Nancy Released From Hospital As Doctors In Copenhagen Discover An Unlikely Cure For Wrinkles

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE - Reuters News Agency is reporting Nancy Silverton was released from a hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark late Saturday afternoon following a serious fall on Friday  In a kind gesture, renowned chef Rene Redzepi offered her a table tonight at Noma 2,0 to make up for the reservation she missed due to the fall. Silverton initially gleefully accepted the offer, but just minutes ago both her and Michael Krikorian decided it was prudent to cancel and recover in their room at the Strand Hotel. That decision was described by Reuters as "the only known time these to have been prudent.". 

Doctors at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen made a shocking discover Friday when an American woman was rushed into the Emergency Room after suffering a concussion and brain hemorrhaging following a brutal fall on a cobblestone street of this capital city.  Her wrinkles had almost all vanished. (She photo below)

When Silverton, 63, saw a photograph of herself she was perplexed. "Where did my wrinkles go?"

Dr. Skit Naetraoonegaard, head of emergency services at Rigs said the zultra-violent shaking of miss Silverton's head during the impact was the chief factor in the unexpected, though welcome result.

"Her head shook so violently, think a mini atomic bomb, that the wrinkles literally ran for their lives and vanished," said Naetraoonegaard. "Is it worth the risk to the brain? No. Certainly not, However, some vain Danes will probably disagree."

Apparently many have already decided the "Silverton Spill", as it has quickly become to be known, is worth it.. . 

Saturday morning, after local television first reported this story,  a rash of trip and falls were reported throughout Copenhagen. The Emergency room at Rigshospitalet was overflowing with patients, mostly female and mostly wrinkle-free.

"It hurts to do a Silverton Spill," said one patient who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "But, damn, I sure look good." 

Plastic surgeons all over the world - from Beverly Hills to St. Tropez  - are concerned this new discovery may negatively impact their lucrative business.  

Nancy suffered a hea injury Friday after she tripped on a cobblestone street in Copenhagen.   This is that story

(Editor's note - Both this and yesterday's articles and photograph were assigned and edited and approved by Nancy Silverton)


Nancy And The Frightening Fall Of Copenhagen

What a difference an “I” makes.   

Tonight, right now, Nancy and I should be at "Noma", the revered, nearly-mythical restaurant of Rene Redzepi in Copenhagen that reopened last week after being closed for a year to "reinvent" itself as Noma 2.0.

Instead, we are at "Nima", a ward in the RigsHospitalet, Denmark’s premiere trauma center where Nancy is under “observation” after a brutal fall on a main street of this capital city.

To ease the concerns of the multitudes who love her, Nancy is fine and resting comfortably, and will be out of the hospital tomorrow. And if anyone has a problem with me writing about our tumultuous day, well, I applaud you. I do, because I didn't want to,  but Nancy Silverton told me to write the story. And she even approved the photo. 

Nancy and I had finished lunch at a place called Relae, had strolled through a cemetery whose rooster includes Hans Christian Andersen, writer of fairy tales including "The Little Mermaid" and "The Ugly Duckling", ( Not that either of us knew this) and someone named Kierkegaard, apparently an "existentialists", something I have no idea , none, what that entails. Nancy - just now - described it as "a movement" revolving around 'What's the point?" thinking.  She asked me why I am asking about existentialist and I said because that Kierkegaard guy in the cemetery was one. She replied "Oh, he was?"

I read that above graph back to her just now and she laughed. How sweet that laughter.. 

Seven hours ago there was no laughter. As her and I walked along a boulevard, she tripped on a cobblestone and fell. Fell hard .

In a life overrun with frightening sights, seeing Nancy fall so shockingly fast and not being able to stop it, hearing her head “thud” onto the concrete, not hearing any response to my voice as I held her head, well, that was probably the single most terrifying moment of my life. Take out the "probably".

Three kind bystanders knelt with me, One at my urging called the paramedics Moments later, in the distance, I hear the wail of an emergency siren, among the most comforting of all sounds.

As paramedics rushed her to this hospital there was just "Yes worries.". The look of concern on the paramedic's face riding in the back with us as he read her high blood pressure in the back sends my Worry to Worry 2.0   After initially being comforted at the arrival of the ambulance, I return to scared, .closing-in-on-petrified,  as Nancy keeps asking me over and over and over again "Where are we?" and then - after I say "Copenhagen" - she asks over and over and over again "Why are we here?" She doesn't understand what "Noma" means.

