Wagner Glamorizes Apathy

On today’s NY Times Op-Ed page, in skillfully evocative prose, Bruce Wagner complains that the LA mayoral race was too boring to pay attention to:

No one here even knew there was an election last week. Elections in Los Angeles just happen, like expensive new buildings suddenly happen. Frank Gehry has said that the bureaucracy of architecture in Los Angeles is “under the radar,” so extraordinary structures can go up without anyone knowing until it’s done. Elections are under the radar as well, no matter how much they get written about. But unlike the architecture, the results are usually singularly and spectacularly unspectacular.


No one I know has ever heard of Jim Hahn. Some people I know have heard of our new mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. I myself read about him giving a speech where he was apologizing for his not-great fluency in the Spanish language. I thought that was charming. Other people I know confuse him with the actor whom Glenn Close replaced on “The Shield” or the guy under house arrest on “Desperate Housewives.” He has a kind of rascally charm and is way more sexy than the silvery, flat-jowled Dead Hahn Walking.

I think everyone agrees that neither Villaraigosa nor Hahn were super-thrilling candidates, but when well-to-do Hollywood aesthetes show up on the editorial page of the New York Times making glib jokes, you have to wonder: is the problem the candidates or the electorate?