here’s what i wrote for Los Angeleno in April

Pretty sure this is the most productive I’ve ever been as a reporter. Even with LAist I didn’t produce these many original pieces in one month.

Of note: interviews with American Apparel founder Dov Charney about what his new company, Los Angeles Apparel is doing to help curb the pandemic, a visit to a Walmart in the Valley as it gets new pallets of toilet paper and paper towels, features on a radio journalist from KNX and an outgoing Pulitzer winner from the LA Times, an interview with an ICU doc in Palm Springs who uses the controversial cocktail to try to save lives of coronavirus patients, a feature on smokeless weed with several fascinating people, and a bunch of news wrap-ups all about the terrible virus that changed everything.

And I took some cool pictures.

Coronavirus: Fountains of Wayne Co-founder Dies; Covered California Extension

Dov Charney’s New Passion: Face Masks

Coronavirus: 1M Global Cases; Furloughs Hit Disney

Coronavirus: Richard Simmons Returns; News Viewership Up

T.P. Hits the Shelves — ‘This is Like War Rationing’

Know Your Journalist: KNX’s Claudia Peschiutta

Coronavirus: County Extends Stay-at-Home Order; Supplies Stolen at Naval Medical Center

heres the thing about newspaper owning billionaires

youre not allowed to criticize them

even if they keep sending their employees to the unemployment lines

or the retirement homes.

youre not allowed to count their money or question what they do with the paper

because everyone knows that newspapers in 2020 are money losing ventures

first it was craigslist, then, then facebook, the ways newspaper revenues dried up were death by a million cuts.

even though over there are over 2,000 billionaires, only a few of them have any interest in the news biz, and so you arent allowed to criticize those who do because omg what if they all say

fuck this shit.

but heres the thing about billionaires, and please correct me if i am wrong.

in order to achieve that title, you can’t really give a whole bunch of it away in annoying ways like salaries and health insurance and matching 401ks.

im sure there was a bit of a twinge today when the richest man in LA signed the paperwork that sent 40 people into the worst day of their life: suddenly unemployed in the middle of a pandemic

and clearly theres not just a mountain of dollar bills in his basement, six billion strong.

but come on.

come the fuck on.

how is this not heartless, selfish, fucking shitty behavior

the type that the best newspaper west of manhattan would call out if it was being done by any other billionaire in town.

ive seen them do it.

i have lived the greatest life and i am so thankful

today about 666 present and former employees of the LA Times joined together to say goodbye to the Times building

our home away from home

our home

our home.

i saw so many people who i never thought would be there. i saw faces whose names i didnt remember. i saw people who looked EXACTLY as they did when I was last there.

and i love them all

it was all so sweet.

in many ways it was just like we left it

“new” carpet and equipment and tv and stuff but almost everything was in the same place.

yes amber and i took the tour last month but that was a limited thing and we didnt get to talk to too many people

but this was different, this was a real homecoming where we got to wander around the sprawling building. which was a little weird without a lot of the pictures that used to line the walls, and framed iconic newspaper front pages that saluted you as you walked through the ground floor.

there was the elevator that i once rode with Rihanna as she was visiting her then-boyfriend Chris Brown

there was the office i once received a gigantic bonus in

there was the bathroom i once took a cool selfie in

and there was the spot where my desk once was where i learned that Michael Jackson had died

and where i watched Barack Obama get elected.

i feel that i am so lucky because these are some of the smartest and sharpest minds in the entire game.

old cohorts who are now here there and everywhere. we are so spread out but tonight we were together mixed in with the young writers, some of whom, weirdly, i know too.

i am so happy, which is weird because i thought i was gonna be so sad. i thought i was gonna cry the whole time.

this was my dream job. this is where i had hoped i could work at for so long.

this is where i wrote about on this blog time after time after time, never truly believing i would ever work at

and then when i was gone, a place i had thought had totally forgotten about me.

i was so wrong. i am always so wrong.

turned out people did remember me. and some knew me who had never met me.

we talked and hugged and i drank and we took so many pictures and i even got a few parting gifts. which is crazy because the whole thing was a gift.

you can dream. you can tell everyone what you want. and at some point you might even get a shot at what you want.

and then its all about working working working to feel like you belong.

to feel like you deserve to be there.

i may never feel that way no matter how great our results were, but i was there.

i was in the game.

