January 24, 2006

Dr. Terrence Roberts

Pops is always full of surprises. The one he dropped on me today was that he's known Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine for many years. It turns out that he was one of the members of the Writer's Workshop in Pops' Institute for Black Studies back in the day. Well, of course Dr. Roberts has done well for himself and others. In recognition of same he will be honored next month.

In observance of Black History Month, Antioch University will pay tribute to our very own national hero, Dr. Terrence Roberts Dr. Roberts will be honored for his heroism as one of “The Little Rock Nine” who confronted the Arkansas National Guard and helped desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

6:00 p.m.
Refreshments & Live Jazz

7:00 p.m.
Reminiscences by Terry Roberts and recognition by the community

8:00 p.m.
A Drum Circle Honoring Dr. Roberts
(Your participation is encouraged. Drums will be provided or you can bring your own.)

Antioch University Los Angeles Room A1000

More info to come!
For address and driving directions, visit our website at www.antiochla.edu

There it is.

Posted by mbowen at 04:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They Just Don't Get LA

"The definition of a monster according to Aristotle is too much substance and not enough form," Lévy said. "That's exactly the case of Los Angeles. It may be a European point of view. I say it with all the prudence of someone perhaps with a traditional idea of a city…. I don't say I hated it, but I was lost. 'Lost in Translation.' Perhaps it's the city of the future. But without me."

This is probably the quote that makes this the most mailed article about LA in the LAT. A Frenchman trying to describe Los Angeles. Hmm. Maybe that's why we don't have many francophones here. Of all the zillion ethnics we do have, I cannot remember there being any significant French anywhere. How odd.

Posted by mbowen at 07:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 14, 2006

The Blingiest Lexus

Originally uploaded by cobb_tcb.
I have never seen more blingy headlights on any car, production or theoretical. This is the LF-A, the newest concept from Lexus. It was definitely one of the hits of the show.

BTW, this is my first Flikr blog post. Let's see how it works.
Posted by mbowen at 07:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 13, 2006

Not Your Governor's Republicans

Austin Dragon has a fire under him and the SoCal Republican Club is on a mission. Since the last time I was at the GOP club something of a transformation has taken place. They have moved from the abstract into the direct. And what they are directly fired up about is the future of the Republican Party in California. It's basically not good enough for them, and they are all about reform.

This is me and Joe Hicks. Joe Hicks is the former Executive Director of the L.A. City Human Relations Commission, where he served from 1997 to 2001 under Mayor Richard Riordan. He was also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Multi-Cultural Collaborative, which served as an umbrella group for a diverse group of community- based leaders. In the early 1990s, Hicks was Executive Director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the well-known civil rights organization founded by Martin Luther King, Jr.

For more than 30 years, Mr. Hicks has been an active figure in local and national issues related to civil rights and intergroup relations. His comments and opinion articles have appeared in local, national and international media. He also served a three-year term as a member of the Board of Governors for the California State Bar, and he continues to serve on numerous boards. In demand as a lecturer, Mr. Hicks is currently writing a book that chronicles his 30-year journey across the nation's racial and political landscape.

Joe was the evening's keynote speaker but at the top of the agenda was Arnold Schwarzenegger. As soon as the invocation and pledge was done, the first order of business was to give Arnold the boot. The club is strongly considering not supporting him from now on. The membership was highly frustrated over Schwarzenegger's statements calling the special election a mistake. These were the footsoldiers who had worked so hard to support his initiatives, and he punked out on them. It didn't sit well with them at all. Furthermore, the audacity to appoint a Democrat as his chief of staff was grating on the last nerves of the officers of the club. It's bad enough that he's sleeping with one Kennedy, now he's got two. They are referring of course to Susan Kennedy whose appointment has the GOP up in arms. The SoCal Club is ready for revolt and they like many other California Republicans want to stop Kennedy.

The resentment over this appointment runs deeply and it reminded members that the Governor did not campaign for Geoprge W. Bush. In California, the expected results for Bush by the GOP was 40%. He only got 37% and Arnold could have made that difference. Is he a Republican or not?

The theme for the evening was backbone and core values. Leading the charge was an invigorating Joe Hicks, speaking in a mode I haven't heard before, but entirely consistent with what I expected. He covered the common ground and set the tone for what we ought to be about, which is reform. I like what I heard.

  • Strong National Defense
  • Law & Order
  • Small Government
  • Lower Taxes
  • Keep Government out of my Life
  • Secure Borders
  • Pro-Business
  • No Racial Preferences
  • Faith & Family
  • That's who we are, and in that general order of importance, he stressed that this is what everybody ought to know. But he correctly argued that Republicans are more often defined by non-Republicans than not. This is the problem that's eating us alive in California, and everybody knew it.

    I brought Y with me who occupied herself with her Treo while trying to maintain a straight face. This was her first time being surrounded by Republicans and she made a brave go at it, but had to interrupt Hicks when he ranted against the racially themed graduations at Stanford. She managed to stifle after a while but again silently freaked out when the Minutemen were mentioned. When Hicks stood in principle against the Grutter decision and against GWBush for supporting Affirmative Action it was a charged moment. As he took Rice and Powell to task, his angle made an impression on me that makes sense in the context of the reform he's talking about. More on that separately.

    Also in attendance, aside from the couple dozen who braved the half-closed parking lot at the newly renovated LAX Plaza Hotel (It'll always be the Fox Hills Ramada to me) was Jeffers Dodge who's donning the yoke and trying to win the 47th Assembly seat. This is a daunting task - but for a noble purpose: to energize the 30,000 Republicans of the 150,000 registered voters. The 47th is my home district, from where I grew up that is. One of these days I'll have the time and money to run for office, but no time soon. Jeffers can be found over at Media Drool and his newest effort, LA Republicans.

    Jeffers has worked in the music business for most of his career, and like many of us is thinking twice about if what it has become is the best legacy for our children. So he's in the Republican camp and working to make things better. I like that spirit.

    All in all it was an invigorating meeting. Oh by the way, the young sponsor of Operation Thunderstorm showed up. Adopt a Marine!

    Posted by mbowen at 07:37 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    December 22, 2005


    This morning, the coast was shrouded in fog. I took the Munchkins to the shore to see if the high surf predicted was still in effect. No such luck. All I saw was 1 & 2 footers. Now Redondo doesn't have great surf but surfers to hit that beach. So where's the surf? I'll look again tonight.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 13, 2005

    The Tookie Files

    As the debate rages on until the break of dawn, I'll provide formal documents here at Cobb.

  • District Attorney Steve Cooley's document requesting denial of clemency can be found here.

  • Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger's actual denial of clemency can be found here.
  • Posted by mbowen at 11:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Lessons Learned

    Every year there are thousands more fatal car accidents, but most of us are not closely involved even though we drive every day. While we know that thousands of Americans are victims of murders every year (about 18,000) very few of us ever know of someone who was murdered, and fewer still are witnesses. There is a difference between knowing something to be true and experiencing it firsthand.

    I have watched this blog's comments get ugly for the first time. Perhaps it was inevitable. And while I have always known that there were thousands and perhaps millions of Americans who had foolish reasons to believe in Tookie, it was quite a different thing entirely to have them show up and spout off. But I welcome the disagreement, but not all of the nastiness. There's no call for that here. We can be catty and I don't pretend that we have to be 'civil', sometimes a point is best made with a slap. But there's a limit to how much verbal clap I'll allow. In the end, for the sake of history, we represent. That's what it's all about - so I'm glad that some people who sound like real bangers put their words up even though I wouldn't put up with that face to face. It's the advantage of working online. I can have people here that would never get in my house.

    It's hard to say I told you so, because I really do have empathy for people who are just so wrong. But hey, we all have our lives to lead and they have to make sense to us. People wrap of the sense of their lives one way or another with Tookie, and it's good that it has happened, because it helps us understand the distance we need to keep from each other. I don't need to see anybody with that ignorant T shirt on. Step off.

    But the problem is, no matter how far away we need to keep from each other on issues like this, we still are One Nation, Indivisible. We can debate whether or not we run our lives under God. God's cool with that. We have a choice. But when it comes to the laws of the land, we do not have a choice, and that's a good thing. The people of America won't let you have a choice. We are all invested in law and order. That means we let the cops do the arresting and the judges and juries do the judging. If it weren't for them, we'd be at each other's throats, and this very issue proves it.

    I understand that a lot of folks wanted to stay out of it - steer clear of the ugly implications of conflict in this heated issue. When it comes to online debate you have that luxury. But sooner or later you have to speak up - there damned sure will be people who are ready to speak up for you if you don't.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:59 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    December 12, 2005

    Nissan Sinking

    I don't think I'm speaking too much out of school to say that these are troubled times for Nissan. Of all the Japanese automakers, they are alone in a downturn this past quarter. The price of gas has done them in. If that weren't enough, their move from Los Angeles is wrecking havoc on employee moral and efficiency. I know. I'm on contract with them.

    Nissan is a cool place to work, but all of the cool and talented people are finding work elsewhere. Nobody wants the one-way ticket to Palookaville Tennessee. Even though you could afford a mansion and a yacht with your California equity, most of the folks I'm talking with prefer the ethnic mix and the ocean to those incentives.

    I've had the experience of working at other automakers here in So Cal and Nissan was the better one. Although things may have changed since those days there were notable cultural differences that Nissan folks may take some getting used to. Toyota is a well-wrapped culture. It's very protective of values. Well, let me not mince words. It's a place where you don't smoke, drink or speak in sports analogies. To my sensibilities, the place was entirely too uptight. They can be extroardinarily efficient, but nobody moves. Which is to say that it's very Japanese with regard to their commitment to fulfilling promises. You cannot see a problem and react to it, rather you plan with detail who is going to do what and when, and the plan sticks. Forget new obstacles and brick walls. Forget better ways to do the right thing. Commitment is everything. Everybody knows what everybody is doing and harmony is valued over individuality. I am told that this is how women prefer to work, and there were a majority of women on my floor all up and down the hierarchy.

    Honda, I don't know. The only word that I've heard about the joint is 'weird'. I've driven past their HQ in Torrance 1000 times and I've never seen anybody come out of that building.

    When I had a short engagement at Mitsubishi, the air was filled with paranoia and pride. Mitsubishi was and still is trying desparately to be something other than a one-car company. They believe, and probably rightly so, that all of their cars are great but they are only appreciated for the Eclipse. Truth be told that Lancer Evo is pretty hot too. No matter, at the time it wasn't on the radar, so Japan had come down hard on the Americans. There didn't seem to be an English speaker in the house who could make their own decisions being approved way up the chain. So there were meetings about deciding if a meeting would be held to decide something.

    There is nothing so sad as a lack of leadership, except perhaps bad leadership. I watch human beings like an alien at times, and find it remarkable how we adapt to strange circumstances. So I know that the Nissan folks will find their feet eventually, even if it is at the odd angle, like the hideout of the badguys on Batman, of another car company. Nobody has even thought about GM or Ford, not that they have any admin stuff out here. Some are heading to Hollywood and others to aerospace. A few are retiring, and a few are actually relocating to the area around Smyrna.

    What's left is going to be a huge gap. Not only have a number of the Nissan folks hit the door, but IBM is getting shown the door for application support. Some new Indian company has got the contract. What everyone is perceiving is that nobody who knows any of the ways Nissan has done business is going to be left. The really talented folks who would rather remain in California are going to get swooped up and the relatively less ambitious / talented people are going to be left behind. This means great chunks of expertise in both staff and tech support are going to evaporate. Nissan will be left with a very few good teams. Opportunity for them, chaos in the short term.

    One can't help but be skeptical for the next couple of years as Nissan gets their feet. This is yet another bold move for them which may come to bite back. Who knew, when Nissan put their foot down and boldly put those huge trucks out there, the Titan and the Armada, that the price of gas would double? Who knows what may transpire to make Tennessee just what the company needs or a costly mistake? How will the market perceive all of this? Only time will tell.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:12 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    December 08, 2005

    Sounds Like Integrity To Me

    Laura Chick puts to rest any speculation that she might be bucking for higher office:

    As I pondered whether or not to run, my thoughts always came back to the job I have now...the job I love and the job I'm not yet finished doing. For that reason, I am announcing that I will not be a candidate for State Controller.

    I have three and a half years left on my final term as Los Angeles City Controller, and I still have a lot I want to do. First, I am focused on improving the delivery of essential services to each and every person in Los Angeles. Further, I am intent on finding efficiencies not only to save taxpayer dollars but also to find better and more effective ways to make Los Angeles the truly great city it could and should be.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 06, 2005

    Devin's Advocates

    The DA has decided against pressing charges against the officer involved in the shooting death of Devin Brown. There's not much more to say about this incident than has already been said.

    It was this shooting that initiated my recognition of the Coalition of the Damned, those ragtag few who take every opportunity to bash police at the cost of their own political relevance. Their occasion champion here in Los Angeles, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, holds out hope as ever that there is some silver lining to such tragedies. I say it's just another sad day for sad people in a sad state of affairs, which is about as generous as one can be to a fatherless, 14 year old would-be car theif high on weed. Of course it ended tragically. It didn't have to but the odds weren't good.

    Today's responses:

    "Every time Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley makes a decision like this, it amounts to a tacit endorsement of police abuse, shootings and violence," said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, political commentator and South Los Angeles activist. "Chief [William J.] Bratton at least did see what a horrible, horrible shooting this was and changed the policy and procedures on shooting at cars so that there are enough checks to ensure it can't happen again."

    Minister Tony Muhammad, head of Western states for the Nation of Islam, called the decision to not file charges "another deep dagger into the heart of this already strained community," which will cause "more mistrust of the cops."

    A co-chairman of a South Los Angeles coalition formed after Devin's shooting, Muhammad immediately called for the Police Commission to decide that the shooting was outside of the department's policy on shootings. Bratton, he said, "absolutely needs to fire Garcia."

    I suppose such statements are about as responsible as any unelected member of the community has to be. It doesn't quite matter whether or not they read the DA's report because there is no recourse if they are wrong. And of course there isn't really a such thing as the Coalition of the Damned, they're not organized. We just give them a name - the people for who the dagger cuts deep, those who are bound by their sentiments and political orientation, to take opportunties like this to dog the system.

    There is a difference between criticizing the system and dogging the system, and those who might bother to read the DA's report might notice that there are better ways to address the problem than to fire a scapegoated symbolic officer. In fact, Bratton has done so in retraining the force with regards to the standard felony stop. In one scenario, officers will park their cruiser within 10 feet of the back bumper of the suspect's vehicle in such a way that the car will not have enough space to pick up enough speed to be deadly. I know this because my brother's a cop and has been retrained. But I wonder if those who dog the system know that reform has already taken place. I imagine that if they were constructively engaged with the LAPD, they would know such things, but that is not the aim of Tony Muhammad, nor any other unelected mouthpiece of the Coalition.

    It must be sad not to know how wrong you are, how politically ineffective are the desires you have been exhorted to champion. It must be frustrating to be in such a state of mind that you only feel you can gain if the police lose. But no matter how sad and frustrating things get for the Coalition of the Damned, they're simply wrong. They have picked a poor set of spokesmen and a poor set {Stanley Miller, Devin Brown, Tookie} of symbolic victims. I hope, for their sake, sooner or later they'll determine that they're on the wrong team.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 05, 2005


    I'm still not tired of talking about Tookie Williams, but today I heard the most brilliant solution to this whole mess. It comes from Ted Hayes. Like most brilliant solutions, it's short, sweet, to the point and it doesn't have the slightest chance of happening. But that doesn't stop it from being brilliant:

    I PROPOSE that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, rather than unequivocally deciding to save Stanley Tookie Williams or send the convicted murderer to his death next week, instead conditionally postpone his execution.

    The governor should then immediately convene a summit, including not only clergy, grass-roots leaders and elected representatives such as Maxine Waters and Diane Watson, but also current and former Bloods and Crips. The deal: He will spare Williams' life, but only as long as these leaders can keep young black men from killing each other.

    In other words, for every 30 days of peace, Tookie receives a stay of execution. Should there be any gang-related killings in L.A., Tookie's fate will be sealed — not by the governor but by the young men who have been clamoring that Williams be spared and the leaders who say they are determined to save black lives. (And those leaders should be the ones to set the murder-acceptability level — at zero tolerance or massacre levels; let it be up to them.)

    This is an opportunity to (1) empower young blacks to play a role in saving one of their own; (2) educate them on the role of nonviolent solutions to societal problems; (3) let African American leaders step up and do what they're always talking about — saving children and healing the brokenness in our community.

    Practically speaking, this is most assuredly a death sentence for Tookie. If we started counting on the 14th of December, he might make it until MLK's birthday but certainly not to Valentines day. But it would give everybody in Hollywood to make their little point, and the sensible people among us the last word. If only...

    Posted by mbowen at 09:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    Poobutt Writers Rule

    In my mind, I stand with Jervey Tervalon, Wanda Coleman and Paul Beatty as a chronicler of black Los Angeles. In reality, they're published in the real world of books, and I occupy some slim corner of cyberspace. That's OK because I understand the lingo. Tervalon is in the LA Times this week reflecting on life with Tookie. Read the whole thing.

    I ALWAYS THOUGHT Stanley Tookie Williams wanted to kill me. I thought he wanted to kill all of us pootbutts who didn't gangbang, and that fear informed how I lived my life as a boy.

    Thirty years later, I don't believe in the death penalty, and I don't want the state to execute Tookie. But I do want the people who grew up in better neighborhoods and now want to lionize the gangster to understand just how hellish he made many people's lives.

    Tervalon is brilliant and funny in this piece and I feel him 98.6%. I wonder where in this place now called Jefferson Park he grew up. Having him weigh in would be a fine complement to the homies we have found. I was fortunate to be the oldest of four boys who had lots of friends. We didn't have to bang. So while I endured some calls of poohbutt (we didn't have a 't') when I was on my own on the Crenshaw bus (back when it was the 85) or the Jefferson Bus (when it was the 9), once I got home, I was safe and free. Still, I've spent more than enough time in the shoes of a tough but smart skinny kid who knew when to put his head down and pretend to be Urkel.

    He nails it on the 'Brim Here'. Crips were so pervasive that everybody knew their perversions of pop. Back in the day when KFC introduced their Extra Crispy recipe, their advertisements on the TV and the radio where everywhere. They said of their chicken that it doesn't just crunch, it goes KA-runch, in a sing songy fashion. Next thing you know, black bangers weren't just Crips, they were CA-rips. What could we say back without getting beat down? It was bad enough they already copyrighted the mean-stroll pimp walk. That was an infringement you din't want to risk. Even the LAPD had to step off.

    I was in a summer science program at USC when the Crips, in a squabble with the Bloods, shot up the community center with a machine gun. A police officer showed up and explained the LAPD's plan of action if the Crips returned: "We'll take our time getting here," he said. "We're not prepared to handle machine guns.

    The idiot world, projecting their violent fantasies on all us black men, are still biting gangsta rhymes as if that were all that flows from black SoCal, and points east. So we all know how cool it is to follow the bouncing bullet to the rhymes of Ice Cube and EZ E. But at some point you have to remember that it was us sharp kids that the gangstas emulated. In the novel I never wrote, the cops pull over my protagonist for driving with his windows down in a slammed hoop with chromed Cragars. The pretense doesn't matter, but it shocks the cop to discover an old friend from the neighborhood is the driver whom is freshly returned from law school. The cop says"'I thought you were a banger, this is how they roll". His old homie replies, "You know this is how I rolled and all of those fools were trying to be me."

    Half that story has never been told, and so people believe the reverse is true. It has become a self-fufilling prophesy to the extent that people believe black men discover their true selves and value to society in prison, not college, the armed forces or the world of work. To all that I say this. Do everyone a favor and forget Tookie's books. We're the writers you ought to be learning from.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    December 02, 2005

    City of Quartz, Donald Bakeer & The Crips Mystique

    Back in the day, around 1986, I was a freshly minted entry level programmer in El Segundo, the aerospace capital of the Western US. From my office on the 14th floor of the Xerox Centre (home of the Golden Tale), I could see Hughes ESDG, TRW, Aerospace, Northrop and a host of other high-tech firms. Although I hung with a host of other NSBE grads, black engineers & scientists all, I had issues with uppity blackness. And so I did what comes naturally to me, I went to extremes. In my search around LA for black culture of a decidedly highbrow nature, I found myself beset by myths about Los Angeles in general.

    In the Reagan era, during the War on Drugs & the Culture Wars most blackfolks, myself especially, were very concerned about our portrayals in media. We made a big fuss about the success of the Cosby Show and of Arsenio Hall. We were wrestling with monolithic portrayals of 'the' black community on television. With blacks now infiltrating MTV with the popular Yo! and Spike Lee turning movie audiences on their ear, it was a boistrous time. My favorite of course was 'Mo Better Blues'. But where was black culture on the ground in LA? Before the release of Boyz N the Hood, Colors was just about it. Though you'd have to count Shabba-Doo in Breakin' on Venice Beach too. Sheesh. Given my history with The People of the Dons and the buppie party scene I was into in the late 80s, you could imagine my consternation. Part of my rebellion was GDZ, but that's another long buppie story that ends around 1990.

    With 1990 came a kind of alternate rebellion for me. I was sick and bored with being a Nordstrom's fashion plate and started in with grit of the city. My guidebook was Mike Davis' City of Quartz. Somewhere in the middle of that Davis makes a strong connection between gangs and political life - a fixation that has never quite been broken in the minds of millions, especially after Rodney King and the fall of CRASH. The oppositional pose of oppositing anything establishment was good leaven for my BAP upbringing. So I listened.

    During that time I started writing my Great American Novel that was going to pit the aspirations of the white collar and blue collar paradigms of black Los Angeles. In this novel, as in life, I confronted the problems arising from gangbanging and its connection to hiphop. In particular, I addressed the fate of Wild Style Grafitti, the one aspect of hiphop that has completely been submerged and abandoned by commercialization. As a novelist, I was actively engaged in trying to recoup some authenticity of black Los Angeles that was being lost and ignored by the popularization of various trendy aspects of emergent black and hiphop culture. There were two things that utterly destroyed the prospects of my book. The first was the huge success of Boyz N The Hood (and to a lesser degree 'White Men Can't Jump'). The second was the LA Riots. But while I was doing research for the book one of the people I had to talk to was Donald Bakeer.

    Bakeer, loosely speaking, is a griot. He's a man of the neighborhood, who while working in the decidely gang-plagued areas of LA, has seen hundreds of gangbangers come and go. Very little of what he knows has translated well into print, and that includes his own book 'Crips', later translated into the movie 'South Centra" The man who has done a much better job describing the black neighborhoods and kids of LA in conflict with gangs has been Jervey Tervalon, although I can only speak from the experience of one book (that made all the difference) 'Understand This'. So the controversy at the time, while I was working on my stuff, was that of the 'white interloper' Leon Bing who wrote 'Do or Die' about Monster Kody Scott. A lot has been written *since* the LA Riots and the CRASH scandal, but there was little attention in print at the time. I wanted to frame the discussion in terms of the political aspirations of black families in LA. As far as I know, it has yet to be done, and if so, it certainly hasn't changed the popular consciousness. I did Bakeer a personal favor at his request and bought and read his book instead of 'Do or Die'.

    I met Bakeer at the Aquarian Bookstore where I attended seminars on the regular for a period of time. Our family was tight with the Ligons who owned and ran the bookstore from way back in the mid 60s. Alfred Ligon may be forgotten by many, but not by me. And the surviving members of the Watts Poets, (like Quincy Troupe whose contempt for Stanley Crouch was palpable) took it upon themselves to instruct me informally about the finer points of becoming a published author. In this atmosphere of black bookstore politics (and you think barbershops get crazy?) there was much talk about gangbanging. The consensus was that the political aspects of the bangers had been lost in contemporary Cripdom, but that in the days of The Avenues it was more foreward. But it wasn't only because Crips and Bloods themselves had passed to a generation of young ignorant thugs, but because the LAPD had declared a 'low level war' against black gangs. Comparisons to the Palestinian Intifada were frequent and impassioned. It was this broadly and fiercely held sentiment that bolstered the political pretensions of LA Gangsta rap. So while everybody to a person wanted very little to do with Crips and gangs in general, the whole media blackout of the real black Los Angeles (what you talkin bout Willis?) left a desparately need for expression. Any kind of expression.

    Unlike other cities, notably New York, blacks lived all over LA, and all the black neighborhoods were not alike. While Spike Lee's Brooklyn was getting media sunshine, all we had, before Singleton's bomb, was Arsenio Hall and he was from Cleveland. So if NWA hadn't come straight outta Compton, we would have invented it. Anything to get the message out. One particular message that needed getting out was how stupid policies of Police Chief Darryl Gates had turned the black middle class against him. During the 80s, he deployed the infamous 'batterram' against crack houses, and he deployed gang sweeps against black kids who wore gang colors. Anyone who reads Streetgangs thoroughly recognizes that with over 100 different Crip sets alone in LA County, there is not a major league sports team whose colors haven't been appropriated. The result was the arrest and detention of hundreds of ordinary kids with a incredibly paltry criminal booking rate of 2%. The reaction was explosive and the resentment was thorough and long-lasting. While few people know about the 2% booking rate on gang-sweeps, everybody knows 'Fuck the Police'. Thus began the reduction of a cogent political process to the jackleg ministrations of the Coalition of the Damned today 15 years later.

    I have my doubts that better writers are still belaboring the point, there being so much more in the world, even in the black images world, to write about. Yet in those days the connection between black expression, the readiness to get any word out over the volume of glamour-puss writers like Bing, and black street life was at a high pitch. There were so many stereotypes to overcome, and during the culture wars before the triumph of multiculturalism the stakes were much higher.

    I have unburdened myself of a need and a desire to write grandiose novels as large as black Los Angeles, though I still think I might do Jordan Crossing when I retire from this computer career. Maybe I should rename it Crenshaw. But I wonder if a substantial number of writers who would write about blackfolks in Los Angeles have unburdened themselves. What I see consistently here in the blogosphere about Tookie is that some liberal white writer fell in love with Tookie and basically started the whole Tookie Movement. Was it Venise Wagner at Mother Jones who inflenced Mario Fehr? Who knows? Clearly some of the same distortions about who Crips are and what black LA is like persist through these years and have charged with myth what might otherwise be a relatively inconsequential execution.

    Hollywood is in this, and their appetite for the violent dram of gangsta life reflects America's own. That may come at the expense of the truth, or at least a likeable story of black LA. Certainly 'Devil in a Blue Dress' isn't truth, but it's a story I'd rather see about black LA than Boyz. The Mouse in that story, portrayed by Don Cheadle, is nothing like Tookie's partner Mouse, but was a killer nonetheless. Someday we might look back on some comical portrayal of Tookie in a retro movie about 70s black Los Angeles, but today it's no fantasy. Today is no time to romanticize the 'politics' of gangbanging. Gangs have stood in too long for symbols of the real people who live in 'Southcentral' that myriad area made sociopolitically fascinating by the lefty work and imagination of Mike Davis. It's time to break through the myths and the mystique.

    Once again, the victims of this mystique, or perhaps I should say the targets of this obsession, are black youth. Are we to believe that they are so preoccupied and fascinated by the media inflation of Tookie that his influence is real? Whose fault is it if Tookie's word on the futility of gang-life beats out the word of socially responsible people? I knew better than to take drugs as a kid, but the State of California insured that my classroom had a huge color poster of every kind of hallucinagenic, amphetamine, barbituate, narcotic and psychotropic agent known to mankind. If Tookie can have a positive influence, perhaps he should do it in full media post-mortem glory like Yul Brynner did. Saying 'I'm dead now, and gang life is what killed me'. But all of us who survive need to remind ourselves that our job is not to punt to the likes of Tookie, but to stand up for what we know to be right and true.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Oviatt Rocks

    I'm putting together a largeish piece on Crips, Bakeer and LA. I found this treasure trove. Check it out.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 01, 2005

    USC vs Fresno State

    I generally only watch about 4 football games a year. This year has been exceptional because my boy played. I can count on one hand the times when my excitement for the game has lasted an entire season. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those dainty types who thinks it's all brutish dullard stumblebumdom. I have a polished appreciation for the game as a street player but not as a fanatic. I just basically get into the Olympics and the Tour de France as spectator sports - things I know I could never do in a million. But the mainstream sports coverage leaves me cold, even with the fancy graphics, beer commercials and best damned repartee. I just don't care enough nor do I know enough people who would make me put my money where my mouth and make me care.

