Nov 8, 2007

LA Times highlights...

My biased report on stand-outs from today's LA Times. Odd that the war in Iraq doesn't merit mentioning until page five...

Ø Sticky fingers at the Reagan Library - More than 80,000 items have likely either been lost or pilfered by employees due to a "near universal" security breakdown at the Simi Valley institution. The problem stems from understaffing due to insufficient funding and isn't confined to just the Reagan facility but to many, if not most, presidential libraries.
But, investigators said, they encountered the most serious problems at the Reagan library, a finding that may mortify fans of the late president, who often inveighed against government inefficiency.

National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said the agency welcomed the audit and was taking its findings very seriously. Part of the problem, she said, is that presidential libraries originally did not have the same strict preservation guidelines used by most museums. That has been corrected, she said, but funding for the libraries is still an issue.
Ø Patt Morrison has a dream - She looks back to TV programming in the wake of the 153-day strike by the WGA in 1960.
...Old movies... "Wrecks Galore on Destruction Derby," and on one desperate evening, two channels ran simultaneous previews of the Ice Capades.

And yet strike-time prime time was also chockablock with travelogues, like a journey to Shakespeare's London, and an adventure documentary by Charles Darwin's great-grandson. Channel 4 aired "Startime," a remarkable hourlong "anthology" series that mixed documentaries, dramas and comedy. It aired an episode during the strike with Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson telling Americans why they should vote.
And then she offers suggestions for the current strike like Paddy Chayevsky's Marty, Jack Parr, Steve Allen...
Even the comparatively lowbrow comic black-and-white offerings like "Your Show of Shows" and "Burns and Allen" come off like Aristophanes against contemporary claptrap like "Viva Laughlin" and "America's Next Top Model."

Viewers in the ideal TV demographic delight in the cool, retro, smart TV fare... They blog about it, Facebook about it, reddit and Digg it.

TV studios... pander to this audience's wishes. Writers who had powered down their gifts to produce brainless fare for TV's recent race to the bottom suddenly find themselves begged to write smart.
Alas, dream on, Patt.

Ø Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Cisco help China jail dissidents - Talk about disgusting, outrageous and deplorable actions, Peter Navarro writes a column about companies assisting China's totalitarian regime in squelching pro-democracy content on the internet.
Yahoo Inc. helped send a reporter to prison by revealing his identity to the Chinese government. Cisco Systems Inc. helps send thousands of Chinese dissidents to prison by selling sophisticated Internet surveillance technology to China.

Skype, an EBay Inc. subsidiary, helps the Chinese government monitor and censor text messaging. Microsoft Corp. likewise is a willing conscript in China's Internet policing army, as Bill Gates' minions regularly cleanse the Chinese blogosphere. Google Inc.'s brainiacs, meanwhile, have built a special Chinese version of their powerful search engine to filter out things as diverse as the BBC, freeing Tibet and that four-letter word in China -- democracy.
Ø Jennifer Delson writes about Santa Ana teenagers rediscovering son jarocho, a 400-year-old Mexican music genre that "blends indigenous, African and Spanish styles into foot-stomping, hand-clapping songs often with ad-libbed lyrics." Why isn't this in the Calendar section? Answer: Because they don't have a publicist.
Five years ago, several Santa Ana High School students formed the band Son del Centro after becoming intrigued by a genre that even their immigrant parents knew little about.

Since then, Son del Centro has become one of a handful of bands in Southern California to specialize in the son jarocho style, giving the musicians a part in preserving a Mexican tradition that has struggled to survive outside the rural sections of Veracruz.

"We really like playing the music, but for us, it's also about activism, educating people about our culture. It really is a bond between us," said Jesus Gutierrez, an engineer who began performing with the band because he wanted to be part of community activism.

Juan Ruiz, 21, a student at Cal Poly Pomona, recently learned to play the jarana at the suggestion of a friend.

"I just never stopped coming," he said. "I fell in love with the whole package. It was the music, a lost art form and a community."
Ø The Guide thinks there's something "highbrow" about Las Vegas. No, really. They actually think there are things like highbrow and lowbrow versions of Elvis impersonators, casinos, ad hoc wedding chapels and soft-core bump-and-grind shows, along with regular shows, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping, etc.
About the only thing Vegas has failed at is making the city a family destination... "People want an adult town." Well, they've got it, in both its traditional permutations: high (expensive, often tasteful) and low (relatively cheap, often entertainingly tasteless). Whether you're on the glitzy Strip or Fremont Street, with its old-school patina of seediness, you will find something to engage your imagination.
Agreed (except for the "often tasteful" part,) but high-cost is not the same as highbrow. They need to spend a week in New York and then revisit this subject, maybe celebrate LV for the enjoyably lowbrow spectacle that it is, no matter how much you're spending.