Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

New media team takes over studio, goes to prison

Usually the new media team works behind the scenes to give you the words, images, and code that comprises our website. Today a few members of the team went on a little adventure of sorts. Under the watchful eye of Frank Stoltze, we went into the studio to record some audio for an upcoming piece about prisons... and wound up as prisoners!

You'll have to listen to find out the whole story. Keep your ears to the radio and you may hear the voices of the people behind the website.

I love my job and what I get to do for the website, but for a public radio geek like myself there was a certain thrill wearing the headphones and staring down the barrel of that big fuzzy microphone.


The Freakonomics of UC raising tuition

I'm currently reading Freakonomics, so I was interested to see an entry on the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times' Web site about the increase in undergraduate fees at the University of California. Ian Ayres, who's also been a commentator for Marketplace, takes a contrarian point of view as Freakonomics often does, arguing for why the increase may not be such a bad thing for students.

Freakonomics Blog: Why California’s Tuition Hike Might Be a Good Thing


Nostalgia for the obsolete

The new book Obsolete by Anna Jane Grossman takes a look at things going obsolete within our lifetimes. The book includes 100 essays on fading subjects, such as mix tapes, camera film, and writing letters.

It seems that the amount of time before something becomes nostalgic is growing shorter. I personally lamented once popular Web site hosting service GeoCities being shut down recently, remembering my early online adventures building horrible Web sites using GeoCities.

It's also interesting to see how, as something's usefulness declines, our affection for it grows. This isn't to say that these objects are useless. I was talking with a friend the other night who bought a typewriter rather than using a word processor, expressing a love for the tactile level it brings to writing. A photographer friend still carries an $11 plastic camera, which when his fancy professional camera's battery died and his backup had gone AWOL, he used to complete a recent photo shoot.


Bratton versus Colbert

Former LAPD chief Bill Bratton is about to face an even more probing audience than he's found in Los Angeles. No, I'm not talking about his new New York City security consultant job, I'm talking about Bratton going toe-to-toe with America's top pundit, Stephen Colbert.

Bratton appears on Thursday's episode of Comedy Central's Colbert Report, adding another notable to the long list of public figures who've sparred with the comedian on his faux news program. My DVR's already set.

(Via L.A. Observed)


Defining the 2000s

I was talking with a friend the other night about the way our culture seems to be becoming more homogeneous. We talked about the distinctive, definable styles of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, into the early '90s, but found our ability to pin down what has defined style since becoming fuzzier. Is this just due to our proximity to the times, or has the ubiquity of mass media, and particularly the Internet, led to an evening out of our culture?

In the tradition of long lists of stuff blogs like Stuff White People Like, one blogger has set to defining what the current decade has been about in his blog You AUGHT To Remember. He's counting down the top 100 "trends, fashions, memes, personalities and ideas that shaped the first decade of the 21st Century." I expect we'll be seeing more and more efforts like this as our decade comes to a close in less than two months.