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A Magazine Is Reborn, and the Karma Is Excellent

FROM FIRST AND SPRING | [An Editor`s Note]

February 05, 2006|Rick Wartzman

In his 1949 masterpiece, "California: The Great Exception," lawyer, journalist and social pot-stirrer Carey McWilliams marveled at the state's capacity to reinvigorate itself, to be "reborn, reconstituted by periodic injections of new blood, of fresh energies."

It is in this spirit that I welcome you to West.

As you make your way through the magazine today and in the weeks and months to come, you'll find that it is rooted in a couple of things. One is California itself.

The state is an immense canvas, and we aim to capture it in the grandest sense imaginable: our dreamers and pragmatists; our mountains, deserts and coast; our endless urban sprawl; Hollywood, Silicon Valley and the biggest farm belt in the nation in between; our multiethnic stew; the challenges brought on by our exploding population; style, design and fashion; music and literature; and on and on and on.

An assortment of new weekly features--Fault Lines, Rearview Mirror, Sunday Punches, Photo Synthesis and The Rules of Hollywood--will get at some of these topics. So, too, will California Story, our selection of short fiction, which we'll run frequently.

From time to time, we'll also cover subjects that shape the larger Western region. And we'll write from locations that practically seem like suburbs, given their nexus to California. Think Las Vegas, the Pacific Rim, Latin America.

The real question is whether a particular story resonates differently here than it would in New York or the Midwest or around the Beltway. If the answer is yes, then it's our story.

In this way, we will be writing not just about California but to California--to that distinct part of every thinking Californian's self-identity, to that California sensibility that resides in all of us.

In addition to place, one other pillar will hold up the magazine week in and week out: its unique voice.

We will publish narratives and profiles. We will publish investigative articles. We will publish memoirs. We will publish photo essays, illustrations and cartoons. We will publish humor and satire. Yet whatever kind of piece it is, it will be characterized by the sharpness of its point of view.

Our stories will be fair and give a say to all concerned. But they'll often reach firm conclusions. And they won't shy away from first-person observation and perspective. We want our stories to be written from the inside out, not the outside in.

One final note: As some of you may know, West is not a new name. From the mid-1960s through the early '70s, that's what the Los Angeles Times' Sunday magazine was called. And the karma is excellent. It was McWilliams himself, in a letter penned in 1969, who described West as "lively, sophisticated and extremely readable."

I hope you'll find the new incarnation all that--and even more.

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