Newsletter: A black eye and a dark day for California


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Oct. 10, and Julia Wick is on assignment. I’m Shelby Grad.

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Classes were canceled. Frozen foods melted. Traffic lights went dark. Hospitals switched to emergency generators. Blooms withered in florists’ coolers. Unused food was jettisoned at shuttered restaurants. Lines formed at gas stations. Cellphones faded out. And people were angry — very angry at the unprecedented power blackout launched by Pacific Gas & Electric to prevent wind-driven wildfires.

[Read the story “Millions without power as PG&E blackouts bring concern, anger, resolve,” with dispatches from across California by the Los Angeles Times]

A dark day: The great blackout of 2019 was a humiliating moment for California decades in the making, a perfect storm of poor infrastructure, ignored warnings and a changing climate. Los Angeles Times


‘Pandaemonium’: A run on gasoline, portable generators and other supplies hit some areas. And does any one have a spare refrigerator? Los Angeles Times

Distrust: PG&E was already disdained in many quarters after its equipment sparked some of California’s worst fires. But the blackout only added to anger at the bankrupt utility. Los Angeles Times

Next? Southern California Edison said that power could be cut off to more than 173,000 customers in parts of eight Southland counties, given the strong Santa Ana winds forecast for the area. Los Angeles Times

Maps: Where PG&E may shut off power and where Southern California Edison may do the same.




An L.A. Times review of inspection reports and court records has revealed serious failures of oversight in the care of patients at Kedren Community Health Center’s acute psychiatric hospital, a key resource for people struggling with mental illness. Among the cases: a patient allegedly killed by his roommate, a patient who reported being choked by a Kedren employee, and claims by former employees of retaliation for reporting misconduct. The claims have focused scrutiny on a historic institution founded in the ashes of the Watts riots that for more than 50 years has been a mainstay of mental health, primary care, education and other family services.


After the Dodgers set a franchise record for regular-season victories, the team’s postseason came to a stunning end. Up 3 to 0 over the underdog Washington Nationals, the Dodgers proceeded to give up seven runs, including a 10th-inning grand slam. To say L.A. fans are displeased with manager Dave Roberts right now would be an understatement. Los Angeles Times


Liquor stores were a flashpoint after the 1992 L.A. riots. Do they still have a place in South L.A. in 2019? Curbed Los Angeles

For many L.A. Latinos, Trump has become a call to action. But what can they actually do? Los Angeles Times


The iconic Sportsmen’s Lodge sign was almost lost to the trash dump. Now it is being preserved. Los Angeles Daily News

“The Real Bros of Simi Valley” is not actually shot in the Ventura County city. But it does capture something funny about suburbia. Los Angeles Times

The survival of coastal bobcats and foxes might lie in finding a way to get them across Interstate 5. Orange County Register

A sign of the season: Porto’s turkey, potato gravy balls are back. San Gabriel Valley Tribune


The notorious Chowchilla kidnapper will stay behind bars. Fresno Bee



Just over half of public school students who took the state’s standardized English language arts test performed at grade level, while only 4 in 10 are proficient in math. The scores represent a slow upward trend over the last four years. Los Angeles Times

The tiny San Diego County hamlet of Campo is pretty much a ghost town. But you can own it if the price is right. San Diego Union-Tribune

Del Mar’s war over sea level rise and climate change is getting more intense. San Diego Union-Tribune


Gov. Newsom signed into law Wednesday a bill designed to open the elusive beaches at Hollister Ranch — a significant move forward under his administration on an issue that has stalled for decades in the face of powerful landowners. Los Angeles Times

Signs on narrow, curving Hollister Ranch Road warn trespassers that they are on private property.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)


Silicon Valley is trying to embrace a pretty basic concept in the business world: Make a profit. So high fliers are asking: What is that? New York Times

How L.A. has become the capital of the calm business. Los Angeles Times

The tarantulas invading part of the Bay Area are just trying to make a love connection. Wall Street Journal

The LAX Theme Building is an L.A. architecture gem, but it was never very successful as a restaurant. Blame TSA security. LAist


The fight over Hong Kong has become a sensitive issue in the gamer world. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles: mostly sunny, 81. San Diego: sunny, 75. San Francisco: mostly sunny, 77. San Jose: mostly sunny, 80. Sacramento: sunny, 80. More weather is here.


“Twelve million people and all of them ready to make a break for it if necessary. Figuratively, literally, metaphorically ― any way you want to look at it ― everybody in L.A. keeps a bag packed. Just in case.”

— ― Michael Connelly, “The Brass Verdict”

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.