i got to see the thing from the inside

and i am so grateful, it’s crazy.

but you know whats really crazy? that in a few weeks this will all be gone.

the place where so much happened.

where everything and everyone happened

it will all be gone.

just more square footage to be rented out.

life is so bizarre

ask for what you want, then french kiss it.

adios, history

yesterday amber an i went to the LA Times because we learned that there were only two official tours remaining of the building before the paper moves to El Segundo.

thankfully my boss understood that im insane and the only days off that i want are for weird things like this and not trips to maui.

but to get a tour of a fascinatingly rich and complex building like the LA Times from a 40-year veteran of the paper like Darrell Kunitomi is a priceless gift.

he has seen it all, met everyone, worked with everyone, and experienced all the very high highs and extremely low lows of the greatest paper west of Manhattan.

it was a bittersweet tour because with every fact, photograph, and piece of equipment was an asterisk that said THIS TOO WILL BE GONE WHEN THEY MOVE.

the root of the problem was executive after executive from Chicago has done its best to ruin the LA Times, plunder its riches, lay off its people, and finally sell its majestic building and hoard the profits.

so now the paper is a tenant in a building that they also share with the likes of Uber(!) and they are forced to pay $2 million a month in rent. meanwhile the new owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong owns a building by LAX and he would rather spend millions renovating it so that the paper can work in a modern place… rent free.

because life is crazy, it just so happened that Dr. Patrick (as people now call him) was in the building yesterday because he was officially announcing the sale and the new Executive Editor. the newsroom was joyous with anti-Tronc signs, cake, and bubbly.

the tour was not allowed to join in the celebration, as this was their moment, which is understandable, but damn did i want to be in there with some of my former colleagues. The Mayor even showed up.

i did splinter off from the group when we made it to the Entertainment section which is where the Sports Dept used to be. Gerrick Kennedy, Randall Roberts, and Alison Dingeldein all greeted me and i got to chat briefly with my pal Todd Martens.

when we finished the tour Amber and I were filled with emotion because… that’s it. That cool building will be ruined, basically, with stupid condos or offices that will not change the city the way a 100+ year old paper can. and all the memories that people with way more time spent on Spring Street will be heard and not seen.

so we went to the nearby Redwood Bar, where Timesmen and Timeswomen have escaped to since the days of rotary phones. and there we hid out in the dark, listening to classic rock, and eating fish tacos.

i love the LA Times so much and the people who made it and make it what it was and is and it’s so sad that this sad story never ends. even with a prince of a billionaire trying to make things better. maybe it will be better. maybe the new place will be a turning point.

lets hope.

two south african immigrants made news today

the first was Elon Musk who sent a rocket ship containing a Tesla car into space this morning

and then had his rocket boosters fly back to earth safely so he could use them again

and again and again.

moral of the story: surround yourself with people who believe that anything is possible

and you will create miracles.

the second was the richest man in LA, Billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong,

who might take $500 million of his $7 billion fortune to buy the best paper west of Manhattan

your Los Angeles times.

moral of that story: sometimes good things happen to good cities.

always do the right thing, Mookie.

you’ll never feel at home in LA unless you keep moving

LA is huge.

imagine the biggest place you’ve ever been in and quadruple it.

that will just be the Valley, which you need to know if you are really to get LA.

then quadruple it again and you’ve got South Central,

which is where the secret soul of LA is. the actual heartbeat.

the fakers fly right over south central via overpasses or freeways , but if you live here long enough

and if you start meeting the right people you will go to a house party off Crenshaw

you will get your haircut on Florence,

you might even find yourself at a sample sale near Carson.

LA goes all the way to Long Beach and inside the weirdest dead ends of downtown.

everyone hikes Runyon, but if i was the failing New York Times and their laughing stock of an LA bureau here’s what i would do:

there is a stretch of LA from Santa Monica to DTLA thats as wide as Pico to the south to Sunset to the north.

i would refuse to run any stories from that stretch an zero from downtown.

i’d also ignore anything happening in the upper crust of Malibu, Manhattan and Redondo Beaches.

why? because unless we are talking about crime, 90% of so-called news and features by the mainstream press happen in that narrow band.

the Pulitzer Prize winning Jonathan Gold is beloved in LA because he uses the entire canvas, not just the same beaten path

he ventures, he explores, he speaks Spanish, he talks to people of all skin colors and religious beliefs.

