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The home’s front entrance is flanked by regal lanterns bought in Copenhagen and the yard’s two 160-year-old olive trees. 

(Tim Street-Porter)

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Long Beach boasts 22 Killingsworth-designed homes; after 1970, the architect’s focus shifted to designing luxury hotels and resorts.  

(Tim Street-Porter)

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A 60-foot pool stretches from the entrance of the 1961 home designed by Case Study house architect Edward Killingsworth.  

(Tim Street-Porter)

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The home has 12-foot-high ceilings largely clad in glass; overhead lath casts ever-changing shadows. 

(Tim Street-Porter)

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A central garden atrium with a translucent roof faced with lath is the home’s hub — all rooms pivot off that fulcrum point. 

(Tim Street-Porter)

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Upon entry, a vast bricked courtyard unspools with its suggested wood-framed definitions of outdoor rooms.  

(Tim Street-Porter)

Growing up in the home of a renowned architect — one who designed four Case Study Houses for that landmark program — was akin to living in a model home, at least for the children of Edward Killingsworth.

With his office less than a mile away, Killingsworth would invite clients to the family’s 1961 Long Beach home, which served as an ineffable exemplar of glass, light, air and space.

“My dad would call: ‘I’m bringing a client for lunch,’ and in walks Conrad Hilton or John Wayne,” said his son, Kim Killingsworth. “We learned to be immaculate children.”

The younger Killingsworth recently led a private tour around the 3,400-square-foot two-bedroom home — a rare look at a legacy property just sold by Crosby Doe Associates for the pedigree price of $3.3 million. Killingsworth’s actress mother, Laura, deemed “the grande dame of Long Beach musical theater,” lived in the home until her death in June at age 95. Edward Killingsworth died in 2004.

He bought the Virginia Country Club lot for $6,500 in 1953, turning it into a family project — sons Kim and Greg initially helped landscape the parcel (every box of pulled weeds earned them playtime). Later they did other jobs, such as laying bricks and sanding and finishing their father’s custom walnut cabinetry that warms the home.

“The house was my cathedral, my religion,” said Killingsworth, 69, who likened the home’s frequent cocktail parties to scenes out of the TV series “Mad Men.”

His father was the artist-genius behind Killingsworth, Brady & Smith Associates, with its 1955 Killingsworth-designed offices located on Long Beach Boulevard — another paragon of the fragile elegance that the architect spun from post-and-beam construction and glass-rich lines. Long Beach boasts 22 Killingsworth-designed homes.

His signature project was 1962’s Case Study House No. 25, with its soaring 17-foot-high entry fronting a canal in the Naples neighborhood of Long Beach. He also designed and built La Jolla’s 1960 “Triad” houses, Nos. 23A, B and C. Arts & Architecture magazine’s Case Study House program ran from 1945 to 1964, an experiment in creating innovative and affordable prototypes capable of quick duplication for the masses freed from World War II’s strictures.

The Killingsworth family home presents a modest walled exterior. The only hint of the aesthetic exaltation that lies within is the set of soaring front doors (his trademark), bookended by regal lanterns bought in Copenhagen, and the yard’s 160-year-old olive trees.

Upon entry, a vast bricked courtyard unspools with wood-framed suggestions of outdoor rooms, all mirrored in a slender, 60-foot pool stretching from the entrance. Four more ancient olive trees grace the expanse, while a pair of fierce wood lions sourced in Jakarta stand guard.

Overhead, wisteria-laden laths shot through with light cast zebraic arrays of shadow, constantly shifting — another Killingsworth trademark that turns the house into a protean phenomenon. Famed Midcentury photographer Julius Shulman “loved this house because it looks different every minute with the passing sun,” said Kim Killingsworth, a retired lighting designer who lives with his wife, Kathleen, in Garden Grove.

After that entryway, a staggering universe of luminous space, the house beyond could have been a mere afterthought. But in truth it wholly complements the courtyard — a delicate, seamless flow of glass walls invite the outside in, turning the home nearly invisible.

A central garden atrium, with a translucent roof faced with more lath, is the home’s hub — all rooms pivot off that fulcrum, wreathing the space and its 12-foot-high ceilings with glass. From this core, Killingsworth flexes his power as master of the axis point. Unrestricted sight lines flow in diverse directions.

“Wherever you stand, you’re never locked in,” said Kim Killingsworth, positioned at the atrium’s edge, his bare feet sunk into white carpet edged with brick flooring. The architect’s intent was to liberate the eye and senses — even with his smallish design, given its 0.7-acre lot (the home was originally 2,700 square feet but was expanded after a 1977 fire to include a now-finished space above the garage).

“It’s a very large small house,” Laura Killingsworth said in a 2004 Times interview.

“It is a place where two people can live very comfortably and not feel overwhelmed by unused space.”

The Killingsworths also opened their home for gatherings that furthered civic projects, including Musical Theatre West and the Long Beach Cancer League, which was “founded over there in the living room,” said son Kim, pointing to a couch. “This house has raised a lot of money for Long Beach.” The new architecture-savvy owners are reported to have similar benevolent plans for the property.

Killingsworth’s other notable Long Beach projects include the 1957 Opdahl House on Naples island, Bixby Knolls’ 1957 Clock, Waestman, Clock Law Offices, the Cambridge office building and his four decades of work on Cal State Long Beach’s master plan. After 1970, Killingsworth’s focus shifted to designing luxury hotels and resorts.


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The 24,000-square-foot mansion on Angelo Drive features five kitchens, two wine rooms and eight bedrooms.
 

(Simon Berlyn)

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The house sits on a lot where late poet-songwriter Rod McKuen’s longtime residence once stood.
 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Outdoor amenities include a swimming pool, a bocce ball court and an outdoor theater. 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Tracy Tutor of “Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles” sold her home on North Carmelina Avenue for about $4.7 million less than the asking price.
 

(Simon Berlyn)

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In the emerald green-hued family room, there’s a wraparound bar. 

(Simon Berlyn)

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The Monterey Colonial-inspired house pairs traditional design details with bursts of color.

 

(Simon Berlyn)

A lifestyle entrepreneur, a music executive and a drag queen were among the movers and shakers making waves in Los Angeles County’s high-end real estate market in September. Here’s a closer look:

$42.75 million — Beverly Hills Post Office

On Angelo Drive, a multilevel mansion developed by private equity investor and lifestyle entrepreneur Max Fowles-Pazdro sold to a limited liability company for $3.75 million less than the asking price.

Set behind artistic gates, the 24,000-square-foot mansion has five kitchens, two wine rooms, eight bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and seven powder rooms. Plaster walls, chevron-patterned oak floors and silk and cashmere wallpaper are among interior details. A biometric fingerprint reader is used to unlock the pivoting front doors.

