L.A.

The Big Small Screen
June 23, 2011

Too Big to FailHBO Bobby Fischer Against the World HBO  In the last few weeks, America has had the chance to see two disturbing movies about our warping emphasis on heroes. Both of them played on cable, on HBO in fact, and some may think that therefore they fall under the rubric of “television.” But this misunderstanding has not prevented many of the best film directors in America from being driven to cable recently for worthwhile work.

David Thomson on Films: Hollywood Hopeful
June 07, 2011

You feel it’s a story you’ve heard before, but that’s often the way in Los Angeles where there are more scripts than cars on the street. This happened at a cottage on Benedict Canyon, one of those roads that wind down from the crest of Mulholland Drive to Sunset Boulevard. The cottage was tucked into the hillside, overgrown with ivy, shrubberies, and bad karma. It looked like the forsaken or forgotten house in a fairy story. Over a period of time, a neighbor noticed that its delivery box was crammed with more and more junk mail. So she decided to break into the house.

Muddying The Budget Waters
April 25, 2011

If you only learn one fact about American politics, it ought to be that Americans hate government in the abstract and favor it in the specific. That basic truth determines the shape of political debates over and over. House Republicans were elected while railing against government in the abstract. Through powerful tools of self-delusion, this persuaded them that Americans favor their agenda in its specifics.

A New State of the States
March 22, 2011

What are states good for? The 19th century answer was that states are a critical counterweight to federal power. The 20th century answer was that states are laboratories of democracy--tinkering with the beta versions of laws and policies before other states or the federal government adopted them on a large scale. The 21st century answer is that states are the enablers and supporters of metropolitan economies. One problem: States don’t really think this way. According to law, all the component elements of metros--cities, counties, townships, villages, etc.--are creatures of the state.

Post-Apocalyptic Chicago
February 02, 2011

Great photo from the L.A. Times:  

Californians Dreaming About the Next Metropolis
August 26, 2010

Earlier this week Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa invited me and a small group of Los Angeles’ business, labor, and environmental leaders to discuss his plan to accelerate the construction of a dozen transit projects in his region.

Is the CBC Uniquely Unethical?
August 03, 2010

Not so long ago, all eight of the members of Congress being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics were black. Now, two powerful black members of the Congressional Black Caucus are on the griddle. There are two entirely appropriate responses. One of them is to wonder if there is something racial going on. Yes, that is reasonable. Dismissals of this line of reasoning as mere “crying racism” are, in this case, hasty. Bloggers blithely listing white people who have fallen into the OCE’s line of sight as disproof of the racism charge are missing the point.

John Wooden And Los Angeles
June 07, 2010

Greg Veis on the traditional side of L.A.: No one who loves his hometown should ever feel the need to explain that it is in fact not a place where souls go to die—but I do, incessantly. It’s a reflex now, developed over a decade of having lived on the east coast, of having a simple statement—“I grew up in LA”—regularly followed by a grimace, or, at best, a sympathetic pursing of the lips. Most New Yorkers and Washingtonians, you see, don’t have a whole lot of respect for Los Angeles.

Dead, Man
May 29, 2010

There was a time when Dennis Hopper exulted in the reputation of being the first kid who knew what was wrong with Hollywood. What he said, more or less, was that the movies have gone dead, man, that it’s just old-timers doing it all on automatic pilot, that there’s no truth, anymore, man, and they won’t put me in lead parts. There was some truth in what he said, and it was certainly the case that a number of veteran directors found Hopper an intolerable smart-ass who said he had known Jimmy--Jimmy Dean--and that what he was saying now was only what Dean would have said.

Is All CO2 Created Equal? Maybe Not.
March 16, 2010

Does it matter where carbon-dioxide is emitted? From a climate perspective, at least, the standard answer has always been, "Not really." Carbon-dioxide mixes pretty evenly and uniformly throughout the atmosphere, so that the heat-trapping gases coming out of a factory in China have the same effect on global temperatures, pound for pound, as the greenhouse gases emitted by, say, cars in Delaware.

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