It was 1978. Chinatown alleys echoed with the driving chords of punk rock. Daryl Gates became chief of the LAPD. In Washington, Jimmy Carter spoke with passion about human rights. Spirituality flourished; performance art exploded; cocaine provided a new use for the $20 bill. In a tawdry apartment building in Hollywood, the Weekly began publishing.

Jay Levin, Michael Ventura, Ginger Varney, Joie Davidow and the others who started the paper had grand ambitions. As Levin wrote in the paper’s 10th-anniversary edition, he and the other founders “took as axiomatic that the forces for profound human change were so overwhelming that, in our lifetimes, it was foreseeable that war, violence and poverty would be put behind us and that the world would come to be led by people like ourselves, committed to economic and social justice and to breaking down the barriers.”

In the years since, Weekly writers and editors have come and gone. But through it all, we have remained — if not always so optimistically as our progenitors — committed to righting wrongs, to pointing out injustice, to breaking down barriers of all sorts. We have attracted praise and criticism; awards and attacks. We have at times appeared prescient, at times absurd. We have, as the journalistic axiom has it, “comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable.”

In this issue, we invite you to look back with us over 20 years. We re-examine here our pinnacles and our valleys, our triumphs and failures. We hope you enjoy the time travel. And thanks for picking us up.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.