Might as well admit it — I’m addicted to print. I subscribe to a couple of print magazines (The New Yorker, Old House Journal) and three daily newspapers (The Gazette, the Denver Post and The New York Times). I have thousands of books, stacks of old magazines and filing cabinets full of stuff that I ought to throw away. It’s a love affair that started in childhood when I helped out at my mother’s bookstore, was reinforced when I got my first job as a Gazette/Denver Post paperboy in 1952, and has yet to abate.
One of the delights of print is encountering stories that you would otherwise miss. I search for lots of things online, and usually find what I’m looking for. It’s quick, facile and immediate. But print is different — slow, unpredictable, often useless and yet full of unexpected treasures. Every book, every magazine and every newspaper is full of fun stuff, but finding such nuggets can be as boring and time-consuming as panning for gold in a played-out stream.
On Monday, the Times ran a half-page obituary on page B8 for Roz Wyman, a California native who had died the week before at 92. She had been elected to the Los Angeles City Council at 22 in 1953, the youngest person to serve and only the second woman. Far from taking her seat and deferring to her elders, she took on a project that permanently would transform Los Angeles and professional baseball; bringing the Brooklyn Dodgers to L.A.
“Certainly if the people of New York must act to keep the clubs there,” she said in 1955, “we can act to bring them here.” Both the Giants and the Dodgers were in play but Wyman focused on Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley. She put together a deal, sold O’Malley on it and presented it to council as a fait accompli. A smart, extraordinarily capable young woman had succeeded at a task that had baffled her elders.
There’s no Roz Wyman on our stolidly middle- to old-aged City Council. And since our cranky old City Charter requires that candidates be 25 or older on the day they take office, there never will be. Yet we desperately need some youthful energy in City Hall, Councilmembers that can represent the 20- and 30-somethings who are effectively denied a seat at the table.
Denied? They can run, can’t they? Sure, but the de facto full-time job comes with an annual salary of $6,250 (again thanks to our geezer-friendly charter). That’s not feasible for any ambitious, competent and super-smart 25-year-old.
So what can we do to fix things? Nothing. As voters, we’re fond of stodgy conservatism, wedded to caution, devoted to growth and paradoxically afraid of explosive innovation. And as for all of you frustrated young ‘uns, do what adventurous people of my generation did in the ’50s; split for the coast! Los Angeles’ problems are immense, but its future is boundless. And go ahead and run for a seat on the 15-member L.A. City Council.
Annual pay: $205,000. You could definitely afford a one-bedroom apartment, a car, a dog, nice clothes and even a subscription to the Los Angeles Times. Don’t bother with print, though — you’ll be too busy!