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Last spring, I posted entries about the history of the "Inkwell" segregated beach front in Santa Monica and a search for Dorothy Parker's roots at the WGA. I've managed to combine my passions by inviting "Inkwell" historian Alison Jefferson to share her research at the first gathering of the Los Angeles chapter of the Dorothy Parker Society on Thursday, July 31st at 6:30 in the bar of the Casa Del Mar Hotel, 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405, (310) 581-5533
Ms. Jefferson's presentation covers the history of 'The Inkwell' -- the famously segregated beach of the '20s and '30s that existed directly beneath the windows of the present-day Casa del Mar. As chapter member Laura Picard recently noted, "Not much is known about the history of legalized segregation in Los Angeles, but it's an important part of our city's legacy -- and, moreover, an apt reminder for us of the "other" Dorothy Parker; not just the acerbic wit of the Algonquin, but also the champion of civil rights at the height of its unpopularity, and benefactress of the Martin Luther King Foundation and NAACP, to whom she willed her entire estate."
Along with all that seriousness, we'll also be keeping the spirit of the Round Table alive with as much wit and mayhem as we can provide, and libations the Casa del Mar can pour.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to attend the event or learn more about the Society.
WASHINGTON, JULY 26, 2008 : The Food and Drug Administration agreed yesterday to pay $12 million to settle a class action suit filed against it by Tomatoes et al, for wrongly naming the group a “fruit of interest” in a recent salmonella poisoning outbreak now focused on Mexican-grown jalapeno peppers. The amount is more than double the $5.85 million recently awarded to biological weapons specialist Steven Hatfill by the Justice Department after he agreed to drop a lawsuit he filed after John Ashcroft, then attorney general, named him a "person of interest" in the investigation of the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks.
The agreement, in which the government did not admit wrongdoing and claimed it was "just doing its job," put a quick end to a situation that threatened to spin quickly out of control after a meeting of the Heirloom Tomato Executive Bushel voted to authorize a strike that would have kept all varieties -- from roma to Beefmaster to Pink Ggirl, Better Boy, and Jet Star -- from returning to stores and canneries. “After what happened, our reputation was so impugned that we decided we’d rather die on the vine than be part of any salad or marinara sauce,” said spokesman Bob the Tomato, star of the Veggie Tales movie series. “Even now, I still can’t get my best friend Larry (the Cucumber) to return my calls."
Still, irreparable widespread damage to reputations has occurred. For example, one of the renowned “Killer Tomatoes” complained just last week that United Artists had suddenly squashed and put into turnaround The Killer Tomatoes Bite Back, the troupe’s long-anticipated comeback. "Such bad timing. We really needed the jobs. Some of us haven’t worked since our last sequel, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, in 1988. This was our shot at a new generation. Now, we're just fu**in' pureed.”
Attorney Bert Fieldhand, who has long (and unsuccessfully) argued that tomatoes are a vegetable, not a fruit, claimed his long-time clients' reputations had been thoroughly vindicated. "I don't want to throw rotten tomatoes, but I don't think anyone would believe that the FDA would . . . pay that kind of money unless they felt there was significant exposure at trial," he said.
The salmonella outbreak has thus far affected more than 1500 people across the country, and has caused a handful of deaths. The Minutemen, a private militia established to prevent Mexicans from illegally crossing our southern border, has agreed to add Jalapenos to its prevent list.
Bob The Tomato is now back at work, but, he says, "The way the other vegetables look at me . . . it’s creepy. Things will never be the same."
(Thanks to Carrie Johnson of the Boston Globe for the framework.)
I was sitting at the breakfast table yesterday, enjoying what is left of the LA Times, when I heard screaming outside my dining room window. At first I thought it was some rowdy teenaged girls walking down Guthrie Ave. (we get a lot of that), but as I listened I heard fear and eventually intelligible words emerged from the screams: "Help me! My purse! Help!!" I ran out front in my pajamas to see a woman running down the street after a pair of young girls who had snatched her purse and were fleeing on foot north up Stearns. Before I knew it I and a phalanx of other neighbors, drawn by her screams, had taken off up the street in hot pursuit of the two perps. The fastest among us was neighbor Scott, who steadily gained on the two girls. It was obvious Scott was about to catch them, so the girls stopped, turned and threw the purse at him with a huff of annoyance. He picked it up and they trotted off, turning the corner and disappearing. The whole exchange was so casual, for a moment I wondered whether I was actually witnessing a crime. Scott returned the bag to the victim, who had run out of steam halfway up the block and was catching her breath on neighbor Gabrielle's steps.
Grateful to have her bag returned, the woman explained that she walks through our neighborhood every morning to get to her job on La Cienega. This morning the girls had approached her outside my house, slapped her on the face and grabbed her purse so fast they broke the strap. The woman was frightened, but unhurt. A witness pulled up to the curb to offer help, but Gabrielle had already called the police and they were on their way.
