Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Control Issues My Ass

Friday, April 15th, 2016

HELPFUL PARKING INSTRUCTIONS_Where Excuses Go to DieYours, mine, or theirs: citing “control issues” to justify bad behavior is just another excuse. It’s nonsense, too, because we don’t have control issues; we have irritation reflexes, entitlements, and a need for instant gratification. These form a perfect storm in our compulsion to influence the world around us – an Achilles’ heel like no other. And where do go with it?
Behind the wheel. 

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Defensive Architecture

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Anti-loitering architecture forces the homeless out into the shame

Dinner time for De-waged Americans_Where Excuses Go to DieKristin Hohenadel’s Slate.com piece on “managing” London’s homeless (“Are Anti-Homeless Sidewalk Spikes Immoral?”) points to a Change.org petition that insists we give a damn about vulnerable populations rather than ostracize them with defensive architecture. The “spikes” that sparked the outrage>petition>renewed UK debate>this blog entry were installed near the entrance of a luxury residential building in London on June 10, 2014.

The article’s example pictures of “anti-bum” devices, culled from artist Nils Norman’s international collection, show a callousness that is not, to me, the least bit surprising. For years, I’ve referred to nasty urban planning designs like these as “MAN-EATERS” since they frequently resemble shark teeth. Here in Los Angeles, in a world of caged trash bins and spatial confinement of the homeless, we have a disheartening array of them.

Pigeon Science on Human SubjectsWe’re not alone, though: across modern urban landscapes everywhere, commercial and residential developers are planning and designing “exclusionary” access ways and loading docks to discourage the poor from setting up shop in doorways and “gap sites,” those architectural nooks and crannies that most of us sinners have been grateful to find at one time or another – usually when drunk. But let’s face it: in every one of us lurks a little NIMBY contradiction, the sentiment otherwise known as, “not in my backyard.”

Partiers are grateful to find a place to pee, sure, but don’t want to work near or pass through one of these stink-holes on a daily basis. (By the way, if anyone is offended by the implication that you’d ever urinate in an alley or between two buildings, please discontinue reading now. I make no guarantee your head won’t explode when I start mocking those who feel a moral playing field has been leveled, now that anti-pigeon science is being used on humans.) (more…)

“I’m not a racist, but…”

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Don’t have the nerve to be openly racist? Don’t say racist things.

BLACKS_CAN'T_SWIM_Where Excuses Go to DieThere’s nothing surprising about life circling back on karma leper Donald Sterling. And this week, L.A. feels like when they hauled the Space Shuttle Endeavor through the city: scores of Angelenos on the same proud page, even if only briefly.

Thank you Donald Sterling, shoo-in for the 2014 Utter Lack of Character Award.

As a former recipient myself, I fully admit to being an ethically spoiled A-hole in my early 20s – so much so that it took being dropped into an environment where everything I didn’t want to be crept or assaulted its way toward me every day, on a minute-by-minute basis. And frankly, it was really the only way for me to learn. The sole advantage I had was a dark sense of humor, which meant that one or two hostile wake-up calls were met halfway.

There are, though, three things I understood right off:

  1. Don’t hang around with people who like to punch others ‘cause they have to practice on someone (it’ll eventually be you)

  2. No matter what it is, say to their face. Own it. Force the other guy to do all the work, all the reacting, and all the resenting

  3. If you don’t know what racism is (learned, practiced, and legacy), you should probably shut the fuck up about how “Blacks can’t swim”

Equally clear to me (and everyone else) was that, behind bars, sentences never begin with, “I’m not a racist, but…” (more…)

L.A. Sheriff Baca Steps Down

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

You can’t run for reelection when you’ve been indicted by the Feds.

He was the most powerful elected official in Southern California.
His jail was compared to Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq.
He was called “deliberately indifferent” to civil rights abuses and corruption among his deputies.
He saw controversy and criticism as opportunities.
He compared his job to missionary work.
What a surprise.

3000_Baca_Photo by Grant Slater–KPCCI once came across what I thought was a dead or dying 50-something Asian man in the 3000 block of the Men’s Central Jail. He was lying with his head between an open cell’s steel toilet bowl and the concrete wall. This last cell in the row had been left open for those of us housed on the tier because of overcrowding. The old man was there for two days; others used the bowl around him and on him. Someone should’ve been told, but not an eyebrow had been raised by the other inmates, so I was afraid to speak up.

