Observing Grand Avenue
Critic Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times ponders the promise and historical context
of the Grand Avenue project and does a nice job of framing the realities that downtown's more starstruck boosters often overlook:
Time and again the avenue has been the focus of grandiose proposals by civic leaders who dreamed of transforming it into a cultural Acropolis. Angelenos watched the progress from the comfort of their suburban enclaves, mostly with bland indifference....
Designed by Mr. Gehry for the New York-based Related Companies, the master plan for the site, a choice parcel directly across from Disney Hall, provides a case study for one of the most pressing issues in architecture today. Can the bottom-line world of mainstream development produce something of architectural value at enormous scale? Or is Mr. Gehry simply there to provide a veneer of cultural pretension?
The project also offers a lens on the conflicts that continue to define the identity of downtown Los Angeles today: the tension between the fortified cultural and business district at the top of the hill and the vibrant Latino district to the east; between traditional East Coast planning formulas and this city’s informal urban landscape; between its high-culture aspirations and its pop-culture ethos. How Mr. Gehry negotiates all this could determine whether downtown Los Angeles will ever matter to anyone but civic boosters and curiosity seekers.
Ouroussoff accept that Gehry's Grand Avenue "presents one of the last opportunities to repair the fractured link between the new cultural district and the old city center." Yet, he adds, "in some ways the project represents a return to the predictable approach long favored by large-scale urban developers across the country."
Obama's days at Occidental
Friends and profs remember "Barry" for good notes, a taste for pineapple and ham pizza and protesting the apartheid regime in South Africa. LAT
Tokofsky sits down with the LAT's Sipchen
They chat about the school board and begin digging into Tokofsky's files. LAT
Asking questions around Sheriff Baca
State investigators are looking into the financial dealings of the non-profit Homeland Security Support Unit, a misleading name for "friends of, and contributors to, Sheriff Lee Baca." Baca suspended the group last year after questions about ID cards that bore his signature. LAT
Antonio y Vicente
Mayor Villaraigosa introduces former Mexican president Vicente Fox at the Music Center Speaker Series tonight at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Guild's design on Times newsroom
Newspaper blogs catching on
NetRatings says traffic to newspaper blogs more than tripled last year, reaching 3.8 million in December — with 66% of visitors male. The total unique visitors to newspaper Web sites in December was 29.9 million. NYT
Mark Saylor departs Sitrick
Driving and parking
Times gets parking ticket appeal stats
City Hall reporter Steve Hymon has been asking for them and finally reports today
that about 6% of the 3.1 million parking tickets issued in Los Angeles in a year are appealed. More than half — 52% — of those that go through the appeal process are dismissed.
Culver City now officially hot
The New York Times Travel section visits in the person of Janelle Brown, who credits art galleries and restaurants: "Once considered a place to drive by on your way to somewhere else, [Culver City] has become Los Angeles's newest stylish neighborhood, a magnet for lovers of the arts, good food and culture." NYT
Body found in wheel well of LAX jet
Good thing the British Airways pilot did a walk-around before departing for London. He found the body of a young black male who carried South African documents. LAT
Marcheline Bertrand, model and actress
The mother of actress Angelina Jolie died of cancer at Cedars. She was 56. LAT
From the weekend
Dick Adler, the author and Chicago Tribune book reviewer who lives in Ventura, is posting a serialized crime novel at The Rap Sheet
blog. The first chapter goes up today.
Joel Kotkin argues in Current
that a housing bust in L.A. would be a good thing, allowing middle income earners to move back into the city and buy homes.
Fish caught in Santa Monica Bay, especially white croaker, still show some of the world's highest concentrations
of DDT — 35 years after the chemical stopped being dumped here.
William Booth, of the Washington Post Los Angeles bureau, had a Sunday piece
on how Sundance after-parties are for the losers and after-dinners have become the hot tickets: "Tara Reid has gotta eat, right?"
One of us
Review of 'You're Not the Boss of Me'
LA Observed contributor Erika Schickel's book gets nice handling in today's LAT
, with reviewer Amy Wallen calling Schickel "the girlfriend we had in high school and college who was soda-through-the-nose hilarious. We never imagined her as a mother, but in this collection of essays, Schickel shows us how that zany girlfriend became a mom."