    But I have, this summer, having purchased some USC paraphenalia - basically a couple XXL jerseys for my incognegro ventures, had to answer some tough questions posed by anonymous fans on the street. Like, hey what do you think about Lienert? I'm thinking, WTF is a Lienert, and then vaguely realize that my T Shirt is sending out fan vibes. Oops. Well, since I was a Trojan once, I ought to do a little diligence.

    Last week my boy Z tells me about the Fresno State game. He says it was better even than the Notre Dame game. Say what? So I setup the Tivo to capture a rerun.

    This has to be one of the greatest football games of all time. I swear to God, on a stack of Heisman trophies. This kid Bush, number 5 is the most exciting runner since Jim Thorpe. OK Anthony Davis. He reminds me most of Bo Jackson, with his incredible ability to see the field and just run through the defense. He jooks harder and faster than any college player I've ever seen - and I only pay attention to the biggest talent, so don't ask me to name 5. He's incredibly fast and he can put his head down and bull through a line.

    I know I'm not telling anybody with the vaguest idea of what's going on in college football anything they don't already know. But for someone who hasn't had a real woody for the sport since the days of Bob Griese's Dolphins, OK Mike Ditka's 1985 Chicago Bears, I'm paying attention. I think this kid can be as great as Emmitt Smith or Walter Payton.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:26 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    November 23, 2005

    Fond Memories of Tookie

    I'm being sarcastic. The first thing you have to understand about Tookie Williams is that this is what he looked like. Knowing that this man used to hang out at parks and beat down people for fun, that he used to force people to oil his body, gives you some idea what Tookie was all about. The Tookie I knew hung out at Centinela Park in Inglewood with another huge dude named 'Mouse' doing pullups and otherwise being as badass as humanly possible. Basically, he did whatever he wanted to, and in the end what he wanted to do was be the most intimidating and dangerous man anywhere. He got his wish of course. Who was going to stop him?

    I got other Tookie and Mouse stories second-hand from a kid named Timmy Green who was a bodybuilding roughneck too. Back in highschool, Tim Green was about five feet tall and 2 feet thick. He was a devastating football player, a little walking muscle. We all suspected that Timmy was a Crip, but nobody said it straight out, after all ours was an exclusive Jesuit prep school. I heard that Tim is dead, shot by another Crip somewhere. We kinda knew that he had a deathwish. Tim owned a red Honda motorcycle, a CB400 with the swivelly pipes. I rode with him once, and I immediately experienced a kind of terror I've never known before. Tim was absolutely fearless riding on the wrong side of the double yellow line of Crenshaw Blvd at 70 miles per hour. But if you talked about Tookie, Tim showed fear. Admiration to be sure. Tookie went everywhere in LA to prove that he was the was the baddest, and nobody lived to win a challenge, but fear too. Tookie was the man that thugs feared. There could only be one reason for that. He was more than buff, he was deadly.

    You could not grow up in the 'hood in Los Angeles during the 70s and not know about Tookie or the Crips. It's probably hard to understand if you didn't grow up in a roughneck neighborhood. But street smarts are just that. You are forced to rely on the human instinct for survival, you navigate the degrees of danger and you grow senses that middleclass live has no use for. Tookie today looks like somebody's grandfather but don't be fooled. Back in the day, there were all kinds of gangs, some no more troublesome than the Jets or the Sharks. Truth be told, Tookie got busted right around the time gangs were going off the chain, and his Crips were the reason. The short version of the story is this, Crips were dangerous and they "Don't die, they multiply". There came a time when they became so pervasive and dangerous that anyone not in a gang was vulnerable - and then beyond that to the point at which gangs that didn't bang hard had to get hard. The Crips in the late 70s were basically escalating street rivalries into open warfare. From fists to knives to guns. The Crips created the Bloods because the Brims and the Pirus had to bang together or hang separately. When I was a kid, there used to be a saying: 'Crips are cool, but Piru rule'. By 1980, nothing was cool.

    Me personally, I've battled Crips hand to hand. I've dealt with all kinds of knuckleheads, roughnecks and thugs. But everybody knows their limits. I know I am not to be a warrior and I didn't have to go to jail to learn any of that. I didn't have to wait until somebody wrote a rap song about 'dead homies' to know what that was all about. I grew up in the black neighborhood when basically few people had a choice on where they could get real estate. I know what it's like to walk through the Jungle at night, and I know if the man cursing on the bus is actually going to swing at you. But I only know what it's like to live around people who were basically about 1/3 as dangerous as Tookie Williams.

    The scariest part of my neighborhood was West Blvd over near Adams. I could go into it, but it was over there wher I learned the meaning of getting 'curbed'. Now if you're dainty, skip to the next paragraph and agree me because I'm about to describe it. Everybody knows about being 'jumped in' and 'jumped out' of a gang. Basically about 7 of them beat you down until you can't stand up. That's child's play. You basically get curbed if you rat to the cops. What does that mean I asked? Well, you lay down in the street perpendicular to the and facing curb. You open your mouth and bite the concrete corner of the curb and somebody comes up behind you and kicks you in the back of the head. People who did this were afraid of Tookie.

    I cannot wait until the founder of the Crips dies at the hands of the California justice system. This convict has actually convinced people that if you write some children's books, that you can redeem yourself for a quadruple murder conviction. That doesn't say much for the state of conviction these days. So long as he fries, I can handle it.

    It's not surprising that the Coalition of the Damned is up in arms about this clemency drama, and quite frankly I'm not surprised that Jamie Foxx and others have a screw loose in this matter. Clearly, they don't know what Crips are all about. I discussed this sorry SOB here and over at africanamerican.org a month or so ago, and it's amazing the amount of BS excuses go into trying to make the case for clemency. Take this one for example:

    Never mind the fact that Blacks make up the majority of the prison population because White cops are 6 times more likely to arrest a Black or Latino than a White offender. And never mind the fact that the police purposely go looking for Black criminal offenders while ignoring White criminal offenders.

    Never mind the fact that the police don't do stings on White gangs because they know if it got on the news, it would tarnish the false image that "White people don't do crime". Never mind all of that, that is not important.

    What is important is that Blacks are criminal animals, and that's all there is to it.

    Nevermind? How about nevermind the Crips. So let's inteject a little sanity. And I'm going to break a rule here and bring back a whole lot more from a site than I usually do because I want people to get a handle on what gang violence is like in LA County. As you read this try to remember that this is just about one particularly notorius set out of hundreds of streetgangs.

    Rollin' 60s N-Hood Crip Seattle Mariners

    Seattle Mariners Cap

    Sub Sets: All 60s are NHCs, but there are the Avenues and the Overhills that are west of West Blvd. Allie(s): Their allies include Neighborhood Crip sets such as 67 NHC, 55 NHC, and 46 NHC.

    Brief History:Their main rival would be the Eight Tray Gangster Crips to the east. This would be the most intense rivalry between any two gangs in all of Los Angeles County. This rivalry goes back to 1979 and was the beginning to Crip infighting. This rivalry is discussed in Monster Kody's book Autobiography of an LA Gang Member and Donald Bakeer's book, Crips. It would be great to see a truce between these 2 sets, because so many other rivalries would come up under it and many lives would possibly be saved. Thus far nearly 400 members of both sets have died in the last 20 years and that does not include the bystanders caught in the cross fire. Also keep in mind that many of the decedents expired as a result of non-gang related circumstances such as car accident, suicide, natural causes and conflicts outside gang membership.

    Comments:The Rollin 60s made news headlines when Tiequan Andrew Cox (b. 1966), who had purchased fake cocaine, sought revenge against the dealer when he mistaken a neighbor's house as the drug dealers. He was convicted in 1986 for committing a quadruple murder that occurred in 1984. The victims were the wrong targets and were related to former NFL Rams wide receiver Kermit Alexander. Cox, while on death row stabbed Stanley "Tookie" Williams in 1988. This act is depicted in the 2004 film Redemption starring Jamie Foxx but many suggested that the incident didn't play out as it did on the silver screen.

    In 2003 City Attorney filed a gang injunction against the Rollin 60s Crips and they had specified 31 men that were members of the 60s, but some have suggested that the 60s were being unfairly targeted and some mentioned that the injunction included individuals that had not had police contact in several years. Below are some published articles about the injunctions.

    Their main Blood rival would be the Van Ness Gangsters (VNG) to the north. Since the 60s attend Crenshaw High School, north of Slauson, they often clash with the VNGs and becasue the VNGs are a smaller gang with less membership, the Rollin 60s have been able to dominate the school population even though the high school is outside their turf.

    The Rollin 60s also started a conflict with the School Yard Crips during the 1980s. This is an unusual conflict because gangs often rival with neighboring or adjacent gangs. But the Rollin 60s would show their dominance by hanging out at the World-on-Wheels skating ring on Venice in the neighborhood of the School Yard Crips uncontested many times. Although there were several shootings committed by the School Yard Crips, the Rollin 60s, for the most part maintained their dominance for several years there.

    Other rivals would include all Hoovers, especially the 83 Hoover and 74 Hoover and all Gangster Crips that are hooked up with the ETGs, such as the 53 Avalon Gangster Crips and 43 Gangster Crips. The 60s and all the "Owes" were allied during the 1980s but that is not the case today.

    Tookie deserves to die. Plain and simple. If he's such a saint, let's hurry him on his way to his everlasting reward.

    Extended Tookie Tokens

    Malkin has comments from victims families.
    Afro-Netizen passes no judgement, but has plenty of comments including one from someone whose relative was shot by Crips.
    Bomani Jones gets all squeamish about probabilities.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:25 PM | Comments (129) | TrackBack

    November 10, 2005

    Nissan's Moving - It's Official

    The announcement was made at 9am this morning. I'll update today with some reactions.

    Our 10am meeting was blown off. So we moseyed back over to our outbuilding. The press was all over the place but not many people were outdoors. There was a helicopter overhead and about four camera trucks.

    Inside HQ, some guys in the elevator were saying that their meeting was brief and quiet. Seemed like they were putting a brave face on it.

    Larry Mantle spoke with an economist dude on Airtalk who said the official number is 1300 jobs + 1500 indirect jobs. Like mine is indirect.

    Almost all of the IT contractors are local, our team is 8 folks and we're going to have to fly out to Smyrna on a regular basis now, which may be a problem because we're on a fixed bid. So maybe we'll get some flexibility on that. We'll see.

    I feel sorry for a lot of folks. Nissan has a pretty hefty bureacracy out here. Not more or less than any other company this size, but there are a lot of white-collar folks that are going to feel the pinch because they have very specialized jobs.

    In IT, maybe we can take advantage of that because we're always doing transformative stuff that goes against the "we've always done it that way" mentality. It's a chance to make some jagged edges smooth. That's my attitude anyway. But this early it's impossible to say what kinds of packages they're offering and what percentage of folks are seriously considering a move (or even if a package is in the offing).

    Posted by mbowen at 09:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    November 07, 2005

    Yes on 77

    It's the only one I really care about. However, I'm all for Arnold's initiatives, and I like the fact that he's done what no other insider would do, which is bring the Legislature to account, by doing an end-around to the public. These initiatives, especially 77 are the right kind. The kind that call questions that are against the Legislature's interest to take a real stand on.

    I expect the voters of California to punk out and let the governor fail. It's embarrassing.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 03, 2005


    I haven't been talking much about my job here. I almost never do, mostly because nobody really much understands nor cares about the bowels of IT. Yet I still hold out hope that Michael Crighton will executive produce a dramatic series about an IT consulting firm. I'm sick of doctors, lawyers and cops. Aren't you?

    Well fortunately since I'm somewhat near the top of the game, my customers have recognizable names. Right now I'm at Nissan in Gardena. Since I've noticed that the story has made the news, I can confirm that I'm going to have to do spend some time in Smyrna, TN where Nissan's current US Manufacturing HQ is. That means that a whole lot of finance and accounting types who could get jobs elsewhere are in something of a panic, and resumes have hit the street.

    I haven't made the trip to Smyrna yet, but I hear it's a fairly awesome factory. All of the Nissan & Infiniti cars sold in the US and Canada are built there. Some are shipped to the Middle East and South America too. Those bound for the ME are outfitted slightly differently for heat and dust.

    Chances are that the IBM relationship is going to change too. There are a good number of IT contractors here in the outbuildings. My team has just squatted in 8 desks and we've got plenty of work to do, but chances are that we'll be doing more flying than we intended as f2f meetings become impossible here in Gardena.

    Stay Tuned.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 25, 2005

    Lofty Ambitions

    News from Doc. He's engaged in revitalizing Downtown LA:

    Lofty Ambitions is an ongoing campaign I'm engaging to increase the quality of life of those of us who choose to make downtown LA home.

    As you know LA is in the midst of a huge residential transformation in which HUWs (Hip urban whites) are moving back into the city center en mass. Currently 500,000 people work downtown, but only 50,000 live here full time.

    Downtown is the New inner city and it's success will serve as a model for how best to create an economically heterogeneous community w/in city's core.

    The first of my Lofty Ambitions is to bring a Trader Joe's downtown. Currently there are no grocery or speciality gormet food stores downtowm. A Bristol Farms, Wholefoods market...etc would all do well here.

    November 1-15 i'll initiate a petition to bring Trader Joe's into town. I will leave sign up forms in the lobbies of a few residences.

    I spoke with the company and now the people have a chance to register their interest...stay tuned

    Sounds delicious.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    October 15, 2005

    More Death!

    (Evil Cackle!)

    I have just come up with a sinister thought which satisfies my bloodlust and my disdain for bleeding hearts. So it's a bloody good idea one way or another. But maybe I've been watching too many Tony Scott movies. More on that later...

    The question is, how do you drive a liberal-minded public defender apeshit? The answer is, assign him to a death penalty case:

    Don't forget about the extra experts that are needed in such a case, just for penalty. You need to look at the organic history of the person (do they have brain damage, mental retardation, other mental, psychological, psychiatric or physiological problems?). This may require things like shrinks, doctors, MRIs, PetScans and other potentially expensive tests. The state (ie - you, the taxpayer) pays for this. The DA's office probably needs extra resources on all of these cases, I don't know first hand, but I can guess extra investigators, attorneys, paralegals, and other resources. They'll also need to conduct their own testing if any of the defense testing shows anything of consequence.

    Human life is precious, but I wonder if it's worth a quarter of a million bucks to save one. At times like this I truly wonder if our country is not already truly and irrevocably off the deep-end. Here's a subject for Stephen Levitt, what is the price of killing, and what is the price of life-saving and what do those costs say about the market for life?

    I mean, here's the case of an obvious nutcase who tries to kill himself by parking his car on the train tracks and then kills 11 innocents and survives. His depravity is clear, so how does it come to be that he is suddenly worth all of this defense. What elevated the value of his life such that now he gets all of this attention? Our society is being blackmailed by the criminally insane, and the justice system is the bagman. We're going to have to lower the cost of the death penalty somehow, because there is no way that this can stand.

    Perhaps we could modify the system for the sake of a speedy trial and create a new kind of tribunal. A jury of peers with a minimum of bureacratic overhead - something slightly more organized than the Jerry Springer Show, where you can get summary judgements from the people on the cheap. Let them bring their own pitchforks, torches and stones to cast. Every fiftieth trial goes to the Kangaroo Kourt. Just us is served. Better than football.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:31 AM | TrackBack

    October 08, 2005

    ConvergeSouth - Blog Marketing Seminar

    This short blog entry contains a link to the reference material I presented on Satuday afternoon. So if you missed the extraordinary presentation and the great audience, at least you have a Powerpoint.

    Download file

    If you're one of those guys who hates MS and has Open Office, I think it converts .ppt files. Mac I'm not so sure about.. I think I can convert it to a Postscript thingy..

    Posted by mbowen at 11:45 AM | TrackBack

    September 08, 2005

    LA Charities: Katrina's Closet

    The folks at Blackweekly are doing a bang-up job. They are supporting the Katrina's Closet drive. Here's the scoop.

    Below is a list of drop-off locations. We are currently seeking drop-off locations in Long Beach and Orange County. If you have a storefront, business or home that can serve as a Katrina's Closet drop-off location in one of these areas, please email Fleace' Weaver. We are also looking for people with large trucks to pick up the donated items from our brothers and sisters in Long Beach and Orange County.

    If you have time on Sunday, we could also use your help in sorting the donations. If you will like to help sort, please contact Wanda Johnson at .

    Thank you for your support and for reaching out to others in need.

    Drop off locations:

    Addco Party Rentals
    8411 S. LaCienga (between Florence and Manchester)
    Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    310 672.4977
    (this is also the location for Sorting of donations on Sunday)

    Merry Maids
    961 N. La Brea Ave
    Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

    Alisa Robinson
    12912 Daventry Street
    Pacoima CA. 91331
    Hours: Anytime after 9:00 a.m.
    818 601-8974

    More locations will be listed at www.blackweekly.com/katrina/locations.htm

    Event drop off locations:

    Wednesday, September 7th
    John Hensley's Flypoet Showcase
    The Conga Room
    5364 Wilshire Blvd.
    7 p.m. to Midnight

    Thursday, September 8th
    As Powerful As You Want To Be
    A PR and Mentoring Bootcamp
    The Le Florence Gallery
    3351 W. 43rd St.
    (LA's Leimert Park)
    6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

    Saturday, September 10th
    Harlem Nights
    Zita Trattoria & Bar
    825 9th Street (James Wood Blvd.)
    Downtown Los Angeles
    8 p.m. - Midnight

    Other Needed Items

    Baby wipes
    Baby food
    Baby aspirin
    Toilet paper
    Sanitary napkins
    Portable radios with batteries
    Plastic forks, knives, and spoons
    Cotton balls
    Cotton swabs
    Hydrogen peroxide BUT NOT rubbing alcohol, because that is flammable
    Band aids
    Shaving cream
    Male AND female razors
    Air mattresses
    Pillows and pillow cases
    Gift cards for gas
    Wal mart or Target gift cards
    Garbage bags
    Cleaning supplies
    Toothpaste and toothbrushes
    Books for children, including coloring books
    Books for adults

    Posted by mbowen at 12:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    September 07, 2005

    A Simple Message to Governor Schwartzenegger

    Don't you dare sign it.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:39 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

    August 31, 2005

    Make Me!

    Doc's patience is being tried by knucklehead members of the Coalition of the Damned. Mine too.

    Their new prophet of rage, Tony Muhammad, blasted cops for not raising the dead. Well actually, that's not the whole truth, he blasted firemen for not raising the dead. Well, that's not the whole truth either, because Tony Muhammad wanted to raise a ruckus at the funeral of the dead homie in question as an opportunity to get in cops' faces. That's more like it. And so when he and his bodyguards (why do you bring bodyguards to a funeral? ) didn't disperse at the order of the police the conversation went south.

    How did this all start? Hell it never finished. The Nation of Islam regularly spins off Somebody Muhammads (I think the PC term is 'radical cleric') who incite poor, helpless and ignorant people aka the Coalition of the Damned, who have decided that their entire entree into the political arena is all about shouting in public meetings about how the LAPD is genocidal. They lurk in the bushes and wait for any situation that can escalate into the tired old stereotypes. NOI loudmouths is a tired old stereotype. Thuglike cops is a tired old stereotype. But this time it started because of a gang murder. That may be a stereotype too, but it is what actually happened. And the banger who was twitching on the sidewalk with half of his brains in the street was pronounced dead by paramedics. The neighborhood shouted to use CPR on the twitching body while the cops told them to back off.

    And so the invitation went out to Tony Muhammad to be the voice of... the voice of what? So that when it came time for the dead banger's funeral, lots of people could be counted on to show up, most importantly perhaps, the reporters for the LA Times who made sure that the murder that precipitated police presence in the first place was mentioned about 8 paragraphs down the page.

    So I've got to hear all this from my mother yesterday with all the shit that's going down in New Orleans. Doc had to do crowd control at the hearing and people were getting all in his face. What hearing? Oh, the hearing that our new mayor called so that every possible word against the LAPD can be heard. The room sits 70, about three times that showed up. Now this is where I put the beatdown down several paragraphs in the page.

    When, at the funeral for the dead banger, our radical cleric was ordered to stop following police officers he uttered the taunt which is the title of this blog article. He got beat down by the cops. I suppose that was provocation enough but there are official charges assault against the minister.

    I'm rather stressed out at the moment, but I feel the need to say things in the face of the people who get in my brother's face. All I can do is shout at the walls right now. I may as well, because that's probably all the satisfaction I'm going to get.

    You may well note that the bosses of Tony Muhammad have no comment at this time.

    Doc has gotten the ear of Chief Bratton who is asking for input from folks here in LA about what they think about this situation. So from your keyboard to the Chief's ears. Doc says their is a silent majority of blackfolks that is sick and tired of these radical clerics. I say, stop being silent, because the knuckleheads are drowning you out.

    Not that I expect anybody who spews off about the LAPD to actually check out their side of the story, so I've gathered this from their site which illustrates their 'genocidal' programs and goals.

    This is from the neighborhood I grew up in, and these are the crime stats:

    Mission Statement

    To reduce crime and traffic collisions, to provide the highest standard of law enforcement service, and to improve the quality of life in Southwest Area for those we serve and our employees. We will do this in partnership with the community.

    2000 Goals

    The Southwest Area Management Team worked to develop a work plan and set realistic goals for the Southwest Area. We believe this plan will help us to achieve our goals. By providing our personnel with annually established goals and objectives to achieve, we feel we ensure our contribution to Community Based Policing and quality service to the community. The Management Team developed the following goals:

    * Reduce crime by five percent,
    * Reduce serious and fatal traffic collisions by five percent,
    * Reduce personnel complaints by five percent,
    * Increase the clearance rate for violent crimes by 10 %,
    * Reduce the detectives’ backlog to less than 150 cases,
    * Increase the detectives’ participation with the community, and;
    * Implement the department’s new mission statement.

    Youth Programs

    August 05, 2005

    Danny Bakewell

    Several months ago, a friend of mine passed on some information about whether or not there was a conspiracy afoot in Pasadena. It had to do with some apparent gentrification of a hitherto mostly black neighborhood somewhere on the westside of Pasadena, north of Orange Grove.

    Apparently, real estate agents were driving white families as prospective homeowners, through this hood, much to the consternation of a few of the local residents. The letter went a little something like this:

    ...there is a "project" under way to buy out all the homes of black residents in Pasadena so that the whites can move there. He said that there is a white van with tinted windows that goes around the neighborhood regularly. It is filled with white people who are shopping for homes. I asked my brother what kind of price they are offering the residents, and he said market price. I don't know the details, but apparently they tell them that they are going to be developing the neighborhood, building new buildings, and this is how they can get away with doing this.

    My final response went a little something like this:

    What I do know are two things that may be relevant, having lived in the area myself.

    #1. There is a brand new shopping center with a new supermarket and several new stores that is located on the corner of Orange Grove and Fair Oaks. I know that is the newest and nicest development in the part of Pasadena where a lot of working class people live. I also know that it was developed by a black man named Danny Bakewell who is the head of an old political organization called the Brotherhood Crusade. So if anybody knows what's going on with respect to blacks and real estate in Pasadena, it's Bakewell. So as a first test, I would see if your folks are aware of Bakewell, who he is and what he's done.

    Bakewell is not above any stunt that embarasses whitefolks and yet he is not to be trifled with. He cut his teeth in the 70s by organizing a campaign that involved rented trucks and he practically shut down the Rose Parade in protest over whites in Pasadena not letting blacks buy property.

    #2. There are so many black people in Pasadena and Altadena that there is no way that they are going to be dislocated to any signficant degree. The funny thing is, that I just went to church today in Pasadena - First AME on Penn & Raymond. Right on the plaque on the cornerstone, they have the date inscribed of when they paid off their debts. Blackfolks have been owning property in Pasadena and Altadena for a long time.

    Pasadena has a lot of old properties that could be restored and sold for higher profits. And every day at the hardware store on Fair Oaks just north of the 210, there are Mexican day laborers hanging out looking for carpentry jobs and whatnot. And when I went to that lumber yard across the street and the hardwared store, there were no shortage of blackfolks. So I know that it's not particularly difficult for blacks to be into home improvement, and I know it pays well in Pasadena.

    So I'd be interested to know where the new buildings are supposedly going up, because if you look at the houses around Raymond Avenue, they're all classic bungalows just waiting to be restored, and if gentrification is what's going on, Pasadena isn't about to sell its own history. That's the whole draw of the place.

    There are lots of new condos on Walnut that have been built in the past few years, but if that was a black neighborhood it's news to me. There's also a huge new development in Altadena north of Loma Alta Park. That's been in development since '97 and my money says it's the biggest residential development in the area. That's not coming out of old black homes, that's new stuff dug out of the hillside.

    I want to hear about cross streets, because I hardly believe this is a big deal. Now that I think of it, I think I've heard something of this conspiracy theory before, but I'm not sure. All anybody has to do is start a homeowner's association...

    LA Observed has news that Bakewell is retiring from the Brotherhood Crusade, an organization for which I have volunteered some time back in my youth. It occurs to me that he must be one of the most powerful African Americans in Southern California.

    In the context of black property ownership and other factors contributing to dismal pictures like this I do wonder what it is that goes through the heads of cats like Bakewell. I noticed last weekend that the old Great Western Savings building on Crenshaw and Angeles Vista is now called the Bakewell Building. I wonder if he's got retirement up his sleeve or focusing on a new level.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:20 PM | TrackBack

    July 27, 2005

    A Night of World Music

    You know how it is when you get a new car, or a friend gets one. Suddenly you see it all over. This is how it has been with me and blackfolks associated with China. It seems that we're popping up all over the place. The other night was no exception - except this is probably the most famous of the connections.

    At the Japan America Theatre downtown on San Pedro, the Great Wall Youth Orchestra of Oakland performed Saturday night to a packed house. It's always something of novelty to think of African Americans speaking Chinese, but even moreso of black kids singing Chinese Opera. That was hardly the point, nor the high point of a very lovely concert, but the almost parental love that came from the audience as these kids played their hearts out.

    It was a great family night out although my kids decided to act up. Pops and Dutz were there and so were a passel of the kid's cousins. So intermission was a big running and shouting affair out in the plaza, where I happened to meet Rod Wright who says he's considering running for Senate. Hmm. Maybe I should go downtown more often.

    It turns out that as we drove home there were events happening all over, although the Disney was dark, MOCA had a large crowd just down the block. As I turned past the Library, valets were handling another group of people out for some nighttime entertainment. And what did I see, but pedestrians after dark! Well, that tears it. It looks as if Downtown is turning the corner and becoming a destination. It's actually very strange seeing it. I'll enjoy seeing it more.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 19, 2005

    Return of the Coalition of the Damned

    The Coalition of the Damned has taken up their cause again. The last time was for Devin Brown, and the time before that for Stanley Miller. For them, this is another publicity bonanza and yet another justification for their crusade for the inevitable absolute underdog. I am not without sympathy for their grief, but I despise them for what they might do with it.

    Somebody has made the argument that the LAPD is not sensitive, that it doesn't understand all these cultures. That if the LAPD would speak more languages then this kind of tragedy would be avoided, but because they don't it is evidence of their hostility.

