Arts & Culture, California Elections, Commentary, economy, Environment, Featured, 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, Featured »

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, Headline, 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, Headline, 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, Featured, 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, Featured »

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, Featured, 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, Featured, 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, Featured, 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, Headline, 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, Featured, 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 …

Commentary, Environment, Featured, Zocalo Public Square »

City government is the problem – not Sriracha

Posted December 3, 2013 by | 2 Comments | ]
Photo by tedeytan/ Flickr/CreativeCommons

Last week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered the Irwindale, California plant that produces the highly popular “rooster sauce” Sriracha to cease operations that could be emitting odors that are “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance.”
Too bad the judge didn’t apply the same logic to the city government of Irwindale and shut it down …

Commentary, Featured, Zocalo Public Square »

Donuts for votes, and other ways to get people to go to the polls

Posted December 3, 2013 by | 1 Comment | ]
Donut shop via Flickr by navets/ CreativeCommons

Until a change in the city charter 20 years ago, voters in some parts of Los Angeles were able to take stubs from their ballot, present them to local independent donut shops and receive a free dozen donuts, paid for by local Democrats.
Is it time to bring back donuts for votes? Certainly, the city is full of ideas in the wake of this year’s …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

Can art save lives?

Posted December 2, 2013 by | 2 Comments | ]
The Keiskamma Altarpiece, shown here at UCLA, is a powerful declaration of hope and solidarity in the fight against HIV/AIDS. (Photo courtesy http://makeartstopaids.org/ )

Twenty-five years ago, I was foraging through a museum bookstore and came upon an eye-catching title: “AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism.” The word “AIDS,” rendered on the cover in large font, seemed more than slightly dangerous in 1988, when so many lay sick and dying and there were no effective treatments on the horizon. Equally attention-grabbing was the book’s cover photograph of “Let the Record …

Commentary, Featured, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

Should LA be the capital of California, and would that end corruption?

Posted November 18, 2013 by | 0 Comments | ]
Sacramento Capitol Building at night. Photo via Flickr by Michael Dunn / Creative Commons

One thing that unites Americans, pretty much wherever they are from, is the conviction that their own state is singularly corrupt. Most states, if not all, have their harrowing stories of arrested governors or legislators, and local political folklore is filled with hair-raising corruption scandals. Just in the past few weeks, in California, State Senator Ron Calderon got stripped of all his legislative assignments, …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Featured, Headline, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

The saints of Skid Row

Posted October 30, 2013 by | 1 Comment | ]
Saintjulianghirlandaio_crop

A dozen years or so ago, I set out to find connections between the stories of 100 saints and the streets that bear their names here in Los Angeles, a city which itself is named for a saint. (Nuestra Señora de los Angeles, Our Lady of the Angels – that is, the Virgin Mary).
One thing I was fairly certain of at the outset: Nearly …

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

How disaster connects California

Posted October 24, 2013 by | 1 Comment | ]
Banner image: Edward Vielmetti

When I was a graduate student at Caltech in the 1960s, my boyfriend and I loved to take a spin up the cliff-hanging California Highway 39 that ascends in a 30-mile stretch from Azusa to the crest of the San Gabriel Mountains. Smog was a serious problem back then, but we’d go up on those wonderful days when the air was clear, the sky …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Featured »

Will you wear a smart watch?

Posted October 21, 2013 by | 20 Comments | ]
Samsung Smartwatch. Photo by Janitors via Flickr/ Creative Commons

The recent release of the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch has started a new wave of rumors about the much-anticipated iWatch, including the prediction by at least one research firm that Apple could sell as many as 10 million of the devices. But the history of wearable technology says otherwise—and in fact, I think anything attached to the wrist is more likely to fail …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Education, Featured, Zocalo Public Square »

Why LA’s kids should learn to hack iPads

Posted October 15, 2013 by | 0 Comments | ]
Photo via Flickr by Sean MacEntee / Creative Commons

Last year, 40 tablet computers were delivered to the children of two remote Ethiopian villages. The villagers were 100-percent illiterate—the kids had never seen road signs, product labels, or printed material of any kind. Technicians from the One Laptop Per Child program dropped off a stack of boxes, showed a couple of adults how to use the solar chargers, and then walked away. Within …

Commentary, Environment, Featured, Water and the Drought, Zocalo Public Square »

Can we fix LA’s water problem?

Posted October 11, 2013 by | 5 Comments | ]
Via Flickr by tico_24 / Creative Commons

As a nation, we dream of energy independence. But in Los Angeles, we wouldn’t dream of water independence. The growth and prosperity of our city has been largely defined by our ability to access large quantities of pure water. Our local groundwater resources, in this partial desert with Mediterranean weather, provide only 13 percent of what we need. State politics are now consumed with …

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