Greetings, intrepid reporter from the far-away Eastern coast! And a hearty congratulations on persuading your editors to fly you out to the sparkling sunshine of our fair city, like many a New York Times columnist before you.
I see you're here to write about our new mayor, Eric Garcetti. Actually, he's not that new, he's been on the job for about nine months now, although he's off to something of a slow start. Here in Los Angeles we call that “chillin'.” As in: “How's it going?” “Chillin'.” But I digress…
Lots to say about the new mayor, and only so many column inches to say it in, and you probably want to hit the beach for a day or two. Here then is a simple 10-step guide to writing an Eric Garcetti puff piece that's at least as good as all the other ones:
1) Hopefully you can get a bit of face time with the young mayor, 43 years of age but with the complexion and bounce of a 38-year-old. Perhaps you've seen him taking office hours in a ditch somewhere or dedicating an adorable park no bigger than an ottoman. See how he wears his duties like a loose garment; hear him make just the right joke at just the right time – funny but not too funny, not upsettingly funny. The man has charm, that much is certain.
2) But don't get carried away! You'll want to get to the elephant in the room as soon as possible: his race. The mayor is Jewish and Mexican and probably many other things, and surely there's a joke to made there somewhere (menudo and bagels, anyone?). You highbrow types will want to use the word “polyglot,” and deftly draw the connection between the diversity of our great metropolis and our mayor's confusing lineage. Like a snake eating its own tail, each is a metaphor for the other.
3) Note the young mayor is a “Rhodes Scholar” and his dad is famous too, something to do with O.J.; you can find it on Wikipedia.
4) Let's get down to brass tacks: the man plays “jazz piano.” That's a form of piano that differs from other forms of piano in that it is more jazzy.
5) Now you'll want to throw in a bit of “balance,” as we say in the journalism biz. Begin a sentence with “Critics say…” Then you can pretty much make up anything you want: he's too liberal, he's not liberal enough, his ears are too big, what is jazz piano, anyway? If you really want to get hard hitting, you can point out that no one actually knows what Mayor Garcetti's plans and priorities are, or what the hell he does all day.
6) I suppose you'll probably want to quote some so-called “expert” in local politics around here. Unfortunately, Dan Schnur is running for Secretary of State (not as impressive as it sounds). That leaves roughly two people: Fernando Guerra and Raph Sonenshein. Might want to check the spelling on that.
7) Did we mention the mayor's youthful zest? It's certainly a point worth underlining, along with his deep and abiding love of technology and websites with pie charts and “apps” (those little things on your iPhone that wiggle when you press down on them). He's fond of Uber, and Instagram, and all manner of nonsense that your child knows about, and he loves to carry on about something called “Silicon Beach,” which if I'm not mistaken is some environmental disaster that demands immediate attention.
8) Feel free to compare Garcetti to your mayor, who is surely older (or younger), more liberal (or conservative), more concerned with big things, big vision things… you know, things. Not like Garcetti; he laughs at your things, he spits on your things, he takes your things and he crumples them up and shoots a basket and it's a swish – your things don't even hit the rim. Garcetti is all about “back to basics,” which essentially means not fucking up too big on any one thing.
9) Probably about time to wrap things up. Quote hizzoner saying something funny and optimistic, one last sweet nothing that will leave your readers basking in the reflective glow of our city's promise.
10) Some other words and phrases you may want to consider shoehorning in there, space permitting: amiable, Naval reservist, potholes, Department of Water and Power, child actor, salsa, hipster, Dwell, Tommy Carcetti, public transportation, car culture, and “Amy Wakeland declined to comment.”
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