How's that shopping mall apocalypse going? This was the men's department at Macy's in Eagle Rock Plaza at noon on Sunday. Photo by KPCC's John Rabe.
Here's our occasional roundup of news, notes and chatter. I took a week off from the notes post so I have only myself to blame: it's late and long. Between posts you can keep up with LA Observed on Twitter — join more than 25,000 followers.
Trump pays a visitFor the first time as president, Donald Trump is due to arrive Tuesday for a brief stay in California. He'll begin in the San Diego area to get his picture taken in front of prototypes of the border wall that he promised his voters, then he's coming north for a high-roller Beverly Hills-area Republican fundraiser. Locally, it will be a lot like when President Obama would come to town. No public appearances or engagement, just a traffic-slamming motorcade during the late afternoon rush hour, a couple of hours of schmoozing to collect some checks, then another traffic slam on the way out. When Obama gummed up LA traffic purely to raise money we called them ObamaJams. TrumpTrafic doesn't have the same ring. Nominations?
This first time with Trump, we know much less than we used to with Obama. We know who the official hosts are — Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, national finance chairman Todd Ricketts and deputy national finance chairman Elliott Broidy. — but we don't know where the actual event will be held. Tickets are $35,000 to start, and you could pay as much as $250,000 for a roundtable discussion and photo with Trump. About 90 guests are expected with the RNC estimating a take of about $5 million.
The LAPD has not yet been allowed to release any advance guidance on street closures. It appears that the fundraising event will be in Beverly Hills or nearby, so plan accordingly. Helicopter activity at Santa Monica Airport on Sunday suggests that the president will be flown from LAX (or SMO) to some Westside location then driven to the venue. On many Obama visits, the Secret Service used the lawn at Rancho Park as a landing zone and the traffic impact mostly affected Century City, Beverly Hills and, if the event was being held above Sunset, the Holmby Hills and Bel-Air areas. You usually can tell when LAPD cars and motorcycles begin stationing at intersections hours before any motorcade appears.
The Trump itinerary suggests that his next appearance is Wednesday in Missouri, so he may stay overnight — as Obama did sometimes. The Trump team's choice of hotel or private home for the president to bed down will be interesting to see. Obama moved between the Beverly Wilshire and a few other locations. If Trump does sleep over, that will put his exit into the Wednesday morning traffic calculation. Rain come make it all a little but more complicated, plus there is the threat of protests. One of the reasons the Trump team is keeping the locations secret seems to be about keeping protesters guessing. A number of groups want to fill streets near wherever Trump ends up, and a Monday evening rally in Beverly Hills attracted a crowd and Democratic candidates John Chiang and Kevin de Leon.
California's Democratic leaders don't plan to be seen with Trump, and even Republican candidates are being advised by their own handlers to keep their distance. Trump lost by so many votes in California it accounted for his entire loss in the national popular vote, and if anything his racist and anti-California rhetoric and strangely dishonest and confused behaviors as president have made him even less welcome here. No president since FDR has waited longer into his term to visit California than Trump.
The fundraisers will be light on Hollywood star power, says THR.
The LA Times' Noah Bierman has an analysis piece which concludes that "Trump's well-documented clashes with California owe plenty to politics, culture and personality. But at bottom, what drives the president's toxic relationship with the nation's most populous state is this: his near-obsessive desire to be seen as a winner." Before losing here by more than 4 million votes, Trump suffered several business reversals in California, including that time the city said no thanks to a Trump skyscraper at the Ambassador Hotel site on Wilshire Boulevard.
Also: Gustavo Arellano op-eds about Trump visiting Beverly Hills but not Orange County: he lost there too.
And: CALmatters has pulled together a list of all the lawsuits between California and the Trump Administration.
Christopher Hawthorne jumps to City HallThe longtime LA Times architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne, is leaving the newspaper and journalism to work for Mayor Eric Garcetti as "chief design officer" for City Hall. Hawthorne has been a cheerleader for the kind of richly urban metropolis that Garcetti likes to talk up, and has done his part to push that agenda while at the Times, but now he can help from the inside. "Beginning next month, I'll be working in the mayor's office to raise the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city — and the level of civic conversation about those subjects," Hawthorne wrote in a column announcing the move.
