nothing in here is true

  1. Sunday, September 4, 2016

    the day the stingray apologized 

    corvette stingray10 years ago today Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter, was killed by a stingray. I was pretty new to my job running LAist, trying desperately to bring traffic to our then-fledgling blog, when I thought of an idea.

    I had been recently schooled in the world of Search Engine Optimization but nothing was clicking. I was up all night every night working hard to phrase things or write things that would reach the top of Google News. Even though I failed, one thing I noticed was it was easier from 3am-5am to get nibbles from the search engine because all of our competition was asleep and not publishing.

    So a few days after Irwin’s death, I, a huge fan of old Vettes, whipped up the silliest thing I could think of to experiment with SEO headline writing and super late night publishing.

    Stingray Apologizes for Crocodile Hunter Irwin’s Death

    It quickly became the biggest day (at that time) traffic-wise in LAist history. it crashed the blog several times that morning as waves and waves of people came (for some reason to read the apology from a stingray?),

    and naturally the comments section let me have it.

    Why did I feel ok about making fun of a tragic death of a super upbeat tv personality? In my mind, Steve Irwin, as lovable as he was, knew he was doing extremely dangerous things with wild animals for money, fame, and ratings. Sure some of it was educational, but it was totally unnecessary entertainment on par with Johnny Knoxville.

    Was I sad he was dead? Of course. But he went out doing what he loved and I assumed he would have gotten a laugh out of my piece because he sure seemed to love to laugh.

    So dark humor it was.

  2. Monday, June 27, 2016

    ten years ago today i was about two weeks into my reign at LAist 

    annai was up all night, i was trying new things, i was writing my booty off

    i was trying to recruit people to write for us for free

    i was trying to get photographers and even copy editors

    but one thing i was having no problem getting and that was bad reviews.

    on Wednesday, HBO debuted a new weekly series hosted by Bill Simmons where he talks to a sports person and an entertainment person. a few days later the LA Times ran a review about the first episode and was super harsh about it.

    i found it strange that they would go after a guy who had never hosted a show before and pounce on his first night out of the blocks.

    i remember how the Food Desk would never review a restaurant the day it opened. instead they would let it get the kinks out, and then go 3-4 times during different parts of the day. theyd go on a weekend and then a weekday. that way their findings would be, in a way, scientific.

    on this day ten years ago i was about ten days into my rule over LAist and i can tell you, things were far from ironed out

    but still i posted some of the harshest comments that were being left by people who did not like my style.

    behind the scenes i would write emails to the staff, sometimes daily, telling them that its ok, to hang in there.

    keep writing, i would say, it’s the only way we can make it to where we want to go.

    i felt like i was a captain of a ship that had to go through a huge terrible storm to get to the paradise on the other side, and there was no other route that could get us there quickly

    either the ship would be sunk trying or it would sink not trying so we had to try

    and i was going to yell at the storm as we did it and curse it out and give it the finger and moon it and dare it all along the way

    but i needed the writers sooooo sooooo badly. without them i couldnt do it alone. so i begged them to be patient

    and they were.

    and of course i put the negative comments on the world famous, because f the haters. if anything they are the hot air in our sails.

    blow, fuckers, blow.

    and i hope Bill Simmons and his crew do likewise.

    so thats what i was doing ten years ago today.

    today im walking down robertson in beverly hills about to eat some sushi with anna kournikova because she cant stop loving me. and maybe i feel the same.

  3. Monday, June 6, 2016

    ten years ago today i became the editor of LAist 

    bbq LAist

    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

    the pants tony pierce and big tanky

    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

    jimmy and andy

    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.

    sarah and ali

    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 LAlaist stats

    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. sxsw

    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.

    images-3so 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. images-1

    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.

