November 2009

Editor’s Letter—November 2009

by Nancie Clare

Nancie clare, editor, los angeles times magazine

Change is impossible to write about without falling into cliché. But there it is: Nothing is as certain as change, and it has come to this magazine in the form of a new editor.

Change has many companions. Opportunity is one of them. Helming this publication after being the executive editor since its reinvention more than a year ago is the opportunity of a lifetime. I relish the chance to introduce you to the wondrous, surprising and sometimes delightfully strange facets of our city through the pictures and stories we publish in this and future issues.

Some things, though, will not change one whit, including our commitment to the best images from the world’s top photographers. And this provides a perfect segue to “Poetry in Motion,” our cover story on actress Abbie Cornish. Ruven Afanador’s shots of her are transcendent. In her interview with Leslie Gornstein, the onetime farm girl from Australia responds to the idea that she is a “next” and talks about her role as Fanny Brawne, the young woman who inspired John Keats to craft some of the English language’s most beautiful poetry. (There are already whispers of nominations for her work in Bright Star.)

When the idea of a destination story on mezcal was suggested, I admit I was in the dark. Wasn’t mezcal just a type of tequila? I couldn’t have been more wrong—as in, 180 degrees wrong. Mezcal, I learned from Wyatt Peabody, who wrote “Free Spirit,” is the mother of all tequilas. And the mezcal perfected by Ron Cooper—and photographed by Lloyd Ziff—goes right back to the history of its agave roots. If you recognize the name, yes we are talking about the same Ron Cooper who rocked the Venice art scene more than 30 years ago. Cocktail cognoscenti are delighted he has found yet another palette.

Los Angeles is a city obsessed with sushi. Arguments about who serves the best have been known to strain—and even end—relationships. Food and wine editor Lora Zarubin is a die-hard fan of Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo—and especially of owner Toshiaki Toyoshima and sushi chef Kazu Shimizu—and boldly sings its praises in “(Fish) (Delicious).” Victoria Pearson’s photographs make it a feast for the eyes as well.

Tom Murray joins our roster of writers with “Man on Fire,” profiling Tom Derby, one of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s most senior arson investigators. He’s the guy whose work begins after the fire is out. It’s up to LAFD experts like Derby to determine a fire’s cause, figure out if it was intentional or accidental and, when appropriate, help catch the person who started it.

As the Los Angeles Times welcomes the beautiful new headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department as its newest neighbor, our popular “50” series showcases police badges. Inspired by his grandfather’s service as an LAPD homicide detective (who worked on the Black Dahlia case, among many others), art assistant Cary Georges has curated a collection of shields that date back to the early days of L.A. law enforcement. Among them is Joe Friday’s badge number 714—popularized on Dragnet but actually supplied by Jack Webb’s LAPD liaison.

Which brings me to another companion of change: embracing the unexpected and seeing what new directions it brings. And that is exactly what I look forward to in the upcoming issues of LA.