Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sam Quinones at Huntington-USC

I attended a talk by the LA Times' Sam Quinones today at the Huntington Library. He spoke with great enthusiasm and candor about the stories he has discovered in Mexico and on "the border," which he treats more as a state of mind than a geographical fact. Completely fresh and unpredictable. My favorite story today involved his being run out of a Mexican town by a community of Mennonite drug dealers.

When I called my friend Adrian Maher, I discovered that he and my good friend Mark Ettlin were Sam's compatriots in the Berkeley co-op scene of the late 70s and early 80s. Now it all comes together.

Here's the link for Sam's latest book:

I also saw Bill Deverell, whose Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West does a great job with these events.


At 12:59 AM , Blogger Louise Nelson Dyble said...

Hi Richard,
I enjoyed Sam as well--who wouldn't what an engaging speaker! But his anti-academic ranting gave me pause. While his colorful journalism is fun and even important. Velvet paints do deserve attention. But, so does ancient Aztec culture. And sometimes theory is useful. And understanding complex ideas can require a little effort, but it is often worth it. His hostility toward academics in general struck me as another example of the extreme anti-intellectual climate right now.

At 6:38 AM , Blogger Peter Richardson said...

Yes, I see what you mean, Louise. It's as if the minute hand of the clock had no use for the hour hand. We obviously need both to see what time it is. But I didn't see anti-intellectualism there so much as a professional writer pleading with academics to keep general readers in mind and not just other specialists. I spent five years at PPIC translating academic prose into something the media might read and use, so that point isn't lost on me. It's also one of the reasons I admire Carey McWilliams so much--he wrote for general audiences without catering to them.


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