thats right, on 6/6/06
Jake and Jen accepted the recommendation from outgoing LAist boss, Carolyn Kellogg,
and made me the first paid full time editor of the LA blog.
the first thing we did was have a big party at the Good Luck
where we drank and i begged everyone i knew to write for me
for free and make this thing bigger than ever
and they did it.
all these people, many who i had never met before, worked and wrote and
took pictures and interviewed people and went to games and shows
and covered LA in a beautiful way
and here was my secret. i let them be themselves.
it was the only way. it was the best way.
it was the way that helped us increase our audience by 1,500x in a year and a half.
when i started we had a staff of about 10. the same as blogging.la, our rival.
weirdly there were other local blogs that got more traffic than us.
but that wasnt the case after a year. after a year we were the most popular.
by a lot.
we had anti reviewing weed, we had girls writing about video games
we had girls writing about dating in LA, we had so much news coverage it was crazy
we had Koga and Joey Maloney, who i had found on Flickr, suddenly taking great pictures for us
we built relationships with the concert venues, and promoters
with the Dodgers, with other blogs, but most importantly we built a great bond with LA
it was more of an agreement. the deal was we were gonna write some great stuff, maybe 20 stories a day
and they better say nice things about us in the comments
or i was gonna get in those comments and tell em to go to hell.
it was a full court press.
heres the story and if you dont like it imma get you.
the other secret to the success was jake and jen let me be me
when they saw me telling people what part of hell they could visit and what family member they would find there,
they didn’t tell me to knock it off.
when i said after four months that i wanted to drive around the US and compare it to LA, they said fine, as long as you keep growing the site.
when i said i wanted to go to SXSW and have a party and a battle of the bands, they said, fine as long as you keep growing the site.
when i said i wanted to have bbqs at my house instead of treating the staff to drinks at a bar, they said, fine do whatever you want as long as it doesnt get us sued.
and they stuck to their word
i will always be so grateful of them for giving me that level of freedom with their baby.
their LA baby.
their baby that spun off the LA Beat and helped launch the careers of soooo many great writers and editors
i had a lot of fears ten years ago. i had a lot of confidence because this blog had done well and i had been fully trained at the Daily Nexus, but i was afraid that if i failed i would screw it up for all the other editors and writers who would (hopefully) follow me.
and once i went to the Times and we started forming LA Now, I was worried that LAist would be crushed.
fortunately none of my fears came true. fortunately LAist is its own thing and it has grown into something so unique and so vital to the LA scene that nothing will be able to crush it.
so on this day, the tenth anniversary of Jake and Jen hiring me, i want to thank them of course for taking that chance.
i also want to, of course, thank Carolyn Kellogg for approaching me after the Blogging While Black panel at the 2006 SXSW and floating the trial balloon past me. Carolyn has done pretty well on her own, by the way, she is now the Books Editor at the LA Times.
and mostly i want to thank all of the people who contributed during my time there. it was a voluntary thing. they were doing it mostly because they wanted to write and be part of something. they wanted to talk about their neighborhoods. they wanted to eat Thai Food, they wanted to talk to bands and filmmakers,
and yes, they wanted to tell us what stanky green was out there and what we should look for.
it was a sprint that turned into a marathon. i barely left my house. i barely took a break. and in retrospect it’s probably the thing i’m most proud of in my life.
but heres one thing i want to share.
when i got the gig, the first thing i did was drive to Las Vegas.
i got a nice hotel room, i brought a bunch of books and my laptop
and i wrote down all the best laid plans i could think of.
i ordered room service and just wrote and wrote and wrote plans and ideas and strategies and i spent like 15 minutes at the pool and then i went back up to the room and planned more. but heres what i learned from that experience: plans are crazy.
you can plan all you want but theres nothing like getting in the middle of it all and experimenting and vibbing off of your writers and seeing what the audience responds to and seeing how your staff reacts during crazy situations.
maybe the best idea we had was the Neighborhood Project. no way did i think that up in June in Vegas a decade ago.
so in retrospect heres what i should have done in Vegas a decade ago: ate, drank, and slept by the pool.
because i got very little sleep during my time at LAist. which was perfectly fine with me.