    What is Pena's culture? Perhaps it is the culture that says, when the father decides to wave the gun around the family business and threaten the lives of a family member, it is his right and privilege as the head of the house. When such things happen, the police should mind their business and nobody will end up dead. Put Pena didn't teach that cultural lesson well enough, because his daughter Ilsy didn't buy it. She called 911. She betrayed Pena's culture and undermined his authority and said no, this is not family business, this is police business. She rang the bell.

    I'm trying to imagine some place on the planet where there is a good deal of support for the notion that the people should win in armed conflict with the police. Hmm. Iraq, I gather, has some of that. But surely Pena realized where he was. I wonder why the Coalition doesn't. Perhaps they believe that Surrender is not an option. It is easy to know what dialing 911 means. It is similarly easy to understand that the police don't lose gun battles, and few in this country think that they should. So when the SWAT truck comes and they demand that you surrender, what should you do? Maybe Pena thought he was Scarface.

    Pena used to be one of those irregulars of the sort which go by the popular name of 'insurgent' these days. He knew how to shoot and reload and he wasn't afraid of facing down the LAPD. He also had another secret family across town. Doubtless there will be some of our best friends telling us how much of an aberration Pena is. It's only fair that we believe them but some will have their doubts. Evenhandedly, Chief Bratton will explain that SWAT doesn't generally shoot kids in the head, but surely some will have their doubts. I tend to believe both stories - this was the wrong place at the wrong time and the wrong thing happened. An aberration.

    I am intrigued by the clash of cultures which is inevitable here in Southern California, especially the imminent collapse of liberal sentiments in the face of the Second and Third World arrivals from Mexico. There are successful families from that country who have and will continue to survive in a context where six children per family is normal and college education superfluous. These are people we are all bound to live with, but the presumption that we will change them is, I think, somewhat preposterous.

    Our expectations of normality are tightly bound with our expectations of law and order. When a family member calls 911 to break up a family dispute, it becomes public business. When that bell rings, there are no guns allowed, and the bell cannot be un-rung. If there is some reason why only one person in a family of immigrants understands perhaps that is the one who should survive the grisly gauntlet Pena has chosen to lead Los Angeles through. Ilsy rung the bell and it saved her life.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 18, 2005

    Big Doings at the Bear Flag League

    The Bear Flaggers get it. In fact, I suspect that they, like no other group of bloggers, are likely to be the source of the next set of innovations in the blogosphere. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth and breadth of their interests and knowledge. I don't read enough. More later.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    July 16, 2005

    Holiday Bowl

    I have discovered a history project about the Holiday Bowl. I've got to tell you that I'm going to have to make myself known to these people because Holiday Bowl was a very important part of who I am. Well, it seems like that today because I was going down memory lane and writing about the time in my life when it was.

    Among other things, I was one of the teenagers that hung out at Holiday Bowl in 1978 and 1979. I was also a part of the Burger King street race crowd early on and just before it broke up. Holiday Bowl was a very cool place, it was a street home and I have a few stories about the joint that I think are worth telling.

    It doesn't surprise me at all that there would be a commemoration of the Holiday Bowl. Crenshaw was a fabulous place in the 70s, even as it wound down. Holiday was the last great institution before the Riot - the place where blacks and Japanese had always gotten along, as any local fan of the band Hiroshima would tell you.

    I was recently invited to give some tours of the area, but the big plan has not emerged yet. I know that between my father and I and a guy named Donald Bernard who had a studio up behind Maranatha, there's a goodly amount of photographs of the Crenshaw District of old.

    I have a new project.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:01 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

    July 13, 2005

    I'm Glad He Wasn't Black

    I've switched off the FM for a couple days and have been bombarded with the same story. LAPD officers have shot and killed a 19 month old girl during the course of a hostage standoff. I've only heard the AM side of the story, which is to say the more conservative side. I haven't bothered to listen to the other side.

    One of the running jokes/commentaries you often hear talked about by blackfolks is the hanging on to a breaking news story about some awful crime and then trying to figure out ahead of time if that suspect is black. Some folks claim they know before it's revealed, but it's getting harder these days. In any case, when the crime is particularly revolting, a great sigh is heaved when it's not a black man. The individual involved in this shooting may become a classic case.

    Apparently, this guy named Pena used his toddler daughter as a human shield in his gun battle with police. This from the LATimes:

    An angry Police Chief William J. Bratton lashed out Tuesday against slain shootout suspect Jose Raul Peña, calling him a "coldblooded killer" who was squarely responsible for his own death and that of his 19-month-old daughter.

    Bratton, while acknowledging the likelihood that police bullets cut down Peña and the toddler, defended his officers against charges from the child's family and community activists that police haste cost Susie Lopez her life.

    Bratton said Peña engaged in an hours-long standoff with police in Watts on Sunday, threatened his entire family and took shots at his 17-year-old stepdaughter.

    "This is not a good father. He is no hero…. All of this tragedy falls on Mr. Peña," Bratton said after a news conference.

    Bratton's biting comments came on a day of escalating tensions between law enforcement officials and the toddler's family. The death of the girl, captured bright-eyed and chubby-cheeked in photos released by her family, became the focus on national attention as police conceded it was likely that she had been killed by bullets fired by the SWAT officers trying to save her.

    Bratton's remarks drew criticism from Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a commentator and community activist who attended a news conference critical of the police earlier in the day at the shootout scene. Hutchinson said that while he thought Peña did not deserve sympathy, his actions did not absolve police of responsibility.

    "The real question that dangles in the air is if the autopsy shows that the kid was killed by police bullets," Hutchinson said. "I'm not sure Chief Bratton is going to be able to tap dance around that by painting the father as a bad man."

    AM radio tells me that the man was on cocaine at the time and that there had been allegations of sexual child abuse. My bottom line is that you don't shoot at cops if you expect to walk away.

    Ofari is jerking his knee in such a way as to fulfill a prophesy of brown politics, but I think it will backfire on him. This is a good moment to consider black & brown politics in Los Angeles. But I think a lot of reasonable blackfolks are saying just that: "I'm glad he wasn't black." More on those politics later.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    June 23, 2005

    Toon Time with the RZA

    My brother Deet checks in with the following cool item:

    I just returned from a special night at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater. Tonight featured a live performance by the RZA, musical architect and leader of the hip hop supergroup Wu-tang Clan in an event that is a part of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

    RZA took the stage about 9:00pm and thanked everyone for attending. He mentioned that we were about to witness a project that he’d always wanted to do in a public setting since he’d been doing it privately ever since he hooked a couple of VCRs together as a kid in the 1970s. Even then, he loved cartoons (who didn’t?) but wanted a fresh approach using the sounds he could create.

    RZA took his place on the raised platform to the right of the stage, elevated to give him clear view of the enormous movie screen (those who remember Deb’s graduation ceremony last Friday can picture the platform where the live musicians played) and those of us in the packed house braced ourselves, not knowing what to expect.

    Actually, what I expected was to see old cartoons with RZA updating them to the 21st Century by utilizing his enormous audio archive.

    He did that and took it to a whole new level using the latest technology. He told the audience that 3 weeks ago he got his hands on a new video device that allowed him to manipulate video images with extreme dexterity. In essence, RZA was able to “scratch” the digitized 1950’s cartoons as easily as he DJ’d the vinyl albums on his dual turntables.

    The result was astounding.

    He flipped the script by making the cartoon images follow his rhythm---not the other way around. And even though things started rather roughly (he warned us that there might be a few kinks), by the third cartoon the characters were moving (forward and backwards) to the sounds of everyone from the Beatles to Al Green to Johnny Mathis to Wu-Tang Clan. Mainly heavy blues with a great beat sampled in.

    It was incredible to hear him play a live drum track, use sampled sound effects, scratch vinyl records AND change the speed and direction of the video images….all live! To call him the maestro of the rhythm is the best way I could describe RZA’s performance. Animated scarecrows dancing to Al Green; Superman soaring through the sky to the Brothers Johnson "Strawberry Letter 23"; Birds moving to the beat of “Fly Robin Fly”…. a remarkable achievement.

    RZA performed for about 70 minutes nonstop with deft control of the video and audio scratching. The amazing thing is he seemed like an artist before an enormous canvas with a crate full of records and a DVD full of classic cartoons from the 50’s (think of Mickey Mouse/Steamboat Willie Style obscure animation) and almost seamlessly blending them together in a well-rehearsed manner.

    At the conclusion he played a video tribute to ODB, better known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan who died of heart failure last November at the age of 35.

    It was also announced that RZA was the “musician in residence” for the LA Film Fest and three of his favorite films (“The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, “36 Chambers of the Sholin”, and “Ghost Dog—The Way of the Samurai” will all be screened at this year’s festival.

    It was a great event and one that highlights RZA’s remarkable skill, control and creativity.

    By the way, this was a great way to close out "Wu-Tang Month" for me: I bought two of their CDs, read RZA's new book "The Wu-Tang Manual" and watched "Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2", films scored by the RZA. Whew!

    Posted by mbowen at 07:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    June 12, 2005

    I Felt It

    This morning I felt the earthquake as I got out of bed. Nothing was knocked around, it was swaying a bit with only the slightest bit of jolt. I came out to the living room to alert the family who was wrestling on the couch. Nothing else shook in the next few seconds so I knew the thing was done. I was going to look up the CalTech seismo, but after a bit of wrestling I forgot the whole thing.

    Getting into it, it was a gradual rolling for about 3 seconds that sharpened to a quiver that could be heard in the windows with approximately the same noise as an adult throwing their weight against an outside wall of the house. Then about 3 more seconds of swimming. It was subtle enough for me to think that more might be coming, but it didn't alert me that much.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    June 02, 2005

    Laguna Hills: Slip Sliding Away

    I have been made to feel small, black and insignificant about three times in my life. I know that lots more people have tried, but I've never actually been deflated by their efforts. But the one humiliation that made my stomach sink came from a couple of Volvo driving parents from Laguna Hills back when I was a teenager at camp. Basically, I made friends with one of their twin daughters, the one who had Jonathan Livingston Seagull earrings and Cali blonde hair. I was the winning QB of the big football game on the day before the end of camp complete with 6 inch fro and winning smile. So when it was time to go, homegirl introduced me to her folks after our teary hugs goodbye.

    "Yeah hi. Get in the car!" said without more than a second's appraisal made me wonder what the hell kind of people lived in Laguna Hills. I'm sure my 14 year old assessment was correct. Unfortunately, I was a bit too stunned, having made some of my first white friends in life, to undo a week of positivity, to say something appropriately witty. But in my head I was burning and beat. It actually hurt.

    But during that same period I learned how sad some of those kids were knowing that their parents thought that they were cool enough to get divorced, change their hair and get a new 'relationship'. It was the 70s after all; I could relate.

    Today's news of overpriced houses crumbling to the dirt leaves me unsympathetic, and actually wishing the damage had been more widespread. The other story here is that I've been a transient basically since I left the 'hood in 1982. I've never lived in the same building for more than 3 years since then. I'm a leaser. I have no home equity, and so there is a discernable amount of scorn, envy and contempt I have for people who, for no real reason of intellect or moral capability, have amassed wealth simply by sitting still. I like earthquakes in California, they are the only economic justice in the face of half-million dollar homes with 1100 square feet. I don't really hate the players, I hate the game, and I hate not having mastered it. I hate not having that thing easily as is expected of persons of my station. I wonder if I'll ever get over it.

    So I have no pithy words of condolence to those losers in Laguna, but these. Yeah hi, get in the car.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:22 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

    June 01, 2005

    Where Have All the Xeroids Gone?

    I talked to my boy Marty this long weekend. He runs part of the facilities department over at Xerox El Segundo. His was a tale of woe. I owe a lot of my professional development to the management style of Xerox - continuous quality improvement and all. So it was hard for me to hear what he had to say.

    I started my first internship for the Big X back in 1983, my first summer in college. Since I had some real-world work experience, I was fortunate enough to land a spot with the MBA candidates and worked in the Centralized Printing Systems Division several levels beneath the legendary Hoshi Printer. Yes, Printer was his last name. Last time I checked, he was making moola at Cars.com. So I had seven years of Xerox on my resume by 1990 when I went full-time into the software business.

    About that time, Xerox had proven two things. Number one, it was master of the copier and printer business. Number two, it didn't know squat about the computer, software and networks business. Xerox stock limped along in the low 20s for my entire career there and its employee count was about 100,000. Here in El Segundo, where we used to actually sweat about being a target of Russian nukes, there was a vigorous set of employees of Xerox. The legendary A&E building housed first rate engineers and brown shuttle vans took folks around the campus of about 18 buildings. I myself had worked in CP-8, CP-10, XC-1 and XC-2. I sometimes had lunch in one of the 'M' buildings, the big M1 cafeteria. As an intern, I toured through M2 where some of America's first 'surface mount' technology was being deployed for Xerox printer circuit boards.

    Marty says that there are about 60k people who work for Xerox now. A&E is down to about 600 employees and only two of the eight M buildings still even belong to Xerox. Over in Xerox Centre, office space had been empty so long that Xerox was renting to all comers for as little as 1.50 per square foot. The boom days of El Segundo are long gone.

    Today, Lexmark printers are no joke. HP dominates the 'decentralized' print world. Warnock made Adobe and all the rest is history. But it remains stunning to me that these very buildings, the whole of the Xerox campus has been so drastically reduced. Where have they gone? How long are those who are left going to stay?

    It's all design work, so I've been told. It's what we do best in the US, come up with new ideas and figure out ways to sell them. But I miss the days of end to end, where you could be on campus and know you were 10,000 stong. Where the spirit of a company pulling together, from design to test to manufacturing to sales and marketing distribution and support were all in walking distance. The virtual corporation is real. We in IT and our crafty MBAs made it possible. Now El Segundo is less than it used to be.

    I wonder what's going on at Northrop.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 27, 2005

    Looking for Talent

    Speaking for myself, I am looking to bring some talent on board.

    It's not often that I get so absorbed in work that I don't have time to blog, but that has been the case for the past week or so. I've only been onboard in my new gig for about 10 weeks and I can clearly see it's all about momentum. So I'm piercing the veil between Cobb and Michael Bowen on the off chance that one or a few of you might be interested in getting some serious job satisfaction working on our team. Plus I'm using this to warm up whatever I'll be writing in Craigslist in a week or two.

    I've got a dilemma. I have lots of work and not enough bodies. Here in Southern California, we are pulling down so much business, that I need a clone army. Unfortunately I don't have an emissary to send to planet Camino.

    I am looking for four profiles of candidate to work in major accounts using Hyperion technology in Southern California for the Western Region. If you are somebody or know somebody who fits one of these general profiles, I can get you started quickly.

    Profile #1. Oracle Old Head
    You are a master of PLSQL and you use Toad. You're plenty comfortable on UNIX and have done your share of VLDB. You've been around since Oracle 7 and you've built all kinds of DW implementations. You may even have a passing familiarity with Express. People take you for granted and don't use half of your knowledge and quite frankly the projects are getting boring. You've been thinking about getting into a new technology or two, like Informatica just because the pay is good. You don't want to waste your time with upstarts.

    Profile #2. SQL Server Hotshot
    You can do anything in SQL Server but nobody gives you anything interesting to do. You can write anything in DTS or VB but are not really called to write new stuff - they keep throwing the same old VB at you. You thought .Net was going to take off faster than it has and quite frankly not much has changed in the last two years. Yukon is a big plus but you're tired of waiting. Plus, how come all those Business Objects and Cognos guys get to do front-ends? You are hungry for big projects, new technology and some variety.

    Profile #3 Technical Finance
    You are a functional power user who understands allocations, eliminations, legal entities and COAs. You understand how SarbOx does or does not affect the way a company reports its numbers, but you are really ready to tackle applications from a technical point of view.

    Profile #4 Wild Card
    You have a range of technical skills and you're tired of messing around in an area of the industry that has no excitement, direction, rewards or motivation. You've heard about Business Intelligence and you want to work with the best. You've got 'can do' and 'lets roll' in your blood.

    Here's what I'm offering.

    I'm looking for people who are good and they know it, people who don't want to waste their time doing the same thing for the same people day in and day out. Somebody who picks up an O'Reilly book and says 'How hard can it be?' Somebody who is cool under pressure and delivers on time. Someone who enjoys being the person who saves the day and cracks the tough problems. Somebody who is harder on themselves than other are because you know what you are capable of doing and when it has to be done right, you step up.

    My company is hiring and I am building up the first class BI apps development team in the Western Region of the US. I've been building EIS, DSS, DW, Financial Reporting & Multidimensional apps since 1986 through 4 generations of software, and I'm looking to beat the competition and raise the level. I need people to step up to the Relational, Multidimensional, Master Data, Visualization, Statistical, Reporting, Java and Web tools in the broad Hyperion platform. My aim is application domination. Supply Chain, Billing, Earned Value, Retail, Entertainment, Health Care, Manufacturing - you name it. We're in the biggest and most demanding clients on the West Coast and we are poised for growth. I am building the best team on the field and I need you.

    The more you bring to the table, the more you can get out, the more we build and the more deals we can close and the more bonuses we get. If you've got ETL, RDBMS, Scripting, OLAP, ERP, UNIX & Excel VBA in some combination and you're ready to roll, let's talk.

    We are all about building world class applications with top tier technology. We indulge both the geek factor and the serious business focus. I am all about mastery and architecting elegant, robust interactive systems that solve real world business problems.

    Call me.
    Michael Bowen
    Mgr. Best Practices Solutions Group
    Los Angeles - Business Intelligence
    310 872 7373

    Posted by mbowen at 02:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 24, 2005

    Consider This

    I don't listen to KCRW any longer. I'm on the other side with KPCC. In every way except for broadcast quality in certain parts of the Southland, I find KPCC superior. So now you know. I'm also not a big fan of Sandra Tsing Low, so I only paused a moment when she got the boot.

    Today I've learned that Cindy Burkey got the boot from KCRW and it has given my aggravated camel yet another straw named Ruth Seymour. Something about her gets on my nerves, and perhaps it is her very tenacity. The problem with tenacious people is that sometimes they barnacle on to bad ideas and it makes you wonder if they ever had an original thought. As a conservative, you need to be constantly on the lookout for such people. Especially when the sound of boots echo.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:03 AM | TrackBack

    May 18, 2005

    V is for (Empty) Victory

    Yesterday, the spousal unit put in work for the city as an exit pollster for the LA Times. As her day wore on, she had no idea which way the race was going. This morning, we have normality. Or so it would seem.

    The notable experience she brought from her outpost in South LA was twofold. Firstly, most people don't like to talk about whom they vote for. If you ever had suspicions about there being a silent majority, they are hereby confirmed. Maybe 1 out of 8 or 1 out of 12 people were speaking to her at all.

    Secondly, paperwork associated with voting is a huge headache. She collected a good number of survey sheets but a significant percentage of them were spoiled and had to be disregarded.

    I get the feeling this kind of stuff is rather commonplace. It only goes to assure me that it is our confidence in the democratic process rather than the mechanics of the process itself which delivers us from evil. And considering that only 30% of us showed up at the polls yesterday, it's a slim margin of confidence after all. But what's done is done, and for better or worse, we have proven once again that we can have an orderly transition of power. Way to go.

    As for Villaraigosa himself, I'm with the 70% who didn't feel it was necessary to say anything. I'm glad some people will get a kick out of him, being Hispanic and all. But I'm of the notion that he won't be as chauvinist about it as people make out. He clearly had the energy and the spirit during the campaign, but I found him to be a bit too opportunistic. Let's see if he can bring as much good news as he chronicled Hahn's bad.

    Villaraigosa is a winner without a mandate. Nobody elected him to do anything special. We all know we need to raise taxes and get more (not just a couple hundred but 7-10 thousand) cops on the street to make the community policing initiative truly work. We all know he's lacking the the testicular fortitude to do so as was Hahn. He's talked a good game about transportation, but the Gov snaked him with a billion and a half of extra state revenues. V is not going to turn around the declining state of our health care provision either.

    Villaraigosa is mayor. So let us continue to expect nothing and we won't be disappointed. Oh yeah, and keep an ear open for ethnic humor.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:50 AM | TrackBack

    May 11, 2005

    Apple's Los Angeles

    I purchased 'Apple's America' last week in hopes that I, as a discriminating traveler, might gain some benefit from the renowned NYT writer R.W. Apple. So I was very disappointed to find, in his review of all things Los Angeles, that he hadn't done much to stray from any hackneyed stereotype about the joint. I just hate the way most people not from Los Angeles write about Los Angeles and I don't know why I expected any better from Apple.

    So I'm definitely going to have to continue my series on black barbershops, if I can manage to stop hitting the road for the bossman long enough. And I'm also going to have to compete with the single white female blogger who is walking the city. I can't remember where I heard about her, but I'm certain to keep hearing about her as time goes by.

    And since I'm in a foul mood I'm finally getting a distinct sense that NPR's incestuous conspiracy of tweaky individuals is starting to get on my nerves. If I hear another plug for Scott Simon's 'Pretty Birds' I am going to rip the knob off the poor rentacar stereo. I mean I've already had it up to here with David Sedaris and Sara Vowel. 'This America Life' is already psychotically voyeuristic, but do we still have to listen to these creeps for years afterwards?

    I swear I'm getting to the point where I want to go native. Anywhere. Just keep me away from the coasts.

    Which brings me back to Apple. He makes me want to go to Vancouver and so I'll read the rest of the book with a somewhat jaundiced eye. Then again, Apple himself and his generation are anachronistic today and there's a certain lack of hipness that is refreshing. I know he's going to give me the brass rail tour and place me in places somebody like him would be comfortable. Serves me right for skipping ahead to Los Angeles. I think he got Boston right.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 09, 2005

    Tommy Edward Scott

    Last week a black man was violently killed on the street. Almost nobody cared.

    He got jacked, you see. He was doing his ordinary job when a dangerous fool grabbed his car away from him. The man ended up hanging onto the steering wheel and hanging out of the open driver's door as the fool sped away. The fool hit a fire hydrant, the door slammed shut and it took off the black man's head.

    Now you would think that when a black man is dragged from an automobile and gets decapitated, that there would be some outcry, some noise, something. But there's a very particular reason why there wasn't in this case. That's because that black man was Tommy Edward Scott, a police officer.

    My brother Doc was furious at the Fungibles and the 'black community' because of this relative silence. I suffered through his tirade against LA Urban League Mogul John Mack whose opinion on the matter was probably not sought by local media, but he sure did make enough noise about the flashlight upside Stanley Miller's head. No charges were brought against the arresting officers in the Miller case because of a lack of evidence. If that sounds too technical, understand this: Miller didn't bleed. He took an aspirin. The LAPD officer's blood was all over the car door, and the sidewalk, and the windshield.

    They shut down the city, the LAPD cops. There were about 90 motorcycle cops who shut down the freeways for the motorcade. For Doc, this made up for the silence. The show of strength and pride and loyalty in a police funeral more than helped him cope with the fact that not everybody cares. Saturday night, he went to bed early after the dinner we fixed for Moms so that he could be ready when his shift started at 4am Sunday morning.

    I tend to get annoyed with my Progressive friends as they speculate about what institutions we ought to support in assisting with the great task of fulfilling our African American destiny, whatever that may be. My answers these past few years tend to be pretty simple. If you want to get up, you need an accountant, an attorney. I'm glad I have those and a cop too. The cop is in the family and I'm extremely proud of that. But I know that dealing with such people as bankers and cops and accountants as friends don't seem quite right to many. I don't know what to tell them.

    I don't need the 'black community' to demonstrate its humanity to me. I'm assured. But I wonder what would happen if for once in the entire history of Los Angeles, somebody would think something of this nature would merit a big turnout from the people who live where I grew up. It's not a revolutionary idea, but it's a good one.

    My condolences to the Scott family.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    March 29, 2005

    Villaraigosa vs Hahn

    I don't think that Mayor Hahn is corrupt, but I'm not looking closely. Nothing that Antonio Villaraigosa is shouting leads me to believe he'll be a better mayor, but he certainly sounds convinced himself.

    I listened to the debates this evening and I have to say that I'm less than impressed with either candidate. I wanted Hertzberg to make it through the prelims, but I have to admit that I didn't go out and cast a ballot for him or anyone. So perhaps I'm a typical LA voter. Actually, I'm not even sure I get to vote, we have our own mayor in Redondo.

    Hahn didn't do a good job of defending his record. If there was something to be proud about, he didn't show it very often. It seemed to be a contest about whom is reviled the least. The theme of tonight's catfight was trust and honesty. That's a good one.

    I keep getting the feeling that AV is an upstart. He really came out swinging, portraying himself as a 24/7 crusader with his sleeves rolled up. Hahn deflected all the bullets but still didn't seem like Superman. The tone was defiant and bold; I don't think I've heard the like in an LA mayoral debate. I felt both embarrassed and proud, like the contested girl between two arrogant men. And yet neither of them gave me any real clue that they had anything more than desire going for them.

    How many police can LA afford? Apparently, that's anybody's guess. Neither would commit to raising the numbers without raising taxes, and yet neither would raise taxes. Hahn put the problem at the feet of a cascading chain of budget busting causalities related to Villaraigosa's tenure in Sacramento. Antonio says Hahn underdelivered with only 400 officers. It seems to me that neither is ready to say in public that to transform the LAPD requires something on the order of 7-10k more officers. It's the only way to change the culture from that of unyeilding, paramilitary tactics to one more in line with what other big cities have.

    Villaraigosa surprised me with his focus on residential, single family neighborhoods. I think he's triangulating well, whereas Hahn is boldly sticking to the affordable housing and high density rhetoric. Hahn in righteous in rebuffing the unproven allegations of corruption but he kept saying 'yet' at the ends of his sentences. Somebody is going to find a turd in his administration and that could spell disaster. Outside of that hedge, Hahn sounded comfortable, even dealing with the dead body of Bernard Parks. Cops love Bratton. Everybody loves Bratton. Hahn can crow about that, but he remained relatively modest.

    In the end it was Hahn's reserve that won the evening for me, but it wasn't a resounding victory. Villaraigosa hasn't convinced me that he has a plan nor that Hahn is running off the rails. AV is playing against the fears and distrust of Angelenos, and that's good politics, but it's also a confidence game.

    BoiFromTroi throws shade on the squabblers.
    LAObserved reports on other reactions.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    March 08, 2005

    Fullerton Road Train Wreck

    I was there when it happened.Map.gif

    The ordinary way I take to my customer in the City of Industry is at the railroad crossing of Fullerton Road just south of the 60 Freeway. But I took a different route because I didn't want to take the chance of waiting for the train and I wanted to be in early.

    This morning at 9:45, I pulled into the parking lot at Fullerton Road and San Jose Avenue and a cop car and mortorcycle zoomed by heading south on Fullerton. I took a mental note and went in. It turned out that I wasn't scheduled to work, and so I sold some Girl Scout Cookies and headed home. Just as I exited the building at 10:20 I notice that it was heavily overcast and a helo was hovering just above. Something was up.

    I moved over to my car and started taking pictures. I could see that they were redirecting southbound traffic on Fullerton left and right to San Jose. So as I left the parking lot, I headed East towards Nogales and started recording notes on my Treo. I turned south on Nogales and saw that the railroad crossing was clear so I flipped around right down Railroad Ave to head west towards Fullerton. Already some security person was waving traffic off Railroad back north into the industrial park. So I ended up back on San Jose heading back to where I came from.

    As I crossed Fullerton road, the crossing there was clear as well, but it was taped off and there were several fire engines and police cars at the site. The radio news said derailment and it became clear that it was between Azusa and Fullerton. I took my first left onto Lawson to head back south towards the tracks and broke out the video recorder.

    It was at the corner of Railroad and Lawson that I could clearly see, down to the East, a big pile of boxcars. They were at least three high. In the few seconds I had, I could see one guy with a video camera on the corner. The Sheriff's deputy was on the loudspeaker telling folks to clear the area - evidently there was somebody East of Lawson heading to gawk. But I never saw any Hazmat personnel nor could I see a fire or smell anything in the air. I headed away and got back into regular traffic.

