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LA County Tops 200,000 COVID-19 Cases

An attending physician listens to the breathing of a patient who is recovering after admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) in the coronavirus (COVID-19) patient nursing department of The HMC Westeinde Hospital in The Hague on April 4, 2020. REMKO DE W

Los Angeles County has the highest number of reported COVID-19 cases of any county in the U.S. -- and that includes current hot-spot counties like Florida’s Miami-Dade or Maricopa County in Arizona. Since the pandemic began, more than 201,000 Angelenos have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials announced Thursday.

To be fair, L.A. County has the most population of any other county in the nation with almost twice as many people as Cook County, the second most populated.

Timothy Brewer, an epidemiologist and medical doctor at UCLA said that case numbers are important, but to get a sense of the current trend, pay attention to the case rate per 100,000 people.

“Unfortunately, [L.A. County’s] case rate has continued to rise throughout the outbreak and it's currently running about 1,870 cases per hundred thousand population,” Brewer said. “Back in April we were around 400 cases per hundred thousand population.”

He said public health departments need more resources to expand testing and contact tracing so that people who are positive can isolate completely to stop the spread.

“We're seeing public health departments that are being pushed to the wall,” he said.

Since January, the coronavirus has killed 4,869 people in L.A. County. That makes it the second leading cause of death after coronary heart disease and far deadlier than the flu.

Nationally, low-income people who tend to be essential workers, and people of color are bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

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USC's YouTube Convocation Signals Start Of Uncertain Fall Semester

(Screenshot of USC's YouTube Commencement Ceremony)

USC kicked off what is sure to be an unordinary academic year this morning with a YouTube convocation for incoming students.

The welcome ceremony comes one day after USC announced all fall classes would be online.

USC President Carol Folt assured new students "the day will come" when campus life will return:

"I know the pandemic looms large right now, but it won't define you or your USC experience, and it sure won't hold you back, because our entire university is focused squarely on your future."

Previously, the university planned a hybrid class model, which would have made most courses online, with 10% to 20% held in-person. Foltz said she reversed that decision to protect student health and to comply with state COVID-19 guildelines.

Even with classes held online, tuition remains the same; it will costs students without financial aid a cool $59,260 for the year (which doesn't include housing and food costs – dorms are closed).

In a letter to students yesterday, university administrators wrote that as soon as public health regulations allow, they "will be ready to pivot quickly to select in-person and hybrid instruction and other on-campus activities."

Recently, 45 new coronavirus cases were reported at USC's fraternity row, along with a smaller outbreak among other students. The suspected source of the outbreak was a 4th of July frat party.

Classes start on August 17.

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State Knocks LAUSD’s Plan For Helping Low-Income Students, English Learners, Foster Kids

Students in an automotive class at LAUSD's Van Nuys High School. (Kyle Stokes/LAist)

Last week — and not for the first time — state officials ruled that the Los Angeles Unified School District had failed to properly justify how it spent more than $1 billion aimed at helping low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

At issue was a formal complaint about LAUSD’s Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP — a document at the heart of California’s school funding system — for the 2019-20 school year.

Nicole Gon Ochi, an attorney for the law firm Public Advocates, which represented the parent complainants, summarized the state’s ruling:

“LAUSD did a really bad job of showing the community what the heck it was doing with this money, why it was doing it, whether it was working.”

This is the second time LAUSD officials have faced questions over how they spent money aimed at these vulnerable groups. In 2017, LAUSD spent an extra $151 million at 50 district schools to settle a similar complaint, also from Public Advocates.



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Cal State LA's Choice For Interim Ethnic Studies Dean Comes With Controversy

The choice for interim dean of Cal State L.A.'s ethnic studies program is being sharply criticized by Melina Abdullah, a Pan-African Studies professor and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter-LA, and her supporters. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Cal State Los Angeles announced Thursday that longtime Asian American legal advocate Stewart Kwoh will lead its new College of Ethnic Studies while the university searches for a permanent dean.

The appointment of Kwoh as interim dean was sharply criticized by supporters of Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State L.A. and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles. Abdullah is backed by United Teachers Los Angeles and other supporters.

In an interview earlier this week, Adbullah told us:

"It's that community who's making the demand that I serve as dean of this college. It wasn't my idea to initiate a public campaign. It was a bunch of students and faculty and community members"

But Abdullah, along with her supporters, has been active on social media in lobbying for the position. In a tweet posted on Wednesday, Abdullah denounced "the appointment of an unqualified non-Black male" as "a doubling down on anti-Black, Islamophobic, patriarchy" and "another attempt to erase Black women."

