Talking Points

Nate 'n Al's in play, sexual abuse of swimmers, cougar kills horse

nate-n-al-sign.jpgNate 'n Al's Deli in Beverly Hills

Talking Points is an occasional roundup of short takes on the news and observations. Between posts follow LA Observed on Twitter.

Nate 'n Al's might be in play
Eater LA posted the rumored news on Monday: venerable Beverly Hills deli Nate 'n Al, open since 1945, may be close to being sold. Of there may be no deal, or there may be a deal struck to keep Nate 'n Al's in its longtime location on North Beverly Drive. Eater says the most solid report may be coming from LA food writer Jordan Okun, who first tweeted that the deli and hangout was sold, then that the sale is "almost done" with talk of moving to a new location, then followed with this:

Says Eater:

Whispers of a sale first appeared over the weekend, but so far there has been no confirmed report from the restaurant. Eater reached out to one of the owners directly, but has received no response back yet. Meanwhile a call in to the restaurant provided a terse “no comment,” though there is plenty of speculation happening on social media at the moment.

A potential sale would be a massive blow as one of LA’s most beloved, and longest-running restaurants. The first Nate ‘n Al Delicatessen opened in 1945, before expanding to multiple locations throughout Southern California over the years — including LAX. Now only the Beverly Hills restaurant prevails...

Founders Al Mendelson and Nate Rimer met in Detroit, and opened a 30-seat restaurant that continued to expand significantly over the years to make room for wealthy Beverly Hills types and folks from the entertainment industry. Today, Nate’n Al Delicatessen is operated by Mendelson’s grandsons, Mark and David.

Register finds culture of sexual abuse of underage U.S. swimmers
register-swimmers-grab.jpgThe Orange County Register's Scott M. Reid has landed another investigation into sexual abuse of amateur athletes by the sport's responsible adults.This time it's in the world of competitive swimming, with a mountain of documents providing details that echo the earlier alarms by Reid and others about the abuse of gymnasts.

Reid and the Register have been here before, reporting as early as 2004 on the sexual abuses of gymnasts.

New from the Register and the Southern California News Group:

Top USA Swimming executives, board members, top officials and coaches acknowledge in the documents that they were aware of sexually predatory coaches for years, in some cases even decades, but did not take action against them. In at least 11 cases either [Chuck] Wielgus or other top USA Swimming officials declined to pursue sexual abuse cases against high profile coaches even when presented with direct complaints, documents show. With some of the complaints, the decision not to pursue the case was made by Susan Woessner, USA Swimming’s current director of Safe Sport.

For example, three U.S. Olympic team head coaches, and a USA Swimming vice president were told in the 1980s that a world-renowned coach has sexually abused a female swimmer beginning when she was 12. Wielgus was informed of allegations against the coach at least three times in recent years. But not only did USA Swimming not pursue a case against the coach, it allowed him to continue to have access to USA Swimming facilities, U.S. Olympic and national team events, and the Olympic Training Center. USA Swimming even awarded the club owned and operated by him more than $40,000 in grants. The coach was only banned after pleading guilty to sexual assault, more than a quarter-century after the abuse was first brought to the attention of the Olympic coaches.

• In the more than 20 years since Wielgus took charge of USA Swimming in July 1997, at least 252 swim coaches and officials have been arrested, charged by prosecutors, or disciplined by USAS for sexual abuse or misconduct against individuals under 18. Those coaches and officials have a total of at least 590 alleged victims, some of them abused while attending pre-school swim classes.

Also this: "USA Swimming since at least 2010 has kept a list of more than 30 coaches and officials 'flagged'...after being arrested or accused by law enforcement of sex crimes including rape and child pornography, but not disciplined by USA Swimming. Some coaches and officials on the 'flagged' list have not been banned even after they have been convicted of felonies."

Here's a nice gesture on Twitter by Shelby Grad, the assistant managing editor at the Los Angeles Times — which is to say, the Register's rival.

'We must recognize that something profound has changed in our profession;
marty-baron-esquire.jpgWashington Post executive editor Martin Baron delivered a speech last week at the University of Oxford on the challenges facing reporters and the news media in the face of Donald Trump's attacks. He begins by wondering why so often now the facts reported by journalists are ignored by ordinary people in favor of impressions. Why the test of credibility is not a past record of making true statements, but the impression of sincerity, authenticity, vulnerability or attractiveness. Why Americans are increasingly choosing not just their own opinions, but their own facts.

