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Leaving the Times, made easy

June 30, 2008 in Downtown, LA, Media, Online, Rants

times.jpgThe L.A. Times newsroom has taken on a ship-of-the-damned air lately, my old colleagues are telling me.

With corporate vandal Sam Zell threatening to lay off even more reporters and sell Times Mirror Square in a bid to save tiny cash in all the wrong places, the smart money says to jump before you’re pushed.

Luckily, the InkStained Retch makes it all easy to say goodbye by offering the Hackinator – a handy wizard for Times employees who want to write Zell the perfect f@ck-you resignation letter …

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Graffito spotted in Pasadena

June 19, 2008 in ICME

bacon.jpgSometimes, graffiti is too amusing not to share.

Spotted in the men’s room at Wolfe Burgers.

USC shuts down Online Journalism Review(*updated)

June 16, 2008 in Announcements, Media

Updated: Yep, it was the money. See below.

What the …? If you’re an L.A. media geek, this might come as something of a shock:

Apparently USC has decided to shut down the generally excellent Online Journalism Review indefinitely after 10 years of operation.

masthead.gifOJR editor Robert Niles gives the news in a farewell post.

Unfortunately, Niles is short on explanation as to why USC would kill such a well-respected, broadly read, and – arguably – vital publication about the rapidly-mutating face of online newsgathering. (Full disclosure – I’ve written a thing or two for OJR).

I’ll try to find out a bit more about what happened, but in the meantime, here’s Niles’ final post:
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New rocket car spotted in Silver Lake

June 7, 2008 in Art, Driving, ICME, Transportation

rear34.jpg
Click thumbs to ENLARGE

Extraordinary cars litter the streets of Los Angeles. Exotic Lamborghinis, cherried-out kustom rods, lowrider wet-dreams.

But very, very few L.A. cars spring full-blown from the foreheads of artists – like this one has – and remind us what car design is really about.

This looks to be  Baron Margo‘s latest ride – a Chitty- Chitty- Bang- Bang-esque rocket pod with dualie rear wheels, a propellerized tail and more hand-polished aluminum-and-Bakelite controls knobs than Chuck George Barris could dream up on a meth-and-steampunk bender. I say newest because the seats still haven’t even been installed, there are no plates yet, and it’s polished to within an inch of its life.

More handcrafted gorgeousness after the jump …

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“Kung Fu Panda” premiere – Hi-calorie buzz

June 1, 2008 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Events, Filmmaking/Filmmakers

heroshot.jpg
Jack Black and Cee-Lo
sing “Kung Fu Fighting”

So – now that Mark and Steve blogged the setup -
Here’s one way to throw a Hollywood premiere:

You close off the entire block in front of the Chinese Theatre and pave it with glittering black astroturf and thick red carpet.

You erect a dozen plywood pavilions of red-gold-and-celadon plywood and upholster them with richly-patterned Chinese silk.

You inflate your fat, eager, clumsy vinyl hero balloon with helium to a length of about 40 feet, wire him up to loom 50 feet over the Grauman’s front walk … Read the rest of this entry →

Graffidiot busted – slow news day?

May 27, 2008 in Law Enforcement, News

You know the tagger Buket who posted this video on YouTube showing him tagging a Hollywood overpass in broad daylight?

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Busted, says the Times.

Say what you want about the artistic merits of urban blight, but I imagine Charles Darwin is looking down right now and snickering.

Griffith Observatory Fire photo

May 15, 2008 in News

griffithfire2.jpgDidn’t get as close as I would have otherwise (the kids were in the car) but with winds at 5-10mph and the air temp only around 90, this doesn’t look near as sketchy as last year’s Griffith Park fire.

Not yet, anyway. LAFD’s Twitter feed had it at 1/4 acre in light brush off of Hobart in Griffith Park, about 21 minutes ago.

Update: CBS 2 is reporting the fire had trees going up earlier on, but it’s laying down and smoldering at the moment. You may return to your work.

Until the next one starts up, of course.

The 5:55 p.m. update update: LAFD has it at 3 acres total, with 50 senior citizens in brief holding pattern but all’s well now.

Final update: LAFD says knockdown was declared at 6:29 p.m.

Chance meeting – the bicyclist’s councilman

May 13, 2008 in Biking in LA, People, Politics

labonge.jpgWe often get jaded about the daily grind of running this city. Sure, grand plans and Machiavellian politics rule the day, supported by an inordinate amount of paper-pushing.

But sometimes it comes down to simple things like reaching people face to face.

You gotta admire a councilman who’s out cruising the streets just after dawn, canvassing constituents at random.

Tom LaBonge pulled up next to me at a stop light this morning  in his city car as I was biking down from Griffith Observatory. He’s in jogger togs – a gray sweatshirt – with an aide riding shotgun.

“G’morning,” he says. “You just come up over the hill?”

“No, I’m coming down from the Observatory.”

