Steve Lopez is a California native who has been an L.A. Times columnist since 2001.

He has won more than a dozen national journalism awards ...

Read full bio

Steve Lopez

Steve Lopez

E-mail | Twitter
California adoption laws hinder a woman's quest for the truth

California adoption laws hinder a woman's quest for the truth

April 12, 2014

Marsha Temple will soon fly to Philadelphia, trying to crack a case she's been working on for decades. She'd like to know who her biological father was.

  • Law and order in L.A. County

    April 8, 2014

    In Los Angeles, patrol officers are caught disabling recording equipment that was in place to keep them honest.

  • On Dodgers' opening day, plenty of blame to go around

    April 4, 2014

    Urinating fans, a reopened gate, higher parking fees and a TV blackout are among the team's PR problems as the season begins.

  • Earthquakes on the brain

    April 1, 2014

    I'm generally not an alarmist about earthquakes. As a California native, I've experienced my share of small to moderate reminders that our fair state is fractured from head to toe and we're all standing on broken plates.

  • Ron Galperin, L.A.'s new city controller, wants to be right on the money

    March 29, 2014

    Two opposing forces squared off last week in the latest round of a long-running battle over a $40-million mystery.

  • Chief Beck's decision sends wrong message

    March 25, 2014

    Consider this hypothetical situation. You're Joe Blow, an off-duty cop, and you've had too much to drink.

  • Young advocate seeks pope's aid on immigration

    March 22, 2014

    A 10-year-old student from Noble Avenue Elementary School in North Hills visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels last week on a diplomatic mission.

  • Earthquake preparedness is finally embraced by L.A. movers and shakers

    March 18, 2014

    Do I have special powers? people have asked.

  • It's a big task for Lucy Jones: preparing us for the Big One

    March 15, 2014

    My thinking on earthquakes goes something like this:

  • Foot doctor hoofs it back to L.A.

    March 11, 2014

    Dr. David Rizzo's love affair with Los Angeles was rock solid for decades. The first sign of trouble came last year, when the house-call foot doctor finally grew tired of logging so many hours in his car and decided to break off the relationship.

  • Activist's fast is food for thought on immigration

    March 8, 2014

    The first day you fast, says Eliseo Medina, your stomach begs you to reconsider. The second day is worse.

  • Putting LAFD's hiring practices to the test

    March 5, 2014

    I'm guessing that if you call 911 to report a fire in Los Angeles, you probably wouldn't want me showing up with a hose and a helmet. But just in case I had an untapped aptitude for putting out blazes, I decided to try my hand at the sample test questions posted for would-be firefighters on a city website.

  • Women's workplace struggles could someday be her dissertation

    March 1, 2014

    Cathy Youngblood leaves home at 5 a.m., walks a mile in the dark and catches a Blue Line train at the Watts station. She transfers to the Red Line downtown, then boards a bus at Sunset and Vermont and gets to West Hollywood at 6:45, ready for her job as a hotel housekeeper.

  • Reinvention is ageless artist's passion

    February 25, 2014

    Morrie Markoff is not now and has never been a man of half measures.

  • Uptick in bicyclist deaths keeps Ghost Bike volunteers busy

    February 22, 2014

    Anthony Navarro worked with solemn purpose and a box of tools, stripping the old discarded bicycle of its gear shifts, brakes and chain. He cut his finger, wiped a drop of blood on his pants and kept going.

  • Restaurant's healthcare surcharge draws strong responses

    February 18, 2014

    I had breakfast at Republique on La Brea Avenue on Tuesday, and here's how the tab broke down:

  • Getting rid of grass is making homeowners' wallets greener

    February 15, 2014

    If somehow you missed the news that California is drier than a stale tortilla, the Amber Alert signs have come to the rescue with highway bulletins like this one:

  • Animal lover's pet cause is on wheels

    February 11, 2014

    Scarlet, Deakin, Fudge, Nugget and Shyla are in the prime of life and pretty good-looking to boot, but their puppy-making days ended for good Tuesday in the back of a big blue van in Sylmar.

  • Battered Florence Nightingale statue needs critical care

    February 8, 2014

    It's been a tough go for Florence, the stoic, graceful lady of Lincoln Park. Over the years, hooligans have broken her nose, spray-painted her face, shot at her, ripped off her hands and stolen her lamp.

  • Commuting by bike is an L.A. adventure

    February 4, 2014

    I pedaled to work Monday morning, which I had never done before because all things considered, I'd like to go on living a while longer.

  • In L.A., anything but a crack response to tree-buckled sidewalks

    February 1, 2014

    When I asked for a list of all the claims filed against the city of Los Angeles by people who have tripped and injured themselves on city sidewalks, I didn't realize I might throw my back out just lifting the document.

  • Inviting powerful DWP union boss for a drink

    January 28, 2014

    You can add the Los Angeles County district attorney's office to the long list of agencies and public officials going after one of the most powerful political players in the city.

  • Homeboy Industries, a success story, still faces a daily struggle

    January 25, 2014

    It was Father Gregory Boyle's first invitation to address the Los Angeles Police Commission, and he had something to get off his chest.

  • Law could be Kelly Thomas' legacy

    January 21, 2014

    It's hard for me to even think about the horrific way in which Kelly Thomas died. I know too many people like him — lost, sick, disoriented souls who, through no fault of their own, have been hit with a disease that puts them in peril.

  • Down the road, the car will take you out for a spin

    January 18, 2014

    As crazy as it sounds, you may one day get into your car and head to the coffee shop, to work, to the gym or the beach without ever putting your foot on the brake or the gas pedal.

  • The frozen East can't compete with a front-row seat at the show in L.A.

    January 14, 2014

    As fond as I am of taking the occasional vacation, I've decided they just aren't worth it.

  • Angelenos, how do you feel about fixing sidewalks?

    January 4, 2014

    I learned two things when Deborah Murphy of Silver Lake sent me an email in mid-December.

  • Making a New Year's pledge to stay safe

    December 31, 2013

    Good morning, and let's be honest — your New Year's resolutions are probably only good for a week, maybe two.

  • 2013: A great year for scandal, incompetence and corruption

    December 28, 2013

    In more ways than one, I'm sorry to see 2013 fade into the books. Thanks to a steady run of incompetence, corruption and bungling by various public officials, it was a banner year for local news in Greater Los Angeles.

  • Times reader pays it forward for woman without a car

    December 24, 2013

    If you think the best Christmas presents are completely unexpected, you-gotta-be-kidding-me surprises, here's a holiday story you might enjoy.

  • Learning the dance of life, in memory of Gabriella

    December 21, 2013

    Liza Bercovici suspected something was up when a student at Gabriella Charter School approached her last week and said, "Happy birthday tomorrow, Miss Liza." So it was not a surprise the next day when the school's 400-plus students sang "Happy Birthday" to her at morning assembly.

