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Who lost K-Town?

My piece on what really happened in Koreatown that led the community to the brink of a Voting Rights Act lawsuit is up at CityWatch.

UPDATE: in comments here at street-hassle, a commenter identifying herself as Commissioner Helen Kim responds to a part of my story about including Koreatown in Wesson's district: " I can tell you that's categorically false. In the first secret line-drawing meeting for the CD10 region, I in fact asked Commissioner Ellison (appointed by Wesson) to take WCKNC whole in CD10 and he refused. I understood his refusal to be based on the fact that taking WCKNC whole in CD10 would've prevented CD10 from having over 50% black registered which was Ellison's first and foremost goal."

I will try to confirm to-day that it is indeed Commissioner Kim who left this comment.  I'm sure this will shake out soon, but most of all the public will be glad to have someone with knowledge of the workings of the commission acknowledge that there were "secret line-drawing meetings," even if such meetings are vastly at odds with what Controller Wendy Greuel--who appointed Kim--called for when her office told me she "advocated for transparency throughout the process"--which is also a part of my article.

UPDATE II: Comment confirmed as Commissioner Kim's.

Fault Disney Concert Hall

I did a watercolor of it too, when it was new.

The 5 and 101 and 134 people generally aren't aware of what a scam the Walt Disney Concert Hall has been through its nine years.  Let me count the ways.

Seats at the Disney Hall have on average seven inches less leg room than the Dorothy Chandler.  That was done to pack you in, in case a hotel might be developed on the site--it wasn't, but you're suffering nonetheless for the expectations.

There has scarcely been a season in recent memory in which fire alarms don't go off mid-concert at least once. (To keep their ads, local critics won't report this).  When Ms. Borda trots on stage to apologize, she doesn't even offer the offended paying customers so much as a complimentary beverage.

Music people across America were shocked a few years back when Nina Kotick, a Disney Hall matron, also doubled as a Los Angeles Times contributing editor.  "I doubt that arrangement would be tolerated in any other city in America but Los Angeles," a Washington, D.C. critic told me.

Our local print scribes are too bought-off to say much negative about the Disney Hall.  I'm sure you're pretty much aware that they like any ads they can get in this tough economic climate.  So a-fawning we will go.  But...

I don't want to get into Dudamel and his grasp on music.  Let's just call him politely antiquarian and leave it at that.  The orchestra was headed towards the future through the whole of Salonen's tenure.  Now it beats on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

But if you're thinking of attending a Disney Hall concert, all I can say is: don't bother.  Be more imaginative.  Stay in Orange County; or go somewhere else.


Yes, there is a photo of me doing service as busboy on scribe David Rensin's iPhone today.  As Rensin has the most elaborately app'ed iPhone south of Tehachipi, I can't say I mind.  It's almost better than a billboard.  You should be so lucky as to be Rensin's pin-up for the day.

Rensin is one of LA's most...mostest writers.  Nobody has done, say, more Playboy interviews of notables than Rensin, and his profiling of Bill Gates for the august powder-blue mag in 1994 is syllabus-level reading for the way the world works today.  But equally as presciently to any Angeleno worthy of the name, he also wrote Teh Book on Miki Dora--All for a Few Perfect Waves--and if you grew up in LA near any beach, you know that Da Cat is king and this is a book not only to read but to allow to reverberate like the memory of the feel of the ocean after a swim.  He's also been utterly generous with a few other writers around town, and that is something I admire about him; few are, and even fewer recognize what real generosity is in this brave new promotion-controls-everything climate.

He also noted to me recently over a dinner at Jax (we only seem to end up with boy food, no matter how much we announce our intentions to each other to do something more gourmand) that "if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs."  Don't be surprised if that line drops verbatim into my next novel.  It's worth working a whole canto around, in fact--and that's something I see David Rensin doing: not working chapters so much as cantos.  When we discuss his next project--which is completely captivating--I am all ears, and ever the busboy too.

