EDITOR’S NOTE | By Bret Bradigan
10 Years On
We started Ojai Quarterly ten years ago this Spring, with our inaugural issue coming out Memorial Day weekend of 2010. It’s been a long, fun ride since. Launching a publication anytime, but especially one as ambitious as ours, and during the long, slow recovery from the financial crash of 2009, is risky. Thanks to Ojai’s generous and open-hearted support, it has been as rewarding as any venture in our lives.
Our first major feature story, an impressive work by Patricia Clark Doerner about her illustrious ranching and law enforcement forebears, showed that the timely issues of Ojai — fire, tourism, drought, development — have always been among us. We also featured a story about Aldous Huxley, the revered writer and philosopher, who was an early psychedelic pioneer in Ojai, and who left an indelible mark on our character and mystique.
Other important stories in those early days included a fresh look at a critical time in Ojai, the Summer riots of 1967, when Ojai, like America, was torn apart by protest and division of the culture wars. Or Mark Lewis’ deft analysis of Thornton Wilder’s earliest years as a playwright, at The Thacher School, tracing many elements of his famous work, “Our Town,” to the people and circumstances of his months in Ojai.
Our superb writing and photography has been on display through these past ten years in the work of Ojai’s top photographers and writers — including famed Guy Webster and Bettina LaPlante, as well as Brandi Crockett, Logan Hall and Graham Dunn. The writers who have graced our pages include the peerless journalist Mark Lewis, the zany genius of Sami Zahringer and the dry, comic wit of Peter Bellwood, one of the founders of England’s comedy revolution in the 1960s through his work with “Beyond the Fringe,” one of the immediate progenitors of sketch absurdity of Monty Python. The celebrities who have generously lend their star power to our endeavors include a rare interview of Ted Danson, talking about his ocean-saving passion, and with enigmatic and hyper-talented “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto. Our most recent issue featured Robin Gerber’s touching story about mothers and daughters in Ojai, with cover stars Mary Steenburgen and Lilly McDowell Walton.
Perhaps the most fun was Peter Bellwood’s hilarious and touching interview with Malcolm McDowell. It was like overhearing two old friends reminiscing on a warm Spring day about their storied and incredible careers. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere — in print or online.
In this business, it’s hard to know if you’re on the right track, if you’re connecting with an audience. We didn’t really know for sure that the OQ having an impact until I was handing out magazines at the Ojai Music Festival shortly after the Mark Lewis’ “Summer Bummer” story about the riots of 1967. A man rather impatiently brushed past me. No big deal, I thought, he was in a hurry to get the show. I was right. After the concert, he made a point of stopping by to explain his brusqueness. Then he launched into a story about how he had spent three hours that morning poolside at the Ojai Valley Inn with that issue.
Speaking of that story in particular, he said, “I’ve been coming to Ojai for 20 years — going back and forth from the Inn to Libbey Bowl — and I had no idea whatsoever what a fascinating community Ojai is!” That story, featuring many people who still live here, was meant for a local audience. But it proves the adage that I learned from Kim Maxwell, “The more specific something is to someone, the more it applies to everyone.” Thank you, sir, it meant a lot to us that you confirmed what and why we do what we do. To connect people. To connect them to this community and to each other, each issue strengthening those bonds of fascination and discovery. Bringing us together in shared understanding.
A friend once said he looked forward to each issue because “I learn so much about Ojai!” So do I. If I learn as much in the next ten years as I have the first ten, I am in for a bright new worlds of information and culture, of context and understanding that reflects this wondrous place we call home. We are pleased and proud to have enjoyed the support of Ojai readers and advertisers these many years, and we promise that we will continue to earn your trust and affection.
Stay tuned, we have some fun and exciting new ideas we can’t wait to show you.