Columnist of the Year: Kneeling at the Altar of Not-L.A.

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Columnist Joe HortonJoe Horton spent last spring traveling Europe, and then he spent the fall writing about it. From the sunny Los Angeles campus of the University of Southern California, he described a search for gay life in the south of France, two days of downpour in Berlin, and a case of mistaken identity in Medina in which a little kid believed he was the real Charlie Brown.

Horton writes about American destinations with equal awe: at Texas A&M, he was " a stranger in a holy land" and in Washington D.C., he felt awkward " going commando." In fact, after reading his columns, it's both easy and hard to imagine Horton feeling out of place. This is the same guy, after all, who defended his choice to cut class with a nod to Mark Twain: "To travel is to see the grandest classroom imaginable, to see the world is to kneel at an altar of knowledge so broad and so deep that you cannot help but feel a little sad when you open your apartment door at the end of a trip, gather your books and head off to a lecture." Horton's column continues this semester, with some updates on Europe he never got to last semester--and some more stories from the foreign parts of the United States, too, including his latest dispatch on a trip to Wales.

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