The mansion sits on a 43,000-square-foot lot where late poet-songwriter-singer Rod McKuen once had a home. A zero-edge swimming pool, an outdoor theater, a bocce ball court and gardens make up the grounds.

Stephen Resnick and Jonathan Nash of Hilton & Hyland were the listing agents. Patrick Fogarty, also with Hilton & Hyland, represented the buyer.

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Simon Berlyn)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Jeremy Spann)

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Beverly Hills spec mansion | Hot Property 

(Jeremy Spann)

$24.9 million — Pacific Palisades

In the Huntington Palisades area, a Mediterranean-style home that was once the centerpiece of the McCormick Estate, a 13-acre compound built for a manufacturing heir, sold in a deal completed off market. It had been listed earlier in the year for $27.5 million.

Built in 1929, the bluff-top residence takes in ocean views from nearly every room. Features include a solarium with hand-painted beams, hand-waxed Venetian plaster walls and a recently updated master suite. A total of six bedrooms and five bathrooms lie within more than 6,200 square feet of space.

Outside, grounds of about two-thirds of an acre hold a terrace, a swimming pool and lawn. A brick motor court sits beyond the gated entry.

$23.45 million — Malibu

Philanthropists James and Eleanor Randall sold their Malibu home of more than a decade to a trust in a deal completed off market.

The 1.7-acre estate, set on an ocean-view bluff, includes a French Regency-style main residence, two guesthouses, a lighted tennis court and a swimming pool. The stone-clad main home has ocean views from nearly every room. Its 13,000 square feet of living space includes a chef’s kitchen with a marble-topped island, a billiards room, a theater, six bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

The property was previously put up for lease a year ago for $100,000 a month. There have been five home sales of $20 million or more in Malibu this year, records show.

Sandro Dazzan of the Agency was the listing agent. Melissa Oliver of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage represented the buyer.

$19.66 million — Brentwood

Real estate agent and “Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles” personality Tracy Tutor sold a home she owned in a trust on North Carmelina Avenue for about $4.7 million less than the asking price.

The Monterey Colonial-inspired house was designed by architect Stephen Giannetti and built in 2008. It has about 11,000 square feet of living space, a two-story entry, a library/billiards room and a bar. In the living room, sets of French doors open directly to a covered lounge. There are seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

Outside, lawn borders a swimming pool and pool deck. A pool house with a fireplace sits across from the main house.

Tutor co-listed the property with fellow Douglas Elliman agent Gina Dickerson.

$16.949 million — Beverly Hills Post Office

Capitol Music Group Chairman Steve Barnett sold his home on Beverlycrest Drive to a limited liability company tied to Vestar Capital founder Robert Rosner and his wife, Cecile, in a deal completed off market.

The Spanish-style house, built in 2001, anchors a roughly half-acre hilltop lot with a swimming pool and spa. The home has about 6,800 square feet of living space, coffered ceilings, four bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

$14.75 million — Beverly Hills

Producer Lisa Henson, daughter of “Muppets” creator Jim Henson, sold her home on North Arden Drive for about $2.25 million less than the asking price. The buyer was a trust tied to Michael Patrick King, the writer-director behind “Sex and the City” and “2 Broke Girls.”

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The 92-year-old Spanish hacienda boasts character details such as plaster walls, custom tilework and arched openings. Thick beams top the formal living room, which has a massive fireplace, and the dining room has hand-painted ceilings. An updated kitchen is equipped with two islands. Including a detached guesthouse, there are seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

Outside, the property has vegetable gardens, patios and a swimming pool.

David Offer of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties held the listing. Forrest O’Connor of Douglas Elliman represented the buyer.

$13.7 million — Beverly Hills

A trust tied to television and talk show host RuPaul paid about $2.7 million less than the asking price for a European-vibe mansion on Laurel Way.

A two-story foyer topped with an elaborate dome sits beyond the entry of the 10,000-square-foot house. On the main level are a media room, an office, a wine cellar and a pair of living rooms with parquet floors. The master suite — among the six bedrooms and eight bathrooms — lies upstairs.

Outside, lampposts punctuate grounds containing a swimming pool and a gazebo.

RuPaul, 58, boasts an impressive string of film and TV credits dating to the 1980s, and his reality competition show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has won four Primetime Emmy Awards. He’s also released 12 studio albums, the most recent of which was 2018’s “Christmas Party.”

Myra and Michael Nourmand of Nourmand and Associates held the listing. Michael Libow of Compass represented the buyer.

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The foyer. 

(Realtor.com)

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The living room. 

(Realtor.com)

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The foyer. 

(Realtor.com)

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The family room. 

(Realtor.com)

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The formal dining room. 

(Realtor.com)

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The kitchen. 

(Realtor.com)

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The breakfast nook. 

(Realtor.com)

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The master bedroom. 

(Realtor.com)

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The covered patio. 

(Realtor.com)

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The swimming pool. 

(Realtor.com)

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The exterior. 

(Realtor.com)

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The back patio. 

(Realtor.com)


No, elderberry syrup will not prevent the flu

October 18, 2019 | News | No Comments

The leaves are changing. The wind comes with a faint chill. The back-to-school sale racks have been replaced by the Halloween spread.

This can only mean one thing: Another cold and flu season is upon us.

And with it, an onslaught of dubious claims about products that allegedly cut your risk of coming down with something. Lately, it seems like every single person with some combination of the words “wellness,” “natural” or “herbal” in their Instagram bio has been touting elderberry products — various tinctures from juices and syrups to gummies and teas — as a safe, natural way to ward off a cold or the flu. More than 150,000 Instagram posts have been tagged #elderberry or #elderberrysyrup. Google searches in the U.S. for “elderberry” have spiked during the last two cold and flu seasons. Even some local newspapers have bought into the elderberry-as-flu-prevention craze.

So: Is elderberry juice really something that can replace the flu shot?

“Absolutely not. No,” said Dr. Michael Smit, a physician and the medical director of infection prevention and control at Children’s Hospital L.A. He said colleagues have reported parents asking about elderberry as an alternative treatment for the flu. The word “remedy” gets thrown around a lot in conjunction with “elderberry,” Smit said, but “we don’t really use ‘remedy’ as a medical term.”

“As far as the medical establishment goes, there is no acceptable evidence to date that elderberry is effective for prevention or treatment of influenza,” Smit said.

But that’s not to say elderberry products have no place in your medicine cabinet: “I would say that there might be some value with elderberry products as far as a soothing aspect for it, just like you would get from having a glass of herbal tea.”

Dr. Malcolm Taw, a professor and director of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine in Westlake Village, says there’s a reason elderberry concoctions have been cited as cold and flu fighters in medical history.