  • Buses are their route to a brighter future

    December 17, 2013

    It is 5:35 a.m.

  • Amid scrutiny, a surge of suicides in L.A. County jails

    December 14, 2013

    He was a handsome lad, with dark eyes and olive skin. In family photo albums, his smile was luminous, and he often had an arm around his little brother. When he was just 11, he took the initiative to raise thousands of dollars for the distraught family of a slain police officer.

  • Bad timing for Sheriff Baca's fundraiser

    December 10, 2013

    When I got to the fundraiser Monday night for L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, I was told the press was not welcome.

  • Narbonne High teacher stopped this run at a football prospect

    December 7, 2013

    Last week, a neat little nugget was tucked into the bottom of a story about USC's new head football coach, Steve Sarkisian.

  • Men's Central Jail is an antique that should be replaced

    December 3, 2013

    The visits were two weeks apart. First, I toured the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles. And then, on a family trip to San Francisco last week, I visited Alcatraz, which is now a national park.

  • A waitress who served more than just food

    November 30, 2013

    You could say she was a waitress, but that doesn't begin to cover it.

  • Couple's mission in Mexico combines faith and service

    November 27, 2013

    One evening in 1978, Hans and Nancy Benning attended a church social in the San Fernando Valley, but took a seat when the dancing began. That's when they met another non-dancing couple — Chuck and Charla Pereau — and the four of them got to talking about this and that.

  • With DWP, thankful for small things (very small)

    November 23, 2013

    This being a week in which we should consider what we're thankful for, I'd like to send a shout-out to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

  • DWP going under the microscope at last

    November 19, 2013

    Any time you're dealing with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, whether you're trying to understand your bill or figure out how the place is run, it can be a bit of an Alice in Wonderland experience.

  • A missing man is found, but questions remain

    November 16, 2013

    He was hungry, exhausted and confused. Mike Farrell, 73, couldn't grasp exactly how he had gotten into the predicament he was in or how to get out of it.

  • Obama supporter miffed at botched healthcare rollout

    November 12, 2013

    Margaret Davis of West L.A. voted for President Obama and appreciates the ideas behind the Affordable Care Act. She agrees that everyone should have access to healthcare and no one should be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

  • Veterans feel a debt toward an old warhorse of a judge

    November 9, 2013

    I was apprehensive about asking Harry Pregerson the specifics of his war injury, but apparently I didn't need to be.

  • Pennsylvania case a chilling one for death-with-dignity advocates

    November 5, 2013

    I keep waiting for the news that prosecutors in Pennsylvania have come to their senses and dropped criminal charges against Barbara Mancini.

  • El Super employees want fair wages, sick leave and respect

    November 2, 2013

    On Tuesday, Oct. 22, Flora Castaneda marched in Inglewood. She marched with hundreds of fellow El Super grocery store employees, supporters and clergy, at a labor rally in the parking lot of the El Super at West Century and Crenshaw boulevards.

  • City Council members' decision to accept even pricier gifts stinks

    October 29, 2013

    I'm not sure how many of you out there were planning on sending gifts to Los Angeles City Council representatives this holiday season, but if you missed the news, the council members are happy to accept even bigger presents than they have in the past.

  • Plan to transform bleak school playground hits a big snag

    October 26, 2013

    The playground at Berendo Middle School, just west of downtown Los Angeles, looks more like the surface of an aircraft carrier than a playground.

  • Trading places with a councilman

    October 22, 2013

    One day not long ago I was sitting in the audience at a Los Angeles City Council meeting when Tom LaBonge approached me.

  • Woefully unprepared in earthquake country

    October 19, 2013

    One little boy lay on his back with a leg gash so bad that bone and tissue protruded through his skin. Firefighters carried more injured students to a triage area, where one girl had blood streaming from a head wound and another had burns across her face.

  • Fraternity teaches young men to make 'no excuses'

    October 15, 2013

    Ricky Lewis was driving along Florence Avenue on April 29, 1992, when the neighborhood erupted.

  • An oasis of music and wine in Baja

    October 12, 2013

    In the hills high above Ensenada, on the road to Ojos Negros, a dust-covered, mustachioed cowboy named Don Heriberto Aguilar has found the perfect life.

  • Court needs alternatives in handling mentally ill

    October 5, 2013

    If you were to spend much time at the Airport Courthouse, a branch of the Los Angeles County Superior Court located just south of LAX, you would begin to notice lots of yellow and blue. As in yellow shirts and blue pants, the outfits worn by Los Angeles County jail inmates who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

  • A blend — or clash — of old and new at Grand Central Market

    October 1, 2013

    I'm an unrepentant sucker for a good, lively, mixed-use urban market filled with fresh produce, food stalls, good conversation and other assorted necessities of life.

  • New problems surface in L.A. Unified's iPad program

    September 28, 2013

    Don't worry, L.A. Unified officials keep telling us. The $1-billion program to give iPads to more than 600,000 K-12 students is going to work out fine.

  • Old World craft of violin-making is alive in Studio City

    September 24, 2013

    One day, mid-summer, I stopped by Benning Violins in Studio City for repairs on a friend's cello. German-born Hans Benning was at his work station, a violin on his bench and a wood plane in his strong, lean hand. To his left was his son, Eric. And next to Eric was Eric's son, Nathan. All three wore shop aprons and the fine dust of aged, hand-picked Bavarian and Bosnian spruce and maple.

  • Thriving 99-year-old is right at home in today's lively downtown L.A.

    September 21, 2013

    I got an email from Morrie Markoff suggesting we "hang around" together, seeing as how we'd both flatlined and lived to tell the story.

  • L.A. Unified leaders don't make the grade

    September 17, 2013

    The nation's second-largest public school district is dealing with a few disciplinary problems of late, but it's not the students I'm talking about.

  • A Housing Works dynamo smooths out the bumpy road for homeless

    September 14, 2013

    It's a short ride from L.A.'s skid row to Hollywood, but throw in a detour and a few bumps and the journey can take six months, as it did for my friend Nathaniel Ayers.

  • City Hall takes aim at a beloved Venice treehouse

    September 10, 2013

    On May 22, a diligent public servant at Los Angeles City Hall wrote a letter to a Venice homeowner about the treehouse that's been in her yard for 10 years. And you just know, don't you, that a story with this beginning will not have a happy ending?

  • Seven decades later, two World War II vets form a special bond

    September 8, 2013

    Building 215 at the West L.A. Veterans Administration medical facility is called the Home for Heroes, and nobody can say the two guys in Room 211 don't qualify.

  • Getting tough on underage prostitution

    September 3, 2013

    On a typical Friday or Saturday night on Long Beach Boulevard in Compton and nearby communities, men by the hundreds go cruising for prostitutes, and they have no trouble finding them.

  • The 'repugnant, vile truth' about sex trafficking in L.A. County

    August 31, 2013

    "When I turned 14, that was when I hit the track."