At this hospital's Emergency Room, blessedly nothing like the frenetic scene at County USC where I was recently to see a wounded female LAPD officer, a team of doctors and nurses ready her for a CT (Cat) scan to determine their biggest concern; is her brain bleeding?.  A Dr. Matilda, with the bluest eyes, explains to me if her brain is bleeding badly, extreme measures might be required. Then she comfortingly says based on everything she observes, she doesn't think that is the case. 

Still.   Being from a nationality of underrated worriers. it is hard to hear that . I strain to stay positive. I think of my go-to quote during times of stress, a bastardized line I use from Mark Twain, "Some of my biggest worries never happened."  This day in Denmark, Mark doesn't soothe me. 

Twenty minutes later, Dr. Matilda tells me "There is some hemorrhaging ( one of the planet's worst words). She is bleeding from the brain, but, it is very minor. Very slight.  She senses my emotions and Dr. Matilda holds my shoulder and says "The best place for her is right here. Your wife is going to be just fine."   That's music   

The doc says they will keep her overnight - maybe two nights -for observation.

Nancy gets pushed on a gurney up to the 9th floor. Already her memory is getting better. She recalls the cemetery and lunch.  As we enter an area for observation a sign on the wall proclaims it "Nima".  She points to it and says - now fully aware of Noma - and says "Nima , not Noma."

She settles in the room. Both of our cell phones are nearly powerless, but we try to get a hold of Jonathan Gold and Laurie Ochoa, our dining companions tonight at Noma.  I can't get through. Fortunately, Ruth has called on another matter and I tell her the situation and she gets to them. 

Two hours later, some food arrives from Noma with this note. "So sorry to hear about your fall, and to miss you tonight. Come back ANYTIME. Rene."

Breaking news  As I type that above quote Nancy , laying in the bed, wires stemming from her body. just said "Michael, when you get a chance, I need my lipstick" 

That's the point.




Estanislao "Tano" Soto Named Mozza Employee of the Month

In the seven years that Mozza has been giving out the coveted Employee of the Month Award there has never been a unanimous selection. Usually a manager of one of the Corner’s restaurants will nominate a worker and another manager will say something like “You have got to be kidding?”

But, this month’s selection, the first of 2018, was, believe it or not, the first unanimous choice.  And that worker who no one could complain about??  Let’s hear it for Estanislao Soto. Who?  Oh, yeah. He’s much better known as Tano.

The reason for the long delay since the last Employee of the Month – Eva won  way back in June, 2017 - was that a team of investigative reporters from the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times had been busy for the last seven months trying to dig up something negative to say about Tano. The worst they could come up with was that two weeks ago Tano threw a paper towel in the wrong trash can.

Born and raised in Puebla City, Puebla, Tano began his career at Mozza on June 25, 2007. He left briefly to work at a downtown restaurant before realizing that no restaurant compares to Mozza and he returned,  with Nancy’s full blessings.

When chef Liz heard that Tano had been named Employee of the Month she said “I don’t have anything bad to say about Tano.” Now, that may not seem like a rave review, but since Liz has bad things to say about just about everyone, well ,it’s quite the endorsement.

Working for years side by side. A.D said “Tano has a good rapport with everybody. From the dishwashing team to the front of the house. He is a good team player.”

But, the highest praise for Tano came from a past Employee of the Month winner. Jason Emmanuel who compared Tano to one of the 20th Century’s most revered figures.

“Tano has this serene quality about him. He is never angry. He gets along with everyone.  He wants everyone to get along   Ya know, he kinda reminds me of Gandhi,” said Jason, referring to the peace activist who led India to independence over Great Britain. “Yes, Tano is the Gandhi of Mozza.”  




"Nick Wilson" Comic Book May Have Saved Woman's Life, Hospital Officials Say

Ninety minutes before a fallen super hero arrived to save the night, Dr. Saji Mathai looked at the monitor above the head of emergency room patient Kate Elizabeth Green. He was stunned.

"The numbers were so astronomical I thought I was looking at the dashboard of a McLaren P1," said Mathai, head of the ER at Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles. "At first, the blood pressure, the pulse, the vitals, they reminded me of the P!'s tachometer and speedometer."