“Hunh. We’ve been trying to get that back road down the other side reopened. The road’s still damaged.” … Read the rest of this entry →

A dog in the lap is worth a stop from the cops

May 6, 2008 in Driving, Law, Law Enforcement

dogdriver1.jpgThis is one of those laws that should have been passed, oh, about 100 years ago:

DON’T DRIVE WITH YOUR DOG ON YOUR LAP.

The California Assembly just approved making it a crime – albeit a misdemeanor – punishable by a $35 fine.

Doesn’t matter what district he’s in, this guy has my vote just for introducing the bill, which next heads to the Senate.

Y’ask me, a little $35 parking ticket for piloting an Escalade in heavy rush-hour traffic with Fluffy prancing around your face is like slapping a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound. This crime ought to be right up there with DUI – first offense is a multi-thousand dollar fine, and third time is a jailable felony … Read the rest of this entry →

Kids’ pocket change to pay for their education

April 29, 2008 in Education

change.jpgHere’s what’s wrong with LAUSD:

This is $12.12 of my son’s own savings.

He’s taking it in this morning to donate it to his own elementary school .

Budget cuts handed down by Gov. Schwarzenegger and poorly managed by LAUSD have forced our school community to go begging for $180,000 from parents and family members to continue paying the salaries of three vital staffers in charge of computer training, curriculum development and gifted education.

Public education is failing because we’re letting our leaders get away with misspending our taxes on other crap.

I guess education just doesn’t matter.

64 Worst Quarterfinals: LAUSD vs. People Who Don’t Pick Up Their Dog Poop

April 28, 2008 in 64 Worst, Education

64 Worst round 4/quarterfinals

By now, you’ve discovered a little inconsistency in the matchups of our little L.A.’s 64 Worst Things shootout.

We put up some huge contenders against each other in the early rounds (LAPD vs. L.A. Times?) that resulted in great but slightly-lesser evils being eliminated prematurely.

dog pooSo now we’re left to decide head-scratchers like this: What’s worse – inconsiderate dog owners? Or the entire bloated, lazy, horrible, costly and tragically ineffectual LAUSD bureaucracy?

On the one hand, you have a relatively small number of selfish, short-sighted dolts who are fouling our streets with the products of their indifference, leaving an unsightly, unsafe, unsavory mess and degrading the quality of life for every man, woman and, especially, child in Los Angeles.

On the other hand, you have some dog owners who can’t be bothered to pick up their shit.

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Embryos for sale to good mom

April 4, 2008 in Uncategorized

Or so says this Craigslist ad:

If you’re trying to get pregnant and need a couple of embryos I have two that are available. Parents have brown eyes, brown hair and are caucasian. It typically costs around $5K for thawing and implantation.

(via carmenleilani)

64 Worst: L.A. Times v. LAPD

April 3, 2008 in 64 Worst


This faceoff is a battle of institutions.

Personally, I would not have picked the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Police Department as two of the “worst things about Los Angeles.”

I think the LAPD is – for all its high-profile abuse cases and street-level bad-ass reputation – generally doing the best job it can with horribly outnumbered ranks and still managing to keep the bulk of the city safe at night. Nearly all LAPD officers do their jobs well.

I also think the Times is – for all its high-profile gaffes, blowhard op-ed columnists and tragically slow-on-the-uptake history of web strategizing – doing the best job it can with a horribly shrinking budget and still managing to show us news of some worth about the other institutions governing our lives. Nearly all L.A. Times journalists do their jobs well.

But the Metblogs audience insisted they face your vote because, perhaps, the Times and the LAPD are so damned important and should be so much better … Read the rest of this entry →

64 Worst: Smog vs. the homeless

April 2, 2008 in 64 Worst


Oooh, this is a tough one because – in a sense – we brought both these curses on ourselves.

smog.jpgL.A. has the worst air in the United States because, by and large:

  • We got addicted to cars early and permanently
  • We then engineered one of the nation’s great public transit systems (the Red Car) out of existence
  • We’re too lazy/busy/cheap/classist to use existing public transit, bikes or other alternative transportation, and
  • Damn, we do like owning vintage V8s, gas-powered leaf-blowers and one of the largest, most diesel-spewing ports on the planet …

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Billboard battle: L.A. Weekly 1, Clearchannel & City 0

April 2, 2008 in Uncategorized

gavel.jpgIf L.A. Weekly editor Jill Stewart is gloating today, it’s for good reason:

Few court rulings over a Freedom of Information Act request ever come down tasting this sweet:

Apparently, when Weekly staffer Christine Pelisek asked the L.A. Dep’t. of Building and Safety to cough up a list of all 11,000 legal and illegal  billboards in L.A., the city balked. And then the bureaucrats snitched to billboard monster ClearChannel, Stewart blogs.

ClearChannel sued to block the request, saying it would reveal “proprietary information.”

But this morning, a Superior Court judge ruled that list is public information, since it comes through a public permitting process – and ordered the city to deliver the list by Friday.

Just one question: What do the Building Dept. bureaucrats have to gain by blocking release of that list? Can’t wait to read the continuing coverage. This oughta be good.