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Free Admission at Hammer Museum through December 18

December 5, 2010 in Art, Events, Media

The Hammer Museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary with 20 days of free admission.  The celebration began on Black Friday and continues through December 18, which is more than 20 days, but hey, why look a gift horse in the mouth?  Admission is usually $7 for adults.  I hope to hit the Hammer and help celebrate this milestone during the next couple of weeks.

The 2010 Naughty List: Meg Whitman

December 2, 2010 in Media, People, Politics, Rants

My best friend lives in Vancouver BC, but he grew up in San Pedro. Expatriate though he may be, he’s still lived the bulk of his life in California, thus far. And while he’s now, as a Canadian Citizen, largely removed from the noise of California politics, it can still pique his interest when he comes to visit.

Back in July, he was here for Comic Con (something rarely missed) and, of course, Meg Whitman’s ads were running constantly on every available media outlet, short of Big Gulp cups and Happy Meals.

“Who’s this ‘Meg Whitman?'” he asks me.

“Used to run eBay. Dumping a crap ton of her own money into the race. Record amount, in fact.”

“Who’s running against her?”

“Jerry Brown.”

The look of disbelief that crossed his face will haunt my soul.

“Does anyone really need anymore proof that the Democrats are in collusion with the Republicans?”

Mike’s a cynical bastard.

Look, you can take any politician, ANY, and create a laundry list of their lies and deceit; they’re politicians. They are liars. All of them. Your favorite candidate, in whatever race that was? Yep, them. Big, fat liars. Pants ablaze. The Great Statesmen and Orators of History? Fibbers, every last one. So, I will not even to attempt to recount a play by play of campaign inaccuracies and skullduggery here. Putting a politician on the “Naughty” list for lying or running a rough campaign is like blaming a spider for having too many legs. It may creep you out, but that’s just the way the damn thing is built.

So, why bother? Well, I’ll tell yeh, and frankly, I kinda find it funny:

Bitch tried to buy us off.

Seriously. Slice it up any way you wish, it was a blatant attempt to run an unstoppable money-fueled juggernaut of a campaign, which collapsed under its own hubris.

I’m not even going to take up the tract of, “She should have just poured all that money into our failing education system,” or whatever. Would that have been great? Oh, hell yeah! I would love to see a politician actually do that, or similar, on that scale. I ain’t gonna ride her for not deciding to do something so grand.

No, what gets you the coal in your stocking this year, Meg, as far as I’m concerned, is the hubris. The unmitigated gall. You thought you had us, that you could just buy us. That that’s all it would take. We heard it in your voice. Well, take your lump and heat your stove, let that keep you warm, we’re gonna let Jerry do his thing. At least he didn’t try to buy us out.

The part that tickles me, really, is that it did happen here. Like it or not, the stereotype of a typical “Californian” tends to be either the dimwitted surfer or the shallow “Movie Star.” This tends to piss me off, but that’s really how much of the country sees us. And yet, the State known to be all flash and no substance passed on Meg’s Millions. Whatever else Jerry Brown may or may not be, “Flashy” he’s not.

I suppose those who insist upon State drawn stereotypes will shrug us off as “Hippies” now. Funny how such a bunch of Hippies have elected so many Republicans in the past. Whatever, I’ll take Granola over Vapid any day.

I can’t wait to find out what my friend in The Great White North thinks about all of this when I go to visit him over Christmas. Should be interesting.

Summer Is Back; Time to Hit the Beach

September 23, 2010 in Art, Crafts, Events, Food & Drink, Media, West Side

Summer may have ended a couple of days ago, but we never really got one, and it looks like our real summer may be ahead of us.   If you are heading to the beaches west of Los Angeles this weekend, you’re in luck.  First, you should check out the Summer of Color public art project.  Billed as the largest public art project in the U.S., Summer of Color involves thousands of children and adults from local schools, hospitals, and social services programs, many of whom have physical and other challenges, who painted the lifeguard towers along the beach from Zuma to San Pedro.  Each tower is different, but many of the designs incorporated flowers and geometric shapes for symbolic reasons (see the above link for more info).  These towers were painted some time ago, but if you’re like me, you may not have checked them out up close.  I did so recently in Marina del Rey, and was rewarded with the glorious sights pictured above (at Mother’s Beach in the Marina Harbor) and below.

