Startups Uncensored, Jason Nazar’s monthly coffee klatch, is normally a tech industry affair. The founder of Santa Monica’s Docstoc Inc. has hosted talks with top executives, journalists and visionaries in tech.

So, it was somewhat surprising that the featured speaker for the January session at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica was current L.A. mayoral candidate and Councilman Eric Garcetti. And that was the point.

“We’re going to expand the series to try and find different kinds of people that touch on tech tangentially,” said Nazar. “Eric has been someone who’s proactive about reaching out to the tech community.”

More often than not, the topics at January’s Startups Uncensored actually steered away from the city’s relationship with the tech scene, and instead were about the challenges facing Los Angeles, such as budgets, education and transportation. There was a campaign element to Garcetti’s appearance; Nazar has backed the candidate publicly.

The longer-lasting take-away from the councilman’s appearance, however, might be the new audience he brought to the monthly event – which already draws attendees by the hundreds.

“There were a lot of new folks that had never been to these talks before,” Nazar said.

Half Dark

Local car dealer Fritz Hitchcock is a certified sports fanatic. He’s attended 35 of the 47 Super Bowls.

But last week’s game in New Orleans definitely stood out – and not just for the power outage that interrupted play for 35 minutes early in the second half.

“Of course, it was the most unusual game I’ve ever seen. But it was also right at the top in terms of excitement,” Hitchcock said. “There was that (108-yard) kickoff return by the (Baltimore) Ravens, which was absolutely amazing to watch in person. Then the excitement level really picked up in the crowd when the momentum shifted after the power outage.”

As for the outage itself, the 73-year-old owner of four Southern California car dealerships was sitting in a corner near the press box – in the half of the stadium that remained lit.

“People were a little nervous right after the lights started going out,” Hitchcock said. “But once it became clear only half the lights had been affected and the announcer came on and said the game was being delayed, most people sat around and got to know their neighbors. The rest went to the concession stands. For such a large crowd, everyone was really well-behaved.”

Hitchcock said it would have been a much bigger deal had all the lights gone out.

“I don’t know what would have happened then,” he said.

Staff reporters Tom Dotan and Howard Fine contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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