The Emergence of Gangsta Rap — A Review of To Live and Defy in LA

Viator, Felicia Angeja. To Live and Defy in LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020. Reviewed by Katherine Rye Jewell What does it mean to sell out? A generation of scholars have addressed this idea in hip hop and popular music, connecting it to questions of authenticity, artistic representation, and […]

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Radical Movements in 1960s L.A. — A Review of Set the Night on Fire

Jon Wiener and Mike Davis. Set the Night on Fire: L. A. in the Sixties. New York: Verso Books, 2020. Reviewed by Ryan Reft Anyone who chooses to focus on Southern California history must consult the work of Mike Davis. Full stop. Keep in mind you don’t necessarily have to agree with Davis, but you […]

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“Entrepreneurial Greed” — A Review of Crack: Rock Cocaine, Street Capitalism, and the Decade of Greed

Farber, David. Crack: Rock Cocaine, Street Capitalism, and the Decade of Greed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Reviewed by Kim Hewitt In Crack: Rock Cocaine, Street Capitalism, and the Decade of Greed, David Farber does dual duty—first recapping contemporary drug policies and then tracing the US history of cocaine use and cocaine business operations. The […]

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When Conservatives Called to Freeze Police Budgets

By David Helps In 1984, Hollywood resident Jerry Martz wrote the Los Angeles Times to observe a political impasse. With the fear of crime reaching a crescendo, City Council faced calls to enlarge the Los Angeles Police Department to 8,500 officers, which Chief Daryl Gates sloganized as the “8500 Plan.” Martz’s support for police expansion ran up against his fiscal conservatism. Nevertheless, […]

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The Pandemic to End All Pandemics?: WWI, the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, and Urban America

In a recent fivethirtyeight podcast, political scientist Dan Chen noted that in China the population largely distrusts local authorities’ response to the COVID19 pandemic, while placing faith in the large central government. Host Galen Druke then noted that in the United States, at least over the past few months, the reverse is true: support for […]

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Justice in Movement 

By Genevieve Carpio When I hear the term “urban transit,” it conjures a flurry of images. My brain instantly turns to public forms of transportation. This includes your buses, metro lines, transit stops, maybe even bicycle share programs. If I sit on the term a bit longer, I start to think of abstract planners making […]

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Noiring L.A.: Double Indemnity, Black Dahlia, and the Fears of Postwar America

“Hold tight to that cheap cigar of yours Keyes. I killed Dietrichson, me, Walter Neff, insurance salesman, 35 years old, unmarried, no visible scars, until recently that is.” Fred MacMurray’s mortally wounded protagonist of Double Indemnity confesses to his supervisor Barton Keyes’ (Edward G. Robinson) dictaphone. A suburban insurance salesman seduced by a married seductress, […]

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The Visual City: Photography, Film, and Postcards

“If the city is the raw material for production, for economic development, and for academic research, it has also been available to artists,” writes Helen Liggett in her 2003 work, Urban Encounters. “Photographs can function as sites of participatory reading that provoke urban encounters, first, in the relationship between the photographer and the city, and, […]

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Member of the Week: Vayne Ong

Vayne Ong Senior, History and Urban Studies Princeton University @vaynewyong Describe your current research. What about it drew your interest?  For my senior thesis, I’m researching the myths that emerged around which places were destroyed or preserved in the 1992 Rodney King urban rebellion. For example, why did a McDonald’s at the heart of the […]

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Member of the Week: Stephanie Frank

Stephanie Frank Assistant Professor of Urban Planning + Design University of Missouri-Kansas City @FranklyUrban Describe your current research. What about it drew your interest?  I am currently finishing up revisions to an article titled “Industrial Networks and Urban Development: Kansas City’s Film Row District and National Film Distribution” that will be published in the Spring […]

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