    You can download my 1MB video file here. There's one brief look down the track at the wreck.

    UPDATE: NBC reports.

    Here's a satellite view from my handy-dandy Keyhole subscription. Click on it to get a bigger picture.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    February 16, 2005

    The Coalition of the Damned

    People in Lebanon are attending the funeral of their former prime minister. He was assassinated by a suicide bomber with a car bomb. People in Los Angeles are attending the funeral of an anonymous 13 year old boy. He was shot dead by police after a car chase.

    Tony Muhammad, the local leader of the Nation of Islam, brought the congregation to its feet when he vowed to hold city leaders accountable for Devin's death and said that it "will be the straw that breaks the camel's back."

    "It's time for black people to stand up," he said. "We'll police ourselves! Look what this little brother's life has done — it has brought together Muslims and Christians and Jews, Bloods and Crips."

    I feel a bit hesitant to walk over a delinquent kid's dead body to make a point about the politics of protest, but it's clear that there are people who a great deal more shameless than I. Ultimately, there's not much to make of this matter, that is to say there shouldn't be. You swim in dangerous waters when you choose to make somebody a symbol of heroism or victimology or whatever. Symbols are made to be slapped around like a hockey puck. Somehow, I know Devin Brown's mother isn't up to that.

    Should there be a black Elian Gonzales, a black Jeffrey Dahmer? No. There are already many black symbols. We have a goodly share that over the years have ossified in the public consciousness as representative of the trials and achievements of African Americans in our unique history. Mohammed Ali is probably one of the greatest symbols of triumph, but we have our symbols of failure and oppression too. When it comes to the devaluation of black life, several come to mind.

    The essential problem here is that Brown doesn't measure up as a symbol in the pantheon of black symbols, and the fact that so many folks are willing to represent him as one waters down the impact of whatever movement they expect. This is a small tragedy written in large print devaluating black politics. The very idea of Crip and Blood unity having any significance outside of itself played out 14 years ago. But this is where the Coalition makes points.

    A generation ago, this kind of grandstanding could be parlayed into real political capital. Many asked and recieved patronage in the form of political appointments. But blackfolks have already marched in every major city and black police chiefs have already been tenured in every major city. We are in the second generation. Indeed Bernard Parks was sitting in the front row of this congregation, clearly working his angle for his upcoming mayoral bid (which was doomed long ago if you ask me). They are fishing for trout with a boat anchor baited with the dead body of a boy who lies in the shadows of Medgar Evers, James Byrd and yes Emmit Till. This kind of trolling will make no one fishers of men. They need to throw their nets on the other side of the boat.

    On the other side of the boat are people like me who are struck with the awful fact of a fatherless youth speeding away from police in a stolen car at 4 o'clock in the morning. As one who is willing to let the past good be remembered in acceptance of a harsh present and an empty future, I'm completely willing to hold no hope for Michael Jackson. He crossed a line that may make sense for some, but most of us know that's something is radically wrong. When a middle school kid is out on the streets driving a stolen car at all hours of the night, something is radically wrong. Sooner or later that kind of life catches up with you, or as Gil Scott Heron said, "Down some dead end streets there ain't no turning back."

    Every man's death diminishes me, and every child's death is a tragedy, but every tragedy does not have a silver lining big enough to be counted as progress. Especially not for an African American nation of millions, although perhaps for a ragtag few in South LA who marvel at gang peace this might be enough. Were I part of a community that daily sees its youth go down in flames to all of the ailments that plague our society, I surely could see some sense of victory in the death of one that fuels righteous indignation against a police force in dire need of change. But I am part of a community that expects much more from youth and gets much more from police. I am not without sympathy or understanding, I am without political support or ascent to such tactics as grandstanding at funerals.

    Like many, I have watched funerals throughout the 80s become a rallying point for black South Africans. And I witnessed the triumph after decades of struggle by millions of black South Africans for democracy and freedom. Here in the US we have democracy and freedom, so what is a funeral for? A funeral is for mourning the loss of a loved one and an opportunity to take the lessons of one life gone and apply them to those who must carry on. Devin Brown's life, to my ears, has no great lesson, only a small old one which is that the family comes first.

    Whatever coalition forms from those political mourners is a poor one. For there is little in the symbol that they can use to gain popular sympathy. If Americans know anything it is how to pimp a symbol and how to dash one to the dirt. These folks would be much better off leaving Devin's mother to ordinary grief instead of the inevitable letdown she will feel if she believes the hype.

    I have written that we have yet to reach the point at which black rage can be co-opted by the mainstream, and so black political rage becomes discounted in the scheme of things. If it takes the death of youth to gather such coalitions as this, then that will continue to be the price of the ticket. History has given us the proof, here in Los Angeles. Where is the coalition of LaTasha Harlins, Ron Settles? Where are the friends of Rodney King? They are nowhere and nameless. It's just 'black SouthCentral LA', whatever thousand show up when somebody gets beat down by cops. What do they have to do? Show up at First AME, wail and promulgate ignorant conspiracy theories. Call in to talk radio and rant irrationally. Cry at funerals and pour a drink in the street. It's as familiar as The Color Purple, sentimental, heart wrenching and ultimately politically useless. This is not the currency of political progress, and yet it continues to be saved up and spent.

    My gut tells me that everyone who is making a mountain of this tragic turn has spoken for themselves and have as much representation as they will ever get or need. Just as there will be some permanent league of sweatshop employees and their complaints will ever be the same, there will be some permanent element of African America who lives in fear of police and despair of change. Thoughtful people will come to their aid and we all have some measure of responsibility to them. This is what we expect of the politics of progress. So the rest of us have our work cut out for us. We must be responsive and see that appropriate reform is carried out. Then one day, hopefully soon, a funeral can be just a funeral.


    Jack Dunphy takes out some rage against the LA Times for supporting these sorts of politics. LA Observed, observes.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:24 AM | TrackBack

    February 08, 2005

    How Many Cops Have To Die?

    I just got off the phone with Doc, who is loading up on carbs. Apparently he's going to be on duty all night due to some firey protests happening at Parker Center right about now. Enraged citizens are saying things like 'how many cops have to die before you change?'.

    All this comes in the wake of a recent decision against car thief Stanley Williams who got bopped upside the noggin with a flashlight last year. Nobody's going to fire the cop who did it, citing a lack of evidence of excessive force, ie the cop didn't even draw blood. Urban Leaguer John Mack was looking for cosmic justice there, and Hahn himself decided to spite his own police chief for election brownie points with the assumed 'black vote'.

    Now just the other night, yet another car theif who took cops on a high speed chase was apprehended - with a rain of bullets. This kid happened to be a black teenaged kid on his way down the slippery slope. And so there is predictable outrage.

    Doc is pissed at the local media because, as he put it, "Never in a million years are they going put a mic in front of a reasonable black person who says Williams had it coming." Amen to that.

    Obligatorily, it's always a gross miscarriage of justice when suspects die before they get their day in court. But that goes without saying. What needs to be said in this and every case are the particulars. The particulars here are that this kid's father recently died and there was nobody to pick up the slack. A tale as old and tragic as time itself. This poor kid hit a brick wall and that's a shame, but he was running in the wrong direction to begin with.

    I'm pleased to see that there are no headlines on this unrest at the moment, but I don't watch local news. If there is bad news tomorrow in the idiot escalation of this series of unfortunate events, I hope it's less than lethal. Nobody has to die over this crap.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    January 26, 2005

    Off Track

    My two cents on the suicide train wreck is this. There are certain times when a crime is obvious. Here is a man who wanted to kill himself and take a trainload of passengers with him. He is going to wish he stayed in his car.

    If the sentence was death by stoning, I'd exercise my throwing arm for a week in advance.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:07 PM | TrackBack

    January 15, 2005

    Lucy Florence is Back

    I keep getting mail from Ofari which contradicts something that I heard a while ago which was the Lucy Florence lost their lease. So how as it that the National Alliance was still having their Saturday meetings? This morning I shot down to Liemert Park to see what was up, and to my surprise, Lucy Florence is back and better than before.

    The Twins have taken over the Degnan building's northeast corner. There's a lot more space and what they've done with the place is fabulous. They've got what appears to be a stage in the back room, a small gallery that doubles as a meeting room and several very comfortable meeting rooms down the hall. The place is charming and lot less claustrophobic when full due to the high cielings. There's something about this new place, probably because it is in an older building, that really soaks up the charm and radiates it much better than the old joint. That said, I have new reasons to head there when I get through the city.

    What Liemert Park needs is to become a tour bus stop. Somebody ought to figure out how to make that happen, because as one of the Twins said today, it's an excellent walking place. A steady stream of tourist dollars could work wonders for that area. Most folks I know, including me, have about as many paintings and scuptures as our walls and bookcases can handle, but there are many many others than just the folks I know, and Liemert Park deserves the business.

    So if you get the chance, do be reminded that Lucy Florence is not dead, but alive and kicking. And the breakfast was great.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:06 PM | TrackBack

    January 12, 2005

    River North

    KPCC has outdone me, but I was not about to go to the LA River when it was at its peak in the middle of the storm. Here are some links to video footage I took yesterday, our first day of sun in a long time.
    One. Two.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    January 11, 2005

    Torrents of the LA River

    Now that the rain has let up for a moment, I brought my camera to see if I could get some nice shots of what LA looks like when the skies are perfectly clear. But then I remembered that there's still water coming through the city. So on my way to work this morning, I stopped by the First Street bridge and took some photos and video of the LA River. It's scary.

    The first thing you notice is the roar. As you look at this water, which must be moving along at 15 or 20 knots, judging by the bow waves made by the massive concrete feet of the bridge, you can just feel the power it must have. The longer you look, the more it seams like there ought to be more noise than you hear.

    The water itself is a muddy brown with a hint of orangish clay. It flows thickly and swiftly. There seems not to be enough whitewater for the speed at which it is going, but that must be because its thick with the accumulated mud and offal of the upstream communities.

    Stay tuned for pictures.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:45 PM | TrackBack

    December 02, 2004

    The Jungle

    "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine until my children can walk the streets in freedom, in safety, inpeace of mind. So let it shine!"
    -- Rev. Leonard Jackson, Dec 2004

    The other day, police and clergy marched on MLK Blvd for peace. Sound familiar? It should. As Robin Harris said more than a decade ago, we're talking about the Ghetto, where the cost of living is going up and the chance of living is going down.

    This time it's Eighteenth Street vs the Bloods. It's getting dark in the Jungle so get indoors behind the steel plates, lest you catch a stray bullet. Nothing new. Same as 1986. Same streets, different gangs. The speeches and calls are so familiar. Too bad. There's only one solution, it's called escape. Escape requires mobility, mobility requires skill, skill needs desire and discipline. I wonder if they are praying for these things, and yet somehow I doubt it.

    Several years ago, I had wanted to bomb (tag with spraypaint) the Crenshaw Wall with the URL for my website. And someday I may yet do it. VisionCircle is ready for primetime. One or two more authors and it could be awesome - it's already growing in strength and relevance. If I put the URL on the Wall in spraypaint, how many hits would I get from around the way? Hard to say. But answers are out here, if people would stop listening to the same tired voices.

    Aahh but street knowledge is irreplacable. There's no substitute for it. It's the only thing that will save you in the streets. The question is whether or not you are destined to remain there.

    I drove my family through the Jungle a few weeks ago. I forgot the context of why we were there. Maybe it was just after a big dinner at the New Panda Buffet on MLK that was originally built as a Sizzler. I drove up Stevely where my girlfriend used to live in 1979 just before the dawn of the Crack Wars. We drove around to Hillcrest School and Cocoa and I recalled the beginning of the bad old days as well as the good old days before them.

    See when the Jungle was first called the Jungle, it was all good. I clearly remember when those apartments were brand new and their pools sparkled. I recall how much everybody wanted them, especially those folks who had previously lived in Liemert Park when that was the spot. The difference, of course, was that Liemert Park had homes as well as apartments and that provided stability. But by the mid 80s, Liemert started to slide downhill to the point where black college students at USC began to swear off it as the premier spot for off campus housing.

    Perhaps today in these post-riot, post-Gates days, relations between cops and communities can get to the level of trust necessary to hand the smackdown to the criminal element. It wasn't long ago when gang sweeps meant that basically every black and latino kid got picked up. When investigations showed something like a measly 8% criminal booking rate for these mass arrests, already hostile relations got worse. That's a lot of BS to undo, but it will have to happen, and that's why this march, as futile as I think it is, symbolizes the positive relations which must occur if gangbanging is to be made less deadly.

    There's a difference of course. 18th Street is a Latino gang. Blackfolks still remaining in the Jungle and Liemert are among those left behind. Black Flight is real too. View Park may not be far enough away in the future - remember how a very popular black restauranteur was gunned down in Ladera Heights this year. My old neighborhood is growing more and more Hispanic. There's a new dynamic afoot - let's see how it goes down.

    In the meantime, there's the old standby of exodus. It's a strategy that's worked since the days of Moses.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:02 PM | TrackBack

    November 02, 2004

    California Initiatives

    I have conservative rules of thumb that I just invented for dealing with the questions of bond issues and initiatives.

    #1. Initiatives are 'nice to have'.
    If it were truly a compelling political issue, then the legislature would be dealing with it. That may not always be the case with California's especially wimpy legislature because they are so accustomed to punting to the voters at large.

    This year it is especially obvious that the California Assembly is trying to get the voting public to cosign their girly resolve. I'm going to reject as much of that as possible. None of the initiatives gets the benefit of the doubt.

    #2. Bonds Double.
    This Children's Hospital bond for 750 million will cost 1.5Billion. The stem cell research bond for 3 Billion will cost 6 to pay back. It's no wonder these are on the ballot, because no legislator in his slippery right mind would dare try to pay for such stuff, attractive though it may be, when our deficit is so huge.

    This is not the way to go. I'm sorry but I don't need stem cells. With three billion we might find a way to help what, 2000 cancer patients in 8 years maybe? I like Jerry's Kids as much as anyone, but spare me the telethon, and don't take it out of my taxes.

    #.3 Immediate Taxes are Best
    If you're going to tax me, let it be simple and direct. A half percent sales tax for police officers? That I can deal with. I still might not vote for 'A' depending on how charitable I feel. I feel that Bratton is doing a good job and I'm rather perversely proud that LA doesn't have so many donut-bellied cops per capita as the Windy City or the Big Apple. So the existing strategy works well enough.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:55 AM | TrackBack

    November 01, 2004

    Yes on 69

    I'm a big fan of databases, DNA and punishing crooks. Put it all together and what do you get? A threat to civil liberties? Nah. You get positive identification of felony arrestees. That's OK with me. When it all comes down to it, I think that DNA identification is inevitable and largely a good thing. Anonymity is not protection - but I'll go into that later. (I think it's a specie of the myth of security through obscurity.)

    An identity theif is arrested. How do you identify him, with a driver's license?

    Posted by mbowen at 11:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 30, 2004


    There's nothing so delicious as being wrong and getting away with it. That's what I've been doing regarding Prop 66 the past few days. Fortunately, by leaguemates XLRQ and Patterico have done for me what I promise to do for my children - not allow failure. So I owe them, and Briget Johnson of the WSJ my debt of gratitude for giving me the slap I needed.

    NO ON 66

    Posted by mbowen at 09:24 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    October 27, 2004

    Yes On 66

    Proposition 66 amends California's Three Strikes Law to reduce the number and types of felonies which count as strikes.

    If 66 passes, as I hope it does, pproximately 4100 convicts will be eligible for resentencing. If they are accepted, they waive double jeopardy, which means prosecutors can bring up anything in their past. Although the opponents bring up egregious examples of convicts that 'would go free', it's clear that prosecutors and judges have plenty of latitude.

    Latitude is the primary reason I support 66, and it's interesting now that Federal sentencing guidelines will be under review soon. I like my judges to be individuals, not hamstrung by rules that reduce the discretion of their judgement.

    The second reason I vote for 66 is as old as the concept of justice itself. Our system presumes innocence until proven guilty because of the principle that it is better to let a guilty man go free than to imprison an innocent man. If we are imprisoning harshly those who are guilty of petty crimes, then we are violating that principle of liberty. California's three strikes law is the toughest in the nation. We alone imprison 4 times as many as 21 other states who have similar laws. Prop 66 will cut that rate in half.

    That's good enough for me.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:55 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

    Artists in Venice

    There's a proposition on the ballot to initiate a one time $25 lifetime registration for all of the performers, hucksters, jugglers, mimes, soap box preachers, henna tatooers, sand scultors, massage therapists, buskers, breakdancers, glass walkers, fire eaters, freaks, wackos and assorted loonies that populate the boardwalk of Venice Beach. This will allow an organized lottery to regulate who gets which space on the overcrowded scene.

    Do it.

    The main complaint is that registration of artists leads to a police state, and this augers against free speech. Such arguements usually tug at my heartstrings, but as I thought about it, if Venice is already a 'free speech zone' as is its reputation, then what is so artistically creative about being at Venice Beach? Really creative people could make anyplace a haven for free expression.

    Not really. Venice is Venice. People trade on its reputation to get their alternative alternatives on. A little organization never repressed a true spirit. This one allows the hacks to be Venice Beach Hacks. Sign 'em.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:30 AM | TrackBack

    October 26, 2004

    No on Proposition 72

    A simple cursory look at this one has me running to the hills. Shifting the burden of healthcare costs to families is the short-term solution. Until we get some fairly massive healthcare reform working, we shouldn't force businesses to accept the lousy current situation.

    I'm betting that more comprehensive and sensible legislation and theory will come down the pike before long, and I'll have a better grasp. This is just stuffing some arbitary things down the throats of businesses. Plus, the pro side has played the Wal-Mart card. Game over.

    As a regular old conservative, I have to have a damned good reason to approve any ballot initiative. This one doesn't meet the Cobb standard. Sorry.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    65 and 1A

    Cobb says vote no on Prop 65 and yes on Prop 1A.

    I like this 1A. It is evidence that the Governor is undermining the initiative process because the compromise which saves the state 1.3 Billion is all about arm-twisting of the best type. It means legislators are making deals instead of hiding behind the unaccountability of the initiative process.

    The guts of this is that it forces the State to live within the state budget rather than sucking up local taxes to cover shortfalls, which it had been doing with impunity for years. But because of the crisis, the difference between 65 and 1A is that 1A allows for the 2 year deal that Arnold made with the cities and counties to remain in place. 65 would undo the deal that took place after it made it to the ballot.

    So there you have it. Thanks to Warren Olney.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:15 AM | TrackBack

    October 15, 2004

    Dymally + Waters vs Garthwaite over King

    The battle of MLK Hospital in the Watts / Willowbrook area of deepest darkest LA County has taken another interesting, if incomprehensible turn. This time Maxine Waters and Mervyn Dymally have called for the resignation of the head of the County Health Department. This as a background for the latest scandal to hit the papers which was that a heart patient died because a nurse muted the volume on the (apparently annoying) life support system, so that when he crashed, nobody knew.

    Pops used to be deep into those politics during the 70s and 80s when he was a Special Assistant to the Chief. That's how we met Maxine and a host of other influentials back in the day. I haven't heard him weigh in on the trauma facing King, but the more people talk about it the more confused I get.

    Connie Rice, who is often the most sensible black voice in LA County seems to see this from the money angle and says that there is nothing to be gained from fingerpointing. Somebody needs to find a lot of money and quick. I had no idea that this might have been a money problem, but evidently the Trauma Unit (separate from the ER) burns through many millions and is probably the most expensive part of the hospital. Keeping it running sucks up precious resources.

    Joe Hicks on the other hand accuses (unnamed politicians) of racial grandstanding and misleading the community into purposeless protests.

    Dymally, who must be 170 years old, and was Lt. Governor when I was in high school, protests that the King Drew Medical school followed all the recommendations made when people were working through the reform process and was able to pass muster. But the appointment of this cat Garthwaite has only made the situation go from bad to worse.

    The tone of the discussion is tense and in order to make concessions that the County Board of Supervisors is partly to blame, the narrative heads in the direction that says King's adminstration was always insular and racially chauvinistic 'for 30 years'.

    This is going to get uglier before it gets any clearer, but I do see Rice's point.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 13, 2004

    Black California

    I overheard some interesting conversation about Blacks in Western history the other evening. Among these vaguely heard items was that there was a black trader who helped Washington become a state and not be annexed by Canada. Another was that one of the tallest trees in California is named the Booker T. Washington Tree. Another tidbit was that gold was discovered on black property but something happened. I also have reason to believe that the Buffalo soldiers were Republican by and large. The last thing I remember was that ronin who escaped death after the demise of the Japanese emperor chose to hide in Sacramento in the middle of a black community.

    Cool stuff. More later.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:08 AM | TrackBack

    October 11, 2004

    CRP Urban Project Reception: Part Two

    As I was meeting people like David and Bobby, Marvin and Tyrone, Kwame and Rev Amos (and his young son), Walter and Clarence, I found out that Bobby was counting Alphas in the room. There turned out to be six, and there was a Que sporting some USC paraphenalia. Although I didn't get a chance to meet Roxanne Petteway, I know that there will be plenty opportunities, because she's a mover and a shaker. I met the singer Phil Perry and his wife Lillian who raise funds out in the Inland Empire. So it was very good for me a sample of the blackfolks who are making a difference in the California Republican Party.

    The first thing I noticed about Michael Steele was how much like his headshot he looks, except that the headhsot gives you no idea that he's something like six foot five with enormous hands. The next thing I noticed was how much he reminds me of Dr. J. I don't know why exactly, but whenever I see Dr. J. hosting or commentating at a basketball game, he's got this ultimate insiders knowledge and a kind of refinement that makes you scratch your head and wonder if this is the same guy who was so aggressive and dominating on the court. They both have a kind of quiet power.

    Steele has what seems to be a rather standard yet still impressive story about his election, and the way it winds up, you cannot be anything but convinced that this is a working man. Some politicians try to convince you that they're on a mission from God, Steele doesn't have those kinds of pretensions. He's a very intelligent man with an important job. As he puts it, he's a public servant. The difference between a politician and a public servant is that the politician makes promises, the public servant makes progress.

    Steele, like my best friend Lee, is a mama's boy in the best sense. His mother sacrificed, he took up the challenge and excelled. I know such men to be inherently trustworthy, who make no assumptions about instant fraternity, who understand very well where they come from and the value of achievement against all odds. These are qualities you cannot assess when reading biographies, but you can hear it in a voice.

    Although he spent a fair amount of time reminding us what Bush has done for us lately, consciously paraphrasing Janet Jackson he also reminded us how we have failed for the sake of political strategies and in pursuit of demographics. Specifically, he spoke about how we dropped the ball after 1965. We? He means the Republican Party doesn't he? Yes he does, and he means that 'we' seriously. He reminded us of the work of Nixon and Arthur Fletcher to make Affirmative Action real and how that was not about political promise but public action, rooted in the values of liberty and ownership. But for the sake of some clever political strategies, the party sacrificed its committment to its core values and this cost us three generations of African Americans.

    Steele often spoke about the difference between promises and action, and his insight into this matter was the most surprising, for me anyway, point of the night. He jumped right to a core issue. So what if Republicans invite you to a big dinner and introduce you around? So what if you get to speak at a big convention? Politicians do that all the time, what about the action? Where does the rubber meet the road? Steele says it's all about parity. He wants results.

    In support of the concepts of the Ownership Society, Steele was pointed as he referred to 'legacy wealth'. I managed to contain myself as he spoke, as this is something I've been talking about since day one. He spoke about 50.8% home ownership for African Americans and referred to how his own mother's house increased in value from 12k to something north of 450k.

    All in all, Steele impresses me as a good guy fighting the good fight. This impression may be coming to me late, as I didn't see him speak at the Convention. He's less of an ideologue than I am, rather he is all about the core values which serve blackfolks and keeping the party straight on them. As he said, it's not about putting a label on it - sure you can if you like, but the people know when you are doing right by them. It's all about public action, not political promises.

    He makes an example of himself as proof that one individual can make the difference. The Segregationists eliminated the office of Lt. Governor in Maryland in response to the fact that the first one was an African American during reconstruction. Now his team is the first Republican team in the 20th century. He was inaugurated on MLK's birthday. Steele has a sense of destiny fulfilled and work to do. It's a balance that will not only take him far, but continue to inspire us people who are shorter than six foot five.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:44 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    October 10, 2004

    CRP Urban Project Reception: Part One

    It was good. It was better than good; it was surprising. Here's the ten-cent story. At the home of Archbishop Adler in San Juan Capistrano, a kickoff reception was held for the California Republican Party's Urban Project. The keynote speaker was Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Steele was awesome, as was the company in attendance.

    The aim of the Urban Project is simple. Turn around the weakness of Republican representation in African American and urban communities. It cost me a couple Franklins to get in, but I met some extraordinary folks.

    As usual, my boy Joe Phillips was in attendance. He has been touring aournd the country a little bit with Steele whose message last night was that one person can make a difference. The two of them are quite a combination, and I expect that dynamic duo to make some enormous contributions.

    The Chair of the CRP, Duff Sundheim was there. I'll be posting my picture soon. I picked Duff out the minute I got there. That's somebody, methinks. He's this big redheaded guy in a pale blue blazer who offered a strong paw saying he was glad to see me again. I never saw him before in my life, and I knew I was being handled, but that's the way I like to be handled. This guy has got energy coming out of his ears. I believe that I am coming to understand a lot about this level of the playing field - it helps when you have stars to watch.

    The evening kicked off at about 6. The first thing I noticed about this lovely house in the hills of San Juan Capistrano, was how many tall people were in attendance. That and the clearly Catholic theme in the decor. Steele was already there having his picture taken with donors in the salon, his security guys had checked someone's camera bag just as I approached the guest list table. My name wasn't on the guest list. Horrors. I just about lost it. So I told them that I was a guest of Shirley, and since everybody knows Shirley, I was cool. It was true, but damn Shirl, she said I was on the list. It was bad enough that I forgot to bring my checkbook, andI washed the car and everything. I would be mortified to turn back now and head out of the gated community in ignomy. Still, it was cool. Shirley always has my back, even when I sometimes don't deserve it.

    While there were still fewer than 30 folks there (I was right on time), it took me a while to get myself acclimated to the rarified atmosphere. The day before, I picked out my new Republican Suit from one of those little Italian pimp suit joints at the local mall. I was headed to Macy's but this branch turned out to only have furniture and housewares. The thought of getting a suit from Robinson's May wasn't attractive; I tend to think it's more May than Robinsons. Anyway, I know I pulled the most conservative charcoal grey with muted red stripes from the joint. The saleswoman almost couldn't believe it when I modeled. "Very conservative", she said. I discovered the hard way, having worked in the software trenches for the past 3 years, that I am no longer a 16 1/2 neck. The only shirts I have that fit are bizdev blue. Not gonna happen. So I'm in the black Kenneth Cole sweater under the Italian jacket thinking, man do I need an American flag pin. These are my thoughts having passed the winding staircase and heading to the wine.

    Soon enough, I see Joe. And then James Spencer, who is running for the Assembly seat for southwest LA. Instantly, I'm comfortable. What a difference a familiar face makes. Spencer was to reveal to me some fascinating machinations of fundraising later that evening.

    When I need to break the ice in a crowd of strangers, I have a strange but simple rule. First, find the man in the room who has a bigger beard than me, and start talking like we're old friends. Second, find the most meticulously clean shaven man in the room and start talking like he's somebody very important. It never fails. First, I met Paul who was a friend of Star Parker, whose beard was actually a touch smaller than my own. Real charming guy. Then I met Mary Young and her husband. Mary is a fabulously energetic and warm woman who heads the registration campaign for Orange County. She and her impeccably dressed husband are in the Real Estate business and are long time Republican fundraisers. I'd seen them several times before this evening and the way they walk together, you can tell they've been in love for at least 30 years.

