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Voice in the Fog

“It is startlingly loud,” he warns, “and it's loud enough that you can actually feel the sound wave going through your torso.” On East Brother Island in California, lightstation keeper Peter Berkhout is caretaker to one of the last working vintage foghorns in the United States.
posted by Laminda on Mar 30, 2012 - 30 comments

Murphy Ranch: the faded dreams of a Nazi Shangri La, just outside of Hollywood

About 2 miles into the park... things start to get strange. A forbidding padlocked wrought-iron gate, surrounded by a low lying stone wall sits nestled on the edge of the trail.... Strange rusted debris starts to appear on the side of the paths. What looks like an old water filtration system, broken pieces of farm equipment, half buried sinks, strange concrete slabs with graffiti . A lovely little steam appears and makes delightful background noises, lizards and birds scatter about your feet. And then you see it. A burned-out overgrown concrete building completely covered with graffiti. Cartoon of Hitler? Check. Declaration of undying teenage love? Check.... The bunker of the building is exposed and filled with trash; a metal cage sits menacingly in the corner, and outside a series of stone steps wind up to what seems to have once been a sustenance garden. The steps then continue all the way to the top of the canyon (3,000 steps in all) and ghosts of America Nazis patrolling the wilds fill your head. Baby, we aren't at the Grove anymore... We are at the Los Angeles Nazi Compound! Well, it's actually the ruins of a small community built by Nazi sympathizers, in the hills outside of greater Los Angeles. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 19, 2012 - 50 comments

Disney Parks, Past and Present

Plenty of people collect Disneyana, the toys, books, animation cels, and theme-park souvenirs. Then there are those fans who collect information and details on the Disney parks themselves, collecting official park maps or drawing up their own ride blueprints, assembling the design history behind the attractions, and even collecting vintage tickets and ticket books. Yesterland (previously: 1, 2, 3) is an ever-growing collection of Disneyland history, and has an updated collection of links to similar fan sites and Imagineering blogs, which is a whole collection of rabbit holes of nostalgia and behind-the-scense information. So grab a riding crop and pretend like it's the 60s all over again!
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 15, 2012 - 9 comments

State favorability poll

Americans love Hawaii and hate California. A new PPP poll asks respondents which states they like and dislike, resulting in favorability ratings for all 50 states. Full results, including crosstabs, here. (.pdf) Sorry, Illinois! Nice work, Colorado!
posted by escabeche on Feb 22, 2012 - 200 comments

"We thought we would empty death row, not triple its population."

"Each of us remains a staunch Republican conservative, but our perspectives on the death penalty have changed.... Each of us, independently, has concluded that the death penalty isn't working for California." The authors of California's Death Penalty Act of 1978, which expanded use of the death penalty in the state, have publicly endorsed the SAFE Initiative to abolish capital punishment in California. (Previously)
posted by scody on Feb 12, 2012 - 26 comments

California Dreamin'

California rejects top rate tax increase, removes all state funding for CA libraries. Funding cut for "literacy programs, InterLibrary Loans, and miscellaneous expenses such as librarian training programs and books." Library Journal goes into more of the technicalities.
posted by jaduncan on Feb 12, 2012 - 266 comments

San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours and 38 minutes

Does California need the high-speed rail project? The New York Times published six opinion pieces debating the merits of the $90 billion high-speed rail plan that would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco. Streetsblog has a summary of the six opinions. [more inside]
posted by 2bucksplus on Jan 27, 2012 - 122 comments

Jo Mora

Jo Mora was a California (by way of Uruguay and Boston) painter, sculptor, author, photographer and, most notably, map-maker. He sculpted the many figures on the Monterey County Courthouse and designed the chapel in the Carmel mission. He spent three years living with and photographing the Navajo and Hopi in Arizona. He authored and illustrated a number of children's books. Of all his many talents, Mora was probably best known for his unique maps ("cartes" as he called them) of the West. He created incredibly detailed maps, interesting, funny and maybe anachronistically racial, of California, Yosemite and Yellowstone. Music fans will recognize Mora's work from the Byrds' 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo (full carte here).
posted by one_bean on Jan 26, 2012 - 4 comments

ink&paper

ink&paper A short film about the last paper shop, and the last letterpress, in Los Angeles. "There are days go by that there can be absolutely no business at all."
posted by OmieWise on Dec 21, 2011 - 22 comments

