Los Angeles

The Sporkful

The Man Who Made 5 Million Burritos (with Jesse Thorn)

Monday, May 04, 2015

We debate burrito construction and the LA/SF rivalry with MaxFun's Jesse Thorn and Good Food's Evan Kleiman. Plus Matt Yglesias compares Chipotle burritos to iPhones.

Selected Shorts

The Pedestrian

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A future where walking is illegal.


The Leonard Lopate Show

A Series of Murders Unsolved, Until a Computer Accident Led to an Arrest

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lonnie Franklin was arrested as a suspect in the "Grim Sleeper" murders due to an accidental computer match. The killings took place in South Central Los Angeles from 1985 to 2007.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

LA's Homeless Can Now Live Out Of Cars

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Los Angeles city ordinance that said people can't live in their cars was struck down by a federal court. Gale Holland, poverty and homelessness reporter for the Los Angeles Times, explains the reasoning behind the ruling, which held that the ordinance leads to discrimination against the poor.

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Studio 360

Sideshow Podcast: Gallery 1988: The Louvre of Fan Art

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jensen Karp, a.k.a. Hot Karl, built a fan art empire: Gallery 1988, a source for prints and sculptures dedicated to our favorite pieces of pop culture, from Ghostbusters to Breaking Bad.
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The Takeaway

The Beginning of the End of Teacher Tenure?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that California's teacher tenure and teacher dismissal laws are unconstitutional. Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of Students First, the organization that funded the challenge to California's teacher tenure laws, discusses the possible national implications of the case.

Comments [22]

The Takeaway

'X-Men' & Out-of-Control Hollywood Culture

Friday, April 25, 2014

Director Bryan Singer has a new X-Men movie out soon, but the probable blockbuster will now be marred by controversy. Last week, a man sued Singer, alleging that  the director and other men repeatedly assaulted him as a teenager.


Studio 360

Ghostbusters Fan Art Proves There's No Need for a Sequel

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rumors continue to swirl that they're going to remake the beloved '80s films, but this new treasure trove of tribute art means we should leave the franchise alone.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

In the Film Industry, LA's Loss is NY's Gain

Monday, March 03, 2014

California has lost thousands of film and TV production jobs over the past several years while New York has gained more than 10,000. What are we doing right?

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Studio 360

Chris Stroffolino's Piano Van

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Scene: Los Angeles
From The Organist, KCRW's podcast with The Believer magazine

Chris Stroffolino is a Shakespearean scholar and a former member of the band Silver Jews. But these days, he lives in a 1983 Ford Econoline van which is retro-fitted with a piano in the back. He’ll drive around town, invite musicians in to play, or just open the side doors to give a ...

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Transportation Nation

Future L.A. Rail Line Will Test New Metro Policy

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


A new light rail line extension in South Los Angeles promises to provide thousands of middle-class jobs. And advocates are lobbying for residents from low-income neighborhoods to get a fair shot at employment along the upcoming Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project, particularly in construction.

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The Takeaway

How to Coordinate a Wide-Scale Manhunt

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The manhunt continues for Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer accused of killing three people in California. The Los Angeles Police Department has promised a $1 million reward for leads on Dorner's whereabouts, but conducting a wide-scale manhunt for a potentially dangerous fugitive has its complications.


Studio 360

Track 16's Last Stop: Iconic Gallery to Become Train Station

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Scene: Los Angeles
From KCRW's Which Way LA, hosted by Warren Olney

It’s a sad irony for those of us who crave more mass transit that a special spot has to fall to make way for the Expo Line. Wine-sipping, art-loving visitors have flocked to the galleries at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica for nearly 20 years. But the building that houses the massive ...

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Transportation Nation

Deal Reached in Los Angeles Port Strike

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Port workers protest outside of the APM terminal on December 4th, 2012 at the Port of Los Angeles. The clerical workers claim terminal operators are outsourcing their well-paid jobs – a claim that shippers deny. (Photo by Mae Ryan/KPCC)

(Wendy Lee - Los Angeles, KPCC) The eight-day strike that has crippled the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is over.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Tuesday night "we've got a deal and people are going back to work," he said. He added that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will open again Wednesday.

