Latino Caucus may Expand to Include Non-Latino Members (Article for Extra)

The Latino Caucus of alderman is considering opening up to non-Latino alderman who have majority Latino constituencies.  This move could expand the eight member group to as many as 15.

When asked by Extra if this move would benefit the Latino Caucus Alderman Daniel Solis said, “It would be beneficial to the caucus, but more importantly it would be beneficial to the constituency.”  Alderman Solis went on to say, “It would create a better awareness (of Latino issues) for those aldermen with majority Latino constituencies.”

This plan to expand the caucus is contingent on the agreement of the current caucus members and the interest of non-caucus members in joining the group.  Solis said he thought it likely that the caucus would agree and that there would be some non-Latino alderman interested in joining.

The seven alderman who may be invited to join the caucus include Ed Burke of the 14th Ward, John Pope of the 10th Ward, Richard Mell of the 33rd Ward and four others. If these aldermen were willing to join it would not only increase the numbers of members in the Latino Caucus it would also bring influential members of the city council into the group, Solis suggested.

The plan to expand the caucus follows the city’s recent redistricting. This process redrew the wards, and using the new map and the census data it was to identify seven wards with majority Latino populations and non-Latino aldermen.  When asked about the timing of this move Alderman Solis said, “It’s a good time, but we haven’t decided yet.”  The Caucus has to convene to make an official decision, Solis said he thought that decision would come before the end of the first quarter of this year.

This article is also available en Español

Maps, A Lot of Information in a Small Space (Vámonos Vol. 21)

A map, any map, is a picture of the world in miniature.  They can be frighteningly complex, choc full of annotation and information, but they can and should be easy to understand.

A map may have a hundred or more words on it but it’s easy to tell what those words mean.  When the name of the road is written on top of a drawing of that road there’s no doubt about what that name refers to. Beyond that maps often show a number of roads, cities, and geographical features that can be identified and compared to each other.  Not only can we look at where roads are and where they go we can look at roads in the context of the world around them.

This ability to synthesize a large amount of data into an easy to read format is what makes the map one of the greatest pictorial displays of information people ever created.  It’s rare that a picture is really worth a thousand words, but a good map is worth more than a thousand.

Eduard Tufte (who Business Week called the “Galileo of graphics”) highlighted a number of maps when giving examples of well executed visual information. In his works like Beautiful Evidence, Visual Explanation, and Envisioning Information. Envisioning information is exactly what maps do.  It would be difficult if not impossible to write out all info that is visually displayed.  If you read: North Avenue is south of Armitage, which is south of Fullerton, which is south of Diversey it would be reasonable to ask but how far south of Fullerton is Armitage and for how long, when do they start, do they run parallel the whole time. With a map these questions don’t come up.

Like murals, maps put things into a larger context.  The great murals of artists like Diego Rivera or Jose Orozco that contain not a single portrait but a great group of people. Seeing many people together invites comparison.  The eye naturally references each face, in contrast to the other pictured faces. Murals also put each person or object in the mural into a larger context.

People often use maps as metaphors for plans or tactics.  They call their strategies “road maps” as though maps laid out a single path to follow.  But maps are less limiting than that. Like a mural they lay out a number of different things and give them context. Maps don’t exist to direct people to go one way, they lay out a territory and the person holding the map chooses her own direction.

Movies, Weight and Hollywood’s Visual Culture (Vámonos Vol. 20)

People in Hollywood are seen more often than people from any other place in the world. The verb can only be “seen,” because movies were seen long before they were heard. The place and its primary industry still obsess over the way people and things look.

Hollywood may not be the movie and television capital of the world anymore (that title, according to, has been claimed by India’s Bollywood) but, though Bollywood may make more movies, Hollywood’s movies are seen by more people in more places.

Other forms of entertainment are less localized, because authors and musicians don’t have to live where they are published. Musicians and authors don’t have to be seen. In this world of multi-media, authors and musicians are increasingly seen, but they don’t have to be. In Los Angeles, particularly in Hollywood, and particularly among actors, being seen is a huge part of the job. That job is so tied up with life in LA that “seeing and being seen” is a part of life for everyone, not just actors.

While sitting at a café with my girlfriend on a recent trip to Hollywood, a stranger started a conversation with me (the entertainment industry is full of extroverts). “Had any sightings?” she asked. We were tourists and sights are naturally things we would be interested in. She wasn’t citing sights, but who we’d seen.

Actors aren’t the only people who live in this visual culture. Twice, I was asked how much I weighed. As a young man of unremarkable physique (aside from height) I can count on one hand how many times this question has come up… in my entire life. I wasn’t talking to an agent or a talent scout; I was talking to friends and acquaintances.

One such friend had been told to get dental work for purely cosmetic reasons. Until that point, I hadn’t noticed his teeth and, consequently, I’m having trouble describing them. They were average, normal, B+, run-of-the-mill, maybe. Another friend told me that when she arrived in Los Angeles, she immediately felt she had to lose weight and then actually did lose weight. She says she feels out of place if she doesn’t wear make-up to the grocery store.

Another thing that strikes Hollywood tourists is the imperfect plastic surgeries. I am sure there are successful plastic surgeries I didn’t notice; people who may be 10 percent prettier than they might have been otherwise, but there also were a number of people who were best viewed from far away. As if they were in permanent costumes they couldn’t take off.

Plastic surgery is not a negative thing in and of itself but you should approach it like getting a tattoo–on your face. If you’re going to do it, make sure you are going to keep liking it.

Hollywood was great fun. I would happily have spent another three days on the beach playing Frisbee or eaten another three meals of delicious sushi. I’d even admit to being excited about seeing Miley Cirus at a little coffee shop. Also, it should be said, that the majority of people in L.A. and even in Hollywood, itself, are not actors or part of in the entertainment industry. But the effect of the film industry is so pervasive that it influences everyone. The visual culture may not be L.A.’s only feature, but the visual culture of the place was too widespread, too strange and too interesting not to mention.

You should go yourself and see what you see.