A California Today Farewell

Monday: Reflecting on almost three years of chronicling the biggest news in the Golden State.,


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Yosemite National Park in 2018.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Good morning.

A little while after I moved to Texas in 2016, someone told me that Dallas is an easy place to live, but a hard place to love. I’ve thought about that description a lot — not so much because of what it says about Dallas (although it’s true), but because its inverse maps pretty neatly onto the Golden State.

California, with its stunning natural beauty and its infinite diversity, is an easy place to love. But it can be a difficult place to live.

Every day for the better part of three years, I’ve tried to capture that duality in some small way for the readers of California Today.

I’ve interviewed artists, activists, historians, scientists, governors, senators and mayors. I talked with a Van Nuys family about what it’s like to live in your car, and a Santa Rosa couple about what it’s like to lose a home to a wildfire, only to have to flee again two years later.

I’ve written about earthquakes, drought, protests, politics (so much politics), policing, museum exhibitions and music, sometimes in the same newsletter. I asked a Japanese American actor whose face I grew up seeing about Asian representation in Hollywood, and former Gov. Jerry Brown about the Doomsday Clock.

I learned more about the lives of Biddy Mason, Larry Itliong, Dorothea Lange, Bayard Rustin and Ahn Chang-Ho.

And yet, now, as I say goodbye to a job that has taken up more mental real estate than is probably healthy, what stands out most in my mind is the community we’ve built here.


Thousands of people joined a protest in Los Angeles in June 2020 after the death of George Floyd.Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Over the past wrenching year and a half, I was fortunate to be able to do most of my work from home. Still, marking the passage of time by chronicling death counts and lockdowns, unsurprisingly, took an emotional toll.

Hearing from readers — about how you were surviving, or simply that you found the information in California Today useful — was a source of human connection in a period of profound isolation that kept me going.

I also had smart, creative colleagues like Sona Patel, Julie Bloom, Marie Tae McDermott and so many others across The Times newsroom, who helped answer our most pressing questions and made sure the newsletter made it to your inbox each morning.

Of course, the pandemic, catastrophic fires and widespread demands for criminal justice reform didn’t exactly bond Californians in common cause. Rather, they shined a light on our foundational divides and the stubbornness of our biggest problems.

We still have to contend with unsustainable housing costs, which are forcing out many of the same Californians who have for months risked their lives to do essential work. We are facing a future marked by extreme heat and smoke-filled skies. Oh, and we have that election coming up over whether to remove our governor from office.

But I’m hopeful. What I’ve seen unite Californians, for all of our foibles and contradictions, is that we never stop trying to bridge the gap between the California Dream and our messy, earthbound reality.

Besides, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll still be living in Los Angeles, learning and writing for The Times about the state that — in spite of everything — I love most.

Here’s what else to know today


Vickie Gaddy, a nurse at an intensive care unit in Santa Monica. Doctors at the hospital say more younger people with Covid-19 are being sent to the I.C.U.Credit…Isadora Kosofsky for The New York Times

Compiled by Jordan Allen and Mariel Wamsley

They thought the worst of the pandemic was behind them. Then a new wave of cases arrived at the I.C.U. at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.

As coronavirus cases rise across the United States, the fight against the pandemic is focused on an estimated 93 million people who are eligible for shots but have chosen not to get them. As for who these people are? It boils down to about two groups.

A survey of data from 10 states shows that more than one million doses have gone to waste since the nation began administering Covid-19 vaccines in December.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, millennials are driving the latest coronavirus surge.

Cal Matters reports that low-income Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal have been vaccinated at the lowest rates in the state.

The U.S. Forest Service, which is responsible for a large portion of California’s land, has allowed forest fires to burn for centuries as a strategy for thinning out overgrowth. The Los Angeles Times explains why many state and local agencies disagree with this method and have focused instead on stomping out fires early.

The Dixie fire is burning 244,888 acres, up 500 acres from Saturday, The Enterprise-Record reports. It is now the 11th largest fire in state history.

A new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, draws on multiple areas of research to find out how many future lives will be lost as a result of rising temperatures if humanity keeps producing greenhouse gas emissions at high rates. The findings are soberingly high.

Two people, Anthony Barajas, who was popular on TikTok, and Rylee Goodrich, were each shot in the head at a theater in Corona, in what the district attorney said was an unprovoked attack.

Disney’s new movie “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, arrived in theaters and on Disney+ over the weekend. Depressing ticket sales suggest that the Delta variant might continue to disrupt moviegoing.

After a 13-month delay, Randy Shell at Jacobs Park will open on Friday, according to The Del Mar Times. The 10,000-person capacity outdoor concert venue will be the new home of the San Diego Symphony, and the rest of the site will be a public park for most of the year.

Read our conversation with Snoop Dogg on how he has transcended his hip-hop roots and become culturally ubiquitous, growing from a shy musician to a multiplatform entrepreneur with several new ventures in the cannabis industry.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

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