The agreement will now go to the rank and file for their approval. One ILWU representative told reporters he's confident it will be approved.

Federal mediators were brought in Tuesday to negotiate a deal between International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit clerical workers and the Harbor Employers Association.

The 450 workers had been on strike since November 27. They have been picketing in front of the entrances to several terminals, prompting closures because thousands of longshoremen refuse to cross the picket lines.

Read the whole story at Southern California Public Radio.

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Police: 5 Shot and at Least 2 Dead in Los Angeles

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Five people were shot and at least two died in shootings at a business and a residence in a Los Angeles suburb Wednesday.


Transportation Nation

This Election Season, Americans Pony Up for Public Transpo

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Operators of Los Angles' new Expo light rail line enjoy the new gig, April 2012. (Photo courtesy of LA Metro Transportation Library and Archive)

(This article by Greg Hanscom originally appeared in

Infrastructure issues may have turned partisan these past four years while bridges crumble, waiting for repair, but transit-advocates have hope: This election may bring in big bucks for buses and subways, direct from voters.

More than a dozen transit-related initiatives will appear on local ballots in November, including a mammoth funding plan in Los Angeles. Elsewhere, a measure in Orange County, N.C., would add a half cent to the sales tax to fund transit. A third measure, in Memphis, Tenn., would increase the cost of a gallon of gas by a penny, raising an estimated $3 to $6 million each year for the Memphis Area Transit Authority.

The big kahuna of proposals is in Los Angeles, where four years ago voters approved Measure R, a sales tax increase that is expected to raise $40 billion over 30 years for transit, highway, and bus projects. Measure J, which will appear on the ballot this year, would extend the transportation tax another 30 years.

The city's transit system is still wanting for cash. Even as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has vocally championed new light rail lines and bike lanes, L.A. County’s Metro has slashed bus service to some of the city’s most down-and-out neighborhoods.

Atlanta faced a similar crossroads, and a similar vote in July that would have raised $8 billion for rail and other transportation projects. It went down in flames.

Atlanta’s transit agency has been cutting bus service due to budget shortfalls. But unlike in L.A., light rail hasn’t fared much better.

However, Atlanta seems to be an exception to the rule. Transit funding is winning wide approval in other cities around the country this year, as in recent years — and will likely see a few more big wins on ballot budget initiatives in November, including in L.A. If all goes as expected, Angelenos will get the world-class transit system that Mayor Villaraigosa dreams about — and sooner than you might think.

“The overwhelming majority of measures are successful,” says Jason Jordan, director of the Center for Transportation Excellence, a D.C.-based nonprofit that tracks transit-related ballot initiatives. “We were expecting to see approval rates decline back in ’08, with the economic downturn. But rates have actually been improving year over year.”

According to the center’s tally, transit is batting almost 90 percent at the ballot box nationally this year. Voters in Baton Rouge, La., approved a property tax measure in April that will more than double the annual budget for the local bus service. In May, residents of Parkersburg, W.Va., voted to extend a property tax that funds the local transit service. And Michiganders renewed a slew of taxes to fund transit in August.

“It used to be that you might go to the ballot in order to raise matching funds for federal dollars,” Jordan says. “Now, places have to make themselves competitive for federal funds by showing they’ve got skin in the game.”

Putting a long-term transit tax in place would allow L.A.’s Metro to borrow the money now and pay it off over the coming decades (there’s a good explanation here), meaning that Angelenos could be living in traintopia in the not too distant future. Under California law, the measure will require a supermajority of at least two-thirds support to pass, but that didn’t stop Measure R from passing in 2008.

So what happened in Atlanta — and could the same forces take down transit initiatives elsewhere? Here it is, mapped:

(Image: Atlanta Business Journal, via Grist)

Pretty clear, right? More than two-thirds of voters in the urban core supported the measure. But the further you went from the city center, the more the opposition won over. By the time you got to the suburbs, people it was a landslide of opposition.

Jordan says that in many ways, Atlanta’s initiative was destined to fail, both because of historic forces at work in the region, (listen to TN's documentary about Race and Mass Transit for the story of Atlanta's transit history) and because the state legislature imposed restrictions on the measure that made it unwieldy. The vote also coincided with the state primaries, in which the most contested races were among Republicans in the exurbs — not people who are inclined to tax themselves for better trains and buses.

