13 years ago i got called up to the big leagues

when i finished listing all my jobs (21!) someone DMed me and asked me which I was the most proud of.

im glad they didnt call me out in public because so many people who i used to work with are my friends on IG and i would never want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

but easily the one i am most proud of is LAist.

maybe you woulda have to have been there to understand but LAist was the bottom of the LA blogosphere at the time – in part because they didn’t pay the editor more than $100. but all these blogs that you don’t even hear about any more, including several at the LA Times were waaaay ahead of us when i was given the gig.

following Carolyn Kellogg was not so easy either. she’s a true pro. voracious reader. an intellect. and just straight up nice.

so a few of the staff bailed when they saw that i was taking over.

then there was the issue of what did i have to offer those who remained? i couldnt pay them. i couldnt even promise them that there would be an audience any time soon. and i did things so differently that some of them would predictably be upset.

for example, even though i make fun of Team Coverage when the LA news stations send all their reporters out to cover a 1″ rain storm, i sorta like Team Coverage because no one tells the same story the same way.

so if Beck is playing at some small venue and everyone is like, can i cover it can i cover it? i say you can all cover it, because id rather have 3 pieces on something theyre all passionate about then 100 pieces where everyones half assing it.

PLUS a lot of time in blogging, the reader will scroll down a few posts and if they see something good they’ll click, otherwise they’ll leave the site. so if i can give you a Beck review at noon, 3pm and 6pm, odds are you’ll read one of them, whereas if theres just one at noon, you might not even see it on the page if you get in at 6pm.

but on top of that, magic sometimes happens and out of the three articles one person might just emerge as a damn star. and sometimes that can be the person you least expect, aka the one you would have never assigned it to.

so what did i have to offer? a chance.

in a year and a half of breaking every rule, experimentation, love, support, and no deadlines, LAist quadrupled the LA Times’ #1 blog. a feat that was never accomplished by any other blog again after i became Blog Editor of the LA Times in late December of 2007.

and i did it with a group of beautiful humans who i dealt with honestly and openly.

i am so proud of that period of my life and i think about it all the time.

when in rome, ask a lot of questions

i had to do this thing in Hollywood this morning and i found myself doing the thing that i used to tell people to do.

comic book legend Stan Lee died. i was really close to hollywood and highland where all these cartoon characters hang out shaking down tourists for money.

i had this crazy idea that all the Marvel ones (the hulk, iron man, black panther, black widow, captain america, wolverine, etc) might be hanging out at his star because thats where the fans would go, no?

no. turned out neither of the spider men knew even who Stan was

but fortunately there was a Cap and a Logan who totally knew what was up and were willing to talk to me quickly so i could get a few quotes, take a few pics, and zip it over to LAist before lunch.

it was startling how easy the words came out of me in writing this little thing. with LAist i know exactly what humor to inject and where the line is. bing bang boom it was over before it started which was great because i had a big day planned for me for the secret project.

the talented mike roe, comic book expert had just posted his obit, so it fit nicely under the tweets. teamwork makes the dream work and they were able to move on to more pressing issues like these damn fires.

read the whole thing here.

the older i get the meaner i get

if i was on top of my game i would be bringing LAist back from the dead right now. i would be using the momentum of everyone being sad that it was gone, and i would make something new but the same.

i would do what i did back on 6/6/06 and i would find people who were in to writing for free and in exchange i would give them a platform where they would get read and have access to rock show and movies and whatever they couldn’t get from their own blogs,

and together we would build a community and from that love even greater things would happen like we would all get fancy jobs and become rich and famous, all while telling the tale of LA.

the Village Voice went under, and it looks like the LA Weekly is gonna be a weed weekly, so with LAist kaput and the LA Times on the ropes, there appears to be a giant hole in local LA news and entertainment and it’s only widening.

and if i wasn’t so angry and bitter and unfocused and out of tune i would simply ring the bell, find the right team of writers and photographers and a couple web designers and we would just build and make it happen and sell some ads and get this party re-started.

of all the things im most proud of, LAist is on the top of the list because no one expected us to do what we did and it lasted 10 years after i touched it. and it blossomed.

i firmly believe that as custodians of the Earth it’s our job to make sure that we make things better than how we found them. a very simple job.

but i am stuck at the dumbest part. i dont think as we sit here at the doorstep of 2018 that you can start a new thing without having a corresponding Twitter account and all of the LA names i can think of for a new group blog are taken, mostly by creeps who haven’t even really used those names.

so i think of even newer names but theyre taken too.

i know i can’t use LAist because grampa Ricketts still owns it technically.

and i doubt i have enough $$$ to buy it from him.

but fuck that, i dont wanna give him any money after what he did to everyone.

it is time to start a new thing.

everything must go.

last night we had a wake for LAist

i love this picture. these are five of the Editors spanning 2005-2017.

without Carolyn (far left), I wouldn’t have had the gig. she knew of this blog and sat in the front row at SXSW as i spoke on a panel with the first(?) LAist editor, Jason Toney, and others on the Blogging While Black discussion and she told me I would be great for the gig. she championed me to Jake and Jen and got it.

without Emma (center) i wouldn’t have been able to write under a pen name there. which would turn out to be my last writing for the blog. last night i told her that of the 10+ that i did, I was sorry that only 2 were any good. she looked at my like i was crazy and said that i was the only one who felt that way. so nice of her.

