The Short Stack: The Los Angeles Week in Review, 12/15/2014 – 12/19/2014

A news and culture roundup made to order


The Time We All Got Along
The scars of Rodney King and Watts receded some on Sunday, when a peaceful protest against policy brutality made its way through Old Pasadena. With cooperation from the Pasadena Police Department, the NAACP, and church groups, the protest highlighted how the region has grown since 1992 and instilled hope that the refrain of “Black Lives Matter” won’t just be hyperbole.

A New Focus
It took years for the Los Angeles Police Department to earn back its reputation among minority communities after the Rampart scandal of the 1990s. The department, along with Mayor Garcetti, showed their determination to not return to those days by announcing the intent to purchase thousands of body cameras, which dramatically reduce violent incidents between officers and suspects.

Game Over
Who would think it would be the Nevada Gaming Commission that would bring down nightlife magnate Sam Nazarian, whose company, SBE, is behind everything from the Umami burger chain to the SLS hotels? The commission was initially inclined to deny Nazarian a gaming permit at his new hotel, SLS Las Vegas, before deciding to grant him a limited license on Thursday. Before the decision was made, revelations about Nazarian’s cocaine use and his financial dealings with felons came to light, prompting him to step down as the hotel’s chief executive and sever most of his involvement with the new Sin City property.

Traffic has become so apocalyptic along the 405 that a new phenomenon has broken out: Waze-faking. The smartphone app Waze, which guides drivers around town using real-time traffic info, has led more commuters to use residential streets running between Brentwood and Sherman Oaks to get around. Some home owners are fighting back by reporting phony congestion as a way to divert the Wazers. Maybe we should all work from home.


This Is the End
It started with the release of e-mails and social security numbers, then the Sony cyberattack became much more ominous when the hackers—likely affiliated with the North Korean government—threatened violence if the studio released The Interview, whose storyline revolves around an assassination plot against Kim Jong-un. First the big theater chains dumped the film, but even indie arthouses won’t be able to show it due to Sony’s cancellation of the entire release. Like the greenlighting of The Interview, the decision to kill it received terrible reviews from writers, pundits, and industry folk.

Where to Eat Now
This was an exceptionally strong year for cuisine in Los Angeles, with incredible options opening in all corners of the city. But according to the Best New Restaurants of 2014, the latest list from Patric Kuh, our James Beard Award-winning critic, the foodie capitals in L.A. remain Silver Lake, downtown, and Venice.

The Blue Line to the Red Line to Bowser’s Castle
When Chicago artist Robert Bacon released his Super Mario-influenced map of our Metro system, Angelenos got nearly as excited as they did when the Expo Line opened to Culver City. Born in Fountain Valley, Bacon became inspired to create the colorful guide when he discovered that more than 300,000 people ride L.A.’s trains every day.

Ta-ta, Tartare
Ah, the L.A. of 1984: punk shows, the Olympics, and Beverly Hills’ Chaya Brasserie. After 30 years, the restaurant has announced it is shuttering its legendary Alden Drive location on New Year’s Eve. Chaya’s Franco-Japanese cuisine was ahead of its time and outlived the innumerable food trends of the past three decades. The Beverly Hills location may eventually find a new home, but in the meantime, Chaya’s downtown, LAX,  and Venice locations will continue to operate.

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