Green, 32, had been exposed to the rare and deadly syndrome known as "Proxsimus Crimsoni Scampi Gigantus",  a vicious, unforgiving parasite of an unusually  large red shrimp that, like a thief in the afternoon, sneaks into the air passages of humans who would never order skrimps of any kind.

Green, the storied assistant to Nancy Silverton, was at a party in Brentwood and shortly after a waiter sauntered by carrying a tray of Red Scampi Gigantic from Madagascar. her long, slender throat began to quiver, but not in a good way. Mere seconds later, Chad Colby, former chef of Chi Spacca and long time dear friend of Green's, came up to her and said "You don't look so good."   Colby did nothing to help, but did launch into a lengthy spiel about the joys of making pasta without a machine. 

Meanwhile, unable to speak, Green stumbled out of the house and toward her McLaren, (a 720).  Her stumbling caused no alarm as most of the Brentwood party-goers were also stumbling.  She managed to drive home in Miracle Mile South, then decided she need to go to the hospital. Fortunately, Olympia Medical Center was less than a mile away.. 

Although, up to a dozen people were waiting to be seen, nurses rushed the trembling former Miss Modesto past them and began trying to lower and/or raise her vitals.  Enough steroids were pumped into her to make Barry Bonds drool.

Still, nothing seemed to help. By the time an uncle arrived, Kate Green was - in the words of Neil Young - "shaking like the leaves of an old maple."

Knowing medicines were not doing the trick the uncle resorted to the ancient practice of comfort. He pulled out a comic book he just happened to have in his coat. It was "The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson" by Eddie Gorodetsky, Marc Andreyko and Stephen Sadowski.  The book tells the story of Nick Wilson, a once-mighty super hero who has lost his powers and takes refuge behind a Kona Gold-filled bong. 

The comic book begins with Nick reduced to taking a gig at a boy's birthday party where he pretends to be himself in his glory days.  As the uncle read the story to Kate Green, she slowly began to shake less, her forehead leaked less and her mind drifted from panic to interest in the fate, not of her, but of Nick Wilson.  

The uncle would read, then show her the illustrations. Green's interest was piqued when the birthday boy's mother  - an attractive light-skinned black woman - put her hand seductively on Nick Wilson's upper thigh.  Within, 20 minutes of that reading, Dr. Mathai released Green from the hospital.  Seven minutes later, she was comfortably in her own bed.

Four days later, Green said she remembered being read "The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson", but, in her haze at the time, couldn't remember what the story was about.   When shown the panel of the lady's hand on Nick's thigh, Kate Green smiled and said "Well, I do remember that."


The Band's Robbie Robertson Rewrites Lyrics To "The Weight" For Triple Beam Pizza In Highand Park

Robbie Robertson, the legendary guitarist and songwriter for "The Band" was so taken with his recent meal at the new Highland Park pizzeria Triple Beam Pizza that he rewrote the lyrics to one of their classic songs, "The Weight",.

I pulled into Highland Park, was feeling 'bout half past starved
I just needed some place, where I can get some pizza carved
Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a slice?
He just grinned and pointed and said “Triple Beam is where to throw your dice”.

Take a load off Matty, take a load for free
Take a load off David, and you put the load right on me

I walked the place, expecting a triple shot of bourbon   Instead I saw a joint, that was just about hipster urban

Hey mister can you tell me, how the hell do I order?  He smiled and looked at me and asked 'center cut or border'?

Get to cooking ‘ol Matty, weigh some pizza for me
Don’t forget to tell DR, my pizza is always free

Hey mister can you tell me, is the Beam a real scene?  He just smiled and looked at me and said "Look over there, that's Kate Green" 

Darn that slice was good, and I'll be back on Figueroa  I pretty sure Nancy Silverton, had her hands in the making of that dougha

Take a load off Randy, take a load for free
Take a load off April, and you put the load right on me

The original

IMG_4009 (1).jpg

Michelin Guide Awards Stars To Six Restaurants In Shithole Countries

Following up on their promise to be "the entire world's favorite travel book", the Michelin Guide announced Friday morning that six restaurants located in various shithole countries have been awarded at least one of their fabled stars.

