But What Do We Do With The Leftovers?

Observation StewTwo days after Thanksgiving. You’ve made your stock from the turkey carcass, and have just about finished the meat in the frig, but you’re still working on all the sides that were leftover. All. The. Sides. So many sides. Here on this blog, we face a similar problem: What to do with all the links accumulated that just stubbornly refuse to theme? The answer, of course, is to make stew:

Inequality and Battles

  • The Internet and Inequality. One of my major complaints is the assumption that everyone has fast internet (an assumption that will be even more challenged if we lose net neutrality). For example, we move the best quality TV to subscription channels and pay-pay internet, and we forget what the leaves the rest of the country with — the large portion that still doesn’t have internet or only has dialup or phone services. Wired has an interesting article on how the slow internet is fueling inequality. Now think about how this inequality will be further fueled when the telecom companies are the ones controlling the pipes, who can see what, and who can’t see what.  Control of the message can be for good (filter out the stupid) or for bad (filter out those who disagree).
  • Fonts and Culture Wars. Here’s another battle of interest: Fonts. Fonts can have a subtle but significant effect on culture and culture wars, according to Wired. For example, think how you perceive documents written in Blackletter or Comic Sans, or the fact that certain languages, by the nature of the writing, make it hard to text. Truly an interesting article on the impact of design.
  • Weaponizing Taxes. When people complain about taxes, they often talk about its use to support the defense establishment. But the tax code can be used as a weapon itself, and that is what this administration is doing. The “reform” bill shows that the right understands how the rules of the economic game are shifting — toward capital and away from labor (even away from the labor of the wealthy). Thus, they are adjusting it even further to reward business and investing, and to care even less about income earned from wages. They are adjusting the code to work against progressive measures like education and middle class wages, they are working against progressive states that used state tax codes to help their people.

Los Angeles

Honoring the Past

  • Getting Rid of Stuff. Here’s an interesting dilemma: How do you honor the past when cleaning out stuff? Specifically, how do you honor your parents when cleaning out their house? This is a growing question as the Millenials and Gen Y adopt the less is more attitude, and have to deal with the debris of the “accumulate” generation.  As the article notes: If we do it right, we preserve and transmit their memories and values to the next generation. If we do it wrong, we may open lasting wounds within our families and ourselves.
  • Reusing Sacred Spaces. During Thanksgiving, a popular song is Alice’s Restaurant, about a couple that bought a church and converted it to a house. The issue is a serious one: What do you do with sacred spaces when the community goes away? In Maine, the answer is to convert an old synagogue into high-end apartments.  The 15 members of the Auburn ME Beth Abraham Synagogue sold the building last week to a developer. On Sunday, the community will take a final tour of the building and then ceremonially move a Torah scroll to the nearby 100-family Temple Shalom Synagogue Center, an independent and egalitarian congregation (formerly Conservative) that Beth Abraham members will join. The building, after removing a few more liturgical pieces, will then become 10 apartments.
  • Repatriating Bones. One of the forgotten Native American tragedies has been the treatment of Southern California tribes and their relics. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to read about the repatriation of a large collection of Tongva/Gabrielano remains from Catalina Island. This is happening for many reasons, including increased awareness and casino proceeds.

Sexism

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Nearby Transitions and Impacts

For those that don’t know, my real job has me working down in the real South Bay (i.e., El Segundo and the communities south of LAX — any other “South Bay” is just a figment of your imagination). I’ve run across a few articles of late about changes in the area I’d like to share; at least one took my by surprise:

