The day the music died
Every election cycle in California there emerges at least one person who decides, for the good of the state and to advance public policy, to spend millions of dollars. The expenditure typically accomplishes nothing, because it is an exercise not in philanthropy but in vanity. These folks spend their millions to try to get themselves elected.
Well, here's a better idea for what Al Checci, Jane Harman, Bill Simon, Steve Poizner, Darrel Issa, Steve Westly and Michael Huffington (if he has any left), might do with their money to advance public policy in California. They could underwrite a nonpartisan foundation that would publish a lively, provocative magazine on California government and the issues that confront it.
As it happens, just such a magazine has existed for the last 35 years. It's called California Journal, and on Wednesday it was placed on life-support. Its board of directors voted to suspend publication in the absence of sufficient private financing to subsidize the magazine's continued operation. About half of California Journal's annual $850,000 budget is covered by subscriptions and advertising. The rest comes from foundations and private underwriting.
Editor A.G. Block holds out hope that a funding source will be found within the next few months so that the magazine can resume publication and be rescued from its deathbed.
It seems a terrible irony at a time when the entertainment press and others are focused on Sacramento to provide gossipy coverage of the comings-and-goings of the state's celebrity governor, that a serious journalistic institution that has long provided thoughtful and substantive coverage of the Capitol would be so threatened. If the Journal folds, somehow Variety just won't fill the void.