After news of Kwoh's appointment spread, she posted that "ethnic studies is not his lane."

“To appoint someone so out of line with what this very important position calls for and refuse to listen to the 1000s who have signed petitions, taken to social media, made calls, requested meetings, and demonstrated on campus is the height of disrespect,” Abdullah said via text after Kwoh’s appointment was announced.

Kwoh is the founding president and past executive director of the legal and civil rights organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. (Full disclosure: Kwoh is a life trustee of the board of Southern California Public Radio.)

Abdullah said in her text message that she respects Kwoh’s work with AAAJ.

In an interview, Kwoh he said he wants to help raise money and foster collaboration between the three departments folded into the school -- Asian and Asian American Studies, Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies, and Pan-African Studies.

"I think the country is hungry for that kind of opportunity to learn and deepen their understanding of the contributions [of] people of color," he said.

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For One New Jersey Transplant, This Indian Restaurant Feels Like Home

Vegetable Korma, paneer and rice from Namaste Spiceland. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Since moving to Southern California a year-and-a-half ago, I have spent an inordinate amount of my free time searching for Indian restaurants I could love. Along the way, I've developed feelings about the state of Indian food in Los Angeles. Strong feelings. Maybe nitpicky feelings. In a city where international cuisines thrive in all their regional glory, it still surprises me that the options for Indian food are so limited and muted and hard to find.

Some restaurants, catering to a more mainstream (read: white) palate, lack the dynamic flavors that make the best Indian food so layered. It's not that they're not spicy enough, they're not spiced enough. Others, including several of the city's best known spots, are expensive and serve small portions of ordinary dishes, turning off many South Asians. When you're the only Indian person in an Indian restaurant, you know something's off. These restaurants may be by us, but they don't feel like they're for us.

My family and I often joke about paisa vasool, a Hindi or Gujarati term for getting your money's worth. We mention it when we go to a buffet. ("Make sure to show up hungry!") We bring it up when we buy passes to a hot springs resort. ("Make sure to stay all day!") We refer to it when we go to the movies. ("Make sure to pick a good one!") We're joking... but not really. I can't imagine my parents flying from New Jersey, where the options for Indian food are much broader and of better quality, and taking them to a restaurant that charges $4 for a samosa and $8 extra for a half-plate of achaar. They would probably shake their heads and tell me they could've made this at home.

The exterior of Namaste Spiceland, an Indian market and restaurant, in Pasadena. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Striking the perfect balance between authenticity -- food that tastes as though it has been made by and for the diaspora -- and affordability is hard, but I have finally found my answer. Namaste Spiceland, a two-shop chain with a location in Pasadena and another in Thousand Oaks, elevates the Indian grocery store/cafe model with delicious, low-cost meals and an excellent array of fresh and frozen parathas and desserts.

Casual and unassuming, Namaste Spiceland serves both North and South Indian food. Crisp dosas and humongous parathas complement stellar gulab jamun, milky sweets and eggless pastries. The grocery store has a wide array of desi snacks and ice creams as well as a small selection of fresh vegetables and fruit.

"We've been around Pasadena a long time, and there was a need for an Indian store and Indian food. There are some restaurants there, but not of this concept," says Harsh Malik, who co-owns the venture with his cousins Rahul Chawla, Kapil Chawla and Tarun Arora. They opened the Thousand Oaks location at the end of 2015 and branched out to Pasadena two years later, in December 2017.

A server at Namaste Spiceland fills a plate of food in the pre-pandemic era. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

I learned about the place from L.A. Taco editor and Taco Chronicles scout Javier Cabral, who patiently listened to my complaints as a desi transplant to Southern California. As soon as I walked into Namaste Spiceland, I was reminded of the day-trips my family made to Edison, New Jersey, an Indian American hub 25 miles away from our home. To anyone familiar with those minimal, food-focused establishments, Namaste Spiceland will feel wonderfully familiar. The fluorescent lights, the square cafe tables, the plastic cutlery, the polite and to-the-point cashier who takes your order.

"If you compare to the East Coast, [the Indian population in L.A.] definitely is smaller," Malik says. "L.A. is scattered. It's not like if you go to Edison, where you can find everything. Here, you can find little pockets. Some are in the Valley, some are in Artesia, Pasadena. It's all scattered."

He's right. Los Angeles isn't merely a city of neighborhoods, it's a city of neighborhoods within neighborhoods within neighborhoods.

