzer et al.
David Axelrod

Nate, you're good with math. If you & SuperPac spend $4.7m, and get zero delegates, how much did you spend per delegate?