NO DEFENDING LA LIVE

Funny, that hundreds of thousands of people have read my blogs either about LA Live or LA Live tenants and only two people have ever bothered to offer a comment in disagreement with the facts as I’ve presented them—that’s a pretty amazing statistic. So when the first comment of the two was submitted I had my doubts about its legitimacy, but I let it go. Yesterday, we received the second comment that disagreed with the facts as I’ve presented them with respect to LA Live, actually we received it twice, so please read both and note that the comment is referring to my blog “LA Live’s St. Patrick’s Day Massacre”.

Comment 1:

“do you really think bashing la live is going to get you anything?  we as a community should be supporting everyone and talking bad about someone on a BLOG.  you’re a jerk.”

Comment 2:

“oops, typo. 

we as a community should be supporting everyone and NOT talking bad about someone on a BLOG.  you’re a jerk.”

Now most of my readers know that I take being part of the Downtown community pretty seriously—I’ve lived Downtown for fourteen years and of course I founded downtownster. I was also a major supporter of LA Live until the time I concluded that AEG had betrayed the community and my trust. I met with Michael Roth, LA Live’s Vice President of Communications, he made promises that he did not keep—I’ve been more than fair to LA Live, I was willing to give them a second chance, and frankly for the good of the community, still would. But not by compromising on what I believe is right. And certainly not because of comments that call me a jerk.

AND WHAT ABOUT THAT COMMENT FROM THE CONCERNED MEMBER OF OUR COMMUNITY?

Here’s the problem for big corporate, corrupt, America—the Internet and blogs like downtownster have become the great equalizer. So now big corporate, corrupt, America is trying to defend itself—by lying. That’s right, companies like AEG either own their own blogs or employ people to post bogus comments in order to defend their interest around the Internet. AEG owns the examiner.com, which allows them to examine their own interest favorably. And apparently their tenant Outback Steakhouse Inc., the owner of Fleming’s at LA Live, has a bogus commenter doing their bidding—because, although the comment above was posted anonymously a trace of the IP address identified Outback Steakhouse Inc. 2202 N. Westshore Blvd. 5th Floor Tampa, Florida 33607 as the origination source. And yes we even know the name of the person whose workstation the comment came from, Patrick.

HOW DID A GUY WHO SENDS EMAIL FROM FLORIDA BECOME PART OF OUR COMMUNITY?

He’s not…And frankly, I can’t imagine what type of whore a person like this must be to throw away their integrity to defend a company from the truth…Hear this well bogus commenters…downtownster writes the truth and exemplifies why the founding fathers were such advocates and protectors of free speech.

So dear readers, to discourage corporate America from trying to interfere with the truth that we work so hard to bring to you, I’m going to repost at the bottom of this blog “LA Live’s St. Patrick’s Day Massacre”, “Three Things To Miss Downtown”, and “Why Pay To Bury MJ?” I urge you to read them, and use our share function at the bottom of each post to send this post to all of your friends—this helps to move the content way up on search engines and corporate, corrupt, America loves this.

Also, while downtownster loves getting legitimate comments, I promise the next bogus commenter that we will not only post your work address, we’ll post your full name and make sure everyone knows that you are fraud—Promise.

PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO READ THE THREE POST’S THAT SOME VERY RICH PEOPLE DON’T WANT YOU TO READ!!!

LA LIVE’S SAINT PATRICK’S DAY MASSACRE

Okay, I didn’t work on the script, and didn’t raise the $500,000.00 I was supposed to in order to spin downtownster.com off from its’ parent company Lerner Wordsmith Press today…Sorry shareholders, but it was a SAINT PATRICK’S DAY MASSACRE and I had to get in the middle of it—and yes like all good downtownster.com writers (Vaughn Blake) I’ve been drinking Guinness. So as Elvis would say “My boy! My boy!”

It started simply enough; I met Carlos our programmer to go over the pictures that will soon be uploaded to the coming soon downtownster.com store. That would be right here on this very website. Our initial collection of Downtown Oliver Brown clothing will no doubt be a big hit and be an even greater distraction to my screenplay and novel writing than blogging, but enough about me and downtownster. We were working and having a coffee at The Farm at LA Live…As usual there was nothing going on in the plaza. Apparently it was crowded the day before with 450 people trying to get 45 jobs in what AEG calls a job fair and the rest of us call a publicity stunt to lure CNN into using the place as a backdrop.

