Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Fine Cut

Fine Cut

Start watching
SoCal Wanderer

SoCal Wanderer

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
Tending Nature
New Special Airing Nov. 14

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Discover all the ways you can make a difference.
Support Icon
The Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams are here to help.

Rebranded! Mayor Garcetti Wants a New Image for the City

Support Provided By

Eric Garcetti has been a modest mayor these past 100 or so days, focusing more attention on the prosaic than on the poetic when telling Angeleños who they are and what their city should be. He's resisted weighing down his mayoralty with the slogans -- Education Mayor! Green Mayor! Technology Mayor! -- that only highlighted Tony Villaraigosa's inability to deliver on them.

But Mayor Garcetti can't resist the fundamental temptation that comes with power in Los Angeles (even if the mayor's powers are pretty meager). Garcetti wants to re-imagine Los Angeles ... again.

According to the reliable (and cheeky) Curbed LA, the mayor met briefly with representatives of Creative Artists Agency in August to begin a discussion about giving the city a newer image. Garcetti's ten-second pitch to CAA's image-makers -- according to an anonymous source -- was all about rebranding L.A. "in a similar way that (Mike) Bloomberg had rebranded New York."

Peter Kiefer, writing about the meeting in LA Currents, sees plenty of daylight between Garcetti and Bloomberg in style and capacity to create change. Kiefer noted that Bloomberg's success is shadowed by so many concerns about the kind of city New York has become that the leading candidate to replace Bloomberg -- Bill de Blasio -- won the Democratic primary by running an aggressively anti-Bloomberg campaign.

Garcetti isn't going to become the "Stop and Frisk Mayor" or the "Just Taking Care of the 1% Mayor" in emulation of Bloomberg. At least, I hope not. But he may think that Los Angeles can still be entertainingly summed up, as if the city were the trailer to a summer blockbuster. It can't

(A fascinating answer to part of the branding problem -- in the form of a city flag designed by Roma Lubimov -- can be found at Los Angeles, I'm Yours, described by Editor-in-Chief Kyle Fitzpatrick as an "LA focused art, design, and culture website that seeks to showcase passions of the city and its inhabitants." The flag designs show how hard imagining Los Angeles can be.)

The moral failures of the city -- often failures of the imagination -- are grounded on the limitations of the many "brands" Los Angeles acquired in the 100 years after 1880. All these metaphors, from the most innocuous ("Land of Sunshine") to the most sinister ("The Triumph of Anglo-Saxon Values") are terribly incomplete, easily falsified, and encrusted with irony.

Los Angeles has enough sales pitches, layered over and bleeding into each other. Instead of going to Hollywood image-makers, the mayor would do better to go the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum in Exposition Park to spend some time with Becoming Los Angeles. The museum exhibit is a short course -- still evolving, I'm told -- on the meanings that Angeleños have given to the elemental substance of Los Angeles.

Some of those meanings have been come-ons. Some have demanded willful amnesia from their consumers. Some have left the city addicted to treacherous myths of what Los Angeles is and could be. A very few illuminate the things we care about and what we find consolingly familiar.

We don't really need more marketing advice. We need more reasons to be loyal to one another.

Support Provided By
Read More
a fire truck with smoke in the background

California Tribes Support Each Other and Seek Inclusion in State Wildfire Response

State agencies' lack of familiarity with Native lands has often led to interference with tribal evacuation efforts and unnecessary destruction of culturally sensitive habitat. To address the significant gaps between tribal needs and available assistance, even the smallest tribes do whatever it takes to care for their members and support other tribes.
a man rides his bike across an intersection and the air in hazy

The Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke Hit Vulnerable People Harder

Wildfire smoke can travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles downwind, exacerbating health conditions and impacting marginalized communities most.
 Sign reading "Imperial Beach" with sunset in the background.

A Small-Town Mayor Sued the Oil Industry. Then Exxon Went After Him.

The mayor of Imperial Beach, California, says big oil wants him to drop the lawsuit demanding the industry pay for the climate crisis.