The Los Angeles Times Fesitval of Books brings more than just books to USC

imageThe Los Angeles Times Festival of Books will be held at USC this weekend, on Saturday April 21st from 10:00 am to 6:00pm, and Sunday April 22nd from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

In addition to the new and gently-used book drive, the schedule of events also includes the presentation of U.S. stamps designed by USC faculty member Dana Gioia to honor 20th century poets, a “name the dino” contest, and Health Pavillion with demonstrations and free screening from practioners from the USC Health Sciences campus.

Admission is free, and there will be a food trucks and booths set up on Cromwell Field.

The Health Pavilion schedule can be found here.

Click here to get directions from Google Maps.

More information here »

USC Annenberg asks, What is the Media Message?

imageTwenty years after Los Angeles was rocked by violence, Dr. Mary Hill-Wagner, School of Journalism research assistant professor, looks back on how the media’s message represented the LA Riots.

Panel members scheduled to appear include:
Kevin Uhrich, editor, Pasadena Weekly
Cynthia Griffin, managing editor, Our Weekly
– Kirk McKoy, senior photo editor, features, Los Angeles Times
– Yussuf Simmonds, managing editor, Los Angeles Sentinel
– Kyung W. Lee, former editor, Korea Times (English language edition)

This event is free and open to the public.

To RSVP, click here.

For more information, contact Dr. Mary Hill Wagner at [email protected]

The program is underwritten by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation.

Parking information and directions to campus »

Return to Calendar »

Fremont High School teacher arrested

imageAlain Salas, a teacher’s assistant and coach at John C. Fremont High School, was arrested by the FBI on Monday.

Members of the SAFE Team (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement) took the 40-year-old into custody on suspicion of violating section 288.3 of the California Penal Code, which prohibits contact with minor with the intent to commit a sexual offense.

He is accused of contacting a 15-year-old girl both online and in person, with alleged sexual contact at the school, according to the L.A. Times.

Superintendent John Deasy has said in interviews with multiple media outlets that they first found out about the investigation when the FBI notified the LAUSD on Monday.

Salas has worked at Freemont since 2006 as a teacher’s assistant for special education students, and as a coach for the girls’ softball and volleyball teams.

His arrest comes just days after nearby Miramonte Elementary experienced a second arrest of one of their teachers, which prompted the school to temporarily replace its entire staff.

Held without bail in downtown LA, Salas is expected to appear in court today to face formal charges from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Proposed changes to an LA mural ordinance prompt ‘art or advertisement’ debate

Under the current regulations, Los Angeles has practically outlawed murals as a byproduct of strict ordinances aimed at keeping the explosion of billboards and over-sized advertisements under control. Now, changes are being proposed that would make the art LA is known for actually legal within its city limits.

At a United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council meeting last Thursday, the agenda included an item calling for discussion of the Department of City Planning’s proposed ordinance that aims to change some of the current laws to make it easier for artists to make their mark on the city.

Council member Laura Meyer presented a slideshow of photographs to the council as a sort of pop-quiz on art versus advertising. As each image popped up, members would look for criteria they felt distinguished a mural from a billboard before calling out their decision.

Many images met with a resounding “art!” or “advertisement!” But just as many weren’t so easily or evenly agreed upon.

“I’ll just tell you all now, this is all a trick question,” council member Norman Gilmore said.

With the intricacy of the decision well-illustrated, the council moved into a closer look at the ordinance. There are four main point of the proposal that the DCP hopes will encourage artists while discouraging advertisers.

The first point is requiring a permit for potential muralists. A new permit fee of $199 will be assessed after plans for the mural are approved.

Second, restrictions on the type of media that can be used to build the mural are aimed at keeping art and ads separate. While the list of approved materials includes only paint and tile in the proposal, some artists are concerned that this will limit their options for creating more elaborate or unique work.

Taking aim at the tendency for ads to change frequently, a third condition for a new mural is a proposed duration of five years. This could not only ensure that an artist’s work remains intact for a longer period of time, but also make it harder for advertisers to commit to one ad that could potentially become quickly outdated.

