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
Kerry, as the first and sole director of the HPOA since 1996, has clearly formed and molded that organization in her own image. Thus, we thought, it might be illuminating to understand the professional crucible in which that image was forged. So we sent our faithful correspondent out onto the wild uncharted moors of scholarlandia through the portals of Google scholar, JSTOR, and UCLA. Our minds were well and truly blown by what he discovered, and perhaps yours will be too. There’s far too much material to cover in one post, so we’re going to lay it on you in increments, starting today with some background and a shocking episode from the long hot summer of 1948. Continue reading HPOA Precursor Organization and Former Employer of Kerry Morrison California Real Estate Association Sought to Warp, Pervert, and Destroy U.S. Constitution in 1948 to Prevent “The Threat of Occupancy by Negroes”→
OK, listen up! Long-time readers1 of this blog will recall that in 2010 and 2011 the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition, the Media District BID, some LAPD folks, and some random neighborhood residents all engaged in a “mediation process” of some type, mostly aimed at getting the food coalition to move its nightly feeding program out of the BID. The whole document is well worth reading, stunning as it is vis–à–vis its truly astonishing level of crazy, but we’re focusing on just one episode. Let us now lay out the dramatis personæ.
Tonight I’m announcing the availability of three new sets of documents. First and least interesting we have a random selection of UPS Media District Greenshirt daily activity reports. You can find them either in our static storage or else via our local UPS page. I didn’t see anything particularly interesting here, but you’ve probably noticed that my colleagues can spin 600+ words of gold easily out of what seems to the casual onlooker to be nothing but straw, so maybe that’ll happen someday.
Note that formerly Ukrainian first amendment maven and all-round mensch Eugene Volokh has already explained this better than we’re ever going to, so you may want to hop over to there for background. TL;DR is that the city of Inglewood sued Inglewood resident Joseph Teixeira in federal court, claiming that Teixeira’s reuse of their city-produced videos of city council meetings to create weaponized mockery of, among others, Inglewood mayor James Butts violated their copyright in said videos.
Well, Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (that’s federalese for “Los Angeles”) not only dismissed Inglewood’s case, he terminated it with extreme prejudice. You can read the order here if you wish, and it’s smoking hot. The salient bit for this blog is, according to Volokh, that:
The court held that, under California law (see, e.g., County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. 2009)), cities can’t claim copyright in public records. And while the city claims that this provision is trumped by federal copyright law, the court rejected that argument — federal law treats local governments as political subdivisions of the state, and a state has the power to control what its subdivisions do (including which federal rights they claim).
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→
This blog has two essential purposes: first, to publish public records obtained from the three Hollywood area BIDs we cover and their collaborators and second, to needle employees and supporters of those BIDs. Neither educating nor convincing anyone of anything are huge priorities of ours, and even the public revelation of our two purposes cuts against the grain somewhat. However, it’s recently come to our attention that some of our readers who, so to speak, come upon our work innocently, not involved with the BIDs but just having a general interest in the political life of Los Angeles, may consider our constant comparisons of BIDs with Nazis to be glib, puerile, shallow, offensive, trivializing, and/or so on. Some of the objections expressed have come to seem, after much consideration, to have merit and to deserve a serious response.
To understand our position, it’s essential to imagine what it felt like to inhabit the Third Reich as a non-Jew in the early 1930s, before Nazism was a universal symbol of pure and essential evil. Germany wasn’t yet an international outcast, and non-Jewish Germans, for the most part, didn’t feel like a nation of demons. In many ways they were not. Concentration camps, now considered primarily sites of genocide, were opened by the Nazis in March 1933 immediately after their accession to power. At first they were used for holding political prisoners and criminals and people were actually released from them on occasion. There’s also no particular reason to think that the Nazi government had any concrete plans to exterminate Jews from the earth when they took power in 1933. Continue reading Why We Think it is Fitting to Compare BIDs to Nazis→
The city of Los Angeles has been holding public hearings to gather input on possible frameworks for legalizing street vending. Yesterday we began discussing the June 11 meeting in Van Nuys by considering Kerry Morrison’s statement. Today we move on to John Tronson. You can listen to his statement here or after the break, where a transcription is also available. Audio of the entire meeting is available here. We’re just going to look at John’s statement one piece at a time.
Good evening. My name is John Tronson. I’m a member of the Hollywood Entertainment District, which is a property-owner based business improvement district in Hollywood.
All these people start off by saying something true. It’s meant to lull your suspicions. Don’t let it. We spend three and a half million dollars a year of our own money to clean the streets of Hollywood, to trim the trees, to provide additional public safety and paint out graffiti.
