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The strange sounds – and history – of the theremin

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If there’s any instrument that gets misunderstood and under-appreciated in music, it’s the theremin.
Countless bands have employed the warbly, eerie-sounding electronic instrument, from The Pixies to the White Stripes. It was perhaps most famously used by The Beach Boys in “Good Vibrations.”
The theremin was created by a Russian physicist, Lev Sergeyevich Termen. He’s the main character in “Us Conductors”, the debut novel by Montreal-based …

economy, Education, Featured, Interviews, Issues, News, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

Mixer: The state of a border state, where Murrieta marks the spot

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This week, House Speaker John Boehner said it’ll be difficult to monetarily address the flow of undocumented kids across the U.S./Mexico border, until the 2008 law that allowed their travels to the aforementioned place is changed. Boehner said the anti-trafficking regulations that were put in place during the waning year of the Bush administration are being abused, and that he doesn’t foresee much progress …

economy, Featured, Issues, LA Noir, News, Politics, Silicon Beach »

Mixer: Reporting from a foreign land is tough – just ask a Brit in LA

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For people who are not familiar with Los Angeles – who aren’t from here, but have to report about the things happening around here, particularly from a media and business standpoint – our neighborhood can be a pretty daunting place.  
All the eccentricities, idiosyncrasies, and moving parts behind-the-scenes make for all kinds of drama fit for an epic Hollywood screenplay.
But in real life, Matthew …

Arts & Culture, Featured, Interviews »

Tom Schnabel remembers jazz musician Charlie Haden

A photo of Charlie Haden from 2008, by Tim Dickeson.

The jazz world is mourning today the death of a great musician. Bassist Charlie Haden passed away at the age of 77, after a long illness.
Haden – a three-time Grammy winner – was born in the Midwest, but came to LA in the 1950s, enrolling at Westlake College of Modern Music.
His music and performances touched on political themes at times, a mirror of the …

Arts & Culture, Environment, Headline, News »

An olfactory guide to Los Angeles

KCRW's Steve Chiotakis, left, takes a big whiff of East LA from a scent strip held by artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter.

What does your neighborhood smell like?
It’s not a question we ask ourselves often, and yet it’s something we notice every day. Is it the smell of sea air, freshly-cut grass, car exhaust, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, urine, or something else?
Los Angeles artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter posted a survey online and received dozens of responses. He used that information to create 11 scents that correspond to different …

California Elections, economy, Environment, Issues, LA Noir, News, Politics, The New Mayor »

Mixer: Tripping on sidewalks and all those pot shops

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A Los Angeles City Council committee has voted to conduct a pilot program to replace some problem sidewalks, with a material that’s a bit more resilient and porous.
Those are things like rubber, crushed asphalt, or decomposed granite.
Adrian Glick-Kudler, senior editor at Curbed LA, says the idea is that the more porous the material, the more water that material will allow to seep into groundwater …

California Elections, economy, Environment, Issues, LA Noir, News, Silicon Beach, The New Mayor »

Mixer: Smooth electric technology, bumpy LA roads

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Dave Zahniser reports for the Los Angeles Times. Alan Ohnsman is with the LA Bureau of Bloomberg News, who covers Tesla.
This week the LA City Council nixed their push for a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for more than 8,000 miles of much-needed street repairs.
City Council members Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino dropped their ballot measure proposal that would’ve raised the city sales tax rate to 9.5 …

California Elections, Interviews, Issues, LA Noir, News »

Mixer: Election recap and scathing LASD report

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Gene Maddaus is reporter for the LA Weekly, and Seema Mehta joined us from the LA Times to talk elections and Sheriff’s Department.
Last Tuesday was primary election day in California and a handful of other states across the country.
With candidates from both parties on the ballot, in a new, open primary.
Governor Brown won big in the gubernatorial contest… and he’s set to take on Republican …

California Elections, News, Politics »

Election Day: Money, Politics, and Policy

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On this day in California, we’re finding the connection between money and politics is as hazy and blurry as its ever been.
That money, for the most part, comes from fundraising. Although some candidates have their own cash and donate to their campaigns.
But a new non-partisan, non-profit website based out of Berkeley connects political donations with political action. And how all that money – billions …

California Elections, economy, Education, Environment, Issues, LA Noir, News, Politics »

Mixer: Isla Vista, one week later, and an election on the way

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Nick Welsh reports for the Santa Barbara Independent and Seema Mehta is with the Los Angeles Times. Both joined us this week for their perspectives.
Santa Barbara Sheriff’s deputies who conducted a welfare check on Elliot Rodger less than a month before his deadly rampage in Isla Vista knew of disturbing videos that he posted, but didn’t watch them after determining he was not a threat …

