In 1988, Republican George H.W. Bush achieved a feat when he won 44 of California’s 48 counties, beating Democrat George Dukakis by about 4 percentage points. That was 32 years ago and it was the last time a Republican carried a state that now has a massive 55 electoral votes.
Given the California’s leanings and Donald Trump’s extreme unpopularity among large swaths of the state’s population, Democrat Joe Biden’s victory here has been a foregone conclusion, but a new poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies indicates his victory could be historic in its proportions.
According to the poll, Biden leads Trump 65 to 29 percent, a historic 36-point margin. In 2016, Hilary Clinton beat Trump by a 30-point margin, the previous record for a Democratic candidate. According to the L.A. Times, the biggest margin to date was in 1920, when Republican Warren G. Harding beat his Democratic challenger by 42 points.
The Berkeley poll also found that 8 percent of self-identified Republicans plan on voting for Biden, versus 2 percent of self-identified Democrats plan on voting for Trump.
Sadly, a new study by Wallet Hub also shows that California voters are the “least powerful” in the entire United States (District of Columbia included) in terms of deciding the outcomes of presidential elections, ranking 51 after New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts.
“We got robbed, Andy,” talk show host Conan O’Brien told his long-time sidekick Andy Richter in a conversation during Monday’s episode of Conan. “Robbed!”
Amid the pandemic, the show has been taping from the storied–and otherwise-shuttered–music and comedy club Largo at the Coronet.The location has personal significance to O’Brien, who began his comedy career doing improv at the venue, then known as the Coronet. On Sunday night, it appears someone broke in, targeting the Conan production.
“We came to this theater because, we thought, theaters are in trouble. Let’s revive a theater, let’s keep it going. It seemed like a nice thing to do,” O’Brien explained to viewers. “What happens? We get here this morning, and we find out that someone broke in to our little theater and took some of our equipment.”
Because the show cannot have a live audience in the seats, the theater is instead filled with hundreds of lifeless, cardboard stand-ins. O’Brien joked that the robber had to pull off the theft right in front of their faux-faces.
“Whoever broke in here had to stare what I think is about 350 cardboard cut-outs of exuberant fans in the eyes and say, ‘Hey, don’t mind me, I’m gonna steal some shit.'”
The burglars made off with a small number of laptops, which are used on the set to conduct guest interviews via Zoom, as well as one more unusual memento, a single wooden clapperboard from the show.
“What happened to us?,” O’Brien asked Richter. “We’ve become this garage band that drives around. We’ve got our van and we parked it in an alley, and someone broke in and took our amps. What is that? This doesn’t happen to the other talk show hosts.”
Opened in 1951 at Laurel Canyon and Victory Boulevard, Valley Plaza quickly grew into one of the largest open-air retail shopping centers in the country. The average suburban American family could find almost anything they needed at Valley Plaza. Banks, drugstores, a shoe store, and a supermarket were built around the center’s anchor store, Sears. Expansion of the Hollywood Freeway around this time also meant greater access to the shopping center. It’s most iconic feature, the Valley Plaza Tower, opened in 1960 and the 165-foot-tall building became the tallest structure in the San Fernando Valley.
While heavily-trafficked from the 1950s to the 1970s, Valley Plaza began to see a slow but steady decline in popularity due to socioeconomic transitions and competition from malls in places like Burbank and Sherman Oaks.
The 1994 Northridge earthquake caused extensive damage to the property and permanently closed a number of businesses. Remaining tenants of Valley Plaza were not offered long-term lease extensions when a massive overhaul of the property was on the horizon about 15 years ago. Unlike the recent multi-use redevelopment of its neighbor, Laurel Plaza, the rejuvenation of Valley Plaza was never realized. As a result, much of the property at the southwest corner of Victory Boulevard and Laurel Canyon remains vacant. Sears, located on the north side of Victory permanently closed in early 2020.
Though bittersweet, Valley Plaza has found a renewed use over the last 20 years as a makeshift studio backlot. Its triangular parking lot is sandwiched between Laurel Canyon and the Hollywood Freeway, providing a certain amount of privacy while creating the illusion of a shopping center that faces a main thoroughfare. Empty storefronts offer filmmakers a vast amount of creative possibilities. Mid-century stone siding can take the property back in time when the area is populated with period wardrobe and vintage cars.
We took a look back at some of the movies and TV shows that have committed Valley Plaza to film, forever documenting one of the pioneering American shopping centers.
