Essential California: Doom for 'Dread Pirate Roberts'

Good morning. It is Saturday, May 30. Here are some stories you don’t want to miss this weekend:

Life sentence: A San Francisco man will spend the rest of his life in prison for running a website that allowed drug dealers to do more than $180 million in sales. Though defense attorneys argued that Ross Ulbricht, also known by his alias "Dread Pirate Roberts," was framed by other Web-based dealers, it took a jury only three hours to convict him of operating Silk Road. Los Angeles Times

Playing cop: A secretary with the state Department of Justice was placed on leave after it was disclosed that she had been arrested in April 2014 after flashing the badge of a dead deputy attorney general. Adrienne Mayr pleaded no contest to the charge. She is the second person in Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris' office to be arrested on charges of impersonating a member of law enforcement. Los Angeles Times

Surfboard pioneer dies: The first person to manufacture the foam surfboard and help bring the sport into the mainstream has died at 86. Dave Sweet's boards are such collector's items that one ended up in the Smithsonian Institution for a 1988 exhibition. He was a member of the International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame. Los Angeles Times

Do as I say: One-third of San Diego's policymakers who oversee water have increased their consumption at a time when the governor has called for more conservation. Their reasons? Swimming pools, large families and even a stable of horses. San Diego Union-Tribune

Water thieves: Someone stole a 500-gallon water tanker in Oakland. In Sacramento, another thief tried to take water from a hydrant. Daily Beast

Earth's precious resources: This tongue-in-cheek take on human consumption is a reminder that you can't do anything without affecting the planet. Even in death, your coffin and embalming fluid will leave lasting effects. "You existed for less than .00003 percent of human history and are certainly deserving of an extravagant burial that will lead the rest of us into end times," according to the piece. The Awl

Moment in time: In the 1960s, Bob and Helene Alexander were considered Palm Springs royalty. They introduced modernism to the region before creating the famous "House of Tomorrow," now known as the "Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway." Palm Springs Life


This week's most popular stories in Essential California

  1. BASE jumper Dean Potter was never more in tune with his body than when he was taking the leap off a cliff. What happened the day he made his final jump? Los Angeles Times

  2. Experts are hopeful that a strong El Niño this coming winter will help end the state’s four-year drought. Los Angeles Times

  3. The law has always been somewhat ambivalent about whether motorcyclists should be allowed to weave in between cars and speed faster than the flow of traffic. Now, California is poised to legalize lane-splitting. Los Angeles Times

  4. The handy chart shows the forces that are most likely to destroy the Golden State. They include earthquakes, droughts and the Kardashian family. Vanity Fair

  5. It turns out that the fire that destroyed the Da Vinci apartment complex probably wasn't a crime of architecture. Police arrested a 56-year-old man they believe intentionally set the fire that caused as much as $80 million in damage. Los Angeles Times


ICYMI, here are this week's Great Reads

Courtroom sketch artist: Artist Mona Shafer Edwards acts as the public's eyes when television cameras aren't allowed in the courtroom. Her drawings have captured Southern California's most famous defendants. Los Angeles Times

Down-home performances: In Santa Paula, an artist and citrus farmer has opened his home to regular informal concerts. Los Angeles Times

Oracle of the desert: After running one of the country’s most popular political blogs, writer Ken Layne left the Internet behind and retreated to the desert. There, he's started an old-fashioned print magazine. Los Angeles Times


Looking Ahead

-- Hop on your bicycle and check out Pasadena's CicLAvia on Sunday. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the 3.5-mile route will be opened to cyclists and pedestrians.

-- In the NHL playoffs, the Anaheim Ducks play host to the Chicago Blackhawks in the deciding game of the Western Conference finals today at 5 p.m.

-- The Golden State Warriors will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.