Featured, Interviews, News »

Isla Vista killer’s misogynistic rant spurs #YesAllWomen response

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As UC Santa Barbara students and members of the Isla Vista community continue to deal with the shock of Friday night’s stabbings and shootings, people on social media over the weekend started responding to the misogynistic messages in Elliot Rodger’s YouTube video and e-mailed manifesto.
In the video, he blames women for rejecting him.
A trending topic on Twitter became #YesAllWomen, in which women talked about …

Education, Headline, Interviews, News »

A student’s deadly rampage stuns Santa Barbara

Isla Vista murder victims. Top row from left to right: Weihan Wang, George Chen, Cheng Yuan Hong. Bottom row from left to right: Christopher Martinez, Katie Cooper, Veronika Weiss

Police say the 22-year-old who went on a killing rampage on and near the UC Santa Barbara campus was obsessed with exacting “retribution” for a lifetime of isolation he said he experienced.
Authorities say after Elliot Rodger killed three people in his apartment, he shot and killed three other people at random Friday, and injured 13 more with either gunshots or with his car.
Rodger’s parents …

economy, Issues, LA Noir, News, Politics, The New Mayor »

Mixer: Mistrial and Metro hike

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Laura Nelson from the Los Angeles Times and Fred Shuster from City News Service joined us this week.
The Metropolitan Transportation Board voted this week to increase bus and rail fares by 25 cents beginning in September.
Fares will go from $1.50 to $1.75. Passengers will be given two hours of free transfers.
It was a 12-1 vote. The dissenting vote was LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina, …

economy, Issues, LA Noir, Summer, water »

Mixer: LAPD Shooting and San Diego Wildfires

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Joel Rubin joined us from the Los Angeles Times, and Megan Burks from public radio KPBS in San Diego.
Two LAPD officers – Detective Humberto Tovar and Officer Bernard Romero – last year said a man approached their police car and shot through the back window, then escaped.
But an ensuing investigation found no bullet casings or other evidence to support that the alleged gunman fired a weapon. And a gunman was …

Headline, Interviews, Issues, LA Noir, Politics »

Mixer: County lockup and Clippers lockout

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Douglas Morino reports for the newly-created Los Angeles Register, and  Ben Bolch covers the NBA for the LA Times. They both joined us for this week’s Mixer.
The LA County Board of Supervisors, who voted this week to approve a nearly $2 billion plan to tear down and then rebuild Men’s Central Jail and build a campus-like women’s jail at the former Mira Loma Detention Center.
Central …

Arts & Culture, Featured, Interviews »

How to tell a fake laugh from a real one

Photo by y i v a via Flickr/CC.

Admit it: you’ve done it. You’re on a bad date, or maybe in an awkward job interview, and you HAVE to fake-laugh at a dumb joke someone told.
Luckily it’s hard to tell the difference between that and the real thing. But some people can tell.
Greg Bryant teaches Communication Studies at UCLA, and he’s done research to find the small nuances that differentiate phony chortles …

economy, Education, Headline, Issues, LA Noir, News, Politics, The New Mayor »

Mixer: Unions protect some jobs, while we watch others go

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Reporters Dakota Smith from the LA Daily News and Tim Logan from the Los Angeles Times joined us this week.
Los Angeles area labor leader Maria Elena Durazo is calling out the city’s pension fund investments in Walmart, saying pension boards should not invest in companies that pay their workers low wages.
May Day protests and demonstrations took place in downtown LA yesterday, as thousands of labor activists and immigration reform …

Headline, News »

Union Station turns 75, as rail transit revives

Union Station was the culmination of a long battle.

This Saturday May 3rd, Union Station celebrates its 75th birthday. And it does so as rail transit in LA undergoes a revival, with 75,000 people using the station daily, and a huge expansion being planned that may include a terminus for (the much-contested) high speed rail.
The building itself is now widely regarded as an architectural landmark, with its “Mission Moderne” Spanish-style exterior of white walls …

Headline, Issues, News, Power and Water, water »

DWP’s trusts remains mysterious

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The head of the largest Department of Water and Power union (Brian D’Arcy at IBEW Local 18) says he’s going to appeal a recent court order to turn over financial records for the Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute.
These non-profits have taken in about $40 million in ratepayer money collectively over the last ten years or longer. To be sure, it’s a story that’s been …

Arts & Culture, Headline, Interviews, News »

A day in the life of Los Angeles

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Professional filmmakers and aspiring documentarians are going to fan across Los Angeles County on Saturday to capture their visions of the city – what they love, and what could be improved.
It’s part of a day long event called One Day in LA.
The result will be turned into a three-part television program and website.
KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis discussed the project with Rory Mitchell and Kyle Ruddick, organizers …

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