A 1992 Retrospective : FADS

"Takeover" heists: Los Angeles was beset by a series of terrifying "takeover" bank robberies, in which banks were commandeered by groups of criminals intent not only on stealing money but on terrorizing employees and customers. Carjacking: Several cities reported an increase in behind-the-wheel muggings, fueled in part by the popularity of anti-theft devices. The incidents leave victims stranded, injured or dead. Trestle-jumping: Along Southern California's coastline, way-cool surfer types sought thrills on a train trestle overlooking a lagoon: standing in the path of oncoming trains and--at the very last second--jumping off the tracks into the water below. Officials called it a date with death. Man, can't you take a joke?: Dumb-men jokes abounded in 1992. A sampling: What's the difference between government bonds and men? Bonds mature. "X" marks the spot: "X" caps, "X" jackets, "X" T-shirts, "X" postcards, "X" buttons and "X" pendants were among the items sold at Spike Lee's Melrose Avenue boutique--just one of many stores marketing the image of the fiery black leader Malcolm X. Baggin' and saggin': The baggy clothing trend, invented by some of Los Angeles' toughest gangs, took high schoolers by storm. Dogs in shades: The ultimate in canine cool could be had at a little shop on Venice's Ocean Front Walk, where sun-blind pooches put an end to their squinting with pairs of specially fitted dog sunglasses. Raving lunacy: At underground parties called raves, two drugs--nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, and a hallucinogen called ecstasy--were often peddled openly, belying their dangerousness. Door-to-door condoms: In this era of safe sex, it was inevitable--Cupid, a one-man condom delivery service, debuted in 1992, delivering FDA-approved prophylactics in hand-sewn pouches around the Westside and San Fernando Valley. Rubber meets the road: Several Southern California cities are paving their roads with a highly durable hybrid called asphalt rubber--a mix of asphalt and ground-up scrap tires. Faux helmets: When the state's motorcycle helmet law took effect in 1992, sales of fiberglass "rain bonnets" skyrocketed--lighter weight, cheaper and less restrictive than the real thing, the bonnets fool law enforcement officers (but do little to protect one's skull). Adios, Porky!: All the rage in 1991, some potbellied pigs were being abandoned by their owners in 1992--in part, animal control officials speculated, because pig owners had been misled about the pigs' ultimate size. Buildings that say "Back Off": Concerns about crime, graffiti and homelessness inspired a new, defensive architecture in Los Angeles that makes security an integral part of building design.

PREDICTIONS Water experts predicted that 1993 could bring a seventh year of drought--the longest dry spell in four centuries. Budget analysts predicted a $7.5-billion state budget shortfall in 1993. Demographers predicted a 6 million rise in the Southland's population by 2010--nearly enough to fill two Los Angeles-sized cities. Seismologists estimated that there is a 5% to 12% chance of an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or greater in Southern California in each of the next five years, and up to a 47% chance in the next five years.

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