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L.A. Stories / The Roving Eye

L.A. Stories

Projecting Peace

Security was tight and the lines were long last week for the first installment in the University of Judaism’s public lecture series. The program originally scheduled had Dr. Henry Kissinger and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as co-speakers. But with elections looming next week in Israel, Netanyahu bowed out and another former Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, took his place.

While both men focused their remarks on the global war against terror and how that has impacted the tense situation between Israelis and Palestinians, it was Peres who had the most memorable one-liners.

Asked for his take on next week’s Israeli elections as polls showed a precipitous decline and then a slight rebound for the rightist Likud Party, Peres made light of the polling data: “Polls are like perfume. They are nice to smell, but dangerous to swallow.”

Then asked about setting a timetable for a “full peace” between Israelis and Palestinians, Peres said: “I disagree with the notion of timetables. The difference between a politician promising peace and the (coming of the) Messiah is only a timetable.”

Howard Fine

(Re)do the Hustle

Beginning with the April issue, readers of Hustler Magazine can expect a bit less flesh each month.

No, the irrepressible Larry Flynt isn’t going conservative, he’s merely trying to boost sales. As part of a makeover of the 25-year-old skin magazine, Hustler will eliminate graphic nudity from the cover.

Readers can rest assured that the editorial changes won’t mean fewer photos inside. “We want to titillate and entertain,” said Bruce David, Hustler’s editorial director. An early editor of Hustler, David returned five years ago and took over Hustler last year. During his time away, he wrote for sitcoms such as “Alf” and “Family Ties.”

David aims to return the magazine to its edgier roots, including a sprinkling of more serious journalism, new features, graphic changes and the return of Flynt’s monthly “Publisher’s Statement.”

“Basically, Hustler has been adrift for the past eight or 10 years. It wasn’t smart. The writers were all hacks who were just going by the numbers,” David said. “My mandate is to turn things around. If I don’t do it then I’ll be gone too.”

Darrell Satzman

Royal Flush

There’s nothing like composting to help a greenie feel like getting back to the earth apparently except in L.A.

Air quality regulators in the smog capital of the nation, who in the past have targeted nasty smog-forming chemicals emitted by dry cleaners and other dirty industries, are now you guessed it targeting compost piles.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District decided this month to require big composters to either cover their piles or filter their emissions in order to cut down on smog.

Now, we all know compost piles are stinky, but do they really need to be regulated? Believe it or not, the air district estimates the piles emit nearly as much smog forming gases as all of the region’s oil refineries.

“Each industry must do its part to help us achieve clean air,” says Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the district.

Laurence Darmiento




Don’t Forget to Vote

Now that the state elections are over, it’s time for Californians to move on to bigger problem: what’s going to be on our quarter?

With each state getting the opportunity to personalize its own two bits (they are rolling out in order of statehood), voting is underway on the state’s Web site to choose the image for the coin that will debut in 2005.

The 20 semi-final designs are posted at caquarter.ca.gov, where Kevin Starr, the State Librarian of California and chairman of the California Quarter Committee, writes, “We encourage you to review these California images and choose the concept that you would consider the best representation of our great state.”

Trying to blend images that represent both Northern and Southern California seems to have proven difficult for the finalists chosen from among 8,000 submissions.

The leading design, with 25.6 percent of the vote as of last week, featured a gold prospector flanked between a bear and a Redwood. In second place was an image of the Golden Gate Bridge between a Redwood and Palm tree the Hollywood sign in the background. In third was an image of crashing waves and a shining sun.

Conor Dougherty

The Roving Eye





Banner Days – Eyesore or eye candy?

It’s been three years since Los Angeles City Council tightened the rules for light pole banners, but the flags still fly and the question remains: Do promotional banners blight the city or enhance its aesthetic appeal?

“Some people think they’re pollution and some people think they’re decoration. Ask 10 people and you’ll probably get 10 answers,” says Craig Furst, vice president of AAA Sign & Banner, which has installed about a third fewer banners since the City Council spelled out new rules for the signs in 1999. “But if they put any further restrictions on it, the might as well shut the program down.”

That’s not likely to happen. Under current rules designed to de-commercialize the displays, city-promoted events and non-profits can install banners. Non-profits pay a $100 licensing fee; if they display a corporate logo, there is an additional $10 or $25 per-banner-fee, depending on how many banners are installed.

The banners first appeared with King Tutankhamen exhibition in the 1970s and hit their stride with the Summer Olympics in 1984. By 1999, there were 6,200 light pole banners flying above Los Angeles’ most well traveled thoroughfares.

When the city imposed its new rules the residue of a flap over 1,000 bright yellow banners put up by ABC to promote its new television season it also stopped allowing council members to waive banner fees, a practice that had become endemic at City Hall.

These days, there are dozens of different banners around the city. Most of the region’s museums are represented, as are the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the upcoming Hollywood Parade & Festival and Golden Globe Awards.

Darrell Satzman

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