At an MTA board meeting last week, Mayor Richard Riordan, within earshot of audience members in the front row, warmed up the crowd with what might charitably be called a joke. It goes like this: Riordan has a bunch of politicos over at his house and polls them on the question, "Where will Monica Lewinsky be in 20 years?" The best answer, Riordan tells his fellow board members, is "Al Gore's running mate." "Yuk, yuk, yuk," went the board members. (Call us slow, but OffBeat doesn't get it.)
Riordan apparently didn't intend the joke for public consumption - he was, after all, meeting with the vice president the very next day - because all hell broke loose when MTA citizen-critic John Walsh tried to repeat it for the record during the meeting's public-comment period. Riordan tried vainly to gavel down Walsh -even threatening him with three months' expulsion from MTA meetings - but Walsh just screamed louder, preserving the laughter for posterity in the MTA's official record.
It wasn't the first time the mayor's stabs at humor (and he fancies himself quite the funny man) have caused a stir. In 1994, a few months into his first term, Riordan told a variation on the following joke while touring South-Central with Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and his aides: A white guy and a black guy are standing at the end of a pier, pissing into the water. "This water's cold," says the white guy. To which the black guy responds, "Yeah. And deep, too." Hilarious. The mayor later apologized, and the story - but not the joke - was reported in the Los Angeles Times.
One of Riordan's favorite jokes (perhaps because it hits so close to home), told at a Recreation and Parks Commission meeting some years back, goes like this.
Q: What's the difference between an Irish wake and an Irish wedding? A: One less Irish drunk.
Mayoral spokeswoman Noelia Rod-riguez insists that the mayor was not imbibing last week when he cut loose the Lewinsky-Gore line. "No way," she said. "I assure you, there was no alcohol on the premises." As for the joke, Rodriguez confessed, "I don't get it either. It is not funny to me."
The Usual Suspects
Old lefties never die, they just start a new newspaper.
Remnants of the radical fringe have been despairing of a place to call their own ever since L.A.'s longtime lefty organ, the Los Angeles View, was bought out and shut down a couple of years back by the self-styled contrarian New Times, which has never harbored pretensions to having coherent politics. ("It's all entertainment," is one of New Times editor Rick Barrs' oft-repeated credos.)
Now there is Glue L.A. (the masthead motto is "Sticking Us Together"), a free weekly that debuted last week at newsstands across the Westside. The outgrowth of a series of meetings of the L.A. Alternative Media Network, the new fish-wrap in town is put together by a five-member editorial collective working out of the Venice apartment of co-founder Ellen Sander.
"We don't want to be another hand-wringing leftist publication," insists Sander, who promises to promote social activism "in a fresh and funky sort of way," and calls the tone of the publication "upbeat."
Such ambitions notwithstanding, Glue L.A.'s first issue kicks off with...a hand-wringing piece by Robert Lipton on infighting among leftists. Volume 1, Issue 1 also features Chris Ridder on the Ward Valley nuclear dump and '60s holdover Paul Krassner on the politics of pot - not to mention a few snafus, like forgetting to put a headline on the cover. On the plus side (or minus, depending on how you look at it), there is also an astonishing lack of ads in Glue L.A. More power to the people!
KCET's Big Guns
"KCET: The Motivational Network." That's the slogan that came to mind after watching a few hours of our local public television station's pledge drive last week. (We know, OffBeat has a masochistic streak when it comes to TV watching.)
In its bid for ever more viewer dollars to throw down the hole in East Hollywood, KCET suspended its usual mix of Masterpiece Theatre and Nova for a wall-to-wall lineup of infomercial-ready self-realizers, hawking their own personal triumphs over life's impediments while getting rich in the bargain. Think The Learning Annex meets Home Shopping Network.
The succession of self-promoters included Caroline Myss, revealing "Why People Don't Heal and How They Can"; Christiane Northrup on "Christiane Northrup, M.D."; and Dr. Dean Ornish (who graced Newsweek's cover last week) on "Love and Survival With Dr. Dean Ornish."
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Our favorite, however, was Suze
Orman, a local financial-advice huckster who was live in studio to pitch her "Nine Steps to Financial Freedom." The first step: "Treat money as your cherished friend - which it is." Step two: "If you have faith that everything really does happen for the best - if you can just have faith - you can feel powerful. When you feel powerful, money will come your way."
Compelling advice, it seems, for KCET, which netted between 200 and 300 grand from Orman's pecuniary seances - or roughly $1 out of $8 raised during the 23-day pledge drive. Then again, this is the station that was plugging for pseudo-swami Deepak Chopra long before Oprah ever got hold of him.
Edited by Sam Gideon Anson