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5 New Standout Hotels in Los Angeles


Once upon a time, Hollywood was a company town. Now, Los Angeles has so much more to offer than box office smashes and boulevards of broken dreams. The Staples Center alone gets 20 million visitors a year, and international travelers alight to eat, shop, gallery-hop and explore overlooked neighborhoods that are buzzing with enterprise.

Take downtown (or DTLA, as the modern hieroglyphs go), which is several districts in one — and is brimming with hotels. Fourteen have opened or broken ground in the last six years. See, for instance, the 10-story Beaux Arts building on Broadway that’s now The Hoxton, Downtown LA, or Soho Warehouse, a membership club with 48 hotel rooms.

Likewise, West Hollywood is increasingly heavy with keys, from 1 Hotel West Hollywood — the brand’s first West Coast address — to the 149-room Pendry Hotel, coming soon. And this summer, a midcentury-modern hotel designed by Minoru Yamasaki will reopen as the Fairmont Century Plaza, part of a $2.5 billion mixed-use development in Century City.

In a city of stars, here are five bright spots in the constellation.


After reinventing the Sunset Tower, a 1929 grande dame on Sunset Boulevard, the hotelier Jeff Klein was mulling what to do next. Bored by industry trends — “if I see another hotel with all white furniture and reclaimed wood, I’m going to die,” he said — he realized that Los Angeles had no such thing as a chic bed-and-breakfast, a non-Airbnb hybrid of home and hotel where guests without expense accounts could afford to stay. Behold Hotel 850 SVB.

From the residential street at the intersection of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the hotel looks like a 1930s private bungalow. Inside, it’s the English interior designer Rita Konig’s Hollywood fantasy: grass cloth on the walls; a Prada-green living room with a fireplace, honor bar and bold upholstery; a secluded little roof bar (open only to guests and their guests) with rattan chairs and cactus in pots; a reception desk that doubles as a wine bar (the clerk pours a complimentary glass during check-in); a bright yellow kitchen; and 23 uniquely designed guest rooms that have the air of an impossibly tasteful best friend’s pied-à-terre.

Hotel 850 SVB; from $275 (including breakfast); 850 North San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, Calif., 90069.


A 10-minute walk from Hotel 850, this EDITION — opened last November and the 10th in Ian Schrager’s Marriott International brand — is a world away in style. Befitting the impresario, the property is a big, modern show-stopper, from its lush green driveway off Sunset Boulevard to its 6,500 square feet of meeting and event space.

Built by the British architect John Pawson, it has a soaring Italian travertine lobby (where guests get their first waft of the house Le Labo fragrance), 140 rooms and 50 suites designed in a neutral palette with whitewashed larch wood, faux-fur throws and free-standing bathtubs. The chef John Fraser oversees all the food and beverage, from the rooftop bar and pool atop a terraced wood deck to the Sunset Club, a lower level bôite meant to evoke the district’s 1970s California Dreamin’ vibe. The spa is enormous, and the gym — complete with Peloton bikes — is open 24 hours a day.

West Hollywood EDITION; from $395; 9040 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, Calif., 90069.


Originally a 1980s motel, this eclectic new 54-room hotel was reimagined by Avi Brosh, the owner of the hotel brand Palisociety, and Timberlane Partners. They enlisted the Venice-based design and architecture company Electric Bowery to create a groovy hide-out nestled behind a cactus and palm garden out front.

Aperol spritzes are served at the custom marble-and-wood bar, and Moroccan tile and antique rugs carry through from public spaces to the guest rooms — some of which have views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Park — where the atmosphere is seriously midcentury.

There are teak and leather chairs (by Noir Furniture), wood bed frames with spindly legs, period prints hung here and there, live plants and terrazzo night stands that reflect the terrazzo vanities in the black-and-white bathrooms.

The aim here is to be part of the neighborhood: A guide to the area generated by locals is loaded on an in-room iPad; for a nominal day fee, non-overnight guests who stop in for a meal get access to the pale blue pool, surrounded by a stone terrace and striped umbrellas; and dogs are not just welcome but coddled with a bed, water bowl and treats.

Silver Lake Pool & Inn; from $250; 4141 Santa Monica Boulevard, Silver Lake, Calif., 90029.


A restored and renovated Spanish Colonial revival — built around 1928 and designed by Arthur E. Harvey — is the anchor for the sleek and sweeping new construction of this 271-room and suite hotel by the beach. (It will be joined this summer by Downtown LA Proper, opening in another historic building.)

The interior designer Kelly Wearstler capitalized on the Spanish and Moorish elements with archways and inlays, smooth stone, knobby wood and lots of low-slung seating. Original art, including works by Morgan Peck, Tanya Aguiniga and Len Klikunas, is all around.

Guest rooms — some with balconies and abstract botanical wallpaper — get plenty of light from floor-to-ceiling windows, and the bathrooms are handsomely adorned with tile, marble, brass fixtures and Aesop toiletries.

The chefs Jessica Koslow and Gabriela Camara spearhead the ground-floor restaurant, Onda; the pink alcoves by the rooftop pool are full at happy hour; and the 3,000-square-foot ayurvedic spa offers a full menu, including Transcendental Meditation classes in partnership with the David Lynch Foundation.

Santa Monica Proper; from $450; 700 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, Calif., 90401.


Old-school glamour meets 21st-century luxury at this dramatic boutique hotel in Whitley Heights, Los Angeles’ first movie-star enclave. (The two-story building, from 1939, was restored in collaboration with Hollywood Heritage Historical Society.)

No wallflowers here: The tropical 1940s-esque lobby, complete with brass palm trees and rattan chairs, is an ode to Billy Haines and Tony Duquette, according to the project’s designer, Martyn Lawrence Bullard. It sets the chic apartment-house tone throughout, from the black-and-white-striped window awnings and interior courtyard to the Lucite four-poster beds and leopard-print carpet.

Each of the 24 guest rooms is a riot of color and texture, marked by revamped vintage pieces, a recessed wet bar (where vintage crystal and citrus fruit is included) and a wallpapered bathroom — complete with a claw-foot tub, Diptyque toiletries and no shortage of pixie dust.

The Prospect Hollywood; from $299 (including breakfast and access to NeueHouse, a private work and social space nearby); 1850 North Cherokee Avenue, Hollywood, Calif., 90028.


52 PLACES AND MUCH, MUCH MORE Discover the best places to go in 2020, and find more Travel coverage by following us on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our Travel Dispatch newsletter: Each week you’ll receive tips on traveling smarter, stories on hot destinations and access to photos from all over the world.



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Personal Tech Technology

Los Angeles Rethinks Taxis as Uber and Lyft Dominate the Streets


This article is part of our continuing Fast Forward series, which examines technological, economic, social and cultural shifts that happen as businesses evolve.

LOS ANGELES — The cars flow into Los Angeles International Airport in an endless stream, and in this loosely organized chaos, for-hire vehicles self-segregate at a new pickup terminal, called LAX-it.

