Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Anchorage Changes - Prov and Greek Corner and Bike Status

Riding a bike means you're going slower and can stop easily to check out the changing landscape. Last night (Monday,) coming home from the Bear Tooth we noticed - how could we not? - that Providence was tearing down its old building at 36th and La Touche. I think at one point it was part of the Neighborhood Health Center, but I'm not sure.(If you double click the pictures the get a little bigger.) This afternoon I passed it again. They got quite a bit more done today.

Also today, I noticed this sign on Northern Lights across from Blockbuster and PowerHouse Gym. Is Greek Corner moving? Or does the 's' on corner mean they will have two?
I called and they are moving. One of the few little restaurants in a building that has some bit of charm, and they are moving. Let's see how well they can Greek up this spot. Oh, and "late summer" means first week of September, but you know how well remodeling stays on schedule.

And I have to mention that the ADN had a front page story Sunday on roads that was mostly from the perspective of bike riders!!!!!!!

Rosemary Austin, author of "Mountain Bike Anchorage," commutes on a road bike from East Anchorage to her sales job at Paramount Cycles off Huffman Road. She said a number of state-owned roads are dangerous with dirt, gravel and glass. She often rides along the new Elmore Road, which has bike lanes, but the DOT told her it's not even on the list to clean.

"I don't want to get flat tires and I don't want to wash out in sand and gravel," Austin said.

Ann Reed, a cyclist who is eight months pregnant, took a spill Monday on a gravelly section of sidewalk on DeBarr Road at Pine Street. She was pulling a Chariot bike trailer with her toddler aboard.

She saw the gravel and slowed down, but it was so deep "there was no way I was not going to wipe out," she wrote in an e-mail. She broke her fall with her hand and was scraped up a bit but not really hurt, she said in an interview. The Chariot stayed upright and she thinks the baby she's expecting is fine.

Amazing. I've been bemoaning dirt and gravel since I've had my bike out. Northern Lights and Benson are HORRIBLE. Walmart, can't you clean up the sidewalk around your parking lot???!!! But they aren't the only ones. And that was followed up by an editorial Monday.
The state department of transportation has made a total hash of this year's contract for sweeping a winter's worth of sand and gravel off state roads and sidewalks in Anchorage. . .
This isn't just an aesthetic issue. Loose sand and gravel is a hazard to bicyclists on trails and streets. Road traffic stirs the winter leftovers into the air, making breathing more difficult for people with sensitive lungs. Heavy rains can wash the sediment into storm sewers, many of which empty into local streams. That's bad for stream life, since the sediment is tainted with oil, grease and heavy metals left behind by months of traffic.

It seems the DOT went for the lowest bidder - someone who doesn't have much experience doing this. (Maybe they know someone from church.) Nevertheless, a new world is dawning when a bike rider's point of view is a front page road story and editorial. Thanks ADN.

And when the State Department of Transportation gets some bike riders in positions of authority, maybe they'll remember bicycles when they contract for road cleaning as well as road design. But that's another post.

Hunger - and three other movies

I've been to four movies in the last ten days or so, but none of them moved me to write about them until tonight. Well that's not completely true. Examined Life was more than I was ready to write about. The other two, before tonight, less.

In a review for the Toronto Film Festival, Monika Bartyzel wrote about Examined Life: (Photo from the same link)
Throughout the course of 90 minutes, Cornel West, Peter Singer, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler with Sunaura Taylor, Avital Ronell, Michael Hardt, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Martha Nussbaum appear on-screen talking about modern philosophies and thought. To bring life and depth to each discussion, she films each in the midst of movement – whether it be a car ride through New York City, a walk through a park, or a conversation at a garbage dump. At times this works well, the environment feeding into the discussion, while other times, the movement and cuts to passerby distracts from the discussion. In these moments, as the camera trails off the speaker, it almost seems as if it’s bored by the words.
I noticed this constant movement - walking, boating, biking, in the back of a cab - too, and also how everything was in such an urban setting. Even the idyllic row boating scene was filled with buildings and other signs of ubanity. The people we'd suggested the movie to thought all the talking (even if they were also walking) heads were a bit slow. What does it mean that all the philosophers are in urban settings most of the time? J and I enjoyed the movie. We knew of a couple of the philosophers and it was good to hear them all in their own words. But our daughter is studying philosophy so we're biased. I couldn't help but feel, I must know more about philosophy than I realized, or these guys have dumbed it down so far that I didn't get any totally new ideas - except for the garbage guy who thinks we should consume more. So I'll let you click on the link to the review above if you want to know more.

Away We Go was a slick Hollywood movie with some funny lines. Of the three generations who went, my son liked it the most and my mom and I (this was while I was in LA) thought it was . . . ok. Thirty somethings trying to figure out what to do with their lives. I know lots of people are crazy about David Eggars, but reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius didn't inspire me to read any of his later books. It was easy to believe he wrote this film.

Then Sunday night we saw Micky Bo & Me at the musuem. (This was our first visit since the opening. I took pictures from outside for a later post, trying to figure out how much of the new addition really is just stairwell.) Neither of us got into the movie. The two young kids - one a Catholic and the other a Protestant - growing up in Belfast fancied themselves as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and were not particularly sympathetic - particularly Micky. One could say he played his role well, but he wasn't a kid I'd want to be around.

Then tonight, at the Bear Tooth we saw Hunger. When the credits began rolling and it said Northern Ireland, I was fearful after last night's movie. But then Steve McQueen built up a hugely powerful film through the meticulous study of details, slowly watched through the camera, interspersed with sudden acts of brutality. We see a close up of the prison guard - we don't know that at the time - buttoning his shirt. The camera pans along a crack in the ceiling, slowly, then down the wall. These are long shots, but they are perfect.

I got irritated at the woman next to me who began talking as we watched an orderly mop up the piss and disinfectant the prisoners pour out into the hallway under the doors of their cells. (OK, the orderly added the disinfectant.) He starts way down at the end of the hallway and we watch him work the liquid across the floor all the way down the hall. I was mesmerized until that lady started talking. She might have thought nothing was happening, but everything was happening. We were in prison time where even this was an event that breaks the monotony. The visuals were spectacular in their plainness. They showed nothing and everything. And the music, so low keyed that I really didn't consciously notice it until the credits mentioned it, but I recognized that it had been there all the time. A movie like this reminds me why the other three didn't inspire me to write anything.

