Almost twenty years ago, I was sent by my editor to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
It was a mayoral election year, and an “A list” celebrity had flown in from Los Angeles to stump for her favorite candidate. On this particular day, it was my assignment to interview, photograph, and write an article about this particular A-lister.
As I was talking to her and taking notes, however, I found myself growing angry. Here was this woman, fresh off the plane from Malibu, and she was telling me why all New Yorkers, real New Yorkers, should vote for David Dinkins.
This pissed me off.
For whatever reason, I’ve always been a fiercely territorial person. Perhaps more than anyone else I’ve ever encountered.
When I turned in my article, it was not the usual fluff. It wasn’t the usual softball nonsense that to this day, is churned out by well-formally-educated “journalists” across the country. In my piece, I called this particular celebrity a “carpetbagger”, and when I was called into the editor’s office mere hours later, I knew the writing was on the wall.
“We hold Ms. Blah Blah Blah in very high esteem at this newspaper, and we would never use a word like ‘carpetbagger’ to describe her!”, he said to me.
I was ordered to rewrite the piece with a more deferential tone, I refused, and I never received another assignment from that particular publication.
Now, it would have been easy for me to just rewrite the thing. It would have been so much better for my finances, and far, far better for my “career”. I couldn’t do it, though. I just couldn’t be another foot soldier in the war on American intelligence. I could not humor this California douchette.
About a year earlier, I had coined a phrase. “You can be right, or you can be popular, but never both”, I used to say.
I always chose the former.
Clearly, this choice did not go over well in corporate news endeavors, and it wasn’t long before I lost faith in the “profession” (if you can call it that) as a whole.
The weeklies and “alternative” papers were really no better. Far from being “alternative”, all of these papers were written by a bunch of over-educated, upper-middle-class white kids parroting the politically-correct views of their college professors. How this was “alternative”, I didn’t know. I still don’t. As far as I was concerned, the only thing that separated these rags from their mainstream counterparts was a “fuck” here, a “shit” there, and ads for hookers in the back.
“If I ever get really, really rich”, I used to say, “I’m going to start my own newspaper. Nobody is going to read it, because I’m going to be honest, and I’m going to be real … but I don’t care … it’s going to be mine and I’m going to say what I want.”
Like most dreams, the notion of my own newspaper went unfulfilled, but years later, when the ability to self-publish on the Internet became a true reality, I found the opportunity I had promised myself.
And so, for the last 15 years or so, in one capacity or another, I’ve been publishing content online. I created a few websites, and one became so popular, that it was eventually bought out by one of the largest companies in the U.S.. Others, I refused to sell at any price.
I got paid for some jobs, especially the ghost writing stuff, but most of the time I wasn’t compensated in any manner. I blogged for the love of the art. Believe me … it cost quite a bit of money to put out the content that I’ve published over the years.
I did it, though, and even if I never publish anything ever again, I’ll always be able to say that, in the first 15 years of the existence of the Internet as we know it, I provided more original content than just about any other single individual.
The time has come however, for yours truly to take some time off from blogging.
I have a few reasons for this decision, but one in particular stands out as a primary reason to pause.
You see, over the past few months, traffic to my blog has gone up exponentially. Three or four of my articles went semi-viral, within weeks of each other … and before I knew it, I had an entirely new audience.
Of course, I kept expecting traffic to go back down. “Don’t worry about it, this will all be over tomorrow”, I kept saying, and traffic did indeed drop, but nowhere near as low as I was expecting. I’m sitting here in mid-July, and traffic has stabilized at roughly 8 times the level it was in March of 2012.
By most measures, this is a positive thing.
By most measures.
Last week, it was pointed out to me that I had become very hostile toward my readers. My last few replies especially have reeked of sheer and utter contempt, and in retrospect, I feel somewhat bad for writing them. Because of this, I’ve almost stopped approving comments altogether.
As some of you have also noticed, my postings have also trailed off.
See, for the last few years, I’ve published content primarily for my loyal readers. The people who’ve been with me for a long time, through the good, bad, and ugly. People who liked my stuff long before someone else liked my stuff.
As time has marched on, however, and as traffic has increased … I’ve realized more and more that the people who read my blog, are people for whom I do not write the blog. People whom I do not identify with. As the unwashed masses have once again begun discovering one of my sites, I’ve once again begun realizing just how little regard I have for the unwashed masses.
In some ways, this is the same reason I killed off my former blog.
Because of this … now … like then, I’m having a much more difficult time getting motivated to blog about much of anything.
Once that happens. Once it starts feeling like a chore. Once you start feeling like a dancing monkey. Once you start dreading the next reader comment because you know it will validate every negative stereotype you’ve ever had about the intellectual fortitude of the general public … well … it’s time to take a break.
And so I am.
It may not be a complete break.
A cartoon here, a live shot there, an article once every couple of weeks … anything is possible.
For the most part, however, I’m going to lay low. I’m going to do some other stuff. I’m going to get a suntan and start a band. I’m going to give the bandwagon some time to stop rolling, and then maybe, just maybe … well, who knows.
Have a great summer.