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January 3, 2009 | Cynthia Dizikes
In the heart of the Ethiopian community here, a group of friends gathered after work in an office to chew on dried khat leaves before going home to their wives and children. Sweet tea and sodas stood on a circular wooden table between green mounds of the plant, a mild narcotic grown in the Horn of Africa. As the sky grew darker the conversation became increasingly heated, flipping from religion to jobs to local politics. Suddenly, one of the men paused and turned in his chair.
April 3, 2014 | By Jessica Guynn and Chris O'Brien
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Silicon Valley, with its influence and economic clout soaring to all-time highs, is having its pop culture moment. But the stream of movies, books, even a reality TV show spotlighting nerdy start-up culture have all been widely panned locally as cheap caricatures. With Sunday's kickoff of Mike Judge's "Silicon Valley" comedy series on HBO, the geeks here say Hollywood finally gets them - even as it mocks them. "It was like watching a bizarro version of your own reality," said Tesla Motors Chief Executive Elon Musk, after the Silicon Valley premiere Wednesday night at this city's historic Fox Theatre, where stars of the show walked the red carpet and the tech glitterati came out in force.
March 13, 2014 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
A show about the late Weimar era vocal troupe the Comedian Harmonists bearing the title "Harmony" had better have memorable singing, and on that score this musical by Barry Manilow and his writing partner Bruce Sussman doesn't disappoint. In solos, duets and ensemble numbers especially, the voices soar on lilting melodies that strive to conjure the glory days of the American musical, that period bookended between Rodgers & Hammerstein and Kander & Ebb. The show's numbers may not evoke those easy-listening Manilow hits of the 1970s, but they have an ingratiating beauty that serves to remind that the man who made famous the Bruce Johnston lyric "I am music.
April 2, 2014 | By Jim Puzzanghera and Jerry Hirsch
For just a few million dollars, General Motors Co. could have replaced a defective ignition switch that ultimately has been linked to 13 deaths and is expected to cost the automaker billions in repairs, fines and litigation. GM need only have spent an additional 90 cents on each switch to handle the problem. But the automaker balked at the expense, according to company documents. That fateful decision came into sharp focus during the second day of hearings on Capitol Hill over the safety scandal.
December 28, 2013 | By E. Scott Reckard
A Times investigation into the intense sales culture at Wells Fargo Bank, published in Sunday's newspaper, has drawn strong reaction from the bank's customers and employees. Many related experiences similar to those described in the story. The Times reported that rigid daily quotas caused many employees to unethically inflate sales - often by pushing unnecessary accounts or services, at times without customer permission. Some staffers begged family members to open ghost accounts; others ordered credit cards that customers never requested, or forged signatures on account paperwork.
August 6, 2004 | Barbara Demick, Times Staff Writer
For years, Lee Yu Jin kept her secret. Whenever anybody asked -- and they did all the time as her celebrity as an actress and model spread -- she simply denied the rumors. No, she was not a foreigner. She was Korean. Finally, last year, Lee called a news conference and tearfully acknowledged that her father was an American GI. As her fans had long suspected from her 5-foot-9 stature, she was of mixed race.
December 6, 2013 | By Mark Swed
Sites for CD-quality and studio master downloads: Qobuz: This French site is now the world's best megastore record store for downloads. While the catalog is not quite as deep as Amazon or iTunes, it offers a vast wealth of recordings available as downloads in CD quality and often hi-def. Plus it has a wealth of unbelievable bargains, although you have to search for them. HDtracks: Although the selection is fairly limited, this pioneering U.S. site has hi-def recordings you won't find anywhere else and is especially good at providing astonishingly rich remasterings of classic '50s and '60s jazz, rock and classical.
January 18, 2014 | By Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic
The most surprising thing about "Her," the new Spike Jonze movie, is not that it dares to suggest an otherwise sane person might fall in love with the operating system that runs his computer and his smartphone. Or that middle-aged men look good in high-waisted pants. Or that it will be possible someday soon to ride a subway from downtown Los Angeles to the beach. It is something simpler: that the near future is more interesting, culturally and architecturally, than the recent past.
March 10, 2014 | By Christopher Knight
Myths die hard. Especially creation myths. Messing with the symbolic origins of a world isn't something to be undertaken lightly. Jackson Pollock's mammoth 1943 painting "Mural" - nearly 8 feet high, 20 feet wide and covered edge-to-edge with rhythmic, Matisse-like linear arabesques, muscular abstract shapes and piercing voids, all of which he likened to a frenzied mustang stampede - was something entirely new for American art. The great painting represents...
June 6, 2010 | By Neal Gabler, Special to the Los Angeles Times
It used to be so simple. A book had an author; a film, a screenwriter and director; a piece of music, a composer and performer; a painting or sculpture, an artist; a play, a playwright. You could assume that the work actually erupted more or less full-blown from these folks. In addition, the book, film, musical composition, painting or play was a discrete object or event that existed in time and space. You could hold it in your hands or watch or listen to it in a theater or your living room.
