FROM Jennifer Swann
Bombay Beach Biennale shakes up town at toxic Salton Sea You’ve probably heard of the Venice Biennale. How about the Bombay Beach Biennale? This is offbeat art festival that just took place on the banks of the Salton Sea, the polluted artificial lake south of Palm Springs. It is in its third year and it brings a mix of established artists and art world dabblers and partiers for a long weekend of all-night parties in abandoned houses. The art consists mostly of installations in the spirit of Bombay Beach itself: lots of found materials, otherworldly creations that evoke the desert or even outer space, and what some might call "junk art." Some of the artists are also buying up property in Bombay Beach, sending up the prices. So is all this a blessing or a curse for the local residents, whose median household income is less than $15,000? Reporter Jennifer Swann visited the Biennale and talked with artists and Bombay Beach residents. She found that some, like Louise Jones, felt “we have enough freaks in this town. We don't need any more.” But Bombay Beach Biennale co-founder Stefan Ashkenazi says that “eight years ago you couldn't give a building away here.” He adds that the artists “are breathing life into a town that was was and still is literally dying.” Acrobats posing near the shore of the Salton Sea. Photo credit: Jennifer Swann.
A new freeway proposed for the High Desert With all the complaints about traffic jams and the push for multimodal transit alternatives, you might think we’ve gotten past the era of building new freeways in Southern California. But there’s a new freeway coming to the region. At least that’s the idea. An eight-lane stretch of asphalt has been proposed to connect the rural desert cities of Palmdale and Lancaster, in far northern LA County, with those of Victorville and Apple Valley, in the San Bernardino County. This is a 63-mile long freeway would run east to west in the High Desert. It would run parallel to -- and maybe even replace -- the 138 freeway. The 138’s official name is Pearblossom Highway, but it has a gruesome nickname: Blood Alley. The twisting two-lane highway has narrow shoulders and no divider between opposing lanes of traffic. It is one of the country’s deadliest roads. Metro characterizes the High Desert corridor project as “multimodal” because it would incorporate a train to Las Vegas and a bike lane. The environmental group Climate Resolve is suing, and the project has a hefty $8 billion price tag attached. Reporter Jennifer Swann went to the site of the proposed freeway to see what people there think of it. Deb Hill and Moldy Marvin and Littlerock Grill. Photo by Jennifer Swann.
A proposed design district for Historic Filipinotown Echo Park might be considered a case study in gentrification, from the renovation of its lake to third-wave coffee shops lining Sunset Boulevard. Now the City of Los Angeles is looking to radically transform the neighborhood directly southwest of Echo Park, bordered by the 101 and 110 freeways. An ordinance submitted to the Department of City Planning proposes creating a "North Westlake Design District," which means approving more mixed-use buildings, adding pedestrian bridges at the expense of parking spots, and imposing regulations on everything from signage and design to the paint color of the buildings. The only problem? The neighborhood already has a name – Historic Filipinotown – and a strong cultural identity. Activists who created the Coalition to Defend Westlake in an effort to defeat the ordinance argue that it would exacerbate gentrification and lead to the displacement of low-income tenants in the historically immigrant community. The Coalition to Defend Westlake recently hosted two community meetings to discuss how the plan will affect the neighborhood. Reporter Jennifer Swann talks to DnA about the mixed reaction in the community, how the ordinance might change the neighborhood and why some residents, like Arturo Garcia, are prepared to “fight” a design district “up to the end.” Historic Filipinotown
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.
George Saunders: Lincoln in the Bardo (Part I) Lincoln in the Bardo dramatizes a grieving President Lincoln as he visits the grave of his beloved son Willie, who died at age eleven. In the novel, the buried dead believe they're not dead -- "they're sick and refer to their coffins as "sick boxes."