Bugs Me A Little...Reinforcing Racism: KTLA 5 News Coverage of Oarfish Discovery and of a Stabbing in Hawthorne

I am bugged out by a juxtaposition of various news stories.  Mostly because it just seems to reinforce age old stereotypes.

As I was looking up things to do in Catalina Island for this upcoming weekend, I came across a dated news story back in October about an Oarfish discovery on KTLA.  I was surprised that the one who made the discovery was a Latina snorkeler or at least had a Latina-sounding name, but its LA, its 2014 (or the video was back in 2013), everyone's all integrated, we've got a black president yada yada yada.

However, you wouldn't know that she made the discovery.  That she has accomplished something.  You'd just think it's a bunch of white people, yet again, by watching KTLA's video.


In that KTLA video, which has been listed on innumerable aggregate sites from Yahoo to Huffington Post to local news affiliates, no effort seems to made in showing the discovery, or getting her story, just pictures of some screaming white girls and an interview of her co-associate who looks like Freddie Roach's brother.  

Meanwhile, the actual institute has its video on Youtube, which to day viewed a paltry 2,600 times, and actually features her in all her glory.

Adding salt to the wound, immediately following this story on KTLA a story about a stabbing by a Latino man.  No hesitation in getting a clear visual of him.

Just one little way that media can reinforce racist narratives without necessarily intending to do so (or so I'd assume), which...bugged me a little.

The Least Bike-Friendly Cities and Districts in LA County and City of LA

My work takes me all over LA County and the City of LA.

And when I can, I bike.

I don't have any real metrics or data available.  My rankings are not based on counting speed limits, bike lanes, traffic counts, or whatever, but are based mostly on my whether or not I 'feel comfortable' on main streets in certain cities as a sometimes-commuting bicyclist myself.

Chances are that if I "feel comfortable" as a sometimes-commuting bicyclist who occasionally rides with his scared-to-death fiance, mom, and/or sister, it is likely that even more people/Angelenos, who don't really make the effort to bike nor have given it much thought, will feel the same when encountering the same environs.

"Comfort" for me means "intuitive" and/or "natural."  So a driving (pun not intended) question behind these rankings is, how "intuitive" and/or "natural" is it to be biking on the streets of a given area?

But first...

The Limitations of These Rankings:  
  • It's not systematic;  absolute lack of numbers
  • Areas I know really well where I can take the little streets because I've passed through them many times:   LA City Council District 13 (Silver Lake, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Atwater Village), UCLA Area (Westwood-Culver City-Palms) North Hollywood,  Most of LA City Council District 4 (Los Feliz, Little Armenia, Koreatown, southern commercial parts of Glendale, Most of the Central San Fernando Valley:  Van Nuys, Panorama City, Pacoima, Arleta, Most of Long Beach:  Eastside and Westside Long Beach, Wilmington, Pico-Union, Exposition Park
  • I could probably find my way around, but mainly use the big streets on:  A lot of the Valley (Universal City in the South to Van Nuys in the North, Sherman Oaks to the West, Burbank to the East), A lot of the South Bay Area (Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Carson, Torrance, Gardena, North Long Beach, Cerritos, Compton, Lakewood, Signal Hill, San Pedro), Some of the San Gabriel Valley (Monterey Park, West Covina), Some of the Westside (Santa Monica, Venice), Some of the Eastside (East LA, Boyle Heights), LAX-El Segundo area, Malibu, South LA (USC-Leimert Park), Culver City
  • I would be pretty lost here:   A lot of the San Gabriel Valley and everything else East (Arcadia, Alhambra, Montebello, El Monte, Pomona, Lincoln Heights), Anything Northwest of Northridge (Chatsworth), Anything North of Pacoima (Lake View Terrace, Santa Clarita etc), Slightly North of Santa Monica (Pacific Palisades, Brentwood), Anything East of Paramount (Bellflower, Downey, Lynwood, Commerce)
Possible Takeaways:
  • To place a more public spotlight on areas across LA County and City of LA that really feel unsafe for bicyclists.
I've divided the sections of LA County Cities and City of LA Neighborhoods into two tiers: "Really needs improvement" and "Oh Shit, I really hope I don't die"
LA County City "Needs Improvement" Tier

1)  Carson.  Carson has streets with decent amount of room for bicyclists, but I am not aware of many of its bike-friendly signs or whatever.
2)  Redondo Beach.  Not thinking of the actual beach area, but the surface streets.  I remember taking Artesia one time.  Not a lot of room for bicycling, though it seems to have potential.
3)  Inglewood/Hawthorne/South Gate.  Inglewood and Hawthorne seem to have space, but I hardly remember bike facilities on either.