Here's the whole thing, and an excerpt:

We must recognize that something profound has changed in our profession. Journalism may not work as it did in the past. Our work’s anticipated impact may not materialize. The public may not process information as it did previously.

The president of the United States may well be on to something when he emphasizes, as he routinely does, his television ratings. Or when he explained, as he did in October, his behavior on Twitter by declaring, “You have to keep people interested.” Or when he remarked of the generals in his cabinet, immediately after his swearing-in on January 20, “I see my generals. These are central casting.”


In fact, Trump’s showmanship goes incredibly deep. In the 1980s when his first marriage had collapsed, as one of The Post’s writers recently recalled, “Trump not only didn’t push back when tabloid newspapers turned the collapse of his first marriage into a daily soap opera; Trump actively participated in the scripting of the drama, calling gossip writers, dishing out salacious morsels almost by the hour.”

“The show is Trump,” he said then, “and it is sold-out performances everywhere.”

Will your marriage survive the Olympics?
tv-divorce.jpgVariety's co-editor Andrew Wallenstein exposes a marital strain that might just be occurring all over the place during the Olympics from South Korea. "Leave it to a TV event that brings the nations of the world together to drive my wife and me apart," he writes. Since the Olympics began, his wife has been glued to the NBC channels carrying the games. He tries to watch but isn't into it.

"It pains me to write the following words to my blessed wife: I want a TV divorce." Or at least separate TV rooms. More from Wallenstein:

It’s not just about the Olympics, of course. I cannot stomach any reality TV; you watch almost nothing else. You like documentaries that delve into history; I prefer to keep abreast of what’s going on now in the news. While my wandering eye has me trying lots of new shows, you’re less experimental.

And once you’re done with a show, you won’t ever go back. I’m more forgiving. We both agreed last year, for instance, to bail on one of the few shows we enjoyed together, Showtime’s “Homeland.” But now that a new season began, I’d like to give it another go. You’re too busy ogling the biathlon.

This isn’t easy for me. But for the sake of protecting our sacred union, we must confront the painful truth that our TV tastes have diverged to the point where we are better off seeing other programs.

Collared mountain lion kills horse
horse-killed-sign.jpgOne of the mountain lions under study in the Santa Monica Mountains killed a miniature horse Sunday morning in a family's corral in Newbury Park in Ventura County. The lion was chased off from feeding on the horse's carcass by sheriff's deputies firing bean bags.

The lion's identity has not been released by the National Park Service. The scene is several miles from where P-55 was recently spotted at the sliding glass door of a home in Westlake Village.

From the Acorn in Thousand Oaks on Sunday's attack :

When deputies arrived, the big cat was still hovering over the dead carcass, not unusual behavior for a cougar, said Lt. Jon Healy, Fish and Wildlife spokesperson.

“When a mountain lion has a successful kill, they can get pretty territorial,” he said.

Because the animal did not pose an immediate threat to human life, Healy said, Fish and Wildlife officials advised the deputies to employ a less-lethal use of force against the lion, which was wearing a National Park Service tracking collar.

“Shooting the animal is not on the table,” Healy said.

Nor was tranquilizing and relocating the big cat elsewhere, he said, given that the corral was in very close proximity to open space.

“It’s sad and we feel terrible, but it’s property,” Healy said of the horse. “And being that the mountain lion was so close to suitable habitat, introducing the immobilization process was not in order.”

The horse's owners, Ruth and Ron Piper, had the female miniature for 17 years. Their golden retriever had alerted them to the cougar's presence. “It doesn’t seem real,” Ruth told the paper. “I think we’re both in shock.” Ron added that “We love animals...Right now we’re not too fond of mountain lions.”

Montclair bans cellphones and earbuds in crosswalks
montclair-logo.jpg The City Council in Montclair passed an ordinance in December that tries to ban walking while distracted, or at least crossing the street. The law says in part, "No pedestrian shall cross a street or highway while engaged in a phone call, viewing a mobile electronic device or with both ears covered or obstructed by personal audio equipment.”

