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A Pair of Brazilian Street Food Stands Are Energizing a West L.A. Parking Lot

Tacos have long dominated L.A.’s street food scene, but other global flavors are always making inroads. For the past five months, a compelling pair of vendors cooking up Brazilian favorites have set up adjacent tents in Rite Aid parking lot in the Sawtelle neighborhood. At night, this same spot hosts a popular taco stand—but that’s another story.

Brazilian BBQ co-owner Fernanda Martins relocated after a stint in Palms, and serves plates ($7.50-$15) starring charcoal-grilled meats like garlicky picanha (top sirloin), bacon-wrapped Angus and Brazilian sausage, plus specials such as feijoada, the earthy Brazilian black bean and meat stew.

Fernanda, husband Watson, and their daughter Ana Clara come from Belo Horizonte, capital of the Brazilian state Minas Gerais. Back home, the family ran a restaurant and gym. They spent two years in New Jersey, cooking food out of their home for the local Brazilian community before moving to L.A., motivated by warmer weather and new opportunities.

They initially took jobs in L.A. ranging from cleaning to delivery and babysitting, “but always with the desire to open our own business,” Fernanda says.

After they moved to Culver City and spotted several taco stands, they decided to set up a food stall focusing on Brazilian barbecue, which is prevalent on streets back home; people often eat grilled meat and grab a beer after work. In October 2019, they launched on Sepulveda in front of Trader Joe’s, with Fernanda cutting meats and plating, Watson on the grill, and Ana Clara handling customer service.

They suffered two setbacks: rainy season hit, followed by COVID-19. The family started cooking out of their home and delivering food until the pandemic forced them to reevaluate. They reemerged at the current address next to new neighbors the Brazilian Taste, where Brazilian flags honor their mutual heritage.

Bruno Oliveira was a loyal Brazilian BBQ customer and fellow Minas Gerais native who also longed to serve family recipes. According to Fernanda, “We became friends, and we encouraged him to open his tent.”

brazilian taste
Bruno and Vanessa of Brazilian Taste

Josh Lurie

Bruno and wife Vanessa opened the Brazilian Taste next door, featuring savory Brazilian pastries from Minas Gerais, which he calls “the food capital of Brazil.” In Brazil, he worked construction and Vanessa was a nutritionist. They relocated to L.A. on a “journey to learn new ways of cooking and new tastes that I can combine with our local Brazilian food.” Bruno adds, “I would like bring new food cultures back home with me one day.”

In the meantime, Bruno and Vanessa both cook at the Brazilian Taste, specializing in different dishes since they’re from different cities in Minas Gerais.

“I decided to sell food on the street because I wanted to be more visible for many people from different cultures to taste my food,” Bruno says. “I was afraid that if I sold food in a restaurant only Brazilians would visit us.”

brazilian taste
Esfihas at the Brazilian Taste

Josh Lurie

The couple tops crimped flatbreads called esfihas ($4.50) with either tangy ground beef or molten cow’s milk cheese from Minas Gerais. Brazilians found inspiration for these supple discs in cooking traditions from Lebanese immigrants who make sfihas, which are often thinner and crispier around the edges. The glutinous cheese bread called pão de queijo ($3), made with tapioca flour, sports thin, crackly crusts that contain dense chewy cores. Flaky slabs of chicken pie ($5) feature shredded breast meat folded with a creamy pink sauce. The couple also deep fries teardrop-shaped coxinhas filled with ingredients like chicken, cheese, and dulce de leche.

As Bruno says, “It’s not just food; it is tradition.”

Brazilian BBQ, 2949 Sawtelle Blvd., Sawtelle, Friday-Sunday, noon-5:30 p.m.

The Brazilian Taste, 2949 Sawtelle Blvd., Sawtelle, 747-235-0651, Sundays, noon-7 p.m.


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When the Century Plaza Hotel Reopens, Will Anything Original Remain?

For answers to more of your burning questions, visit the Ask Chris archive.


Q: When the Century Plaza Hotel reopens later this year, will anything from the original remain?

