The Short Stack: The Los Angeles Week in Review, 12/1/2014 – 12/5/2014

A news and culture roundup made to order


December’s Deluge
The first substantial rainstorm of the winter season arrived this week, dumping 1.22 inches of desperately needed water on downtown and causing traffic snafus that included Angelina Jolie crashing on Santa Monica Boulevard (she’s fine). Don’t go taking 15-minute showers yet—the drought remains in effect.

Here’s Where the Story Ends
The troubling saga of Pasadena’s Huang family is over. After a Qatar judge acquitted the couple of wrongdoing in the January 2013 death of their adopted daughter—Matthew Huang, an engineer, was working in the Middle Eastern nation—the couple was inexplicably prevented from leaving Qatar and heading home to their two sons. On Tuesday the ambassador announced the travel ban was lifted and the family reunion imminent.

Code 404
The plan from John Deasy, the former superintendent of the LAUSD, to give every L.A. student an iPad initially appeared to be a good idea. Now Deasy is out of a job, and an internal investigation is looking at his possibly unethical connections to Apple. Going from bad to worse, FBI agents stormed into LAUSD offices on Monday and removed 20 boxes of documents related to the iPad plan.

Almost Legal
If you’ve ever strolled around MacArthur Park, you may find it hard to believe that street vendors are banned in the City of Los Angeles. Two councilmembers took a preliminary step to make the approximately 10,000 food vendors—as well as the other 40,000 who sell everything from clothes to toys—legit by introducing a proposal to require food courses and permits.


Gratuitous Gratuity?
Silver Lake’s Alimento restaurant is adding a first-ever tipping line that would benefit back-of-the-house workers such as prep cooks, line cooks, and dishwashers. It may seem like another dollar, or three, out of your pocket before you realize the endemic disparity between the pay of servers and all those hard workers we don’t see.

007’s New Look, New Ride
A Thursday press conference provided details on the forthcoming Bond movie, Spectre, with Daniel Craig returning as the British agent and Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, and Léa Seydoux costarring. What excited us the most is the sneak peek at Bond’s wheels, a custom Aston Martin DB10, designed by the car company with input from the film’s director, Sam Mendes.

The Story of Gold
Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold, he of the Los Angeles Times and formerly of the LA Weekly, is getting the documentary treatment. City of Gold premieres as part of the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition in January. The movie tells the story of L.A. through the prism of cuisine and Gold, and is directed by Laura Gabbert, who made the lovely L.A. film Sunset Story.

A Life Well Lived
The death of puppeteer and local legend Bob Baker isn’t news from this week, if we’re going to be technical about it (he passed away over Thanksgiving weekend), but it’s still reverberating around the city. As a Hollywood performer, an L.A. historian, and a childhood memory maker, Baker leaves a rich legacy. Sadly, the future of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater remains precarious.


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