Yesterday, a new newspaper hit the streets of Los Angeles for the first time in the form of blogdowntownWeekly. This is important to me not just because I will always be a fan of ink and paper — especially in this age of contraction in which I absolutely  love to see new incarnations of the format born — but more directly because it was started by my friends Eric and Kathy Richardson as a physical companion to their long-running and popular blogdowntown blog.

And frankly while I’ve known a bunch of publishers of the various magazines and newspapers that I’ve worked on throughout my career, I haven’t known anyone who started a newspaper from the ground up before, let alone been acquainted with them on anything beyond a business level. Certainly I’ve never gone bike riding with them like I have had occasion to do with Eric and Kathy.

So in thinking about that unique distinction and connection, I decided I had to do something more than just rah-rah the first issue’s arrival here in my blog. I had to go physical with my cheerleading and be an actual supportive part of that first edition. So I put my money where my mouthpiece is and did something that in itself was a first for me: I bought an ad — a small one that looks a little something like this*:

The picture is one I snapped of Kathy and Eric and other cyclists in the background during the inaugural “Ten Bridges” ride I put together waaaaay back in 2007. It’s not the best image owing to us all being in motion on our bikes at dusk, but what it lacks in clarity it makes up for symbolically to me in that they’re both captured side by side coming westward along the historic 6th Street Bridge toward downtown. Toward the place that would define their future. And now that future is here.

Maybe I’m working to hard to contrive a connection between the photo and their new endeavor, but the sentiment I express is sincere.

* I haven’t had a chance to get downtown yet and grab me an actual copy so I’m not sure how the ad looks in real life, but that’s what my questionable graphic design skills hath wrought.

My friend and fellow LA Metblogger David Markland, clued me in to the news that my little timelapse vid got picked up by Huffington Post, and even played on the front page:

The following images (clickably biggable) allowed me to practice my Giant Arrow Pointing To My Name skills:

Front Page:


You might have checked out my post earlier this week on LA Metblogs cumbersomely titled “89 Snaps Of People I Passed While Biking This Morning On The Strand Between Hermosa Beach And The Ballona Creek Bridge.”

If not, in a nutshell, I had my sunglasses digicam on while biking from Hermosa Beach back to work this last Wednesday morning, and when I later reviewed the video I decided to capture stills of the frames featuring people I encountered along the way and ended up with 89 of them, which I then ran through some basic Photoshop filtration to give them an illustrative look.  Liking the results and feeling  it made for an interesting slice of SoCal life I tossed ’em all up on Flickr and linked to them from the aforementioned Metblogs post made that evening.

Then came this arrogantly assuming comment yesterday morning from someone who apparently thinks they know everything  and to prove it used the pseudonym “Privacy rights violated:”

Apparently you are unaware of the rights of individuals to control the use of their image in publicity. You legally are violating their rights to privacy. Just because people appear in public, does NOT mean you have the right to publish their images online for the world to see, and associate this with a blog. You have a right to take a photo for yourself, but not the right to make them public. An exception is when they are PUBLIC FIGURES and most all of these people are not. You need signed releases!

It was chuckle-worthy both in the person’s intense disregard for the true applicability of a person’s expectation of privacy in public places, and his or her blatant lack of awareness of my rights as a photographer and — for want of a better word — artist. Not to mention my 19 years’ experience in various journalistic endeavors.

I especially enjoyed the person’s apparent Freudian slip of “You legally are violating their rights…” Because that’s, in effect, absolutely correct. I am well within my rights not only to take photos of anyone and everyone on that bikeway, but also to publish them to Flickr and LA Metblogs.

And while it amazes me that there are people like “Privacy rights violated” who are so ignorant and adamantly demonstrative of it, at its core such a dimwitted display is an appreciated opportunity to explore and enforce the truth.

Call it coincidence or an ultimate eventuality, but next to my Sunday edition of the New York Times (for which I have the privilege of paying a whopping discounted  rate of $7.45 per week for seven-day delivery) sat a solicitation from the L.A. Times encouraging me to return from my seven months of self-imposed exile into the land of disgruntled canceled subscribers for a special rate of $75 for a year’s worth of papers.

Not only is that a dang good deal standing on its own, but makes the $387.40-plus annual NYT outlay seem fiscally idiotic. While I’ve always known my stay would be a temporary one, I wasn’t yet in a rush to break up the relationship.

Not entirely convinced, I sat back with today’s NYT, and enjoyed it as usual, but when I got to the Sports section I dove in to the NCAA Football section hoping for the very least a brief on Alabama — my favorite college football team — and its season-opening victory last night over Virginia Tech.

Nothing. Literally. In the column running down the Top-25 teams in the nation, there was Alabama at No. 5 and the score showed 0-0. A couple rungs down the ladder was No. 7 VT’s place and their score, too, read 0-0. Right away I understood what happened. Being the national edition, the paper was probably starting its press run by the time the game, played in Georgia, had barely started. So instead of the 34-24 final score (or even the in-progress score), the editors could do nothing but go with what it knew at the time: 0-0.

Turns out those goose eggs broke the proverbial camel’s back and got me on the phone with NYT customer service wherein when the rep started to valiantly offer reasons why I shouldn’t cancel my subscription I pretty much shut down his script by telling him that perhaps I’m the only NYT subscriber in the entire country who gives two hoots about the Crimson Tide, but nevertheless if I’m expected to pay almost $400 each year for a newspaper, I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in expecting to read about the final score of my favorite college football team the day after they played.

