Zócalo – from the sublime to the ridiculous!

10_6_09_skirball.jpgDirections to the Skirball from its official website.  There are some transit directions at the bottom.

On Wednesday evening, Zócalo will host an evening entitled "The Curse of Oil" at the Skirball Center
and featuring a discussion with Peter Maass, New York Times Magazine
writer and author of Crude World, all in a demonstration of sublime
irony or in a ridiculous display of complete disconnect.

has a tremendous track record for bringing brilliant guests and
invigorating topics to the community, hosting films, discussions,
panels and presentations in a wide variety of venues.

In honor
of Wednesday’s subject matter which will take a look at the unhappiness
that oil-producing nations experience as a result of the oil
production, from Nigeria to Venezuela to Angola, Zócalo has selected a
venue that is inhospitable to those who elect to travel free of the
"Curse of Oil!"

The Skirball Center is a wonderful facility but
it is located in a location that is difficult to walk to, challenging
to ride to, fairly inconvenient to those who travel by mass transit and
is promoted with the promise of free parking. In other words, bring a
motor vehicle. Burn some fuel, park for free, embrace the irony, gnash
your teeth as we examine the injustice of oil production and then burn
some more fuel to get home. Your awareness is all that is needed to
change the world, not a shift in your behavior, just a wee bit of guilt
as you tool down Sepulveda Boulevard in your fossil fuel burning motor

Zócalo is a Spanish word that means Public Square. We know that LA is lacking in
public space that would qualify as a "public square" but surely Zócalo
could have done better, especially for a program that promises to
"explore the consequences of gas-guzzling, the paradox of plenty, and
how to cure our addiction to oil."

I love the Zócalo
programming and have enjoyed a screening of The Garden at the Laemmle
Music Hall, an evening with Tom Vanderbilt at the Actor’s Gang, and
panel discussions at the Central Library and at the Endowment Center,
all easily accessible to those on foot, to those who ride bikes, to
those who travel by mass transit and even to those who arrive in motor
vehicles. The Zócalo Public Square is a wonderful organization and it
hurts to criticize them, almost as much as it hurts to watch them
commit the gaffe of the oil-addicted.

I expect this from City
Hall, from our elected officials, from the Department of Neighborhood
Empowerment, even from the Metro but to have Zócalo host an event on
oil-addiction and then host it in an environment that favors the
oil-addicted and is inhospitable to the point of absurdity to those who
dare to put down the oil is simply unacceptable.

Zócalo, meet us
at One Gateway, the Endowment Center, Union Station. Offer transit
passes instead of free parking, host this event at a venue with a well
lit sidewalk that encourages pedestrians. Make it a standard to host
your events at locations with bike parking. Stop with the free auto
parking and walk toward the light!

  • Verrrry true… I was disappointed to see such a difficult to access venue for such a good subject. I reserved two tickets to this event because I was excited to hear about oil issues. Anyone wanna bike pool up to the Skirball? Say depart from the Westwood Federal Building (Wilshire and Veteran) at 6:30pm?

  • The Skirball’s website indicates that the location is serviced by the 761, a rapid bus, but the 761 has a half-hour headway and last run is a little before 9pm for the SB run and a little after 9pm for the NB run. There is also local service with a one hour headway but even the Skirball seems unaware of the 233 line. Perhaps because it’s not really a sincere gesture?

    To offer feedback to Zócalo Public Square on access to this event:
    Dulce Vasquez

    Good people do Great work if we help them raise the standard.

  • Thanks for the link Stephen. I sent them an email. :-)

  • The Skirball is a wonderful place to host the event—providing one has all day to get there via Metro, walking and/or bicycling. The event to be held there is one that should be seriously reconsidered owing to the difficulty of getting there. (I have taken the long trip from downtown Los Angeles to the Skirball, and for the hour or so I was there it took most of the daylight hours in travel.)

    Seriously, it is an astounding flaw in the programme that, owing to the inaccessibility via public/mass transit such a discussion will be attended almost exclusively by people who may not be the converted (and preaching to the converted does little, but this is far too convenient for assuaging liberal guilt) and who most likely will not consider rectifying their behaviour should they attend.

  • I biked up there and enjoyed the talk… which wasn’t radical, but worthwhile. Peter Maass talks about the invisibility of oil – most Americans use it every day, but don’t actually ever see the substance itself, even at a gas station, and are, of course largely oblivious to its impacts locally and globally. Maass was pretty casual and inoffensive, even when alluding to oil “addiction” and the coming “emergency” of global warming.

    On a similar note: This week I was forwarded this link for directions to an event at the California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities:

    Sadly, this center promoting physical health, located one block north of Union Station, includes only driving directions on their website. The California Endowment is a great group that’s done a lot of good. They’ve even pledged funding for a Ciclovia in Los Angeles becasue they make they connection between physical activity and health. They located themselves in a transit-rich, very accessible location… I hope that when they get word of the deficiency of directions on their website, they will update it to include transit directions, too.

  • Hmmmm… I wrote a little too soon… Though the link on the CHC website says “Click here for driving directions and a map to the Center.” and the maps doesn’t show Union Station… the text does include walking directions from Union Station. Not obvious… but some of the transit is there.

  • It’s not that bad a of a bike ride if you A) Are in great shape, I love riding up that hill or B) Have low gearing and fine with slow forward progress and C) Don’t mind people buzzing you within inches at high speeds occasionally until you make it to where the bike lane starts briefly, oh wait that starts just past the Skirball Center. Which come to think of it is kind of ridicules since I thought bike lanes helped cyclists afraid of riding with cars, and where the northbound bike lane starts you would have had to ride for miles uphill in lanes with fast moving traffic just to get where the bike lane starts. Any cyclist who can comfortably get to the start of that bike lane doesn’t really need it. If you come from the valley side it’s a little better, but that doesn’t help any one South of the mountain.


Zocalo: What Does SoCal Need from the 710?

Information from Zocalo, here. The 710 is one of the most important freeways in Southern California. It’s also shorter than originally planned: For nearly 50 years, legal and environmental challenges have stalled the freeway in Alhambra, 4.5 miles short of its intended destination, Pasadena. Over the decades, discussions about extending the freeway have cast its future as […]

Highlights From Metro CEO Phil Washington Speaking At Zócalo

Last night, Zócalo hosted a conversation with Metro CEO Phil Washington, just over three months into his new post. Washington was interviewed by Conan Nolan of NBC television, and responded to questions from the audience. Video, audio, and a recap of the event are available at Zócalo. Zócalo is a non-profit that focuses on the humanities and […]

Zocalo: Are Trains the Future of L.A.?

For a century, the hearts of Angelenos have belonged to cars and to flying machines, not trains–even though we never would have become a city without the railroad, and couldn’t survive as a global trade center without the rail links to our seaports. But today, in a potentially historic shift, Southern California governments are betting […]

Today’s Headlines

LaHood Staying for Now, Boxer Says Villaraigosa a Great Choice to Head USDOT (Bloomberg, The Hill) More on the Alternatives Analysis from the Big Dig (The Source, Star-News) CicLAvia E.D. Aaron Paley Details the Long Road to CicLAvia (Zocalo) L.A. Council T-Comm Talks Connections to Ontario Airport (Daily News) States Looking Seriously at “By the Mile” Transpo. Tax (KCET) […]

This Week In Livable Streets

Lots to do and see – from Street Vending, to Metro Committees, to Jaydancing! Monday – It’s #MobilityMondayLA. The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition and others are urging Angelenos to contact Los Angeles City Council members and voice support for the city’s proposed Mobility Plan 2035. The plan was recently approved by the city Planning Commission, and […]