The woman, clearly still shaken said, "I was so scared and I was screaming, but I didn't think anyone would come, and then you all did!"
"Well welcome to Faircrest Heights," I said, "where the neighbors kick ass."
On July 4, Stephan Koplowitz’s TaskForce dance company and guest artists Los Angeles Urban Rangers drew about 50 people to Carbon Beach for a 90-minute event, as part of TaskForce’s tour de force “Liquid Landscape” series, a week of terrific dance performances at water-themed sites throughout L.A., including the port, the California Plaza Watercourt, and the L.A. River.
Here’s a YouTube smidgen of what they were greeted with in Malibu (disclosure: my doppelganger is Ranger Jenny)—a “you scumbags!” and “go back to the valley!” tirade. What you don't see in this clip: the interference with the dancers, the uninvited Independence Day speech about extortion by the state, the footballs whizzing over people's heads, the constant challenges that the group was on private property, and the Greek chorus of unlovely comments (a printable example: “You are very sad people, you want what you can’t have”).
What was the group doing that provoked such agitation? Using the vast public tidelands and the abundant public easements on Carbon Beach. Marveling at the TaskForce dancers dancing. Learning from Rangers Ron, Nick, and Jenny how to use the beach legally and safely. Telling no lies. Making no statements. Provoking no conflicts. Interfering with none of the scores of people who own the houses next door, or their hundreds of guests, who were all using the same public lands. Being photographed (I'm told) by Nicole Richie, who with many other folks on the beach was in fact enjoying the dancers. Doing their best to ignore the screaming, illegal challenges, insults, misinformation, and physical interference and intimidation from so many other folks.
Just enjoying the public beach in Malibu, on a perfect July 4. Which, miraculously, they did. These are major public lands, so it's disturbing to have to preface the next sentence with "despite it all." But a wonderful time was had by all.
(For the record, if you’ve watched the clip: Ranger Jenny is actually middle-aged. You try looking like Malibu Barbie while wearing knee-length green shorts and a Ranger cap. And only her 13-year-old nephew Gabriel is allowed to call her “dude,” though he knows she greatly prefers “dudesse.”)
If you want a little help with how to enjoy the public lands on the Malibu coast, download the guide off the Rangers’ website. If you’d like to enjoy Carbon Beach (which is often friendlier), download the map of the dry-sand public easements (they’re on the majority of the properties) off the Coastal Commission website.
WASHINGTON D.C. JULY 23, 2008: According to a highly placed oil industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity, a recent discovery in the Arctic, reported today on Bloomberg.com, and a story from Reuters, supply the missing pieces to the puzzle that finally lays bare the reason behind the United States’ long-standing stubborn refusal to participate in the Kyoto Accords, as well as the current administration’s steadfast unwillingness to admit that global warming exists.
The Bloomberg.com article by Joe Carroll says that the “Arctic may hold 90 billion barrels of oil, more than all the known reserves of Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Mexico combined, and enough to supply U.S. demand for 12 years," according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
At the same time, the Reuters story suggests that, “The forecast comes as Russia is competing with Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States to grab a chunk of the huge energy resources in the Arctic, an area growing more accessible due to global warming melting the ice.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said the source, a member of Vice President Cheney’s still-secret Energy Task Force that met in the early days of the President’s first term. “Forget drilling in ANWAR and all this talk about lifting the offshore drilling ban. Those are just diversions. The plan all along has been to melt the ice in order to access the oil so we can tell those sand-worm bastards to go to hell once and for all. With any luck, the whole Arabian peninsula would sink like Atlantis. Wait ... forget the part about Atlantis. I'm, uh, not supposed to talk about that. Can we keep that off the record?"
When asked about how he could have gone along with a despicable plan more worthy of a James Bond nemesis than our Vice President, the source laughed and said, "You've got that backward. Besides, I think Dick's got his agent trying to get him an audition for the next Bond film. The question is will he be able to leave his safe-house in Dubai and go on location without a security detail to keep those goons from the World Court off his back."
One question remained to be answered. "I'm talking now because I thought Cheney meant the Antarctic. The way he mumbles and speaks out of one side of his mouth, it's hard to tell. Otherwise I’d never have bought that beachfront compound in Laguna. You can't believe what flood insurance costs these days. I'd have been better off buying a yacht."
"I just feel like hell about the whole thing," he added, stopping just short of an apology.
When told of the secret plot, energy experts said that the big question in days to come will be whether to keep the Escalades and the Expeditions up for sale, or to delete the Cars-For-Less ads and just wait for gas prices to drop. They also said that given the almost 20 cents plunge in less than two weeks -- and predictions of $3.50 a gallon gas by Labor Day -- a flurry of short-selling in oil futures and heavy investments in galoshes is expected.
