Monday, April 28, 2008

Who has time to worry about wildfires?

Wildfire threatens homes in residential community approximately 20 miles from Los Angeles

About 1,000 residents were evacuated from 200 homes in Sierra Madre this weekend. The city rests up against the base of Foothill Mountains. Today fire officials said the blaze is about 30 % contained.

This didn't stop a couple from getting married in the Angeles National Forrest on Saturday. The couple actually moved their wedding date up after they originally planned for a fall wedding in mountains (because it is high fire season then! ha) The couple and their guests were eventually airlifted out of there.

The couple actually hiked in the mountains along with a wedding party of about 50 people to camp and exchange vows for the weekend. It wasn't until Sunday morning that they were aware of how close the fire was.

This week is supposed to cool down, allowing firefighters to quell the blaze.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I know San Diego is not LA, but this is somewhat newsworthy...

A shark attacked and killed a 66-year-old triathlete this morning 20 miles north of San Diego in Solana Beach.

Authorities believe it was a great white. Witnesses, his group members from the Triathlon Club of San Diego, said they actually saw Dave Martin being lifted out of the water and drug under. Four of his group members brought him on the beach where he succumbed to his injuries.

Beaches near Solana were closed indefinitely this morning. No other shark sightings were reported.

Some people blame the shark attack to the rising seal population in the San Diego beach area.

"I love the seals, but it was clearly a mistake to open a McShark in the center of the open-water swimming community of San Diego," Mitch Thrower, another triathlete, told the Los Angeles Times.

A sheriff said he couldn't recall there ever being a shark attack in the area as far as he can remember.

Now, please watch this AP VIDEO. The guy on the right, I think he's a firefighter or something, says that they're "still trying to locate the shark." funny shit. really? You guys are going to waste tax dollars and your time to try and find a great white in the big blue ocean? What are you going to do, throw the shark in jail?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Who the f%*# is Sarah Marshall?

When these billboards were first put up a month or two ago, many people across the U.S. asked themselves, "Who is Sarah Marshall and what is this all about?"

Sarah Marshall of Glendora, CA said her parents began getting calls wondering if their daughter was the target of a hate campaign. Sarah Marshall of Fort Worth, Texas told the Los Angeles Times that she got a lot of e-mails and phone calls asking her if she and her boyfriend were OK.

These billboards serve as advertisements for the comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," which comes out today. The outdoor campaign includes New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

The film, produced, written and directed by comedic genius Judd Apatow (of "40 Year-Old Virgin," Knocked Up") is about a guy trying to get over his ex-girlfriend.

Apatow, as with most of his films, has generated a unique buzz for his upcoming movie and, overall, created a new genre of comedy. Check out the official website for "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," it's pretty cool and interactive.

Adam Fogelson, president of marketing and distribution for Universal Pictures, told the Los Angeles Times, "We wanted to people to ask the question 'Who is Sarah Marshall?'....And everything we hoped would happen has come to pass."

Here is the official trailer:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Villaraigosa's former lover milks it for all it's worth

Los Angeles Magazine interviews Mirthala Salinas
The woman's affair with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa caused a stir in Los Angeles and marked the beginning of the end of his near 20 year-long marriage to wife Corina

Mirthala Salinas, 35, a former L.A. news anchor, agreed to speak for the first time about her affair with Los Angeles Magazine.

The woman continually insists that for a long time her relationship with Villaraigosa (who has been known to mess around) was just a friendship. Funny, friendship, this is what she looks like:

If I were a man, I'd find it pretty hard to be just friends with this woman.

Salinas' interviewer depicts her as a soft-spoken, gentle looking and acting kind of woman. Salinas claims that much of what attracted her to Villaraigosa was his help and consideration during her mother's battle with cancer.

Salinas claims she felt "special" having had an affair with the mayor.

Word first caught on about Villaraigosa's relationship with the woman when he was spotted at her apartment complex bringing over food for a potluck dinner, she claims.

"I don't care about people who have titles," she says. "I don't. And I know people see it as, well, he is the mayor of L.A. And they have every right to think that. But there is a word in English. Star...starstrike? Starstruck? I don't get like that. Sometimes people walk next to me, and they're a huge artist, and I don't know, because I'm not into that."

