Transitioning from L.A. Times reporter to fruit picker
Hector Becerra set his reporting notebook aside, laced up his boots and strode out into the strawberry fields of Santa Maria, Calif. to see firsthand what it was like to be a fieldworker.
About an hour into the picking, my upper and lower back were beginning to tighten and my legs began to burn a little from the stooping.
As the other workers pulled ahead, Becerra gained a new appreciation for their daily struggle, and for the little things about the agricultural assembly line that often go unnoticed when you’re browsing through the aisles.
You might think strawberries are carefully sorted — possibly by a machine — into the clamshells you buy at the supermarket after being washed at some facility. They’re not. The strawberries are picked by fieldworkers and placed directly into those containers.
Read his compelling account in our latest Column One feature.
Photos: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times will no longer use the term “illegal immigrant.”
By EMILY DERUY
The Los Angeles Times will no longer use the terms “illegal immigrant” or “undocumented immigrant,” the paper announced Wednesday. While the Times has generally avoided such terms for some time, the new guidelines make the policy official.
It’s true! Readers’ Rep Deidre Edgar has the full details on why we ultimately made the decision.
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Longreads just celebrated its fourth birthday, and it’s been a thrill to watch this community grow since we introduced this service and Twitter hashtag in 2009. Thank you to everyone who participates, whether it’s as a reader, a publisher, a writer—or all three. And thanks to the …
In case you were in need of some more long reads to add to your queue…
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Shakespeare: Profiteer and tax dodger?
British researchers are now claiming that the most famous of all playwrights, William Shakespeare, was repeatedly fined for illegally hoarding grain so that he could hike up the prices during food shortages and even threatened jail for avoiding taxes.
From the report from researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales:
“By combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. His profits — minus a few fines for illegal hoarding and tax evasion — meant he had a working life of just 24 years.”
Maurice Sendak’s work hits the road
An exhibition featuring the work of the late beloved children’s author Sendak will be making its debut at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for his landmark book “Where the Wild Things Are.”
Featured are drawings and images relating to his work, but also some early, previously unseen work:
There are eight signed watercolor and ink illustrations of scenes from William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” that he made as a 16-year-old in Brooklyn who wanted to avoid flunking English. Leigh said Sendak’s teacher couldn’t get him to speak up in class or write essays, but she’d noticed he was always drawing and told him he could earn a grade with his artwork.
Ninety-four and still writing: Think you’ll still be working at your job by the time you’re approaching retirement age? How about by the time you’re 94? For one journalist, age is just a number - nothing gets between him and his beat.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s David Perlman churned out 111 stories last year and is still going strong. Not bad for someone born before the discovery of penicillin and Pluto.
AP pronounces them wife and wife
With a changing in cultural norms comes a change in the Associated Press’ style. After outrage arose following a leaked memo revealing that the longstanding news organization was advising writers to refer to married gay couples as “partners,” instead of husbands or wives.
The new entry in the style book under “husband, wife” reads:
Regardless of sexual orientation, ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. ‘Spouse’ or ‘partner’ may be used if requested.
2012 L.A. Times Book Prize Finalists announced
Biographer Robert Caro, novelist Michael Chabon and cartoonist Chris Ware are among the fifty authors whose books were announced as the Times’ finalists for the 33rd annual Book Prizes.
Also nominated are Nate Silver for “The Signal and the Noise,” U.S. poet laureate Louise Glück and Katherine Boo for “Behind the Beautiful Forevers.”
Think anyone was left off of the list? Sound off below!
Remembering Sylvia Plath: Fifty years ago today, Plath, now a titan of literature, killed herself in a tragic end to a talent appreciated far too belatedly.
Just a month earlier, Plath’s now-classic novel “The Bell Jar,” had been published under a pseudonym in England, but it wasn’t until the 1965 posthumous publication of her poetry collection “Ariel,” and the 1971 U.S. release of “The Bell Jar,” that a wide audience realized what had been lost when the 30-year-old Plath resigned from her tumultuous life.
Read our own Carolyn Kellogg’s reflection on Plath’s legacy, or
read more of Plath’s work over at the Poetry Foundation.
(Photo via Faber and Faber / Los Angeles Times)
Pico Iyer says writing longer phrases is a way to protest the speed of information bites people are subjected to each day.
Ink is still king at New York City’s Fountain Pen Hospital: In this palace of penmanship, the nib, ballpoint and rollerball are still mightier than the sword — and the keyboard.
“I’m getting more orders every year,” Steve Wiederlight said somewhat breathlessly, explaining the appeal of specialty pens. “It’s like a status symbol. It’s like a piece of jewelry for a man.”
Photo: Dick Krane, a distributor for Kenro Industries, sorts high-end pens for display at the Fountain Pen Hospital in Manhattan. Photo: Tina Susman / Los Angeles Times
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