Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council heard protests against the proposed Venice Beach Business Improvement District. You can watch the whole thing here. There were impassioned public comments and a lot of heckling. Also, on Monday Laura McLennan of CD11 gave me over a hundred pages of material on the VBBID, which is worth looking at. After the public comment, Mike Bonin gave a speech about why he supported the BID, which is my topic for today. You can jump directly to Bonin’s remarks in the video and as always, you can find a transcription at the end of the post. I’m just going to address a few of Bonin’s comments in detail:
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→
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.
Today’s post concerns a series of emails between Kerry Morrison and two Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutors in 2014. These are part of a larger set of emails which we published some time ago. The BID, of course, is paranoiacally hyperphobic about drinking in public by the homeless, even as they celebrate, revel in, and sing hosanna in the highest to the use, misuse, abuse, of alcohol, even in public, when done by the non-homeless population of Hollywood. That’s not news. What is news is the weirdly obsessive length that newly-appointed-in-2014 Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutor Jackie Lawson turned out to be willing to go to to accomodate Kerry Morrison’s paranoid hyperphobias. There’s a lot of background here, so please bear with us.
The documented part of our story begins on January 28, 2014,1 with an email from Kerry Morrison to then-Hollywood-Neighborhood-Prosecutor Andre Quintero, inviting him to a BID-sponsored summit meeting the purported motive for which was “[t]o reduce the incidence of daytime public drunkenness in the Hollywood Entertainment Disctrict and Sunset & Vine BID.” In particular, Kerry calls Andre’s attention to item 4, asking that he “maybe … could be prepared to share some background on” “…laws governing alcohol sales and alcohol use.” Note well that there’s no word out of Andre regarding any of this. And the rest of the agenda is worth reading, but there’s nothing there, really, beyond the usual paranoid ravings about panhandlers and public inebriation with which we’re so familiar.
For reasons that we can’t determine from the evidence at hand but in response to the unintelligible photo at left, Good News Joe sent Stevie the following billet-doux:
Steve works so hard
Whether he is near or far
I wish he could go to a lake
Or maybe a Vegas escape
Lack of metrical structure? Check. Unintentional partial rhymes? Check. Unthinking use of brain-dead advertising-slogan phraseology as if it were human language? Check. Complete and utter tin-ear-itude? Check, check, check. He’s learned well from his master, whose classic response may be seen after the break. Continue reading Valentine’s Day Poetry Slam Special!→
Pollyanna, the most famous optimist in American literature, is known and celebrated as the originator and primary evangelist of “the just being glad game.” Listen, O citizens of Hollywood, as she explains it to Nancy:1
“Why, it’s a game. Father told it to me, and it’s lovely. We’ve played it always, ever since I was a little, little girl…the game was just to find something about everything to be glad about—no matter what ’twas.”2
Now, Pollyanna gets a bad rap these days, but she’s our hero, really. We haven’t the space to defend her, though, because we have to analyze a May 2014 blog post by Sarah Besley, evidently the Associate Executive Directrix of the Hollywood Property Owners Association and stuff.
Check it! Sarah Besley is scared of freeway overpasses:
[An overpass] may be one of the worst statements EVER to anyone who visits and certainly to anyone who lives in or around it – especially if their community has been severed in half. An overpass literally says: this community favors cars over people and I dare you to walk underneath me and emerge on the other side alive. This is the message I’ve been getting for the past couple years as I commute from Los Feliz, along Franklin Avenue, down Argyle…3
But wait! Maybe Los Felizites are scared of freeway overpasses because they don’t have any there?4 The terror of the unknown is formidable and possibly overwhelms slurbians when they come to the big town.5 Hollywoodies, living in raw urban splendor in the very heart of the city, surely just take them in stride, don’t they? The answer would appear to be yes, even on Sarah Besley’s testimony:
Human shit has a number of remarkable properties. First of all, every human produces shit. Secondly, every fully autonomous human handles the disposal of their own shit. In fact, properly disposing of one’s own shit is a necessary condition for being considered a fully autonomous human being. Thus it is possible to efficiently and completely dehumanize people by preventing them from dealing competently with their shit.
