Top 10 Reasons why New Orleans ain’t what it used to be

(Or, why the Big Easy is becoming Small and Difficult.)

10. No Times-Picayune. And don’t tell me that three-day-a-week thing is what I go to a daily newspaper for.

9. No streetcars? What’s up with that? How long have you been “working on the tracks?” Where are the pleasant undercurrent of vibration along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street and the clicking crescendo of an approaching car?

8.  Nola.com. The younger Newhouses’ spit in the eye to the proud journalism that their forebears nourished.

7. Hand-lettered “ON VAC” sign on the door of the tin soldier store in the French Quarter. (Otherwise known as the Sword & Pen, it’s a fantasy Continue reading

Thank you, Steve Newhouse

It’s been a week since the jazz funeral for The New Orleans Times-Picayune. For the most part, the “noise” that briefly filtered up to New York and New Jersey from those people down there has quieted down. At the Friday night wake at Rock ‘n’ Bowl, those who were moving on to the Picayune’s digital incarnation; those who either didn’t make the cut or spurned it; and people like me who left the newspaper decades ago reminisced and mourned. The funeral Saturday (fittingly, at Warehouse District music hall The Howlin’ Wolf) included an auction that raised thousands of dollars (final tally not yet in) to benefit the reporters, editors, artists, clerks and news carriers who lost their jobs. On Sunday morning, a few of us sat together at St. Louis Cathedral to hear the archbishop pray for our paper and our city.

Probably no catalyst short of the Picayune catastrophe could have accomplished all that. So thank you, Steve Newhouse.

The Picayune, 175, died after it was an unwilling participant in a medical trial, a lab rat for its owner’s experiments with a new drug, Digital-us. Still, any Continue reading

Warren & Annette & Arianna & Me

Click here for the Los Angeles Times Op Ed that ran Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012.

I love those articles that run in magazines following celebrities around and giving quantitative information about them: What time they wake up, leave home, take meetings; how many iPhones, BlackBerries, e-mails, clothing changes, personal assistants, crusades launched before lunch. There was one recently in the Wall Street Journal magazine about my friend Arianna Huffington. I don’t mean to be a namedropper here, but I honestly think of her as a friend even though I haven’t spoken to her in person for almost a decade.

At one point, when our lives crossed in Los Angeles in the ‘90s and oughts, we saw quite a lot of each other. When I was pregnant with my now 13-year-old twin sons, we even had a “date” to a screening of “Bulworth.” Those were the days before Arianna drove and before I had a cell phone and at one point, while I was trying to navigate my Jeep Cherokee to a parking space wherever this event was, she handed me her cell and instructed me to talk to one of her daughters to prove that Mom, just divorced, wasn’t out with a man…”  Continue reading

Seven Stages of Me

All a woman’s names are a stage,
Of all the men and women players in her life.
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one woman in her time plays many parts,
Her acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. [1]
And then the confirmation candidate, with her white
And red shining robe, vowing to be a
Brave warrior like Joan of Arc.[2] And then the lover, Continue reading

Chronicle of a Death Foresold

In the 1990s, when I first worked there, the Los Angeles Times was at the end of its legendary “Velvet Coffin” era for reporters and editors: unlimited time to work on stories (the years-long investigation of Scientology became a newsroom joke); first-class travel (at least for longer flights); salaries that, if they weren’t in the same ballpark as television reporters’, were at least in the same zip code. But then the Chandlers’ benevolent monarchy was overthrown by a series of moneygrubbers, in and out of the family. As one of my editors put it to an outraged reporter who threatened to appeal some decision by the bean counters, “Otis has gone surfing, and he’s not coming back.”

And so it went: buyout offer, layoffs, next buyout offer, more layoffs, voluntary severance, involuntary severance. Each round deliberately Continue reading