Ten stories I missed during the holiday avoidance

Lankershim Boulevard. LAO

Ten and only ten — I'm trying to show some New Year's discipline here. These are stories, news or other items that I mentally noted and should have posted about during the last two weeks. Or I overlooked them completely until now. I was trying to spend a little less time tapping on keys. Not very successfully: there was a lot posted here before the end of the year. But I'm likely to be catching up for the rest of the week.

Christopher Hawthorne goes to NoHo

noho-station-palms.jpgThe Times' architecture critic's tour of boulevards that help make his point that the city is changing crossed into the Valley for a trip along Lankershim. This boulevard stretches between Universal Studios and the dusty, graffiti-marked industrial sides of North Hollywood and Sun Valley. In between are a few blocks of the NoHo Arts Disrtrict, a creation of decades of redevelopment where Hawthorne found his transit riders. "Twenty years ago, nobody would have included Lankershim Boulevard on a list of the most significant streets in the San Fernando Valley," he writes. "Today, the boulevard is emphatically on the rise, energized by a pair of Red Line subway stops, a rapid-bus route packed with riders and the flourishing North Hollywood Arts District. As Van Nuys Boulevard and other car-dominated routes endure a slow fade from their post-war prominence, the stretch of Lankershim between the Red Line stations now ranks as the most vital north-south corridor in the Valley." Commenters are skeptical. LAT

Tunneling under Sepulveda Pass

I was startled a month or so ago to hear the mayoral candidates talk about the prospect of a tunnel along the 405 between the Valley and the Westside. That had snuck up on me. But the concept has gone beyond mere musing. "Lacking the billions of dollars needed to build the Sepulveda Pass Corridor, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering partnering with the private sector to ease the flow of traffic in one of the most congested stretches of highway in the country," writes Christina Villacorte in the Daily News. "For now, Metro has not decided whether to merely add lanes on the 405 Freeway for a rapid bus transit system, or build a nearly 60-foot diameter tunnel beneath the Sepulveda Pass that could fit a highway, a railway, or both." Either way, this would be massively expensive. DN, Curbed LA

Is television the new rock?

TV has become totally cool, writes LA Times (TV) critic Robert Lloyd. "Television has been a lot of things in its 60-some-year life, but one thing it was not, until this century, with certain rule-proving exceptions, was cool. It was the home of "Father Knows Best" and "The Andy Williams Show," "Dynasty" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" — something for the whole family to enjoy, when three broadcast networks ruled the nation and competed for viewers of all ages....As always with coolness, it is partly a matter of perception — first it wasn't cool to like Neil Diamond, and now it is — and TV was always better than its reputation. But it is also that TV actually has gotten cooler." LAT

NY Times catches up to Death Valley story

The Washington Post (and LA Observed) wrote about this back in September. But it's a nice little California item, and if it got New York Times LA bureau chief Adam Nagourney out to the desert for a little winter sojourn, more power to him. The news, as it was in September, is that the World Meteorological Organization has decided that Death Valley in July, 1913 had the hottest temperature ever recorded. That would be 134 degrees.

Raptor patrol in Santa Monica

Also in the New York Times, LA journalist Nicole LaPorte reported on the use of live, captive hawks named Mowgli and Melvin to keep the sea gulls away at the Water Garden complex in Santa Monica. "Before I started working here, they had an issue with sea gulls actually living here,” said Nricco Iseppi, a master falconer and independent contractor for Airstrike Bird Control... "So the first thing I did was, I set the hawks on them.” NYT

Next time he'll listen

As the communications director for Heal the Bay, Matthew King has probably explained a thousand times why it's not wise to go in the water off Los Angeles after a rainfall has washed all that goop off the streets, sidewalks, curbs and freeways and out into the surf. But those waves looked so inviting. "I'm a big advocate of practicing what you preach, but the sight of those firing waves at El Porto on a recent Sunday morning stirred something feral in me," King writes. "Rationalizations raced through my mind: It hadn't rained that hard; the water didn't look that dirty. My professional judgment soon gave way to impulse. I began shimmying into a damp wetsuit. Just this once, I thought. How bad could it be? Thirty-six hours later, I found out." LAT op-ed

LA Times diaspora pays a visit

OK, this is three semi-related stories. But just one item, right? All during the holiday lull, I kept spotting familiar bylines. Terry McDermott, a former LA Times colleague and the author with Josh Meyer of "The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," has some issues with Kathryn Bigelow's laxity with the facts in "Zero Dark Thirty." He wrote on the LAT's op-ed page: "In a riveting opening section, the film obliquely credits the discovery of the key piece of information in the search for Bin Laden to the torture of an Al Qaeda prisoner held by the CIA. This is at odds with the facts as they have been recounted by journalists reporting on the manhunt, by Obama administration intelligence officials and by legislative leaders. Bigelow and her writing partner, Mark Boal, are promoting "Zero Dark Thirty" in part by stressing its basis in fact. It's curious that they could have gotten this central, contentious point wrong."

Also on the LAT's op-ed page, author and former Times reporter David Freed wonders — with his son deployed recently in Afghanistan as an Army officer — "how long should we as a nation continue to sacrifice blood and treasure for what is clearly a losing proposition?" laura-galloway-cnn.jpgAnd another ex-Times staffer, New York communications executive Laura Galloway, explored for her ethnic ties to the Sami, "Northern Europe's oldest surviving indigenous people, spanning parts of Norway, Finland, Sweden and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, in an area that is known as Sapmi. (They are also called Laplanders.)"

Mystery on the Palos Verdes peninsula

I'm avoiding a few notorious holiday-season crime stories from this list, but this is one we covered back when it happened. Jeffrey Tidus is the lawyer who was murdered in 2009 when he stepped out of his house in Rolling Hills Estates to retrieve a laptop from his car. "Three years later, the slaying, the only one anyone can recall in Rolling Hills Estates, remains unsolved," says Jeff Gottlieb in the LA Times. "'It was an execution,' said Det. Bob Kenney, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy working on the case. Family and friends have offered a $90,000 reward, and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors has kicked in $10,000 more. 'I'm convinced we'll have an answer,' [wife] Sheryl Tidus said, 'because I can't live any other way.'" LAT

Discovering John Miller

In the hours after the Newtown, CT shootings, savvy New York Times media writer David Carr discovered there's a CBS reporter named John Miller who has good connections with law enforcement. Now that's a bit surprising, since Miller used to be a hotshot New York City police official while working for William Bratton. He then went to ABC, and followed Bratton to the LAPD. Before he was kind-of a cop, Miller had been a local TV star in New York City. More recently, he was at the FBI. But you probably knew all that. Carr is a bit late to the Miller story, but he catches up fast. NYT

'Voter apathy remains biggest challenge in 2013 Los Angeles mayor's race'

Who cares? DN

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