The way a property-based BID works is this: If the majority of the property owners in a district agree, the city adds an extra assessment to their property tax, keeps some part of the money raised for administrative overhead, and distributes the rest back to the BID to spend on specific kinds of services in the district. There are two important points to remember. First, a BID can be established over the objection of individual property owners. Only a majority need approve. Second, once a BID is established, the assessment is no longer voluntary. It is compulsory. Non-payment is punishable by the full range of state action2 up to and including violent confiscation of property. In other words, this assessment, once paid, is a tax. After all, income tax might be considered voluntary in this same sense. The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution was put in place by elected representatives, so in a way, the people to be taxed consented to the taxation. But now that it’s in place, income tax is no longer voluntary, just as BID assessments are no longer voluntary. This is consistent with the standard definition: Tax: A compulsory contribution to the support of government, levied on persons, property, income, commodities, transactions, etc., now at fixed rates, mostly proportional to the amount on which the contribution is levied.3
Now, everyone who pays taxes has, at one point or another, thought of that money as still their own. But really, it’s not. Try telling a cop not to give you a ticket because you pay their salary with your “own money.” Try telling a professor at UCLA they have to give your kid an A+ because it’s your “own money” that supports them. It’s a losing argument. Taxes, once paid, belong to the public, not to the people who paid them. BID assessments are taxes. BID assessments are public money. Now, as to John’s statement about what they do with that public money, it’s true as far as it goes. That’s not all they spend the money on, but they do spend it on that. We won’t argue. Onward! Continue reading John Tronson in Van Nuys: Money doesn’t talk, it swears1→
As you probably know, the city of Los Angeles has been holding public hearings to gather input on possible frameworks for legalizing street vending. We’ve written before about the May 28 meeting in Boyle heights: once, twice, and thrice. Now, at last, we take up the June 11 meeting in Van Nuys. We’re starting things off with our old friend, Ms. Kerry Morrison. You can listen to her statement here or read a transcription after the break. We’ve also written about Kerry’s description of the meetings at the Joint Security Committee in July:
there were a series of four hearings that the chief administrative office staff held on the… the sidewalk vending ordinance. … It’s just this kind of amorphous set of hearings, which were completely dysfunctional, disrespectful, and almost, um, resembled a circus.
In the same meeting, Kerry explained that she wasn’t putting up with this, not for a second, and told everyone what she’d done about it:
So actually, Carol Schatz and I wrote a letter to Herb Wesson, the president of the city council after that meeting saying this is, this is really not being, you know, well-handled, there’s no security, it’s intimidating to people, there are people who did not want to testify. So the subsequent two hearings were, um, maybe a little bit more well-behaved.
Well, we put our fearless correspondent on the case and he went out and got us a copy of this letter. As is usual with Kerry when she’s writing in this genre, outraged-with-veneer-of-politesse-and-diplomacy white supremacism, the letter manages to combine utterly competent, even stylish, syntax with semantics that wouldn’t have been out of place in a 1970-era Ronald Reagan psychotic fever dream about students running wild in the streets of Berkeley. Read on for details and more! Continue reading Kerry Morrison in Van Nuys: Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison / Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden1→
The other day I got the urge to read a little more about Thurgood Marshall. The Los Angeles Public Library’s catalog led me to a book by badass civil rights lawyer Jack Greenberg (read it, it’s fabulous: Crusaders in the Courts, although it’s not the book I’m recommending). That led me to look for other books by Greenberg, and thus appeared before me a book called Off the Emery Wheel which, as you can see, was published in 1935 by an outfit in Hollywood called the Cloister Press. Clearly this was a different Jack Greenberg, but nevertheless I thought it’d be interesting to take a look.
The LAPL’s only copy is noncirculating, and, while a trip to the big library downtown is always nice even though it’s not plausible anymore to combine it with a visit to Grand Central Market since the goddamned-hipster-douchebag apocalypse and its associated fourteen dollar “revisionings” of the Egg McMuffin and suchlike nonsense, I didn’t really have time. However, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the stacks at UCLA, working on a historical project which you’ll read about here at some point, I’m sure (and which is at least somewhat related to the Hollywood BIDs, unlike this piece) so I thought I’d check their catalog. Well, Lo! And behold, they own a copy, which I promptly ordered up out of storage.
And what a pleasant little volume to hold this turned out to be! I mean, the poetry is abominable (which is why I’m not reproducing any here), but the book itself is an object of desire. And it’s inscribed by the author as well! And note the tidy little logo of the Cloister Press! A little more poking around and I was blessed to lay my hands on a promotional bookmark from the press, which shows that it was formerly located at 1608 Cahuenga Boulevard. I already knew about some of the storied history of this building, formerly home to Shelly Manne‘s Manne-hole, the subject of a sidewalk historical marker, but not that there’d been an artsy literary press in there. Continue reading Off the Emery Wheel→