next to her is Carmen Tse who is a Giants fan.

and on the far right is Julia Wick who was the last LAist Editor. she wrote a good piece on City Lab explaining what that last day was like.

it was great to see everyone. i got a bit drunk. woke up in the middle of the night with nightmares. and i guess that was the proper reaction to what happens when a clueless billionaire takes this great thing that a huge group of people made out of nothing and wipes his old ass with it and flushes.

but something tells me we aint going out like that.

the kkk took my baby away

even though i don’t look it, i’m 51.

i don’t have children or a fancy house or a boatload of money in the bank.

but for a short period of time i was given the keys to a blog that very few people knew about, and enough of a salary that i could pay my rent while i tried to make it big.

after time there was a little money for an assistant editor who posted on the weekends, but other than us no one at LAist got paid while i was there.

and yet dozens of people wrote for the fledgling thing every day.

and quickly we did make it big.

it got so big that many of us were able to get gigs at fancy newspapers and exotic magazines and giant websites. that’s right, our dreams came true: we got to work at the places we always dreamed of working. and there we used what we learned at LAist to continue to kick ass.

when i look back at my life LAist was my baby. no, i wasn’t the first editor there or even the one who got the most hits. and for sure i was not the one who was there the longest. but for a while it was my everything. and when people today, ten years later, say “oh i read LAist every day.” that means more to me than even compliments about this very blog because LAist is meant for everyone. and i am so proud to have been part of it at a crucial part of its adolescence.

speaking of today, today the patriarch of the owners of my beloved Chicago Cubs pulled the biggest bitch move i’ve ever seen. he closed down all the Gothamist sites and deleted the archives. all because the writers wanted to unionize.

old Joe Ricketts, who gave Trump tons of cash, got butthurt that it was going to cost him a little more cash if he continued to own the network of local blogs.

so he took his ball and went home.

and on the way he carpet-bombed the past. which weirdly is something you can sorta do online.

what Joe will never understand is how not everything is about money.

he could probably never get why 30+ people a week would contribute to a blawwwg for free, spending time writing about strangers, or pouring their hearts out about how hard it is to date in LA, or letting people know about a restaurant no one’s ever heard of.

for some money is everything.

the reason LAist worked when i was there was because i was looking for people who were more interested in Love.

i wanted them to write about what they loved for the love of it.

i wanted photographers who took pictures for love.

in return i promised them the thing my bosses gave me: freedom.

i am heartbroken tonight, but thinking about all the people i met who were once strangers but who became my staff and then my friends is cheering me up because even though our archives might be harder to access and so many memories are locked away,

as Ozzy said, you can’t kill rock n roll

it’s here to stay.

so fuck you Joe Ricketts, and fuck your obsession with money and power.

a year ago tonight your kids’ hard work with the Cubs made millions of people’s dreams come true. and today you have tainted their legacy with your pettiness, selfishness and narrow-minded spite.

but you can’t take away the one thing that made Gothamist, LAist, SFist, DCist and all the other offshoots of the Jake and Jen universe so magical:

life.

they breathed and celebrated life.

while you are only about death.

so see you in Hell.

i’ll be the one asking you where the fuck is my baby.

yesterday LAist had a great party

so many of your favorite people were there.

special guests included Peter from Kanpai

and current LAist editor Julia Wick

it was so great to see everyone and catch up and hug and drink and eat and omg the party just flew by

but no one wants to hear about how much we all love each other

after everyone left, amber and i realized that we had way too much food

as we both have to maintain our bikini bods.

so i said, lets put some of these in bags and drive down to the tiny intersection park in Los Feliz on Hollywood where the homeless have set up tents.

somehow i ended up with a garbage bag full of about 20 cans of Bud Light.

i said, before we give anyone any food, i need to get this out of my house, lets just do this run first.

so we put it in my trunk and headed to the spot.

but Alas, no one was there!?

so we drove down Hollywood Blvd looking for tents that have popped up in and around our fair city over these last few years.

i know i know, a lot of these downtrodden men and women are alcoholics and you really shouldnt be giving them garbage bags full of cold beer in the middle of the night light some deranged santa and his long legged blond Ms Claus

but Bud Light is basically bubbly beer-ish water

right before we got to the Fonda we saw these two black dudes next to a tent just past the Museum of Death

i stopped and said, you fellas want some cold beer?

they both stood straight up and ran over to the car. i popped the trunk, they dug in, said thanks and we were gone.

WE FELT SO GOOD

so we got back home. amber found 6-7 brown grocery store bags. in each of them we put beer in bottles, hot dog buns(!), candy, more candy, pretzels, chips, water and magazines because i have way too many magazines.

drove back to the brothers but they were busy inside the tent drinking

turned the corner at pep boys and drove to the 101 underpass and saw a few tents

amber yelled out the window sweetly to this gay guy, would you like some food?

he jumped up and saw the trunk and amber got out and helped him

he took all 7 bags. she helped him go back to the tent

and when she returned she said

someone was shooting up in that tent.

which made me sad i didnt put any cold Cokes in there.

anyways, mission accomplished.

LAist, once again, giving back to the hood.

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.

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.

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.

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.