Well spoken by a journalist! Better to be oblivious, nonchalant and ignorant!

After Salinas' relationship ended with the mayor, she reconciled with her former boyfriend, a real estate agent. They are now engaged. Quick on the rebound. I wonder how her fiance felt about this interview.

As much as this interview was entertaining and informative, it drags on the drama. It wasn't necessary and almost a bit untimely, as the story of the mayor's affair broke last summer. Spare Villaraigosa's family and this lady's fiance, please.

Here's Villaraigosa's old press conference, where he confessed his relationship with Salinas.

Monday, March 31, 2008

There are fans, and then there are STALKERS

This lovely looking woman was arrested Sunday evening outside actor John Cusack's home in Malibu, after a cab driver made a call to police complaining that his passenger refused to pay her fare.

While deputies arrested Emily Leatherman, 33, Cusack flagged down the sheriffs, alerting them that he recognized the woman and that she had been stalking him despite a restraining order he had against her.

Leatherman had previously thrown a bag over Cusack's fence containing love letters, rocks and screwdrivers. Authorities declined to say what was in the bag she threw over his fence this time. I wonder...a sandwich? Her crazy pills?

Leatherman's bail was set at $150,000. The woman was also arrested last year outside Tom Cruise's home on suspicion of violating a restraining order he had against her.

Another great case of celebrity stalking belongs to actor Jodie Foster. Her most recent stalker, Michael Smegal of Massachusetts, was arrested after sending many written bomb threats to the Van Nuys, CA airport that included Foster's name. Foster also had a previous admirer, John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to impress the actress.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eastwood becomes driftwood in Schwarzenegger's book

Clint Eastwood learned last week that the governator had dropped him from California's state parks commission after more than seven years of service. Schwarzenegger's brother-in-law, Bobby Shriver, was also dropped.

The governor said their terms had expired and he wanted to give other people the opportunity to serve.

The actor and Shriver believe, however, that the governor possibly decided against their reappointment because of their opposition to a plan to build the Foothill South toll road through the surfing haven of San Onofre Beach in Orange County. The project was rejected in February.

Schwarzenegger claimed that the toll road would alleviate traffic and reduce global warming.

Eastwood says he has no hard feelings toward the governor but was confused at his sudden removal after the governor had known about the actor's opposition to the toll road for more than two years.

Eastwood, however, clashed with the California Coastal Commission in 2006 when it rejected a golf course and housing development that he and his business partners had proposed at Pebble Beach.

Hollywood actors: always ready to play the role.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Justice served by LA Court after 25 Years

Willie Earl Green wore prison scrubs and drank bad black coffee for a quarter century in San Quentin State Prison. Green was convicted of a crime he continually denied he ever committed.

Last week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus threw out Green’s conviction of murder, saying the jurors could have exonerated him if they had known the full story. Four years ago, the only witness at the scene (a South LA crack house) came forward saying he wasn’t sure if he had correctly identified the shooter as he was high on crack the night of the killing.

While in San Quentin, Green worked at the library, earned his associate of arts degree and helped run a life-skills program for inmates. Green reunited with his wife Mary who waited for his release. They were introduced by a friend in 1991, six years after his conviction and were married within a year. They had never been together outside a prison, jail or courthouse.

Green enjoyed small luxuries like milk and sugar in his coffee and getting his first look at a cell phone when he was released. Green said he is not bitter—“The system that put me in here is the same system that got me out. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best system in the world.”

Saturday, March 15, 2008

When making money goes hand-in-hand with vomit

The scene of downtown Fullerton in Orange County has turned from a hub for antique shopping to a fraternity party. The city of Fullerton can’t tame the beast it has created because it’s not taking the correct measures.

The once sleepy downtown is now home to upscale restaurants and bars that have customers waiting in lines around the block. Business owners and city officials welcome the business that downtown brings but not the problems that come with it.

Over the last year, a cab driver was attacked and killed allegedly by a man who was partying at the downtown bars and three people were involved in an accident that killed the driver of the vehicle whose blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.