Namaste Spiceland's portions are generous and the prices, low. Samosas cost a mere $1.25. It's certainly not the only good Indian restaurant in greater Los Angeles but it's one of the few where I can get an entree and a gulab jamun this good for only $9. Malik tells me he and his business partners have made a conscious decision to keep their meals affordable.

"We don't want somebody to come once in three months or four, we want them to come more often," Malik says.

Vegetable Korma, paneer and rice from Namaste Spiceland. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The menu is expansive. You can order fresh South Indian dishes, such as dosas and uttapam, or Bombay-style street snacks like pav bhaji and vada pav. Or you can opt for a combo meal, which lets you take advantage of the premade sabzis and daals available at the counter. I go to Namaste Spiceland when I'm too tired to cook or when I'm homesick and craving a vada pav that rivals the ones I've had in Mumbai or Edison.

"Our food is mostly home-cooked style. There is very minimal usage of cream and we tend to go fresh. Our menu changes every day so what you see on the menu today is not going to be there tomorrow. Nobody else does that," Malik says. While I can't confirm his claim since I haven't tried every Indian restaurant in the county, I can say that I have yet to find another Indian restaurant in L.A. that rotates their menu this way.

The thing I love most about Namaste Spiceland is how the food tastes -- home-cooked. It's as though the chefs are preparing the same meals they would make at home, for themselves and their families, then opening their kitchen to the rest of us. Living thousands of miles away from my family, I don't take that for granted.

Namaste Spiceland in Pasadena. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Like many small business owners, Malik can often be found working the register, serving chai and guiding customers through the grocery aisles. He is humble and quick to brush off praise. His employees often speak to me in Hindi, something I haven't experienced anywhere else in L.A. They tell me I can pay when I'm done eating, a small action but one that makes me feel like I belong here.

At some of L.A.'s more upscale Indian restaurants, my South Asian friends and I have spent up to four times what we'd pay at spots like Namaste Spiceland, Annapurna in Palms, or Jay Bharat in Artesia for the same dishes. We've also had white waiters explain to us dishes we've been eating our entire lives. We end up wondering, who do these upscale spots cater to -- and who do they exclude?

Malik, who now lives in the San Fernando Valley, immigrated from Delhi to Southern California in 2001, when he was 21 years old. I ask him if he has always been into food and he points to his sizable stomach. "Come on," he says. I clarify: Has he always worked in food? "On and off," he replies.

Customers at Namaste Spiceland in Pasadena, during the pre-coronavirus era. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

As we talk, Malik asks me what my favorite item on the menu is. I tell him I find it hard to choose between the dahi puri, the papdi chaat, the vada pav and the pav bhaji. He urges me to try the googli paratha. Named after a cricket ball, it's a stuffed flatbread designed to deliver a surprise. If you ask what's inside, Malik will say you have to try it to find out. Don't sleep on the gulab jamun, which you should ask the staff to warm up, and pick up a tub of paan ice cream on your way out.

Malik says the coronavirus has slowed business but he's taking it in stride. Since mid-March, Namaste Spiceland has been functioning as a grocery store and takeout-only cafe. Workers behind the counters are now protected by sneeze guards and only six to seven customers are allowed inside the store at a time. Signs and markings on the floor remind visitors to stay six feet apart. Malik now sells toilet paper, hand wipes and hand sanitizer. When bigger supermarket chains sold out of those precious goods, Namaste Spiceland had them in stock. He also continues to offer grocery and meal delivery.

"It's just a phase," Malik says. "It's [happening] with everyone. Everybody wants it to be over soon and we want everybody to be safe."

A couple of the prepared dishes available at Namaste Spiceland in Pasadena. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

If I have any quibble with Namaste Spiceland, and I admit it's a petty one, it's the name. It feels like it's playing off people's limited knowledge of Indian culture with a word that has been so thoroughly co-opted by Big Wellness that it has become meaningless. Malik explains that he chose the name because he wanted something catchy. Namaste "basically means hello," he says, and Spiceland refers to the many spices he sells, not just from India but from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Thailand and the U.K.

Namaste Spiceland serves a broad clientele, and Malik says he decided on Pasadena for the second location partly because of its diversity. "It's not just the Indian population. There's a mixed crowd. Like right now, you see there's all-mixed crowd here," Malik tells me. On the pre-Covid weekday afternoon in February when we met, the restaurant was half-filled with South Asian diners and half-filled with Latinx, Black and white patrons.