On one side, fast-moving lanes of app-hailed cars jockey to pick up their passengers. On the other, cabs inch along the curb, waiting for a fare.

“I’ve never taken a taxi,” Heather Brandon, 36, of Arizona, said moments before she was whisked away in an Uber on a recent Sunday morning to catch a Carnival cruise. Taxis are more expensive, and the Uber app is more convenient, she said.

Nowhere is that reality clearer than at the airport known widely by its code letters, LAX: Ride-hailing businesses have ravaged the city’s taxi services, whose drivers were picketing last week to protest the airport’s pickup system. According to Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, taxis handled just 22 percent of pickups at the airport for the first three quarters of 2019; ride hails claimed the rest.

The numbers were similarly bleak for cabs throughout the city. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation estimates that taxi business is down 75 percent since 2012, when Uber first rolled into town.

This year the city is changing the system. Instead of calling an individual company to request a cab, passengers will be assigned rides through a centralized dispatch that connects all the cabs in the city. The taxis can be requested with an app, as well as with a phone call. Passengers will know the cost of their rides before getting into the car.

Meters will be modernized, and cabs’ garish colors will be optional. Instead, they could simply sport a decal and registration number.

If that sounds more like ride-hailing, that is exactly the idea.

“We want to give them an opportunity to be able to retain and add customers, to be innovative and nimble,” said Jarvis Murray, an administrator with the city Transportation Department.

For decades, taxis in Los Angeles have operated under a franchise system. Unlike New York City, where cabdrivers operate with a limited number of expensive medallions that are bought and sold on the open market, Los Angeles issues contracts to nine independently operated cab companies. The same nine operators have held those contracts since 1990.

“It was almost a disincentive to change,” Mr. Murray said.

So the city is forcing the issue, hoping to spur innovation by doing away with its franchise system. Instead, it will issue permits. It will also lift the cap on the number of taxis — and taxi companies — to whatever the market will bear. Right now, Los Angeles limits the number of cabs to 2,364 vehicles — a pittance compared to the city’s 100,000-plus Ubers and Lyfts. By comparison, New York City has 13,587 taxis, and has capped the number of ride-hail registrations at roughly 80,000.

Press officers for Uber and Lyft declined to provide information on the number of drivers who operate in Los Angeles, but both described the market as “important.”

Los Angeles is unusual in that many taxis are summoned by passengers calling a dispatcher, not by waving one down. So the shift to a centralized dispatch alone is significant.

“Revising the franchise system is a dramatic change,” said Anne Brown, who compared taxi and ride hail services in the city in 2018, when she was a researcher with the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

As part of her research, Dr. Brown had 18 U.C.L.A. students take 1,700 trips between the same two locations. They hailed cabs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, alternating among taxis, Ubers and Lyfts.

The average cost for the two-mile trip using a taxi was $12, compared with $6 for an Uber or Lyft, she said.

Pricing was not the only factor. In 10 percent of the taxi trips in Dr. Brown’s study, the driver traveled twice as many miles as necessary, adding $5 to the trip’s cost.

Interviewing the students afterward, Dr. Brown said: “They felt the unreliability of taxis did not end when they got in the car. They didn’t know how much the trip would be. There wasn’t always a recourse if they were unsatisfied with the driver. Uber and Lyft, they could complain and get their money back.”

It is these issues that Los Angeles is trying to address with its new taxi permit system.

Taxis have tried to innovate, Dr. Brown said. Many cab companies have developed their own apps, but they work only for that individual fleet, and that fleet might not operate in the area where a customer needs a ride. While at least one app developer has tried to bring all the cabs’ apps under the same tent so they can operate in a manner more like Uber or Lyft, that app does not work well, she said.

And that raises the question: If Uber and Lyft offer superior service at a better price, and if taxis’ attempts to emulate ride-hail technologies are not working, why not just let the taxi system fail?

“Taxis are this legacy service,” said Dr. Brown, now an assistant professor at the University of Oregon. “They’re a really important mode for so many travelers.”

Specifically, they are important for travelers who do not own a car, or who may not have the necessary smartphone or debit or credit card to use a ride-hail app.

Dr. Brown said taxis were used most often by the city’s lowest-income people, who pay with cash.

Taxis serve another purpose, according to Mr. Murray, of the city’s Transportation Department. As part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Transit Administration requires cities to provide complementary paratransit service to people with certain disabilities. The Los Angeles Transportation Department saves money by subcontracting 65 percent of those rides to its taxi companies, he said.

California law prevents local jurisdictions from regulating ride-hail businesses like Uber and Lyft, so Los Angeles is not able to mandate wheelchair access in their vehicles or even charge them a fee that would help fund such a service.

What the city can control, however, is its taxis. And that control, many cab companies say, is what has stopped them from effectively competing with Uber and Lyft.

“It’s excessive rules and regulations that the city has had for many years to control every aspect of our business,” said Simon Momennasab, the general manager of Bell Cab, which operates 200 taxis in Los Angeles.

Those regulations include things like the colors of a company’s cabs and the colors of their drivers’ shoes and socks, as well as background checks and permitting processes.

It often takes weeks for a new driver to get a permit, Mr. Momennasab said, whereas a Lyft or Uber driver can sign up and be working within a few days.

Mr. Momennasab said cab companies had been lobbying Los Angeles for at least five years to ease its regulations and level the playing field. Among their suggestions: speed up the permitting process for drivers, allow them to charge a flat fare, get rid of the exterior color requirements.

The city’s new rules do all of that. Still, Mr. Momennasab has mixed feelings. “A lot of it is going to fail,” he predicted, because some of the biggest plans, such as centralized dispatch and flat fares, have already been tried.

“Everybody says they want to help us,” he said, “but I don’t think we’re going to get the help that we need.”



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Artist-Run Galleries Defy the Mega-Dealer Trend in Los Angeles


LOS ANGELES — The gallery M+B sold out its show of surreal, cloud-dappled landscapes by Leo Mock over the summer. The work was enigmatic, with images of long, birdlike legs stepping through the paintings. The official “artist bio” was also mysterious, saying only that Mr. Mock had graduated from ArtCenter College of Design and “lives and works in Los Angeles.”

But those in the know soon discovered that Leo Mock was actually the alias of one Steve Hanson, a local art dealer pursuing his sideline career. Leo was his uncle’s name; Mock, his mother’s maiden name — but it works as a jab at the art market, too: “People don’t like artists having two careers,” said Mr. Hanson, a founder of the pioneering Chinatown gallery China Art Objects. “I’m an old punk rocker and all of those musicians take pseudonyms,” he explained by phone.

How to exhibit your own work is just one of the challenges facing artists who open up shop as dealers, a deep-rooted tradition that is thriving these days across this art-obsessed city. Another is juggling the demands of making art while running a gallery, two careers not known for reliable revenue streams. But a surprising number of artists in Los Angeles have been opening commercial spaces anyway, giving the city’s gallery scene a scrappy energy all its own and providing a strong counternarrative to the idea that visual culture here is defined by the recent influx of New York and international galleries.

