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“Rumblegate:” Independent Sources dispatched to investigate Mickey Kaus/LA Observed Dispute

The question:

Was there a gang fight in Brentwood on Halloween?

The location:

Brentwood, California
(an affluent section of Los Angeles that borders Santa Monica, Westwood, Bel-Aire and Pacific Palisades). It’s the “310″ for those who think in terms of area codes and it’s 80% white with a median family income of $130,000.

San Vicente Boulevard, considered the “Main Street” of Brentwood, is divided by a wide median on which stand many large coral trees. The median and the trees replaced the derelict Pacific Electric track, and the trees have become a Historic-Cultural Monument (#148) for the city of Los Angeles. Brentwood boosters have adopted the silhouette of a coral tree as a de facto town logo.

Is it possible that these same coral trees are what drew the warring gangs to fight in Brentwood instead of their home turf? Read on…



The backstory:

Mickey Kaus wrote:

The Warriors of Rockingham: There was a large gang fight on Halloween in the lush heart of L.A.’s affluent suburban West Side, I’m told. Dozens of teenagers, some wielding bats and chains, from rival black and Hispanic outfits battled each other around 26th Street and San Vicente, on the border between Santa Monica and Brentwood, the latter probably the most expensive neighborhood in Los Angeles. Police were called to the scene in force.** … Did you learn about this incident in the Los Angeles Times? Of course not. Too interesting! Readers would just want to know more. What’s the point?

To which Kevin Roderick (LA Observed) wrote:

Mickey Kaus reports at Kausfiles that he was told of a large gang fight on Halloween night at the corner of San Vicente and 26th Street on the border of Brentwood and Santa Monica. “Dozens of teenagers, some wielding bats and chains, from rival black and Hispanic outfits” rumbled in one of the most expensive neighborhoods on the West Coast.

Police were called to the scene in force. … Did you learn about this incident in the Los Angeles Times? Of course not. Too interesting! Readers would just want to know more. What’s the point?

So far it’s not just the Times: no one I can find has reported such an incident, including any of the three main Santa Monica news outlets. More if I hear more. * A thought: Those upscale neighborhoods around San Vicente have always been popular “destination” trick-or-treat spots for kids who live in less safe (or candy-worthy) areas. Besides, you never know if a celeb might open the door. An emailer writes: “When I was in junior high the hot street to trick or treat on then was La Mesa, which runs from 26th, just north of San Vicente, over to about 19th street, where it lets out on San Vicente. It got pretty spirited back then, but then again, we were armed only with shaving cream in those days. I wouldn’t be surprised if that story, if true, happened on La Mesa.”

And for good measure Kevin added:

A senior Times editor says the paper checked out Mickey Kaus’ second-hand report of a big Halloween gang rumble in Brentwood—just a few blocks from Editor Dean Baquet’s residence—and was told by the cops that it didn’t happen. Still no media reports anywhere. Back to Mickey…

To which Mickey had this to say:

** Update/Correction 11/4: The L.A. Times tells Kevin Roderick’s LAObserved that the police say the Halloween incident described above “didn’t happen.” I’ve now reinterviewed my source–an eyewitness who fled the scene for safety reasons–and while I don’t have a complete picture I believe there was a gang rumble of some sort, involving dozens of people. The part in the above item that is wrong is the assumption that police were “called to the scene in force.” Police were already heavy in the area, as you’d expect on Halloween. But there was apparently no mobilization of additional police or riot cops, no lights flashing, etc. … I don’t know what the police saw and what they didn’t see. (My call to Santa Monica police press office hasn’t been returned yet). It’s hard to believe they’d miss gangbangers walking around with baseball bats. They might have missed fighting in the alleys. But just because the police don’t respond doesn’t mean nothing happened. And gangbangers terrorizing trick-or-treaters by fighting each other on Halloween in the heart of Brentwood is a story most Westside parents would want to know about, I should think–even if it’s not a story you can get by just calling police headquarters.

Adding fuel to the fire (as always), Roger Jacobs of 8763 Wonderland also recapped the story and also tracked down a few additional commenters.

    Martini Republic: who calls Kaus out for the his single-source backpedalling; and

    Sean Bonner who through the question of the fight out to their gangbanger readers.

So where does that leave the story? Well, Independent Sources was the only blog to dispatch photographers to the scene of the rumored rumble and the only blog to interview “locals”.

The photos above are of the intersection in question (26th and San Vincente). Initial inspection of the area did not turn up any evidence of a gang brawl. No graffiti of the victors, etc.

I next started interviewing people and went into this Starbucks (twice, once for a grande soy latte and the other for a standard drip coffee). In neither instance had anyone working heard anything about a fight. The Starbucks is located about 100 feet from the intersection cited by Mickey’s source. I also talked to several people at the Union 76 station. Even if they had been off that night, something tells me that someone (one of their regular customers perhaps) or someone on the night shift would have seen or heard something.