“This will not replace the flu vaccine,” he said. But elderberry products “have, I’d say a complementary or adjunctive role.”

In some small-scale studies conducted in Norway, Australia and Israel, taking elderberry products has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms of colds and influenza. Of course, getting a flu shot can also do that, as can medications like Tamiflu. Elderberry products and pharmaceutical medications have never been scientifically tested directly against one another to see which one works better in that regard.

At the Center for East-West Medicine, Taw said they try to integrate the “best of both worlds,” marrying alternative and holistic medicine with Western treatments. When it comes to the flu, “our recommendation at our center would be to get the flu vaccine, but to use elderberry to help manage or mitigate the symptoms,” he said.

The rise of home-brew elderberry products is also cause for concern, said Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT and the author of two books about poisons. On Twitter, Blum responded to a now-deleted tweet from a user who shared a photo of an email allegedly from a Columbia professor who had accidentally been poisoned by homemade elderberry syrup.

“Believe it or not, I have poisoned myself,” the email began. “I am a great believer in natural this and that, and take tincture of elderberry instead of a flu shot.” The professor relates having attempted to make a syrup at home out of unripened and uncooked berries. “It turns out they have cyanide.”

Indeed they do, Blum said. Specifically, elderberries have glycocyanide, which she described as a kind of cyanide sugar. The seeds of uncooked elderberries contain this natural poison as a defense against predators. Eating an uncooked elderberry can lead to nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant digestive side effects.

If you’re interested in adding elderberry to your cold-and-flu-season repertoire, both Blum and Taw recommend buying commercial products over making it yourself. But when it comes to preventing the flu, the best methods are the ones any doctor will recommend: Wash your hands frequently, especially after coughing. If you feel sick, stay home.

And get a flu shot.


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I am in the finished basement of our family home, about to do my first workout with a new trainer. God knows I need it: For more than a decade, I have been losing my battle with physical fitness and, at age 57, have decided to finally get serious and fight back. My plan is to work out at least four times a week, maybe five, and not find excuses this time for capitulating to the couch.

Dressed in Yogalicious capri pants and a Calvin Klein Performance T-shirt (newly purchased for motivation), I greet my instructor, Rachel, ready to start with an easy workout she has designed.

“Happy Sunday,” she says to me, as I make sure the space around us is clear. “I’ve put together a cardio strength class for us,” she says, adding that I will need a light elastic band and dumbbells. “Go ahead and grab one or two sets, lighter and heavier so you have the option.” I dig out the band and 3- and 5-pound sets of weights from a nearby basket and rush back.

Minutes later, I am following her every movement through a sequence of squats, arm exercises and some half-plank movements. A jumping-jack routine has even been adjusted to accommodate my right foot, still somewhat weak after an injury several years ago.

“Accept where you are at present,” she tells me, encouragingly, as I huff and puff along. “You are creating change in your body.” By the end of the workout, I am sweating profusely but feel truly energized. I want to throw my arms around Rachel and thank her for making this Sunday more about exercise than eating, but I can’t.

Rachel is a hologram.

A few days earlier, a gorgeous black case with one word, “MIRROR,” written in white italic capital letters on its lid arrived on my doorstep. Inside was a heart monitor, six beautifully wrapped rubber bands of different lengths and elasticity, and a card that read, “Hello! Welcome to Mirror! Thank you for being an early member of this growing fitness revolution. We built Mirror because we were tired of fighting our ‘real lives’ for our fitness goals.”

The card was signed by Brynn Putnam, a Harvard graduate and former professional ballet dancer who founded the Refine Movement, a boutique gym in New York, and is now the entrepreneur behind Mirror.

As its name suggests, Mirror, which launched in September 2018, is a full-length mirror that one puts on a wall. Like other in-home workout devices that have jump-started a movement, Mirror streams a variety of original on-demand and live classes taken by an unseen community of fellow exercisers and led by eight motivational trainers. With Mirror, these instructors suddenly appear on the surface of the screen, allowing you to mirror their movements through a variety of workouts at different levels. What’s more, you need only the space of a yoga mat and, unlike working out on an iPad, don’t have to squint to see your trainer.

Two days after my Mirror box arrived in late August, two men delivered, installed and plugged in my mirror in less than 15 minutes. I downloaded the Mirror iOS app on my iPhone (it will launch an Android version in November), paired the Mirror with my Wi-Fi and heart rate monitor, and filled out my profile, including past injuries. (It can also be synced to a Bluetooth heart rate monitor as well as Bluetooth audio device.)

I was now ready for my first on-demand class. (I decided to hold off on a live class until I knew what I was doing.)

Standing before the Mirror, the irony of the moment was not lost on me. In recent years, I had been avoiding mirrors. Now, I was about to confront my body head-on with the help of a trainer. I scrolled through the dizzying choice of a dozen types of workouts, from kickboxing (which I had never done) to stretching and everything in between: cardio, yoga, Pilates … you name it. Within each category, I could choose classes of different levels (1 to 4) and duration (15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes).

On my first day, I chose the easiest class I could find: a Level 1, 15-minute workout led by Rachel.

When I clicked on her class, I could see the other Mirror subscribers remotely joining the session. Their names and locations streamed across the bottom of the screen: One in Houston, another in Maine, even one in my own town in Michigan.

The class was over before I could blink. I loved it … and then I hated it. At the end of each workout, the Mirror reveals key data about your performance. Mine was disastrous. My average heart rate was 64 beats per minute (was I asleep?), I had burned only 71 calories (depressingly, the same amount as half a glass of wine), and I had been in the target “zone” for only one minute. It was obvious I had nowhere to go but up. I was the biggest loser.

But then the words “Boom Jennifer, you did it!” shone out from my Mirror. I immediately logged into another class.

My journey from fit to fat officially began in 2009. Until then, I had resided in cities (seven to be exact) for my entire adult life and much of my daily routine involved walking from one destination to another. Then we moved into a house in the countryside six miles from the nearest grocery store, and the only thing my feet regularly hit was the car accelerator. My husband and I watched as the pounds piled on, and we panicked.

We put an old exercise bike and treadmill that my parents no longer used in the basement. While my husband enjoyed both, I did not. Exercising to the news or music didn’t motivate me. I joined a gym so I could take group classes, which I had always loved, but then ruptured my Achilles and spent the next six months in a cast and rehab. Returning to a full-time job, as I did four years ago after 30 years of working from home and raising three children, I quickly learned how hard it is to both work and work out.

Mirror’s fitness model totally reflected (pun intended) my life. Or as Putnam’s welcome card read, “We all deserve great content, tons of variety, true personalization, and a vibrant community on our schedule in the easiest place to work out: our homes.”