A Brief History of Palm Trees in Southern California

Of the hundreds of species of palm trees you might find in southern California, only one is native to the state, and that shaggy specimen is naturally found around springs and arroyos in the desert southwest, not lined along beach community parks and streets. How did a desert tree become an icon of fruitful turn of the twentieth century Los Angeles, the former garden city? KCET writer Nathan Masters provides a brief history of palm trees in southern California. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 15, 2011 - 23 comments

A Short Film In a Redwood Forest

Growing Is Forever they whispered.
posted by netbros on Dec 11, 2011 - 12 comments

CA Supreme Court: Proponents have standing to defend Prop 8

This morning, the California Supreme Court announced that the proponents of Prop 8 have standing to defend it. The full decision is here (.pdf). [more inside]
posted by insectosaurus on Nov 17, 2011 - 115 comments

Sixth annual BCLA Halloween Costume Surf Contest

"Just to see all the creatures on a wave is wild." Local coverage of the sixth annual BCLA Annual Halloween Costume Surf Contest in Newport Beach, CA. [more inside]
posted by eddydamascene on Oct 29, 2011 - 5 comments

Old(est?) working seismograph in the U.S.

Working 1933 seismograph. At the Ferndale Museum (CA). [more inside]
posted by skbw on Oct 21, 2011 - 10 comments

Hate mail from in front of the iron curtain

During the cold war Wartburg and Skoda exported cars from the Eastern Bloc to the United States. An action that was . . . controversial. One dealership received both love and hate mail.
posted by Mitheral on Oct 17, 2011 - 20 comments

California Busted?

Michael Lewis' newest piece of financial disaster tourism came out a few days ago, relating his take on California's Bond problems. Some think that he didn't interview the right experts in the field and that the lesson of the city of Vallejo have already been internalized by city managers. Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy code, governing municipal bankruptcies has been used less than 600 times since 1937. This means that the case law is still relatively undeveloped. Only in 2009 did it become clear that municipalities could void union contracts for public workers. [more inside]
posted by bswinburn on Oct 3, 2011 - 17 comments

Pasadena, Where the Grass is Greena!

Pasadena's visual history is digitized. [more inside]
posted by Ideefixe on Sep 28, 2011 - 15 comments

One Bad Cop

Fans of "The Shield" should learn more about the LAPD's Rampart scandal. Rafael Perez and his cronies were the inspiration for Vic Mackey and the Strike Team. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Sep 7, 2011 - 13 comments

Pretty Trash

"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that a rubbish dump being created would, in the space of a century, become a protected area. Yet that is exactly what happened to what has come to be known as Glass Beach, just outside Fort Bragg in California." [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Sep 1, 2011 - 20 comments

What is a man and a woman?

Kudzu and the California Marriage Amendment Proposition 8 Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry: Initiative Constitutional Amendment SECTION I. Title This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage Protection Act." SECTION 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution, to read: Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. The biggest problem is that laws like the California initiative will make the courts decide who is male and who is female — and all available decision criteria create unavoidable miscarriages of justice that will, or should, dismay initiative proponents. You're probably thinking, about now, that I'm going to exaggerate the sex-definitional 1 problem: Probably, you and everyone you know is unambiguously male or female — or at least has always believed himself or herself to be so, and nobody's challenged that, and nobody's likely to. That's true, absolutely: Only maybe one live birth in 100 has some non-standard sex anatomy, and genetic anomalies are slightly rarer than that. However, let's talk about those 1-in-100 or 1-in-1000 cases — because those could be you, or your aunt, or your best friend — and because our system of law has to deal with 1-in-1000 situations, too.
posted by robbyrobs on Jul 21, 2011 - 50 comments

"The thing I regret most that I cannot change -- except by what I do now -- was drafting the death penalty initiative."

"The way I look at it, what I created can and may already have resulted in the [execution] of an innocent person." Donald Heller is partly responsible for turning California's death row into the most populous and expensive in the nation. So why'd the lawyer known as "Mad Dog" change his mind?
posted by scody on Jul 16, 2011 - 24 comments

'South California' for 51st state?

