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‘The Tyranny of Third-Rate Brains’: That’s how Peter Pribik describes the public education system, especially in California. It’s a harsh analysis, presented with Peter’s usual eloquence. As an ethnic Czech who was raised in German schools, polished in a French lycee, and bored to tears by what meager requirements UC Berkeley has asked of him, his perspective is slightly different than most. UPDATE: Pribik corrects my mistake about his schooling, both in the comments section, and on his original post.

05/04/2002 04:20 PM  |  Comment (4)

Weather Ombudsmen?: After reading my post below about those curious newspaper ombudsmen creatures, Chas Rich’s wife discovered … I’m not making this up … an organization very concerned about “inappropriate metereological advice.”

05/04/2002 03:46 PM  | 

That’s What We Call Long Beach, Scott: Ethnic food specialist Scott Rubush shows that he’s not one of those right-wingers who discriminate against white southerners, in a post glorifying a BBQ joint near La Brea and Melrose, and asking the eternal question:

LA has all sorts of ethnic neighborhoods—Koreatown, Chinatown, Thai Town, Little Armenia, a Russian district, the predominantly Jewish Fairfax District, the African-American Crenshaw District, as well as Hispanic neighborhoods in "East Los," East Hollywood, Inglewood, and elsewhere. So why is there not an ethnic ghetto for southerners? I think all we ex-pats from the South oughta start a "Little Nashville," or a "Little Richmond," or a "Southern Town" complete with BBQ joints, honky-tonk bars, and (if PC sensitivities permit) monuments to General Lee and the Confederate Dead. Los Angeles is a cosmopolitan city and all, but is it really complete without something like this?
What people from outside the region often miss, is that from the South Bay down through my native Long Beach and on past the Orange Curtain, there are millions of people who one might pejoratively describe as “white trash.” Many white people (and brown ones, and other blends) where I grew up lapse easily into a recognizably southern accent, even if they are born and bred Southern Californian (truth be told, I do it sometimes, too). If you go to a 4th of July picnic in Costa Mesa or San Juan Capistrano, chances are the band will be playing that awful modern country music, the girls will be line-dancing, and the BBQ-tamales ratio will resemble more Nashville than Silver Lake. Go to an Angels game, and you will see what happens when a southern-influenced culture gets to live by the beach for a few generations. It’s interesting. And if you ever want to bend your mind, do a little Internet research on the crucial role Long Beach-based car salesman Cal Worthington had in developing a country music scene and sound in Southern California. …

05/04/2002 02:18 PM  |  Comment (4)

I am not A Beam! Jeff Jarvis writes:

I've done a Primary Colors literary analysis. You are A. Beam.
Not true! As Emmanuelle says, I could have never done those kitties. Also, I’m not as funny. That’s why I think the culprit is Jason Ross … unless it’s Treacher.

05/04/2002 01:35 PM  |  Comment (4)

Honolulu Weekly Does Blogs! An Oahu alt weekly dedicates its latest issue to the blogging phenomenon, and includes a list of articles about blogging, plus humorous descriptions of various people. Some of my favorites:

Babalog -- unemployed pregnant woman who's brain processes are as viscous as oatmeal mush. That’s her line, not mine. […]

Busblog -- not angry African American blogging from Los Angeles by Tony Pierce. […]

Oliver Willis -- "Like kryptonite to stupid." Angry African American male blogger.

Oliver Willis, angry black man! Must be all that sweet talk about his dog, or his crush on Britney. Elsewhere, Kaus is called “sometimes humorous,” Layne is described as a “friend of Tom Tommorow” (they’ve never met, though the description is pretty accurate), and I am expected to provide “a lot of political dish as the campaign heats up.” Funny stuff.

05/04/2002 12:46 PM  |  Comment (1)

My Superhero….: By unpopular demand, I created one of those goofy superhero-characters, a guy I’m calling “Johnny East Hollywood.” I couldn't figure out how to make it show up on my page, but Oliver Willis could!

05/03/2002 08:05 PM  |  Comment (6)

This Kind of Stuff Really, Really Shouldn’t be Funny, but… … I laughed like a hyena at this chatroom-style interview between bloggers Dawn Olsen and Jim Treacher. It’s the first of a threatened series. … They come in many colors, Dawn! (Via the elusive a. beam, no less…)

05/03/2002 04:48 PM  |  Comment (6)

Don’t Miss out on Being a Charter Subscriber to the New L.A. Paper! At this rate, the 1,000th sign-up to our obligation-free Charter Subscriber list will take place over the weekend. … You won’t want to miss our special Charter Swag!

