Los Angeles is a karaoke city

Hello and welcome to Essential California newsletter. This is Monday November 14and I’m Ada Tseng, associate editor of the utilitarian journalism team — “news you can use” — and, since Sunday, karaoke event planner for the Los Angeles Times.

On Sunday, The Times and Sunday Jump hosted “Let’s Talk Filipino American Mental Health (And Do Karaoke)” in historic Filipinotown. The event featured a panel discussion (which I moderated) on journalist Agnes Constante’s mental health series in The Times and was followed by a friendly karaoke competition between US mental health organizations from Asian origin. Congratulations to Little Tokyo Service Center’s Rafael Hernandez – the audience-chosen winner with a moving rendition of “I2I,” Tevin Campbell, “A Goofy Movie.”

I love karaoke. When I was growing up in San Jose in the 80s and 90s, my parents’ friends would have weekend dinner parties where they would sing karaoke in the living room until late at night.

My dad is my favorite karaoke singer. He’s an otherwise introverted engineer, now retired, but when he sings karaoke, he smiles broadly and sings those power ballads.

At first, as children, we did not participate. A lot of the songs that I associate with the 90s are my father’s favorites, from Taiwanese singers like Wu Bai, Huang An and Wakin Chau.

But eventually, I would go to LaserDisc stores with my parents and browse the selections in English. We definitely had one in intense rotation with Janet Jackson’s “Escapade”, Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last”, Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”, “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx and Wham’s “Careless Whisper.”

Later in life, I started associating karaoke with shenanigans, Koreatown, and my friends singing “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe. But for me, karaoke has always been about family, friends and community.

The Times published several karaoke stories on Friday. August Brown wrote about how karaoke fared during the pandemic. A team from across the newsroom visited local karaoke spots to bring you 29 essential karaoke spots in LA for all types of singers. (Worth clicking on it just to see the endless animation of illustrator Jess Hutchison’s karaoke room.)

And Phi Do and I collaborated with The Times’ Data and Graphics team – and musicians from Pandora’s Music Genome project – to create the ultimate guide to finding your favorite karaoke songs.

At the Utility Journalism team, we write a lot of guides, so we’re always looking for experts to explain things to us. But when it comes to karaoke, who are the experts?

There are the professionals: karaoke DJs like Adam Jones and Kiki Park, and musicians like Graeme Hinde, who plays in the live band Casual Encounters Karaoke.

There are the music experts, like YouTube musicologist Howard Ho, vocal teacher Sarah Cabrera, and singers AJ Rafael and Alyssa Navarro — who, like me, grew up on karaoke and, unlike me, recently sang a personalized Disney medley to thank their guests at their wedding. (Although my father sang a few bars of Wu Bai’s “Till the End of Time” in the middle of his speech at my wedding.)

But at the end of the day, you’re the expert on your voice – and what makes you happy when you sing.

Our song generator lets you filter proven hits by time period (60s to present), vocal range (bass to soprano), and mood.

Try it! And tell me what you think.

And now, Here’s what’s happening across California:

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.


Awaiting election results. It’s another long California vote count, with several key races undecided. When will we know the results? It could take several more days. Ballots postmarked on Election Day have until Tuesday to arrive for counting. Los Angeles Times

Karen Bass walks past. In the race for the marquee in Los Angeles, the South LA congresswoman edged out billionaire developer Rick Caruso in the race to become LA’s next mayor. Will we see a repeat of what happened in the June primary? Los Angeles Times

First Asian American to hold elected office in the entire city of Los Angeles. Times Asian American Communities reporter Jeong Park explains how two corgis and a Pikachu suit helped Kenneth Mejia make history as the city’s next comptroller. Los Angeles Times

Congressional control rests with California. A few races in the Golden State could determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the US House of Representatives for the second half of President Biden’s first term. Los Angeles Times

Full election results. Get the latest numbers as they come out. Los Angeles Times

Moderation in San Francisco? Chronicle columnist Heather Knight says the city is still as liberal as it comes, but voters there were angry and “just want a city that works — and they’re willing to put their money into good efforts. sense and good government with the aim of making that a reality. San Francisco Chronicle

Check out “The Times” podcast for essential news and more

Today, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re looking for a more balanced diet of information, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the LA Times’ award-winning newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


Ten ideas for fixing Los Angeles. The Opinion section of The Times asked city leaders for ideas on how to make the Los Angeles government more adept at solving problems. Their responses focused heavily on establishing accountability, untangling bureaucratic lines of authority, and addressing racism and poverty. Los Angeles Times

Here come back those Santa Ana winds. Prepare for downed trees, power outages and fires in Ventura and Los Angeles counties this week. Los Angeles Times

Dagny Janss Corcoran dies at 77. Times art critic Christopher Knight has a heartfelt appreciation for the famed Los Angeles art and bookseller who founded Art Catalogues, a unique and indispensable boutique specializing in modern art books. Los Angeles Times

UCLA’s shocking loss to Arizona. Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s last rally failed at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, and UCLA’s Pac-12 title hopefuls have suffered a major blow. Los Angeles Times


The role of “Capt. Hollywood” in an assault complaint against Les Moonves. We take a closer look at Cory Palka, the former LAPD commander who the New York Attorney General says told CBS about Moonves’ assault allegations and helped contain the allegations Los Angeles Times

Arrest made during an accident at the South LA carnival. Six people were injured on Saturday when a Porsche drove into a crowd at a street carnival in the historic South Central district. The abandoned vehicle was found after the crash and a man police believe to be the driver was arrested later that night. He was charged with a hit-and-run. Los Angeles Times


A Look at San Francisco’s Park Revival. In 2017, San Francisco became the first city in the nation where every resident lives within a 10-minute walk of a park. A look at seven of the two dozen new parks and playgrounds since the pandemic. San Francisco Chronicle

Time to mask up again? LA County coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising amid wider circulation of new Omicron subvariants as Thanksgiving approaches. Los Angeles Times

Flu season is hitting hard in San Diego. An uptick in flu cases is prompting hospitals to set up overflow tents in parking lots to ease the burden of emergencies. San Diego Union-Tribune


Once upon a time there was a Chinatown in this Californian town. Eureka drove out its Chinese residents. Now the story is finally told. Los Angeles Times

Are we going to ban rodeos? There’s a growing movement in California to ban — or seriously curtail — these kinds of shows. Some see it as a performance showcasing the skill, bravery and strength of a talented cowboy or cowgirl. Others say it’s animal abuse. Los Angeles Times

What if turning right on a red light was prohibited? Over the past decade, pedestrian fatalities in the United States have increased by 54%. Columnist Robin Abcarian looks at how cities like San Francisco, San Jose and Berkeley are trying to reverse the worrying trend by banning drivers from turning right at red lights. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles: 68, sunny. San Diego: 67, sunny. San Francisco: San Jose: 62, sunny. Fresno: 61, sunny. Sacrament: 58, areas of frost then sunny.


Today california memory is of MacLarsen:

In the mid-1990s, my wife and I sailed from San Diego to Catalina in the summer, docking outside Avalon for a few weeks each time. One summer, while we were bar hopping, we ran into one we thought was a good karaoke singer. It was Rod Stewart singing “Maggie May”! The strangers next to our table didn’t believe it was him, so my wife walked over to his table. I watched her chat with him and his guests, and he showed her his credit card. She returned with a bright smile. He sent us a small gift. Good guy.

If you have a memory or a story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please limit your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send your comments to [email protected]

About Walter J. Leslie

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