LA Times hires freelancer as new arts and culture blogger

carolina-a-miranda.jpgThe LAT announced in the newsroom Tuesday that Carolina Miranda, who has reported for Time magazine, written for arts and architecture publications and contributed to KCRW and other public radio stations, will step in as the main writer on a new blog called Culture: High and Low. The newsroom memo is below; after that, Miranda talks about the new gig on her own blog, C-Monster (her bio there), and on her new platform at the Times website. She is a former desk assistant at the LAT and grew up around the Valley. She's on Twitter @cmonstah.

To: The Staff
From: John Corrigan, Assistant Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment

Please join me in welcoming Carolina Miranda, who has joined the Calendar team as a writer analyzing the various intersections where arts and pop culture meet. She will bring her unique and savvy voice to and helm our new Culture: High & Low blog, in which she will cover topics ranging from museums to murals, art books to comics, and art-house documentaries to telenovelas.

During Carolina’s years as a reporter at Time magazine, from 2004 to 2007, she was part of the team that broke the news of irregularities in FEMA director Michael Brown’s resume in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Carolina has spent the past few years writing for a wide variety of publications, including ARTnews, Architect, Fast Company, Lucky Peach and Lonely Planet Magazine. She also has been a featured contributor on public radio stations WNYC, WXQR and KCRW.

Carolina has also made a name in social media. Last year, she used GIFs on Tumblr to tell the story of the ill-starred attempt by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to take over the Museum of Contemporary Art. On Twitter, her legions of followers know her as @cmonstah.

Here at The Times, you can expect Carolina to tell stories in fresh and engaging ways, utilizing a spectrum of the latest audio, visual and digital tools.

Carolina, who is fluent in Spanish, has a degree in Latin American studies from Smith College. She will report to Arts & Entertainment editor Laurie Ochoa.

Please join me in welcoming her to The Times.

From Her sign-off at C-Monster, Miranda's personal blog.

As anyone who has had the patience to follow this blog since its early days can attest, things have been a little sporadic — dare I say nonexistent — in these parts over the last couple of years. Part of this is due to the fact that it seems like I’ve spent the last two years moving: from New York to L.A., from L.A. to Peru, from Peru to L.A. and all over L.A. In between, I’ve gotten altitude sickness, covered the Pritzkers, talked social practice and spent hours watching TV in the name of journalism.

Now I’ve finally settled into a new home, both personal and professional. For the foreseeable future, I will be found over at the Los Angeles Times, the paper I grew up reading and the place that gave me my first job in media back in the dark, pre-texting days of 1990. (Also, the place that bit my blog name back in 2008, but what can I say? I have a short institutional memory.) At the Times, I will have my own blog — Culture: High and Low — where I’ll cover many of the same things that have made me excited about culture over the last seven years: artists, ideas, oddities and stuff that makes me outraged and thrilled. Hopefully I can convince you to follow.

When I started this blog almost seven years ago, I never imagined I’d still be at it (sort of) so many years later. I began C-Monster (a nickname, btw) because I’d never blogged and wanted to try my hand at it. I imagined I’d do it for a few months and then move on. But I got addicted. And I did it solidly for several years, before all the other writing and radio work began to slowly overtake my time. But it’s been the best experience I could have possibly had. Blogging let me try on personas. It let me practice my writing. It let me investigate issues that no paying publication had any interest in. Blogging, in the end, helped me find my voice.

And finally, in her debut at the new LAT blog, she professes her admiration (as so many LAT writers have before her) for the writings of journalist Carey McWilliams, notably his book "Southern California: An Island on the Land."

it's the chapter on the region’s culture that I'm particularly fond of. In it, McWilliams describes the “amusingly confused culture of the region, a culture which has by no means yet succeeded in eliminating the irrelevant, discarding the incongruous, and coming to grips with the physical factors of the environment.” (Beverly Hills, explained!) He also offers a terrific analysis of the city’s architecture — a landscape that is no one thing, stuffed with Spanish Revival cottages, New England saltboxes and “Mansard-roofed monstrosities.” It was, McWilliams writes, “a wild debauch of eclecticism.” In that statement — which still rings true today — he nails an essential aspect of what makes SoCal such an interesting cultural beast: that pretty much anything and everything goes.

This is exactly why L.A., in the greater metropolitan sense, appeals to me as a writer. Southern California is an area that burps up a lot of cultural product and it’s all over the map. There’s the racial nastiness of D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” (shot in Burbank, Ojai and Pacoima, among other places) and the stark prose of John Fante’s “Ask the Dust,” set in the now-vanished hotels of Bunker Hill. There’s Ed Ruscha’s cool pop and Asco’s flamboyant Chicano-Goth performances. There’s the boys club of the Ferus Gallery, one of L.A. early, important art spaces, and the feminist encampment of Judy Chicago’s Womanhouse, which brought art and activism to a dilapidated Hollywood house in the 1970s.

L.A. has produced the sleek trippy-ness of the light and space artists and the grittiness of John Riddle’s “Ghetto Merchant,” a sculpture made from the detritus of the Watts Uprising. There are dramatic gas stations and Richard Neutra’s elegant Lovell House; the maniacal obsessiveness of the Watts Towers and the Googie insanity of the LAX Theme Building. There’s the layered historical drama of David Alfaro Siqueiros “America Tropical” and the campy awesomeness of Kent Twitchell’s 1970s mural “Bride and Groom,” above, which can be clearly seen from the top of the L.A. Times employee parking lot.


A couple of years ago, I came back to L.A. because I’m a girl who can’t live without hazy sunshine and good burritos. I grew up in the Valley (Van Nuys, Panorama City, Granada Hills) and Orange County (Irvine, where we stole smokes in the orange groves and lifted strawberries from the fields). I'm thrilled to be back home — both in L.A. and at The Times — investigating the region's culture....No single writer can capture the entirety of this massive city-state in a single blog. But, in bits and pieces, I hope to span its cultural range, from bathroom graffiti to to obscure art books.

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