remembering the decade that was

scoring the dream job of dream jobs – 11/7/07

here it is new years eve and sadly i havent been able to look back at this wild and full decade in as much depth as i would have liked to, but maybe thats good for when you have time to look back that means you’re not enjoying the present.

best present i ever had was starting this blog and sticking with it. i started it because i was bored at work, didnt really like my job, didnt feel supported by my bosses, and needed an outlet during my 2 government mandated 15 minute breaks at work and my 30 minute lunch.

i felt like a loser, an outcast, and a failure. so i wrote “nothing in here is true” and began writing about being an undercover superhero who flew around hollywood in an invisible helicopter fighting crime and scoring chicks.

strangely life started to imitate blog and i got girls – because of this freaking thing. then i got money, then i got gifts, then i got trips, then i got jobs. its weird and unbelievable even writing it down today. but here i am in Canada writing this, a country whose people i only know because of blogging. whose people i party with solely from relationships established through this http.

the blogging led to a job at Buzznet where i launched a few blogs, drew millions of pageviews of traffic, and eventually got fired because i was constantly telling the decision maker that he was an idiot. sometimes thats not a good idea. so in this blog i wrote down all the things that i had accomplished there and linked to them all (for proof) and within days i got an offer to be the editor of LAist, an excellent group blog.

yes they would pay me to stay in my apartment in my pajamas and blog. the date was 6/6/06. in many ways that was the best date of the last decade. LAist was getting around 150k pageviews a month, it was getting beat by the likes of and laobserved, but the owners of the blog ran Gothamist so they had been to the mountaintop so they knew what would work. one thing they tried differently with me than with the previous editors was pay a full time wage. so there was a lot of pressure on me to do well so i wouldnt f it up for the next guy.

fortunately i adore pressure and try to french kiss it whenever possible. i wrote 6-8 times a day and thanks to my bosses i was able to experiment in weird and wild ways, both in the posts, in the photos, in the videos, and even in the comments. LAist became wildly successful and within a year we had grown by almost 10 times. we had clearly become the local blog of choice of LA. in november of ’07 we had around 1.5 million pageviews – far more than those who once beat us. we had great writers, great photographers, and enough traffic that when i sent an email to the LA Times, my dream job, they had to give me an interview.

three weeks after that interview i was the blog editor of the Times.

all of it had to be a bizarre and complicated dream.

at the time the Times’ best blog was being quadrupled by LAist. all of their blogs combined only did 3 million clicks a month. in my opinion it was due to many factors, the biggest being they were not using their best asset: their staff. instead they were using freelancers to write their blogs. fine writers no doubt, but not the heart and soul of the LA Times.

for some strange reason the Times allowed me to air my opinions in meetings, and every now and then theyd actually take my advice. if it wasnt for the support of lots of people, including my boss Meredith Artley, none of todays success would have happened. But i got that support and buy-in and today, almost exactly two years later, the Times best blog triples LAist and our blogs as a whole consistently get over 20 million clicks a month. mostly because the staff has bought in and are blogging as a group. a powerful, brilliant, experienced, wonderful group. we still have some specialized kickass freelancers on the blogs, but they are the exceptions, not the rule. and the most exciting thing: we have only begun to rock.

when i started at the times i gave a few interviews to blogs. in them i stated that the Times didnt have any blogs in the Technorati Top 100. infact they didnt have any in the Top 2000. indeed there were zero newspaper blogs two years ago in the Top 100. i predicted that that anomaly would disappear in no time, and indeed this year the LA Times had not one, not two, but three blogs in the Top 100, and last month we had two in the Top 20 – a feat that not even that paper in new york city could boast.

i feel like a kid who was very happy riding a Big Wheel who was given a Corvette. and then allowed to pilot the Space Shuttle. i would have been just as happy to tour the facilities.

there are many lessons that i learned this decade from blogging. the first is to identify your dreams and go for them. the second is you cannot get anywhere by yourself – life is a team effort. and the third is there is no limit to where success can end as long as your heart is truly in it and youre doing it for the right reasons.

it all started here and i will never forget that. and i thank all of you for all the encouragement that you’ve doled out to me here so generously since 2001. this is the most special place in the world to me, even better than isla vista, wrigley field, or the playboy mansion. all because of you.

dear blog

we’ve had a pretty good decade together havent we? you betcha.

k, then can you talk to Mr. Clock and tell him to give me a frickin break. every night im trying to make something happen and its 225am or something insane.

tomorrow im supposed to meet Casie at noon and id really just like to sleep all day.

but thats no way to spend the last days of vacation.

i also have the worst stomach situation.

sushi for lunch with soft shelled crab followed by poutine and shawerma from a truck is no way to treat the thing that youve abused the most in yr life.

plus that super big gulp of Capt Morgan courtney poured me followed by the molson canadians pauly kept broing me.