My friend Priya Sharma, an Indian American who grew up in West Covina, noticed the same thing. Namaste Spiceland manages to cater to a diverse clientele while still feeling like it is by and for Indians, no easy trick.

Assorted sodas and Indian drinks at Namaste Spiceland. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

"I think the Indian food scene in L.A. tends to feel a little foreign to South Asians," she says. "It feels like it doesn't belong to us. Sometimes we see it in a westernized menu item, sometimes we see it in the actual name with buzzwords that are meant to make the place sound exotic to a Western audience. I get it. The immigrants who run these places are business savvy and they know what's going to bring in people. But I think Namaste Spiceland does a great job of finding that balance."

"Foreign" is the key word here. In trying to appeal to a non-South Asian eaters, many restaurants end up losing their Indian customers. Not Namaste Spiceland. I love its homestyle Indian food and generous hospitality -- and I definitely get my money's worth.

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Firefighters Are Feeling Burned Out

A firefighter watches as a helicopter makes a water drop during the Apple fire near Banning on Aug. 1 (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Fire season in California seems to get tougher every year. Seven of the 10 most destructive fires in the state's recorded history have happened in the last five years.

So it’s not surprising that burnout is a real issue for California firefighters. It just usually comes late in the season after they deal with multiple assignments. This year, the burnout has come early, accelerated by another crisis: the pandemic.

“Nevermind October, November, this September. The burnout is here right now,” said Gad Amith, a battalion chief with Cal Fire in Riverside.

He told us:

“People are worried about their families. They’re worried about being exposed. About getting sick. It creates behavioral challenges. Nothing about this is easy.”


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The Best Online And IRL Events This Weekend: Aug. 7 - 9

Lena Waithe speaks during "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020" on May 16, 2020. (Getty Images/Getty Images for EIF & XQ)

Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on schools, stores, businesses and events. With in-person concerts, talks, comedy shows, food festivals and other gatherings cancelled, we have turned our events column into a "nonevents" column. It will remain this way as long as social distancing and stay-at-home orders are in effect.

During this difficult time, please consider contributing to your local arts organizations or to individual artists and performers.

Peep crazy cult movie art. Attend the online PaleyFest. Catch a screening of Queen & Slim with Lena Waithe and Dev Hynes in person. Adopt a kitty looking for a forever home. Learn the history of the Colorado Street Bridge. Check out gems from the Disney archives.

'You Never Had It - An Evening with Bukowski' is a found footage film of an interview with Charles Bukowski in San Pedro in 1981. (Film still from 'You Never Had It - An Evening with Bukowski')

Friday, Aug. 7 (opening)

You Never Had It - An Evening with Bukowski
This lost footage film is a love letter to Los Angeles featuring Charles Bukowski. It was rediscovered by the director Matteo Borgardt's mother, Silvia Bizio, an L.A.-based journalist and HFPA veteran. The film features Bizio as she spends a wine and cigarette-filled evening interviewing the author in 1981 in his San Pedro home. The Kino Lorber release is timed to what would've been Bukowski's 100th birthday.

Friday, Aug. 7; 4 p.m. PDT

Out in Public
UCLA Film & Television Archive's Virtual Screening Room presents a screening of shorts from the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, which highlights different LGBTQ+ moments in history and ways of being queer in public.

Friday, Aug. 7; 7 p.m.

Play Your Part: A Benefit for Yola
Attend a virtual fundraiser for the L.A. Phil's Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) and its learning programs with a free online concert and workshop featuring Brandi Carlile, Gustavo Dudamel, Thomas Wilkins, members of the L.A. Phil and members of YOLA.
COST: FREE, but donations encouraged; MORE INFO

Friday, Aug. 7 - Sunday, Aug. 9

Craft Lake City
This year, Utah's largest local arts festival returns online for its 12th edition. Check out more than 250 local artisans, builders, vintage vendors and craft food creators, attend workshops and connect with makers directly online.

Gallery1988's Crazy4Cult show goes online this year. Artwork will be revealed on Friday at noon. (Image: Dany Paragouteva)

Friday, July 7 at noon (opening)

14TH Annual CRAZY4CULT Show
Gallery1988's annual most popular group show debuts its works exclusively online this year. View paintings, prints, sculptures and pins inspired by movies.