    They informed me, contrary to my theory, that there is a significant boost one can get from voter registration and bring out the vote drives. The newly registered Republican is only a slightly less reliable vote than the diehards. Furthermore if you put up a sign that says 'Republicans Register Here' there's about a 73% chance they will vote Republicans. Of course you can't refuse anyone else, but Democrats self-select out. Still, you get people who have just moved who need to reregister, and you get new voters. Mary also griped that Arnold is not stumping for the President. Hey! That's right. What's up with that Arnie? But also that San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are going gangbusters for new registrations, up something like 25%. A very informative chat. I asked Mary for a flag or elephant pin, but they had to leave early. They're crazy busy these days.

    Star Parker was there and had many good things to say about my blogmate LaShawn Barber. I must say this of Star, I had no idea about her story and when she finally spoke I was quite surprised to hear that she had escaped from the black hole of indigence. The way people talk about her, I had the idea that she was always wealthy and successful, and seeing her in person betrayed no downscale secrets. She worked the room like a pro. So when she said she had no TV show, I was surprised. Her CURE program is humming along. I'm going to look closer. Someday I expect to be able to raise funds for good stuff like that. Do you see how this makes me giggly?

    What continually surprises me about my meetings with California Republicans is how simple and straightforward everyone is. In my own personal quest to be an insider, I'm always going to trip on strategies and tactics, demographic trends and such matters. That's the geek in me - it's why companies pay me the big bucks to straighten out their financial reporting systems. But consistently, I have found a disarming warmth and earnest simplicity in the aims and demeanor of my Republican colleagues. And it only seems appropriate that when the evening kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance and a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner... Wait a minute. Who is this guy Robbie? I didn't find out his last name, but let me tell you. Somebody must have snatched Paul Robeson's voice from the grave, because this boy can blow! The sooner the country hears this voice.. hmm. Bush's inauguration in January. This man must be on the platform. It's that deep and that simple.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 09, 2004

    West Coast Fundraiser

    I'll be heading down to San Juan Capistrano this evening for a big fundraiser. I hear that Michael Steele is going to be there. Many details to come..

    Posted by mbowen at 10:05 AM | TrackBack

    September 30, 2004

    National Geographic

    I've got a clever idea that might make me rot in Gehenna. Every time I hear stories about Border Patrol agents playing catch and release with the Southern Millions, the same idea comes into my head. Tag 'em. Why not just insert a little chip into them and watch their migrating patterns?

    The triple fence at Tijuana is pretty much impregnable for rookie trekkers. Only the experienced body traffickers know how to get through. These coyotes are making 500-800 dollars a head with no guarantees. Man that's a hot cash business. But who knows who is moving whom and where? Well, that's a job for GPS implants and Star Wars software. I mean tracking a million objects can't be that difficult can it?

    Did I say 'objects'? Am I dehumanizing? Oopsie. I have all kinds of ideas about what we should do. But first we ought to determine what we can do.

    Aside from that opportunity, I have a difficult time believing that no BP agents haven't flipped a coyote for the bucks. There's a huge dislocation here and that means lots of money, danger and risk. It's an environment certain to generate unscrupulous profits and bureacratic inefficiencies. Interesting work for the right guy. I think this is going to be the scandal of the future. It's probably happening right now and we're just not getting political wind of it - like drug confiscation seizures. And the Southern Millions have no legal representation nor recourse I bet. All that to live in Arizona. Tsk.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    September 29, 2004

    Immigration Reconsidered

    It has been a while since I've thought about Victor Davis Hanson, but the time is rolling around. Immigration is likely to be the next thing I start thinking about. My mind is made up about the continuing struggle in Iraq, so as prompted by Michael Savage yesterday, I think I'll reconsider immigration.

    There have been a million Mexicans per year entering this country. That's an astounding number. We've got to reconcile our laws and policy with our economy, and we've got to make Mexico accoutable.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:27 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    September 28, 2004

    No I Didn't Feel It

    Things are perfectly normal and boring in LA. I didn't feel the earthquake.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

    September 23, 2004


    There's a big stink over the imminent closure of the Trauma Center of the twentysomething MLKJr Hospital down in the ghetto. It would be the 6th Tramua Center closed in LA County in the past couple of years. The others were due to budget irresponsibility, this is due to incompetence.

    It seems to me that if a hospital is incompetent, the ER should be the last thing you close down. It's the thing the community needs the most. Not just because its a ghetto, but because most people don't need to be hospitalized, they just need to see a doctor. On the other hand, if you've been critically injured, there's no quicker way to kill you than in an incompetent ER.

    So the question is would you rather see an incompetent doctor who is 10 minutes away or a competent doctor 40 minutes away. That depends on where you've been shot or how small your automobile was when it wrecked. The LA County Board of Supervisors, whose call this is, are going for quality over quantity, and hoping beyond hope that more people don't get wrecked or shot.

    It's a crapshoot.

    One thing I've learned as I've followed this is that the more ERs you close, the higher the murder rate of the city goes. More people die who might have lived.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:51 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

    September 12, 2004


    Posted by mbowen at 08:55 AM | TrackBack

    September 10, 2004

    Ocean Charter Needs Your Help

    I forward this on to my readers from my sister Dutz.

    As many of you know, N will be starting a new school this fall. The school is opening its doors for the first time September 13th. Ocean Charter is a community of families and educators interested in using innovative teaching methods to educate and nurture children. The method espouses whole child learning which integrates arts and academics together through experiential learning. If you're interested, please check out their website.

    The school relies almost entirely on parents' support. Many of the parents have now taken the reigns from the original development team to reach out to the community and ask for help. The originial development team has been working hard the past 2 years to find a site, get the charter approved by the state, hire teachers, contractors, and raise funds. There are still tons of things that the school and specifically N's classroom needs......this is where you all come in (hopefully!)

    Following is a list of items we need: (no need to buy, just look through all those bags of goodies you were planning to thow out or give away!)

    small book shelves
    small sofa (loveseat) or futon
    floor pillows
    large area rug
    small file cabinet
    percussion instruments (drums, cymbals, rainsticks)
    clip boards
    children's books
    jump ropes
    power strips
    cooking utensils
    flower vases
    baskets (any size)

    Please forward this on to anyone you know who might be able to donate or have them contact me directly. THANKS SO MUCH in advance for your donations and time!

    Posted by mbowen at 09:02 AM | TrackBack

    August 17, 2004

    Parks for Mayor?

    I want to get into it here about the prospects for Bernard Parks as he runs for mayor of Los Angeles after having raised a measly 80 grand for his campaign. As Patterico has reminded me, there are a number of blackfolks in Los Angeles who are not too fond of Parks for the way he finessed the aftermath of the Rampart Scandal, especially with the open allegations that he terminated all investigations into cops involved with Suge Knight and apparently cut immunity deals that defied reason.

    I am saying all of this from memory because there's actually a lot to be said that I have some of my own writing about and I want to get some feedback on this thread too. I recently met Parks at Ofari's but didn't take the time to deal with him. I wonder now how he's playing his own race card in assuming some significant majority of an automatic black vote against Villaraigosa and Hahn.


    Posted by mbowen at 10:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    July 30, 2004

    Serious Business at Goldfingers

    Greg Martin, one of the smartest and coolest cats I know is going to be making his debut in a reggae band Tuesday night at Goldfinger's Bar in Hollywood. His band is called 'Serious Business'. What can we expect? A damned good time because I'm going to be there with my new Malcolm X glasses and porkpie hat. All I can say is this is the man who introduced me to Coltrane and Ivan Van Sertima. It's going to be dope, yo.

    See ya.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:29 PM | TrackBack

    July 20, 2004

    Say It Ain't So Lucy Flo

    Rumor has it that the twins who ran Lucy Florence Cafe were in hock to the order of 31k to their landlord and that the joint is closing down. It's a damned shame.

    I had been under the mistaken impression that they were part owners of the building, which is one of the reasons I gave Kamau such a hard time when the World Stage went through it's pityable demise.

    I haven't been over to Lucy Florence in over 4 weeks - not since the Soul Plane controversy. I have been less than impressed with the selection of topics, most recently the noise over Stanley whats-his-name, the car thief who ran into the business end of a flashlight. Ofari takes over the joint on Saturday mornings but hands over the mic to a collection of whiney leftists, and although many sensible conservatives were regular attendees, their was a bit too little signal and too much noise for my tastes. Nevertheless it was a reliable place to catch some of the sentiments coming out of black LA.

    Part of the problem in drawing crowds to Lucy Florence was that it didn't appeal to crowds, especially young ones. As a hangout, Magic's Starbucks and Fridays sucked all of the attention out of Liemert Park, except for those who had to, of cultural necessity, make a statement. It's a lesson hard learned. Sometimes brainless is the best way to make a buck.

    I hope the brothers get another chance. As institutions go Lucy Florence was very good. Once again the Landlord has the last word.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:39 AM | TrackBack

    July 19, 2004

    Fire Logic

    I just figured out something about the deployment of firefighters that had me puzzled yesterday. It's about oil.

    I might have mentioned that on the north side of the 14 as you go past Placerita, there is an oil field. We went past yesterday morning and only the south side of the freeway was burnt - trees were still smoking. I wouldn't be surprised if that was a backfire set to help prevent whatever was to the east from burning across at the western edge, not only to protect highway 5, but the oilfield.

    I talked with a buddy of mine who used to work at a refinery. They had a coke unit explode and it sent all kinds of toxic garbage into the plume. They were liable, literally for free car washes for a year for area residents, not to mention the more obvious torts.

    So when I only saw helicopters to one side and not in front of me, what was going on? They must have been protecting the oilfield. You don't want to have a fire in the oilfield. Avoiding that at all costs is going to mean some houses are going to be sacrificed.

    That was the section of the 14 that was closed. I think that if the southbound traffic on the 14 had seen all the firefighters in the oilfields there might have been some suspicion about why there and not with the residents. So while I didn't see them, that's where I think they were, and for good reason.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:33 AM | TrackBack

    July 18, 2004

    Fire on the 14

    My bros and I went hiking up Whitney Portal this morning. On the way back from a long and exhausting day, we got caught in the latest So Cal conflagration.

    We had sweated all last night having heard that the 14 had been closed. And since this fire is 'only' 14k acres and not a lot of people have lost their homes, there hasn't been much news coverage. Caltrans has absolutely nothing on their websites. We lucked out and heard something on KNX around 11pm which said that the 14 was open to through traffic, you just couldn't get off the freeway.

    We hit the intersection above the Van Norman dam just about 7 this morning and I have never seen something so dramatic. At the top of the hill above that cascade for the California Aqueduct on the east side of the 405, flames were towering over 100 feet in the air. It was magnificent and awesome. There was a huge column of orange, rose and purpleish white smoke rising vertically like a smoking volcano or a thunderhead. A plume blew towards the south as the light winds over the hills disturbed the column at it's lower levels. A big Sikorsky passed right overhead to pick up a load of water from the reservoir to our immediate southwest.

    As we swung around towards the 14, Deet got a couple shots of the rising sun turned blood red through the fog of brushfire smoke. It was beautiful and frightening. Heading northeast on the 14 we could see how the freeway had been an effective break. Everything on our right, to the south and up the mountain had been burnt to a crisp. An oilfield on the right was untouched.

    It was on the way back that all of this started to cause trouble. Just a few minutes past Palmdale where the 14 swings from the North down to the West, the CHP was directing traffic off the freeway. At about 6:20pm we could see the cars slowing down and so we decided to get off early at Agua Dulce Road. We concluded that the fire had changed directions during the day and jumped back north over the 14. It was hard to imagine this happening, but as we got out to make some phone calls, the ashes were falling thickly like fat snowflakes. We were down to a quarter of a tank and out of cell phone range - a modern emergency in and of itself.

    As the number of cars getting off at Agua Dulce increased, so did a palpable sense of panic. There was nobody there to show anyone where to go. Soon a Sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene and directed us to take Agua Dulce road north the Sierra Hwy and out. Any of you who have a Thomas Guide know how indespensible it is, unless you are on the border of its coverage area. In our case we were on the diagonal line that went inexplicably from page 4541 to 4281 to 4425 which was a different scale. In short, we were lost.

    There was never much danger from the fire since we got off the 14 before the roadblock. But we languished in the cow country north of Vasquez Rocks for an interminable period as we watched the gas tank empty. Making the left turn onto Sierra Highway took 45 minutes with no CHP on the scene. By the time we got into Santa Clarita, we were plenty crabby. But then the sense of panic and disaster came back. At the intersection of Sierra and Soledad Canyon Roads, people were in that state of agitation we all recognize instinctively. Just south of us, four plumes of smoke were clearly visible just above houses on the hillsides. There were no helicopters in sight. Houses were going to burn right in front of us.
    Filling up the Avalanche at the Mobil station, I tried to understand the logic of.. oh wait. There was a helicopter finally over to the east. Right over where Lang is shown on the map, I could see a red chopper making rounds. There were three columns of smoke over in that direction but we couldn't see flames. The flames were right in front of us up the hill near the Friendly Valley Country Club. People were moving their horses out of the area all over the place. But we figured those were goners. We drove through and became momentarily disoriented as we drove on. But eventually we got back on the 14 at what must have been Placerita Canyon. Doc says they don't fly the choppers at night, so folks up that way are in for a hell of a time.

    I know the Angeles National Forest pretty well, so I got really tired of not hearing what part of it was burning. I thought you all might like to know as well.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 07, 2004

    Spence: Black Ops

    A great article not to be missed is this by Lester Spence.

    What would happen if Kerry did more than name a couple of high-level African Americans to his staff? I think he would find that these operatives would have an insight into various sorts of communities that could be helpful to know. He would probably find out, for example, that you could find politically minded black men and women outside of church. I remember when Howard Dean was running for office, and the only time you would see him talking to black people, or talking about black people, was when he was in a church somewhere. Black churches are second homes to a significant number of black men and women, but they are not and have never been the home to all black people. And it is more than a little bit insulting (racist even) to assume that all black people are god-fearing, praise-and-worship folk with nothing but Jesus on their minds.

    Exactly. And you know I think that counts double for Republicans. It's why I'm in the GOP.

    UPDATE: S-Train says EXACTLY what I'm thinking about church.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:49 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

    July 03, 2004

    Stanley Miller: Not Worth It

    I'm irate this evening, and there are a number of reasons all having to do with this idiot GTA suspect and the cop(s) who brained him with a maglite.

    The first reason is that I got a notice this afternoon that Ofari & company are going to discuss Bratton's fitness as Chief of Police. This is not a discussion that was a long time coming, this has everything to do with the idiot suspect, the zealous cop, and a six letter word that starts with the letter 'n'.

    The second reason is the column in today's LAT by a cat named Steve Lopez, who begins with this farcical attitude:

    Just to make sure all the bases are covered, I've decided to form yet another commission to look into the televised June 23 beating of a suspected car thief by Los Angeles Police Department cops.

    Lopez goes on to makes sure we all know there are no shortage of blackfolks who don't care when white idiot GTA suspects are shot by cops, or think he should go 'back' to Mexico. And of course he makes sure that he mentions Al Sharpton and OJ Simpson, just in case anybody forgot about their relevance here.

    The third thing that has me irate is that I have an eye appointment tomorrow morning and I cannot show up to Lucy Florence and express my outrage that any grown folks are making a stink about this non-issue. That's right I said it. NON-ISSUE. If you disagree, the comment facility on this website will accomodate several hundred megabytes. Type on.

    But let me get to the meat of my point here. The beatdown and arrest of suspect Stanley Miller was not a politically motivated attack, so why should there be a massively calculated political response? To be blunt about it, it is a complete waste of political capital for any prominent blackfolks to weigh in significantly on the direct results or consequences of this particular police action. The reasons for this are several, but let me belabor the point.

    If Danny Bakewell wishes to expend his energy and credibility playing Gallagher, that's his business. Let's try to remember something. I loved shopping at the new supermarket he built off Orange Grove in the Pasadena 'hood, but nobody elected him to anything. I'm not taking any cues from him, nor is anyone else I know. So why does it matter when he shows up to smash some melons for the reporters? It matters because he gets to be the 'so-called black leader' that snarks like Lopez write about. His role is already pre-determined by all the lazy people in Los Angeles who are unwilling and/or unable to deal with any level of subtlety when it comes to black politics.

    Until such time as people like you and I (and there are plenty of us) get our fair share of air, everyone in Los Angeles suffers from this kind of dumbed down politics. I talked about the dynamic of black rage years ago. It's a trap. Here are some relevant excerpts. First from 1996

    there is a vested interest in american politics to use black rage. white political majorities are particularly attuned to black rage, whether that is constructive or raw rage. in short, black rage is a legitimated form of political protest. a lot of blacks recognize this and make use of it. if i sit here in this forum and complain that black folks get harrassed unnecesarily by the same police that should be protecting them, that does not carry the same weight in american society as the artist ice cube writing the rap 'fuck the police' and having 17 year olds pump the beat in the car next to you with an evil stare on their face.

    And importantly: (from 1999)

    the result is that this gives more credibility to radicals who consistently *address* the issue, even if they have no solutions and no chance of attaining the power to implement any solutions. this is a classic case of whitefolks making themselves whiter than they need to be. in the end, the intransigent status quo remains in force, and blacks must resort to higher and higher pitched volumes to get america to wake up.

    it is at this point where mau-mauing becomes more effective than ordinary franchise. but the mau-mauing does not take place in a vaccuum - the underlying tragedy continues. then whites excuse their unwillingness to listen from the tenor of the discussion. blacks excuse their hyperbole from white sangfroid. then somebody gets killed. suddenly whites realize there is some reality to the claim, but they can't figure out what black rhetoric is real - they blame the process. blacks say i told you so, but they can't figure out what white sympathy is real - they blame the process. blue ribbon bandaids are put in place, to keep 'the natives from getting restless', the issue gets incredible press, and then it goes away. the process is still broken

    But here we have a not-so innocent man who is not seriously injured getting all this attention. This wasn't a shooting, and as far as I can tell, the suspect wasn't even hospitalized overnight. So if we are still playing the game of unelected 'black leaders' carrying weight and blue ribbon commissions and federal investigations, then please take the names of everyone in that charade so we can remember their foolishness come election day.

    Los Angeles can not afford to let idiocy rule the day. That means sensible people like you and I have to start speaking up loudly and drown out the idiots scraping the bottom of the political barrell for cosmic symbolism. Miller is not worth it. Let's have some perspective here. Stanley Miller is no Geronimo Pratt. The controversy surrounding this matter is way overblown and there is no way that I can accept Bratton's credibility lying on such a thin case as this.

    If there is any symbol that works here, it is Miller's theft itself. So called black leaders have stolen the car of respectable sensible black Angelenos' political voice, and now all the television cameras are on them instead of the people. When due process plays out and they are shown to be guilty of that theft and misdirection they should be taken out of the public eye. Meanwhile, we have no car. Who's thinking about us?

    Posted by mbowen at 12:22 AM | TrackBack

    July 02, 2004

    LAT Well Runs Dry

    I keep hearing evidence of wincing as journalist after journalist is leaving the LAT. The wincing seems to be coming more from the journalists remaining than the readership. Being of neither cast I note in passing that this run is probably not such a good thing. Yet I find it difficult to muster up a tear.

    As I cozy up to the LA Observed blog, wedding myself ever closer to the appeal of the local, I feel a twinge of guilt for not giving the LAT much of my reading time, but my disposition of indifference has evolved over a long period. In the same way that most notable bloggers must feel, I've always felt a lack of depth and feeling in newspapers - that reading them engages so little of the person, that the journalist's discipline weeds out so much of human experience that they are incapable of truly informing. Sure there's information and oftimes its the only place it can be reliably found, but now that we get it, so what? The LAT was not egregious in that respect, but it had killed the Examiner which had spunk. Now the NYT seems to be bleeding the LAT. The cycle continues?

    I do read the NYT on the regular as I do the WSJ. Blogs fill a great deal more of my news diet than before when I hung out more regularly at the Well and Brainstorms. Still, I'm well enough informed so that only the creative pieces at NPR are news to me - the big media rehash is predictable.

    The LAT is a large paper, and reading it today reveals a whole lot of paper with a great deal of local content which is unique and interesting, but not much else. I can't imagine missing out on any national story by reading only the NYT and the WSJ.

    When I moved to New York in 1991, I found their coverage of Los Angeles issues to be worse than abhorrent. Their entire spin on Los Angeles and California politics was so horribly misinformed that it proved practically unreadable. However, when it came to front page news, I was pleasantly surprised to find a better quality of writing. Still, I must confess that I fell in love with the NY Observer - a kind of paper LA could definitely use.

    So if the LAT is doomed to be a local newspaper, then that's something I can abide considering the depth of writing here in the blogosphere. I feel sorry for folks who still depend on their dogs to carry in their primary source of news and information, as romantic as that must be. I think the best thing that can be said for the LAT is its standing as a steady employer of good writers who would otherwise go to seed and seedy publications. The whole is less than the sum of its parts, but it's a goodly aggregated thing.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:10 PM | TrackBack

    July 01, 2004

    Najee Ali: Black Riot Proxy

    I also want to clarify something that needs to be said. I think Najee Ali is taking a lot of heat for being a proxy for an unconsolable black public. This is disrespectful of both Ali and Los Angeles' African Americans.

    It's rather facile for Jack Dunphy to suggest that Ali and other activists are hoping that black LA is spoiling for a conflagration over this videotape.

    Ali's recusal from the panel is a good idea, given the heat he's taking for something that's not about him. Ali is neither the cause nor the solution to LAPD's discipline problems, and all the drive-by character assassination is not going to change that. Any commentary that puts his name in greater relief than that of the officers involved is painting this once again into a Blacks vs Police issue. That's stupid and inflammatory, plain and simple and it needs to stop.

    I don't see how saying that *they* hope this is going to be Rodney King all over again helps the situation from not being Rodney King all over again. So from this corner of the spectrum, which can be simplified to read 'black & conservative' let's do what we can to give this matter the nuance it deserves rather than painting it black & white. Leaving Najee Ali out of it is a good start.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:35 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    The Panel

    Lots has been going on since I was away. I think I have a good reason to get back over to Ofari's post haste. I picked up the following from the LAT in reference to Najee Ali and this character who got beatdown by the LAPD. Black suspects all.

    The panel includes members from a cross-section of the city, including Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries; Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center; John Mack, president of the Los Angeles Urban League; the Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray of First African Methodist Episcopal Church; the Rev. Leonard Jackson of the First AME Church; attorneys Angela Park and Angela Reddock; William "Blinky" Rodriguez, executive director of Communities in Schools Greater Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley; Bishop Charles Blake, pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ; and Geraldine Washington, president of the NAACP's Los Angeles chapter.

    Despite the inclusion of respected community leaders, Councilman Bernard C. Parks raised doubts about whether the panel is needed because the Police Department has an extensive process for monitoring and investigating allegations of police misconduct as part of a federal court consent decree.

    This is basically an invitation to grant political grandstanding. You create an opportunity for people to say something in a pseudo-official capacity in which case they're likely to be circumspect. Why would any of these critics be louder at this moment than they would have otherwise? Hard to say LA would grant this exception unless it's an open an shut case of force within discretion, which I pretty much figured was a foregone conclusion given the reporting of the LAT that the guy said his nose hurt a little but other than that, no problem.

    Aside from that, if people really believe that there is massed black rage ready to vent, then the amount of political integration and cross-communication is weaker than I have imagined. Considering what's being said about Ali, I can see that being true. It only speaks louder to this nasty feeling I have in the pit of my stomach about a folks like us in the Old School. I don't see which of us is on the panel. Granted, I'm going to have to get to know some of these people, but of the names I recognize, none of them is under 50 years old.

    Over at LA Observed, there's some interesting links as well. I haven't bothered to give Parks quite the rundown, but a everything I've heard from him from interviews with KPCC folks sounds pretty solid.

    Still, I'm fairly annoyed by this coalition of symbolic leadership, and while there's no denying that Murray, Mack and Blake are venerable old men, that's half of my problem with them. I'm going to ping my buddies and see what they have to say...

    BTW, I had always thought that Lucy Florence had some ownership in that building. How else did they take over the fish market next door? Surprise. It only goes to show, it's not easy to know who has what in the bank.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:09 AM | TrackBack

    June 30, 2004

    The Cross in the Seal

    I haven't followed up so I don't know what the status of this controversy is, but I'll stop saying this is ridiculous and weigh in with some finality against the ACLU. I'm speaking about the proposal to rid the cross from the seal of Los Angeles County. There may be some good reasons to whitewash history, but this isn't one of them.

    Yes, I've had a dose of Padre Junipero Serra over the long weekend, and I'm still feeling it. But I cannot see how the comfort of people offended by a 'non-welcoming' cross can outweigh the factual history of the settlement of California. It seems to me that anyone who is incapable of dealing with the offense given by the presence of that symbol in the Seal is also incapable of bearing witness to what actually took place. If it is too grim a reminder, should history be redacted?

    I understand that the Seal is just a symbol and it is not itself history. Symbols can change. But this symbol never meant anything more than an acknowledgement of the missions. In that, there is no parallel to the Segregationist symbology of the Confederate Battle Flag in the State Flag of Georgia. But to strike that part from the Seal on the grounds that it tramples the line between Church and State is unacceptable to me.

    Now is a good time to remember the Missions and some of California history, not to sweep it under the rug for this empty gesture to the sensitivities of a few.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:17 PM | TrackBack

    June 22, 2004

    Richman's 'Open' Primary Initiative

    Warren Olney reports an interesting controversy in California politics. I'm clearly biased in favor of the status quo which was rescued by some legislative fancy footwork in the State Senate.

    Almost a million California voters signed petitions circulated by Democratic State Controller Steve Westly and Republican Richard Riordan to put the Voter Choice Open Primary Act on Novembers ballot. It would establish nonpartisan primary elections in California, a move other leaders of both parties label un-Democratic. So, yesterday, by a 28-to-3 vote, the State Senate passed a competing measure to maintain party primaries pretty much as they are. Supporters of the Voter Choice Act call yesterdays measure a Trojan Horse. Warren Olney previews the latest fight over open primaries with State Senator Ross Johnson, author of the bipartisan legislation, and Assemblyman Keith Richman, who supports the Open Primary initiative.

    The way I see it is simple. Richman's idea makes it 'two winners take all'. You have a primary and the top two votegetters advance to the general election. It could be two Greens, two Republicans, two anything. The ultimate result is that in the general election you'll only have two choices, and if your party is not represented, you have no choice but to vote for the top two.

    Needless to say, this will dramatically change the dynamic of primary elections. This means that strategically interesting jurisdictions can be stacked with candidates with money. It basically means smaller ballots and less choice. Not a good idea.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    June 20, 2004

    CCR 47 Major Concepts

    I am doing some planning and brainstorming for the CCR 47 Chapter (Soutwest LA) and I thought I'd put forth some of the first ideas for charter and agenda:

    • Statement of Purpose
    • Key Contacts
    • Who We Are
    • Short Term Goals
    • Long Term Goals
    • Framework & Organization
    • Resources & Officers
    • Schedule of Events.
    • Local Businesses
    • Swag & Tchochkes
    • Issues and Answers
    • Political Advocacy
    • Local Schools
    • Local Hospitals
    • Local Legislation
    • Neighborhood Footsteps
    • Street Teams & Precinct Captains
    • Speaker's Bureau
    • Liason Committee
    Posted by mbowen at 10:39 AM | TrackBack

    June 10, 2004

    CCR South Central

    The South Central chapter of the California College of Republicans had its monthly meeting this evening. The two hours flew by. I am so jazzed about the opportunity these guys are offering that I didn't even mind much that the Lakers got smashed.

