LA Observed Notes: Back from vacation and into the fray

calif-sunday-chefs-grab.jpgThe Underground Chefs of South LA in California Sunday Magazine: "Inside the kitchens of home cooks who are dreaming up everything from 'urban tacos' to gumbo pot pie."

I'm back from a self-imposed summer week off the grid. Not the physical grid, or even the whole Internet — just the news and (mostly) email. A necessary de-toxing. I recommend it.

Our occasional roundup of news and notes, from media sources and our in-box, has more than the usual catching up. As always, between posts you can keep up with LA Observed on Twitter — now with 24,452 followers.

At the top

la-traffic-980.jpgFascinating research: How far do you think you can drive from Los Angeles by car if you leave on a Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., or wait til 7 p.m., or hold off until 10 p.m.? The Washington Post has the data for LA and several other cities. No surprise that you can get a lot further down the road here if you wait until 10 p.m., but the details and the graphics are worth a look.

Speaking of traffic: The Valley on Monday gets its first scramble crosswalk, at the intersection of Sylvan Street and Sylmar Avenue in the Van Nuys Civic Center. Ribbon cutting is at 9 a.m.

And also: CicLAvia came on Sunday to the port-adjacent communities of Wilmington and San Pedro for the first time. Story and photo gallery at the Daily Breeze.

Media notes

James Risen, the former LA Times reporter who spent seven years fighting government efforts to force him to reveal a confidential source whole he worked for the New York Times, is joining The Intercept as senior national security correspondent and director of the First Look Press Freedom Defense Fund. The Intercept is the news organization launched in 2014 by Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras and backed by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. The HuffPost's Michael Calderone has the news Sunday night. Risen left the NYT in July.

President Trump’s reelection campaign committee released a new video ad on Sunday that repeats some of the bigger lies about his achievements — and shows the faces of a dozen TV news figures as "enemies" of the president, among them Trump's former friends Mika and Joe. April Ryan, one of the White House reporters shown, isn't having it.

Kayleigh McEnany, one of Trump's talking-points repeaters on CNN, resigned her punditcy and joined the Republican National Committee as national spokeswoman... Here's why conservative groups are opposing the moves to smooth Sinclair's take over of Tribune TV stations, which could turn KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles into a Trump organ.

Zocalo Public Square has published 12 stories on immigration in Los Angeles under the Trump era by various authors, including former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and a 24-year-old woman whose father has been arrested and is awaiting deportation. Columnist Joe Mathews, in his piece, proposes letting non-citizens in California vote... The Hollywood Reporter talks to actress Leah Remini: She Doubles Down on Anti-Scientology Crusade: I Want a Federal Investigation... Los Cerritos Community News always seemed more like a tool of Southeast LA County's corrupt local politics than an actual community newspaper. Now LA Weekly's Hillel Aron fleshes out the many conflicts and connects the dots... In advance of solar eclipse mania, a nice piece in the Washington Post on the Mt. Wilson Observatory: As the sun makes a star turn, America’s greatest observatory carries on... Ryan Kelly, a 30-year-old news photographer for the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, VA., captured the photo of Saturday's car attack on protesters "that will define this moment in American history” — on his last day as a journalist.

Trump is no Ronald Reagan

President Trump's refusal this weekend to call out the Nazis, white power deplorables and other dog shit on the shoes of America — the ugliest corner of his shrinking political base — is drawing fire from Republicans and Democrats. "On Saturday, the President betrayed the Jews," writes Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal in LA.. The White House had surrogates including Ivanka Trump and Mike Pence speak out later, but it just underlined Trump's personal decision to say the hate came from "many sides." Remember, he was a devout birther and the son of a Klan admirer who has casually labeled many good Americans as enemies and bad hombres. But not the heavily armed national embarrassments who rallied openly against Jews, blacks and others in Charlottesville. That falls to others. "To the extent that it is the role of the president to provide moral leadership, the White House is unoccupied," says a strong editorial in the Financial Times.