This principle was grasped early on by the National Socialist founders of the infamous complex of concentration camps known collectively as Auschwitz,1 where the subhuman (Jews, Russians, etc.) inmates were allotted only 0.2 square feet of toilet space, less than one twelfth the amount allocated for ordinary criminal prisoners. Historian Robert-Jan Van Pelt summarizes the view of historian Terrence Des Pres that design choices like this, which resulted in every surface in the camps including human flesh, being covered with shit, were “the result of a deliberate policy to destroy the last vestiges of the prisoners’ sense of self-worth. It was not enough just to kill the prisoners. They had to be totally broken first.“2 As Van Pelt summarizes, “with the latrines submerged in excrement, with very little water to be had at very few points, and with mud all around, what remained was an inmate population without the means to preserve any outward sign of human dignity.”“2
It’s not discussed in the article we’re citing, but it’s surely plausible that such degradation made it easier for the SS to go about their unholy work of genocide. No matter how cruel the project, the guards carrying it out were still human beings, and is it not easier to send millions of people to their deaths if they’re smeared with their own shit and therefore, at least in that one sense, not fully human? Or to move them away from their native land so that you and your totalitarian buddies can move in? This principle has been rediscovered throughout history by those who have need of such a tool.
Convergent evolution occurs in biological species when two types of organism occupy similar niches, are subject to similar selection pressures, have to solve the same sorts of problems in order to succeed in the tasks that their environments set for them,1 and so on. Thus when two organisms have evolved similar survival tactics, it’s reasonable to draw the conclusion that they’re trying to solve similar problems in the world, that they play a similar role in the grand scheme of being.2
And it’s an undeniable fact that Kerry Morrison and the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance are, against the express will of Jesus Christ, obsessed with discouraging people from giving money to panhandlers directly. Just the briefest glance at any of their newsletters will convince you of this. In particular, see page 7 of the Summer 2014 issue, in which Kerry Morrison asks herself and, by extension, you, the reader, if she should give money to panhandlers (SPOILER: no!). Kerry gives no real reasons at all here or anywhere, so far as we can see.
Admittedly she gives what seem like reasons at first glance, e.g. she asserts that the homeless will spend the money on alcohol and then get arrested by the BID patrol for drinking it in public, but there’s no explanatory force here. Kerry’s the Executive Directrix of the HPOA and thus the big boss of the BID patrol. She is a woman under authority, with soldiers under her; and she says to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes.3 If she doesn’t want people getting arrested for drinking in public, all she’s gotta do is tell her gunmen to stop arresting them. There’s no need to propagandize against giving money to the poor if the goal is merely to arrest fewer people.
And it doesn’t stop with propaganda, either. There are actual machines involved. See, e.g., page 5 of the Summer 2014 HPOA Newsletter, in which Kerry promotes machines that people can put money into instead of handing it personally to panhandlers. This, says she, is “a positive option for passersby to contribute change to help people.” These machines cost $2500 a pop and they’re looking at getting 12 of them. That comes to $30,000 altogether, which is actually about 2% of the HPOA’s annual security budget. There’s some serious purpose at work or the HPOA wouldn’t be willing to spend such an outrageous amount of money,7 but we’ll be damned if we can see what it is. Fortunately, we have an analytic tool that will let us understand everything and then explain it to you! Continue reading So-Called “Donation Stations” in Hollywood and Aktion Arbeitsscheu Reich: A Curious Instance of Convergent Evolution→
Odilo Globocnik first came to the attention of SS bossman Heinrich Himmler because of his relentless antisemitism and his willingness to murder the Jews of Vienna on a freelance basis even before such practices were sanctioned by German law. Consequently, in 1939 Himmler promoted Globocnik and moved him to occupied Poland. In 1941 Himmler directed Globocnik to oversee one of the most enormous instances of genocide in the history of the world: Aktion Reinhardt.
This was a big step up for Globus, as Odilo was affectionately known to his buddies in the Schutzstaffel, “the vilest organization ever known.”1 In localized modern terms, it’s like being moved from the suburban backwater of Inglewood to the big-time bright-lights-big-city cosmopolis of Hollywood! Globus took to his new surroundings like Samson to the Philistines, and, by late 1943 when he wound up operations, more than 2,000,000 Jews were dead. The organizational aspects of this accomplishment were overwhelmingly intricate, so Globus felt understandably proud of his masterful work and wanted to crow about it. However, Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS and Globocnik’s boss, had begun to notice that the rest of the world, and even a significant number of German citizens, weren’t too happy about the systematic deportation and gassing of human beings on this scale. As historian Bettina Stangneth has it:
The Nazis might have kept telling themselves that the extermination of the Jews was the only means for their survival, but they lacked sufficient faith in this view to share it with the rest of the world. The Nazi police state was born of the fear that not even its own population would understand its campaign of murder. Himmler guessed early on that this “glorious chapter of our history” could never be written, and he prevented Odilo Globocnik from sinking a memorial plaque into the earth for the heroes of Operation Reinhard…In summer 1942 [Himmler] ordered his commanders to find a way to avoid digging any more mass graves and to clear up the old ones. Any form of publicity would be harmful.2