Wednesday, January 31, 2007

If you don't want to support a "Living Wage" you can make your own damn bed! "

Today on KPCC, Larry Mantle's program had two segments that were more closely related than many would realize.

There's more rumor than fact swirling around the deal to have the "living wage" ordinance for LA Airport area hotel workers become reality. One business owner last weekend huffed he would be forced to lay off a number of his employees if the minimum wage was raised.

Like Manhattan, San Francisco and the Florida Keys, the cost of living --especially housing-- has risen so dramatically that service sector employees can no longer afford to live in the communities where they work. Los Angeles is seeing more and more workers being nudged into virtual slavery for a job. A minimum wage worker in L.A. basically has to work more hours in a week than exist just to afford rent.

Of course, they could always do away with that cumbersome little amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery. It isn't like the conservatives haven't tried over the last 25 years to gut the rest of the Constitution as well.

Larry Mantle's program also focused on the gridlock that grips much of Southern California, further complicating the commute of service sector employees, and the quality of life for all residents.

Contrary to popular opinion, LA hasn't always been at the mercy of runaway sprawl. There have been many attempts to look at regional and local planning issues together in a way that improves the urban environment for everyone.

Too many individual stakeholders have been allowed variances or the permission to opt out of certain conditions, like having a reasonable number of parking spaces, or offsetting the impact of new projects on traffic and utilities. The Hyperion sewer project, years in the planning and construction, was obsolete almost as soon as it was online.

Although the time allotted to the topic was brief for the scope of the issue, I'm sure Larry Mantle is still hearing from listeners. He probably has enough material to devote to a full length book by now.

Getting the stakeholders involved to see how their individual actions impact the whole would be a Herculean task, at best.

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's only January, but it seems we have a hands down winner for the 2007 "There goes the neighborhood" award

A Malibu estate was quietly sold to the son of an 'alleged' (no one has lived to say for sure) cannibal dictator, who threatened to kill the American ambassador in 1996. Teodoro Obiang purchased the home next door to Matthew Perry for more than $35 million. That should be reason enough to keep me out of the 'bu for the foreseeable future...

Miami may still be the current undisputed champions for wackiness, and they did get OJ Simpson, but I guess Southern California has found a way to make up for all the runaway film production by challenging Miami's preferred status as home to foreign torturers and henchmen.

So, Trump wants to host a golf tournament, eh? We've got just the place...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

...and where better to go on such a beautiful day than the neighborhood botequim?

One of my favorite questions to pose to hotel workers when I'm in a city for the first time is to ask where they would go for a pleasant walk, experience the sunrise, or to really capture the spirit of place. Need I say that I've received some contemplative or startled looks sometimes in return, as they stopped to consider what local place or activity that they would choose to recharge their batteries.

One of my obsessions of the past few days has been the botequims of Rio de Janeiro. It started with a single photograph in a book... as many obsessions do. The educational and wonderfully engrossing sites of Daniella Thompson (click on the header at top) or Maria Brazil will explain far better than I could (beware-if you plan on peaking in just for a moment, you may spend hours there... time well spent). In LA, we have to settle for our local Starbucks or the foodcourt in the mall-- a poor substitute in deed!

My score is 32 out of 101 - how about you?

Photo by Lactoso

Criticial Miami had a great post yesterday that got me meditating on a favorite subject of mine. Miami Beach 411 had a list of things to take out-of-town visitors to when in Miami. But why just visitors? It would be interesting to put locals to the test to see how much of their city they have truly experienced--whatever city they live in.

I'd bet there are at least 101 places to discover about whatever place you happen to be in that could change your state of mind, broaden your horizons, and make you a better resident. An entire blog could probably be dedicated to lists of places to add to their list (actually, I think there's already a bunch of 'em). Among the links to the left are any number of sites that list adventures for numerous cities. Why not make a list of your own?

I should bust outside and hit some of the places on my list myself, while the weather beacons...

These images may be of women, for women, but what do you want to bet some clueless men came up with this campaign?

It didn't take long to find Isaiah Washington's bunkmates in rehab. This campaign is almost as offensive as that Ridley Scott anti-SAG ad a few years ago (no, we didn't forget).

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

When saying, "I'm sorry," by itself alone doesn't cut it...

Jay Leno joked after Isaiah Washington's apology for his homophobic slur that 'he ought to be a entering rehab any minute now.' And now word is, that he has. I know that decades ago a group of sincere activists started a group for white people to examine and overcome their racism, but I wasn't aware of the existence of Homophobia Anonymous.

From the news stories of late, that recovery facility has tapped into a growth market with a lot of potential.

I've said some dumb things myself in the past that had me wondering, what the heck did I say that? There's probably not a human alive who can't say the same thing.