Though I'll be tackling a range of projects, my work will have a clear central focus: the public realm. It's a caricature to say that Los Angeles has never valued the design of its public spaces (or even worse, that it has none). It is true, however, that in the decades after World War II, Los Angeles — like many American cities — pursued a new and largely privatized kind of urbanism, dependent on both the freeway and the single-family house, while increasingly neglecting its public side.
That has changed in marked fashion over the last decade. Thanks not only to ballot and bond measures but also to shifts in how people live and get around the region, Los Angeles is re-embracing and reinvesting in its public spaces and arguably its very public-ness. Several of the major initiatives we've taxed ourselves to pay for over the last decade — to build transit lines, parks and housing for the formerly homeless — touch on or even promise to reshape the public realm.
In certain areas — the design of Metro stations or public schools, for instance — the city's role as architecture patron is indirect, relying on the power of persuasion as much as anything else. The fragmentation that has long characterized the political structure of Southern California has also been plain to see in the way we produce our public architecture.
Yet taken together, these various initiatives, along with the arrival of the Olympics in 2028, make up the biggest investment in what we might broadly call civic design that any American city has made in decades. And to a substantial degree, the money to build this new infrastructure, park space and housing is in hand or has been approved.
The question then is how to spend it.
Garcetti says in his statement: “We are investing billions in new infrastructure and public spaces that will transform how Angelenos and people from around the world experience our city. Anyone who’s familiar with Christopher’s work knows that his creative eye, and his understanding of urban design are unparalleled. I am proud to welcome him to my administration in this important new role.”
Hawthorne, by the way, doesn't directly address the ownership tumult that has roiled the Times ever since he joined the paper in 2004. Just this: "It's impossible to say for sure what a change in ownership will mean for this newspaper, but there's growing optimism in the newsroom for the first time in a while. I'll be rooting for everybody working here."
Hawthorne directed last week's quite good Artbound episode on KCET about LA's Frank Lloyd Wright houses, and spoke for 50+ minutes about the Getty for a podcast hosted by Jim Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust.
Gregg Casillas, 30, Pomona police officer and fatherOfficer Gregg Casillas was shot and killed responding on Friday night to a barricaded suspect scene in the city of Pomona. A second officer was wounded. The shooting suspect was arrested after a 15-hour standoff.
Casillas, who lived in Upland, was married and had two young children. He also is survived by his parents and two brothers. Casillas was just sworn in as an officer in September. He died on what was to be his last day of being accompanied by a training officer.
“Gregg is a hero. A man to look up to. He left his family at home to protect yours, and his ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Pomona Police Chief Michael Olivieri said in the SCNG papers.
"He was so excited," said Allison Campos, a jailer with the Pomona Police Department, in the LAT. "I've never met someone so eager to become a police officer."
There was a memorial vigil in Pomona on Sunday evening.
We are deeply moved by the love and support we have received from our law enforcement brothers and sisters, our community and people across the US during this difficult time. Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of our brother, Officer Gregg Casillas. pic.twitter.com/iCZph5DsvF— Pomona Police Dept. (@PomonaPD) March 11, 2018
Pastor Henry Alexander, of Shield of Faith Church in Pomona, prays at a vigil for fallen Pomona Police Officer Gregory Casillas in front of the Pomona Police Department. pic.twitter.com/SgEfls62S3— Genaro Molina (@GenaroMolina47) March 12, 2018
Media notesAs the Times turns: Patrick Soon-Shiong attended the recent Gridiron Club dinner in Washington with LA Times editors, so let's hope he's hearing some real-world advice about owning a newspaper. Good sign: He reportedly has sought out top editors such as Marty Baron of the Washington Post and Dean Baquet of the NYT for their thoughts on the Times, where both worked previously. Soon-Shiong's deal to acquire the Times, Hoy, some SoCal community newspapers and the San Diego Union-Tribune cleared federal regulators and now looks on track to close this month. Not a moment too soon: Tronc's stock value crashed after company officials gave an awful earnings report to Wall Street analysts. "In a single stunning trading session, Tronc lost almost a quarter of its market value, Ken Doctor writes at Newsonomics: What's The Sound Of A Tronc Crashing?. As if that wasn't bad enough, NPR's David Folkenflik revisited the career of former LA Times publisher Ross Levinsohn, a follow-up to Folkenflik's piece earlier this year on the suspect credentials of the people who ran the Times during its brief Tronc era. Funny enough, Tronc didn't mention Levinsohn's new role as master tech strategist in last week's disastrous financial call.
