Squid Games, a Reflection of Desperate Times

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - Squid Games, the hit on Netflix, has tapped a sense familiar to people in the USA, Western Europe and other places, that prosperity in nominally rich countries has become increasingly difficult to achieve, as wealth disparities widen and home prices soar upwards past affordable levels. 

Harper Halprin knows all about it, as her CV outlines her role in the rollout of retail for Tom Ford and Tiffany never mind her admirable track record in luxury residential developments.   

When Garcetti invited her to re-up her service on the Disabled Access Appeals Commission, she was required to meet with Paul Koretz and Staffer B John Lee on fairly short notice.  Also, all city commissioners are fingerprinted within three days of receiving their invitation to serve letter from Mayor Garcetti so better not to be out of town.  How about a Staycation?    

One good place to review one's Squid Game strategy would be ... The Proper, a new hotel downtown designed by Kelly Wearstler. 

I was curious about Proper room rates and was happy to see quite a range.  Starting at $449 / night for a basic room, to $649 for a Junior Suite and for the person who favors maximum contributions on auto-suck, it's $1,129 for a Proper suite.    


The Stuart Waldman Tiny Home Village:

Something that is not necessarily improper, but caused my nose to twitch was how Hope of the Valley, whose deep respect for the dignity inherent in each human being. has them making inroads toward becoming citywide tiny village purveyors. They're taking on a property in CD14 for Mr. DeLeon, who is busy running for mayor on the bump from his visit to VICA a couple months ago.   

On the one hand, it is nice how the less impacted districts of the Valley are lending a hand to the most impacted district in the entire city, on the other hand there is a dignity cap in the expanding garden shed market. They seem to be popping up everywhere, including by hazardous freeway exits. 

If only Cal Trans would clean it's damn exits... 


Breaking: Channel Thirty-Five... who won an Emmy (Kudos): The City Council, who came together for less than 38 minutes on Wednesday, thanked the Governor for finally agreeing to spend more money to clean up his damn freeway exits.  

Monica Rodriguez applauded her colleagues for joining her seasonal attack on Cal Trans for gross neglect and malpractice. Rodriquez has led a breathtaking campaign to power scrape people experiencing homelessness right into services, like it or not.  

On Tuesday she was joined by Land Use Chair, Marqueece Harris Dawson, who inadvertently referred to the 4th street exit off of the 10 freeway as the 4th avenue exit while denigrating his own and Mark Ridley-Thomas's Western exit.  Harris Dawson said that two exits that were both managed by the same entity, Cal Trans, looked like they could be in different countries.  (eyes narrowing)   

Which country were you thinking of, Sir?   


Facts Not Required: 

The City Council meeting is a public forum, so the content one encounters there may contain offensive language that some may feel is not suitable for certain audiences.  Though viewer discretion is technically advised, and offered, facts are required, if you are going to have truth.   Next speaker. 

Kudos to Vuse, a subsidiary of RJ Reynolds the tobacco giant as the FDA has come to believe that some vaping devices give people trying to quit smoking a boost worthy of the risk of ensnaring a new generation.  "Let's do it!" 

Here's to Herbert J. Wesson, who bravely took contributions from Juul when we all thought it was disgusting, and still do, by the way.  

Facts are facts and The USC Area Housing Dashboard is publicly accessible and free to the public. Go Trojans:   

On it, one can see that Ellis Act evictions increased substantially in the USC Area starting in 2018. For an Ellis eviction, a landlord must remove all of the units in the building from the rental market, i.e., the landlord must evict all the tenants and cannot single out one tenant (for example, with low rent) and/or remove just one unit out of several from the rental market. 

The share of mortgage applications from Latino/a households in the USC Area has decreased since 2010, while mortgage applications from white and Asian households have increased. Black households have experienced higher rates of mortgage application denials than any other racial/ethnic group since 2010, and applications from Black households were denied at higher rates in the USC Area than the Citywide average.

The share of people who identify as Black/African American in the USC area fell from 24% in 1990 to 13% in 2019, the only racial/ethnic group to experience a decrease in population size during that period.   

Many households continue to be unable to afford safe and stable housing. The supply has not kept up with demand and housing costs continue to rise, particularly in metropolitan areas on the East and West coasts.    

The rising costs put additional stress on Federal resources to support low-income households. These costs may prevent households from being able to live in high-productivity areas, effectively pricing them out of opportunities for higher wages and minimizing their access to local resources.   

Staycation?  Next Speaker. 


One Orthodoxy:

"One Love" is catchy, it makes sense to me. But "One Orthodoxy" seems utterly absurd these days.   

Even my own son, after I forced him to read what I thought was an important article  by Erica L. Green on the front page of the New York Times about a Black superintendent’s email to parents after the killing of George Floyd and how it engulfed a small, predominantly white Maryland community in a yearlong firestorm.

How could a protest about what happened to George Floyd... be contorted into an attack on white people? 

"The group who mobilized on Facebook to have the superintendent removed are clearly racists."