Fullerton is turning in to a place where fighting, vomiting, urinating in public and driving drunk are commonplace. The city has tried to control its bar and nightclub scene by assigning four police officers to the area and putting a hold on new liquor licenses for six months, but to no avail.

So who are these party animals that are causing problems for a city that has nearly 50 establishments serving alcohol in a four-block radius? They’re not even from Fullerton or Orange County. Police say those that have been arrested for various crimes in the downtown area are from the Inland Empire and Los Angeles County.

As for the cherry on top, the city has raked in a $1.5 million bill in police, fire and maintenance costs while only puling in $560,000 in taxes.

In order to curb the areas alcohol-related problems, a new law will take effect next month which will limit inside and outside noise, enforce tighter security, cut wait lines and issue conditional-use permits for restaurants that turn into clubs at night.

A Fullerton City Councilwoman was quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying, “We didn’t put the conditions on them because we needed them. And suddenly we’ve got this little baby that we ignored and she’s turned into this naughty teenager. Now we’re making some rules, trying to get that teenager into adulthood without getting killed.”

It appears that the Fullerton City Council has overlooked one key move that could help booster police enforcement: raise taxes. For the obvious reasons, raising taxes would help improve the management of the downtown bars and clubs.

Instead of asking people to step out of line or turn the music down, let the law enforcement handle the riff-raff. With any place that gains popularity, there are going to be pros and cons, but business and commerce shouldn’t have to suffer. There is a way to allow progress and revenue to continue, and allowing some intoxicated reveler to vomit or urine on the sidewalk every once in a while just comes with the territory.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Los Angeles: One step ahead yet a few steps behind

A very tall, thin woman, presumably, will be strutting down a runway this week in Los Angeles wearing a dress designed by Farah Angsana. You’re probably asking yourself, “Who the hell is that?” Last month, men in New York wore designs by Nautica and at least one woman walked around in a dress designed by the famed Calvin Klein. Why do you care?

New York Fashion Week, like Paris Fashion Week (with a modern flair), is a fashion frenzy—an inspirational and social event for the domestic and foreign fashion-obsessed. Some of the most anticipated names (not necessarily the high-fashion houses like Chanel, Gucci, etc.) on the cutting edge of modern fashion appear on the New York runways twice a year. Some crazy people would give up a cute puppy or their right arm to be sitting in the front row of one of these shows. The mayhem continues almost 12 hours a day for seven days.

This upcoming week here in the city of angels is Los Angeles Fashion Week, which hasn’t exactly glamorously ingrained itself on the fashion map like its eastern metropolitan counterpart. That isn’t to say that the designers showing their collections in L.A. are not respected, inventive or brilliant for that matter. They are a different version of the up-and-coming. As ridiculous as it sounds, L.A. Fashion Week is a metaphor for the beast and blessing that is the city of Los Angeles.

L.A. Fashion Week doesn’t exactly channel its eastern counterpart. There are a few shows sprinkled in each day by designers that are more than likely unknown to those outside the fashion world. L.A. Fashion week is something like this: it an event that happens, that’s trying to improve, but just wants to get done with so that people can get on with more important things. It’s there, it’s trying, it wants to be fresh, new, inventive, original, and it may succeed in being regarded as these things, but it is not one for the history books.

Los Angeles is a melting pot of people that help fuel modern ideas in art, music, literature, culture, lifestyle, etc. The city often produces great things, but is also home to sandy beaches and the entertainment industry. This superficiality, slower way of life (compared to that of New York) paired with the lack of geographic coherence (city center anyone? What IS Downtown L.A. anyway?) retards any further progression in establishing prominence in various fields other than entertainment.

Los Angeles has a long way to go in making a name for itself in areas other than foul-mouthed rap music and bad romantic comedies (don’t get me wrong, these things bring a lot of joy to my life.) L.A. possesses its own charm and Angelenos seem to be a step ahead in defining the up-and-coming but fail to hold a stronger ground than cities like New York City. O.K., so we are a younger city. But, we have 400 square miles more of elbowroom than that of someone standing on the island of Manhattan. Maybe Angelenos are too busy sunbathing in Venice. And maybe it is a blessing in disguise.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Public intellectuals aren’t dead; they just have a new face

Deciding what qualifies an individual as a public intellectual would be an exhaustive or merely impossible task. As USC Professor Stephen Mack put it on his website, “…our notions of the public intellectual need to focus less on who or what a public intellectual is—and by extension, the qualifications for getting and keeping the title. Instead, we need to be more concern with the work public intellectuals must do, irrespective of who happens to be doing it.”

