A tough Wyoming cowboy who just happens to like blouses
Sissy Goodwin isn’t gay; he’s been married for 45 years and has two adult children. As a young man, he was a rodeo cowboy who rode bulls bareback, a free spirit who never shied away from a fistfight. The former aircraft mechanic loves to drink beer, play golf, throw steaks on the grill.
What sets him apart, he says, is what he calls gender independence: He just likes to do most things in a dress.
A resilient guy living it out in Wyoming, a state he refers to as “the Mississippi of the West” for its disposition toward him, Goodwin has been beaten, arrested and glared at for years - but he continues his defiant dressing habits to this day.
Read more from reporter John M. Glionna in a Column One feature.
Photos: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
One woman’s return to Mexico, transformation into a vigilante
Nestora Salgado, a 41-year-old mother of three, may not seem like the sort of person who could spark a popular revolt against criminals plaguing her hometown of Guerrero, Mexico.
But there she was, taking control of a police car and shouting from a megaphone, “Leave your fear at home! Come out!”
And what has become of her after rallying thousands to drive out the region’s gangs?
Today, Salgado sits in a Mexican penitentiary, far from her home and her people, accused of kidnapping and guilty, certainly, of having run afoul of a clash of cultures, politics and generations-old clan rivalries.
Learn how Salgado went from hometown visitor to vigilante leader in reporter Tracy Wilkinson’s latest Column One.
Photos: Tracy Wilkinson / Los Angeles Times
From 2011: Where were you? Readers share their stories
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The life of an early-morning photographer
Irfan Khan is our go-to man when news breaks in the groggy hours of the morning, waking up at 4:30 a.m. in the morning each day to tackle whatever stories are developing while the rest of us are blearily swatting at our alarm clocks.
In his own words:
I’ve seen traffic accidents that left me feeling that death chased its victims and violently mauled them. I’ve heard the heart-wrenching sobs of a father who lost his two sons in an apartment fire. I’ve witnessed a California Highway Patrol officer tenderly looking after a little girl on a cold and foggy morning after several vehicles crashed on a freeway.
All of those events stayed with me. They reinforce how fragile and unpredictable life can be. It makes me value my time with family and friends even more.
Above is a quick look at some of the events Khan has covered, and you can see more of Khan’s work over at Framework.
Photos: Irfan Khan
Fifty years ago today, crowds gathered in Washington, D.C., to make the case for civil rights, and marches were held around the country. In Los Angeles, about 5,000 people showed up at City Hall, not quite the estimated 200,000 who showed up in Washington. But The Times chose to lead with…
With the 50th anniversary commemorations of the March on Washington now over, here’s a look at our front page from Aug. 29, 1963 - which notably places the march down in the corner beside the weather.
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The Times’ Christopher Goffard and Paloma Esquivel report today on the release of a final set of recordings secretly made by President Richard Nixon. Knowing all that we do now about the Watergate scandal, it’s easy to forget that it unfolded over the course of more than two years: the…
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Saving a life during L.A.’s shooting season
Between July and September, the medical staff at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center are mired in the so-called “shooting season,” with a shockingly high number of shooting victims being rushed regularly to the operating room.
The Times’ Thomas Curwen documented once such incident, with Dr. Brant Putnam leading the race to save the life of Leandrus Benton, whose decision to use an alleyway shortcut led to his being shot by an unknown assailant.
A resident slaps the boy. They need him conscious.
Putnam knows the surge of adrenaline that brought the boy this far is nearly spent. If his blood pressure crashes, his heart will stop. Putnam wonders if it is too late.
"Let’s go to the OR," he says, loud enough to get everyone’s attention.
Later in the surgery:
Putnam sets a clock running in his mind. Two hours is optimum. Three is the limit. Anything longer compounds the trauma with a phenomena known as physiologic exhaustion, whenthe body has worn itself out trying to compensate for the injury.
Putnam and Luu begin by separating the small intestine and colon from their ligaments. They notice a few holes in the bowel, but those repairs can come later.
Lifting the intestine out of the torso, they find a pool of blood the size of a football flooding the back of the abdomen. This explains why the entry wound was dry. The boy is losing more blood than they can give him. Putnam wonders again if they are too late.
Photos: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times
Orson Welles: Obituary writer
The last written work from the man known for revolutionizing film with features such as “Citizen Kane” and “The Third Man,” wasn’t a script, but an obituary published by the Los Angeles Times back in 1979 for his friend, and legendary director in his own right, Jean Renoir.
The story behind Welles’ foray into posthumous reporting was recently recounted by former deputy editor of the Sunday Opinions section, Steve Wasserman, in a piece for the L.A. Review of Books, which we 100% recommend reading.
A snippet of Welles’ obituary, as it ran in the Sunday paper, is seen below:
As for his conclusion to the piece:
I have not spoken here of the man who I was proud to count as a friend. His friends were without number and we all loved him as Shakespeare was loved, “this side idolatry.” Let’s give him the last word: “To the question ‘Is the cinema an art?’ my answer is ‘What does it matter?’ … You can make films or you can cultivate a garden.
Both have as much claim to being called an art as a poem by Verlaine or a painting by Delacroix… . Art is ‘making.’ The art of love is the art of making love… . My father never talked to me about art. He could not bear the word.”
Photo: Steve Wasserman / L.A. Review of Books
Today, we’re starting something new with our friends at KPCC in Los Angeles: A community storytelling project through @Instagram. We’re calling it Public Square.
Each month will have a theme and hashtag. We’ll ask you to share a glimpse of your life — but beyond that, to tell us stories.