  • Wiseburn High School. Over the last two years, we’ve watched what was a technical office of Northrop Grumman (between two of our facilities) transform into … something. We now know what: a high school. More precisely: Three high schools that are sometimes one, and school district administrative offices. They gutted the office building, reinforced it, and transformed it into a school with three separate subschools, giving the small Wiseburn district their own high school. The story of the transformation is fascinating. The traffic? Morning isn’t a problem, but the afternoon there’s a mess when the folks attempt to make a left out of the Air Force Base while parents pick up their kids. I predict a light in the future there.
  • Creative Office Space. Down the street from the Air Force Base (actually, between the Base and Imperial Highway) is a large sprawling Northrop Grumman Aircraft manufacturing plant (which used to just be Northrop). I had noticed the fences had changed to opaque over part of the parking lot, and suspected something was happening. Now I know. The facility, once NG moves out in a year or so, will be becoming creative office space. The article on the transformation is interesting: manufacturing characteristics and old buildings are now in style, so this an adaptive reuse that is sure to snarl traffic. However, if it brings vanpool riders from the valley, I’ll be happy. It also reflects a gigantic transformation for the area. Were you to look here 40 years ago, you would have seen all the big Aerospace companies: Hughes, TRW, Aerospace, Northrop, and later Boeing and Raytheon, plus the LAAFB and other aircraft companies, with folks like Douglas down in Long Beach. Today, that work is a fraction of what it once was with more thinking than actual building going on. The creative talent is now entertainment and studio based.
  • Toyota. Down the road a bit, the US HQ of Toyota is decamping to Texas (leaving a bunch of good people who can’t go behind — I know some). There was an interesting article in the papers about the impacts of this transition on the area — in particular the restaurants. This is not something you think about when you hear about businesses leaving, but there are large impacts on the community. Restaurants lose the lunch and party trade (which is substantial). Local shops lose people picking up stuff at lunch hours. Local exercise facilities and repair facilities are impacted. Moves can have large footprints.

 

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A Different Way of Redlining

A week and a half ago, I wrote a review of an excellent play we saw about Los Angeles and gentrification (there are just a few performance left – you should go). This play looked at one plot of land in Watts, a community in South LA, as it transitioned from Gabrielano-Tongva ownership to Mexican to American (as a white suburb), and then transitioned with the 2nd wave of black westward migration into a black community, and then was transformed into a Hispanic community, and then — because houses were cheap — becoming a gentrified White community where the former owners were priced out. This is a pattern that has happened time and time again in Los Angeles: Look at how immigrants are being pushed out of Boyle and Lincoln Heights, and just ask my daughter about the changes occurring in West Adams, where she used to live.

So I was very interested when a friend posted an article titled: “Los Angeles is quickly becoming a place exclusively for the white and rich“, exploring how the black population of the city has been rapidly declining. The first two paragraphs are key:

L.A.’s Black population has declined by 100,000 since the 1980s, falling from 13% of the County population to 8% in just a few decades. Hollywood alone saw the displacement of 13,000 Latinos between 2000 and 2010, pushed out by rising rents to make way for upscale redevelopment. These are just two of the most eye-popping figures that illustrate a larger point: Los Angeles is increasingly becoming solely accessible to the rich, and the rich are disproportionately white. (“Black and Mexican households have one cent for every dollar of wealth held by the average white household,” according to The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles.)

We are witnessing the rapid creation of a new geography of segregation and exclusion in Los Angeles, as areas seen as desirable are being purged of those who cannot afford the sky-high rents that inevitably follow.

Los Angeles has a very segregated past that many people don’t know about. Minorities were kept in particular areas through the process of red-lining, which limited the ability to get loans and insurance. This led to many of LA’s problems with the East Side and South LA. There was White Flight that made the valley (there were only certain communities, such as Arleta, for minorities), and there was significant impact — present to this very day — on the LA Unified School District. Then again, there are all the racial tensions that exist with the LA Police Department and the LA Sheriff’s Department (who can forget Rodney King and other incidents).

What this article pointed out was that a different, more insideous, type of redlining is now occurring. The high housing prices in Los Angeles are combining with the depressed wages that minorities often earn to price minorities out of area. Downtown, which was once affordably prices for poor artists and minorities, is becoming gentrified and pushing out those that could once afford the area. An article about these rising rents noted:

Parker isn’t the only artist who faces a tenuous future in the Arts District. Named for the artists who made the neighborhood a creative hub in the 1970s and ’80s, the Arts District could soon find itself with few actual artists living within its borders — no small irony given its name and the fact that Mayor Eric Garcetti likes to regularly tout Los Angeles as an “arts capital” in statements and speeches.

At 800 Traction Ave., a warehouse building that began life as a coffee and spice factory in 1918, residents have received a 60-day quit notice. Just beyond the southern fringes of the Arts District, the Santa Fe Art Colony is expected to start charging market rates after operating for 30 years under a contract with the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency as a low- and moderate-income housing site; that contract is now expiring.