"We at Michelin hope our newest guide book will encourage travel to shithole countries," said Pierre Romaine, director of the Michelin Guide for Shithole Countries. "If you go to a normal country, with actual working toilets, you will, hopefully, have a nice trip. But, if you go to a shithole country, the chances of coming back with a colorful story are greatly increased.  Our new guidebook will help you eat well while experiencing some of the best shithole countries in the world."

Topping the list, the only restaurant in a shithole country to be award two Michelin stars was The Hippo Laundry in Bangui, capital city of the Central African Republic. The guide said this about THL; "Even if The Hippo Laundry was not located in a shithole country, we would praise it or its extremely slowly cooked large-format meats.  Although named after the Hippopotamus, the restaurant's signature dish is 61-day braised cape buffalo shoulder with Yukon Gold potatoes."

The following restaurants in shithole countries were awarded one Michelin star.

"Re Re Re Re Refriend Bean Palace", San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  "Said to be the only restaurant in any shithole country in the western hemisphere that fries their beans five times, "Re Cinco" , as it is known locally, offers an almost porous bean that has played a significant role in uncleanliness of this exciting and rapidly declining central American country."

"Kushner's Kafe at the Martha's Heights Winery",  Katzrin, Golan Heights, Isryia. "Although the winery has produced several bottles of white and red wines that have been awarded over 70 points by Robert Parker (Their '61 Cabernet Blanc scored an impressive 74),  the Kafe is widely praised for its creative use of extinct vegetables. It's souffle of sorghumbaga, a favorite of stegosaurus, is a paragon of historical flavors.".

"Used Fish Grill", Tirana, Albania - "While fresh fish has its charms the less popular used fish have a more pronounced, denser flavor.  No restaurant in any country in Europe - not working toilet or shithole - has pounced on this controversial fad as thoughtfully asUsed Fish in the Albania capital Tirana, a city known primarily for its drabness.  The 13-day-old Adriactic wilted seabass is a highlight."

"Colonel Myanmar's Fried Bruised Chicken", Maungdaw city, Rakhine state, Myanmar.. "While tenderizing meats has been a technique practiced for thousands of years, the practice of punching a live animal then trying to make up for it by frying in lukewarm oil is gaining popularity in Southeast Asia. The Colonel is the best of this lot."

"Paul Bocuse, Port Au Prince", Port au Prince Haiti. "Though the master Bocuse rarely shows up here, his namesake restaurant in Haiti offers many of the classic dishes he made famous, including a modified version of la soupe aux truffes he created for a Feb. 25, 1975 dinner for French president Valéry Giscard D’Estaing. The version at Bocuse's Haiti outpost substitutes truffles with beef jerky."

Yes, one can vacation in New York City and stroll Fifth Avenue or go to Paris and walk down the Champs-Elysees.   You can go snorkeling in Cayman Islands or ski down the Swiss Alps. Have a nice trip.

You might, however,  come back a little envious, even jealous.  But, if you go to one of the great shithole countries, I'm betting you'll have a far more interesting time. Way more stories And when you come back, you'll come back grateful and you might even feel better about your own life.    

My own ancestors came from Armenia, a land that, during World War I, was one of the great shithole countries of modern times. I'm proud of that. And Haiti and all the other shithole countries should be proud, too. 

Truffle Soup.jpg

Limited "Nancy Dog" At Sumo Rated #1 Hot Dog In America, Proceeds Go To Midnight Basketball League In Watts

For the first time since 1947 when hot dogs were first rated nationally, a version available in Los Angeles has awarded the prestigious "Top Dog"  honors by the Restaurant Critics Association of America, it was announced Wednesday.

The winner, the "Nancy Dog", the creation of Nancy Silverton for Sumo Dog on Western Avenue in Koreatown, will only be available until January 22  and cost $9  with 20% ($1,80) of each sale going to help fund the Nickerson Gardens Recreation Center participation in the Midnight Basketball League in Watts.   

The Silverton creation - with contributions from Osteria Mozza chef Elizabeth "Go Go" Hong and chi Spacca chef Ryan DeNicola -  consists of a beef hot dog from the renowned Snake River Farms, provolone cheese, Calabrese aioli, pickles, onions, pepperoncini and wild oregano on a Martin's potato roll. One good bite and you'll know why the RCAA voted it best hot dog in the country. The worrisome news is the Nancy Dog will only be available until January 22.

