Vol. 1, Issue 9
Happy Thanksgiving! Stay safe out there.
What’s Up With Me?
Watch the latest episode of my show, “NewsRap Local with Justin Chapman,” featuring an interview with Congressman Adam Schiff! We talked about his new book Midnight in Washington, the House’s January 6 Committee, his thoughts on Trump running again in 2024 (Schiff thinks he will run), what needs to be done to protect American democracy, his 2002 vote for the Iraq War being the greatest mistake of his public life, the status of the Build Back Better human infrastructure bill, building up the next generation of political leaders, what’s next for his career, and more! Read some coverage of the show on Pasadena Now. And watch the new episode here.
Speaking of Schiff. I recently found this letter he wrote me in 2005 congratulating me on winning a seat on the Altadena Town Council. My, how time flies…
Watch the latest episode of “Well Read with Justin Chapman,” featuring an interview with Maria Armoudian, author of Lawyers Beyond Borders: Advancing International Human Rights Through Local Laws and Courts.
Read my latest Pasadena Now article about the U.S. Supreme Court declining to review the Pasadena Republican Club’s lawsuit against the city of Pasadena and the Western Justice Center, which was filed in 2018 and alleged political and religious discrimination for canceling an event featuring Dr. John Eastman, the conservative and controversial lawyer who wrote the January 6 memo on behalf of Trump to try to pressure Pence into rejecting Biden’s electoral college votes. Read it here. And read my original article about this story in 2018 in Pasadena Weekly.
Pasadena Media produced this news brief segment about my 2nd and 3rd place LA Press Club journalism awards.
I did some voiceover (as a 1950s news anchor) for Andre Coleman’s excellent audio show “Blackbirds,” about a Black family navigating the Jim Crow South. Check out the “Epilogue” episode here, and listen to the entire show because it’s amazing.
I’d like to give a shout out and a huge thank you to Sheryl Turner and the Pasadena Media Foundation, which has provided some critical support of my journalism, as well as a number of other local reporters and media outlets. We need people and organizations like them who care about local news. Visit savelocalnews.us to learn more.
Here are some recommendations for great books I’ve read recently:
Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost—Michael Bender
Not only does it have a great title, it’s also the best political book about the 2020 election and Trump’s last year in office that has come out so far. It’s more insightful, more comprehensive, and more revealing than Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s Peril, Michael Wolff’s Landslide, and Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig’s I Alone Can Fix It, among others. You really get a behind the scenes look at the chaotic Trump campaign and also Trump fans who travel to like every Trump rally and how that has given them a sense of purpose in their otherwise meaningless lives. If you read one book about this period in American history, and you should, read this one.
Ian Fleming—Andrew Lycett
A deeply reported and sourced book that looks into the life of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond and author of the original 007 novels. Those 14 books (from Casino Royale to Octopussy) are a fun read, too, by the way. I recently acquired a collection of original paperbacks from the 1950s and 60s, and it’s interesting to study the differences between the books and the movies. Before becoming an author, Fleming served in British naval intelligence himself during World War II and played a key role in numerous critical points in the war, where he got many of the ideas for his books. Fun fact: Fleming also wrote the children’s book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Stories to Keep an Eye On
International: Belarus caved and removed throngs of migrants from its border with Poland. The increasingly authoritarian nation was trying to manufacture a false migration crisis for the EU, with Russia’s backing, but it was so transparent that it fell apart. This won’t be their last trick, of course.
National: The Dow is over 36,000, unemployment has dropped to 4.8%, over 5 million jobs were added in October which is a record, vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 and boosters for all were approved, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill with massive investments in roads, bridges, and highways, improved internet access and modernization of the power grid, the biggest investment yet on climate action, and the House has passed another massive human infrastructure legislation. Doesn’t sound like the country is on the wrong track to me, but apparently a majority of Americans don’t see it that way, if polls are to be believed.
California: Recently, USC did the right thing and removed the name of a eugenicist and former university president (Rufus B. von KleinSmid) from an iconic building on campus, which houses the Center for International and Public Affairs. I knew it well from my time earning my Master’s in Public Diplomacy degree from USC because it’s adorned with flags from dozens of different countries. Now, USC will instead name the building after alumnus Joseph Medicine Crow, a Native American author who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and wrote about Indigenous culture and history. Crow was also awarded the Medal of Freedom. Excellent choice, the right move, albeit a little late. But better late than never.
Local: Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy wrote an open letter to his colleagues on the council and Mayor Gordo, saying, “The city’s executive team is decimated by upcoming retirements and departures.” He called on them to finalize an open, nationwide search within the next few weeks. And this was interesting: “I believe it may be prudent for the city council to commission a confidential exit interview of all departing staff to determine whether there are factors relating to their departures of which the city council needs to be aware.” Interim city manager Cynthia Kurtz begins December 2. She’ll be my guest on next month’s episode of “NewsRap Local.”
Spotlight on One of My Past Stories
One of the most influential assemblage artists of the past 60 years, Betye Saar is still going strong at age 95. Over the years, the artist’s sometimes controversial works have been shown at prominent museums and art galleries. Now her work is being shown in Dallas. Check out my cover story about her back in 2012 in Pasadena Weekly.
Mercedes Blackehart makes handmade, sustainable, all-natural toys. Check out her products here for the little ones in your life. The Christmas season is going to be cray cray this year. Supply chains are crippled and delayed due to the pandemic, and inflation in some sectors will likely mean higher prices. So order some gifts such as Mercedes’ toys now and save yourself the hassle and a few shillings.