    We got off to a rousing start over the issue of the County Seal. Several of the people in attendance had been to the hearing the other day. I don't have a great deal to compare this with, but the passion over this issue is a real hornet's nest. I just wrote that this is a stupid fight, but I think it's a lot bigger than I imagined. There was plenty of ACLU bashing going on, and while I agree that this was a dumb move by the ACLU, sometimes they are right. But I wasn't about to speak up for them tonight. Mike Antonovich, it is rumored, will be trying to put the question up to the public. Republicans are going to get a petition going. This is going to be a litmus issue and I suspect that Yvonne Burke, Gloria Molina and Zev are going to be regretting their intemperate characterizations of the defenders of the cross. Molina says she's willing to go down for this. Good.

    There was a touching presentation on Reagan by Jay Master, the man who created in 1981 the biggest political club on Cal Berkeley's campus - a Republican club. His experience reminds us that impossible odds can be defied.

    There was much to comment about in this, the first of my meetings with the CCR, but what impresses me the most was the enthusiasm and sense of serious mission that all the folks in the room had. Men and women, young and old, black, white, latino and asian. Everyone had their individual connections and people wanted to know more people, get connected and meet up.

    There was a palpable collective concern about Republicans willingness and ability to 'march down Crenshaw', but one of the the black old timers in the room reminded us that's exactly what George Deukmejian did and it wasn't too difficult. This same gent reminded us that he had run for office and managed to get over 50,000 votes with only $1,500 in campaign funds.

    The manager for the Bush campaign for the Valley was there and we spoke for a short time. He told me of a candidate from Las Vegas who narrowly missed becoming the first black female Republican to be elected to Congress. His hunger for candidates was palpable.

    I can't help but notice, from my own perspective, how similar this desire for African American participation is to other experiences. I'm telling you now, from my own eyeballs, that it's genuine. I've been in rooms full of fanatics before and I know what it's like to have a scary kind of feeling in your gut when you really don't want people around you to succeed. I didn't expect for a minute that it would be that way and it certainly wasn't, and I can't say that I was surprised by the enthusiasm. Yet it felt very oddly like a tremendous secret, and like a new adventure.

    In many ways it reminded me of my first days with NSBE. In college, blacks in engineering along with the business majors were often the butt of jokes. There were always those who mocked our ambition to work in Corporate America. But we did what we set out to do, and there are still plenty of people who don't know NSBE, and cannot imagine the kind of successes it has delivered.

    What excites me most, of course, is the machine. I'm in on the ground floor of Republican inroads to West LA and LA County which is dominated by Democrats. There's nothing but opportunity ahead.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:10 PM | TrackBack

    May 24, 2004

    Moody's Upgrades Cali

    I'm pleasantly surprised at this good news. Moody's has upgraded California's Bond Rating to A3. Nice job Arnie!

    Posted by mbowen at 08:47 AM | TrackBack

    May 15, 2004


    About an hour ago, military jets flew over Redondo Beach. I heard it from in the house, but then of course by the time I got outside they were gone. My neighbors across the street said they headed from East to West. About 15 minutes later I heard them again.

    What gives?

    UPDATE: Armed Forces Day Parade in Torrance. Shucks, I missed it. This time I saw a couple F18s flyby at five after 2pm.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:49 PM | TrackBack

    May 14, 2004

    Laker Flag Time

    Now is the time that the Laker Flags are coming out. I'm starting to see them on cars here and there.

    You could fill a hot air balloon with the breath I expel talking about politics, but you'd be hard pressed to get a birthday balloon out of me when it comes to sports. A lot of that is because I'm from Southern California where we do sports, not just talk about them. It's not like I'm from Cleveland or someplace where fat guys eat pizzas in bars while watching the games... We have chicks in our sports bars. Anyway, enough with the stereotypes. Lakers Rule!

    As a fair weather sports fan, I take a great deal of pride in the way that folks from other towns just hate the Lakers. I like the way they hated the Raiders too. If we could only get people to care enough about the Dodgers, things could be great again. I was one of the folks who wished fervently that Dennis Rodman could have worked it out with Phil. Phil is the only coach who could handle Dennis. But also because Rodman would have given the Lakers enough weirdness to turn ordinary hate into something extraordinary. This all makes for a city which is even more difficult to pigeonhole, and anything that breaks up myths about Los Angeles is all good with me.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:59 AM | TrackBack

    May 11, 2004

    Janet Who?

    When I mentioned to Pops last weekend about the appointment of Michael Kinsley to the LATimes, he knew immediately that it mean curtains for the black woman who previously ran the show. Among the millions in the Kwaku network, I had no idea whom he was talking about. All I knew now was that a [heretofore obscure] black woman lost her gig to Mike Kinsley.

    For all I knew, Karen Grigsby-Bates was the highest ranking black of any stature at the Times, and she has done well for herself with her new gigs at NPR. But Janet Clayton, at 48, was apparently the woman.

    I take her invisibility and obscurity as a plus. I have been thinking about racial integration recently, especially in light of a recent interview by Brian Lamb of Charles Ogletree about his new book 'All Deliberate Speed' where he talks about 100 years past Brown is the drop dead date for affirmative actions. Also in that mix was Adrian Piper's declarations of not. She is not a 'black' this or that.

    Check this story on other news in journalism.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    May 08, 2004

    Karen Bankhead is Comin' Clean

    The theatre scene in Los Angeles is a mixed bag. One thing that everybody agrees on is that it's not New York. But it's not really Los Angeles either. So the production that goes on is more often a labor of love than anything that resembles 'a scene'.

    Into this state of affairs jumps Karen Bankhead, just the sort of person who does it from the heart. Her latest comedy "Comin' Clean" is a double bill playing Tuesdays at the Masquer's Caberet on West 3rd near La Cienega.

    I don't usually write up shows I haven't seen, but as company at the Game Bar at the end of Melrose last night, Karen's sparkle inspired me. There are very few people who can crack up a table demanding her to 'say something funny' with one word. Imagine what she can do with an entire script.

    Karen harks back to the old school of the Inner City Cultural Center and the Inglewood Playhouse and revitalizes the new black drama circuit with her own brand of lighter entertainment. Don't expect any mind-bending political trickeration a la Suzanne Lori-Parks, just some good old fashioned fun for the people. And one more thing, this is dinner theatre, so you can get your grub on.

    Check it.
    323 653 4848 for reservations.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:48 AM | TrackBack

    May 05, 2004

    Star Sighting: Forest Whitaker

    I saw Forest Whitaker the other day. Actually it was over a week ago Sunday, I think. We were at the Natural History Museum at Exposition Park.

    I don't know what is considered the appropriate way to say something to a movie star. So I told the kids that there's a guy who went to school with Auntie K. Since I know he went to Pali around the same time I was supposed to be there, I mentioned it that way. Not that the kids would have seen any of his films or recognized the big lug. I'm not sure he was very popular at Pali either, not like Lisa N. or Tracy B. aka Dewey Dolphin. But I digress.

    Like me, he seemed to be on Daddy duty, showing his troops the butterflies in the outdoor aviary specially hooked up for butterflies and moths. It's really a cool exhibit; I didn't realize we had Monarchs in So Cal nor huge Luna Moths. But there they were, fluttering around to the delight of all the kids.

    I had my moment as F and I stared non-chalantly at the pupa display. I tried mightily to think of some line from Ghost Dog, my favorite movie of his (Smoke is a close second). But I just thought it would be too tacky even if I could.

    Forrest, if you're out there, good looking out. Maybe our kids can play together another day.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:30 AM | TrackBack

    April 21, 2004

    Hitchens and I

    According to the personal answer I got last evening from Christopher Hitchens, I've been right all along to suggest exactly what I've been moaning about. Americans who have abandoned the cause of the Kurds and others who have rebelled against Saddam Hussein are our greatest source of national shame.

    I found out just this afternoon, and it infuriates me to know I must be that far out of the loop, that Hitchens and Martin Amis would be at Royce Hall this evening. The hall didn't sell out, and I managed to deal with a kind bloke a Jackson for a seat in the fourth row. It was from that fourth row that I stood as the second person selected from the audience to speak.

    The first, some woman from Seattle, had managed to get the pair reduced to telling dick jokes, if you can believe that. The theme was exchanging the word 'dick' for 'heart' in the titles of popular songs. I hated to embarrass them at their own game and added at the end of that session 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' in back reference to Hitch's excellent dis of al Sadr as a true wanker. Had I decided to also mention the other classic they forgot 'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around' it would have inappropriately continued a sort of levity that needed to cease considering the gravity of my real question. I asked if in our pursuit of ridding the world of Jihadists whether or not we had punished Socialists quite enough. With a brief reference to my incurable sobbing over Koba the Dread, I further asked if we should be concerned with some resurgence of that particular kind of terror. The short answer was no, but that is not what one pays such literary folks to say, and thankfully so because their responses illuminated much.

    Amis piped up to say that in his reading of history the death of God was indeed final and into that void filled the cults of ideology. Devotion to Maoism, Stalinism and several other isms I forget replaced devotion to God in the modern world, and the overproduction of these (misplaced is not what he said) loyalties produced catastrophes of historical magnitude. On the whole I found Amis to be rather subdued the entire evening but his was a fine answer. It indicates, as does his respect for the power of the myth of Christ (even via Gibson), that his respect for religion is somewhat similar to mine. But more on that later. Hitchens' angle on this was curiouser still, since he was indeed once a Socialist. It was through his response that we turned to the Kurdish rebel soldiers. There used to be a cool name for them that we have forgotten.

    Hitchens had, in response to Brian Lamb some time ago answered three questions of himself with regard the current and future status of a secular, internationalist socialist program and came resolutely to the conclusion that there was no future in it. The best work of Socialism is behind us and it will not at any time in the future provide a mandate returning to power. Certainly many millions have been improved by the work of socialism. Certainly the Marxist critique of capitalism and of history in fact, cannot be outdone according to Hitchens, but there is nobody on the planet with a better idea than global capitalism. So we are in 100% agreement. Fabulous. This was all good, but his next step blew me away. Hitch thus doesn't disown the analytical tools of Marxist theory and he gives credit where credit is due internationalist, secular socialists. Then specifically he talked about his association with precisely those parties in Iraq, Kurds and Shia among them, as they battled against the tyranny that was Saddam Hussein.

    Hussein literally tortured his foreign ministers. He would torture them for days before he sent them on UN missions. These men lived in such fear of Husseins's wrath that they would say exactly what he wished in contradiction to any and all logic and reason. No amount of time spent with Kofi Annan would make an ounce of difference. But what really got Hitchens' shorts hitched up was the suggestion that the militant jagoffs under head Wanker al Sadr would merit the honorific of 'insurgent'. These weren't insurgents, and the internationalist secular left of America, following the airheaded lead of the likes of Michael Moore, in order to score points against GWBush, ought to be lashed for this unforgivable abandonment of the true insurgents of Iraq, those Kurds and Shia who were left dangling after the first Gulf War.

    It was, for me, a resounding endorsement of what I've been saying for over a year and I am satisfied to have this confirmed in such a dramatic fashion by none other than Hitch himself.

    UPDATE: Background on CH mindstate.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:22 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    April 14, 2004

    Multicultural Radio 1: Air America 0

    On 1580 AM, you're not going to hear Al Franken. You're going to hear the same spanish language stuff you heard 3 weeks ago. Evidently, Air America f'd with somebody's money and got kicked to the curb.

    The somebody is Multicultural Radio Broadcasting. You gotta know how I get a kick out of this. What did the Airheads think, that they were going to get a free ride? I can't tell you with any certainty that MRBI is not white-owned, but my guess is that there was a little wink wink nudge nudge we're all liberals kind of koolaid sold. Clearly MRBI ain't drinkin', which has got the Airhead panties in a twist.

    "MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting's conduct in this matter has been disgraceful. To shut off a broadcast that listeners rely on without warning and in the middle of discussions is the height of irresponsibility and a slap in the face of the media industry. In addition, it is a clear violation of their contractual obligations, and we are seeking legal remedies against them in court."

    Oh this is just too delicious.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:04 PM | TrackBack

    April 10, 2004

    The Elephant in My Backyard

    I am in the process of the grass roots work in the community I grew up in. Not without a little trepidation, I will be the representative of the new West Los Angeles chapter of the California Congress of Republicans. Interesting times lie ahead.

    My immediate task is to get my own papers in order with a gaggle of GOP orgs, membership and whatnot. Then we've got to get the accounts started so I can start building the organization. My territory is the 47th Assembly District which includes parts of Westwood, Cheviot, Miracle Mile to the edge of Koreatown, the Cadillac area around Kaiser, Palms, Culver City, Ladera, Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, View Park, Liemert Park and the Mid-City over to USC, including Rampart (I think).

    That's a lot of territory to cover, but I know it. I'm very excited about building up a base and getting to know people all over. Thus begins my education about Republican politics in the real world.

    Karen Bass stomped the last Republican candidate, Dale Everett, 23.5k votes to 5.6k. So I suppose I'll start by talking to him. Then I'll start looking for places to meet with folks.

    We've had some grief from Daniel Pipes, but he's just doing a suspicious rah-rah. I pay it little mind.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    April 08, 2004

    Inglewood Kicks Wal-Mart to the Curb

    But retail analysts don't think this is the end.

    "It's good for Wal-Mart to get into California but it's not as if Wal-Mart's future depended on this vote," said Yannas. "At the same time, what the Inglewood decision could have some effect on is Wal-Mart's attempts to get closer to metropolitan cities, especially if we see other cities around the country putting up similar opposition to having Wal-Mart in their neighborhood."

    So here's where this thing can go. Wal-Mart can go back to the Inglewood City Council (ballsy move, that) and make a big deal public concession to the environmental and other regulations. Or Inglewood could stick it to Wal-Mart by inviting Costco to open a store on the same spot.

    It really depends on what Kenneth Ulmer says. Now here's an interesting story. It was my understanding that Ulmer was in favor of the project. But this story contradicts that, which leaves me with an odd feeling considering I've been told that Ulmer owns the property. Perhaps the city of Inglewood is involved in the purchase of land to be occupied by Wal-Mart, or he had a lease in mind. But if he suddenly changed his mind, then the matter was doomed. Perhaps he's figuring out a way to get more money. This leaves me with a strange feeling...

    There's much more here than meets the eye.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 25, 2004

    14 Acres and What Do You Get?

    Some 350 farmers have made something of a garden of sorts on 14 acres of property snatched up by the City of Los Angeles for a project that never materialized. Eminent domain was the snatching mechanism, and to smooth things over, they gave right of first refusal to the swipee.

    Well now 12 years and some 580 trees later, the City has decided that its domain is not so eminent, and the original owner who is losing about 35,000 a month is drooling over the prospect of building warehouses.

    I smell a train wreck.

    UPDATE: Information

    Posted by mbowen at 06:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 22, 2004

    Sacred Art

    aam 2.JPG

    Posted by mbowen at 07:51 AM | TrackBack

    March 09, 2004

    Sandra Tsing Loh, Unperson

    NPR's Gen X yuppie ditz, Sandra Tsing Loh, has been disappeared from the airwaves. Maybe this FCC overreach is not such a bad idea, for a season at least. The question is, when are we going to be rid of Dr. Laura? No time soon, I'm afraid. In the meantime serious people, as opposed to the silly, can have a breath of fresh air as the airwaves in the vicinity of KCRW, Santa Monica will remain blissfully free of Loh's annoying foibles.

    The reason? A dirty word.

    When you get old enough to stare ugliness in the face enough times, it must make you a believer in karma. Not enough good things happen in this world for the right and proper reasons and we Americans are fairly neurotic because of that. This is why our politics are so crazed, people want to prove that something John Kerry said 30 years ago is exactly the same position it is today. Isn't it ironic that the people most frenetic about such consistencies are liberal atheists? If you want consistency, you might consider religious dogma. Outside of this you should get used to being disappointed and not having the appropriate causalities you desire. Sure it's good that Bush got rid of Saddam, but if the wrong reasons harsh your mellow dude, you're just going to have to get over it. Similarly, Loh is gone for saying 'fuck' on the air, but she should have been 86'd for her (dare I say twinkie?) mind-numbing superficiality. I'll get over my anguish.

    I have my gripes with Ruth Seymour dating back to her ruthless badgering of Muslim guests and callers during the first Gulf War, so I long ago switched to Pasadena's KPCC. But I give her a pat on the back for this one. Good call, Ruth.

    Addendum to Loh. Lenny Bruce was funny. You're not.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    March 03, 2004

    Zeke Wins!

    As of Date: 03/03/2004 Time: 02:54 Votes Percent


    DANIEL Z ZEIDLER 224,996 28.08
    DAVID LOPEZ 172,263 21.50
    BOB HENRY 136,994 17.10
    CRAIG J MITCHELL 131,536 16.42
    MICHAEL D SHOOK 85,325 10.65
    CRAIG A RENETZKY 50,027 6.24

    REGISTRATION 3,670,157

    Posted by mbowen at 08:26 AM | TrackBack

    March 01, 2004

    Mobil's Torrance Refinery

    Yesterday I saw one of the biggest flares ever at Mobil's Torrance Refinery, right around the corner from my house. It occured yesterday afternoon around 3pm.

    It was tremendously smoky and the flames were a very hot orange. It looked a lot darker than the orange I associate with the burning of gasoline but the smoke was so thick I kept convincing myself that it was gasoline. I couldn't smell anything but I was curious as to what it was and how much. It's always fascinating to me that there are tons of things in the air. So I gave them a call this morning to find out their story.

    The woman answering my question said that the refinery was starting up some units to increase production and they had to flare while the units were warming up. I think she said something about 140 degrees. So I asked if they were burning gasoline, which is what I suspected because of the thick black smoke. She said it was 'mostly hydrogen' then hung up.

    I may not be a chemical engineer, but I wasn't born yesterday. You don't get thick black smoke when you burn hydrogen. There was a whole lot of something else in that smoke.

    The year before last, I was building a system for Toyota which is immediately east of the refinery. Toyota has an environmental warning process that all employees should be aware of, so the refinery will notify them if something hairy is going down. There have been no emergencies in my experience either at Toyota or at the refinery, so I wasn't surprsed that they would have a hotline. I am also not surprised that I couldn't get any specifics about what was flared and how much. The refinery can't get away with murder, but it's very likely that they are getting away with assault.

    Who polices flares? Nobody apparently.

    I know that the SCQAMD once had a program to enter air pollution into a cost accounting scheme and it resulted in a lot cleaner air. Their website looks rather dead, which is no surprise since our whole state is broke. Still, I think it has always been the responsibility of citizens to collect local information and declare it publicly. Now that the blogosphere exists, the tools are at our disposal.

    I dig heavy industry. I think there's a natural attraction to it since I'm a soft-handed white collar kind of bit counter. I like the huge machines and the fat red buttons, the yellow striped zones on the floor and the blare of safety horns. But I've also gotten sick working in a chemical plant and I think the public could be better served by better access to compliance and monitoring tools.

    So I poked around and found this information about air pollution. I think I've found a new hobby.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Snide Remarks on Strike Resolution

    The grocery strike is over here in Southern California and now is the time for the "I told you sos" to start galloping through the parlors of the chatting classes. I'm going to be uncharitable and point out the obvious.

    I'm mostly negative on the concept of collective bargaining, but I'm more negative about hyping the supposed superior morality of unions. Unionism is little more than co-dependent managerial infighting. It's like having two adversarial personnel departments working for the same CEO. Either way, unions are entirely dependent on the corporations against which they battle, so how they are considered to exist in a entirely different moral universe is a solopsism worth debunking.

    It is in the context of that which I say the union has been successful in screwing a nice hole in teh pockets of all perspective new employees of the supermarkets. (Of course it's equally true of management.) Those employees with union membership and seniority keep their own benefits and all the new guys get to be treated as second-class citizens since they will contribute dollars out of their own pockets toward their benefits. This two tier system throws a disgustingly phlegmy wrench into the concept of union brotherhood. It's a miserable state of affairs.

    "It was take it, or there's the door," said Ralphs cashier Carlos Beltran, 25, who voted "yes" at Local 770's polling place in Hollywood. "They are all thieves, the companies and the unions. They're just sticking it to us."


    Not only that, the union employees voted themselves a little cash bonus, proving quite honestly that everyone has their price.

    Instead of raises, veterans will get lump sum payments this year equal to 30 cents an hour for every hour they worked in the 12 months before the old contract expired. That would be about $500 per employee based on an average 32-hour workweek. A second bonus would be paid after the end of the second year of the contract, equal to 30 cents an hour for every hour worked from March 6, 2005, through Oct. 6, 2006, according to a contract summary obtained by The Times.

    Please let us not hear anything more than arched eyebrows for golden parachutes. We've captured something about human nature here. I think I'm going to have some fun in my own private fisking of labor bloggers. Where's American Black on this?

    Posted by mbowen at 03:27 PM | TrackBack

    February 20, 2004


    I felt it a minute ago.

    UPDATE: Local, small. Details

    Posted by mbowen at 09:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    February 16, 2004

    The Case Against 13

    Found over at Howard Owens, a sensible rant against Proposition 13. The Republican party should be on notice that it's old fetishes aren't going to work a whole lot longer. This is a sacred cow ripe for sacrifice. With arguments like these, it's hard to shrug it off.

    Prop. 13 is filled with loopholes that make it easy for businesses to avoid reassessment (which would increase property taxes) when the businesses change hands.

    Meanwhile, individual Californians are overburdened with income and sales taxes that could and should be lower (stimulating growth), and corporations pay one of the highest tax rates in the nation (lower corporate taxes would help keep jobs in the state), and state and local governments are grossly under funded.

    There are ways to fix Prop. 13 that would still protect home ownership, but also help the state fix the structural deficiencies in its budget. These changes could increase government revenue by $5 billion to $10 billion annually, minus any reduction in other taxes.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:39 PM | TrackBack

    February 02, 2004

    Splitting the Difference

    My new pal James Spencer, who is running for the State Senate in the 25th District, told me something that was simple and profound the other day. And I think it's something we may see that has a great deal of power as the Old School Republicans gain momentum.

    Arnold's a Republican, but his wife is a Democrat. Richard Riordan is a Republican, but his wife is a Democrat. It just so happens that James, the man we were talking to about Nate Holden, and I are also Republicans with Democrat wives.

    A politically divided household stands just fine. It allows families to punish and reward both parties on the issues, and it's the way we're going.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

    February 01, 2004

    Office #53

    I just got my sample ballot in the mail the other day. Guess who's up for election as a judge? Zeke Zeidler, a good friend of mine from college.

    I'm really glad to see that he has succeeded. He was president of the student body and presided over a great deal of controversy back in the days before multiculturalism. He's a fairminded guy and absolutely addicted to politics. I'd sure like to run into him some day and talk about old times.

    If he's on your ballot, give him the nod. He's one of the good guys. So vote for Daniel Zeke Zeidler for Superior Court Judgeship - Office No. 53

    Posted by mbowen at 10:44 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    January 16, 2004

    Union America

    At Hit and Run, poster 'thoreau' hits a home run.

    What I don't get is the people who say "I have absolutely no problem with Joe Immigrant coming here, living his life, working a job under terms voluntarily consented to by him and his boss, hanging out with friends, and whatnot. My only grievance is that he didn't get government permission before coming here."

    Sure, I agree that the law is the law, and I don't like selective enforcement. But when I see a bad law that isn't enforced, my quarrel is usually with the state: Either enforce the law to be consistent, or repeal it. But I don't get mad at the people who are doing something that I don't think should be illegal.

    So, to the people who supposedly have no qualms about Joe Immigrant getting a job and living his life (i.e. people in the third category that I described, not the first two categories), why are you mad at Joe Immigrant? You claim not to care if people come here, but you are upset that they do it without government permission. Why do you want them to get government permission in the first place?

    Now, if you have a national security concern or an economic concern then say that. You then have a reason (however valid or invalid) for not wanting Joe Immigrant here. But don't say "I really don't care if he's here, I just think he should have government permission." If you really have zero qualms about his presence, why do you want the government involved?

    I agree that one cannot be against a welfare state and for global capitalism without being for open borders. It's a simple contradiction. It makes me believe that there are few good reasons for keeping the border closed and more good reasons for having a better system of national ID.

    Closing borders for economic reasons (they don't pay taxes, they take our jobs, they lower wages) is exactly the same thing as striking a collective bargaining agreement with management. We get the high pay simply because we're in the club. Closed border protectionism makes all workers in America, union workers.

    Insuring that American labor practices and laws are enforced for every American worker is not different at all from doing so for everyone who works in America. It means sending Feds to inspect where work is being done. Which Feds to send, that is the question.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:41 AM | TrackBack

    January 14, 2004

    The Baldwin Forum

    I attended a panel discussion about black political leadership this evening at the Baldwin Hills Public Library instead of going straight home to dinner. I am so deep in the doghouse that I'm probably going to have to mop the kitchen floor as pennance. With my tongue. This is an object lesson for all of us.

    As a longtime veteran of such discussions, I found this one both unique and typical.

    I forgot that dressing in my computer geek / soccer dad casuals doesn't quite get me the perky respect I am accustomed to, and I really didn't have anything juicy to say to Barbara Boxer's aides after the show. So I didn't count their non-chalance against them, especially since they were there to present Ofari with a framed Resolution celebrating his father's 100th birthday. Besides, my GOP Integration speil would just seem unnecessarily provocative.

    I twitched and bit my tongue through most of the discussion, especially when Erin Aubrey Kaplan summarily dissed Colin Powell and Condi Rice. But she writes for the LA Weekly and cares more about black prisoners than the average bear. Such posturing is expected and I truly hope she can hook up with somebody like Monroe.

    However, a cat named Chang had most of my attention and excitement. He and a brother whose name I forget are on their way to building a Charter school over near Washington Prep with funding from the Green Dot folks. This is extraordinary news and of course I wish them well on their endeavor. I met them after the panel discussion - they weren't a part of it. More's the pity.

    Ofari was the man I really came to see and hear, since I've been promising to get over to his weekly roundtable. I learned to my delight that he's moved it over to Lucy Florence in Leimert Park which is a brilliant idea. Ofari is exactly what you would hope he would be, eminently reasonable, genuinely concerned and fairly well-informed, but that didn't change the fact that in one hour it is impossible to talk enough about black leadership.

    I didn't get an opportunity to grandstand or pub up the website much, but I did press to a crucial few, Ofari not one of them. I did get to meet Joe Hicks, who of the three sounded mostly like me although I didn't have time to convey that either. Kitty Felde was a tad more restrained than her usual self but didn't need to interject much at all to keep the flow rolling. She was genuinely pleasant, as I expected and showed real interest in the blog. Thanks google for making me the top Cobb, I always feel self-conscious having folks scribble out URLs. I gotta get some cards made up.

    So what was the discussion all about? In a nutshell it dealt with almost no specific issues. Joe Hicks said that he wished he had more time to talk about education, but the panelists had to trace their way through the minefield of who owns black politics and whom should benefit in what ways from it. Hicks raised class and Ofari grandfathered it out smoothly. So what education policy might all classes of blackfolks agree upon? For another day I suppose.

    James Hahn was exemplified, with a bit of snark, as the most successful advocate of black political interests. Tom Bradley's name was brought up but not for what he did, rather the significance of his election and the necessity for cross-racial coalitions to enable black empowerment. I would have liked to have talked about Mike Woo, but..

    So while the talk was short on specifics, it was good on general points, or at least not surprising in any dimension to me. This is always good because out here on the web one can get isolated. The consensus: the future of black politics will be intensely local. Hmm.

    Out in the lot over by my car three 30something brothers were discussing the subjects with a bit more candor. They were clearly non-plussed by the lack of specifics. Outside of the issue of black male incarceration in California, there was nothing they saw the panelists raising of interest. But all agreed that the days of Jackson and Sharpton and that kind of national profiling are long dead and gone. They are completely welcoming of a broad diversity of black political leadership, but they must deal with root issues and deliver some solutions.

    We had to pack up and leave, and I hope folks will be Googling me up. I'm looking forward to more local deeds of this nature. But for the moment, I'm in the doghouse. I owe M9 some help in researching 'responsibility' and my not getting home on time was one of the reasons he was up an hour past his bedtime touch typing (yay!) another essay due tomorrow.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:58 PM | TrackBack

    Kitty in the Hood

    Kitty Felde will be at the Baldwin Hills Public Library tonight to talk about black political leadership. I'm going to try and make it, but if I don't this is what I'd say.

