Writing about arts and culture for the Long Beach Post has been both a challenge and a pleasure. It is a challenge because, no matter how hard I try, I know I fall miserably short of showcasing even a small slice of the broad, diverse and vast scope of the city’s cultural landscape. If, for example, I consider the geographic scope of the articles I’ve run in the last year, it becomes painfully obvious that huge swaths of the city are absent from my coverage. I feel bad about this and, in the new year, hope to do better.
The pleasure comes, of course, from making connections with the people who breathe life into our community through their creative energy. Many call Long Beach their home, but rarely have the opportunity or need to showcase their work here. Others, depending upon the form and media, are hard to miss. Still, I believe it important for the larger community – residents, visitors, and even people who work in the city but don’t live here – to have some awareness that they’re surrounded by artistic greatness on a scale that’s almost impossible to imagine.
Since I started writing for The Post, way back in January of 2008, I’ve published nearly 550 stories. From time to time I’ve delved into hard reporting, and published the occasional opinion piece, but the majority of my stories are interviews with local artists. To me, their stories are a cultural history, a five year cross section of hearts and minds whose passions create the very foundations of our community.
I’ll also confess that there’s a certain kind of activism, or advocacy, to my efforts. First, they are entirely voluntary. Any payment for my work exists solely in the value of the relationships I’ve made. Also, I truly believe that artists must stand up and be counted. Their beliefs and insights, diverse as they are, are sadly underrepresented in the political conversations that help to shape policy in our city. As we move toward a major election this Spring, I aspire to inspire our cultural and creative community to join in those conversations, become engaged, and encourage others to participate also. The entire city will only benefit from broader participation in the local political process.
In reviewing the 79 stories I’ve published in 2013, some jump out as particularly memorable. For example, I began the year with a conversation with John Glaza, who had recently dropped the ‘interim’ from his title as Executive Director of the Arts Council for Long Beach. I was most thrilled during my conversation with legendary Oscar winning singer and songwriter Richard Sherman, whose credits include Mary Poppins, Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. As a long time fan of Kronos Quartet, I was very happy to speak with the group’s cellist, Jeffrey Zeigler who, shortly after their performance of Terry Riley’s Sun Rings at the Carpenter Center, departed the group. The story I found most compelling, though, was Scott Devours‘ nail-biting tale from being nearly homeless to touring the world with The Who. It is an epic three part thrill-ride which will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
I hope that, from time to time, you’ll visit the list of stories I’ve published and select one you may have missed, or revisit a favorite. You can find them all at lbpost.com/sander.
Happy New Year!
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