January 2nd, 2008 by
Yes, I understand that it’s nearly impossible to tear our collective eyes away from Iowa, but there is a world beyond the presidential primaries. So while we’re trying to second guess Midwestern caucus-goers, here are ten New Year’s wishes from ten Los Angeles residents who care deeply about our glorious and difficult city.
JEFF CARR is the city’s Gang Czar. He was picked by Antonio Villaraigosa to plan, implement, coordinate gang policy out of the mayor’s office.
My wish is that we would see the people of our city as the most valuable and important resource that we possess. And that we demonstrated he truth of that in how we prioritize the rest of our resources.
STEVE BARR is the founder and head of Green Dot Charter Schools and the guy who wants to change how Los Angeles educates its kids—whether LAUSD likes it or not.
You know the obvious answer is: “wouldn’t it be great if everybody committed to creating a great public school system?” But here’s what I really wish. I wish that everybody in this city would find somebody who’s a lot different from them and have a conversation with them. I mean those quiet people who line up on the bus station on sunset. The women who make your beds and serve your food who are going to become a political football this year. Then the talk about creating a great school system becomes obvious. But I don’t think you can get there until you start having those conversations. You’re not going to get there until you appreciate how amazing this city is—with all its differences.
OSCAR GARZA is the editor-in-chief of LA’s Tu Cuidad magazine, before that he held multiple editorships with the LA Times for fifteen years, and was an award-wining producer for San Antonio’s PBS before the Times.
I wish that every citizen would think about the notion of community and commit to doing something to improve their own neighborhood or the community at large.
Whether it’s joining an organized volunteer effort of any sort, or something as simple as picking up stray trash in your neighborhood, every effort helps.
SEVEN MORE WISHES AFTER THE JUMP…
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Posted in City Government, Gangs, LAPD, LAUSD, Season of Lists | 31 Comments »
January 1st, 2008 by
Happy New Year everybody! Tomorrow I’ll have a great list of New Year’s wishes for the city of Los Angeles from ten interesting LA people. But today is the day for resolutions.
Right now, I admit I’m mostly resolving not to miss my flight later this morning, which will take me first to D.C. for a day and then on to Bennington, VT. But while I’m contemplating more meaningful resolutions of my own, what do y’all resolve for 2008?
Posted in Life in general, Season of Lists | 5 Comments »
December 27th, 2007 by
What remarks made by our political pundits and the chattering media class sent you the most round the bend with fury this year? Which not so bon mots did you find to be the stupidist, most vile and generally destructive to the health and well-being of the national discourse?
I’ve named my top three below.
UPDATE: To be clear, I picked a trio of verbal hair balls coughed up by conservative commentators because these were the three examples that were most vividly lodged in my own particular (liberal-leaning) memory. But there’s been plenty of frog vomit and idiocy to go around among both conservatives and liberals. I’m sure the diligent among you can come up with some doozies of your own from each side of the blue/red fence.
1.. Quite a few Ann Coulter remarks make my top ten. But this one was definitely the winner. (Actually, I look forward to a year when Coulter isn’t in my top three.) When asked on CNBC’s show, The Big Idea, for her wish for an ideal America, Ann Coulter said that everyone would be Christian. “It would be better if we were all Christian?” ” asked show host, Donny Deutsch. “Yes,” she said with her typical glassy-eyed smile. Deutsch pursued it, suggesting Coulter couldn’t possibly be serious. “There would be no Jews?” Deutch asked. Coulter smiled. “Yes, but they would be perfected, as they say.”
2. Second place in my book goes to the moment when on September 26, Rush Limbaugh called American service people who advocated withdrawal from the war in Iraq “phony soldiers.”
3. And third, but still a strong contender goes to nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck who said that the victims of the October fires in Southern California hate America. “I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.”
If you’ll remember, last year, Beck scored big in the stupidist media pundit remark race when he said to US representative-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, “I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’ ”
There are many more. But these are my top picks.
What are yours?
NOTE: Next we’ll do both Dem and Repub presidential nominees, so start gathering those memorably bad quips from those who would be president.
Posted in Season of Lists | 46 Comments »
December 24th, 2007 by
Homicides figures in Los Angeles are lower than they’ve been in decades, which is a really great piece of news to hear going into Christmas.
And now on to other pressing issues: As we all know, our chance for holiday gift buying has officially dwindled to zip. So, with this emergency in mind, today’s list eschews serious topics in order to get down to the business at hand—namely last minute gifts.
Below you’ll find six of my off-the-top-of-my-head gift ideas. But please be sure to fork over some good ones of your own.