After the rain

I know two people who collect rainwater into barrels, for chlorine-free watering of their gardens.  A storm like yesterday's easily fills three barrels off an ordinary roof.  Unfortunately, the city isn't building many ordinary rooves over ordinary homes on ordinary lots anymore.  Nor is it patching concrete as adroitly as it used to, as I saw on this patch of Hope Street between Eleventh and Twelfth yesterday.  Still, where civic structure fails, culture often takes over.  This will be a busy week--excuse me.

Clock in the rain

Lots of kids this time around for The Clock and other amusements at LACMA and for the donuts and balloons across the street today.  We did get a chance to sample The Nickel Diner's bacon and maple donut and it tastes like...a maple roll with some bacon on it.  Between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. lots of screen time in The Clock is devoted to people waking up.  There's a clip from Chinatown you know very well I'm sure at 9:39.  If it comes back yet again, we'll try yet another segment; I remembered the segment from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. being a little more livelier than this morning cut.

Tick tock

LACMA is presently re-screening The Clock.  All I have to say is--go.  Deets here.  The Clock makes The Rock look like a pebble--and it didn't cost the County anything to get it here.


Alex Sylla on the Acordeon Baronelli, Trader Joe's Silver Lake.

The Valid Self

Unlike real life, the great game in writing is not love but invalidation. The Internet generally amplified it and it's extended way past its sell-by date. But it's also nothing new.

Invalidation in media is where one writer steals from another and doesn't acknowledge the source. It's also where someone doesn't like something someone else said and so they make a mess trying to demonstrate (usually via the weakest argument of all, the ad hominem) that the writer who says all these unlikeable things is unimportant, unreliable, unsteady, unAmerican, un-...&c.

You'll get this if you write opinions--which I've done all my adult life. You'll get this from other opinion people sometimes--you also get it from activists who don't like your opinions--you get it from friends, who don't like the idea that you're writing and they're not.

What you're obliged to do as a writer when invalidation comes your way is to laugh. At least in novels and among other opinion writers, we have our isolated place in the shivering sun. "He was place's the most hated columnist," John Le Carre writes of The Bear in The Tailor of Panama. Lewis Lapham once wrote at Harper's that if you're a writer and more than two people come to your funeral, you failed. Mary McCarthy, one of my heroines, famously told Dick Cavett of Lillian Hellman that "every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"

Most of these invalidations are entirely pointless--does anyone really respect Lillian Hellman any less?--but good writers do like to bring the knives out, and great writers get knives sent their way more often than miserable ones do. I have a hard time explaining this to my wife, who wonders why people aren't nice to me all the time. I explain that it is largely because I am not nice to people all the time. She wonders about that too.

But now we also have invalidation crossing media, and things have redoubled, and redoubled again. Purebred newspaper people try their best to invalidate bloggers--for some reason, they don't try so much to invalidate radio personalities, who represent a far bigger threat to them (part of the reason newspapers have deteriorated, sure, is the Internet, but part of it is also radio, which has all but completely stolen newspaper's one-time thunder on local civic matters). Commercial mills try to invalidate people who publish electronic books; agents even try to invalidate successful authors who go it alone.

Invalidation bothers many writers early on, but you get to be a certain age, and, sure, a certain esteem, and the invalidation game is simply recreation. You watch what comes your way and the laugh gets more and more sincere as your own self-validation grows. Because that's what validates a writer more than any other quality a writer can have: the validation of the self. Some writers are so eager to play that they save their best shots for other writers and rarely take shots at arts, politics, culture at all. This is the precise opposite of what a writer should be doing.

