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the skunks of los feliz
This sobering assessment of coming economic dislocation asks whether we can truly afford our Imperial perch astride the world.
Lessee here. Pakistan just happens to capture a "high value" Al-Qaida operative during the week of the Democratic Convention. And they just happen to announce said capture on the day of John Kerry's acceptance speech, even though this arrest occurred four days ago. Hmm.
The Fed's report on how a belief in Hell may affect a nation's economic well being raises some interesting questions. First, what the &*%$ is the Fed doing wasting taxpayer money on this kind of crap? Also unanswered: is there a corollary between a belief in purgatory and surfing the net at work when the boss isn't looking? And does a belief in heaven inspire corporate bigwigs to stop cheating on their taxes and focus less on the bottom line when it conflicts with the welfare of their workers, the better to cement their place on the right hand of God?
On the face of it (and this is purely talking out of my ass, which is clearly now acceptable practice), I'd have to answer my own questions thusly: dunno, maybe, and highly unlikely.
As for my own beliefs, if there is a Hell, my reservation was confirmed a long time ago. I guess I'll just have to find some other motivation for economic success. Greed, maybe?
The Silly String controversy, redux.
Seems I'm not the only one who prefers L.A. over the South. Ruby the elephant will soon be returning from exile in the sticks, where she has languished for more than a year. Who can blame her for wanting to head back to the coast? I've been to Knoxville, and unless you're a huge Vols fan, there ain't much to recommend it. Now, some may say her pachydermic figure is too zaftig for L.A., but I say big is beautiful. Welcome back, Ruby.
Welcome my friends, to the show that never ends. Yep, it's fire season in Southern California. Red Flag days, steamy nights, and hundreds of stucco and tile dream homes blowing away in a haze of ash and smoke. Simply the dark side to our sunny idyll along the sparkling Pacific, along with smog, earthquakes, traffic, a chronic shortage of affordable housing, growing economic disparity, crime, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But I still love L.A. Like other Angelenos, I cling grimly to the illusion (and sometime reality) of the easy-living, laid back way of life here. I'd rather be here than in some Rust Belt town filled with empty factories and broken beer bottles, or back home in the mosquito ridden, backward looking South. There's a vibrancy here that other parts of America just don't possess. Others obviously feel the same way. People vote with their feet, and the stampede West continues apace.
So let's trim back the undergrowth, hose down the roof, and enjoy our long, hot summer.

We would never pass along scurrilous, unconfirmed gossip. Never. However, with rumors circulating about Michael Jackson being in the family way again (quadruplets, no less), it seemed like an opportune time to peer into the future and enjoy this excerpt from Blanket Jackson's tell-all memoir of his childhood.

Who says that the LAPD, despite being chronically understaffed, is not out there taking a stand against threats to the public safety? Yes, silly string will no longer rear it's ugly head on the streets of our fair city, joining super soakers on the list of non-lethal toys deemed to be causes of violence, mayhem, and general public disorder. It also provides a convenient pretext for the next "out of policy" interaction between police and suspect: "I thought he was going for his silly string."
Ah, yes, nothing says Los Angeles like the drooping, Seussian silhouettes of towering palm trees, backlit against one of our trademark blood-red sunsets. Like rows of green-haired Sideshow Bobs, they line our streets, providing no shade, plunking our cars with rotten dates, and harboring nests of rats. And how we love them, anyway. We can hardly imagine L.A. without their statuesque presence.

But there's trouble in paradise. This disturbing article (Sorry it's an LA Times link. I try to avoid registration required sites, but you can do as I did and let the good people of BugMeNot help you gain entrance) suggests that the era of the palm tree in L.A. may be coming to a close, victim of Las Vegas' insatiable appetite for palms, disease, and (bane of us all) old age. Say it ain't so.
Okay, I believe that I am now officially paranoid. Yeah, I've been suffering from the most horrible delusion, a fever dream of political horror. It starts with a country under a constant state of fear, with leaders who stoke the worries of their anxious nation. As an election approaches these leaders warn that the amorphous, shadowy, enemies of the state are intent on disrupting the process. How they know this is not clear, since they openly admit they have no concrete evidence to support their claim. Some weeks later, in a brilliant example of circular logic, they announce that they are exploring ways to delay the election in order to prevent the election from being disrupted.

Of course, shortly before the election, there is an incident, perhaps not a full-blown attack, but at the very least the revelation of a purported "large scale attack". In the heat of the ensuing hysteria, the National Guard is mobilized to guard polling places. Citizens must present their papers to gain access to polls, polls that are now paper-less electronic devices, with no worrisome paper trails. At any time during the process, it can be paused for national security reasons, to be picked up at some later, "safer" date. And, at the end of this long, complicated process, a confused and uncertain electorate is ready to accept the results of the election, no matter how tainted they may be.

At this point in the maddening machinations of my twisted psyche, I come to my senses, secure in the fact that this could not really happen. This plot would be surely be unraveled by our unbiased, independent media. Our engaged, intelligent electorate would see through such a transparent coup attempt, and would never stand for it. The military would never be complicit in such a subversion of the constitution. Besides, I think, why would they go to all that trouble? All they really have to do is have the Pakistanis produce OBL sometime in late October, and they'll coast right in. Of course, it's paranoid to think that they already have him in custody, and are waiting for the right moment to make it known. Isn't it?
First a mountain lion moves into Griffith Park. Now, mosquitoes bearing the West Nile virus have made the scrubby slopes of Colonel Griffith's urban oasis their home. My twilight hikes are becoming less and less appealing. Maybe Off! wards off cougars as well as mosquitoes. Or maybe I should just confine my evening constitutionals to walks around the block. That's safe, right?
Despite mixed ridership figures on the existing stretch of the Gold Line, the MTA is set to forge ahead with an extension to East Los Angeles, and the Foothill communities are now trying to build support for a Pasadena-Montclair spur. Concurrently, the MTA (or Metro, as it has rebranded itself) is completing the Final EIS/EIR on the Expo line, which, when completed over two phases, will stretch from Downtown to Santa Monica via the Mid-City/Culver City corridor.

That's a lot of exciting activity to be sure, and I'm as a big a transit geek as anybody. Ditto for Downtown revitalization. Both are absolutely necessary for L.A.'s continued viability as a living, vibrant city. But is the best use of the MTA's (excuse me, Metro's) scarce resources a continued expansion of fixed rail that will, in all honestly, serve Downtown power suit types over, for instance, the poor schmucks who fight the 405 from the Valley to the Westside every working day of their lives?

Most people don't work Downtown, and most people never will. Most people don't live Downtown, regardless of the loft boom currently eating up vacant square footage down there. Yet Downtown is better served by rail than any other city neighborhood, by far. You can't take a train to Dodger Stadium. You can't take a train to the airport, or to the beach, or the Getty Center, but you can certainly take a train to Disney Hall. Except, of course, you're not going to take a train Downtown at night, then walk 5 deserted blocks in a tux to see a Verdi opera.

A modest proposal: put the train lines where the people are, and build them to places they want to go.
I'm back from vacation and fully recovered from hot dog induced catatonia. Fully enjoyed the break, aside from awakening on Sunday (after a long Saturday night at Boardner's and the Electric Lotus) just in time to witness Ralph Nader's disturbing, one-glazed-eye-blinking performance on Meet the Press. Nice to know he's so concerned with Michael Moore's weight problem, and so unconcerned with the GOP backed efforts to get him on the ballot in key battleground states.

Also: C. Montgomery Burns and Dick Cheney - Separated at Birth?


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