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Westside's Best kept Secret

Magazines

May 12, 1988|JOHN GABREE

Think of it as the Unknown Magazine, like the Unknown Comic with the paper bag on his head. Or maybe as the Magazine That Wasn't There. It's LA West, a local city publication with a circulation second only to Los Angeles magazine. And it is virtually unknown, except to the Westside residents who receive it monthly in the mail.

LA West began 10 years ago as a Pacific Palisades community newsletter called Pacific Previews. In 1980, it was purchased by Robert L. Loomis, reactivating the Santa Monica Bay Printing & Publishing Co., which for many years owned and operated the Outlook, Santa Monica's daily newspaper. Loomis converted the periodical, then called Previews, to a monthly magazine, one that retains a deliberate folksiness and community orientation. Previews became LA West in March, 1987.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 23, 1988 Home Edition View Part 5 Page 15 Column 3 View Desk 2 inches; 65 words Type of Material: Correction
A Magazine column May 12 erroneously reported that Jay Levin "was again threatening" to step down as editor of the L.A. Weekly. In fact, Levin has never before announced plans to leave the editorship, and other editors he brought into the magazine over the years had subordinate roles and titles. In addition, Levin did not ever retire to Malibu to write a novel, as the column reported. Levin says the search for his replacement is expected to take three to six months.

The editorial focus is on travel, life style and local environmental issues. "We devote a good part of the book to charitable organizations and their Westside volunteers," Loomis said. Profiles of local homes have none of the archness of the chicquer publications. Not surprisingly, considering the large British community on the Westside, there is an Empire angle to many of the pieces.

Loomis is a descendent of Arcadia Bandini de Baker and Robert C. Gillis, owner and president of the Santa Monica Land & Water Co., which in 1897 controlled 40,000 acres of Westside real estate. The family's long involvement in the community is expressed in articles on the history and development of the area.

The May issue, for example, features a 16-page section honoring the West Los Angeles Veterans Adminstration Medical Center on its 100th birthday. On the section's cover page, President William McKinley visits the center in 1901. The back page has a 1905 ad from the Angeles Daily Times promoting the Santa Monica Land & Water Co.'s new Westgate subdivision ("Residence Lots $150 Up . . . Beautiful Winding Drives and Well-Built Walks . . . Only Thirty-Five Minutes from the City . . . Soil and Climate the Same as at Hollywood . . . No Unslightly Structures Will Mar Westgate . . .").

Other articles include travel pieces on the refurbished QE2 and an excursion by train and limo to San Francisco's luxurious Portman Hotel; a look at the influence of French and English country style on L.A. interior design, and a glance at L.A.'s emerging art scene. Among the regular features are a report from Britain; extensive lists of classes, meetings, events, services, galleries, music, dance and theater, and profiles of Westside residents.

There is quite a bit of advertising in its 78 pages, little or none of it national. Although its 52,000 circulation pales by comparison to Los Angeles magazine's nearly 200,000, the demographics--concentrated in Brentwood, Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades homeowner neighborhoods--are strong, with an average household income of about $126,000, according to a survey by McGraw Hill Research.

Loomis adds that LA West is trying hard to shed its anonymity. Beginning in June, the company will spend $35,000 to boost circulation on the Westside. Those interested in receiving the magazine, free to targeted homes, can get a year's subscription for $12 from LA West, 919 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 245, Santa Monica, Calif. 90401.

L.A. Weekly's intense founder and president, Jay Levin, is once again threatening to step down as editor, according to insiders at the 10-year-old arts freebie. The Weekly has been through this before. At various times, experienced hands like Marc Cooper, Phil Tracy and Eric Mankin have been brought in to run the magazine with the promise of autonomy, only to have Levin return to the job. Sources at the magazine say Levin gets restless in retirement--last time he went off to Malibu to write a novel--and soon begins to look for reasons to come back. Insiders say Weekly representatives are urgently scouting editorial talent, and staffers expect an announcement to be made within a month, although no one has been found for the job yet.

Happy Birthday: American Baby, which is sent each month to 1.1 million new parents (free subscriptions are available in ob/gyn offices and some baby supply stores), celebrates 50 years of publishing with an entertaining and informative 126-page special May issue. Featured are 50 ideas, people, products, milestones and achievements that have most affected the lives of American babies during the last five decades.

When you consider that the world was once without Disneyland and Dr. Seuss, Dr. Spock and videocassettes, car seats and fluoride, the polio vaccine and antibiotics, disposable diapers and TV dinners, support groups and Velcro, you wonder how our parents did it. The special issue is available for $2, from American Baby, 475 Park Ave. South, New York, N.Y. 10016.

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