Monthly Archives: June 2009

Mourning the King of Pop (In their VERY special way)

Sometimes pictures speak much louder than words. This was certainly the case Friday night when German and I went down to Hollywood and Highland where fans had turned out in force to mourn Michael Jackson.

Breakdancers bust a move:

While watching the dancers, we turned around and witnessed this – possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen in the past year:

I also posted a few photos to Flickr – check them out here.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Uncategorized, Weirdness

LA vs. LV: Let’s get unreal

In April, German and I went to our first Zocalo Public Square lecture, drawn by this intriguing title: “Los Angeles vs. Las Vegas: Which is the Most Unreal City in America?”

I was interested in hearing what intellectuals who choose to live here think of this place, my new home, and German, a proud native Angeleno, was psyched for the mega-metropolis showdown. We weren’t disappointed and are now both officially huge fans of Zocalo. German left clamoring for LA vs. NYC, LA vs. Tokyo and maybe just go big with LA vs. the WORLD. According to them:

Zócalo Public Square is a non-profit organization that builds community by broadening access to civic discourse. We present smart ideas in an open, welcoming, non-partisan, multi-ethnic space.

The best part? Their lectures are FREE. That fits my budget perfectly. I’ll be sure to give them a big donation when I’m fantastically wealthy.

For the lecture we attended (at the Autry Museum, which is VERY cool and merits its own post), the organizers invited four guests who pontificated on how both of the cities basically completely ignore their natural environments, how great it will be to have a train from Anaheim to Las Vegas and all the usual downer topics endemic to southern CA: out-of-control growth, soaring home prices and a severe water shortage. My favorite guest was probably the former head of the defunct Las Vegas art museum who was HILARIOUS as she described how Las Vegas has no support for the visual arts (they do a little better on the performing side). She was an enthusiastic supporter of the train – after all, you can’t enjoy a cocktail when you’re behind the wheel of your car. Things aren’t looking so good right now however. Anyway, you can see the whole lecture here.

While you’re at it, check out upcoming lectures – Zocalo is in San Francisco too. You won’t be disappointed. Get your think on.

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Filed under Los Angeles


I remember it well – the day I received my 2003 recall ballot in the mail. Proud to be a Californian? Try amused. We were the laughing stock of the nation, but what did we care? We had great tans, great wine and great movie stars, none of whom appeared on that particular ballot.

I was going to school in Oregon at the time and my fellow students were very amused by my ballot which had listed among the candidates an exotic dancer, a sumo wrestler and Larry Flynt. Later that week, we’d catch an episode of Jay Leno featuring 90 of 135 of the gubernatorial candidates. They pretty much filled up the audience.

But then life went on, Microsoft Word learned to recognize and correct the name “Schwarzenegger” and we all sort of forgot about how our Governor used to be this sort of ridiculous movie star. Until…this Japanese commercial was brought to my attention:

Wait, there’s more.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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Filed under Sacramento, Uncategorized

California’s first legislature: The ones who started us down this road


When teenagers whine about having to learn history – “which is like, so, pointless,” the argument is often made that “Those cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it.” At closer scrutiny, this argument just simply doesn’t hold water.

Just to set the record straight, I’m a history major so obviously I think there is value to studying history. It teaches you to research, sort through a large body of evidence to get to the heart of the matter and to write clearly to make your argument. However, studying history does not make you Nostradamus. In fact, historians are the first ones to say that nothing they find out is truly applicable because history is just so darn complicated. Historians leave prediction to the social scientists the way a modern chemist might leave turning lead into gold to the alchemists with a cheery: “Have at it, but you’ll never get anywhere!”
Perhaps the lesson of history is summed up in another one of those proverbs we quote, but rarely consider:

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

…Whether the people involved studied history or not. Case in point –

I am currently reading Gold Rush Politics: California’s First Legislature, by Mary Jo Ignoffo. It’s a very entertaining account of how our first state constitution was written and how the state was formed by the “Legislature of a thousand drinks.” I was particularly struck by this section of the introduction which highlights some of the biggest mistakes the early legislators made:

Another major blunder was that none of the politicians entertained the possibility that the financial outlook for California might decline. The lawmakers became so enamoured of their newfound wealth, whether from gold mining, merchandising or their law professions, that they refused to contemplate a financial downturn. This combination of shortsighted planning and wishful thinking allowed them to borrow money at exorbitant interest rates to fund a treasury. California mounted a huge debt that first year, even before she was admitted to the Union.
The legislators perpetuated a “streets paved with gold” mythology about Gold Rush California. They declared there would be so much surplus wealth that taxpayers would be pleased to contribute their portion to state coffers. That rosy assumption would prove false, and Californians were not nearly so eager to pay taxes as Governor Peter Burnett and the legislators predicted.

Over 150 years later, we’re still in debt and legislators still think the streets are paved with gold. Is there a lesson there? Probably, but the people bravely leading us into the future certainly never looked back.

*Please note that Gold Rush Politics is one of a number of publications published by the Senate and available for free to Californians at the office of their respective legislators or by ordering here. You can also get a copy of the state and federal constitutions. Awesome!

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Filed under California history, Uncategorized