Because the evolutionary process has been slower than I anticipated. In the optimism of youth, it seemed inconceivable to me that civilization could encounter these truths and not move towards them, but the fundamentalist, patriarchal, capitalist view turned out to be more entrenched than I thought. Still, there’s been enormous progress. Yes, we invaded Iraq, but we also had the largest anti-war demonstration in history, and that’s not insignificant. In the gut there’s a turning away from war on the part of mass populaces.
Do you read theWeekly now?
I’m quite busy, so I don’t read it cover to cover, but I read a fair amount of it.
Can you recall the last great piece you read in it?
What compromises has theWeekly had to make in order to survive?
When I was there, I guess you could say the shopping guides we occasionally published were a concession to advertisers. But somebody’s got to pay for a liberated press in this country, and it seemed that for the Weekly to support the small businesses around town that were up against the malls was a nice partnership. If you take a completely anti-consumer point of view, the shopping guides could be seen as a compromise, but we felt they offered good consumer information and were a good wedding of shared interests.
Michael Ventura, one of theWeekly’s founding writers, has said, “TheWeekly we started didn’t last 20 years,” and suggests that the only aspect of it that’s survived is the logo. Do you agree?
Some of the founding principles of the paper continue to operate there, but some of them have eroded. To support the more educated elements of Western civilization, and what creative people around town might be up to on a grassroots level — in that sense there’s been some cleaving to the paper’s founding principles. In many other areas I agree with Michael, and that’s as far as I’d like to go.
What was the greatest strength of theWeekly under your stewardship?
Its adventurousness and openness to compelling new voices.
Who are the great writers who’ve emerged from theWeekly?
Michael Ventura, number one, of course. There’s such a bundle of people who grew up writing at the Weekly. John Powers really came of age at the Weekly, Ginger Varney had her moment there, Joie Davidow certainly did some great work, Greg Goldin, Robert Lloyd — almost anybody who wrote for us during a certain period.
What did it cost you in personal terms to launch theWeekly?
It cost me a huge amount of stress, and the stability that’s required in order to maintain a solid relationship.
What aspect of your work there are you most proud of?
I’m proud of some of the journalism we did because we had a major impact on cleaning up the air, on Central America, and on the progressive political movement in L.A. County. I recently got an e-mail from somebody I’d never met who said, “The Weeklyand the work you did there had an enormous impact on my life because it opened my perspective up and made me take a different path in life.” I get a lot of that, and it’s a very gratifying thing to hear.