Newsletter: Baldessari dies; Weinstein trial to begin

Artist John Baldessari working in his Santa Monica studio in 1986.
(Patrick Downs / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Jan. 6, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

The Harvey Weinstein trial will begin on Monday in New York City. This marks the first criminal case against the disgraced movie mogul. Meanwhile, law enforcement sources say that the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has escalated its review into Weinstein and is considering filing criminal charges against him. The Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments launched sexual assault investigations into the filmmaker more than two years ago.

The state Legislature reconvenes for the year on Monday, and California lawmakers will probably be met by hundreds of protesters when they return to the Capitol. Anti-vaccine activists are reportedly planning to show up to voice opposition to a new policy that tightened medical exemptions for vaccines.


Also Monday: Nominations for the 2020 Writers Guild of America awards will be announced. Directors Guild of America television, commercial and documentary award nominees will be announced Monday, with the DGA film nominees announced Tuesday. British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) nominations and the remaining Producers Guild Awards nominations will also be announced Tuesday.

On Thursday there will be a presidential wreath-laying ceremony at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda to mark the late former President Richard Nixon’s 107th birthday.

Friday is the deadline for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to qualify for seventh debate.

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

Acclaimed artist John Baldessari died in his sleep Thursday at 88. Arguably the most influential Conceptual artist of his era, Baldessari also shaped a generation of talent while teaching at UCLA and ArtCenter. Los Angeles Times

Gavin Newsom’s ambitious and uneven first year as California governor: As his first year draws to a close, the Democrat can point to a string of high-profile victories in service of a progressive agenda and fortifying California’s political resistance to President Trump. But those achievements are only part of the story. Less known outside Sacramento is that Newsom has struggled with what some critics believe is an undisciplined and impatient governing style. Los Angeles Times

The Golden Globes — an awards show decided on by about 90 little-known foreign journalists, and viewed by millions — took place on Sunday night. Here are some highlights:

  • Awkwafina became the first woman of Asian descent to win a Globe for lead actress in a movie comedy/musical for her performance in “The Farewell.” Los Angeles Times
  • Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” also made Golden Globes history as the first Korean film winner. The thriller won the Golden Globe for best foreign-language film. Los Angeles Times
  • Forget the filet mignon, the goat cheese and all that sea bass. A-list celebrities and guests at the 77th Golden Globes received a 100% vegan meal this year. (Aside from the fact that the Academy Awards are voted on by thousands of members, the other big thing distinguishing the Golden Globes is that they serve dinner during the ceremony.) Los Angeles Times
  • Plus, the complete list of 2020 Golden Globes winners and nominees. The big TV winners included HBO’s “Succession” and “Chernobyl,” and Amazon’s comedy series “Fleabag,” while Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” picked up multiple trophies in the film categories. Los Angeles Times


Nipsey Hussle was a bookworm. Now black men are finding inspiration in what he read. Los Angeles Times

Where to find rosca de reyes (aka kings’ bread) in Los Angeles. Three Kings Day falls on Monday this year. LAist

The difference a decade makes: See how dramatically the streetscape of Hollywood has changed over the past 10 years with these before-and-after photos. Curbed LA

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Iranian Americans were reportedly questioned at the U.S.-Canada border in British Columbia. The reports came as the United States and other countries tightened security after the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad on Friday. Los Angeles Times


Once deported, the Rubios are the first sisters to serve in the California Legislature. State Sen. Susan Rubio and her sister, Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, both represent parts of the San Gabriel Valley. Los Angeles Times

A photo of California State Sen. Susan Rubio and her sister, Assemblymember Blanca Rubio
A photo of California State Sen. Susan Rubio and her sister, Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio.
(Max Whittaker / For The Times)

The California Democratic Party has reached settlements in three lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and workplace retaliation involving its former leader, Eric Bauman. Los Angeles Times

Oakland hired an anti-violence czar this summer. Guillermo Cespedes, Oakland’s first permanent chief of violence prevention, was previously an anti-gang leader in Los Angeles. San Francisco Chronicle

Across California, Iranian Americans are shocked, alarmed or relieved at the killing of Qassem Suleimani. As word spread of his killing, few parts of the U.S. were more affected than California, home to the largest population of Iranians outside Iran. Los Angeles Times


An 89-year-old woman died from her injuries one year after a brutal attack at a San Francisco park. The 30-year-resident of the neighborhood was exercising in the park, as she did every day, when she was attacked last January. San Francisco Chronicle


Hired hoofs to prevent fires: Demand for grazing goats to keep grasses and other potential wildfire fuels in check has soared in recent years. NPR


Here’s why our Food section stopped italicizing “foreign” foods: “Who are we writing for when we decide to italicize ‘salsa roja?’ Salsa sales overtook ketchup sales in this country decades ago,” restaurant critic Patricia Escárcega writes. Los Angeles Times (This story appeared in Escárcega and fellow critic Bill Addison’s weekly Tasting Notes newsletter, which you should definitely subscribe to if you don’t already.)

Modesto could soon have a museum showcasing its “America Graffiti” heritage, under a plan backed by several prominent residents. The 1973 film by Modesto native George Lucas is set in the city. Modesto Bee

“Brunch spots and selfie walls”: Officials in San Luis Obispo County’s sleepy Grover Beach have talked a big game about becoming a “young, hip city.” And their efforts may be working. San Luis Obispo Tribune

Marcelli’s ravioli and sausage factory in Eureka has closed its doors after 93 years of business on the north coast. Redwood News


Los Angeles: sunny, 77. San Diego: sunny, 57. San Francisco: sunny, 57. San Jose: sunny, 61. Sacramento: sunny, 56. More weather is here.


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

Actor Nicolas Cage (Jan. 7, 1964), award-winning songwriter Blue Ivy Carter (Jan. 7, 2012), former Rep. Loretta Sanchez (Jan. 7, 1960) singer Joan Baez (Jan. 9, 1941), former Rep. Lois Capps (Jan. 10, 1938) and author Walter Mosley (Jan. 12, 1952).

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.