I understand that the goal of this magazine is to sell lots of ads, and so they’ve steered away from edgy, provocative content. But why does that have to result in pablum? Los Angeles is one of the world’s great cities, where the mix of cultures, immigrants, movie studios, hedonism, landscape and climate create innovations that drive both high and street culture. People the world over come here for inspiration. So why can’t we have more stories that reflect this deeply strange and fascinating place instead of recycling tired topics.
For instance, we’re told in “Hunt and Seek” that “great ingredients are everywhere in L.A. – if you know where to look.” Lora Zarubin, who writes as if she doesn’t actually live here or venture far off the beaten path, says that “to its credit, Los Angeles now offers an embarrassment of riches for great ingredients.”
Um. L.A. has been a culinary mecca for a long time and Surfas and farmers markets are nothing new. I’m sure Zarubin is a fine writer. She apparently won the Julia Child award, was food editor at House&Garden and buys her fleur de sel in Paris (as she proudly tells us). So why does the piece read like it was edited by a wide-eyed and chirpy 14-year-old?
In another story, we learn that veganism “seems to have come out of the closet and gotten, dare I say, hip.” Really? Somebody tell Hollywood, quick, because movie stars are going to want to jump on that bandwagon.
The story about Compton stables was nice, but the LA Times wrote about Mayish Akbar three years ago. Fashion’s bad boy Rick Owens has been profiled in the paper too. I appreciated the Michelle Obama Q&A but like Kevin, wondered why it was buried. Andrew Bridge’s essay about his harrowing childhood in foster care and finding redemption helping kids like him was the standout piece for me, but it grew out of a New York Times bestselling memoir published seven months ago.
I sure wish magazine editor Annie Gilbar had hired more people like Sam Dunn, though, who profiled iconic LA architecture firm A..C. Martin Partners. That’s another thing this city is full of – great writers who really understand LA. So keep the shelter and bauble ads but fill those pesky blank spaces with more essays and reportage by people like noir and graphic novelist Gary Phillips or L.A.’s irreverent Miss Manners Amy Alkon. Authors such as Edgar-award winning Naomi Hirahara and Susan Straight are here for the taking. Gina Nahai, Luis Rodriguez, Steve Erickson, Seth Greenland, Mark Haskell Smith and Anthony Miller would all add color, wit and fabulist verve, and the extra bonus is they’d actually sound authentic, avoid the faux hip patter and go easy on the exclamation points!!!!
In her inaugural “Letter from the Editor,” Annie Gilbar promises that the new incarnation of the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine will provide “insider information from those who really know.” She tells us that we “know a good story when [we] read one…captivate me,” you say. “Take me to places I don’t normally go.”
I know you’re a smart woman and a veteran journo, Ms. Gilbar. And I have hopes that you’ll be the one to break the calamitous Curse that has long afflicted the LAT Magazine. But for now, mostly, I’m still waiting.