Similar to the required time a mural must be left intact, the fourth and final condition references the Visual Artist’s Rights Act, which states that—unless under commission—an artist’s work belongs to them and so cannot be covered up or disassembled in any way.

After discussing these four points, the UNNC moved to compose a letter to the DCP that would highlight the concerns and suggestions the council had worked up during their meeting.

All that is left now is to wait and see if any changes will be made to the proposal based on feedback from the UNNC and other members of the Los Angeles community.

The LAPD wants your help to find a robbery suspect

On Monday morning, a restaurant in the 6200 block of Broadway was robbed by an African-American male, estimated to be 25 to 27 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, and about 170 pounds.

Detectives are asking anyone who might recognize the man caught on tape as he robbed the restaurant to come forward with any information they might have.

In the released footage, the suspect can be seen walking calmly through the door and behind the counter to demand money from the cashier. Once the register is open, the cashier and another employee walk away as the suspect empties cash into his sweater pockets and strolls away.

Police say that the man brandished a gun at the cashier, and are calling for anyone who might recognize him to come forward. He was wearing a black beanie, black pants and a black hooded sweatshirt at the time of the incident.

The LAPD is directing that anyone with information regarding this case come forward via any of the below means:

Newton Area Robbery Detective O’Brien or Detective Medina at 323-846-6572
Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) for anonymous tipsters

Text any information to Crime Stoppers at the number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads)
All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”

Click here for the LAPD’s Anonymous Web Tips and fill out the form.

CicLAvia tours Watts to build crowd-sourced neighborhood map

Last Sunday, a group of cyclists rode their bikes from Augustus Hawkins National Park in South LA to Watts towers as part of CicLAvia. The event strives to bring attention not only to bicycle culture in LA, but also to the various neighborhoods through which it rides. It encourages people to come along and see the streets in a new light, and maybe catch the bike bug along the way.

The latest event took a tour through the neighborhood of Watts, and teamed up with USC professor Francois Bar to create a crowd-sourced map of the community. Riders were encouraged to bring cell phones to snap photos, send texts and record voice messages about the ride and the community it revealed, all of which will go into the making of the map.

(Participating in the ride on Sunday, the below photos were snapped by a cyclist named Kelly.)


Bernard C. Parks invites you to be heard

imageThe long and complex process to redistrict LA will take one more step forward today when it releases its first draft map of the new districts.

Created in 2000 to break the cycle of corruption and special interests when maps were drawn by the LA City Council, a Citizen’s Commission has been hosting meetings to gather public comments on what this decade’s districts should look like. After a meeting held in the Eighth District had one of the largest turnouts in the city, the message was clear that most in that district liked it the way it was and wanted no changes.

In an email blast sent from his office, councilmember Bernard C. Parks has extended another request to the public to speak up and be heard. When the map is unveiled this afternoon (watch for it here), he wants you to be there to talk to the Commission about it.He has arranged to have the meeting held in Van Nuys live-streamed to a chamber at Los Angeles City Hall, which will be open for the public to watch and speak to the Commission.

The Commission’s meeting will be held today 4:00 pm at:

Van Nuys City Hall
14410 Sylvan Street
Van Nuys, CA 91401

The live video feed will be held the same time at:

Los Angeles City Hall
John Ferraro Council Chamber
200 N. Spring Street.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

If you’re unable to attend either the live meeting or the live video meeting, Parks urges you to get involved in other ways. There’s a Facebook page for the event, you can tweet your comments to @BernardCParks, or send an email to [email protected].

@DrMLKingJr.: I Have a Dream

imagePhoto credit: Ian Foxx

Imagine how different history could have been if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had had access to Twitter.

The Los Angeles Press Club held its first ever panel discussion on just such a subject: how the legend may have used the social network to spread his message of equality and civil rights.

Entitled “What if Dr. King Tweeted the Movement?”, the discussion hosted by the prestigious press club on Thursday, January 12, 2012 was organized by the club’s newly-elected and first Black board member Gloria Zurveen, and moderated by author and professor Anthony Asadullah Samad.

Panelists included (L to R) Pastor William D. Smart, Chair of SCLC and labor organizer, Reverend Lewis E. Logan, community organizer, Jasmyne Cannick, political communications consultant and journalist, retired Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, former Councilmember and Freedom Rider Robert Farrell, Sister Charlene Muhammad, West Coast Editor of the Final Call.