A: The 16-story, 54-year-old landmark in Century City is set to return with fewer (but larger) super-luxury rooms and 331 condos. Inside the hotel, the heavy draperies and British Beefeater costumes of the ’60s have given way to a more modern, streamlined look. The only major interior element remaining will be the white plaster ceiling recesses. But developers painstakingly returned the midcentury sparkle to the exterior bronzed aluminum, marble, and porte cochere. “If you brought [original architect] Minoru Yamasaki back, would he recognize it?” says an architect who visited the site. “Yes, he would.”

Q: If actors say more than five words in a movie, are they entitled to a higher wage?

A: Whenever background actors on a major movie are directed to utter even a single word, they are immediately upgraded to principal and see their pay jump from $178 to $1,030 a day. “It’s the Hollywood dream,” says Fatna Sallak-Williams, director of background actors at SAG-AFTRA, who notes that even Brad Pitt started out as an extra. Once, an ambitious extra tried to inject dialogue into a silent part on an operating table, but he simply got a mask over his face.

Q: I loved Twohey’s diner in Alhambra. Is it ever coming back?

A: It’s back. The classic restaurant, famous for its Stinko burgers and bittersweet chocolate sundaes, just reopened in South Pasadena. They’ve traded the Formica and booths for swankier digs, but most of the staff and menu items have returned. The Big Boy-size statue of the restaurant’s mascot, Lil’ Stinko, is joined by a new mascot with a “more youthful look,” says owner Tanya Christos. “We’re calling him the grandson of the original Twohey’s.”

Q: Back in the ’90s, a man in a tutu and turban was a constant presence at Caltech. Who was he?

A: Edward Simmons was an eccentric scientist who devised a way to measure the impact of stress on metals. His “strain gauge” speeded up airplane assembly lines during World War II, and it’s still used today. He spent decades tinkering in his lab and attending lectures at Caltech in his Renaissance garb, which he found more comfortable than a suit and tie. He died in 2004, at the age of 93, after a stint at a state mental hospital.


RELATED: Are the California Poppies We See Beside the Freeways Actually Wild?


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FBI Busts ‘Con Queen of Hollywood’ After Years of Alleged International Scams

The Department of Justice and the FBI unsealed a grand jury indictment against Hargobind Tahilramani, a 41-year-old convicted felon from Indonesia known to his victims and law enforcement as the “Con Queen of Hollywood,” charging him with eight federal crimes including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tahilramani is “highly skilled with accents and voices” and his grift, dating back to 2015, allegedly involves him impersonating such Hollywood power women as Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy, former Sony chair Amy Pascal, and Paramount boss Sherry Lansing in order to lure showbiz hopefuls to Indonesia with the promise of work. According to the indictment, he and his confederates would then bilk the industry newbies out of cash for such incidentals as driving and fixing while promising them reimbursement on the backend of imaginary projects.

“Tahilramani and his co-conspirators would falsely claim to be, among others: well-known entertainment industry executives; individuals who worked with the entertainment industry executives; and family members of the entertainment industry executives,” the indictment alleges. “Tahilramani and his co-conspirators would falsely claim that they wanted to hire the entertainment industry professionals to work on films and other projects purportedly based in Indonesia, when in fact, no such films or other projects existed.”

Tahilramani’s unnamed co-conspirators include a driver and a cash collector who both allegedly deposited the marks’ money into “a bank account controlled by Tahilramani.”

After an investigation by the FBI and New York corporate security firm K2 Integrity lasting at least two years, Tahilramani was finally arrested in Manchester, England, on November 27. He was living under the alias Gobind Tahil.

“The defendant has been arrested in the United Kingdom based on a request for his provisional arrest submitted by the United States with a view towards his extradition,” the FBI said in a statement. “We will have no further comment.”

To advance his schemes, the Con Queen didn’t just stick to portraying entertainment industry luminaries to bamboozle his dupes. He also reportedly took on the personas of Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife, Wendi Murdoch; Christine Hearst Schwarzman, the intellectual property lawyer married to Blackstone Group CEO and major Trump supporter Stephen Schwarzman; and billionaire Singapore businesswoman Christina “Queen of Bond Street” Ong.

Authorities stress that Tahilramani isn’t just some colorful rogue on the wrong side of the law, but a man who’s displayed some pretty disturbing proclivities in pursuit of money and to protect his many personas.