Some very amateur writers spend all their lives thinking, "If I just publish this book, this article, this poem, in this particular place, at this particular press, then everyone will have to admit it: I'm a writer." Nobody ever has to admit any such thing at any time, and no page frame assures validation from another single soul. And that is the conundrum of writing: you do it for others, but you are the only person who can validate yourself.
Peace and boat drinks,
Joseph Mailander

Expo Line test run

Expo Line will open soon. Footage of test run from Will Campbell and

Scrapbooking #MissSeipp

To-day is the fifth anniversary of the death of neighbor, friend, accomplished scribe, and mother-par-excellence-don't-you-ever-forget-it Cathy Seipp.  Friend of Seipp Jacki Danicki has put together a pinterest board where people are pinning some photos--that's my watercolor of Seipp from late 2006 on in the upper left corner, pinned to Jacki's board by good friend of Cathy Emmanuelle Richard, which is also here.  Richard also recommended tweeting your memories of Cathy today with hashtag #MissSeipp, so do that if you have them.   David Rensin reminds us that his original remembrance of Seipp ran at LAObserved a few days after she died--worth reading today, as is so much else.  UPDATE: don't miss Amy Alkon's vintage post either.

Cypress Parking

Passing through Cypress Park on the Gold Line, you see some of the kind of land-use craziness you see in Brooklyn's Williamsburg; for instance, a new eighty unit apartment complex across the street from an auto demolition yard.  And some of the toniest complexes facing the Gold Line itself.

"Railroad apartments" were something Tom Waits sang of with a snarl, but their development has been key to trends that both help and hurt.  They renew neighborhoods but they also tilt the city's owner-occupied-to-renter ratio towards renters, making homes further out of reach for would-be first time homeowners.

I asked Ted Crisell last night at a Fair Housing Coalition Town Hall if he thought the City could implement any policy that might bring the broken owner-occupied-to-renter ratio back into a 50-50 balance.  "No," he said, not in the bad economy.

[Crisell's name is not included in the usual round-ups of Mayoral candidates.  He's 65, a widower, of considerable energy, well-spoken on issues, and an Orange County transplant.  He also has little organization and little campaign money.]

The LA River, here also from the train, poses a second challenge to Cypress Park.  An enjambment of new rental and condo developments along the north-south Gold Line corridor, with progress along the east-west river bank, the next CP Councilmember needs to pick up where Ed Reyes is obliged to leave off when his term ends next year--and picking up on the redevelopment efforts with the former CRA likely under the umbrella of the City's god-awful Housing Department.

Evolving Echo Park

A double-long Metro bus slips past Laveta Terrace.   The old Pioneer Chicken stand on Echo Park Avenue, one of two candidates for the stand mentioned in the Zevon/Rondstat song Carmelita, is now a Little Caesar's.  A display on a shelf in an apartment features a letterpress printer's block heart, a hand-thrown and hand-painted vase, and a small study by Silver Lake artist David Crocker.

Downtown antes up

I guess I have some competition in this new-media-big-photo thing.  But if you'd like to see 49 photos showing "What's in my loft?" subscribe to the Downtown News's Facebook page and click around.  It's a fine photo essay, and I'm glad they took the time and devoted the resources to show what residents downtown are up to.    But as far as this new-media-big-photo thing goes--I still own Sunset west of Laveta to Vermont--OK? OK.

Sage flauntings

San Fernando, October 2008
There was a surfeit of discussion about the not-so-singular quality of intelligence this past weekend, as though we were threatening to lose the keys to it forever.  Not sure that any of it was recovered.  I was most amused by the former national fishwrap of record's op-ed on "The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction" which goes so far as to suggest that reading books is good for you--which I'm sure we could have never guessed without abundant research on the matter.  (It also included that ridiculous New York moniker "published novelist" in describing an otherwise unknown academic Torontoan--the phrase's subtext, of course, is that only books stemming from New York commercial mills may be good for you, a dutiful servicing of one of NYC's most notoriously faltering industry groups).  It was also said in the same jovial fishwrap that there are "benefits of bilingualism" and as an example the author cites the ability of babies exposed to two languages to de-Pavlov themselves from certain expectations when watching a screen.  (The real intelligence here may be in not subjecting babies to screens at all--or even in teaching babies to learn at least one language well).  Also of interest to the dallying souls here may be the Wall St. Journal piece "My secret to getting sober" which is of course not a secret at all once presented in the WSJ, though there may be things in it of value to those who read only for opportunities to bash.  Finally, my oft-time City Hall and sometimes lunch associate Ms. Cortez Lopez, a devoted Tao wanderer (in fact, I noted the sagacious display on the left while meeting her for lunch in the City of San Fernando in October 2008) retweets that "The sage keeps her wisdom to herself, while ordinary people flaunt their knowledge"--a dictum of Chuang Tzu, which may make it difficult to identify sages but also flies in the face of general fishwrap punditry, where such would-be flauntings by obviously ordinary people are on display daily.


