It is with bittersweet tears that I find myself writing this letter. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Malibu Arts Journal. At the rebirth of this magazine, we find the man we planned for the cover of our magazine, a Malibu resident, is still on the cover, just not in the manner we intended. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were out celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut album. This is the rebirth of this magazine. It was going to be a celebration. Now we find we’re celebrating the late Tom Petty’s life.
Writing this cover story felt like etching in the letters on someone’s grave stone. Arranging the years of someone’s life under their name drew tears for me. Here we are at a wonderful revival for Malibu Arts Journal, yet we find ourselves writing about the death of an iconoclastic music man. I don’t remember a time when Tom Petty wasn’t a music influence on my violin playing, or my vocals. He was earthy. The violin is acoustic. He was iconoclastic from the beginning. I learned from him and his generation how to tear down the establishment through art. Once again I find myself influenced by this man. Amid a day’s flurry of reports about Petty’s demise by numerous news outlets who were greedy for ad revenue clicks while he was actually still alive lying in a UCLA hospital bed, I find it necessary to once again take a stand against the establishment. Those news outlets could and should have waited until they heard from Carla Sacks, Petty’s personal publicist, before they reported his death. Then they would have known he was not yet dead. Being competitive in the news world is one thing. Being callous is quite another.
Malibu Arts Journal is an independent press. We print the iconoclast, the independent, the unusual, the elegant, the punk, even the vulgar, those who seek social justice and activists who speak out against the establishment. In short, we fight authority.
If you think Malibu and Topanga aren’t about fighting authority, think again. Look at your neighbor who fought a Diablo style nuclear power plant being placed in Malibu in the 60’s. Look at Will Geer who fought against McCarthyism by establishing Theatricum Botanicum after being blacklisted as an actor. Look at your other neighbor in either Malibu or Topanga. He or she was someone like Petty who fought the establishment in a very classy way, through lyric and song. Then there’s the average person like your Malibu city council member or Topanga Town Council member who has lived here for ages. In Malibu, that person too fights authority by banning the plastic bag and smoking in the city limits. They’ve also made Malibu environmentally friendly. Not bad for a small town of nearly 13,000.
We cover Malibu and Topanga and often reach outward to events, people and places of note. In this issue and as we move forward, we hope to bring you emotive and visual content that tell human stories. In this cover story and the other stories in this issue, we bring you a sampling of what you can expect to find in future issues.
I would like to thank Pulitzer Nominated Photographer Jeff Widener for re-engaging with Malibu Arts Journal. His talents are very much appreciated. I’d also like to thank everyone else who decided to work with the Journal again. But most of all, I thank you, the reader. Thank you for reading Malibu Arts Journal. We appreciate you.
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