All posts by Ms. Banneker

dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse

64 Worst: Kobe Bryant vs. Dr. Phil

What makes living in L.A. more unbearable, Kobe Bryant or Dr. Phil?

After winning in 1988, it took 12 years to build another Lakers line-up capable of winning the championship. After some hits (acquiring free agent Shaq and acquiring young Kobe from the Hornets) and misses (Dennis Rodman?!), Jerry Buss hired Phil Jackson as head coach. It was during this 1999-2000 season that the Lakers fought their way to the first of their legendary Threepeat Championships.

Meanwhile, Kobe and Shaq are bickering and Phil publishes a book wherein he describes his young phenom as “uncoachable.” In ’03, Jerry West brings in Karl Malone, but Kobe acts like a diva. The team falls apart: the Lakers lose the championship, Shaq, Phil and West leave, and Malone retires with an injury (having never won a ring). Oh, but we keep Kobe.

Does Kobe deliver? No. Since this time, the Lakers have not won a championship, and Kobe has never won the MVP.* Kobe wanted to be the star player who carried the team on his shoulders. Kobe never accepts responsibility for destroying a capable team in 2003. Instead he complains publicly that he is surrounded by sub-par players and that this is the real reason the Lakers don’t seed higher than they do.** He has asked to be traded, and frankly I think we should let him go already.

Kobe Bryant killed the Lakers.

On the other hand, we have Dr. Phil. Let’s start by telling you that Dr. Phil is not licensed by the state of California (or anywhere!) to practice psychology. I don’t think I need to go into detail about the whole Britney Spears hospital visit. Worth noting is the Dr. Phil Crack House, which was effectively shut down by neighbors last year.

Dr. Phil is a loudmouth psuedo-shrink peddling quick fixes and diet scams to the gullible and stupid. A pox on our fair town, he managed to look worse than Britney Spears during her lowest point—not an easy task.

Kobe does have his fans and is a talented ball player. Dr. Phil, however, has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and I know of no one who can say they “like” his “show.”

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Poll closes Sunday at noon

* Kobe has won the MVP for the all-star game twice, but did not win the MVP for the championship. That title went to Shaq each time.

** Thank goodness he gets along with Pau. And even though they are seeded third, with 14 technical fouls Kobe could jeopardize their standing if he gets suspended.

64 Worst: People Who Can’t Drive in the Rain vs. Pink’s Hot Dogs

What makes living in L.A. more unbearable, People Who Can’t Drive in the Rain or Pink’s Hot Dogs?

I understand that roads become slick when water comes down from the sky. I understand that hydroplaning is dangerous. But let’s be real, People Who Can’t Drive in the Rain: LA hardly experiences monsoon rains and hurricane winds.

The genus People Who Can’t Drive in the Rain has two species: The Slowpoke and the Speed Racer. The Slowpoke will decelerate to 15 mph, even in the carpool or #1 lane. The speed racer, in a desire to fill the velocity vacuum left by the first species, will accelerate to 90 mph.

When these species literally collide on the freeway, traffic is backed up more than usual and normal drivers like you and me would be better off canceling appointments and staying home. Fuck you very much, People Who Can’t Drive in the Rain.

On the other hand, we have Pink’s Hot Dogs. Admittedly, Pink’s is a legendary icon in this fair town, naming their signature dogs after films and celebrities (Hell, even Golden Californian Huell Howser has a hot dog. But a Rosie O’Donnell dog? You gotta be kidding me). However, Pink’s is more of a sacred cow, dodging any criticisms by hiding behind an autographed head shot. Think: are the hot dogs really that good? What about the hour-long lines? Are the tourists, Melrose hipsters, and Food Channel quasi-foodies who can’t properly place an order really tolerable? As long as you’re breaking your diet, you might as well go across town and visit Tommy’s.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Poll closes Thursday at 3pm.

40 years later: The Man is Dead, but the Dream Lives On

Just a quick note: today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., just one day after he gave the famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, he was shot at around 6:01 — 4:01 in Los Angeles.

I have been informed by some colleagues that Crenshaw High School will be leading a “Recommitment March.” Led by the senior class, the students will be marching after school to show they are still pursuing MLK’s dream. They will march from school to Leimert Park and hold a moment of silence at 4:01.

64 Worst: LAUSD vs. Lack of a Middle Class

What makes living in L.A. more unbearable, LAUSD or the lack of a middle class?

I asked some fellow teachers, “In one quick sentence, what is the worst thing about LAUSD?”

Their responses?

• “LAUSD is too big.”

• “LAUSD is too bureaucratic.”

• “LAUSD lacks a clear vision.”

• “There is too much outside interference by superiors.”

• “LAUSD is the DMV, court, and post office, rolled into one.”

• “The worst thing is that one sentence is not enough to describe how bad it is.”

On the other hand, we have the lack of a middle class. If we take the middle class to mean those households with incomes between $35 and $75 thousand, then only 30% of LA qualifies.