The indictment accuses him of threatening to “dismember the entertainment industry professional” or send “pictures of the entertainment industry professional’s children” if they “questioned Tahilramani’s assumed identity or tried to withdraw from an agreement.”


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Morning Brief: SCOTUS Wants a California Court to Reconsider Restrictions on Church Services

» The Supreme Court vacated an earlier trial judge ruling that had allowed California to place public health rules on religious services. The dispute will now return to Federal District Court in Riverside for reconsideration; restrictions will remain in place for now while that process continues.  [The New York Times]

» Fontana megachurch pastor Bob Bryant has died of COVID-19 complications. His church had reopened for indoor services just weeks earlier. [ABC Los Angeles]

» Real estate developer Samuel Leung has pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy for his role in the City Hall money laundering probe. Investigations into Leung and his Sea Breeze project in Downtown L.A. have gone on for more than six years.  [Los Angeles Times]

» Forty previously unhoused families will be moving into a new apartment complex in the San Fernando Valley. The project is the first of what’s been termed ‘Project Homekey,’ which is expected to provide a total of 750 units.  [CBS Los Angeles]

» Steven Spielberg has been granted a restraining order against a woman who he says has repeatedly threatened to kill him. The woman was recently arrested for suspicion of criminal threats, harassment, and stalking. [CBS Los Angeles]


TOP STORIES FROM L.A. MAG

» ‘Real Housewives’ Hubby Accused of Embezzling Funds Intended for Plane Crash Victims to Afford Beverly Hills Lifestyle Erika Jayne and Thomas Girardi have filed for what some claim is a ’sham’ divorce to protect the money

» Warner Bros.’ 2021 Movies Will Hit HBO Max and Theaters on the Same Day Execs are calling the move a “unique one-year plan,” but some people are worried about the exhibition biz

» Mike Garcia Trailed in Every Poll. So How Did He Win Twice in One Year? Katie Hill’s former congressional district is red once again, albeit by a paper thin margin. It may have come down to two campaigns’ two very different approaches


ONE MORE THING

hot chocolate nutcracker
Debbie Allen with dancers, Destiny Wimpye and Jalyn Flowers in ‘Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker’ | Courtesy of Netflix ©2020

‘Magic Is Important’: Debbie Allen on Bringing Her Hot Chocolate Nutcracker to Netflix

The Debbie Allen Dance Academy’s Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, is keeping the holiday tradition alive in this strange year thanks to Netflix’s new Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, which looks at the choreographer-founder’s vision of the classic ballet and the history behind her L.A. school.

 [FULL STORY]


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Things to Do in L.A. This Weekend

Looking for ways to stay occupied (and safe) this weekend? Here are a few things to do.


Fully Virtual…

Red Bull Estados Unidos de Bass

Friday, December 4-Saturday, December 19

Red Bull’s annual celebration of Latin music—Reggaetón, Latin trap, Moombahton, and Global Bass—goes virtual with seven sessions over three weekends, presented from five different cities (including Los Angeles). This year’s fest features sets by J Balvin collaborator and Latin Grammy winner Sky Rompiendo, Grammy and Latin Grammy-nominated singer Kali Uchis, DJ Maceo Plex, and many more. [More details]

The Jen Kirkman Dysfunctional Xmas Show

Friday, December 4

Comedian Jen Kirkman goes live from her living room with a holiday variety show fit for our dysfunctional moment. Expect music, sketches, and surprise guests. [More info and tickets]

 

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A post shared by Jen Kirkman (@jenkirkman)

Dan Guerrero Happy Hour with Guest Lucie Arnaz

Friday, December 4

Hollywood royalty Lucie Arnaz joins Dan Guerrero for a happy hour hosted by LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes. The Broadway star will talk about her Cuban heritage, her dad Desi’s upbringing on the island, and stories about mom Lucy are sure to come up. The party kicks off at 7 p.m. [More info and registration]

L.A. Times Dinner Series: Selena

Saturday, December 5

Beloved chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken are cooking up a Tex-Mex dinner for the latest installment of the Los Angeles Times‘ Dinner Series, which brings together yummy eats and the casts of TV shows. Moises Zamora, creator of Netflix’s new Selena: The Series, joins actors Christian Serratos, Ricardo Chavira, and Seidy Lopez for a convo to go with the meal from Socalo. On the menu? Chips and guac, avocado or shrimp campechana, chicken poblano enchiladas, ensalada de campo, and sweet potato flan for dessert. Meal pickup is available day of, and the live stream kicks off at 6:30. [More details and tickets]

Stream away

Ongoing

It feels like we’re living through one interminable Monday under this global house arrest, but it technically is the weekend. So why not take a break from the news and the glitchy Zoom meetings and watch something fun? Check out what we have in this week’s roundup of streaming recommendations because sometimes the best things to do are the most low-effort of all.


