There now is a flow of fresh cultural monuments in Los Angeles that runs from the High School of the Arts over to Disney Hall. This includes, of course, the 36-year-old Museum of Contemporary Art, with which billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad was once deeply involved, and which Broad’s new art museum now competes with. All of a 30-year sudden, we have a cultural downtown center, complete with a hinterland of new bars, stores, costly restos and so on.
Little is left of the downtown of 40 years ago – or of its scruffy arts bohemia. But that is the way of these things: Yupster egg joints are replacing the old Grand Central Market stalls that sold fruit for 20 cents a pound, new buildings arise on former parking lots where dead people sometimes turned up in the cars of those who worked overnight nearby.
The Broad museum (it’s officially called “The Broad”) looks like a mammoth white-enameled Claes Oldenburg version of a Sur La Table cheese grater.
“We’re not here because Mr. Kaplan helped us do better on standardized tests,” said one of the nearly one thousand students, former students, teachers, and friends gathered Sunday in the auditorium of Hamilton High School on Robertson to honor the beloved teacher Alan Kaplan who died August 29th.
Mr. Kaplan taught history and psychology in Hamilton’s Humanities Magnet program for 33 years. Through his teaching Kaplan was determined to do something about the achievement gap between white students and students of color. “He was devoted to helping students understand the process, the psychology and the history of racism in our country, believing it would be therapeutic,” said a colleague. Using “The Peoples’ History of the United States” by Howard Zinn as his history text, Kaplan’s lesson plans connected students to what was happening beyond the school walls. “He opened up the world to us” was how a former student,