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Where Are They Now? 

An ever-evolving list of L.A. Weekly alumni

Thursday, Dec 25 2003
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Page 3 of 10

Steve Coll. A contributing writer from 1982 to 1984, who says that he got an essential education in journalism basics at the L.A. Weekly. He went on to become a top reporter and managing editor at the Washington Post, where he won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize (with David A. Vise) for explanatory journalism. His books include The Deal of the Century: The Breakup of AT&T (1986) and On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey Into South Asia (1993). He grew up in suburban Maryland, but graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles, which put him in the Weekly’s readership orbit, and led him to pitch freelance pieces that were more interesting than the fluff he wrote for a Hollywood trade magazine. "I was a general-assignment freelancer," he recalled. "I did a bewildering number of stories . . . Covered a strike by the Writers Guild, Hollywood labor stuff, quasi-investigative property stuff, real-estate-scam stuff." He worked with news editor Phil Tracy. "I would just go into Phil’s office, which was famously cluttered. I was very young and he conformed to my idea of what a hard-bitten Weekly editor should look like. He had a sloppy and authoritative demeanor and was always talking about scams and scandals. Things that wouldn’t smell right. I was just learning. And Phil was part of that education." One thing he learned: "It takes a long time to get to the bottom of the story." Which made for a discouraging lesson in freelance economics: At $200 for a cover story, Coll points out, enthusiasm dwindles.

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Sue Cummings, music editor, 1992 to 1996. Activities since include editing a dot-com radio news service, freelancing for The New York Times and The Village Voice, and writing a column for Time Out New York. Also studied fiction writing, poetry, horticulture and Zen. Spends time restoring her 1927 Queens townhouse to "Italianate splendor." Currently working in L.A. as paralegal. Fave new group: Mr. Airplane Man.

Manohla Dargis. The Weekly’s film editor and critic from 1994 to 2002, now a film critic for the Los Angeles Times: "Hands-down, building a kick-ass film section was my greatest achievement at the Weekly. I started to become a real writer at the Weekly — mostly due to my great editor, Judith Lewis — but it was my film section that I’m most proud of. I regret that I didn’t manage to run more film covers, but, then, that wasn’t my call alone."

Joie Davidow. A founding editor of the L.A. Weekly, credited with inaugurating the paper’s Calendar section and writing a style column. As someone put it: If Jay Levin was the Weekly’s dad, she was the Weekly’s mom. In fact, Mom and Dad were a couple for a time. In 1985, she founded L.A. Style magazine, a spinoff of the Weekly. In the mid-1990s, she started , a lifestyle publication in English targeting the Latino market. On the Weekly’s board of directors as recently as 1995. Wrote Infusions of Healing, A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies (1999) and a memoir, Marked for Life (2003), which is now in bookstores. Currently in Rome, which is serving as inspiration for her novel-writing project.

David Davis. At the Weekly from 1986 to 1997 as managing editor, sportswriter–sports editor and features writer. Memorable stories include a bittersweet late-in-life profile of boxer Jerry Quarry and a probing look at a growth hormone he and others received as a child — a hormone linked to cases of the fatal human form of mad cow disease. At the Weekly, after a change in editorial regimes, Davis, a skilled sports analyst and commentator, found himself at a paper that had lost interest in sports coverage. Still lives in L.A. and writes about sports as a contributor for Los Angeles magazine and other publications. Will curate a sports photography show for the L.A. Library in 2004.

Mike Davis. The dark prophet and interpreter of Los Angeles, whether living in L.A., Canada, Hawaii or his current San Diego address. For Davis, the Weekly was not a youthful pit stop but rather a journalistic, shorter-form outlet for his already mature ideas. His first piece appeared in about 1989, and he continued to contribute periodically until 1996. Notable articles include his cover story "Let Malibu Burn" with Greg Goldin. Davis has been criticized for getting a few of his facts wrong in his widely read books City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear, but he makes sense of Los Angeles as no other writer-historian has, recognizing big themes and conducting truly original research and analysis. In an interview, he said his greatest accomplishment was editing the Haymarket series for Verso Books: "commissioning books from Lynell George, Ruben Martinez and Ralph Rugoff" — all from the Weekly extended family. "I am currently living in San Diego (with two new babies), teaching at UC Irvine, and have just published the first of a series of ‘science adventures’ for teenagers and young adults (Land of the Lost Mammoths, from Perceval Press) as well as a co-authored profile of wealth, power and resistance in San Diego (Under the Perfect Sun, from New Press)."

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