It turns out Putnam came up with the idea when she became pregnant and started feeling a time squeeze between running her gym business and tending to her morning sickness. “My story is not unlike your story,” she said in a recent phone interview. “Taking 30 minutes to go back and forth to fit in my own workout was too much.”

Though she tried at-home app-streaming classes, they did not feel interactive enough and she missed the visual feedback of her gym, outfitted with mirrors. “I was sacrificing quality for convenience,” she said.

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Before I discovered Mirror, I was contemplating joining Peloton. Everyone I knew was experiencing the adrenaline of virtual fitness via Peloton, which has more than 1 million users taking advantage of its streaming workouts on bikes and treadmills. (Flywheel, one of Peloton’s brick-and-mortar competitors, just announced it will close 11 of its 42 locations nationwide.)

Although Putnam will not yet disclose Mirror’s sales numbers, she said it exceeded its first-year target during last year’s holiday season and that there were now Mirrors in every state. To keep up with demand, this November, Mirror is opening its second store, in Century City. Its first is in New York’s Flatiron District.

Mirror is not inexpensive at $1,495, but it costs less than the Peloton bike ($2,245) and far less than the Peloton treadmill ($4,295). Mirror is waiving its delivery and installation fee of $250 and offering a 36-month, zero-interest payment plan that comes out to $42 a month. (According to Putnam, 40% of Mirror users have chosen that option.) The monthly subscription fee is the same as Peloton at $39, and like Peloton, one Mirror subscription allows multiple users (in the case of Mirror, six per subscription). I could see how it might benefit other members of my family given that the app includes an easy chair class my elderly parents might enjoy, and even pre- and postnatal classes (though I am not ready to be a grandmother).

Considering I had been paying $25 a week for a Saturday morning Pilates class (not including gas), this felt like a bargain. If for some reason I did not like what I saw in the Mirror within 30 days, I could return it, though I would have to pay $250 for its delivery back to the company.

In my first Mirror month, I worked out on average four times a week. If I woke up late with little time before work, feeling groggy, I would take a 15-minute yoga, stretch or toning class (though they were still tough as I advanced to a few Level 2 classes after the first two weeks). If I woke up early and bright-eyed, I would take a 30-minute cardio dance or kickboxing class. (When alone, you try new classes, unfazed if you trip over a dance move or kick the mirror by accident.)

My enthusiasm was so great, I started canceling happy hour with friends and instead invited them over to hang with my Mirror and me … and Rachel and Julie and Lance, my Mirror trainers who felt like my new best friends. Why drink calories when you could burn them? On weekends, I would participate in live workouts where I could hear my teacher shout out to me in real time, “Keep it up, Jennifer!” as I and my fellow classmates sent emojis during a water break that would light up next to our names, proving we were present … and alive. I even did a Tracy Anderson class (Mirror has a content partnership with her).

When I had to travel one week, I missed my Mirror and wished my hotel gym had one (a number of luxury hotels apparently do have Mirrors now, as do Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Ellen DeGeneres). Last week, I tried my first Level 3, 45-minute strength class with a new trainer, Gerren. At the end, I marveled at my results. I had burned nearly 500 calories, been in the zone for 22 minutes, and had an average heart rate of 115. I have not lost 10 pounds, but I have lost five. And I feel stronger, more empowered, and more motivated to get in shape than I have in a decade.

On Oct. 8, Mirror launched a two-way audio and video experience that is analogous to having a personal trainer in your home. For $40 for a 30-minute session, trainers will be able to see and hear their clients, and give feedback and corrections in real time.

I hope to have Rachel, my first trainer. But I still won’t be able to hug her when class is over.


“When I was little, I used to love to read the classified car ads iysAutoweek,” said Randy Nonnenberg, the Bring a Trailer cofounder and chief executive, his bright blue eyes flashing at the memory. “I’d even cut some of them out and pin them to my wall.”

Recently, I visited Nonnenberg, a bona fide car nut (as well as an engineer and entrepreneur), and his team of 18 in their open-plan, sheet metal-filled offices in San Francisco. The company’s winning formula is auctioning collectible cars online in real time, 50-plus a day, five days a week.

The daily lineup, hand-honed by Howard Swig, head of auctions, and his team, never fails to find the delicate balance between variety, rarity and nostalgia. The mix is often actually weird, and usually weirdly successful. Cars with clean histories, fanboy followings and delectable stories rise to the top. “We look at each submission from a buyer’s perspective: What important model-specific details would a prospective bidder need to see about a specific vehicle to make an educated decision to buy?” says Swig. “We also want to list cars (and trucks and motorcycles) across a spectrum of condition and price. Every day it’s a choice between quality and quantity.”

Up until now, if you wanted to buy a Chevy Corvair, say, or a Datsun 240Z or a mint-condition, air-cooled Porsche 911, you’d go to eBay Motors, Craigslist, Hemmings, dealer sites or one of the live auction houses — from Russo and Steele and Barrett-Jackson to higher-end concerns like RM Sotheby’s. The collective online offerings from these sources are vast but leave the average buyer needing to go elsewhere to research. Live auctions pose their own limitations: They allow buyers to get up close to the cars, but the sales events happen only a few times a year, so it’s hit or miss, depending on what you’re looking for. They also tend to be more expensive — for buyer and seller.

Bring a Trailer quietly stepped into the online auction space in 2014 with three auctions a week (it now offers 275). In a few short years, the startup has successfully disrupted a crowded space with a solution no one had thought they needed — and that others want to copy.

Part of BaT’s secret sauce is the quirky daily model mix, which loyalists consume as if it were breaking news. Another ingredient is the level of service the company provides to each seller. It is exceedingly careful about the cars it accepts; Swig gives the nod to only 40-50% of vehicles submitted. Once a car passes muster, the seller is assigned a specialist/writer who captures all available information about a vehicle. The specialist tracks the sale once it’s live, jumping in to answer questions and comments over the auction’s seven days.

Moreover, unlike its competitors, BaT is a living repository for all information it’s ever posted about a car. You can see, for free, the prices the vehicle you want has commanded in past sales on BaT. (If you really want to, you can click all the way back to Nonnenberg’s first post in 2007 about an Austin-Healey he found on Craigslist.) BaT is fully transparent about all costs associated with selling and buying — an important component of the trust it has garnered from some of the industry’s most knowledgeable automotive experts.

That rabid tribe of aficionados, the third component of what sets BaT apart, is an ever-growing pack: 130,000 registered bidders and 195,000 subscribers to the daily email newsletter. Those numbers, according to Nonnenberg, are growing by 10% a month.

