March 27, 2006

"You Bug So Much You Woke Up The Sleeping Giant"

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Back in 2001, in working with the first Villaraigosa mayoral campaign to create a series of identifying web and print graphics, we imagined a different character for L.A.’s City Hall.

The vision involved an emphasis on listening, openness and the capacity to build bridges between radically disparate communities. Plenty of marketing hype? Sure. Still, we were already identifying with what would surely be going through the mind of that kid on the balcony (lower right, below) as he marveled at this crowd.


In studying not just dozens of newswire photos, but also hundreds of pro and amateur Flickr shots of L.A.’s massive pro-immigration rally on Saturday, there was one attribute that stood out for me more than any other.


Yes, the patriotism. (I understand the crowds were encouraged to wear white and bring American flags. Still, surveying the images from protests across the country, it seemed more than a natural and fitting gesture.)

Let’s just say, however, that not everyone appreciated the impact of the day.


For example, the NYT did an immigration story on its front page Sunday, but it wasn’t focused on the street. Instead, it looked at the political quandary Republicans (such as Texas Senator John Cornyn) are facing over the immigration issue. As has been consistent lately, The Times managed to lend extra compassion to the arch-conservatives. But on top of that, The Times not only relegated Saturday’s rallies to a passing interest, it stated that the L.A. event only drew some “tens of thousands.”

(A conservative estimate by the police settled on 500,000. Organizers, however, believe the actually number was closer to a million. …I should also add, by the way, there wasn’t a single reported arrest.)

As impressive as the L.A. rally was, however, one critique of the event was how much it was ultimately brown. Martini Republic (via pushes the point rather hard, lashing out at L.A. bloggers for not getting more excited or involved, even musing whether “most Anglo bloggers took the [day] to shop at Home Depot … while the parking lots were clear.”

In this regard, I was interested in the fact that Sunday, simultaneous with its rally coverage, The LA Times happened to be running an extensive feature about power in L.A., and the history of The LA Times.


If this shot accompanied the former story, it could have also informed the latter.
Yes, the political composition of Los Angeles and its political establishment is comparatively liberal. Considering this 2003 image of striking janitors on Bunker Hill, however, you can almost feel a dividing line between L.A.’s working poor on one side of the street, and its cultural elite (represented by Frank Gehry’s soaring Disney Concert Hall) on the other.

(Title Credit: with photo)

(illustrations: Michael Shaw/  photo 1:  Gina Ferazzi/L.A. Times. March 26th, 2006.  p. A1.  photo 2: eecue (Dave Bullock). Via  original version here.  photo 3: Brian Vander Brug/L.A. Times.  March 26th, 2006.  p. A24.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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