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Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

politics

Clear Channel Drops Bid for Digital Billboard

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Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 6:40 PM

Anti-billboard activists are breathing a sigh of relief. Yesterday, Clear Channel decided to withdraw its application to install a hyper-bright electronic billboard on Ventura Boulevard in Encino.

Clear Channel's attorney sent a letter to city planners withdrawing its application for a 14 foot by 48 foot Clear Channel digital billboard at 15826 W. Ventura Blvd. No reason was given in the letter.

Last year, Clear Channel applied for a permit to change the static billboard into a digital display. Planning Director Gail Goldberg approved the digital conversion. However, the planning department required that the digital images change no faster than once an hour.

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A downtown Los Angeles jury found 22-year-old Carla Mendez guilty of second-degree murder yesterday. Mendez was accused of killing a local snow-cone vendor who allegedly put an evil spell on her female lover Maria Gomez. Gomez was found guilty of first-degree murder in August of 2007.

Los Angeles Police Department Northeast Detectives found 43-year-old Norberto Castro’s battered body next to a Jetta on Allesandro Street in Silver Lake on July 13, 2005. Castro, a happy go lucky snow-cone vendor who pushed a cart around his Melrose Avenue neighborhood, was rushed to the hospital but died of his injuries soon afterwards.

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Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama undoubtedly thrilled, and probably somewhat shocked, gays and lesbians last night when he spoke this line during his nomination speech in Denver:

“I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination,” he told a nationally televised audience.

The line shouldn't have been surprising.

Obama_in_Denver.jpg

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in Denver, Colorado.

(photo courtesy of the DNC)

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Trials

Anand Jon Rape Trial Nears

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Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 3:14 PM

A semen-stained comforter, a tampon and a camera. These were some of the items listed on a Beverly Hills P.D. search warrant when officers raided fashion designer Anand Jon's pad in March, 2007. Later that year Jon was charged with a list of offenses more often associated with spring break at Lake Havasu than evenings on staid North Palm Drive: forcible rape, lewd acts upon a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual battery by restraint and attempted forcible oral copulation.

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Former “private eye to the stars” Anthony Pellicano and high-powered entertainment/corporate lawyer Terry Christensen were found guilty by a jury this morning of all four counts of the conspiracy and wiretapping that the men faced. For Pellicano this must seem now routine, having been convicted last May of 76 counts of racketeering and wiretapping involving a range of victims and cases. For first-time felon Christensen, though, it means the loss of his right to practice law in California, regardless of how much of his sentence’s potential 10 years in prison he actually serves.

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According to the Daily News, LA Unified Superintendent David Brewer gave one of his rousing speeches at the Los Angeles Convention Center yesterday, as he welcomed administrators back to school. The event didn't get too much press coverage, unfortunately, and maybe that's why the former Navy admiral gets away with saying certain stuff.

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By now you've seen Obama's speech and heard it sliced and diced ad nauseum. Or, maybe not. The news cycle seems to have shrunk from an already truncated 24-hours to about twelve as the morning talk shows focus on McCain's bizarre choice of Sarah Palin for running mate. Good judgment, John. It does raise an interesting question, though -- how the hell is Joe Biden supposed to fight such a lesser foe without looking like a bully?

Anyway, back to Obama's big night. I was privileged to be there. And I don't say privileged because I drank the cool aid of the cult of Obama. I say privileged because it was a truly significant moment and one I almost lost perspective on as the week wore on and all the chatter and over-analysis and phony instigation and extreme point missing (how do some of these people stay working) by the pundits combined with the political gamesmanship between the parties and within the Dems themselves threatened to smash the big picture into a million little pieces.

So, by the end of the week, exhausted from running through the streets for days and being fried in the high altitude, and done in by the ability of all of us to sometimes -- to paraphrase Obama -- make big things small, I was ready to raise the white flag. Not to mention I hate big crowds and football stadiums (especially if football is being played) and giant rock-show spectacles.

And much has has been made of the supposed rock-star trapping of the setting at outdoor Invesco Stadium and the supposed revivalist fervor/meets rock star aesthetic of Obama's campaign (I don't think Shepard Fairey's Maoist Obama iconography is helping) and I admit I almost fell for the cynical trap. Movements unsettle me. I'm not a joiner. Naked displays of hope and faith repel me. I'm a bleeding heart in a cynic's shell.