That engaged audience is neither random nor unintelligent about the cars for sale. In other words, these aren’t people with too much time on their hands. They are seasoned owners, buyers, dealers, mechanics and loyalists who have come to realize that BaT is a site of such authenticity, transparency and well, geeky attention to detail that they will take their time to weigh in and ensure the record is honest and straight.

A recent example: The suspension on an early BMW M3 caught the attention of more than a few Bimmer-philes, who questioned whether the components were stock. Dozens of comments from experts and former and current owners, all of whom had carefully inspected every photo, posed questions, teased out answers and created the human equivalent of a Carfax report — but better. “We recently listed a 1997 Acura Integra Type R with 6,000 original miles and got over 700 comments,” Nonnenberg says.

Among BaT’s fans are many automotive heavy-hitters. “The thing I like about Bring a Trailer is that it’s not extremely high end, it’s just cars of interest,” says car collector and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno. “I bought my 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint through them, and it saved me time. What makes it fun are finding cars with stories and without creepy people coming to your house.”

Other automotive insiders agree. “The world perceives that Bring a Trailer is not greedy; they are one of us,” says Keith Martin, founder of Sports Car Market. “They are enthusiasts at heart and that makes everyone happy.”

McKeel Hagerty, chief executive of Hagerty, a specialty provider of classic-car insurance — the Mark Zuckerberg of collector cars, according to one insider — agrees. “I give the Bring a Trailer team full credit. They are the best, safest transaction platform that we have today. Their community values truth, and that’s reflected in the prices.”

If your garage isn’t pining for a ’72 BMW 2002tii or a late ’60s Shelby Mustang, you can still get in on the addictive action. BaT has begun to work with nonprofits like L.A.’s Petersen Automotive Museum to sell experiences. It recently auctioned off the chance to get a ride in Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS — one of the crown jewels of the museum’s collection.

The Petersen gave me the chance to experience what the winning bidder spent $7,500 on: I slipped into the Jag’s left-side passenger seat early one recent morning and was amazed at how visceral every detail was. Even going 30 mph through L.A. traffic was a deliciously low-slung, noisy, fume-filled joyride. And if you do bid on such a rare-air moment, the funds all go to charity.

Here is BaT’s math: Sellers pay a flat $99 fee for an approved listing, which includes guidelines on required photos and vehicle history, the written listing itself (which the owner gets to approve), and live comment tracking for the auction’s duration. For $349, BaT will send a professional photographer to capture your car’s best angles. And recently BaT launched a white-glove listing service, typically for six-figure-plus vehicles.

The cost to the seller is up to $2,000 for a turnkey marketing experience. These new, premium sales tend to run on average 14 days instead of seven. “We have found that the bigger-ticket items benefit from a longer time frame,” says Nonnenberg.

On the buyer’s side, BaT charges a flat 5% fee of the sale price, capped at $5,000. As a comparison, most live-auction houses charge up to 12%.

How successful are all these auctions? BaT’s sell-through rate is 76% , and the average price is $30,000. “We typically don’t relist cars that didn’t sell, but we do introduce the seller to the highest bidder,” says Nonnenberg. “And we don’t take any additional fees if they reach a deal.”

I asked numerous industry leaders whether BaT’s growth and success make the company ripe for acquisition. Off the record, most concurred. One even said that several smart groups in the space are trying to figure out how to build a competitive platform.

I asked Nonnenberg too about BaT’s future. He acknowledged that it has had several interested potential buyers, but so far he’s not taking the bait. True to the deeply enthusiast nature of the brand he’s built, he’s not looking for an epic windfall — a good thing, since the high-touch nature of BaT isn’t easy to scale.

“Unlike friends of mine who have started companies to eventually sell them, I am doing exactly what I really love to do,” said Nonnenberg. “And I don’t want to do anything else.”


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CHICAGO — 

Chicago teachers went on strike Thursday, marching on picket lines after failing to reach a contract deal with the nation’s third-largest school district in a dispute that canceled classes for more than 300,000 students.

The strike came after the Chicago Teachers Union confirmed Wednesday night that its 25,000 members would not return to their classrooms. It follows months of negotiations between the union and Chicago Public Schools that failed to resolve disputes over pay and benefits, class size and teacher preparation time.

The strike is Chicago’s first major walkout by teachers since 2012 and city officials announced early Wednesday that all classes were canceled for Thursday in hopes of giving more planning time for parents.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said Wednesday night that the hope is for a “short strike with an agreement that will benefit our schools and our teachers.” He said Thursday morning while joining picketers outside the Peirce elementary school that striking teachers have long been frustrated by their classroom sizes and crowded conditions they face while trying to teach.

“There’s a pent-up frustration among our membership about what conditions are like in our schools,” he said, noting that Peirce doesn’t have a kindergarten class with fewer than 30 students.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was disappointed by the union’s decision to strike.

“We are offering a historic package on the core issues — salary, staffing and class size,” she said Wednesday night at a news conference, adding that school district negotiators will remain at the bargaining table and that she hopes the union does, too.

During the 2012 strike, the district kept some schools open for half days during a seven-day walkout. District officials said this time they will keep all buildings open during school hours, staffed by principals and employees who usually work in administrative roles.

Breakfast and lunch will be served, but all after-school activities and school buses are suspended.

Janice Jackson, the district’s chief executive, encouraged parents to send their children to the school that they normally attend, but said they will be welcome in any district schools.

“We’ve put together a really comprehensive plan for the students,” Jackson said. “We will make sure they are safe and they have a productive day.”

Also striking will be 7,000 support staffers, whose union also failed to reach a contract agreement.

Before the strike announcement, June Davis said if teachers walked out, she would likely send her 7-year-old son, Joshua, to his usual elementary school — Smyth Elementary on the city’s South Side.

Davis, 38, said she would otherwise have to take her son to his grandmother’s in a southern suburb, requiring an hourlong trip on a regional bus line.

“Everybody’s hoping they will come to some kind of agreement, find some compromise,” Davis said.


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BOSTON — 

A powerful autumn storm plunged hundreds of thousands of people into the dark, toppled trees, canceled schools and delayed trains Thursday in the Northeast.

The nor’easter brought high winds and rain to the region Wednesday and Thursday. In Massachusetts, wind gusts reached as high as 90 mph on Cape Cod, and about 200,000 residents lost power early Thursday.

The storm left nearly 200,000 people without power in Maine, too. The Maine Emergency Management Agency partially activated the state’s emergency operations center. Heavy rain combined with 60 mph wind gusts knocked down trees and power lines; residents were advised to look out for hazards on Thursday because many roads were unsafe, the agency said.