The lack and diminution of the middle class is having a negative impact on our local economy. But LAUSD is undermining our ability as a society to develop a thriving middle class by providing a shoddy education to a generation of students unprepared for higher education.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Poll closes Thursday at 3pm.

Happy Birthday, César Chávez!

Migrant Farm Workers

Well, Angelenos, you restored my faith in you. You decided that the term “illegals” is worse than “illegal immigration” itself. Perhaps you learned from Oklahoma’s economic missteps.

In honor of all the people who pick your grapes, wash your dishes, and blow your leaves, tomorrow is César Chávez Day.

The holiday is recognized by the state of California, and all state government offices, community colleges, and libraries are going to be closed. Schools, however, will not be. Be aware that some schools will have student-staged walk-outs; many students will simply not show up.

As for me, I will celebrate by wearing traditional Mexican clothing. Instead of leading a walk-out, I will stage a teach-in. Instead of typical math lessons, we will have a lesson on the economic impact of “illegal” immigration, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, along with a mini-bio of the main man himself.

Oh, and I won’t be eating any grapes.

Image from Flickr user Bob Jagendorf under a CC license

Beach and Ball: A collector’s heaven


I would imagine that most twenty-somethings are much like me: gradually entering full-blown adulthood with full-blown adult responsibilities (mortgage! car payments! grad school! career!), while capable of maintaining a weepy nostalgia for our youth (transformers! glow worms! jem dolls! garbage pail kids!).

Adulthood (hopefully) comes with a moderate amount of discretionary income, even as it comes with a new-found urge to save. As a result, I am a consummate window-shopper, especially for old toys I used to own, or perhaps wanted to. Damn you, mom and dad, for instilling the virtue of thrift and consumer restraint!

When my boyfriend and I stumbled upon the myriad of consignment stores at the intersection of Beach Blvd. and Ball Rd. in Anaheim, I jumped for joy. There were 4 collector’s shops and a comic book store. Heaven.

Continue reading Beach and Ball: A collector’s heaven

Thrift Store Cowboys @ The Mint

I first heard Thrift Store Cowboys though one of their fellow Texans, an old friend of mine from college. Their sound is ethereal and honky-tonkish.

They are playing tonight at The Mint. Check out some of their songs via their MySpace page. If you like what you hear, come join me at the Mint. They hit the stage at 10 pm.

Opening acts include Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward, as well as One Wolf.

[Shameless plug disclosure: Aforementioned friend plays guitar in Rodney Parker, which I freely admit makes him not nearly as cool as the guy who plays the banjo.]

The Mint

6010 W Pico Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90035

(323) 954-9400


$10 at the door

Johnie’s Broiler > Bob’s Big Boy

Johnie’s Broiler Neon

(But we’ll take what we can get)

Downey has a few cultural landmarks–funnily enough, all of them related to fast food. Oldest McDonalds? Yep. First Taco Bell? Yep.

But our pride and joy has always been Johnie’s Broiler, a 1950s Googie-style diner located at 7447 Firestone Blvd.

Having grown up in Downey, Johnie’s has been a fixture in my life since as far back as I can remember. Every time it appeared in movies (License to Drive! Heat!), it was a cue to go get a milkshake.

When The Broiler’s illegal demolition began back in 2007, residents and preservationists called police and halted the bulldozers. Since then, The Broiler’s future has been uncertain.

Car-hoppers rejoice! Hot rodders, start your engines! According to Downey’s local paper, Johnie’s current owner and reps from Bob’s Big Boy have reached a tentative lease agreement. Under the agreement, the architecture will be restored, the diner will be fully-functional, and the weekend car-hops will continue.

Photo by Wiki user Astroluxe under a CC license.

Tanks a lot, Governor Schwarzenegger!

I admit, motivating students to do well in school by giving them prizes and rewards works well. Even cheesy prizes like “fun” pencils are effective. On occasion, I’ve even given some kids cash money for As on tests and quizzes. Don’t get too excited: it’s usually just a $5-bill. While I have always encouraged knowledge for knowledge’s sake, many young kids and teenagers fail to share my lofty ideas on education and pedagogy. Cheap prizes it is then.

But none of my meager 99-cent store trinkets can compare with an honest-to-god military tank. Our governor has kindly asked the Motts Military Museum in Ohio to return his tank, on display since 2000. Gov. Schwarzenegger plans to reward kids who have good grades, who stay out of gangs and off of drugs with a ride on the American-made tank he received as a gift from the Austrian government.

This comedic announcement has unfortunately overshadowed the more realistic efforts Gov. Schwarzenegger has implemented to combat gang activity in youth. Schwarzenegger recently pledged $16.5 million in grants to various organizations across the state involved with gang prevention and job training. Nearly a third of that money is going to Los Angeles County alone, with a little less than $1m earmarked for the City of Los Angeles.

