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When my parents started to work longer and longer hours to support their five kids, they sat me down and told me I had to start taking the bus to school. At 11 years old, this was the best news I could have imagined. Yes, I had to wake up at 6 am to get ready for school and catch the 212 and 33 bus lines, but that sense of independence I got from being able to “roam” around the city was priceless. (Well, almost…if you don’t include the price of a bus pass.) I learned to take the bus to Hollywood, the Montebello Mall, Santa Monica — places that seemed so far away from home in South LA.
It wasn’t always fun, of course: I have many memories of sitting at the La Brea/Venice bus bench for 45 minutes trying to catch the Line 212 after a long school day. I eventually learned to cope by reading a lot,
While the Frying Pan wholly endorses the goals and the ideals of the Occupy movement, there is considerable diversity of opinion here about how Occupy actually plays out on the streets, sidewalks and lawns across the country. Indeed, there’s quite a bit of diversity of opinion among supporters everywhere.
We worry that now — as cops in Oakland, Portland, Salt Lake City, and now New York move in on occupiers — the focus will shift from income inequality to the right to occupy. This is probably not a step forward for a movement which needs to think about its next steps as well as its end game.
Into this landscape comes a suggestion from Kalle Lasn, the founder of Adbusters and originator of the Occupy movement. He proposes that “it might be time for the protesters to “declare ‘victory’ ” and scale back the camps before winter sets in.”
First my boss at the suburban YMCA told me I was fired as a youth worker. Then he said he had been visited by a federal agent who told him I had an FBI file that was a file-drawer deep. It was 1968 Chicago, and the Democratic Convention was around the corner; parents were freaked that their teenagers would participate.
As good as Clint Eastwood’s new film, J. Edgar is, it neglects to portray the climate of fear that Hoover’s FBI historically created for ordinary American activists, particularly from the 1950s until his death in 1972. From visits to homes by suited men trying to “get information,” to intimations of “subversion” to employers, landlords and colleagues, the FBI wreaked havoc on the lives of thousands of law-abiding Americans in its single-minded campaign to weaken dissent within American society. As explained by Wikipedia,
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,
People in our apartment building don’t have to guess the shape of my and my wife’s politics. A weathered NO WAR sign stands in front of our doorway and on one wall there’s a flag with an image of planet Earth, taken from space, on a blue field that’s hung there since 9/11. Hard to miss. So I was taken aback when a three-page printout from an NPR interview was anonymously placed under our doormat. The interview was with a self-described “venture capitalist” and fellow at a libertarian think tank.
This promoter of Ayn Rand’s philosophy argued that it was venture capitalists like himself who create jobs, not government. Like most of Rand’s ideas this is about half right. Actually, in this case, a third right. Ernesto Sirolli, who has probably helped more depressed areas of the globe produce jobs than any community developer alive, says it takes three elements to start a business: someone passionate about a dream,
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,
A lot of people are talking about leadership these days. Different types of leaders. The need for visionary leadership. The excitement around new young leadership and ideas about when leadership begins.
In my case, I’ve been thinking about how to recruit and develop new leaders for over 30 years, even when I was a new leader. I’m 51 years old and co-founded the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE — the organization that sponsors this blog) in 1993; I have been the executive director ever since. I have recruited and developed hundreds of staff members for LAANE over the years, and many of these people have become some of the most inspirational leaders that I have ever known.
Which is why I have decided to step aside as LAANE’s executive director starting in February of next year.
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.,
The symptoms began only four days into my month-long paternity leave. First it was a vague craving, and before long it had crystallized into a very specific need: I just had to find out what was happening back at the office.
Yes, the miraculous newborn in the other room should have offered more than enough fulfillment. But I was jonesing for something not even she could provide.
The problem went way beyond my Crackberry. Truth is, I felt compelled to check work e-mail and even send more than a few to affirm that, beyond my new identity as a dad, I was still relevant — i.e., a loyal, productive employee.
You might be tempted to view my behavior as a bizarre idiosyncrasy (some truth there), or as a natural response to the conditions of my employment — decent wages, extremely generous benefits, flexible schedule, a congenial work environment.
But the fact is,
“Given the current economic climate,” read this afternoon’s press release from Funny Girl producer Bob Boyett, “many Broadway producing investors have found it impossible to maintain their standard level of financial commitment.”
In other words, the revival of the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill Broadway blockbuster that had starred Barbra Streisand in 1964, and gave us the song “People,” is dead — as far as Los Angeles is concerned. The new show, starring Six Feet Under‘s Lauren Ambrose as comedienne Fanny Brice, was to open in downtown L.A.’s Ahmanson Theater in January — the springboard to an April Broadway run.
Dream on, with this economy, though.
As the New York Times noted, “Pulling the plug on a previously announced Broadway production is rare, especially when (as in this case) theaters have been booked and actors cast.”
Though I deal with economic issues all day, I am not an economist and I have no formal economic training. That’s one of the reasons that I really like NPR’s Planet Money podcast. Yes, it has a little too much of a free-market bent for my tastes, but it does a very good job of explaining basic economic issues in lay language and, even more important, it is intellectually honest (which you can’t say about some key business media).
Planet Money recently aired a provocative episode called “Will economic growth destroy the planet?” Their jumping-off point was ostensibly the (purported) trade-off between economic and environmental health, but I found the real lesson in an important insight about how economists think and talk.
Let’s assume that we all agree that economic growth is a good thing. Almost every day, we see some headline or another touting the promise of a government policy or tax incentive or corporate investment to create jobs,
Energy efficiency building upgrades have been widely hailed as the low-hanging fruit of the clean energy sector, easy pickings for energy savings that can help jump-start the green economy through job creation and cost savings
But what IS an energy efficiency building upgrade (or retrofit, as it is sometimes called)?