The nor’easter formed off New Jersey, strengthening as it traveled north. New York authorities said a wind-driven fire destroyed three houses in the Fire Island hamlet of Ocean Bay Park early Thursday. No injuries were reported.

Train delays, power outages and school cancellations were reported throughout the region Thursday morning. Leaves and debris that littered roads created a slippery traffic hazard for commuters.

Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Massachusetts, said the storm system met the definition of “bombogenesis.”

Storm intensity is measured by central pressure— the lower the pressure, the stronger it is. A storm is considered a “bomb” when the pressure drops rapidly.

“That’s why we ended up with strong, sustained winds and wind gusts,” Buttrick said. “It’s an indicator of an extremely powerful storm and not something to ignore.”

Buttrick forecast that the storm would continue traveling north and northeast, across the Maine coast through Thursday, reaching north of Nova Scotia by Friday morning.

In Portland, Maine, the sea level pressure was among the lowest ever recorded in October and most likely broke a record, said William Watson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Maine.

Most areas saw rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches, though some areas of southern New England got about 4 inches.

In New Hampshire, about 100 school districts reported closings and delays Thursday morning due to no electricity or downed trees and powerlines. A wind gust of 128 mph was reported on Mount Washington, the Northeast’s highest peak, according to the National Weather Service.

Sustained winds on Thursday hampered efforts to restore power and clean up downed trees.


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AKCAKALE, Turkey — 

Schools in the Turkish city of Akcakale, on the border with Syria, sat empty Thursday because it was too risky for students to gather in one place.

Shelling in the area since Turkey’s incursion into Syria a week ago to push back Kurdish forces had disrupted a basic understanding for Akcakale schools: Turkish students attend classes in the morning and Syrian children go in the evening. But now no one was there out of fear.

A few days earlier, a mortar shell fired from Syria had smashed through a window in an Akcakale apartment building, killing an 8-month-old child and leaving three other people in critical condition.

A Syrian family that fled the eight years of war in their home country between forces for and against the government of President Bashar Assad had been renting the apartment that suffered the most damage, said Ahmet Toran, a Turkish construction contractor who owns the building.

“What possible crime could that baby have committed?” Toran said. “They were just trying to build a life somewhere, and in a single moment their lives were destroyed.”

A cease-fire announced Thursday by the United States and Turkey, an ally, offered at least some hope of calm for residents along the Turkey-Syria border who have seen their communities suffer as a result of nearby fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces. Officials said a five-day cease-fire would give the Kurdish militias, who had been U.S. allies until President Trump decided to step aside to allow the Turkey incursion, time to move clear of a 20-mile buffer from the border.

In recent days, Turkish troops, tanks and other hardware have flowed into Syria, along with tens of thousands of Syrian rebel fighters under Turkey’s command. Turkish officials in Ankara say they want to protect their citizens and start settling Syrian refugees back in their own country.

At a border wall separating Akcakale from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, a pickup truck pulled up this week beneath a guard tower manned by Turkish soldiers in battle gear. Half a dozen young Syrian men jostled for a seat, some inside the cabin, others in the bed hugging the mounted machine gun. They patted one another on the back before heading west, following the wall to a gap where they could cross into Syria. A steady stream of Syrian teenagers posed for pictures before the wall holding up the rebel flag.

Ubaid Hassun, 57, said he normally works in construction, but that had come to a halt with the fighting during the last week. He had left his village in 2014 near Suluk in Syria, some 12 miles from from Akcakale, after Islamist fighters took control.

“There was no wall back then, we just walked across. All of us came thinking we would be going back soon,” he said.

Hassun welcomed word that Turkish forces had taken control of Tal Abyad, and hoped they would push farther and take his village as well.

“There is no good way to earn a living here [in Akcakale] for me,” he said. “Back home I had fields. I could work those again.”

At the Akcakale city hall, Mayor Mustafa Yalcinkaya did not flinch this week at the sound of another mortar blast. He said northeast Syria is not a foreign land for him. Like much of the population in Akcakale, he has extended family on the other side.

More than 3.5 million Syrians live in Turkey, many along the border in towns like Akcakale, where the population has gone from 115,000 before the war to 250,000. Ankara has partly justified its incursion on the premise that Syrian Arabs should be resettled in the places they lived before the emergence of Kurdish militias.

For many Kurds, the Kurdish militias and their statelet in northeastern Syria have been an inspiration.

Cotton fields flank the border road leading west from Akcakale to Suruc. Villagers pack the cotton into giant trucks to be sold in markets in nearby Sanliurfa, even as a war rages around them.

Five years ago along the road, Kurds living in Turkey crossed into Kobani, a largely Kurdish city, to fight Islamic State militants, in a battle that was won with the help of U.S. air power.

Turkish forces watched from hills as Kurds fought Islamic State. Ankara had allowed Kurdish peshmerga fighters to transit through Turkey and outflank Islamic State in Kobani, but Turkey never took part in the battle.

For many Kurds, Kobani was a sign that Turkey viewed Kurdish nationalism as a greater threat than Islamic State. The victory in Kobani helped rekindle an insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a separatist guerrilla group that has waged a decades-long insurgency war against the government in Ankara. It also brought the wrath of the state upon a pro-Kurdish political wave that was once touted as an antidote to the PKK’s armed insurgency.

“The U.S. helped the Kurds during the revolution in Kobani, but now they have abandoned them,” said Suruc co-Mayor Abdullah Polat, who is an ethnic Kurd. “People have lost trust in the U.S., because they keep changing their minds with each tweet.”

One hundred miles east along the front line of this war, the mayor of another frontier town was firmly behind the Turkish incursion.

“Of course we stand beside our soldiers and our people,” said Abdullah Aksak, the mayor of Ceylanpinar, which abuts the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn.

Standing atop a hill overlooking Ceylanpinar on Tuesday, Aksak was thronged by Turkish news cameras, which have enthusiastically broadcast the fighting. Two children, Aksak said, were killed by a mortar blast in a nearby village that day, and 80 mortar shells fell in the area the day before.

“They are not aiming for armed forces; they are aiming directly for civilians,” Aksak said. “We are not fighting a state; we are fighting a terrorist group. This is not a war; this is an operation against a terrorist group.”

Farooq is a special correspondent.


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Newsletter: ‘Get over it’

October 18, 2019 | News | No Comments

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

‘Get Over It’

During a Thursday morning news conference, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney came out and said it: President Trump withheld roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine earlier this year in part to pressure its new government to investigate Democrats.

After making that statement, which hits directly at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Mulvaney insisted that politics is always part of foreign policy: “I have news for everybody: Get over it.” Except later in the day, Mulvaney tried to walk back his comments.

