Los Angeles Times to Launch ‘West’ Magazine Feb. 5

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 12, 2006 – The Los Angeles Times on Feb. 5 will launch West, a new Sunday magazine offering readers an eclectic, insightful and entertaining view of the many faces of California.

West magazine, which will replace the weekly Los Angeles Times Magazine, resurrects the title used by The Times for its Sunday magazine from the mid-1960s through the early 1970s.

The Times is one of the few U.S. newspapers continuing to publish a unique Sunday color magazine.

“We’ve found that Times readers clearly value a quality Sunday magazine,” said Rick Wartzman, editor of West. “With compelling editorial content and innovative graphic design, West magazine fits that bill.”

“We’re aiming to capture California in the grandest sense imaginable,” said Wartzman. “We’ll be writing not just about California but to California – to that distinct part of every thinking Californian’s self-identity.”

The magazine will use voice-driven narratives, profiles, investigative reporting, bold photography and short fiction to peel away the state’s complexity. “Our canvas is huge,” Wartzman said. “We’ll look at our dreamers and pragmatists; the factories producing high-brow culture and low-end kitsch; our mountains, deserts and coast; our endless urban sprawl; our-multi-ethnic stew; Hollywood, Silicon Valley and the nation’s biggest farm state in between.”

Amy Tan Named Literary Editor

Acclaimed author Amy Tan has joined West magazine as literary editor. She will be responsible for helping to solicit and select pieces for “California Story,” an original work of short fiction set in the Golden State.

Tan, a native Californian, is the author of the best-selling “Saving Fish from Drowning” and “The Joy Luck Club.” She also is the author of “The Hundred Secret Senses,” “The Kitchen God’s Wife,” “The Bonesetter’s Daughter,” “The Opposite of Fate” and two children’s books, one of which, “Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat,” was developed into a popular PBS children’s television series.

Tan is a member of the literary garage band, the Rock Bottom Remainders.

Bold Graphic Design, New Typography Improve Readability

The full-color weekly will feature a new typography created exclusively for West and a bold, crisp and clean look – designed by Los Angeles Times Creative Director Joseph Hutchinson – that will significantly improve content flow and pacing. The magazine’s distinctive page layout will dramatically showcase eye-catching photography by Los Angeles Times and freelance photographers and illustrations by some of the best artists in the industry.

For the cover of West magazine, artist Jim Parkinson, who designed the nameplates for Esquire and Rolling Stone magazines, has created a new, modern nameplate similar to one of the versions used for the original West magazine.

Weekly Content: Six New Departments…

West will introduce six new weekly departments in the front of the book:

  • Fault Lines – The magazine’s letters page will feature a one-panel cartoon by Los Angeles artist Donna Barstow, whose work has appeared in numerous magazines including Reader’s Digest and the New Yorker.
  • From First & Spring: An Editor’s Note – Wartzman sets the tone for West with an informal piece, riffing off one of the features in that week’s issue.
  • Rearview Mirror – An elegant and intelligent spin on the old newspaper standby “Twenty-five years ago this week…,” this feature will play off a particular event to showcase classic California fiction and nonfiction writing.
  • Sunday Punches – A fun page of lists, caricatures, two-word fiction, doggerel and an assortment of other light-hearted items.
  • Photo Synthesis – Contributing writer Colin Westerbeck showcases California’s rich photographic history and focuses on some of the state’s leading and cutting-edge photographers.
  • The Rules of Hollywood – Industry insiders – screenwriters, agents, actors, actresses lawyers, maybe even a key grip or two – will share their tales from the trenches.

…And Two Old Favorites

The magazine will retain two of its most popular features in the back of the book:

  • Crossword – Merl Reagle’s crossword puzzle will remain part of the weekly mix.
  • 800 Words – The final words in the magazine will now belong to Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. This feature on the arts and culture connects the dots as only Neil can: high and low, avant-garde and old guard, ancient and modern.

West Takes A New Approach to Style

West’s weekly Style section will playfully combine traditional elements – beautifully photographed homes and gardens, lush food preparations and cutting-edge fashions – with the unexpected. For example, a feature on the latest trends in women’s sandals might be followed by a humorous Q&A with a top foot model and, in turn, a piece on “the feet we eat” – the pickled pig’s feet from Philippe the Original, the legendary downtown eatery.

Through this approach, West will make cultural links that the weekly stand-alone sections of the paper aren’t equipped to do, and will make clear that “style” in a place such as California encompasses much more than just the aspirational.