These units at MCJ are referred to as modules, and their ground floor walkways –still very much in use– have been dubbed “The Freeway.” That was just about the worst place an arrogant fuck-up like me could imagine, and I was there to stay. One afternoon, from outside that open cell, I heard someone yelling angrily because the man was in their way, and I was torn up in ways I’ve never felt. So I walked up to the module’s sally port cage door, got the attention of a Sheriff’s deputy, and told him the old guy needed to be dragged out of there. I got waved off and told to get lost. (more…)

Nobody Votes in L.A.

Friday, March 8th, 2013

There are many excuses not to vote. These are mine.

Where Excuses Go to Die DO NOTHINGThe City of Los Angeles saw absurdly low voter turnout on Tuesday — they say it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 16%-to-20% of those registered. It’s the same sad song we always hear, but about which I’m finally free to ask: If the Mayans were wrong with their obnoxious predictions, how are we to trust iffy polls that tell us we’re doomed if we don’t vote? Aren’t we all still walking around, microwaving the earth the Mayans left us?

In addition to that (perfectly reasonable) rationalization, here are some of the excuses that went through my head on voting day:

  1. You have to be some kind of ballot language specialist to understand the propositions, which are written so that only people living in Opposite World will get what voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ means. That’s just cruel.
  2. I don’t know what a city controller does.
  3. My friends don’t want to go.
  4. When asked, “Shall the City of Los Angeles enact a one-half cent transactions and use (generally referred to as sales) tax, with required independent audits, public review of expenditures, and all funds used locally,” I need to pull out my trusty 新選民資訊 guide in order to answer. I’ll be right back never.
  5. Law and Order already started. They’re just going to raise taxes anyway.
  6. Polling places remind me of things I don’t want to touch, like decomposing, school district wood and volunteers.
  7. I already took my shoes off; you know the rule.
  8. Standing in line for a ballot’s like being at the DMV, ‘cept the people behind the counter are smarter than you are, and they know you last read a book when Bush was still president.
  9. Never mind the sticker, shouldn’t we be issued some sort of code when we vote, so when we encounter grocery store petition weirdos we can pronounce it and walk off guilt free, like one of the good people? Do that and I’ll vote in every election.
  10. I can’t break away from what I’m doing just ’cause it’s time to vote. Voting needs to be rolled into my other errands, so I can manufacture the illusion of profit and check something off my to-do list.
  11. There was an election this week, and there’s another one in two months. See what I’m saying? This is impossible.
  12. All I’ve heard is that both frontrunners have funded Muslim kitten burning operations and that they’d sell their souls to the devil if they knew the devil could be litigated against. It’ll take a candidate who deserves my vote for me to just all of a sudden –snap!– log out of Call of Duty.
  13. Psh!

And yet…I did log out, put my shoes back on, and turn away from the Law and Order rerun. I found out what a city controller does. I took a very nice evening stroll with a good friend up to the neighborhood elementary school, where we found more volunteers than voters. “Been like this all day,” one told us. But we figured, at least we’re not talkers. See, we love Los Angeles, warts ‘n all. Not the champagne and spray-tan bullshit, I mean the people and places.

L.A. natives often hear how much we have in common with hard-bitten New Yorkers and I dig that. I relate to the cynicism, but also to the abundant civic pride. And really, how different is this from folks in the heartland who love their hometowns too? I fight my excuses because voting means it’s time for me give something to my city, ’cause my city is better than the people running it.

Robin Hood Drives a Volvo

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

When all else fails, try populism! 

It isn’t official, but given that the Feds love assigning perp nicknames, authorities could dub four alleged L.A. area bank robbers “the Robin Hood Bandits” any minute now. Everyone else has! Having tossed at least a dozen handfuls of money from their getaway car during a pursuit through South Los Angeles, the designation may stick, too, despite speculation that the tactic was more diversionary than charitable. Video clips show people jumping off sidewalks to grab wafting bills, inevitably blocking police vehicles. If I were to guess, I’d say the bandits knew they were sunk and opted to go out with a good PR move.

Maybe they were returning to their childhood neighborhoods as they circled block after block, money and police trailing behind them. On the other hand, it doesn’t look like they took into account the safety of the people upon whom they were bestowing this grand gesture, and at the end of the pursuit a repeat of Florence and Normandie circa 1992 looked about to erupt – unnerving footage for Anglenos here during the King riots. Will these suspects be charged with additional counts of, say, Mayhem or Disturbing the Peace for starting something that could have turned quite ugly? Or will money out the window endear them to the public — and by extension, to a jury? The pursuit footage has already begun to work its anti-hero magic. (more…)