Roger L. Simon

"Famous All Over Town"

The old saw that there’s no such thing as bad publicity is being proven once again by law professor/Dem-o-pundit Susan Estrich who — after having questioned LA Times opinion editor Michael Kinsley’s mental capacity because of Kinsley’s Parkinson’s Disease — now seems to be appearing on television more than ever… and on the subject of Terri Schiavo, of all things! Whoever said tastelessness and vulgarity don’t pay?

Cathy Seipp, who has made La Estrich her own special province, has an interesting article on the…[Don’t you dare call it a kerfuffle!-ed.]… controversy this morning on NRO. While I remain agnostic on the issue of the ubiquity… or lack thereof… of female opinion writers (although I recommend this essay on the larger debate; it’s brilliant), I was amused by Cathy’s description of the LATimes as a local paper. “Unlike the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times isn’t really a national paper; you can’t get it delivered to your door outside the regional circulation base, so its influence with the chattering classes is limited.”

Indeed, as the Professor would say. But it’s worse. And I’m not complaining about the paper’s liberal bias, as some have done with considerable accuracy. I expect bias in a newspaper, as I do in most human endeavors, especially where the written word is concerned. The LAT’s problem is that it is deadly dull and hemmorhaging readers because of it. What the LATimes misses, more than anything, is another daily newspaper to compete with — some juice and action. It misses the old Herald Examiner desperately. (Face it, Angelenos; didn’t you prefer to read the HerEx, no matter what your politics? I was way left and I did.) Now with the Internet beckoning, most mornings my copy of the LAT sits on my doorstep, only to be taken in as an afterthought, if at all.

So if Estrich and her gang of Brentwood lunch ladies are determined to get on the opinion page of the LAT, that’s okay with me. I probably won’t know they were there anyway. But I will be keeping up with Cathy Seipp — and many others — on line. It’s much more convenient… and it’s global. If I want to know movie times, I can always go to Rotten Tomatoes.

As for title of this post, I just put it there as joke about Estrich. “Famous All Over Town” was reputed to be the first “important” Chicano novel about East LA written by someone named Danny Santiago. It was actually authored pseudonymously by Dan James, an Anglo screenwriter who collaborated on “The Great Dictator.”