In the Car…

Dodgers Holiday Festival

Through December 24

It may not be the World Series victory parade some would prefer, but the Dodgers are still offering fans a way to celebrate their big year with a drive-thru holiday fest that kicks off on Friday. Expect baseball- and holiday-themed lights and installations. Admission starts at $55 a vehicle. [More info and tickets]

Happy Place the Drive Thru

Through January 10

Not even a deadly pandemic can stop social media-optimized immersive experiences from proliferating! Following two successful runs in L.A. in 2017 and 2018, respectively, Happy Place returns as a drive-thru experience at Westfield Century City. Cars will cruise through 18 immersive environments—windows down, masks on—including a giant, car-operated piano; a candy-filled wonderland; and the fan-fave Super Bloom, which features 40,000 handmade flowers. Tickets start at $49.50 per car, and entries are timed throughout the day and evening through January 10. [More info and tickets]

Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Through January 3

Six Flags Magic Mountain is rolling out a totally new holiday experience to accommodate the moment, transforming the park with millions of lights. You’ll drive through eight different environments with themes including Holiday Square and Gleampunk District. Holiday drinks, snacks, and merch items available. Tickets start at $20. [More info and tickets]

Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey

Through January 3

It’s been a year of drive-ins and drive-throughs, and you can pretty much expect that to continue through the holiday season, but the good news is that the holly jolly powers that be are whipping up some pretty magical stuff. Take Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey, an hour-long, two-mile immersive trip through a glittering winter wonderland (aka the Pomona Fairplex. For more on what to expect, click here. Or if you’re already sold, tickets are available here.

Vineland, Paramount, and Mission Tiki Drive-Ins

Ongoing

Movie theaters are still closed and all of those pop-up screenings sell out fast, but the L.A. area’s stationary drive-ins don’t require advance tickets and have plenty of great movies to check out—and double features galore. It’s a throwback that’s become very welcome during the era of social distancing.


In Person …

Object Lessons at the Landing

Tue.-Sat. through December 12 (by appointment)

Curator and Los Angeles contributor Michael Slenske curated this exhibit at the Landing in Venice, featuring a remarkable lineup of local artists “applying formal, material, and conceptual logic to practical—and impractical—aesthetics in an architecturally significant loft environment.” The show, which is viewable by appointment from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through December 12, includes works by Lita Albuquerque, Kenny Scharf, Chris Burden, Mabel Hutchinson, Ed Ruscha, and many more. 

Looking for even more things to watch, eat, and do during the COVID-19 outbreak? Check out our Inside Guide.


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What to Stream This Weekend: Selena, Sound of Metal, and More

No matter what’s going on outside, staying safer at home is always a good idea. Our weekly roundup of movies and shows to stream will keep you entertained while you flip on the platform of your choice and chill.


What to Stream This Week

Selena: The Series

The life of Selena Quintanilla continues to fascinate, decades after her tragic death. This long-anticipated original series tells her story with greater depth and detail than the iconic 1997 biopic that we’ve all seen hundreds of times.  Netflix.

Sound of Metal

The New York Times declares that “Riz Ahmed gives one of 2020’s best performances” in this intimate indie film about a musician who descends into panic when he discovers he is losing his ability to hear–and eventually finds himself forced to adapt to a new reality. Amazon Prime.

Great British Baking Show: Holidays

A third mini-season of Great British Baking Show‘s festive spin-off hits Netflix on December 4. This edition, aired last year in the U.K. but just now getting a U.S. release, features a guest appearance by the cast of Derry Girls.  Netflix.

The Hardy Boys

Poised to be this year’s Riverdale, this original series based on the classic teen brother detectives finds the titular boys hunting down a dark mystery in their new suburban town.  Hulu.