These spaces run the gamut from funky weekend-only apartment venues to larger spaces with regular hours, but they tend as a whole to have a more adventurous spirit. As Mr. Hanson puts it, “The Home Depot-fication of galleries is one reason why artist-run spaces are so important.”

Last year alone saw the opening of Real Pain Fine Arts by the artist Peter Harkawik near the Underground Museum; Murmurs, a welcoming gallery-cafe complex downtown founded by Morgan Elder and Allison Littrell; and La Loma Projects, which Kirk Nelson runs out of his living room and garage in Pasadena — not far from the artist Dani Tull’s two-year-old gallery Odd Ark. More established examples include Smart Objects, Five Car Garage, Big Pictures L.A., Moskowitz Bayse, Night Gallery, Commonwealth and Council, the Pit and Bel Ami. (The last four will have booths at Frieze Los Angeles, the art fair running Feb. 14-16, in a special section devoted to local galleries.)

Most of these galleries follow a traditional 50-50 sales split with artists, but none are as high-overhead and profit-driven as the blue-chip galleries now in town.

“L.A. has a long history of artist-run galleries — it’s where so much experimentation and innovation take place,” said Bettina Korek, the director of Frieze Los Angeles. She called the model an alternative to the usual white cube and “a great reminder that art can happen anywhere.”

Amy Bessone is a Los Angeles painter and sculptor with a high-profile New York gallery (Salon 94) but she still supports artist-run galleries at home: She had a solo show at the Pit last year and has work in a group show at La Loma Projects now. She credits these spaces with generating a “sense of solidarity and community,” as well as “bringing a lot of artists out to see their shows.” Their openings are also inclusive, she said, complete with “children, dogs, friends of friends, and sometimes tacos,” minus the fancy after-opening dinners.

Chadwick Gibson, founder of Smart Objects, contends that “making art makes you more attuned to what’s going on” in the culture. “A lot of galleries will say they show new or emerging artists,” he added, “but if you go back you’ll find that they showed at three artist-run spaces first.”

He started his gallery in Echo Park at the end of 2012 specifically to hold an exhibition of his own work — screen shots of gallery and museum interiors he printed from Google Art Project, where the operator’s camera is caught in the image, a way of turning the Google eye on itself. He has just leased more space next to the gallery with plans to turn it into an arcade.

Devon Oder and Adam Miller, the wife-and-husband founders of the Pit,

met while getting their M.F.A.s at ArtCenter. Both worked for the artist Sterling Ruby, and in 2014 they opened the gallery next to their studios in Glendale, in a former mechanic’s garage. (The mechanics’ pit is a still-visible feature of the space.) She shows her photography with the Portland gallery Fourteen30 Contemporary, while he exhibits his obsessively patterned paintings at various local spaces.

“In our branding, we like to say we’re an artist-run space,” said Mr. Miller, calling their business “collaborative” in the spirit of musician-run record labels like Dischord Records or Lookout Records. They produce zines for many of their shows (doing designs, printing and binding in-house) and are known for their flexibility in scheduling.

He remembers a big fair two years ago when four out of five artists could not make their deadline for delivering artworks to be photographed. He supplied older artwork instead and rescheduled the shoot. “When those things happen, instead of hammering artists about deadlines, we are more likely to pivot and accommodate the creative process,” he said.

As a figurative painter, Emma Gray of Five Car Garage said she realizes “how long it can take for an artist’s vision to come in — I hold the torch for them.” Her old-fashioned training in portraiture at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London (“no electric lighting was allowed”) also helps her “talk to painters about painting.”

She founded the gallery in 2013 after moving to a home in Santa Monica that had a large custom-built garage for a car collector. Now, the garage is the gallery, with a meditation studio on the property that she uses for community sound baths, breath work, and performances involving her artists, such as Alison Blickle (a practicing witch) and Lazaro (or “L,” an alchemist). In her own studio next door, Ms. Gray is currently working on a series of “fire” paintings based on her experience fire-walking in Santa Fe.

Eve Fowler, a co-founder of seminomadic Artist Curated Projects, says that giving artists agency was the goal of her program, started in 2008 out of her own apartment with a colleague, Lucas Michael. “We had so many friends who were good artists and didn’t have shows. We also felt like artists don’t have any power,” she added — so early on, they invited artists to share the decision-making and organize the shows.

Her last show featured optically “tricky” paintings by a graduate student in fine arts, Kate Mosher Hall. But now that Ms. Fowler’s own queer-forward, text-based art is gaining traction — a recent film is heading to the New Museum in New York for a screening — she is not sure she will continue the gallery.

On the flip side, some artists who found their calling as gallerists have decided to postpone their own art careers, perhaps permanently. Davida Nemeroff of the downtown destination Night Gallery, says she stopped making work in 2016 when her gallery partner left and she had to take over all operations. “I realized from my own artists how much time and energy you need to put into your practice, and I just didn’t have that,” she said.

Young Chung, a founder of Commonwealth & Council in Koreatown, said he “went back in the closet as an artist” and stopped making work in 2012, two years after opening the space in his apartment. At that time, he said, “a Getty curator came to see one of our artist’s works but then the conversation gravitated to my own work — in that moment, I realized I had a conflict of interest.”

Every artist-dealer contacted for this story acknowledged the potential conflicts when juggling the two roles: whose work are you really promoting? Most have included their own work in an occasional group show but said they would not give themselves a solo show, with Ms. Gray saying she feels like it’s “largely unethical to cross the line.” Ms. Fowler said: “I just didn’t think it would look good. I thought other opportunities would come up, which they did.”

But Mr. Gibson, who opened his space to have a venue for his Google project, conceded, “I understand why people might think it’s tacky, ” adding, “it’s O.K. if the artists you show are good with it.”

Some gallerists sidestep the conflicts by refusing to promote their own art. Robert Gunderman rarely showed his own work while running the influential gallery ACME with Randy Sommer for 22 years. But after the gallery closed in 2017, Mr. Gunderman reinvented himself as an artist, with two strong shows of his lushly textured abstract paintings organized by the curator Lauri Firstenberg.

It turned out that Mr. Gunderman had been painting fairly consistently, and discreetly, all along. “Only a few people knew I had a studio,” he said. “And I would tell them I had six cats there ” to keep them away. (Visitors to Frieze can see his work in a pop-up space called The Street & The Shop on the backlot of Paramount Studios.)

As for Leo Mock, better known as Steve Hanson, he is now busy painting in Mérida, Mexico, where he recently moved with his wife, Tuesday Yates. But he has not given up his idea of running a gallery. To that end, the couple is currently rehabbing part of an old bus depot in Mérida. Still confounding the art world, they plan to call it China Art Objects.


