Loving, Learning, Leaving LA: a chat with the LA Times

Tim McCormick
3 min readMay 9, 2021

(note: this story is mostly made of embedded Tweets, and a few YouTube videos. If you see a blank area below, it’s probably a Tweet or video still loading, or possibly failed to load. You can try refreshing to get all).

this was prompted by a story and Tweet from journo frenemy, LA Times housing & homelessness reporter Benjamin Oreskes: about San Francisco’s “tent encampments” — as he terms it, vs Safe Sleeping Villages or Sites, as they did, but heck, what do words matter? — as a new experiment LA might learn from:

Dang, but it just grates to immersively study alternative housing & shelter for so many years, visit and document sites/programs all over the West Coast, research issues and global/historical patterns, organize politically for years on these issues; but see so much the same reportage and discussion over and over. The same few sources, viewpoints quotes.

But put that aside for a minute, imma join in here with something warm and helpful, like sharing to the writers, audience, & those who retweeted or favorited this tweet, a non-paywalled version of the research article cited in article:

Who doesn’t like helpful scholarly socialbots and web librarians, I ask you? Only the wrong sort of people, I say. Let’s get the party started here, with full reading of the source literature! It’s no wonder I’m always welcome. “A mind like a steel trap,” as a family member memorably put it once. I’ll go on. Like the narrator at the end of Samuel Beckett’s The Unnameable (1954):

it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

So my point is, it’s not new, or really an experiment, or specific to San Fransciso, or really different from various programs in LA already. Great visuals though, thanks LA Times for sending a senior photographer and drone along.

that’s a brilliant scene from The Wire: in which sociopath drug kingpin Marlo issues the enigmatic maxim: “You want it to be one way. But it’s the other way.” He’s telling the good-hearted Everyman security-guy that to expect inner Baltimore to be different or people to follow normal rules is, not happening no way no how.

But I see some light in the tunnel, and generously praise The Times new podcast host Gustavo Arellano (of “Ask a Mexican” weekly paper fame), even after he’d dunk-tweeted on me gleefully the other day, to 28k followers, for daring to ask why he’d given half the first show to Oreskes to give wholly opinionated, 1-sided views, after introducing him as LA Metro housing reporter.

referring to my spoken testimony to the Multnomah County (Portland area) Board of Commissioners, 1st budget hearing (starting at 1:13:22-, in case link doesn’t go to the right point).:

Now I kindly give onlookers a tip on how to mute the conversation. Each one, teach one!

Now you can enjoy watching video of Randy Newman’s great city song & video, “I Love LA”

finally, a bit of critical appreciation on that from a just-prior thread, with country-roaming acquaintance Scott Beyer, which is why I had it in mind:

& notice, in the YouTube preview for “I Love LA” video, Randy and redhead have just turned at the sign of the ‘T’. I think it’s a sign.



Tim McCormick

editor, @HousingWiki; lead organizer, @VillageCollaborative; organizer/editor, @PDXshelterforum. Portland, OAK, LDN, nomadic. tmccormick at gmail.