My colleagues and I spill a lot of metaphorical ink referring to business improvement districts and their Boards of Directors as white supremacists, and we certainly stand by that position. However, it’s recently come to my attention that not everyone in our audience is familiar with the literal meaning of the phrase. Evidently it strikes some people as a generic, semantically empty insult, or else they’re confused by the fact that the phrase refers to at least two fairly distinct ideologies. Thus I thought it would be useful to explain in detail why BIDs are in a very literal sense white supremacist organizations.
First let’s get the definitions straight. As always, our friends at Wikipedia give us a good starting place. Their article on white supremacy tells us that the phrase has two principal meanings. The salient one for our purposes is that white supremacy is:
…a political ideology that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical and/or industrial domination by white people
Last night a few of us MK.org staffies were blessed to attend something called a house concert at someone’s home in Van Nuys. This is, as you might guess, a concert in someone’s house. The audience donates money to get in and the money all goes to the musicians. There was food at the break for free, but with donations accepted. We found out about this by chance, and soon discovered that it’s not a one-off thing or even just some local eccentricity, but part of a full-blown fricking nationwide movement! Also, these people in Van Nuys have been doing this about once a week for, we believe, more than twenty years. We’re going to be vague about the details because the whole thing is certainly illegal and we don’t want to be the ones to tip off the heat, but nevertheless it’s all operating suprisingly openly.
Here’s the deal. Some people we met at a show in Silver Lake1 the other day told us that this thing was happening and where to find contact info on the web. We looked it up, emailed the contact, phoned the contact, were told the address, took the Red Line to North Hollywood and the Orange Line to Van Nuys and then walked over to an actual normal house on a normal street in the Valley. You can see from the images what we found there, and the music was fabulous, and we met a bunch of very interesting people. I mean, we’re as opposed in theory to vicious criminal conspiracies as the next folks, but this one had really positive results! We’re as in favor in theory of governments of laws rather than of men as the next folks, but damn it, this whole thing was just too wonderful to seriously be illegal. And what does this have to do with the BIDs? Why, we’re glad you asked! Turn the page to find out. Continue reading Music, Freedom, Sharing, Love, Humanity: All Flourish Unhindered by Creepy Zillionaire Social Engineers in Not-So-Rare BID-Free Zone in the Valley; Contradictions Regarding Street Vending Heightened Beyond Sane Believability→
While poking around in the bowels and hidden bits of the HPOA’s website recently, we happened to notice, in friend Kerry Morrison’s bio, the following intriguing statement: “Prior to coming to Hollywood, she spent 14 years in public policy and senior management roles at the California Association of REALTORS in Los Angeles.” Maybe it was the ALL-CAPS that caught our eye, so weirdly dystypographical and yet so clearly intentional,1 or maybe something else. In any case, we resolved to discover just for whom it was that Kerry had spent 14 years working for prior to the BID and why it seemed so important to her to include this in her biosnippet. Note, by the way, that the California Association of REALTORS® was formerly known as the California Real Estate Association.2
Today’s book is The School on 103rd Street, by Los Angeles author and psychiatrist Roland S. Jefferson. It seems reasonable to review it here for two reasons. First because it so vividly evokes the peculiar time and place of early 1970s Los Angeles, a spatiotemporal locality that’s dear to my heart and second because its subject matter, racial politics in Los Angeles (including a vast conspiracy the nature of which I can’t really reveal without spoiling the plot, which is something I’m not willing to do) aligns closely with the focus of this blog.
I’ll move on to the serious matters below, but first, check this description of protagonists Elwin Carter and Sable having an evening out in 1973:They had dinner at Cyrano’s in Marina Del Rey and then went to the Name of the Game on Century Boulevard for some dancing. At midnight they went down to the Lighthouse to hear Gabor Zabo, and, on the way home, they dropped by Shelly’s Mann Hole and caught the last set by Gerald Wilson. Carter had taken the Ferrari, and, although Sable offered no resistance, she didn’t encourage him. From Shelly’s they headed down Highland toward Wilshire…3
Now, I don’t just read novels for Los Angeles geography porn, but I’m always happy to find it, especially when it has restaurants! Cyrano was a “fine dining” or “continental” sort of place, opened early on in Marina Del Rey. Given the character of the Marina in 1973, at the time Elwin and Sable had dinner there the joint was probably full of cocaine, swinging-in-the-worst-sense, disgusting 1970s facial hair, and gelatinous sleaze coating every surface.
The Name of the Game was a dance place in Inglewood at Century and Crenshaw. Here’s how the Los Angeles Sentinel described it on September 2, 1971:
It’s called The Name of The Game, and to many, many persons it’s the name of the place they find attractive and a lively cynosure for a truly good evening of pleasure. Located at 3000 W. Century boulevard, it has music by Dave Holden, and dancing space for frisky feet or those who just love to move and groove. There’s no cover charge, either. The Name of the Game also affords daily luncheon specials, and daily half-price cocktails. So what could be better for the jaded tastes than a visit to The Name of the Game?4
Unfortunately I can’t find a picture of the place. Note also that there was a sensational killing there in 1973. I don’t have space to go into it, but it was well covered in the Sentinel, starting here.11
Next they head off to the Lighthouse, a famous and still-active jazz club in Hermosa Beach which I’d discuss more if I gave even a fraction of a shit about either jazz or Hermosa Beach. Finally, “on the way home,” they head to Shelley’s Manne Hole which, coincidentally, played an important role in my last recommendation, so I won’t belabor it here. However, these two live in Baldwin Hills, meaning that the Manne Hole, at 1608 N. Cahuenga Blvd., is in no sense but the sense that this night should never end on the way home from Hermosa Beach. Ah, youth!
Now, despite my breathless temporogeographical musings, this novel is much more than a travelogue. It’s an immensely important document about the state of racial politics in Los Angeles eight years after the Watts Rebellion, with more than a little relevance for the present day (as well as being a bitchin’ thriller). Read on for details! Continue reading The School on 103rd Street→
Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles — Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down!