A New Publication on the Los Angeles Scene

Conor Friedersdorf

Moments of surprise, whimsy and unconventional truth burst from the pages of Slake: Los Angeles, the new quarterly journal whose editors have essentially flipped the bird at the faster-quicker-shorter imperatives that are supposed to define 21st century media.

Proving they are determinedly retro, founders Joe Donnelly and Laurie Ochoa have only begun to build a website. But they highly buffed an inaugural edition of 232 thick, glossy pages -- filled with essays, poetry, photography, short fiction, reported stories and almost no advertising. They'd like to do the same thing at least four times a year, as long as money holds out. It's anybody's guess how long that might be.

-- James Rainey, Los Angeles Times

Those of us who live in Southern California enjoy an excess of sunshine, and suffer from a dearth of ambitious local journalism. Were there only The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Silver Lake Rail, The Pacific, and The Californian to compete with my favorite East Coast publications, I'd stop complaining about the stranglehold the Acela corridor has on American media, double my subscriptions, and spend blissful days reading on local beaches, especially during bad surf.

In other words, I am thrilled at the news that Slake has launched, even if its founding editors, LA Weekly alums Laurie Ochoa and Joe Donnelly, do lack a business plan and a completed Web site. I'll have more to say about this new venture sometime, somewhere -- an assessment that will be more thoughtfully critical than excited, and more informed, since I'm still working my way through the first issue, and eagerly anticipating the release of the second issue sometime later this autumn.

However, having read some Slake pieces -- what an impressive lineup of writers -- and after conversing with its editors over lunch, I can vouch that their ambitions for this project are enormous, that they aren't the sorts to compromise on quality or intellectual integrity, and that I'm absolutely rooting for their new project to endure, mature, and succeed wildly. If you're in Los Angeles, here's a list of bookstores where you can buy a copy.

So few new media enterprises prioritize quality and respect for the readership.

May Slake rise or fall on those metrics.   


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