Hustlers in Paradise: Wrapping Up this Week in LA, Volume I

Hustlers in Paradise: Wrapping Up this Week in LA, Volume I


I have a weakness. Ok, I have several, some of which I have under control and others not so much. But this particular weakness I inherited from my mother. I call it The Project Starter. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and since I live 2,000 miles from my parents I rarely remember any of their foibles with anything other than affection. But if mom read this, even she would simply nod in acceptance.

Since 2010 I have kept it under control like a dieter after bariatric surgery. So at first it felt quite liberating over the last several weeks when I had the idea of creating a new site with commentary about Los Angeles business and politics. I brainstormed about possible names. I imagined identifying other contributors. I would write freely without the expectation of providing thoughts on legal subjects.

Naturally I imagined it would become THE blog about Los Angeles and all of my friends and clients would become wealthier, more famous or whatever they wanted next on their journey. I would, humbly of course, accept numerous accolades and awards for our work. And so on.

And then it hit me. I have clients and a company already — oh jeez, I had nearly caught a bad case of projecto starterus. I took two doses of the medicine called Reality and this is the result: I have felt that I wanted to write more for a long time now; I love to attend and do attend numerous events across disparate interests every week in Los Angeles; I have opinions about a myriad of subjects and I already have a forum to publish on this blog.

So instead of something more grandiose, I will aim simply to publish a weekly review of what I have found interesting here in the City of Angels. Or elsewhere, but mostly here, in hopes that it helps people find opportunities and I have a chance to talk about the good work that my friends and clients are doing. So here goes.

On Monday I attended a screening of Born This Way, a documentary about the gay and lesbian underground in Cameroon. The film follows the lives of everyday men and women who live in fear because they can be arrested and jailed for five years for simply being gay or lesbian. Despite the heavy subject material, the film strikes a hopeful chord as the subjects of the documentary persevere and do their best to love and thrive in unacceptable conditions. You should see it as soon as possible and follow the film on Twitter to find out about more screenings.

I spent most of the time at the reception afterwards speaking with my friend, the writer and director Sascha Rice, who was just nominated for an EMMY® for her film, California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown. I have plugged it many times on Facebok and elsewhere and it’s exciting to see the film and Sascha get the recognition they deserve. Sascha is in an exploratory phase right now considering her next project. . . .

Santa Monica College celebrated its graduation Tuesday, which served as a memorial service as well for the victims of the rampage there last Friday. It seems to me that there has been relatively little national coverage about the shooting in Santa Monica. Are we becoming so numb to shootings that five people dead doesn’t merit national outrage anymore? Or is this typical East coast bias in the media? Or has all of the oxygen been used to discuss the Edward Snowden leaks?

Oliver Stark sent me his deck for InstaStock, new company he has founded in Berlin. Users will have the opportunity to upload their Instagram photos and sell them as stock photos. He’s seeking financing for €900,000 and has made significant progress. I’ve looked for stock photos in the past and most of them seem like the sort of sheen and too perfect image that would appear in, say, a Bank of America brochure. So I think he’s onto something, but how would one deal with the overabundance of food porn on Instagram?

Thursday I had lunch with Damian Carroll who is running for the California State Assembly. Surprisingly, either we have never met or, at least, never had a serious conversation even though we must have been at the same political events on many occasions. Damian wants to engage in long term thinking about California and I believe him to be a person of character and good intentions. We did not agree on everything — I urged him to more strongly advocate for peace and gave him a copy of this Op-Ed, but I’m a sucker for anyone who got their start working for Governor Dean. I will be supporting Damian with a fundraiser at my loft on July 11, 2013. Save the date and expect that I will be twisting your arm soon.

For the first edition of a weekly blog, this has not been representative as I am rarely so involved in politics any longer. Yet last evening I went to another event with strong political overtones. I was grateful to be the guest of Juan Camacho at the Fox Studios table for the Lambda Legal Awards at the London West Hollywood. The organization honored Eric Webber, who is the Immediate Past President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

Eric gave a powerful and personal keynote address that chronicled much of the discrimination he faced during his legal career, especially the early parts of his career. He mentioned that he was originally from Indiana and in the reception I had a great conversation with him for twenty minutes about being from Indiana as well. The moment reminded me of the quote from Kurt Vonnegut, “You can’t go anywhere a Hoosier hasn’t made his mark.” Congrats to Eric for making his and I’ll keep trying to make mine.

Los Angeles, California

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