Gun Violence and the Visual Landscape of Los Angeles

This large billboard currently at the 20th Century Fox studio in L.A. is directly across the street from a public park.

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The subject of gun violence is drawing widespread scrutiny right now in the aftermath of the horrific Connecticut school shooting that left 20 young children and eight adults dead.  In Los Angeles, images of gun violence are common on billboards and other outdoor advertising, sometimes in close proximity to places where young people go to school, take public transportation, and otherwise congregate.  Here is a small sampling of those advertisements.

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Bring It On: L.A. Council Members Endorse Plan To Sell Advertising In City Parks

Left, Recreation & Parks Commission president Barry Sanders; right, City Councilman Bill Rosendahl

Ocean Front Walk in Venice is locally known as The Boardwalk, although it’s all concrete—the only boards in sight belong to distant surfers waiting to catch a wave. That view to the west is free of the intense commercialism of the inland side of the the Boardwalk, with its crowded T-shirt and souvenir shops, but strollers gazing beachward may soon be greeted by a new sight—advertising signs on light poles, benches, trash cans, and restroom walls and doors. (more…)

Question: What Do These Two L.A. Billboards Have In Common? Answer: AEG’s Philip Anschutz

Top, billboard by Foundation For A Better Life; bottom, billboard at L.A. Live

Philip Anschutz is best known in Los Angeles as the absentee owner of downtown’s Staples Center and the L.A. Live entertainment complex. But the Colorado billionaire is also founder of The Foundation For a Better Life, a nationwide non-profit that makes extensive use of billboards for the display of messages promoting “inspirational” values such as courage, compassion, and responsibility, among others. (more…)

L.A.’s “Renegade Sign Bandits” In Madrid Guerrilla Action

Left, "sign bandits" poster in Madrid bus shelter; right, masked sign bandit" with faux violation notice placed last year on dozens of illegal L.A. billboards

The Renegade Sign Bandits, the anonymous group that plastered illegal signs with official-looking violation notices more than a year ago and then wasn’t heard from again, surfaced last week as part of  a guerrilla action that replaced more than a hundred ads with text posters in Madrid bus shelters and items of street furniture.   The group, which took its name from a remark made by an official with L.A.’s building department, has a new website, but what might be next on its activity calendar is anybody’s guess.  For an LA Weekly interview last year with one of the “bandits,” click here.

Rogue Sign Company That Fled L.A. Loses Court Fight in San Francisco

Fuel Outdoor, a New York company that put up hundreds of illegal advertising signs in L.A. and then took them down last year after losing a five-year court battle to overturn the city’s ban on new off-site signs, has suffered a major loss in a similar fight against sign regulations in San Francisco. (more…)

Two of L.A.’s Big Three Billboard Companies Lost Money in 2010

Clear Channel digital billboard, left; Lamar Advertising billboard, right

Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic at the intersection of Santa Monica and Westwood Blvds. with nothing to do but stare at one of three digital billboards broadcasting bright-colored ads at the captive audience in their cars.  Would you believe that owning one of those billboards with a new ad blinking on every eight seconds could be a money-losing proposition? (more…)

Council Committee Disregards City Planners, Okays Massive Electronic Signage For Downtown Towers

Raising the question of why the city of L.A. needs a planning department and planning commission, a city council committee Tuesday rejected planners’ recommendations and a unanimous commission vote by approving massive amounts of “architectural” lighting and advertising signage for downtown’s billion-dollar Wilshire Grand development project. (more…)

Advertising In Parks: The Public Interest and the Arrogance of Power

Left, Judith Kieffer, executive director of the L.A. Parks Foundation; right, Barry Sanders, president of the Recreation and Parks Commission

Given the opportunity of a TV interview to discuss the propriety of a plan to sell space in L.A. city parks for commercial ads, Barry Sanders, president of the Recreation and Parks Commission, adopted the tone of an authoritarian parent addressing slightly dimwitted children and proceeded to explain why critics—including a city council member and the city attorney’s office– misunderstood almost everything about the plan that first surfaced last fall when the commission voted to allow Warner Bros. to put images from its upcoming “Yogi Bear” movie in three of the city’s most popular parks. (more…)

Ads Coming to Beaches, Parks, Playgrounds and Other Public Spaces?

Architect's rendering of Venice's Ocean Front Walk. Red colors represent ads on trash cans, light standards, restroom doors, basketball courts

Venice Beach is one of Southern California’s most popular tourist destinations, which is one reason why the city might be eager to approve a plan to sell thousands of square feet of commercial ads on everything from fences and light standards to benches and restroom doors. (more…)

Removing Outdoor Advertising: Morgan Spurlock Takes On Times Square (Virtually)

Did you ever wonder what New York’s Times Square would look like without the huge outdoor ads?  Or for that matter, L.A. Live or Hollywood Blvd?   An ad-free environment in those two L.A. spaces has to be left to the imagination, but now, thanks to filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, you can take a virtual trip to Times Square and strip the building facades of all those glittery sales pitches for products and services. (more…)

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