Ellen Alperstein page at LA Observed

Ellen Alperstein is an independent writer and editor. Her commentaries and essays have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and other metropolitan newspapers. She has been an independent reporter for several magazines and newspapers. A former travel journalist, she was the editor of several inflight magazines, including America West, for which she wrote a sports culture column. Until its dissolution in 2009, she was an editor for the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post news service. Email

A documentary film opening today in Los Angeles shows a community struggling to understand how a sex abuser terrorized its children and recast its storied college football identity.
Overheard at the 99¢ Only store.
The volume of campaign mailers and candidate phones calls is too much of a muchness.
California brown pelicans are no longer endangered, but they still fight to survive.
When the conversation turns to zombies, the buzz is all about bees.
Sex, lies and a little off the side at the Sit Still Salon
Los Angeles baked, but Baker was balmy.
The Sit Still salon appeals to a certain consumer market.
Members of the L.A. Zoo Safari Society needn't trek to Africa to pet an Angolan python.
When in Rome...
Unlike the south-facing beaches, the sand at Santa Monica was relatively undisturbed by the high-wave action courtesy Hurricane Marie. But lifeguards were on high alert.
Using a lottery to bribe people to vote is beneath our dignity.
Street parking in downtown Santa Monica is tough. Some drivers have an unfair advantage.
This month, two long-hidden demonstration sites reopen at the La Brea Tar Pits. LA is oilier than a hedge fund manager with a portfolio full of credit default swaps.
The digital medium is dangerous. Just ask the Los Angeles Times.
Noon hour, corner of Ashland and Second Street, Santa Monica. Two middle-aged males stand with their bikes. One is black, one is white with a gray-blond ponytail trailing out of his helmet.
Santa Monica welcomes cyclists, no matter what species you are.
Life is complicated, cognition is dissonant, choices abound. So just read the signs already.
The state controller is custodian of unclaimed property, and he'd really, really like to give it back.
It's a little late to call a foul against Donald Sterling. We're not shocked that Sterling is a racist; we're ashamed of our enabling hypocrisy.
Sometimes, roadside attractions render the journey the destination
The question 'how hot is it?' once again will be answered by the landmark thermometer in the desert town of Baker.
If you think the desert of Southern California is dead, you're not alive. Some photos from a recent trip.
The last thing you want in your town is terrorism, so the first thing you want is to be prepared.
A new zoo TV channel at Children's Hospital LA is part of the healing process.
Ferrari in love on a warm Valentine's Day.
For a zoological veterinarian, the range of patients spans aardvarks to zebras.
STOP CANCER supports innovative cancer researchers who are on the brink of better treatment, if not a cure.
Midway through the first quarter, Time Warner Cable's Super Bowl broadcast went black. As if that's a bad thing.
Most people visit the San Diego Safari Park to gawk at exotic animals. Its California condors aren't exotic, but they are endangered, and they're fortunate to have a posse of professionals to help them procreate.
Body parts are visible from the alley of Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, but it's not what you think.
Pelicans, dolphins and surfers ... it's Christmas morning at Santa Monica Bay.
The short films screened at the Nihilist International Film Festival are not soon to be major motion pictures.
At the fabled track, some people watch the races. We watch the barns.
In the Santa Monica Mountains, if you look you surely will see.
The Legislature is poised to pass a bill preventing professional athletes who play for out-of-state teams from filing workers' compensation claims in California. It would be a no-brainer if other actors performed responsibly.
Can you have fun at the Del Mar racetrack even if you can't tell a claimer from a classic? You bet.
The roots of standup comedy were planted in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Such a deal.
The fair in Costa Mesa requires traveling to another county where the food and local customs are exotic and edifying.
Congressman Henry Waxman held a community forum on gun violence and mental health at Santa Monica City Hall. The public was welcome, as long as it held its collective tongue.
Two guys with eponymous shamrocks on the wall at the doomed Tom Bergin's tavern were too far away to salvage the memorial to their youth before the wrecking ball arrived. What are friends for?
The Santa Monica College shootings and the NSA's mass surveillance should make clear that security requires controlling both the guns and the spies.
The Natural History Museum celebrates is centennial anniversary this weekend with an invitation for citizens to help its scientists demystify L.A.
Ricky Jay could conjure a taxi in the rain in the middle of a cornfield. A documentary film about the renowned illusionist doesn't explain how, and, really, would you want it any other way?
Why would you stand on a corner with a picket sign if you don't want people to hear your message?
New vocabulary from a robust community meeting about development in Santa Monica: "facade-omy."
Why visit Sea World when you can watch dolphins perform in your back yard?
If a blackbird doesn't steal your sandwich while you're in the pool, thank the master falconer whose birds of prey clear out the riffraff.
The documentary "Hava Nagila (The Movie)" celebrates a song everyone knows and wonders why.
A documentary film about Capt. Henry Morgan loses its way, like the privateer it features.
Selling the car closed the book on 70 years of driving. As Bette Davis said, "Old age ain't no place for sissies."
Endeavour's slow, middle-of-the-night commute made our hearts race.
October is spider season in L.A., and we're crawling with enthusiasm.
An innocent visit to a rural Nevada town introduced the writer to a singularly local tour.
When cable service was disrupted, my Olympic dream nearly came to an end.
Bo Slyapich loves his job. He's in pest control, and as a rattlesnake specialist, doesn't have a lot of competition.
In advance of Mother's Day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are on high alert for bad guys hiding in the flowers. Los Angeles is the number two port of entry for flowers imported during the Mother's Day season.
The L.A. County Natural History Museum looks forward to opening its public field site in time for the museum's centennial celebration next year. Here's an early glimpse inside the 3½ acres of fauna-hosting flora reclaimed from a parking lot in Exposition Park.
Some people can't spell, and everyone makes grammatical mistakes. But it's sad when a professional communicator doesn't care.
Sometimes you just have to raise your outdoor voice.
Warning: Watching the Denver Broncos is a hazard to your health.
Everybody has a story, and StoryCorps wants you to speak up.
There's information and there's news. Too often, their purveyors don't know the difference.
A new film about the Klitschko brothers, holders of all boxing federation heavyweight championship titles, tells a story more about humanity than conquest.
Some memories of the 9/11 attacks are decidedly small scale.
The midnight show on Santa Monica beach is a fishy little rom-com with a serious take-home message
Making new friends from really old fossils at the Natural History Museum's new Dinosaur Hall lets you tap your inner Allosaurus.
The wacky Fourth of July parade in Santa Monica nearly takes a tragic turn.
When public figures retire, the attention should be more about honoring success and less about how reluctant they are to leave.
The president gives the "birthers" a cookie. He should have sent them to bed without supper.
When it comes to sporting competition, expressive enthusiasm has devolved from the fantastic to the literal.
The Star Spangled Banner is always a featured player at sports events, and it's always on the losing side. Time for a makeover.
In 1790, the workers who counted people for the first U.S. census were federal marshals. Last week it was people like me.
The L.A. Times is promising readers great things for the New Year, so here's a glass-half-full toast to 2011
You can't help it, you have a crush on Zenyatta. Get in line.
Playing the also-ran sport of doubles tennis, a guy from India and a guy from Pakistan lose the match, win the world and set the standard for perspective and class.
You have many lovely qualities, Trader Joe, but you also exhibit a disturbing pattern of behavior, and you need to stop it.
Why would people oppose any marriage not their own, or even consider it their business to pass judgment on the rectitude of such a personal decision?
Citizen journalism is a wonderful addition to the collection and dissemination of news and community development, but it isn't going to replace the kinds of stories people need with regularity to expose civil servants gone wild.


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