Other recent recommendations…

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

This new documentary captures choreographer Debbie Allen as she prepares the young dancers at her Los Angeles conservatory for their annual Hot Chocolate Nutcracker holiday show. “She was one of the women, one of the female forces in the world out there who made me feel like I could be whatever I wanted to be,” producer Shonda Rhimes told People. “I hope that when people watch the documentary, they will see the power and the force and the magic that is Debbie.” Netflix.

Happiest Season

This holiday rom-com is packed with star power, including Kristen Stewart, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Dan Levy. The plot centers on Stewart’s character planning to propose while visiting her girlfriend’s parents for Christmas–only to find out her girlfriend hasn’t come out to her conservative family, causing hijinks to ensue. Hulu.

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 2015 best-seller is structured a kind of long-form letter to his own son about his lived experience as a Black man in contemporary America. This film version, filmed over the summer of 2020, incorporates dozens of voices, Angela Bassett, Mahershala Ali, Phylicia Rashad, Mj Rodriguez, Angela Davis, and Oprah Winfrey. HBO will make the film available for free to non-subscribers November 25 to 30. HBO Max.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

A Charlie Brown Christmas might be the iconic Peanuts movie of the season, but before you go full-steam into Vince Guaraldi territory, take a moment to enjoy this charming chestnut from 1973. Amazon, PBS SoCal.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

If there is one person who can bring this country together, it’s Dolly Parton. The musical icon, theme park mogul, philanthropist, and biotech investor (she’s a financial backer of promising COVID-19 vaccine research!) will drop her first holiday album in 30 years for this strange season, and is accompanying the release with this all-new movie musical, choreographed by Debbie Allen.  Netflix

No Man’s Land

In this eight-episode drama co-created by Ron Leshem of Euphoria, a French man travels to Syria to search for his sister, whom he believes has joined the YPJ, an all-female, mostly Kurdish paramilitary organization.  Hulu

Small Axe

Originally produced for the BBC, this anthology series from artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen highlights “little known stories of Black pride and resilience” from British history, particularly the West Indian community in London. The ensemble cast includes John Boyega (Star Wars), Letitia Wright (Black Panther), and Robbie Gee (Snatch). Amazon Prime

The Right Stuff

Based on the same 1979 nonfiction book by Tom Wolfe about the early days of the U.S. Space Program that inspired a 1983 film of the same title, this new version spins the Mercury 7 mission out into an eight-part series.  Disney+

Bombshell

This 2019 film about the inner workings of Fox News in the era of Roger Ailes earned Oscar noms for Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie, playing two of the three women–Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and a fictional female producer–at the center of the story.  Amazon Prime

The Crown

Season four of The Crown picks up with the British royal family in the late 1970s. Gillian Anderson appears as Margaret Thatcher and Emma Corrin as Princess Di in what some critics are calling the best season of the show so far.  Netflix


RELATED: Inside Guide: What to Watch, Play, and Do Now


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Warner Bros.’ 2021 Movies Will Hit HBO Max and Theaters on the Same Day

Next year, you’ll be able to stream Dune, Matrix 4, In the Heights, or any other Warner Bros. feature on HBO Max the same day that film releases to theaters. The move is an attempt to address the closures of theaters in much of the country as well as a sense of uncertainty about how the pandemic may continue to impact life in the coming months, but the company says it intends to return to traditional rollouts in 2022.

“With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films,” WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a press statement. “We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”

Offering the new releases exclusively on HBO Max could help boost subscriptions for the seven-month-old streaming platform which has, so far, reported somewhat underwhelming audience figures. WarnerMedia owner AT&T is heavily invested in the platform, with the corporation reportedly making a $4 billion commitment over three years. HBO Max is also only available to viewers in the U.S., meaning that Warner Bros. isn’t risking home viewing eating into overseas theatrical release windows. In several key international markets, in-person movie ticket sales have already begun to bounce back.

Many movie theaters in the U.S. have been shuttered for months, and even large cinema corporations have argued that, without significant federal intervention, their industry may be on the brink of collapse. News that some of next year’s most-anticipated films would be available to stream immediately–even late into 2021, by which point many hope that some degree of public life will be able to resume–frustrated some cinema owners.

“I think it’s ridiculous and short-sighted,” Chris Johnson, chief executive of Classic Cinemas, told The Washington Post. He described the plan as “kicking theater owners when they’re down.”

In her statement, WarnerMedia CEO Sarnoff attempted to address the anxieties of theater owners by reiterating that the company sees this hybrid distribution model as only a short-term solution.

“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021,” Sarnoff said. “We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions.”


RELATED: Disney Is Reportedly Considering Sending Some of Its Biggest Upcoming Movies Straight to Streaming


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California Issues New Stay-at-Home Order, Closing Salons and Banning Outdoor Dining

UPDATE: DECEMBER 3, 2020 – California Governor Gavin Newsom announced new restrictions for some of the state’s most pandemic-ravaged counties, the Los Angeles Times reports. The new health order covers counties where 85 percent or more of ICU capacity is filled. That immediately impacts 23 counties, including Los Angeles; if trends continue as they have in recent weeks, most of the state will soon hit that grim threshold.

The new order is generally similar to what is currently in place in Los Angeles County, including a ban on on-premises dining and all gatherings of non-household members. It then goes beyond L.A.’s previous rules by closing personal care providers such as hair and nail salons, closing wineries and breweries, and banning overnight camping at campgrounds. Hotels may continue to operate, but “for critical infrastructure support only,” not general tourism. Retailers are capped at 20 percent capacity for in-store shopping.

When enacted, the order will initially last for 21 days. During that time, public health authorities will be monitoring hospitalization rates, health care capacity, and other key indicators, to determine next steps.

“The bottom line is, if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said on Thursday. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see our death rate climb, more lives lost.”


NOVEMBER 19, 2020 – The state of California has issued a new “limited stay-at-home” order for all counties currently listed on the Purple Tier, including Los Angeles County. The new order also comes with a nightly curfew, which will go into effect on Saturday and be in place through at least December 21.

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”

This new curfew order goes beyond the “business curfew” established by Los Angeles County, which primarily applies to bar and restaurant service. Under this guideline, all non-essential activities and gatherings of any kind must cease between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Under the soft curfew status, essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurant take-out and delivery operations, will continue to be allowed during the nighttime hours. It is also fine to go outdoors for limited outdoor exercise or pet care.

stay at home curfew order

The real target of the order is socializing and gathering. Experts have expressed a great deal of concern that, with cases already escalating, social gatherings, such as for Thanksgiving, could quickly become super-spreader events. In these kinds of settings, either at home or at outdoor dining facilities, participants are more likely to be less careful about masking, distancing, and other protocols.

“We are asking Californians to change their personal behaviors to stop the surge. We must be strong together and make tough decisions to stay socially connected but physically distanced during this critical time. Letting our guard down could put thousands of lives in danger and cripple our health care system,” said Dr. Erica Pan, the state’s acting Public Health Officer.

As of now, it is unclear what authorities will be responsible for enforcing the curfew, and what consequences might exist for those who break the rules, particularly the limitations on socializing at private homes.

“I know it’s hard to imagine how to enforce some of this. You may say, ‘Well, how am I ever going to be known, if I’m doing that at home?'” Dr. Mark Ghaly acknowledged at a press briefing, describing a more informal approach to enforcement. “We’ve always depended on a partnership with you.”

Sheriffs departments in multiple counties including Los Angeles and Orange County have affirmed that they do not intend to actively enforce the curfew. In a tweet, L.A. County Sheriff Villanueva said that authorities are “focused on education and voluntary compliance, with criminal enforcement measures being an extreme last resort.”

This approach is consistent with how public health orders have been enforced throughout the pandemic. Response efforts have primarily targeted non-complying businesses, not individuals, and prioritized public health-based consequences such as warnings and utility shut-offs, rather than police actions. Large house parties or other gatherings that were already in violation of health orders prior to the curfew order are expected to be handled in the same manner as previously.

The statewide announcement comes just hours after Los Angeles County reported a record-breaking 5,031 new cases of the disease. That is the highest single-day total since testing began.


RELATED: Starting Friday, Tighter Restrictions Go into Effect to Stop the Spread of COVID-19


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Mike Garcia Trailed in Every Poll. So How Did He Win Twice in One Year?

If anybody ever tells you your vote doesn’t count, you can point them toward the CA-25 Congressional election.

After a tumultuous campaign year that saw Republican Mike Garcia win a special election by nine points in May to serve out the rest of former Rep. Katie Hill’s term, the fighter pilot and former Raytheon executive managed to defeat Democrat Christy Smith in the November election by just 333 votes almost a month after election day. 

“Victory is clear,” Rep. Garcia writes in an email to supporters. “After a long, tough fight, I am proud to earn the privilege of serving CA-25 for another 2 years.”

The defeat comes as yet another upsetting defeat for Smith, who throughout multiple polls this year was seen as the popular frontrunner to win what’s frequently described as a “purple” district that’s neither reliably red nor blue. After an initial surge in votes favoring Garcia on Election Day, Smith appeared to be in the lead on November 9, when she was up by 1,287 votes. That lead eventually vanished, however, as Garcia regained a small lead of only 159 votes the following day.

This margin would fluctuate over the next 20 days, but with every vote drop one thing became clear: Garcia was winning. Representative of the overall vibe of 2020, it was a long, slow process for Garcia to officially win. Seventeen days after Election Day, Garcia declared victory to his supporters in an email that gave “a tip of the hat to Christy Smith who ran an excellent and aggressive campaign.” The win wouldn’t be official, however, for another ten days, when Smith finally conceded in an email to her supporters.

“This is not the end result we fought for, but I am proud of the strong, grassroots campaign we ran,” she writes. Unlike Garcia’s victory email, Smith’s message did not mention her opponent and was in no way congratulatory.

“The results show our district is deeply divided,” she writes. “I am ready to work with partners across our community to heal division, move forward and rebuild together.”

CA-25, which encompasses Palmdale, Santa Clarita, and Simi Valley, falls along two separate county lines. According to the L.A. County Registrar, Smith received over 5,000 more votes than Garcia. If the district consisted solely of the cities in L.A. County, Smith would have defeated Garcia by a full point. However, a portion of the district falls in Republican stronghold Simi Valley, located in Ventura County, where Garcia received over 5,000 more votes than Smith. Former Rep. Katie Hill told Los Angeles back in October that the secret to overcoming the district’s partisan divide was to focus on Palmdale voters, whom she refers to as a “cornerstone” of the district. This is something Democrat Eric Ohlsen, a former Palmdale mayoral candidate, agrees with.

“I told [Smith] that in CA-25, the highest percentage of Democrats are in Palmdale, so let me help you,” Ohlsen says. “She refused. After the primary was over, she decided she had a problem with progressives, and ignored the Antelope Valley because of it. And if you can’t come here and get Democrats in the highest percentage Democrat area, you can’t win.”

Then there were the two campaigns’ very different approaches to voter outreach during a global pandemic. While Smith transitioned to virtual meetings and “drive-thru” meet-and-greet events, Garcia’s team ran what Ohlsen referred to as a campaign that “ignored COVID compliance” by canvassing and knocking on doors, while also adapting to the times with a focused effort on increasing turnout via mail-in voting and virtual town halls. 

“When I was taking down my signs, I’d see his, with the little green stickers saying ‘vote by mail,’” Ohlsen says. “I think he had the right approach and balance.”

Los Angeles also reported back in October that, due to his brief time in Congress finishing out Hill’s term, Garcia has currently been unable to establish an identity for himself on the national stage. As yet, he has only voted for a handful of bills, always along party lines, and has not yet introduced any bills of his own. 

Garcia could not directly be reached for comment, but his campaign directed Los Angeles to his statement to supporters, which says his short-term focus is on “pushing federal relief to those most impacted by COVID (individuals and small businesses).” His supporters believe this is just the beginning of a tide change for the district.

“I’m very optimistic that there will be a lot more coming from him now that he’s been elected to a longer term,” Garcia’s former campaign coordinator Samuel Nevarez says. “I think that when it comes to party leadership, we’re going to see a lot of it with Mike Garcia.”

“I think since he’s a former fighter pilot, it feels like a natural segue…that we can get some Space Force bases out here,” CA-25 voter and Garcia supporter Jordan Dixon-Hamilton says. “That would be fire if we could continue our aerospace legacy.”