Jeff Stone, a politician from Riverside County, wants 13 conservative Southern California counties to secede and become the country's 51st state.
posted by reenum on Jul 12, 2011 - 154 comments

SCOTUS, Video Games, & Violence

US Supreme Court finds Cali. law restricting sales of violent videogames to adults violates First Amendment. [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Jun 27, 2011 - 93 comments

70IN70

Last month, California decided to shutter 70 of its 278 state parks. "70in70 is an attempt to create memories before history outpaces us: 70 state parks are slated for closure this year, and we intend to visit each one within the next 70 days."
posted by SpringAquifer on Jun 26, 2011 - 89 comments

Peter Govaars finds a washed-up camera on a Californian Beach

A camera can survive in the sea, apparently. A man finds camera on the beach, rescues the SD card and puts all of them on flickr in an effort to find the original owner.
posted by bobbyone on Jun 21, 2011 - 48 comments

Grape Fields to The Game

The Madness of Cesar Chavez
posted by telstar on Jun 18, 2011 - 44 comments

Hahn's Homeboyz

In CA-36, Democrat Calls For Blanket Condemnation Of Stunning New Web Ad. Initially, businessman Craig Huey, a tea party Republican, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Los Angeles County GOP. Eventually, Huey's campaign manager stated, "If I could wave a magic wand and take it down, I would. The video was created by Turn Right USA PAC.
posted by black rainbows on Jun 15, 2011 - 150 comments

cinephilic rock and roll

"Theme from Confusion Range" is the first of several music videos, each shot by a different independent director, for LA desert rock band Spindrift's next album "Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1." Songwriter Kirpatrick Thomas, who takes many of his sonic cues from Ennio Morricone said, "the album is an homage to our love of film scoring and the medium which surrounds it." [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 2, 2011 - 2 comments

Carleton E. Watkins

Carleton Watkins (1829-1916) was an early western photographer, notable for his views of San Francisco and Yosemite. Watkins made his images with a custom built "Mammoth" 18x22" glass plate camera. [more inside]
posted by starman on May 29, 2011 - 7 comments

Brown v. Plata

Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates. [more inside]
posted by Mister Fabulous on May 23, 2011 - 236 comments

The Lazarus File

The Lazarus File. "In 1986, a young nurse named Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in Los Angeles. Police pinned down no suspects, and the case gradually went cold. It took 23 years—and revolutionary breakthroughs in forensic science­—before LAPD detectives could finally assemble the pieces of the puzzle. When they did, they found themselves facing one of the unlikeliest murder suspects in the city’s history." [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 14, 2011 - 60 comments

California Schemin'

"As Woody Guthrie put it seventy years ago: California is a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see. / But be­lieve it or not, you won't find it so hot / If you ain't got the do re mi. My father, who risked all our do re mi in pursuit of his own California dream, is a case in point."
posted by liketitanic on Mar 12, 2011 - 28 comments

Happy, devoted, dearly in love

Ed Watson and Derence Kernek have been together for forty years (SLYT). Last summer, 78-year-old Ed Watson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His greatest fear is that he will "lose the ability to recognize [his] beloved Derence when he gets on his knee to propose." This is their heartbreaking plea to the California Supreme Court to rethink its refusal to expedite key Proposition 8 hearings.
posted by superquail on Mar 4, 2011 - 54 comments

Hate Man

Hate Man. "How a New York Times reporter dropped out and became a hate evangelist in Berkeley." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 3, 2011 - 49 comments

It's a purr-fect night for a heist.

When the sun goes down, it's time to hit the streets. Dusty is a cat burglar.
posted by XhaustedProphet on Feb 28, 2011 - 28 comments

He's Rooting Out Government Waste Right Now

Something going right in California? Yes! Gov. Brown has adopted a First Dog! [more inside]
posted by Leezie on Feb 17, 2011 - 56 comments

A Darker Shade of Golden

As California goes, so goes the country, they used to say. Well, yikes. Golden State, an n+1 piece by Nikil Saval, presents a bleak picture of paralysis and conflicted interests that has rendered "The Bellwether State" all but inoperable. (via Arts & Letters Daily)
posted by Trochanter on Feb 13, 2011 - 97 comments

"People could stake me and Gov. Perry on the ground and torture us, and we still would not raise taxes."

