Today was my last official day at the Los Angeles Times after 10 years at the paper.
It was a sad thing. I’ve been a reporter for 27 years. I was very happy to have worked at what amounted to my hometown paper.
I’m very proud of the stories I produced while I was there (see below). But I decided it was time to move on, so I resigned.
Journalism, you may have heard, is changing, and I want to see if I can change with it. So I’m heading back to my freelancing roots.
I’ve got a heroin book to finish, then a podcast to start, my Tell Your True Tale workshops to teach, this blog to write — and other stuff. I hope you’ll follow it all as I wrestle with this grand experiment.
As these LAT farewell notes to colleagues have become almost a genre in themselves, I’ll add mine:
Adios Amigos –
Though I’ve been gone for many months writing a book about the (suddenly recognized) heroin epidemic in America, today is officially my last day at the paper.
It’s been great fun writing about Cambodian doughnut kings and palm-tree trimmers, Oaxacan hamburger chefs and stolen tubas, about transgender hookers and hellacious windstorms, kidnappers in Phoenix and Indian toothbrush gurus in Buena Park, about gangster matriarchs on Drew Street and the Mexican Mafia in every barrio around.
Such a great town. So many sublime stories to tell. …
So here’s wishing you all the best.
See you on the street, or wherever those stories happen.
For those in the L.A. area, I’m exhibiting a selection of photos at Kaldi, a cafe in South Pasadena, through mid-December.
The photos are from stories I’ve done in Mexico, Los Angeles, as well as a brief trip to Bogota I took at the behest of Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, to do a story on the girl soldiers in the guerrilla militias.
Above are four of the shots: from a story on the emergence of tubas as the region’s emblematic musical instrument; a group of Mennonite kids at a school in northern Mexico, where I went to do a story on Mennonites’ involvement in drug trafficking.
There’s also Grace, a legendary drag queen in the 1980s who is now homeless, and another of a Oaxacan farmworker in the agricultural valley of San Quintin, which is south of Ensenada, Baja California.
Many more are up at Kaldi — hope you like them….They make great Christmas gifts!….:)
Once again, tuba thieves have struck. This time: Whittier High School. Four sousaphones.
Last time, Saturday Night Live did a Weekend Update bit on the phenomenon.
Lightheartedness aside, I find the topic interesting because tubas are the emblematic popular instrument of our time in Southern California — just like the electric guitar was in the 1970s.
A reporter could probably have fashioned a whole beat writing about the culture surrounding electric guitar during those years. (In Claremont, where I grew up, there were easily 20 guys in my high school class who played guitar, and, if memory serves, six guitar stores within a few-mile radius.)
I think the same is true today of tubas. Their popularity says a lot about the region and the time.