Editor’s Note | By Bret Bradigan

Carnival Acts

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” — George Bernard Shaw

Graydon Carter wrapped up his 25th year as editor of Vanity Fair with a poignant essay to the joys and wonders of his job — spending his days in a creative hustle with talented people. “The result of all this long-term collegiality is that in your professional life (as in your personal life) you become the sum total of the parts you’ve met along the way.”

Spending my time around our contributors this past issue, as in issues past, is one of the key joys of my life. It doesn’t feel like work; it feels like play. Some years ago the Wall Street Journal featured a story on lessons every business could learn from traveling carnivals. They set up in a new location in a matter of minutes, with everyone having a clear role and in maximal efficiency of time and motion; the arcade games are carefully monitored for popularity and traffic, with carnival workers diverted toward the busiest and away from the least. Then the weekend ends and they pack up in reverse efficiency and head off to the next stop. At every new location, adjustments are from a feedback loop based on the practical evidence of what’s actually happening.

There are some similarities to the magazine business — the working together part especially. The main difference between Graydon Carter and myself is the scale. Well, that and glamor. And cultural impact. And those exclusive post-Oscar parties. And the hobnobbing with the literati and glitterati. And his majestic hair. Aside from those, though, it’s practically the same.

The Music Festival is another superb example of creative collaboration, so superb, in fact, that it will be a case study in an important book coming soon (more about that in a later issue). Our cover subject, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, this year’s Music Festival music director, is making waves in the music world with her virtuosity on the violin, her exuberant spirit and sparkling mind that is always making connections that didn’t exist before. In the process, peerless experiences are created.
The experience of surviving the Thomas Fire and what’s comes next are the focuses of Bennett Barthelemy’s touching essay on how the effort to heal the land can bring us together, in Ojai as well as in Bosnia. Kit Stolz and Michelaina Johnson capture the Ojai spirit with a series of interviews, and Patricia Clark Doerner’s 14 file cabinets filled with family history are a loss that can’t be measured, let alone recovered. Kit also interviewed top-shelf author T.C. Boyle about his take on catastrophe and our times.

Few people possess minds as creative as Peter Bellwood, whose fabled career includes historic collaborations with legends Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. He gets the full Mark Lewis treatment in this issue, taking the particular facts, from which emerges a grand narrative to the joys, and importance, of having fun. Speaking of which, Jesse Phelps writes with clarity and wit about the amazing coincidence that four incredible saxophone players call Ojai home. It’s the kind of thing that surprises us in its improbability, and also reassures us that Ojai is just the kind of place in which such improbabilities are likely.

Thank you for taking the time to pick up this issue and sharing in our collaboration. Maybe it’ll spark some creative connections of your own.