Tag Archives: neighborhood

Meatball Madness! Vinita Lark Williams WINS On The Today Show!

Vinita Lark Williams of Victoria Ave. was the first-ever WINNER of The Today Show’s Meatball Madness Challenge this morning. Vinita appeared on the show, talked about the recipe she created, accepted her trophy – and even got to kiss Matt Lauer!!

Congratulations, Vinita!

You can watch the video below – and read the transcript and get a copy of the recipe for her Jamaican Inspired Plantain Stuffed Meatballs In A Citrus Ginger Beer Sauce.


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


TODAY searched America for the best original meatball recipe and after hundreds of entries from viewers narrowed it down to these three finalists. Give these delicious recipes a try!


Herb Wesson’s people skills will be tested as L.A. City Council president – latimes.com

Herb Wesson’s skills will be tested as L.A. council president

A former state Assembly speaker, Herb Wesson has honed his powers of persuasion over the years, and vows to bridge differences on contentious issues as he helps his colleagues deliver on their promises.

City Councilman Herb Wesson

City Councilman Herb Wesson, in line to become council president, presents Chihuahua mix Jackie O as “Pet Adoption of the Week.” (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles Times / November 18, 2011)

Before getting into politics, Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson went door to door selling cookware. After that, he sold tires. Then there was that stint as a bill collector, cajoling people down on their luck to make good on their unpaid debts.

The powers of persuasion he developed then — and has honed since inside government — will be sorely tested in the coming months as he steps into his newest political post: president of the Los Angeles City Council.

A former speaker of the state Assembly, Wesson is in line to run a 15-member body criticized by the public for getting distracted, ignoring policy details and sometimes even failing to show up. But Wesson, who lives in the Mid-City neighborhood of Wellington Square, said he intends to safeguard the council’s reputation.

“My job is to make them look good. My job is to put them in a position to deliver on the promises they made to their constituents. Their desires come before mine.”

Wesson plans to occupy the president’s chair in January, ending a six-year stint by council President Eric Garcetti. Although a vote of support from the council doesn’t come until Wednesday, he already has promised to make meetings move more briskly and clamp down on “out of line” behavior by members of the public who address the council.

The leadership change worries Neighborhood Council member Jack Humphreville, who has criticized the council’s decision to give a $2.6-million loan to a restaurant in Wesson’s district.

Wesson, who until recently ran the powerful committee that allocates tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, “never met a deal he doesn’t like,” Humphreville said.

With Wesson as president, “what you’re going to have is all this Sacramento transactional stuff,” he added, alluding to the councilman’s years in the Legislature.

Wesson disagreed with that portrayal, saying he has a track record of bringing “peace” to the council floor by bridging differences on contentious issues. “That’s not deal-making,” he said. “I think that’s leadership.”

Judging from his life story, Wesson has little in common with the current president. Garcetti, a Rhodes Scholar who attended the London School of Economics, was only 34 when he took the post. The son of a two-term Los Angeles County district attorney, Garcetti has a well-known talent for musical theater and opened up his environmentally friendly home for a spread in Dwell magazine.

Wesson, the son of an Ohio auto worker, celebrated his 60th birthday last week. Reared in Cleveland, he was the first in his family to go to college, and as a teenager cleaned oily factory equipment.

When his dad died at age 42, his father’s co-workers collected $800 to send Wesson to the West Coast to start a new life.

On the council, Wesson keeps his activities below the radar. While Councilman Tom LaBonge boisterously greets audience members and Councilman Bill Rosendahl rails on national policy issues, the 5-foot-5 Wesson frequently remains silent or sneaks out for a smoke on the south patio. But he wins praise from several colleagues for his ability to craft compromise.

“He has amazing skills in working with people,” Rosendahl said. “He doesn’t put ego into it. He’s quiet about it and he’s respectful.”

Those people skills have not charmed every colleague. Wesson is poised to become the council’s first African American president. Yet his two black colleagues — Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry — have declined to say whether they will support him.

