My Time at the Tolucan Thank You Mardi and Sarah


A ‘Beautiful People Award’ to Mardi and Sarah Rustam for being community champions with their Tolucan newspaper.

I want to talk about, because I’ve been thinking about, the meaning of the years I’ve spent with The Tolucan Times. And I want to publicly thank Mardi Rustam and his wife, the darling and special Sarah, for their years of dedication to the paper and to the community.
As publisher and editor in chief of The Tolucan Times, Mardi has kept this historical local paper on its unique track, spotlighting the people and the happenings of Toluca Lake and our close knit neighboring communities. And I know that the readers appreciate their paper, and realize not all areas of our vast city are lucky enough to have such a publication. The Tolucan Times has totally contributed to the sense of “small town,” personal pride, and comfort for those who live or visit.
In these shaky financial days, I’m sure that it’s a struggle to keep the paper afloat. It’s hard for the advertisers to afford advertising. And thanks to those that do, as it would be a too sad thing for this precious landmark of a paper to float away.
Although my life has gone through many changes, my connection with this paper has remained constant. It’s just a communicative fiber of my being. And since it’s a chatty relationship, members of the community (and way beyond) often speak to me as a friend, and comment on the this and that that touched them in some way. How great a thing is that?!
In the best of ways, I’m a hoarder. Let’s say a magpie, it sounds less gross. I have about all the Tolucan columns I’ve contributed for the last thirty-something years, and now, I realize it’s like a journal. As I carefully look back through these crusty, now historic, documents, it tickles my tangled memories and brings back significant life experiences. My kids were in grade school, and there’s a picture and a story of all the neighborhood kids involved with a community action and meeting with a then popular local politician (who was later disgraced).
It brings me back to how much has changed, but again, the constant is The Tolucan Times. As a columnist, I’m allowed to write what I think and feel. It’s my opinion, and that is respected. The same is true with the other writers, who write their opinions. (Sometimes I’m at freaking odds with those who write their opinions as facts, but they have their say as I do mine. Fair.) There are a lot of different styles and varied generations that reflect the make-up of our hood. All which make for diverse and interesting reading.
It’s hard to choose what are the most favorite times that have been refreshed as I ogle through my stashes. The many Beautiful People Awards, a genuine and spirited community happening, created by Tolucan writer Dick Bellamy held at the Smoke House (Am I wrong? Did we have another rustic restaurant? Help.) Little plaques saying “A real good guy.” (I handed out one of these to a teenaged Ron Howard). Joe and Jill Campanella were awarded the “Great Couple,” and more sweet silliness like that.
The Actors and Others Celebrity Fairs were always supported by the Tolucan with picture pages of the stars that came and met with the folks at the then Columbia Ranch. The Falcon Theatre’s groundbreaking was big, and look at it today. And hot coverage of the meetings with the Toluca Lake Democrats in the back booth of Bob’s Big Boy. It was a jest of course; I’d been the token Dem for years and thought it would be fun to find a few more. We were not rowdy, but high-spirited with our little flags and signs. Well, decades pass…
So, unexpectedly, I’ve chronicled my adult life, I’ve (almost) grown up, and so has the paper. It’s now The Tolucan Times, and is the reflection of our era and our area. May it continue with the support of those who love and need it. I know I do… We’ll talk.

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