Your chance to swim in a Hearst Castle pool is now

Ever dream of taking a dip in one of those gorgeous pools at Hearst Castle? YES, ME TOO. Well, get out your credit card, because it's going to cost you.

Architectural Digest:

...it will require you to join The Foundation at Hearst Castle with a minimum donation, which helps fund the castle’s art conservation and education programs (and the minimum amount for a members-only swim event is $950). But can you really put a price on the opportunity to swim at this storied San Simeon landmark within the California State Parks system, built for newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947? Open for only five pool nights this summer and fall (July 6, August 4, August 24, September 21, and October 20), it’s a rare chance to float and frolic where famed stars like Howard Hughes, Joan Crawford, and Charlie Chaplin have. Admission is capped at 40 people, so lucky attendees aren’t elbowing one another for the privilege of swimming in one of America’s most iconic design attractions.

Reserve your spot now. Read the rest

Fur industry paid protesters to attend California and New York hearings on a fur ban

When California's legislature opened hearings on a proposed ban on fur sales, they met with stiff opposition: Andrew Aguero, who described himself as a Native American student said that it was "people from a privileged culture are telling people of my culture that our culture is inhumane" (the bill exempted traditional indigenous uses of fur from the ban); they also heard from Andrew DiGiovanna, another student who said he opposed the bill on environmental grounds; Edwin Lombard said it was “an affront to the African-American community" who used furs to "show we could overcome barriers" like redlining. Read the rest

Valedictorian ruthlessly rips apart adults who didn't help her succeed

A San Diego valedictorian took the opportunity to shred apart adults at her school in her commencement speech. San Ysidro High School's graduating senior Nataly Buhr called out her guidance counselor for leaving her to "fend for herself," the school's office staff for their "negligence," and one of her teachers for being "regularly intoxicated." Ouch. Of course, the crowd went wild.

New York Post:

Unsurprisingly, school officials were not pleased with the stunt.

“We think that the student’s speech was inappropriate and out of line,” Manuel Rubio, a spokesman for the Sweetwater Union High School District, told the San Diego Tribune on Tuesday.

He said he couldn’t comment on specific personnel issues.

The speech Buhr delivered was not the one she submitted for approval before graduation, Rubio added.

“While we definitely welcome the concerns of students and their families regarding any situation at one of our schools, doing so in such a manner without any prior knowledge of this situation by the school, is not the right way of handling this,” he said. “Ultimately this takes away from what should have been a day of celebration for the school and their community.”

Read the rest

LA's new homelessness stats reveal a crisis that is only worsening

LA has the nation's worst homelessness problem, a (literal) epidemic so terrible it distorts the national statistics. Read the rest

To chase out low-waged workers, Mountain View is banning overnight RV and van parking

Mountain View -- home to some of Silicon Valley's most profitable companies, including Google -- is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, thanks to the sky-high wages commanded by techies, who have gone on to bid up all the real-estate in the region. Read the rest

California set to legalize eating roadkill

California bans eating roadkill in part because it's viewed as a temptation for poachers to disguise their kills as road accidents; but that means a lot of game goes to waste (at least 20,000 deer alone are hit by Californians every year -- some researchers put the number at 80,000), and the animals involved are left to die slow deaths by the roadside. Read the rest

Ahead of California's criminal justice reforms to reduce mass incarceration, prosecutors are locking in plea deals forcing defendants to give up the rights they're about to get

If you enter into a plea deal in California today, your prosecutor will likely make you promise not to use any future legal reforms to get out of jail earlier than is stipulated in your plea -- that way, you won't be able to take advantage of the slate of criminal justice and sentencing reforms passed by the California legislature and voted in by Californians through ballot initiatives. Read the rest

The Family Acid: California, a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. With his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.  

My Ozma Records partner Tim Daly and I are honored to share with you this new collection of Steffens’ spectacular snapshots taken between 1968 and 2015 during the foursome’s freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home. Think of it as a family album belonging to a very unconventional family. 

This is The Family Acid: California.

Based in Los Angeles, the Steffens family traveled up and down the West Coast, from the wilds of Death Valley and reggae festivals in Humboldt to fiery protests in Berkeley and the ancient redwoods of Big Sur. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with friends like Bob Marley, Timothy Leary, and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. They’d take in the wonders of nature and, of course, the adults would occasionally lose their minds in psychoactive celebrations of creativity, freedom, and hope.   

The Family Acid: California is a 192-page, large format book manufactured with the finest materials and attention to design as you've come to expect from Ozma Records, producers of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Read the rest

California's Right to Repair Bill, killed by Big Ag and Apple, has been reintroduced

Last year, California was one of several states to introduce right to repair legislation that would force companies to end practices that discourage the independent repair sector, creating a requirement to sell replacement parts, provide documentation, and supply codes to bypass DRM systems that locked new parts out of devices until the company activated them. Read the rest

Oakland teachers' union declares total victory after seven-day strike

Well, that didn't take long: after seven days on strike, the Oakland teacher's union has received an offer that they say capitulates on every major point at issue in the strike, including the stealth privatization of Oakland schools through vouchers and charter schools. Read the rest

Owner of civil war reenactment business sues school district that canceled field trips after his far-right social media came to light

Riley's Farm is a staple of Los Angeles overnight school trips (my daughter visited last year with her elementary school); it's an apple farm with a pick-your-own apples sideline that branched out into civil war re-enactments, with some students staying overnight in tents. Read the rest

Oakland's tech startups are reportedly being gentrified out of their spaces by deep-pocketed marijuana growers

Former Wired editor-in-chief and drone entrepreneur Chris Anderson tweets: "Hearing from tech startups getting priced out of Oakland warehouse space because of soaring demand for indoor hydroponic pot farms. Yes, because it's 2019 and everything is nuts *techies are being gentrified out of neighborhoods by drug dealers.*" Read the rest

Fundraising to save Burbank's horror bookstore Dark Delicacies

Burbank's amazing quarter-century institution Dark Delicacies is a horror book-, memoribilia- and clothing-store that is a community hub for genre creators, hosting a wonderful stream of events, signings, and even an annual chance to get your photo took with Krampus at a Christmas open-house. Read the rest

Privatized energy utilities are burning down their states, but antitrust can make them stop

Pacific Gas and Electric has gone from Wall Street darling to bankruptcy, thanks to the $30 billion in liability from the fires that were started in California by its power-lines. Read the rest

In LA, the teachers of America's largest school district are on strike

LA teachers are on strike today, fighting against privatization, standardized tests, giant classes, and clawbacks of in-class teachers' aides. Read the rest

LA school district prepares for strike with army of expensive scabs

30,000 employees of the LA Unified School District are preparing to go on strike tomorrow, demanding a reversal of the trend to privatizing public education. Read the rest

Silicon Valley real estate asking prices fall 12% from peak

There are more houses for sale in San Mateo County, Santa Clara County and San Francisco County than at any time since 2013; inventory in December was up 113% year-on-year, and asking prices have fallen by 12% since their peak. Read the rest

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