The law doesn't take effect until August 1, giving city officials time to educate pedestrians. It appears no one has really noticed, except for columnist David Allen in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

If you’ve ever stopped at a red light and sighed at the sight of pedestrians crossing in front of you with their head down gazing at their phone, or wearing headphones that block all street sounds, this may represent the most popular thing the Montclair City Council has ever done...

City Manager Ed Starr hatched the idea for the law while reading about a “cell phone lane” in Chongqing, China. It’s unclear if the lane was a bureaucratic joke — it’s only 100 feet long — but Starr began to think more seriously about pedestrian safety.


Honolulu was evidently the first American city to address pedestrian use of phones. “We may be the second city in the entire country,” Starr said of Montclair. “There might be one or two on the East Coast. Probably we are in the first five cities in the country to do it.”

Montclair, the spear tip of social change? That’s not my image of the 39,000-population suburb, which is known mostly for its shopping mall, but maybe I’m behind the times.

Let's take a trip down the other Whittier Boulevard
east-whittier-sign.jpgMelissa Mora Hidalgo's family moved east from Montebello to the county line area around Whittier and La Habra when she was young. The Orange County borderlands, she says. The journey took her down Whittier Boulevard, away from the more famous stretch of the boulevard in East Los Angeles. "No one sings songs or makes movies about my Whittier Boulevard," she writes in LA Taco. "There’s no mythology around the days of zoot suits, classic lowriders, and Chicano movement marches. That’s because my Whittier Boulevard is not in East L.A."

She writes in Ode to the Other Whittier Boulevard:

When I drive down Whittier Boulevard, I don’t see the same things Cheech Marin saw in the music video for his 1987 song, “Born in East L.A.” There’s no “Soto Street” or “Brooklyn Avenue” like he sings about. “City Terrace!” That’s where my mama’s from, before her family moved to Commerce and eventually, La Puente and Hacienda Heights, further east down the 60 freeway and over the hills — deep Eastern L.A.

In popular culture and our general L.A. Chicana/o-Latina/o imagery, Whittier Boulevard represents a sort of quintessential East L.A. Chicano nostalgia for back in the day, a popular statement used by many when referring to an era in time when cruising in custom cars defined social life on the historic thoroughfare.

The East L.A. band Thee Midniters paid homage to the famed boulevard in 1965 with their song, “Whittier Blvd.”... Thee Midniters open their instrumental track with the singer’s call to the listener — “Let’s take a trip down Whittier Boulevard!” — before mariachi-style gritos give way to a jovial melody of surfer-garage-rock guitars over Hammond organ-style mega chords played to the drum roll beat of jangly tambourines. It was classic Chicano music that became part of the soundtrack to the emerging movimiento.

Previously on LA Observed:
Chicano rock and the first Eastside
Enjoying 'Chicano Rock'
The Tamale lives on

Data on LA traffic
Nothing is simple about the causes for, and possible solutions to, traffic congestion in Los Angeles. But Crosstown Traffic, a new project at the USC Annenberg School for Journalism, is turning data into digestible bites to help people understand what's going on.

This graphic measures just the freeways but probably applies to cross-town street traffic as well: there are more cars on the road, so more traffic. Makes sense, with the economy improving and ridership down on Metro buses.


Also this: There are more traffic accidents on Friday. Of course, there may also be more cars and drivers out there on Fridays. This is using data for all of LA County, the site says.

Missing driver found in hospital
Joshua Thiede, the 29-year-old driver for Uber and Lyft who had been reported missing after making a 911 call downtown on Feb. 12, was located at Good Samaritan Hospital. His condition was not immediately known. City News Service

His 2014 Nissan Altima had been found on Monday in Koreatown.

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Talking Points stories on LA Observed:
Nate 'n Al's in play, sexual abuse of swimmers, cougar kills horse
Media notes: LA Weekly massacre, more bad men, LAT editor and Trump
Pacific News Service RIP. NY Times profiles a Nazi. Good reads.
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
Exits from the Daily News and LAT, mom dress code for Hollywood, more notes
Biggest Los Angeles brush fire was actually in 1938. And more.
Helping in Houston, new lion cubs, Garcetti's back
Garcetti has weekend date in the Hamptons