  • On the first anniversary of dying, some thoughts on living

    August 28, 2013

    Exactly one year has passed since my unexpected death, and I've got to say, time really flies when you have a pulse.

  • In marijuana policy, the confusing smoke signals continue to burn

    August 24, 2013

    Marijuana policy, like immigration policy, is something the country just can't seem to get right.

  • Even in Beverly Hills, helping homeless is a struggle

    August 20, 2013

    Amy lives near a man named Bond, just down the street from Jennifer in a terrific neighborhood in the heart of Beverly Hills, where lollipop palm trees sway in celebration of high-living. But it's been years since Amy, Bond or Jennifer had a home other than a park bench or a clearing in the manicured shrubbery.

  • Angry about the money spigot at L.A.'s Department of Water and Power

    August 17, 2013

    Ordinarily, I don't spend more than an hour or so at a time in Los Angeles City Hall. I get in and out of there, quick as a burglar, to avoid having my judgment impaired.

  • Bottom line on curb and street repair is bad news for homeowners

    August 13, 2013

    Imagine this.

  • Where mentally ill inmates actually get some help

    August 10, 2013

    There is little in Andy's appearance or manner that offers a clue as to what he's been through. The arrests, the jailhouse beatings, the commitments. He's soft-spoken and unassuming, so much so that the story of his life doesn't seem to go with the man who tells it.

  • Does Mayor Garcetti have a plan for his 'back to basics' promise?

    August 6, 2013

    Eggplant gardens, at least for now, are officially protected in Los Angeles.

  • Victory for garden doesn't mean City Hall common sense grows on trees

    August 3, 2013

    In a rare but perhaps fleeting triumph of clear-headed thinking at Los Angeles City Hall, high-level officials have rescinded a citation issued to a South L.A. family for the crime of planting squash in their frontyard.

  • L.A. still saying parkway vegetable gardens must go

    July 30, 2013

    First it was the rebel Abbie Zands, in Los Feliz, who ran afoul of L.A. City Hall. A few weeks later, Angel Teger of South Los Angeles incurred the wrath of the great bureaucracy.

  • For police, the goal is vigilance, not vigilantes

    July 27, 2013

    The bold, broad daylight burglaries in and around Cheviot Hills started in May and have come in clusters since then. About a dozen homes were hit in one day alone, and roughly 50 in a month.

  • Firehouse chefs invited to don their toques again

    July 23, 2013

    When Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Mark Curry cooks dinner at Station 29 in Koreatown, the last thing anyone wants is a fire call just as their grub is served.

  • Early intervention would keep more out of L.A. County Jail's snake pit

    July 20, 2013

    L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca has no medical background, but he is the de facto administrator of what he calls "the nation's largest mental hospital."

  • It's a crime to house the mentally ill this way

    July 17, 2013

    If you routinely hear voices, hallucinate, sink into suicidal depression or suffer inescapable torment, Los Angeles has a place for you.

  • South L.A. track athlete, almost 88, jumps at a chance to compete

    July 13, 2013

    Johnnye Valien was waiting her turn in the long jump event at a West L.A. College track meet last week when she realized nobody was using the nearby high jump pit. This is an athlete who cannot help herself. She sees a challenge and she's compelled to attack it, as if she has no idea she is about to turn 88.

  • Illegal fireworks in Mid-City spark irritation and fear

    July 10, 2013

    It's not that he isn't patriotic. But Shai Levy, a Mid-City resident, doesn't look forward to Independence Day.

  • When unyielding ambition challenges an unrelenting cancer

    July 6, 2013

    Bryan Fazio, a 26-year-old Navy veteran and MBA student, has the same combination of bad luck and fierce determination as my sister.

  • Veterans still struggling to get their bearings

    July 2, 2013

    My plan was to check in on Greg Valentini, who fought for the U.S. Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But I couldn't get into his locked apartment building Monday afternoon in Hollywood. He hadn't answered my phone calls or emails, and it was too hot to wait on the street.

  • A pastor who speaks out for gay rights amid outspoken critics

    June 29, 2013

    Sarah Halverson suspects that no one would look at her and guess her profession, and I'd say that's a safe bet. She's kind of young for the job, at 36, and she wears a rainbow bracelet and a tiny nose ring.

  • Voice-over lessons convince columnist to keep his day job

    June 25, 2013

    On my first trip to Valley Village, I was thinking up excuses to turn around and go home.

  • Nearly 50 years under a school's spell

    June 8, 2013

    When Mickey Fruchter started teaching at the Neighborhood Music School in Boyle Heights in 1964, they didn't tell him how much he'd get paid. The violinist simply showed up, did his job and went home, figuring he'd get the going rate of between $4 and $6 an hour.

  • Poems, warmth bloom under the poet tree

    June 4, 2013

    Ruth "Uncle Ruthie" Buell, who lives in L.A.'s Pico-Robertson neighborhood, had a thought one day. Actually, the thoughts are always bubbling over with her, but this one was particularly inspired.

  • An abused boy is dead at age 8, and again we ask how it happened

    June 1, 2013

    He was 8 years old.

  • Malibu beach app has city buzzing

    May 28, 2013

    Surf shop owner and former Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner attended a celebrity-infused Memorial Day party on Billionaire's Beach and, according to him, all the buzz was about a beach access story in the L.A. Times.

  • Let's start with some little things, Mr. Garcetti

    May 25, 2013

    To be fair, crumbling infrastructure isn't entirely a negative story, and I was reminded of this while driving through my neighborhood last week.

  • Overlooked by politicians, low-wage workers barely scrape by

    May 21, 2013

    Last week, I visited a South Los Angeles woman whose story should embarrass us. It's a story that's not uncommon, and deserves the full attention of the next mayor of the city.

  • Do we love L.A.? We don't always vote like it

    May 18, 2013

    No, wait, don't turn the page.

  • You name it, Eric Garcetti has done it

    May 15, 2013

    In exactly one week, Los Angeles will wake up with a newly elected mayor.

  • The tale of the rescue dog has a tail-wagging ending

    May 11, 2013

    Last week's column, about my misadventures with a rescue dog, was not universally embraced by pet owners.

  • Wendy Greuel takes on the crowd at Tolliver's

    May 7, 2013

    "Hi guys, long time no see," Wendy Greuel said, strolling into Tolliver's barbershop as if she were a regular.

  • The fast-moving tale of a rescue dog named Ginger

    May 4, 2013

    When I had dogs as a kid, and later as a young adult, there didn't seem to be anything difficult about finding the right canine or taking care of it. But things seem to have gotten a lot more complicated since then.

  • Labor has helped L.A., but tweaks are still needed

    April 30, 2013

    I think it's fair to say that the men sitting across the table from me Monday afternoon were not terribly happy with my recent work.

  • iPads in school: a toy or a tool?

    April 27, 2013

    At Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills, every student has an iPad.