Dragnet 1968, “The Bank Jobs” (1968)
Joe Friday’s (Jack Webb) opening monologue is all about the ever-changing Los Angeles landscape. Shots of the La Brea Tar Pits, the Hollywood Sign, the original Hall of Records, and El Pueblo de Los Angeles give way to images of a modernized L.A. Over a panning shot of Valley Plaza, Friday says, “In Los Angeles, you don’t have to go downtown. Everything’s right here: stores, markets, restaurants, banks. These plazas are all over the city, and they all need protection. That’s my job. I carry a badge.” In this episode, Friday and his partner Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) are on the trail of a suspect in a series of Valley bank robberies. As teased in the Friday’s opening monologue, the transformation of the city has given rise to L.A. as the bank robbery capital of the world. Friday says to a witness, “Used to be you had to go downtown to bank, now every shopping area has a branch.”
“I Love L.A.” (1983)
We’re sure glad Randy Newman didn’t skip over the Valley when he wrote his ambiguous L.A. anthem and, arguably, his most well known song. The music video for “I Love L.A.” takes viewers from downtown to the beach, naming streets along the way as a background chorus enthusiastically responds, “We love it!” When it comes to the Valley, Victory Boulevard is represented when Newman drives his red 1955 Buick Super Convertible into the Valley Plaza parking lot.
After the ensemble cast of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Valley epic, Magnolia, sings Aimee Mann’s “Wide Up,” the rain clears over Valley Plaza, where a handful of Anderson’s flawed characters intersect. Shot in the northern section of Valley Plaza, adjacent to Sears, Linda Partridge (Julianne Moore) passes out in her car having taken heavy prescription medications intended for her ailing husband. When Dixon (Emmanuel Johnson)—the little kid who raps about “The Worm”—finds Linda unresponsive, he slides into the passenger seat, opens Linda’s purse and steals her cash. He also dials 911 on a cell phone before making his exit. Paramedics arrive and, at the intersection of Laurel Canyon and Victory Boulevard, the ambulance crosses paths with “Quiz Kid” Donnie Smith (William H. Macy). Some eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that the Victory Boulevard street sign is swapped out for one that reads “Magnolia.”
Pineapple Express (2008)
Weed-smoking process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) and his burnt-out dealer Saul (James Franco) end up on the run after Dale witnesses a murder tied to Saul’s supplier. In order to raise some funds for bus tickets, Saul and Dale sell some weed to a group of teenagers. While Saul goes to get some celebratory Slushies, Dale is picked up by a school police liaison. When the police officer (Rosie Perez) involved with the earlier murder hears Dale’s name over the police radio, a car chase ensues along Laurel Canyon, through Alexandria Park and into the Valley Plaza parking lot.
Don Jon (2013)
Though devoted to his family, friends, and his church, Jon has problems with long-term romantic relationships. He’s a staple on the North Jersey club scene, and Internet porn outweighs the satisfaction he gets from real intimacy. While out clubbing, Jon spots Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) at the bar. Unable to convince her to go home with him that night, Jon realizes he needs to go another route if he wants to date Barbara. He takes her to lunch and the movies, where he sits through a melodramatic romance called Special Someone. The movie theater scenes were shot inside the second-run Regency Valley Plaza 6, which opened in 1974 as part of the United Artists theatre chain. The theater is temporarily closed during the pandemic.
Freelance crime photojournalist Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) has reached the top of his game when he sells crime scene footage of a triple murder/home invasion to an L.A. news station. Bloom then seeks out and tails the suspected killers to the Chinatown Express restaurant near 3rd Street and Western Avenue. Hoping to capture a confrontation on video, Bloom calls the police, informing them of the suspects’ location. When police arrive, a shootout ensues, killing a civilian and one of the suspects. Though the high-speed chase is supposed to progress into Hollywood, the sequence cuts from the Chinatown Express restaurant to Valley Plaza, where Laurel Canyon streets signs were changed to Western, and Kittridge Street was changed to Melrose. The sequence ends with a police cruiser and the suspect car flipping over at Laurel Canyon and Sylvan Street.
Aquarius, “A Change Is Gonna Come” (2015)
Los Angeles, 1967. Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) arrives at the scene of an extinguished fire at a South Los Angeles barbershop. Officer Tolson (Drew Powell) briefs Hodiak about Cassius, who was found inside the burnout store with two gunshot wounds to his chest. It turns out that Hodiak knows the victim. Determined to find out who killed Cassius, Hodiak turns his attention across the street to the headquarters of the Black Panthers, who have little interest in helping to solve the murder of Cassius. Instead, they demand Hodiak investigate the murder of a 15-year-old boy who’s been dead for three days with no follow up from police.
