LA Observed Notes: Bourdain's LA, Villaraigosa fades to black

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Anthony Bourdain's Los Angeles

bourdain-grab-cnn.jpgThe suicide in France of writer, CNN travel host and former NYC chef Anthony Bourdain has hit a lot of people hard, in the media and out. Here is the statement by Asia Argento, his partner and collaborator on some episodes in the CNN series "Parts Unknown." Chef Eric Ripert, a friend and frequent guest on Bourdain's shows for CNN, the Travel Channel and originally for New York Times Television, was with Bourdain shooting an episode in Alsace last week when the death occurred. Barack Obama, who appeared with Bourdain in Hanoi, also posted a tribute on Twitter.

Bourdain has done several episodes in Los Angeles through the years, always staying at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset, but venturing out to report on restaurants and food culture across the city. His suicide prompted written tributes by LA Times columnists Jonathan Gold and Carolina Miranda, and an op-ed piece by Gustavo Arellano that reveals how Bourdain had been a hero to Latinos in the food industry here. Arellano had been a guest in a recent Bourdain season.

His TV shows — “No Reservations,” “The Layover” and most recently “Parts Unknown” — were easy to enjoy. A whip-smart chef travels the world to eat with the gentry and rabble alike — what’s not to like? But he wasn’t a mere gastronomy tourist. His programs ultimately were about the dignity of humans. Bourdain tackled politics and culture and history and music with ease and genuine curiosity because his muse was working-class people and the food that they sweat over making and smile while eating. He broadcast their hopes and fears and joy with a depth and warmth that the mainstream media still really doesn’t bother to learn or seek out.

Bourdain understood his privilege and used it as a cudgel to force Americans to think about our role in the world. He was particularly unsparing to our hypocrisies on Latino immigration. He spoke throughout his career about how Latinos (since he was a New Yorker, specifically Ecuadoreans, Salvadorans and Mexicans from the state of Puebla) were his eternal compadres, because of their work ethic and hilarity and giving ways. Anyone who opposed more of them coming into the United States, he said, was simply deranged.

“Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do,” he wrote a couple of years ago. “In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what.”

Couple more: The writers at LA Taco, and a cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz. Here is Bourdain's 1999 piece in the New Yorker that became his breakthrough book "Kitchen Confidential."

There's six new short segments on the Parts Unknown website with Bourdain exploring parts of Los Angeles, including one with Carolina Miranda in the Westlake district. I can't see how to embed them here, but here's a
video piece for Eater from 2015 on his love of In-N-Out burgers.

Murray Fromson, 88

Murray Fromson, the longtime CBS News correspondent and retired USC Annenberg professor of journalism, died last week at age 88 after living with Alzheimer's Disease. Here is the Associated Press obit — Fromson was a former AP reporter — that ran in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. Sample:

He was a founding member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation and resources to protect the rights of journalists.

Tony Mauro, a U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for the National Law Journal and a member of the organization’s executive committee, said Fromson was critical in gathering other reporters to form the nonprofit.

“Back in 1969, Murray was one of the first journalists to see the need for our profession to formally challenge government officials who were seeking to interfere with our ability to do our jobs through subpoenas and gag orders,” he said. “We thank Murray for his role as a pioneer for press freedom and mourn his passing.”

Our columnist Bill Boyarsky, who also worked at AP and knew Murray well as friends here in Los Angeles, posted a nice tribute on his LA Observed blog.

End of the Villaraigosa era

There are still some final votes to count, including those that were delayed by the LA County registrar's screw-up affecting more than 100,000 registrations. None of it will matter to Antonio Villaraigosa. The former mayor finished third in the race for governor, behind both Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox. For all the work Villaraigosa put into running, and the money dumped in by charter school groups, that's not a strong showing. Villaraigosa didn't even win Los Angeles County — Newsom did, by 10 points. Villaraigosa barely finished ahead of Cox here.

LA Taco's Daniel Hernandez says there's warning signs for the Democrats in the primary numbers: "Cox beat Gavin Newsom pretty handily in Southern California on Tuesday, a ring of red around blue L.A. County. Cox won San Diego County, Orange County (by a lot), Ventura County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County. That’s troubling. These are all places that went fully for Hillary Clinton in 2016, less than two years ago. This is a huge red flag for Democrats."

Here's a nice LA Times infographic on the local vote breakdown, and an analysis by LAT Sacramento bureau chief John Myers on the quirky results in the 32nd Senate district, where voters contradicted themselves when presented with too many options.

