Our visual culture is gradually approaching a Blade Runner-like vision of Los Angeles, with advertisements that continually push the boundaries of acceptable placement. And as anyone who's glanced at a newspaper in the last few months here knows, it touches a real nerve. Or ask any City Councilmember or Planning Commissioner who weathered the storm of constituent opinions during the recent city sign ordinance revision process.

So why is a website that sells cooking equipment seeking publicity on a City of L.A. public park drinking fountain?

This subtle bit of promotion seems particularly out of place at Pan Pacific Park on Beverly between La Brea and Fairfax. Affixed to both sides of a drinking fountain is a small, rectangular plate beckoning ambitious home cooks to “Cook Like a Chef!” and visit www.chefdepot.com.

Presumably the target is largely parents, and mothers in particular, who spend a lot of time in the kitchen and want to better their skills. Naming rights attached to nearly every space and item in museums and concert halls is one thing, but since when is City of Los Angeles Department of Rec and Parks equipment for sale?

When asked, a Pan Pacific Park employee assured us that such surfaces are not used to generate revenue. In this budget climate, however, one wonders if a new era of pay-to-play is more likely. With home cooking on the rise, places like parks could be ground zero for a new chapter in the mommy, public space, and advertising wars. Although maybe it is better to go home and buy cookware than some of the alternatives.

LA Weekly