Straight Outta Compton (2015)
The film portrays the beginnings of the L.A. Riots after the not-guilty verdicts came down in the Rodney King trial in 1992. By this time, the pioneering hip-hop group N.W.A. had already disbanded over finances and contracts. Of note is the way director F. Gary Gray juxtaposes recreations of the riots with shots of Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson) driving in separate cars, observing the burning and looting, but also the coalescence of rival gangs against the police. The sequence was shot at Valley Plaza along Laurel Canyon and Sylvan Street.
The Middle, “Hecks at a Movie” (2016)
The small town of Orson, Indiana, is abuzz with excitement because a Hollywood movie called Flatlands filmed a third-unit, exterior establishing shot at a local diner. The Hecks head to the movies to see their town on screen. Their youngest son, Brick (Atticus Shaffer), has never been to a movie theater, so he learns about the covert art of sneaking in snacks like popcorn, pop, baked potatoes, and Milk Dudes, “the frugal Hoosier version of Milk Duds.” Brick also tries to sabotage the upcoming release of a film adaptation for sci-fi book called Planet Nowhere when the movie’s trailer doesn’t live up to his expectations.
American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2018)
When a Miami Beach pawnshop employee (Cathy Moriarty) recognizes a mug shot of Versace’s killer, Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss), on TV, she calls the police who make a visit to the shop. Cash on the Beach was built into one of the vacant Valley Plaza storefronts along Sylvan St. The actual Miami Beach address for the pawnshop was replicated on the front door of the set: 243 71st Street An episode later, Valley Plaza doubles for a Florence, SC, where Cunanan stops at a Wal-Mart after committing multiple murders. There, Cunanan steals a license plate from another car before driving the final stretch to South Beach, Miami.
Sneaky Pete, “The California Split” (2019)
In this episode of Sneaky Pete, L.A. doubles multiple locations including Bakersfield, where Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) and Julia (Marin Ireland) stop off in a strip mall while on the way to search for Audrey’s (Margo Martindale) missing daughter Lila. Valley Plaza is also used as a “parking lot in Reseda” where an attempt is made to reconnect with Lila, only to turn into an ambush and car chase.
Captain Marvel (2019)
A search and rescue mission goes wrong on the planet Torfa, and Kree Star Force officer Vers/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is taken prisoner by the Skrull, a species of humanoid shape shifters. After making her getaway from the Skrull ship in an escape pod, the pod breaks up upon entering the atmosphere of Planet C-53 (Earth) and Vers crashes through the roof of a Blockbuster Video in 1995 Los Angeles. The shopping center, filmed at Valley Plaza, is complete with a pizza parlor, cleaners, movie theater, and a Radio Shack, where Vers commandeers a Nintendo Game Boy and connects it to a pay phone to call her commander in deep space. When the agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. arrive on-scene, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) questions Vers about her mysterious arrival.
Too Old to Die Young, “Volume 1: The Devil” (2019)
When two corrupt L.A. County Sheriffs Deputies make a late-night traffic stop in a vacant shopping center parking lot, the confrontation turns sour when the deputies extort money from the female driver. One of the deputies is then ambushed and killed in an execution-style revenge shooting. This 13-minute opening scene of Nicolas Winding Refn’s slow-burn, L.A. noir miniseries was shot in a neon-lit Valley Plaza. You can also catch a glimpse of the Valley Plaza sign in “Volume 9: The Empress.”
Stay-at-home orders and social distancing may be exacerbating America’s loneliness epidemic—with mental health experts warning of increasing anxiety, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide—but the pandemic by no means created the problem. A 2018 study reported almost half of Americans were feeling alone. Another study in 2015 found that prolonged isolation can be as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Older adults, who can often feel left out and forgotten, are especially hard hit. And teenagers, who tend to spend time on their phones rather than interacting with friends face to face, have been shown to be susceptible to feelings of isolation.
Enter Sages and Seekers, a Los Angeles non-profit seeking to combat social isolation by matching these two loneliest demographics. High school teenagers are paired with elderly mentors and engage in regular conversations (now held via Zoom). The program, which can last either four or eight weeks, is being utilized by high schools and senior centers nationwide.