I've been shooting the LA Marathon since the first one, and it's hard to shoot in my neighborhood because the runners are generally running with their backs to the sun.  I never care who wins the Marathon--I never want to see the so-called "elite" runners. I park myself in front of the Vista for an hour or so and I only want to see the crazies, the people who list crazy names on their numbers (I saw one on a teenager, somewhat hilariously, somewhat disturbingly, refer to himself as "Cougar Bait"), and I want to see the highhat palms dotting the horizon, which seem to stick out more prominently when the streets are occupied with people rather than with cars--and I look forward to the soulful dudes from the Dream Center, this year with vuvuzuelas...and--this is not so crazy after all--here's a guy in a sombrero running right down Sunset Boulevard carrying the Mexican tricolore for all 26.2.

You never know who you're going to see--I saw Diana from Trader Joe's running, and she said hi as she passed, as startled to see me as I was to see her.  The wind chill was profound by the time I left, but the runners caught a break, ducking even some predicted hail.  Watching mostly anonymous people, cheering mostly anonymous people; if only LA were like this every day.

Earlier this week, Will Campbell noted that there has been more coverage of the renegade bicycle tour along the marathon streets than there ever was of the official version.  That's a kink that remains to be ironed out, either on the publicity end or on the renegade end.  But all in all, the marathon works, uplifts, gives hope...and is demonstration of the fact that the city's cultural side so often succeeds even as the city's political side so often fails.

Gorgeous and beguiling Spanish artist Marisa Rivera Navarro lives in Madrid but makes the kind of art that appeals to the vibrant LA palette as practiced by, say, John August Swanson--and she maintains many New World friendships that ensure her work is also known here.  On the left, Plaza Campo Del Principe reminds me of a Roman landscape, the way they piled the scene up to show it all, and it also reminds me of one of my favorite Picasso's, one that was exhibited here a dozen years ago, a visit to an artists studio, where you experience the whole thing, the street, walking up the stairs, and then in the studio itself. The way the landscape is divided into thirds, both conventionally and unconventionally, and the way the roof lines add to the excitement of the painting without making it overly emotional and while yet contributing to balance. Her use of yellow in just the right ratio--any more and it would dominate the painting, she used the highest amount that you could get away with...that's a key principle in Itten's book on color, how little yellow you need to create harmony, and I'm sure she did it instinctively. On the right a little dibujo (a sketch, or more literally, a "toe drawing") inspired by the Vox Vulgaris and likely some other medieval codices.  I often encounter that kind of spiritual echo in her work, an echo from a torn illuminated manuscript page or a neglected Roman mural, which is why I mention LA's Swanson, whose work is often seen in the cathedral here; Swanson is less kinetic but elaborately colored on and just off the primaries as is Navarro's.  Sometimes I exchange pleasantries with Navarro on Facebook over my occasional (and occasionally baroque) "Caro Diario" column or one of her own works such as these.


Clover, Silver Lake Bouelvard, 3.17.09

Street Tonic

Empty newsstand with guerilla marketing stickers and nametags in front of Cheetah's.  A graffiti stencil bar code of the pre-9/11 lower Manhattan skyline, with "00911"2001" ordinals--south side of Sunset on bridge over Silver Lake.  New Septerhed mural I've never hated anyone as much as I love you at Sunset Junction, taken from the number 4 bus.