Wesson became intrigued by politics in the early 1970s while studying at Lincoln University, a predominantly black liberal arts college. The turning point came when Rep. Ron Dellums, a California Democrat, delivered a speech on the Pennsylvania campus.

“I got goose bumps,” Wesson said. “I remember it like it was yesterday. I turned to my fraternity brothers and said, ‘That’s what I want to do.'”

Despite that interest, Wesson did not get a firm foothold in California politics until 1987, when Nate Holden won a seat on the City Council.

Wesson went to work for him, first as a campaign worker, then an aide and finally chief of staff. By the 1990s, he was running the office of then-county Supervisor Yvonne Burke.

Wesson was elected to the Assembly in 1998 and won a seat on the council in 2005, representing a district that includes Koreatown, Mid-City and West Adams.

As president, Wesson will join the powerful committee that negotiates city employee labor agreements. He also will set the agenda for each council meeting. For now, however, he said he has no interest in putting his name on a spate of new proposals and resolutions.

“I don’t need to take credit for anything, other than hopefully running an orderly house,” he said.

Los Angeles Council President Backs Black Colleague To Succeed Him – L.A.Times

Eric Garcetti backs Herb Wesson to succeed him as council chief

The move sets the stage for the Los Angeles City Council electing its first black president.


“I’m not big on symbolism,” said Councilman Herb Wesson, “but I do think any and every barrier we can tear down makes it easier for other people.” Above, Wesson hears public comment on light rail in 2010. (Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times / February 4, 2010)

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti announced Thursday he is backing Councilman Herb Wesson as his successor, a move that could pave the way for the council to elect its first African American president in its 161-year history.

Garcetti, who is running for mayor, said he would introduce a motion Friday calling for Wesson to become president at the council’s first meeting in January. Wesson, 60, has already signaled interest in the job, and supporters hope to put six other signatures on the motion — enough to show that a majority of the council supports him.

The maneuvering comes two weeks after the abrupt resignation of the council’s president pro tem, Jan Perry, who said she did not like behind-the-scenes negotiations over the presidency and the upcoming process for redrawing council district boundaries.

Wesson has served as the state’s Assembly speaker, one of the most powerful political jobs in California. Nevertheless, he would make city history if Garcetti’s motion is approved.

“I’m not big on symbolism, but I do think any and every barrier we can tear down makes it easier for other people,” said Wesson, whose district takes in neighborhoods including Koreatown, Jefferson Park, West Adams and Mid-City.

In a statement, Garcetti said Wesson has “the experience and skills” to guide the council through the city’s ongoing budget crisis. Garcetti also said he supports making Councilman Ed Reyes president pro tem. A vote is expected Wednesday.

The change in leadership could spark a number of shifts at City Hall. Wesson said he wanted to “cut down some of the theatrics” during council meetings and make them move more quickly. Wesson is viewed as being closely aligned with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose office sometimes has had a prickly relationship with Garcetti and Perry.

Wesson was chief of staff to former Councilman Nate Holden and former county Supervisor Yvonne Burke. He was elected to the council in 2005 and reelected twice.

As president, Wesson would set each council agenda and serve on the powerful committee that negotiates contracts with public employee unions.

Wesson’s legislative deputy, Andrew Westall, was named last week to run the 21-member Redistricting Commission, the panel that will draw new maps for the 15 council districts. That hiring was opposed by Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who said Westall was a key figure in a lawsuit over Parks’ unsuccessful 2008 campaign for county supervisor.

It Happened At The Corner Of Washington & Crenshaw…

L.A. Then and Now

Even after a car accident, actress delivers a smashing performance

The great tragedienne Sarah Bernhardt was one of the first celebrities to be injured in a car crash in L.A. It was 1913, and the taxi was rushing to get her to the Orpheum before showtime.

L.A. Then & Now

French actress Sarah Bernhardt was known as the greatest tragedienne of her era, lighting up stages in Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles.