  • Time for public employee unions to pick up the tab

    April 23, 2013

    For more than half of my 38 years in the news business, I've been a member of a union, though I'm not currently. And my late father was a proud Teamster for decades.

  • Gun legislation failure dismays survivor of Texas mass shooting

    April 21, 2013

    Irma Garcia pulled back her sweater to show me where the bullet entered her shoulder and spun her around. It then torpedoed through her body and exited near the middle of her back.

  • For Boston, drawing a lesson from 9/11

    April 16, 2013

    There it was on the screen, tragic and terrifying, another senseless act of cowardice. This time in Boston.

  • Litter by litter, he cleans up the area (and loses weight too)

    April 13, 2013

    In the beginning, it was about losing a few pounds. Hans Svanoe, 64, would leave his house in Encino at 5:30 a.m. and walk for an hour before driving over the hill to Century City, where he works as a butler.

  • The Greuel-Garcetti conundrum

    April 9, 2013

    When I met them at their home on election day in March, Don and Prudy Schultz of Van Nuys had a Wendy Greuel sign planted in their frontyard.

  • Landscaping fiasco at LAPD headquarters not over yet

    April 6, 2013

    If the penal code had a section on landscaping crimes, the Los Angeles Police Department would need a full-time squad to go after everyone responsible for the ongoing fiasco on its own property.

  • Ed Edelman returns to the spotlight in a PBS documentary

    April 2, 2013

    Mari Edelman called upstairs to the caretaker, asking if her husband was awake and in good enough shape to handle a visitor.

  • Mothers aid military personnel in the names of their fallen sons

    March 23, 2013

    They didn't know each other before the war. But loss united them, and friendship helps sustain them.

  • Could Wendy Greuel's love affair with labor backfire in Valley?

    March 19, 2013

    The long-running love-in between Wendy Greuel and public employee unions continued Tuesday, with the mayoral candidate from the San Fernando Valley bagging an endorsement from the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

  • Another side of illegal immigration

    March 17, 2013

    Denise Panaligan, a UCLA sophomore, didn't tell her mother where she was headed Wednesday morning. She knew that if she told the truth, her mother would worry.

  • L.A. schools falling apart, literally

    March 12, 2013

    The dilapidated bleachers at Marshall High School in Silver Lake have been in such a sorry state for so long, I stopped noticing until recently, when I saw a grandfather teeter as he stepped over a sinkhole in the floorboards.

  • Mixed signals on city budget give voters more reason for cynicism

    March 9, 2013

    When I scolded deadbeat Angelenos for blowing off Tuesday's election, some of them had just enough energy to return fire.

  • L.A.'s walking dead

    March 6, 2013

    Mark the date, remember the day.

  • Hoping against hope, some frustrated residents still vote

    March 5, 2013

    Don and Prudy Schultz set out walking from their Van Nuys home at 9 a.m. Tuesday, on their way to cast votes they hope will bring changes they've been waiting on for years.

  • Rocking the vote in Koreatown

    March 2, 2013

    In the last three elections for mayor of Los Angeles, voter turnout has ranged from 18% to 38%. And that's of registered voters.

  • Your ode to L.A.? Let's have it

    February 26, 2013

    Some people despise Los Angeles. Others have a love-hate relationship. And then there's Justin Chart, 53, who loves his native city with all his aching heart.

  • Bloomberg's meddling in L.A. Unified races is paying for junk ads

    February 23, 2013

    If you're like me, your mailbox is getting stuffed with political mailers.

  • L.A. Regional Food Bank is thriving at 40

    February 20, 2013

    David Navarro drove south from the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club in Lincoln Heights on a recent sun-drenched day, headed to his weekly destination in a dust-gray Ford pickup.

  • Union chief is wired into City Hall

    February 16, 2013

    If you bumped into the guy, you probably wouldn't recognize him. Chances are, you've never even heard of him.

  • In L.A., it was a three-column day

    February 12, 2013

    You know you live in a wild news town when a massive manhunt for an ex-cop leads to a dramatic shootout and inferno on a snow-covered mountain, the mayor pitches a tax increase that's beginning to look like attempted extortion, and the rebuked local cardinal at the center of a massive molestation scandal announces he's headed to Rome to pick the next pope.

  • Mayoral candidates making budget statements, but nothing adds up

    February 9, 2013

    You're six months behind on the mortgage. Your credit cards are maxed out. Your small business is treading water.

  • Giving kids a view to a better future

    February 5, 2013

    Bosko Magana, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Dolores Mission School in Boyle Heights, began noticing about a year ago that her world was getting a little fuzzy around the edges. But eyeglasses didn't fit into the family budget.

  • Cardinal Mahony's deal with the devil

    February 2, 2013

    Do we have a little spat going on now at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles?

  • Looking for fizz in a flat mayoral contest

    January 29, 2013

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that Los Angeles has had its share of so-so mayors, and it'd be nice to have a great one for a change.

  • 'Just looking for sane policy' on unlicensed drivers

    January 26, 2013

    I got into a minor fender-bender once near downtown Los Angeles and suggested to the other driver that we pull off the highway and deal with the matter on a safer city street.

  • Mahony's efforts to hide abuse are deplorable but unsurprising

    January 22, 2013

    Every time we learn something new about the molestation scandal in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it becomes more obvious why Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his minions have fought so tenaciously to keep things under wraps.

  • Wanted: A mayor worthy of L.A.

    January 20, 2013

    Since my knee replacement surgery less than two weeks ago, I've been popping narcotic painkillers that come with long lists of potential side effects.

  • Another surgery — while knee-deep in the insurance swamp

    January 5, 2013

    Andrew Fabella, are you out there?

  • Herald-Examiner's last man standing

    January 1, 2013

    The last edition of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner was published on Nov. 2, 1989, with the headline:

  • A lifeline for parents concerned about a child's mental health

    December 30, 2012

    Lynn Goodloe saw her son's grades begin to fall as he developed a knack for getting into mischief at a private Westside high school. Was it a phase, drugs or something more troubling?

  • The case of the Clint Eastwood cutout and an unknown hombre

    December 22, 2012

    Reg Green of La Cañada Flintridge enjoys a brisk early morning hike, and that's what he was doing in the hills behind Descanso Gardens when he came upon an imposing figure standing motionless on the trail.

  • Chorus of voices grows stronger for 'death with dignity'

    December 18, 2012

    The bullet that Larry Robert Broman used to kill himself went clean through his head and into the wall.

  • There's no safety in our vast numbers of guns

    December 16, 2012

    In 2009, when I was trying to figure out why gun sales were so brisk, I visited a couple of gun shops in Riverside and Corona.

  • Preventing a tragedy for seniors at the wheel

    December 12, 2012

    When my dad's driving deteriorated, I called the California Department of Motor Vehicles and asked about the procedure for having his license revoked. I could fill out a form, I was told, and my dad would be called in to have his driving ability reevaluated.

  • Does creationism have a place at a public school?