The Pit, 918 Ruberta Avenue, Glendale, Tuesday-Saturday

Smart Objects, 1828 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, Thursday-Saturday

Five Car Garage, open Saturdays and by appointment, [email protected]



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Americas World

She Owns the Hip Boutique Bird. These Are Her 5 Places to Shop in Los Angeles


Jen Mankins became an influencer of style and taste with her free-spirited Brooklyn boutique, Bird. The clothing store was a fashion incubator for fledgling brands such as Rag & Bone and Isabel Marant, which today are juggernauts. In 2017, Ms. Mankins planted her flag in western Los Angeles County, opening her fifth Bird store — and first outpost outside of New York City — in Culver City. “I’m firmly a west side L.A. person,” she says. “It’s so quintessentially American. I want to see the beach and palm trees.”

When Ms. Jankins, 43, travels here for work, she rents a house in Venice, goes for walks on the beach and has breakfast at Gjusta every morning. “It’s like a commissary,” she says, “with baked goods, smoked fish, produce from local farmers, and everyone knows everyone. The tahini croissant is worth moving to L.A. for.” Here, Ms. Mankins shares her favorite places to shop in Los Angeles.

The focus at this chic and spare shop is on Japanese artists, artisans and traditions, with wares that range from herb scissors to bookends. “It really is one-stop shopping,” Ms. Mankins says. “Any birthday, wedding or baby gift. I bought 90 percent of my Christmas presents there.” After 15 years on Abbott Kinney, the main shopping drag in Venice, the husband and wife team Taku and Keiko Shinimoto moved their brick and mortar operation to a series of storefronts in the Mar Vista neighborhood in 2018. Ms. Mankins especially likes the paper goods and textiles. “No one does them better than the Japanese.”

12701 Venice Boulevard; tortoiselife.com


“French market meets Brutalist,” is how Ms. Mankins describes this design studio and boutique. “It sets the tone for what I think of as Los Angeles.” The eclectic emporium in West Hollywood was founded by Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe, two designers who call themselves hunter-gatherers of good taste. The bright, high-ceilinged shop has a lived-in air and the international vibe — Peruvian rugs, antique French tools, colorful Portuguese plates — that comes from a lifetime of combing flea markets. The pair makes frequent sourcing trips abroad, shipping crates back to the United States, to mix with their own line of furniture. “I find things for my house,” Ms. Mankins says. “But also gifts — books to little ceramics.”

7221 Beverly Boulevard; nickeykehoe.com


In his fantastical trading post of a shop, René Holguin captures his own vision of the world. “The Dries Van Noten store in Paris is my favorite, but next is RTH,” Ms. Mankins says. “The spaces are beautifully decorated, chock-full, but every object is totally covetable.” Mr. Holguin, like Ms. Mankins, is a Texan. He grew up in El Paso, learning about leather from his father, who owned the Laramie Boot Co., then cut his teeth as a merchandiser in New York for brands including Ralph Lauren and J. Crew. In this intimate shop in a residential pocket of West Hollywood, there are giant hats and artisanal ceramics, some enormous, some tiny. There are everyday clothes like poplin shirt-dresses. “Some of the dresses I wear every single day in the summer.”

537 North La Cienega Boulevard; rthshop.com


“It’s an art book mecca,” Ms. Mankins says of this sunny, open bookstore in Culver City. Arcana has a deep inventory of new, rare and out-of-print books and catalogs on cinema, photography, architecture … well, everything including the kitchen sink. The proprietors, Lee and Whitney Kaplan, have been in the business for 35 years and can help locate obscure titles (a Joseph Kosuth, say) with pre-internet zeal. Book signings, receptions and discussions regularly fill up the space, often featuring young photographers and creative types. “They’re really supportive,” Ms. Mankins says.

8675 Washington Blvd; arcanabooks.com


There are now three locations of this garden and home company, but Ms. Mankins likes the original nursery in Culver City, opened in 2001, that sits on two acres. “It’s one of the best plant stores I’ve ever been to, terraced up a steep hill, with a tropical hot house, one for orchids, tons of planters and a whole room of fake plants that are so good my husband and I spent 30 minutes trying to figure out if they were real.”

9528 Jefferson Boulevard; rghomeandgarden.com

52 PLACES AND MUCH, MUCH MORE Discover the best places to go in 2020, and find more Travel coverage by following us on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our Travel Dispatch newsletter: Each week you’ll receive tips on traveling smarter, stories on hot destinations and access to photos from all over the world.



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Los Angeles Rethinks Taxis as Uber and Lyft Dominate the Streets


Pricing was not the only factor. In 10 percent of the taxi trips in Ms. Brown’s study, the driver traveled twice as many miles as necessary, adding $5 to the trip’s cost.

Interviewing the students afterward, Ms. Brown said: “They felt the unreliability of taxis did not end when they got in the car. They didn’t know how much the trip would be. There wasn’t always a recourse if they were unsatisfied with the driver. Uber and Lyft, they could complain and get their money back.”

It is these issues that Los Angeles is trying to address with its new taxi permit system.

Taxis have tried to innovate, Ms. Brown said. Many cab companies have developed their own apps, but they work only for that individual fleet, and that fleet might not operate in the area where a customer needs a ride. While at least one app developer has tried to bring all the cabs’ apps under the same tent so they can operate in a manner more like Uber or Lyft, that app does not work well, she said.

And that raises the question: If Uber and Lyft offer superior service at a better price, and if taxis’ attempts to emulate ride-hail technologies are not working, why not just let the taxi system fail?

“Taxis are this legacy service,” said Ms. Brown, now an assistant professor at the University of Oregon. “They’re a really important mode for so many travelers.”

Specifically, they are important for travelers who do not own a car, or who may not have the necessary smartphone or debit or credit card to use a ride-hail app.

Ms. Brown said taxis were used most often by the city’s lowest-income people, who pay with cash.

Taxis serve another purpose, according to Mr. Murray, of the city’s Transportation Department. As part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Transit Administration requires cities to provide complementary paratransit service to people with certain disabilities. The Los Angeles Transportation Department saves money by subcontracting 65 percent of those rides to its taxi companies, he said.



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Apps Gadgets Games Hackers Technology

Hype House and the Los Angeles TikTok Mansion Gold Rush


LOS ANGELES — Hype House, the physical location of a new content creator collective, is a Spanish-style mansion perched at the top of a hill on a gated street in Los Angeles. It has a palatial backyard, a pool and enormous kitchen, dining and living quarters.

Four of the group’s 19 members live in the house full time; several others keep rooms to crash in when they are in town. And all day long, a stream of influential young internet stars come by to pay homage to the new guard.

Hype House was formed in December by some of TikTok’s most talked-about stars. They introduced themselves with a Backstreet Boys-esque photo shoot, and within minutes #hypehouse began trending; videos including the hashtag #hypehouse have accrued nearly 100 million views on TikTok.

The group handle that distributes their content surpassed three million followers on TikTok in just over a week and a half. In the days leading up to Christmas it was all anyone under the age of 18 on TikTok seemed to be talking about.

So-called collab houses, also known as content houses, are an established tradition in the influencer world. Over the last five years they have formed a network of hubs across Los Angeles.