This interview with the director Steve McQueen may give a clue why the movie is so powerful:

I honestly don't know about making any more films - I'm not that passionate about it, I'm not in love with the medium, to be honest. Creativity ought to be about ideas, I believe, not the medium that it serves. I think that I am, basically, going to find it extremely hard to find a story which involves me and energises me, and about which I can feel completely passionate. I don't know. We'll see. It's a definite ‘maybe'. I've now got a Hollywood agent - but I don't think that they'll be hearing a lot from me!

"So you won't find me working for a major studio, be very certain of that. It's not about money - it's about being asked to compromise, and that's one thing that I never ever do! Never. I want to have my own say on the final cut and look of any film that has my name on it - what's the point, otherwise?"

The main character in the movie - hunger striker Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender) - is equally uncompromising. In one remarkable scene, we see Bobby and a priest, sitting at a table, backlighted, as they argue the ethics and practicality of a hunger strike. Both men passionately arguing their cause. McQueen says in the interview he wanted it like a tennis match, back and forth. But I think with them sitting there at the table, it was more like a chess game as they moved arguments across the board.

This is a movie! I hope McQueen finds more stories he can get passionate about. And yes, it raises prison issues that are relevant today, but the movie itself, without any of that, is powerful.

I can't embed the trailer, but you can go here to see it. Listen to the sound. And no this is NOT a children's movie. There's a fair bit of nudity and violence.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sex in the Sun - Shameless Blog Pandering

Midnight Soapscum Year 2 Episode 2 - Live Original Stage Serial in Anchorage

[If you want to avoid my way too long and highly tangential intro, you can go straight to my comments on the performance.]

Where else can you see live stage serials? I'm sure they must be out there, but Google didn't help. I did find videos of Pakistani stage shows - the Urdu language shows didn't work, but the Punjabi ones did. But I'm not sure these are serials or television or live stage.

I found a blog post about writing in serial form, even writing a serial on her blog, but despite the post title "Writing on Stage: Coming to terms with serial writing" I couldn't find any stages in the post.

And then I got this:
Now that Horizon knows how many copies of a serial you take, how often the serial should be claimed and who your vendor is, you can now create a prediction pattern and set an issue to begin the prediction pattern with.
1. Use Item Search/F2 to bring up the item search box and search for the relevant journal.
2. Send to/F10 the title to ‘Serials Control’.
3. Ensure the correct copy for your location has been selected and click the Prediction button located along the bottom of the window
Then there's Todd's Serial Blog and his other blog Todd Gault's Serial Experience. Both seem to be about movie serials.

I found a post by a young Indian actor looking for work on Cinechance that seems to be an electronic classified section for actors to find work in India.
About Myself :

hi guyz ,m vikram frm delhi.m 21 yrs of age nd graduating. i hav worked in serials for dd "do behne" , & "kabhi dhoop kabhi choan" both directed by reputed director "mr shiv kumar".also done one ad film for india tv. i love to act nd travel..........[emphasis added][And before you make fun of his written English, his bio says he also speaks Hindi and Punjabi]
And I learned from StageNews that
The BBC’s drama production department has announced a restructure of its senior staff, with head of series and serials Kate Harwood promoted to the role of controller of series and serials.
But that's television and radio.

I also learned that there is a software called live theater:
Live Theater 1.2 description
Live Theater - with the help of the software Live Theater TM you will be able to arrange the live broadcast from theater, TV etc. to a wider range of the Internet audience.

It is highly recommended to use broadband Internet connection for using Live Theater.

Here are some key features of "Live Theater":

· Broadcasting of live streaming video over Internet from any possible external video signal sources (video camera, web camera, video capture card etc.).
· Re-broadcasting over Internet of any source of TV signal, digital and analog.
· Broadcasting of the prerecorded video files.
· The areas of use are not restricted by the above mentioned. Live Theater can be used for any other purpose of brodcasting [sic] streaming video over Internet.
· The main advantage of Live Theater is ability of broadcasting of high-quality video without purchasing the expensive hardware and password protection from watching by an unauthorized user.
One problem I had with 'live theater' was that it monopolized the google hits for that search term.

So why all this esoteric trivia? Because I was trying to find out how unique Christian Heppinstall's Midnight Soapscum production at Out North is. Just because I can't find anything about live theatrical serials doesn't mean someone isn't doing them. After all, I didn't find Soapscum googling variations of stage/theater/serials/ etc. either. But given the obstacles to producing a play a week, I bet it's not happening too many places.

Christian's first run of Midnight Soapscum was a live, theatrical serial about a centenarian Russian emigre and her porn studio empire in San Francisco and it first ran over a couple of months in Spring 2007.

And now it's back - five new episodes of Midnight Soapscum. This time the subtitle is: Goes To Hell.

Just the idea is pretty amazing. Live, original episodes, performed weekly, with local talent. Christian's cranking out an hour and a half of material a week! And it's good! It moves along, it's funny, and the acting is first rate.

Think of this as Saturday Night Live as a political sitcom performed on stage before a live audience. No broadcasting. No huge budget.

Christian not only writes and directs Soapscum, he also stars as Svetlana Smirnov. That's him as Smirnov in the poster. He uses the episodes to comment on a wide variety of current issues and personalities. [Update: Christian emailed me to say that he's not directing this time. Jon Minton is. Sorry Jon.]

This year's incarnation takes place days before the 2008 election and the focus is on whether Smirnov is going to support Proposition 8. Characters include, besides various porn actors from the studio, Marie and Donny Osmond, Todd and Sarah Palin, a terrorist chained in the basement who turns out to be Osama Bin Laden, Barack Obama, four amazing aliens, and a slew of others.

Here, the Palins are plotting. . . well, I can't quite remember what they were plotting. The script takes so many twists and turns. The guy in the tie is Obama.

The cast is so big they could have a full house even if there was no audience. And I suspect they'd have almost as good a time without an audience. The second person in red with the two story blond wig, sitting above the cast on the right[left - somewhere between third grade and a couple of years ago I knew the difference between left and right], is NOT Svetlana, but the narrator who keeps the audience appraised (and well behaved) of what all is happening between scenes. She also had the list of all the characters and named them before and after the show. But I didn't write them all down and there was no program.

