Walking Around with Fante and Bukowski is a new collection of essays by Patricio Maya, published by Grady Miller Books. If you’re interested in the literature and culture of Los Angeles you will certainly find something in here that will interest you. Although there’s not much in here that aligns explicitly with the subject matter of MK.org, there is plenty of relevant background material for the student of abusive political power in Los Angeles.
In the title essay, Maya recounts a journey he took following Arturo Bandini’s epic journey to Long Beach in search of Vera Rifkin. One of Maya’s themes here is what he calls “the tenuous dimension between books and reality”:
You walk downtown or on Wilshire, half stoned, asking yourself if here was where Nathanael West ate, if there was where William Saroyan brawled, if Bandini slept here, if Bukowski drank there. It is a kind of derangement. But there are worse ways to spend time when you are 19 years old.
Street food is one of the signature pleasures of the great cosmopolitan cities of the world. Practically alone amongst its peers, though, Los Angeles forbids vending on its public rights of way. This is because there are really no bounds to the willingness of the economic elites of this city to prohibit anything that normal human beings enjoy if by doing so they can stick a dagger in the neck of the poor. They will certainly destroy the village in order to save it.
Case in point: the City Council recently began to discuss legalizing street vending in Los Angeles. Sane people everywhere rejoice at this attempt to allow civilization to flourish and also bring an estimated half-billion dollars worth of economic activity out of the shadows and onto the bottom line. There’s a hot dog in the public manger, though.
This is the first in an occasional series of posts examining various episodes from the rich and disturbing history of the criminalization of sidewalk use in Los Angeles. As we shall see, the sidewalks of our city have been a site of contention for well over a century.
We begin in January 1887 when, according to the Los Angeles Times,
There has been great complaint about the abominable fashion in which the sidewalks—especially at street corners—are blocked up by loafers and by thoughtless citizens; and the police have been ordered to enforce the ordinances and abate this nuisance.1
Watch the first minute of this video and see, in 2010, some BID Patrollies confront and accuse a man of “blocking the sidewalk”:
Officer: OK, so do me that favor and just get up and go somewhere cause you’re blocking the sidewalk.
Man: Not blocking the sidewalk, people got places to walk right past me.
Today’s text, brothers and sisters, as we begin to return to action after celebrating the birth of our Lord and savior, is Hosea 8:1-7:
…[T]hey have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. Hollywood shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. Hollywood hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off… For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…
Image of Hosea by Duccio di Buoninsegna is in the public domain and available via Wikimedia here.
Today I uploaded 14 videos obtained from the HPOA under the California Public Records Act. You can see them here or via the drop-down menu structure or here. There are more videos to follow, although probably not immediately.
No one here has had time to watch these thoroughly yet. If you see something we should write about please drop a line. Meanwhile, in this video from December 2009, you can see an LAPD officer calmly and deliberately use his taser on a prone, unresisting man (at 6:40), contrary to both human decency and LAPD policy (see §573 Use of Non-Lethal Control Devices). The victim’s last words before he’s tased? “I ain’t doing nothing.” And he ain’t, either.
Louis Brandeis famously stated that “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. And publicity has already played an important part in the struggle against the Money Trust.”1
On October 23, 2014, an Army veteran wrote to Devin Strecker of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, among others, the following words:
This morning on my way to work, I was standing waiting to cross the street when I look over and see the gentleman on the left in the picture attached, grasping his weapon as if to draw his fire arm all while chatting away with the gentleman on the right. As I continued to wait to cross the street, I noticed the gentleman on the left start to pull out actually draw his weapon about 4-5 inches out of his holster. All the while standing chatting with his partner. I am ex army infantry, when we even had our hand TOUCHING our holstered weapon, there better had been a life threatening reason to even touch our holstered weapon.
These words Thomas Carlyle, in his great history of the French revolution, put into the mouths of a vast mob of sans-culottes, on their way to plant a Tree of Liberty in the Jardin des Tuileries.1 Even those maligned symbols of mob rule and terror realized that the law is the only salvation of a free people. How then do the members of the Board of Directors of the Hollywood Media District BID, a group to whom has been granted every privilege that law can devise, come to dishonour2 it so?
While my literarily profligate colleagues lounge around MK.org secret headquarters drinking cheap wine and writing reams of nonsense about the antic shenanigans of the HPOA I, at least, am working hard to provide actual documentary evidence to you, dear reader. I am pleased to announce the availability of the first fruits of a recent Public Records request to HPOA, faithfully fulfilled by the ever-helpful Kerry Morrison. This set of documents consists of all disclosable emails between HPOA and A/I for the dates October 1, 2014 through November 12, 2014.