I’ve never been a sentimental person, rehashing the past, longing for times gone by.
But this week I find myself thinking about the stories and people I’ve brought to these pages since 2007.
Along the way I’ve met some amazing folks, and some I’d rather forget.
Through it all I’ve tried to bring to light issues that otherwise wouldn’t have been talked about and give readers food for thought.
Up until 1993, I hadn’t paid much attention to the local political scene.
Then I started inquiring about what it would take to remove the electrical poles in the middle of the horse trails in my neighborhood. That led me to the Orange County Board of Supervisors and more than a decade of maneuvering through a tangled web of government bureaucracy.
I learned important lessons, which served me well as a columnist years later.
Becoming a journalist wasn’t something I’d planned.
My first career was hairdressing. I worked for trailblazer Peter Coppola, who started the first chain of unisex salons on Long Island. From there I worked in New York City’s garment center, wholesaling jeans at the time when Jordache and Faded Glory were the craze.
In the mid ’70s I found myself managing a rock ’n’ roll club called My Father’s Place in Roslyn, Long Island, with owner Michael “Eppy” Epstein. Ritchie Havens, Blondie, the Ramones, Billy Joel, Eddie Murphy, Andy Kaufman, Billy Crystal and Bruce Springsteen all played there early in their careers.
Little did I know then that I had a first-row seat to rock ’n’ roll history, as the club and Eppy were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
In 1982 I left New York for California. More interesting chapters would unfold, from manufacturing a women’s leather and suede clothing line, to “stirring” on the comedy cooking show “At Home on the Range” alongside Fleetwood Motorhome founder John Crean.
In 2006 I walked into the Daily Pilot office to seek its endorsement for Newport Beach City Council in my race against Leslie Daigle. It had been a nasty race, thanks to Daigle’s political consultant, Dave Ellis.
I dropped out, yet still got the Pilot’s endorsement. Daigle won.
It was a crazy time.
Then-Publisher Tom Johnson offered me an opinion column and the freedom to venture into controversial political topics, which I did wholeheartedly.
Over the last years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Johnson; Frank Mickadeit, a former OC Register columnist; Norberto Santana Jr., publisher of the Voice of OC; and my current editor, John Canalis of Times Community News.
These guys have been my champions and helped mold me into the writer I am today. In 2010 we all created Feet to the Fire, which changed the political landscape of community candidate forums.
Thinking about where I’ve been brings me to where I’m going — and yet another crossroads.
It’s time for me to explore writing the next chapter. Last October I took some time off from writing the column to try out a different type of storytelling, working with friends developing a new television project in Los Angeles.
This week that concept grew legs, and I discovered there are more treatments and show ideas in the mix.
Canalis is supporting my decision to take another break from these pages to see where this leads me.
So for the next three months I’ll be doing just that.
I’ll miss the chase of following the local political scene, but will be watching from the wings.
My hope is residents will remain diligent in holding their elected officials accountable for their actions.
This will be an important year to watch who starts fundraising for campaigns in 2020.
The political chessboard is constantly changing. It will be interesting to see which politicians decide to move to a larger arena.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have taken the time out of their busy lives to read this column over the years, as well as to those who have joined us at Feet to the Fire and gotten politically involved in their communities.
And a special shout out to those who’ve complained my opinions were either too far to the left or to the right, depending on the day and column subject matter.
I’ve enjoyed my time with you all.
Barbara Venezia is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org