You might see one of these in Hollywood on the way, say, to a pawn shop, or Children's Hospital.  This one's across from Von's--friendly Von's--we also have bitter Von's, and hopeless Von's--friendly Von's near the Vista.  Also noted: that Blockbuster Video is going out of business, thank god.  But really--how do these places stay in business too? You mean it can out-compete Blockbuster in sales per square foot? Shocking, yet---I'm glad they do.  In fact, they seem to be thriving even as the video stores are going the way of the Betamax.  Your future--vurrrry important.

Faerie Cottage showdown

Francesca Lia Block, who turns 50 this year, has long been one of those wistful, breezy, barely-there LA presences that the New York commercial mills who groom her wikipedia page would like us to believe says something sweet and shockingly true about our dear pueblo.  Hers is an LA where smog is pink and nipples are hard and genders bend towards living happily if not happily ever after.

In the past week, however, she revealed how much midlife reality had encroached on the picture, going public with her battle over her "faerie cottage" in Culver City.  The cottage was bought on her deceased mother's dime with a package that included an interest-only loan that is presently about to blow up.

When I first heard the case, I privately doubted that hitting the barricades as a newly-minted Occupado was going to help her cause at the bank any.  But now that the news is so glumly public--apparently with FLB's encouragement--things are to be said; and Amy Alkon said this of the whole matter the other day:
I'm very sorry for what you're going through, and I'm no friend of B of A, but I couldn't afford a home either, so I didn't buy one.
Which to me showed perfect pitch several ways.  The best thing Ms. Block can do, I think, is to devote more time towards finding a responsible co-signer for a modification, and less time towards vilifying the bank that dares to treat her like just another customer.

Phil on the bill

My occasional bloggin' loggerhead Republican commentator Phil Jennerjahn learns today that he has been cleared by the County Clerk to enter the race for Congressman Adam Schiff's newly minted seat in the House of Representatives, Cal-28.  Congressman Schiff?

Santa Monica Boulevard

I used to hate being the oldest person in line. Now everyone is mostly looking at their iPhones and I don't mind so much. (People in line aren't nearly as raucous and talkative standing in line as they used to be even five years ago). Santa Monica Boulevard though is relentless. We don't really have more people here, but we do have more people who need to hit the streets at night, and therefore we have more congestion, even all through the evening, especially on the westside.  Nobody rides their bike to a club date.


This venue down the block from Urth Yoga in Silver Lake is a juice and tea bar called S I L V E R L A K E, a good spot to read Nadeem Aslam or Robert Pirsig or Gary Snyder or nothing at all.  Open at 8 a.m. and the first Urth Yoga class of the morning lets out around then.

In the neighborhood

Presently reading Nadeen Aslam's "Leila in the Wilderness" in the autumn 2010 issue of Granta. It reminds me of a Pakistani clerk at my local 7-Eleven who I knew in 2007, Asaf, whom I could feel had these kinds of stories buried within him. A Pakistani among Indians, he was a bit of an odd man out. When I did this watercolor of him on the left, I had to do it from memory, a little at a time, stepping out of the store and dabbing here and there. On the right, from the same year, the 7-Eleven at Hyperion and Rowena. In a little sketchbook, but one of my own favorite watercolors. At the time, a Sundance Channel billboard is over the mini-mall. Asaf sometimes went back to Pakistan for months at a time--I don't know what became of him. I advised him to get a job at Home Depot, where there would be more potential for growth; I know he applied. I also took him a consolation card when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

Night out

"The more you try to explain yourself," a horoscope told me today, "the less..." &c.  I never believe that, but I'll let it stand to-day anyway.  A band called The Active Set wraps up an active set at The Troubadour Thursday night.  The wellworn venue--you know, where Lennon got 86'ed--and where they now sensibly consign the obvious non-pogoing candidates like yours truly to the balcony, maintains a parking lot across the street that offers some not so secret access to yet another parking lot, the rooftop parking emptier than the Troub's, and good for catching a full moon to the east and for splitting up a fourpack of barefoot merlot or somesuch, not-so-nervously watching a little van not likely loaded with weapons on the rooftop horizon.  Finishing up at 4100 Bar with Bushmills and Stone IPA back for myself and Bushmills with Stone Pale Ale and spicy pickle juice back for the editor.

