Posts Tagged: Natasha Vargas-Cooper
9

Murder In Los Angeles

I have one spiritual ritual in my life: every morning I check the Los Angeles Times' Homicide Report blog to learn who was killed in Los Angeles County while I slept.1

The Homicide Report addresses two questions every newspaper covering a major metropolis should answer: who was killed last night, and why? But most newspapers don’t do this because the logic of most newsrooms is that not all murders are sexy, grisly, or surprising enough to be written about. The Homicide Report operates on the inverse principal: Every murder gets a story because murder is inherently worthy of our attention.2

The Homicide report is anchored by a [...]

17

Bodies Given To Science

Sometimes when we walk through the mall, my boyfriend Scott will whisper: “How many people here do you think have held a human heart?” Or: “Do you think that guy ever removed a brain?” Scott has held a human heart and he says it's heavier and whiter than you would think. He will remove a brain from a female cadaver in March.

Scott is in his second year of pre-med. He, along with two other students, based on their high grades in anatomy class, are the body preppers for this semester’s anatomy lectures. The dissections are supervised by two part-time anatomy professors. One practices as a physician’s assistant, [...]

12

The Dying Man On The Windshield

Marco Salgado was plunking traffic cones down around a hit-and-run crime scene in November of 2012 when he noticed a shoe sitting by its lonesome on the crabgrass lawn of a nearby apartment complex. Salgado, a city worker for Torrance's traffic department, asked an officer who owned the shoe. The shoe, the officer responded, belonged to a man who was found at a gas station two miles away, naked from the waist down and impaled on the windshield of a Mitsubishi. Salgado thought he recognized the shoe, chunky and strapped with fat laces, and asked if the officer knew the victim’s name. The officer did know the victim’s name, because [...]

27

Death To Zombies

Our paranormal epics, action flicks, and monster movies are stuffed with metaphor. The billion-dollar success of Christopher Nolan’s bleak Dark Knight alerted studio executives back in 2008: metaphorical thinking was in. Summer blockbusters could grapple with bigger themes and darker allegories without turning off their sebum-soaked ticketholders. This gimmick has seeped across all the blockbuster industries: graphic novels, television, young adult books. You’re surely familiar with the biggies by now: The mutant struggle for assimilation is about gay civil rights. Vampires represent our anxiety about dying alone or, worse, never dying alone. Zombies, their uprising, and our anticipated armed struggle against the undead horde is metaphor for plague—specifically, AIDS.

Zombie [...]

52

'Breaking Dawn': The Dress, The Vampire, the Fetus and the Headboard

Natasha: Did you love Breaking Dawn? Did you die during it? I DID.

Mary: I mean… CAN YOU EVEN? Because I maybe cannot. I went to a midnight showing on Court Street in Brooklyn with all of the Eighties babies. And we all DIED.

Natasha: !!!!!!!

Mary: We were STARING at each other like we weren't COMPLETE strangers.

Mary: Let's begin with the wedding as this movie does… QUE CELLO.

Natasha: This is the wedding every young girl pictures, right?

Mary: Yes. Outside. With all those plants I can't name.

Natasha: Let me just say, I SWOONED.

Mary: OH IDK what this swoonage refers to because ME TOO 360.

Natasha: [...]

0

Hear Julie Klausner And Her Family

You there! Go listen to "How Was Your Week?", a new podcast from Awl pal Julie Klausner. The first episode "features an interview with authoress/ provacateur[/Awl pal] Natasha Vargas-Cooper, a rundown of the Best Picture nominees from Julie's parents, an unfavorable review of The King's Speech, and the debut of a new title for something that we will use, one day: Oscar Madison Won't Let You Pack Your Bags." It's here, or here if you want it from iTunes.

20

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows': Two Nerds Geek Out

Natasha Vargas-Cooper: We need to talk about Harry Potter.

Dan Kois: EXPECTO CHATONUM!

Natasha: Clearly, we as Americans agree that HP7 is a FINE FILM. But as wizard nerds, like as a lady who, um, would really like to have been cast as Tonks, I have to say I was a little bummed out.