NOTE: Try to avoid making suggestions like the Hillary Nutcracker—or the George W. Bush 2008 out of office countdown calendar, as we all know the ensuing discussion will NOT go anywhere good.)
Okay, here’re my six:
1. A Homeboy Attache bag . (Surely everybody needs one of those.) At this late date, you’ll have to drive down to the Homeboy store on Alameda in order to acquire one, but hey, you can also have lunch at the Homegirl cafe, and get a snazzy Homeboy trucker hat or a Homegirl spaghetti strapped t-shirt for yourself.
2. The soundtrack to the Great Debaters. A very cool CD filled with a range of classic blues, gospel and jazz sung , by Grammy Award-winning blues singer/guitarist Alvin ‘Youngblood’ Hart and soul diva Sharon jones. Lovely stuff. (Anybody who doesn’t like it—in the future just demote ‘em off your gift list and into greeting card-only status.)
3. A pound of Grizzly Blend coffee - Yes, if you order it it’ll show up after Christmas, but it could be worth it. The coffee is a rich, dark blend roasted in Montana. The best part of the deal is the fact that a healthy percentage of the proceeds from Grizzly blend sales are dedicated to acquiring and preserving land as grizzly habitat through he non-profit group Vital Ground. (Virtue AND caffeine. Hard to do better than that!)
5. R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz, & Country – This was commenter reg’s idea, and it’s a very good one. At his rec, I went out and nabbed one of these books (with CD) as one of my own last minute gifts. It was given out on Saturday night, and its recipient appeared to be satisfyingly blown away by its sheer fubulosity.
6. A Bologna Chub - Yes, there is such a thing, and I have it on good authority that a certain mega-star actor (with a new film out) gave bologna chubs as Christmas gifts to his closest friends in the biz, including other mega-star actors. I think frankly that much of the reason for the actor’s choice of gifts had to do with the fact that he liked getting to say “bologna chub” over and over again. (And who wouldn’t????) Most of these puppies are mail-order only for us LA people, but the Spring Street Smoke House does make them for their bologna sandwiches, so maybe you can weasel a few gift-sized chubs out of them. (And think of the number of times you too would get to say “bologna chubs” while doing so.)
Alright, now over to y’all.
Posted in 12 days of Lists, Season of Lists | 18 Comments »
December 21st, 2007 by
Before we get to some of the high points from 2007, let’s look at seven of the bad, sad things done in this city by those who really ought to know better.
Below you’ll find my seven first-bounce nominations for worst Los Angeles moments.
You likely have your own. (You may think, for example, that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s tabloid-worthy romance and subsequent divorce was among the worst. And the studio’s unwillingness to settle in the WGA strike certainly qualifies—and that bad behavior is still on-going.)
Some of my choices below were selected because they were symbolic of larger problems. Others were egregious all on their own.
And by the way, each of these were posted with the understanding that, for the families of those killed in the 380 homicides that have occurred in LA thus far this year, the worst moments of 2007 were very personal ones.
7. ROCK DELGADILLO sticks the taxpayers with the $1,222 repair bill for his city-owned GMC Yukon that his wife smashed when she was driving it on a suspended license. (And she wasn’t supposed to be driving a city vehicle anyway.) Obviously this wasn’t a transgression to being down the empire, but it sucked symbolically and, if you’re the city attorney, it ain’t done dude.
6. RATHER THAN FIX THE TEACHER PAYROLL DEBACLE or do something substantive about the district’s below 50-percent graduation rate, LA School Supt. David Brewer Supt. Brewer decides to try a little smoke and mirrors by handing out consulting contracts worth more than $350,000 a year to a bunch of PR guys tasked with tarting up the district’s image.(Note to the Admiral. You know that image-fluffing ploy? It isn’t working.)
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Posted in City Government, Season of Lists | 24 Comments »
December 19th, 2007 by
Today I’m taking a break and letting my list-friendly novelist/blogger pal, Tod Goldberg, provide the next list since, at his blog, he’s got a great compilation of writers naming the books they most enjoyed this year.
Several of the people on Tod’s list mentioned Junot Diaz’s stellar novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which would be high on my personal list of favorite books this year. Others I particularly liked this year are:
2. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (Okay, published last year, but close enough.)
3. Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
4.The Tin Roof Blowdown (yeah, it’s a genre book, so what?)
5. Gallatin Canyon by Thomas McGuane.
6. Jim Harrison’s Returning to Earth.
You can read the smart choices of Tod’s smart pals (some of whom are also friends of mine.) right here.
And, hey, don’t forget to share your own choices too. (List-making should be an interactive endeavor.)
Posted in Season of Lists | 39 Comments »