Earlier today, the LA Times took time out of its busy schedule of ignoring their state’s imminent doom to pat themselves on the back for the fact that 75 percent of their political coverage is written by women.
That may very well be so. But the Times headline proclaiming that political reporting is not a boys’ club at the LA Times seemed a strangely limited proclamation; begging almost the question, if political reporting is not a boys’ club at the LA Times, what is?
You never know where full-throated common sense is going to turn up. Certainly the last place one expects to find it is in the pages of the LA Times. And in particular, our local fish wrapper has been biting its tongue on the subject of the animal uprising against the human population of the area. From sharks to Catalina Bison, the animals are on the march, while we sleep.
Since the departure of chief entertainment columnist Patrick Goldstein from the LA Times a few weeks back, some blogs have been kinder than others in reviewing his tenure, including for my own fine colleague on this site Mr. Jim Gibson. Others elsewhere have had difficult personal histories with Patrick, and on that I can not comment. But as the conventional wisdom has settled in on how his passing from the LAT means the end of an era of remote, distant journalism from on high, I was finding myself becoming uneasy with this storyline, feeling like it did not quite match the Patrick I knew from my five years working as Entertainment Editor of LATimes.com. Before the page is turned, I wanted to get my own thoughts on record.
I’ll start out by saying, whatever others’ experiences may have been, my relationship was Patrick was never anything but friendly and warm, which in fact, was in glaring distinction to the feelings I received from many of his colleagues in the upper ranks of the paper, many of whom remained hostile to the paper’s web growth throughout my tenure.
Today marks the end of an era for the ever-dwindling number of readers of the Los Angeles Times‘s once-mighty Calendar section: Patrick Goldstein has written his last “Big Picture” column. Goldstein, a longtime LAT veteran entertainment reporter before being granted columnist stripes and the attendant high-profile soapbox that comes with them in 2000, had a long twelve-year run, but it was a run that coincidentally paralleled the Calendar section’s long, slow decline into irrelevance, not that the two are necessarily related.
By most accounts a nice guy and devoted family man and clearly well-meaning and well-connected, Goldstein played the role of the LAT‘s main “industry critic.” Rather than breaking scoops, along the lines of ex-Variety/current Deadline reporter Michael Fleming, Goldstein’s specialty was the weekly “think piece,” sometimes assuming the role of chief finger-wag to his company town’s studio execs, sometimes playing all-knowing Monday morning quarterback when postulating why certain films succeeded or failed, and, more often than not, attempting with highly varying degrees of prowess to navigate the often bewildering prevailing industry trends du jour and put them in some sort of context. He also liked to write name-droppy recaps of power lunches he had and devoted many column inches to his kid’s schoolmates’ takes on trailers for upcoming Hollywood releases.
One would have to travel the globe far and wide to find examples of public space less inspiring than those erected by the city and county of Los Angeles in the post dream era. We would compare our recent public architecture to Stalinist housing by way of Altria 90’s era office park, but at least those had some chutzpah to them. Brezhnev Era Albanian Central Committee by way of Sunoco convenience market is more like it.
The recent opening of the Grand Park downtown is a stunning example of the sad death met by noble intentions when they come into contact with our local government. After endless public discussion about visions for this project – symposium, websites, contests – with the stated (demented) goal of rivaling the Champs d’Elysees and Hyde park combined in the middle of a cluster of government office buildings abutting two freeways on the edge of downtown – they basically put a bit more grass in an existing an already ignored park and painted the benches pink.