Dan: Pull out your shimmering strands of memory, drop them into your Pensieve, and explain to me why.

Natasha: Firstly, THE DARK LORD DOES NOT SIT AT A CONFERENCE TABLE!

Dan: Right, so this scene in the book is nothing but the purest malarkey.

5

Jacob And His Mother Are Wanted In Court

Pam has come to dependency court on behalf of Jacob, who is four years old. Pam wants the judge to arrest Jacob’s mother.

Pam is a volunteer in the Court Appointed Special Advocate program in juvenile dependency court in California. These CASA volunteers are independent advocates for the child during any court procedure.

“Children’s lives are ripped apart here,” Pam told me, just before the day’s session.

Jacob’s mother, let's call her Tina, is 28.1 She has a decade-long crystal meth addiction. It's kept her bouncing in and out of court-mandated rehab beds and jail cells.

When Jacob was two, Tina’s probation drug test came up [...]

6

The Demon-Haunted House Of Thuy Le

The woman who stabbed her two young daughters called 9-1-1 at six a.m. to tell the dispatcher what she had done. The woman, Thuy Le, who was 38 at the time, had also stabbed herself twelve times and slashed her wrists. Le told the emergency operator that she was at her cousin’s house and everybody was alive but that they needed help. When the police arrived at the a boxy gray and white home in Westminster, in Orange County, they found Le’s five-year-old daughter Rhiana unconscious, without any color in her face and Jobeth, 3, lying awake on a blood-soaked mattress. Three household kitchen knives and a pair of [...]

85

This Restraining Order Expires On Tuesday

The first time "Misty" broke into the backyard to pound and scream at the bedroom window, the police handcuffed her and said—her face pressed to the hood of the idling black and white—that she was not to return. I figured we would never see her again after that early morning in 2012. But the next night, around 1 a.m., I was in bed with my new boyfriend, "Scott," and we heard the bedroom door slowly crack open. Scott jumped up. "No! You can’t be here!" he shouted, all high-pitched.

At the end of this calendar year, our second restraining order against Misty expires. The Misty saga (this is the truncated [...]

79

'The Hunger Games': Bloodless, Sexless and Not Very Hungry

Mary HK Choi: Let us make discussion! First Q: did you read the books?

Natasha Vargas-Cooper: I did not! On principle! I was like, “Make it work for me, Lionsgate."

Mary: RIGHT. Interesting. I did read the books! Second Q: did you read any reviews?

Natasha: NO. Mary, I wanted to love this, love it with my whole big heart I wanted to join a team, a district, pick a teen-lit boyfriend. I DID NONE OF THOSE THINGS. Q for you! Have you seen Battle Royale?

Mary: Of course! Racist.

Mary: Have you read The Lottery?

Natasha: Of course! Racist.

Mary: See, I liked it but that logline [...]

123

The Night Occupy Los Angeles Tore Itself In Two

Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, the 300 people who have been occupying the lawn of Los Angeles City Hall for the past three weeks split themselves into two hostile camps.

Occupy LA’s decision-making body, the General Assembly, has been responsible for conducting the encampment’s business. As in most other cities, the participating members handle everything from ensuring the nightly meeting take place to doing financial research on Los Angeles-based bankers to cleaning up the trash. But on Wednesday, a large group of dissenters decided to occupy the General Assembly’s usual outdoor meeting space and assert themselves as the new regime. One man, standing at the center of the swirling [...]

7

Possible Resolutions For The Apocalypse Year

If I knew the world was coming to an end, I would fuck with impunity. I would crunch birth control pills between my teeth like they were pink Pez all day long. With the specter of annihilation on horizon, all would be carnage and I would need to start regularly shaving my legs.

I have a picture of every man I ever slept with. I’d pin each photo up on my living room wall, use a marker to rank each one based on looks, IQ and technique. I’d invite my friends over to drink and comment on the exhibition. I’d tell them all the secrets I was supposed to [...]