I said, "really?"

Jonah Goldberg, who I don't know or always agree with, tweeted that, "The most interesting arguments today are intra coalitional: Progs vs moderates, Wokes vs liberals, fusionists versus nationalists, traditional Republicans vs. MAGAs, etc. But for some reason(s) everyone on TV wants to pretend there is One True Orthodoxy on their side.


One History:

Tribal leaders Kevin DeLeon and Mitch O'Farrell were flanking the mayor Eric Garcetti as he attempted to defrock Father Junipero Serra once and for all. The mayor's team gave the impression that there would be an RFP for a 'friendlier' less offensive name for Serra Park, once the "cleansing" was complete.

It's a delicate matter, which is why it requires a special adjunct mayoral office and job held capably for as long as possible, by Chris Hawthorne, a good guy and former LA Times art and architecture critic. He knows just what to say... and the City Council will consider a formal apology to Native Americans for wrongs against them both under Spanish and Mexican rule, and during the era of the Gold Rush and westward expansion.

Joe Matthews recently argued that the year 1848 was as important as either 1619 or 1776 in a recent guest commentary for The Daily News, but during this week's Wednesday city council meeting, the city attorney abruptly rejected comments from speakers who felt “Smokey” a horse who was retiring from City service, should face a renaming. 

The City Council agenda had an item granting permission for the Recs and Parks division to donate the horse to Monica Gilchrist, a private citizen, and owner of Gilchrist Farm. The speaker who had a grievance was cut off before "they" could request a name change. 

The  Civic Memory working group, spearheaded (if one can still say that) was launched to encourage all to take their seat at the table as we rename a few parks and facilities with careful attention to self-designated pronouns.  OK to tear down a few off-putting statues as well.

The Mark Ridley Thomas and Avis Ridley Thomas portfolio of civic facilities named after the Los Angeles power couple is unrivaled.  And there is no reason to expect less, when more is possible.

One proposal that could have come from an adoring Mr. Harris Dawson is to share the wealth:  Consider for example,  the "Mark and Avis Ridley Thomas's Karen Bass Center" or the "Mark and Avis Ridley-Thomas Danny Bakewell Swimming pool."  Why not?  

And the Valley simply must be included in this, we deserve our fair share, damnit. 

How about the Hope of the Valley Tiny Homes by Stuart Waldman

Matt Hale will be pleased to hear that I will not be reprising my call to name the city's Mobile Pit Stops after him... and others. 


Per minute pricing:  

Shatner was comped for his ten minute flight into space on Bezos's rocket at a rate of $2.5 million per minute. That is significantly higher than the $5,500 per minute that LAPD charges taxpayers, according to a taxpayer with a calculator. 

For benchmarking, the cost of a $425 / hour psychiatrist, once a week would be $22,000 / year. ("It's easy to raise $25,000" Paul Koretz)

If a taxpayer/patient divides that 22K by four it comes out to $5,500 / minute, the LAPD rate. Voila! 

At 52 sessions of 50 minutes each, a patient in annual therapy receives 2,600 hundred minutes of therapy. That's a lot, nobody can do that. 

Still, patients report that the dividends of spending so much time bellyaching on about themselves and their problems often comes in the form of an "insight" Dividend.  It's hard to know when or how an insight is going to come, but it is usually brief and impactful. 

If you get four minutes of insight, over the course of a year... a) you're lucky  b) it would calculate out as $5,500 a minute for insight. 

The council's meeting lasted a mere 38 minutes on Wednesday. Friday is cancelled, as usual.  


Wash and Dry: 

LA Sanitation has partnered with the YMCA to have hygiene showers between 11- 2pm weekdays, what used to be known in the community as the lunchtime swim. I just noticed the posting in the corner of the bulletin board, while looking for the "keep the showers short" sign I requested. 

 This helps to explain why our Six Pillar weakened YMCA has gone out of the serving the public business. 

The pool has been shut during lunch and not at all on Sunday for many months. I remember when the Mayor announced mid-pandemic that each of several YMCAs would get $20,000 a month, per facility to help clean people up. Now, I get it.  

But Sheila Kuehl, the County's third district Supervisor,  who has the big donor typeface, like Universal Studios on our fundraising board in North Hollywood Y, should make the Y give our lifeguards health benefits. 

 A family membership at the Y costs $69 a month.


County Redistricting: 

The commission has held 12 public hearings so far. And according to the Daily News, "the next regular commission meeting is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13. 

The goal so far: Gather input about possible “communities of interest,” defined as a contiguous populations sharing social and economic interests that should be included within a single district.” This month, the commission will continue to review maps submitted by the public and will be drawing up map ideas based on input from our public hearings.

In late October, the commission will identify several map options. In November,  the public will weigh in on the options. In December, the commission and its staff will further refine options for further comment. On Dec. 15, the commission will vote on the final map"


(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions expressed by Eric Preven are solely his and not the opinions of CityWatch)