4)  Alhambra/The Covinas - Wide streets, mostly flat.  Only cars have the opportunity to take advantage.

LA County "Oh shit I really hope I don't die today" Tier
1)  El Segundo - If you don't know the small streets here, it can be very scary.  Luckily the Green Line has a stop for Mariposa, and that's basically the street on which you should stay.
2)  Gardena - I have yet to see a single bike facility in this city.  It's one saving grace is the East side where there isn't any traffic.  But if you try going down Redondo Beach Blvd with its three lanes, BE SAFE.
3)  Cerritos - South Street can be scary as noted by me a few years ago.  Luckily this town is not that big.
4)  Beverly Hills/Century City - I think of Santa Monica Blvd.  Hate it.
5)  Torrance - My fiance's dream city growing up.  All suburbed and boxed in a car waiting to get on/off the 405.
6)  Vernon - Would be a decent biking area if there weren't trucks breathing on you, abandoned, and full of polution.
7)  Malibu - PCH, PCH, PCH.  Despite the fact that bicyclists are highly visible and there are road signs warning drivers to slow down, I still would not want to bike here.  The roads are designed for people to zip through, and it's probably even worse during peak hours.  Speeds can reach highway speeds
8)  Culver City - I really dislike biking anything in Culver City because of the traffic and the utter lack of bike facilities.  Sepulveda isnt very enjoyable.  Neither is La Cienega. 

LA City Rankings "Needs Improvement" Tier
1)  Mid-Wilshire - I know these streets already as a bicyclist, but I mention this here because actual Wilshire is still and almost always will be a nightmare (unless past 9P-10P, but that isn't guaranteed).
2)  Hollywood - Mostly because the touristy areas along Cahuenga are packed with traffic.
3)  Harbor City - Very small section of the city that I know has little bike-friendliness, especially not on PCH.
4)  Harbor Gateway - I see this district sign and I immediately think, what kind of bike-enemy trouble am I going to encounter next?
5)  Historic Filipinotown - The main East-West thoroughfares, Temple and 3rd St, are and always have been mini race tracks
6)  Florence - Whenever I use this street, I don't think bike-friendliness.  There is space, but I always wonder what cars are rushing behind me.

LA City "Oh shit I really hope I don't die today" Tier
1)  Beverly Glen - I think of Sunset Boulevard and how completely unrunnable it becomes.
2)  Beverly Grove - I think of La Cienega Blvd, the lack of space for bicyclists, and the car traffic that breathes on you like a predator
3)  Vermont-Slauson - Slauson has got to be the worst East-West thoroughfare with a railroad track on it.   Usually railroad tracks are a good sign for bicyclists.  In Slauson's, it means just try really hard not to get run over.
4)  Cahuenga Pass -The route that I used to take from LA to the Valley was always kind of scary mostly because of the cars breathing on me.  Would be a nice fun uphill/downhill if not for the impatient motorists.

Compton vs. Malibu - Chronicling Compton - Friday, March 21, 2014

Continuing my quest to understand the "opportunityscape" in Compton.

But first, the bits and pieces of Compton:

Compton vs. Malibu

Incidentally, both have been given 'D' grades for their respective efforts at historical preservation, as mentioned in the bits above.

I don't know the ins and outs of either of these cities like I do central LA.  A lot of what I do know about each is visual, but I'm learning rapidly.   Compton, because I live here.  Malibu, because I am currently working there and scoping out the entirety of its streets.

I find the juxtaposition somewhat interesting;  going from one of the worst-perceived towns in America to the town perceived as the idyllic and reserved for the ultra-successful.

