Shoving 850 digital billboards down LA's throat | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Shoving 850 digital billboards down LA's throat

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Wed, Oct 8, 2008 at 2:49 PM

We're thrilled to see Steve Lopez skewering the blazing, flashing, crass digital billboard clutter now sweeping L.A. while billboard-industry financed, highly conflicted members of the City Council, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo let it all happen.

Lopez has joined the tide unleashed by the Weekly's Christine Pelisek in her seminal investigative story about the tiny, anti-billboard Davids fighting the incredibly greedy big-advertising Goliaths in her April LA Weekly cover story, "Billboards Gone Wild: 4,000 Illegal Billboards Choke L.A.'s Neighborhoods."

Now, KCET will join the fray on Thursday night, so tune in to get an eyeful of the sea of illegal billboards -- 4,000 of them -- that have turned L.A. into the "illegal billboard capitol of the world."

We hear that KCET, not exactly a hard-hitting outfit, will give free editorial time to a journalist who supports EVEN MORE clutter, Sam Kaplan. Kaplan says Angelenos should accept "obnoxious" bright lights because it makes L.A. more like Manhattan.

Anti-billboard activists believe that these avid pushers of billboard clutter — Villaraigosa, Delgadillo, Eric Garcetti and their ilk— desperately wish L.A. was like Manhattan, a form of male penis envy that rejects the suburban-like city where they have chosen to live.

Here's a taste of that attitude, in Sam Hall Kaplan's theorizing about why Angelenos should accept the clutter and proliferation.

Kaplan writes:

"With hardly a murmur of protest, the City Council last fall approved several new flashing electronic signs for the L.A. Central hotel and condominium complex edging Nokia Plaza across from Staples Center.

"What seems to have stirred the armchair commentators and critics most about the proposal for the Concerto were some remarks by Astani, who when seeking the project's approval was extensively quoted as being inspired by select scenes from the classic sci-fi film Blade Runner.

"While he was referring to the technology itself, the critics instead harped on how, in the film, the technology painted a hellish view of a depressing Los Angeles bombarded by incessant airborne advertising. They argue that approving the proposal would just open the door to more overblown billboards and in-your-face promotions.

"I, too, worry about the future of Los Angeles. But I also love the bright lights and engaging scenes of a spirited city, even if at times obnoxious.

"My prejudice is deep-seated, having actually contributed to these electronic distractions as a neophyte news editor for The New York Times. Among my responsibilities nearly 50 years ago was writing the bursts of headlines that scrolled 24/7 across the face of the historic Times Square Tower in midtown Manhattan."

Hello Encino, Venice, Boyle Heights, Studio City, Rancho Park, Museum District, Silver Lake, Lincoln Heights, Westwood, et al?

If you want to stop this mess, the crowd to join is with the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight at cbbbla [at] verizon.net.

Virtually every sector of the city is now quietly being hit with a massive digital billboard onslaught. Dozens of digital billboards are already flashing — I counted four huge, distracting, overwhelming ones on a short stretch of La Brea Avenue the other day — and hundreds more are coming.

The Los Angeles City Council has already approved every single one of these billboards. With the exception of Jack Weiss, most of the 15 council members are playing ignorant or blaming the City Attorney for twisting their arms to vote "yes."

Not so fast. If you want to see the real culprits, watch the Los Angeles City Council on TV on October 16, as its finger-pointing members discuss the billboard mess, which the council approved with gustoa couple of years ago. You can now even weigh in with the council yourself, from home.

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