L.A. Stories/The Roving Eye

L.A. Stories:

X-ed Out

OK, so maybe L.A. isn't the hippest place to live, despite what some might wish to believe. But less cool than Milwaukee, home of Pabst Blue Ribbon? Or Pittsburgh? Or Portland?

That's the conclusion of Next Generation Consulting, a Jackson, Wis.-based consulting firm that specializes in helping big companies retain employees, especially young ones.

The firm interviewed more than 100 Gen-X'ers about their likes and dislikes, and then measured such factors as air pollution, cost of housing, numbers of art galleries, bars, etc.

Guess what? Despite lots of cool attractions, sunny weather and world-famous beaches, L.A. barely made the top 15 cities, edging out Atlanta for 14th place. Worse than that, San Francisco topped the list.

"I'm sorry, but there was no inherent hipness variable," said Rebecca Ryan, president of Next Generation, which she acknowledges is based in the "unhip armpit" of Wisconsin. "L.A. got bad scores for air pollution. And you guys have terrible traffic. Gen-X'ers hate to be tied up in traffic."

Under Raps

Devin Lazerine may be the only magazine editor in America who has to clear his business trips with his parents.

The 18-year-old Moorpark College freshman and editor-in-chief of Rap-Up magazine was offered a trip to St. Louis by a record label in order to interview performer Nelly. The problem: his parents didn't want him to miss school. "The day before, my mom said, 'I'm not letting you go,'" Lazerine said.

Despite the setbacks, Lazerine has been more fortunate than most. Days after he started a Web site dedicated to rap and hip-hop music at 16, he got a call from an East Coast publisher wanting him to edit a rap magazine it was starting up.

Olympic Chill

As thousands of people poured out of their offices along Wilshire Boulevard last week to see torchbearers carry the Olympic flame through L.A., concessionaire Richard Zeugin saw some potential customers.

But the cart he was hauling hardly fit the occasion. It was full of Cat in the Hat and Harry Potter felt hats, umbrellas, glow sticks and horns. The only patriotic items for sale were small American flags.

When Zeugin hawked his goods at events leading up to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, his souvenirs bore the Olympic logo. But corporate sponsors have since secured the exclusive rights on that merchandise, leaving small vendors out in the cold.

Predictably, Zeugin was feeling less than patriotic about the situation. "It tells me that (corporations) have their rights," he said. "And it tells me my pockets aren't lined as well this year."

Expect the Least

Gov. Gray Davis took an opportunity to poke fun at himself at the recent Burbank press conference where he announced his new tax-credit program to stop runaway production.

After Davis told the assembled media that the program was designed to stop the flight of mid-budget productions like cable shows and movies of the week, one reporter asked if he planned to address the problems of big budget filmmakers.

"People are always trying to get me to make some kind of Shermanesque statement," Davis quipped in a reference to the Union Civil War general remembered for laying waste to much of the Confederacy. "I'm a politician. I like to under promise and then over deliver."

Brought to You By

Some people want to see their name in lights. Others may have to settle for, let's say, a mall plaza.

The developer of The Grove at Farmers Market has been getting calls from companies interested in attaching their names to the 545,000-square-foot shopping center, scheduled to open March 15.

"We've been approached by a number of companies on co-branding and sponsorships," said Rick Caruso, chief executive of Caruso Affiliated Holdings. "We're really experimenting with it right now."

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