March 30, 2014 | By Mike Anton
When he was a young man, Hobie Alter had a clear vision of his future: He didn't want a job that would require hard-soled shoes, and he didn't want to work east of Pacific Coast Highway. He succeeded. The son of a second-generation orange grower, Alter is credited with innovations that allowed people who couldn't lift log slabs to surf and those who couldn't pay for yacht club memberships to sail. Share your memories: Hobie's contributions to SoCal culture Known practically everywhere with a coastline or a lake simply as "Hobie," Alter developed the mass-produced foam surfboard.
March 30, 2014 | From a Times staff writer
Hobie Alter, who died Saturday at the age of 80, was known as the Henry Ford of surfing. In 1958, he developed the mass-produced foam surfboard with a partner. He later popularized sailing by inventing a lightweight, high-performance catamaran. The impact of his innovation was big; it allowed people who couldn't lift heavy wood boards to surf, and it opened sailing up to those who could never afford yacht club dues.  OBITUARY: Hobie Alter shaped Southern California surf culture Alter once said he never wanted to work east of Pacific Coast Highway, and he got his wish.
March 29, 2014 | By Saba Hamedy
Wearing a dark blue traditional Iranian garment, Roxanna Ameri followed the rhythm of the music as she marched with others outfitted in festive shades of red, green and purple. Ameri, 18, was among hundreds of Iranians who flocked to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art last weekend for the sixth annual Iranian New Year celebration, hosted by the Farhang Foundation, a nonprofit that celebrates Iranian art and culture in Southern California. March 20 commemorates both the first day of spring and the Iranian holiday Nowruz, which translates to "new day. " The holiday, which ends Sunday in the U.S. and on Tuesday in Iran, is a time for Iranians across the globe to gather with family and friends to celebrate spring and the rebirth of nature.
March 28, 2014 | By Vincent Bevins
SÃO PAULO, Brazil - This mega city 270 miles southwest of Rio is the largest in South America and Brazil's main destination for culture, night life and cosmopolitan gastronomy. Where you'll see soccer: The action kicks off at the new Arena Corinthians, where Brazil takes on Croatia on June 12 in the opening match. This temple to soccer in the Itaquera district, a bit outside São Paulo proper, also hosts the semifinals on July 7. FIFA, soccer's world governing body, is setting up a giant outdoor screen at Vale do Anhangabaú, a big public square in a beautiful but often sketchy part of downtown, where fans and festivities should be plentiful and rowdy.
March 28, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
If it is true that state Sen. Leland Yee consorted with criminals and did them political favors in return for campaign cash, it is indeed "sickening," as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said. But this newest scandal, along with the indictment of Sen. Ronald S. Calderon on bribery and corruption charges in February, is merely an extreme example of the long-standing and pervasive pay-to-play culture that permeates the Capitol. Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, was swept up in an FBI sting targeting a gangster known as "Shrimp Boy" and faces federal charges related to public corruption and conspiracy to illegally import firearms.
March 27, 2014 | By Anh Do
A San Gabriel Valley couple who moved to Qatar to help the tiny country ready itself for hosting the 2020 World Cup games were sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for the death of their adopted daughter, a verdict that stunned those who have followed the case. Matthew and Grace Huang have been detained in the country's capital, Doha, for nearly a year on charges they murdered the girl - one of three children they adopted from Africa. The couple contend Gloria, 8, died from an eating disorder.
November 20, 2013 | By Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW - Sipping tea in a cafe at the GUM department store overlooking the Kremlin, Joy Womack stared at Red Square and remembered arriving in Russia as a teen carrying huge hopes about her ballet career. She recalled how she would stand in the middle of a circle on the paving stones in front of the State Historical Museum, a spot where Muscovites and visitors traditionally stop and make wishes. First came her wish to be at the top of her ballet class. Another wish to graduate with honors.
May 30, 2013 | By Lisa Wade
In his Op-Ed article this week on hookup culture in college, Bob Laird links binge drinking and casual sex to sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, confusion, low self-esteem, unhappiness, vomiting, ethical retardation, low grades and emotional inadequacy. "How nice of The Times to include this leftover piece from 1957 today," snarked a reader in the online comments.  Fair enough, but Laird is more than out of touch. He also fundamentally misunderstands hookup culture, the relationships that form within it and the real source of the problems arising from some sexual relationships.
March 16, 2014 | By Christopher Reynolds
These might be the best, busiest, most complex weeks of the year in our house, and it's all because of two threads. One red, one green. The most important is the red one - the cultural tether that stretches back to Chengdu, China, where our daughter, Grace, was born in 2004. Grace was 13 months old when my wife, Mary Frances, and I arrived to adopt her and bring her home to Los Angeles. In our early days as a triple-A (Asian American by adoption) family, I thought we might face some cultural barriers, draw stares, confuse people.
March 15, 2014 | By Deborah Vankin
The sound of a woman descending into madness is rich and piercing - and oddly beautiful. In a quiet rehearsal room at the Los Angeles Opera, music director James Conlon gathers about half a dozen people around a grand piano. Among them is Russian coloratura soprano Albina Shagimuratova and French musician Thomas Bloch, who's just arrived from Paris with a rare, treasured instrument, the glass harmonica. Bloch takes a seat at what looks like an antique pedal sewing machine with gold-rimmed glass discs rotating on its spindle.
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