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California Today: The Allure of the Los Angeles Car Chase

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A pair of burglary suspects tried to evade capture in Hollywood last year.

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KABC-TV, via Associated Press

Good morning.

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“Pursuit!” “We have a police chase!” “Get your popcorn!”

Almost daily in California, the giddy updates ripple across social media: Another car chase is tearing through the streets of Los Angeles and video is being streamed live.

Since its beginnings in the early 1990s, the televised Los Angeles car chase has been a staple of local news coverage.

But lately, the introduction of online streaming services like Facebook Live has been an adrenaline shot to the genre.

The Los Angeles Police Department is involved in hundreds of chases each year, more than enough to keep full-time helicopter teams busy at each of the major local news stations.

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The chases are often short, said Tim Lynn, a pilot-reporter for KTLA’s Sky 5. And thankfully for those put in danger, the conclusions are usually anti-climactic, with a suspect cornered and then handcuffed.

Yet the online streams often draw hundreds of thousands of views.

On Wednesday, for example, more than a million Facebook users opened up the stream of a Los Angeles pursuit broadcast by KTLA.

The action was at times heart-pounding, as a suspect wove through residential streets and accelerated to more than 100 miles an hour. A reporter called the play-by-play: “In and out of lanes, in and out of lanes!” “Uh oh, be careful. Guy on the bike, guy on the bike! Careful, careful!”

After about an hour, the driver spun out and was promptly captured.

So what attracts so many to this?

Cinnamon McNeil, who runs a Twitter account dedicated to police chase notifications in Los Angeles, said she once posed that question to her followers.

“A lot of them said, ‘It’s because I know the area and it’s fun to watch it and anticipate their moves,’” she said.

And then there’s morbid curiosity.

Mr. Lynn, the helicopter pilot, suggested that car chases tantalize us with the real chance of something awful happening. (A handful of deaths result each year, according to a review by NBC4 News.)

“It’s a fascination with the unknown,” said Mr. Lynn, who is also a former police officer. “It’s live. It’s raw. You don’t know how it’s going to end. Is he going to pull over? Is there going to be a big crash?”

One ending you are unlikely to see, however, is a successful getaway.

Once a helicopter has locked onto a pursuit, it’s rare for suspects to evade capture. In 12 years, Mr. Lynn said he has seen it happen maybe three times.

Is there a secret to getting away? Yes, he said.

Asked what is it, Mr. Lynn reminded me of his law enforcement background. He wasn’t telling.

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California Online

(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)

• California is daring President Trump to stop it from declaring a sanctuary state. Could he? [The Washington Post]

• Fact-check: The gas tax increase would make California fuel prices “the highest in the nation.” [PolitiFact]

Stockton’s new 26-year-old mayor was seen as a fresh start. Now, Michael Tubbs is expected to deliver on a host of problems. [Sacramento Bee]

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Outside Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco.

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Eric Risberg/Associated Press

• Meet the Uber executives who have left as the company faces questions about its culture. [The New York Times]

• The Department of Motor Vehicles rejects dozens of personalized license plates each month that appear to embrace bigotry. [San Francisco Chronicle]

San Francisco police officers were cleared in the killing of an immigrant, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, in 2015. [San Francisco Chronicle]

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Kevin Klinefelter leaned into the wind in Inyo National Forest, where he aimed to conduct a snow survey.

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Brian Melley/Associated Press

• California’s snow surveyors travel into remote wilderness, battling the elements, to gather data on the snowpack. [The Associated Press]

• From brown to brilliant green: A photographer shot parts of California at the height of the drought, and again this spring. [The Mercury News]

Sea lion strandings in Southern California have been linked to a deadly toxic bloom outbreak. [Orange County Register]

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Illustration by Ben Wiseman. Photos by Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Steve Sands/GC Images; Byron Cohen/ABC, via Getty Images; Sarah Shatz/CBS, via Getty Images.

• How do you write television in the age of Trump? We asked some top showrunners. [The New York Times]

• The Writers Guild staged a walkout at reality television companies — “It’s about asserting power.” [The New York Times]

• Where are the top 25 highest-paying companies? Mostly in the Bay Area. [The Mercury News]

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Lisa Bühler, the founder of Lisa Says Gah, based in San Francisco.

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Jason Henry for The New York Times

• What to wear this season? Linen, mules and more picks from three California boutiques. [The New York Times]

• The former football star Todd Marinovich on addiction recovery: “By just being honest, it’s the greatest feeling of freedom.” [Orange County Register]

And Finally …

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A screengrab from the video of Alonzo Carter, running backs coach at San Jose State, breaking into an MC Hammer dance at practice on Saturday.

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San Jose State Football

San Jose State football is enjoying a moment of internet fame, but the reason has nothing to do with athletics — it’s dance moves.

After a practice last weekend, a running backs coach for the Spartans, Alonzo Carter, was filmed getting his groove on to the MC Hammer rap anthem “U Can’t Touch This.”

But Carter’s moves were no imitation. In the early 1990s, he was a lead dancer with MC Hammer.

The stunt was hatched by Head Coach Brent Brennan, who had arranged for the song to be played after practice and then enticed Carter to do his thing, the Mercury News reported.

Carter obliged, sending the players into a frenzy.

Shared by the team on Twitter, the 45-second video caught fire and was picked up by news outlets across the country. MC Hammer himself took note, posting “Go Coach Carter!”

With no further ado, behold Coach Carter:

Please note: Because of a technical issue, some photos in this newsletter may not appear for people using the Times iPad app.

Want to submit a photo for possible publication? You can do it here.

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.

The California Today columnist, Mike McPhate, is a third-generation Californian — born outside Sacramento and raised in San Juan Capistrano. He lives in Davis. Follow him on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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