Seth Combs. Photo by Calethia DeConto.
Back in February 2009, I used this space to announce the departure of Kinsee Morlan as our arts editor and the news that Seth Combs would take her place. In that announcement, I put a lot of pressure on Seth by passionately singing Kinsee's praises, saying hers would be a hard act to follow.
Well, during the course of the ensuing 15 months, Seth responded by saying, in effect, “In your face, Rolland!” You see, not only did Seth take over Kinsee's art-and-culture responsibilities; he was already tasked with running our music section. His list of duties has grown ever since, and by now, Seth dons more hats than anyone at CityBeat and is also our most prolific writer. I knew we were in good hands following Kinsee's exit, but what I didn't know is what an extraordinarily hard worker Seth is.
Why am I telling you this? Because Seth has decided to move on. We don't yet know how he'll spend his days after CityBeat, but he believes it's time to start a new chapter. This next week is Seth's last as a member of our full-time staff.
What I appreciate most about Seth's time here is that he didn't simply cozy up in the familiar confines of the music section, where he'd done the lion's share of his journalism in the past, and put the arts coverage on autopilot. Instead, he made it his mission to build on what Kinsee had started; he challenged himself to become a kick-ass culture editor. There was never a degradation of our visual-arts coverage; in fact, I believe CityBeat is viewed by much of the arts community as stronger than ever.
That's due, in part, to Seth's launching of a semi-regular art-review page, in which he and other writers review five current art shows. And, though Seth's background was largely filled with music writing, I think his two most beautifully written feature stories for CityBeat were about photographers: Andrew Printer and Becky Cohen. I submitted both stories for national awards. We should find out if he won for either piece sometime this month; my fingers are crossed.
We'll miss Seth's dedication. We'll miss his twitchy little Jack Russell terrier, Harry, who's always at his side. We might even miss the charming way Seth hollers obscenities at his underperforming computer—well, let's just say we'll miss that only insofar as it's an integral part of Seth's unique personality.
The good, and ironic, news is that Kinsee Morlan, after giving small-town Colorado a test-drive, is coming back to San Diego and to CityBeat. While in Colorado—in addition to getting hitched—she worked as a new-media producer for public radio, a librarian, a freelance writer and a content coordinator for a website, and she even opened her own art gallery (same ol' boundless energy). She's excited to apply, at CityBeat, what she's learned in terms of new-media production. Kinsee will once again manage our arts-and-culture coverage, as well as our “Nightgeist” page, and she'll play a large role, along with art director Adam Vieyra, in curating the visual-art showcase that our weekly cover has become.
Meanwhile, Seth's music-section duties will be assumed by Peter Holslin, who was a CityBeat intern many years ago before heading off to attend Eugene Lang College at the New School in New York City. After graduating in 2008, he returned to San Diego and has been working part-time on our staff and contributing to the music and news sections, as well as our special issues. He's also been writing, mostly about music, for outlets beyond San Diego. An eclectic writer, Peter has written two long-form feature stories for CityBeat—one about the civil war in Northern Uganda (he traveled for two months in East Africa after college) and one about the military's “Don't ask, don't tell” policy. He promises that CityBeat's music coverage will not be limited to noise metal, and for that, we're grateful.
I speak for everyone at CityBeat when I wish Seth all the best in whatever he decides to do. He'll always be welcome to contribute to our scrappy little paper. I also speak for the whole crowd when I welcome Kinsee back to San Diego and congratulate Peter on his promotion. I guarantee big piles of awesomeness from both of them.