Dead Letter Office
The San Francisco Bay Guardian disappeared this week, the latest of the alt-weekly extinctions. I credit my education as a critic to the Guardian, specifically to the editors who encouraged my pitches from the time I was an intern in the fall of 2004. I studied film in college, but it was only in contributing to the paper that I began to figure out why writing about cinema mattered to me. Early reactions to the paper’s demise are focusing on its progressive character, but I want to emphasize that the Guardian’s politics—its advocacy work—extended to its arts pages. Once upon a time I remember opening each issue genuinely curious to see what was being covered. The paper’s independence was a tangible thing, readily apparent in the editors’ willingness to clear space for writers to chase after private enthusiasms and bête noires. At its best, that sense of trust extended to readers. I can think of so many great artists and events that would only be covered in the Guardian; it felt vital in that way. I don’t want to romanticize the thing, especially since it stopped being an independent paper two years ago. Still, there’s no denying the loss.