KTLA Channel 5's probable new owner, Sinclair Broadcasting, is requiring news anchors at its stations to read — in their own voices, during news blocs — canned editorials from national headquarters parroting Trump lines about national media pushing fake news and political agendas. Brian Stelter at CNN gets the real story... Speaking of KTLA, entertainment reporter Sam Rubin was in a London TV studio last week and ran into actress Teri Hatcher. They did a piece in which she refuted a tabloid story that she is broke, homeless and lives in a van in LA. Turns out she does do a video series from a 1978 VW van on the LA streets. Van Therapy
National Geographic's editor Susan Goldberg says in a note to readers that "for decades, our coverage was racist" and that it ends now... If you haven't seen it, the New York Times is also trying to repair its past failings by running obits it should have run on 15 women from the past, including Charlotte Bronte, Sylvia Plath, Henrietta Lacks, Ida B. Wells and Diane Arbus. Overlooked is now a regular feature of the NYT obits section. Aisha Khan, the former LA Times copy editor who is now a NYT news desk editor, wrote the belated obituary for Bollywood legend Madhubala.... Markos Moulitsas, the original liberal politics blogger at Daily Kos, is launching a public opinion research startup called Civiqs. It's said to have a base of nearly a million volunteer respondents. Kos lalso previously co-founded SBNation, the sports site that would become Vox Media. BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Ben Smith talks with him.
Random notes: Richard Deitsch, who writes about media for Sports Illustrated, is the latest print veteran to join The Athletic. The pay site is also ramping up in Southern California.... Meanwhile, former Dodgers owner Jamie McCourt is now Trump's ambassador to France — and she is tweeting in French. You cannot make this stuff up... The Wall Street Journal is advertising for the spot of West Coast bureau chief based in Los Angeles: "The editor will run the Journal’s Western front, a team of reporters and a sweeping area of coverage. Geographically, it is 14 states and four time zones from Texas to California, Hawaii and Alaska, too, with the promise of hurricanes and droughts, earthquakes, mudslides and tsunamis."... KCRW is looking for a "creative, collaborative, and well organized Video Content Producer to help us grow as we continue to evolve into a multi-platform media and culture hub..." More info... You can never tell for sure with the poorly designed LA Times website, but it appears that the Times has not published a news obituary since March 7.
New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote how for two months he "turned off my digital news notifications, unplugged from Twitter and other social networks, and subscribed to home delivery of three print newspapers — The Times, The Wall Street Journal and my local paper, The San Francisco Chronicle — plus a weekly newsmagazine, The Economist." He pronounced print the winner of his little experiment — then CJR pointed out he was tweeting the whole time, often about the news.
New books by LA journosThere has been a flurry of new books coming from writers in the local media community. I'm sure I'll miss some: let me know if you have a new book our or on the way. Robert Hilburn's new biography of Paul Simon comes in May. Here's a nice Kirkus Reviews piece for Paul Simon: The Life. From William Rempel is "The Gambler," his deep dive into the secretive world of deal maker Kirk Kerkorian. "I’ve written about other self-made billionaires, but those others were not so heroic," Rempel says.
