Rutten on American Apparel firings

As a follow up to my post about American Apparel having little choice but to comply with the Obama administration’s order forcing employers to fire undocumented workers, I want to call attention to Tim Rutten’s opinion column in today’s LA Times.

Rutten speaks to the questionable humanity of the new procedure to deal with illegal immigration that will do nothing to provide the underlying necessity, an overhaul of immigration policy. In fact, as the new procedure eliminates the raids and deportations of the past, it will add to an ongoing one: unscrupulous companies that will hire, underpay, overwork and mistreat displaced workers to save a buck.

The administration seems to be choosing the lesser of two evils here, allowing undocumented workers to remain in the US, assumedly so they can act on getting  legal, rather than deportation. In the interim, they will have to deal with finding a  way to survive and support their families.

Rutten quotes one of the fired American Apparel’s workers here in Los Angeles who says he will “go back to one of those sweatshops where I’m going to have to get paid under the table.”

There will still be those of the Neanderthal “too bad–should have stayed in Mexico” mindset who will remain unmoved, but if they take the time to read Rutten’s column, at least they can’t say they never were confronted by the concept of compassion and its glaring necessity as a component of reform.

Metblogs Concert Recap: Autolux at the El Rey

autoluxLA Metblogs contest winner Jon went to the Autolux show last week, and he wrote a concert review for us, plus took some photos. Read on!  -Lucinda.

Over the last several years, Autolux have grasped onto something very few bands can successfully accomplish: creating a fan-base solely off one record (which actually released exactly 5 years ago this month). Now then, with that said, most acts would cease to continue if 5 years passed by without new material for the masses; however some die-hard fans like myself are definitely in it for the long haul.

With that said, ‘lux played at the gorgeous El Rey Theatre last Friday to one of the sassiest crowds I’ve seen in a while. As a dedicated fan of the space rock outfit, I’m used to some hands in the air, and heads swaying back and forth. Tonight was different for some reason… Continue reading Metblogs Concert Recap: Autolux at the El Rey

Dear LA Food Bloggers: Please Do Not Shut Down

3084916981_b105282b9aEater, a blogging network focused on the food/restaurant scene with a web outpost here in LA (EaterLA), relaunched today with a spiffy new site design and a not-so-spiffy-downright-jerky offer: a paltry $25 if you shut down your food blog.  The rationale?  Because your food blog is part of a “massive amount of noise” – of which Eater, in its infinite food wisdom, plays no drums.  If you take the offer, you agree to “cease all publication of foodie rambling, blabbering, and drooling over ridiculously mundane foodstuffs.”  In other words: leave it to the self-proclaimed professionals.

I’m here to implore all LA food bloggers: don’t do it!  Caroline on Crack, I read your blog daily.  Potatomato, I love your kawaii reviews and pictures.  Eat, Drink & Be Merry, you have one of the best non-annoying how-we-met stories I’ve ever heard, with a bonus because it involves food.

Where Eater hears noise, I hear music.  Useful, creative, adventurous music.  Eater won’t dare go to Compton, but SinoSoul will.  Eater forgets that the food essence of LA is the literal melting pot of flavors from all cultures – how else to explain their glaring omission of ethnic eateries from its “The 38 Essential Los Angeles Restaurants” list? – but Journey of an Epicurean Cutie remembers.

There are countless other blogs and posts that I’ve relied upon to be my food canaries: when I needed to check out a restaurant before committing.  When I knew I’d be in an unfamiliar part of town and would need a lunch break.  When I needed to know if that fancy dish was worth over $20.

We don’t need one voice to dictate taste, culinary or not.  Twenty-five bucks to shut down is a bribe, an insulting one at that, from a scared network that overvalues its opinion and undervalues community.  We don’t need one giant blogger network to dictate what is tasteworthy and what is not.  We need you.

Tell ’em to take the $25 and put it towards hiring a decent copy editor.  And maybe a fact-checker too.

Respectfully,

qq.

Photo courtesy Atwater Village Newbie via the Metblogs’ Flickr pool.

Santa Monica Hates Bikes More Than Legally Allowed

I’m running out the door and don’t have a lot of time to spend on this one at the moment, luckily two other local bloggers have the full scoop on this inside and out. Basically the jist is this: California Vehicle Code does not require bicycle licenses but allows individual cities to require them on their own (you may recall a recent skuffle with the LAPD suspending it’s own bike license law due to misuse and poor enforcement.) But this isn’t a wide open do whatever you want policy, CA CVC specifically states that if a city does require bike licenses, the fine for not having one can not exceed $10 (ten dollars) and will not include any jail time. Well, apparently Santa Monica doesn’t give a shit what the state law says and they have a law on the books stating that anyone caught without a bike license riding a bike in Santa Monica can be fined for up to $1000 (one thousand dollars) and be sent to jail for up to 6 months, it also allows the crime to be bumped up to a misdemeanor and put on your record. Nice work Santa Monica, way to continue making life hell for people who ride bikes.