LA is the home of more religions than any other city in the world.

it is the 2nd largest Spanish speaking city on the planet.

if all of your sources and all of your stories are about white folk, if all of your touchstones and goals and ideals are based in Caucasian ideals of the 1960s

then you aren’t really telling the story of LA of today.

i once dated a girl from canada who was blown away that so many billboards and handmade fliers were in Spanish

and how many brown skinned people there were on the streets

and Asians

and Jews.

she said, this isn’t what it looked like in “Clueless”.

if you truly want to cover this city, and most of all, if you really want to love this city, you have to move out of West Hollywood

you have to break up with your boyfriend,

you have to stop taking taxis

and most of all you should start driving for Lyft.

then you will start to see the real story that is this beautiful city of angels.

10 years ago today i started working at the LA Times

it was a dream come true.

it had been something i had been thinking about since i had been in college.

and there i was.

and my shirt and sweater were dumb, and my pants were weird, and i didnt know what shoes to wear

and part of me was thinking “you’re the Blog Guy, you can be weird if you want!”

and most of me was thinking, “you gotta be able to get the print people to like and respect you SELL OUT SELL OUT!”

i dont think ive worn that shirt ever since, and i gave that sweater to the poor last Christmas.

totally forgot it was famous.

thats me and then-publisher David Hiller who right after that picture was taken said, “youre the blog expert, I have a blog but it isn’t very good. Do you have any advice?”

i said, “Mr. Hiller, I have some bad news for you. You have a great life and I have learned a little pattern over the years: Good life, crappy blog. Crappy life, great blog.” He laughed and I don’t think he ever blogged again.

as you can see from the stats at the bottom of this, 2017 will be the least prolific year in the 16 years of writing this blog. this will be post #311 this year with about two weeks left. some years i wrote 800 or 900 posts. OF GENIUS!

why so few this year?

is it because i have had a Good Life?

sure, let’s pretend that that’s the reason.


the LAT has decided to unionize

seems like theyre nervous about their parent company Tronc

which is the Tribune, of Chicago, which hasn’t really given them any reason to trust

first of all, dumb name, tronc, wtf.

next, they made the editors ALSO publishers which breaks so many rules of journalism

then they did weird things like try to get their execs to go to the Oscars

allegedly they took the tickets allocated to the writers and gave em to the Chicago bigwigs

then they fired a half dozen top editors

then when they realized a copy editor was married to someone they had just axed, they fired her too.

thats not exactly how you build trust.

and it’s not even journalistically sound.

hows about only fire people if they suck. dont fire them if they intimidate you or are married to someone you just canned?

it makes me doubly sad because i grew up reading Chicago journalism

and i spent four of my happiest years at the Times with many of these professionals

most of the time they were teaching me how to be professional.

the LA Times not only wanted the best writing and editing and photography and graphics and art and and and and but they also wanted it to be done correctly.

it was a slow process and not everyone was on board but for the most part the goal was simple: dont fuck up and you wont if you have the proper goals

accuracy was the properest of goals.

not speed.

i remember the day Michael Jackson died. a bunch of outlets were saying he was dead and maybe he was dead but the whole world was waiting for the ultimate umpire of a Los Angeles tragedy to make the call.

our site nearly went down because so many people were refreshing their browsers.

at first we thought we were getting hacked or it was a virus because the traffic was crippling to the mighty site.

and when the news finally was published it was so bittersweet because finally we knew the truth

but the truth was so so so so sad.

but it was the truth, which is all that matters inside that building.

tronc fucked up in major ways in their relationship with the LA Times

they should have seen this coming, they should have seen that they created this.

but alas, they have different goals

and the satisfaction of the hard working and veteran LA Times staff has not been one of them.

which was so dumb it’s hard to believe.

shout out to Funky Cold Mark Medina who is heading to the Warriors

One of the funnest parts of overseeing the blogs at the LAT way back in the day was our sports blogs.

the Lakers Blog was one of the first blogs at the Times and it was already a monster before I ever got there.

i was able to convince LA’s best Dodger blogger to blog for us, and i was able to do it without costing the paper a lot of money (because we had just gotten rid of some salary elsewhere).

but when ESPN poached the Kam Bros I was suddenly lost because i never expected them to leave us.