Things that jump out at me:

In Malibu:
  • The Roads:  Ample Hills.  Ample Winding roads.  Every street is a cul-de-sac.
  • Biking:  It is still very dangerous to actually bike PCH;  rarely have I seen anyone but the recreational bicyclist on PCH and on sidestreets.  Getting up the many hills though seem like a professional rider's dream.
  • Public Parks:  No real parks.  Ample Tennis courts, but probably if you're a resident;  I don't see the taco truck guys going up there.
  • Starbucks:  I have been to two.  Always lively, steady stream of people, at least during the daytimes that I have been there.
  • The Schools:  There is a marine school with lush fields for soccer, running, and anything
  • The flow of the work day:  More people working on houses than actual residents
  • In its public displays:  The environmentalism. 
  • The homeless people are:  Usually around Civic Center Dr.  Wherever the 534 drops em.
It's also political office season there.  Lots of city council signs.

In Compton:
  • The Roads:  Flat, flat, flat.  Streets are generally on a grid, except when they're not, like for instance trying to take a biking route to the Metro station on anything except Compton Blvd.  The roads are pretty damn bumpy, least in the Westside.  Distractingly bumpy as in, you're trying to ride smoothly, but you just end up having to deal with a rash of potholes, no matter what mode of transport you take.
  • Biking:  There's an OK amount of bicycling;  not the greatest biking accomodations however
  • Public Parks:  No one really at the parks unless there's some kind of party.  Tennis courts that require a permit.
  • Starbucks:  The one on Artesia has been empty each time I've gone.  Closes very early.
  • The Schools:  Who knows how the schools are?  But the schools have a a reputation probably just by virtue of being here.
  • The flow of the day:  Generally quiet.  But occasionally someone will have a midday merienda with friends occupying the block.
  • In its public displays:  The isolated strings of civil rights awareness in the black community
  • The homeless people are:  Anywhere, usually.  But mostly at the Metro station...
When it was political office season here, there were also lots of signs.  That was for school board. 

National Reparations Day - Chronicling Compton - March 15, 2014

But first, the bits and pieces of Compton

The Daily Life Review:  Parking and National Reparations Day 

Unfortunately, due to my day job, I was not able to attend either Amiri Baraka's celebration nor hear our mayor speak at USC.  The breaks.

 1)  Parking really sucks on my block.  Everywhere I've lived (or visited quite often) has been the same, from Silver Lake to Lakewood to Panorama City to Wilmington, I've had to utilize some kind of parking "strategy."

It's not so much that I can't find parking, it's just that some neighbors always take the parking space in front of our house.  And it's not like they have one car, there are 2 in their driveway, 1 in front of their house, 1 or 2 on the other side.

This week it's not only in front of our house, but two of their cars are almost obstructing our driveway.

I've been tempted to call municipal code or something and have them tow away their truck, which is perfectly legal after 3 days. 

On another note, I can't believe I'm actually worked up about this.

2) National Reparations Day.  Exactly a week ago, March 6th, aghast at how slow my running pace has become, I decided that I was going to run from my house to Cal State Dominguez Hills, which is about a 5 mile roundtrip.

Along the way, I see a fallen white bicyclist tribute on Gardena and Avalon.

On the way back, mid-afternoon I see how Carson morphs into Compton.

I get on Central on the Easterly sidewalk next to the airport.  Right across from Tragniew Park.


I heard this all the way on the Easterly sidewalk of Central Ave near the Airport.

As I get closer, I see booths set up.  A fair of some sort.

My field of vision is greeted by a wooden representation of a slave ship, adorned with a white T-shirt carrying an image of Africa and the American flag. 

 On the basketball court, the drumming.

A middle-aged black belly dancer.

There is a small crowd of about 30 or so people scattered in booths.  What are they selling?  Shirts, food, but mostly to promote National Reparations Day (NRD).

I see men dressed in Nation of Islam-like clothing --- suit with a bowtie.

I wonder how they in particular would receive me, an ambiguous-looking maybe Latino, maybe Asian man in an event dedicated to "their" cause.

