Arts & Culture, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

Generations come together at the Thanksgiving table

Posted November 25, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Photo: Ben Franske Wikipedia

I think back to the first Thanksgiving I spent with my infant daughter three years ago, which was also the last one I spent with my grandmother. The multigenerational gathering at my childhood home in Alhambra, mixing Chinese, Vietnamese, and American traditions, is not only etched in my memory, it’s immortalized in a digital photograph.
In the photo, my mom is holding my nearly 4-month-old …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Environment, Zocalo Public Square »

The true-life (insect) cannibals and murderers of LA

Posted November 13, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Pseudacteon amuletum. Photo credit: Phyllis Sun/ Natural History Museum of LA

As you get into your car in the parking lot of the Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake, you might just be within arm’s reach of cannibals. Not the human kind – but the insect variety.
Inside a wasp that is buzzing around a nearby bush dwells a bug known as the twisted wing parasite. These tiny insects are genetically close to flies and resemble nothing …

Commentary, News, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

Mexicans stand by their missing students

Posted November 12, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Photo by Elías Nahmías, a filmmaker based in Mexico City.

Forty three students from a small rural teachers’ college in Mexico’s mountainous southern backwater have jolted this nation out of its decade-long immunity to a proper outrage to mass violence, and threatened to hijack President Enrique Peña Nieto’s triumphant narrative that Mexico was back on track, destined for First Worldliness. These poor students did this, tragically, by disappearing, at the hands of local security …

Commentary, economy, Education, Issues, Zocalo Public Square »

The military drawdown means more vets will be looking for work at home

Posted November 11, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
2008 Vet Job Fair in Redford, MI sponsored by State of Michigan, Military Veterans Services (Photo via Debra Drummond/Flickr/CC)

As the military drawdown in Afghanistan continues, the United States will add an additional 80,000 veterans from the Army alone to the civilian workforce. This is on top of the normal annual rate of separations from military service. On this Veterans Day, let’s think about all of America’s soldiers who are receiving pink slips.
Members of the military receive rigorous training from a very selective …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, News, Zocalo Public Square »

Finding Martin Luther King, Jr. at the thrift store

Posted November 10, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
From right to left: G. Homer Durham, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, an unidentified participant, Rev. Louis Eaton and Msgr. Robert Donahoe at Goodwin Stadium, Arizona State University. Martin Luther King addressed an audience of 8,000 people on the topic "Religious Witness for Human Dignity."
June 3, 1964
Photo by: MRD #2, Monsignor Robert Donahoe Collection, Arizona Collection, Arizona State University Libraries

I have always been a picker. When I was a kid, this meant searching the desert near my home in Douglas, Arizona, for old bottles and interesting rocks. Later in life, after I moved to Phoenix, my collecting interest turned to record albums. My husband had gotten me interested in jazz, and I began haunting local thrift stores in search of old LPs featuring …

California Elections, Commentary, Issues, Politics, Race for Mayor, Zocalo Public Square »

Mixer: Pulling lever or pulling teeth?

Posted October 31, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
friday mixer square

Exercising is tough. Voting is (relatively) easy. So why don’t Americans work that out?
Judging by meager turnout, Americans aren’t the most engaged people when it comes to voting… especially in off-year elections.
For last year’s mayoral election in Los Angeles, only about 23 percent of voters turned out at the polls.
Americans over 18-years old and registered to vote, and who haven’t had that right taken away, have …

California Elections, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

How to get everyone to vote

Posted October 31, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
vote

I did not receive the warmest welcome from my colleagues four years ago, at my very first meeting of the Falun Election Commission. In fact, most members of the authority in Falun, the Swedish city of 57,000 where I live, were surprised I had called a meeting at all.
“What is this all about?” a colleague asked me. “The next elections are in four years …

Bad Driving, Commentary, economy, Environment, Interviews, Issues, LA Noir, Politics, The New Mayor, Zocalo Public Square »

Mixer: Is LA making traffic inroads?

Posted October 3, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
friday mixer square

I don’t know where you are right now… but if you’re reading this, chances are you’re close to a web page that will show a geographic freeway map of Los Angeles.
And the 10, 110, 101 or 405 may not be cooperating with your travel plans.
But is it getting better, or are Angelenos still languishing in congested ridiculousness, with no end in sight?
Laura J. Nelson …

California Elections, Commentary »

How do we put fewer Californians in prison? Other states are finding alternatives

Posted September 15, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Photo by Rennet Stowe/ CC/Flicrk

In 2009, overcrowding in California’s prisons had gotten so bad—140,000 inmates crammed into prisons built to house just 80,000—that federal judges ruled it violated prisoners’ civil rights. Under order to reduce the state’s prison population, Governor Brown introduced realignment in 2011, a plan to send nonviolent inmates to county jails and probation departments rather than prison.
This year, a federal court gave California two more …

Arts & Culture, California Elections, Commentary, economy, Environment, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

It’s not so easy to send a 5-year-old off to a California kindergarten

Posted August 27, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
Photo by Mrs.F /CC/Flickr

“Wait, Daddy,” you say.
You are 5, and you have your priorities. You are reassembling the wooden train tracks. You are building an airplane hangar out of MagnaTiles. You have a drawing you need to finish.
“Hurry up, Ben” I always say. Don’t you know that I have too many things to do? Don’t you know I need to put you to bed? Can’t you see …

Commentary, economy »

A new ‘Sputnik Moment’ for California?

