Essential California: Where the magic goes down at Comic-Con

Essential California: Where the magic goes down at Comic-Con
Comic-Con, the almost 50-year old pop culture confab, draws more than 130,000 fans each year. (Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Wednesday, July 19, and here's what's happening across California:



Down at Comic-Con

Hall H in the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con International is the most important room in Hollywood. Lined with jumbo screens, this cavernous hall is the 65,000-square-foot state-of-the-art centerpiece of the almost 50-year old pop culture confab, which draws more than 130,000 fans each year. It’s where “Iron Man” debuted a decade ago, ushering in a new era of billion-dollar superhero franchise obsession. And it’s also where the stars of “Twilight” became reluctant overnight megastars. Legends like Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Guillermo del Toro have all trod through here too. Los Angeles Times

USC tries to quell uproar

Acknowledging widespread concern on campus, USC President C.L. Max Nikias said Tuesday the university would "examine and address" a report in The Times that its former medical school dean abused drugs and associated with criminals and drug users. Nikias, addressing the controversy for the first time in a letter to the campus community, said that "we understand the frustrations expressed about this situation" involving Dr.Carmen A. Puliafito and "we are working to determine how we can best prevent these kinds of circumstances moving forward." Los Angeles Times

Local spin on a global story

Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 was attended by a California businessman born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze, a 52-year-old businessman from Huntington Beach, was the eighth individual at the controversial meeting. His identity had not previously been revealed. Los Angeles Times

Bridge of hopelessness

The Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena has a long history as a site for suicides. How do we stop them? Times columnist Steve Lopez toured the bridge as officials put up more barriers after a recent increase in deaths. He brought an expert in suicide prevention with him. Los Angeles Times


Development milestone: After years of controversy, lawsuits and environmental impact reports, the master-planned Newhall Ranch development in the Santa Clarita Valley cleared the last major hurdle to breaking ground on Tuesday when L.A. County officials certified a revised environmental analysis and approved two of the development's five planned subdivisions. Los Angeles Times

Checking in with Arnold: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sat down for an interview and discussed bipartisanship and climate change. Los Angeles Times

Fore! President Trump's Rancho Palos Verdes golf course has seen a drop-off in customers since its owner took office. This decline in business has occurred at Trump-branded venues across the country. Washington Post

Naming what? The Dodgers are soliciting sponsorship offers from companies interested in attaching their name to Dodger Stadium. But the Dodger Stadium name itself is not for sale, Dodgers President Stan Kasten said Tuesday. Los Angeles Times

LAUSD advisors: Philanthropist and former investment banker Austin Beutner has assembled an advisory panel to work with Los Angeles schools chief Michelle King. The group, which includes business, philanthropic and community leaders, will start with the nuts-and-bolts issue of improving student attendance, but intends a sweeping review of district operations. Los Angeles Times


Get ready for gridlock: Crossing the U.S.-Mexico border at San Diego can often be a long process. But for 57 hours in September, all cars will be barred from entering Tijuana through San Ysidro. San Diego Union-Tribune

A big number: Foreign home buyers scooped up a record number of residential properties in the United States in the last year, despite a rising dollar and political uncertainty, according to a survey released Tuesday. Los Angeles Times


Up next: Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers said they're going to tackle the state's housing problems in August. But passage of a package of legislation isn't a done deal. Los Angeles Times

Doing the math: So how bad a drain has Proposition 13 been on the state's coffers? The answer might surprise you. KQED

Big job for new guy: New U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez will serve on the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. Los Angeles Times

Scary thought: With each new revelation — a National Transportation Safety Board report being the latest, and perhaps the most alarming — it becomes clearer just how close SFO came to a historic disaster earlier this month. East Bay Times

New bill alert: State Sen. Toni Atkins has "introduced a bill to streamline the process of providing a gender neutral or nonbinary option on the California driver license, birth certificate and other forms of state identification." NBC 7

A new fight: "California lawmakers want to go their own way after the Trump administration decided to relax privacy regulations for Internet service providers, such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T." Sacramento Bee




Shooting at a strip club: A man was killed and two women were injured early Tuesday after gunfire erupted at a Signal Hill strip club that has a history of shootings, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

Shooting in Hollywood: A 15-year-old boy and a man in his 20s were wounded Monday night in what police believe was a gang-related shooting near an entrance to Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. Los Angeles Times

New suit filed: Local groups opposed to the closure of a popular gateway into Griffith Park revived their legal fight Tuesday, filing a new lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times


Suing the energy companies: "Marin County sued 37 oil, gas and coal companies Monday asserting the companies knew their fossil fuel products would cause sea level rise and coastal flooding but failed to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution. The lawsuit was part of a coordinated litigation attack by Marin, San Mateo County and the city of Imperial Beach." Marin Independent Journal

Oy vey: A 219,000-gallon sewage spill along a stretch of the Ventura County coastline triggered warnings to beachgoers due to possible health hazards. Los Angeles Times


Marvel-ous: Marvel legend Stan Lee had his hand imprints enshrined in cement Tuesday at the TCL Chinese Theatre. He was honored for his role in the creation of Marvel Comics' characters, including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men and Iron Man. CBS LA

Open your checkbooks: Here's what $520,000 buys you in Los Angeles County. Curbed LA

Still on the air: Although it's not the mammoth audience draw that it was in the 1990s, "America's Funniest Home Videos" remains a surprisingly popular show for millions of families every Sunday night. Los Angeles Times

Unplugged: All Internet-connected devices, tools and machinery at San Francisco's public TV and radio station, KQED, were cut off in an attempt to isolate and contain a ransomware attack that infected the station's computers June 15. More than a month later, many remain offline. San Francisco Chronicle

Big arts donation: Younes and Soraya Sarah Nazarian are donating $17 million to the Valley Performing Arts Center at CSUN. Los Angeles Times

Help is on the way? Have they found a fix for the sinking San Francisco high rise? San Francisco Chronicle


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy Wednesday, sunny Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy Wednesday and Thursday. San Francisco area: sunny Wednesday, cloudy Thursday. Sacramento: sunny Wednesday and Thursday. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from Ron McGraw:

"I had taken my kids to Pismo Beach on vacation, and while returning, I thought I would show them my grandparents' old, two-story home in Pasadena on 330 Summit Ave. So we got off the 210 and quickly found Summit Avenue and turned south, but we ran into the freeway before we could reach the address. I drove over the freeway and found Summit Avenue again and drove north. I soon ran into the freeway again. That's when it dawned on me that the old house was gone, vanished. If it still existed in place, it would be some 50 feet above the busy freeway. That gave me a creepy feeling, to say the least."

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.