    Patronage Or Else
    Black Politics will continue to exist so long as the political desires of African Americans are not met. The problem with the very idea of replacing MLK is that, as great as he was, MLK was not elected. When the hopes and aspirations of African Americans are placed in people who are not elected, they do not develop the collective skill of demanding patronage or else. The result is the miserable amount of clout black voters actually have because of the perception that they will only react.

    Bring Out the [Stereotypical Black] Vote
    In fact the pattern that I see is that political activism in black communities winds up being little more than voter registration drives with the presumption in mind that all the black votes cast will be of one form in order to combat the threat Democrats have agitated against. Without such an external threat, this predominating form of political activism is silent. Between elections, black political desire is ignored.

    Republican Integration
    I think of integration of the Republican party as additional enfranchisement for African American voters. Today, everyone expects that they know exactly what is on the mind of black voters, and that their influence is merely a question of voter turnout. The apathy is real on both sides. Joining the Republican party takes all presumptions off the table. All parties involved in such political activity have to really think hard about why this is being done. That thinking is not taking place, by and large.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:12 AM | TrackBack

    January 06, 2004

    The California Empire

    Dont' you just love the E word? Arnold does, and he ripped it up this evening, declaring California an Empire of Aspiration.

    It's amazing to hear just how garbled AS' speech is with regards to delivery. But there was no masking the spirit and the intent of Our Governor's State of the State Address this evening. He's ripping up sod and changing the landscape.

    Arnold has made California government sound almost manageable, and whether or not it's true, the distance he has taken public interest in the management of state business in just this one speech is astounding. Here is one candidate who actually sounds better in office than on the stump. I thought only GWBush had speechwriters that good.

    Nevertheless, we have hired Arnold to do the roughneck job, which is the best condition under which to elect a leader as far as accountability goes. Here is a moment in which I don't really want to hear the wonks come rip him to shreds, because he has done in this particular moment what no governor in memory has done, which is to involve the people in a wonky issue over the dead bodies of the legislature. He has basically called them on the carpet to get the cost of Workman's Comp down to the national average. Now we're about double. If they don't meet his goals by March 1, he's going to take it to the streets with an initiative for the November ballot.

    In this bold move AS has asserted that he is deadly at the polls and the wonks and bickering partisans will not be able to resist the will of the people as expressed in the mandate of Arnold's election. Will the people come out of the woodwork to support Arnold? That is precisely his history as a blockbuster actor, and by gum it could work.

    I didn't catch the intonation of his voice on the early part of his address where he basically said buy the bond or go broke. I turned on the radio in the middle of a long stream of applause. I immediately thought, oh brother, the Democrats on NPR, but the applause seemed too loud and long, so I wondered which of the candidates got all that. Surprise.

    I am hoping that we in the Bear Flag League keep up with these matters. As a small business man, I'm very interested to see how opening up school contracting might effect guys like me. And of course whatever we can do as bloggers to keep track of budget numbers etc, will be all good.

    State politics just got interesting. Whoda thunk?

    Posted by mbowen at 09:26 PM | TrackBack

    January 05, 2004

    Auto Show

    Writing about an auto show is no fun, especially since I found out too late that I could have taken as many cameras and recording devices I could carry. So I can only tell you how much cooler the Chrysler four-door hatchback is, and how small and silly their Crossfire looks in comparison.

    I can try to describe that the coolest thing there was a Saturn Vue but you wouldn't believe me until you see how favorably it compares to the kitted out Scions.

    If there are two words that can describe the biggest trend in the automobile world this year, they are 'massive wheels'. I cannot begin to describe to you how passionate car nuts are about huge wheels this year. 20 inches is too puny. You've got to have 25 inches. There's an entire car customization subculture which seems to have been taken over by Snoop Dog and his minions. Everybody with a goodie bag had a DUB goodie bag.

    There were other oddities, like the hydrogen powered Hummers and the instant tailgate party pickup with the gass grill, plasma widescreen and beer tap.

    There was a lot of excitement over the new V8 Lexus, the I430. Everybody had to sit in one of the many Coopers on display. Subaru brough a whole pack of their actual race cars and Cadillac had the biggest and boldest display. The electric blue Escalade was a big hit as was the Sixteen with its 16 cylinder 1000 horsepower engine and its... massive wheels.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    December 13, 2003

    Day 63

    Despite the fact that I think it's fairly hopeless for the unionists, I'm not completely without sympathy. Since the spousal unit has decided not to cross picket lines, I've kept away from the struck supermarkets. Until tonight.

    I've been out of work for four months myself, until Monday. In my case, misery loves company, but not miserable company. Who wants to be around such a desparate situation? Starving, grumbling strikers trying to put a brave face on standing around makeshift bonfires in the cold winter evenings; furtive and disorganized scabs in crusty civies struggling with produce codes at the register. I'd much rather be at Trader Joe's where everyone is happy, but I couldn't afford it.

    I had these and other reasons not to be shopping at the overpriced and luxurious supermarkets. Instead I've been shopping at the utilitarian Smart & Final, the randy 99 Cent store and the positively Second World Food 4 Less, not to mention more 7-11s than someone raised Episcopalian is comfortable admitting. But tonight I have money in my pocket and a daughter's birthday party to supply. Nothing would keep me from Albertson's this time. So breaking this fast this evening this was quite an occasion for more than one reason.

    The first thing that struck me was the liquor aisle. I can't remember the last time I picked up a sixpack for no reason at all. There was Mike's Hard Lemonade, Red Dog, Grolsh, and behind me on the facing shelf were more brands of imported vodka than I could name or pronounce. It was very much like an immigrant experience; all this excess plenty.

    On the way out, however, was the moment I hadn't expected to hear. The two young women with their signs didn't glare malevolently as I expected. One was saying, "I just want to get back to work. I can't hold out any longer. I guess that means the market wins."

    The market wins.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 10, 2003

    Wal-Mart in the Hood

    One of America's first shopping centers has become something I love again for new reasons. Wal-Mart is in the 'hood.

    The Crenshaw Shopping Center was built in the art-deco style just before or after WW2. It was the first mall built in America. Although I don't have all the details now, I once did a highschool paper on Crenshaw Boulevard and I'm fairly certain of this. The original anchor tenants were the May Company and the Broadway stores. That one which was the Broadway is now a Wal-Mart. I count this as a great rebirth and notable in the history of this part of Los Angeles where I was raised. It's the most significant change since Magic Johnson opened his first movie theatres here in 1994.

    Back in the days, there was a Woolworths and a Lindberg Nutrition at the Crenshaw Plaza. Lindberg's was a massive pink building just north of the May Co with a huge sign that reminded us to 'keep in the pink', and odd saying indeed for this African-American and Japanese-American neighborhood. Although much has changed, just across the street are the legendary wig shops which haven't in over 30 years.

    I passed through this mall several days ago during my increasingly seldom visits to the city. Oddly enough, the first thing that struck me was the number of people cruising around the three floors of the joint in mobility devices. It may be a function of the odd locales that I frequent, but I am not accustomed to seeing 7 or 8 such folks in a day let alone in one store within the space of 20 minutes.

    Unlike other developments, I get the distinct impression that the appearance of Wal-Mart at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza changes this neighborhood permanently. Anyplace where Sears goes out of business appears to be doomed, and unless and until Wal-Mart comes in, they are. Despite its wealthy enclaves and proximity and affinity to ViewPark and Ladera Heights, Crenshaw has not been the healthiest of commercial neighborhoods since the mid 70s when most of the automobile dealers moved south to Hawthorne Boulevard. The sharpest blow dealt to the district was the development of the Fox Hills Mall around 1977. It began a love-hate relationship with the CRA and Ruth Galanter that people still talk about whenever the question of inner-city development comes up.

    This time around things appear to be all to Wal-Mart's and thus global capitalism's good. The LA Urban League's John Mack famously declared he'd rather have the low-wage and low-benefit jobs than no jobs at all. He's not alone in that sentiment, and I'm glad he put it that way.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    November 26, 2003

    Driving Backwards

    It's crap like this that make Californians initiative crazy. The latest news is that the original sponsor of SB 60 has 'worked out a deal' with the new S. administration in Sacramento to have his law repealed and re-introduced with some 'security' provisions.

    In a victory statement, Sen. Rico Oller (R-San Andreas), author of the repeal, said the Senate "chose to do the right thing and repeal fundamentally flawed legislation that would have put California's safety at risk." Oller and others complained that the law failed to require sufficient security measures.

    Earlier, Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), the author of SB 60, set in motion the Democratic reversal when he announced his support for a Republican-crafted bill to repeal the license law, a move that Cedillo depicted as a tactical retreat rather than surrender.

    "I'm placing my confidence and trust with the governor as we go through the process," Cedillo said before the Transportation Committee voted 9 to 2 to repeal the law.

    The 'deal' is that the sponsor of the initiative to recall the recently passed law will drop his signature drive if the California Legislature reverses itself in a particularly spectacular way. According to the recent vote, which was unanimous to repeal the law, the Legislature apparently had no problem whatsoever in doing so.

    I have a hard time accepting that the opposition to SB 60 wasn't a blood and soil thing. But it's interesting how the LAT, and probably all major media cover such matters. They talk about the strong opposition from Latino groups which is obviously a racial thing but it can't be portrayed as racial the other way. See?

    At any rate, the number of documents that California drivers need to produce will presumeably increase from say 3 to 5 and the same class of immigrants will likely be covered by the renegotiated bill. What kills me is that the sponsor of the original SB 60 believes that he'll get a fair shake, because he really hasn't spoken at length with S. to preliminarily agree on what provisions should be and should not be in the new proposed bill. That's a lot of faith.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:18 AM | TrackBack

    November 14, 2003

    Jazzwise, Disney Sucks


    Pianist Keith Jarrett was about to start the second number of his program Wednesday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall when he was distracted by a rumbling sound late arrivals rushing to their seats.

    Frowning, he turned to his audience and asked, "Do you hear that? It must be the sound of ghost cartoon characters. Creaky boards aren't usually found in new concert halls."

    Then, about to begin again, he paused a second time to add another comment. "I have news for the person who designed this room. The sound travels better this way." He pointed to indicate a direction from the audience to the stage.

    This is bad news for Disney and good news for Royce Hall. Interestingly, I thought about what it would take to design a great jazz venue after having been to the Jazz Bakery the other night.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:29 AM | TrackBack

    November 04, 2003


    DAVID BERNSTEIN AT LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL NOV. 4. The Loyola Law School Chapter of The Federalist Society is proud to present George Mason University School of Law professor David E. Bernstein on November 4, 2003 in Merrifield Hall on the Loyola Law School Campus in Downtown Los Angeles.

    Professor Bernstein will be speaking and answering questions about his new book: You Can't Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws (CATO Institute 2003).

    David E. Bernstein is a professor of law at George Mason University. He is the author of Only One Place of Redress: African-Americans, Labor Regulations, and the Courts from Reconstruction to the New Deal (Duke, 2001) and co-editor of Phantom Risk: Scientific Inference and the Law (MIT, 1993). He is also a frequent contributor to the The Volokh Conspiracy

    Posted by mbowen at 10:50 AM | TrackBack

    November 03, 2003

    Race & SATs (Only) Again

    As an advocate of racial integration, I am a supporter of well-managed academic affirmative action at the undergraduate level and have a positive regard for bold-faced tokenism at the graduate level. In my world there would be a two tier system with some very high profile universities exempted from any integration programs. My political opponents say that racial integration is a personal preference and that we should be colorblind, I say take carefully measured portions and mix vigorously. What always irks me is that when it comes down to it, the colorblind supporters of Proposition 209 always end up counting noses by color anyway. And so they are at it again.

    I should also take time to remind all concerned that I am a skeptic on matters of affirmative action prophylaxis. That is to say I do not believe that high SAT scorers who are rejected for the sake of affirmative action are objectively worse off than those who are accepted despite their low scores.

    Apparently, too many non-whites got into UC again. This time the focus was on 374 students who were accepted at Berkeley with SAT scores < 1000, as compared to the 10,400 who got in with scores >1000. The Oakland Tribune cites the following specs & gives the final word to Ward Connorly, just to show how objective they are.

    Moores' analysis didn't include information on the ethnicity of admitted students, but an additional look at data provided by UC headquarters shows that most of the low-scoring students are minority.

    In 2002, 63 -- or 19 percent -- of the students were black and 149 -- or 45 percent -- were Latino. Those are minority groups that are underrepresented at UC Berkeley and other UC campuses. Another 83 students (25 percent) were Asian, 5 (1.5 percent) were Native American and 23 (7 percent) were white. Another 9 students were categorized as "other."

    In 2001, 66 -- or 17 percent -- of students admitted with scores below 1000 were black and 170 -- 44 percent -- were Latino. Asian students numbered 110 (28 percent); 25 students (6 percent) were white and 17 students (4 percent) were "other" or didn't provide the data.

    The LAT on the other hand suggested that non-whites with sub-par SAT scores are being accepted at about the same rate as whites are. Their analysis goes like this:

    The University of California provided data pertaining to applicants with scores of 1000 or below who sought admission to freshman classes in the fall of 2002 and 2003. The Times calculated the percentages.

    Among the findings:

    Taken together, low-scoring blacks, Latinos and Native Americans were just as likely to be admitted as Asians and whites. The admission rate for both groups was 63%.

    In all, 67% of low-scoring Latino applicants were admitted to at least one UC campus, compared with 65% of Asians and 60% of whites.

    But only 49% of black applicants with similarly low scores were admitted.

    The picture was different at the university's two most competitive campuses, where Latinos and blacks who make up a smaller share of the student body relative to their numbers in the state's population were more likely to be accepted.

    UC Berkeley, the original focus of the admissions debate, admitted low-scoring blacks and Latinos at twice the rate of Asians and whites with similar scores.

    UCLA was about a quarter more likely to admit low-scoring African Americans and Latinos than whites and Asians.

    Both campuses were much more selective than others, however. Berkeley accepted only 8% of all low-scoring applicants and UCLA 7%. In all, about 1,500 low-scoring studentsa relatively small number were admitted at the two campuses over the two-year period.

    I don't expect that anyone is going to hand over any multidimensional spreadsheets any time soon. This is a particular pet peeve of mine, since multidimensional analysis is what I do. So we'll get pieces of data that suit the agendas of the partisans.

    This wouldn't be half a problem if it weren't for the fact that the debate stays obssessed with race & SAT scores and does not give us anything else to talk about. I expect that the knuckleheads that follow Connorly expect nothing more, but I expect more from my newspapers.

    Citizens will again focus on race and test scores. Isn't it ironic that Connorly does too?

    Posted by mbowen at 03:31 PM | TrackBack

    October 29, 2003

    Fire Quickies

    Doc, having pulled some special duty on the LAPD mentions a couple interesting factiods.

    Many cops are on 'firewatch'. For many this means trolling Mulholland Drive for illegally parked vehicles which would hinder or block the progress of emergency vehicles.

    Some idiot tried to start a fire in Eaton Canyon in Altadena. They busted him right away. He was heard to mutter 'Don't put it out, it's beautiful'.

    Civilians are transfixed by the fire and are literally drawn like moths. Several officers had drawn weapons on a looting suspect and a little old lady with her walker shuffled right through the circle of cops, just staring at the flames across the street.

    KROQ has been cracking on the reporters whose van caught on fire as they tried desparately to get closer than anyone else. The reporter actually cried on the air about the loss. They put some other reporter in a wind tunnel to show viewers what 45 mph winds looked like.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 26, 2003

    A Fool and His Hose

    Gina Ferazzi's picture captures the frustration and foolishness perfectly. It seems unbelievable to me that people would attempt to fight a fire with a garden hose, but this is what folks are actually trying. This man needs to get the hell out of Dodge.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


    We're surrounded by fires. There are over 100,000 acres burnt or burning in Los Angeles and San Bernardino County. Down here at the beach the familiar pinkish brown haze is everywhere, ash has dirtied up everyone's car and the air is thick with the smell of burned brush.

    IFR flights are cancelled. So if you are on radar, you're grounded. All the major airports are closed due to some damage to one of the radars. Winds are blowing so fiercely that air support to drop water is not happening.

    What a difference a day makes.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:55 AM | TrackBack

    October 24, 2003

    Fire Approaches

    The Inland Empire is on fire. Santa Anas are blowing what is now called the Grand Prix Fire into the housing developments of Rancho Cucamonga. Schools in Fontana are closed and the weekend forecast is a firebug's fantasy. Low humidity, 50 mph winds and temperatures in the 90s.

    The fire is only 17% contained and thousands are being evacuated. Sikorsky choppers are hovering in the thick smoke and making water drops. Two freeways are closed and 2000 houses are threatened. 4000 acres have burned since Tuesday and 240 firefighters and volunteers are on the ground doing battle.

    Arson is suspected.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:16 AM | TrackBack

    October 23, 2003

    Having It Both Ways

    The UFCW union is suing the supermarkets for not paying striking workers. This really stretches the limits of credulity.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:09 PM | TrackBack

    The New Concert Hall

    Everyone is thrilled by the new Walt Disney Concert Hall which was dedicated today. The acoustics are said to be some of the best on the planet.

    Toyota says that he had never experienced such an acoustical difference between a first and second rehearsal in any of the halls he designed in his native Japan. Salonen could hardly believe his ears. To his amazement, he discovered that there were wrong notes in the printed parts of the Ravel that sit on the players' stands. The orchestra has owned these scores for decades, but in the Chandler no conductor had ever heard the inner details well enough to notice the errors.

    I will be getting tickets somewhere around this time next year. Everything is sold out up to that point.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:35 AM | TrackBack

    October 17, 2003

    Wrench in the Wal-Mart Theory

    Reader Frank had this to say about the supermarket strike:

    However, what we've found through our discussions with industry experts, and by examining the data of countless chains, is that customers traditionally won't travel much more than a three mile radius to get their mainstream groceries. This is the traditional geographic market division for supermarkets. Sometimes freeways, rivers and railroads make the geographic boundaries.

    This presents a serious challenge for Wal-Mart. Indeed Frank went on to inform me that it's a standing challenge for Target Greatland as well. These big box format stores need lots of real-estate. So geographically in Southern California, there aren't a lot of locations amenable to the format, especially in Los Angeles. I can attest to this fact as we are Costco shoppers; it requires a bit of discipline when we go for those items once a month several miles out of the way.

    In strike news there are no talks or negotiations underway. Safeway (Vons) is taking the hardline and saying there will never be a better offer on the table. City Councilmen are taking sides. The LATimes comments on the benefit package:

    The strike was called over employer proposals to cut health care and pension benefits and create a substantially lower tier of wages and benefits for new hires. The proposed contract rejected by 97% of voting union members also would allow stores to shift union work to outside vendors and to open nonunion stores.

    Top wages for store employees range from $7.40 for baggers to $18.19 for meat cutters. Union officials say the average is about $12 an hour and that most workers are part time.

    All employees receive fully paid family health benefits. The grocery chains say workers must start shouldering some of these costs, citing escalating health insurance expenses and competition from nonunion stores. Under the proposal, workers would among other things have to contribute to premiums, paying at least $780 a year for family coverage.

    That's a very reasonable figure, but I suspect it may not characterize the median expense.

    Other stores are doubling their reciepts, especially the upscale stores like Bristol Farms and Whole Foods. On the discount end, Costco saw a 10% jump in sales Monday. As for our family, we've been learning about the discounts for quite some time now. There's a surprising lot of shopping that can be done at the 99 Cent store. Everyone is talking about Trader Joe's as a first among alternatives, and there is always 7-11 for staples.

    Sister mentioned that when the Detroit Free-Press went on strike, customers seeking alternatives didn't return and the paper has never been the same. Likewise speculation as to where customer loyalties will go is in the air. Most people I talk to expect that prices will be higher at the affected stores (almost 800) when this mess is all over.

    Right now there is no end in sight, and so now this weekend more and more people are going to be personally affected. Decisions are being made. We're relying more on our alternatives, but as I said, we're in a tight money situation and haven't been going to Von's (our regular) for quite a while. It's tough all over.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:53 AM | TrackBack

    October 16, 2003

    Shut 'em Down

    It's about to get ugly. The Teamsters are about to support the supermarket strike. That means that the distribution centers are going to be picketed and the trucks are going to stop rolling. That means that the union is going to the scortched earth policy. They want to shut them down. Classic confrontation.

    Behind all of this is the spectre of Wal-Mart who is considering a move to California. If and when they do, they will steamroll over Ralph's, Vons & Albertson's market share. Wal-Mart pays the prevailing wage in retail, but here in Southern California, the unionized workforce in the supermarket industry are making good money and extraordinarily nice benefits. Wal-Mart employees, by comparison, have miserable healthcare and most rely on public health. If and when Wal-Mart comes to SoCal, there will be hell to pay in the labor market.

    Today there are 70,000 folks on the street because of this strike. The eyes of the industry are all here.

    I haven't spoken to many folks about this, but of course most of my pals are management. But what is amazing to me is that these stock clerks are demanding continuance of their pension plan. Pensions!? Since when did supermarket employees get pensions? What the hell is up with that? The local talk radio meme I'm hearing is that sentiment may be turning against the strikers, especially among people who used to work for supermarkets.

    My personal experience with working with the Kroger organization was less than savory, and it is my professional understanding that Wal-Mart and HEB are the leaders in retailing. They are well-managed and smart and employ information technology (my domain) as a strategic advantage. So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Ralph's, Von's and Albertson's are wetting their pants over the potential advance of Wal-Mart. One of them will probably bite the dirt within 5 years if Wal-Mart is a success. The other two will have to go upmarket and sell service and quality. It won't be easy.

    I don't understand the fundamentals of why American healthcare is so expensive. But I suspect that the geniuses at Wal-Mart are not about to be pressured to up their benefit package per-employee expenditures. Consumers want low prices, period. And in a razor thin margin industry like supermarkets that means unionized workers will have hell to pay.

    What remains to be seen is how paranoid the three chains are. None are likely to throw in the towel in anticipation of the Wal-Mart entry, but now that matters have escalated they may very well go to the wall.

    Also, I have heard that union workers who cross the pickets are making $6, losing strike pay and paying a fine to the union. Scabs are making $20.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    October 14, 2003

    Reflections on Unions & Strikes

    Several major supermarket chains are in the middle of a strike. Folks have asked me to support the pickets. So I've been thinking..

    The existence of organized labor is proof of poor management, but it is also proof of commoditized labor. Proper management would never allow commodity labor to have separate tiers of benefits and pay ranges based on seniority. This is a situation that leads exactly to scab/union conflict even in the absence of a union. If Joe make 6 bucks and Jane make 8 doing the same job, there's going to be a problem. I think the union introduces this problem because it's trying to limit the labor pool. Yeah it raises salaries artificially, and you see how high when scabs take jobs for what they're really worth.

    That's the status quo, and it won't be under control until management controls everything. However since the unions aren't going away, you'll always have two sets of interests trying to negotiate the proper salaries for employees, and so you'll always have these artificial tiers of salaries based on the periods between collective bargaining negotiations which has nothing to do with the market value of the labor involved.

    On the other hand, the existence of unions allows management to be lazy and fail to treat employees well. Management can then look at labor as a fixed cost and arrange their profitability different ways. Over time they grow retarded HR departments and fail to develop the proper loyalty with their employees.

    As for crossing picket lines, I'll do what's convenient. It's not my problem.

    I was a union employee at Fedco back in the days. You came in at maybe a 25 cents above minimum wage and were on probation for 90 days before you get to be union. Believe me, lots of people worked for 89 days and we never saw them again, especially during the summer and holiday shopping season. At Fedco, we were Teamsters, and the real Teamster jobs were in the warehouse. If you drove a forklift or some such extremely technically sophisticated job, you could make 11 or 12 bucks an hour. But if you worked as a cashier or stocked the floor, you'd be around 6 or 8 bucks with maybe 3-5% annual raises. Yet if you worked at Boy's Market, whose union was the Retail Clerks, the same cashier job just 5 miles away paid 13 an hour. When you work in the union, what you get paid has nothing to do with how hard or well you work, it's all about what gets negotiated on your behalf by the union.

    We struck Fedco and got strike pay of about 37 bucks a week. We closed the store. There was no picket line to break. We had a big meeting at the Shrine Auditorium in which us rank and file had an opportunity to speak. I didn't have enough seniority in the union to actually have a vote, but I did get in front of the whole crowd and embarrass myself, like the rest who went up there and cursed a blue streak. I complained that I couldn't afford a car and an apartment on my salary. They looked at me like I was an idiot. What did I expect? I was only 19 years old. Some days I think I should have gone to the Army.

    From my personal experience the union owns you because the union owns your friends. There have been no experiences in my life when the relationships between myself and my co-workers have been so close as when I was at Fedco. Kevin Douglas and Mark Robinson were my boys. I still remember Clave Marks, Deborah Brown, David Ashby, Big Charles, Claude Grant the tennis player, and sneaky Angel Espin, quiet Lau Lam, irratable Wah Gee, and the Vietnam vets in the warehouse, Ward who loved Ritchie Blackmore, The Cowboy, and another man whose face I see but cannot remember his name. I also remember our opponents. Mr. Tobak, Mr. Gross, and the cabal of Japanese women including Satsu Sunoda. I remember the earnest ligaments of the business who caught hell from both sides, the supervisors whose faces stay with me but names have long faded since 1979.

    After the strike was over, I can't remember getting any big raise or anything. I left Fedco after about a year and a half to go work at a bank.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 13, 2003

    Bustamante's Revenge

    Cruz Bustamante made a lot of noise against the energy pirates which hasn't echoed very well in his bid for the governorship of California. As rumors of AS' backroom dealing with Ken Lay echo loudly, I think few people are coming correct as to what may actually be happening. As much as I prefer pure debate, I'm going to do a little internet sleuthing here, because I believe that since the Lt. Governor has not been recalled, we may see a few fireworks. Since it's clear that the State of California needs all the revenue it can get we should watch and see whether or not there is a real conflict between the two offices when it comes to getting money back from the energy companies.

    Firstly, from what I see, Bustamante was more intemperate about throwing the book at the energy companies than was Davis. Bill Lockyear, the state Atty General and Treasurer Angelides were also more incensed.

    From Overlawyered - June 2001:

    Other California politicos have also stepped up the business-bashing to an intensity not heard since the 1970s, to judge from an account by Chris Weinkopf in the Los Angeles Daily News. At a press conference, state senate president pro tem John Burton "announced the solution is for Sacramento to 'terrorize the bastards' [electricity generators] by seizing their power plants. If he were governor, he said, he 'would have taken them yesterday.' The actual governor, Gray Davis, is more subtle in his attacks. He's only called the generators 'marauders,' 'pirates' and 'the biggest snakes on the planet Earth.' ... Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has called for empowering the state to put energy executives in jail. ...Treasurer Phil Angelides has suggested that if generators 'don't take their foot off our throat,' the state should 'seize a plant or two to sober them up.'" (Chris Weinkopf, "Californias Assault on Energy Producers", Los Angeles Daily News, April 24, reprinted at FrontPage magazine).

    Bustamante tells KTVU of his participation in class action:





    Bustamante was unsatisfied with offers from Duke Energy - May 2001:

    Duke Energy released details of its offer to Gov. Gray Davis to cut its energy charges retroactively and into the future in exchange for "prompt suspension of State investigations, lowering of rhetoric and stay of State litigation."

    Its proposal listed an alphabet soup of investigations by Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the Public Utilities Commission, Energy Oversight Board, state auditor, Independent System Operator, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, private class-action and antitrust lawsuits, and claims by investor-owned utilities.

    The disclosure came two days after Williams Cos. agreed to refund $8 million to settle a federal investigation into alleged improper charges for electricity.