Buildings are improved so that they use less energy and are more comfortable, but without requiring anyone to change their behavior. Think about it: with old, poorly insulated buildings, we are basically paying to heat or air-condition the outdoors. With inefficient heating, cooling, or lighting systems, we are doing something equivalent to burning a paycheck right next to our appliances.
Here’s how an energy efficiency building upgrade works: Typically, a building is first inspected by an energy “auditor” (a horrid word – having an “auditor” come in before a “retrofit” sounds like someone from the IRS is prepping you for a particularly nasty medical procedure – but those are the terms).
I have been photographing the Occupy camps since the inception of Occupy Los Angeles. I’ve spoken to many people and have thoroughly visited each layer of the emerging strata in the Occupy movement. I have seen it evolve.
On Day One it was as if the raucous levity of Venice Beach had been transplanted to Los Angeles City Hall. But within several days, the occupation had matured. People were tired. For even the most hardy, nights of sleeping on the ground in a not-so-private atmosphere and sharing a rancid pit toilet with hundreds of others is understandably wearing. What is this movement to become?
There is no mainstream media outlet objectively reporting the story. The pushing and pulling of the facts to fit readership deny the true story. Admittedly, I come from a bias of support for the movement. However, there can be no greater support for the movement than holding a great big mirror in the direction of its errant ways.
What does the 1970s feminist art movement have to do with Occupy Wall Street? Quite a bit, I found out when I recently attended Still Doin’ It: Fanning the Flames of the Woman’s Building, an exhibit and performance experience at the Otis College of Art that was part of the Pacific Standard Time project. That kaleidoscopic endeavor, sponsored by the Getty Museum, looks at Los Angeles art from 1945-1980 and takes place in museums and venues across Southern California over the next 12 months.
The early participants of the Woman’s Building, including founder Sheila Levrant de Bretteville and performance artist and Otis professor Suzanne Lacy, described the motivation that drove them to that institution in 1973. At that time women artists and their work were largely ignored by the established arts institutions, and emerging women artists found few opportunities for support or mentorship of their art.
If you’re not a subscriber, I guess you’ll have to pay for access to this recent New Yorker piece, but it is well worth it. Evan Osnos took a look at Japan and the Fukushima nuclear meltdown seven months after the terrible tsunami destroyed so many lives and very nearly killed many more.
This is compelling writing and reminds me of something I’d forgotten—hadn’t we all agreed that nuclear disaster was a real and legitimate fear again, and change was needed? What happened?
The article raises a theory that resonates. In a long section in the middle of the piece detailing the history of nuclear power in Japan, Osnos notes that post-Chernobyl Japanese officials actually became less safe and at the same time more assertive of the safety of nuclear power.
The idea was to defend the industry against attacks by distinguishing the practices in Japan from those in the USSR,
By now it’s obvious that Occupy Wall Street’s sophomore month is spawning a spin-off sideshow – a kind of reality TV moment in which conservative media apologists for the “one percent” alight from taxis and wade into crowds of protesters who are wearing hoodies and black bandanas. Into the belly of the collectivist beast, as it were. The pundits then vigorously articulate their grievances against the 20thCentury to the Occupiers and the merely curious who have gathered round.
The trail for these adventurers was blazed by Fox News eminence grise Geraldo Rivera, whose tumultuous forays into Ziccotti Park have made him a martyr to tax-paying “53 Percenters” from Montauk Point to Santa Clarita.
Last week Reason TV, an arm of the libertarian magazine Reason, produced a video in which radical free-marketeer Peter Schiff made a similar pilgrimage into the lion’s den.
Named one of UTNE Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World,” Dave Zirin is among the few journalists who approach sports from a progressive perspective. He’s a prolific author and commentator, and his writing for The Nation offers a welcome respite from the drone mentality of mainstream sports coverage.
Most recently, Zirin has co-authored The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World (Haymarket Books). The book revolves around Carlos’ black-gloved salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, an historic moment executed in conjunction with gold-medal winner Tommie Smith. With Zirin joining Carlos on an extensive book tour, the Frying Pan caught up with Zirin by email to ask about his book and what it’s like to write about sports for The Nation.
Frying Pan (David Davis): Why do the upraised black-gloved fists of Carlos and Smith still resonate more than 40 years after the 1968 Mexico City Olympics?
A Notch on Our Bedpost: NCAA “Non-Employees” Make Progress
Through their union, the National College Players Association, some players have been demanding reform, seeking modest changes in the ridiculous NCAA rules. Their list includes allowing schools to cover books and other expenses as part of scholarship offers (something non-sports scholarships can include), and allowing schools to offer multi-year scholarships, rather than have to renew each year—a rule that is particularly onerous, since if a player transfers, he generally must sit out a year.
Apparently the NCAP (and Taylor Branch and, of course, the Frying Pan) is making headway, because yesterday the NCAA announced several rule changes, addressing both of those points.
Hollywood’s luxurious W Hotel was struck and picketed early this morning by more than 100 union members. The housekeepers, bellmen and servers, who belong to Unite Here Local 11, walked off their jobs at 6 a.m. to protest what they say is management’s refusal to let them take scheduled breaks.
“We are on strike today to show the W Hollywood that we deserve the right to take breaks,” Mildred Velasquez, a W housekeeper, was quoted in a statement prepared by the union. “The W Hollywood Hotel needs to respect the limits of our bodies. Managers put too much pressure on us. I hurt my back deep cleaning-rooms at the W. Now I take prescription and over-the-counter pain medicine every day.”
When contacted by the Frying Pan, a management spokesman for the hotel, who requested anonymity, claimed no hotel employees were participating in the walkout.
The one-day action,