MAILANDER MUSINGS - After ramming density and more density down our throats for a decade, this City's leaders are indicating through one of their dependable mouthpieces that they want to kill everything about Los Angeles that is crowded, cosmopolitan, urban, and somewhat fun.
The Coliseum killed raves because of one unfortunate death (note: three people died of overdoses at Woodstock). Then, pleading poverty, Eric Garcetti and Public Works Commission President Andrea Alarcon teamed up to kill the world-renown Sunset Junction Street Fair.
And now, Downtown Art Walk may be next on Andrea Alarcon's chopping block.
Spooked by an entirely accidental death at the Art Walk, which can catch up to 30,000 people, the civic leaders got together and demanded a report.
There was a public hearing before the Public Works Commission on Downtown Art Walk today, and
The City Maven Alice Waters described the proceedings this way:
What started as a task force dedicated to safety at @downtownartwalk has turned into an entirely financial discussion.
More detail in a full report here. TCM was polite not to use the word "degenerated" instead of "turned" because Andrea Alarcon's commission is becoming a prop in the Mayor's unending battle against fun-loving people.
Commissioner Alarcon is the youthful face fronting Councils' hopes and masking their fears. For obvious political reasons, festival-killing must be dispatched to very young public faces. Everyone under thirty-five in NY and LA thinks every business owner or rock promoter or even homeowner is a sinister millionaire anyway. The hope of the Mayor's office is that young people identify with Alarcon and her commission as it does the Mayor's and Council's bidding.
But what happened to Sunset Junction and the Coliseum and potentially to Downtown Art Walk may also be happening in Eagle Rock too--folks are complaining that the music festival there is becoming too lewd, too ribald, and calling for Jose Huizar to act as well.
To me, I see all these festivals as what our younger people (for whom all these overpriced rentals were built over the past decade) really want out of LA as they try to break out of their high density confines with their budget-crushing rentals. Despite the bad economy, LA's music scene keeps growing--and it is one of the few parts of the economy that keeps growing.
The people who live in the lofts don't want stiff, formal neighborhood crowd control--their LA is too big and cosmopolitan for that. There is a sense that at least one of these festivals should reflect the largeness, the vast scale, and even the edginess and danger that is Los Angeles as reflected in particular in its music scene but also in its arts scene too. The young people who have a feel for LA simply want a big, big mess of a festival, on the scale of San Gennaro in NY or even Mardi Gras.
But this narrow hick town of a Council, way less cosmopolitan than the Councils of Bradley, keeps killing them, and the Mayor and Council keep giving us Andrea Alarcons to do it.
I'm sure there was some point reached years ago at which some of the civic leaders of New Orleans were saying, "You know, this Mardi Gras deal is getting out of hand, there's lewdness and crime, the promoters are crooks, some of the merchants are complaining--let's end it before too much damage is done." Well, too much damage is still done every single year, and yet it's what helps define the City to the rest of the country. That's what I thought Sunset Junction might be.
It would take courage to take on real civic budget-crushers, like the police and fire pensions (have you ever seen a retired fireman's garage without either a motorcycle or a boat in it?)--but short on real courage, the Mayor and Council, through their top surrogate killjoys, are instead taking on street fairs and festivals. I hope they're proud of running our top festivals out of business, and getting Alarcon and her commission to do their dispiriting bidding.
The matter of what to do about Downtown Art Walk goes before Council next week--the day before the next scheduled Downtown Art Walk, in fact. Though they might shut down Downtown Art Walk in the name of public safety, nobody on that same Council seems less than eager to bring a pro football team downtown.
(Joseph Mailander is a writer, an LA observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He blogs at street-hassle.blogspot.com where this column first appeared.) –cw
Tags: Andrea Alarcon, Los Angeles Mayor, Mayor Villaraigosa, Downtown Art Walk, Coliseum, raves, Sunset Junction, Jose Huizar
Vol 9 Issue 80
Pub: Oct 7, 2011