January 2010

Editor’s Letter—January 2010

la times magazine, january 2010

The break in the calendar that divides one year from another is like a binary switch: On December 31, we look back and reflect on the preceding 365 days; then after the glittery ball drops in Times Square (tape delayed for us, of course), we start looking forward. It is as it ever was.

Who doesn’t wonder what the future will look like? For our cover this month, we gave free reign to our imagination (and the creative breadth of concept artists Massive Black) to visualize a Los Angeles where the sky really is the limit. We added flying cars, though chances are that whatever our mode of transport, its wheels will remain on terra firma. But for the folks profiled in “Visionary,” looking forward to L.A. 2050 is a full-time job. These four men and one woman are impacting how Ange­lenos will live in the decades to come. And this isn’t science fiction. There are no Star Trek–esque teleporters in any of their imaginings (so there goes that traffic solution).

As a matter of fact, not all of the visionaries profiled by Samantha Dunn and Brooke Hodge are scientists. What is striking is that all have stretched beyond their fields to seek solutions. Maja Matarić’s work on robots that assist stroke victims may have started at MIT when she was a grad student learning about artificial intelligence and computer science, but it evolved after she added neuroscience to her considerable skill set. Peter Saville’s prophetic métier helps cities reinvent themselves by refocusing their identity and self-image. His background may be in design and communications, but there is a considerable amount of economics and politics he channels to create a new vision of a city that is strong enough to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What is it about our sunny clime that generates fiction about dark deeds? Los Angeles loves its detective stories—and the writers who deliver them. In “Man of Mystery,” Robert Crais talks to noir authority (she has a Ph.D. in the subject) and Edgar Award–winning writer Megan Abbott about his latest novel, The First Rule, the second book to bring front and center Elvis Cole sidekick Joe Pike.

Sometimes you have to go pretty far to find something close to home. Such was the case with “Joker’s Wild.” Design and culture editor Mayer Rus traveled to Art Basel Miami Beach, South Florida’s annual weeklong revel of fine art and the people who love it, to find L.A. artist Eric Yahnker. The change in geography did nothing to diminish Yahnker’s satirical and wicked sensibilities.

We have more good stories than we have room in the magazine. So seek out our Web exclusive—“Strong Magic,” by food and wine editor Lora Zarubin, about the odyssey of chef Craig Strong of Montage Laguna Beach from the ocean off Santa Barbara to Rancho Santa Fe. His goal? Finding the best ingredients for the ultimate dinner cooked over an open fire.

The year is young—the perfect opportunity to begin an armchair exploration of new subjects. Here’s hoping you start with us.