Posted July 31, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Aboard battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy during Northern Fleet exercise in 2005 (Wikipedia)

Here are two words Californians should say to Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
California, with its historic reliance on defense-related industries, never quite recovered from the end of the Cold War. Today, Los Angeles has fewer jobs than it did in 1990. Fortunately, Putin seems intent on
giving us a new Cold War.
Let’s stipulate that Putin’s crushing of dissent at home, his seizing of the Crimea, his …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, News, Zocalo Public Square »

L.A. graffiti artists inspired by 400-year-old books (Photos)

Posted June 6, 2014 by | 5 Comments | ]
Foreground: wall at ESMoA’s “Scratch” exhibit curated by Defer, featuring Cryptik, Patrick Martinez, Saber, Prime, Big Sleepz, and Gajin Fujita. Background: wall curated by Eyeone, featuring Gorgs, Tanner, Kozem, and Swank
Courtesy Getty Research Institute

When Johnny Cash covered Nine Inch Nails, he revealed the beautiful dissonance of kindred spirits from two different worlds interpreting a single piece of art. “Scratch,” a new exhibition opening tomorrow at the ESMoA art laboratory in El Segundo, puts that same sensibility on display through the work of street artists inspired by rare books from the 15th to 18th centuries.
In 2012, art collector …

Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

Reflections on the Santa Monica College shooting, one year later

Posted June 6, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
SMC community members set up a memorial for those killed. (Photo: Avishay Artsy)

Terror arrived at my college a year ago this month. On June 7, 2013, a man, wielding a .223 caliber assault rifle and a handgun and strapped with 1,300 rounds of ammunition, killed his brother and father in Santa Monica and set their house ablaze. Then he commandeered a passing car, shot up a bus and sprayed bullets across an intersection, before ordering the …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Interviews, News, Politics »

Bill Maher on political satire and Twitter

Posted April 4, 2014 by | 2 Comments | ]
Bill Maher and the Twitter bird

These days, comedy and satire have few boundaries. And the vast echo-chamber of the internet has made any boundaries left, even blurrier. Where tasteful boundaries do exist, and are crossed, the blowback can be not-so-funny.
Take Stephen Colbert, who made a joke on his satire show – in his conservative persona – praising the owner of the Washington Redskins for creating a foundation about Native …

California Elections, Commentary »

Twitter reacts to the arrest of State Senator Leland Yee

Posted March 26, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
Leland_Yee

State Senator Leland Yee was arrested today on corruption charges. He was also a candidate for Secretary of State, but this likely ruins his chances at that office. His arrest was part of a major FBI operation in the Bay Area, which included the arrest of a Chinatown gangster. From the San Jose Mercury News:  
Federal law enforcement officials have been chasing Raymond “Shrimp …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, News, Politics, Sports »

Encountering Putin at the Sochi Olympics

Posted February 17, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Russian President Vladimir Putin enters the room.

Like many other big countries, the USA has a kind of sports embassy on the grounds of the Olympic Park in Sochi. Calling it an embassy is a little deceiving, though, as USA house is really a place to hang out, get free American-ish food (the Russian version of a quesadilla), drink Budweiser, and watch the feed of American Olympians competing. It feels like …

Commentary, Environment, Zocalo Public Square »

Fed to the lions: Marius the giraffe and conflicting zoo cultures

Posted February 14, 2014 by | 2 Comments | ]
Via Wikipedia: Copenhagen Zoo, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark.

A few years ago, I attended a biannual convention of zoo nutritionists in Oklahoma for the book I was writing. Hanging out one night at the hotel bar with a group from around the United States, we got to talking about a practice in some European zoos that sounded shocking. It was called carcass-feeding, and like most Americans, I had never heard of it. …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

Sweet, high art at the Museum of Donuts

Posted January 29, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
The museum of Donuts in Ontario.

I’m used to the reaction now: a snicker, a raised eyebrow, and a pause, as they wait for the punch line.  My husband, Jan, and I couldn’t possibly run something called the Museum of Donuts in Ontario, California, could we?
In fact, we could and we do.  We turn donuts into art and hang them from the walls on the downstairs floor of our apartment, …

California Elections, Commentary, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

Is it even possible to be an informed citizen?

Posted January 21, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
Photo via Flickr by Loco Steve/ CreativeCommons

To be an engaged, informed citizen in California is to be hopelessly behind in your reading.
We’re told that we need to follow the big issues in California, that we need to be informed about policy debates, and that policymakers want our feedback on major proposals.  It all sounds reasonable enough, until you see the homework. The governor stresses the importance of his budget, but …

Commentary, Environment, News, Video, Zocalo Public Square »

Remembering the Baldwin Hills Dam disaster

Posted December 13, 2013 by | 4 Comments | ]
Firemen escort flood victims in Baldwin Hills in the aftermath of the Baldwin Hills Dam disaster. They wade through the street using a safety rope. Photo dated: Dec. 15, 1963. 
Photography by Joe Rustan, courtesy: Los Angeles Public Library

 
My grandpa bought me a Honda 50 minibike for my 10th birthday. It was 1972, when the sight of a 10-year-old driving a motor bike raised few eyebrows, and I rode that Honda all over the Westside neighborhood where I lived at the time. I roared up and down the alley behind the UCLA married students’ housing on Sawtelle Boulevard and around the church …

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