The Short Stack: The Los Angeles Week in Review, 12/8/2014 – 12/12/2014

A news and culture roundup made to order


Where There’s Smoke
This week started with an epic downtown fire that recalled a ’70s disaster flick. Half of the giant, under-construction Da Vinci apartment complex—from contentious developer Geoffrey Palmer—was destroyed, along with thousands of gifts for seniors stored in a nearby office tower that was also damaged in the inferno. Amid a federal arson investigation, Palmer is vowing to rebuild, though some question the necessity and safety of his freeway-adjacent, wood-frame monoliths.

Shake It Off
We all quake a little during talk of the Big One, but Mayor Garcetti’s new earthquake response plan, known as Resilience by Design and released on Monday, calms our nerves. RBD tasks officials with reinforcing pre-1980 buildings, fortifying our water sources, and ensuring communications are not knocked out in the event of a major temblor. With the aid of a planned solar-powered, citywide Wi-Fi system, we’ll never be cut off from lifesaving information.

The Big Sweep
The insidious Big Hazard gang of Boyle Heights was decimated on Wednesday, when LAPD and federal agents arrested 25 members. While five individuals remain on the loose, the sweep was especially significant because of Big Hazard’s deep connections with the Mexican Mafia.

Powerful Message
While police brutality protests roiled Berkeley, the most high-profile response in Los Angeles came from Kobe Bryant and some of his fellow Lakers, who wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during Tuesday warm-ups at Staples. The shirts referred to Eric Garner, who gasped those dying words while an NYPD cop placed him in a chokehold; just as in Ferguson, a grand jury decided not to indict the officer.


Hack Heard ‘Round the World
The crippling data breach at Sony Pictures went from bad—the release of executives’ salaries and marketing plans—to infinitely worse. This week the hackers, who may be connected to the North Korean government, which is furious over the release of The Interview and its Kim Jong-un assassination plot, released an invective-filled e-mail exchange between Sony honcho Amy Pascal and film producer Scott Rudin; the latter even called Angelina Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat.” That was before e-mails emerged in which Pascal and Rudin made racially tinged jokes about President Obama.

Birdman Soars
With this week’s SAG and Golden Globe Award nominations, it is officially that most wonderful time of year: awards season. This looks to be the year of Birdman and its star, Michael Keaton. Other surprises include Globe nominations for new shows like Transparent, Jane the Virgin, and The Affair as well as Jennifer Aniston (who also got a SAG nod), nominated for her role in the indie Cake.

Downtown’s Loss, Westside’s Gain
News broke on Tuesday that Rivera, a Flower Street institution of modern Latin cuisine, is shuttering by the end of the year. All is not lost, though—chef/trailblazer John Sedlar is planning a new Westside establishment next year plus another concept in his hometown of Santa Fe.

Melodious Windfall
It was a good Wednesday for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which was gifted $20 million from entrepreneur, altruist, and former Phil chairman David Bohnett. The largesse will go to a fund for “discovery and innovation” and to permanently endow Deborah Borda as president and CEO of the Phil. That’s great, but we have a few more ideas on how to spend the dough.


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