Founder Elly Katz, who left her career in graphic design to launch the passion project in 2008, says the program benefits both the seniors (called sages), and the teens (called seekers). Older adults get to enjoy the company of a thoughtful and interested teenager, while the teenagers benefit from the wisdom and experience of their elderly partner. “They’re talking about meaningful things,” says Katz, “like how is social media affecting your life? And what do you think about the riots? What do you think about Black Lives Matter? What do you think about what’s going on politically?”
The program also targets age-related segregation, says Katz. “In that first coming together, not just the age stereotype drops, but everyone sees everyone as just human,” Katz says. In one success story, 17-year-old Ted was getting one rejection letter after another from colleges. He asked his 86-year-old sage, Peter, how he dealt with disappointment. Peter emphasized the importance of resilience, recounting how he was drafted to the Dodgers at 19, until a shoulder injury derailed his dream.
Seekers are most often sophomores and juniors in high school—old enough to apply their mentors’ wisdom to their own lives, says Katz. Sages range from their 60s to 90s. One, a 97-year-old named Helen, insisted on driving from Santa Monica to Larchmont Charter School to visit her mentee.
Katz told her, “Helen, I’m not really sure you should be driving.”
“I’ve been driving these streets since I was 16,” salty Helen replied.
Switching to Zoom in the wake of COVID-19 was initially a challenge, says Katz, because “a lot of [seniors] don’t know the difference between an ethernet and WiFi connection.” But overall the program is thriving during the quarantine, says Katz, with many students signing up over and over.
Some sages and seekers remain friends long after their program. Bea, an 84-year-old artist, used to draw 21-year-old Jesse during their conversations, and they formed a close bond. When Bea passed away, Jesse gave a speech at her funeral. “He really captured who this woman was and what she had exposed him to in his life going forward,” Katz recalls.
» The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will be taking up a motion today that could pave the way to removing Sheriff Alex Villanueva. If approved, lawyers would begin work on finding ways to limit Villanueva’s power, impeach him personally, and possibly change the role from an elected one to an appointment. [Los Angeles Times]
» Amy Coney Barrett has been confirmed as the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Her first ruling in the role could be on the outcome of the election, as conservative justices appear poised to revive a controversial argument in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore case. “Put simply,” Mark Joseph Stern writes for Slate, “Barrett’s first actions on the court could hand Donald Trump an unearned second term, and dramatically curtail states’ ability to protect the right to vote.” [Slate]
» The City of Los Angeles may be facing a budget shortfall of $400-$600 million. Pandemic is cited as a cause for both increased spending and decreased revenue. [LAist]
» A count of votes cast so far has already surpassed 2016’s total early vote numbers. Indications suggest national voter turnout could be historically high. [KTLA]
» There could be multiple “supporting actor” nominations coming out of The Trial of the Chicago 7. In an unusual move, all of the male performers at the center of the story will be pushed in that category, with no individual recommended as a ‘lead.’ [The Hollywood Reporter]
Pasadena Considers Options for an Eddie Van Halen Memorial
Soon after Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen passed away on October 6, fans began flocking to the San Gabriel Valley to pay tribute to their guitar hero. Flowers and candles began appearing on a Las Lunas street in the family’s old neighborhood where Eddie and Alex Van Halen scrawled their names in wet cement decades earlier.
The duo began their career playing parties and small clubs in Pasadena, and an effort quickly took root to praise the hometown hero. Fans Randa Schmalfeld and Julie Kimura quickly raised the $3,000 application fee to rename an alley in Old Town Pasadena on GoFundMe. The city took notice and put a motion to create a permanent tribute to the musician on Monday’s city council agenda. A city staff report recommends a couple of options.
The last time a lot of us were inside a movie theater, the big thing on screens was still 1917–you know, as in the Oscar winner from lastyear. Now we’re well into fall and studios would usually be flooding us with their best awards-bait but, in Los Angeles at least, cinemas are still mostly shut down. Drive-ins are great, but they don’t quite capture the theater experience. If you really want to indulge your inner cinephile in 2020, your best option might be renting a private movie theater screening.
Arena Cinelounge in Hollywood was a popular spot for art house films before the shutdown, which frequently hosted indie film premieres and other private events, so switching to hosting private groups for screenings was an intuitive transition. After closing for a time, the theater recently announced it would begin offering screening rooms for private groups–capped at 10 guests to minimize exposure and allow for distancing–starting on November 5.
