Monday night, Los Angeles Magazine held a gathering they called a Women’s Leadership Reception. it was co-hosted by Editor-in-Chief Mary Melton and Publisher Amy Saralegui along with City Controller Wendy Greuel.
The women present were an eclectic mix. They were from government (like Greuel, city planning director Gail Goldberg, and longtime California Democratic powerhouse, Roz Wyman) from journalism—(Director of the Annenberg School of Journalism, Geneva Overholser, columnist/radio host, Patt Morrison, KPPC’s Shirley Jahad, KCET exec Val Zavala) —from literature and the arts…from the nonprofit sector and, well, from a lot of varied fields– County Counsel Andrea Ordin, L.A. Conservancy chief Linda Dishman, author Gina Nahai. However, unlike most such gatherings, although all of us knew a few people, no one but perhaps the LA Mag editors who did the inviting, seemed to know a lot.
It took about fifteen minutes of collective shyness before everyone ventured out to talk to those whom they’d not met.
A lot of intriguing and decidedly non-small-talkish conversations seemed to emerge from the mingling (even though accessories were occasionally mentioned).
For instance, I heard from Emmy winning composer Laura Karpman that she was in the middle of writing an “multi-media opera called The One Ten—about…well… the 110 Freeway. It seems that the 110 turns 70 in December of this year. So to commemorate the anniversary, the LA Opera offered Karpman a quirky commission to create an opera about it. (Laura and librettists M.G. Lord and Shannon Halwes blog about their creative process here.)
Wendy Greuel veered easily between topics that included her newest audit (more on that another time) and and the fact she and Wyman were two of the three women ever to get pregnant and have a child while serving in LA public office. (The third was Gloria Molina, said Greuel.)
“I’m glad she took on the DWP,” I heard two different women whisper when they spied Greuel.
Stephanie Stone, the Vice Chair of LA County’s Veterans Advisory Commission, told me disturbingly that according to the most recent estimate, 25 percent—likely more—of the women soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, have been sexually abused during their time in the service. One out of four.
(I’ll be following up on that story.)
I heard from Elena Stern of Para Los Ninos about the desperate need for psychological counseling among the children living on Skid Row whom her agency serves.
I talked with Literary agent Bonnie Nadell, who was the longtime agent of the late David Foster Wallace, about whether she thought that D.T. Max, who wrote the long, unutterably sad, but relievingly informative story about DFW in the New Yorker, was the right person to do the upcoming biography of Wallace. (She did. She thought he’d be good. And, since she’d known both men for over 20 years, I figured she was in likely the best position to judge the matter.)
Mary Melton also mentioned, when she gave her welcoming speech, that Roz Wyman was the youngest LA City Council person ever. (She was first elected in 1953 at the age of 22.) Mary also said that Roz was instrumental in bringing the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1957, figuring that LA needed its own sports team.
And so it was that, as the longest night of the year unfolded—along with myriad conversations—everyone seemed to settle into the pleasant realization that it was nice (even if merely for a change) for just girls to get together with just girls…in LA. (And a kick-ass group of grrrllls it was.)
Thanks to LA Magazine for making it possible.
Group photo by Zach Lipp via LA Observed.