It was this very quiet nothing going on for the community atmosphere that we have all become so used to that struck me as I stood in the city’s other cement bunker, albeit with trees and a fountain, Pershing Square. And yes I know that the city is working on some multi-million dollar study to determine how to spend a few hundred million in funds we don’t have to make the place feel not so Cold War Era, but I’m actually of the belief that we’re headed back into a cold war with Russia, so that the current state of Pershing Square is just fine. Anyway, I took in the fountain that poured green water and smiled. Then walked to the area where the Young Dubliner’s were rocking the house. Seriously, these guys were great, if you missed them they’re going to be on Kimmel tonight—don’t miss them again.

White people, black people, brown people, I think an Asian or two all gathered in Pershing Square in an event put on by Parks and Recreation. So for the millionth time—I’m not a fan of big business, organizations, or STD’s, but government, well let’s just put it this way…I’ve had the pleasure of being its’ guest—if you know what I mean. So, when the government does something right and big business, in this case AEG / LA Live, does something wrong—I am compelled to write about it. Simply put; Parks and Recreation put on a great event attended by thousands of members of the community and they should be congratulated. Congratulations! AEG / LA Live the recipient of close to three hundred million dollars in taxpayer support did NOTHING!!!

It’s disclosure time. When I was writing The Adventures Of Downtown Oliver Brown for blogdowntown, I moved into Starbuck’s LA Live and wrote a series of overall favorable pieces on LA Live—I even defended the project against an LA Times architecture review that likened it to a boat hull docked at the corner of Fig and Olympic. My defense was based on function over form. LA Live is a mass of steel and glass, but I was hopeful that it would be filled with downtownsters attending community events—this made the austere aesthetics make sense—shame on me.

Disclosure number two: I was promised a behind the scenes look at LA Live by then Managing Director Lisa Hezlich. I was connected with Lisa by Tim Leiweke President and CEO of AEG himself and to be honest I like Tim and I liked Lisa…But I was never given what I was promised and I went easy on them with only mild comments, which lead to more not kept promises. Then Lisa left (perhaps fired) and the community was asked to believe the preposterous notion that she had decided to go back to her roots in retail in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression. The obvious lie to the public, which make no mistake about it, is heavily invested in LA Live sickened me. Downtownsters deserve to be told the truth…I had coffee with Lisa just before her vacation and subsequent departure…she told me that she was living a dream.

Disclosure number three: downtownster made a proposal to Tammy Billings, whose most recent email to me indicated that her position since Lisa’s departure has been elevated to Director of Marketing, that LA Live fulfill Lisa’s promise to support downtownster’s blogging effort with bloglalive and that bloglalive would be run by downtownster. The idea being that there would be an independent blog operating from LA Live 24 / 7. I felt this to be crucial given that Tammy is the LA Live Examiner AND THE EXAMINER IS OWNED BY AEG! It strains all credulity to believe that LA Live can objectively blog about itself…This reeks of scam and misinformation…Downtownster’s request to set up shop at LA Live was not so shockingly rejected.

Final disclosure: in the past downtownster has solicited advertising support from LA Live. But no business has ever been transacted, for good or bad, between downtownster and AEG / LA Live. I have the feeling after this post their dollars won’t be flowing our way anytime soon, but that’s all right because I care about this city more than I care about AEG / LA Live’s money…And that could be why Mike Roth, LA Live’s Director of Communications, refuses to return my phone calls.

Shame on you Mike—remember the taxpayer’s credits! I’m calling you out. Do you even live Downtown? Does Tammy Billing’s live Downtown? Does Lee Zeidman who added Lisa’s job to his management of Staple’s Center live Downtown? How about the boss himself? Why don’t you take a moment from your busy schedule of doing nothing for the community to answer whether someone employed by LA Live other than janitors and security guards (hourly employees) live anywhere near Downtown? Communicate big shot!

So there’s some history, but the facts are the facts. LA Live’s Grand Opening Christmas Tree Lighting extravaganza gave the community the classless Adam Carolla joking with a strung out Britney Spears and a tree lighting that literally didn’t work—at least as planned. Most of us expected the LA Phil and Leno…Things didn’t get better on New Years…On New Years LA Live gave the community…well let me think about it—NOTHING! This apparently was the warm up for all of the NOTHINGS to come. And don’t try to tell us the Obama event was an AEG / LA Live idea…Although it seems to have been a prelude to a live event now playing in Washington that is described in Latin as a—circus.