But is it any good? The acting is good and considering they didn't have a lot of time to learn the script - and they have a new one next week - I don't remember any flubs. The jokes would be funny to liberals but it might get tedious for conservatives. The people we were with thought it was a bit too long - partly, I think because it doesn't start until 10:30pm and it ended just past midnight. Considering what they were trying to pull off and their low budget, I thought it was amazing. (I have two standards. One is an absolute standard. The other is based on quality/cost. This one did pretty well on the absolute standard and would have swept the Tony's on quality/cost.)

And we have it here in Anchorage at Out North (you can buy tickets online) for three more episodes. And don't worry if you missed the first two episodes, it doesn't matter, trust me.

Christian has a pretty strong background in theater. I met him when he took some public administration classes with me. But he already had a masters in theater and had performed and/or directed in San Francisco, New York, and Budapest where he lived for several years. He's also the director for the Anchorage Theater of Youth and has been active in HIV/AIDS education. He's bright and aware and it shows in Soapscum.

Bent Alaska has the details of when the other episodes will be presented.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Baby Burke Brouhaha

I've been pondering this week's brouhaha over the picture of Baby Eddie Burke in Sarah Palin's arms. While I enjoy satire, I also feel that political humor generally feeds the faithful and ticks off the targets. Only brilliant satire has the possibility of changing the minds of the committed.

Looking at the picture, I didn't realize it was Eddie Burke's face and it was only after I read the explanations that I got the point. I certainly wasn't going to post the picture and I figured I'd stay out of the discussion altogether. But then the Governor's spokesperson, Meghan Stapleton, released a statement (copied here from Conservatives4Palin) (If the picture is so terrible why did C4P post it on their own website? You can see it at the link.)
Recently we learned of a malicious desecration of a photo of the Governor and baby Trig that has become an iconic representation of a mother's love for a special needs child.

The mere idea of someone doctoring the photo of a special needs baby is appalling. To learn that two Alaskans did it is absolutely sickening. Linda Kellen Biegel, the official Democrat Party blogger for Alaska, should be ashamed of herself and the Democratic National Committee should be ashamed for promoting this website and encouraging this atrocious behavior.

Babies and children are off limits. It is past time to restore decency in politics and real tolerance for all Americans. The Obama Administration sets the moral compass for its party. We ask that special needs children be loved, respected and accepted and that this type of degeneracy be condemned.

Paragraph 1:
Recently we learned of a malicious desecration of a photo of the Governor and baby Trig that has become an iconic representation of a mother's love for a special needs child.(emphasis added.)
Desecration. Merriam Webster's online dictionary isn't too helpful:
: an act or instance of desecrating : the state of being desecrated
But you can link to desecrate:
1 : to violate the sanctity of : PROFANE
2 : to treat disrespectfully, irreverently, or outrageously
And sanctity?
1: holiness of life and character : godliness
2 a
: the quality or state of being holy or sacred : inviolability
b plural : sacred objects, obligations, or rights

So there is a religious etymology to this word, but it has come to be used in other contexts as well. But then Stapleton also uses the term "iconic representation of a mother's love. . ."

Back to the dictionary:

1: a usually pictorial representation : image
2 [Late Greek eikōn, from Greek] : a conventional religious image typically painted on a small wooden panel and used in the devotions of Eastern Christians
3: an object of uncritical devotion : idol
4: emblem, symbol
5 a: a sign (as a word or graphic symbol) whose form suggests its meaning
b: a graphic symbol on a computer display screen that usually suggests the type of object represented or the purpose of an available function

Using both desecration and iconic image in one sentence strongly suggests to me that there was either intentional manipulation to give this a religious spin, or that Palin's staff are so steeped in religion that they think in those terms and just write this sort of language naturally. Here's my picture (from talaria) of an iconic image of a mother and child.

Paragraph 2:

The mere idea of someone doctoring the photo of a special needs baby is appalling. To learn that two Alaskans did it is absolutely sickening. Linda Kellen Biegel, the official Democrat Party blogger for Alaska, should be ashamed of herself and the Democratic National Committee should be ashamed for promoting this website and encouraging this atrocious behavior.
Why is a special needs baby, in this case, any different from any baby? Why are they continuing to emphasize that this is a special needs baby? It's like saying "this is my black friend' as opposed to just "my friend." What's the point? If Biegel had 'doctored' a picture of a 'normal' baby, would that have been ok? What if they had photoshopped the baby out completely and used a different baby in the picture? Would that have been ok? Or what if she had put Palin's face over Mary's in the icon and Burke's over the baby Jesus'? Would that have been ok?

Because here the outrage all seems to be that someone would make fun of a special needs baby. And as I see this picture, it's aimed at parodying Burke's and Palin's close relationship. Palin doesn't complain about Burke's degrading comments about women and he seems to be infatuated with Palin. The emphasis on 'special needs' seems to be Stapleton's effort to remind people that Palin is indeed an icon of motherhood because she kept her special needs baby. As if such a baby is less than a 'normal' baby and keeping it shows Palin's holiness. (Hey, I could be totally wrong. But at least I pose my comments as possible interpretations, while the tone of Stapleton's release suggests there can be no other interpretation than hers.)

And why is it more sickening that Alaskans did this? Are Alaskans supposed to give Palin more respect than other people? It seems people who are most affected by Palin have the most responsibility to closely monitor her actions as governor.

And I have to note the use of the term "Democrat Party." This is a way you can tell a Republican, sort of like catching a Canadian from her pronunciation of the word "out." As I understand it, using Democrat Party was a conscious Republican effort to denigrate the Democratic Party by replacing the official name with one that sounded harsher. I didn't find a good credible citation, but you can see a discussion of the issue here.

Paragraph 3:
Babies and children are off limits. It is past time to restore decency in politics and real tolerance for all Americans. The Obama Administration sets the moral compass for its party. We ask that special needs children be loved, respected and accepted and that this type of degeneracy be condemned."
First, when was there decency in American politics? If I recall my history, things were pretty wild in Jefferson's day. If a politician uses the kids to pump up his image, but the image the candidate is portraying is misleading, then the kids are fair game. Bristol's unwed motherhood was announced by Palin. If a blogger had announced the pregnancy before Palin did it would have been a disaster, so she really had to do it. But the irony of the pregnancy, given Palin's stand on abstinence-only-education, is certainly newsworthy. Picking on a baby's behavior makes no sense since a baby is not responsible. On the other hand, the baby is totally unaware of the debate. And despite Stapleton's take on this, I don't see the picture as being about the baby.