West Adams neighborhood opens its doors for the holidays

(Scroll to the bottom or click here for a slideshow)

Story by Erin Leiker
Photos by Leslie Velez

This past weekend, six houses in a West Adams neighborhood opened their doors — and their kitchens — to a parade of visitors celebrating the holidays.

Put together by the West Adams Heritage Association (WAHA), the Silver Jubilee offered a self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood, or a docent-led progressive dinner, with each house serving one part of an elegant five-course meal.

In the early afternoon, guests followed brochures printed with addresses and brief summaries of the houses on the tour. Inside each, volunteers guided them from room to room, explaining the history of the house; from the architect who built it to former residents who lived there and renovations undergone to maintain or restore the property.

imageLater in the evening, groups gathered at the Welcome House for the start of the progressive dinner. Volunteers from WAHA led them through each course of the meal which was set up in a different house; from the Atomic-Age Appetizer House through the Salad and Dinner Houses, ending finally at a Spanish-style villa serving as the Dessert House.

“People love old houses, and they just love to be able to have an opportunity to see the inside of how other people live,” explains John Patterson. The President of the West Adams Heritage Association is relatively new to the position, but has quickly grown fond of the group’s year-end event. “There are people that have been on the tour every year for the last ten or fifteen years, and it’s become the holiday tradition for them.”

Founded in 1983 as a local homeowners group, neighbors banded together to share the maintenance and restoration woes that came with owning classics like these. Their dedication to stay true to the style and intent of the architects led them to evolve into the preservation organization they have become today.

Working extensively with the LA Conservancy, the WAHA has had a hand in making sure preservation ordinances stay in place to help maintain the integrity of the buildings in the West Adams neighborhood. The Silver Jubilee is the biggest of four similar events throughout the year, which raise funds for the group’s preservation efforts. They celebrate these efforts by returning to their roots in the pride they have for their homes.

Patterson explains how the Silver Jubilee started, “twenty-five years ago, that little homeowners group – now that they fixed up their houses – loved to show them off. And so they’d done a couple of walking tours here and there, and they said, ‘let’s do a dinner party!’”

The Silver Jubilee’s progressive dinner is entirely run by volunteers and members of the WAHA. From planning the menu to cooking and serving the food, neighbors, homeowners, and even children from the local elementary schools help kick off the holiday season in West Adams.

But it’s not just about cool houses and delicious food for the Silver Jubilee.

“A big element of what we do is educational,” says Patterson. Several of the houses on this tour are listed with the name of Paul Williams. The prominent African-American architect was known for designing classic homes in the mid-century modern era – and for not being allowed to live in the areas in which he was building. That’s an important aspect not to forget,” Patterson warns. “We are doomed to repeat mistakes if we don’t remember our past. So we don’t brush over those facts in our brochures.”

imageThe Appetizer House is one example of this honesty. The swanky Atomic-Age residence is a Paul Williams design officially known as the Taylor Residence.

The guide brochure states that it was named for Dr. Jackson Taylor, who was prominent in the struggle for African-Americans to gain equal access to quality healthcare. It goes on to list his struggle to open “the first inter-racial, non-sectarian, non-profit hospital, open to every race, creed and color.”

Even with the backing of well-known figures of the time – Harpo Marx, Lena Horne and Benny Goodman to name a few – Dr. Taylor’s dream hospital was never built.

WAHA forges on today to preserve the community and its cultural heritage and history. Patterson muses, “this is a very very unique community. It’s very very strong.”

“Most of the people within the neighborhood – even if they’re not members of WAHA – are aware of what we do.” Outreach to more local levels of block clubs or homeowners associations allows the group to get to know homeowners personally. The ones who open their doors for the tours not only allow others to get a glimpse of the culture that thrives here, but also puts them in the position to become ambassadors to their neighbors.

With more than 100 visitors on the walking tour on Sunday alone, and another 450 guests at the progressive dinner, that’s a lot of opportunity for the people of La Fayette Square and WAHA to share their hope for their community.