He simply said “I understand” and processed my cancellation.

My next call was to the LA Times rep who set me up at the aforementioned rate. Notwithstanding my hometown paper’s institutional bias against Alabama (nurtured by columnist Jim Murray who was notorious in his disrespect and disdain for Coach Bear Bryant and his program), I can be sure that the press runs here in town are never so early as to prevent ‘Bama’s game results from making it into the paper I’ll hold in my hand on Sundays.


The headline caught my eye because it specifies the murder occured downtown. Then the first paragraph identifies the neighborhood as Jefferson Park and the second pinpoints it in the 3700 block of South Normandie near 37th Street, which as the crow flies is about as downtown as Koreatown or Boyle Heights — except even farther than those two communities.

Wowza! Via a post at LAObserved about a wholly defaming and highly suspect slammajam made by an unnamed source about a downtown restaurant on the Eater LA blog, I just learned about something called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which apparently holds harmless from liability any “providers and users of an interactive computer service who publish information provided by others.”

So basically if some anonymous blogger with full intent to defame and malign however baselessly or biasedly writes that someone  who we’ll call “Jonas Dough” is a “raging pedophile and serial killer” I am entirely under no obligation to verify and/or debunk or in anyway research such opinion and am at entirely protected liberty to reprint it verbatim as fact.

Not that I do much in the way of such ax-grindingly libelous and patently damaging garbage like that found in the above-mentioned post at Eater LA, but it’s really good to know I can if I want to.

And by “really good” I mean really lame.

And by really lame I mean that if this kind of full-assed, irresponsible reporting being condoned and allowed to stand by Eater LA’s overlords at Curbed Network simply because there is precedent to do so (and probably because the resulting increased traffic is a cha-ching) then the least I can do is wipe Eater LA’s sister site Curbed LA from my blogroll and delete my account as a commenter.

UPDATE (11:04 a.m.): Eater LA has offered the owners of the restaurant the opportunity to argue the unsubstantiated allegations presented in the post. That’s a bit like Salem giving its alleged witches the chance to argue against their guilt with nooses tightened around their necks.

It almost pains me to spell this out because it’s common fucking sense, but instead  of “equal time” after the defamation (while also leaving it live), the simple and proper and legitimate and fair and ethical action Eater LA should have taken would have been to use the “tipster” accusations as a springboard to contact the eatery’s owners and get their responses to them and then post a balanced item about it. But instead Eater LA and Curbed Network is condoning laziness and irresponsibility and doing so from behind the protection afforded this indecent section of a so-called Decency Act, while snickering as it reaps the benefits from the increased traffic the controversy has generated.

Check out Dan Turner, L.A. River Hater, in the L.A. Times. The dude goes for a five-mile bike ride along the path from Griffith Park to Fletcher and comes back like some definitive expert with things like this to say:

“…I’d like to write some Whitmanesque stanzas about the atomic oneness of nature, but the diesel fumes have aggravated my asthma and my ears are still ringing from the trucks blaring past on the Golden State Freeway.”

Or this:

“Picture a mountain stream, then line its banks with graffiti-scarred concrete, smoke-belching industrial buildings and the snarling, lung-burning, 10-lane tornado that is the I-5, and you have the Glendale Narrows.”

And this:

“Admittedly, it is reassuring to see wildlife thriving in the midst of such blight — the waters teem with great blue herons, egrets, black-necked stilts and other beautiful birds — but this is a nature experience only for those who have never actually experienced nature. Those birds are wading in treated sewage during the dry season and urban runoff replete with deadly chemicals, dog feces and other nastiness during the wet season; at any time of year, it’s also a garbage dump.”

Oooooo, I hope LA Creek Freak Joe Linton doesn’t read all that.

The Los Angeles River is certainly an acquired taste, one I’ve distilled from some 30 years spent appreciating its varied parts, from sections picturesque and stark — always ever hopeful of its potential.

Another thing acquired with that developed affection is a ready defensiveness to tell people like Dan Turner to just give it a rest with all that tired snark and overwrought hyper bollocks — especially if it indeed  derives from a single spin along a short section of its banks. If that’s true: way to put some dedicated research in there, Danny boy.

The river is what it is because of us and it can be something far better because of us. Yet Turner sees fit to turn his back on the wretched waterway, citing money and time as the reasons why revitalizing it is a lost cause.

Those are valid concerns but see, I’m the kind who’s a bit more willing to support such a dynamic restoration effort — even if I might never see it’s completion. In part because we owe it to the river and to our future as a liveable city. And also in part because I’m far more tolerant of the sensory distractions that troubled poor Turner so. Whether it’s in the river’s bed under the 6th Street Bridge or on the east bank marveling at never-before-seen-bird, for some reason the noises and the smells don’t get in the way of me taking my time to marvel at the oasis that the L.A. River is now and might one day become.

UPDATED (6/5): I guess I’d been hoping that the writer of the column was just an average joe freelancer-type who’d decided to submit his kneejerk thoughts on the river to the L.A. Times. Nah. Turns out Dan Turner’s on the paper’s freakin’ editorial board:


I read he lives in the Hollywood Hills. I’ll bet you he racked his bike and his anti-river bias to his car and drove both to the river.

« Previous PageNext Page »