Everybody cool off, will ya?
JUST THIS ONCE, I’ll put it down to the weather. We’re all hot and cranky. We’re all entitled to a summer hissy fit. So I am giving every one of L.A.'s politicians a single pass. One.
First, the MTA board. They spend multiple billions on transit, so you’d think they could afford the big Crayola box, get a little inventive. But no.
Already we have light-rail lines named Red, Blue, Green and Gold. What to name the next ones? Strike off Black, White and Brown because we don’t want the city running along ethnic lines. We can’t use Rainbow because some wing nuts would object that it’s code for gay.
So what does that leave, only another 200 colors or so?
From downtown to Culver City, along Exposition Boulevard and eventually on to Santa Monica, the Still Colorless Line will run. Planners have been calling it the Aqua Line for years, maybe because it goes to the ocean and maybe because it’s the color of the highlighters they have over at the MTA.
The color and name of any line, says the MTA, must be “bright, legible and easy to pronounce.” But City Councilman Bernard Parks -- through whose district the line will pass -- doesn’t like aqua or the MTA’s backup, the color purple. They “don’t resonate.” This aesthetic pronouncement from the guy whose first choice was gray and who’ll settle for rose. A Rose Line? That will keep “The Da Vinci Code” conspiracy crowd yammering for years.
Parks also likes County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke’s idea -- the Expo Line -- even though Expo is not a color and that would upset the whole theme thing. On the map, Burke wants half the line to be cardinal (the half that runs near USC, colors cardinal and gold) and the other half (near UCLA, colors blue and gold) to be aqua.
To this, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told his fellow MTA honchos, “I figure it’s a UCLA-USC thing, and I’m a mayor for all the people.”
Burke shot back: “I went to both schools.” And Villaraigosa retorted: “I worked for ‘SC and graduated from UCLA.”
Is there anybody who hasn’t weighed in? What about CACA, the Colorblind Angelenos Choice Assn.? Or cosmetic surgery patients, who might find the suggestion of A, B and C lines to be cup-ist?
Parks asked the MTA to put the color choice on the agenda for today’s meeting, but the vote has been postponed. Parks is away -- maybe going to summer art school?
My vote? Angelenos don’t care whether its called Taupe -- just get the damn thing up and running.
I’LL SAY THIS: The color war makes the other bratty name-calling downtown sound as lofty as Churchill in the House of Commons.
Parks, who was the police chief, laid into Bill Bratton, who is the police chief, over letting people who admit to trying drugs try out for the LAPD. But it was really because they evidently just can’t stomach each other. On the police issue, Bratton has said that Parks and another retired cop turned council member, Dennis Zine, “don’t know what the hell they’re talking about” and should “mind their own business.”
Parks, on the ronfineman.com website, answered that Bratton is a rude-spoken fellow who’s been here just four years and never took an LAPD exam -- “most importantly a psychological exam.” The oh-so-genteel City Council members (do they keep smelling salts in the bathroom?) sent a reproachful letter to Bratton, who said he had no intention of apologizing.
Part of me loves a good, robust political scrap, the raw id of public life we so rarely see. The other part of me looks at my watch and taps my foot and thinks, “For this I’m paying them?”
And then, finally, Roy Romer, the L.A. Unified superintendent, went after Villaraigosa, who’s angling for a “reform takeover” of the district Romer has run for six years. Villaraigosa has been using limbo language about the district -- how low can it go? -- which goaded Romer into sound-bite overkill.
First he brought up the Goebbels “big lie” technique: “If you indoctrinate -- propagandize -- a population long enough into a mistruth, they believe it.” He also whacked at Villaraigosa with the other end of the Axis, saying his speechifying is like the “propaganda” used to justify rounding up Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor. Enough people started twisting that Romer apologized.
All of you -- go on vacation. Now. Not together. When you come back, we expect better. We need better. Because we have mighty challenges ahead of us.
For one, I hear that soccer star David Beckham, his wife, Victoria (an ex-Spice Girl) and their children, Brooklyn and Romeo, are house hunting in Bel-Air, trying to make their mark in the already crowded ranks of the overpaid, underfed and underdressed.
Help us, city leaders. You’re our only hope.