Ben Fritz, who covers Hollywood for the Wall Street Journal, is out with "The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies" and says, "Once you understand the economic forces behind Hollywood, you understand why we get the movies that we do." LA Times entertainment reporter Amy Kaufman has written "Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure," which the NYT review calls "a fourth-wall-buster that details the frantic off-camera work that goes into making what’s on camera, whether blissful or traumatic, appear effortless." Nancie Clare, the former editor of the late Los Angeles Times Magazine and co-creator of the Speaking of Mysteries podcast, digs deep in The Battle for Beverly Hills, the story of the 1923 annexation fight that left the movie star city forever surrounded by the Los Angeles giant. "Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence" is the latest by advice columnist and writer Amy Alkon. "Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country," is by author and podcaster Steve Almond. "I wrote this new book because I felt I would go crazy if I didn’t."
A couple of notable books also from my friends at Angel City Press. After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame is Lynell George's collection of essays, photographs, profiles, and reportage on Los Angeles. And coming in April is "Los Angeles City Hall: An American Icon," by Stephen Gee.
Media people doing stuff
After 21 years at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, most of that time covering Pomona, Monica Rodriguez (above) "decided to pack it in," in the words of columnist David Allen. "Yet true to form, even on her last day, after the cake was gone and the goodbyes said, she was the last one here, writing until midnight, going home only because her computer access was locked."... Also, add veteran Susan Abram to the list of reporters who are no longer at the Daily News. "Now a wanderer hoping to become a finder," her Twitter bio says.... Up north, staffers at the Digital First Media papers publicly denounced “the ongoing destruction of our newsrooms” by Alden Global Capital, the investors believed to be behind the ruinous cost-cutting at papers of the Bay Area News Group and the SoCal News Group.
Mary Melton, the former top editor of Los Angeles Magazine and Emmis Publishing, announced on Monday that she will lead the editorial side of Majordomo Media, a new entertainment company (TV, podcasts, other) from chef David Chang and former Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich. "Life is chapters & my next one will be raucous—and delicious," Melton tweets. THR story.
KPCC investigative reporter Annie Gilbertson has been hatching Repeat, a serial podcast digging deep into what happened in 2011 when a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy shot a suspect who tried to run from the scene of a burglary.... Gustavo Arellano's weekly newsletter pokes at the topic of the New York Times getting Los Angeles wrong again (and again.) He focuses on the this weekend's travel piece in which the NYT writer is amazed that Angelenos have newly discovered bread, and on his insistence that the NY paper should never refer to LA liquor stores (even for NYC readers) as bodegas.... Jamil Smith is a new senior writer for Rolling Stone and in his first column takes on AG Jeff Sessions and his battle with California.... Dennis Romero on the LA Times op-ed page: Skateboarding, not surfing, should be California's official state sport.... Daniel Hernandez writes about the plight of LA media in a piece for Future of Cities LA.... Warren Olney observes for Zocalo that much has changed around the White House since he and a high school classmate urinated through the fence in the 1950s.... Andy Hermann contributes to NPR Music on the story of WWII Jewish folk songs rediscovered and brought back to life.... New York Times co-chief film critic Manohla Dargis teaches a course called "Thinking Critically About Film" as an adjunct faculty at Art Center in Pasadena.... Former LAT Column One editor Kari Howard has left the Nieman Foundation and moved to London as storytelling editor for Reuters.
Former NYT and LAT reporter (and Trump biographer) David Cay Johnston is the editor-in-chief of DC Report, " a unique, nonprofit news service that reports what the President and Congress DO, not what they SAY." Masthead includes former LATers David Crook (managing editor) and Terry Schwadron (NY editor).... Jerome Campbell has left the LA Times reporting staff to be a crime reporter at the Boston Globe.... Michael Aushenker is now staff reporter at San Fernando Valley Business Journal.... Becca Worby is joining Pacific Standard as an associate editor in late April.... P. Kim Bui, the USC Annenberg adjunct and former social media editor at KPCC, recently had her editor-at-large gig end at Now This. She's been having conversations: "In the past month or so, I’ve talked with at least three people about starting local sites in California. All conversations at some point bemoaned the fact that despite all the startup funding, there’s little journalism funding out West."... Naomi Seligman, the former Director of Communications for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, is co-founder of Tower26, "a full-service strategic communications and public affairs agency focused on maximizing social impact.a new the founding." Offices in Santa Monica and D.C.... Gretchen Parker McCartney, formerly the PR person for USC Annenberg, is now in media relations at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.... William Boyer, formerly the PIO for the city of Pasadena, has moved to director of communications and external relations for the Los Angeles Community College District.
