Around and About, News

Dazzling News from Out of the Blue

Directly across the street from us live Lori and Ed Chun, lawyers both, parents of two great kids. When we were away, small Max watered the garden for us, younger Jenny picked up our newspapers if I’d forgotten vacation cancel. The day after COVID struck and Bill and I were hearing the news that old people shouldn’t venture out, the doorbell rang. It was Ed.

“Sylvia, is there anything you need that we can do for you? Go shopping maybe?”

I was dazzled. Turns out the Chuns did market for us that first shaky week, we were so discombobulated.

Time passed and Max graduated from Occidental college, Jenny from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

One morning as Lori and I were jockeying our garbage cans, I asked, “What’s Max doing?”

“Oh he’s a barista at a coffee house for now…looking for something…he wants to write…”

And then a couple of years ago I learned Max was a reporter on a local newspaper. As printer’s ink runs in my veins, I was thrilled. Didn’t know about the Lookout Santa Cruz, put it on my To-Do List. (Except no printer’s ink involved…it’s a digital newspaper…21st century art form.)

We hadn’t seen any Chun for awhile until one morning a long week ago, as Bill and I were walking Uschi, we met Lori walking slowly slowly down the street. She was looking for something. She was limp with sadness.

“Merlin got out…our tiger-striped cat…” She handed me an 8″ x ll” notice with Merlin’s photograph on it. Handsome cat. “He was a feral cat…he’s very skittish…there’ve been coyotes out…I’m just…”

For a few days Bill and I did some Merlin-hunting but with no results. We saw there was food and water set out for him, but the posters were still up around the neighborhood. It was so sad.

Then–gosh, it’s been a week–coming home from our morning walk, we were just about to head into our house when Lori came toward us from across the street almost skipping.

“I have some WONDERFUL NEWS!”

“Oh, great Merlin’s been–”

“Max’s paper won the Pulitzer Prize!”

I cannot imagine what my face registered. I was probably struck too dumb to shriek.

The Pulitzer! My mother working high school summers on the Santa Monica Outlook. My father’s columns in St. Paul and Chicago. My uncle Frank’s chronicling the Dodgers for thirty years at The Los Angeles Times. Me with my Garden Fresh column in several papers. Not one among us ever imagined for two seconds that we might win a Pulitzer.

You have to look at the paper’s website,* see the day by day work six reporters and one photographer did covering the devastating storm that went through this part of the world in January 2023. It is inspiring.

It really is. With all that’s negative swirling around us, here is the best of American perspicacity…invention…devotion…hope.

And there it is: “Breaking News Reporting” Staff of Lookout Santa Cruz, California.

“For its detailed and nimble community-focused coverage, over a holiday weekend, of catastrophic flooding and mudslides that displaced thousands of residents and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses.”

Prize: $15,000.

I love the word nimble as regards getting a story.

They aced The Los Angeles Times who won it last year.

A wag said the only problem for these youngsters: the Pulitzer is a journalist’s goal.

Now what do they do?

But hey, Merlin finally came home.

Good news for a change, eh?


2 Comments. Leave new

  • Two happy endings! Great piece of writing, Sylvia. I am so delighted that Lookout Santa Cruz was recognized. What an extraordinary achievement for a very small local organization. I think TV station KSBW also got some recognition for their coverage of the same event, especially their report on why the levee had never been strengthened even though the need had been identified some 30 years before. [The reason: the value of the property that was endangered by any possible levee breach was not enough to warrant spending the money. Read that to say, poor people and they inexpensive homes don’t matter.] Local journalism is so extraordinarily important and so endangered. I will be subscribing to Lookout Santa Cruz both for their journalism and to help ensure that it will continue to exist.

  • David Thompson
    May 14, 2024 10:09 pm

    Good luck Merlin!

    There are 3,000,000 cats on the streets of Los Angeles


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