It may not be oozing profits as it did during the Aughts, but the U.S. homebuilding industry is showing signs of life. The Los Angeles Times today showcases Irvine’s Woodbury East community as an example of a once-stalled residential project emerging from the mire of the Great Recession. Don’t believe everything you read in newspapers? Then, chew on this: In just four short weeks last December, Santa Ana-based homebuilding start-up City Ventures sold all nine first-phase homes at Viscaya, a collection of 19 single-family residences outside San Diego. Is the builder using Jedi mind-tricks to convert these sales?
25 years ago, Sonic Youth invaded the Los Angeles music scene from New York. They played a series of riveting shows (some of which this writer was fortunate to perform in with in another band) and established themselves as a new force in what became known as indie rock with albums such as Bad Moon Rising, EVOL, Goo and Sister. Sonic Youth returned to Los Angeles at the Wiltern Theater on January 9, focusing on new album The Eternal, but with encores featuring material from the mid-80s. Guitarist Lee Ranaldo mentioned to me after the show that the band decided to perform songs such as “Death Valley 69″ — also from the early period — to remember their first L.A. shows. The Wiltern performance was as powerful as ever. If anything, the band attacked the jagged rhythms and melodies even more fiercely. But it was the pensive intros and extended endings to each number that offered the most jarring beauty. Abstract, colorful, surging, transcendent… these instrumental waves of guitar bliss would surge into pure psychedelia if they weren’t also so deep, hard and heavy. Ranaldo’s “Walkin Blue” was a highlight: A wise and empathic message of comfort to friends. Which kind of sums the whole show.
Steve Appleford from Los Angeles Times also wrote a review, here.
There was a fair amount of hand-wringing, bottom-searching and even some bank-bashing at the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2010 conference, by ULI Los Angeles, November 18 at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles. Presented by the L.A. District Council of Urban Land Institute, Emerging Trends presented ULI’s national report (joint ventured with PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP) along with local analysis. Robert J. Gardner, managing director of RCLCo, offered Los Angeles regional trends, while dual panels of capital providers and capital users (moderated by Xavier Gutierrez of Phoenix Realty Group and Kathy Brisco of IDS Real Estate Group) anguished over the direction of development in 2010 and beyond. (Los Angeles Times’ Roger Vincent recently reported on the Emerging Trends report and quoted Gutierrez.)
Some of the more salient panel comments included the following:
Of the $800 million in commercial loans coming due, 2/3 are underwater.
Asset types to get the most attention next year: office, retail, industrial. Not hospitality. Fannie & Freddie will handle multifamily.
Southern California housing market finding bottom will determine course of entire economy in 2010.
Zombie assets will still be choking loans in 2010.
With bonds giving 25% return, how do you justify investing in development for 9% return?
Today, “relationship banking” means the bank will determine when the relationship ends.
Banks are taking federal funds to shore up their balance sheets, not lend it out like they should.
This year’s buzzwords in capital markets: zombie buildings, lend and extend, pretend and extend.
Despite all the chaos, real estate is institutional part of public pension funds, who still drive lending.
The market will return to a fraction of its former self. Which will lead to more consolidation.
A jobless recovery is a slow recovery, because jobs are what fill up buildings.
One of the rare growth sectors (besides medical and public sector) is green building. There will be a huge movement toward LEED certification.
And the Quote of the Day: If you don’t like change you’ll like irrelevance even less.
Vic Mizzy was a composer who captured a huge share of the 60s and 70s zeitgeist by writing the theme songs and soundtracks for the Addams Family, Green Acres, and the most of the Universal movies starring Don Knotts, including The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. He has died at the age of 93. In addition to those popular shows, he also composed dozens of other scores and songs. This Hot Sheet writer has always appreciated his work, and even co-dedicated an album by Lawndale (Jack Skelley, Dave Childs, Steve Housden and Rick Lawndale) to Mizzy. (Rick Lawndale’s song “Atta Boy, Luther,” on Lawndale’s Beyond Barbecue album is inspired by the Don Knotts character in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.) The unique instrumentation Mizzy used in Green Acres and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken lifted his work above typical theme songs. It included bass harmonica and fuzz guitar. In contrast, the Addams Family themes – including complete and separate motifs for Morticia and Gomez Addams – are based on the harpsichord. Mizzy owned the publishing rights to the Addams Family theme, and its contagious simplicity found its way into thousands of major-league baseball games, helping to make Mizzy a huge success. Here is the Los Angeles Times obituary.