Writer and blogger Veronique de Turenne, over at the Los Angeles Times blog L.A. Now, reports that the hitch looks to have more to do with a disagreement about sharing performance space with longtime neighbor L.A. Theatre Works, and not an outright loss of "the lease pertaining to its historic theater," as stated in the news release from "Friends of Beyond Baroque."
Prior to posting today's item here at LA Observed, yours truly attempted to confirm the veracity of the "Friends of Beyond Baroque" press release via e-mail with Fred Dewey, executive director of Beyond Baroque.
Dewey's initial response: "I am afraid it is true. It appears something has gone very badly awry ..."
This afternoon, however, Dewey followed with an e-mail emphasizing that the "press release was not from us, to be clear, but we will probably issue one shortly."
Surely this can't just be a matter of Beyond Baroque being selfish, can it?
Of course, there's no reason to expect Beyond Baroque to do anything less than dispense with the ambiguities and say it like it is. As a proponent of self-expression, Beyond Baroque will surely settle for nothing less than the plain truth. To do otherwise would make those who take the trouble to defend its good works feel ... um ... used.
Click to e-mail TJ Sullivan.
Here's the gist of it:
PRESS RELEASE JULY 22 2008
After a delay of four months since the unanimous passage of the Los Angeles City Council's Resolution of February 29, 2008 renewing Beyond Baroque's lease to all its current space at 681 Venice Blvd., for the next 25 years, the lease remains unsigned.
We have learned from sources inside City Hall that, contrary to the City Council Resolution of February 29, 2008, Beyond Baroque, a nationally recognized cultural institution based in Venice, may lose the part of the lease pertaining to its historic theater, the heart of its operations since 1979. Loss of the lease to its historic theater would cripple Beyond Baroque's control over its future and severely impair its capacity to represent and serve the community as it has for forty years.
We, representatives of the Friends of Beyond Baroque, call upon all people who care about Beyond Baroque to contact Councilman Bill Rosendahl [Snip ...] to urge him to uphold the Council Resolution awarding Beyond Baroque's lease to all its historic space and protect this precious Venice institution intact ...
*UPDATE: See updated post here.
Click to e-mail TJ Sullivan.
I've been saying good-bye to far too many things that I'd been looking forward to taking for granted.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles sold the Self Help Graphics building in East L.A. right out from under the non-profit. "Witchblade" comic-book creator, Michael Turner, passed away last week at the age of 37. I may not have been a great fan of his work, but, like every other geek, knew the story of how he broke into the comics business in 1993 after attending a Comic-con convention.
Yesterday, Kevin shared news that the Los Angeles Times may cut the Food section! How can they even contemplate such an act. If Mark Sarvas over at The Elegant Variation can suggest improvements for the Book Review section, then it is time to lobby for the Food section. The Food section is the last piece of my childhood left in this town. The powers that be canceled LA TV legend "Hobo Kelly," yanked TV horror host "Grimsley Presents" off the air in the late '70s, and closed Bungalow News in Pasadena.
If Mr. Zell and Co. trim the Food section, there will be hell to pay. Managers should never underestimate the Food section as it attracts an engaged and loyal readership. I recently cleaned out my mother's kitchen cabinets, which were stuffed with Food section clippings from as far back as the '60s. I know that she's not the only recipe obsessive in the Southland.
The food pages are one of the most interactive parts of the paper. Where will people find answers to culinary quandaries such as how to prepare dishes like the ones that they enjoy at places like Café des Artistes? The Food section was a blog before there was even an Internet. Without the Food section, how will consumers maintain a balance of power against celebrity chefs gone wild without restaurant reviews written by Good Cop, S. Irene Virbila, or Bad Cop, Leslie Brenner?
Sure, the the Pulitzer Prize nomination committee has yet to recognize LAT food reviewers, but who can really compete with the inimitable Jonathan Gold? That doesn't mean Angelenos don't love the Food section any less; indeed, in May the Association of Food Journalists awarded a prize to the section for Best Newspaper Food Section (Circulation 300,001 and over). Staffer Russ Parson also won the Best Newspaper Food Feature (Circulation 323,001 and over) prize for his piece on the squid fishery industry, "Lights, Nets, Action." And don't even think about yanking out the test kitchens. Test kitchen manager Noelle Carter and director Donna Deane are vital to the enterprise. Vital. Their crackerjack quality assurance department is the only thing that separates the Tribune Co. and its shareholders from the puking masses and their lawyers.
Once upon a time, the Times Mirror Company had a publishing company designed to publish the newspaper's best work. The Food section provided most, if not all, of the content for quality cookbooks like Betsy Balsley's Los Angeles Times California Cookbook or Rose Dosti's Dear S.O.S.: 30 Years of Recipe Requests to the Los Angeles Times . The Food Section can provide similar ancillary revenues in the future.
Contrary to East Coast misperceptions, Angelenos don't like change. It would be a shame to alienate one of the paper's remaining fan bases. If the LAT axes the Food Section, I just hope the top brass remembers that Food section fans also know how to wield cleavers.