OK, I do understand Stapleton's plea to Obama to somehow censor Linda. After all, among the Republicans, especially in the Bush2 years, everyone was expected to toe the party line. Obviously, from the Republican perspective, if they assume the Democrats are the same, Linda doesn't say anything without approval from the Oval Office. And if she does, she should be edged out. . Well, that image of Democrats is a joke.

To a certain extent, I find the constant attacks on Palin by fellow bloggers to be borderline reasonable. The pointing out of ethical violations - even those that are rejected by Palin's favorite review board - is certainly reasonable. The bloggers do not have access to all the available information and may not be able to prove the violation, but at least these things should be pursued if there is reasonable evidence. Think of all the trouble that might have been avoided if bloggers had been poking into the relationships between Bill Allen and various legislators early on.

What I find less appealing are the snarky comments about clothing and behavior. But that's part of the American tradition of politics and the media. When Palin was on the Bob and Mark radio show, she laughed when they called cancer survivor and political rival Lyda Green a "cancer" and a "bitch." And I recall Palin being the attack dog in the McCain campaign. So let's cut out the crocodile tears here.

One More Thing

To put the religious tone of the first paragraph into context, we can look at the language of Ahmad Khamani from a Reuters article:

Ahmad Khatami, a member of the powerful Assembly of Experts, said the judiciary should charge leading "rioters" as "mohareb" or one who wages war against God.

"I want the judiciary to ... punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson," Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University on Friday.

"They should be punished ruthlessly and savagely," he said. Under Iran's Islamic law, punishment for people convicted as "mohareb" is execution.
He too is equating the demonstrators' behavior to desecration. At least Khamani is a religious leader and an official of a religious nation. That may be Palin's dream, but so far it isn't the case.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mr. Wisples Lost and Found

Every now and then I allot myself about 30 minutes (whatever the timer on my watch is set for) to check out sites through Stumbleupon. Today I saw this poster: (It's in the middle of the page, best to "find in page" for Mr. Wisples)

I'm sure I saw that cloud yesterday hovering over Fred Meyer at Old Seward Highway and Benson.

Yes, I know it's not as plump as the one on the poster, but if you drifted all the way up to Anchorage from Hyperion Avenue, you wouldn't be as plump when you got here either. Now I just need to find a carrier pigeon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Some Context of Holier Than Thou Types

From today's Anchorage Daily News:

From today's New York Times article on Governor Sanford:
But other senior Republican strategists and leaders said they were concerned that their party’s large segment of evangelical voters makes the party more vulnerable to political damage from scandal, especially when it involves politicians like Mr. Sanford and Mr. Ensign, who had both been harshly critical of the infidelities of former President Bill Clinton and others.
From a Wiki on Republican Sex Scandals we see a long list of politicians who have been involved in sex scandals. Granted that many were involved in state and local level politics, a number on this list (without having looked at further details of each) are said to have been particularly vocal against the sexual misdeeds of others. For example:
Matthew Glavin, president and CEO of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, big player in the Clinton Impeachment, and many anti-gay jihads, has been arrested multiple times for public indecency, one time fondling the crotch of the officer who was arresting him.[102]

The link gives us a longer article that begins with another fallen angel:
It had been a tough two weeks for anti-gay Republican moralists. First, John Paulk, the leader of the bogus Ex-Gay movement was caught frolicking in a Washington, D.C. gay bar.
And then goes on to talk about Glavin:
The Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that Glavin’s Southeastern Legal Foundation has been active in anti-gay crusades as well, helping the Boy Scouts "fend off a court challenge to their anti-gay posture," and leading "a charge against an Atlanta City Hall initiative to provide insurance and other benefits to same-sex partners."
The wiki also got me to other links like this news story:

With the Mark Foley scandal still troubling Republicans, one of the nation's top evangelical leaders is now accused of paying for gay sex. Heading into Tuesday's election, when voters in eight states will decide on gay marriage bans, liberals and some conservatives are saying the party that prides itself on family values has a hypocrisy problem.

Ted Haggard, a staunch foe of gay marriage and occasional participant in White House conference calls, resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and head of his Colorado church following allegations he met monthly with a gay prostitute for three years. Haggard denies having sex with the man, but admits receiving a massage and buying methamphetamine.

Five weeks ago, Foley -- a vocal advocate for exploited children -- resigned from Congress because of sexually tinged messages to male pages. Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Pa., a married father of three, has been burdened by revelations about his five-year affair with a mistress who says he physically abused her.

On tedhaggard.com, the former evangelist has a lengthy "healing overview" in which he refers to these events as "my personal crisis" or "my incongruity." The closest he comes to spelling things out is when he discusses what

...the Overseers, who were a group of 4 pastors from outside New Life Church that were given authority by the church bylaws to investigate alleged misconduct on the part of the Senior Pastor and, after their investigations, discipline or remove the Senior Pastor...

imposed on him after he "confessed my sins to them and resigned all of my positions."

Included in this list of requirements in addition to leaving the state of Colorado and other prohibitions was that he

not engage in any sexually immoral behavior.

That's as close as he gets to suggesting what his 'incongruity' was about. We have to look elsewhere to get the specifics.

Since being fired as pastor of New Life Church amid a gay-sex and drugs scandal, the Rev. Ted Haggard has discovered he's "completely heterosexual."

The Rev. Tim Ralph, senior pastor for New Covenant Fellowship in Larkspur, told The Denver Post on Monday that Haggard's homosexual activity appears to be limited to Denver male escort Mike Jones, who said he and Haggard had a three-year sexual relationship.

The fact that I can't find nearly as extensive a list of Democratic sex scandals (Top Ten Democrat Sex Scandals in Congress shows up a few times) doesn't mean that Democrats are having less extra sex I'm sure. And I can't believe that Republicans aren't capable of making lists of Democratic transgressors. I suspect it's more about Democrats being less committed to sexual purity than Republicans. For Republicans, in addition to the sex, there is often the contrast to their strong 'morality' stance.

"The attention focused on these cases will inescapably lead people to think about these people's hypocrisy," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "They make a career out of defaming gay people and preaching family values, when it's clear that it's just a veneer." (from Truthout)

When people focus so strongly on demonizing people over their sexual practices, one wonders what they themselves are trying to hide. Is the lashing out at others a way of projecting punishment for their own desires or guilt? Is it 'just a veneer?" I'm sure for some that is the case. What drives the others to such extremes?