'Analysis: Texas vs California: A tale of two budget deficits'. 'Texas Governor Rick Perry treated guests to a barbecue lunch paid for by a wealthy businessman. Supporters of California Governor Jerry Brown munched on hot dogs at a union-sponsored picnic. The stark contrast in inaugural menus last month highlights the different approaches the two most populous U.S. states are taking to deal with massive budget deficits. Perry, a Republican, campaigned on the strength of the Texas economy and made political hay of the fact the Lone Star state had avoided California's massive deficit, pegged at $25.4 billion through the upcoming budget year. Now Texas faces a budget deficit estimated as high as $27 billion for the upcoming two-year cycle of 2012-2013. To close the gap, state legislators have proposed steep cuts in funding to education and welfare programs.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Feb 7, 2011 - 74 comments

Weed-Mart

Two years ago, Mann says, he had never seen a pot plant. Today, he envisions weGrow becoming the "Wal-Mart of Weed", a vertically integrated chain of big-box stores perfectly positioned to cash in on California's booming marijuana industry as it moves from the shadows to the mainstream. In this "green rush" for semi-legal weed, Mann and his partner Derek Peterson, a 36-year-old investment banker, seek to be the modern equivalents of Levi Strauss and Samuel Brannan—the Gold Rush entrepreneurs who made a killing not from mining, but from selling pans, pickaxes, and victuals to the forty-niners.
posted by Joe Beese on Jan 27, 2011 - 43 comments

Raisins: More Than Nature's Candy

A box of raisins saves a family from the Nazis. The Pop Laval Foundation in Fresno, CA adds an interesting WWII story to a historical photo from a local raisin processing plant.
posted by gusandrews on Jan 8, 2011 - 25 comments

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

176 Horn Lane, Acton, London, probably isn't an address you think of when it comes to death sentences in Arizona and California. It is the home of a small driving school. And Dream Pharma, a mom and pop pharmaceutical wholesaler. [more inside]
posted by MuffinMan on Jan 7, 2011 - 13 comments

"We raise rates only when absolutely necessary to pay the accelerating cost of medical care for our members"

Blue Shield of California seeks rate hikes of as much as 59% for individuals. 'Insurer says the increases result from fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses resulting from new healthcare laws. The move comes less than a year after Anthem Blue Cross tried and failed to raise rates as much as 39%.''Nearly 1 in 4 of the affected customers will see cumulative increases of more than 50% over five months.''Michael Fraser, a Blue Shield policyholder from San Diego, learned recently that his monthly bill would climb 59%, to $431 from $271.''Anthem's attempt to raise rates by up to 39% led to national outrage and helped President Obama marshal support for his healthcare overhaul. The insurer was ultimately forced to back down, accepting maximum rate hikes of 20%.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Jan 6, 2011 - 108 comments

Court: No Warrant Needed To Search Cell Phone

"If you get arrested in California, better hope there are no incriminating texts or e-mails or sensitive data stored on your phone. On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled [PDF] that police in that state can search the contents of an arrested person's cell phone." [more inside]
posted by ericb on Jan 5, 2011 - 87 comments

"They know who we are and they don't like us"

California's ailing Republicans: A dying breed? 'Republicans are relishing the coming of a new day on Capitol Hill. But across the country in California, the party of Nixon and Reagan is drifting toward obscurity. The latest sign of imperiled health: In a year Republicans notched big victories in Congress, governor's offices and statehouses around the nation, California Democrats made a clean sweep of eight statewide contests on Nov. 2. Democrats padded their majority in the Legislature, where the party controls both chambers and no congressional seats changed parties. California counted more registered Republicans in 1988 than it does today, even though the state population has since grown by about 10 million.''It's been said the future happens first in California, and the state hit a little-noticed milestone this month that will have implications in voting booths for years to come. For the first time, Hispanics account for more than half the students in the state's public schools. They will be tomorrow's voters.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Dec 3, 2010 - 47 comments

The 411 on 420.

Check Out This Joint: How WeedMaps turned marijuana reviews into big business.
posted by GrammarMoses on Nov 7, 2010 - 30 comments

The Gentle Art of Poverty

A former magazine writer in his late fifties moves to San Diego and lives on very little money indeed. In the October 1977 issue of The Atlantic, he describes the stratagems behind his thriftiness. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Oct 7, 2010 - 23 comments

One small step for man, one giant leap for pot smokers

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) Thursday signed into law a bill that decriminalizes the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The bill reduces simple possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction. via [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Oct 1, 2010 - 70 comments

“The purple glow in the sky — that was so eerie”

Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 14, 2010 - 6 comments

"Getting up mad and staying mad all day certainly describes Paul Conrad"

The acclaimed Los Angeles Times political cartoonist Paul Conrad is dead. [more inside]
posted by blucevalo on Sep 4, 2010 - 14 comments

Worse than Three Mile Island?

Over fifty years after Los Angeles' first nuclear meltdown, the State of California is finally getting around to decontaminating the radioactive fallout.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Sep 3, 2010 - 35 comments

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