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Get Ready to Read What's Still Wrong With L. A. a Year Later

April 01, 1993|BOB SIPCHEN

Brace yourselves. As the first anniversary of the April riots approaches, magazines will stampede with other media to re-evaluate this troubled city's woes.

Already in print are the first attempts to tear down Rebuild L. A.--now R LA.

The article's title sums up The Nation's analysis of R LA's failings: The Poverty of Corporatism.

Eric Mann, director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, traces what went wrong and what is likely to go wrong with R LA to the 1965 Watts "rebellion."

He blames what's happened since on "the Reaganite evisceration of funding for cities," coupled with corporate greed and arrogance encouraged by the city's political machine.

Twenty years of Mayor Bradley, he asserts, "have resulted in the impoverishment, de-industrialization and decline of L. A.'s black community."

Of course, it's no longer just Reaganites who believe that "government intervention in the economy is bankrupt financially and politically . . ." as Mann characterizes their view.

The Clinton Administration, Mann acknowledges, will probably use private-public partnerships as its agenda's "centerpiece" for cities.

But even folks who conclude that such an approach is the only way to go (as opposed to social or other ideological 'isms), will find cause for concern in Mann's analysis.

For one thing, Mann argues that Peter Ueberroth, who a year before the riots chaired the California Council on Competitiveness, is using R LA as a sort of Trojan Horse to spring environmental deregulation on a frightened electorate.

This first of two installments (the second is scheduled April 26) also argues that R LA is misguided in its basic approach.

For instance, says Mann, R LA's vision of creating 75,000 to 90,000 new jobs ignores the fact that the major industrial companies that have bailed out in the last 15 years left in search of lower wages and corporate consolidation.

"What can Ueberroth offer to lure them back except for low wages, tax concessions and waivers on environmental regulation, all of which have existed de facto in South L. A. for some time?" Mann asks.

Joseph Nocera is even less kind to Ueberroth and R LA in his April GQ essay. Like Mann and many journalists, he is stunned that L. A. citizens have allowed their city's future to be handed to an organization not subject to the same public scrutiny as governmental agencies.

But elected officials, Nocera contends, have been asleep at the wheel: So, R LA is "astonishingly . . . the city government's only official response to the tragedy."

Alas, he concludes:

" . . . far from being the city's salvation, R LA has been a near disaster for L. A., soaking up funds that might have better been spent in other ways, letting the city government back away from its responsibility to its poorest citizens and allowing the wounds of last April to fester while its oversized board of heavyweights furrows its collective brow behind closed doors."


The April Spy raises its editorial eyebrows toward Warner Bros. Records claim that it had released rapper Ice-T from his contract because of "creative differences."

What creative differences? Spy wonders, pointing to a long tradition of Warner Bros. films with gangsta- style themes, including:

"The Adventures of Robin Hood" ("Outlaws cut this sheriff and get his (woman)."); "Ocean's Eleven" ("Gangsters get all the (women) they want. Cops can't touch them."); and, "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" ("Pimp wants his own whorehouse. Guys try to blow him away, but he blows them away while they blow him away. The head whore is too strung out to even care.").


In its guide, "A-Z of Alternative Culture," the April Spin magazine isn't impressed with the proliferation of new desktop 'zines.

"Technology has fallen into the wrong hands, and as a result, fanzines are everywhere --thousands of pointless, stapled pages of goo-goo-ga-ga, written for losers by losers."


Democrats may have won the presidency, but conservative magazines are winning big circulation gains, according to the March 29 Magazine Week. The National Review breaks 200,000 for the first time with it's April 12 issue. But the big winners are The American Spectator and the Conservative Chronicle, which have expanded their combined circulation by 150,000 a year--a 350% gain for the Spectator since last April, MW reports.

MW staffer Richard Thau quotes folks from The New Republic and The Nation who think conservatives, seeking solidarity now that they're out of power, have fueled the boom.

But Thau credits Rush Limbaugh, who trumpets the Spectator and Chronicle on his popular radio show.


Since the success of the late Quayle Quarterly, single-target satirical publications have become something of a trend.

As targets go, conservative talk show host Limbaugh is tempting. And so The Flush Rush Quarterly takes aim at the big guy, lampooning "the man with talent on loan from God" from its La Jolla editorial offices.

Alas, these fine intentions fall flat in the first issue.

One problem is that the awesome seriousness with which these folks view their endeavor leaks into the satire: "Many positions of the far right are dangerous to the future of our country . . . Their homophobic views are embarrassing, their posturing and bombast intolerable."

Readers may even suspect this "Satirical Review of the Far Right" is a setup, another insidious Limbaugh ploy to make liberals look lame.

Sometimes the writers seem to be parodying their own political bent, with witty commentary that is less than razor sharp.

They quote Limbaugh, for instance, on the notion that dolphins are intelligent animals: ". . . could anybody show me a dolphin that's ever built a hospital or a highway or invented an automobile?"

To which Flush retorts: "Or polluted a stream or built a bomb or destroyed a forest or . . . "

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