    It came the same day Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante filed suit against five generators. Bustamante is sponsoring legislation that would allow corporate officers to be jailed and part of a company's assets seized if the company was convicted of price gouging.

    Here is the Executive Summary:

    Five multinational corporations overcharged the State of California billions of dollars for power, after the Governor declared the electricity emergency in January, in violation of state antitrust and unlawful business practices laws. The defendants control the critical 19 gas-fired electric generation plants, located in 11 California counties, that provide critical amounts of electricity to the states consumers. The plants were owned for decades by Californias utility companies and were operated under the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Under deregulation, the power to turn the plants generators is held by executives in the five defendant corporations. These companies used their power over the generators to extract billions of dollars of unlawful overcharges from California consumers. The defendants excessive charges were a substantial cause of Californias electricity crisis, in which power prices have risen from $7 billion in 1999 to a projected $70 billion in 2001.

    After California declared a State of Emergency, these generators raised the prices even higher. The complaint alleges such conduct violates other state laws that prohibit unscrupulous price gougers from excessive profiteering during state emergencies. The complaint is based upon published reports that the defendants used their market power in 98% of the bids they submitted to Californias electricity spot market. In other words, these five companies acted like monopolists 98% of the time they sold power to this California power market.

    Also named as defendants are the five companies 14 key executives. These individuals are making millions of dollars from stock options, salaries, and the increased stock values. The individual defendants also include the heads of the five companies trading floors. It is through these massive unregulated electricity trading operations that billions of excess costs are added into the paper trades of California power generation transactions.

    The plaintiffs are proceeding under well established California law that allows taxpayers to bring actions to stop the waste of taxpayer funds. They are also proceeding under Californias unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business acts and practices law that allows consumers to sue violators on behalf of the general public. The plaintiffs are also suing under California antitrust laws.

    The complaint details the history of deregulation and the false message the defendants delivered to consumers - (that they were helping to create a competitive California electricity market that would enjoy lower prices). At the same time, these same five companies were telling their investment bankers that the companies stood to make billions of dollars from California by imposing higher prices on consumers. The complaint also details how power plants were sold on the basis of their market power attributes, their strategic locations throughout the state in areas where there were known shortages, and provisions that would allow the new owners to raise prices without losing customers because of the high inelasticity of demand for electricity.

    The suit seeks to recover billions of dollars of overcharges, and injunctions that would stop the five companies from any further violations of the states consumer and emergency gouging laws. The case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday 2 May 2001.

    Here is the press release from Bustamante's office. A PDF of the filed complaint is available there too.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:38 PM | TrackBack

    October 07, 2003

    Cobb Recommends

    In the spirit of editorial pages everywhere, I offer my recommendations to California Voters on today's special election.

    Cobb recommends that Californians vote FOR the recall of Gov. Gray Davis.

    The recall is the right and privilege of our voters and the demonstrates the ability for motivated citizens to change things. However, the primary reason we are in a fiscal crisis is from a failure of bipartisanship in Sacramento to fund what is necessary and tax what is necessary. Changing governors will not substantially affect that deadlock but it demonstrates the high price to pay for politicians who are not fiscally accountable to the people.

    Furthermore, Cobb believes that objections to the recall were largely fair and well considered but that the 9th Circuit was correct in rejecting appeals to delay. The people have spoken in calling for this special election and Cobb is pleased that they have it.

    Cobb fully expects the recall to pass but would prefer that it be close thereby emphasizing the effects of voter turnout and individual initiative. However a Recall is not the proper way to resolve this fiscal crisis in California and that is the most important issue.

    Gray Davis has not been incompetent. He has inherited an ugly set of problems and he has failed to resolve them quickly, painlessly or deflect them by remaining politically popular. Cobb finds nothing extraordinarily damning about Davis' performance and believes that we have yet to see any candidate strong enough to muscle the California Legislature and Government into the kind of compromise necessary. Davis has been ineffective in communicating to the people the true nature of the problems that generated this fiscal crises. He suffers from bureacratic inertia and lacks the energy and focus Californians need.

    The Recall election says that the People are angry and we want change. Everyone now knows that. The change however needs to come from the Legislature and the People themselves. By recalling Davis, the California Legislature should feel the pressure to know that they are next.

    Cobb recommends that you cast your vote for Governor to Arnold SCHWARTZENEGGER.

    Schwartzenegger is not likely to be a much better leader than Gray Davis but it is significant that such an outsider can get the people's mandate. We at Cobb don't believe that he will be particularly effective nor particularly divisive as Governor of California. But the election of Schwartzenegger will demonstrate to Republicans and Democrats alike that fresh faces, and fresh ideas can come from anywhere and that when business as usual results in partisan deadlock, the people can and will force change. Schwartzenegger will not likely fix the budget deficit any time soon. It will not be fixed unless and until Californians decide to raise and pay taxes.

    Schwartzenegger has the opportunity as an outsider to expose the failure of the Legislature. If he takes that initiative, the people of California will be well served by getting to know the limits of power of the executive branch and the effect of cronyism on the Legislature.

    Cobb is concerned however that Schwartzenegger may take his mandate to signify something more than a rebellion in California, but to the legitimacy of his own political ambitions. His feet must be kept to the fire and he must be accountable. He must embody the spirit of the Recall. He must speak often and clearly.

    Finally, Cobb believes that the election of Schwartzenegger, despite his being a political novice, sends a strong message to the Republican party that conservative ideologues are no longer the standard bearers. The Contract with America days are over as are the Culture Wars, and moderates are the future of the Party.

    Cobb recommends that Californians vote AGAINST Proposition 54 aka The Racial Privacy Initiative.

    Proposition 54 is essentially a campaign to force California to adopt a set of laws which conform to the racial vision of one man; Ward Connerly. Connerly has never been elected to any office and represents his own interests. He is a crusader appointed by Pete Wilson who has travelled around the country trying to rewrite the civil rights laws of various states through the force of his own personality and money. He is not well informed about civil rights and only claims to be by virtue of the color of his own skin. Proposition 54 works against enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Reject Connerly and his Propositions.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 05, 2003

    Honestly Honestly

    My kids, like most elementary school kids, overhear some stuff from television that I have to tone down and deflect. One of those things are the allegations about Schwartzenegger's misconduct with women. My kids also hear from other kids that Arnold is cool. Naturally, I instruct my children that other children are stupid knuckleheads that don't always have the benefit of brilliant and loving parents. So there have been several occasions upon which I've had to grumble audibly when Schwartzenegger's name or commercials come up on TV for the benefit of my children's critical thinking skills.

    It occured to me, that with the exception of 'Twins' and 'Kindergarten Cop' both very admirable films, most of Schwartzenegger's oevre (did I spell that correctly?) is patently objectionable to parents of young children. So I wondered today, why it is that there hasn't been a TV commercial by the Democrats which made something of this point.

    It's easy to point the finger at things that the world is just finding out about Schwartzenegger, but are his opponents so dense as to believe that everyone finds his body of work genuinely appealing? Do soccer moms have Schwartzenegger films playing at home? This home does not.

    I have my reasons for preferring AS over McClintock. That's party politics. I would have much rather had a larger choice of Republicans.

    For other parents like me who have cable, there is probably a good amount of familiarity with the Fairly Oddparents. The toughest fairy is a charicature of Schwartzenegger, and quite frankly he's pretty cool. But the real deal is not so cool and I can't imagine that California mothers honestly, honestly want to have to explain the differences to their children.

    That said, it's foolish to believe that in 2003 most of our choices are paragons of virtue, but honestly...

    UPDATE: "Yuk" is what the daughter said this morning.

    SECOND UPDATE: Dissident Frogman nails the stupidity of the ad that actually tried to spin this.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:13 PM | TrackBack

    October 03, 2003

    Succinctly Stated

    Thank you Roger Simon:

    What an election were having between two pathetic extreme political hacks (Davis and Bustamante), a hypocritical witch (Huffington, now resigned), a right-wing ideologue with a mullah-like religious fanatic campaign manager (McClintock) and a libertine (Arnold). I guess in the end Im sticking with the libertine. But that probably says more about me than anything else.

    Me too.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:19 AM | TrackBack

    September 30, 2003

    Disney Sounds Good

    I missed this story when it first appeared, but I'm glad to know it.

    A long tuning process for the hall lies ahead, and the musicians will need time to learn to play there, but both the orchestra's music director, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and acoustician, Yasuhisa Toyota, acknowledged breathing huge sighs of relief over the initial results.

    What was unmistakable about the orchestral sound at Monday's rehearsal was its plentiful bass, crystalline clarity and forceful immediacy.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:45 PM | TrackBack

    September 24, 2003

    Bitchfest '03

    I'd say that Cruz Bustamante got in the best barb, but that's only because I was reading. I had other things to do rather than watch a televised debate, if that's what you'd call it.

    BUSTAMANTE: You're one to talk about photo ops, Arnold.

    There's really not much to say here. I like that Bustamante condescended to AS, and I'm rather surprised that Arnold was only barely above literate on the issues. It might not have showed up on camera but when you read the transcript it's amazing how many time he says 'I don't know what you're talking about.'

    Huffington proved herself to be little better than an excellent analyst and provocateur. I wouldn't follow her lead into a grocery store.

    Camejo made a good showing, and a fine command of the issues and of himself. Too bad he really believes in the loony toons lefty reactionary stuff. I think he did an admirable job of not showing how much he hates capitalism. His words on taxation were the best of all of them.

    Bustamante should have been talking down to everyone, and he could have portrayed himself as leadership material. Nobody pinned Gray Davis on him like they should have and he squeaked out of it, but he didn't really capitalize.

    McClintock was entirely predictable but I think he did better than he deserved to do. So the Republicans are in a really big stew now, because Arnold stunk up the joint with his diversionary tactics.

    All of them got bogged down on health insurance. Camejo won that one for clarity. Arnolds tangents were really sloppy and didn't succeed in print in bringing up new issues that the others couldn't reject. I'm for kids, just doesn't cut it.

    I predict that Bustamante goes up, Camejo goes up, McClintock goes up, Huffington falls off, and Arnold loses points. Republicans tear out their hair, and the State of California slouches towards armageddon. Bill Simon must be kicking himself bigtime.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:52 PM | TrackBack

    September 14, 2003

    Arnie's Illegal

    Are our immigration laws retarded? That depends on what side you fall on the candidacy of Arnold Schwartzenegger. You see, he violated the terms of his visa, by accepting a salary of miniscule proportions some, 33 years ago.

    In interviews over the years with major American newspapers, [Joe] Weider has said he paid the young bodybuilder between $100 and $200 a week to write brochures and columns for his bodybuilding magazines.

    Yeah but did he pay taxes?

    Posted by mbowen at 10:33 AM | TrackBack

    September 12, 2003

    Lies and Socialism in California

    Jill Stewart is right. She is almost always right. This time she's exceptionally right.

    On Bustamante:

    He well knows, or sure as hell ought to know by now, that an in-depth state audit showed only 19% of illegals bother to file taxes, and the best data on illegal immigrants, from the late 1990s National Academy of Sciences study, shows that each citizen-headed household in California pays out a net extra $1,178 to shore up 3 million mostly low-income illegal immigrants. Bustamante also knows that underground cash-for-work economy created by the 3 million illegal immigrants in California is one reason income taxes paid to California state coffers are so out of balance.

    On Creeping Socialism

    Senate Bill 2 comes closer to socialism than anything I've seen heading for approval in 20 years. It would force California's hard-hit small and medium-sized businesses, with 20 or more employees, to pay 80 percent of employees' health coverage. Companies with more than 200 employees would be forced to pay that for the whole family. Even part-timers get this big perk.

    SB 2 will spawn layoffs as small businesses pare down to get below the 20-employee cutoff. Bigger struggling companies will close.

    It is widely known among insiders that key details of SB 2, by state Sen. John Burton, were ghost-written by the Service Employees International Union. I am told Davis recently chatted with the SEIU about this dog. Then, miraculously, the SEIU handed Davis a check for $250,000 a few days ago.

    On Davis' Mendacity

    Davis says he'll sign SB 18, giving the obscure Native American Heritage Commission the power to stop development on anyone's land in California if tribes feel construction interferes with a sacred site anywhere in the region.

    Initially, this turkey included a five-mile zone around each sacred site, meaning construction could be challenged five miles down the freeway from a burial grounds or other site.

    SB 18 was idiotic, and opposition by cities was intense. But Sacramento is Backwards World. So its authors (Burton again, and also ditzy San Diego Democrat state Sen. Denise Ducheny) changed the law. Now, tribes can challenge development even further removed from sacred sites. Now, there's no five-mile limit at all.

    Hmm.. this isn't really blogging is it? It's more like Glen Reynoldsing.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:06 AM | TrackBack

    September 06, 2003

    'Splaining To Do

    The Fair Political Practices Commission has filed suit against Ward Connerly for not disclosing the contributors of nearly $2 million in campaign funds for Proposition 54.


    UPDATE: Bustamante is diverting his multimillion dollar indian-gaming warchest in an all-out campaign against Prop 54.

    Double Yay.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:15 PM | TrackBack

    August 31, 2003

    Backhanded Bigotry

    Over at Vision Circle, I tear into a few.

    Requiring that Bustamante disown MEChA as a litmus test for his acceptability doesn't help anyone. It begs the question of MEChA's own racist culpability and influence on California politics. It lowers the ethical level of the debate. It offers Bustamante an easy way out - MEChA can instantly become Bustamante's 'Sistah Souljah'. It is a false accusation masquerading as racial concern.

    Any moment now, I suspect we will be hearing from Ann Coulter.

    It's also useful to see disrespect heaped on those who know MEChA to be something other than the conspiracy theorists would have the public believe. Tacitus provides the flamewar.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 22, 2003

    End of an Era at King/Drew

    I note what looks to be the passing into the great beyond of the medical training at King/Drew Medical Center in the Compton - Lynwood area. Pops used to work for the County's Health Department and as a Special Assistant to the Director, he helped many many blackfolks get work in the system back in the days when civil service jobs were just opening up to non-whites.

    One of the things he played a role in that I was most proud of as a youngster was the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr, Hospital and the King/Drew Medical School. I can remember when there was little out there but the trailers that he worked in. My signature is in the cornerstone of the building.

    More recently I learned that an old highschool chum was part of the black thorasic surgery club of Southern California. It's not a club per se, but one of the nation's top throat surgeons is a black man who has mentored a number of younger blacks here. I had the opportunity to meet some members of his 'club' back when I was dating a woman who made medical videos for a living, somewhere around 1988. Anyway, when I asked this chum about issues at MLK (also known in the 'hood as 'Killer King'), he was fairly close-mouthed about it. This was at my 20 year reunion, five years ago.

    Since then, I'd bet he was among those who have fled the institution leaving it in the poor state it finds itself in today. Life is hard.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:28 PM | TrackBack

    Vat I Meant To Szay

    Arnold's people are not working the cue cards properly and his bloopers are getting caught on film. Except there is no friendly editor. There's trouble in Schwartzeneggerville as we witness the birth of the Schwartzenegger Shuffle.

    Tsk. What a pity.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 19, 2003

    Bustamante Sets the Pace

    "I know this is a tough proposal," Bustamante said during a press conference outside his suburban Sacramento home. "But we've tried all the easy ways. There aren't any left and we can't borrow any more money."

    So who's going to step up next with a budget?

    Posted by mbowen at 02:03 PM | TrackBack

    August 15, 2003

    Getting Used to Arnold

    I am beginning to believe that Arnold (I'm going to call him this in writing from now on) may be the future of the Republican party. I'm not sure if I'm happy with this but I am adjusting my expectations to deal with it.

    I have an attraction / repulsion to the Republican Party because it knows, above all, how to make things happen. They are brazen, single-minded and fierce. They bulldog as soon as they have the opportunity. They are purposeful and resolute. These aspects of tenacity would be extraordinarily good for the country if the Republicans applied consistently on behalf of actually good ideas. Instead, Republicans are all about building momentum and weight in their express train, but they are less than choosy about what fills their baggage compartments and adds mass to their momentum.

    The Religious Right and the vaguely dissatisfied middle therefore find the Republican Party to be the right way to take their various ideas and get somewhere. The Republican Party gets them to the station on time.

    I have issues with the rabble in the Big Tent, but that's an ongoing war that doesn't frustrate. But I understand something about the Republican Party which is that despite what the staunchest paleos will say, they will carry the freight of Arnold. The Republican Party depends so much on mindless catchphrases and 'common sense' that doesn't really matter who is in the driver's seat. Dennis Hastert, George W. Bush, Tom Delay, George Pataki, William Bennett, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, JC Watts. These people have nothing in common but the train they rode in on. Arnold only has to have the merest sliver of brains to understand what to do. Picture him in Reaganesque cowboy duds standing on the cab of a reigned locomotive. Ride 'em cowboy.

    I'm taking Barnum's position here. It's not so important what Arnold's ideas are, the idea of Arnold is too big to lose. The signing on of Warren Buffet is a masterstroke. Understand that Arnold only has to express the rudiments of public speaking in order to carry credibility. So long as he has masterminds behind him, all will be well, right? We used to call that 'shadow government'. Now we call it the Bush administration. Its perils should be self-evident, but as an election strategy, it works.

    Arnold can be elected to fix the budget crisis. If Buffet does his job, then Arnold will be able to boldly pronounce exactly what fudging California business cannot do. Buffet can and may even publicly masticate those Republicans who continue to pound their one note of a tax rebate in every pot. As an outsider with the clout Buffet carries, Arnold has a good shot at fixing the budget mess. Hopefully, he will do so with some style which will demonstrate how phlegmatic the California Legislature has been in its back and forth over car registration fees.

    All of that optimism that doesn't stop me from worrying very much about other issues we know about, and those future crises we cannot predict. We more or less elected GWBush to be a compassionate conservative. Were it not for Ashcroft and Osama, it might have been exactly what the nation needed. I do not give Arnold the benefit of the doubt for doing anything good for California that he cannot predict. Buffet makes him, as well as his outsider status, the candidate for fiscal reform. If that were all California needed, we could all sleep soundly under Governor Arnold.

    There may be something to what Novak said of Arnold. If he is inheriting Wilson staffers and coming out for 187, we may be back to the bad old days of ugly racial politics. That makes for a huge liability, given that Arnold himself is an immigrant. Beware his English chauvinism.

    Whatever you may say about Arnold, he is not a tool of the Religious Right. He is a moderate Republican by litmus testing. He may have all the skills of a Pataki. It may not matter. He has got the money, he is on the right train, and he only has a small electoral hurdle to pass. I'm going to have a lot of fun watching the Republican Party heel to his leash.

    The question remains. Is Riordan dead?

    Posted by mbowen at 03:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Flynt Says

    Cure the budget deficits by legalizing slot machines.
    Close the borders, give current residents amnesty.
    Church doctrine is a significant factor in judicial nominations.
    Fewer prisons, greater intervention.
    He stays a candidate if he polls >10% and people differentiate his candidacy from his profession.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:47 AM | TrackBack

    August 14, 2003

    Simon Says

    "..smaller government local in nature, accountable school systems that actually teach our kids quality of life.."

    "Those are the messages that have resonated over the last couple of years as I've travelled the state talking to hundreds of thousands of our citizens."

    "I don't think that Tom is going to have the resources to get his message out. He may surprise me and raise a bunch of money, but that has not been his track record historically."

    Posted by mbowen at 01:56 PM | TrackBack

    McClintock Watch

    Checking out McClintock's campaign website, I find some respite from the ArnoldS juggernaut. McClintock has a three pronged approach. Lower the car tax, void energy contracts, reform workman's comp.

    He looks like a lifer in politics, but not one who has any number of stellar achievements in his belt. At least he doesn't appear to be the blowhard that Bill Simon is. On the minus column, he was a leading proponent of Valley secession, which I opposed.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:18 AM | TrackBack

    August 13, 2003

    Check Your Head on 54

    Again, I find myself screaming into the wind. At least Yglesias sees things as I do.

    I believe that many folks are stupefied by the distinctions between racial identification, racial discrimination and racist discrimination. For them, it is all of a piece and anyone who claims that it is not is a liar. So for them, the obvious solution is to eliminate race, to deracinate the law and the language and thereby deprive the world of the terms and tools it might use to do evil.

    If I was a history student, or perhaps one of Orwell, I could succinctly describe by analogy precisely how fallacious such thinking is. But all I can do is speak directly to the subject.

    One has to have faith that it is possible to be anti-racist. But I think these same confused people are those who believe that 'everybody is racist' as if race were original sin itself. They submit to the essentialist idea which is that people, given racial identity, will of necessity conflict. It is an expression of the belief that Races are naturally antagonistic. And it is this false idea that causes them to believe that any government of the [naturally racist and antagonistic] people, armed with tools of racial identification will inevitably degenerate into a racial spoils system. People are bad, disarm them.

    The belief that one can be anti-racist inevitably forces one into figuring out how and looking for examples. This requires disciplined thought and study, which we can presume that the electorate will not do. But for thinking people to suggest that racial discrimination for the purposes of assistance is the same as racial discrminiation for the purposes of exclusion is tantamount to saying that arrest of a suspect is the same as kidnapping. Moreover they presume that every racially conscious law ever made or followed in the United States of America is indeed racist. Is this logical?

    Colorblindness is an ethos appropriate to a great deal of American life, but it is not appropriate to the law so long as racial disparities exist which might be evidence of exclusion. When there are no longer claims of racial injustice, the law needn't deal with it.

    Who can show that there are no racial hate crimes? Such is one burden of proof of those who would blind the law to racial distinctions. More importantly the burden of those who refuse to acknowledge race is that they are more fair and just than those who do. Both I think are burdens they are incapable of bearing.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Peter Camejo

    I listened to this guy rant on Larry Mantle's show this morning. He's in command of some interesting facts if not his senses. Having grown up on the moral side of things, I was vaguely stirred by his rants on taxation. In fact, I rather like the way he dismissively suggests that California has all the tax base it needs to handle immigrant education. I believe he is right. It was quite interesting to hear him tell that we are ranked 33rd in the nation with regard to property tax and 20th in educational spending to quickly debunk the notion bandied about by others that California isn't good for business. He didn't say it but I would. If your business cannot see the value of doing business in California, maybe you ought to stay in Arkansas.(No offense to my friends in Conway).

    But then Camejo made a sharp left turn that left him babbling. He suggested, rather cavalierly I might add, that he would have gotten 'the people' to force pension fund managers to toss out 'the criminal' corporate boards of directors of the energy companies. I'm rather certain that this doesn't happen in the real world. Not because it shouldn't but perhaps because men like Camejo don't understand or respect the laws governing such matters. Neither do I understand them, but then I'm not running for governor, but it seems to me that even if one were to decapitate boards, one would have to appoint new management to change the direction of a corporation. Since when do governors do that?

    Camejo probably has reasons to believe that fund managers have untapped powers. But I think he would be much better served trying some of that slamdancing on the State Legislature. Maybe he could get his own self appointed.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:38 PM | TrackBack

    August 11, 2003

    Factoid: California Power Plants

    According to Art Torres, part of the reason for the current California budget deficit (somewhere around $38 Billion) is that in 17 years, no California governor built a single powerplant.

    From a Democratic source in May of 2001:

    By signing a bill by Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco,
    Davis created the California Consumer Power and Conservation
    Financing Authority -- a new state agency that can
    issue up to $5 billion in revenue bonds to build, purchase,
    lease or operate power plants.

    Plants financed b y the authority will provide cost-based
    electricity to California consumers, Davis said, which will
    help stabilize the states volatile energy market.

    The power authority is modeled after one in New York,
    which has 10 power plants, 1,400 miles of transmission lines
    and produces about 25 percent of the states power. Nebraska
    also has a power authority, which created a market in
    which residents pay 22 percent less than the national average,
    Burton said.

    An increase in the number of power plants down for
    repairs this year is strong evidence that people are manipulating
    the market by withholding power, Davis said.

    The only way we can fight back against this type of price
    gouging and manipulation is to build more plants, he said
    at the bill-signing ceremony in front of a Sacramento Municipal
    Utility District power plant.

    I'm taking the Democratic side of the power argument because in my estimation it was the power issue that turned the political tables against Davis. Davis is a moderate and he handily defeated Bill Simon in the last election. The California Republicans screwed themselves by letting Simon off the chain, and the Riordan clique is now suffering.

    I specifically remember that there were no blackouts in Los Angeles, because the DWP owned its own power and therefore couldn't get snookered by the sharps who ran energy spot markets.

    Let's see when Arnold starts talking about this.

    BTW, Bill Simon should sue to get rid of these squatters.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 08, 2003

    Going Local

    I am 80% confident that I will take my next permanent job here in the LA area. I've been bouncing around quite a bit, but I am really looking forward to settling down. It is with my eye on that prospect that I am preparing to actually start caring a bit more about local politics and the goings on here in Los Angeles County. So here's the new category Local Deeds.

    My doppleganger on Nemesis, the clone of Earth on the other side of the sun is not a database architect like me. He is an urban planner. We vibe every once in a while. So as implied in the category title, I will be looking at neighborhoods, and the geography of this place as well as the political activity.

    Our first stop, posted without comment is NKLA.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:17 AM | TrackBack

    Go With The Party, Sometimes

    Eugene Volokh has a suggested rule of thumb that I believe makes more and more sense to me in these days of circus elections. Vote mainstream when a race is not close and vote alternative when it is. This gives maximum leverage to the alternative party and makes it more influential at precisely the moment it should be, when the mainstream party cannot clearly demonstrate their superiority.

    Without a doubt this is the moment in California. I find it an interesting matter that I am coming to respect Richard Riordan more and more. I say this because the last time I was deeply involved with pre-riot Los Angeles politics, I was far too polarized by Gates / King to give any Republican candidates a second look. At the time, my man was Mike Woo. But in the last mayoral election, there was one candidate who stood head and shoulders above the crowd in my estimation. That was Riordan's Parks & Rec man, Steve Soboroff. So it comes as a disappointment that Riordan got bamboozled by the Schwartzeneggar campaign in the current free-for-all.

    This is the second time that Riordan's momentum and interests have been cut off at the pass. Anyone who can recall audacious campaign of Bill Simon should know that some folks don't seem to care about keeping promises to Riordan. Riordan keeps getting upset by upstarts. What's up with that?

    Well, thanks to Volokh I have a logical excuse for my gut reaction of support for the campaign of Ariana Huffington. Until Riordan and fiscally responsible Republicans like Soberoff can get control of politics in California, my vote goes to the radical alternative.

    UPDATE: P6 notes that the problem with young black would be Democrats is that they are all carrot and no stick. When their party disses them, they stay home instead of voting for the opposition. There's an opportunity here people.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 22, 2000

    Skills Based Promotion

    i just came back from taking my kids to a birthday party. the host is a high school teacher and i listened to him at length. he related some stories about how he began some classes with open-ended questions that kids had to dig deep to answer. he told me that he went home and cried when he heard from a 14 year old girl who had 2 abortions and was distraught wondering what they might have looked like. another high school kid held his brother while he bled to death. so i posed the question to him about skills based promotion vs social promotion, knowing that he understood that some kids need real family from school. he juggles both.

    what surprised my friend was that the kids believed that the world was like high school. those who had felt love, hate, danger, thrills, and even life and death felt that highschool was a microcosm. he tries to explain to them that only in highschool are people trying to help them, whereas in the real world it's 'what can you do for me'. he explained the real world in a way that was compelling to me - that all you get from the real world is money. that's how the game is played and money is how we keep score. a bleak way of communicating, but he says it's reasonably effective.

    i'm not convinced that teaching kids to learn from this materialist perspective is proper. but perhaps i need to accept that there will always be people at that level of society who can't or won't appreciate anything better. i don't have the experience of going to a regular highschool, much less a second-rate highschool. so maybe i just can't relate to education sold by teachers for anything other than it's own sake...

    Posted by mbowen at 10:03 AM | TrackBack