Edward James Olmos attends the 'Queen & Slim' Premiere at AFI FEST 2019 on Nov. 14, 2019, in Hollywood, California. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Friday, Aug. 7; 7 p.m. PDT

Dan Guerrero Happy Hour with guest Edward James Olmos
Guerrero's biweekly En Casa con LA Plaza livestream series returns for a conversation with actor, director, producer and activist Edward James Olmos. The session will be broadcast on Zoom and Facebook Live.

Friday, Aug. 7; 4 p.m. PDT

John Ridley's Nō Studios Events: Ryan Alexander
John Ridley's Nō Studios presents a number of digital events for members of his Milwaukee-based physical space as well as for artists and art lovers. This week, Nō Studios Unplugged x Next Showcase features a live music set by musician and producer Ryan Alexander. It will be available to view on the Nō Studios website and on its YouTube channel.
COST: FREE, but RSVP encouraged; MORE INFO

Friday, Aug. 7 (opening)

Virtual PaleyFest LA
The Paley Center's annual, in-person TV festival moves to a new online format beginning this week, with screenings available to members on YouTube on Aug. 7 and to the public on Monday, Aug. 10. Spotlighted shows include: Dolly Parton's Heartstrings (Netflix), Justin Bieber: Seasons (YouTube), Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon), Mrs. America ( FX on Hulu), One Day at a Time (Pop TV), Outlander (Starz), Ozark and Queer Eye (both Netflix). There's also an exclusive Schitt's Creek conversation available exclusively to Citi cardmembers and Paley Center Members.

Friday, Aug. 7; 7 p.m.

50-Year Retrospective: The Flights of Apollo: "After Apollo 13 - What Changed?"
Santa Monica College's John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday night events in August with live virtual shows presented on Zoom. Each night starts with a Night Sky Show at 7 p.m., followed by the featured presentation at 8 p.m. This week, senior lecturer Jim Mahon talks about the nearly fatal Apollo 13 mission and how it had far-reaching effects on the number and types of lunar missions NASA was ultimately able to fly.

Saturday, Aug. 8; 8 p.m.

The Drive-in at Hotel Figueroa: Queen & Slim
Hotel Figueroa DTLA
Athena Lot
818 James M. Wood Blvd., downtown L.A.
Women Under the Influence and YOLA Mezcal present a new drive-in film series that amplifies the work of women, BIPOC and LGBTQ voices. The series kicks off with a screening of Melina Matsoukas' Queen & Slim, introduced by writer Lena Waithe and with soundtrack composer Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange). All proceeds will benefit the social justice organizations Trap Heals and WoW Project. Next Saturday (Aug. 15), the series screens Love & Anarchy (1973) by director Lina Wertmuller.
COST: $40 per car; MORE INFO

Saturday, Aug. 8 - Sunday, Aug. 9; 6:30 p.m. doors

The Princess Bride / Fight Club
Lakeview Park
5305 E. Santiago Canyon Rd., Silverado
Street Food Cinema hits Orange County with drive-in screenings of The Princess Bride on Saturday and Fight Club on Sunday. Food will be available onsite; outside food and beverages are also permitted. Guests must stay in their cars except when ordering food or using restrooms; masks are required when interacting with staff. No tickets will be sold at the door.
COST: $20 per car, plus $8 per ticket (each person must have a ticket); MORE INFO

Michelson Found Animals hosts a Cuteness Overload: Kitten Adoption Week from Aug. 8 to 17. (Jennifer C. via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Saturday, Aug. 8 - Monday, Aug. 17

Cuteness Overload: Kitten Adoption Week
The Michelson Found Animals Adopt & Shop and NBC's Clear the Shelters team up for a virtual adoption event that aims to find homes for more than 50 kittens. Starting on Aug. 8, check the website for potential pets. They're accepting applications Aug. 8-12 via the website. Starting on the 12th, families and kittens will have a virtual meet-and-greet. If there's a match, an in-person adoption appointment will be set. Adoption fees are two-for-one, if you adopt two kittens.
COST: $150 (adoption fees); MORE INFO

A virtual celebration of the Colorado Street Bridge begins this week. (Courtesy: Pasadena Heritage)

Sunday, Aug. 9 - Saturday, Aug. 15

Virtual Celebration of the Colorado Street Bridge
Pasadena Heritage kicks off a weeklong celebration of the Colorado Street Bridge, which opened in 1913. The events include a custom and classic car cruise, a lecture on the bridge's history and children's activities.
COST: $20 - $25; MORE INFO