UPDATE: 7 shot at South LA Bus Stop: Suspect in Custody

During my drive to work today, I heard that the person responsible for the shooting on Wednesday has been apprehended.

A quick look at the LA Times local pages gives more details:

On Thursday, police arrested Billy Ray Hines, 24, who they said is a member of the 48th Street Crips and who they believe was responsible for shooting into a crowd of people at the bus stop. Police said the suspect’s two intended victims fled the scene and remain at large… [Police Chief William J.] Bratton said Hines is expected to be charged with at least 10 counts of attempted murder, which include the two intended victims.

Of the five wounded kids, only one girl remains hospitalized. The three adults are stable. All victims are expected to recover.

As a side note, when I told my students about the incident on Thursday (and not all of them had heard about it), they kinda shrugged their shoulders and said, “It sounds gang-related.” I chalked it up to a general apathy and resignation: Is this incident that extraordinary to them? When I told them today that the suspect had been apprehended, the general consensus was, “I’m glad they caught him. It sucks to shoot kids and old people” (teenagers are a tactless, aren’t they?). Perhaps not as apathetic as I thought.

PS: I rewarded their show of sympathy by giving them their weekly quiz.

7 shot at LA Bus Stop in South LA

At 3:15 pm, 7 people were shot at the corner of Vernon and Central.

While the details are still developing, local news stations are reporting that at least one of the shooting victims is in critical condition.

The younger victims ran to nearby George Washington Carver Middle School, which resulted in the lockdown of that, and surrounding schools.

Preliminary reports that the shooting occurred at the school were, according to KNBC, inaccurate.

According to ABC 7,

Initial reports stated there were two African-American suspects. That report has been revised to state one person is suspected of being the gunman. The suspect is only being described as a young male, who reportedly walked up to the crowd and started shooting, then ran into the surrounding neighborhood. The suspect remains at large.

End of the Third Quarter and Up by 18


Due to rainy coldness, my boyfriend and I abandoned all plans to go out into the world and decided to stay in. We were watching James Bond movies until we realized the Clippers-Lakers game was about to come on.

I tend to root for the underdog, so naturally, in this instance I was going to cheer on the Clippers. After all, the Lakers currently stand as #1 in the Pacific and if they win this game (which at this point seems like a foregone conclusion), they will be #1 in the West.

Now that they’re up by 18 after three, I want to go back to bed and finish watching James. My boy, however wants to finish watching the game. I don’t want to seem pouty, so I guess I’ll watch the Clippers get their asses beat. Mr. Bond can wait.

Pic of youngest Odom fan taken by my boyfriend the last time we went to go see the Clippers at the Staples Center.

LAUSD Payroll Fiasco : Update

Back in August, I told you about LAUSDs faulty payroll system. This past Monday, the LA Times published this piece providing the basic timeline of the terrible ordeal, as well as pointing out that, due to LAUSD convoluted bureaucracy, no one was in charge of the system.

The payroll system went live in January 2007, and before it was rolled out, LAUSD heard plenty of warnings about the $95 million system’s shortcomings. Several test runs ended in spectacular failures. LAUSD decided to ignore the warnings–whether this was due to hubris or incompetence, no one is really sure. Either way, the results were the same: employees were given no pay, inaccurate pay, and some were told they had to give back “extra” pay.

As far as I know, I have not been affected by the payroll debacle. This week, I spoke to some of my coworkers whom I knew have been affected, to get an idea of what became of their situation.
Continue reading LAUSD Payroll Fiasco : Update

Making it Through the School-Week


You’ll pardon me for a being silent lately. Schools across LAUSD just wrapped up their first week of the second semester, and my life has been rather busy. Aside from the common kind of busy I usually am, this week happens to be particular deadly to my clocks and calendars.

A teacher in our department decided she wanted to leave the school at the start of the new semester. Under most circumstances, after the teacher leaves, the department is allowed to refill the position and life continues (more or less) like normal.

You may remember I told you last year that there was a fiasco involving placement and scheduling of classes. That was not supposed to happen this semester–and actually did not–but this one teacher leaving managed to throw everything off.

Image from Dahveed76’s flickr under a CC license.
Continue reading Making it Through the School-Week

Staples Center: Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

I attended today’s Lakers game against the Cavaliers. Toward the beginning of the first quarter, play was delayed for about 5-10 minutes due to what appeared to be a leaky roof. Large drops were falling on the court near the Lakers’ basket.

According to this report from Fox 11, it was not the roof at all. Some careless roofers had left their wet clothes on the high rafters. Soon, the clothes became heavy and began to drip their excess onto the floor below.

While the game was delayed, workers with flashlights roamed the ceiling looking for the cause. Play resumed shortly thereafter. I found the whole thing amusing: it appears the Lakers returned, if only for a few moments, to their wet origins. At any rate, it was a telling portent: the game was a wash with the Lakers losing 95-98.