The Nazis themselves? They use their website to claim total victory that Trump did not attack them and add: "And to everyone, know this: we are now at war...We are going to take over the country."

Media people doing stuff

A number of journalists also weighed in on Trump and Charlottesville, for better or worse.

Media people notes: USC Annenberg dean Willow Bay shows up on David Geffen's yacht in Sicily on the commodore's Instagram feed. Oprah's there too... Former LA Times and ESPN sports columnist J.A. Adande is formally leaving the network to dig fulltime into his position at Northwestern University as director of sports journalism and an associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications... Ex-LA Times restaurant critic Leslie Brenner is leaving food journalism (in Dallas) to join a firm there that develops real estate projects and restaurants. The story about her is written by another LA Times alum, Michael Granberry... Tim Arango, the NYT's Baghdad bureau chief, reports to the Los Angeles bureau in December. He figured in the documentary on the Times that focused on media reporters David Carr and Brian Stelter. Jose A. DelReal, formerly of the Washington Post, also will be headed to the NYT bureau in LA around that time... Carol Stogsdill, the former LA Times Senior Editor who retired more than a year ago as UCLA's Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications and Public Outreach, has joined crisis PR firm G.F. Bunting + Co as strategic advisor. Before UCLA she worked at the Sitrick crisis firm in LA and at Fleishman-Hillard.

I'm late to this, but I recommend Gary Baum's THR dig into the identity of LA billboard diva Angelyne — revealed to have once been been Renee Goldberg of Panorama City, and a few years ahead of me at Monroe High School. She went on Larry Mantle to kvetch about the story but didn't deny it... Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice has a long piece on Amy Locane, the former "Melrose Place" actress who served time in New Jersey for a fatal DUI crash... KTLA reporter Kacey Montoya showed up in a cameo on the latest Ray Donovan on showtime... Sierra Madre-based ESPN editor Eric Neel guest-curates this weekend's edition of Don Van Natta Jr.'s Sunday Long Reads newsletter... KNX sports anchor Randy Kerdoon took a turn as celebrity reader on Kitty Felde's Book Club for Kids... Vintage LA's Alison Martino gives a Facebook video tour of her personal collection of Los Angeles and Hollywood stuff.

Kathy Thomson, the former COO and president of the L.A. Times, died at age 51 from complications of an aneurysm... Former LA Times City Hall reporter Catherine Saillant wrote an obituary for her mother.... Suzanne Rico prepares to leave LA and the home where her mother died... Former LAT reporter Johanna Neuman, a scholar in residence at American University, has a new book coming Sept. 5 from NYU Press: "Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women's Right to Vote."

Checking in on the LA Times

The Times continues, rightfully, to push its coverage of the USC medical school dean who hung out with druggies and prostitutes, on and off campus. There's a disturbance in the force in the newsroom, however. Some staffers are upset at the months of editing delay it took to get the first story on Dr. Carmen Puliafito into the paper, and some sent a letter to the Tronc corporate side complaining that a possible reassignment of assistant managing editor Shelby Grad was payback for his role in moving the story along. Can't tell yet where if anywhere this is going, but it may provide some backstory to the nice pat on the back for Grad in editor-publisher Davan Maharaj's newsroom note announcing a serialized podcast by the paper.
Projects like this are vitally important as we pursue fresh audiences and new revenue streams. We’ve already received some good news: the podcast has a sponsor.

Building on the successes and lessons of Goffard's “Framed,” we are tapping expertise in the newsroom, sales staff and marketing team, as well as at Wondery, to showcase the work and capture subscription and advertising opportunities.

While we haven’t published “Dirty John” yet, today marks an important milestone in our efforts to expand the ways we deliver our journalism. Please join me in congratulating Shelby Grad, who has been deftly guiding this first collaboration with Wondery, working closely with Christopher and Steve Clow.

Meanwhile, a long Reddit thread developed recently over the challenging reader experience of trying to use the LAT website. Compared to other big newspaper sites, the poorly designed hits readers with more takeover ads, often more than one at a time, and pointless videos. The Reddit folks suggest ways to block the ads.

