Monday, January 2, 2023

The View On Pop Culture (In Memory of Bob Magid)

The Forgotten Door
Back in the spring of 2001, I got a phone call out of the blue at our farmhouse in Franklin TN. A guy named Bob Magid was on the other end of the line and I don’t remember where he said that he got my number – it had been in circulation and online for better than a decade, so it could have been from anyone or anywhere – but he’d seen some of my writing (again, who knows where?) and was impressed.

Bob published a bi-monthly community newspaper in Signal Hill CA called View From The Hill with a circulation of 50k or so copies in the area south of L.A. that included Signal Hill, Long Beach, and Huntington Beach. The paper published community events, sports, a smattering of localized politics, and other odds ‘n’ ends. He wanted to include a sort of entertainment column and asked me if I’d every written such a thing! Had I?! We discussed me penning a regular review column that would cover music, movies, books, and the occasional music festival occurring in his area. This discussion became “The View On Pop Culture,” my regular review column.

Bob was a writer’s dream – a light-handed editor who allowed me to cover pretty much anything I wanted, musically, from rock and rap to heavy metal and Americana as well as movies and TV shows and any other wild thing I could come up with, as long as I kept it reasonably “PG” rated. Bob was a real estate broker by trade, a community activist, and he dabbled in Signal Hill politics as city treasurer. He and his wife were big supporters of the local gay community, providing hospice care to AIDS sufferers who had nowhere else to go, and serving on the board of the local Gay and Lesbian Center.

Bob was a dreamer, and a diehard liberal with a fondness for books and his kids. He was a standup guy, who wanted to build something with his paper that he could leave to his daughters. Sadly, he had to discontinue View From The Hill when he developed Parkinson’s Disease and couldn’t carry on, and he passed away in 2008 at the age of 77 years.

I wrote 70 columns over almost three years for the publication circa 2001-2003, never got paid a penny for any of them, but finally had to shy away from my commitments for the View when life got in the way. For those three years, though, and a couple afterwards until Bob’s illness became his priority, we spoke on the phone weekly, sometimes about the column, but often about life, politics, our wives, and whatever. He once asked me what my favorite book was as a kid, and I told him about The Forgotten Door, about an alien kid who ends up on Earth and can communicate with animals. Published in 1965, I read The Forgotten Door and my mom’s copy of Snow Treasure over and over again, but I didn’t have copies of either book anymore.

A week later, a copy of The Forgotten Door showed up in my mailbox (I still have the book!). Bob had dug through used bookstores in Southern California to find me a copy. That’s the kind of guy he is. These columns have been out-of-print for a couple of decades now, but I post them here on the site in memory of a man I learned a lot from, Mr. Robert Magid...

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