In the wake of Monday’s NFL fiasco, a Las Vegas casino is actually offering refunds to gamblers who bet on Monday’s controversial Seahawks vs. Packers game. Derek Steven, owner of the D Las Vegas, says that the bad calls made by replacement refs that took place at the end of the game were “unacceptable,” and that refunding bettors money was the “right thing to do.”

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had this to say about the subject of the refs:

Someone made a good point this morning that maybe we shouldn’t be blaming the refs, but blaming the league, the owners, I don’t know who it is. Maybe it’s not just the officials. We’re putting them in tough situations and it can’t be easy.

Although the replacement refs are basically scabs, Roethlisberger’s comment, I think, is insightful.

And what of Scott Walker’s much touted call for the refs to return? Most accounts I’ve read are casting this as a rare alignment of Walker with organized labor, which he’s sworn to destroy. But his call for the regular refs to return does not necessarily mean he wants them to get what they are bargaining for. Most likely, he wants them to return without making any gains in their contract. Still, I suppose it can be seen a modicum of compromise on Walker’s part, since it is a lockout and not a strike.

At any rate, looks like a slew of angry cheese-heads around the country may be the deciding factor in bringing the NFL lockout to a close. Nice if they would do the same for the teachers.



 As thousands of public school teachers rally today in Chicago, it is clear that they know the future of public education in this country is at stake. Despite media coverage that has failed to highlight the true nature of this fight, it is clear that teachers in Chicago and around the country are far from the lazy, money hungry pariahs that the neo-cons hope to paint them as.

In fact, their biggest concern right now is the same reason they got into the game in the first place – to teach young people. The points of contention between Chicago teachers and the school districts at this time all have to do with quality in education: class size, lack of books, the room to measure progress according to each student’s needs and enough job security to follow through on that promise.

Those who would privatize and commodify every last thing on God’s formerly-green earth are on the offensive, seeking whom and what they may devour.

I came across a video of Molly Meacham, a Chicago high school teacher. It’s entitled, “How a Political Poem was Bullied out of Me.”

The truth is that most teachers feel just this passion for their vocation. I have certainly known many who do — and many who have lost their jobs after years of service. This cannot be good for students. It takes a certain amount of time to gain the skills and experience to lead a classroom. It seems to me this is lesson one for a teacher. It is just plain crazy to remove teachers who have gained this skill and replace them with those who have yet to learn it.

Of course, I’m not saying we don’t need new teachers – but, the new can learn from the more experienced – just like in any job. When more senior teachers are removed for the sake of paying less in salary and benefits, everyone loses.

Now, the struggle has been ratcheted up; and, educators are forced to go to bat for the very existence of free education. As for me, I stand with Molly for the integrity of the public school system. All young people deserve a free and quality education.


Photo credit: Neil Jacobs/Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

This past Saturday, I joined thousands of other folks here in Los Angeles for a march through historic Chinatown. The reason for the event? – the impending arrival of Wal Mart in Chinatown. It seems that the urban areas are a significant part of the Walton family’s final frontier.

Although the LA County Fed officially dubbed the event a “March Against Low Wage Jobs,” there were really two big beefs going around. One was indeed the matter of low wage jobs and the heinous record of Wal Mart towards its’ workers and towards organized labor. United for Respect at Wal Mart, an organization formed by associates at Wal Mart, were in the house. They were really great – brave and inspiring. Can you imagine working at this giant company and having the courage to stand up and fight for better wages and conditions?

Click on Wal Mart march for Part One of the coverage I did for City Watch to see Girshriela Green, one of the leaders of this group, calling Wal Mart out!

Another issue that was raised, by some almost exclusively, was how small business in Chinatown would be adversely affected. This is all pretty interesting since, I’m pretty sure that small business has been ferociously anti-union for decades if not ever since unions existed.

Sure, you have some folks saying, “Oh, yes; Mom and Pop have been good to me for twenty-five years. I’ve been treated well” That may be true, but that is almost totally up to their discretion, isn’t it? Mom and Pop could be the Cratchets and that would be just too bad for anybody who happens to work for them, right?   Without unions, a poor worker soul really has no recourse apart from a few bare bones labor laws regulated by the National Labor Relations Board, which has practically had all its’ teeth pulled over the years. So, it just seems an unlikely pair – organized labor and small business.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not sticking up for Wal Mart or thumbing my nose at small business. I come from a long line of small business owners myself. I love the diversity of Los Angeles. It’s my favorite thing about this city. I would hate to see Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, East Los Angeles, or any of LA’s culturally rich neighborhoods disappear.


Wal Mart is not the problem – it’s a symptom of the problem. If it wasn’t Wal Mart, it would be another big corporation. That’s the way this system works.

The market is not sentimental or nostalgic – and that’s not just in Chinatown, Jake.


I was rambling down Wilshire Boulevard the other day, wondering if I would ever work in this town again, when I came upon several small plaques, about three inches by seven inches long, made of brass, embedded in the concrete sidewalk. I kept on walking right to the corner to see where they ended. Looking up, I could see where they began was in front of the historic El Rey Theater. I stopped to read the inscription etched on the metal there on the last one. This is what it said: Private Property. Permission to pass over revocable at any time. Whoa! Pretty serious! I looked around cautiously, half-wondering if someone was going to pop out and revoke my permission to pass.

I made it through the area with no incident. Seemed like whoever put them there wanted to make it crystal clear that people better not get to thinking they had some free pass to walk down that sidewalk anytime they wanted.