Here's a story on the podcast plans, and a couple of LAT stories on USC naming former US Attorney Debra Wong Yang, an insider, to evaluate the Puliafito mess and the secretive group of trustees, including shopping center magnate Rick Caruso, who will decide whether USC President Max Nikias has to go.

Personal trivia: I served as a trial juror in Yang's West LA court when she was a Municipal Court judge.

Politics notes

Meanwhile... Don't forget that Robert Mueller's official executive branch investigation into Russia's meddling in U.S. democracy, possibly an attack to help get Trump elected, has created a grand jury, conducted a raid on the home of former campaign head Paul Manafort, and has told the West Wing it wants to interview White House staffers. Perhaps this is why Trump, Hannity and the rest of the cabal have been working for months to smear Mueller and the news media. Now Mike Allen at Axios reports on Sunday the smearists are targeting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, a rival of Steve Bannon's. The plan is apparently to leak that he has a drinking problem, Axios says. Bannon himself is on ever weaker ground with Trump, who thinks Bannon leaks too much, the site says.

Mayor Eric Garcetti on Charlottesville: "The shocking violence in Charlottesville — and the abhorrent ideology behind it — have no place in America or anywhere in the world. Angelenos and people everywhere condemn these acts of hatred, and are deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries suffered today. We stand with Mayor Signer and everyone in his city with hope and prayers for peace to be restored.”

Tom Barrack, the SoCal real estate investor who has been a close Trump friend, is in talks to become U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Politico

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday rushed through approval of the 2028 Olympics deal. Didn't want to get any questions answered first, apparently -- LA Times... An academic and author of an upcoming book on mass incarceration says the 1984 Olympics fueled L.A.’s war on crime. Will the 2028 Games do the same? Washington Post op-ed

A man has been charged in the 1981 murder of Michael Thomas, the brother of county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

State Treasurer John Chiang helped award millions in tax breaks to his developer donors - Bee... Rep. Ted Lieu on Sunday endorse Chiang for governor - LA Times... Hollywood picks Gavin Newsom over Antonio Villaraigosa in California's race for governor - LA Times... The building industry says that LA's Measure JJJ, which requires below-market affordable units in most big new apartment developments, is already slowing the housing construction boom. LA Weekly

Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Nina Hachigian, who was U.S. Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Obama Administration, as his Deputy Mayor for International Affairs. She will lead a newly created Mayor’s Office of International Affairs... Garcetti also named Cat Packer as Executive Director of the newly-established Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation... The mayor interviewed former VP Al Gore for Live Talks Los Angeles. Video... Garcetti's director of communications, Naomi Seligman, has added commissioner on the city of Santa Monica library board to her workload.

Campaign finance expert Stephen J. Kaufman gets the LA 500 treatment in the LA Business Journal.


Elbert T. Hudson, a founder of the Broadway Federal Bank in South Los Angeles and the city's first black president of the police commission — and a pilot in the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II — died at age 96 - LA Times obit

From Sunday evening's wildfire near Riverside, what it looks like when your neighborhood is doused with red fire retardant - Twitter

A new Trader Joe's on campus at USC is a big thing for the area - Asymptotia blog

A man who killed himself during an armed Los Angeles standoff last week was an important witness in a sweeping corruption investigation in Indonesia - Daily News

Gunnar Peterson Is the Hardbody Whisperer of Hollywood - The Ringer

A (simulated) video preview of the new Sixth Street Bridge - The Eastsider

Atwater's beloved Club Tee Gee gets new ownership - LA Weekly

Santa Monica Mountains lion P-55 became the fourth known puma to make it across the Ventura Freeway, crossing the 101 on the Conejo Grade near Thousand Oaks in the early morning on July 30. He later crossed the 23 and 118 freeways to reach the Santa Susana Mountains. - KPCC

Sacramento is on a record streak of 46 straight days with the high temp at least 90 - NWS

Selected tweets



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