Monday, March 15, 2010
Los Angeles is the second largest city (New York City is, of course, #1) in the country, with a municipality of nearly 18 million (NYC is close to 19 million). Founded in 1781 as
the City of Angels, with a population of 44, by 1820, was up to 650, growing to about 100,000 in 1900. The motion picture and aviation industry came in the 1920's, so the population reached about a million in 1932, when it hosted the Summer Olympics. Remember how these Olympics have galvanized the greatness of a city? I'm now in another one just in this trip. LA also hosted the 1984 Olympics, and these, at that time, were the only two that turned a profit. Since then, the city has suffered from earthquakes, racial disruptions and departure of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers football teams...and more.
Among the other problems are the surrounding mountains retaining any air pollution and the uneasiness that this region suffers from 10,000 earthquakes a year, awaiting the Big One. Add the decripitude of LAX (airport) and the general bankruptcy of the whole state, and, well, I'm glad I'm from Honolulu, until I remember that we are headed into depression. By the way, there are five other airports in this area, which is one reason why LAX has declined. However, a billion dollar upgrade of LAX has been approved.
At least crime has significantly dropped as of recent. A 50-year low of 319 homicides occurred in 2009. Alas, 26,000 belong to gangs, and the city is known as the Gang Capital of America. Yet, and amazingly, only one Los Angeles Police Department officer has been shot to death while on duty, ever.
As the Metro is in the basement of my hotel, I decided to find my way to the Japanese American National Museum to continue the Search for Kenjiro using the mass transit system. I have yet to determine exactly where my grandfather spent his American time. Unfortunately, the museum is closed on Mondays, so I decided to take a joy ride on the Metro, $5 ($1.80 for seniors) for an all-day pass. I went as far as Pasadena on the Gold Line and Long Beach on the Blue Line. The Blue Line was a bit grim, with people sleeping on the sidewalk and the sense that the people around me in the train made me feel like I was in a foreign country. One important factor, though, is that where there are Metro stations, a clear revitalization is occurring or beginning.
Hawaii planners should look at the LA Metro (there are five lines), for there is something about them that looks more cost effective than what I read about the Honolulu rail system. The current lines are 79 miles long with 70 stations, and expanding. They don't really check if you paid, and the speculation is that more than $5 million of revenues are annually lost.
I had dinner tonight at Katsuya Hollywood with Linda and George Carter. I picked this restaurant because it is the only outstanding one in close walking distance. In this neighborhood, half a block is my limit, for this is not exactly Beverly Hills/Rodeo Drive. The master sushi chef is Katsuya Uechi.
Linda is a high-level Wells Fargo executive and George helped me get going with my first book. Also, he linked me with Brooks Nohlgren, a friend of Ariana Huffington, who was instrumental in why I am writing for The Huffington Post, where I have now posted 71 articles. George just submitted his fifth book and is finishing one on the Serteens, now called the George B. Carter Serteens Club of Hawaii. I wrote about George and the formation of Serteens in my education chapter of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, serialized in my daily blog of 10September09.
We had a terrific dinner, and my foie gras on wagyu beef might have been the best dish I have had on this trip. This not Nobu's, because the cost of the meal and drinks were almost reasonable.
The Dow Jones Industrials rose 17 to 10,642 (year to date: +2%), with world markets mostly down. Gold went up $7/toz to $1109 and oil slipped under $80/barrel.
Fiji was struck by Tropical Cyclone Tomas at 120 MPH, but latest reports do not indicate anything close to total devastation. Tomas is expected to still strengthen, but move away from Fiji.
Tropical Cyclone Ului is working through the Solomons as a Category 4 storm of 130 MPH, and appears now to be headed for Queensland, Australia.