California Love Scared Straight


Walter was just eleven years old when he was admitted to L.A.’s infamous Scared Straight program for graffiti related crimes. In this episode, Walter, through a chance encounter, checks-in with his friend who went through the program with him, their anti-tagging arch-nemesis, and how they have turned out after all these years.

Tupac and Dr. Dre’s “California Love” is more than just a song. To many, it is a sense of affection and loyalty to California and is the inspiration behind this show. Join host and New York Times writer Walter Thompson-Hernández as he takes us through his personal journey back to his hometown of Los Angeles. Part autobiography, part reportage, this show is a richly sound-designed audio tour that takes us into the homes of communities that are touchstones to Walter’s life.

LA is the heart and soul of the new America. A minority-majority city driven by the power of diversity, inclusion, hard work, impossible dreams, and an obsession with the future. But beyond its geography, LA is a state of mind, and we aim to connect with anybody who shares it, wherever they may be. LAist Studios exists to tell LA stories to the world.



California Love is hosted and written by Walter Thompson-Hernández; Produced by Megan Tan, Elizabeth Nakano, Tamika Adams; Edited by Arwen Nicks; Mixing and engineering by Valentino Rivera; Music by Andrew Eapen. Angela Bromstad is the Executive Producer

  1. Anita

    I love 99PI- highlight of my week.

    Thanks for sending us California Love. Fascinating insight into street art and a real talent. Love love love the journalist. Well done.

  2. Frank Irek

    Public Art such as murals can enrich the artist and the community. Artists need to practice safely on scrap materials to get good enough to do a mural on a building with the owner’s permission. This is not as difficult as you might think. Tagging, however is a property crime and is not worth the risk to your freedom and your record. It also wastes resources of organizations and businesses and workers have to spend time documenting it and cleaning it up. Use the internet for your “voice” while you are practicing and getting good at your art. Be part of the solution rather than becoming a problem. Consider being like Joe and buff out tagging as soon as you see it. Support and raise up talented artists that do murals and earn money from their art.

  3. Katherine

    Thank you for sharing the California Love podcast! The episode so well produced and I found myself very moved at the conclusion. Kudos Walter! Please keep “writing” and sharing your voice with the world.

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