There were activists in the sixties who used to say something to the effect that the wringing of hands and all was well and good, but one's actions would said say more to their sincerity. As they say in twelve step groups, Washington has taken the first, major step in recovery by admitting he was wrong and attempting to do with it. And what if there is no Homophobia Anonymous, and Washington has entered a facility for good old fashioned run of the mill chemical dependency? In vino veritas.

If Washington completes his treatment, at least he won't have to fear every plate or drink a waiter brings him from now on. Maybe he might even end up bunkmates with Michael Richards or Mel Gibson or any one of the other number of high profile personalities who have publicly regretted the words they spoke just a little bit too late.

Too bad there's such a list of people I'd like to push into intervention.

I've said some dumb things myself in the past that had me wondering, why the heck did I say that? There's probably not a human alive who can't say the same thing.

Assuming all goes the way it should at whatever facility Washington's in, it's one down, a couple hundred million to go...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

mini miami

mini miami
Originally uploaded by miami fever.
Is this cool or what? Wouldn't it be great to have a miniature model of Miami? I've seen ones of San Francisco, New York and parts of LA (done by the WPA in 1940); but I didn't get to see the maqueta of La Habana. Maybe after the soon-too-come-celebration dies down... In the meantime, miami fever's photos oughtta get him some kind of award from the grand Poobahs.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Post-holiday musings: America Ferrera, Marcos Sacramento, and "Hillary versus Obama"

Marcos Sacramento

I woke up this morning to NPR going on again about 'Hillary versus Obama.' Frankly, I'm beginning to get irritated by this pack mentality in political coverage.

A number of my friends dispute what I see as the greater good that Obama has already done for American politics. Since capturing the national spotlight, he has done for politics what Venus Williams has done for tennis or Tiger Woods for golf. To some Americans it may be their worst nightmare, but I envision an entire generation of students inspired to look at public service as just that: service.

The America of the 21st century is already looking a heck of a lot different than it had in the past --or is the camera merely swinging around to show a truer picture of what has long existed but been denied exposure?

I like that Obama is of multiracial heritage. It may be the one thing about him that makes Newt Gingrich's constituency and the others behind his 'Contract With America' co-conspirators gag on their own bile. Yet he represents an America that has been in the forming since the first European presence in North America.

The chief difference between the current violence in Iraq dominating the news and that which is occurring here in America has more to do with how the media covers it (or doesn't) than the numbers of casualties.

There is a clarity to his style, a lack of bombastic rhetoric, and positiveness that is very much a part of what the rest of the world admires about America. And for all the troops we send around the world, the vision of Obama could do much more to assure people of our intent and motives being mutually beneficial.

About that violence in the Middle East... as I recall, during the Cold War it was common practice for the U.S. and the Soviet Union (and later China) to woo supporters with tanks and planes, but keep a short chain on the bullets and replacement parts. So where are these insurgents and terrorist groups getting their weapons? How are they being bankrolled?

Do we really think that the Arab League is bent on engineering its own annihilation through mass slow suicide? Why isn't there more media coverage along the lines of 'follow the money'?

Hamas and Hezbollah and Al Qaida don't make their own weapons nor bullets. They aren't manufactured in Iran or North Korea. So is the West actually engineering their own destruction by continuing to make the weapons of war available?

Why do we insist on continuing to manufacture gas-guzzling SUVs, and discourage the development of alternative energy sources in the face of dwindling supplies? It was widely reported in the media how those omnipresent gift cards have become an established part of our holiday gift giving... but has anyone stopped to consider that we might want to refrain for looking for more products to create from petroleum?

On a much lighter (and more lyrical) note, I discovered the work of Brasilian singer Marcos Sacramento over the holidays. Click on the header above for an article on him, or read the excellent profile of him on Daniella Thompson's website, or click on his name to a link to his website. I couldn't find him on the database at Barnes and Noble, though, so I guess I won't be able to use the gift cards I received over the holidays to purchase his albums. Just as well, I suppose. From what I've read of his work so far, I'll get more satisfaction spending my own money on him.

The Bright Star

While not predisposed to watching the Golden Globes, I got home last night in time to see 22 year-old America Ferrera's win. Her acceptance speech is the kind of inspirational dialogue I want to see more of in politics.

How about a government that encourages and supports women, single parents, immigrants, and those in need, instead of trying to force others to conform to their values?

And now for the Dark Star

Carl Karcher

Carl Karcher will be the second person to be honored by the city of Anaheim with a star along its walk of fame (the late Walt Disney was first), for his unwavering commitment to surpress the rights of women and ethnic minorities, anti-gay views, deliberate poisoning of American youth with his fast food (especially targeting ethnic youth), and insider trading.

Hmmm... that's not why he's being honored? You coulda fooled me.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Que bom! I KNEW this day would come back when I had my first set of Legos!