13

At Sharron Angle's Victory Party, Which Ended in Defeat

By the time Sharon Angle conceded to returning Senator Harry Reid, well past midnight, her victory party at the Venetian's ballroom had thinned out to a couple hundred diehards: bleary staffers, despondent volunteers, long-time (Republican) party contributors. Noticeably absent were the tea partiers. At the beginning of the night and throughout the campaign, they were easy to spot: they are a dustier sort of Republican, outfitted in jeans, zany political shirts and always gripping signs with slogans like “Trust God Not Government.” After the Las Vegas Sun called the race in favor of Reid at 9:43 p.m., nearly all had disappeared. Except one.

14

Meet Some Of The Children Who Died In Los Angeles Because The City's Child Protection System Is Broken

Between 2008 and 2011, more than seventy children who passed through the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services have died due to child abuse or neglect. Many of the lives and deaths of these children have been rigorously documented by Los Angeles Times reporter Garrett Therolf and by the paper's invaluable Homicide Report blog.

Spurred at last into action by the death in 2013 of a third-grade boy, Gabriel Fernandez, who was tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend in Palmdale despite at least six child abuse claims logged against the boy’s mother with DCFS, the Los Angeles County Board [...]

14

Courtney Love At The Courthouse

In just three hours this afternoon, the jury returned a verdict—finding that Love was not guilty of defamation.

Rhonda J. Holmes, a San Diego-based lawyer, is suing Courtney Love for a libelous tweet and quotes she gave to two different reporters. A jury in downtown Los Angeles will begin deliberating on the case this afternoon. Holmes’ lawyers are asking for $8 million in damages.

Love hired Holmes in 2008 to assist in fraud litigation over missing funds in Kurt Cobain’s estate. The two formed a quick and intense bond. After a few months of digging around, Holmes confirmed one of Love’s long-held fears: Kurt Cobain’s estate has been systematically [...]

0

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire": Your Eyes Are More Hungry Than Your Games

Once again, Mary HK Choi and Natasha Vargas-Cooper discuss the successes and shortcomings of the current popular cinema: now it's this weekend's box office burner The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Mary HK Choi: OK, did you watch the last movie ever again after the theater? I did not. Not even on the plane or VOD.

Natasha Vargas-Cooper: NOPE.

MHKC: RIIIIGHT? No desire, right? Like, zip?

NVC: Zero! And I know why: 1) Zero camp 2) Too much bad teenage acting 3) No hot teen sex scenes. Once you've seen Spring Breakers the world is DIFFERENT. IT IS DIFFERENT NOW.

MHKC: [...]

45

Is Madonna Eating Our Young? A Post-Halftime Discussion

Natasha: Okay, what did you think of Techno Roman Madonna and her 13th legion last night?

Julie: Well, to me, Madonna is like the Catholic Church or Penn State. I’ll defend anything she does, even when she's guilty. I’m loyal to the institution.

Natasha: What did you think of her football fruits?

Julie: I thought they were great.

Natasha: DON'T LIE!!

Julie: I thought she should have worn different shoes.

Natasha: This is like when the Catholic Church or Penn State blamed a sex abuse scandal on a couple bad apples!

Julie: The medley was tight, the concepts were good, it looked great and I'd say she sounded [...]

56

Judging the Cats (and People) of the Santa Monica Cat Show

Cat shows are far more populist events than dog shows. Having a show dog can cost a fortune. Beyond paying large sums for the creature’s pure bloodline, there’s also training, kennel fees, handler salaries and all sorts of other costs. Less so with the kitties. You can get a purebred cat for well under a thousand dollars and because cats aren’t bred to do much more than live in total domesticity (lying about, sunning themselves, sprawling out inappropriately on piles of work papers, kneading air muffins) the rest comes rather cheaply. The owners of show cats mostly consider themselves to be hobbyists and regard an event like the Cat Fanciers' [...]

61

The Real Cost of Drinking and Driving (Besides, Like, Vehicular Manslaughter)

"Natasha Vargas-Cooper had two drinks at dinner. Her ride home cost her more than $5,000."