Sunday, Aug. 9 - Saturday, Aug. 22

7th Annual Burbank CoVedy Festival
The virtual comedy fest features a lineup of shows, podcasts, workshops and Q&As with more than 250 participants and performers from around the world including Michael Rapaport, Rob Paulsen, Jackie Kashian, Jimmy Pardo, Laurie Kilmartin and Jimmy Dore.
COST: Ticket prices vary ($5 - $25); MORE INFO

Sunday, Aug. 9; 12:30 p.m. PDT

Walt Disney Archives Lecture Series: Photo Library Presentation
This pre-recorded segment from the Disney Archives features Cesar Gallegos, Heather Hoffman, Michael Buckhoff and Maggie Evenson as they discuss the 20th Century Fox/Disney photo collection. The presentation highlights rare images from the library. Ticketholders will receive a private link to view the presentation at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
COST: $5 - $10; MORE INFO

Through Sunday, Aug. 30

7th Annual Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival
The LADFF features 57 official selections -- features and shorts -- from 17 countries around the world. Dedicated to storytelling from marginalized voices, all films stream at LADFF for the first time in festival history.
COST: $7.99 per film or shorts program; MORE INFO

Employees Only has transformed their next door parking lot and launched Summer Social Club with physically distant protocols in place. (Employees Only)

Dine & Drink Deals

Who doesn't miss going out to eat or stopping by a bar for a drink? Here are a few options from restaurants and bars as we work our way back toward normal.

  • Employees Only in West Hollywood has transformed their next door parking lot and launched Summer Social Club. This multiweek festival, which runs Wednesdays through Sundays, offers a rotating roster of events, food pop-ups and wellness activities all while ensuring socially distant seating and space.

Morning Briefing: The Battle Keeps Moving

Storm clouds loom large as they move in over downtown. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

First, it was beaches. Then it was salons and barbershops. Now, the battle over coronavirus regulations is happening at party houses.

Located in some of L.A.’s wealthiest neighborhoods, party houses are rentals or Airbnbs that function like nightclubs, hosting hundreds of people over the course of an evening. Recently, residents of those areas have reported that the houses are still up and running, despite the fact that huge parties with strangers are exactly the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing to slow down the pandemic.

The city is acting swiftly; a motion was introduced to come down harder on the owners of the homes, and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the DWP will shut off power at properties that continue to host these events.

Both are good and necessary steps, but they don’t address the root of the problem — that some people apparently still don’t understand the urgency of stopping COVID-19, or don’t care, or don’t want to care. And that is deeply worrisome, whether the lights are on or off.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, August 6

As one veteran firefighter told Jacob Margolis, fire season "is not an easy thing by any stretch of the imagination." What happens when you add the stress of COVID-19? Jacob talked to fire officials about the reality on the ground and will have the story.

Peep crazy cult movie art, attend the online PaleyFest, catch a screening of Queen & Slim with Lena Waithe and Dev Hynes in person, and more. Christine N. Ziemba has this weekend’s best online and IRL events.

Namaste Spiceland is an Indian restaurant and market that caters to a diverse clientele but still feels like it is run by and for Indians -- and that's no easy trick. Virali Dave has the story.

Today’s episode of the LAist Studios podcast, California Love, tells the story of the Compton Cowboys, who have chosen horse riding as a way to avoid gangs and violence in one of the most stigmatized cities in the world, and how they may hold the answers for salvation and redemption for the city. Host Walter Thompson-Hernández reports.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Pay Gap: A new audit from the L.A. Controller's office shows that male city employees comprise 72% of the workforce, take home 91% of overtime, and hold 98% of the highest-paid jobs.

City Hall Scandal: Suspended L.A. City Councilman José Huizar will have to prove he needs a federal public defender before his corruption trial can proceed, a judge said today.

Party Houses In The Hills: District 4 L.A. Councilman David Ryu introduced a motion to crack down on rowdy party houses in L.A.'s ritzy hillside neighborhoods, which are still functioning despite the threat of spreading COVID-19. In the meantime, the city will shut off power at those properties if they’re found to be hosting such events. L.A.’s public health director said that the partying is preventing the city from recovering.

Rent Control: Advocates of rent control collected 7,749 signatures to put a ballot measure on the issue before voters in Burbank this November.

That Masked Man: Photographer Kevin Scanlon usually shoots celebrities, but has opened his driveway to anyone willing to help him document this strange time via a series of masked portraits.

Photo Of The Day

George Guzman, photographed in a mask by Kevin Scanlon as part of his ongoing portrait series.

(Kevin Scanlon for LAist)

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