Jonathan Gold’s Los Angeles

The passing this week of Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles’s Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic, reminded us of why we have lived in Southern California for more than four decades. When we arrived in L.A. in the 1970s—from New York and Montreal, respectively—the city was known largely for glitter and celebrities but little else. The food scene wasn’t much to write home about, though it was better than the awful cuisine in most of the country. A newcomer was likely to be introduced to Tommy’s Burgers, or perhaps a local taco joint with a menu that hadn’t changed in decades. Fine dining was largely of the stargazing variety—Perino’s, Chasen’s, Musso and Frank—which meant generally so-so food but a bettor’s chance to spot a celebrity.

Jonathan Gold helped to change all that. He was from L.A., and he embraced his inner Angeleno while driving through this vast region in his old truck. He was no aesthete in the model of the New York Times’s Craig Claiborne, who favored fancy restaurants serving small portions. Gold embraced L.A. in its vastness, and if there was too much food on the plate—as long as it was good, hell, why not?

Read the entire piece at City Journal.

Mandy Shamis, an amateur chef, worked as a journalist in London and is business manager of JK Associates in Orange, California. Joel Kotkin, a City Journal contributing editor, serves as Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (COU).

Homepage photo by PunkToad from oakland, us (Jonathan Gold) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

The Hollowing-Out of the California Dream

Progressives praise California as the harbinger of the political future, the home of a new, enlightened, multicultural America. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has identified California Senator Kamala Harris as the party leader on issues of immigration and race. Harris wants a moratorium on construction of new immigration-detention facilities in favor of the old “catch and release” policy for illegal aliens, and has urged a shutdown of the government rather than compromise on mass amnesty.

Its political leaders and a credulous national media present California as the “woke” state, creating an economically just, post-racial reality. Yet in terms of opportunity, California is evolving into something more like apartheid South Africa or the pre-civil rights South. California simply does not measure up in delivering educational attainment, income growth, homeownership, and social mobility for traditionally disadvantaged minorities. All this bodes ill for a state already three-fifths non-white and trending further in that direction in the years ahead. In the past decade, the state has added 1.8 million Latinos, who will account by 2060 for almost half the state’s population. The black population has plateaued, while the number of white Californians is down some 700,000 over the past decade.

Read the entire piece at City Journal.

Home photo: Office of the Attorney General of California [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Progressive California’s Growing Race Challenge

Excerpted from an article that first appeared at The Orange County Register.

No state in the union has been more adamant in opposing President Trump’s policy on immigration than California. The Golden State widely sees itself — and is widely seen in progressive circles — as the harbinger of America’s multi-cultural future, a “sanctuary state” that epitomizes ethnic ascendency.

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Can Lebron James Make Los Angeles Great Again?

Excerpted from an article that first appeared at The Orange County Register.

With his decision to move to Los Angeles, LeBron James has given our metropolis another reason to feel good about itself. When it comes to sports, and celebrity, Los Angeles’ lead is only growing, as evidenced by the recent movement of two football teams to the area, the proposed construction of a new basketball facility for the Clippers and the winning of the 2028 Olympics games.

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California’s Climate Extremism

Excerpted from an article that first appeared at City Journal.

Environmental extremism increasingly dominates California. The state is making a concerted attack on energy companies in the courts; a bill is pending in the legislature to fine waiters $1,000—or jail them—if they offer people plastic straws; and UCLA issued a report describing pets as a climate threat. Read more

Blue-collar Blues in the Southern California Job Market

This piece first appeared in The Orange County Register.

Every year over the past decade, in the Forbes’ annual “Best Places for Jobs” survey, we have been fortunate to assess Southern California’s job market and compare it to other large metropolitan areas. The results point to some strong points but also many long-term problems that regional leaders need to address.

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Brownout

Jerry Brown’s long political career will likely end in January 2019, when the 80-year-old’s second stint as California governor concludes. In the media’s eyes—and in his own mind—Brown’s gubernatorial encore has been a rousing success. His backers say that he has brought the state back, economically and fiscally, from the depths of the Great Recession, which hit California harder than it did the rest of the country. Read more

Looking Beyond On-Party Rule in California

This article first appeared at The Orange County Register.

It’s been a half century since Ronald Reagan shocked California, and the nation, by beating the late Pat Brown for governor by a million votes. Yet although the Republican Party is a shadow of its mid-20th century form, there are some clear signs that growing discontent — including among independents and many Democrats today — with the regime forged by Brown’s son Jerry, with which so many progressives are deeply enamored. Read more

Giving Common Sense a Chance in California

Excerpted from an article that first appeared on City Journal.

In California, where Governor Jerry Brown celebrates “the coercive power of the state” and advocates “brainwashing” for the un-anointed, victories against Leviathan are rare. Yet last week brought just such a triumph, as a legislative committee rejected an attempt by San Francisco state senator Scott Wiener to take zoning power away from localities Read more

Southern California Needs A Better Marketing Strategy

This article first appeared at The Orange County Register

“Southern California is man-made, a gigantic improvisation” — Carey McWilliams, Southern California: An Island on the Land, 1946

Largely invented, a semi-desert far from the metropolitan heartland of the nation, Southern California has relied on a combination of engineering genius and marketing bravado. The constructed infrastructure has become creaky, but still functions. Not so our sense of marketing our region to the rest of the world — and ourselves.

In its earliest decades, the Los Angeles region merchandised itself aggressively, but the product largely sold itself by showing off its natural beauty and uniquely wonderful climate at events like the Rose Bowl. Read more