Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 1.
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Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:
The final flight of Kobe Bryant. The Lakers legend, his daughter Gianna and six other passengers were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday along with the pilot. The group had been on its way to a basketball tournament in foggy conditions, but little is known yet about how the crash happened.
The Times staff retraced the flight’s last moments, which are posing perplexing questions about the crash’s cause, and mapped the helicopter’s movements. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is saying goodbye to a complicated and beloved figure.
More on the crash and Kobe Bryant:
— Mothers, fathers, daughters, coaches: Here are the nine killed.
— The disaster hit Newport Beach especially hard.
— A day after the crash, the talk at barbershops in L.A. was about Bryant and his legacy.
— Bryant had a special kinship with Latino fans and culture.
— His daughter Gianna was a basketball star in making.
— Over two decades, Bryant grew from basketball’s enfant terrible into a “typical dad” in Orange County.
— “Kobe Bryant and Nipsey Hussle weren’t perfect angels. That’s why L.A. loved them.”
A new “road diet”? L.A. is considering a bold makeover for Hollywood Boulevard with fewer cars, new bike lanes and wider sidewalks. San Francisco banned private cars from a stretch of Market Street this week.
The only way out. As the deadly coronavirus spreads, China has placed more than 50 million people under quarantine and banned travel. A single plane carrying 201 Americans was evacuated. Not everyone got a seat, and those who did remain under quarantine in Riverside. Meanwhile Southern California has confirmed its first cases.
A clear leader. Sen. Bernie Sanders is now the front-runner in the race for California’s huge trove of Democratic convention delegates. A poll found he’s the top pick for 26% of the state’s likely primary voters.
Gender gap persists. L.A. has hired more female firefighters, but the city is still on track to miss its goal to reach a 5% female force by 2020.
“American Dirt” backlash. The controversy over Jeanine Cummins’ novel raged on, and publisher Flatiron Books canceled a scheduled book tour, including a signing in Pasadena. Critics say the book is insensitive and littered with stereotypes.
Second fire burns. On Wednesday, flames tore through the sixth floor of a Westside apartment complex, injuring 15 people. It’s the second major fire for Barrington Plaza in less than a decade, and residents want answers.
This week’s most popular stories in Essential California
1. 12 underrated restaurants to try in Los Angeles. Eater LA
2. Netflix’s “You” named 7 L.A. totems. We came up with our own. Los Angeles Times
3. What happened to L.A.'s $1 billion for homeless housing? Los Angeles Times
4. Federal investigators look for answers in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash. Los Angeles Times
5. “The Bucket List,” a new series devoted to the best fried chicken in Los Angeles and the people who make it. Los Angeles Times
ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads
Native women are vanishing across the U.S. Inside an aunt’s desperate search for her niece. Los Angeles Times
The lucrative, largely unregulated and widely misunderstood world of vaping. As medical researchers scramble to find the source of a fatal lung disease and officials seek to ban the sale of vape pens, Amanda Chicago Lewis set out to separate reality from hysteria. (Lewis is an investigative reporter who’s been covering how the cannabis industry intersects with policy, politics and culture for years. You should definitely be following her if it’s a topic you’re interested in.) California Sunday
From the archives: The contest to be the last person in America to learn who won the Super Bowl. Every year, more than 100 million people watch the Super Bowl. It’s a cultural juggernaut with a presence so long-tentacled and vast that it’s nearly impossible to avoid. But that’s exactly what the players of the Last Man try to do. The annual competition requires extreme dedication to intentional ignorance, avoiding everything from newspaper headlines to that TV on the wall at the gym, all in pursuit of the grand title of obliviousness. New Yorker
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. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Diya Chacko and this week Laura Blasey for all their help on the Saturday edition.)