Still civic

My latest column for CityWatch, "Adrin Nazarian, PK's Chief of Staff, Should Stand Down Now," is up at the site.  In it, I asked a few people around town what the thinking is on Nazarian still serving as Paul Krekorian's Chief of Staff while running for State Assembly office, and examined both the statute and how staying on as a Councilmember's gatekeeper while running for office enhances the possibility of influence peddling.


I took these about a week ago.  Appropriately ambiguous, barely readable street art pasted onto a city electrical service box at Rowena and Hyperion.  Apparently a homeless man, arms outstretched, standing behind a shopping cart.  Art whose subject is homelessness without pretentiousness, voyeurism, publicity-craving, identity-branding or pose--this anonymous image does not seek any meretricious reward.  Keeping it at street level, out of commercial gallery space (where social problems are commodified) freights a nobler message: contemplation as a call to personal, private, anonymous action.

Pickled Herring

Janis Kelly as Lady Billows - Robert Millard for LA Opera
One of the upsides of the downtown semi-renaissance--there was never a rebirth required, only a few more people--is the fact that we not only have a natural cultural audience now built into downtown, but we also have downtown cultural critics who compete with cultural critics elsewhere.  This makes a kind of hothouse environment for criticism of large events like opera, and who doesn't love a hothouse?

When I was reading along with Marc Porter Zasada's review of Albert Herring in the Downtown News, I found myself agreeing with him nine times out of ten.  Yes, this is not an entry-level opera; yes, it could be far funnier (my friend for the evening said that any Italian warhorse is far funnier than this purported comedy); yes the production could be gender-bent far more than it is; yes, Erin Sanzero as Emmie stands out, as does Stacy Tappan.

Here's where we differ: the night I saw Ronnita Nicole Miller, I found that she did not "make much of her part" as Florence Pike--I couldn't hear her well, in fact.  And something else perhaps: I found the scene changes are choreographed exquisitely, worth mentioning.  That is not much to crow about and indeed it's a bit of an indictment to find in the movement of tables and crates thrills beyond what is offered when the lights are high.  But let's be honest: Albert Herring is an overly-precious opera, a set-piece send-up of a Victorian extra time (actually set in 1900 although first staged in 1947)  that is going to die with or without Benjamin Britten's modest assist.  I do have to say also that given all the hue and cry about women's sexuality of late that LA Opera has been fairly prescient in locating politically charged works at the right time--after all, it was just two weeks ago that Verdi's "Occupy Genoa" opera Simon Boccanegra was on display, and now, an opera about the dearth of virtuous women and seeking a man as Loxford's King of the May, who blows his innocence out with a few errant quaffs, is about all the moralizing redoubling and righteous indignation we require to read it as gloss to the Fluke/Limbaugh cause celebre.

There are shimmering harp-runs throughout this opera, which commences with a grand thrush--something I like, giving it a fairy-tale quality.  The music--James Conlon continues to soar and soar--is elegant and--here's that word again--precious throughout, especially the incidental music, which alternates between olden times and something closer to our own.

Venerable Donna Perlmutter also has things to say downtown these days, over at blogdowntown.  She recognizes the timeliness of the production too. 

All in all, something that I am not fussy for but still might like to see again, because--when will you see it next? That kind of opera: one to know, maybe not to love.  An opera for Opera lovers, not so much for chestnut lovers.

Remaining performance for this production from Santa Fe, now at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion: Thursday March 8, Sunday March 11, Wednesday March 14, and Saturday March 17.

