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Category: L.A. Longreads

Setting L.A. Times stories to song: The week's Column One features

Photo: Marlaena Arhwin, 18, stands in the door way of her aunt, Jamie Drears, kitchen. Arhwin, still in high school, attends after school programs at the Jordan Downs Community Center. Credit: Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times

Story songsCalling all lovers of good storytelling and good music (and not necessarily in that order).

So you don’t have to do all the work, here’s a curated list of the week’s offerings of the signature Times feature called the Column One, which I’m pretty jazzed to be editing. And because I listen to music as I edit, you’ll also get the songs that inspired me while I was editing the stories, or reading them later. A curated story-song combo!

Column One is a proud tradition at The Times. In fact, if you’re under 40, it’s older than you are. But great writing is timeless.

Here’s how I like to sum up Column One: There’s a scene in the movie “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” where the Warren Beatty character is sitting on his bed, fretting over the fact that the Julie Christie character doesn’t love him. It’s a lovely, rambling, mumbled monologue, and the line I love is: “I’ve got poetry in me.” Column One has poetry in it.

In these roundups of the week gone by, I’d like to offer the first paragraphs of the story -- maybe they’ll buy your eye. If so, there’s a helpful link to the story, and the song that pairs with it.


Monday’s Column One:

It's a long way from Christy Walton's ocean-view manse near La Jolla to the arid plains of 1940s New Mexico.

But over the decades, the billionaire heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune has found solace and inspiration in Rudolfo Anaya's coming-of-age novel, “Bless Me, Ultima,” set in that unforgiving landscape, and in the mystical story of a Mexican American boy named Tony who lives there.

Finally, a realization hit her.

“One of the things I wanted to do before I died was to see this book made into a movie,” Walton said one recent morning, gazing from her cliffside home toward the Pacific. “It's the only book I've ever felt that way about."

Story: 'Bless Me, Ultima's' journey to the big screen

Song: “Guyamas Sonora,” by Beirut (chosen because this wonderful band is from New Mexico, and the song has an old Mexico vibe).


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Reporter's battles with mom over illegal immigration

http://opinion.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c7de353ef015390272c37970b-800wi A memorial service was held this week in East Los Angeles for veteran L.A. Times reporter and columnist George Ramos, who died last month. At the service, journalists, elected officials and others praised Ramos for his pioneering coverage of the Latino community, which included being among the recipients of a Pulitzer Prize for a series on how Latinos were changing L.A. Below are two Ramos columns cited during the memorial.

This is one in a series of L.A. Now posts highlighting examples of memorable storytelling from the archives of the Los Angeles Times. More examples of such journalism can be found at Twitter by searching #longreads and #lalongreads. Do you have a suggestion for a story from The Times' archives that we should feature? Send us a note at metrodesk@latimes.com

Bashing Illegal Immigrants Is on Today's Menu

Dec. 14, 1992

There's a lot of immigrant-bashing going on these days. L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich blames them for the county's budget woes. Mayoral hopeful Julian Nava gets booed for suggesting that resident immigrants be allowed to vote in city elections. Leticia Quezada got much the same reaction when she proposed the same for L.A. school elections.

Many Latinos also are jumping on the bandwagon. In a recent front page Times story, a majority of 2,800 Latinos surveyed in the United States by the Latino National Political Survey think there are too many immigrants -- illegal and otherwise -- coming to this country.

While I am outraged by this point of view, I'm not surprised by it.

My mother, the daughter of an illegal immigrant, has been saying much the same thing for several years.

At family gatherings over holidays like Thanksgiving, Mom likes to occasionally gauge the state of the world by asking me questions that she knows will provoke. Like, "Well, what do you think about 'Slick Willie?' "

Naturally, I take the bait and the debate is on. This time, no matter how much I talked about the President-elect, Mom wouldn't give up. She took special delight in repeating the derisive nickname given to Bill Clinton by his detractors.

I pointed out that she was fighting a losing cause: Mom was outvoted on Election Day by her two sons, who thought Slick Willie deserved a chance to run the country.

"Well, let me tell you one thing," Mom retorted, not giving an inch.

The discussions are fun because Mom is my version of grass-roots America. She is of a generation that struggled in the Depression, grew up during World War II and shaped the ideals and aspirations instilled in baby boomers like me. When I wonder about the Silent Majority, I think of Mom.

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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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