05/03/2002 04:01 PM  | 

This Just in -- Media ‘Ethicisit’ Bill Kovach Says we Need to Educate the Public! Kovach, a one-man cottage industry for media hand-wringing, was speaking to that magical creation of modern monopoly newspaperdom: A convention of news ombudsmen. No, I’m not making that up:

[Kovach] believes that ombudsmen should be teaching readers: "In a democratic society the journalist is, in fact, exercising the highest form of citizenship by monitoring the events in the community." […]

"We just have to, in every way possible, educate the public just a little more about why we do what we do and why it's important to them.”

Italics mine. The newspaper ombudsmen phenomenon has come to serve the exact opposite of what it was intended. Instead of listening to, and learning from readers, it is now away for arrogant gatekeepers to deliver pious and non-resonant lectures to the ignorants who just don’t get how important their local mono-daily is. No newspaper of mine will ever have an ombudsmen -- unless that becomes the new Scandinavian term to describe “answering e-mail.” (Speaking of which, sorry for not being more responsive lately, especially to those arguing with my Nader book review … it’s been busy around here, and I’ll get back to you soon.)

A final Kovach excerpt:

"An awful lot of news organizations are far, far more timid than I would like them to be ... far, far more timid than they have any right to be.”
Speaking of Bill Kovach and being “timid”: Kovach was ombudsman for the media-watching magazine Brill’s Content. When Steve Brill jumped into bed with most every company he was covering, then violated most of his own anal disclosure guidelines when lying about the “Contentville” deal in the next issue, Kovach was silent for months. He finally raised the issue … in his final column as ombudsman. What did that Forrest Gump used to say? Timid is, as timid does.

05/03/2002 12:16 PM  |  Comment (1)

This Just in -- Press Blames Public for not Caring About News! I love these kind of stories. They appear about as frequently as Howard Rosenberg columns about how he hates TV.

05/03/2002 11:48 AM  | 

Blair’s Losing it: No more Chardonnay in Atwater dive bars for Our Tim….

05/03/2002 11:34 AM  | 

Frog-loggy Appleseed: That’s what you can call my purty wife, who has noted -- and inspired -- a bunch of French people to start their own weblogs in the wake of the Le Pen embarrassment. Recently, too, her site was quoted matter-of-factly in a French publication called Transfert … one of the first such instances in the Gallic media of weblogs being treated like normal things, I’d wager. One day, I’ll tell you all the very funny story of the first frog-log gathering in France last year … let’s just say it’s a matter of bitter dispute, though she wasn’t there to witness it.

05/02/2002 11:46 PM  | 

Hitchens, on Orwell, in the LA Weekly: A nice little essay. I read the excerpted bit about free-lancing while sitting at a desk, and living a life, that is exactly how Orwell described. I mean, without the cigarette butts. And dressing gown. And tea.

05/02/2002 11:34 PM  |  Comment (1)

Check Out Molli’s Blog!: My preggers pal Molli, the better half of Rallying Point’s Greg McIlvaine, has a blog of her own, that ends up being yet another advertisement for Los Angeles. Speaking of which, don’t miss Tony Pierce’s delightful photo essay about last night’s Dodger game. And speaking of encomiums to friends, the guy who first complained about my habit of doing precisely that, Dan Hartung, has resumed blogging after a long layoff. Dan is a very smart guy and interesting writer; you should bookmark him if you haven’t.

05/02/2002 07:24 PM  | 

Who Loves L.A.? Reason’s Brian Doherty does!

05/01/2002 03:46 PM  | 

Seipp’s Take on Starting a Paper in L.A.: Catherine Seipp, typically, gets to the point:

They're trying to start another newspaper in Los Angeles, so now the local media establishment's knickers are in a knot.
The biggest treat in her column is a description, toward the end, of the remarkable Watson family of tabloid photographers, child actors, and television pioneers (if you see an old-Hollywood photo in Vanity Fair, it’s usually taken by a Watson … needless to say, the Times never writes about the family except when one of them dies). I was at the same Delmar Watson panel she mentions (this is before I knew Cathy), and his impassioned and wounded speech about how Times-Mirror wrecked this city when it shut down and/or bought out most its competition in the early ‘60s was one of the crystallizing moments that convinced me we need to start something here. (Speaking of which, you can sign up to subscribe to the new paper by clicking here ...

