Vivien Goldman, Punk Renaissance Woman

Vivien Goldman has inspired me for decades. She is a true artist and friend. I got to write about her for NPR.

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A Story of Hamilton

The screensaver of my son, C. Ham

As I write in an essay published by the Los Angeles Review of Books today, I have a double investment in the musical Hamilton: I come from a long line of Hamiltons, including, according to family legend, Alexander; and I wrote the book about Rent, a major inspiration on Lin-Manuel Miranda. I also relate to Miranda’s script, and the accompanying Hamiltome, being a piece of writing about writing. Read the full essay here:

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New Journalism, Old Problems

I have always celebrated the work of the New Journalists of the 1960s as having reinvigorated reporting, rather than circumventing it. Unfortunately, as recent scandals involving Gay Talese and Rolling Stone have shown, there can be a thin line between gonzo style and old-fashioned tabloid sensationalism. I recently commented on these ethical issues for The Washington Post and Salon.


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Carrie Brownstein LARB Interview

I first met Carrie Brownstein 20 years ago. Sleater-Kinney were playing their first New York show, and she and Corin Tucker came up to me, asking if I could write about them for Spin. They weren’t happy with the writer who had been assigned to the story, but even though I loved the band, I couldn’t help them out. (I wrote about them plenty over the following years, of course.) I hadn’t seen Carrie for maybe a decade when the Los Angeles Review of Books asked me to interview her in April, while she was in town for the Los Angeles Festival of Books. Here’s what she had to say, about Sleater-Kinney, Portlandia, Transparent, and her book, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.

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Spend Summer on Cabrillo Beach

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Once again this summer, our amazing oceanfront LA apartment is available for sublet, June 15 to August 15 (approximately). Live with panoramic views of the Pacific; fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing.  The second-floor walkup is directly across from Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. Two beds, two baths, approx. 1400 square feet in historic 1920s four-unit villa. Lots of parks and activities nearby: the Gehry-designed Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Point Fermin Lighthouse, Ports of Call, 22nd Street Landing and Marina, Marine Mammal Care Center, Korean Bell, Crafted, etc., all within walking or biking distance. Fully furnished. Beautiful wood floors and built-ins. Email if interested. $2150/month.

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Shirley McDonnell, Nov. 25, 1935 – May 7, 2016

McDonnell, Shirley Ann November 25, 1935 – May 7, 2016

Shirley McDonnell
November 25, 1935 – May 7, 2016

Shirley Ann McDonnell died peacefully in her sleep at home in Laguna Woods, California, on May 7, 2016, after an almost five-year bout with cancer. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Arthur and Guyla Harrod, she was the youngest of six children. The family moved to Los Angeles during World War II. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Occidental College with a BA and an MA in History, and earned a Master’s in Education from UCLA. She was a lifelong teacher, starting her career at Herbert Hoover High School in Glendale, where she developed a program for gifted students.

Shirley married John McDonnell in 1957 and they had two children, Brett and Evelyn. In 1968 the family moved to Beloit, Wisconsin. Shirley spent most of her career teaching social studies at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Illinois. She won several awards and fellowships for her educational initiatives, which included developing Advanced Placement courses, teaching women’s history, incorporating computers in the classroom, and developing curriculum around immigration, the environment, and racial injustice. She went to the Netherlands as a Fullbright Fellow, to Princeton with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and to North Carolina as a scholar in residence at the National Humanities Center.

After her divorce and retirement, Shirley moved back to Southern California in 1997 to be with her extended family. She lived in Laguna Woods, where she met Gerald Pomeroy, also a retired history teacher, at a dance. They both loved dancing and were involved in the American Ballroom Dance Club. Jerry was at Shirley’s side when she passed.

Shirley loved reading, dancing, aerobics, crossword puzzles, yoga, and movies. On the night before her death, she watched two of her favorite old musicals: Funny Girl and Victor Victoria. As it got late and Jerry suggested going to bed, she slipped into a confused state and replied, “Sure, we can shoot this scene later.” Then, she began talking about costumes. Shirley always wanted to be a musical star, and her family likes to think she went to bed believing she was one, a dream from which she never awoke.

Shirley is survived by her children, Brett and Evelyn, and their spouses Paul Rubin and Bud Shankle; her longtime companion, Gerald Pomeroy; her grandchildren Karlie, Kenda, and Cole Shankle; her brothers Royce and John Harrod and sister-in-laws Colleen and Maria Harrod; and numerous nephews and nieces. During the last months of her life she was well taken care of by nurse Gina Mendoza of Hospice Care West. Her ashes will be taken to Michigan. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Habitat for the Humanity or the National Foundation for Cancer Research.

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Tenured. Promoted. Elected.

I am happy to announce that Loyola Marymount University has granted me tenure and promoted me to Associate Professor. Also, on Friday, I was officially elected Director of the Journalism Program.

For my next act, I will go on sabbatical.


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