Read Los Angeles Magazine's September 2020 Issue

A NOTE FROM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF MAER ROSHAN

Of the many fraught decisions one is required to make as the editor of a monthly magazine, few are more challenging than deciding what to put on your cover. Most of the stories in this issue were conceived long before they landed in your hands. By the time you read them, a small army of editors, fact-checkers, copy editors, and art directors will have spent months bringing them to life. At a time when the news cycle is measured in minutes, predicting what will be relevant to readers 90 days out is a task that seems more suited to a psychic than an editor.

Daunted by these challenges, many monthlies have opted to focus on less perishable topics. (A story on staycations won’t win a Pulitzer, but at least it won’t go out of date.) But as I write this, on an oppressively hot July afternoon, the pandemic continues to spread panic throughout the city. The social and economic costs of COVID-19 seem almost epic, no more so then when measured in the daily closings of the restaurants, shops, and services that form the spine and soul of our city.

Photo by Shayan Asgharnia

As a steward of this publication at this pivotal time in Los Angeles’ history, I’m keenly aware of the faith that readers have in us. So we’ve worked hard to transform our website—lamag.com—into an up-to-the minute resource that makes and breaks news and provides the information and sustenance that readers are seeking. But while some stories seem tailor-made for the web, others benefit from a slower and more contemplative walk into print. Consider our exclusive excerpt of the new memoir by former congresswoman Katie Hill. Two years ago, the then-31-year-old activist was swept into office on a blue wave that pushed Democrats into the House majority. With her poise and down-to-earth manner, she was hailed as a rising star until an ugly sex scandal snuffed out her political career soon after it had begun. With guileless candor, she writes here about the painful period that lead to her downfall and her struggle to bounce back from that abyss.

Elsewhere in this issue, you can read Jason McGahan’s six-month investigation of QAnon—the cultish, conspiracy-driven movement that has millions of seemingly normal Americans in its grip. The QAnon crowd views Donald Trump as a god and Hollywood as a cesspool of child-molesting degenerates. Their crackpot notions would seem comical were they not so dangerous. This November, in California alone, five QAnon true believers are running for Congress—including one who got her degree at the London School of Economics. Clearly, in the America of 2020, paranoia and batshit conspiracy-mongering is not just the province of the undereducated.

Which brings us to this month’s cover. “A giraffe?” I can hear some of you saying. “Really?” Well . . . yes. My staff and I are citizens of L.A. as well as journalists who cover it. Six unrelenting months of pandemic and political turmoil feels a bit draining even to us. So it seemed appropriate, at the start of a new season, to focus on a rare bit of good news: the L.A. Zoo’s animal residents are flourishing in the midst of crisis. Away from human scrutiny, they are healthier, happier, and less neurotic. Our cover boy, Phil, looks as sunny as his ancestral home on the Serengeti. The meerkats are enjoying a baby boom. Even the tigers look blissed out. “Everyone’s on top of the world,” a zookeeper tells our reporter, Robert Ito. (Except the gorillas, he says; the gorillas actually miss us.)

The blissful beasts are reminders that, as bad as things are, someday soon this will all be over and Los Angeles will live to see a brighter day. If you don’t believe me, you can take it up with Phil.

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