Sat, Jun

No One Loved Los Angeles Like Tom LaBonge Loved Los Angeles … American Politician Dies at 67


MEDIA WATCH--On a weekday afternoon in July 2009, I showed up at City Hall for a scheduled interview with Tom LaBonge. A few minutes after taking a seat on a couch in his well-appointed office, he asked if I wanted to go for a ride. I said yes, having no idea what to expect. We took the elevator to the City Hall garage.

A few minutes later I was riding shotgun in LaBonge’s gray Ford Crown Victoria, rolling through the streets of downtown, one of his staffers in the back seat. He pulled to a stop under one of the Los Angeles River bridges and asked if I had seen Grease. When I told him yes, he bellowed “Thunder Road!” and suddenly steered the car into a dark tunnel. A moment later we drove out of the darkness and into the light—we were on the concrete flats of the river.

LaBonge saw my bewilderment but wasn’t done. He pulled out a phone and said he was calling an old school friend. When there was no answer he left a message, intoning, “Hi Annette. We’re speaking from Thunder Road, where 31 years ago you started the race that John Travolta…”

LaBonge had taken me to the drag racing spot in Grease. He was calling the woman who played Cha Cha, who starts the famous race.

This was not the common political interview, but that makes sense: LaBonge was not a common politician. (Read the rest.)