Zombies have long provided both escapist fare as well as incisive social commentary. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) dealt with race relations in America, while his Dawn of the Dead (1978) addressed American consumerism. We’re currently going through another zombiessance, and while AMC’s The Walking Dead may not be Exhibit A, it may be the apotheosis of the current zombie moment. (Or at least it was in season one; don’t get me started on how disappointing this current season has been.)
The show examines how we (re-)build some semblance of a civilization in the wake of a horrifying event that has decimated the country. At its best, it’s filled with the tension that marks a bare struggle for survival; it never lets you forget that death (and worse) is ever-present.
In a recent episode (minor spoiler alert!),
People clutched their green, numbered tickets for what may have been the most coveted event at the Los Angeles Sports Arena this year. It was still in the early morning hours of Friday, October 21, 2011. The ticket holders were children, teens, parents with infants, students, middle-age folk and senior citizens from various ethnic backgrounds. Some people looked like they took the day off work or class; some looked like they may have underemployed or unemployed, and many may have been homeless. A music concert didn’t draw the 3,571 people from diverse backgrounds to the Los Angeles Sports Arena for four days. It was the chance for free medical care at CareNOW Los Angeles, organized by CareNow, a volunteer-based organization that provides medical services to underserved populations.
I had read about this event last year and was struck by two dueling emotions. On one hand I was deeply touched that doctors,
One of my weekend pleasures is a morning with the Sunday New York Times. I used to feel reading it was disloyal to my hometown, Los Angeles. But as the L.A. Times dramatically shrank and its reporting focus narrowed, I found that there was a lot of news I ended up knowing nothing about. The New York Times, whose heft hasn’t diminished, makes me feel smarter, broadens my world perspective, has editorials that don’t leave me fuming and, as an added bonus, helps me stay abreast of the well-heeled residents of New York– the ones who buy $4.5 million, 6,000 square-foot apartments on the 20th floor of Upper East Side historic buildings; who pass on $20,000 watches to their sons; and who are in the market for summer mansions in the Hamptons or rural Connecticut.
However on a recent weekend an ad in the Times Magazine made me feel that by enjoying the paper I was deserting the American people.
I’m not in the habit of critiquing economic analytical methods in obscure reports—really, I’m not—but there’s something about this one that grates. City Hall’s bending over backward to pander (or at least, they were) to the Occupy L.A. people outside its door, and at the same time considering a tax break that will potentially further devastate the city budget.
The report in question is an analysis by USC Accounting Professor Charles Swenson, and the tax break is the proposed elimination of the city’s business tax. Swenson argues that if the city does so, forgoing $424 million in revenues, it will actually generate 131,000 jobs and generate an additional $263 million above and beyond what the business tax now brings in.
How this happens—other than voodoo – is entirely unclear from the report. Swenson simply presents a series of tables with a series of assertions,
We all know that there’s a massive jobs crisis in our country, but there’s a real debate about how to address it. In Washington, many supposedly serious people suggest that we can create jobs through cutting taxes for corporations, dismantling what’s left of the safety net and rolling back regulations to 2008 standards — not exactly a banner year for job growth. With the Tea Party firmly in control of the House and with elections right around the corner, the mantra for many lawmakers has become “let the market do its magic.” The question for this segment of the Beltway crowd isn’t what government should do, but whether government should do anything at all.
Here in the real world, things are a little bit different. The Occupy movement, which locally has a tent encampment at L.A. City Hall, is a sign of the times. In neighborhoods around the country, and particularly in low-income communities of color like South L.A.,