By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Levi Strauss spokesman Danny Kraus acknowledges that the company is not supporting the Watts Towers project, but adds that "people understand what this campaign is about and this is an artist’s image." "People" apparently doesn’t include the folks working tirelessly to save the Towers, who feel the ad, at the very least, creates confusion. They have a suggestion: Perhaps Levi Strauss should revise the billboard to read "restoration, rejuvenation . . . and cultural appropriation."—Sandra Hernandez L.A. TIMES GETS STINKO
If you’ve been thinking that the L.A. Timesstinks . . . well, it does. The New York Timesreported this week that in an effort to get workers to think "outside the box," a consultant to the hometown rag’s pending redesign passed around little boxes of shredded newspaper for employees to smell. The sniff-test result? The L.A. Timessmelled "a little sour," The New York Timesreported. Did Times Mirror really need a pricey consultant to reach this conclusion? The Timeshas an 80-person in-house redesign team working full tilt to recast the paper’s image, but we doubt that any amount of pentimento — or palimpsest, or perfume — will change that verdict.—Greg Goldin
HOTEL UNION SAFE — FOR NOW
The Miramar Sheraton, Santa Monica’s only union hotel, was sold this week, and the workers are safe — for now. Buyers Maritz, Wolff & Co. — whose other properties include the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and the Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore — promised to keep workers on at existing salaries at the historic beachfront property, which has been a union battleground for several years.
"It is an honor for me, on behalf of Maritz, Wolff, to extend this offer to you to continue working at the hotel with the same wage rates and benefits," Maritz executive vice president Matthew DiNapoli wrote in a letter delivered to workers Tuesday.
Local 814 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, which had fought decertification efforts by previous management at Fujita Corporation USA, were cautiously optimistic about the new regime, but warned that the real test will be whether Maritz adopts the union contract.
"We’re pleased that we pushed them to do what they did, but this is only the first step toward bringing this dispute to an end," said Kurt Petersen, lead organizer for Local 814. The strength of Maritz’s resolve may become clear soon, when the Santa Monica City Council considers a living-wage ordinance to raise salary scales for low-end workers such as hotel maids.
RAZOR-EDGED HUMOR AT FARMERS MARKET
Who says developers and mall-owners-to-be don’t have a sense of humor? Appearing this month at the corner of Third and Fairfax is the Farmers Market’s latest slogan: "Older IS Better." Make that a wicked sense of humor. By October, bulldozers will begin razing one part of the L.A. landmark, owned by one of the city’s richest and oldest families, descendants of the Gilmores, to make room for The Grove at Farmers Market, a 650,000-square-foot stucco-and-glass extravaganza that looks as if it was airlifted from Newport Beach’s Fashion Island. Although the market itself will not be touched, the demolition will knock out a number of local institutions, including a post office, Antique Alley, and Mortigan’s Nursery, which will be downsized at a less desirable address across the street. Apparently, older is better. Especially when the old can be turned to new — money, that is.—Greg Goldin