Meanwhile, Gordon Sondland, the hotelier and Trump-donor-turned-ambassador to the European Union, joined the ranks of witnesses telling congressional investigators that they were troubled by the actions of the president and other officials to interject politics into U.S. foreign policy. (Read his opening statement here.)

And Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who is under scrutiny over the role he played in Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, has notified the president that he intends to leave his job soon.

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The Five-Day Cease-Fire

The U.S. and Turkey have reached an agreement for a five-day cease-fire in Syria that will leave the Turks in control of a wide swath of Syrian territory, force formerly U.S.-allied Kurdish militias to withdraw and require the U.S. to drop its newly imposed sanctions against Turkey.

Trump called it “a great thing for civilization.” Turkey’s foreign minister said, “We got what we wanted.” But Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, was among those not buying it: “Are we so weak and so inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America? Turkey?” In the Turkey-Syria border area, residents welcomed the cease-fire but, while they hope for calm, they see danger at every turn. Fighting indeed continued Friday morning in one border town despite the cease-fire.

More Politics

— Trump intends to host next year’s Group of 7 conference at his Doral International Resort in Miami in June, leveraging his official powers to benefit his private business holdings in a manner unprecedented for an American president. In announcing the plan at the White House, Mulvaney said Trump is “the most recognized name in the English language.”

House Democrats’ hopes for a short and focused impeachment inquiry against Trump are being put to the test by a string of new leads that could lengthen their investigation, as well as by some moderate Democrats who remain skeptical about whether the case has been made for impeachment.

— The grieving parents of British teenager Harry Dunn, who was killed in a car crash involving a U.S. diplomat’s wife, said that Trump “doesn’t understand” how much the accident had broken their family. The parents’ spokesman called White House aides “a bunch of henchmen trying to make [Trump] look good.”

Under Siege by Narcos

It was like a scene from a civil war: Heavily armed criminals laid siege to the northern Mexican city of Culiacan after the government captured Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel and the son of jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Masked men with high-powered weapons faced off with soldiers and took control of major streets; gunmen blocked entrances to the city with burning vehicles. In the end, Mexican security forces released Guzman after apparently being overpowered by the combatants.

The Creeping Terror

You’ve probably never heard of the 160-mile-long Garlock fault on the northern edge of the Mojave Desert. After all, it’s never been observed to produce a strong earthquake or even to move. But scientists say the Garlock fault, which is capable of generating a magnitude 8 earthquake, has begun creeping as a result of this year’s Ridgecrest earthquake sequence. And if you were ever told smaller quakes make bigger quakes less likely, this discovery is a good example of why you should think again.

PS: It’s never too early to start preparing, as last night’s magnitude 3.8 quake near Ridgecrest and this morning’s magnitude 3.7 quake centered in Compton reminded us. Here’s how.

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Decades before texting on cellphones was a thing, Roland C. Casad introduced a new form of advertising: text on squash. In 1933, Casad sent a squash to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On this date in 1933, The Times reported: “On the squash, which weighs eighteen pounds and is twenty-one inches long, the President will find a message addressed to himself and the citizenry at large, reading as follows: ‘When the people show as much interest in the solution of this depression as our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, does, this depression will soon be over. This is the people’s problem as much as his.’ ”

CALIFORNIA

— A pharmacy licensing exam cheating scandal has prompted the state to invalidate the scores of the more than 1,000 new pharmacists who took it in recent months — and upended their nascent careers.

— For years, Ed Buck was known for his abrasive behavior, but politicians still took his money. Who did? There are quite a few familiar names.

— The light rail to Long Beach is reopening next month. Just don’t call it the Blue Line.

— A wind-driven 443-acre brush fire burning west of Santa Barbara on Thursday afternoon prompted evacuations and the closure of a section of the 101 Freeway.

YOUR WEEKEND

— Here’s the recipe for a pumpkin spice treat you won’t be embarrassed to love. (And if you love it a little too much, could this workout routine help you lose 10 pounds?)

— If you’re a fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels — his latest lands Tuesday — try touring the fictional LAPD detective’s 15 most iconic L.A. haunts.

— Or if you feel like curling up with a new book, try tackling one of the 20 best L.A. crime books.

— Eight great things to do in L.A., including a Day of the Dead show with Lila Downs.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Back home at Fox News, Megyn Kelly had some harsh criticism for her old employer NBC News.

Paul Dano will play the Riddler in “The Batman.”

— Film critic Kenneth Turan says Taika Waititi’s uneven satire “Jojo Rabbit” is at its best making Nazis, and Hitler, the joke.

NATION-WORLD

Cuban asylum seekers who have had a clear path to legal status in the United States since the 1960s are now finding that route blocked by the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, according to lawyers representing Cuban nationals.

China’s economic growth slowed more than expected in the third quarter, with lackluster domestic demand and the ongoing downturn in global trade weighing on output.

— Born in South Korea, Christian Morales was raised by a Mexican abuela in East L.A. At his Mexican restaurant in Seoul, he’s re-creating the flavors of the home he can’t return to since being deported.

BUSINESS

— Telecommunications giant T-Mobile has agreed to partner with Quibi, a Hollywood start-up that plans to distribute bite-size entertainment designed for millennials.

— The former head of investment giant Pimco will plead guilty in the college admissions scandal, federal prosecutors say.

Wells Fargo must offer 66 jobs to women and black applicants it rejected five years ago, now that the feds have found it discriminated against them.

— Commissioner Adam Silver admits the NBA’s China conflict has hit its bottom line hard. “I don’t know where we go from here,” he said. “The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”

SPORTS

— The UCLA Bruins football team beat Stanford, snapping an 11-game losing streak against the Cardinal that was their longest against any team in their 100 years of football.

Young quarterbacks are taking over the NFL. Here’s why.

— The Lakers’ JaVale McGee says he wasn’t faking an injury. Social media isn’t so sure.

OPINION

— Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal makes the best of what’s still a terrible idea, The Times Editorial Board writes.

— Columnist Virginia Heffernan says Pete Buttigieg has the pedigree to clean up after Trump. But is that enough to win in 2020?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— “I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals”: Former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis reacts to Trump’s calling him “the world’s most overrated general” and claiming credit for defeating Islamic State himself. (Politico)

— “How indie went pop — and pop went indie — in the 2010s.” (Pitchfork)

— What looks like a fungus, acts like an animal and has almost 720 sexes? Meet “the blob,” otherwise known as the slime mold Physarum polycephalum, on display at the Paris Zoological Park. (The Guardian)

ONLY IN L.A.

Rikki, don’t lose that paddle number? Hundreds of guitars, pedals, keyboards and other music gear are up for auction today and tomorrow in Beverly Hills. But this is hardly a random collection; it’s the result of musician Walter Becker’s decades-long pursuit of instruments and gadgets as co-founder of 1970s jazz-rock band Steely Dan. Fittingly enough, it includes “the weirdest rare boutique pedals that you’ve ever seen.”