If you want more info on this, the two posts you should read immediately are “Illegal To Ride, Santa Monica Outlaws Riding Unlicensed Bicycles” and “6 months in jail and $1000 fine for riding without a bike license in Santa Monica”. The latter of the two has SM Gov contacts that you can call or email immediately and demand that this law be removed from the books.

What a mess.

New Skate Park Opens on Venice Beach This Saturday

IMG_1524For some reason, publicity on this is skimpy, but The Argonaut, the Venice Surf and Skate Association, and City Council Member Bill Rosendahl’s website are reporting that Venice Beach’s long-awaited skate park will have its grand opening this Saturday, October 3.  The park was built by skate park masters Wormhoudt Inc.

Skater boyz and girlz have lobbied for and have reportedly been waiting for at least 10 years for this park, and it promises to be an exciting addition to the neighborhood.  Given that Venice and the nearby area is often considered the birthplace and mecca of skateboarding, it’s about time they got it.

Mike Shinoda’s Glorious Excess (Dies) art exhibit to close at JANM this weekend


About a month ago, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame opened a exhibit of his artwork called Glorious Excess (Dies) at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo.

This show, a follow up to his highly-successful 2008 show Glorious Excess (Born), allowed Shinoda to return the Museum this summer to unveil his latest collection of paintings and digital works. Larger, broader, and more sensational than before, Glorious Excess (Dies) is the next (and final) chapter in his series exploring society’s obsession with celebrity culture, consumer addiction, and fascination with excess.

His Glorious Excess works follow a skeletal central figure’s rise to fame in the nine works created for (Born), and the character’s fall in the 17 works produced for (Dies). Not to be missed is the coffin installation; made by the same company that made Michael Jackson’s coffin.

There is a ton of stuff happening in Little Tokyo this weekend, including the ID Film Fest, so check it all out before Glorious Excess (Dies) closes on October 4.

On a side note, 8Asians (another site I contribute to) is doing a giveaway of an autographed copy of the limited edition collectible art book that Shinoda produced for Glorious Excess; the forward was written by Shepard Fairey.

Photo taken by me.

Utopia In Progress

Remember last week when I posted that rant about the garbage piling up next door? Well thanks to my friend Jonathan’s intel, I was able to track down the owner of the business and they hauled away all of the trash today! This renews my belief in the notion that one person (with the help of some well connected friends) can make a difference. I’d like to thank the owner of Natural Mind, Arnaud Ozharun for taking my complaint seriously, but above all, for taking action. Drinks are on me!

The Trash Pile No Longer Clutters Natural Mind's Parking Lot
Trash Pile No Longer Clutters Natural Mind's Parking Lot

Byrne Baby, Byrne

What happened to the freakin’ week? I meant to post about this days ago so just in case you haven’t read about it elsewhere, and have even the slightest interest in pedaling around this place we call home here’s what’s happening October 2 at 8 p.m. at Little Tokyo’s Aratani/Japanese American Theater (244 S. San Pedro St.):

The Library Foundation of Los Angeles, as part of its ALOUD series of lectures, readings, performances, and discussions is presenting “Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around” featuring musician and author of “Bicycle Diaries” David Byrne and guests Bicycle Kitchen Co-Founder Jimmy Lizama, UCLA Professor of Urban Planning Donald Shoup, along with LADOT Senior Bicycle Coordinator LADOT Senior Bicycle Coordinator (or as I like to call her: Fully Assimilated Bureaucratician) Michelle Mowery. She’s absolutely FAB-ulous.

Be a part of what I expect will be a spirited conversation on how we can shape this city into a more bike-friendly place and less car-adoring like Audi insultingly did in this Los Angeles-filmed ad currently spoiling the airwaves:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR5IpFlxD8A[/youtube]

Tickets are $25 and proceeeds will go to support ALOUD’s free programs at the Central Library. Bicycle valet parking provided by the L.A. County Bike Coalition.

Is eMove resorting to scare tactics?