In 2014 members of an early collab channel called Our Second Life lived and worked together in what they called the 02L Mansion. The next year, nearly all the top talent on Vine moved into a large apartment complex at 1600 Vine Street.

Soon after, YouTuber mansions were popping up all over the city. The Vlog Squad shacked up in Studio City, while Team 10, Jake Paul’s infamous YouTuber collective, rented a giant house in West Hollywood before eventually decamping to a mansion in Calabasas.

Another group of YouTubers rented a $12 million mansion in the Hollywood Hills and deemed it the Clout House.

Now, the TikTokers have arrived — and everything about TikTok happens faster than it does anywhere else.

Collab houses are beneficial to influencers in lots of ways. Living together allows for more teamwork, which means faster growth, and creators can provide emotional support for what can be a grueling career.

“It’s a brilliant move for power players on these platforms to lift each other up,” said Sam Sheffer, a YouTuber and technologist. “‘Elevate others to elevate yourself’ is a saying, and it really rings true with this new generation of TikTokers.”

“From a management perspective, it’s great,” he added. “It just means all the kids will focus on content.”

Hype House was the brainchild of Chase Hudson, 17, a TikTok star with more than eight million followers who is known online as Lilhuddy, and Thomas Petrou, 21, a YouTube star.

The pair began plotting a move in November. Within 13 days they had signed a lease on their current residence. Originally, Chase hoped to name the group House of Olympus. He still thinks it sounds cooler, but then Alex Warren, 19, suggested the name Hype House, and Chase was outvoted.

Finding the right location for the house was key. A good collab house has lots of natural light, open space and is far from prying neighbors. A gated community is ideal, to prevent swarms of fans from showing up.

Brent Rivera, a YouTube star with more than 17 million followers on TikTok who also runs a talent incubator, said the perfect collab house “needs to be big, and the more amenities the better, like a pool, nice bathroom, nice lighting, big back and front yard, room for activities and fun stuff you can do inside or outside.”

Residents also must be able to film. Many influencers prefer the short-term rental structure of Airbnb, in part because obtaining a lease can be tough when you’re young and have an unpredictable income.

But unfortunately many Airbnbs in Los Angeles have a no-filming rule. (Homeowners worry about, among other things, tripods scratching the floors and the potential property damage that comes with YouTube stunts.)

The location Chase and Thomas found for Hype House checked all the boxes and had some additional features that make it perfect for TikTok: plenty of giant mirrors and a bathroom the size of a small apartment to film in. Because everyone just moved in, Hype House is also nearly without furniture, which makes shooting easier.

On Dec. 30, members clustered into the bathroom in rotating groups, doing back flips in front of a phone propped up on a roll of toilet paper supported by a Smartwater bottle. Fifteen-second clips of a DaBaby song looped until everyone had memorized the agreed-upon choreography.

After one group finished filming, they headed downstairs to lounge on three beanbag chairs. The house has a large glistening pool, but it’s too cold to swim in it right now. Hype House members prefer to hang out on the stone porches overlooking it. The sweeping staircase is also a popular backdrop.

Alex, Thomas, Daisy Keech, 20, and Kouvr Annon, 19, live at the house full time. As the oldest, Thomas acts as a default den mother. Though Chase helped put money down for the house, Thomas manages schedules, handles the house issues and resolves the inevitable conflicts. Unlike Team 10 and other groups, Hype House doesn’t take a cut of anyone’s revenue.

The house does have strict rules, however. Creators can have friends over, but it is not a party house. If you break something, you have 15 days to replace it. And if you want to be a part of the group, you need to churn out content daily.

“If someone slips up constantly, they’ll not be a part of this team anymore,” Thomas said. “You can’t come and stay with us for a week and not make any videos, it’s not going to work. This whole house is designed for productivity. If you want to party, there’s hundreds of houses that throw parties in L.A. every weekend. We don’t want to be that. It’s not in line with anyone in this house’s brand. This house is about creating something big, and you can’t do that if you’re going out on the weekends.”

In order to make a splash on the internet, you need the right people and so Chase acts as Hype House’s unofficial talent scout and a behind-the-scenes operator. He has a knack for spotting influencers early and knows what qualities it takes to get big online.

You have to be young, you have to “have a lot of energy and personality and honestly a little weird. The weird people get the furthest on the internet,” Chase said. “You either have to be talented at something, or a weird funny mix, or extremely good looking.”

Alex said, “If you have all three, you’re a TikTok god.”

The undisputed star of the group is Charli D’Amelio, a 15-year-old from Connecticut known as the reigning queen of TikTok. She and Chase appear to be dating; the two most often speak of each other as best friends.

Charli has amassed more than 15 million followers since joining the app this summer, and her fan base continues to grow at a wild rate. Her dance routines spur thousands of copycat videos; her rise has been so sharp and fast that she has become a meme.

Charli’s sister, Dixie D’Amelio, is 18 and has five million followers. Because they are still in school, both girls will continue to live with their parents in Connecticut but come out to Los Angeles when their schedules allow.

Charli is polite, thoughtful and soft-spoken in person. She is a trained dancer and has ambitions to dance full time. In December she performed with Bebe Rexha at a Jonas Brothers concert. Hype House has provided a safe space to help her cope with the stress and attention that come with overnight fame.

“The internet can be a little harsh,” she said. “Everyone here is ready to bring positivity and kindness.” Charli also credits the group for expanding her creativity and helping her branch into new content formats like vlogging.

“I’m trying things outside my comfort zone that I might not have done if I was alone in my room,” she said.

But her roots remain in dance. “I grew up in the dance competition world — everyone’s dream is to dance onstage. I’ve been a performer my whole life,” she said. “I say all the time, this is a dream. I’m living out everything I’ve ever wanted to do so early.”

Marc D’Amelio, who is Charli and Dixie’s father, said: “As parents, one thing we say all the time is that this is just about creating options for our kids. We don’t know where this is going, we don’t have any plans for Charli or Dixie to do this or that. We’re just riding it and enjoying it, and hopefully they can do things they love and most importantly be happy.”

The competition among young influencers in Los Angeles is fierce. Many YouTubers who have felt secure in their status as internet elites are now being threatened by the new wave of talent from TikTok that is flooding the city.

And even since the arrival of Hype House, many other TikTok collectives have been making plans to take on Los Angeles. Some TikTokers began discussing a Melanin Mansion for black creators, noting that Hype House is predominately white.

Cabin Six, an L.G.B.T.-focused collective, held public auditions on TikTok last week, as did Diversity University, another TikTok group with plans to organize in Los Angeles in March.

“TikTok has brought a younger group of creators. That energy is kind of pushing on a lot of older creators,” said Josh Sadowski, 19, a TikToker with nearly four million followers who lived in another TikTok collab house. “There’s all these kids who want to move to L.A. and make content, and TikTok is pushing their growth so much. Everybody is really, really driven. They’re bringing that energy to L.A., and it’s rubbing off on everyone else. No one wants to miss out.”