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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18th Oct 2019

Treasured jewels and sparkling diamonds shine bright in the subconscious at the mention of Cartier. The Juste un clou, the Love bracelet and the Tank are but a few of the maison‘s signature identifiers we’ve come to recognise and covet. Founded in 1847 in Paris by then 28-year-old Louis-François Cartier, the eponymous jewellery giant has become neatly woven into our sociohistorical fabric over its 172-year history, having adorned the décolletages and wrists of famous figures from Jean Cocteau to Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana.

But what of the female hand at the maison‘s helm? Piquing the interests of Coco Chanel, George Barbier and Louis Cartier, Jeanne Toussaint was hired by Cartier in 1913 as director of bags, accessories and objects. Then in 1933, her indelible mark on the company was solidified, when Toussaint was named director of Cartier’s luxury jewellery department. A title she wholeheartedly embraced, Toussaint mobilised her position in the company to introduce personal interests in Art Deco, sculpture and India to the jewellery house and its customers, precipitating a revival of Tutti Frutti-style jewellery and the introduction of its enduring Panthère collection.  

To delve deeper into her influence on the house, Cartier’s new Past + Present campaign harks back to the past in an illustrative retelling of Toussaint’s formative chapter within the legacy of Cartier. Arnaud Carrez, Cartier director of marketing and communication, as well as Cartier’s heritage department, speak with Vogue about the house’s new digital series, Toussaint’s irrevocable mark on the maison and how she came to inform the Panthère collection. 

Tell us about this new digital series. 

Arnaud Carrez: “L’Odyssée de Cartier explores where and how our maison takes its inspiration from. With this new cultural program, we aim to showcase the diverse influences nurturing Cartier’s creativity, including lesser known stories as well as strong characters, such as Jeanne Toussaint. As such, the idea of dedicating an episode to her came naturally to us. Starting the program with that particular episode is a way for us to pay tribute to this bold and visionary woman who strongly inspired Cartier’s values.”

How did Toussaint capture the attention of Louis Cartier? What was their relationship like?

Heritage department: “Jeanne Toussaint met Louis Cartier in the days of World War I. He was immediately intrigued by her sure taste, and asked her to join the maison in the early 1920s. They complemented each other very well. Where Louis Cartier was very knowledgeable about gemstones, diamonds, settings and technique, Jeanne Toussaint had a relentless creativity and an eye for contemporary fashions, especially the graphic and geometric Art Deco movement. But above all, they shared a taste for distant lands and a shared vision of style. This is why Louis Cartier naturally appointed her as his successor and Cartier creative director. She remained in that job until she retired in the early 1970s.”

Toussaint’s appointment as creative director would have been revolutionary at the time. Tell us about its significance.

AC: “At that time, in the thirties, there were very few women leading the creation of jewelry maisons or even fashion houses. In a way, Louis Cartier made an audacious and pioneering move in giving Toussaint this responsibility within our maison. That being said, Cartier has always been a maison open to the world, and the new. What Louis saw in Toussaint was first and foremost her endless creativity, her determination and passion to bringing Cartier’s style beyond the boundaries of time.”

Tell us about Jeanne Toussaint’s impact on the legacy of Cartier.

HD: “Jeanne Toussaint was obviously a major influence within the maison. She really laid the foundation for our stylistic vocabulary and creativity, but her influence extended well beyond the maison’s walls.  She left an indelible mark on 20th century jewellery. She had a deeply personal style, very distinctive, nourished by architecture, naturalism and exotic cultures. Even during her lifetime, people referred to the ‘Toussaint taste’. To this day, we keep drawing on her stylistic heritage and her endless creativity. She was visionary, bold, open-minded, curious. She inspired Cartier’s values and spirit and remains at their heart.”

Toussaint helped to revitalise Cartier’s ‘Tutti Frutti’ collections. Tell us about how she accomplished this.

HD: “Cartier and India have an old shared history. Jacques Cartier made his first trip to India in 1911, building strong relationships with maharajahs and bringing back an inspiration and unique style that has infused Cartier’s jewellery to this day.

In the 50’s, Jeanne Toussaint who had also travelled to India and loved composing her own rich and flamboyant palettes, revived and enriched what we call the ‘Tutti Frutti style’: multi-colored pieces featuring emeralds, rubies and sapphires with diamond accents around carved stones. Inspired by the colour of the gems and the gold, she also urged the designers at the firm to return to yellow gold after a predominance of platinum settings which had lasted over 30 years. 

Today, ‘Tutti Frutti’ jewels are among the most distinctive of Cartier’s designs and a considerable part of Cartier stylistic vocabulary, and we keep celebrating this heritage within each of our high jewellery collections.”

Toussaint’s designs captured the attention of strong-willed female celebrities, socialites and royalty alike. Can you elaborate on Toussaint’s connection with these clients and friends? 

HD: “Jeanne Toussaint was avant-gardist in her private life as well as in her professional life. She definitely supported female empowerment though her creations, both strong and statement oriented but also more flexible and malleable than ever, in order to allow women easy movement and to encourage a new freedom of attitude. She paved the way for other women and thought of jewellery as a way to enhance one’s beauty but also to reveal one’s personality. Her clients definitely responded to that. They were very diverse, from Maria Felix to the Duchess of Windsor, from Elizabeth Taylor to Daisy Fellowes, and many others. They all shared a common sense of femininity, [they were all] multi-faceted, free-spirited and independent.”

Tell us about Toussaint’s affiliation with the panthère.

HD: “Toussaint was ‘the panthère’. That nickname [given to her by Cartier] conveyed both her magnetic charm and her rebellious spirit, her feline allure and her sharp mind. She made the panthère her totem in life as well as in jewellery.”

Tell us about the importance of the panthère as a motif for the house.

HD: “As Cartier’s creative director, Jeanne Toussaint gave the panthère a new, more sculptural look. She gave volume and life to the cat, encouraging her designers to go to Paris zoos in order to sketch the animal in every pose. In a 1948 brooch for the Duchess of Windsor, she set a yellow-gold cat spotted with black lacquer on a very large emerald, thereby creating the first three-dimensional version of the animal. 

To this day, the panther remains a key expression of Cartier’s femininity and a driving force of our mindset.”

Why do you think the motif resonates with the modern Cartier woman today? 

AC: “The panthère is a key character and inspiration within our maison style – it truly is at the heart of Cartier’s DNA and a driving force of our mindset. It is also an expression of Cartier’s femininity which is very relevant in today’s society: determined, passionate, daring.”

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