“The response for the private screenings has been great. People are responding favorably,” Christian Meoli, CEO of Arena Cinelounge, wrote to Los Angeles in an email about the program.
Part of the fun of booking a private movie theater is that you get to decide what to watch. Meoli and his team worked with the film studios to assemble a catalog of dozens of films, including cult classics, acclaimed indies, and other options, that are cleared for private showings. If you have another film in mind, and are able to secure permissions to exhibit it, they’ll work with you to put together a custom screening.
Booking a showing might be less expensive than you would imagine. Prices begin at $99 for matinee time slots, and go up to a max of $299 for a prime time on Friday or Saturday night. In addition to your rental fee, your group will need to commit to a mandatory concession stand minimum of $150.
While watching a movie on your sofa at home is still the safest option amid the ongoing pandemic, Arena Cinelounge has committed to upholding the CinemaSafe guidelines for movie theater sanitation and safety protocols.
Other cinema chains are also pushing private rental options for movie fans who need the scent of popcorn and feel of theater seat upholstery after these long months away. AMC is offering screenings for up to 20 participants starting at $99. Laemmle Cinemas and Alamo Drafthouse both have plans to offer small-group rentals in Los Angeles at some point in the future, pending reopening guidance, but are not currently doing so.
UPDATE: 5:45 P.M. – Two firefighters have been critically injured while fighting the fast-moving Silverado Fire near Irvine. The responders have been intubated after suffering second- and third-degree burns over more than half of their bodies.
The fire has swollen to more than 7,000 acres over the course of the day as dangerous wind gusts continue to push the flames through dry vegetation. The gusts have also limited the ability for air-based response to the flames. More than 90,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from 22,000 threatened homes in Irvine.
“This is a tough fire, where we’re experiencing very high winds, very low humidities,” Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy told NBC News. “Our firefighters are some of the bravest, if not the bravest in the world.”
Elsewhere in Orange County, the Blue Ridge Fire which began later in the day on Monday has also exploded dramatically, causing authorities to issue mandatory evacuation orders for residents of 70,000 homes in the areas around Yorba Linda and Hidden Hills.
Southern California Edison reports that it currently has around 22,000 homes and businesses without power and will be preventatively cutting power to over 100,000 more. PG&E, which serves some customers in Orange County as well as other parts of the state, has today cut power to around 355,000 customers–an outage which NBC reports likely impacts around 1 million Californians.
OCTOBER 26, 2020, 11:00 A.M. – The Silverado Fire in Orange County has already burned 500 acres in just a few hours, and gusting winds continue to drive the aggressive blaze. At least 60,000 residents of the city of Irvine have received mandatory evacuation orders and residents of Tustin, Foothill Ranch, and neighboring areas are being warned by the National Weather Service to “stay vigilant” and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
The blaze initially sparked around 6:45 a.m. at the intersection of Santiago Canyon Road and Silverado Canyon Road, KTLA reports. Wind gusts of 45 to 84 miles per hour whipping through the area carried sparks and fanned the flames quickly, causing it to explode to hundreds of acres by 9 a.m.
Firefighters are responding with land and air forces, but, the Orange County Fire Authority tells The O.C. Register, the fire continues to move at “a moderate rate of speed.”
While structures are currently “threatened” by the blaze, according to the Orange County Fire Authority, it seems none have been damaged so far. Damage has been reported in the area due to the winds themselves, which have been powerful enough to down trees. Southern California Edison, the utility for the area, has confirmed that it is in the process of shutting down power to a portion of the affected area.
It could be one of many fires to spark in the coming days, as Southern California weather conditions have triggered red flag warnings indicating extreme fire risk.
Among the 220,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19 so far, many of them are essential workers, interacting with the public in front-line roles from health care to food service. Today, one local labor union revealed a large, public Day of the Dead altar honoring those workers who have fallen ill and died helping the rest of us survive the pandemic.
The altar, created by UFCW Local 770, is believed to be the largest honoring those who have been exposed to COVID-19 on the job in Los Angeles. Members of the union, which represents thousands of local workers, decorated it with flowers, photos, and mementos of colleagues and loved ones. After today’s public ceremony, the altar will remain on public display through November 6 at 630 Shatto Place in Koreatown.
Accompanying the altar, which honors all essential workers, is a special display of 1,308 face masks, hung to symbolize the Local 770’s own members and family members of members who have died of or been infected with COVID-19 since March.
