Passing the Torch

The music journalists in yesterday’s Think Local Write Global panel at LMU covered a range of media: daily newspaper, radio, blog, social media. They were experts in K-pop, hip-hop, mariachi, feminist punk, and Touareg. What they had in common is they’re based in LA, and inspired by the multitudinous, er, lay of the land in this city. It was the annual installment of the Syntext/Creative Writing program’s LAy of the LAnd symposium, after all.

As curator and co-moderator (with Ruben Martinez), I appreciated the respect Betto Arcos, Oliver Wang, Lorraine Ali, Drew Tewksbury, Allison Wolfe, and Rebecca Haithcoat showed each other — and also their willingness to openly disagree. When Ali and Wang faced off on the issue of whether critics are still critics if they only write positive things — the freelancer said yes, the music editor said no — it was a great learning moment for my journalism students in the crowd. I worried, for a brief time, that all the talk of diminishing expectations, financially and aesthetically, was going to bum the next generation out. But the writers rallied for a sincerely optimistic closing, telling the students that a change is surely coming — and they are poised to be the leaders.

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