But all that went away when Obama took the stage before those 80,000 hopeful folks and I was immediately glad to be there. Sure, the crowd went crazy, and I had that sinking feeling I was going be put through an hour-long love in. But Obama himself was having none of it. After accepting a thunderous greeting, he immediately set about making it all right to be there.

He made it all right because beyond the politics and presentation of his speech, which he mastered deftly despite the huge scale to which they'd been raised, and beyond the symbolism of the moment, which was as historically momentous as can be, the thing Obama did best was bring it all back down to a human level. No one was overcome with the spirit. No one started speaking in tongues. Nobody rushed the stage to touch the messiah. Bill may "love it" and can even whip up a little hysteria, but Obama wasn't having it. As he said in so many words last night, shit's too serious for that nonsense.

Despite how huge the setting and how fevered the pitch, the first thing Obama did right last night was not walk on water. He didn't even try. Instead, he showed himself to be like you and me, a man. Just a man. A solid, smart, charismatic, compassionate man from modest origins who -- like I and I'd imagine you, too -- has had enough of this crap.

Neither godhead or even a figurehead, Obama was more like a guy you'd value as a friend or a colleague or teammate, who might inspire you to do better on all counts. Not to mention in a week that seemed to grow evermore infantile in its analytical babble and hype as it wore on, he also showed himself on that stage to be one of the few adults around. Worthy of trust. Even hope. And certainly leadership.

As far as the history of the moment, what's truly amazing about it (and boy did Chris Matthews miss this in his post-speech interview) and what makes it even more historic, is that the fact that Obama is African American seems beside the point. I mean it's fantastic and wonderful and overdue and everything else, but yet that's not the change that this election is about. It's weirdly becoming a footnote, a glorious one, but a footnote nonetheless. There are way bigger fish to fry -- and I suppose that in itself is a strange barometer of some kind of progress -- and the guy to fry them just happens to be black (And, really, really white, too. Did you see those shots of his maternal family? Yikes.)

Obama's great gift, and it may be the one that brings this thing home for him, is that while everything around him gets bigger and bigger, he stays himself.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Feuding Cops: Bratton vs. Parks

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Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 8:00 AM

There was never any doubt that Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton and City Council Member Bernard Parks were not the best of buds. Parks was ousted as Police Chief and Bratton was brought in, after all. However, who knew that the feuding between the two chiefs was more than a few digs during press conferences?

The Weekly recently snagged a couple of prime examples of their political divide. In a series of letters sent by Parks to the police commission in 2007, the city councilman asked the commission for help dealing with Bratton’s seeming refusal to keep Parks up to date on “critical public safety incidents” in his district.

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Whenever the accepted norms of society are changed, something unexpected always seems to pop up. With gay marriage in California, this truism of sorts is already starting to play out. According to a report in the Sacramento-based Capitol Weekly, the California Department of Corrections has now given the green light for gay prisoners to wed their same sex partners. The new policy is undoubtedly the kind of thing that few gays and lesbians foresaw when they were celebrating the legalization of same sex marriage back in May.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Election '08

Election '08: Raging Against The Scene

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Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 11:26 PM

As Bill Clinton took the stage at the Pepsi Center in Denver to douse the final flames of conflict between the Clinton and Obama camps, another tense showdown was reaching a climax in a fenced off area at the intersection of Speer Boulevard and Market Street, just beyond the scope of the eyes and TV cameras focused on the political theater inside the Democratic National Convention. There, in a bottlenecked and barricaded stretch of street, 50 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, dressed in full uniform, many displaying an impressive array of service medals, stared down an overwhelming deployment of police on foot, horseback and perched atop the raised platforms of massive SWAT vehicles. With guns, truncheons and tear gas pointed at them, one of the veterans took a microphone and told the police, "We don't want to hurt you and you don't want to hurt us."

Whether that would hold true seemed very much in doubt as the police reinforcements filled in and the veterans, backed by a huge crowd of demonstrators, refused to give ground or cave in to their demands that one of their leaders be allowed to read a letter addressed to Barack Obama and the convention from the podium. The letter demanded an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, full benefits to veterans regardless of the terms of their discharge, and war reparations to the people of Iraq.

As the tension mounted, a young man named Joseph Wise, who was not part of the demonstration and who appeared more likely to be swilling beer at frat party than participating in civil disobedience, was overcome by the spectacle of hundreds of riot-clad police lining up against peacefully demonstrating war vets.

"This is despicable. This is absolutely ridiculous, over the top, storm troopers here," said Wise, who revealed that he is in fact an accountant and not an anarchist.

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