No one talks to me as I wonder and glance at the dancers on the basketball court.  In my head, I'm replaying scenes at the church where we were talking with long-time parishioners, and one of them makes the comment to my fiance about soothing over Latino-black relations, "it takes one person."

I walk hesitantly towards the booths trying to understand what "this" is all about.  I mean, I know what it's about, but I have a few questions about how such a celebration/movement was brought on this particular day.

Why March 6th?  Any significance to it?

I seek out the booths, glancing at who might be receptive to my inquiries.  I look for a booth with flyers and giveaways.

After some initial hesitation, I approach that booth with the flyers, hoping to learn more.

A middle-aged woman wearing a shirt naming Latin American countries also in the African diaspora.

She doesn't really give me an answer about why March 6 other than to say "it's time."  Her way of saying, "if not now, then when." 

She appears to be surprised and impressed by my mere appearance at this gathering at the edge of West Compton.

She talks to me about how the younger generation doesn't seem to understand the impacts of slavery.  She likens the experience of slavery to a holocaust, mostly as a way for the younger generation to understand the emotional toll it exacts on people today. 

Discovering the Way West out of Compton by Bike - Chronicling Compton - March 6, 2014

Bits and Pieces of Compton

The Daily Life Review 
  • The Post Office on Santa Fe, really closes at 5:00 PM on the dot.  An unrepentant, uncompromising lady will slam the door in your face if you are a millisecond late.
  • The Bike Report:  Artesia Ave from Alameda/Santa Fe is nicely developed for biking Eastward through North Long Beach.  Sad that it doesn't really seem to lend itself Westward.  Speaking of Westward, I've also "discovered" the new, "somewhat" safe street that kind of carries me through Westward from Rancho Dominguez to Gardena to Hawthorne to El Segundo (the airport):  It's called 135th Street/Utah Ave (in El Segundo), which for me I started on San Pedro.  If it were a Yelp rating, I'd give this East-West thoroughfare three stars, mostly because there are plenty of sketchy sections with 40 MPH speed limits and 2 lanes, and a ton of cars during evening, when it's single lane, but it's as safe as it gets.
  • Speaking of bikes, a pothole on Central Ave near Alondra Blvd. almost killed my bike and me.  As I was merging to make a left turn, I ran smack dab into a pot hole, which slowed my bike considerably.  I was able to merge into the turning lane successfully, but it was kind of scary with oncoming traffic.  Potholes, potholes, potholes, they are the worst for both bicyclists and cars on Central Ave.

The Opportunityscapes - Chronicling Compton - February 26, 2014

Bits and Pieces of Compton

Letting it Go:  Life Review 

We've had plumbing problems, but my fiance was able to locate a plumber who used to live in and around the neighborhood.  He mentioned that the street I live on in particular was not very good. 

He mentioned that in addition to all the crimes committed, they would intentionally shoot pellets at the street lights to make it dark.  I'm not sure where and when he registered these memories, but so far so good. 

I have seen lots of young folk give long stares, but who knows what they're thinking.  But I know something as simple as a mean-"looking", meaning a stare that appears to be badly intentioned, can be the cause of a violent act.

As I mentioned before, the only real issue I've had so far being on the street I've been on has been:  drumroll....finding parking. 

I think less than chaste thoughts when "my" parking space is taken by a neighbor and/or visitor.

However, I've gained a big chunk of inspiration in not caring about such things. 

One source of that inspiration?

The sermon given during the last Sunday of Black History Month at the church in West Rancho Dominguez.  And no, I'm not becoming a proselytizer, I promise, but I wish that what he said had more cache on the INDIVIDUALS of the community.  And by INDIVIDUALS, I mean the youth who seemed to be socialized into/want to get into lives where enacting violence and killing is a respected activity.

Many people at this particular celebration were wearing either fashions from various parts of Africa or shirts celebrating black history.  The Nigerian priest who runs two parishes around LA, a first-timer at the parish, made the comment that he had never seen so many African-American Catholics. 

What he talked about would sound white Murrica American-y if context was completely stripped away from it. 

He talked about freedom and oppressors.

