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 Christine Pelisek
Standing at what will soon be his living-room window, park ranger Luke McJimpson surveys the rolling hills, streams and winding paths he has sworn to maintain and protect. But McJimpson isn’t in some mountain aerie, contemplating fires to quash or brush to clear. He is in South-Central Los Angeles, organizing nature trips for kids and teaching them about wild animals and bugs.
“Some of these kids haven’t seen anything outside of a dog,” said McJimpson.
McJimpson, his wife and two kids will move next month into a two-bedroom apartment located on the periphery of the new 8.5-acre Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park. He’s there at the request of residents, who wanted high security at their first-ever nature park. An 8-foot fence protects the 30-foot oak trees, transplanted from Ramona, California, and the 3,000 cubic yards of dirt, imported from Malibu. The former Department of Water and Power storage yard, named for the retired Los Angeles congressman, also has a stand of pecans and walnuts, a large avocado tree, an orange, tangerine and lemon orchard, and a 100-year-old cereus cactus.
“The community wanted it fenced,” said Joseph Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which developed the $5 million project. “It was a requirement. They wanted it to be a safe park.”
McJimpson was raised on 69th Street at Broadway Avenue, which makes him a good pick for the first park ranger assigned to the conservancy’s maiden foray into urban parks.
“Guns weren’t a big issue back then,” McJimpson recalled. “If someone wanted to start something, they used their fists. Nowadays, you have to watch out for bullets.” Slauson Recreation Center two blocks away is a hub for nighttime gang activity, he noted.
McJimpson prefers to focus on the good side of his job.
“It is nice to actually see the difference you are making in the community,” said McJimpson. Dozens of children from the neighborhood lined up Saturday for the weekly bus trip to the Santa Monica Mountains. “We had to turn kids away,” he smiled.
OMNIVOROUS BUSH REPORTAGE
As part of its honeymoon coverage of George W. Bush’s ascension to the White House, the Los Angeles Times last Sunday faithfully disseminated the suppurating spin oozing out of Pennsylvania Avenue. Bush the Sequel, the “self-styled ‘compassionate conservative’ . . . seems to be a man of his word,” reported Edwin Chen of the Times Washington bureau. “For three straight days, there by the new president’s side was none other than America’s longest serving Senate liberal: Edward M. Kennedy. The Massachusetts Democrat’s omnipotence,” Chen went on, “revealed several important traits about the 43rd president.”
Did Chen’s choice of the word “omnipotence” carry a coded message? Is he telling us that the selected one realizes the limits of his power — itself a sign of intelligence that may equal Chen’s multisyllabic vocabulary? Or has Edwin Chen solved the Dubya riddle? Is the least, and last, of the Kennedy clan the almighty puppeteer pulling Bush’s strings? Or did Chen intend to write “omnipresence,” as in ubiquitous, as in occasionally obsequious, as in fawning, as in the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of George W. Bush? Sadly, OffBeat is not omniscient.
W.’s MO-FO MOJO
“Type in ‘dumb motherfucker.’ You’ll get George Bush!” For much of the past week, OffBeat fielded calls and e-mails alerting us to this latest stupid pet trick on the Internet. The site, georgewbushstore.com, popped up as the first “hit” on the Google and Yahoo search engines if you typed “dumb mo-fo . . .” The store — purveyor of such president-elect trinkets as T-shirts, coffee cups and limited edition “Maker’s Mark” cigars (exploding, we hope) — denied that such language had ever appeared on its site or in its meta-tags. Hacker mischief, we thought. Wired.news, however, looked into the matter and determined that the renegade connection may have been forged inadvertently by HugeDisk online magazine. HugeDisk, a lighthearted satire on the Maxim-led √ľber-male magazine trend (slogan: “The Men’s Magazine So Manly It Sweats”), once published an article linking the words “dumb motherfucker” to the Bush store. “We at HugeDisk Men’s Magazine are proud to report that, although entirely unwittingly, we have done our part to cement Texas Governor George W. Bush’s on-line reputation as that of a ‘dumb motherfucker.’” Case closed, we thought — again.
But, no. Over the weekend, georgewbushstore.com declared the link an act of sabotage. “What happened was the result of a malicious act and we are pursuing remedies through the efforts of our staff and attorneys,” an irate message on the home screen stated. Turns out there is a problem with the HugeDisk hypothesis. The men’s rag appeared to have made only a single “dumb motherfucker” link. Google’s page-ranking protocol should have demanded multiple links before pushing Bush to head of the dumb-motherfucker class. Wired.newstotted the anomaly up to a Google technical snafu. Such mistakes have cropped up before, the classic case being keywords “Satan” and “evil” = Bill Gates. We’re still waiting for Dubya’s merchandising wizards to name a culprit. Yahoo and Google have removed the dumb motherfucker link. In the meantime, we prefer to think the whole thing was a tiny bit of karmic payback.