Once upon a time, The Beatles surfed the zeitgeist. For their few years in the sun, they ushered or least feasted upon dozens of culturally defining music trends, from the English invasion to folk rock to psychedelia. They recaptured a bit of that on September 9, 2009, with the release of re-mastered albums: Everyone seems to be talking – or writing – about them. As Los Angeles Times Ann Powers recaps, “A team of top engineers, led by longtime Beatles associate Allan Rouse, labored for four years to return the feel that was lost in the flimsy-sounding 1987 compact disc reissues.” Powers has been leading up to this moment with several blog posts, but in this article notes how The Beatles have been re-interpreted over the years. To take just “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as an example, two inspiring renditions are to be had from soul singer Al Green and T.V. Carpio (from the Beatles-inspired musical Across the Universe… particularly moving).
Of course, it all just makes you remember how explosive “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was to begin with. Over at the New York Times, Dave Itzkof gathers many of the reviews of the re-mastered reissues. This includes Pitchfork, the alternative music site, which gives long, historically re-assessing raves to nearly all the re-releases.
Americans with health insurance are getting squeezed. Meanwhile those thrown off the rolls or who can’t afford it are dying by the thousands. Insurance reform is at the top of concerns in most polling. So why are Congressional reform advocates seemingly losing the public debate? Well, besides the fact that lobbyists have watered down proposed legislation - making it hard for anyone to get behind the cause – the ads created by reform advocates are just lame, according to L.A. Times advertising maven Dan Neil: “The insurance industry’s ads are more effective. They are big, scary, threatening. Reform gets rolled like the British at the Somme by this ad. Liberal progressives and advocates are going to have to get down and dirty if they want to win this fight.”
James Rainy, media reporter for Los Angeles Times, tears into the L.A. Weekly in his latest column. He says departing Editor Laurie Ochoa (wife of the Weekly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold… who is known to eat maple glazed bacon doughnuts) was more or less pushed out by the Weekly’s News Editor Jill Stewart. (As he put it, Ochoa “ceded control of news to Stewart.”) Rainy claims that reporting at the longtime alternative paper had degenerated into slanted stories that score political points through innuendo and shadowy unnamed sources. Rainy makes his claim using shadowy unnamed sources. There may be other errors in his logic. First, Read More
Over 50% of those who sign up for Twitter, never “tweet,” don’t “follow” any other Twitter user, and have no “followers” of their own. The news – according to the latest report from HubSpot (PDF) – has somehow has not penetrated the onslaught of Twitter hype, and was reported instead on obscure sites like Ars Technica. According to HubSpot’s analysis of Twitter’s 4.5 million accounts, 54.9 percent of users have never tweeted and 52.7 have no followers whatsoever. BTW, Los Angeles Times marketing columnist Dan Neil has a fun story today about advertising agency Cramer-Krasselt’s new Cultural Dictionary “of the zeitgeist-iest words and phrases” they can find or make up. This includes a new name for the avalanche of posts one finds on Twitter: “Twitterrhrea.”
The flailing publishing industry is throwing some nasty curveballs. And it’s no longer just niche magazines and peripheral newsrooms staff being affected by cutbacks and budget shortfalls. As The Wall Street Journal discussed in April, sports journalists have become the most recent victims of this economic downturn. In a tell-tale sign of the times, the Los Angeles Daily News on April 30 laid off Dodgers beat-writer Tony Jackson, leaving the nation’s second-largest market with just one dedicated baseball reporter. Read More
On the heels of an announcement that over 120 newspapers have closed their presses since January 2008, the Los Angeles Times is taking the fight to its competition. Like a political candidate clawing for votes as Election Day (or in this case, more layoffs) near, the Times has turned to the oldest trick in the book: a smear campaign. The March 25 issue of the Times features an ad for, well – the Los Angeles Times, on page seven of the Sports section. Its headline reads, “Hey, radio, listen to this,” and it then tells readers that even if they ran radio spots during both morning and drive times on 21 top stations in L.A., they still “won’t reach as many college-educated adults as a single ad in the Los Angeles Times.” Read More