In my opinion, most modern “public intellectuals” (I will let you decide who you believe to be a public intellectual) are of a different breed than those of the past. With a high-tech society and more room in the media for controversial topics (such as global warming, religion, sex, genetics) I believe many public intellectuals today are those that are experts in his/her field and may venture beyond their expertise but more often use what they know to create awareness and help others. As Professor Mack put it, “What is sometimes identified as anti-intellectualism is in fact intellectual—that is, a well articulated family of ideas and arguments that privilege the practical, active side of life (e.g., work) over the passive and purely reflective operations of the mind in a vacuum.”

A scholarly individual who writes extensively about a very abstract discipline may be highly respected in their field among his/her colleagues, however I believe they play less of a social role than those whose fields play into modern culture, religion, politics, etc. I think public intellectuals play a substantial role today in the way people view different topics. Now, there is a fine line, I believe, between expertise and opinion, which I will get into later. There are individuals who are very opinionated but are regarded as public intellectuals.

A lot of intellectuals today, who would be considered “public,” in my opinion, are those whose names become household in the various disciplines. Public intellectuals are brought on TV shows and news shows to comment on various topics. Other public intellectuals speak at college campuses. Others don’t leave their house or office. But I believe those who are remembered and continually referenced by the public are those that appear online, in print and on TV.

Modern public intellectuals may not carry as much influence as those in the past; it’s hard to say. I can speculate, that to a certain degree, public intellectuals today (however many you believe there to be) are as much respected and appreciated for their expertise as those from the past. I don’t believe Americans need to be led by public intellectuals, as there are other ways to stay well informed. But, public intellectuals have the ability to influence others and bring rich insight into others’ lives.

Modern day “public intellectuals”

Dr. David Drew Pinsky, better known as “Dr. Drew,” is an American board certified internist and addiction medicine specialist. He has authored three books and is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the USC Keck School of Medicine. He is the Medical Director of the Department of Chemical Dependency Services at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, CA and is a staff member at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, CA. But, most people that know of Dr. Drew don’t know any of this. This is just simply part of his background.

Dr. Drew has been the host and addiction medicine specialist for many years on a daily late-night radio television program called “Loveline” on 106.7 FM in Los Angeles. However, “Loveline” is broadcast throughout the majority of the country on various radio channels. The idea of this program is people, usually teens and young adults, call in to talk to Dr. Drew about their issues with adolescence, drugs, family, sex, etc. You name it, it’s been talked about. If you listen to the program, you can tell that Dr. Drew takes this job quite seriously and is genuinely interested in helping people (even though he’s getting paid to do it). This dialogue between Dr. Drew, one other host, and the various callers that call in are basically what makes up this radio program. It’s intriguing and informative to hear what callers have to say and what kind of advice Dr. Drew gives to each caller. Dr. Drew, the majority of the time, does not give his opinion, from what I can tell, but just his objective medical advice.

Dr. Drew also has a show on Discovery Health Channel called “Strictly Dr. Drew” where he addresses everyday health issues. Dr. Drew often appears on news channels such as CNN, MSNBC and shows like “Ellen” and “Oprah” where he gives his medical advice. Dr. Drew even has his own MySpace page. So, does this make him just some doctor that goes on TV and the radio? No. This is a qualified and seasoned doctor who uses his expertise to make young adults aware of modern-day issues. He speaks to a much larger audience than just his colleagues. Dr. Drew is a modern day public intellectual.

Then, we have someone like Ann Coulter. A lot of people think she is insane. Rightfully so. However, there are arguments that this woman is a “public intellectual.” As much as I don’t care to acknowledge this, it is a possibility, depending on a person’s idea of what a public intellectual is. Coulter is well educated, published and experienced in the fields of law and politics, but also, as we all know, incredibility extreme, outspoken and stubborn in her views (of which could be considered very close-minded.) But, she does play some kind of social function I suppose.

