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What You Need To Know Today: Electric Vehicles Aren’t A New Thing, Outdoor Watering Ban Lifted, A New Memoir: Brown and Gay in LA

An image of an old car with a light-gray-green finish and white wheels in a museum.
A 1915 Detroit Electric at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Detroit Electrics were the most popular electric vehicles of the early 20th century. Thomas Edison drove one with a nickel-iron battery he invented himself. But they were unaffordable for the majority of people.
(Erin Stone
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Tuesday, September 20. 

Today in How to LA: The history and importance of electric vehicles, LA County lifts outdoor watering ban for 4 million customers, Cal Poly Pomona sociologist's new memoir about growing up brown and gay in LA. 

One of my favorite shows growing up was The Jetsons. A lot of those items of convenience we have right now — video chats on flat screens, domestic robots that do things on command like Alexa and Roomba and work calls on smartwatches. But out of all those cool Space-Age tools and gadgets, the one I really want to see is the flying car.

Now, I know that there are folks out there working on it but we are still, unfortunately, very much grounded. However, there is one invention that will soon become common on the streets for good: battery-operated cars.

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Just last month, California air regulators just made a historic decision and banned the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The federal government is also pushing for electric vehicles to steer into the mainstream. 

My colleague Erin Stone reports on the little known history of electric cars and why they’re so crucial to saving our planet, and our health. 

She spoke to UCLA urban planning professor Adam Millard-Ball about it. “We're not going to be able to resolve the climate crisis without electric vehicles,” said Millard-Ball. “And that's mainly because transportation is such a big part of the climate problem.”Almost 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from big trucks and passenger cars.  And here’s an interesting fact: if L.A. — the smog capital of the country — reduces air pollution caused by cars, it could avoid 8,680 premature deaths, according to the American Lung Association. 

It’s wild to think that transportation, once a technology created to serve the common good, could turn out to be so harmful. But you know what really surprised me reading Erin’s article?

Electric cars have been around since 1839. They were just for wealthy folks like guys named Thomas Edison. So, why and how did we start using gas-powered cars that harm our air and lungs?  Erin has all the details.

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*whispers* By the way, did you know that George Jetson was born on July 31, 2022 according to the show writers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera? Maybe they knew something we didn’t…

Let’s check back in 40 years.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

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The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

  • The 14-day water ban that impacted some 4 million people across Los Angeles County has ended early. A busted pipeline, which delivers water from the Colorado River to the LA area, had led to the shutoffs. Now it’s fixed. People in the affected areas can return to outdoor watering while, of course, keeping conservation in mind. 
  • A proposed regulation by the California Air Resources Board calls for a move away from high-polluting diesel trucks and instead requires big rig trucks to become zero-emission vehicles by 2040.
  • The recently-passed Senate Bill 410 may force Cal State to increase tuition for the second time in more than a decade. Gavin Newsom has until September 30 to decide whether to support the bill that will increase wages for underpaid non-academic staff or risk angering around 30,000 unionized employees.
  • Adnan Syed has been released from prison after a judge overturned his conviction for the murder of his ex-girlfriend in 1999. You might remember his story from the first season of the podcast Serial – it was downloaded millions of times. Syed was 18 when he was sentenced to life in prison in 2000. (NPR
  • You may have heard by now that President Biden declared the pandemic “over.” But is it too soon to celebrate? Here’s what public health experts have to say about the status of Covid-19.
  • A 7.6 magnitude earthquake has rattled Mexico’s Pacific coast on the anniversary of two previous quakes, leaving at least one person dead. The quake was centered near the boundary of the Colima and Michoacan states and caused power outages in parts of Mexico city. (AP) 
  • The journey to the United States as an undocumented immigrant can be dangerous and costly. Still millions of people from all over make that trek, now at a historic pace. For the first time, arrests at the southwestern border have passed two million in one year. (New York Times)

*Note: In Monday’s newsletter, we incorrectly stated that journalism teacher Adriana Chavira was suspended last year. The article that led to her suspension was published last year, but the suspension went through this year. We regret the error.

Wait! One More Thing...The Struggles And Triumphs Of Being Brown And Gay In LA

A close up of a bald, smiling man with light brown skin, possibly Filipino, in a pink shirt
Professor and Sociologist Anthony Ocampo, author of "Brown and Gay in LA: The Lives of Immigrant Sons"
(Courtesy of Anthony Ocampo )

Even in L.A., it can be hard to fit in, especially if you’re a member of a marginalized group. Cal Poly Pomona sociologist Anthony Ocampo tackles this in his new memoir Brown and Gay in LA: The Lives of Immigrant Sons. Growing up in the 90s and 2000s as a gay Filipino kid, he knew he did not fit the mold his mother had in my mind for him. But he didn’t really know what mold he DID fit into. Ocampo didn’t connect with the media stereotypes of the LGBTQ+ community – the overly white and flamboyant portrayals of gay men. It was a long and hard journey to figure out where he belonged, but he got there.

In his book, Ocampo interviews other gay second-generation immigrant Angeleno men like him, exploring the joy and the trauma each felt as they tried to find themselves in this city. Though things might appear to be a little easier for gay men today, Ocampo says he “wanted to write about that stuff in a way that would honor the fact that those experiences were real, despite the fact that things are ‘getting better.’”

It’s an experience that my colleague and How to LA host Brian De Los Santos knows well. For the latest podcast episode, Brian talks to Ocampo about their shared experience and how LA’s gay scene that caters to people of color has changed over time. Listen Here.

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