There were a couple of psudo-business types standing on the corner. I looked at them then back at the plaques. I really wanted them to notice and comment on it. I wanted to know what they thought about it; but, they carried on talking as if the ominous warning stamped onto the sidewalk beneath them did not even exist. I guess they didn’t feel like it applied to them. Maybe never would.

I began to wonder why the owners of the sidewalk would even want to revoke anyone’s passing anyway. If they were drunk and disorderly or insane, surely the owners would just want them to trundle on by. I’m gonna be honest, I pretty much think they are probably put there to try to stop people from forming a picket line or some other kind of protest.

Well, I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been known to take part in quite a number of just such gatherings – where regular working people are expressing an opinion. It’s true I’ve seen other little signs on the sidewalk that say “Private Property,” but these are really special. They look vintage.

So, I took a little gander at the ole internet wondering if back in the day some historic strike or protest had taken place at the El Rey and the owners had then sent out to the metalsmith to make their best effort to make sure nothing like that ever happened again.

I didn’t find anything like that. I did find one case involving a couple of brothers by the name of Perez-Morciglio who would dress up like Zorro and Darth Vader and perform in front of the Venetian Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. Just last November, a federal judge in this case ruled that the Venetian lacks the authority to remove the public from the sidewalk.

More recently, the ruling in a case in Wisconsin was, as Jim Gramling of the ACLU put it, “a victory for the most basic form of free speech.” The “Sidewalks and parks are places where people traditionally have exchanged ideas and tried to persuade their neighbors to adopt their views. And unlike other forums for expression, like television or the radio, they can be used without charge, so anyone, rich or poor, can seek an audience there.”

Finally, I discovered a pamphlet put out by the LA Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild, on another pretty cool WordPress blog. This piece contains a whole lot of information on the subject.

Based on all this information, along with my own experience, I’d say when you get right down to the brass tacks, those little brass plaques are pretty much filled with a lot of hot air, and they ain’t gonna fly. For the sake of those of us who can’t afford to pay for television ads, let’s make sure we keep it that way.


Scott Walker’s favorite pastime








Well, well, well, whatdya know…and from Forbes magazine, no less. Who is surprised that Walker is a liar?

Take our poll and let us know what you think!

“The worst illiterate i…


“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”
― Bertolt Brecht

MAY DAY 2012

We wouldn’t be dishin’ it up right at Recession Cafe if we didn’t say something about International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day.

Today, in cities all over the world, working people took to the streets to say yes to good jobs, healthcare, education, and all things workers need and no to cut backs, war and racism. In Los Angeles, I attended a march and rally organized by the ANSWER Coalition and Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, and the National Lawyers’ Guild, among others.

I was pretty excited about this particular march and rally because it focused a lot on immigration. After all, it was the issue of immigration, in the form of a massive mobilization of millions against the Sensenbrenner bill in 2006, that put May Day back on the map here in the United States. Before May Day 2006, at least during my day, it seemed that no one took the slightest note of the day that marked the incident at Haymarket in Chicago, or the fight for an eight hour day.

I guess it took the most oppressed people to remind the rest of us that this day belongs to us.

Round about 1:30 p.m., I headed out to the event with my friend Natascha of Shoe Fever fame. At first, we thought we’d take the city bus for $1.50 each (OW); but, Natascha got to looking at Best Parking, the nifty parking app on her iPhone; and, she located several $4.00 lots right around our destination:Olympic and Broadway. Needless to say, we opted to drive.

As we left her car at Joe’s Parking, on the south side of Olympic, right near Olive, it began to be progressively clear that I had a problem.

It’s been mighty hot and humid lately in the City, LA; and, I’ve taken to wearing a real cool pair of yoga shorts that feel just great. I did the same today; but, as Natascha and I started heading east on Olympic towards the gathering site, I realized I was going to be real cold in just about a minute.

Lucky for me, Victoria’s Style was just around the corner at 1007 S. Hill Street.

Victoria’s Style is, in a word, THE BOMB.

We were greeted by the owner, Denia, who let us shop to ourselves but when we needed some help, she was right on it. She has so many cute clothes. We had so little time. Denia’s been operating the shop for decades. Props to her on that, especially in these recession times. Most items at Victoria’s are $12.99. There’s also a $5.00 rack filled with really great shirts that I can’t wait to see again once I get a paycheck big enough to cover more than the bills.

I was trying jeans on like crazy when Natascha reported back from the glass door in front that the march had left the corner. I still hadn’t found a pair that fit. Denia rushed to the back of the store, calling out that she knew just the ones. She emerged with the perfect pair! After paying with plastic, which Victoria’s takes, we headed out the door, chasing our assemblage of 99%ers who, by that time, had headed up Broadway.

Thousands of people streamed up the street, carrying banners, signs and all kinds of creative expressions. One man had a twin baby carriage, sporting rubber alien twins with t-shirts stating,”I don’t want to be an alien. I want to be legal.”

At the end of the march, a host of people spoke from the back of a flatbed truck. Some spoke in English, some in Spanish. Everybody supported the idea that all workers should have good jobs, good pay, all the stuff everybody should have.

Natascha and I both met up with a couple of other friends while we were there. We were all really hungry by that time. We decided to get some much needed grub and settled on the Grand Central Market at  317 S. Broadway. I have to admit, I was pushing for El Pollo Loco; but, tonight, as I write this, I am still munching on the second half of the amazingly large amount of beans and rice I got from La Adelita in the Market for only $2.60. Tasty!

So, it is goodnight to all for now on this International Workers’ Day, 2012, where the barometer reading fluctuates every day. Whatever is up ahead, we’ll keep right on dishing up the best information and inspiration we can find.