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Sep. 3 2009 - 9:52 am | 3 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Michael Richards Needs to Build L.A. a Park

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal focuses on the town of Auburn in Northern California, where the city government has accepted 28 acres of parkland donated by the estate of the late eugenicist William B. Shockley. A Nobel prize winning physicist, Shockley also had the nasty habit of going on television to explain why blacks were genetically inferior.

The Journal explains more:

After his death, much of Mr. Shockley’s estate passed to his wife, Emmy, including the land in Auburn. Ms. Shockley, who died in 2007, bequeathed the Auburn land to the town with instructions for it to become a park…

The Shockley trust bequeathed the land, with $50,000 for upkeep, on the condition that the park be named “Nobel Laureate William B. Shockley and his wife Emmy L. Shockley Memorial Park.” The city council wasn’t aware of Mr. Shockley’s theories on race and genetics, said Mike Holmes, a council member and Auburn’s mayor. The city’s recreation board, which oversees parks, voted to accept the land in March.

Under normal circumstances I would be appalled to see a public park named after someone who preached the gospel of eugenics — all the way up until his death in 1989. Shockley may have been a child of Jim Crow, but he kept that torch burning long after the rest of the country snuffed it out.

However, these are not normal times in California. Given the way the way this state operates, if the town doesn’t accept the park, someone will probably find a way to cram a prison on there and name it after Ronald Reagan.

So maybe the town of Auburn is on to something. Sadly, with the city of Los Angeles facing a $500 million budget deficit, our state government an incompetent morass that’s planning to liquidate much of its park system for cash, and (with Eli Broad the notable exception) much of L.A.’s elite content to spend their fortunes on yachts and coke, the last best hope for public space in L.A. could very well be our less-than-racially-sensitive citizens.

I don’t think Mark Fuhrman has this kind of cash, so how about it Michael Richards? Let’s put some of that Seinfeld syndication money to use and get us a new park.


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    About Me

    'Nobody walks in Los Angeles' you may have heard or read or said to yourself absentmindedly. This is entirely untrue. Plenty of crackheads walk in Los Angeles. Any number of schizophrenics too. And so do I. I'm a journalist who came up through the alternative weekly world, first as a staff writer with the LA Weekly and then as a senior editor of the LA City Beat. I currently write for the Los Angeles Times Magazine among other publications. When I'm not writing I wander, usually by foot.

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