For evidence that transit votes don’t always devolve into a simple city-vs.-suburb showdown, Jordan points to St. Louis, where a ballot initiative failed in 2008, but passed on a second attempt, two years later. Here are the maps:

(Images by the Center for Transportation Excellence via Grist)

Looks neat, but to me, the message remains the same: Folks in the ‘burbs don’t care much for  transit initiatives. The difference in the second St. Louis election was that fewer of them turned out to vote — and a strong grassroots campaign succeeded in getting pro-transit folks to support the measure. In campaign parlance, the initiative’s backers got their supporters out “without mobilizing their opponents.”

In L.A., where transit is winning my supermajorities, the story seems to be different. Mayor Villaraigosa has a long way to go in his effort to build a truly functional and just public transportation system for his city, but he has succeeded in creating a plan that a broad swath of society can get behind, one likely to pass the test of election day.

Greg Hanscom is a senior editor at Grist. He tweets about cities, bikes, transportation, policy, and sustainability at @ghanscom.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

LA's Gangster Squad

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Journalist Paul Lieberman chronicles the true story of the secretive police unit that waged war to drive Mickey Cohen and other gangsters from Los Angeles after WWII. Gangster Squad: Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles tells the story of the LAPD’s real-life Gangster Squad—eight men who met covertly to combat what city fathers saw as an “invasion of undesirables.”

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The Takeaway

Anna Deavere Smith Reflects on Rodney King and LA Riots, 20 Years Later

Friday, April 27, 2012

On April 29, 1992, nearly 20 years ago, an all-white jury acquitted four white Los Angeles Police Officers in the case of Rodney King, a black motorist who suffered severe injuries after a brutal beating from the LAPD. South Los Angeles promptly exploded into riots that lasted six days, leaving more than 50 people dead, thousands injured, and $1 billion in damage. Anna Deavere Smith is an playwright, actress and author of "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," a one-woman show that Smith developed from interviews with 300 subjects involved in the Rodney King case and its aftermath. She reflects on the riots that tore the city apart, 20 years ago, and discusses whether and how police-community relations have changed since 1992.


Transportation Nation

Claim: L.A. Bus Cuts Are A Civil Rights Violation

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BusAs we reported in an hour-long radio documentary, transit choices often carry civil rights implications. Now, activists in Los Angeles are claiming that the LA MTA has violated the rights of 500,000 low income and minority riders, as KPCC reports.

By cutting more than 800,000 hours of bus service around Los Angeles, the agency knowingly discriminated against bus riders from ethnic communities, say protesters.

“Did ten years of civil rights oversight not teach the MTA how to perform civil rights analysis?," Barbara Lott-Holland of the Bus Rider Union asked rhetorically. "The MTA did exactly what they promised the courts they would not do -- they went back to their old habits of stealing from bus riders.”

The Federal Transit Administration conducted an 18-month review of the cuts, resulting in a recommendation to the MTA to review the choice of services to cut.

The FTA review was in response to a claim from The Bus Riders Union and Public Advocates, a civil rights nonprofit. The groups argue that LA Metro discriminated against minorities in focusing transit service cuts solely on bus routes used primarily by people of color, during a time when service on rail routes increased. A statement from the groups sent to TN notes that "Metro Bus riders are less than half as likely as Metro Rail riders to be white, and Metro Rail riders are 30 percent less likely to be Latino than Metro Bus riders."

The MTA says the decisions were economically motivated and adds it were planning it's own review of the decisions anyway.

For more details, links to the letters, documents and statements from all sides, as well as an audio report, visit KPCC.

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The Takeaway

Magic Johnson Leads Group Buy for Los Angeles Dodgers

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eight years ago, Frank McCourt bought the Los Angeles Dodges for $430 million, but a nasty divorce sent him into bankruptcy. Now, a group led by basketball legend Magic Johnson has a deal in place to buy the Dodgers for more than $2 billion, an amount that would be the most ever paid for a professional sports team. Richard Sandomir is a sports, business and media columnist for our partner The New York Times.