A normal blogger would have left it at that. But Independent Sources is not normal. Even thought the quicker that this story died the quicker we could all get back to our pet subjects (for us it’s Lindsay Lohan). But something just didn’t seem right. Was I missing something? Was there a reason that gangs would travel to this exact spot for a fight? Several reasons as it turns out:

1. The Coral Trees. As mentioned above, these are unique to San Vincente. If you want to have a fight under scenic coral trees, it’s pretty much the only place you will find in the area.

2. Access to an upscale alley. This is not the type of alley one would see in a seedy or run-down area (like the one behind Holly Ashcraft’s apartment). If you are going to fight in an alley you want a nice clean well kept parking lot/alley. It turns out there is one exactly at the corner of 26th and San Vincente!

Independent Sources would also like to note that this alley is less than 15 miles from the intersection of Florence and Normandie. That is simply not a long drive on a Monday night after traffic.

3. Turf war. Notice the poster for the symphony that looks over the very intersection where Mickey’s witness saw the fight. Coincidence? Could a rival symphony have been tagging that night or been upset that outside musicians were coming into Brentwood? Did any of the other bloggers pooh-pooing the existence of the rumble look into this theory? I think not.

Perhaps we will never know what really happened that night and I have to admit that it is possible that the people at Starbucks and the Union 76 gas station were lying when they said they hadn’t seen or heard anything. We would be naive to think that witness intimidation could never happen here.

Then again, maybe the real story will come out and one day the address “26th and San Vincente” will be as notorious as “8763 Wonderland”!

Update:
Roger Ailes is on the case.

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9 Responses to ““Rumblegate:” Independent Sources dispatched to investigate Mickey Kaus/LA Observed Dispute”

  1. 1
    GOPINION — Monday, November 7, 2005 Says:

    [...] ael Steele, who is running for Senate in my home state of Maryland? Rumblegate@ Independent Sources # Is Mickey Kaus lying about a Halloween gang fight? [...]

  2. 2
    L.A. Observed: Los Angeles media, news and sense of place Says:

    [...] between boss Barry Munitz and the museum experts who don’t like him. ♦ Blogger Independent Sources goes into the field in search of the Rumble in Brentwood, with photos. Al [...]

  3. 3
    8763 Wonderland - Flashpoint: San Vicente & 26th Says:

    [...] emails that nothing came over the 911 network. Independent Sources, in the meanwhile, has dispatched photographers to the scene of the rumored rumble and is the only blog to interview [...]

  4. 4
    Max Patkin Says:

    I did some asking around myself. It turns out that what Kaus reported as a “brawl” was actually a group of kids caught up in an especially loud game of Risk. As often happens, one of the youngsters had sequestered his armies in Australia/New Zealand, a classic strategy that never wins the game but usually guarantees 2nd place. Another player got a phone call from mom to come home, so before leaving he sent his armies on a suicide mission to Australia to wipe out the defending troops, where with each roll of the dice he let out a mocking “g’day, mate.” The rest of the players, spread out from Kamchatka to Argentina, erupted in riotous laughter, though nobody called the cops.

  5. 5
    Rodger Jacobs Says:

    My sources are now telling me it was two warring factions of tourists from the Graveline Tours bus. Shortly after driving past the former O.J. estate on Rockingham and then the Meza Luna Restaurant a lot of loud talk broke out on the bus about the guilt or innocence of O.J. Simpson. Soon, the blue-haired ladies and the men in the bowling shirts broke of into two camps and words began flying. Fists — and maps of the stars’ homes — were flying. The bus driver stopped his vehicle to summon police but by that time the heated rumble continued into the street.

  6. 6
    Martini Republic Says:

    and nobody anywhere has heard anything about this—excepting Mickey Kaus, whose most recent words on the subject still suggest that the Times should have covered a story nobody has heard a thing about. Elsewhere: Rodger Jacobs, Kevin Roderick, Independent Sources all express their strong doubts. [joseph]

  7. 7
    Roger Ailes Says:

    Several Los Angeles bloggers have looked into Mickey Kaus’s hackpocryphal tale of dark-skinned teens rumbling with ballbats — and dirks and daggers and shivs and shanks — on All Hallows’ Eve. Reports are in from: Independent Sources

  8. 8
    A. Grimmke Says:

    Is I have mentioned at Mr. Ailes’ site, I have puzzled out the Identity of the mysterious gangs.

    They consist of teenaged hackers who contend that they never recieved a copy of X-man comic #1 promised them by their street fighting opponents, the executives of the company Jukt Micronics.

  9. 9
    Phantom Gang Rumble in Brentwood « 8763 Wonderland Says:

    [...] ing) each other around 26th Street and San Vicente.” Independent Sources » Blog Archive » “Rumblegate:” [...]