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California Briefing

California Briefing: Relief in the form of an arrest

Plus: Josh Gad in an R-rated live-action canine comedy

Welcome to the California Briefing, the weekly dispatch of California Jewish links by Louis Keene. In this edition: A spate of ugly incidents in LA end with an arrest. Plus: Ben Stiller goes avant-garde and a dog movie for grown-ups.

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First, a swastika at LACMA — then twin shootings in Pico-Robertson — then an arrest

Police remain on the scene hours after a Jewish man was shot on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2022, after leaving morning services at the Pinto Synagogue in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles Photo by Louis Keene

A swastika put up in public does not necessarily precede violence, but this week in Los Angeles, it did.

A Nazi flag — apparently made out of a few dozen pieces of tape — was photographed early Monday morning on a security fence between the LA County Museum of Art and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. By 8 a.m., a LACMA security guard who spotted it had already taken it down. The student newspaper of Shalhevet, an Orthodox high school nearby, has that story.

Two days later, a Jewish man walking home from morning services at a rabbi’s residence was shot on a residential street in Pico-Robertson, about two miles away from LACMA. No suspect was named or apprehended, and the shooter got away in a Honda sedan. The victim was taken to the hospital and released later that day. The next day — Thursday — another shooting happened two blocks away from the first one. Again, the victim was a Jewish man walking home from services, but this time the driver was wearing a black mask.

LAPD was reluctant to call the incidents related, and by the time it did Thursday evening, it was a few minutes away from making an arrest. The man was arrested in Riverside County at around 5:45 p.m. According to LAPD, he was in possession of a rifle and a handgun at the time. The Jewish Federation said the suspect had a history of animus towards Jewish people.

Follow the full story on the Forward and on my Twitter feed.

What we’re watching and not watching

?  Hollywood, bless its Jewish soul, is bringing us an R-rated live-action dog comedy whose ensemble cast includes Josh Gad (Frozen) and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers). Dogs saying the f-word? Can you say Oscar bait?

?  Finding out his great-grandfather was an innkeeper in Mandatory Palestine clearly moved David Duchovnywho learned the story on the PBS show Finding Your Roots. (Cue X-Files theme.)

?  If you’re in LA and like real movies, you should be following Mezzanine, a roving independent film screening curated by Micah Gottlieb, who usually gets one of the chosen film’s makers or a critic to present it. The movies always make me feel something, and they usually sell out. I like being in the crowd, but my favorite thing about Mezzanine is the short trailers Gottlieb creates for each screening. You gotta go to see ’em!

?  Ever reject a movie based on its title? Apparently the BBC is producing a documentary and podcast called We Need To Talk About Kanye. 

??  On Sunday, the Academy Museum will unveil a whole exhibit on Casablanca, featuring the doors from Rick’s Café Américain, the pianos Dooley Wilson plays in the movie, and excerpts from the diary Ingrid Bergman maintained during filming. Which is perfect, because I just saw it for the first time. (Yes, I know.)

What we’re reading (in addition to the Forward)

 Students grieve by a memorial for Thomas Meixner, a professor at the University of Arizona. (Getty)
Students grieve by a memorial for Thomas Meixner, a professor at the University of Arizona. (Getty) Image by

?  Sen. Dianne Feinstein tweeted Tuesday that she does not plan to run for reelection in 2024. That was news to Feinstein, apparently, who wasn’t aware her staff had posted it before the press gaggle showed up. Can’t believe our 89-year-old senator wasn’t writing her own tweets!

? As a brass tuba cues the credits at the end of each Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, the first title card reads DIRECTED BY ROBERT D. WEIDE. So his name was associated with iconic endings even before the obituary he wrote for his wife Linda Weide went viral. May her memory be for a blessing.

?‍?‍?  Remember Three Identical Strangers, that delightful-turned-dark documentary from a few years ago about Jewish identical triplets who were unknowingly separated at birth for a nature-vs.-nurture study, only to discover each other as young adults? Ben Stiller will reportedly play all three adult brothers in a limited series adaptation. Judging by Stiller’s being 57, my guess is it will be more dark than delightful.

?  Here’s the article about a 1,000-year-old, $30 million Tanach. It’s genuinely beautiful. Also, the words haven’t changed.

?  If a man is murdered by an antisemite for being Jewish, but he isn’t actually Jewish at all, is the crime an antisemitic murder? My colleague Arno Rosenfeld‘s fascinating investigation into a University of Arizona professor’s killing reflects some ugly trends in Jewish discourse.

Finally, in the we-are-so-lucky-to-eat-in-California department…

Boichik Bagels in Berkeley, California. Photo by Louis Keene

Boichik Bagels, the kosher Bay Area spot billed in this newsletter as “pretty good” and “crucially: large,” is expanding, again. The Santa Clara location is set to open this summer,  Huzzah!

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