On Coulter’s website, it says in her biography that she was “named one of the top 100 Public Intellectuals by federal judge Richard Posner in 2001.” Funny. An opinion by a federal judge doesn’t mean that much. But they made sure to include that in her bio. People may dislike Ann Coulter for her radical opinions, but they still make sure to bring her on their news programs. She still speaks at college campuses. This has to mean people still want to hear what she has to say, even if what she’s saying makes them squint.

Within public intellectualism, in the case of Ann Coulter, this is where the lines of expertise and experience blur with opinion and bias. The blur is pretty apparent here. Coulter may have some sort of expertise but her viewpoint seems to out do her intelligence. It is up to the public (on an individual basis) to decide whether or not she is an intellectual. Check this out for starters.

Modern day public intellectualism, with the rapid growth of technology, appears to make it even more difficult to decide who qualifies as a “public intellectual,” as more individuals’ perspectives and ideas are exposed into the public. Not all public intellectuals may be a special class of academics anymore, as public intellectuals penetrate the realm of more realistic, rational and everyday life issues. These type of public intellectuals, like Dr. Drew Pinksy, are the types of intellectuals that benefit the public and don’t just serve as abstract figures that write abstract essays to collect dust. They make a difference in people’s lives.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Beyond the cotton

One Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer isn’t just interested in selling t-shirts. American Apparel Inc. is also interested in sex, immigration issues and paying their employees higher wages. CEO, creative director and founder Dov Charney has created a new, controversial face for basic clothing around the world and the consumer appears to approve.

American Apparel Inc.’s work environment, sexy ad campaigns and comfortable wares make them appeal to both the employee and the consumer. But there’s more to it than what meets the eye and the sewing needle.

The company, which manufactures mostly solid-color clothing, for the purpose of wholesaling, silkscreening and their own retail, was first founded in Canada by Charney, a Montreal native, and moved to Los Angeles in 1997. American Apparel is a vertically-integrated company, which means Charney controls all phases of production. In 2004, Charney told the Los Angeles Business Journal, “I want to create a new platform for the future. It’s less about sweatshop-free because that sounds like charity. It’s more about a program of efficiency that dwarfs full capitalism and creates the new form of capitalism.”

American Apparel’s racy advertisements, which usually feature young women wearing no more than a little fabric in positions not designed for yoga, turn heads. The ads feature women who Charney says he often approaches on the street who are not professional models. The women wear either little or not makeup and no retouching is applied to the photo, giving off a raw sexual vibe. On the American Apparel website, there is a link devoted solely to “provocative ads.” ( Charney told the New York Times (reported by ABC News) that his advertisements, which he often photographs himself, are his way of recognizing “contemporary adult and sexual freedom.” American Apparel can prove that sex sells. In 2006, the company made over $300 million in sales. The retail chain has stores in 14 countries around the world including the U.S., Israel, Japan, France, Canada, Mexico, Germany, U.K. and more.

Not only has American Apparel’s sexually charged advertisements gathered media attention, but Charney’s eccentric and sexual behavior as well. Charney claims to have slept with employees. He has also photographed himself nearly naked for advertisement purposes, however the ads never ran. It is also reported that he masturbated several times while being interviewed by a reporter from Jane magazine. (Los Angeles Times) Charney acknowledges that he has appeared in his underwear in front of employees. (Los Angeles Times)

In 2005, 3 women filed sexual harassment suits against him, 2 of which were dismissed and one settled. Another case was just recently filed against Charney by a former employee and is being processed. Mary Nelson, 36, claims Charney conducted business dressed only in his underwear and used words such as “sluts” to refer to women. Nelson claims that she was fired when she consulted a lawyer. Charney’s lawyers said in court documents that “American Apparel is a sexually charged workplace where employees of both genders deal with sexual conduct, speech and images as part of their jobs.” (Los Angeles Times)

Charney has made a voice for American Apparel on immigration issues. In late 2007, American Apparel placed an ad in the New York Times that supports the integration of undocumented workers. It says, “At what point are we going to recognize that status quo amounts to an apartheid system? At what point will America stop living in a state of denial?...At American Apparel we support out workers. We support out community. We support Los Angeles. We support the pride of America and the American Dream…Enough is enough. It’s time to Legalize LA, and Legalize the USA.”A large banner with “Legalize LA” hangs from the Los Angeles factory.