how am i even awake right now?

ah thats right, the 630p nap.

i think companies should factor that into bonuses now that we’re in this neverending recession.

most companies (that arent AIG or all of those banks we bailed out) have a hard time giving their employees raises. so in lieu of that they should offer either a few extra personal days off, or what i would be stoked for: permission to nap in their cars for a good 20-30 minutes after lunch.

does wonders for me. probably because im so ridiculously olde.

before we continue the tales of TO

heres a video of my neice who i promised id post this

young Kyla needed to get a hair cut. her mom (my little sister) said “hey how about we cut it real short and give the hair to little girls who have cancer?”

of course when i heard that was going to be the plan i showed little 6 yr old Kyla a picture of Sinead O’Conner to freak her out.


anyways after she got her hair cut she came home and wasnt at all pleased.

of course thats when i pulled out the video camera and conducted this interview which she originally didnt want to do, but afterwards gave me permission to put on the busblog.

2 minutes later she demanded that it go on youtube as well.

sadly ive been too busy so sorry Kyla that it took so long.

heading off to drink with carrie, courtney

and some knucklehead who cant get it together

had some excellent sushi at Sushi Time on Queens Ave. and then went ice skating with the kids, and it dawned on me why so many of the female canadian bloggers seem to have such a hard time with the canadian dudes

its so simple really

there are no ugly girls in canada.

for every snowflake theres two hot babes.

not just hot but willing, funny, worldly, adventurous, and down to party.

theres no reason at all for dudes to work for it.

one day theres going to be a hot babe revolution up here and theyre gonna either beat the dudes into submission or storm the gates of america.

and god i hope that revolution is televised.

im in Toronto Trick

flew outta Chicago with limited problems. yes there was a new rule that said that flights to Canadia would not allow carryons on their airplanes, but thankfully it did not include purses, laptops, camera bags, and emergency equipment. you know, what carryons used to mean way back in the day before people shoved their rolley luggage into the top of the plane because they were too special to go to baggage claim like the rest of us. lemme tell you. suddenly there was room in the overhead dealies. even moreso on my flight because when you fly on Saturdays or midweek, the planes arent packed. ah luxury.

got picked up at the airport by the angel of toronto.
my flight was delayed so Miss C drove in circles around YYZ for an hour(!)
so when i got into her car i lifted my shirt like The Situation to brighten her day.
then to brighten my day she drove me to the hugest christmas light show on one house in all of north america. witness:

hi baby Jesus:

two points Santa:

after being amazed we ate at a place that only served shrimp if it was ontop of steak. sweet. then i checked into my hotel and Carrie was all, make sure they give you a room that looks out over where there will be fireworks and a huge concert and ice skating on new years eve. so i said cool and they said anything for the busblog, duh!

omg view:

walked around last night. it was negative a million degrees but i felt great cuz i was in a foreign land. gotta give it up to the homeless of TO, those are some committed gentlemen. saw one guy just sitting indian style outside the 7-11 begging. couldnta been a colder night. saw another guy sleeping in a little bank enclave which was smart cuz it was heated in there. but he had one hand down his pants and some of his ass cheek hanging out. brought a smile to my face. then saw two people who didnt look all that homeless, just looked like they couldnt find a hotel room, sleeping over some grates all cuddly and toasty lookin. but how could they be?

anyways many props for their outdoor adventurism. i had two jackets on, a sweater, a cubs “toque”, a scarf, and gloves and i could only walk around maybe 4 blocks before i had to call bs on myself and run back to my room. but before i went up i noticed a LOT of activity at the ice rink outside. they were testing the lights and the sounds for the upcoming NYE celebration and tons of kids were skating out there in the middle of the night. and what really made me happy were two poutine trucks next to the rink. will definately hit up one of those trucks tonight.

then in my hotel all these kids were on laptops in the lobby and playing chess and playing what i will call Knee Hockey. they run around in their knees on the carpet with tiny hockey sticks slapping at plastic pucks. OH CANAADA!!!

no matter what i do i cannot fall asleep in IL before 4:20am

probably because of all the late night excitement rocking the land of lincoln.

if theres one thing you can say about my mom its she likes to be early for airplanes.

thus my flight to Toronto tomorrow afternoon means i will be at O’Hare tomorrow morning.

thanks, Testicle Bomber!

speaking of my mom, she hates watching Da Bears or my Cubs live on tv. she thinks she will jinx them. so tonight she had her hands over her ears and was screaming as i was giving her the 4th quarter play-by-play of Brett Favre making that sweet comeback at Soldier Field.

she was also pissed at the ESPN announcers kissing the ass of the 40something quarterback.

