Last week Mr. Mayor pronounced sentence on the “international anarchists” schooled in “strategies of destruction and guerrilla tactics” whom he expects to descend on Los Angeles for the Democratic National Convention. “Fair warning to all,” Richard Riordan said in an op-piece obligingly published in the Los Angeles Times. “The police will get tough when confronted with lawlessness.” Anarchists wielding tire irons won’t make L.A.’s finest “look unnecessarily brutal in counteracting them,” our fearless leader boasted. Rubber bullets and pepper spray, and who knows what else, will greet the merry mayhem. Seems the mayor can’t wait to crack some heads.
But hold on. Buried in his pugilistic proclamation — in which he also declared war on “nonviolent civil disobedience” — was a curious invitation. If you want “to see just how determined and organized these anarchists are . . . log on to https://www.D2kla.org.” We did, and what we found was a call to “join us in a series of marches, nonviolent direct actions and events . . . [which] will celebrate and renew our resistance to: corporate globalization, militarization, poverty, starvation, campaign-finance reform, sexism, racism . . .” Etc., etc., etc. Not one mention of how to shatter plate-glass windows without getting cut to ribbons or how to blockade a Burger King. In fact, if we didn’t know any better, we’d think this program had been purloined, with the occasional left-wing quibble, from the DNC party platform. So it kinda makes you wonder: Why, in the midst of battle, is the Republican mayor referring practically the entire (reading) public to the progressive agenda of his avowed adversaries? Is Richard Riordan a closet liberal? Is Mr. Businessman troubled by the inequitable distribution of wealth? We suspect the mayor secretly has a class conflict, but his office insists, “The mayor was talking about anarchists, but he used the web site simply to show how organized these groups are.” —Greg Goldin
Imagining Times Shills
A book review in the Los Angeles Times last week touted a coffee-table book titled Imagining Los Angeles as “an ambitious and even audacious effort at describing Los Angeles in all of its complexity and diversity through the medium of old-fashioned black-and-white photography.” Fair enough; we at OffBeat were intrigued to hear about a new volume that puts together archival newspaper images of such classic L.A. benchmarks as the Zoot Suit Riots, the Japanese internment and the 1936 Caltech student launch of one of the first controlled rocket flights.
Following the article from the front page of the Southern California Living section to the jump, however, we were surprised to see an advertisement for Imagining Los Angeles. On closer inspection, we were even more shocked to learn that the book’s publisher was none other than Los Angeles Times Books. The discriminating reader might have noted the name of the publisher in the review from longtime books contributor Jonathan Kirsch, albeit in a parenthetical note tucked inside a quote from Ray Bradbury. But Kirsch otherwise made no mention of the fact that he was being paid by the same company that hoped to make money off the book he was so lavishly praising. Nor did the review disclose that a formerTimes staffer, Carla Lazzareschi, was among Imagining Los Angeles’ four authors.
Well, we guess we were a little naive in thinking that the forced departure of Timesmen Mark Willes and Michael Parks would put an end to cheesy advertorials in the city’s monopoly daily. Granted, the book ad hardly rises to the level of the Staples Center profit-sharing debacle, which brought down the Willes regime. But the advereview does show that, even in the brave new era of Tribune Co. ownership and respected new editor John Carroll, the line between editorial and advertising at the Times remains very thin indeed. At the very least, the wall between commerce and journalism is full of peepholes.
Bush's Little Brown One
A Latino Bush has emerged to help George W. take the White House. Nephew George Prescott Bush, 24, the son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his Mexican-born wife, Columba, has hosted club events in Fresno, and was sent to woo young Latino voters in San Bernardino. Now, he is appearing in TV commercials in California and other key states, trying to convince Latino swing voters that his uncle cares about what his grandfather once referred to, memorably, as “the little brown ones.”
“I am a young Latino in the U.S. and very proud of my bloodline,” the sports-star-handsome, Spanish-speaking Rice University graduate says in one TV commercial. “I have an uncle that is running for president because he believes in the same thing: opportunity for every American, for every Latino . . . His name? The same as mine, George Bush.”
George P.’s Say It Loud, I’m Brown and Proud message, however, has caused some head scratching among former classmates at Rice in Houston, Texas. They recall undergraduate George P. as someone who steered clear of all things Latino.
