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L.A. Weekly’s Slush column is an aggregated, link-filled look at L.A. news and culture — what people are talking about, balking about, posting on social media and IRL (in real L.A. life).

MERRY CAGE-MAS

Founders Metropolitan Community Church on Prospect near Los Feliz Village has been a haven for worshipers of all persuasions since 1968. It “honors, values and welcomes all people,” and is rooted in the LGBTQ+ community and its causes. For the second year in a row, the church’s nativity scene has been, shall we say, embellished to make an important point. The nativity depicts the Holy Family in cages, with signs indicating Mary and Joseph’s paths (detention or deportation) and baby Jesus left alone for adoption. The scene aims to bring attention to the unjust treatment of immigrants at our borders, and according to some local media, some are uncomfortable with it. We love it and hope the statement might, as the church has posted at the top its Facebook page, “bring the change in this unholy system at our borders!”

SILVER FAKE

As a Silver Lake native, this one hurts. Several storefronts in the Sunset Junction area found themselves served with 30-day notices to vacate recently, including Flore Vegan and Le Pink Apothecary, two of the businesses there which arguably helped the increasingly pricey/pretentious hood maintain some semblance of creative cool… ya know, the reason that people wanted to move there in the first place? It’s the final nail in the coffin for an area that has seen unique small businesses and long-running restaurants (we still miss El Conquistador) getting replaced by copious cold brew joints and soul-less style monger retailers the past several years. No word on what the building’s owner plans to do in the spaces but Flore has been fundraising to relocate. Click here to help.

WRITER WOE

First the O.C. Weekly shuttered, then the legendary Lowrider announced it would no longer be printing a magazine, then a beloved local journalist passed away from suicide, and now it seems every freelance writer in town is about to see his/her livelihood threatened thanks to the new bill called AB 5.  We’d like to say a few words about each here, because as should be obvious, they affect writers and readers in a variety of ways, and none of them coincides with holiday cheer.

We’ve written for the O.C. Weekly under a host of editors and owners over the past couple decades and its closure is an immeasurable loss in L.A. and O.C. Even when they were no longer a “sister” paper to this publication and even when they had harsh things to say about its current owner, the editors there always did their homework and we’re fair. Opinionated, but fair, in everything they covered in fact.  When L.A. Weekly changed hands two years ago, and a mob-like media storm took hold, spreading negative noise about the new ownership and a singular take on the situation, it was editors at O.C. Weekly who offered to publish this writer’s take, which dispelled a lot of the falsehoods and provided (we hoped) a personal perspective on the changes happening to alt weeklies and journalism in general. We thank them for that, and of course, feel a sense of irony in re-reading the piece now. The work done by O.C. Weekly’s writers, editors and photographers covering culture, news, music, art and local politics in Southern California will never be forgotten.

(Courtesy Lowrider via Instagram)

Lowrider ceasing its print edition is nearly as painful for us, as we grew up going to car shows with our lowrider dad (read his piece about that and more here). The magazine was one of the few representations of Chicano culture — often tied to cholo, graffiti and gang lifestyle and aesthetics — that was 100 percent positive, showcasing beautiful cars, beautiful Latina women and imagery in a way that was fun, artistic and aspirational, even if you weren’t a big car person per se. Thankfully, Lowrider will continue to create content online via its website, on Facebook and on You Tube.

There’s been a lot written about the California Assemby Bill 5 (AB 5) and suffice to say, though it was created to help independent contractors (namely Uber and Lyft drivers) struggling in the gig economy, for many, it will hurt much more than it might help. The bill limits freelancers and the amount of work they can do per outlet and seems to be forcing many publications from doing away with freelance writers all together. As media entities struggle to stay alive in print and online, forcing outlets to incur more costs just doesn’t make sense, not to mention many freelancers enjoy the freedom and flexibility a non-staff position affords them. The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzalez, has been tweeting and conversing daily with the freelance community and the back and forth threads there are a good place to start in terms of hearing out both sides. But the links below get to crux of the problem. We’ll be following this one very closely in 2020 (we kinda have to).

washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/19/how-law-aimed-uber-lyft-is-hurting-freelance-writers

wsj.com/articles/confusion-in-california-as-gig-worker-law-set-to-take-effect-11576590979?

motherjones.com/politics/2019/12/california-uber-law-fire-freelance-journalists-sb-nation/

Which brings us to the loss of one of our own, someone whose work in fact, provided a lot of incite into the struggles of living as a writer and being a creative soul, particularly in L.A. We offer heartfelt condolences to writer Scott Timberg’s family, friends and fans. We were only the latter, but enjoyed his work for L.A. Weekly immensely. Click here to read it and here to contribute to Timberg’s Go Fund Me page, set up to help his family pay for funeral costs and provide for his son’s college fund.

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