Lynell George, one of this year's exiteers at the Los Angeles Times, shows up today on the LA Weekly website with a short essay about the 1992 Los Angeles riots — or civil unrest, in her words. Before she went to the Times George was a staff writer at the Weekly from 1989 to 1993. Excerpt:
I happened to wander into the Weekly as an intern just around the time L.A. seemed to be teetering perpetually on the edge of serious breakdown. The city in the late ’80s and early ’90s was incessantly grabbing for attention, like a tabloid problem child: The murder rate had spiked, the crack wars were in full effect, and Southern California had become as famous for gangsta rap as that new controversial meme in academia — “multiculturalism.”
All I knew was that I wanted to tell stories — city stories that unearthed the unexpected. L.A. is never what it seems at first, but at this moment it was difficult to know where to start. The well was both murky and bottomless. Added to that, the Weekly offered its own distractions, a competing storyline: ex–Germs drummer Don Bolles repairing his motorcycle in the Hyperion Boulevard office lobby in his gold-lamé jump suit, or maybe a stumbled-upon afternoon freebase-klatch in the ladies room. It was easy to forget that history was happening right outside, like a 24/7 zipper board. You’d pivot between the city’s disarray and the paper’s droll, sardonic commentary on the state of things.
By 1992, it happened: The city erupted into what we finally settled on labeling “Civil Unrest.” Once again all eyes were riveted on L.A., as we sorted through our race/class mess. And I was now a reporter on assignment expected to explain the inexplicable.
George, the author of "No Crystal Stair: African-Americans in the City of Angels," had been one of the four LAT reporters designated as staff writers for West magazine when it launched.