First Assignment: Hard Work (#PShardwork)
Find someone with a thankless job and thank them. The person who makes your burger, checks your luggage, wires your street lights, edits your writing, engineers the car you drive.
Take their portrait or capture them at work. Get all the info — name, age, story — put it all in the caption, and tag it #PSHardWork
How Public Square Differs:
We’re public media, and storytelling is in our DNA. For this project, we want more than just a photo. Your words are equally important.
Please tag only one photo with #PSHardWork on Instagram between now and Monday, August 19th
(photos by Sheldon Serkin/@shelserkin, Michael Baranovic/@mishobaranovic and John Poole/NPR/@johnwpoole)
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Finding hope and healing in a remote stretch of Alaska
Eleven-year-old James Weatherwax has Apert syndrome, an extremely rare condition which fused his bones in the wrong places, making everyday life a struggle, one that led his mother Kecia to bring her son to her ancestral home on Prince of Wales Island in far-off Alaska.
Our own Kim Murphy has been following James and his mother’s fight through everyday hardships and constant surgeries, but amid the difficulties, the two have found a loving home:
Most people here don’t seem to notice James’ appearance, or are sidetracked by his infectious good humor. Johnny Roberts says he got to know James the day he confronted some boys who were bullying him. “He came over and gave me a big hug, and we’ve been good friends ever since,” Johnny says.
As recounted by photographer Genaro Molina, who found it hard to maintain the “fly on the wall” mindset typical of photojournalists:
…on the day of the surgery, James’ tears were hard to hold back. While on the gurney in the operating room he tearfully shouted, “I want my grandfather!” Remembering his grandfather was back at home, James shouted, “I want Genaro!” The medical personnel looked in my direction. My heart sank. I reassured James that I was one of the individuals in surgical attire and that I was there with him.
There comes a point in many stories where you make a certain connection with the subject, and it doesn’t get any more dramatic than this. How could I not root for this kid?
Photos: Genario Molina / Los Angeles Times
A crisis of management at the CIA
The beginning of this story from reporter Ken Dilanian speaks for itself:
For the Central Intelligence Agency, he was a catch: an American citizen who had grown up overseas, was fluent in Mandarin and had a master’s degree in his field. He was working in Silicon Valley, but after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he wanted to serve his country.
The analyst, who declined to be named to shield his association with the CIA, was hired in 2005 into the agency’s Directorate of Intelligence, where he was assigned to dig into Chinese politics. He said he was dismayed to discover that unimpressive managers wielded incredible power and suffered no consequences for mistakes. Departments were run like fiefdoms, he said, and “very nasty internecine battles” were a fixture.
By 2009, he had left the CIA. He now does a similar job for the U.S. military.
Read more on the CIA’s troubled inner workings, as revealed by a series of internal documents and interviews, here.
Photos: Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images, Los Angeles Times
Solitary solidarity: The men behind California’s prison hunger strike
A man decked in Neo-Nazi tattoos and locked away in solitary confinement, armed with a paralegal degree and a prison library, has emerged as the most prominent figurehead in California’s ongoing prison strike protests.
The convicted murderer Todd Ashker, along with three inmates with ties to the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia and the Black Guerrilla Family, have sparked a protest of state prison conditions which, at their peak, involved more than 30,000 prisoners.
He describes the group as "a collective effort initiated by a multiracial group of long-term, similarly situated (SHU) prisoners who decided enough is enough."
But you would expect, not everyone’s on the prisoners’ side:
Terri McDonald, who ran California’s 33 prisons until a few months ago and now runs the Los Angeles County jail system, said Ashker and his compatriots in the Short Corridor Collective are not fighting for rights, but power.
"From my perspective, they are terrorists," she said.
Read more of reporter Paige St. John’s continued work covering California’s prisons here.
Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
In a gilded but often lonely life, Cordelia Scaife May, heiress to one of America’s most storied fortunes, had a few cherished passions.
Protecting birds was one. Keeping immigrants out was another.
The NRA’s unlikely spokesman
Practicing attorney Colion Noir has gone from gun supporter to National Rifle Assn. superstar, acknowledging that he stands in contrast to the stereotypical gun owner in America.
The NRA does not release membership demographics, but according to a Pew Research Center survey, many gun owners in America are white — 31% of whites polled this year said they owned guns, compared with 15% of blacks and 11% of Latinos.
His videos, like the one seen above titled “You know you’re a gun control hypocrite if…” have attracted the attention of the NRA, which is still fighting gun control proposals across the country. Noir is now a “paid commentator,” and his videos applauding gun ownership are branded by the NRA.
Noir has his fair share of critics, but dismisses accusations of betraying fellow African Americans for his stance on guns.
"Calling me an Uncle Tom simply because I’m into firearms, it doesn’t even make sense. My entire identity as a black guy is based on my ownership of guns? Really?" he said. "Some of the most influential black individuals have advocated for the use of firearms, so how come when I do it, I’m vilified? Take a look at the Black Panthers, MLK, Malcolm X."
Read the full story in our latest Column One story.
Coverage of royal babies past
There may not have been the constantly-updated #royalbaby feed all the way back in 1948, nor endless live footage of the entryway of Queen Elizabeth’s hospital, but people nonetheless heard the news - in part thanks to old-fashioned newspaper front pages.
Above is just a sampling of how the Times has covered previous royal births. Stay tuned for tomorrow to see how we tackle William and Kate’s newly-announced 8 lbs., 6 oz. baby boy!
And, you can look at all of the front pages here.