05/01/2002 02:51 PM  | 

EMERGENCY – Please Re-Subscribe: The new newspaper subscription page had a glitch until 1:40 p.m. Pacific Time. Please re-subscribe now, and accept our apologies, as we hunt down the culprits and beat them with sticks.

05/01/2002 01:41 PM  | 

Click Here if You Are Potentially Interested in Subscribing to the New L.A. Daily: There are no obligations, and we promise you nothing, except to be contacted when a new Monday-thru-Friday daily gets created in this fair city. Would you like to see a smart and funny new metropolitan paper shaped by people like me and Ken Layne, with a vigorous op-ed section featuring many of your favorite national and international writers (many of whom are already on board)? Want a tough and weird new 21st century paper, with some of the best reporters from the 21st century capital? Click here, my friends, and fill out the form. No credit cards, no creepy list-sharing ... and no other details for now. The first 1,000 charter subscribers, though, are certain to receive … a leetle something. Is all this decided on yet? No. But by signing up now, you will be helping to make it happen.

04/30/2002 06:48 PM  |  Comment (11)

The New Webby Nominations Are Out! Here are the nominations for News:

allAfrica.com
Arts & Letters Daily
BBC News
Debkafile
Poynter.org
Poynter.org? Elsewhere it’s the usual Salon.com, Nerve.com, Alternet.org, Babycenter.com, BurningMan.com, SomeWeirdFriscoDudeWithaFishOnHisHead.org, etc. (OK, I made that last one up … maybe). No Tennessee law professors in sight. Which is all fine by me -- I beseech everyone out there: Please resist any and all temptations to create some kind of formalized awards-deal for weblogs. Lord knows, the lust for awards has corrupted journalism enough; there’s no reason to start developing bad habits.

04/30/2002 04:53 PM  |  Comment (4)

Denton-Pribik Smackdown on European Anti-Semitism and U.S. Race Relations: Nick drew a line in the sand, Peter bisected it with various counter-observations. Good reading. UPDATE: Pribik has another thoughtful post on black-white issues, while Denton comes back with a bit about how the UK is far more inter-racial than the U.S. Then, just when you can hear the sound of Richard Bennett’s Dentonometer boiling over, Nick comes back with a post telling “Jews for Allah” that “you’re totally nuts,” and another that proclaims:

This is my truth. The West represents the pinnacle of human achievement. Modern Islamic "culture" - unless it reforms - will be judged by history alongside German fascism and Soviet communism as a reactionary spasm. My criteria? Progress: space travel, electronics, computer networks, gene therapy, long life, literature, movies, music. Someone else can judge the quality of a society by the virginity of women on marriage. I don't.
Denton’s also cooking up a new weblog-related company. He’s 2 for 2 as a dot-com entrepreneur, and I think his idea is fab (for what that’s worth), so some of you young New York smarties ought to look the boy up.

04/30/2002 03:41 PM  |  Comment (4)

Who Loves L.A.? Ken Layne does!

04/30/2002 02:45 PM  | 

Ask Heather Havrilesky About Your L.A.-related Problems: Our rabbit, who now features a penis-free url, needs some region-specific troubles to solve & salve. Don’t be shy!

04/29/2002 01:50 PM  | 

Riot Round-up: There’s a great post over at LA Examiner linking to most of the 10-year-anniversary specials you could ever want.

04/29/2002 12:35 PM  | 

A Note of Context That E&P Left Out: Editor and Publisher publishes its story today about the Riordan paper. The main analyst quote is from Larry Pryor. Here it is:

Indeed, the Times does face special challenges in covering local issues, said Larry Pryor, professor of journalism at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School. "They've tried everything to get down to the local level, and all of those efforts have failed," he said. "I don't think that Riordan's going to be able to crack that nut if the Tribune Co. [which owns the L.A. Times], with all its resources, can't see how to do it."

Pryor added that Riordan's paper will face huge challenges, especially in distribution. The city of Los Angeles, for one thing, is physically larger than New York, San Francisco, Washington, and Boston combined.