The Midnight Basketball league is a nationwide non-profit founded in 1986 by G Van Standifer, a Army veteran and government worker who died in 1992. Here is a quote from him on the website   "The Midnight Basketball League is is not just about playing basketball. It’s about providing a vehicle upon which citizens, businesses, and institutions can get involved in the war against crime, violence, and drug abuse”,

In Watts, the league plays not only in Nickerson Gardens, but at the nearby Jordan Downs and Imperial Courts projects as well.  The gym at Nickerson Gardens features a mural created by Brian "Loaf" McLucas - an old friend - which reads "Nobody Can Stop This War But Us"  That is a purpose of the basketball games.

(To read about the Wall  check  this

Back to the Nancy Dog. Wednesday was the first day the special treat was made available to the pubic, but several restaurant professionals were given an advance taste over the previous weekend. They were stunned by the depth of flavor. 

"When I first bite into it, I thought I should get out of the haute cuisine life  and try the top the Nancy Dog," said Joel Robuchon.  the world's most honored chef. "But, then I thought there was no way I could top a hot dog made by Nancy Silverton."

Sumo Dog is at 516 S. Western Avenue. The website is  Sumo Dog opens everyday at 11:30 a.m. and closes at midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. other days. 




How To React When Your Partner Gets Shot; The Story Of Two LAPD Officers From Rampart

"Well now I'm no hero, that's understood. All the redemption I can offer girl is beneath this dirty hood."  - from Bruce Springsteen's greatest song, "Thunder Road"

LAPD field training officer Antonio Hernandez, 38,  and his trainee, officer Joy Park, 35, were cruising along Hartford Avenue near 7th Street just west of downtown on the night of Dec. 29 when they saw a man with an open container. They stopped and confronted the man who was standing near the hood of a parked car.

As they were conducting an interview, gun shots rang out. By the third shot, Park was in agony.  


When Joy Yoosun Park was a little girl growing up in Korea her father, a policeman in Seoul, regaled her with stories of his daily adventures. Joy was enthralled and dreamed one day she, too, would be a police officer.

During that time, across the Pacific, 5,960 miles away in El Monte, Antonio Hernandez was growing up and – after moving to Pomona where he attended high school – considering a career with the LAPD. In, 2002, he joined up and,  after a 1-year probationary period in the 77th, was sent to Rampart Division in July 2003. Hernandez worked the gang unit there for nine years before becoming a F.T.O. a Field Training Officer.

Park was 17 when she migrated to America. After graduating from Los Angeles Lutheran High School in Sylmar she continued her education at Cal State L.A. where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, whatever that is.

Still, her dream of being a cop never blurred. The problem was she needed to be a naturalized citizen. From when she applied to when she finally became a citizen took over a decade. But, as soon as she got that treasured certificate, she set her sights on the police academy. She graduated last April. It was a glorious achievement for her and for her parents.

“Mom and Dad couldn’t be more proud,” Park said. “It’s an honor to our family to have two generations in law enforcement."

Park, assigned to Rampart,  had already passed the first two phases of her probationary period when she teamed up with Hernandez

“Sir, I wouldn’t even consider Park a trainee because she knew her stuff and had already passed Phase Two” of the probationary period,” said Hernandez. “She was compassionate and caring. She knew how to talk to people. She asked me the right questions.”


It was about 9:50 when they turned onto Hartford Avenue, a street in the turf of some gang called Witmer Street 13.

Back to the man with the open container. You might say “Why bother? It’s just an open can of beer.” And I get that. But, this wasn’t your normal open container. It was a 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko, an alcoholic caffeinated beverage so notorious even the Washington Post referred to it as “a blackout in a can”.

So, this Four Loko guy is going along with the program, cooperating and about to get a citation, when the gun fire erupts on Hartford. 

Hernandez intuitively ducked for cover behind the parked car, then saw that Parks had been shot in the leg. Park was in tremendous pain and couldn't speak.  Immediately, Hernandez pulled her to cover behind the parked car as he scanned for the source of the gunfire. 

"I didn't see any blood, but I saw the hole in her pants," said Hernandez, adding that in those first frenzied seconds he pulled drinker man to safety, too. "I was trying to figure out where the shots were coming from .It seemed like they were coming from 8th Street."

As soon as they were all semi- shielded, Hernandez got on his radio. “We need help! Officer down!”, Hernandez yelled into his radio, his adrenaline up, his awareness sky high. Time seemed to slow down.