N. Channel tower near Marina boat channel

This Saturday night, from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., the beach adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier will light up, as  GLOW returns after a two-year hiatus.  According to its website,

Glow is the only all-night art event in the United States that emphasizes the commissioning of original artwork. Glow projects invite active audience engagement and exploration and constantly surprise in their unexpected placement in spaces and times not normally reserved for fine art.

I covered the first Glow event in 2008, and found some first-time shortcomings.  This year, however, a friend of mine is working there, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new and hopefully improved version.

On Sunday, a few blocks from the beach, the 26th annual Abbott Kinney Festival will take place along Abbott Kinney Blvd. in Venice, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The festival features live music, gourmet food trucks, handcrafted items for sale, beer gardens, valet stations for those arriving by bicycle, and much more.  The festival is lots of fun, provided you do not mind very tightly packed crowds.

I’m looking forward to having a really fun summer this fall!

The Triumphant Return of Fred Rated (UPDATE)

April 19, 2010 in Art, Entertainment, History, LA, Media

Look, I’m not one to kiss and tell, but I have to share this breaking news from Cinefamily:

Just met with the legendary Shadoe Stevens; we’re almost done booking a tribute night to him and the Federated Group commercials for June. All L.A. locals, rejoice!!

Never seen a Federated Group commercial before?

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.

Well now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

UPDATE: The date has been set: June 15 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.

Dear Los Angeles Times: Blow This!

March 25, 2010 in Crime, Law, Media, Rants, Seasonal, Shopping

I know times are tough and sold ad space is sold ad space, but did you really have to run the Stihl ad on page 16 of the front section of today’s paper? You know, the one partially pictured at right that among a whole passel of fossil-fueled devices features a certifiably badass leafblowing dude sporting the latest in righteous gas-powered leafblower technology beneath the headline “This Spring I Want Something Lightweight” (and to which I answer “Try a fucking rake, blowhard.”).

The reason I ask isn’t because of anything wrong with Stihl, just the primary subject matter of this specific ad because for the last 12 years or so there’s apparently been something you folks there in your downtown bunker might not have heard about known as a citywide ban on gas-powered leafblower use or more officially “Los Angeles City Municipal Code 112.04(c),” which nutshelled says: “Gas powered blowers cannot be used within 500 feet of a residence at anytime.”

See the problems with the devices are myriad: they make a whole mess of noise pollution, and while making all that noise they’re also creating a bunch of air pollutions what with the harmful emissions they shit and all the particulate matter they push off the ground and into the air. Overall it’s a lose/lose but it appears a lack of prevailing wisdom on the subject (or maybe you knew and just don’t give a crap) allowed you to shill for Stihl, and having done so you gotta know that a whole bunch of yard-warrior homeowners are gonna go grab them some of that anti-green goodness and start using it on any given Saturday or Sunday morning, probably around 10 a.m. Hopefully they’ll all live next door to wherever you all get up in the morning.

You see where I’m going with this? Yeah: NOT a very conscientious, connected decision there, guys. Not by a longshot. In fact if there was a Lame Hall Of Fame, I’d nominate you for the Way Out Of Touch category. So in an effort to help you help yourselves and your paper from looking so idiotic in the future, after the jump I’ve put together a quick list of other things your ad sales department might want to just say no to, no matter how much money that four-color half-pager might bring in. It’s far from complete and some of the subjects you’re probably familiar with, but it should give you a place of responsibility and integrity from which to start:

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Downtown News Kinks It Up

March 25, 2010 in Downtown, Media

Are Downtowners kinkier than their counterparts in Hollywood or the Valley? Or, is the Downtown News just a little more flexible when it comes to ad money?

Discuss.

Silver Lake’s Reservoir Of Black Balls Makes National Geographic

March 24, 2010 in environment, Media

Cruising through the April issue of National Geographic, an edition with a global scope focused on the subject of water, my wife Susan and I were surprised to find the following Best Shot Ever from photograher Gerd Ludwig of a local body of water — Ivanhoe Reservoir — made somewhat ongoingly infamous by its artificial surface of some three million black plastic balls that were added back in 2007 to deflect UV rays and prevent the carcinogen bromate from forming.

PaleyFest 2010 Is Upon Us

March 2, 2010 in Announcements, Entertainment, Events, Media, Television

Terry O'Quinn & Michael Emerson at the PaleyFest "Lost" panel on 2/27/10. Photo by Jodi

I’m a little late in getting this post up, considering the 27th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival (PaleyFest) has already started. You’ve only missed three events, Modern Family and Lost, which were both fantastic and NCIS, which I didn’t attend. There are 10 nights left highlighting such acclaimed shows as Breaking Bad and Dexter. The only one aside from Lost that is sold-out so far is Glee.