Jerry, how about a heart to heart about your gay phobia. Or is it just that you found it stirs up the fears of your flock and they open their wallets when you cry "Gay?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Respect for People Doing Physical Therapy

Before Doonesbury disappeared from the editorial page and became so tiny and hidden among the other cartoons that I almost need a magnifying glass to read it, I had followed B.D.'s struggle through physical therapy. But I never really appreciated the psychological struggle people go through, taking at faith that pushing their bodies this way and that will eventually get you back into order. Or at least better, enough better to be worth the effort and pain.

My injury is tiny and almost inconsequential. Nevertheless, working towards getting full, normal use of my finger is giving me a new respect for the work and will needed to do much more significant therapy - learning to walk, learning to talk again, etc. I've been doing the exercises that I posted a month ago. I can almost make a fist now, but the bad finger still doesn't curl all the way in. My main knuckle on that finger is still fat and that finger has a distinct downward bend to it.

The therapist left town right after I saw her. And then I was out of town. So I finally got back in to see her.

So, to stretch my finger further so I can eventually make a tight fist again, I'm supposed to wrap my finger like this and pull it as tight as I can for 15 minute periods, three times a day.

But after that time, it hurts like hell when I try to straighten it out. And all this concentration on bending has postponed dealing with the fact that I can't totally straighten out the finger.

So now I have this gadget which bends my finger in the opposite direction. And when I take this thing off, it hurts to bend the other way.

The therapist wouldn't make any predictions, but 'two months' did slip out of her mouth. I'm not holding my breath, just my finger, in various contorted positions.

And I'm not complaining, just observing. My problems are minuscule.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Anchorage as an Abusive Family

Jay left a comment on one of my LA posts. I've been relatively quiet in the last two weeks on the debate over gay rights in Anchorage mainly because I've been out of town and had other things on my mind. And other bloggers were covering the issue in depth.

But Jay's comment was like the shaft of sunlight that just broke through the clouds onto my computer screen.
As I watch Anchorage's shame this third time, over 33 years, from thousands of miles away, I just shake my head and wonder how I could have ever loved such a place. But I understand now. My love for my former home was like that of the abused child to an abusive parent. [emphasis added]

I had to leave. As to others, I think I understand. It doesn't hurt.
While other states are starting to allow gay marriage, we in Anchorage are still allowing our bully evangelical Prevo to foment hate towards those of our family whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual.

We can argue forever about the role of religion in human life. There are a number of indisputable facts about religion:

1. Different religions, different factions of the same religions even, believe they know the absolute 'truth.' And they all have different truths. And somehow they are privy to the only true truth. (And they all just 'know' they are right. Faith, not proof, is their standard.)

2. Sunni and Shia Muslims, Orthodox and Reform Jews, Mormons, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, all have adherents who find comfort in their religious beliefs.

3. Many of the first colonists to the New World from Europe came because another religious group, with power connected to the government, was persecuting them. Once they got to the new world, many of them began persecuting people of other religions.

4. Many of the world's religions including Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, Protestantism, Judaism, and Buddhism have traditionally given more value and power to men than to women. Men could vote, but women couldn't. Men were the head of the household and had the right to make important decisions. Men could be priests or rabbis or monks, but women weren't good enough.

5. Slave owners justified slavery using the Bible. They argued as fervently about how the Bible supported slavery as Prevo says the Bible supports his abuse of gays.

6. Religious leaders also were advocates AGAINST slavery and FOR civil rights and women's liberation.

7. The unscrupulous have taken advantage of the protected place of religion in American life (and in all other countries as well) to gain the power to fulfill their own twisted needs in the guise of religion. (Such people have used whatever legitimate front was most convenient to gain power on all sides of the political and religious and corporate spectrums.)

8. Many of the restrictions on Blacks and Women that once were biblically justified, have been legally overthrown in the United States and elsewhere.

9. Today that tradition of using the Bible to harass and dominate a particular class of people continues in the US as religion is used to justify the demonization of gays and lesbians. While religious leaders say, "This is different from race. This is different from gender" it is NOT different. It is people perverting religion to promote their own prejudices.

Jay's comment puts this into perspective. He was the target of this sort of hate all his life. Jay's a strong willed person who fought all his adult life against this tolerated, and, in some circles, exalted, form of hate. He and his partner Gene set up Out North Theater and made it into a vibrant and rich cultural oasis in Anchorage that dared to present ideas that were taboo in much of Anchorage. They did this in the face of hate and abuse. They did this in the face of people who denied they had the simple right to be themselves, who said that they were an abomination.

But his exile from Anchorage and his comments the other day on this blog remind us of his daily fight for his dignity, even his basic right to be himself. We have all, at some time, had someone humiliate us. Tell us we were no good, we didn't belong, we were less than others. Even if it was simply that we did poorly on an exam. We know that such shaming stings, burns, destroys part of our humanity.

Jay's comment about abuse reminds me that he lived with that humiliation every day of his life in Anchorage. Every day he lived among people who denied that he had the right to exist and be himself. And he stood up to that and convinced himself that he really was ok, good even. I know that Jay didn't always manage to control the anger that must have churned in him all the time. I know that this internalized hate broke loose at times and stunned the people around him. But for the most part he was able to channel it in constructive ways, ways that brought examples of his personal reality to Anchorage. Using Out North as their medium, he and Gene, with the help of others in the community, brought actors, performers, musicians, artists, and movies that expressed in often painful, often funny, sometimes shocking, and always enlightening ways, a reality that he knew - that he was ok, that being gay wasn't evil.

I take the last part of his comment to mean that he understands that many people don't feel the hate as he did here because they weren't the direct target of the hate. And so it is more an intellectual problem than a searing nightmare to most of us.

I understand that well right now, because of my son's recent accident. I think humans have a built-in protective device that deflects others' pain, because we couldn't survive if we didn't. I know that I normally don't react viscerally to stories of people hurt in accidents. But when I read the stories of the two bicycle accidents in the local paper this week, my body twinged and I even thought about writing a note to the families. One victim died, the other is in serious condition. And I wonder why I was so relatively lucky that my son's injuries were not life threatening and appear that they will have little lasting damage. And I hurt for the families that weren't so lucky, because that could have been us.