3971884777_6c577fe7d8Mickipedia just spotted this sign somewhere around LA. It says “IT IS A FEDERAL CRIME TO EMPLOY OR PICK-UP DAY LABORERS. PUNISHABLE BY A $5000 FINE”

First off, this is a flat out lie. As we know from LA city legislation not only are day laborers legal but they are being actively protected. Also the lack of citing specifically which federal law is being referenced is a major red flag. My first thought is that this is just a tactic being used to scare people away from hiring them and push them to one of the companies listed on the flyer. There are two companies listed – eMove and Uhaul. I called Uhaul first and the person I spoke with said they have no idea what this is and don’t endorse it at all. The second company emove.com also lists a toll free number which I called and and found a recording directing me to call other numbers depending on what kind of moving help I need. Their website seems just to be a broker for moving help and is registered to a guy named Sam Shoen who lives in Phoenix, AZ. I called several of the numbers and couldn’t get a live person on any of them so I don’t know if they know about this flyer or not.

Either way, regardless of how you feel about day laborers, telling people it’s a federal crime to hire them to try and point business somewhere else is extremely messed up.

Updates! Continue reading Is eMove resorting to scare tactics?

Counting Gay Marriage in the 2010 Census

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In March 2010, the US Census will conduct its dicennial survey of the who’s, what’s, and where’s of the American population.  For those of us who are gay, lesbian, trans, or any orientation not strictly heterosexual, the survey always has been a bit of a conundrum: while some of us would like to define our partners as our spouses, the census survey, as a policy, will not.  In fact, according to this WSJ article, just two surveys ago in 1990, when an individual classified that the same sex “roommate” s/he was living with as a spouse, the census taker would non-surgically edit the roommate’s sex to reflect that s/he was the anatomical opposite of the census taker.  The 2000 version of the census gave gay couples the “option” to classify their relationship, whether it was young and uncertain or mature and committed, as an unmarried partnership. This was supposedly the more enlightened approach, yet there was still data scrubbing: for those LGBT couples who insisted that they were married and checked the appropriate box, homophobic legal definitions be damned, they were nonetheless clumped into the “unmarried partners” category.

The 2010 survey will continue the 2000 recoding policy, but in 2011, for the first time, the federal agency will release the raw, unedited state-by-state data.  LGBT advocates hope that the raw data will more accurately reflect the number of LGBT couples who define their commitment as something more than an unmarried partnership.  And, on a more macro level, I’d say that we hope to de-heterosexualize definitions of relationships and force the US to finally recognize that yes, it’s gayer than it would like to think, or project.

TONIGHT at 6:30 (late notice, but I ), the LA Gay and Lesbian Center will host a volunteer recruitment/teaching session for those who want to help educate the LGBT community about the census and how it will affect them and the Family.  Speakers will include a noted LGBT demographer and a representative from the Census Bureau.  Other opportunities will likely come again between now and March.  In the meantime, check out the FAQ from the national census advocacy group, Our Families Count.

REVO LA this weekend

REVO LA - Gallery Indonesia

This weekend LA artists such as Audrey Kawasaki, Shepard Fairey, Mr. Brainwash and others will team up at REVO LA to help raise funds and raise awareness for projects going on with education in Indonesia. From their site:

“Our goal at this time is to put on an art show this Spring (2009) that will heighten awareness of West Papua, Indonesia’s broken school system. The money raised by this event will help fund “Sekolah Dasar Balem Wamena” (SDBW), a model school, which has recently become a light of HOPE in the corrupt regions of West Papua.

Through REVO LA, SDBW will be able to offer these children much better learning material, as well as provide them with larger teaching grounds, so even more students can attend. Most of all, with SDBW in place, students are less likely to fall into the hands of abusive teachers”

The event takes place Sunday, Oct 4th at 7pm at UCLA ACKERMAN Grand Ballrooom. It’s $10 to get in. For more info, check out this video.

Great (little) LA Drives in a 2011 Fiesta

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2011 Fiesta in Monrovia Canyon

I’m a car guy. I like to go for fun drives. Every once in a while things converge and I get to go out and have some fun.   Wednesday was such a day; I had the use of a 2011 Ford Fiesta prototype for a few hours and took it for a run up and down Monrovia Canyon.

The car: This is a prototype Ford Fiesta, a European spec production model that will vary a little from what we get in our final production form when it goes on sale next year as a 2011 model. What we will see different is changes to the bumpers to meet our more stringent standards, and a slightly more powerful, refined 4cyl compared to what the European versions get. The car’s driving characteristics won’t be changed in the process, that’s a good thing.

Driving impression: Well, I am not at a loss for words. Much cleaner handling than the Toyota Yaris and not as tipsy feeling as the tall Honda Fit. (I have been in both recently). Overall it had very crisp reactions to steering input in the tight corners in Monrovia Canyon. The suspension was controlled soaking up ruts and potholes without bottoming out or “floating” about as what was the norm not that long ago with US produced small cars. Believe the best pop culture phrase to be used to describe the overall driving impression is: “Win”. Continue reading Great (little) LA Drives in a 2011 Fiesta