This is the 9th year I’ve attended PaleyFest, the ever-changing and growing celebration of television programming and its creation. It is hands-down one of my favorite annual L.A. events. For the past two years, it was held in the Cinerama Dome at the ArcLight Hollywood, a much bigger venue than the previous theater at the Directors Guild. As the festival continues to grow, it has once again moved and is being held at The Saban Theatre (formerly The Wilshire Theatre) in Beverly Hills, which can hold 1900 people.

The full programming schedule can be found here. Ticket prices are tiered based on seating section and Paley Center membership status. Seats are not assigned, just the section. Check for more information on ticket availability for the remaining shows on this site.

The Saban Theatre is located at 8440 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, 90211. The surrounding neighborhoods all have permit street parking, so be prepared to pay $10 to park in one of two designated lots.

Let us know if you plan to attend any of the events. I’ll report back on my experience at the end of the fest.

How the Internet is Spoiling My Olympics

February 15, 2010 in Events, Media, Online, Sports, Technology, Television, Twitter

I suppose it was inevitable.  This past year, social networking shot through the roof, with everyone and her grandmother (literally) on Facebook.  That is in addition to the explosive popularity of Twitter, as well as websites pumping out up-to-the-minute news 24/7.  At the same time, the old media NBC television network decided to tape delay its Winter Olympics broadcast on the West Coast, apparently three hours behind the East Coast, even though the events are taking place in our time zone.  And finally, as do many others I’m sure, I multitask when watching television, laptop in front of me, news headlines and social networks (and Vancouver Metblogs) never more than a click away.  All of these phenomena have come crashing together this month like a perfect storm, threatening to spoil my Olympics.

The problem is, I keep learning the results from these Internet sources hours before seeing them for myself.  I learned of Hannah Kearney’s mogul skiing gold medal, Apolo Ohno’s record-tying silver medal in speed skating, and the generous figure skating judges doling out high scores to skaters who fell during their short program, all before seeing it on tv.  I tried appealing to my Twitter peeps who aren’t located on the West Coast not to post Olympics results, but they seem to need to do so, as if their reactions won’t count unless shared electronically and immediately.

I’m sure some of you are more computer-advanced than I, and can tell us how to get a great webcast of the Games on our computer in real time, even on our big-screen hdtv.  If so, I would love to hear the solutions.  I investigated this briefly, and did not find a satisfactory solution — for example, the online ads I saw were even more annoying than those on NBC.

I’m afraid the only solution I have found to watch the Winter Games unspoiled by spoilers is the most radical solution of staying off the Internet altogether.

Can ESPNLosAngeles.com Draw As Many Readers Away From LA Sports Outlets As It Has Writers?*

December 21, 2009 in LA, LA bloggers, Media, Online, Sports, Twitter

ESPN’s new online hub for local sports, ESPNLosAngeles.com, officially launched today, providing a new source for LA Sports news, as well as a new home for several LA Sports writers, including the LA Times’ (former) Lakers bloggers.

ESPNLosAngeles.comMeant as a hub for local online sports coverage one could set as their homepage, the site features SoCal-specific “SportsCenter” segments, local breaking news, and direct links to pages for all the major pro teams, including the Galaxy, Chivas USA, the LA Sparks, as well as the Angels and Ducks. There’s also a “Headlines” tab you can click to view nationwide sports headlines, in case you care about what happens outside of our little bubble. ESPN launched similar local sites for Dallas, Boston and Chicago earlier this year, and the sports network opened a new broadcast studio (along with an ESPN Zone sports bar) Downtown at LA Live this past spring.

But the best part of the site is the local team blogs and columnists, providing quick-access to news and columns about your favorite teams that is also easy to subscribe to by e-mail or RSS feed to keep up on everything. The other ESPN city sites have Twitter accounts you can follow as well, but as of this writing, @ESPNLosAngeles exists but hasn’t tweeted a thing. The @ESPNLosAngeles Twitter account is also up and running, providing links to stories on the site. So far there’s a USC blog (but no UCLA blog yet), a Clippers blog (sort of – it links to the outside ClipperBlog.com, part of an ESPN affiliate network), and of course, that Lakers Blog, which is basically a direct transplant from the LA Times’ Lakers Blog. Brian and Andy Kamenetzky, who just yesterday afternoon announced their departure from LATimes.com, pick up at ESPN right where they left off, except now the blog is called “Land O’ Lakers”. The Lakers Blog was regularly one of the most-visited on the site, sometimes getting over a million page views per month. No announcement has been made yet as to who or what will replace the brothers at LATimes.com. It seems that, at least for now, a few different staff writers are taking turns contributing posts to the Lakers Blog to keep it going.