And all of us not the targets of Prevo's hate, need to wonder why we are so lucky and reach out to those who aren't so lucky. We must get Anchorage to recognize Prevo for what he is. A bully. A predator who is abusing members of the Anchorage family. Who is heaping hate and abuse by insisting they are abominations so evil that he must feed this garbage to his congregation and must indoctrinate young children that homosexuals are evil and that it is ok to abuse them. He may not be directly physically abusing homosexuals as some of his other religious brethren, but he most assuredly is abusing them mentally as Jay's short comment documents. And he's giving potential bullies the justification to physically abuse their gay school mates.

My understanding is that his tactics of delaying the vote on the ordinance by stuffing the assembly public testimony with people bussed in from outside of Anchorage may have worked. It seems that the Ordinance will not pass in time for Acting Mayor Matt Claman to sign it and it appears that incoming Mayor Dan Sullivan will be an accomplice to Prevo's abuse by vetoing any ordinance that is passed. I understand that the ordinance may even be withdrawn and that a different approach to protecting gays and lesbians and transgendered folk will be attempted.

My hope is that if things go in such a direction, more people can come to understand that this is simply one more attempt - in a history of such cases in the US and elsewhere - to use religion to justify the denigration of one group of people to meet some sort of perverted need by others to dominate and humiliate other human beings. I hope that while the rest of the world is moving toward allowing gay marriage, that Anchorage can, at the very least, say that discriminating based on sexual orientation will no longer be acceptable. Just as we already say it is no longer acceptable to discriminate based on race or gender.

Basically, the main goal is to say it is not acceptable to discriminate based on personal prejudice, whether it be against overweight people, people with pimples, people with tattoos or piercings. If a landlord wants to evict someone it should be because the tenant hasn't paid the rent, or has made too much noise, or has damaged the apartment. People should lose jobs because they do not perform the job at the standards specified, not for non-job related reasons.

Anchorage, let's show our better side on this issue now. Let's make Anchorage a place that will welcome Jay and Gene home warmly when they come to visit.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bloggers, Ethics, and Photos of Children

I started commenting in a blog discussion at Progressive Alaska on whether it was appropriate to post a picture of one of the red shirted kids who protested at the Assembly meeting over the ordinance to add gays and lesbians and transgendered folks to the Anchorage anti-discrimination ordinance. My response was getting long so I decided it would be easier to put it together here. Below is the first comment that started this discussion of posting pictures of kids.
Anonymous said...
Do you ask for permission from your subjects before you publish their image ?

How about if the subject is a minor ?

Have you ever considered that this minor child, or perhaps his parents may not want his image published on your website ?

For all of the crass behavior our Governor has shown over the past few months, there are times when the gang of liberal bloggers have matched that crass behavior.

This is one of them.

Anon, you bring up a legitimate question. Blogging is a new technology and we're exploring how to do what we do, so your question, with this example, is a legitimate one. But it appears to be a rhetorical question. Instead of exploring it, you immediately shut the door on discussion and start making moral judgments. On the other hand your tone hints that perhaps you've had some experience related to this issue which makes you particularly sensitive. If that's the case, then it would helpful if you mentioned it. It might even make others better understand your point.

I've asked people for permission when there was only one or two people in a picture, or if I thought being seen in the situation could potentially cause someone harm. But it's clear that you couldn't document a large crowd if you had to get permission of all the people in the picture. (Yes I know that isn't the kind of picture you are complaining about.)

In any case, let's explore the legitimacy of Anon's complaint.

1. Is it ok to take people's pictures and publish them without their permission?
How should we even try to answer that one? One of the comments attributed to an "Anon" (I realize that these may not be same people) suggested:
Do yourself a big favor and read the Blogger's Code of Ethics and then ask yourself if publishing this child's picture is kosher.
I did look up blogger code of ethics and what I found was a modified version of the Society for Journalists' Code of Ethics. So let's look at the original. I checked the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics. Mind you, bloggers don't claim to be 'professional journalists' for the most part so they aren't covered by these rules, but it's a reasonable place to start. The section that seems most appropriate is the section called Minimize Harm:

Minimize Harm

Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. [This seems to be a problem on many blogs, but I don't see how the picture is particularly problematic here. And in this section of the post, Phil was pretty neutral.]

Journalists should:
— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects. [There's a slightly out of focus picture of a kid. The text next to it says nothing about the kid and speaks in pretty neutral terms about coverage of the protests. There's nothing negative here unless you automatically assume posting kids' pictures is taboo.]
— Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief. [The subject of the photo is not someone affected by tragedy or grief in the traditional sense of that word. His family may feel passage of the ordinance would be a tragedy, but others might think that the reason for the ordinance is to prevent tragedies and grief coming to gays and lesbians.)
— Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance. [Again, I don't see this being violated by the posting of the picture or the text associated with it.]
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy. [This kid was exercising his Constitutional rights to free speech by publicly protesting a political action with which he disagreed. He was out in public. Phil was exercising his Constitutional rights to free speech by publishing the picture. He did not use a telephoto lens to take a picture of the kid in his house. The kid is not in a compromising position. And there is far less likelihood that anyone will do harm to this kid for his protest than there is for those demonstrating in favor of the ordinance. That's why, some would argue, we need the ordinance.][Added later: Furthermore, the kids would fit the category of "others who seek power, influence or attention" who are less entitled according to this. And if you say the kids aren't, then the people who brought them are responsible for this.]
— Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. [Again, unless you think that any picture of a kid without the parents' permission is pandering, I'd have to say there is nothing remarkable or embarrassing about the picture or the text next to it.]
— Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes. [The kid is neither a suspect or victim of a sex crime to my knowledge.]
— Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges. [Again, not applicable.]
— Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed. [Again, not applicable.]
There is nothing I see in this Journalists' Code of Ethics that Phil has violated. But it doesn't discuss getting permission for publishing pictures, of adults or children.

I looked further and found these guidelines for media dealing with children at the International Federation of Journalists website:

Children's Rights and Media: Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Issues Involving Children

These guidelines were adopted by journalists' organisations from 70 countries at the world's first international consultative conference on journalism and child rights held in Recife, Brazil, on May 2nd 1998.

All journalists and media professionals have a duty to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards and should promote within the industry the widest possible dissemination of information about the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and its implications for the exercise of independent journalism.

Media organisations should regard violation of the rights of children and issues related to children's safety, privacy, security, their education, health and social welfare and all forms of exploitation as important questions for investigations and public debate. Children have an absolute right to privacy, the only exceptions being those explicitly set out in these guidelines.

