Los Angeles mag takes bunch of awards

Los Angeles won the general excellence honor at Monday night's National City and Regional Magazine Awards in New Orleans, along with five other prizes for individual staffers. Two of the winners, however, are no longer with the magazine. Steve Oney, who won for his captivating two-part profile of Westside con man Craig Raywood, was laid off last week. Joe Kimberling, who was honored as designer of the year, left earlier. Editor Kit Rachlis announced last month that he's departing later in June. Still with the magazine are Steve Erickson, who won in general criticism; Patric Kuh, for his food and dining writing; and Anne Taylor Fleming for her columns. Mark Lacter was a finalist for his columns on business and industry.

Some nice judges comments are after the jump.

Noted: Orange Coast, the Emmis magazine in Orange County, placed a couple of finalists: designer of the year (Mindy Benham) and redesign.

From the judges' comments:

  • Steve Erickson's television columns are incisive, definitive and accessible. There are no dictionary Olympics, head-scratching or wasted lines, and his use of the first person is inclusive rather than oft-putting, a rarity among critics. You feel what he feels, and that's the ultimate compliment for any critic.
  • Ariel Swartley’s literary criticism is notable for its elegant style, erudition, and range. Whether she is writing about detective novels, a culinary superstar or a memoir by a performance artist turned education activist, Swartley’s first-rate intelligence illuminates the subject, the context and the region.
  • It can’t be easy to cover a restaurant-rich town like Los Angeles year after year and still be able to write about its eateries with originality, enthusiasm and fresh language. But Patric Kuh somehow manages it with grace and style. His food knowledge is deep, his prose is well-structured, and his reviews, while meticulous in their descriptions and assessments, are often about more than just the restaurant in question. Kuh is one of those rare critics whose pieces are worth reading even if you’re not planning on dining out in his territory.
  • Anne Taylor Fleming's writing is irresistible like forbidden chocolates that tempt behind closed cupboard doors. She writes about the death of her stepmother, the screaming horror-film star whose strange burst of fame had slipped away, leaving her brittle and bitter. She attends her first lesbian marriage and reflects on the strengths and hardships of her own, chewing over the meaning of marrying for keeps. She ponders the difficulties and indignities of aging in beauty-and-youth-obsessed Los Angeles, and she writes honestly and candidly about women in a way that inspires women - and educates men. In writing about niggling pains and small despairs, she makes us think about the broader aspects of life and the things that, in the end, are most important to everyone.
  • Mark Lacter’s column explores the business stories behind the issues of the day, makes unexpected connections and brings readers out the other side with a deeper understanding. The writers’ strike becomes an opportunity to look at non-entertainment industries. The toy recall is a chance to study Mattel’s damage-control moves. And the real estate collapse is a chance to write about the boom in business for those sorting it all out. Lacter’s writing is clear, direct and dense with information, but the columns unfold with the ease of true narratives as they follow his reporting.
  • The only seemingly better experience than playing wingman to actor-comedian David Spade is riding shotgun with J.R. Moehringer as he explores the romantic method of one of Hollywood's unlikeliest Casanovas. Spade's dating history, which reads like a Maxim top-100 list, has attracted much admiration and even more envy. But the story behind it, which is funny, poignant and lively told by Moehringer, is one that every single guy can relate to, regardless of his skill level with the ladies. What's more, it's inspired work.
  • Los Angeles Magazine “The Talented Mr. Raywood” - Not often do we get to read such a masterful display of original investigative reporting that is wonderfully organized, meaningful to the public and engagingly told as a brilliant profile of a pathological personality. Despite its considerable length, "The Talented Mr. Raywood" rewards the reader with fresh language, spot-on observations and creativity to the very end.
  • Los Angeles Magazine “The Zankou Chicken Murders” - Mark Arax took a headline-grabbing crime story, one that involved a L.A. culinary institution, and gave it real flesh. With exhaustive reporting and thoughtful writing, he's brought to life the story of a family of Lebanese immigrants who experienced the American dream, only to have it turn nightmarish. It's the kind of nuanced piece, full of internal family dynamics, that resonates.
  • Los Angeles Magazine under Joe Kimberling's aegis has attained world-class design sophistication. From intriguing combinations of typography and visual imagery, Joe's Los Angeles Magazine leaps at the reader. Like the city, the magazine is alive at all hours. It's like a 24-7 print version of the whole L.A. scene.
  • Lisa Lewis brings Los Angeles Magazine a sublime energy and focus. Her typography and photo art direction reflect the city's exuberance and forward thinking approach to living. With bold strokes of striking scale and color choices, Lisa paints the city on the pages with her designs and photography. She combines the two to make a perfect collision of the urban and the urbane.
  • Mindy Benham shows great variety in her designs with a lively package on the always fascinating Richard Nixon, pegged to the film release of Frost-Nixon, to a campy photo treatment on Roller Derby queens to a stunning illustration of a beloved literary mentor.
  • The Orange Coast design evolved from a tried-and-true format with tired typography to a smashing and friendly redesigned magazine. What a difference. The typography is inspired with accessible style that still maintains credibility. The architecture helps define the personality of the publication, and the new commitment to visual storytelling is commendable

More by Kevin Roderick:
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