    December 8, 2012

    Los Angeles Unified School District biology teacher Tom Phillips is retiring this month, but on his way out, he's decided to go public with a pet peeve. Phillips believes the continued Christian fundamentalist effort to debunk evolution is undermining science education in the United States, and he has seen evidence of that with his own students at Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy in Wilmington.

  • Storytelling on L.A.'s skid row

    December 5, 2012

    Once a week for the last several years, I've driven to skid row to visit a friend. I get depressed about the area at times because it's such a depository of the unfortunate and the forgotten. But then I'll catch a warm greeting, or see a sign of hope in someone trying to crawl out of a hole they thought they'd never escape.

  • Hawaii finds success with tough-love approach to repeat offenders

    December 1, 2012

    HONOLULU — The first thing you notice about 1st Circuit Judge Steven Alm is how excited he is about what he's doing. The buzz-cut, fast-talking judge was waiting for me in the lobby of the courthouse early on a recent morning and led me up to his third-floor chambers to explain Hawaii's promising approach to repeat offenders with drug and alcohol problems.

  • Having a little less to chew on

    November 27, 2012

    I've got two reasons to watch my weight over the next several weeks. First, it's the holiday season, when the national sport is overeating. Second, I've got another knee replacement coming up soon, and the lighter I am going in, the easier the recovery will be.

  • An extraordinary family grew in Watts

    November 24, 2012

    Rodney and Renee Brooks live near 101st and Central Avenue in Watts, and it was in that house — a modest two-story, brown stucco cube — that they raised six extraordinary children.

  • Truth and honesty, that's the ticket

    November 20, 2012

    Marty Ingels, the actor and comedian whose wife is Oscar-winning actress and "Partridge Family" mom Shirley Jones, could not believe the injustice.

  • Doing the math on 'Lexus lanes'

    November 17, 2012

    Some people are pretty good at being stuck in traffic. They gab on the phone, listen to music, chalk up the inconvenience as inevitable.

  • California's fiscal troubles are far from resolved

    November 14, 2012

    Last week, Proposition 30 sailed to victory, and $6-billion worth of nasty budget cuts were avoided.

  • Advice to California's GOP: Leave — or better yet, change

    November 10, 2012

    Memo to the California GOP:

  • A trip to parallel worlds of red and blue

    November 7, 2012

    California is, of course, a solid blue state. But it's got plenty of red patches, as we know, sometimes in close proximity to blue. On election day, I drove from one color to another, and the contrasts were so striking, I felt like an interplanetary explorer.

  • Community colleges' promise meets bitter reality

    November 3, 2012

    In 1971, I was a high school graduate without much money and even less of a plan. A community college campus seemed like a good place to try to figure things out, so I enrolled at Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Blind man tests DMV's exam methods

    October 30, 2012

    Have you heard the one about the blind man who walked into the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Santa Monica, took an eye test and left with a new driver's license?

  • Setting self-doubt aside for a face-lift

    October 28, 2012

    As public eyesores go, the 2-acre disaster across the street from L.A. City Hall is a marvel.

  • Campaigns are largely silent on needs of military members, vets

    October 24, 2012

    President Obama, whose last visit to Los Angeles included a fundraising extravaganza at the home of George Clooney, is scheduled to return Wednesday evening for a guest appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." On his next visit, it might be nice if he could pull himself away from celebrities long enough to drop by the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus, which seems unable to provide beds to veterans who sleep on nearby streets.

  • Don't demonize teachers because of pension system's faults

    October 21, 2012

    Just as I was preparing to defend public school teachers and their retirement benefits, I got a form letter last week from my employer's vice president for human resources.

  • Poor go unheard in presidential race

    October 16, 2012

    Telana Starks was watching her niece play in a sandbox Monday afternoon in Lafayette Park when I asked if she was following the presidential campaign. She said she hadn't really been paying any attention, which was interesting because the candidates haven't been paying any attention to her either.

  • Some readers can't handle the truth about schools' precarious state

    October 13, 2012

    So last week, I wrote about a Palos Verdes businessman who serves on the local school board, where budget cuts have been so devastating he intends to vote for two state ballot propositions that would prevent more slashing, hoping one of them gets the needed 50% plus one.

  • Executive worries about schools 'going off the cliff'

    October 10, 2012

    Larry Vanden Bos has studied two November ballot propositions that will cost him money if they pass, and he's made up his mind on how he's going to vote for Propositions 30 and 38.

  • Office workers trained in CPR make life-or-death difference

    October 6, 2012

    On the morning of July 10, attorney Jerald Gale was reading an e-mail in his office on the 20th floor of a Koreatown high-rise. That's the last thing the 58-year-old husband, father and avid cyclist remembers before losing consciousness.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger's tell-all book takes bad taste to a new level

    October 3, 2012

    In his new book, "Total Recall," former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger explains why he didn't want to talk to the media when it was discovered that he had fathered a child with the family housekeeper.

  • Mayoral candidates step into sidewalk debate

    September 30, 2012

    Les Butts of Woodland Hills was walking his dog earlier this month, which can be a dangerous activity in a city with nearly 5,000 miles of ruptured sidewalk. Butts, a musical instrument salesman, hit a patch of uneven pavement and took a tumble, falling onto his shoulder and scraping his knee.

  • Poor care for veterans becomes campaign issue

    September 26, 2012

    Bob Rosebrock and I sat under a tree on the West Los Angeles Department of Veterans Affairs property, discussing his pet peeve: How the country is failing its veterans. There was plenty to talk about.

  • Please, newsmakers, he doesn't need this strain

    September 23, 2012

    Having been told by healthcare professionals to take it easy after recent medical challenges, is it safe for me to continue following the local news?

  • A wake-up call following knee replacement

    August 25, 2012

    As I begin this column, it is Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 22. I have been alive 20,873 days, if my math is correct, and I hope to add to the tally.

  • Mothers share their anguish at losses to Mexico's violence

    August 14, 2012

    Araceli Magdalena Rodriguez remembers precisely when her son first said he wanted to be a policeman. She went to the market one day in their community near Puebla, Mexico, when he was 4 years old and returned home empty-handed after a pickpocket stole her wallet.

  • Cross-country tour to point out the failure of the war on drugs

    August 12, 2012

    SAN DIEGO — If there is a more profound and costly failure than the war on drugs, it hasn't come to my attention.

  • A barbaric death, and a plea for a change in the law

    August 5, 2012

    "My husband has repeatedly asked me to give him a gun, he has asked me to shoot him, and he repeatedly begs to die."

  • For Palm Springs man, grief and anger over an end-of-life decision

    July 21, 2012

    On the evening of July 2, Bill Bentinck, 87, was led from his Palm Springs home in handcuffs, in mourning and in shock.

  • Southland firehouse chefs invited to cook-off

    June 30, 2012

    Care to test your knowledge of the L.A. food scene?