Mind you, this is probably not isolated to Los Angeles. Think about what is happening at the National level with income inequality, and the segregation of the wealthy — the haves — from the have nots. What do most of the “haves” have in common, in addition to wealth. Now look, at the National level, at the groups many of these folks are aligning with. Who needs Jim Crow and segregation when you have money and power and advantage.

Perhaps now “taking a knee” becomes better understood. There is not equal opportunity. Here’s another quote from that first article:

And it must be made clear that this is not a neutral process of neighborhood change. The winners are the real estate investors and developers who make hefty profits, and the wealthier incomers who get to live out their idealized urban life. The losers are the poorer residents that already live there, especially the majority that rent. Those that are displaced become homeless or are forced to move far away from their jobs, families, and communities. Those who remain must deal with rising rents, increased racialized policing, and the trauma of watching their community change for the benefit of outsiders. The negative health effects from the displacement and financial strain that come with gentrification are well documented.

Now consider the impact of former downtown and south-central residents only finding affordable housing long commutes away, and the impact not only on family life and childrearing, but on the employers.

The problem is clear. What can we do about it? Simple: We must work to have affordable housing everyone, and strive for a truly integrated and diverse city. We must fight the us/them divide, and learn to see people as persons, not stereotypes.

In the play I saw — which I strongly recommend — we learned that our cultures are not so different. We care about family, we care about place, we have similar foods with different names. If we just get to know each other instead of using wealth and property to separate us, our city can be even greater.

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This Is My City

As Jack Webb almost once said (yunguns, look him up), “This is my city, Los Angeles, California”. Here are a few stories I’ve accumulated over the weeks about my city, and places that I’ve actually been to or near:

  • Earl Carroll Theatre. I was at this theatre many years ago to see Ain’t Misbehavin‘. I didn’t know its historical significance then. It later became the Nickelodeon Studios, and will now be refurbished. Much of the glory is still there, as these photos show.
  • Daniel Freeman Hospital. The place where I entered the world many many (many) years ago. Later bought by Tenet Healthcare, and then closed. It is now being torn down, to become luxury homes.
  • Westside Pavilion.  Back when I was at UCLA in the late 1970s, this was a small surface shopping center with a market (Vons, IIRC), a good sushi place, a Sees Candy, and a large May Company (with a spiral driveway where I scraped a car once). Then it was “mallified”, taking all the character out of it and become an haven for the wannabe rich (the rich had Century City). It expanded, took out a perfectly good bowling alley. Today? Malls are out of favor, Nordstroms ran to Century City, and Macy*s (nee Robinsons May nee May Co) is closing. Anyone want to buy a mall? Rumor is that with retail out of favor, this will either become open-air shopping (like it was originally), or mixed use with housing and shopping near the Expo line.
  • The Panorama. When we went to go see Man Covets Bird, there was this odd little theatre across the street that we later learned was the Velaslavasay Panorama, an old fashioned type of entertainment from the time before movies. They’ve reopened, and there’s one last chance to view their installation of Effulgence of the North before they change it. It is described as  “a panoramic exploration of the limitless horizon which lies beyond a frigid terrain, illuminated by the ethereal Aurora Borealis.” Next to be installed: Shengjing Panorama. You have until Sunday to see it.
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Of Historical Interest

Over the past few weeks, there have been quite a few articles I’ve uncovered related to California and Los Angeles history:

Speaking of going away….

 

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Interesting Histories

Continuing the clearing of some themed groups, here are some interesting histories that I’ve seen come across my feeds of late:

