Sept. 5, 2011 issue of The New Yorker.
Sept. 5, 2011 issue of The New Yorker.

The New Yorker Parachutes in Tad Friend to Report on the Messy Situation in Costa Mesa

It could be argued that a story is a big story once key media outlets decide to give it attention. Or, more precisely, once a story is done by The New Yorker, it's a story that echoes beyond the borders of a small city in Costa Mesa. Which it did, and it has. 

Tad Friend spent a week in Costa Mesa for his story, "Contract City," (you'll only be able to read the Abstract unless you're a subscriber) apparently speaking to everyone with something at stake in the ongoing battle between the Costa Mesa City Council and it's employees. While The New Yorker is occasionally accused of parachuting its writers in and out of situations for stories, it seems Friend gleaned quite a lot in his short time in town.

As is The New Yorker way, Friend told a lot of the story behind the story. Sure, he mentioned the city's financial troubles, but he made correlations to past county troubles; he mentioned Huy Pham's suicide, but he called him "the new face of Orange County," alluding to the constantly diversifying demographics; he even found out about a few incidents the Weekly hadn't heard about (including councilman Steve Mensinger's being painted red). Overall, it was pretty damn thorough. Not that we expected much less.

The one part of the story that he didn't mention that struck us as surprising was there was no mention of Bill Lobdell or his salary or the city's website or the word "transparency." Maybe that part of the story is just more compelling to those of us who live here. (We're sure Lobdell welcomed the respite.)

Unfortunately, we weren't worthy of an interview, but our publication did get a mention (sweet!) in relation to our former editor and publisher, Will Swaim, who was quoted. Surprisingly, his single quote struck us as counterintuitive to what we'd been reading on his blog about the situation in Costa Mesa.

If you're trying to get a better grasp of what exactly is going on in those council chambers across the street from the Orange County Fairgrounds or why the media is spending so much time fixated on Costa Mesa, give Friend's story a read. After you're done with that, pick up a copy of the Weekly later this week...


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