I’ve written often in my blogs of the culture of mediocrity that is in large part the reason for our country’s steep decline. I can’t think of a better example than LA Live, a 2.5 billion dollar entertainment complex, made possible by the help of the public, that can’t even throw a first class Saint Patrick’s Day event. If it were my company I’d be handing out pink slips instead of greenbacks. This is supposed to be the entertainment capital of the world and LA Live is supposed to be iconic…That means something should be going on in the plaza EVERY NIGHT. And AEG, that doesn’t just mean the suckers that you can get to play for you for free because you’re AEG…Yeah downtownster knows the Natalie Cole Christmas story.

The community wants AEG executives who are qualified to do their jobs and from the community. The community wants discounts to LA Live ticketed events. The community wants an independent LA Live blog. The community wants AEG to let everyone know that the Examiner is owned by AEG and that AEG reviews itself. The community wants Tammy Billings to put up her picture as the LA Live Examiner and disclose in her Examiner bio that she is also the director of marketing for LA Live! The community wants daily events in the community plaza. Not a farmer’s market or some other nonsense that doesn’t cost AEG money—BUT ENTERTAINMENT! AEG may have a lot of money and the good graces of City Hall, but there are five hundred and seventy thousand members of the Downtown community on any given day and forty thousand of us who live here fulltime and it would be a mistake to think that the community is just going to sit back and keep taking it. 

THREE THINGS TO MISS DOWNTOWN

When it comes to Downtown , downtownster puts most of its effort into telling people what to do, but recently I’ve come across some what not to do’s. And with so many good choices Downtown I’d hate to see you waste your money on anything less than a great experience. SO BE WARNED!!!

Unhappy Hour At Chaya

About a month ago downtownster Shannon and myself stopped by Chaya Downtown to take a look around. The manager of the swank establishment asked us to come visit as his guest anytime. A couple of nights ago we took him up on his offer or at least what we thought was an offer.

“If you place your order in the next two minutes you’ll still get the Happy Hour price,” said the hostess.

“Classy,” I thought to myself. “And this place is dead,” I thought still further as I looked around at the not happening Happy Hour scene.

Shannon asked if the manager was there. We were informed that he was, but he was upstairs too busy doing paperwork to answer the phone. Apparently he didn’t realize that we were actually in the restaurant when giving this brush-off. Because about fifteen minutes later he was in the restaurant milling around—uncomfortably surprised to see us sitting.

I ordered the Tuna Melt and some Fish ‘n’Chips. The Tuna Melt, which was literally bite-sized, does not compete with Subway on its worst day. The Fish ‘n’ Chips were a soggy mess that seemingly came out of the frozen food section at Costco. Amazingly, our server was completely baffled when I asked for some vinegar—to give this cardboard concoction some taste. A few minutes later I was brought vinegar—not of the Apple Cider / malt variety, but of the clean your window ilk. Shannon had a sushi roll, which was unremarkable, and beer that was thankfully not skunked. This waste of time and calories totaled $25.86 plus tip. Seriously, with every restaurant in town offering Happy Hour, skip this one.

FLEMING’S

If the Fish ‘n’ Chips served at Chaya for Happy Hour aren’t soggy and tasteless enough to make you never want to go to the UK—Flemings serves up the same Costco style frozen fare as a lunch special. So much oil went into my meal that OPEC had to raise its production for a week to make up for it. Thankfully, and I use this word dripping with sarcasm, the lack of taste one might find at Chaya was replaced by a freezer burned smoky flavor at Fleming’s. I literally felt so sick after this lunch I went home and laid down for a couple of hours. I’ve written two nice pieces in the past about Fleming’s, so maybe this was just an unfortunate foray into fish, but trust me when I tell you that the only thing special about this special is that its worse than Chaya.

Only A Shmuck Should Eat At Puck—Wofgang Puck Bar & Grill, That Is

I’ll start by saying that our waitress Hannah was a doll. The atmosphere, think LA Live, but indoors. And then comes the tuna tartare—it took twenty-five minutes for this appetizer to make it to our table. Long enough to catch the fish in Santa Monica, bring it Downtown, and dice it up, perhaps. Certainly long enough for the people at the table next to us to not be waited on and decide to leave. Fortunately it’s a cold appetizer so it managed to arrive at the right temperature. Bottom line, it wasn’t good, way too spicy, way too much avocado, and way too small a portion for seventeen dollars. To put this in perspective and make this experience more painful, Roy’s, just up the block has the best tuna tartare I’ve ever had.