“He [Bush] was never at any of our events nor did he hang out with any of us much,” says a Rice University student who belonged to the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice (HACER), the main Latino-student group on campus.
Likewise, Rice graduate and former HACER president Mike Gomez says he doesn’t recall the proud Chicano at any of the campus’ Latino-student-group meetings.
“During my time at Rice, he was not a member of HACER nor was he active in pushing minority issues at the university,” Gomez remembers. “We all ran in the same circles, and, frankly, there was such a dearth of committed people that anyone you could find who cared mattered a great deal. If George P. had been active in any form, we would have welcomed it, encouraged it even. But he wasn’t.”
Catherine Clack, director of the Office for Multicultural Affairs at Rice University, says George P. was the Invisible Man during multiculti events. English professor Jose Aranda doesn’t remember George P. in any Chicano-studies classes.
Stella Flores, also a Rice grad and former HACER president, says she doesn’t recall seeing George P. at any Latino events either. “Most Latinos where I grew up know that the Bush family has some sort of a Mexican bloodline in their extended family,” Flores says. “It just never seemed like an issue they capitalized on until now.”
Puzzled former classmates instead recall George P. as a frequent visitor to the campus pub whose main interest seemed to be the pool table. A photo of George P. in the 1995 yearbook ran with the caption “Loner.”
Now George P. has found a place — as the GOP’s Latino godsend. After the presidential race, George P. is thought to have a bright political future of his own. “Politics I love,” he told reporters. “It’s a noble profession.”
Tatcho Mindiola, director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston, says the GOP’s use of George P. is a savvy move.
“[George P.], on TV, is sharp, articulate and has a lot of appeal across the board,” says Mindiola. “Whether that sways Hispanic voters in states like New York or California remains to be seen, but I think George W. Bush is smart for using someone in his family like this.”
Mindiola adds, “But I can see why some [former] Rice students would be upset. Like his uncle, it seems as if he’s inheriting his position in life, not earning it.” —Russell Contreras
In what is viewed as the beginning of a wholesale editorial shakeup, the Los Angeles Times this week named New York Times national editor Dean Baquet managing editor.
The appointment of Baquet, 43, a 1988 Pulitzer Prize winner at the Chicago Tribune for exposing City Hall corruption, signals a new dedication to investigative reporting at the troubled newspaper. Baquet, who was personally recruited by editor John Carroll, reverses a decadelong brain drain that had sent many of the best L.A. Times reporters scurrying for cover at the Gray Lady.
“If you’re asking would I like to see lots of investigative reporting, the answer is yes,” Baquet said during a brief phone interview Wednesday morning. “I went out and spent time with Carroll, and I think he’s an inspiring leader. It’s just the most fun place to be right now.”
Carroll, who was brought in by new owner the Tribune Co. from the Baltimore Sun just months ago, says he expects Baquet to play a role in an overhaul of the entire paper.
“From Page 1 to features to sports and everything else,” Carroll said. “He’s a strong leader . . . and he’s also good with people.”
Baquet’s appointment follows several other reshufflings, including the placement of well-regarded investigative reporter/editor Glenn Bunting at the head of the Business section’s tech and entertainment beats. The No. 1 and No. 2 editors of the Southern California Living section were moved out in favor of acting editor Bret Israel, one of the smarter guys in the floundering soft sections of the paper. A story making the rounds in the Times building is that Carroll acted swiftly because he was afraid the Living section would embarrass the paper during the August Democratic Convention in Los Angeles.
Baquet replaces Leo Wolinsky, whose judgment in the front-page naming of the wrong suspect in the Notorious B.I.G. murder case had come under fire. Carroll said Wolinsky would continue to play a “key role” at the paper, although his title has not yet been decided. Carroll is also doing away with the silly multiple-editor hierarchy established during the regime of former top executive Mark Willes, which was toppled in the wake of the Staples Center profit-sharing scandal. Further changes are expected on the Metro desk in coming months, staffers said.
“I think it’s fantastic,” one Times reporter said of the Baquet appointment. “Carroll wants people who can write a good news story and go after the bad guys. They’re going to blow it all up.”