  • A former L.A. cop calls for legalizing drugs

    June 17, 2012

    Stephen Downing speaks fondly of his 20 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, saying he misses the camaraderie and the integrity of the people he worked with in a career that took him from street cop to deputy chief. Along the way, as commander of the Bureau of Investigations, he oversaw the Administrative Narcotics Division.

  • One drug connection that everyone ignores

    June 3, 2012

    Illegal drugs by the tons are smuggled into California each year by sea, by land and by air. Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin are either produced in or pass through Mexico, where 50,000 people have been killed in the last six years in an escalating war among cartels. Some of the victims have been beheaded, mutilated or left hanging from bridges, not necessarily because of their involvement in the trade, but as a diabolical demonstration that the drug lords will stop at nothing to dominate the market.

  • Bring farmworkers' plight into the sunlight

    May 30, 2012

    FRESNO — It was around 2 o'clock, temperatures rising under an arcing sun, when I met two workers on a peach farm near here recently.

  • At Tolliver's barbershop, pondering what 20 years have wrought

    April 14, 2012

    It's history they were talking about.

  • To Tony Lopez, with love

    February 22, 2012

    My dad never called a tow truck. That would have cost too much.

  • A father's last days

    February 18, 2012

    The hospice nurse said on Tuesday that my father could be gone within 24 hours. It was no surprise. He'd been bedridden for days, and on the list of 10 signs that death is near, he had six or seven.

  • Love, disease and a killing

    January 22, 2012

    A series of heavy doors slid open, one by one, at the Pima County Jail. And finally I was sitting with 53-year-old Sanford "Sandy" Garfinkel, who had just been sentenced to 16 years in prison for killing his terminally ill wife by holding a pillow over her face.

  • Open the discussion on dying

    December 28, 2011

    Last week, my dad was taken on a practice run from his Northern California nursing home back to his house. He'd had recent hip surgery, and the idea was that if he could master the challenge of getting in and out of the car and the wheelchair, he could leave the facility and begin hospice care in his own home.

  • Wishing for the right to make that final exit

    December 18, 2011

    Colleen Kegg hasn't worked out the details of her exit plan yet. But about one thing, Kegg is clear: When she can no longer feed herself or go to the bathroom without assistance, she will take steps to end her life. A rare and incurable neurological disease is gradually stealing the things the 60-year-old Santa Barbara-area resident lives for, and she wishes a California physician could legally prescribe life-ending medication, as doctors can in Oregon, Washington and Montana. Instead, she'll have to find another way.

  • Having to think about the unthinkable

    December 14, 2011

    "I could show you case after case," said Dr. Neil S. Wenger. "I could bet you million-to-1 odds these patients would not want to be in this situation."

  • A terrible choice to ponder

    December 11, 2011

    The day after hip surgery, my father asked me to bring him a frozen coffee and something sweet the next morning. I returned to the hospital with a Frappuccino and a doughnut, one or both of which nearly killed him.

  • Not ready to die, but prepared

    December 4, 2011

    The cancer that started 11 years ago has now ravaged the body of Freddie Ramos. It attacked a kidney first, then a lung, and the 57-year-old family man knows that death waits in the near distance.

  • Geriatric doctor doesn't shy from tough talk

    November 27, 2011

    Gene Dorio, an old-school doctor who makes house calls in Santa Clarita, drives a 1990 Volvo with 362,000 miles on the clock and duct tape holding things together. His patients have a lot of miles on them, too. Dorio is a geriatric physician.

  • When death is certain, but dignity is not

    November 12, 2011

    Last time I wrote about my dad, he'd taken a fall in his bedroom, couldn't get up, but didn't want yet another ride in an ambulance. So my mother got down on the floor with him, pulled up a blanket and they went to sleep.

  • A festival, a rebellion, an awakening

    October 12, 2011

    I pitched a tent Monday night in a neighborhood of the angry, the disaffected and the disillusioned.

  • Age of innocence and hope

    October 5, 2011

    I can't think of a better way to begin this column than to let a fellow pundit get things going. So I'll turn things over to Allene Arthur, who's been writing columns for the Palm Springs Desert Sun for 32 years:

  • At 102, therapist is too busy to stop working

    October 2, 2011

    Lately I've been wading into streams of mail from readers approaching death. Some are fighting it, some are afraid, some are ready to go.

  • Waiting calmly to die

    August 13, 2011

    The email from a reader in Westwood was short, to the point and disturbing.

  • Needy elderly will pay the price for cuts in Medi-Cal

    July 30, 2011

    When you have a loved one approaching the end, you feel like you're walking along the edge of a cliff in the dark, but at least you've got plenty of company.

  • Waiting in the dark with Dad

    July 17, 2011

    In the first decade of the 1900s, a Spanish couple boarded a ship in Malaga and sailed to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields. They later continued to California, opened a small grocery store an hour east of San Francisco and raised six children, the youngest of whom is my father.

  • Nathaniel Ayers plays the Foshay Learning Center

    June 15, 2011

    I picked him up at 10:30 Monday morning. He was waiting on the sidewalk outside his apartment with a cello, a violin, a guitar, a trumpet, a walking stick and a backpack full of music.

  • A grieving father's final gift to his son

    April 10, 2011

    Lawrence Tolliver II, a barber by trade, wasn't sure he could do it at first. But now he thinks he's ready. The tools are in his backpack, and he is preparing to travel to a funeral home on South Crenshaw Boulevard to cut the hair of his deceased son.

  • Times community college investigation unearths shameful waste

    March 6, 2011

    "It's just sad."

  • Sitting down with A.J. Duffy

    September 19, 2010

    Ordinarily, when someone cancels his subscription and organizes a protest outside The Times, I don't go and knock on his door to talk him into subscribing again. But I have a soft spot for A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, and I know he'd be a smarter, better-informed leader with a Times subscription, particularly since we've started a much-needed conversation on how to better serve hundreds of thousands of students.

  • Una conversación con A.J. Duffy

    September 18, 2010

    Cuando alguien cancela su suscripción y organiza una manifestación de protesta frente al edificio del Times, por lo general no voy a tocar a su puerta para convencerlo de que se suscriba otra vez. Pero siento cierta simpatía por A.J. Duffy, presidente de United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), y sé que si se suscribiera al Times sería un líder más inteligente y mejor informado, sobretodo porque hemos entablado una conversación muy necesaria acerca de las formas idóneas de servir a cientos de miles de estudiantes.

  • How to fix a system that one teacher calls 'a joke'

    August 29, 2010

    Steve Franklin, a middle school teacher in L.A. Unified, had some issues with The Times series on teacher evaluations, so he fired off a letter to the editor. It read, in part:

  • The bleeding Bell blues

    July 21, 2010

    In the newspaper business, when editors are asked what kinds of stories they want to go after, there's a popular two-word answer. The first word is "holy" and the second word is unprintable.