As he waited for back-up and the first volley of shot stopped, Hernandez had a dreaded thought. “The guy could be reloading and getting closer. I was very concerned for my partner.”

But, within seconds, Hernandez could hear reinforcements coming to the rescue. "In less than a minute there were 50 officers there."

Soon Park was loaded into an ambulance on on her way to County USC. .

Not long after that, a suspect was arrested.  Wednesday, Ivan Castillo, 27, was charged with two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer and two counts of assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm. Castillo was also charged with attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic firearm on the Four Loko guy who was near the officers at the time of the shooting.  Castillo is being held on $4 million bail at Wayside. If convicted of the charges, he faces up to life in prison.

Last Thursday, nearly a week after the shooting. Park gave three interviews from her hospital room where she is starting rehabilitation. Two interviews were to local television stations. Soft spoken Park was quick to praise Hernandez.

“He was just like you are supposed to be, He was cool and calm.  When I got shot, he was my first thought.”

One of her other thoughts that night was her mother.“I was so worried about how my mother would take the news and if she would get sick," said Park, her elegant mother sitting a few feet away, saying nothing, but looking proud.. 

Park faces several months of rehab.  Dr. Steven J. Hsu, the associate medical director of the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Keck Medical Center of USC, said Park suffered "a significant, high impact injury that fractured her femur" and she will need four to six months of treatment but a full recovery is expected.    Hsu said by about one inch, the bullet missed Park's femoral artery,  a wound that often results in death.

The day after the shooting, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said this of Park and Hernandez; “They were doing their job and were targeted for it by a coward.”

Sunday, yesterday, during a visit at Men’s Central Jail, Cleamon Big Evil” Johnson, a well-known gang member from 89 Family Swans, said this of the shooter after hearing he had “ambushed” them from up to 500 feet away. “That’s not an ambusher, that’s a coward.”

It was the first known time that Big Evil and Chief Beck agreed on something.

Nobody in the LAPD wants their partner to get shot.  They might have disputes, and the guy or gal riding shotgun might annoy the shit outta them at times, but no one really wants their partner shot.

But, somewhere in the recesses of their brain, I’m betting most of the men and woman in the LAPD, or any police force, for that matter, have wondered how they would react if their partner was, indeed, shot and wounded.

The officer down, well, she or he doesn’t have a whole lotta wondering to do on how they would react. They’ve been shot and not a lot is expected of them other than to go horizontal and writhe in pain. The partner, though, all eyes turn to him or her. Just the way Park’s frantic eyes turned to Hernandez’ “I got you” eyes .

Hernandez fends off the praises that he was a hero, prompting me to think of that line up top from “Thunder Road”.

‘I’m not a hero,” he said. “I don’t consider myself a hero. I just did what I was trained to do.   And I was there for my partner when she needed me the most.”

When I asked Antonio Hernandez to send me a photo of himself, he replied "I'd rather not sir."  

park officer

(Editor's Note- Saji Mathai, the copy editor for Krikorian Writes is on strike, hence....)











For The Entire Year of 2017 There Were 2 Homicides In LAPD's Hollywood Division

I look at crime stats the way I used to look at baseball statistics when I was a kid. Now, instead of checking on Sandy Koufax’s strikeouts, I check the homicides in each Los Angeles police division.

The other day, on the LAPD website, I came across one stat that struck me as stunning, though in a good way. As of then — and as of midnight, New Year’s Eve — LAPD’s Hollywood Division recorded two homicides in 2017: Jimmy Bradford, 47, and Bryan De La Torre, 21.

Hollywood Division has never ranked in the stratosphere of homicides. It’s not like the 77th or Southeast, where in violent years past more than 100 killings were not unusual. (In 1993, there were nearly 300 killings in those two divisions) But two? The last few years, the Hollywood total has been seven or eight, and the peak was 35, back in 1995.

Then, as I took a closer look, I noticed that while homicides were down 71% compared to 2016, and robberies down 5%, aggravated assaults were up 21% — 680 compared to 581. That seemed odd. 

I had lunch with the commander of Hollywood Division, Capt. Cory Palka, and he gave me his explanation. Not particularly politically correct, he came out fast with a reasonable rationale.

“The decline of what I call neon club culture,” he said. “We closed three clubs in Hollywood that were a magnet for the urban crowd of South L.A.”