“As we honor their fight, our fight for safer working conditions continues, and we urge companies to take the necessary precautions to prevent further spread of this awful illness,” said Jackie Mayoral, a Ralphs employee who contracted COVID-19 at work, in remarks at the event revealing the altar.
Investment firm co-founder Bill Gross and his partner, former tennis pro Amy Schwartz, are accused blasting pop music, rap, and even the theme to Gilligan’s Island to annoy their Laguna Beach neighbors in a rapidly escalating feud.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, at the heart of the dispute is a $1 million, 22-foot-tall, glass lawn sculpture and protective netting, which tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq and wife Carol Nakahara say obstructs their seaside view.
The problem isn’t the piece itself—which was created by Dale Chihuly and features ten-foot cobalt reeds, swimming marlin, and blown-glass globes—but the protective netting.
In dueling lawsuits, Towfiq and Nakahara accuse Gross and Schwartz of harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress, while Gross and his partner claim the netting is necessary after the sculpture sustained more than $50,000 in damages “apparently” due to a thrown rock which, they claim, is evidence of an “escalating campaign of vandalism.”
Towfiq and Nakahara say the art was likely damaged by something falling on it.
Emails obtained by the Times from the city of Laguna Beach, meanwhile, indicate that a person associated with Gross and Schwartz told a code enforcement officer the netting was temporary and needed to protect the sculpture from “trees and mother nature,” adding that a palm frond caused $100,000 in damage.
In their lawsuit, Towfiq and Nakahara say the netting was at first removed intermittently but has since remained up, with Gross and Schwartz neglecting to address the issue. Towfiq then complained to the city, which had the property inspected and informed Gross in July 28 letter that the netting, lighting, and sculpture lacked the proper permits.
Things soon got ugly.
Towfiq and Nakahara claim in their suit that Gross and Schwartz began blaring music at all hours—sometimes remotely when they weren’t at home—to get their neighbors to drop the complaint. In an October 15 application for a temporary restraining order, which was granted, Towfiq cited a text message allegedly sent by Gross, reading, “Peace on all fronts or well [sic] just have nightly concerts big boy.”
Their Superior Court lawsuit states, “Defendant William Gross is a 76-year-old billionaire used to getting his way no matter what. As proven by their behavior here, Gross and his decades-younger-girlfriend, defendant Amy Schwartz, are bullies.”
For their part, Gross, who cofounded investment firm PIMCO, and Schwartz claim in their October 13 suit that Towfiq is obsessed with them, installing cameras directed at their property and committing other “peeping tom behaviors.” In his own request for a temporary restraining order, which is pending, Gross said he felt “trapped in my own home.”
In their lawsuit, Gross and Schwartz accuse Towfiq of invasion of privacy, among other things, stating, “Defendent Towfiq appears to have a particular fascination not only with Mr. Gross but also Ms. Schwartz, particularly when the pair are swimming and thus wearing minimal, if any, clothing.”
Gross is no stranger to bizarre property disputes. In 2018 his ex-wife, Sue Gross, accused him of turning a different Laguna Beach home over to her only after befouling the place with fart- and vomit-scented sprays. Gross later admitted to using the sprays, saying that the divorce had grown “very ugly.”
Towfiq has requested that the temporary restraining order be converted to a lengthier civil harassment order and a hearing is set for November 2. Gross has been given an extension until November 16 to seek the proper permits.
The Trump campaign has a long history of using popular songs at rallies and in campaign videos without permission from artists, spurring lawsuits and threats. On October 23, lawyers for former Genesis lead singer Phil Collins issued a cease and desist letter to the Trump campaign, which has continuously used Collins’s song “In the Air Tonight” at its super-spreader rallies, despite that Collins politely asked the campaign to stop back in late June.
The letter points to a particularly problematic rally in Iowa, when the song was used to mock the spread of COVID-19: “Most recently, the Trump campaign used that work during an Iowa campaign rally on October 14, 2020. That use was not only wholly unauthorized but, as various press articles have commented, particularly inappropriate since it was apparently intended as a satirical reference to Covid-19. That reference was made at a time when Iowa was suffering from an acceleration of Covid-19 infection. Mr. Collins does not condone the apparent trivialization of Covid-19. Moreover, Mr. Collins has serious concerns that the manner in which the Trump campaign has used ‘In the Air Tonight’ has caused, and will cause, damage to Mr. Collins’ reputation and popularity with the public.”
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