Senior Writers Join the West Staff

The Sunday magazine staff has been expanded with the addition of four seasoned Los Angeles Times staff writers:

  • Mark Arax has covered the San Joaquin Valley for the last 18 years and is the winner of numerous writing honors, including a PEN West Award for Literary Journalism. He is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, “In My Father’s Name” and co-author, with Rick Wartzman, of “The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire.” The latter won a 2004 California Book Award and the 2005 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.
  • Lynell George has covered jazz, pop and world music for the newspaper’s Calendar section and the former View section. Her work has appeared in various magazines – New Left Review, Ms., Essence and Vibe, among them – as well as in several essay collections, including “Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology.” She is the author of “No Crystal Stair: African-Americans in the City of Angels.”
  • Shawn Hubler, veteran reporter, columnist and feature writer, helped cover the L.A. riots, broke the Heidi Fleiss story, profiled the late Nicole Brown Simpson, followed Willie Brown’s last days as San Francisco mayor and chronicled Rosie O’Donnell’s lesbian wedding. As a columnist, she helped bring about legislation regulating theme parks and won state and national awards for columns on the psychological aspects of homelessness and police brutality.
  • J.R. Moehringer won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2000 for his portrait of Gee’s Bend, Ala., an isolated river town where many descendants of slaves live and where a proposed ferry to the mainland threatened to change that community. He was a Pulitzer finalist for feature writing in 1998 for his magazine piece “Resurrecting The Champ” about heavyweight boxer Bob Satterfield. He is the author of “The Tender Bar: A Memoir.”

West Also Names Contributing Writers

Beyond its full-time staff writers, West will also feature on its masthead 15 leading California writers, part of a corps of top-level freelancers who will contribute to the magazine.

  • Gerald Haslam – The author of 25 books, Haslam’s most recent novel, “Straight White Male,” won the Western States Book Award in 2000. That same year, his nonfiction “Workin’ Man Blues: Country Music in California” won Rolling Stone’s Ralph J. Gleason Award.
  • James D. Houston – His 15 works of fiction and nonfiction include “The Last Paradise,” which won an American Book Award. With his wife, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, he co-authored “Farewell to Manzanar,” now in its 66th printing. His most recent novel, “Snow Mountain Passage,” was named one of the year’s best books by the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post.
  • Aris Janigian – A former professor of humanities at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, he is, with April Greiman, the author of “Something from Nothing,” which explores the process of digital design. His novel “Bloodvine” was a finalist for the 2005 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. A resident of Los Angeles, Janigian returns to his native Fresno every harvest to work as a grape packer and shipper.
  • Anne Lamott – The author of 10 books, her novels include “Rosie,” “Crooked Little Heart” and, most recently, “Blue Shoe,” published in 2002. Her nonfiction work includes “Operating Instructions,” “Bird by Bird,” “Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith” and the best-selling “Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.”
  • Douglas McGray – A San Francisco-based fellow for the New America Foundation, McGray has written about social and political issues, science and culture for The New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Wired, the New Republic, Mother Jones, The Economist, Travel + Leisure, Metropolis and Foreign Policy, where he is a contributing writer.
  • Marisela Norte – Hailed as one of the most important literary voices to come out of East Los Angeles, Norte writes most of her material while traveling to downtown Los Angeles on the No. 18 bus. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Interview, Elle, Option, Venice, L.A. Weekly, Buzz and La Opinión.
  • Qevin Oji – Writer and photographer Oji is winner of the Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award for his story “Anacostia” and a winner of a PEN USA 2005 Emerging Voices Fellowship. He is now working on a novel called “Moving Days,” a coming-of-age tale set in Los Angeles. He is a former literature teacher at Crenshaw High School.
  • Richard Rhodes – He is the author of more than 20 books, including “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” which won a Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award. His “Dark Sun,” which chronicled the development of the hydrogen bomb, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in history. His most recent work was the 2004 biography “John James Audubon: The Making of an American.”
  • Luis J. Rodriguez – He is perhaps best known for his 1993 account of gang life, “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” Rodriguez is the author of 10 books, including works of memoir, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature and poetry. His verse has won a Poetry Center Book Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Literary Award and Foreword magazine’s Silver Book Award.
  • Rebecca Solnit – Solnit’s work focuses on issues of environment, landscape and place. Her books include “Wanderlust: A History of Walking,” “Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities” and “River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West,” which won a National Book Critics Circle Award and California Book Award. Her latest book is “A Field Guide to Getting Lost.”
  • Susan Straight – A longtime essay contributor to Los Angeles Times Magazine, Straight has written five novels including “Highwire Moon,” which won a California Book Award and was a National Book Award finalist. All of her novels are set in the fictional town of Rio Seco, a loose parallel to her hometown of Riverside, where she is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.
  • Colin Westerbeck – Recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on the history of photography, Westerbeck is the co-author, with Joel Meyerowitz, of “Bystander: A History of Street Photography” and is currently at work on a history of portraiture photography. Before he moved to Los Angeles, where he has taught at UCLA and USC, he was curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Christian Williams – Williams worked for many years at The Washington Post, where he was arts editor and, later, a member of Bob Woodward’s investigative team. He moved to Hollywood to become a television writer and has worked on “Hill Street Blues” and “Six Feet Under.” He is the author of “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way: The Story of Ted Turner.”
  • Amy Wilentz – A writer of both nonfiction and fiction, she is the author of the award-winning “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier,” and the novel “Martyrs’ Crossing,” which won an American Academy of Arts and Letters Prize. Wilentz is a contributing editor at The Nation and earlier served as Jerusalem correspondent for the New Yorker. She is now at work on a book about California in the age of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Al Young – Young is the poet laureate of California. His body of work includes novels, collections of poetry, essays, memoirs, anthologies and scripts for Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. His writing has appeared in the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Essence, The New York Times and Rolling Stone. His numerous honors include two Pushcart Prizes and two American Book Awards.

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David Garcia