“What’s the longest four-letter word,” she asked me. “That’s how I feel about Brett Favre.” Later she screamed, “KILL HIM! BREAK HIS ARM!”

god she hates him.

everywhere she tried to escape in this house i followed with a remote control. this woman lives alone most of the time (when the grandkids, her kids, or her friends arent here) but because shes the perfect host she has equipped her home with a tv in each room (sorry thieves but theyre all Montgomery Ward models circa 1888). but the other day she got AT&T Uverse on all of the sets so it was easy to turn on each set to monday night football.

finally i trapped her in one room when the game went into OT and i said, ma, just enjoy the end of this game. its the second to last game of the season. so we sat on the edge of a guest room bed and watched that glorious ending which found Da Bears victorious. then we watched every post game wrap-up we could.

such is the life of fans of a team that rarely wins (any more).

earlier i treated her to her first sushi dinner. she loved it. she also loved drinking sake for the first time.

i will miss her when i take off tomorrow. and hopefully next Christmas i wont be as crabby as i was the first half of this trip. the bitter cold and strange ways that my family does things takes some adjusting to. and murphys law, now that i have conformed to their practices its time for me to debauch in canada and return to the rock of hollywood.


see that, thats my brother in law

see what hes doing? hes brushing the snow off the hot tub

there are fewer joys that i have than lounging in a hot tub with a cold beer on vacation.

and strangely even though i enjoy hot tubs, and i live in LA, rarely do i find myself in a steaming tub of warmth.

and even though ive been chillin at my sisters casa for the last few days, we havent even considered dipping into the triple digit tub.

crazy huh?

well that streak is fixin to end when i streak across this house in nothing but some cubs trunks and haul ass across the deck and tempt the below freezing temps to soak and sip and think of you and you and you.

remembering the decade fixin to peace out

rocking w/ Rivers, early 2000, the amherst house

long and beautiful story short: LA is a strange and wonderful small town disguised as a huge sprawling metropolis and one strange and wonderful night in West LA, mere blocks from where i sold tvs in the 80s, i got to play with one of my all time favorite rock gods “in the garage”.

when Weezer moved to LA in the early 90s, they rented a small guest house in the back of an asian couple’s home on Amherst Ave near Pico and Bundy. Rivers, Matt Sharp and one of the friendliest nicest dudes you’ll ever meet, Justin Fisher shared the pad. i believe rivers had a room, matt had the other room, and justin slept in the ceiling aka the attic.

they probably chose the place because there was a little garage that they were allowed to convert into a practice room. this was the “garage” from the classic Blue Album track “In The Garage”. its also the same garage that they filmed the above video “Say It Aint So”.

because life is bizarre and magic happens in LA, guess who Justin was dating back in 2000? a woman named Shannon, who just happened to be Matt Welch’s first girlfriend. because so many of my friends remain close with their ex’s, Matt of course was still tight with Shannon which is how i met her. in fact when i was putting together a small HR dept for the internet start up that i was a Recruiter for, i hired Shannon to work with me.

one day Shannon told me that they were going to have a party at her house. she had moved in with Justin in the Amherst House and had graduated from the attic to one of the proper bedrooms because Weezer had made it big and moved out. i had heard stories from Justin and Shannon that Rivers was extremely shy and if he made it to the party that i shouldnt be surprised if he didnt want to talk or seemed, well, superdooper shy.

Weezer released two of the best alt rock records ever in 1994 and 1996 with The Blue Album and Pinkerton, respectively, but rumor had it that Rivers was so emotionally distressed with the original reaction to Pinkerton that he pretty much shut down. indeed =w= didnt record again until 2001’s “The Green Album”. so when i went to the amherst house that night and saw Rivers sitting in a chair in the corner he was still firmly in his funk, re-evaluating Pinkerton.

he was bearded. painfully bashful. and barely acknowledged me when i told him straight up that Pinkerton was easily one of the top 10 records of the 90s. he smiled, looked away, and continued talking and listening to Justin who sat near him.

meanwhile in “the garage” people were playing with some of the rock equipment. there was a guitar, a bass, and a beat-up drum set.

after a few beers i noticed that whoever was on the drums was horrible, so i poked my head in there and saw Justin on bass, so i asked the kid if i could take over on drums and he graciously handed over the sticks.

within a few minutes there was Rivers. he had a notebook. my memory fails me if it was a 3 ring binder or a spiral notebook, but inside were all of these songs and all of these guitar notations.

he asked me, “do you know any Nirvana?”

sarcastically i slurred, “who?”

and friends, we rocked out to 3-4 nirvana tunes. in the garage.

i excused myself before my head exploded.

over the last few years rivers has extended that priceless gift of rocking out with some lucky fans through some rare Weezer Hootenannys, during a solo swing (see second video above) and on stage during some of their shows. but to be able to do it in the garage, at a somewhat typical party in LA, is something that i will cherish forever.