(Yale University Press / August 30, 2010)

By Steve Harvey, Los Angeles Times

October 23, 2010

French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) is remembered as the greatest tragedienne of her day, but she also occupies an unfortunate place in the car culture of Los Angeles.

Bernhardt was one of the first celebrities to be injured in an automobile accident in the City of Angels.

The mishap occurred on the evening of March 12, 1913, at the intersection of Washington and Crenshaw boulevards, while she was being driven in a taxi to the downtown Orpheum Theatre to appear in “La Tosca.”

The red-haired actress was en route from Venice Beach, where she had rented an entire floor of the King George Hotel. She liked to stay in Venice, The Times said, because she wanted “the benefit of the open sea and the fresh breezes,” and because she could fish.

She was running late the night of the accident.

Roger Harvys, her taxi driver, said years later that she “had taken longer than usual to get ready because she wanted to watch the sunset over the ocean. When she got into the cab, her maid told me to drive rapidly.”

Harvys obeyed, winding it up to 18 mph.

Crossing Crenshaw, he recalled, “I saw a chance to make time, and dodged around a streetcar, and there was this moving van without taillights. And before I could twist out of the way, we struck.”

The Times carried an un-bylined, somewhat irreverent account of the rear-end collision. The article said Bernhardt’s “pretty ankles” had been injured but “not seriously.”

The actress was quoted as exclaiming, upon leaving the car, “The theater! The theater! I must be at the theater in 10 minutes.”

The driver of the van could not understand her pronunciation of the word theater, the article said.

Finally, the driver asked, “Oh, be you an actress then?”

She yelled back that she was, reportedly calling the driver an “idiot.”

Meanwhile, another motorist stopped and offered Bernhardt a ride. She accepted, but his car was so crowded that she rode on his lap, the article said.

True to the-show-must-go-on tradition, Bernhardt performed that night, with the curtain rising just 10 minutes late.

Years later, in his book “Los Angeles: City of Dreams,” former Times columnist Harry Carr identified himself as the writer of the anonymous article.

He said Bernhardt was so incensed by his account that “she hired billboards all over town to denounce me and my iniquities…the press agent following with a second detachment of billboard stickers to paste over the denunciation.”

Not only was the press coverage a pain, but her injury was not so routine either.

The impact had thrown the 68-year-old actress against a rear door.

Harvys later said that when Bernhardt emerged from the car “she was groaning” and “had her hand on her right knee and she limped.”

A few years earlier, she had badly hurt the same knee when jumping off a parapet during a performance in Rio de Janeiro (the stage crew had forgotten to place a mattress on the floor to break her fall).

Her reinjured leg was never the same.

The day after the accident in Los Angeles, she was forced to cancel an engagement. She resolutely finished the tour a few weeks later and returned to France. But In 1915, gangrene set in, and her leg was amputated.

The indefatigable actress did not retire, however. Instead, she performed on stage all over the world while on a chair or a bed, and made several movies as well.

“I accept being maimed,” she explained, “but I refuse to remain powerless. Work is my life.”

The Divine Sarah could be wry about her condition.

Author H. Jack Lang wrote that at one point an American promoter cabled her, “We offer you 100,000 dollars to exhibit your leg.” She is said to have cabled back: “Which one?”

Bernhardt even returned to perform in the United States.

Times reader Ormon K. Flood wrote columnist Jack Smith six decades later that he could still remember seeing her at the Orpheum, playing “the title role in ‘Camille’ entirely in bed. Afterward she took her curtain calls standing behind a chair. The applause was great.”

She worked almost to the moment of her death from kidney disease in 1923 at the age of 78. A stand-in was used in some scenes of her last film, “La Voyante” (“The Fortune Teller”).

Harvys, her taxi driver the night of the mishap, always felt guilty.

“It was the only accident I ever had with a passenger,” he told The Times. He also recalled that moments after the collision, “she told me not to worry and laughed about the thing. So I didn’t think it was so serious.”

Harvys didn’t know it at the time, but there, at the intersection of Washington and Crenshaw, Bernhardt had just demonstrated what a great actress she was.


Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times