Evidence of this is all over the city. TikTok’s primary United States office — the company is based in China — is in Los Angeles. At sunset on a recent Friday, six TikTok shoots were taking place simultaneously on the Venice boardwalk.

Several TikTok creators began hosting twice-a-week collab days at the Burbank Town Center in the fall; Josh was shocked at how many kids began showing up.

Every influencer brings friends and “the group just gets bigger and bigger,” he said. “The energy is very different. I’ve been around YouTubers, but the energy now, people are so motivated and you can feel that motivation in these collabs. It creates a hype.”

TalentX Entertainment, a talent management incubator, has rented a giant collab house in Bel Air called the Sway House, where six TikTokers, all with millions of followers, will move in on Jan. 3. One member of the Council House, a group of British and Irish TikTokers, visited Los Angeles this week and posted about his plans to “infiltrate America.”

Too much hype inevitably attracts drama, and Hype House members are extremely wary of it. They are careful about who they film with, what they wear, how they act and how things can be interpreted online.

If a Hype House member has a girlfriend, for instance, that member may avoid filming with another girl alone, so as not to start rumors.

The house itself could bring drama someday. MaiLinh Nguyen, a former videographer for Jake Paul, said money can play a huge role in trouble.

“I don’t think it’s sustainable to just be a collective forever,” she said. “At some point if they want to do a pop-up shop, or release Hype House merch, they need to figure out how to divvy things up financially and they’re going to have to legitimize it as a business.”

Michael Gruen, the vice president of talent at TalentX Entertainment, said many of these collectives are creating valuable intellectual property. A commission structure should be negotiated from the start, he said, and thought should be given to incorporation and insurance and everything else that comes along with running a business.

“As I’ve told many of these creator houses,” Mr. Gruen said, “before you dig deep into raising the value of the I.P., make sure that you have the splits organized so it doesn’t come into play and ruin friendships.”

Carson King, 20, a YouTuber who lives in a collab house with several YouTuber friends, said that for him and many others, a looser arrangement can work great, and creates less pressure.

“I think it’s a dream for a lot of people to be able to move in with friends and be able to work on whatever you want to work on,” he said. He and his housemates keep things like whiteboards around their collab house so they can write down video ideas anytime.

“The big struggle creators have is that people around them don’t understand at all the culture of what they’re doing,” said Mitch Moffit, 31, a YouTuber who lived in a collab house when he was starting out.

This is the value for young people: If you want to immerse yourself in influencer and internet culture, there’s no better place to be. Chase, Thomas, Charli and other members of Hype House are aware of how lucky they are, how fleeting fame can be, and they don’t want to squander the opportunity.

“It’s 24/7 here. Last night we posted at 2 a.m.,” Thomas said. “There’s probably 100 TikToks made here per day. At minimum.”



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Business

Fashion Nova’s Secret: Underpaid Workers in Los Angeles Factories


LOS ANGELES — Fashion Nova has perfected fast fashion for the Instagram era.

The mostly online retailer leans on a vast network of celebrities, influencers, and random selfie takers who post about the brand relentlessly on social media. It is built to satisfy a very online clientele, mass-producing cheap clothes that look expensive.

“They need to buy a lot of different styles and probably only wear them a couple times so their Instagram feeds can stay fresh,” Richard Saghian, Fashion Nova’s founder, said in an interview last year.

To enable that habit, he gives them a constant stream of new options that are priced to sell.

The days of $200 jeans are over, if you ask Mr. Saghian. Fashion Nova’s skintight denim goes for $24.99. And, he said, the company can get its clothes made “in less than two weeks,” often by manufacturers in Los Angeles, a short drive from the company’s headquarters.

That model hints at an ugly secret behind the brand’s runaway success: The federal Labor Department has found that many Fashion Nova garments are stitched together by a work force in the United States that is paid illegally low wages.

Los Angeles is filled with factories that pay workers off the books and as little as possible, battling overseas competitors that can pay even less. Many of the people behind the sewing machines are undocumented, and unlikely to challenge their bosses.

“It has all the advantages of a sweatshop system,” said David Weil, who led the United States Labor Department’s wage and hour division from 2014 to 2017.

Every year, the department investigates allegations of wage violations at sewing contractors in Los Angeles, showing up unannounced to review payroll data, interview employees and question the owners.

In investigations conducted from 2016 through this year, the department discovered Fashion Nova clothing being made in dozens of factories that owed $3.8 million in back wages to hundreds of workers, according to federal documents that summarized the findings and were reviewed by The New York Times.

Those factories, which are hired by middlemen to produce garments for fashion brands, paid their sewers as little as $2.77 an hour, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

After repeated violations were found at factories making Fashion Nova clothes, federal officials met with company representatives. “We have already had a highly productive and positive meeting with the Department of Labor in which we discussed our ongoing commitment to ensuring that all workers involved with the Fashion Nova brand are appropriately compensated for the work they do,” Erica Meierhans, Fashion Nova’s general counsel, said in a statement to The Times. “Any suggestion that Fashion Nova is responsible for underpaying anyone working on our brand is categorically false.”

In 2018, Mr. Saghian said about 80 percent of the brand’s clothes were made in the United States. Fashion Nova’s supply chain has shifted since then, and now the brand says it makes less than half of its clothes in Los Angeles. It would not specify the overall percentage made in the United States.

The company does not deal directly with factories. Instead, it places bulk orders with companies that design the clothes and then ship fabric to separately owned sewing contractors, where workers stitch the clothes together and stick Fashion Nova’s label on them.

The brand’s clingy dresses and animal-print jumpsuits are often made by people like Mercedes Cortes, working in ramshackle buildings that smell like bathrooms.

Ms. Cortes, 56, sewed Fashion Nova clothes for several months at Coco Love, a dusty factory close to Fashion Nova’s offices in Vernon, Calif. “There were cockroaches. There were rats,” she said. “The conditions weren’t good.”

She worked every day of the week, but her pay varied depending on how quickly her fingers could move. Ms. Cortes was paid for each piece of a shirt she sewed together — about 4 cents to sew on each sleeve, 5 cents for each of the side seams, 8 cents for the seam on the neckline. On average, she earned $270 in a week, the equivalent of $4.66 an hour, she said.

In 2016, Ms. Cortes left Coco Love and later reached a settlement with the company for $5,000 in back wages. She continued to work in factories sewing Fashion Nova clothes, noticing the $12 price tags on the tops she had stitched together for cents. “The clothes are very expensive for what they pay us,” Ms. Cortes said.

“Consumers can say, ‘Well, of course that’s what it’s like in Bangladesh or Vietnam,’ but they are developing countries,” Mr. Weil said. “People just don’t want to believe it’s true in their own backyard.”

For all their seediness, these factories are still producing clothes for major American retailers. Under federal law, brands cannot be penalized for wage theft in factories if they can credibly claim that they did not know their clothes were made by workers paid illegally low wages. The Labor Department has collected millions in back wages and penalties from Los Angeles garment businesses in recent years, but has not fined a retailer.

