Sunday, June 2, 2013
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Monday, October 8, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Friday, February 3, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
In its excellent Quick Civic Lessons for the Naturalization Test and Citizen's Almanac booklets, both distributed free to aspiring citizens, the USCIS defines what America stands for, what its values are, and what it means to become a U.S. citizen -- stressing the importance of free speech, free assembly, and citizens' participation in their democracy.
Some of the 100 Civics Test questions are particularly eloquent:
- Q2. What does the Constitution do? Official answers include: Protect the basic rights of Americans -- such as:
- Q6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment? Official answers include: Speech; Assembly.
- Q51. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States? Official answers include: Freedom of expression; Freedom of speech; Freedom of assembly.
- Q55. What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy? Official answers include: Join a civic group; Join a community group; Give an elected official an opinion on an issue; Publicly support or oppose an issue or policy.
Yet, every single day since Occupy Wall Street started a little over two months ago, the news is flush with stories of those very notions of free expression, speech and assembly being trampled on. Just two days ago, students staging a peaceful protest where hosed with pepper spray vermin-busting style -- and that's just one story among many others, as if the Arab Spring, and repression, became the blueprint.
So, what does it actually mean? Is it only a Kool-Aid aspiration? Who gets to define free speech and assembly, government of and for the people, community involvement, and representative democracy? More importantly, where does the line get drawn?
image: Wayne Tilcock/The Davis Enterprise
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
UPDATE 07/18/11: Carmageddon: We Won [Kevin Roderick/KCRW]
UPDATE 07/18/11: Dining on the 405 [Curbed LA]
UPDATE 07/18/11: Real Lessons of Carmageddon: Angelenos Aren’t Idiots [LASreetsBlog]
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
UPDATE 07/21/11: The challenges of building a house/ramp hybrid [NYT]
images via Etnies
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
As highlighted in Urban Land's The New Geography of International Retail Development, glitter is not the answer, even in emerging markets such as the BRIC or Dubai. Why? Because, unless they serve local demand -- "hypermarts and smaller shops rather than Gucci" -- they don't work, especially in this economic climate. Developers all over are rediscovering the virtues of catering for the middle class, "with more affordable retail choices that serve the local demand," a focus on "community, place and [civic] pride," and projects "designed to reflect the social and cultural life of the local society."
Our little Santa Monica is a case in point. In an effort to revitalize its downtown, the City signed off chunks of land to a corporation charged with the redevelopment and management of what is now called the Third Street Promenade. Public space was privatized and turned into a retail mix that caters essentially to tourists and visitors, with chi-chi stores that don't meet local needs. The adjacent Santa Monica Place mall was also recently revamped into luxury boutiques and high-end restaurants. Conclusion? Locals have shunned the area. They don't have a choice: they can't afford, or even find what they need in town (how about schlepping all the way to Culver City or WeHo for the nearest Target store?)
But now, Santa Monica wants its locals back. As reported in the SMDP, the downtown area is being re-branded, with a new "Everyone's Downtown" slogan aimed at letting people know that "Downtown is the place to be and that it is open to everyone, [with] an overhaul of events and activities held on the promenade and throughout the district to change the perception of it as simply a mall or tourist trap [...] By attracting locals, the district hopes to create an authentic Santa Monica experience that will feel natural and be more interesting to tourists that come to visit." That's a first step, even if this revived interest in locals seems to be as mere gimmicks.
The next step may be coming from a SMMirror report that sales in the new Santa Monica Place are not meeting expectations. Even with 6.5 million visitors per year (vs. a population of 85,000,) there are only so many Vuitton bag one can sell in a day, yet there will always be a need for a good shoe or watch repair, or affordable food, clothing and home fare for all -- a need that is not adequately met. Santa Monica has been so busy puffing itself into a high-end international resort and "lifestyle hub" that it's forgotten all about its locals and true character. Now may be a good time for a reality check.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
"L.A. smells like blooming citrus trees, rosebushes, iris, jasmine everywhere. [It] has the slightly disturbing smell of homeless people and the perfume used in detergents. You use heavier stuff, in higher concentrations. L.A. also smells of fat and sugar -- the cheap donuts served at my hotel." Sweet, exotic, slightly putrid; add a whiff of MSG and car exhaust, topple with a thin marine layer, et voilà!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
"Ours is a story mad with the impossible, it is by chaos out of dream and it has continued as dream down to the last headlines you read in a newspaper. And of our dream there are two things above all others to be said, that only madmen could have dreamed them or would have dared to -- and that we have shown a considerable faculty for making them come true."
photo LA Frog
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
"In their heyday, hundreds of guinguettes were perched along the banks of the slow rivers that loop through the Parisian countryside [..] They were magnets for young, working-class people who were drawn by the low prices, fresh air, cheery accordion music and hourglass-shaped women flirting in their Sunday best. Pierre Auguste Renoir famously painted one of his favorite guinguettes in Le Déjeûner des Canotiers."
Though in a more contemporary format, today's guinguettes attract crowds for the same, simple pleasures: dancing in good company, cheap fried fish meals on checkered table cloths, and a relaxed, cheerful setting rooted in quainter times. "It reminds us of the films, and our grandparents. It was another time then. A friendlier time," says a guinguette enthusiast.
photo Devorah Lauter/LAT
Monday, June 27, 2011
"In the 21st century, our dystopias imagine a world where books are forgotten," writes Johann Hari in an Op-Ed for the Independent. "The book -- the physical paper book -- is being circled by a shoal of sharks, with sales down 9 per cent this year alone. It's being chewed by the e-book. It's being gored by the death of the bookshop and the library. And most importantly, the mental space it occupied is being eroded by the thousand Weapons of Mass Distraction that surround us all. It's hard to admit, but we all sense it: it is becoming almost physically harder to read books."
"It's precisely because it is not immediate -- because it doesn't know what happened five minutes ago in Kazakhstan, or in Charlie Sheen's apartment -- that the book matters," Hari adds. Like sugar or alcohol, the web brings amazing pleasures and joys, "but we need to know how to handle them without letting them addle us," he concludes -- proning a digital (detox) diet. So it's time to wrap up this post, kiss the iMac good night, grab a good book, and prendre son envol (as the title of Aurida Rouha's photo above suggests.)
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Tartuffe in such a setting felt like a match made in heaven. As LAist writes in its review of the play, "The Botanicum space is expansive, with hillside walkways, cultivated gardens and plenty of picnic room in front of the concession stand. Beyond that, the gently sloping walk gives rise to a wide wooden stage and a two-level playhouse sitting squarely stage left. Seating pushes up and away from the stage in a series of benches and bleachers before giving in to the woodland beyond the lights. This, here, with the chandelier dangling from the wise old tree at the back of the stage, is where Tartuffe belongs."
With plenty of room for Molière's signature quid pro quos and other buffoonish outbursts, "The space, as open as it is, lets the whole production breathe and simply play. Characters enter and exit in all manner, using corners and pathways that help blend the landscape into the show."
Kudos to Ellen Geer for her excellent adaptation of the play (unimpeded indeed,) and to Aaron Hendry as a larger than life Tartuffe in this timeless critique of human character. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, with lots of laughter and action.