Question: Can the New York Times Magazine cover LA Westside politics without saying "Botox Belt" or "Nate 'n Al's"?
Sunday's NYT Magazine story about the high-stakes, high-bucks race to succeed Henry Waxman in Congress treats the contest as part freak show, focusing on non-traditional candidates like Marianne Williamson (she gets the lead portrait) and Brent Roske (he leads and ends the piece.) Writer Mark Leibovich, like so many before him, is fascinated first by the entertainment industry connections in the race — the actor who played Toby on "The West Wing," OMG! — and by the presence of a "spiritual guru." And of course Botox.
What the NYT thinks passes for a clever LA headline: "The Real House Candidates of Beverly Hills."
Other keywords mentioned: Eva Longoria, Courteney Cox, Danny DeVito, Betty White, Katy Perry, Alanis Morissette, Nicole Richie, Denzel Washington, Ed Begley Jr., Rob Reiner, Chris O’Donnell, Gwyneth Paltrow, L L Cool J, DreamWorks, matzo-ball soup, exotic, independent, Yiddish.
Number of palm trees seen in photos: nine or ten (close call)
Williamson, it should be noted, looks amazing for 61, in that well-moisturized-L.A.-famous-person kind of way. She is both self-assured and, it seems, hypersensitive to caricature. A Washington Post profile of her had come out a few days earlier, in which she was called “a spiritual sage” and a “New Age guru.” She called it “quite snarky” and has often complained, perhaps with some justification, of the snide perspective of many in the press. When I mentioned to Williamson that Henry Waxman appears to share that snarky view, however, she seemed genuinely hurt. She asked what he’d been saying. When I told her, she paused, took a breath and gathered herself.
Williamson said she would like to heal the public record of a few misconceptions:
1) “I would never, ever in my life say I want to go to Washington to heal the soul of Washington.”
2) It is “creepy” to be referred to as a “spiritual teacher.”
5) “I am not a woo-woo silly person.”
Among the other candidates are state Sen. Ted Leiu, former Los Angeles controller Wendy Greuel and author-KCRW host Matt Miller.