This year, Fashion Nova’s labels were the ones found the most frequently by federal investigators looking into garment factories that pay egregiously low wages, according to a person familiar with the investigations.

In September, three officials from the department met with Fashion Nova’s lawyers to tell them that, over four years, the brand’s clothes had been found in 50 investigations of factories paying less than the federal minimum wage or failing to pay overtime.

The company’s lawyers told the officials that they had taken immediate action and had already updated the brand’s agreement with vendors. Now, if Fashion Nova learns that a factory has been charged with violating laws “governing the wages and hours of its employees, child labor, forced labor or unsafe working conditions,” the brand will put the middleman who hired that factory on a six-month “probation,” it said in a statement.

The working relationship would continue, unless workers file another complaint against the same factory or another one that the contractor hired during those six months. At that point, the brand will suspend the contractor until it passes a third-party audit.

While Fashion Nova has taken steps to address the Labor Department’s findings, Ms. Meierhans, the brand’s general counsel, noted that it works with hundreds of manufacturers and “is not responsible for how these vendors handle their payrolls.”

In a statement, the Labor Department said it “continues to ensure employers receive compliance assistance with the overtime and minimum wage requirements, and the Wage and Hour Division is committed to enforcing the law.”

Mr. Saghian opened the first Fashion Nova store in 2006, in a Los Angeles mall. Seven years and four storefronts later, he realized that he was losing customers to online outlets selling the same clothes.

A web developer talked him out of starting a website; it would get no traffic, because no one knew what Fashion Nova was. Mr. Saghian had a better shot on Instagram, where “there were some really basic boutiques that had 300,000 followers,” he said in the interview.

In 2013, Mr. Saghian opened an Instagram account and began posting photos of his clothing on mannequins and customers. He noticed that some of his stores’ regular visitors were influencers he had seen on Instagram, where they had hundreds of thousands of followers.

“I had rappers’ girlfriends, female rappers, models,” he said.

Mr. Saghian started giving them free clothing, and they posted photos of themselves draped in Fashion Nova garb. In turn, he reposted their photos and tagged their handles.

“Everyone wants to be famous. Everyone wants to have more followers,” Mr. Saghian said. “By tagging them, the influencer would grow their following.”

Gradually, the strategy brought Fashion Nova from the outskirts of the internet into the mainstream. The brand earned mentions on hip-hop tracks. In 2017, its sales grew by about 600 percent.

Cardi B, the Grammy-winning rap star, unveiled her first collection with the brand in an Instagram video in November last year.

“I wanted to do something that is like, ‘Wow, what is that? Is that Chanel? Is that YSL? Is that Gucci?’ No,” she said, adding an expletive, “it’s Fashion Nova.”

All 82 styles in Cardi B’s collection sold out hours after they became available. She posted another video the same night, promising a full restock “in two or three weeks.” (Cardi B’s line is made in Los Angeles, but the government has not found any of the clothes in factories where workers have alleged they were paid less than the minimum, Fashion Nova said.)

There were more searches for Fashion Nova last year than for Versace or Gucci, according to Google’s year in search data. It has 17 million followers on Instagram, and at any given moment there are enough people browsing clothes on its website to fill a basketball arena, Mr. Saghian said.

To keep them interested, Fashion Nova produces more than a thousand new styles every week, thanks in part to an army of local suppliers that can respond instantly to the brand’s requests.

“If there was a design concept that came to mind Sunday night, on a Monday afternoon I would have a sample,” he said.

Many of the people vying for Mr. Saghian’s business occupy glass-walled storefronts jammed into the six frenetic blocks of the garment district in downtown Los Angeles.

These are the companies that design clothing samples and sell them in bulk to Fashion Nova and other retailers. Those businesses outsource the job of making clothes to nearby factories that work as subcontractors.

In November, The Times visited seven companies that got Fashion Nova clothes made in factories that underpaid workers, according to the Labor Department investigations. Some spoke freely about their work with the brand. Others refused to comment or talked on the condition of anonymity, fearing that they might lose the company as a client if they went on the record.

The five owners and employees who agreed to be interviewed said Fashion Nova would always push to pay the lowest price possible for each garment, and would demand a quick turnaround.

“They give me the best possible price they can give it to me, for that will allow them to still break a profit,” Mr. Saghian said.

The companies can negotiate with Fashion Nova, but their power is limited. A dwindling number of retailers are still doing business in Los Angeles, and a couple of big orders from Fashion Nova can keep a small garment shop afloat for another year. So they look for subcontractors who can sew clothes as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Amante Clothing, which occupies a stuffy storefront filled with racks of colorful samples, regularly works with Fashion Nova. The brand paid Amante $7.15 per top for a bulk order last year, according to a Labor Department investigation conducted last December. Amante then went to a sewing contractor called Karis Apparel, which made the tops.

Amante paid Karis $2.20 to sew each garment, the Labor Department found. Fashion Nova sold the top for $17.99.

“We don’t own the sewing contractor, so whatever the sewing contractor does, that’s his problem,” said a designer at Amante, who declined to be named for fear of losing her job. “We don’t know what they do to give us the lowest price. We assume they’re paying their employees the minimum.”

Karis, the factory that worked with Amante, went out of business in April. Another manufacturer ensnared in the investigations moved production to Mexico this year.

But many more factories have evaded punishment.

When Teresa Garcia started working at Sugar Sky, it was called Xela Fashion. It was 2014, and Xela Fashion, state records show, was owned by Demetria Sajche, a woman whom Ms. Garcia was told to call Angelina.

Several months later — Ms. Garcia does not remember how many — the name on her checks had changed, though she worked in the same grungy factory in the heart of downtown, a few blocks from a SoulCycle.

Now her employer was called Nena Fashion, a company that was founded by Leslie Sajche, a relative of Ms. Garcia’s boss, according to business records filed with California’s secretary of state. About a year after that, the name changed again, to GYA Fashion.

In 2017, the factory moved to an industrial stretch of Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles and began using a new new name: Sugar Sky. About a year later, Ms. Sajche stopped running the day-to-day operations and handed the job over to Eric Alfredo Ajitaz Puac, whom workers knew as her boyfriend.

Ms. Garcia said that she believed the point of all the name changes was to avoid being shut down by federal or state officials. Several workers, including Ms. Garcia, have filed claims against Xela, Nena, Gya and Sugar Sky for back wages with California’s labor commissioner, the state agency that handles such disputes.

In her claim, which is active, Ms. Garcia included checks showing she earned as little as $225 for 65 hours of work in a week, the equivalent of $3.46 an hour. She remembers the factory’s receiving orders from Fashion Nova for up to 5,000 pieces of clothing at a time.

“They needed it so fast, they couldn’t wait,” Ms. Garcia said of the brand. “We would need to turn it around within a week.”

Weeks of trying to reach Mr. Puac and Ms. Sajche were unsuccessful. A trip to Sugar Sky’s last known location just before Thanksgiving found a furniture store. Neighbors said the garment factory had packed up and moved out two months earlier.