Two minor notes of context a reader might want to know: Larry Pryor worked for the L.A. Times for a long, long time. Also, Ken and I (and my wife, and Tim Blair, and Amy Langfield) all used to work for him, and his publication. The circumstances around the fact that we no longer work there are incredibly bitter. You know, FYI and all that.

04/29/2002 12:17 PM  |  Comment (1)

Listen to my NPR Interview! And please let me know what you think in the comments section below. The back-and-forth on ideological labels, which I talked about previously, ended up taking more than half of the finished interview, though it was maybe a third of the raw conversation (and, unfortunately, left out my point that Riordan is hardly a darling among “conservatives”). The link above just gets you to my half of the On the Media show, and the quality isn’t the best; click here for the full program, featuring the New York Sun’s Ira Stoll.

04/29/2002 12:02 PM  |  Comment (2)

Gatekeepers for Breakfast: Spent Saturday morning at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, at a panel entitled “Tales of the City: Journalism Today.” It was moderated by free-lance writer, Cuba specialist, journalism professor and author Ann Louise Bardach, who occasionally writes for the L.A. Times; and featured three panelists: Respected Los Angeles Magazine Editor Kit Rachlis (who used to work for the L.A. Times), gruff old Jim Bellows (author of the recent The Last Editor : How I Saved the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times from Dullness and Complacency), and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Barry Siegel of the L.A. Times.

In the introduction, Bardach could not stop talking about journalism awards -- how L.A. Mag under Rachlis won two National Magazine awards this year (well, it was nominated for two, but still!); how Siegel’s Pulitzer was long-deserved, etc. She also referred to a time “when I used to not be in love with the L.A. Times,” then quickly added -- “of course now I’m in love with the L.A. Times!” Of course now she gets paid by the L.A. Times, too! And lest you think that tongue was firmly in cheek, she suggested the panel discuss the pressing problem of “hating the home-town newspaper.” She hoped they would find strategies “how to work against that.” She also wanted to touch on how we’ve all become “so sensation-addicted,” which may explain why “there’s no moral outrage anymore.”

Jim Bellows was first, and he decried the state of modern newspapers, saying “I don’t think there’s as much passion,” and arguing that dailies shy away from things that are “really controversial or provocative.” Kit Rachlis jumped right in, talking about how people always believe things were better 10 years ago, when in fact newspapers are so much better today. Then, after the discussion was maybe five minutes old, the whole panel took turns ridiculing Richard Riordan’s plans to start a newspaper.

“It’s entirely fueled by antipathy,” Siegel said.

Someone, either Siegel or Rachlis (my notes don’t make it clear, though it sounds a lot like Rachlis), said: “I’m very doubtful about the Riordan project … you can’t sustain a newspaper on hatred. … I’ll be really surprised if he pulls it off. … He’s doing it for all the wrong reasons.”

Rachlis made fun of the fact that the publishing schedule isn’t set yet (is it five days a week, or twice a week, or what!), blurted out with a “Talk about conflict of interest!”, and went on and on about “Medianews.com,” and how, even though he loves it (though clearly it’s Medianews.org he loves), it’s a terrible business model for a newspaper. Too true.

Bellows at some point tried to cut in with a comment about how, surely, Los Angeles needs a competing newspaper, but he was quickly drowned out, largely by the sound of the panelists congratulating themselves on their mutual excellence. Rachlis, for example, said of the Times: “I admire it very much,” and later offered this astounding observation: “If newspapers suffer from anything, it’s that they are over-worked.” He told one questioner, quite erroneously, that the Economist’s penetration in the U.S. is “very very low.” He also spent much time waxing poetically about the role of a magazine in a city -- how it should anticipate its desires, transmit its, uh, molecules … my notes are suspiciously blank during this period, perhaps because I was trying to square his thoughtful voice-texts with the most recent cover story in L.A. Magazine: “52 Great Weekend Getaways” (which, granted, probably has more useful information for me than last November’s “My Big New Breasts”).

Bardach bemoaned that kids nowadays get into journalism for the wrong reasons (money and fame, dontcha know), unlike her generation, which wanted “to change the world.” During the Q&A period, some young would-be reporter asked the panelists for advice. Bardach suggested serving internships, because “journalists always need interns.” Siegel said, “I’d say go to law school.” If I was that kid, I would have walked outside that auditorium and enlisted in the army. Strange, how few things can turn one off journalism more than journalists.

04/28/2002 11:11 PM  |  Comment (4)

Hi! What are you doing down here?

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