Sunday, June 29, 2008

Of Saints and Angels

The other day I saw an exhibit at the Gene Autry Museum called “All the Saints of the City of Angeles.” It was a very cool multimedia bilingual and socially-conscious art exhibit. The basic idea stems from the large number of streets with saints names in Los Angles (e.g. Santa Monica, San Fernando, Saint Pierre, etc):

In All the Saints of the City of the Angels, artist J. Michael Walker uses the saints and the streets bearing their names to uncover the soul of Los Angeles, the City of the Angels.
By connecting the stories of the saints with the people and places of L.A., Walker illuminates the many facets of Los Angeles' multicultural heritage, from a troubled past including forced Native labor and greedy land developers to a contemporary landscape of economic chasms and newly built cultural bridges.

If you’re in LA between now and Sept 7th, and interested in this sort of thing, I highly recommend it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Writing from the Other Side

I am writing this blog post from my native land, where I am home for an extended visit (read: several weeks).

I’m having a very So Cal vacation. Thus far I have been to the Griffith Observatory, the Aquarium of the Pacific (aka the Long Beach Aquarium), the Nixon Library, a Dodgers game, and my alma mater. I have met people at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (or “coffee tea and bean” as my father calls it!), eaten lunch in Pico-Robertson (read: Jew-ville), and hung out by the Ocean (the Pacific is the only real ocean for me!). I’ve been eating plenty of fresh-picked strawberries, and getting plenty of sunshine. I have driven in circles around most of LA county multiple times, with my trusty Thomas Guide by my side, and used more gasoline than I’d care to admit (though my conscience is assuaged by the fact that I don’t even own a car in Boston, and in fact have never owned a car in my life!). It's all so very LA.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Primary Madness

I am waiting for the results from today’s election. It being the first Tuesday in June, it is California’s primary day. “Wait a minute,” you may think, “Didn’t California have a primary way back in February?” Yes. We did. And yet, here we are again.

You see, California state law requires that the statewide direct primary elections be held on the first Tuesday in June (which, back in the day, is when we voted in presidential primaries – long after they had been wrapped up and decided by other less populous states). However, this year the powers-that-be, with the blessing of the Democratic Party, decided to move the presidential primary up to Super Tuesday (Feb 5, 2008). On that ballot, we voted for the presidential candidate of our choice, and of course a large number of ballot measures (referenda and/or initiatives), as is our custom.

However, the presidential primary cannot displace the statewide direct primary election, at least not without a legal change first, and so, we have another election. On this ballot I got to vote in the primary for assembly member, member of congress, numerous judges, and, of course, a couple more ballot measures on eminent domain (after all, it has already been a few months since the last round of the primary, clearly enough time to need more ballot measures!).

I find this situation very frustrating. As anyone who cares about participation in the electoral process knows, the best way to get people to vote for the smaller offices (state and local), is to tie it in to a big election that people care enough about to go to the polls. Having the primary on Super Tuesday is just such an opportunity. Not to use it is worse than squandering the opportunity – it is actually counterproductive for participation in the local election – who is going to bother to care about voting in a second primary when they already voted for president months ago? Me, and my family, and a few (millions) of our closest friends. Not enough people. Not nearly enough.