The Long View

In accepting L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan's endorsement last Wednesday, former state Assembly Speaker and mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa apparently wasn't looking ahead far enough.

"Mayor Riordan, I look forward to working with you over the next three weeks and the next four years to make Los Angeles "

As the crowd began to whisper to each other, Riordan quickly nudged Villaraigosa and whispered to him the chant welling up from the crowd: "Eight years."

"Eight years. That's right! Eight years!" Villaraigosa corrected himself. "Eight years to make Los Angeles the premier city of the 21st century!"

Panda Diplomacy

The Los Angeles City Council recently approved the Port of Los Angeles' 25-year, $650 million agreement to lease the China Shipping Co. a 110-acre terminal.

Although the council approved the deal outright, its members instructed port officials to prepare a supplementary agreement on ways that China Shipping can minimize air pollution from its ships.

Councilman Mike Hernandez had a separate agenda in mind. He suggested that port officials encourage the Chinese government to give the L.A. Zoo two panda bears.

"Not only do we want to have a world-class port, we want to have a world-class zoo," said Hernandez. "There are no better ambassadors of goodwill than the pandas."

Riding in Comfort

BMW, builder of the "ultimate driving machine," has come up with the ultimate bicycle seat.

BMW Group Co.'s Newbury Park-based design group, Designworks USA, spent a month designing an anatomically correct bicycle seat that has just won the Red Dot Award, given each year by a panel of design experts.

Developed in collaboration with Pacoima-based Trico Sports, the Trico Split-Rail bicycle seat is a two-part seat connected by screws (as opposed to the traditional one-piece molded seat). The design allows the seat to be adjusted for different pelvic sizes.

"What we did is come out with a saddle that gives support where you need it, and nothing where you don't," says John Cook, the senior designer at Designworks who co-developed the seat with Trico CEO Paul Yates. "It's one of those areas where everyone snickers when they talk about it. But everyone's anatomy is a little big different, and this will accommodate that."

Dramatic License

The campaign ended last year, but the drama continues.

The strike that Los Angeles County janitors staged to gain higher wages and better working conditions is the subject of "Bread & Roses," a drama recently released by Lions Gate Films.

The 110-minute film by director Ken Loach is being shown at a handful of theaters throughout Los Angeles.

Blanca Gallegos, a spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union, said that having their story told has been an empowering experience for the janitors.

"A lot of them have been in tears because they recognize their story or somebody else's experience in the movie," she said.

Many janitors got roles or served as extras in the movie.

Has a taste of the film industry tempted anyone to change jobs?

"Not that I've heard of," said Gallegos, "but they're certainly enjoying the spotlight."

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