To think I gave up Legos before they actually started showing up as cutting edge buildings... This is just too cool. Maybe now that my nephew Miku is the logophile in the family, we can take a field trip down to Rio de Janeiro to visit this... assuming it gets built, that is.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

brand new by tomorrow

brand new by tomorrow, the new album by Mark Nishita --aka MoneyMark is due out February 20th! Click on the link above for more information.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"A Writer's San Francisco" by Eric Maisel: my newest gift to myself

The illustrations are by none other than Paul Madonna, so not only does one get the wonderful insight of Eric Maisel and his ruminations on Everybody's Favorite City, but it has lovingly rendered images of The City by one of my favorite artists scattered throughout.

"Talking to the Moon" by Noel Alumit

Noel Alumit's new novel, Talking to the Moon, is now on the shelves! I hope you'll rush down to your nearest independent bookstore to purchase a copy.

A yucky thought I want to get off my chest...

Last night on David Letterman I heard, yet again, Donald Trump repeatedly refer to Rosie O'Donnell as 'a degenerate.'

By inference, he's saying that he thinks of all gay people as degenerate.

This from a man who has been married several times, to much younger women, which in the eyes of some religions, would make him a degenerate. Letterman tried several times to tell him that he ought not to say that, but Trump cut him off, and repeated himself.

There will be an interview with him and The Apprentice producer Mark Burnett in tomorrow's LA Times. I could give a flying rat's ass about his reality show or his opinions on anything else for that matter; and some reason I presume he'll be too wrapped up in his endless self-promotion to get into his ongoing feud with Rosie O'Donnell.

I don't much care how it all started; from what has been repeated second- or third-hand, Rosie had some thoughts about how Trump was handling his beauty queens. Am I the only one who finds it creepy that Trump "owns" these beauty pageants, anyway? Is picking cotton part of the official duties of the pageant winners, or do they vie for manumission?

I'm probably more upset by the whole affair than I might have otherwise been because the LaRouche people tried to ambush me again outside the supermarket. Either they don't know or don't care that they are working or volunteering for a homophobe, and possibly even getting off being in the heart of one of the largest gay and lesbian enclaves in the country trying to get people to donate money to their own detriment.

Since I have never watched The Apprentice, I won't miss not watching it. I'm beginning to wonder, however, if NBC shares Trump's viewpoint that gay people are degenerate. And I'm beginning to be concerned that some of the programs Trump has been on that have failed to mention (or edited out) any discussion of his use of the word may share the same view.

Trump won the right in court to develop property he purchased atop unstable cliffs in Palos Verdes...

It kind of makes you wonder if you REALLY want to live HERE, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Now THIS is the way to start off New Year... or the first day of the rest of your life

Wesley Aubrey photo by Felix Bryant

In a philosophy class once, I believe we had a discussion as to whether mankind could act in complete altruism.

I guess I have the irrefutable proof, that despite of some of the actions of some people, humankind has a chance.

I was all set to be ticked off at the Rosie-Donald feud (did he really just insinuate that we were all degenerate?) when I heard the news story of Wesley Aubrey's leaping off a subway platform to save a young man as a train was approaching the station.

So maybe I can't convince all my neighbors to recycle their garbage properly. I can take care to set an example, as imperfectly as I will, by my own small, individual actions. And once in a while, I may fail to hit the mark I set for myself. Yet I know what good humankind is capable of. It does happen-and I can tell the naysayers that there is irrefutable proof.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

If you think that YOU'RE having a bad day...

Flying While Arab

This weekend I read an article in the December 2006 issue of The Progressive, about an August 2006 incident involving JetBlue and passenger Raed Jarrar. It seems another passenger was uncomfortable with his T-shirt, and reported him to security.

Frankly, I get a little nervous every time I hear a Southern drawl nearby... I start hearing "Strange Fruit" on endless loop in my head.

The Arab News reported that the Council on American-Islamic Relations has had an increase in complaints by passengers who were singled out because they were different.

If you feel you are unfairly targeted, whatever your ethnicity, race or religion, CAIR reminds you that you have the following rights:

1. Ask for the names and ID numbers of all persons involved in the incident.

2. Ask to speak to a supervisor.

3. Ask if you have been singled out because of your name, looks, dress, race, ethnicity, faith or national origin.

4. Ask witnesses to give you their names and contact information.

5. Write down a statement of facts immediately after the incident. Be sure to include the flight number, the date, and the name of the airline.

6. Contact CAIR (and/or your local human right commission) to file a report.

I wonder what would happen if indigenous Americans were to fly with European-Americans? Do they get nervous if the flight attendant offers them a blanket on red eye or inter-continental flights? And then, there's the sticky issue of the American invasion of Hawai'i which resulted in the overthrow of their monarchy and near complete decimation of their population. And that little incident where the CIA bombed the Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile, resulting in the death of their democratically elected president.

And the list could go on and on...

It seems the rest of the world would have more to fear of Americans flying than we of them.

I guess we need to send our TSA people back for some basic re-training: like, what are those things on the runway called?

"You can't wear a T-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a T-shirt that reads 'I am a bank robber' and going to a bank."