  • Go tell it on the mountain: The Edge doesn't need five homes here

    December 23, 2009

    Just so you know, it's not easy for me to refer to U2 guitarist David Evans as "The Edge." Sure, there was a time when I referred to myself as S. Lo. But I quickly realized that once you've gone gray, it's hard to get away with anything other than what's on the birth certificate.

  • Riding the public gravy train

    December 9, 2009

    If you're looking for work in this rotten economy, I've got a tip:

  • High fashion in the medicinal high business

    November 18, 2009

    The physician was wearing high heels, a tight-fitting white lab coat and lots of gold jewelry, which is not quite what you expect to see when you visit a pot doctor. Nor do you expect to see a chandelier the size of a Christmas tree in a waiting room decorated like an Indian palace.

  • A bit player in L.A.'s medical marijuana theater

    November 4, 2009

    All right, so I'm a few days late with this update on my medical marijuana adventures. In answer to readers, no, I was not too stoned to write about it earlier.

  • Can he even get to first base?

    November 1, 2009

    Dear Jamie McCourt:

  • A visit to the medical marijuana doctor

    October 28, 2009

    Oooh, there's a pinch in my lower back.

  • Want this fan's World Series tickets? Give Manny what for

    October 7, 2009

    Anybody out there want my World Series tickets? For free?

  • Polanski's defenders lose sight of the true victim

    September 30, 2009

    Q: Did you resist at that time?

  • Dark charges from Mahony's inner circle

    September 22, 2009

    If you've got rosary beads handy, please say a prayer for the leader of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Last week was not a good one for Cardinal Roger Mahony, and there may be no letup in weeks to come if a certain monsignor continues to testify in a deposition being taken as part of a civil case against Mahony and the diocese.

  • It's funny what passes for offensive these days

    September 9, 2009

    The ads weren't far from each other on Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown.

  • For veterans, a gift from the sea

    August 23, 2009

    If you had seen Tatiana Reyes in the water at Zuma Beach last week, gliding smoothly toward the shore, you couldn't have guessed she was nearly killed in a crippling explosion while serving in Iraq. She looked like she could have been one of the surfing instructors.

  • 'Tommy Bahama State Beach' might be the only way to go

    August 5, 2009

    Maybe it's the summer heat. Or maybe, like a lot of people, I've given up all hope of any bold leadership in California when it comes to the budget.

  • Serenade in the key of glee

    July 12, 2009

    He was so eager to make the trip, he called several times to make sure it hadn't been canceled.

  • A modest proposal for fiscal misery: Make them hurt in Brentwood and beyond

    June 10, 2009

    We're in a bind here in California, mates, in case you hadn't noticed. The till is tapped, the budget deficit is bigger than the great outdoors, and lately even the sun has disappeared.

  • A better way of dealing with society's neediest

    April 19, 2009

    So what exactly am I doing on Capitol Hill? I'm at a congressional briefing, which wouldn't be entirely out of the ordinary, except that I'm not taking notes and not planning to beat up on anyone.

  • Former judge fired up on making pot legal

    March 29, 2009

    All right, tell me this doesn't sound a little strange:

  • Villaraigosa's win might not be a victory

    March 4, 2009

    Is it possible to win an election and still come off as a loser?

  • Loaves multiply in the hands of Bagel Brigade

    February 8, 2009

    It's morning, technically, but the San Fernando Valley sky is black as a stone. Art Siegel, with 80 years on the clock, is trolling the lonely predawn avenues in a white van, casting about for his daily catch of donated bread. ¶ "Bagel Brigade," says the sign on the van. ¶ I ask about the quantity of stale goods Siegel and his buddies gather every day and give to people in need, and his voice drops. ¶ "I don't use the word 'stale,' " Siegel says. "I use 'day-old.' " ¶ It won't happen again. ¶ "You see this guy coming out to us right now?" Siegel asks as we stand in the parking lot behind the Gelson's on Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. "He's going to give me a full basket of bread."

  • Give up the yacht AND the personal trainer?

    February 4, 2009

    WALL STREET CEO: Hi, honey, I'm at the office and I've got horrible news.

  • 97% in poll want Villaraigosa to debate, but he still refuses

    February 4, 2009

    The question I put to readers last week was clear and direct:

  • Mayoral race is worth a debate

    January 28, 2009

    If I could have had it my way, Rick Caruso would be running for mayor of Los Angeles. I don't know if he would have won, and I don't know if I would have voted for him. But I love a good fight, and Caruso is rich enough to have raised the small hairs on the back of Antonio Villaraigosa's neck.

  • Story of homeless mother and ill daughter brings in the mail

    December 23, 2008

    On Sunday, I reported the story of a 16-year-old girl with leukemia, living with her mother in a Ford Explorer in the parking lot of a McDonald's restaurant while undergoing chemotherapy. Since then, the story has taken a few twists.

  • They're living with cancer and little else

    December 21, 2008

    So you think you've got it bad this holiday season? Here's a story that will put things in perspective for you, no matter how grim your job prospects or how invisible your shrinking retirement fund.

  • LAUSD flounders as superintendent rakes it in

    December 7, 2008

    I had lunch with Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. David Brewer earlier this year at a restaurant near downtown Los Angeles and almost choked. Not on the food, but the prices.

  • Happiness, fear and hope at Oakridge mobile home park in Sylmar

    November 17, 2008

    It's 90 degrees in November, the full glory and perennial curse of Southern California on fierce display. Devil winds, hill-hopping infernos, smoked mansions, torched trailers, barren freeways, and brilliant sunsets lingering in low-hanging canopies of burnt dreams.

  • Into the wild of Wasilla, Alaska, where Sarah Palin once ruled

    September 23, 2008

    I almost ran into a moose on the way to Sarah Palin's hometown.

  • Covering Sarah Palin campaign from the Nome front

    September 21, 2008

    Yes, Nome.

  • At 99, psychoanalyst still has a lot on her schedule

    September 14, 2008

    She answers the knock at the door, smiles exquisitely, floats through the afternoon light of her Brentwood home with casual grace.

  • Glendale yard cops are at it again

    August 6, 2008

    Here we go again, back to my favorite place in all of Southern California -- the city where no good deed goes unpunished.

  • 'Black & White and Dead All Over' by John Darnton

    July 28, 2008

    ANY GREAT newsroom worth its salt is an ink-stained asylum, a toxic landfill, a college of cranks and a museum of misfits who never learn, despite years of broken promises to weary spouses, that they will not be home for dinner.

  • Why your 50 cents for The Times is the best bargain in the world

    July 16, 2008

    Way back in my cub days at the Oakland Tribune, the paper I read growing up, I learned to check the bulletin board every day to see who the owner was. We had four of them in six years, and a wise man would have known then to leave journalism for dry-cleaning, embalming, clam-digging, anything with a brighter future.

  • Dodger chef hits them all out of the park

    July 13, 2008

    The first half of the season has been a yawn, and some of the biggest sluggers in the lineup have holes in their bats. But one time-tested veteran swings for the fences and hits a home run every night at Dodger Stadium.