  • LA Theatre. Here’s a complete history of LA Theatre while standing on one foot.  OK, well, it’s not complete (there’s no mention of the LA Civic Light Opera, for example, or the other major large theatres that are no more, like the Huntington Hartford or the Shubert in Century City), but it is a great summary of the current situation with 99 seat theatres and how we got there.
  • Jewish Culinary Tradition. Here’s an article (and a discussion of a cookbook) related to a classic Jewish food tradition: pickling and preservation. A number of the recipes described sound really interesting .
  • Left Turns. If you’re like me, you get … annoyed … at the current crop of drivers that wait behind the limit line to make a left turn, and then do a sweeping arc that almost cuts off the car waiting on the cross street to turn (plus, it means one car per light). If you’re like me, you were taught to pull into the middle of the intersection, and then to do an almost 90 degree turn to go from left lane into left lane. Turns out, left turns have changed over time, and I’m old-school.
  • Old Subway Cars. When your light rail cars die, where do they go? Often, they are dumped in the ocean. Los Angeles did that with some of the Red and Yellow Cars. New York does it with its subway cars. But this isn’t pollution, and here are the pictures to prove it. Rather, it is creating reefs for oceanlife.
  • Tunnels Back In Service. An LADWP tunnel that dates back to 1915 is going back in service.The Los Angeles Daily News reports the tunnel is being refurbished to capture water runoff from the Sierras, which was inundated with snow this winter.The tunnel is part of a larger system, called the Maclay Highline, that runs from “the L.A. Aqueduct Cascades in Sylmar to a group of meadows in Pacoima.” Once restored, the tunnel will carry a significant amount of water—130 acre-feet a day—to the Pacoima Spreading Grounds, where it will filter down into the city aquifer and become drinking water. (One acre-foot can supply two households with water for a year.)

As we’re talking history, here’s another interesting themed historical group, this time focused on air travel:

  • Lockheed L-1011. I remember back in the 1990s flying between LAX and IAD, when I could still occasionally get an L-1011. This was a tri-jet from Lockheed, and was nice and spacious with great overhead space. They have long since disappeared, but one recently took to the skies as part of a ferry to a museum. The refurbished plane will be used as part of a STEM teaching experience.
  • Boeing 747. The Queen of the Skies has been dethroned by someone skinnier and cheaper. The last few 747s for passenger service are coming off the line; airlines are phasing them out of the fleets. There will be a few more for freight service, but like the DC-10, they will be disappearing. The market can not really support such large loads — and the multiple engines and fuel it takes to ferry them. The Airbus A380 is facing similar problems. Airlines want at most two engines, with the planes packed to the gills.
  • Old Airports. Here’s an article on an interesting dilemma: What to do with old municipal airports, such as the one in downtown Detroit? (NYTimes article) Should they be restored for general aviation purposes, and perhaps the occasional commercial craft? Should their land be repurposed for more housing and manufacturing, as was done quite successfully with the old DEN (Denver Stapleton). Repurposing can be temping. Cities such as Detroit will soon run out of wide-open, city-owned spaces that can be offered to companies looking to build manufacturing or other commercial facilities here. A decomissioned airport can provide just the opportunity needed. But others say cities should reinvest in the airports, saying it could be an economic engine as well. (I’ll note similar questions exists for former Air Force bases as well — how is former George AFB working out, San Bernardino?) The article  notes that cities across the nation are reconsidering the value of municipal airports in the era of superjumbo jets and budget cuts. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association estimated the nation loses 50 public-use airports a year. Almost all are general-aviation airports, ones that cater primarily to owners of private planes, and most have operating deficits that the cities must make up for in their budgets. Detroit, for instance, faces a $1.3 million operating loss in the 2017 fiscal year for Coleman Young, which averages just 30 landings a day. The main airport for the region is Detroit Metropolitan, a Delta Air Lines hub about 20 miles west of the city limits.
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News Chum: This Is The City…

Alas, I’m home sick for another day. So, before I get to attempting to work from home, here’s a bit more of the accumulated news chum. This batch is all about Los Angeles:

  • Damn You, Internet. Just as Amazon has decimated so many retailers, the easy availability of porn has decimated the adult movie theater. Whereas there were once loads of adult theaters across Los Angeles, the city is down to just two. Is this a good thing? Is there some element to the communal experience of an adult theater that we are losing? Having never gone to one … I can’t answer. [But then, who needs the Internet … the next uproar you’ll see has to do with Teen Vogue, which has decided to inform teens by publishing a tutorial on anal sex. I kid you not, and I’ve already started to see the protest posts from the Conservative / Evangelical side on FB]
  • Damn You, Interent (Take Two). The Internet has also impacted journalism, causing many big city papers to see falling readership and resulting in downsizings. The LA Times isn’t immune. As part of the whole mess with Tribune and Tronc, the paper’s real estate, including the storied HQ downtown, went with Tribune (not Tronc) and was sold for the cash. Developers are supposedly keeping the historic core, and developing the rest. Yup. More live / work / retail / office space. As for the Times, some say they are staying there, and some say they are moving to new digs. But then again, no.
  • Good Dog. Short but sweet: The iconic home of the former Tail Of The Pup restaurant has found a new home.
  • Remembering Obama. The LA City Council has voted to rename Rodeo (Road-ee-oh) Road after President Obama. The road is in an area where there are Washington, Jefferson, and Adams Blvds (and who can forget President Venice), so that works. It also eliminates the longstanding confusion with that similar named street in Beverly Hills (Rodeo (Road-ay-oh) Drive). But what of the symbolism of the fact that the road travels through predominately black neighborhoods, and there aren’t similar roads for later Presidents. (Related: There is a pending resolution to name a short stretch of Route 134 after Obama as well, but that name won’t go into common use given the nature of the naming mechanism.)
  • BBQ. Wood Ranch BBQ (not known as a haven for great BBQ) is attempting to master Texas Brisket BBQ. I’m not sure I want to try it.
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Interesting History

