Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Scene Is No Longer the Beat, Beat, Beat of Tom, Tom

If it wasn't time already, with yesterday's resignation of Tom Jacobs--the last real writer on staff--it's time to turn out the lights at the News-Press. Jacobs was an impassioned, clever writer and perceptive interviewer who gave the Life section and Scene some real intellectual oomph; in fact some of his best writing was when the paper let him do some longer think pieces like those we've come to see from Frank Rich. Jacobs joked that his career loosely followed Rich's, moving from theater writing to political columns, but that does make clear his wide-ranging intellect and curiosity. Alas, the days of his thoughtful examinations were already long gone when the meltdown began last summer. Remember when he and Michael Todd were allowed to do a point-counterpoint about the ramifications of 9/11 four years later in 2005? When the paper actually had writing in it?

It's a sad day that Wendy and her minions (I picture flying monkees--how about you?) have driven out the last reasoned and reasonable voice from the News-Press. One of the hallmarks of Jacobs' fine preview articles was his ability to get people who are partially asked questions for a living to say something fresh and new--he always interviewed prepared, he shook people out of promo time auto-pilot. Most of all, he always listened. The arts community will be poorer without him. If it's true he's now a public information officer with the county of Ventura, Ventura is very lucky.

And I hope if he reads this entry he pardons me for the title pun that even he, an inveterate punster, would never have stooped to.

UPDATE (May 31, 10 am): Turns out that Tom isn't going to be working for the county of Ventura. Nope, he's crossed the Rubicon...He wrote to a friend of both Tom and INOTBB: "On June 11, I begin my new position as communications director of the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura - an organization that produces consistently excellent work in an atmosphere of creativity and collegiality. I look forward to joining that highly regarded team."

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Anonymous Numfar said...

I've long contended that Tom was the best pure writer at the N-P, which, to its discredit, never really knew what to do with him.

This isn't a memorial service, but allow me one quick anecdote, apropos of nada.

A few years back I noticed he was looking at nearly every golf feature that came over the AP wire. (A quirk of the system recorded, for all to see, who had read every story that came in.) If you know Tom you would concede he's among the last guys you'd suspect of being a PGA fan. So after several months I asked him about it. Turns out he couldn't care less about golf. His partner, however, loved it, so he saved every story for her.

That's a good man, and I'm sorry to see him go.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Trekking Left said...

I've seen a few shows at the Rubicon. It's a cool place. I wish Tom the best.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Starshine Roshell said...

Tom Jacobs is one of the most thoughtful people and best writers I know. He was and will continue to be a mentor to me. It was a privilege to work beside him, and learn from his professionalism, for 10 years. It's fantastic he's working with a theater company that he respects and adores; may they always respect and adore him back.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

I know that Tom must be a bit verklempt at leaving the newspaper business (but not his most recent "newspaper"), but this job will be great for him in so many ways.

I, too, enjoyed working with him and learned from him.

Break a leg, Tom!

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have lived in Santa Barbara for 8 years and have SO appreciated Tom Jacob's fine writing,fine mind,great sense of humor and fairness, and the many times he has been an advocate for the arts even after The Coup. I book the acoustic concert series, Trinity Backstage. After Gary Robb left the News Press, Tom Jacobs was the only person who would give us any press-- probably because the conert is held at, what I believe NP editorialists now include as part of the liberal mafia, Trinity Episcopal Church. I have always enjoyed my exchanges with Tom on the political and artistic matters of the day, and I am DELIGHTED to hear that he has landed at the Rubicon-- a great theater run by great people. Good luck, Tom! I will miss you.
Kate Wallace

12:08 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Santa Barbara continues to bleed its rich cultural heritage. If the NP was once a shell of paper, it's now the husk of a shell. I wish I were still in the area to enjoy the fruit of what I expect to be a great relationship between the Rubicon and Tom. Glad to hear he stuck to his principles and left when it was clear that nothing can stop the unending downward spiral that once was the News Press.

3:52 PM  

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