Monday, June 13, 2005

i'm a loser

...but i did come in second. at the 47th annual southern california journalism awards, that is, where citybeat columnist andrew gumbel ("american babylon") won in the category of signed commentary, newspapers under 100,000 circ. yay, andrew!! i came in second in the criticism/commentary/column category of same; the chief placed second in entertainment feature; and freelancer michael collins scored second place as journalist of the year. another CB freelancer, luke y. thompson, got an honorable mention, but for his blog, not his CB work. we were still impressed, however, b/c the winner was reason, which has a staff and everything, while lyt rules is run by luke and luke alone. so ... go, luke!

the ceremony saturday night at the hollywood renaissance hotel was ... fast-paced. the predictable chicken was served. the expected schmoozing was done. the silent auction was kind of fun. mayor-elect antonio villaraigosa offered some quasi-hilarious opening remarks; patt morrison and culture clash did their respective shtick; and the dessert was pretty bitchen. but what really stayed with me, same as last year, were the more serious elements of the profession. the "daniel pearl award for courage and integrity in journalism" was given to tijuana-based journalist/editor jesus blancornelas of the weekly paper zeta, who has taken on the drug cartels and survived an assassination attempt. in translated remarks, he condemned the killing of journalists and eloquently celebrated their role and their bravery. it made me think of how dangerous the job can be, something we tend to forget when chasing the michael jackson trial (thank god it's over) or sniping about the latest R&B-pop wannabe. also, the sunday l.a. times magazine had a story by a CNN journalist about how haunted he was by what he saw in rwanda a decade ago, and both the serious parts of saturday night and that sunday story reminded me that bearing witness is a sobering job. daniel pearl's father spoke briefly before blancornelas took the stage; he related a story about someone likening journalists to the prophets of biblical times. he said he was skeptical about the comparison at first, but then he considered, to paraphrase him wildly, that journalists are people who bring the news nobody wants to hear but everybody needs to know. rather, in fact, like those ancient prophets (who may or may not have had more unimpeachable sources).

but, of course, i am not that type of journalist. and, since none of us was on the front lines on saturday night, we merely traversed the by comparison utterly safe sidewalks of hollywood boulevard after the ceremony, threading ourselves amidst a moveable feast of humanity before ending up at boardner's to engage in that other time-honored journalistic tradition: drinking. the hard rock was blasting, and the regulars were glowering, but the place still seems dismayingly cleaned up from a few years ago. we met some people from the l.a. weekly, and i gawked at strangers, like the couple in one booth who smooched away while their appetizers turned stone cold. andrew gumbel and i resumed our discussion about the proper citrus to put into a gin and tonic. he said it is supposed to be a lemon, although i've always known it to be a lime (and ... lemon? ewww!), and of course he thinks he's right b/c he is british, and they invented everything, including gin and tonic. which is, i suppose, true (in the case of GTs, that is). but ... i still prefer a lime. and he also griped that you can't get real tonic here in america (not enough quinine) due to FDA regulations or some such nonsense. i had to wonder why the poor chap drinks them in the states at all, if they're such a disappointment. after all, there's always a martini.

the bar was crowded -- it is something of a young-hipster hotspot -- but our conversations continued even as the rockers took over and the gift-bag-toting contingent thinned out. (best swag: mini-8-ball filled with vanilla lip balm, the black kohl eyeliner that came in a mesh bag with three alarmingly pink lip glosses, a notepad, and some post-its.) late in the game, we were dismayed to discover that someone had walked off with andrew's bag, containing his fancy press club plaque. luckily, the booze -- and matt welch's pretty pink vest -- took the edge off that sorrowful turn of events. (today, all tears turned to smiles when we learned that a weekly staffer had accidentally picked up andrew's bag instead of her own.)

and as the clock turned past midnight, it was two years to the day since citybeat debuted. all circles completed, the chief and i slipped back into the sidewalk circus stream, leaving nary a trace in the neon-blasted night.

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