  • 'Thanks' just isn't enough

    May 25, 2008

    The names sit like scattered ashes, enough sacrifice to turn an entire page gray as a tombstone on Memorial Day weekend.

  • Admiral Aloof? Admiral AWOL

    May 7, 2008

    When it comes to the management of the Los Angeles Unified School District, there is such a rich buffet of material lately, I hardly know where to begin.

  • The design of L.A. Unified's new arts high school is convoluted and costly

    May 4, 2008

    "What is it?" Kelly Charles asked as he walked to his job as a custodian in downtown Los Angeles and gazed up at a rather odd construction project. "A roller coaster?"

  • . . . And most of them lived happily ever after

    April 27, 2008

    Five years later . . .

  • Mr. Ayers drives toward a mulligan

    April 20, 2008

    Of all our many adventures, the trip to the golf course in Griffith Park might be the most memorable.

  • Escaping the heat in a hotter clime

    March 30, 2008

    Charlie Bonner went to the closet and shoved his wife's clothes aside, a small fortune worth of chic rags she'd never worn twice. He opened the safe and reached for his passport, two bundles of cash and the address of the dancer from Jumbo's Clown Room on Hollywood Boulevard.

  • At 20, his experiences reach far beyond his years

    January 27, 2008

    He's how old?

  • A family's resilience withstands the flames

    October 28, 2007

    The beige French country-style home in the hills, with a distant view of the sea on blue-sky days, had been built to withstand California's best punches.

  • Katrina comparisons are a different class of wrong

    October 26, 2007

    You knew it had to happen.

  • Fires in Malibu ignite rage on the Web

    October 22, 2007

    In times of natural disaster, the best often surfaces in all of us. Donations, warm blankets, sandwiches. Whatever is needed, we're at the ready.

  • '60s still alive on a corner in Echo Park

    October 17, 2007

    A spirited Art Goldberg was up in his shabby Echo Park office Monday afternoon, above the Vietnamese bakery with the moon cakes he loves, counting votes for the antiwar resolution he's been touting since August.

  • Charity begins at home plate

    September 9, 2007

    OK, so how did I end up standing at home plate in Dodger Stadium with a pitching wedge in my hand and a golf ball at my feet?

  • We laugh, cry, hiss at 'Perils of Antonio'

    July 6, 2007

    Who needs telenovelas when you have Los Angeles City Hall?

  • At L.A. City Hall, the summer of love

    July 4, 2007

    At Cal State L.A. on Tuesday, Jaime Regalado was fielding a steady stream of e-mails, almost all of them from women who've had it with the Don Juan who calls himself our mayor.

  • Everyone loses with MTA's rate decision

    May 25, 2007

    The bright young Westchester High School students I was talking to at Thursday's Metropolitan Transportation Authority meeting were being cheated.

  • Advice to Governor: Just Start Governing

    January 8, 2006

    First he was the Terminator.

  • The Best Present for Nathaniel: a Future

    December 18, 2005

    Christmas came a couple of weeks early to the skid row apartment of a soulful gent who goes by the name of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers.

  • Man of the Streets, in Three Suites

    December 4, 2005

    First Suite: The Apartment

  • Peppering Raccoons With Mothballs

    November 16, 2005

    When I confessed a few weeks ago that I had a bit of a raccoon problem in my garden and was buying coyote urine to repel them, I had no idea I had joined the ranks of some of the most exasperated and unstable people in all of Southern California.

  • Stakes Are So High, It's Hard to Wait

    October 30, 2005

    I could tell something was bothering Casey Horan and Shannon Murray, and it wasn't hard to guess what. They're in the business of patience, and I've got very little of it.

  • Now Comes the Heavy Lifting

    October 23, 2005

    "I am going to take on the challenge."

  • Urban Renaissance Meets the Middle Ages

    October 20, 2005

    They're yours for the taking: Luxury lofts in downtown Los Angeles, with rooftop pools, swanky cabanas, and views of Porta Potti brothels on skid row.

  • Street Conversations With the Broken-Down Brigade

    October 19, 2005

    He's in a wheelchair, ducking behind a trash can. I step forward to see if he's OK and inadvertently scare him.

  • Offering Compassion, Not a Cure

    October 18, 2005

    There is no such thing as skid row disease. But if there were, Lonnie Whitaker, 49, would have it bad. He hobbles into the office of Dr. Dennis Bleakley, lowers himself onto a chair and goes through the long list of what ails him.

  • A Corner Where L.A. Hits Rock Bottom

    October 17, 2005

    A few hours after a homeless guy named Virgil died of an overdose in the portable toilet, the blue plastic outhouse at 6th and San Julian streets was back in business. Not as a toilet, but as a house of prostitution.

  • Demons Are Winning on Skid Row

    October 16, 2005

    The call comes in at 11:18 in the morning. Possible overdose on skid row, just half a block from one of the busiest firehouses in the United States.

  • From Skid Row to Disney Hall

    October 9, 2005

    Nathaniel was in a panic over what to wear.

  • From Skid Row to Disney Hall

    October 9, 2005

    Nathaniel was in a panic over what to wear.

  • A Ray of Hope for Future Nathaniels

    September 25, 2005

    The timing was perfect. I had just asked a Yale professor why there are no mentally ill people living on the streets of Norway, where he helped design some of the most progressive mental health treatment in the world. Then a colleague mentioned she was working on a story about Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies dumping a mentally ill man on skid row in downtown Los Angeles, where thousands of chronically ill people sleep on filthy, rat-infested streets.

  • Vicious Circle of Hope, Despair

    August 7, 2005

    I got the message while I was out of town. The owner of Little Pedro's said Nathaniel had flipped out while playing cello at the downtown Los Angeles club, launching into a belligerent tirade in front of his audience.

  • A New Stage for Homeless Musician

    June 26, 2005

    Alexis Rivera, owner of Little Pedro's Blue Bongo in downtown Los Angeles, was riding his bike to work one night when he saw Nathaniel Anthony Ayers playing violin near the mouth of the 2nd Street tunnel. Rivera stopped and listened for more than an hour before approaching Nathaniel with a proposition.

  • A Twilight Concerto for Rats and Cello

    May 29, 2005

    I know only part of his story. I know him playing the cello on a dairy crate in the morning sun, suspended somewhere between boy genius and lost traveler.

  • A Cello Backdrop for Voices Inside

    May 8, 2005

    When I saw Nathaniel Anthony Ayers back in his usual location, I had to ask: How could he stand playing a crummy violin when he had a brand new cello waiting for him several blocks away?

  • Violinist Has the World on 2 Strings

    April 17, 2005

    Nathaniel was shy in our first encounter a few months ago, if not a little wary. He took a step back when I approached to say I liked the way his violin music turned the clatter around downtown L.A.'s Pershing Square into an urban symphony.