  4. Tuesday, December 15, 2015

    i have a great idea for LAist 

    tumblr_nzd2fayO1V1qa4iv8o7_r1_500why LAist?

    because you should always give back to where you came from

    and other than Lake Park High

    Santa Monica College

    the College of Creative Studies starring Robyn Bell

    the Daily Nexus

    and the world famous busblawwwwg,

    without LAist i would be selling women’s shoes next to Al Bundy right now in some mall wishing i had the courage to jump off the parking structure.

    instead im balls deep in love with you and you and you with so many Cubs hats i don’t even know what to do with them all.

    things are so good i was once dating this girl in college. true story. and when her parents found out i was black told her, if you dont break up with him – for your own good – we will disown you – for your own good. now some 25 years later that woman has seen the error of her ways and sent me a Christmas card the other day with a gift inside valued at $50.

    thats how good things are going.

    Love always beats ignorance and fear. the Cubs will win the World Series. the nipple will finally be free.

    and thats why i just gave this million dollar idea to LAist because they were there for me when no one else was. when i was tired and poor and hungry and no one except for mildly popular on the blogosphere begging people to buy my blook.

    LAist was there to trampoline me into real success. and i will always love them for that. and of course God.

    and if they dont say yes I’ll give it to the Weekly who once put me in their People of LA issue which i’ll never forget neither.

  5. Thursday, December 10, 2015

    palm reader said i have commitment issues 

    jimii asked her how long would this session be.

    the great thing about blogging is you can change the subject whenever you want.

    same with snapchat

    same with insta

    same with last night i was invited to the LAist Christmas party.

    it was very nice of them to reach out to such an old man as me.

    and it was super close to my house.

    as i walked there i thought about what advice i would have for them and at the top of the list was have fun.

    i like what theyre doing but i dont see the fun as much as i used to. people should have fun. especially young ppl.

    when i got there i realized i didnt know what anyone looked like and for some reason i thought someone would recognize me – or my Cubs hat, but alas, no. no such thing. just lots of young people everywhere drinking, dressing well, being reasonable.

    jimiso i left, somewhat relieved, because i dont wanna tell people how to live their lives. as the Clash said in Career Opportunities “do you really wanna be a cop?”

    but then i passed a bank that used to be a liquor store and i got super pissed off because it dawned on me that the bank probably owned the land and was the landlord of the liquor store and the bank probably raised the rent super high so as to kick the liquor store out and then the bank put up a bank in the spot.

    so i turned around to tell the good people of LAist, this is what you should be investigating and writing about. weird ills in your hood. weird 1% nonsense like how many banks have popped up in LA over the last few years. why now? we need banks less than ever. meanwhile when was the last time you saw a liquor store in Los Feliz hurting?

    i wanted to tell them that shits fucked in LA and the LA Times cant cover it all because shits fucked over there too and they just dont have the bodies. you dont have the bodies either but you have your body. you walk down the street and notice things. you have friends who see shit. talk. then research. then write it down. these skills will help you in the future. trust me. i was no straight a student. no one handed me shit.

    plus i have the attention span of a

    heres three movies i wanna see soon:


    The Big Short

    The Martian

  6. Sunday, November 22, 2015

    ten years ago today tsar opened up for juliette lewis and the licks 

    juliete and the licks

    i was working for buzznet at the time and we had many missions but one of them was we wanted to inspire kids to take interesting pictures from concerts that they attended and post them on buzznet instead of myspace.

    so one of the things that i did as community manager was lead by example.

    at the office we had a canon rebel or it was mine or i bought one or they bought one for me. who knows. i used it that night.

    i ran around the troub trying to find the right spot, but it was hard, it was really dark

    juliete and the licks

    i was nervous because at the office there was a lot of strife. more specifically, i caused a lot of strife because i never kept my mouth shut. for some reason i thought it was ok for me to speak my mind. i was wrong. thus the strife. whatever, i thought im gonna just prove my points, single handed, all the time and then people will start believing that i know what im talking about.

    juliete and the licksjuliete and the licks

    but i was wrong again. nothing i did convinced anyone.

    juliete and the licks

    weirdly, i had experienced something like this before in my life, when i was younger.

    i learned that this was going to be a no-win situation.

    when i realized it, i started getting super sick. like puking all the time.

    symbolism for all the things i was stifling all of a sudden.

    juliete and the licks

    but at the tsar / juliette lewis show i felt fantastic. i knew that no matter how good my pics were someone was gonna say something dumb.

    juliete and the licks

    but i knew that in ten years id look at them and id say, damn, those are the best canon rebel pics of a tsar show ever.

    juliete and the licks

    after i got fired i got a job at LAist and everyone lived happily ever after.

