Commentary, Interviews, Issues, News, Politics »

Mixer: The word “genocide,” and its importance to Armenians

Posted April 24, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
friday mixer square

From Kim Kardashian to the Pope, the cause to recognize the Armenian genocide has gotten vocal support in recent weeks, leading up to today’s centennial anniversary.
Armenians point to solid evidence from historians that genocide, at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, indeed took place. But Turkey claims it was not genocide, only killings that took place during turmoil amid a relocation effort. The United States, a …

Commentary, Environment, Zocalo Public Square »

Let’s brag about California’s weather while we still can

Posted March 13, 2015 by | 3 Comments | ]
Photo by Tony Hisgett via Flickr/CC

One of the little joys of being Californian is the opportunity to taunt folks back East about their terrible winter weather. Hey, Boston, how does it feel to have been colonized by Eskimos?
But this winter, we seem to be overdoing it, sending out a blizzard of social media postings of palm trees and blue skies. It’s enough to make you wonder if all our …

Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

The town I loved, the protester I became

Posted February 3, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Phtoto by Danny Birchall/CC/Flickr

If you want a classic portrait of middle Americana in the middle of the 20th century, you had to look no farther than my hometown of Rialto, in inland Southern California, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
My youth on King and North Verde streets was about American kid stuff—baseball, bugs, riding my bike, my crush on a grammar school classmate named Katherine, playing John …

Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

On Route 66, a gas station is history worth saving

Posted February 2, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Photo by Vicente Villamón/CC/ Flickr

In 1964, my parents packed up our old Ford and took my brother and me on a cross-country trip from San Diego to Washington, D.C. and back. Part of our trip was along the famed Route 66. Even though I was only four years old, I still have vivid memories of that trip and watching the ever-changing countryside.
Route 66, dubbed the “Mother Road” by …

California Elections, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

When it comes to elections, LA is in a state of emergency

Posted January 28, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Los Angeles voter Amanda Sutton casts a ballot in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Photo by Avishay Artsy

 
Like a man who bangs his head against the wall to cure a headache, Los Angeles will hold more municipal elections this March. The certain result: another low-turnout embarrassment that draws the usual lamentations about how our democracy is in peril.
Enough crying. If California’s civic leaders are so sure that Los Angeles elections are democratic disasters, then why don’t they declare an official state …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

What Californians can learn from snow days

Posted January 27, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
snow-600x450

I’m sitting here in Maine having a snow day. I can only see about 30feet in front of my cabin; everything beyond is obscured by white frosty particles, which weather reports tell me are falling at the rate of two to four inches an hour. It’s quiet outside, except for the wind.
There are 985 closings in the state of Maine today, and the governor has …

Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

Think big, California!

Posted January 21, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
San Jacinto Mountains and San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm
Photo by Chuck Coker/CC/Flickr

In today’s California, we set big, ambitious goals for improving energy efficiency, fighting climate change, and, well, not much else.
Governor Jerry Brown’s inaugural address this month was a case in point. The governor again expressed his famous skepticism of big plans and big spending, then made an exception for energy and climate change, proposing three ambitious goals for the next 15 years: to derive …

Commentary, economy, Zocalo Public Square »

What is the ‘California Dream’?

Posted January 14, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
Venice Beach Sunset photo by Graham/Flickr/CC

Today’s California dream is not your grandfather’s California dream.
So why do we keep telling ourselves that we’re still seeking the same California dream? “California dream” has become a verbal tic in speeches, a graffiti we scrawl on signs and headlines without thinking about its meaning. Democrats and Republicans alike, as they assumed new offices this month, pledged to defend the supposedly enduring California dream. …

Commentary, Education, News, Zocalo Public Square »

Undocumented, and riding shotgun

Posted January 13, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Photo via Flickr/CC/Jared eberhardt

Up until my early 20s, I rode shotgun. With my high school and college sweetheart, I flipped through the soft sleeves of our shared CD binder in search of the right music. I double-checked our drive-through orders for extra ketchup. I pointed out the sights only I caught in time.
In 1991, my family left the Philippines for California, where my aunt had been living …

Commentary, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

Does pretending to be homeless make a politician better?

Posted January 12, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Screengrab: California gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari spent a week trying to learn what it's like to be homeless.

In the mythology of ancient Greece, Odysseus, King of Ithaca, disguises himself as a beggar to gain an advantage over his enemies. In Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” a relative masquerading as a vagabond helps shift the monarch’s sympathies toward the disadvantaged.
The past year marked a new trend in the electoral cycle: politicians “going native,” spending the night in homeless shelters or sleeping on the streets …

Commentary, News, Zocalo Public Square »

In California, sainthood is not for the saintly

Posted January 6, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
César Chávez visits colegio César Chávez in 1974 / Wikipedia

Let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to be not just a better Californian, but a truly great one. You seek to be a secular California saint, so revered that people put your name on parks and squares and schools. What should be your path?
As it happens, three of the best books I read last year were biographies of such secular California saints—the bestselling …

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

A better, cheaper Disneyland?

Posted December 16, 2014 by | 16 Comments | ]
Photo via Flickr by Glen Scarborough / Creative Commons

On Christmas Eve, it felt like the park was all ours.
When I was growing up in the 1980s, Disneyland was so reliably empty on the day before Christmas that my family often spent December 24 in the “Happiest Place on Earth.” We rode every attraction in the park. Tickets got more expensive each year, but they didn’t break the bank; in 1989, adult admissions …

Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

Why shutting down the freeway was the perfect way to protest Ferguson

Posted December 15, 2014 by | 3 Comments | ]
Photo by Craig Dietrich 
#HANDSUP! Justice for Ezell Ford and Solidarity With Ferguson

After grand juries in New York and Missouri failed to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men, protestors across the nation vented their outrage by shutting down roads. In our own freeway metropolis, marchers temporarily shut down the 110 and 101 freeways, blocking two of Los Angeles’ central arteries.
Why freeways? Why not buses, streetcars, parks, lunch counters, or other ordinary spaces that have …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

What ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ says about California

Posted December 3, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
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Sure, California has everything. But where would you find a murderous, Farsi-speaking, chador-wearing vampire riding her skateboard around an oil city?
Kern County, of course.
If a place could win an Academy Award for acting, I’d nominate Kern for an Oscar.
A young director named Ana Lily Amirpour—who grew up in Bakersfield, a child of Iranian immigrants—recently released a low-budget but critically acclaimed film, A Girl Walks …

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 …

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