Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

 This piece was written as a background for the whole season of KCET's "Artbound," but it may as well sum up my thoughts on this year in general. There is so much we still have to do as a society to make things better and one way to do that is to reach out to people and places that are beyond our comfort zones. It's documentaries like these that help us do that. 


It is no exaggeration to say that in the space of only a few months, the whole world has been upturned, re-arranged into an unrecognizable shape and form. A worldwide pandemic — the stuff of sci-fi thriller films — has kept families, friends and communities apart. But for some, that unjust exclusion and separation from a mainstream community have been happening long before this pandemic ever began. Perhaps it is only now, in the wake of protests and unrest has the nation started to see the injustice that has insidiously become integral to the bedrock of our current society.

The inequities that have only been revealed to most are not new, and it is not without victims. In fact, for many, it is a matter of life and death. As New York Times graphics editor and opinion writer Gus Wezerek so aptly illustrates in his op-ed piece last March, "If Black people were immune to the coronavirus, their mortality rate in 2020 would still probably surpass white people's." As long as the data has been available (as far back as 1900), the gap between Black deaths and white has existed, it points out.

This season, "Artbound" explores how communities have fought to survive, to stay resilient by creating the art forms, forums and spaces they need to band together as communities, combat erasure and unapologetically express themselves. In the process, they're redefining what it means to be an artist and their role in society. [read more]

One of my favorite stories of the year has been one about how our public spaces are changing, becoming more artful in response to all the museum closures. The appearance of art in strange places and new ways gives me hope and reminds me that human beings are endlessly creative. Watch me talk about Jean Trinh's great piece on "Reporter Roundup." Catch the rest of this five-minute segment as well!


 This year of quarantine has ironically placed me in a strange position of having to relay information to our community through video. "Reporter Roundup" is our 5-minute update on all things you should know about Southern California every day. I got a chance to talk about a trio of Latino comedians, activists and agitators, "Culture Clash." Watch the full five-minute segment for other relevant news of the day!



Summer is Back On in L.A.

Posted by Carren |

 In contrast to the somber news of every day, this one calls back to happier times at one of L.A.'s most iconic venues: the Hollywood Bowl. It was a pleasure to dig deep into the venue's history of performance and its role in diversifying people's view of music. 


Many have believed that there is treasure in the Cahuenga Pass, but those who live in Los Angeles, or are more than passingly-familiar with the city, know that the real treasure lies in a little valley surrounded by hills: the Hollywood Bowl, a “natural sounding board … constructed by a freak of nature,” to borrow the words Alfred Hertz, one of the Bowl’s earliest conductors and “Father of the Bowl” used to describe it during a lecture to university students in 1924.

For almost a century, the Hollywood Bowl has been the place where beautiful genre-bending music is made and shared with everyone from all walks of life, which is why it has garnered such a following from Angelenos summer after summer. Its role in the city is so ingrained that, as COVID-19 took its toll on the world and forced the cancellation of the 2020 Hollywood Bowl Season, it prompted the Los Angeles Times headline, “So long, L.A. summer.”

But, the music has persisted at the Hollywood Bowl through wars, recessions and catastrophes. (“Hollywood Bowl Night” was one of the most popular radio programs offered by the Armed Forces Radio Service during World War II and the following years.) This year would continue that tradition, albeit in a new medium. Spurred by the cancellation of the summer concert season, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which operates the Hollywood Bowl, and PBS stations KCET and PBS SoCal, partnered to offer the city a different communal experience of music through a new television series “In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl.” [read more]

This is my first co-written piece, written with Mia Nakaji Monnier. While the world was locked down, artists found a way to get their message through ... to the skies. What an amazing feat and also I hope one that has a life after the clouds have been blown away. 


Just after 2 p.m. on Friday, Beatriz Cortez, Douglas Carranza and Freya Rojo walked across MacArthur Park, seeking a patch of sky not obstructed by trees. They stopped in a shaded spot on a hillside overlooking the park’s lake with the downtown Los Angeles skyline spread out behind it. They waited, heads tilted toward up.

"NO CAGES, NO JAULAS" written in in the sky, contributed by Beatriz Cortez, over the Immigration Court on Olive Street. Photo by: Dee Gonzalez, In Plain Sight


Drone photo with the words "DEFUND ICE" written in chalk during the Immigrant Detention Day of Action (Alfombra Centroamericana) organized by the coalition of Central American organizations. Photo by: Josue Guajan, In Plain Sight

Earlier that day, Cortez, an L.A.-based artist and a professor in the Department of Central American Studies (CAS) at CSU Northridge, had led an art event on the other side of the park, between Levitt Pavilion and event venue The MacArthur. Inspired by the syncretic Catholic and indigenous Mayan tradition of the alfombra, a group of artists and a coalition of Central American community organizations had written in chalk across the ground, “DEFUND ICE.” Now, she and her colleagues waited for the next part of the event: another set of messages — this time written in the sky instead of pavement. [read more]


Lewis MacAdams Passes Away

Posted by Carren |

 For a time, I covered the people, places and issues of the Los Angeles River. There were many players on the scene, but none that perhaps had such an effect on the river on a cultural level than Lewis MacAdams. I feel as though my coverage of the Los Angeles River has somehow come full circle in this story of his passing. Read the story, but also make time to click through the timeline and the many videos in the article.


Without Lewis MacAdams, an avowed poet, Los Angeles might have completely forgotten the river that birthed the city. “There would not be a movement to save or restore the L.A. river without him,” said Joe Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. “He was able to provide some romance, some poetry, some vision that you didn’t see.”

Through his eyes and with his imagination, Angelenos re-awakened to their latent memories of the historic river Spain's Gaspar de Portola "discovered" during his explorations in 1769. Inspired, they are now creating for themselves a vision of a waterway that would carry Los Angeles into a lusher, more naturally connected 21st century. [read more]

 It was a month of goodbyes. This was yet another appreciation I wrote on someone who made such an impact in the lives of whole communities. 


Two things have shaped the life of Robert García. That he was a civil rights attorney and that he was an immigrant. The Founding Director and Counsel of The City Project, a non-profit legal and policy advocacy team in Los Angeles, García, a KCET Local Hero in 2013, has touched the lives of millions. Every step Angelenos take at the green, open spaces such as the Los Angeles State Historic Park (better known as the Cornfield), Baldwin Hills Park, Taylor Yard or the San Gabriels, America’s 110th National Monument, is partially thanks to his tireless advocacy. [read more]

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