By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Zinder helped make the Weekly’s music coverage matter as a scene-creating writer, DJ and music promoter who drifted eloquently, darkly and whimsically in and out of the paper’s orbit. As friend Jonathan Gold noted, Zinder "gathered much of the music he played at his club from the $2 bins backed up against the henna and the gripe powder." Zinder, he wrote, drew his club’s following from the "Silver Lake gay performance-art crowd, the backwash of the New Wave and the few grunge kids bold enough to find the barrio bowling alley where the club usually took place." With his knack for making something of nothing, he moved his Fuzzyland club from place to place, largely by word of mouth, till it found a bowling alley in Highland Park. His eclectic mix was somehow relevant, danceable and surprising — pushing limits and buttons, juxtaposing Beck with Eastern European and Indian pop — making it work almost because he eschewed both popularity and success. He also brought wit and offbeat knowledge to his writing, a rising presence until a drunk driver smashed into his car on Thanksgiving in 1994. The music scene itself declined with his departure. RJ Smith wrote that if you asked Zinder "what the Korean comedian he was urging you to check out was saying, he’d snort and answer, ‘I don’t fuckin’ know!’ But he could give anyone around him, just by talking, a lesson in how to open yourself up to the city. Here was a man for whom the Thai Elvis meant more than the real one, for whom Rudy Ray Moore was a prophet and Harout the deliverer of souls."Bob La Brasca, 1943–1992.
La Brasca numbers among the best-liked of those behind the scenes at the Weekly — those whom the public never really knows about. In the mid-’80s, with the Weeklya frequently splendid but notably uneven product, La Brasca was both story doctor and professorial writing tutor. "He was one of the last great line editors," said early Weekly editor Joie Davidow, "highly respected by the best writers in the business." La Brasca, Wisconsin-born and educated — the first in his family to go to college — had helped found an alternative weekly in his home state and later served as an editor at High Times. His fans at the Weekly included current editor in chief Laurie Ochoa, who was then an aspiring young writer. Another admirer was Tara Fass: "He had this interesting ability to listen — deeply, deeply listen — and understand a writer’s point of view without needing to agree, without needing to make the writer come over to his point of view." Fass herself began at the Weekly as a 22-year-old janitor, then later sold ads. She didn’t get to know La Brasca nearly so well until they’d both left the paper. She married him in 1989. As an editor, La Brasca also helped birth L.A. Style and was considering another startup when he was felled by a heart attack.Craig Lee, 1954–1991.
If you wanted to understand the presence and edginess of the early Weekly on the city’s music and cultural scene, then you could turn to the career of Craig Lee. A writer, critic, producer and musician, Lee was the paper’s music editor for two important years, but also wrote about music for a decade, an alternative-scene player as well as a chronicler of its rise and a tribune of its national importance. A Weekly tribute recalled him as a "Hollywood kid whose office wall bore a movie still of his B-movie actress mother aiming a ray gun." Though schooled at Interlochen Academy in Michigan and later at CalArts, his real education was the "world of punk bands and dark motives that once was the L.A. punk scene. The environment was one of an outrageous, pre-viral party of innocent decadence, of sex and drugs and rock & roll on a scale that makes today’s Strip rockers look like they’re out on a Sunday-school picnic showing their little tattoos and piercings to everyone in the park." He co-authored Hardcore California: A History of Punk and New Wave, produced early and important AIDS benefits and an outreach concert to Latinos, and initiated the L.A. Weekly Rock Music Awards. Of his own benefit he wrote, "It looks like a show from my dreams. It’s too bad this dream had to come from a nightmare, but the nightmare will stop as soon as people stop this disease . . . The next time you see some racy girl screaming her lungs out while playing three chords on an out-of-tune guitar, know that I’ll be there in spirit cheering her on."
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