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:


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.

6 thoughts on “the kkk took my baby away

  1. Tony,

    Thank you for the eulogy to LAist. I imagine everyone who had a part in that is really pissed off and feeling now like our work was trampled on, even though for me it’s been 10 years since I wrote my last article.

    No one who wrote for LAist in the early days got paid a dime. That wasn’t the expectation. That wasn’t why we did it. It was exciting, and we were part of something that informed, shaped, and was constantly influenced by the city we were enmeshed with. In 2006, I was the “Underground” music columnist for the Pasadena Weekly. Writing for LAist was my chance to let out my real observations, without three levels of people stamping my work into dust or telling me alternately “don’t write negative” or “quit writing hagiographies”. It was my outlet to praise or condemn as I saw fit; I likely took it way too far. And it also coincided with a really wild point in my life after which I left the country for ten years. There is a slow unraveling of a person’s faith in society, in America, that is visible over the course of my writing at LAist…yet somehow, you continued to let me be who I was and you supported my work. In the end it didn’t hurt anyone. The people who came after me were truly great writers, far better in every respect. But I think there’s something to be said for the formative idea and attitude …I can’t speak for Gothamist, but just for LAist… that we’re going to let these good writers have their space and open up about the city. This was something really original, and there’s nothing else like it now. It won’t be easily replaced.

    It was terrible to see LAist in particular, and the network in general, go down this way. You’re right that it’s like an erasure of the past, as some spiteful, arrogant act of a petulant child. Sure, it was never a business model, but it didn’t need to be. LAist was a magnet that attracted the best people in the city, and gave those who really took time and effort a platform to write in depth about their town and their honest experiences in it. It was also a centrifuge that swung those people into great positions going forward.

    I really hope the union chooses to launch its own site. I might even want to contribute again. I was arguably the absolute worst LAist writer of all time, but I plainly see the quality of writing it nurtured as a result of the love and dedication of the people who, like myself, were given a set of tools to go document the city and to say bluntly what they found. That was the uniqueness of it. To see it destroyed like this makes me feel eerily like all the paranoid shit I get on my own case about for writing back in 2006 was sort of prescient and true.

    Anyway, you probably don’t remember, but thank you for standing up for my writing and holding the line for what LAist meant to me, and to all its writers; you were a great editor in the true sense of that term.

    Josh Strike

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