Now that the Fringe Fest is past, it is time to start clearing out the news chum (if I could just do that with the 70 backed up podcasts!). This first batch all provide some interesting histories:

  • Knitting as an Espionage Tool. This is an older article — I’ve been holding onto it for about a month. It tells the interesting story of spies that used knitting as an information hiding technique. Whether women knitted codes into fabric or used stereotypes of knitting women as a cover, there’s a history between knitting and espionage. When knitters used knitting to encode messages, the message was a form of steganography, a way to hide a message physically (which includes, for example, hiding morse code somewhere on a postcard, or digitally disguising one image within another). If the message must be low-tech, knitting is great for this; every knitted garment is made of different combinations of just two stitches: a knit stitch, which is smooth and looks like a “v”, and a purl stitch, which looks like a horizontal line or a little bump. By making a specific combination of knits and purls in a predetermined pattern, spies could pass on a custom piece of fabric and read the secret message, buried in the innocent warmth of a scarf or hat.
  • Mr. Cellophane. In a previous post, I cited an article about the transformative nature of the elevator on society. Here’s another transformative item: cellophane. It changed the way we buy food by allowing clear packaging. Cellophane packaging let food vendors manipulate the appearance of foods by controlling the amount of moisture and oxygen that touched a product, thus preventing discoloration. In turn, it led to the rise of the self-service store. In a similar vein is plastic. We often think of gasoline and cars when we look at the impact of oil, but there’s an even bigger impact in oil-based plastic. Just imagine a world where there is no plastic. No plastic for food, gloves, medical equipment, insulation, packaging. It’s scary.
  • Hawaiian Pizza. It seems simple doesn’t it: Canadian Bacon and Pineapple on a pizza. It’s heresy to some. But someone had to come up with the idea, and here’s the story of the invention of said pizza. You have tiki culture to thank. According to Atlas Obscura, the rise of tiki culture, as troops returning from the South Pacific after serving in World War II, and the influence of American Chinese food were crucial to inspiring the creator, who sought to unite the sweet and the savory — a mission that ended in him dumping a can of pineapple on a pizza pie.
  • Yellow Cars. When you think of trolley cars and Los Angeles, I’m sure you think of the Red Cars — the cars made famous in Roger Rabbit — the cars that a “conspiracy” supposedly killed (truth: that’s an urban legend). But the Red Cars weren’t the only system. Here’s an article on LA’s narrow-gauge Yellow Car system. As opposed to the interurban Pacific Electric, the Los Angeles Railway provided quick, local service in downtown L.A. and nearby communities. For decades, the Yellow Cars’ bells rang as far west as La Brea Avenue and as far north as Eagle Rock, and the trolleys serviced neighborhoods from East Los Angeles to Hawthorne. Though their reach was shorter than that of the fabled Red Cars, the Yellow Cars carried roughly twice as many riders—at its peak in 1924, the Los Angeles Railway served 255.6 million passengers, and the Pacific Electric only 100.9 million.
  • Beauty Remains. Yes, this is SFW. Here’s an interesting little bit of history, wherein Playboy cover girls recreate their iconic covers 30 or more so years on. Guess what? A beautiful woman remains beautiful.
  • Boyle Heights. Lastly, there is currently an exhibition in the Boyle Heights neighborhood celebrating its Jewish history. I’ve been learning this history of late, and it is really fascinating — and it shows the impact of Yiddishists and Workers Movements on the Jewish Community of LA.
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