Basically, to enjoy what freedoms we were afforded here.


That not enjoying those freedoms was a-kin to letting oppressors take hold of our lives.

How our impulses can often be wrong when it comes to understanding strangers.

I mostly enjoyed what he had to say if it weren't for his Bill Cosby-like pronunciations.

What he said made me think about the differing associations and definitions of freedom within white American contexts and within black American contexts.  My personal feeling/hypothesis is that white American contexts tend to emphasize "freedom" in association with gun rights and freedom of expression while the black American contexts tend to emphasize freedom in association with forms of slavery and cycles of oppression.

The Opportunity-Scapes of Compton

Thanks to my homey at the Transitional Zone for posting video of this perennial favorite of mine.

At 2:29 you hear this:  "Liquor store--church, liquor store--chicken shack, liquor store--church, liquor store--check cash."

Bambu is rapping about Watts, the place who grew up which is just a few streets North of us.  It's a straight bike ride away.  The description appears to fit most of Compton as well.  It fits so well that when I stopped by a few years ago while on a bike ride still not knowing much about Compton, I looked at Target as if it was some kind of oasis.  There doesn't appear to be a lot, but then again there doesn't seem to be much reported.

Last week, I posted the Dissertations and Theses of Compton and found some inspiration for future fields of study.  I saw lots of dissertations about the educational system, social programs, and business opportunities.

Given that Compton has been talked about by its celebrities and society at large in terms of deficits ("I grew up on the mean streets of Compton"), I wonder what are the business/job opportunities available to the young folk here, what opportunities do they actually take, and are there any social norms/barriers to those opportunities?  What are the "pathways" to jobs?  And who if anyone helps them?  How does this compare to people in a town like say, Santa Monica?

So far, I've found out that a few of my younger adult-aged male Latino neighbors work at the Port of Long Beach as dispatchers.  Some work in Aerospace as parts assemblers.  Another neighbor, older immigrant Latinos seem to work as fruit vendors with a pushcart.  Oh and they've also got a teacher and a no-name data collector.  So far.

Dissertations and Theses of Compton - Chronicling Compton - February 20, 2014

First, the Bits and Pieces of Compton

Daily Life Review

It's been 6 months here in Compton.

No news is the best news.

I've continued running my route;  I can't believe how slow I still am.  I haven't biked so much in the last two weeks, so nothing to report about biking. 

As of late, my fiance and I have been focused on wedding planning.  When we've had free time, we've spent it with friends or with each other from outside the boundaries. 

Were in Gardena taking in the Asian bakeries, the boba, the pho, the Asian dollar store.  At least I have.  For groceries, we still alternate between the 99 Cents store, Food4Less, and Trader Joes.  As far as eating goes, I'm tempted to try a Tam's burgers one time though. 

We've gone to the church that is technically in West Rancho Dominguez Hills in the middle of black history month, which means FREE breakfast.

We've played tennis one time, though we went all the way to Gardena for a court.  Yes in the home of Venus and Serena Williams, we have to go out of the city bounds for a damn tennis court.  We could've gone to Tragniew Park for tennis, but plastered in front of the entrances is a sign saying "PERMIT REQUIRED."  I suddenly understand the comment made in Spanish from Google, "We want the tennis courts open!"

All in all, everything's been swimming along.

The Dissertations and Theses of Compton

As a budding researcher with many interests, many a time I've utilized the ProQuest Search Engine in search of dissertations/theses related to anything about Long Beach, Cambodians, gangs, etc. etc.   

This time I was in search of academic dissertations/theses in "compton, california."

Dissertations and theses?  Dissertations and theses because this is people's culminating work.  Unproven people's culminating work.  Unproven academic people's culminating work trying to make themselves "proven."

From that search I've received two types of dissertations/theses as far as I can tell:  1) Dissertations/theses about Compton or parts of Compton itself  2)  Dissertations/theses that take place in Compton.

I'm far more interested in the first category, however, I think the second category can catalyze interesting discussion as well.

Here's a sampling of the Dissertations/theses that take place in Compton, the second category:

A sampling of the Dissertations/theses about Compton or parts of Compton, the first category: