The Short Stack: The Los Angeles Week in Review, 10/20/14 – 10/24/14

A news and culture roundup made to order
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NEWS

Johnson Strikes Back
“This is a war.” So says Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson, who broke his silence on LAmag.com about the accusations facing his successful diet supplement company. The Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation in March to determine whether the L.A.-based company was operating as an illegal pyramid scheme. The charismatic CEO had kept mum on the investigation until he sat down for an interview for the magazine’s “Big Shots with Giselle Fernandez” video series.

Supe’s On
The race between Bobby Shriver and Sheila Kuehl to replace Zev Yaroslavsky on the Board of Supervisors is heating up (before a recent debate, Kuehl said to Shriver: “No wonder your initials are B.S.”). But that doesn’t mean the board itself is cooling down—they’ve got a whole county to run. Those old-school ballots you punch at the voting booth will be the latest casualty to tech: The supes approved a contract to update L.A. County’s voting system to touch-screen machines.

Back to Cali
Yes, there’s some irony in the fact that the return of a section in a newspaper is actually news, but we were happy to see “California” make its comeback in the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. What was once “Metro” and then “California” had been dumbly dumped for something called “LATExtra,” aka “the Latex section,” in the past few years. The section is going for a more magazine-y vibe and will be home to columnists like Steve Lopez and Sandy Banks and feature pieces about, well, California, which (call us crazy) seems like a very good idea.

SuperBrawlers
If you feel like there’s an edgier vibe on Hollywood Boulevard of late, you’re not wrong. Mr. Incredible got into fisticuffs with Batgirl in front of the Chinese Theater on Tuesday. Chewbacca and Waldo broke up the street character brawl, while Freddy Krueger half-heartedly attempted to help (granted, he only has one free hand). And no, we’re not making this up. Chewbacca and Waldo appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where the talk show host commended them on their courage.

CULTURE

Zarate, Chopped
Ricardo Zarate has a remarkable L.A. chef success story: His small Peruvian stand south of downtown, Mo-Chica, led him to open the equally popular and larger spots, Picca and Paiche, with the backing of investors like restaurateur Bill Chait. This week rumors swirled that Zarate had been ousted from all three. Not entirely true, says Chait, who spoke to LAmag.com about what happened. As for Zarate, we reached him in London, where he said he was “surprised this is happening.”

Photograph courtesy latimesblogs.latimes.com

A Fond Farewell
Fashion powerhouse Oscar de la Renta died at his Connecticut home on Monday. Always the picture of elegance, the designer dressed many first ladies, and his work was a red carpet staple. Most recently he designed the custom wedding gown worn by Amal Alamuddin when she married George Clooney in Italy.

Lost Cat
It’s one of those spots you thought would always be there and home to one of our favorite patios in the city: The longtime Hollywood pub Cat & Fiddle is closing in December after a 32-year run. The reason? A rent dispute. The owners are looking for a new location.

Demand for Didion
A proposed documentary about Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, raised $80,000 in one day on Kickstarter, which says a lot about long-form love these days. It will be codirected by Didion’s nephew, the actor and filmmaker Griffin Dunne, and feature archival material from Didion’s personal life and family history. We hope her 1969 Corvette Stingray is still garaged somewhere.