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
Photo by Steven Mikulan
The Democratic National Convention (DNC) had its share of fashion statements, from the tennis-shoes-with-suits faux pas of the footsore delegates to the hood-and-bandanna chic of the Black Block. But leave it to the fashionistas at the LAPD to come up with the sine qua non of convention wear.
The black LAPD T-shirt, which was being peddled out of the scandal-pounded Rampart Divison last week, is emblazoned LA Summer Games 2000, the LAbeing an amalgam of the Dodgers’ linked-letters logo and the international anarchist symbol (a capital Ain a red circle). Underneath are the words Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles, CAand the dates (August 14–17).
On the back of the shirt, the words Discipline, Honor, Duty, Courage and Strengthform a semicircle. Below is a picture of a helmeted police officer shaped from words — what OffBeat’s elementary school teachers used to call a concrete poem (e.g., doggerel about a banana written in the shape of a banana). The helmet is made up of the names of LAPD divisions and stations — Newton, OCB, Central. Forming the head are the names of the other agencies that contributed to the extraordinary paramilitary buildup at the DNC — FBI, Secret Service, CHP. The body is shaped from the names of the protest groups — D2KLA, La Voz de Aztlan, the Ruckus Society. The creature is holding a picket sign reading “DNC 2000”; the handle says “50,000+,” the original estimate of how many protesters would show up for the Demos’ big do.
The curious mélange of design elements defies the easy analysis of earlier T-shirt designs that got the LAPD into trouble — e.g., the “Shootin’ Newton” skull paraphernalia and the “77th Street Eat Their Dead” slogan. But the overall impression one gathers is that the police are expropriating the activists’ own design sense and symbols to lampoon their culture — while celebrating mastery over them.
How OffBeat got ahold of the T-shirt is a story unto itself. One of our friends, Silver Lake voice-over actor Lisa Vacca, was at the Rage Against the Machine protest concert Monday night. While dodging rubber police bullets, she lost track of her cell phone. The next day, she went to the Rampart station to fill out a theft report. Surprisingly, she received a warm welcome.
“I was searched going in, but once in, I found everyone was high-spirited and really rather cordial,” Vacca recalled. A flirtatious policeman whom OffBeat will call Officer Friendly, in deference to his marital status, joked that he recognized Vacca from the demonstrations.
“I told him I was an undercover anarchist,” reported the blond actor. “He told me I looked very Hollywood and mentioned another officer who occasionally moonlights as an actor.”
As she filled out the report, Vacca overheard a Chippie whisper to Officer Friendly, “Two large.” Her interest piqued, she asked Officer Friendly, two what? He pulled out the LAPD shirt. Like the transplanted New Yorker she is, Vacca brashly asked for one of her own. Officer Friendly countered by proffering a shiny, red apple. But Snow White refused, and eventually walked away with not only a shirt but an invitation to go drinking with the cops at the Tiki Ti bar in Silver Lake.
Although Vacca didn’t make it to the Tiki Ti, she did wear her new T-shirt to the Hollywood Bowl, in her own little act of defiance to the police state–like conditions of the previous week. No one noticed, she reported.
The newly opened Valley leg of the Red Line subway is so successful, downtown commuters are circling like sharks to find an empty space in the North Hollywood station parking lot. But don’t expect to find a sympathetic ear in L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who told the L.A. Times the point is “not to encourage people to use their cars to get to the subway.”
Yaroslavsky thinks residents should take the bus to the station. This despite the fact that the station is surrounded by empty land where more parking could be built — and that, in successful public-transit-dependent cities, such as New York, suburban commuters always drive to their stops.
Zev, of course, is the same guy who sponsored a countywide initiative to halt further subway construction to other parts of the city, while allowing completion of the North Hollywood line in his own district. And Zev isn’t taking his own advice. The supervisor drives a ’99 Jeep Cherokee leased and paid for by the county. Yaroslavsky pays a nominal tax for personal use of the Cherokee, which is a great bargain, because in return the county pays $754 per month for the car lease and covers fuel, cleaning, insurance and maintenance besides.
Yaroslavsky spokesman Joel Bellman says his boss lives nowhere near a subway station. Because the supervisor’s district stretches from West Hollywood to the Ventura County line, “far beyond the reach of any rail or bus lines,” using the subway would be impractical, Bellman adds.
But Yaroslavsky’s Fairfax residence sits within three miles of three different subway stations that offer service to downtown, where meetings of both the Board of Supervisors and the public-transit authority (Zev is a board member) take place. Any number of bus lines run to the stations.