Journalistic activity which touches on the lives and welfare of children should always be carried out with appreciation of the vulnerable situation of children. Journalists and media organisations shall strive to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in reporting children's affairs and, in particular, they shall

1. strive for standards of excellence in terms of accuracy and sensitivity when reporting on issues involving children;
2. avoid programming and publication of images which intrude upon the media space of children with information which is damaging to them;
3. avoid the use of stereotypes and sensational presentation to promote journalistic material involving children;
4. consider carefully the consequences of publication of any material concerning children and shall minimise harm to children;
5. guard against visually or otherwise identifying children unless it is demonstrably in the public interest;
6. give children, where possible, the right of access to media to express their own opinions without inducement of any kind;
7. ensure independent verification of information provided by children and take special care to ensure that verification takes place without putting child informants at risk;
8. avoid the use of sexualised images of children;
9. use fair, open and straight forward methods for obtaining pictures and, where possible, obtain them with the knowledge and consent of children or a responsible adult, guardian or carer;
10. verify the credentials of any organisation purporting to speak for or to represent the interests of children;
11. not make payment to children for material involving the welfare of children or to parents or guardians of children unless it is demonstrably in the interest of the child. [emphasis added.]
Numbers 4, 5, and 9 seem to be the only ones that are directly relevant. And I would once again remind readers that some bloggers consider themselves journalists and others do not. And those that do may have legitimate reasons for disagreeing with the rules for mainstream media journalists.

#4 - While the Anonymous poster doesn't like the idea of Phil posting the picture without permission, he (or she) doesn't identify any particular harm that might come to the child because of the posting of his picture.

I wonder if this Anonymous commenter has protested the pictures of Iranians demonstrating over the election. While those are crowd pictures with many people and getting permission would be difficult, the consequences of being identified from a blowup of any of those pictures, are probably far more ominous than those that might result from posting the picture of this kid.

#5 - One could argue that posting the pictures of the demonstrators in Iran was important news to document the unrest in Iran. But one could also say that posting pictures of kids at the Anchorage demonstration documents the reports that many of the demonstrators were just kids. That they are just kids of an age where they are highly unlikely to have made their own, personal, informed judgment on the morality of homosexuality and of denying homosexuals protections against discrimination.

#9 - Phil used fair, open, and straightforward methods for obtaining the picture. The kid is looking right into the camera.

The only slightly questionable part is "where possible obtain them with the knowledge and consent of the children, responsible adult, guardian, or carer."

Clearly the child knew his picture was being taken and I'm assuming that he didn't protest. We don't know whether his parents were there since many kids were allegedly brought to the meeting in church buses. And I assume the child didn't know that the picture would be on Phil's blog - I doubt Phil was wearing press credentials.

So, assuming that all I've said is accurate, then Phil could have gone further and asked for permission to post the picture - either from the kid himself or a 'responsible adult.'

Given that this is a close-up of one specific child, the ethically cleanest thing to do would have been to get permission to post the picture. Minimally, bloggers can just ask, "Do you mind if I post this on my blog?" I do that all the time for adults as well as kids. One can even document the permission with a video, found on most digital cameras today, or get written permission. A pain in the neck? Maybe. But if bloggers are going to hold politicians to high ethical standards and harass them for skipping steps, then they ought to make sure they don't skip steps in their own guidelines. As one of the anonymous posters wrote -

You sir, have no integrity and you lose any moral high ground that you have.
I think the poster compromises him(her)self by denying Phil any integrity altogether, but posting a child's picture - even one as innocuous as this one - does make it harder to take the high ground when calling others to task for ethical violations.

On the other hand, bloggers are not journalists, but it seems to me in gathering the news, we should also abide by the do no harm ethic. Mere technicality? Well, Sarah Palin would argue the same thing about her Arctic Cat jacket. And it's not that hard to stay clean here. If you get home without permission, there are easy ways to blur or block enough of a face to hide the identity of the subject. It may not have the same impact, but you'll try harder next time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back Home in Anchorage for Father's Day

It was dark when the plane took off from LAX, not quite 9pm.

But by 12:30am Anchorage time, we were back in the glorious light of the longest day of the year. Seeing J waiting for me was the best sight.

And when we got home, she showed me the tamarinds I'd planted before I left. These are from the Petchabun tamarind (มะขาม) seeds we brought back.

The seeds are about the size of a molar. You can see a picture of the trees in the orchard and the fruit at this post. Actually, you can see what is left of the seeds half way up the stem in the seedling picture.

So my son took me to the airport last night after we got to spend nearly ten days together. And this morning my daughter called from the Minneapolis airport. Her paper presentation seemed to have gone well and she'd just learned she got a Fellowship for six months in Berlin to finish her dissertation. My wife did a good job raising the three of us.

My dad died over ten years ago. I was lucky. We had a very comfortable relationship since I was little. My parents divorced when I was about three but stayed on amicable terms and I spent many weekends with my Dad. That was probably a perfect arrangement. When we were together, his time was totally devoted to me. He introduced me to so many things on those weekends. The Los Angeles museums - from art to natural science to American Indians - were a frequent destination. We went to Hollywood Stars baseball games. We did lots of hiking and had our favorite hike - starting at Switzer's Camp - on the Angeles Crest Highway. I learned to ride a bike with him on the cement bed of the Los Angeles River near Griffith Park where we also spent lots of time. The zoo was an important part of my growing up. Fern Dell. The observatory. He took me along when he got involved in political campaigns and in amateur theater. We saw many movies together - he introduced me to Satyajit Ray. I have so many, many great memories of weekends with my dad. And in the summers we took two week vacations together, not so much father and son, by partners in adventure. Dad, thanks for everything!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Alaska in the News in LA

The film Dear Lemon Lima (pronounced like the bean, not the city) premiers tonight at 7:15pm in Westwood at the Los Angeles International Film Festival. My plane leaves tonight at 8:50 pm so I'm going to have to miss it. I reviewed a ten minute or so short version [scroll down to the end of the post] of this film at the Anchorage International Film Festival in 2007. The story is set in Fairbanks and I chided the the filmmakers a bit for not filming it in Fairbanks. From the DearLemonLima website story page:

Vanessa believes that a victory in the Snowstorm Survivor championship is the only way into Philip’s heart. She quickly forms a quirky team with her fan base in the weight room. TEAM FUBAR prepares for the event, driven by Vanessa’s plight for her true love. Unlike the Native Olympics that brings together people of all sizes and shapes to celebrate Native Alaskan culture, Nichols’ Snowstorm Survivor simply perverts the traditional Eskimo games in order to foster an antiquated class system.

