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Monday, Jun 5, 2023
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OCBJ INSIDER

South Coast Soul

An April architectural review of the new Costa Mesa HQ of Anduril Industries in the LA Times—built at that paper’s former OC office and printing plant—took a stab at explaining why the newspaper had fallen in OC’s media landscape over the past two decades.

A “general decline in newspaper readership and the recession of the 1990s, followed by a three-ring circus of corporate leadership at The Times, would be the undoing of the paper’s Orange County edition,” wrote Carolina Miranda.

Perhaps so. It probably also doesn’t help that the paper’s columnists often have so little understanding, or apparent regard, for the area.

The latest example: art critic Christopher Knight’s Oct. 5 review of the new Orange County Museum of Art, which alongside valid criticisms of the $94M facility, made little attempt to hide his thoughts on the “uninspiring” area where OCMA was built.

Segerstrom Plaza is located just off the San Diego Freeway in the heart of a soulless cluster of car-friendly glass office buildings, stucco apartment blocks, hotels and another shopping center,” he wrote.

Outside of incorrectly identifying the name of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, we’ll leave it to the readers to decide whether the most successful upscale shopping center in the U.S., South Coast Plaza, is just “another” mall.

Even the late, great restaurant critic Jonathan Gold couldn’t help but throw shade on the area, once noting one of his favorite spots, Costa Mesa’s Taco María, was set in “a comically overwrought hipster mall.”

At least the well-traveled Gold knew his way around OC. Miranda’s piece on Anduril’s home suggested the last time she was in the immediate area was “in 1991, when I had to go there to take a drug test for a summer job.”

The new home of OCMA, Taco María’s home at SoCo, and Anduril’s HQ are all within a 5-minute drive of each other. Hopefully other Times writers can find the time to visit again in the next few decades. It would do their (declining) local readership a service.

The April review of Anduril’s HQ spot noted the author would “likely be some of the last Times journalists to wander freely in the paper’s old OC building for a very long time.”

Other journalists are still invited. The Business Journal got a tour of the facility in May, from company founder Palmer Luckey. He wasn’t a fan of the LA Times review, either.

For our latest exclusive on the fast-growing defense contractor, see Kevin Costelloe’s front-page story.

Costa Mesa’s Vaca, a short walk from OCMA, is one of just over 30 local restaurants getting recognition from the Michelin Guide this year; specific designations, including official star rating announcements for a few, aren’t due for a few months.

If you haven’t seen Chef Amar Santana at the restaurant (or Laguna Beach’s Broadway) recently, it’s because he is one of two chefs representing the U.S. in the 20th season of Top Chef, which features all-star chefs from across the globe, and which for the first time is being filmed entirely overseas.

Santana was a runner-up in Season 13 and helped judge in Season 18.

The Bravo series will premier next year.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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