Wrap It Up 

Wednesday, Nov 11 1998
Photo: AP/Wide WorldOh the horror! Spouses in 90210 may soon come face to face with the dressings, stitches and bruising of their surgically enhanced loved ones, if the Beverly Hills city attorney has his way. Inspired by L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips' exposé on hotel detoxes of the rich and famous, the city attorney asked hostelries, including the tony Peninsula, to quit allowing substance-abuse treatment and tummy-tuck and face-lift convalescences on-site. Coming on the heels of the Halloween closure of Chantique, a cosmetic-surgery recovery facility at the Century Plaza Hotel, the notice appeared to be the death knell of a venerable Beverly Hills tradition. Chantique and Hidden Garden, another well-known post-op "hideaway," for years had offered limousine service, fresh flowers and Ralph Lauren linen to help residents recuperate from those pesky trips under the knife. Plastic surgeon Norman Leaf said he also referred patients to the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Beverly Hilton and the Beverly Wilshire. "Chantique had 20-plus beds, and many times it was difficult to get patients in there," Leaf said. "Many patients don't like the idea of going home and having the spouse or children see them with bandages in the first few days."

But are the après-op suites really on their way out? A spokeswoman for the Beverly Hills Hotel confirmed that managers had received the city attorney's notice, but said they would have "no comment." Several other hotels said they don't take doctor referrals, but can't stop cosmetic-surgery patients from booking rooms privately. "There certainly are people who come to hotels to recover on their own, and that's certainly none of our business," said Bill Doak, director of marketing at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Phew. We're relieved that those Brazil film fantasies of melting faces remain safely in the future - or at least in the hallways of swanky hotels where OffBeat rarely travels.

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Courting Opinion

For nearly a year now a coalition of Los Angeles groups has noisily lobbied City Council members for passage of economic sanctions aimed at punishing the despotic military government of Burma. Hoping to fuel their efforts, the coalition has pointed to other local governments that passed similar sanctions, including that of Massachusetts. That strategy appeared to be yielding some results, including at least public support for the sanctions from several council members.

But a federal court ruling last week in Massachusetts that rendered that state's sanctions unconstitutional has sparked concern here at home. Supporters of the sanctions are worried that some of the more easily swayed Los Angeles City Council members may now balk.

Chief Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that only the federal government can conduct foreign affairs, including imposing economic sanctions. But supporters of the L.A. "Free Burma" ordinance, which is expected to go before the City Council sometime next month, say Judge Tauro's constitutional interpretation won't stick.

"What this really boils down to is a municipality [and the municipality's taxpayers] deciding who it's going to give its money to," said the Burma Forum's Kevin Rudiger. Ordinance supporters are confident that the Massachusetts ruling will be overturned on appeal.

Radio Free L.A.

In its quest to make the radio airwaves safe for Alanis Morissette, Dr. Laura and deodorant commercials, the FCC busted pirate radio station KBLT early this month, seizing its transmitter and shutting down L.A.'s newest and most diverse music outlet.

KBLT is the brainchild of Paige Jarrett, a former San Francisco pirate broadcaster who once nurtured dreams of owning a radio station until she was told it carried a $20 million price tag. Instead, Jarrett hooked up with a pal who built a transmitter, antenna and cable.

Then, in November 1995, after moving to Los Angeles, she began broadcasting some of the funkiest and most interesting sounds around.

Before long, KBLT's list of DJs included local musicians such as Bob Forrest, Mike Watt and Keith Morris. The shows ranged from country to gospel to French pop, with all the DJs playing whatever they liked.

But all that came to a halt last Friday when Jarrett was checking on her transmitter, located in a remote area. The mistress of pirate radio bumped into two FCC agents, who said she could either give her name and pay a fine of $11,000 or forfeit the equipment and get a receipt. Jarrett was forced to give them her transmitter, and KBLT currently is no more.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

The stifling calm of the L.A. Times newsroom was broken Election Day morning by a rare outbreak of temper when Metro headliner Jim Newton blew a fuse over placement of one of his Charter Commission reports, gathered his files and quit on the spot. As Newton acknowledged in an interview, "I did in the moment quit and leave" - but not before flipping the bird at news honchos Bill Boyarsky, Leo Wolinsky and Roxanne Arnold.

Newton was back at work several days later, after a lunch with Times editor Michael Parks. It wasn't just the single story at issue, according to city-county bureau chief Tim Rutten, but the increasingly poor play Metro writers have received. The bureau was opened last year to much fanfare, but, Rutten said, "It's harder to get these stories on Page 1 than it was initially for us."

And no wonder. Despite a new emphasis on substantial reporting under Parks, the Times is still designed around soft features - on the front page, on the front of the Metro section, on the cover of Calendar - and the inside sections are shot through with froth. It's been building for years - and it'll take more than a tantrum to turn that around.

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