Pics from LA JEMM festival

A photo from our very short set on the outdoor stage at LA JEMM’s festival in April  … before we were SO RUDELY INTERRUPTED:

Gena Mason & the Noise


RahmWatch: Emanuel at Daley’s Global Cities Forum

At first I tried to talk myself out of it. But in the end I couldn’t resist treating myself to an impromptu trip to the Windy City, to see Rahm Emanuel speak during the 6th Annual Global Cities Forum at the University of Illinois.

Last Tuesday, Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley hosted municipal leaders from more than 100 cities worldwide in an open discussion of the need for public-private partnerships, to help strengthen cities in the wake of our global economic crisis. In addition to Rahm Emanuel, guests included the mayors of such far-flung cities as Mexico City and Johannesburg, as well as prominent figures from the World Bank, Boeing, and other organizations.

Not only was this a cool event, but it was a rare opportunity to attend what was perhaps the first stop on Rahm’s as-yet-unofficial campaign for elected office (perhaps Chicago mayor?). Unquestionably the superstar of the day, Emanuel took part in the first panel, which also included Bertrand Delanoe, the eloquent and charismatic mayor of Paris; Michael Nutter, Philadelphia’s refreshingly plain-spoken mayor; and Motorola CEO Greg Brown.

Seated dead-center in the semicircle of panelists, Rahm first tackled the subject of the worldwide economic crisis. Noting that the median household income had decreased over the past 10 years, he stressed that governments need to “do more with less”; and he posited the creation of an “infrastructure bank” with public and private funds as one potential solution to the financial quagmire. Of course, since he’s not yet on the campaign trail, he did not provide details on the mechanics of such an arrangement.

Not surprisingly, he also emphasized the need to strengthen collaboration between federal and local governments. President Obama’s Chief of Staff pointed to the recent federal stimulus package — whose passage Rahm largely engineered — as a successful example of this ideal. Nonetheless he also carefully nodded to state and municipal sovereignty, noting that the “local level knows best” what it needs.

At least (unlike certain Supreme Court Justices) he’s no Luddite. Particularly welcome was Rahm’s acknowledgement of the importance of technology as a tool of empowerment whereby citizens can become involved and interact with their governments. (He admitted, however, that the federal government must improve its relationship with technology.) One point that I wish he had elaborated was his encouragement of a regional, rather than division-oriented, approach toward city governance. This sounds interesting, but I’m not quite sure what it means.

Of course, he wouldn’t be Rahm if he hadn’t also taken the opportunity to pimp his own professional achievements. Among the feats he ticked off were his passage of a community colleges bill; his work in Chicago city government and Hope VI housing grants; and his involvement with Race to the Top in Education, which he presented as a successful example of collaboration between Washington and the states.

It was hard not to notice that, while moderator Judy Woodruff (PBS NewsHour) addressed the other panelists as “Mayor” or “Mr.” so-and-so, she referred to the president’s Chief of Staff simply as “Rahm.” Apparently this is standard protocol with him, and it lends a populist touch to his persona. Throughout the event Rahm seemed at ease and gracious — for instance, quickly offering Nutter his own microphone when the Philadephia mayor’s mic failed. Good progressive that he is, although he tends to be carefully centrist, Emanuel also seems to be pretty well informed of cultural trends and the issues facing younger generations.

But now that I’m back in L.A., the question I had last month remains unanswered: will Mayor Daley step down as Chicago mayor and let his friend Rahm run? Did this Global Cities Forum represent Daley’s “passing of the baton” to the ever-ambitious Emanuel? Or will Rahm have to settle for a U.S. Senate run, instead?

Daley wasn’t talking. So I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned.

On Avatar and Obamas

What is the BFD about Avatar, anyway? Is it really that great? Let me know!

Barack and Michelle Obama in the White House theatre


It’s the principle of the thing

Photo shoot with Lise Sarfati

Saturday I posed for a fun and amazing photo shoot with Parisian photographer Lise Sarfati and her gracious assistant Francois. We tramped through the streets of Hollywood and Koreatown, got chased away by a psychotic motel manager, and generally had a rockin’ good time.

Sarfati’s work is in the permanent collections of New York’s
International Center of Photography (ICP), the Bibliotèque Nationale in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art of San Francisco, and many other museums worldwide. Check it out at lisesarfati.com.

RahmWatch: Mayor Daley’s mystery tweet!

This popped up in my HuffPo news stream; it’s a tweet from Mayor Daley of Chicago:


OK, so Tuesday afternoon has come & gone, Daley, what gives? Does this mean what it seems to mean?

Update: alas, a false alarm. Follow-up revealed that the tweet refers only to a Global Cities Forum, held next Tuesday in Chicago, at which Emanuel will appear as a panelist. Interesting news, but not hype-worthy. Well, except to the participants and Chicago-area residents. I don’t think I’ll make it out to Chicago for this one. But if anyone else attends, please comment here with a report!

Pro-gun rallies in Washington

The Huffington Post has (rightfully) called today’s NRA gun rally a “PR FAIL,” considering that today is also the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City domestic terrorist bombing. So I suppose I’m completely un-PC by proudly posting my NRA certification in basic pistol training (below). But, hey, maybe this will convince the LAPD that I’m not a flaming, card-carrying, pinko-hippie-liberal-communist-terrorist, or something:

Seriously, though, I don’t want to be glib about any of our national tragedies. However, I agree with the Supreme Court’s recent decision affirming gun ownership as a constitutional right, as intended by our nation’s founders. Nonetheless, there need to be some limits. I remember one occasion when an ex-boyfriend took me to the house of married friends of his; the couple had a child — a toddler — and they also kept an AK-47 assault weapon by the front door (“just in case”??)! PARENTING FAIL.

I’ll stick to air guns.