I tried everything in the book to convince them to stay saying things like, “radio isn’t where intellectuals go, it’s where washed up journalists and jocks go. You are both young, pretty, full of life, do you really want Bill from Downey to tell you that he thinks Kobe should pass the rock all day?”

it didn’t work, The Sports Leader ganked the brothers and I had a giant hole to fill.

at first I decided to replace them American Idol style by having 4-5 contenders take over the blog, one applicant per week, and at the end of the trial period we let the readers vote.

but life is rarely that exciting. so we interviewed this guy from that paper and this other dude from this other paper. they were fine.

but Mark Medina had something special that i liked: he was young, totally down for Whatever, and somehow it came up that he lived in El Segundo so he could be close to the Lakers and Clippers practice facilities.

i was all, this is the sort of insane fan/pro that i need to write 3-4 blog posts a day.

so we hired him and expected the worst because the Kams totally dominated the Lakers blogosphere up until that point.

and part of their popularity was the fact that they’d get 100s of comments a day. Could Mark mix it up in the comments AND go to practices AND interview the players AND cut videos AND go to all the games AND give me half or 3/4ths the traffic that the Kams did?

weirdly he Could!

in a total shocker, many of the readers did not follow the Kams to ESPN, they stayed loyal, for reasons I still don’t know (habit maybe), with the Times.

people asked, is Mark really that good of a writer? what’s his secret?

and maybe the secret was the readers saw what I saw: Funky Cold truly loved the game, was earnest, wasn’t full of shit, and was personable.

and for two years straight his numbers were consistent with the kings, the Kams.

Mark was so friendly that when Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace) first retired from the Lakers he gave a shout out to Funky Cold.

Today Mark announced that the San Jose Mercury is hiring him to cover the world champion Warriors.

Last night he called me to tell me he was going to announce it all today. He thanked me for the help I gave him at the Times.

But the truth is, he wrote everything, he did 60+ hour work weeks, he studied film, he worked as hard as anyone out there.

I am Very happy for him. Boring as that team will be to cover, at least he will get to go to a few more postseason games than if he was stuck covering the Lakers.

Give em hell Mark!

80 years ago today Bill Veeck convinced the Cubs to plant ivy

my heroes arent the ones with lots of money or good looks or fancy cars.

they’re idea people. but more, they were convincing enough to get the ideas out there.

one of my heroes is Bill Veeck. Not Bill Sr, but Jr.

Senior was a sportswriter in Chicago almost exactly 100 years ago. In his daily column he would often speculate what he would do if he was running the Cubs. Eventually William Wrigley Jr gave him a shot as Vice President to try out some of those ideas in real life and the Cubs won the NL pennant. So Wrigley made Veeck president of the club where he remained for about 15 years until he died.

Long time readers will remember that I used to write daily blog posts here where I would start off by saying Dear LA Times, you suck…. and I would then give away secrets of how they could improve if only they hired me. Eventually they let me run their blogs and our traffic increased by 2,300% until some genius convinced them that they could do it without me. LOL.

After Veeck Sr. died, his son sold peanuts in the stands at Wrigley Field. 80 years ago today Bill Veeck Jr. got the ear of the Wrigleys and told them about an idea that wouldn’t cost much money but would add a touch of class and uniqueness to the ballpark. The idea was ivy covering the bricks. Which today still grows at the Friendly Confines.

Veeck Jr., would go on to own the crosstown White Sox and there he would let his imagination go wild while innovating baseball — and other sports. He introduced the exploding scoreboard that would shoot off fireworks whenever someone from the home team hit a homer, he put the players names on the back of their jerseys to appease people who didn’t want to buy scorecards, he put a showerhead in left field so people could cool off on hot Chicago afternoons. He even set up a barbershop in the bleachers in Center Field so a man could get a haircut while watching the game.

One of his most overlooked ideas was letting the fans decide if a pitcher should get pulled from the game or if they should put in a pinch hitter.

But maybe the best idea he ever had was hiring the lovably wild Harry Caray as the White Sox’ broadcaster and letting him do whatever the hell he wanted to do, which soon included singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch.

When Veeck got old he sold the White Sox, he was often seen back across town in the bleachers of Wrigley cheering on the Cubs at the field he grew up in, in the park that he touched in such a beautiful way. He would be seen with his shirt off, in shorts revealing his wooden leg, sipping on an Old Style, just feet away from the ivy that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for him.