Sam Zell will not be drinking at the Redwood Friday night.
About to return to the East Coast for his new gig at the Wall Street Journal, and emailing his goodbyes in a memo to his soon-to-be former colleagues at the L.A. Times Thursday (obtained by LA Observed ), Pulitzer Prize-winning car critic Dan Neil had kind words for the paper which he said “saved” him when it hired him in 2002 after a nasty divorce.
Conversely, Neil — who is involved in a class-action suit against Tribune for alleged mismanagement of retirement funds — delivered the equivelent of a single-finger solute to parent-company brass in Chicago.
Here’s the memo:
From: Neil, Dan
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2010 2:54 PM
Subject: Dan Neil on the bounce
Friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters, In the past week or so people have come up to me and said words to the effect: “The Journal, huh? Sinking ship and all that?” And I just want to slam their heads in a car door.
I absolutely love this newspaper and I am immensely proud of my association with it. People who talk sh** about the LA Times to me are going to find me in their grille in a major way.
Maybe you don’t know this story. In November 2002 I had just come through an awful divorce (we pronounce that DEE-vorce in North Carolina). I was sitting heartbroken and alone in a villa in the south of France, on some godforsaken travel assignment, contemplating the taste of gunpowder. Nobody knew where I was. The phone rang. It was former editor John Carroll, who had somehow tracked me down. He wanted me to come to Los Angeles and be the paper’s car critic.
Well, I said to him, as it happens my schedule has just opened up.
It was the beginning of the most wonderful professional experience of my life, the most fun, the most satisfying, the most intellectually challenging. This placed saved me. It made me.
It’s been a rough few years here, mainly because of the jackasses in Chicago who own us. To them I say, with as much gusto as I can muster in an email, f*** you.
On a happier note, there’s not a person in this building I do not like, if not love. The paper has more greatness ahead of it, and I’ll be watching from the east coast and rooting you on.
If you are able and inclined, there’s a beer call at Redwood tomorrow, around 5 pm. Hope to see you there.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.