Hollywood’s story is to some extent the city’s story: Killings are down. Assaults are up.

It doesn’t take a sociologist to figure out “urban” means black.

“Of course, the vast majority are good people. But with an urban crowd from South L.A., you are going to have some gang members. That’s just the facts. And you have club owners with an encouraging attitude — over-serving alcohol, not having proper security — that fuels the situation. Throw in gang members from different neighborhoods, and you get killings.”

Palka said that in each of last few years there were always two or three club-related killings in Hollywood. Because of strict enforcement of various codes, the Cashmere, Cosmos and Supper Club were closed. Last year, no club-related killings. And just one related to gangs, that of De La Torre.

There is still a vibrant clubbing scene in Hollywood, but according to Palka, it caters to a different, often gay, clientele. “That’s fine with us. You don’t have Rollin 60s going there because of the gay element.”

He also cited a crackdown on the so-called Yucca Corridor open-air drug market, as well as local gang prevention and gentrification as keys to making most of Hollywood safer.

The gangs in question — the 18th Street Hollywood Gangsters clique, Mara Salvatrucha 13, White Fence — have had their presence diminished by years of pressure and a new tactic Palka and the division’s gang unit endorse: respect.

“We build relationships,” said gang unit Lt. Jeff Perkins. “It goes both ways. But they know, if [you] commit a crime in Hollywood, we are gonna come after you and you will go to jail.”

Gentrification has meant an increase in the division’s Hollywood Entertainment District force, which now has a lieutenant, five sergeants and about 80 officers. They patrol the area bounded by La Brea, Argyle, Sunset and Franklin, prime tourist territory.

“There are billions of dollars invested in Hollywood and there is a concentrated effort by the police to keep that area safer,” Palka admitted. “I’m all for more expensive restaurants coming to Hollywood. I’d rather have the customer willing to pay $10 for a beer over the customer who pays two bucks for a beer.”

He gave an example of what “safer” means.

“Around the corner from the Pantages, there were a couple vendors selling illegal ‘Hamilton’ T-shirts. Husbands would go on this darkened street and pull out cash because the bastards were too cheap to pay 50 bucks for their wives for a real shirt. And they were getting robbed left and right. We put a stop to that.”

As for the aggravated assaults: “My commanding officer, Mike Moore, says, ‘Your numbers are up, your numbers are up.’ But we have traded major assaults with gang members that can lead to homicides for a homeless man hitting another homeless man with a wrench. Do I want that? Of course not…. Would I rather have that? Yes.”

He also said he knows that sounds wrong, but the truth is the truth.

So Hollywood’s story is to some extent the city’s story: Killings are down (not in every division, but most: the 77th recorded a city-high 49 homicides, sadly about par for the course the last few years; but the once-deadly Rampart Division had 12 killings in 2017, compared to 22 in 2016). Assaults are up. Tamping down gang activity helps the homicide count but the assault problem is bad, and about as intractable.

In a utopia, there wouldn’t be any homeless people attacking each other. And in even a junior utopia, the homeless encampments along the freeways and underpasses would be as safe as Hollywood Boulevard.

I got word about two months ago that an old friend was homeless and living along the Hollywood Freeway near Western Avenue. I checked it out. I didn’t find my friend, but I discovered a sad, eerie tent village, with a foot-wide path separating the shelters from a rocky, 45-degree dropoff to the 101.

The LAPD can’t make that dangerous encampment disappear, and officers might not work a homeless-on-homeless assault like they would a lady from Kansas getting attacked in front of the Chinese theater, but a homicide is still a homicide.  As Michael Connelly’s fictional detective Harry Bosch says. “Everybody counts or nobody counts.”

Jimmy Bradford, one of the Hollywood’s two 2017 homicides, homeless - and black -  was stabbed to death near an on-ramp to the 101 on June 12. On the board at West Bureau Homicide next to Bradford’s name it reads “cleared by arrest.”

As for the other homicide victim, Bryan De La Torre, his case hasn’t been cleared. “But homicide is still working it,” said Palka. “Working it hard.

Reprinted from L.A. TIMES Op-Ed January 4, 2018  Here's the link to the Times' op-ed


LAPD Capt. Cory PaLka , commander of the hollywood division 

LAPD Capt. Cory PaLka , commander of the hollywood division