American Apparel Inc. owns the largest garment factory in the U.S. at 800,000 square feet. The company employs more than 7,000 people worldwide. Their average hourly wage for employees in 2007 was $12. Charney told the Los Angeles Business Journal because he pays his employees a higher hourly wage than most places he gets better workers.

Charney may be supportive of immigrant workers and relatively good pay and other benefits, however, in the past, he has squashed the opportunity for his employees to unionize. In September of 2003, workers at the Los Angeles factory tried to organize a union with UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees). Charney, who is known to see unions as obstacles, launched an anti-union campaign, although he had told the media in the past he would never interfere with the organization of employees. Charney even threatened to shut down the plant if the workers organized. The move never materialized after fear and intimidation tactics. ( Charney told the Los Angeles Business Journal that “his ability to oversee nearly every aspect of his operation allows for rapid changes in design and order volume.”

Charney told the Journal, “Either I’m delusional or we’re going to change America.”

Some think Charney is a revolutionary for his sweatshop-free company and business approach, while others view him simply as a pervert for his uber-sexual advertisements (which he often photographs) and his provocative demeanor.

Whether Charney is changing America is up for further discussion; however, for now, he is at least turning heads, proving that sex does sell.

WORKS CITED,_LLC (Search: "Sew What?" archived, must pay for article),1,36&docsInCategory=43&csi=303830&docNo=3,1,15&docsInCategory=818&csi=6742&docNo=7,1,15&docsInCategory=818&csi=8357&docNo=13,1,15&docsInCategory=818&csi=306910&docNo=9,1,36&docsInCategory=13&csi=306910&docNo=2,1,36&docsInCategory=13&csi=306910&docNo=4

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Now, get your pot like you get your soda

Marijuana vending machines! They're new! They're convenient! They make the process anonymous!

Two out of these three machines in Los Angeles belong to inventor and owner Vincent Mehdizadeh. These machines distribute marijuana to people who are authorized to use marijuana for "medicinal purposes."

The computerized prescription vending machine requires fingerprint identification and a prepaid card. Once everything goes through, a green envelope full of the green stuff drops down the slot.

Mehdizadeh says the process in convenient and private for people who would feel uncomfortable about buying marijuana.

Each user is allowed one ounce per week maximum, which supposedly keeps down prices.

Don't worry, there are six different types of pot to choose from.

Over the last two years the DEA has started to bust more medical marijuana stores and charging operators with felonies. So, we'll see how long these candy machines stick around.

I think these vending machines may in a way reduce some of the illegal dealings that go on with marijuana club stores that dole out pot for people that require it for "medicinal use." If you are going through a machine to get your prescription, there's no human interaction, which means you can't really coax the vending machine into thinking that you need the weed. If you don't have a card, then you won't be getting any.

*Watch Reuters video*

Saturday, January 26, 2008

USC riots

Drunk kids against LAPD--probably not going to work out so well.

What was supposed to be another Friday night at USC turned into a bit more of a spectacle than expected. The 30th Street Court, a gated complex of multiple two-story apartments, was hosting a usual party in their courtyard. After the standard proliferation of mass texts, a substantial amount of people were hanging around the area for the party.

Usually, LAPD tends to keep their nose out of USC nightlife. It's USC's Department of Public Safety that makes sure to limit the number of keg-stands and beer-bongs that frat boys are doing. But maybe last night LAPD had had enough and decided to step in and show some drunk kids who's boss.

Notice the massive influx of cops. They're everywhere in the middle of the street donning some pretty hefty helmets.

The kids tried to rebel by sitting in the street. That didn't last too long. Judging by the video you'd think the cops were back in the early 90s getting ready for battle in the LA riots.

A few kids were arrested and others got beat up with batons--pretty violent.

From what I can see, the LA Times still hasn't picked up the story yet.

Check it out:

Part One

Part Two