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Would you pay $13 a month for LA Times online subscription?

October 21, 2009 in Media, Online

LA Times has unveiled their new  eEdition, “a reproduction of the print edition– online” for $12.99 per month.  Considering that I just got a year of 7-day home delivery of the actual print edition for $75, or $6.25 per month, and they are offering print subscribers the online subscription at no extra cost, I’m wondering what the strategery is here.

Access to its archives is one thing LAT is offering as part of the deal, and they are also touting that it’s available at 5:30 AM everyday, unlike the online edition, which is available the preceding midnight, contains much more news and, um, it’s free– for now.

I guess this is a first step (and trial balloon) for the online paid subscription model we’ve been hearing about from other newpapers in dire straits– which means the vast majority of them.

As a side note, PBS.org is streaming Inventing LA, the recent doc about the Chandlers and the LA Times. Worth a look.

Shepard Fairey Statement on Associated Press Fair Use Case

October 16, 2009 in Art, Media, Politics

Shepard Fairey has released a statement and updated his filing in his fair use case with the AP. He writes:

obama_hope

“Throughout the case, there has been a question as to which Mannie Garcia photo I used as a reference to design the HOPE image. The AP claimed it was one photo, and I claimed it was another.

The new filings state for the record that the AP is correct about which photo I used as a reference and that I was mistaken. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong.

In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions which were mine alone. I am taking every step to correct the information and I regret I did not come forward sooner.

I am very sorry to have hurt and disappointed colleagues, friends, and family who have supported me in this difficult case and trying time in my life.”

There is more to the statement which he has posted on his site.

It’s no secret that Shepard is a personal friend of mine and I’ve been very vocal about my support him and this case. My support has not been based on the fact that we are friends, but because I really do believe in the principals and importance of fair use, and feel this issue strikes at the heart of it. I think it’s in the financial interest of the AP to limit fair use, and I think it’s in the best interest of creatives, both professional and amateur alike, for fair use to upheld. I say that as a career publisher who has worked with and for musicians, visual artists, photographers and writers for the last 16 years. This statement by Shepard is obviously shocking and disappointing, but what will be more disappointing is if this takes focus away from the real issues the case brings up. I’ve always felt that the question of which photo was used was a footnote and I fear this now threatens to overshadow the much larger, and much more important discussion.

It’s not too late to blame the dragons.

September 2, 2009 in Books, Crime, Media, News

dragon_fire
A few short hours ago it looked like my gut reaction that the Angeles National Forest fire had been caused by a fiendish rapscallion (I’m no longer using the word “terrorist”) wasn’t far off the mark.

But wait, what’s this? A new report on KNX 1070 says that the U.S. Forest Service has retracted its earlier “human caused” statement about the fire.

What does this mean? It means my two-year-old daughter’s assertion that dragons are behind the blaze may still be a valid theory.

You can run, Puff, but you can’t hide.

Image: A Michael Martchenko illustration from Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess.

Where’s The Fire?

August 27, 2009 in Media

In this day and age of instant information, I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated when I can’t find an answer immediately. Just this evening, I left work and noticed fire and smoke in some hills that looked like they might be near Burbank or Glendale. Driving along the 5, I saw that the flames were close to Glendale.

48925789_19014fe658

Photo by Jodi

Wanting to know more, I tuned my radio to a “news” station. In the span of 14 minutes, I heard about some traffic in Sherman Oaks, a dead model’s car, a professional football game, and a kidnapping victim discovery. Finally…a fire update! Two fires were mentioned, but neither was the one I was driving alongside. When I got home, I scoured the internet with no luck. The LAFD site hasn’t been updated since Tuesday (granted, I know they are very busy) and most people on twitter were questioning and speculating as well.

So, what source do you turn to for breaking news in L.A.? Please help! I need to know NOW!

LA Times Gets a New Blog-esque Look

August 13, 2009 in Media

Witness the new website for the LA Times: it looks like a blog  – a longer scroll to the bottom, a new font, and a little more blog-like.

Before (an October 2008 screen grab of the LAT’s old website):

Former LA Times page

After (this morning’s revamped page):

LA Times

What do we think?