  7. Tuesday, June 9, 2015

    nine years ago today i took over LAist 

    the pants tony pierce and big tanky

    we had a big introductory meeting at the good luck bar on hillhurst.

    i had no idea what i was gonna do with that blog,

    but i knew i didnt wanna screw it up for the next person.

    i was able to succeed because my bosses jake and jen gave me free reign.

    i think they talked to me like 5 times total about what their general ideas were

    but for the majority of it all they were like, dude this is your puppy, just dont get us sued.

    we broke all sorts of records, had lots of fun, and several people who trusted me and volunteered

    ended up with paying writing and photography gigs all over.

    again: when i started i had no idea what i was gonna do with that blog

    i even went to vegas first to sort out my mind, but that was useless.

    the only thing that works for me is to get in the middle of it all

    surround myself with exciting, creative, good hearted people

    and work together into trying to make something cool one day at a time.

    did i care if they had experience? no. because life is experience.

    did i care that they were good writers? no. because life makes you good at everything.

    did i care that some of them misunderstood me at first?

    yes, but i shouldnt have. LA is huge, and also

    even the moon, far away as it is, has fans down here on earth.

    just shine.

  8. Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    I haven’t written for LAist in forever 

    But the very sweet Rachel Reynolds invited me to Bruce Springsteen’s producer’s studio (mr bob clearmountain) on Cinco de Mayo

    To see and hear the Mexican guitar slingers Rodrigo y Gabriela

    And I knew I was gonna tell the world about such a perfect night

    So I asked LAist’s editor Emily if she was interested and she said Si

    But of course I got an uber over there bc I knew is be drinking. Your BFF canceled on me at the lastest minute possible which made me very sad.

    Weirdly when I texted the lovely Daria she said oh hell yes so we sped over there, rocked out, drank, and them drank more and ate tacos at Taco Zone

    Then got caught jaywalking and I told the cops that if they only gave me a ticket I would remove the curse I could see hanging over them.

    They said what curse.

    I said you know the one.

    And now I’ve gotta pay like $200 in a month. Which is better than both of us paying.

    So we got in an uber and went home and drank and drank.

    The next day boy was I tired but I wrote the whole review on my bAck on this iPhone and this morning they published it.

    Because it’s life, some sad things happened because not every thing is perfecto and some people are loco. Here’s what you’ve gotta do: burn bridges.

    And then shake the ashes off at the town’s gates.

    Not everyone’s going to respect you. That’s their loss, not yours. Yours is the kingdom of Heaven.

    This morning Daria invited me to the Vegan Beer Fest and I said hell yeah.

  9. Monday, June 25, 2012
  10. Friday, June 8, 2012

    6 years ago this week on 6/6/06 


    i became editor of LAist.
    the little blog that could.
    the cool kids were reading us when i started, but not many more.
    but nowadays everyones at least heard of it
    so the other day when this guy –
    a gentleman who definately tells it like it is –
    said, “LAist is the only LA blog in my Reader”
    its pretty much the best compliment i could receive.
    because sure you can do something good alone,
    and sure you can do something good with paid pros,
    but to do it with a beautiful group of people
    none of whom are being paid
    and together you watch it blossom rapidly into something thats a staple
    for tens of thousands of people a day.
    and to be able to do it in your pajamas?
    and it cowers
    to no one?
    thats something worth celebrating.
    i should have a bbq soon.
    like in olden times.