L.A. Stories

The Other Chief

While newly appointed L.A. Police Chief William Bratton has been grabbing headlines, another new Los Angeles police chief is making some changes around town.

Alan Kerstein, chief of the Los Angeles Unified School District Police Department, has given the LAUSD its first motorcycle officer. Last week, Officer Armando Farias started patrolling local schools, resolving disputes as they arise. The LAUSD said it needs motorcycles because they are more effective in heavy traffic, especially during those before and after school pick-ups.

"Motorcycles give police officers the maneuverability to move in and out of tight traffic situations and keep kids safe," said Cricket Bauer, spokeswoman for the district.

Adding motorcycle cops is one of the first changes made by Kerstein, who was appointed in August. Over the next year, LAUSD plans to add an additional 15 motorcycle cops to its force of about 400 officers.

But do the kids think motorcycles are cooler?

"I really couldn't say," said Bauer.

Conor Dougherty



Air Brush

L.A. finally has some bars and restaurants for airheads. Or is it oxygen heads?

Beverly Hills-based Oxygen Power Inc. provides watering holes with so-called oxygen bars, where customers may fork over $10 and inhale vapors scented with aromatherapy oils for 10 minutes. (The company takes 70 percent of the fees or leases the devices to bars outright.)

Billed as a natural, safe high, the year-old company provides a mobile oxygen bar consisting of a table, four bar stools, an oxygen tank, a generator and an aroma station, which feeds any one of 24 scents (Candy Cane, Cloud Lime and Strawberry Fields) into the generator.

The effects include relief of muscle stiffness, stress reduction, increased alertness and elimination of hangovers all of which comes in handy during a night on the town.

"It gives them the power to keep dancing or drinking," according to Beatrice Kulish, president of Oxygen Power.

David Greenberg



Faint Praise

A report just out from the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that KCBS-TV (Channel 2) news is the best in Los Angeles.

So far so good. But the best 11 p.m. newscast in the second largest media market in the nation ranked a lowly 43rd among 53 stations in 17 cities, according to the report, called "The Road to Irrelevance."

The study ranked and graded newscasts during a two-week period and compiled confidential surveys from 103 news directors. Local news professionals developed criteria for the surveys of what a local news station should provide for its community.

The study ranked KABC No. 2 in the market and KNBC No. 3. None of the three stations earned better than a "D" grade for enterprise reporting. All three stations earned an overall grade of "C."

"It could be that in some markets there's just a culture that favors good journalism," said Atiba Pertilla, a research associate with the Project for Excellence.

Travis Purser

No Couch Potato

You can't say Tad Davis is sitting on the job.

A candidate for City Council in the failed run at Hollywood cityhood, Davis was busy loading 32 couches onto a rented truck Nov. 7 to take to the dump.

The couches, along with eight chairs, two refrigerators, two television sets, a hot water heater and a washing machine, had been used for a makeshift Hollywood sign Davis created with campaign volunteers to make a statement for Hollywood secession days before the election.

"We're tearing them down, and we're glad to do it," Davis said. "Somebody should clean up the streets of Hollywood."

Davis said he hoped the 112-foot-long, 14-foot-high Hollywood sign would portray L.A.'s lack of services in the Hollywood area.

He was discouraged and surprised by the election results. "We were outspent 10 to 1. I wish I had Eli Broad in my back pocket."

Davis rented a truck to haul the pile away, conceding one benefit to being part of L.A. "Disposing of it is free because through the city I can dump my bulky items at the dump," he said.

Amanda Bronstad

The Roving Eye

Blue-Eyed Trojan

The USC School of Cinema-Television is dedicating part of a building to Frank Sinatra in exchange for some odds and ends from the legendary singer's life.

Items in the gift, which will be on exhibit from Nov. 23 to March 2003, include gold records, Oscars and pastel portraits depicting Sinatra in his most memorable roles.

Also on display will be the entertainer's Congressional Gold Medal, his signature fedora, his microphone stand and awards he won for various humanitarian efforts.

In exchange for the "generous gift of the Frank Sinatra Family Foundation," USC is naming the foyer of the Eileen L. Norris Theatre Complex for the singer. The complex has been the main student screening theater since the school built it in 1976, and its theater was recently refurbished and fitted with a THX sound system.

The Sinatras have a special affinity for the school, which Sinatra's granddaughter, A. J. Lambert, attended, said Christen Borella, a publicist for the event.

But "I can't comment, I don't even know," about any financial contribution the Sinatra foundation might have made, she said. "The family made a gift to the university, and the school decided to do a dedication."

The school's dean, Elizabeth Daley, was not available for comment. Daley is scheduled to speak at the dedication of Frank Sinatra Hall Nov. 18, part of an invitation-only exhibit and reception.

Sinatra's daughter, Tina Sinatra, and the school have invited 1,000 people to the reception, at which Quincy Jones is expected to be a guest conductor for the USC big band.

After the dedication, the exhibit will be open to the general public in the Doheny Memorial Library.

Travis Purser

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