Fernando Axjup, who was listed as an owner of one iteration of the factory, agreed to an interview. He was recently fired from the company and had filed his own claim for back wages.

“They keep changing their names so they don’t have to pay people,” Mr. Axjup said. “There was a lot of exploitation.” As a manager, he had access to payroll data and said Ms. Garcia rarely earned the minimum wage.

Mr. Axjup suggested that perhaps he had been fired for standing up for workers like Ms. Garcia. Ms. Garcia said she doubted that, given that Mr. Axjup was the one ordering her to hurry up.

He said he could never figure out why Fashion Nova did not visit the factory floor to check on how its clothes were being made for such low prices.

“Supposedly, the brand should supervise the people who give them work, to find out whether they are being paid well,” Mr. Axjup said. “But they never do. They never came to see.”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.



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Lifestyle Style

Dia de los Muertos: Best pictures from Day of the Dead celebrations



During the annual celebration of Dia de los Muertos, people in Mexico, Latin America and across the world commemorate the lives of loved ones who have passed away.

Ofrendas (altars) are set up in homes of members of the Mexican community, where photographs of the deceased and items such as their favourite foods are placed in honour of their memory.

Public celebrations also take place, including parades featuring large skeletal figures, traditional dancers and a plethora of extravagantly dressed participants and spectators.


In Mexico City, the fourth annual Day of the Dead parade took place this year, the first of which was attended by a quarter of a million people in 2016.

Click through the gallery above to see the best pictures from Dia de los Muertos celebrations this year.

In Los Angeles, California, scores of people visited the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to take part in site’s 20th annual Day of the Dead festivities.

The theme of the event was monarch butterflies, which are believed by those who observe Dia de los Muertos to hold the spirits of the people in their lives who they have lost.

A march titled “March of the Catrinas” was held in Mexico City to raise awareness of and protest against femicide and violence towards women in the country.

Many of the female marchers wore “skull candy” make-up and carried pink crucifixes inscribed with messages including “ni una más” (not one more) and “vivas nos queremos“ (we want ourselves to be alive).

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a “Zombie Walk” was held in celebration of Dia de los Muertos, an annual event that sees attendees don gruesome, zombie-inspired ensembles.


Towering skeletons join dancers at Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade

To read about the importance of celebrating Dia de los Muertos with cultural sensitivity, click here.



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Politics

December Democratic Debate Will Be in Los Angeles, With Higher Thresholds


The Democratic National Committee announced on Friday that the sixth Democratic primary debate would be held in December at the University of California, Los Angeles, while ratcheting up the polling and donor criteria for candidates to qualify for a coveted spot onstage.

The debate will be held on Dec. 19 and sponsored by PBS NewsHour and Politico. The format and moderators have not yet been announced. Another debate is scheduled for Nov. 20, sponsored by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

In an effort to narrow the number of candidates after the largest debate ever in October, the D.N.C. is raising its thresholds for the December debate. It will require candidates to have at least 200,000 individual donors and meet one of two polling requirements: They must either receive 4 percent support in four national or early-state polls conducted by qualifying pollsters, or 6 percent support in two polls in the four early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

A New York Times analysis of polling and donor data shows that three candidates have already qualified for the December debate: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. None of the other 15 candidates in the field have yet hit the D.N.C.’s polling standard, and it is unclear how many of them have crossed the donor threshold.

Many party strategists and activists have clamored for the 2020 Democratic field — and debate stage — to be culled. With 10 or more candidates onstage at every debate so far, there has been limited time for the leading candidates to engage in prolonged and detailed discussions.

The thresholds for the November debate are 165,000 donors, and 3 percent in four polls or 5 percent in two polls in the early states. So far nine candidates have qualified for the November debate, with Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota securing her spot this week.

Three candidates who were in the October debate have yet to qualify for November: former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and the former housing secretary Julián Castro.

With less than $700,000 in the bank entering October, Mr. Castro has said he may quit the race at the end of this month if he does not raise an additional $800,000. By comparison, Mr. Sanders had the most money in the bank, $33.7 million.

Missing the debate stage has so far been a virtual death knell for campaigns. Those candidates who have dropped out — most recently Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio on Thursday — did so either after they missed previous debate thresholds or were on track to miss them.

To count toward the December qualifications, polls must be publicly released between Oct. 16 and Dec. 12, one week before the debate.

Matt Stevens contributed reporting.



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Video

California wildfires: One dead as Los Angeles blaze spreads quickly in peak season



Hot and extremely dry conditions in California have caused a wildfire to grow to nearly 5,000 acres outside of Los Angeles, threatening thousands of homes and leading to mandatory evacuations for more than 100,000 as the state enters peak wildfire season.

The fire, dubbed the Saddleridge Brush Fire, started on Thursday evening, and quickly grew from 60 acres to 4,600 over an 11-hour period, officials said on Friday.

None of the blaze was contained by firefighters as of Friday afternoon, as winds from inland whipped the San Fernando Valley blaze. At least one man was reported dead after suffering a cardiac arrest as flames threatened the region, and one firefighter reportedly suffered an eye injury.


As firefighters worked to contain the blaze, images and video posted online by fleeing residents painted an alarming portrait of the scene, just a year after devastating fires left 103 people dead.

“Do not wait to leave. If we ask you to evacuate, please evacuate,” Los Angeles Fire Department chief Ralph Terrazas said Friday morning during a press conference.

As of Friday afternoon, neighbourhoods including the affluent area of Porter Ranch were under mandatory evacuation orders. Some reports indicated that the blaze had moved so quickly that firefighters in certain places were unable to warn residents in time.

Around 1,000 firefighters were on scene, and officials said they were expected to be there fighting the flames back for days to come.

At least 25 homes had been damaged by the flames, but officials were still conducting damage assessments as Friday wore on.


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With residents fleeing from the area north of LA, photos and videos showed the flames running alongside the road, illuminating the night with raging red and oranges.

“The glow that surrounded us was so bright orange, it looked like it was in our backyard,” Christie Lugo Leigh, a resident who was evacuated with her daughter and dog, told KTLA in a phone interview.

But, it wasn’t just humans who were being evacuated as quickly as possible. Judy-Lee Chen Sang posted a video of horses being evacuated on her way out, as she was helping her niece get away from a home she was house sitting at.

“I was helping my niece who was house sitting 3 minutes from our home,” she said in a Twitter direct message to The Independent. “The person’s house the fire was coming up close. This is Zelzah just north of Rinaldi and there is an equestrian centre. They were starting the staging & evacuation of the horses in the area. We are fine.”

The fires were exacerbated by the so-called Santa Ana winds, which are warm gusts that blow down from the mountains inland from the Pacific Ocean. They brought maximum winds of 46mph on Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

The Saddleridge Fire was not the only blaze in California, however.

In nearby Calimesa, a trash truck had caused a fire after a load of burning trash was spread into weeds and vegetation. And, across the state, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said they were responding to at least seven fires. 



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