After the tragic loss of a beloved teammate, Vanessa discovers the true meaning of love and must embrace her Native heritage to reclaim the spirit of the World Eskimo Indian Olympics. After TEAM FUBARs sensational victory in the final dance competition, the Nichols community attempts to embrace a new wave of thinking.
I recall the snippet we saw being filmed in gloriously rich color and in just a short time I wanted to know more about the quirky young characters. The Fairbanks connection was not apparent in what we got to see in Anchorage. The screenwriter actually emailed me after posted and asked for suggestions on how to connect with people in Fairbanks and I posted an appeal to Alaskan bloggers to help her out. I never heard whether they actually did film any of it in Fairbanks, I can't find anything on their website to indicate they did.

Another news item was in the LA Times the other day and again in an editorial today:
In Santa Ana, the city has agreed to place locks on outdoor recycling bins for a dozen neighbors in the Wilshire Square district. The devices, as Times staff writer Tony Barboza reported, were designed to keep bears out of trash cans in Alaska, but there aren't any bears in Santa Ana. Nor are the locks intended to thwart native critters such as raccoons, opossums, ravens or coyotes.

Somewhere along the line, the city and the neighbors lost sight of the fact that the scavengers targeted by their locking-bin pilot program aren't animals at all but a much more vulnerable species -- homeless human beings, for whom discarded plastic and glass are a last-resort source of sustenance.

Internet Imperative and Media Disintegration

My son sent me a couple of links worth checking. I'm sure a variation of this scenario from XKCD has happened in many households of my blogger compatriots.

And J1 also sent me to Roger Ebert's blog. Here he is conveying pretty much my own concerns about bully radio talk show hosts. In this post, for example, I talk about pollution of public discourse. And I've also discussed bullying as an aspect of this. Here's a bit from Ebert:

I am not interested in discussing O'Reilly's politics here. That would open a hornet's nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability of two of the leading cable news channels. A majority of cable news viewers now get their news slanted one way or the other by angry men. O'Reilly is not the worst offender. That would be Glenn Beck. Keith Olbermann is gaining ground. Rachel Maddow provides an admirable example for the boys of firm, passionate outrage, and is more effective for nogt shouting.

Much has been said recently about the possible influence of O'Reilly on the murder of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder. Such a connection is impossible to prove. Yet studies of bullies and their victims suggest a general way such an influence might take place. Bullies like to force others to do their will, while they can stand back and protest their innocence: "I was nowhere near the gymnasium, Sister!"

The whole piece is worth checking out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 18 and 19

I've spent the last four days mostly in the bowels of the this building - the Los Angeles County Courthouse. I know it doesn't look like it's nine stories, but that's because it's on a hill. On this end street level is the fourth floor. I won't go into the trial issue except it's a business case that my son is a party to. It was good to be with him four days last week in the Bay Area and see him in his current home and work environment and now to be with him while this is going on. Unfortunately, I won't see the rest of the trial, but fortunately I'll be back home with my wife over the weekend.

So this is just a quick post of a few pictures outside the courthouse.

We left home each morning at 8am. Went to court. Had lunch meetings. Back to court. Short to long meetings afterward. But I was amazed to see this tree growing through the asphalt and concrete of the Santa Monica Freeway.

Then we'd turned north onto the Harbor Freeway (which becomes the Pasadena Freeway after downtown.)

Last night after the trial, we met in the attorneys' conference room. This was a building as I walked over to their office.

And past Little Tokyo.

The conference room during a break. We got home at ten last night.

This morning before the court I got this picture of Bunker Hill buildings.

After lunch - we had a longer lunch because the judge had other cases to deal with - I went through the garden at the Disney Concert Hall which is kittycorner from the courthouse. I met this Belgian man who was here for a few days on business and trying to figure out how to see the places he wanted to get to. Actually, we 'met' when we were both trying to find the name tag for what turned out to be a naked coral tree.

And these are two more pictures of the Disney Hall at the entrance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lakers Celebration Traffic on Way to Court

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday that it only took us about 40 minutes to get from Bundy to the Courthouse on the Santa Monica Freeway. (I know, people nowadays call them all by numbers, but for me it's the Santa Monica Freeway, not the ten.) That was starting at 8am, the middle of rush hour. But today it was different. We left at 8am again and thought the Laker celebration traffic would be later (it was supposed to start at 11 am). But there were a lot more cars than yesterday. The one above was our first with Laker flags.
Getting close here to head north and past downtown.
And a little Laker support on this building.
And we passed the Staples Center. Then on to the courthouse where we missed all the celebration completely. I imagine the traffic got worse. One of the jurors was 45 minutes late. But the other eleven, plus the two alternates. got there on time.

Downtown LA and the County Courthouse

Here's where the trial is.

There were 8 floors just like this one, with people who couldn't have been too happy since, if they were here, they were probably involved in a law suit. Made me feel lucky to live in Anchorage. At least our court buildings have windows. I'm not going to go into the details of the trial (it's unrelated to the accident,) though it was interesting to contrast it to the Federal trials I attended in Anchorage. Today was was jury selection. An interesting collection of people.

This is on Bunker Hill down the street from
the Disney Concert Hall.

Some of those same buildings from down below.

The Grand Central Market used to be one of my
favorite places in LA. It used to be like going to Mexico.
It still has a sense of those days.

I was surprised by how empty the streets of downtown are. I've noticed the same thing in Anchorage mid-mornings. In LA these mega-developments pretty much wipe out all the street level, human scaled shops and turn the blocks into giant sculptor parks, but without the human interaction of small shops or other human scaled buildings.

And this one on the LA Times building. With an agapanthus in front. I hope that is just a wrinkle of wisdom and not a crack of foreboding.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Disney Concert Hall

I drove J1 to the LA Superior Court this morning and I got a chance to wonder around downtown LA. I'm one of those who thinks the Frank Gehry designed Disney Concert Hall is a great building. Well, I haven't been inside - well only in one lobby once - so I can't judge how well it works as a building, but visually it's enchanting.
Here are some notes from the tourist kiosk across the
street about opera in LA and the concert hall.

This shot was from the 9th floor of the court building.

I took a couple of night shots in February 2007.

[UPDATE:  Yikes!  The brain and fingers do strange things, but I've replaced "Geary" with the correct "Gehry."]