Catching up to KCETMichael Riley quietly left last month as the head of KCETLink and joined a digital venture of Ellen DeGeneres as general manager. Hmm. As a veteran TV programming exec, he had been branded the last couple of years as a big part of the future at KCET. I missed this at the time, but in January Los Angeles investigative reporter Jeffrey Gottlieb reported for CJR that in the seven years since KCET broke away from PBS — just before "Downton Abbey" brought the network a legion of new viewers — "KCET’s great experiment with independence has largely flopped. Donations have plummeted. Financial records from [the most recent available year] put the company’s losses at more than $19 million on revenue of nearly $68 million." Riley doesn't come across well at all. In a farewell note to the station last month, Riley spun the positive view. He says in part:
We delivered on our mission to connect our communities to each other and to the world through innovative storytelling across all platforms. We made it a priority to green-light multi-platform programming that spotlights the rich diversity of our region and provides a window into our cultural history.
• Launching new series including City Rising, Migrant Kitchen, Tending the Wild
with the Autry Museum of the American West, LOST LA in partnership with
UnionBank and the Parsons Foundation and producing countless new episodes
of Artbound, Socal Connected and Earth Focus is just the beginning of our new
chapter as a content engine and innovative producer.
• We launched a record 140 hours of original content that has been recognized
with dozens of awards -- including 10 local Emmys last year – the most of any LA
• In addition to nods from our industry peers, we’ve seen our ratings continue to
rise year-over-year, most recently by a huge 25%— a significant achievement in
an environment where linear viewing continues to decline....
In the CJR piece, PBS SoCal boss Andrew Russell all but calls KCET's ratings claims bogus. "It’s not consistent with what we’ve seen,” he says. “We find KOCE ratings are consistently higher than KCET and that’s been true for years.”
Jonathan Gold for Funny or DieActor Jeff Goldblum goes to Ralphs, buys groceries and cooks up some pistou soup with Jonathan Gold, the LA Times food critic. "The finest thinker about food in the world," Goldblum says of Gold.
Taylor Swift dances around DTLAIn her new video, Swift prances around the Millennium Biltmore lobby, St. Vincent Court and the 7th Street Metro Station (and into a Metro train.) It ends with her at the Golden Gopher.
My dream to be published by the @NewYorker has finally come true! However, it's not quite what I had anticipated: I am a finalist this week for the cartoon caption contest! If you're so inclined, please vote for me: https://t.co/XnR3B1SwLy #NewYorker #cartoons #humor #Latinx pic.twitter.com/qrGWc6Pbv4— Daniel A. Olivas (@olivasdan) March 12, 2018
Whenever I hear Trump speak off the cuff, I can't decide if he's in denial, a huckster or simply a fool— David Lazarus (@Davidlaz) March 11, 2018
Next time your train service home is suspended and you're stuck sleeping at NYT, here's the definitive ranking of couches available to you. (photos @ByMattStevens) pic.twitter.com/4QMZlrr4In— Peter Blair (@pblairNYT) March 8, 2018
If by bullshit you mean the most wonderful & magical thing ever, then yes, I totally agree... https://t.co/F3ePIqpiSB— Jessica Levinson (@LevinsonJessica) March 12, 2018
With all these headlines, I just assumed Steel Tariffs was Stormy Daniel's co-star.— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) March 8, 2018
Boston Dynamics Robot Dog Slips on Banana Peel pic.twitter.com/Fq2C6xZyJT— 41 Strange (@41Strange) March 12, 2018