In lieu of the real

I keep wondering if this is what Oxbridge Socialism looks like--or looks like at dusk, anyway.  We The People of this city took an otherwise fine thoroughfare--Griffith Park Boulevard--which splits off of Sunset and provides a nice boogie route to Los Feliz.  Then blocked off the base, necessitating a turn onto far narrower streets for anyone who wants to hook up with the old route, and of course thereby delaying the flow of traffic.  Then we put in some large pots to frame where the old street was.  Then instead of putting in earth and flora, we painted the pavement green.  It reminds me of a Catholic school playground gone polka-dotty; it is the most artificial of artificial zones possible.  Undoubtedly we're saving money, water, maintenance...and losing our grip on reality as we accept these abominations as recreational space.  Is it concrete all around, or is it in my head? Garcetti's district--of course.


I've lived in Hollywood for a very long time, but that doesn't mean that when I go out onto the commercial strips that I'm not just a tourist like everyone else.  Top--they always make these makeshift memorials to stars when they die and The Monkees happen to have a star on Hollywood Boulevard--here Davy Jones is commemorated on Hollywood east of Las Palmas.  Middle--is that Elvis about to tear you from limb to limb, or Frankenstein playing a guitar at the drugstore at corner of Hollywood and Highland? Bottom--out in Silver Lake, they don't hang sneakers from wires--they hang fuzzy bears and rabbits.

Sunday, Mohawk Bend


Some of the photos I've been taking lately aspire to demonstrate the disconnect between what media want people to do with their leisure time and what people are in fact doing with it.  Mostly, media want people to shop for something.  Mostly, at least on the eastside, people are sitting, looking around, checking each other out, eating tacos, drinking beverages.  Occasionally they even cycle to get there.

In our own town, this is also why the westside so often tries to invalidate the eastside.  The westside is far more devoted to sanitized retail culture; the eastside is a threat to that, so people are diminished as hipsters, gangsters, &c.  Westside Pavilion, Santa Monica Place, Beverly Center, Century City are where media want you to assemble yourselves--and they're the pundits' secret favorites as well.  The eastside gets along fine without them, for the most part.

Meanwhile, lots of charlatans are trying to sell special information even on how to do this: how to sit, look around, check someone out, and drink beverages.  It's this silly cottage industry that is the most pernicious one of all, the one that calls itself new thinking, the one that tries to walk the rope between punditry and advertising.  Who needs a pundit, an academic, an award winner to cycle, sit, talk, and have a beverage?


Ronnita Nicole Miller as Florence Pike, Janis Kelly as Lady Billows, Robert McPherson as Mr. Upfold, Daniela Mack as Nancy, Liam Bonner as Sid, Alek Shrader as Albert Herring (Photo: Robert Millard for LA Opera)

The postwar romp Albert Herring--often considered the comic masterpiece of twentieth century opera--has not been staged by LA Opera in its 25-year history despite the city's formidable Britten contingent and some anglophonic general directors over the years.  But now--it's here.  A popular production from Santa Fe is currently in house at the Dorothy Chandler--the remaining performances are Saturday March 3, at 7:30, Thursday March 8, Sunday March 11, Wednesday March 14, and Saturday March 17. I intend to see it sooner rather than later--will let you know when I do.  And yes--there are a Sid and a Nancy in this show; it's always been that way, in fact.

Still civic

My latest CityWatch column is "Ad anonymity is not in the public interest." Many thanks to Rick Orlov whose original item on the Alarcon ad prompted a broader civic discussion. And also to those who also liked last week's column, "Our next Mayor should belong to us, not to political consultants."

Also worth noting is this legal discussion of online anonymity at the tech online journal SCRIPTed. "The right to anonymity is considered worth protecting because the content of speech, such as a dissenting opinion or an unpopular idea, is valuable - if not crucial - in a pluralistic democracy. Yet...."

Obsessive yet good-natured

The bird for March in my Odd Birds of North America calendar is the Roseate Spoonbill.  The Odd Birds of North America calendar was produced by krank press here in Silver Lake.  [k]rank press describes its offerings as "Letterpress in the spirit of the die-hard baseball fans of the early 20th century who first inspired the term "krank": obsessive yet good-natured. Taking pleasure in the use of a machine born of the late industrial revolution, much like the sport of baseball itself."  You can find more on the Roseate Spoonbill at wikipedia.