Lotusland’s roundup of what’s cool to read this week on the web.
Streetsblog Los Angeles: Ring, Ring! Who’s There? The Leimert Phone Company!
Leimert Park is one of my favorite L.A. neighborhoods. When I planned a trip there last year for Occidental College students in an “Urban Fictions” class, the legendary Ben Caldwell of Kaos Network gave a riveting talk about Leimert Park’s history and culture. So I was not too surprised to hear that he had teamed with the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab to dream up a second, more artistic life, for dead pay phones in the neighborhood. Here’s one idea:
Los Angeles Times: Map of Literary L.A.
Calling all L.A. literature fans! This is fun. A map with 63 locations — of bookstores, lit-landmarks, and, most fun, scenes from 27 L.A. novels. I only wish the map included more. My top nominations would be “Southland” by Nina Revoyr, set in the Crenshaw district, and “Locas” by Yxta Maya Murray, set in Echo Park. They happen to be two of my favorite novels, ever.
Zocalo Public Square: Architecture Does Matter—Even In Crazy L.A. [+ Video]
The Getty Museum’s “Pacific Standard Time” initiative, now in its second installment, is focusing on L.A. architecture. As part of the project Zocalo Public Square organized a series of talks, starting with “Do Architects Really Shape Cities?” Famed architect Thom Mayne commented on my old neighborhood — Lincoln Blvd. on Santa Monica’s south side.
“We live in this radical, heterogeneous place,” said Mayne. He drives down the incredibly ugly Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica to get to work—but he finds Lincoln preferable to the sleep-inducing landscaped roads of Orange County that hide cars and buildings. “I really miss all that junky crap,” he said.
I used to live a stone’s throw from George’s Burger on Lincoln, just down the street from the Secret Desires erotica store. My high school was just off Lincoln at Pico. It was a truly ugly street. But it was home.
Los Angeles Times: Keeping the idea of city streets safe in Boston Marathon aftermath
Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne writes: “It is at times like these that the idea of the open, urban and democratic street — slowly reemerging in Los Angeles and other cities even as it comes under attack in Boston — is more vulnerable and more valuable than ever.” Hawthorne taught my “Green Architecture” class at Occidental College, and helped me realize that, in architecture, the streets are often as important as the buildings.
L.A. Weekly: John Sedlar’s Critically Acclaimed Playa May Be Closed, But With Rivera and His Museum Tamal, He’s Still Cooking
The L.A. Weekly’s Amy Scattergood profiles one of L.A.’s finest chefs, John Sedlar. (And don’t miss Anne Fishbein’s slideshow.) Sedlar is planning a museum, and I toured the sneak-peak version a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, the real thing is still a ways off. Until then, there’s Sedlar’s very haute (very expensive) pan-Latin restaurant Rivera, where you’ll find the light-as-air tamales that I named “number one in L.A.” for the L.A. Weekly.
New York Times: Wal-Mart Abroad: How a retail giant fueled growth with bribes
This series just won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. It’s fascinating to see such a major company exposed as “an aggressive and creative corrupter.”
Columbia Journalism Review: The other side of reporting a tragedy
Ann Friedman discusses the Boston Marathon bombings and asks the ever-tricky question, “Is it possible for reporters to both do their job and be empathetic humans?” I appreciated this recommendation: “Think about whether you’re adding practical information and amplifying news that’s been vetted, or whether you’re adding to the noise. You can always opine later.”