The main course was a tasteless NOT wild salmon. It was organic, however and it did come with some miniscule vegetables. My dinner partner had a pasta with mushrooms that she didn’t finish and isn’t worth describing further. No doubt Westsiders and tourists will be wowed by the Wolfgang Puck name and the beautiful view of the always nothing going on LA Live Plaza, but I was not wowed by the food, the name, or the view of the concrete.

And for the record I met Wolfgang a long time ago—when he was a chef not a franchise. I had some great meals at the original Spago—Barbara was a hostess back then and Bernard always made sure I got in without waiting. I can’t help but to think that it would be nice if Wolfgang would show some pride, like the old days, and come down to the restaurant that bears his name and do some cooking. Until then, for those of us who remember that incredible garlic chicken, this dining hall is pedestrian and overpriced at best.

WHY PAY TO BURY MJ

The story a few days ago was buried in the Los Angeles Times—far less conspicuously than the King of Pop, who stopped at Staple’s Center to say goodbye to 17,000 of his closest friends. The tale is a simple one; taxpayers are going to get stuck with the 1.4 million dollar expense for security and services required to have had a Michael Jackson memorial service at Staple’s Center. Mayor Villaraigosa, who for the record I’ve always gone easy on (we’re both from East LA and we both went to UCLA), has stated his firm belief that the city should pay for such an event…This firm belief is undoubtedly rooted in the Mayor’s close relationship with AEG and AEG President Tim Leiweki, who for the record I like as a person—even though I often take AEG and his staff to task.

Mayor Villaraigosa should consider this: he was barely reelected against a field of nobodies—if I recall with an embarrassing 55.56 percent of the vote. Although it seems like a strange correlation to make, he has also been the face of LA Live—more than Tim Leiweki President and CEO and far more than Philip Anschutz the reclusive owner. AEG may be a loyal financial supporter of Mayor Villaraigosa, but the company has become so unpopular in the community that the Mayor is now paying the political price for his association. And make no mistake about it—this 1.4 million might be the straw that breaks what should have been an incredible political career—not because it is such a staggering sum of money, but because the city of Los Angeles is in such financial straits—

And it is AEG that should be paying for these expenses not the taxpayers of Los Angeles.

President and CEO of AEG Tim Leiweki asserted in the LA Times that AEG shouldn’t have to pay for the service held at their property because they didn’t do it to make a profit. And he suggested that those of us who dare to think that AEG should pay are publicity seekers. THE POT CALLS THE KETTLE BLACK! Why did AEG have a memorial service for Michael Jackson at Staple’s center? To craft a positive image for the King of Pop, which AEG is heavily invested in. It defies credulity to suggest that AEG’s business interest did not benefit from the memorial service held at the AEG owned property. And it is this type of preposterous lie that makes the community loath the LA Live development.

Downtownster is prepared to argue all of the ways that AEG specifically benefited from the publicity stunt of having the memorial service for Michael Jackson at Staple’s Center. But is this really necessary? Isn’t it enough that on a non-event night LA Live is so dead that a bowling ball could roll through it, not only not hitting a single person, but not being noticed any more than a tree falling in the middle of woods. Downtownster warned several months ago that the lack of use of the public space at LA Live for the benefit of the local community would be a gathering storm that would eventually sink the project—sticking the community for 1.4 million, is the equivalent of taking the bucket meant for bailing water out of a ship and lowering it into the ocean, filling it, and then dumping the water onto the already sinking vessel.

True, LA Live is filled with credit worthy tenants that have signed long term leases, so management might think that there is no reason to care about the community, but really, if downtownster was a tenant our lawyers would already be taking a good look at our lease and all of the representations in it. The same way the city should not only be handing AEG the bill for their Michael Jackson extravaganza, but should be doing some serious oversight of LA Live and reporting to the community as to whether or not AEG is upholding all of its covenants with respect to the two hundred and seventy million dollar tax credit it received. Because any company that would stick the taxpayers for 1.4 million…would probably…Well you can fill in the blanks.

One final thought. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for all of my forty-four years and my family arrived here almost a hundred years ago—I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go. If a company comes to our community and costs us money, maybe it’s time that a company such as this goes back to where it came from.

I hear Denver Colorado is a nice place.

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