Wednesday, September 22, 2010

LAT Moves FOB to USC - WTF?

Los Angeles, CA

Every year the Los Angeles Times holds a monster book festival called unimaginatively The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

They do this in front of Royce Hall on the UCLA campus. Easy to get to. Lots of room. A fuckton of parking lots (even if they are nine bucks a pop). Beautiful campus, lots of grass. It's been there for fifteen years.

And now it's moving away from the Westside to the USC campus in beautiful, crime ridden South Los Angeles.

What the fuck are they thinking?

I don't know what went on with the backroom dealings, the secret negotiations. Maybe UCLA got tired of all the Scientology pamphlets and self-published poetry left trampled in the grass. Or USC threw wads of cash at the LA Times. Who knows.

But somebody blew somebody. Whether it was the Times' Eddy Hartenstein on his knees or USC President C.L. Max Kikias is anybody's guess.

Now don't get me wrong, I actually like USC. Beautiful campus. Good school. I have fond memories of the Doheny Library. My grandmother used to work there as a librarian. Thirty-five years ago I would slide down the bannisters and play with my toy trucks on a bench next to the checkout counter.

Good times.

But the area around the campus, now that's another thing entirely.

"Surely," you say, "it can't be that bad. There's, like, museums and shit down there." Well, let's take a look and don't... no, I won't say it.

UCLA is in the LAPD's West Bureau, West LA Area. USC is in the LAPD's South Bureau, Southwest LA Area. How these two places stack up against each other.

Here's a brief summary. You can get the actual numbers in the links below.

Year to date in Southwest LA there have been:
  • 11 Homicides
  • 42 Rapes
  • 701 Robberies
  • 580 Aggravated Assaults
West LA year to date?
  • 2 Homicides
  • 14 Rapes
  • 146 Robberies
  • 51 Aggravated Assaults
That's, uh, quite a big difference there.

I'm sure the USC campus is just fine. They have excellent security. With those kinds of numbers they kind of have to. Mummy and Daddy aren't going to blow wads of cash to send their kids off to get raped and taken down in a drive-by.

Let's put this in a more visual medium, shall we?

Each dot on this map represents a murder since 2007 in a 2 mile radius around UCLA:

The number is 5.

Each dot on this map represents a murder since 2007 in a 2 mile radius around USC:

The number is 102.

This should not be a surprise to ANYONE who lives in this town. In other words the quality of the neighborhood is guaranteed to keep people away.

No, I won't be one of them. It's books, after all. Of course I'll be there. Armed, but I'll be there.

But the hispters and yoga moms with their cash and their strollers and their gentrified lives?

They won't be. And the booksellers who attend are going to feel the pinch.

Compstat numbers for West LA. Warning .PDF file.

Compstat numbers for Southwest LA. Warning .PDF file.


Chris said...

That fuckin' Reggie Bush ruined everything.

Steve Weddle said...

Maybe it's all about crime fiction

Anonymous said...

Crime is the most important factor for a book festival? Perhaps the LA Times decided to move the book festival because USC is now academically superior to its crosstown rival (according to US News & World Report, which is generally regarded as the chief authority on the subject). In addition, USC will soon have mass transit access via the Expo Line, making it far more accessible than the inner-circle of traffic hell that is Westwood.

If crime is your primary concern in planning your life, perhaps you shouldn't live in a major metro area at all. Perhaps Bakersfield is more your speed.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

If crime were my primary concern in planning my life, Anonymous, I wouldn't be here.

My point to all this is that the area has a reputation for being a seedy neighborhood and, like it or not, that's going to keep people away.

And the last thing I want to see is fewer people at the Book Festival. Especially fewer people with loads of disposable cash.

For some booksellers the Festival is THE biggest sales day of the year.

As to transportation, yes, the Expo Line will make it easier. At some point in the future.

But not yet. Right now the public transportation options are a fucking nightmare.

And what about the visiting authors who are the major draw to the Festival? Where are they going to stay?

The only nearby hotel is The Vagabond Inn on La Cienega. I'm sure Nora Roberts is just gonna love hanging out there.

michael said...

Perhaps the LA Times should ask the NFL how the USC area works in attracting the "family friendly" customers.

Andre Alforque said...

Looks like it was all about the money. UCLA's response:

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Thanks for the link, Andre.

I'd seen something a little earlier saying much the same thing.

Considering how the Times has been hemorrhaging money for so long time now it's hardly surprising. I honestly don't see how they've ever made a profit off of it.

Douglas said...

I still vividly recall the 1960s random gang killing of a young white college student near this campus. His parents were devastated. He was killed so a gangster could get street cred. This area is a crime-land if there ever was one.