BTW: Doug Kriegel, the former KNBC reporter, finished sixth in the race for state Board of Equalization district 3.

New police chief

Mayor Eric Garcetti's pick to be the next chief of the Los Angeles Police Department is Michel Moore, a veteran of the LAPD who was ranked first by four of the five police commissioners who evaluated the candidates. In a weekend piece reconstructing how Moore was chosen, the LA Times says that Garcetti got down to the deadline before deciding which candidate to offer the job. It was a key decision, choosing the successor to Chief Charlie Beck.

On Monday morning — the day of the expected announcement — Garcetti met with Beck at City Hall, hashing out the strengths of the three candidates in an hour-long conversation.

Beck, who promoted all three finalists to top positions in the LAPD, told The Times that he did not initially reveal his favorite to Garcetti. But partway into the mayor’s search, Beck recommended Moore as a reformer who has played a key role in the department’s major initiatives, from equipping officers with body cameras to training them how to reduce the use of deadly force.

Beck also thought Garcetti and Moore would get along.

“He has an unparalleled work ethic, an unparalleled breadth of experience with the LAPD. He’s super smart and very responsive to those he works with,” Beck said of Moore. “The mayor and he are definitely alike in that way.”

Beck, who retires June 27, talked to Frank Buckley for his KTLA interview podcast series. The new chief has to be approved by the City Council, but that seems likely to happen after some council showboating. Also this on Twitter:

Media notes

Tronc's Michael Ferro is "slow walking" the final steps needed to close Patrick Soon-Shiong’s deal to buy the LA Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, says Ken Doctor. Meanwhile, burn barrels have shown up in the LAT newsroom along with signs urging reporters to begin cleaning out their accumulated stuff. It's almost as if a move is coming — which it might be. No pressure. The rent is paid through June 30.... In Chicago, Tribune journalists have been saying goodbye to that newspaper's longtime home. Here's Rick Kogan, John Kass, Mary Schmich and Blair Kamin.

Fox News and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer announced that his cancer has returned and that doctors have told him he has just weeks to live. His piece in the Post. John Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, writes: "I’ve met many extraordinary people in my 57 years. Charles Krauthammer is without question the most extraordinary."

The Post produced an ambitious investigation of murder stats across the country, including in Los Angeles: "Out of 52,175 homicides in 50 cities over the past decade, 51 percent did not result in an arrest."

Politico reports on how President Trump's "filing system" is to simply rip up papers he is finished with. This violated federal law governing archives of all official business in the White House, so two people were assigned to tape his shredded documents back together for safekeeping.... Matt Murray was named editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, succeeding Gerard Baker, who came under fire for being too protective of Trump.... Katie Rogers, one of the White House correspondents for the New York Times, got a taste of the social media abuse that her colleague Maggie Haberman endures: "Today have experienced like .010% of the misogynistic, scary garbage @maggieNYT gets for every tweet and I honestly don't know how this amazing unicorn woman has not run screaming into the woods."

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal was sold to the paper's former publisher Richard Budman and Chris Budman.

Media people

Ann M. Simmons, the former LA Times foreign correspondent who has been working recently out of the DTLA office, has left the Times. She was one of the LAT staffers injured, along with Chris Kraul and Tracy Wilkinson, in a New Year's Eve bomb blast in Baghdad in 2003.... Gustavo Arellano in Alta on being suspended from Twitter for 12 hours... Michael Collins' EnviroReporter has been following for years the illegal dumping in the Valley's Browns Canyon by Wayne Fishback... Patt Morrison of the LAT will sign her book "Don't Stop the Presses! Truth, Justice, and the American Newspaper' and speak at an SPJ gathering Wednesday at the Association lounge on 6th Street downtown... "Welcome to LA" is a new KCRW podcast series hosted by David Weinberg... KFI news director Chris Little tweets: "I'd like to be considered for the job of LA County Registrar of Voters. I can be just as incompetent but I'll do it for $100,000 a year less."... Jim Boren, the former editor of the Fresno Bee, has been named the first executive director of the Institute for Media and Public Trust at Fresno State. "This will be a community/regional partnership in which we all will be working to increase media literacy and bridge the trust gap," he tweets.

In Hawaii, reporter Mileka Lincoln finally got a break from covering the Kilauea volcanic eruption.

Good news from the mountain lions study

When P-23 was killed earlier this year, scientists worried that her latest litter of cubs would not be able to survive. Turns out that a young female recently tagged in the Santa Monica Mountains is one of those cubs. Meet P-54.

Joni Mitchell and James Taylor visit backstage at the Bowl

Selected tweets

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