The Last Straw
Monday was Earth Day, and even though the founder's daughter says her dad would be disappointed about the government's inaction when it comes to climate change, Mother Earth's citizens made efforts to show we care in various ways. Here in L.A., there were beach and river clean-ups across town and park gatherings (which might have had something to do with it also being Easter), not to mention other celebrations of greenery and nature thanks to 4-20 also landing on the same weekend. Perhaps the biggest move for change and improvement of the environment took place on Monday, when the ordinance banning plastic straws finally took effect for L.A. restaurants with more than 26 employees. Although big companies like Starbucks and Disneyland already took steps to eliminate the drinking utensils, it will be expanded to all food establishments by Oct. 1. Restaurants will be given warnings for their first two violations with each subsequent violation carrying a $25 fine (not exactly bank-breaking but it could add up, just like the plastic adds up). 500 million plastic straws are used daily in the U.S., many of which end up in the ocean, killing marine life when they are ingested. Our only question is this — what about all the plastic cups, lids and bags?
Yes, It Was Genocide
If you noticed more traffic than usual on Wednesday in Hollywood, it wasn't tourists or another big movie premiere. The street was closed in East Hollywood, for the annual March For Justice. Thousands marched through the streets of L.A. to mark the 104th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide this week, as they have every year. Many also marched at the Turkish consulate later in the day. The event is meant to honor the over 1.5 million Armenians who were killed by the Turkish government starting in 1915, but Turkey still has not and will not acknowledge the word “genocide” to describe what happened. The U.S. government has refrained from using the word too or getting involved to make the change, though some officials such as local Rep. Adam Schiff, have called for formal recognition. In terms of recognition, the Los Angeles Unified School District board did approve of a resolution this week to accommodate students and families who honor April 24 as a holiday and sought to ensure that teachers cover the genocide in their curriculums.
It's been over a decade since Jenny McCarthy's book, Louder Than Words scared us all into questioning the advice of medical professionals about vaccinating our children, and now it seems the vocal anti-vaxxer's rhetoric is finally having its worst repercussions. While we don't want to “single out” the L.A. resident (she has backtracked somewhat on her claims about the link between autism and MMR shots in regard to her own son) the movement really picked up steam because of her story and now, all the kids whose parents didn't protect them are paying the price many right here in her — and our — backyard. According to Reuters, a nationwide measles outbreak has led health officials to quarantine dozens of people at Cal State L.A. and UCLA as of Thursday afternoon. State health officials have confirmed 38 cases of the painful, unsightly and potentially deadly virus in California, and in order to halt that number, students who have come into contact with measles and could not provide evidence they'd been immunized were quarantined. At Cal State L.A., the number of those affected has been reported as 156 people, while at UCLA, the number was 119 (40 have seen been released after providing immunization records). The quarantine will reportedly end in a week, but in the meantime we'd love to see a statement by the anti-vaxx world's most vocal proponent or even her hubby, actor and former New Kids on The Block member Donnie Wahlberg. Thus far, her social media seems more concerned with promoting her new canned vodka cocktails.
Out of the box
With print journalism struggling, newspaper vending machines, racks and sidewalk distribution kiosks are going the way of the public phone booth. L.A. Weekly for example, ceased using them this year and will eventually be removing them from city streets. (You can still pick us up at these locations). Fittingly, our boxes just got a farewell cameo in the recent blockbuster Captain Marvel. L.A. Times seemingly stopped using their coin-operated machines — also known as “honor boxes” — too (making the days of snagging double the coupons via a two-for-the-price-of-one grab on Sunday, something a lot of our moms sigh about with nostalgia). A brand new publication is going old school and actually erecting new versions of these relics to distribute its new print publication at a few locales. You can find The Overheard Post, a new print pub/newsletter from the Beverly Hills-based company behind the popular @OverheardLA Instagram account, at 58 locations around Los Angeles, some of which are stored inside colorful, vintage-looking newspaper boxes (locations include Sweet Green’s The Lab in Culver City, Alfred at Melrose Place and Erewhon in Venice). Regardless of how they distribute, we give props to anyone opting to make a go of it in the dying print biz (and not resorting to slagging the competition as a self-promotional tool as others have had to do). Described as “NY’s Metro meets The Onion,” the pub definitely has a scrappy millennial vibe that should appeal to young readers, but it remains to be seen if those accustomed to getting content via computer and phone screens can be lured back to paper and print.
By the way, if you're as fascinated by these rusty metal boxes as we are, here' some great supplemental reading about them via Newsweek, Canada's The Globe and Mail, USA Today's Springfield Leader and the New York Times.