Throughout our interviews with voters, the question each participant had the easiest time answering was: Why Mike Garcia? Why not Christy Smith?

“I like that Garcia has actual business experience,” Dixon-Hamilton says. “But [Smith] came off as a political opportunist, who wanted to fill Katie Hill’s seat who just wanted to be the next blond Democratic woman from CA-25.”

“There was some ambiguity between Katie Hill and Christy Smith,” Nevarez says. “Garcia’s message was on point, talking about national security and term limits, and even before he was elected, he portrayed himself as the voice of the people.”

Ohlsen, however, didn’t point to any superficial or policy-based reasons for Smith’s loss, instead citing what he thinks is a “lack of access” to Smith, for activists, fellow Democrats, and even the press.

“CBS in L.A. ran a piece awhile back on CA-25, where they had a sit-down interview with Garcia that they were able to keep cutting to,” Ohlen says. “They didn’t have that with Christy, and at the end, they said she declined the interview. Why would you decline that? It was a week before the election.”

Smith’s campaign did not respond for comment.

With the recent victory of President-elect Joe Biden, Garcia faces an uphill battle in Congress. Although he initially built his brand as an ally of President Trump’s, with Trump even going as far as to personally congratulate Garcia on his special election win, Democrats have retained control over the House and could possibly flip the senate after a set of run-off elections in Georgia this January. 

Garcia has yet to announce his plans for the upcoming Congress, but in recent months, the campaign has appeared to downplay his connection to the outgoing president; the last mention of Trump on Garcia’s campaign Twitter is a set of “best wishes” dispatched in October, when Trump tested positive for the Coronavirus. Now that the race is over, his supporters are hoping Garcia will continue to fight for them not only nationally, but locally.

“I just want to see him work on things that specifically benefit the district,” Dixon-Hamilton says. “I want jobs to come back. I want him to be able to get things done for us.”


RELATED: Katie Hill Says the Republican Win in Her Former District Is ‘Pretty Fucking Devastating’


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‘Real Housewives’ Hubby Accused of Embezzling Funds Intended for Plane Crash Victims to Afford Beverly Hills Lifestyle

A federal lawsuit accuses L.A. attorney Thomas Girardi, husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star and pop singer Erika Jayne, of embezzling settlement money paid out by Boeing and intended for the families of the victims of a 2018 plane crash. Instead, the suit claims, Girardi used the money to maintain “a public image of obscene wealth at all times” for himself and the “How Many Fucks?” songstress.

The suit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago by Illinois firm Edelson PC, which helped Girardi represent the relatives of the 189 people who died on October 29, 2018, when a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max crashed off the coast of Indonesia less than 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all aboard.

Authorities determined that the Lion Air crash was caused by the 737’s faulty anti-stall system, which forced the plane’s nose down 20 times—a defect discovered only after the same problem brought down another 737 in Ethiopia shortly after, killing another 157 people and forcing Boeing to ground the fleet.

According to the complaint, Girardi “has resorted to embezzling the proceeds of settlements that should have been directed to his clients—including… the widows and orphans who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Lion Air Flight 610—in order to continue funding his and Erika’s lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles.”

Funds were allegedly transferred from Boeing to Girardi’s law firm, Girardi Keese, for the purpose of dispersing to the victims. But, the new suit alleges, Girardi has since “kept it for his own purposes and doled it out to his friends and family… By all accounts, Girardi keeps engaging in fraud and deception in order to support a never-ending spending spree by himself and Jayne.”

Girardi, best known for his part representing individuals poisoned by Pacific Gas & Electric in the tort case made famous by the movie Erin Brockovich, is further accused of refusing to turn over the money despite months of demands.

Jayne’s behavior is also subject to scrutiny in the filing, which states, “Erika reportedly spends $40,000 per month on her ‘look.’ Erika even performs a song called ‘Exxpen$ive,’ featuring the hook ‘it’s expensive to be me.’”

Girardi, 81, and Jayne, 49, were married in 2000 but filed for divorce last year in a move that Edelson attorneys contend is “simply a sham attempt to fraudulently protect Tom’s and Erika’s money from those that seek to collect on debts owed by Tom.”


RELATED: After Years of Allegations, Lawsuits, and Payouts, Beverly Hills Police Chief Retires


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