Newsletter: Essential California: After Biden win, L.A. car culture meets collective joy

A man doing a backflip in front of a car on a busy street
A Biden supporter does a back flip off the hood of a car in celebration along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood on Saturday after Joe Biden won the presidency.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Nov. 9, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is a city with a long-bemoaned lack of central gathering spaces — no Central Park or National Mall or Trafalgar Square, not even a Times Square. There are many nodes of interest, but few obvious symbolic centers for people to pour into in times of mourning or celebration.

But after Joe Biden defeated President Trump, L.A. car culture met collective joy on Saturday afternoon, as honking cars festooned with flags and homemade signs filled major streets in the deep-blue city.

[Read the story: “Fireworks, Champagne and dancing in the streets of L.A. as Biden and Harris win” in the Los Angeles Times]


On Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, people leaned out of sunroofs and passenger side windows, clanging pots and pans, flashing peace signs and raising fists. For block after block, the cars were met by pedestrians dancing in the streets, and clusters of masked individuals gathering for impromptu parties.

At a red light, a driver for a shipping company exited his vehicle and danced all the way around the truck before hopping back in. Two masked women stood on a street corner pouring Champagne into paper cups.

Everyone appeared hungry for connection and communal celebration, with passersby and people in cars screaming and waving at each other.

“I see you!” a sign-holding man yelled, as he pointed at the people cheering from inside a passing car. Nearby, a middle-aged man walked past a gas station holding a sign scrawled with a simple phrase: “There is hope.”

Further east in Silver Lake, Sunset Boulevard resembled a continuous, slow-moving victory parade, as motorists laid on their horns and passengers leaned out of car windows, waving American flags and beating saucepans, tambourines and cowbells.

In a parking lot across the street from the Beverly Center, Evan Pinchuk and his 10-year-old daughter Talia worked to affix a large American flag to the hood of their Audi.

“We want to show America what it means to be great again,” Pinchuk said as he reached for a roll of tape.

More on the presidential election:

  • Joe Biden was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a stinging repudiation of Donald J. Trump, a fiercely fought victory that sparked joy and pent-up celebration in a country reeling from economic hardship, the ravages of a deadly pandemic and deep-seated racial and political animosities. Los Angeles Times
  • President Trump’s refusal to concede the 2020 election continued into Sunday, with Democrats urging respect for the vote’s integrity while the president’s staunchest allies defended his unfounded claims of fraud and readied a blitz of lawsuits. Los Angeles Times
  • Forget the top of the ticket, some women are even prouder to see Sen. Kamala Harris make history. “Just to be able to see a Black woman, an Indian American, a woman, hold the VP position — it’s been a long time coming.” Los Angeles Times
  • A joyous celebration sprung up at the Berkeley house where Harris grew up. People danced, waved streamers and flags, and blew giant bubbles. Los Angeles Times
  • Meanwhile, despondent Trump supporters say they can’t accept a Biden-Harris win. So far, courts have rejected GOP efforts to stop the vote counting over unfounded fraud concerns. Los Angeles Times

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

While California has started to see a rise in coronavirus cases, the pace of increase is still far milder than the rest of the United States and experts said there is still time to prevent a “third wave.” There are clear warning signs, including a troubling increase in daily cases in Los Angeles County. But statewide, the uptick — for the moment — is at a pace still considered relatively slow, and top health officials say there’s no conclusive sign of the kind of spike that roiled California this summer. Los Angeles Times

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A newly constituted City Council could change L.A.'s approach to homelessness: The council’s three newest members all agree that responding to homelessness is the council’s most important priority and may bring a fresh perspective to a body that’s contending with an ominous budget deficit and the incursion of federal judicial oversight. Los Angeles Times

Headshots of Mark Ridley-Thomas, Kevin de León and Nithya Raman.
Newly elected Councilmembers Mark Ridley-Thomas, Kevin de León and Nithya Raman.
(Los Angeles Times)

Alex Trebek, “Jeopardy!” host and trivia master, dies at 80. The game show host became such an institution that he was parodied by Will Ferrell on “Saturday Night Live,” played himself on dozens of television shows and was used as a narrative device on hits such as “Seinfeld.” Los Angeles Times

The best nontraditional Thanksgiving takeout to be had in L.A., including tom kha mashed potatoes and Thai-spiced pumpkin pies, a porchetta-style turkey roulade and pumpkin Basque cheesecake. LAist

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Churches shut down by the coronavirus offer refuge to immigrants released from detention. It’s the latest iteration of the sanctuary movement, which began in the 1980s as U.S. church leaders responded to the plight of Central Americans seeking political asylum during the civil wars that wracked the region. Los Angeles Times


What Biden’s victory means for California in Washington: After an adversarial four years, the state’s relationship with the federal government appears poised to shift dramatically. Sacramento Bee

The first presidential shelter dog: Dogs will return to the White House under a Biden administration, including a German Shepherd adopted from a shelter. San Francisco Chronicle

Gov. Gavin Newsom will choose California’s next senator: With the presidential race called, Newsom will soon fill Kamala Harris’ vacant U.S. Senate seat — and he has the opportunity to make history. Here’s a look at some of the likely contenders. Los Angeles Times

Darrell Issa returns to Congress: The former nine-term congressman and ardent supporter of President Trump prevailed over Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in his race to represent the San Diego-area 50th District. Orange County Register

[Plus, from the annals of fun facts: Remember the 1990s Viper car alarm system with the recorded voice that says, “Please step away from the car”? Well, that’s actually Issa’s voice speaking in the recording. He made his fortune as a car alarm mogul.]

Todd Gloria will bring lots of firsts as San Diego’s new mayor. Gloria, who is Latino, Filipino and Native American, will be San Diego’s first mayor of color. He also will be the city’s first mayor who has come out as gay. Los Angeles Times


Less than half of Sacramento adults rate the city’s police services as good or very good, according to a community survey from the Sacramento Police Department. Sacramento Bee


After fire and ash, Shaver Lake and Yosemite get their first snowfall. Five to 10 inches of snow are forecast before a storm system moves out of the area Monday. Fresno Bee


As the Trump era comes to an end, what happens to Big Tech? The paradigm that comes next is not entirely clear. Aside from calls for the social media giants to more aggressively fight misinformation, Biden did not make Big Tech a major focus of his campaign. Los Angeles Times

“The Goodens have become well acquainted with the intricacies and exigencies of renting out their home as a location.” The backstory on the seaside Malibu home that keeps showing up on your TV, including in “Revenge,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “90210” and, most recently, “Big Little Lies.” New York Times

A poem to start your week: From “The Cure at Troy” by Seamus Heaney. University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance

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Los Angeles: sunny, 64. San Diego: partly sunny, 64. San Francisco: partly sunny, 59. San Jose: partly sunny, 61. Fresno: sunny, 55. Sacramento: sunny, 59. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Former Sen. Barbara Boxer (Nov. 11, 1940), L.A. City Councilmember Herb Wesson Jr. (Nov. 11, 1951), singer Neil Young (Nov. 12, 1945) and TV host Jimmy Kimmel (Nov. 13, 1967).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (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, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.