Ten years ago, while I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was invited to talk with a class of students at the University of Southern California about self-publishing online. After the little road trip I naturally wrote and posted a short travel story about it entitled 24 Hours in LA LA Land.
Looking back I would be hard pressed to say the following is revolutionary or fascinating. But I am reposting it, with some minor edits, because it represents the beginning of a change. Prior to this point a lot of my personal time floated around the idea of webzines - something akin to fanzines, but web-based - and the webzine community built around the conferences in San Francisco.
But of course now a days more self-publishing revolves around blogging. The content of blogs of course focuses not on a particular cultural phenomenon, but on commentary, descriptions of events or broad interests, be it personal, professional or both. That of course is exactly what the following is, in a nutshell.
For the full original experience, check out the image of the original page, in all of its "my first pure-CSS page glory." Granted the page layout doesn't translate perfectly to today's larger resolution screens, which is why the content looks to be so left-justified. But I think even today one gets the intent I was experimenting with design-wise; posting both my original story as well as Josh's side-by-side for a more complete picture of the excursion.
Speaking of whom, since the link to Josh's blog has long since died and I have since lost contact with him, I offer this bio of him courtesy of Wikipedia.
Oh and if your wondering why the photos look a bit grainy and overexposed, (more photos in the 24 Hours in LA LA Land photoset on Flickr) that would be because I took them with the first digital camera I owned, an Epson PhotoPC 500.
24 Hours in LA LA Land
Josh Fouts who's the Managing Editor of Online Journalism Review asked on the Zinesters mailing list if anyone would be interested in talking to his class at USC about what they do for/about/with their webzines.
So, I told Josh I would be interested in coming down (it was a nice reason to drive to LA for a day trip) and kept the idea in the back of my mind. Sometime went by and I thought about what I'd do. I figured I'd make arrangements to see Uncle Mike while I was in town and then just cruise the city since it's been over ten years since I first (and last) was in L.A. As it turned out Mom had to be in Santa Barbra for business and so we made her flight arrangements such that she'd have a few hours stop at LAX.
So, I made arrangements to rent a car for two days, took the days off work and drove down to LA. First thing I did was drive to LAX where I of course couldn't find parking and tracked down Mom in the American Airlines terminal. I was running later then I had planned and had convinced myself that I was only going to be able to say Hi before she had to fly out on a prop-plane to actually do some work. But, I was mistaken on when her second flight was and we talked for a bit and had lunch. It wasn't much since I just seen her over the weekend in Chicago. She hadn't had a chance to call Uncle Mike and since I had a few hours till I had to be at USC, she gave me his number. After she left I gave him a call, but got his machine to which I just left a short message and my cell number in case he had some free time. Then I drove about LA looking for all those great LA places. Found Hollywood right away (I was amazed I still knew where abouts in LA it was located at) and cruised Hollywood and Sunset Blvds as well as spending some money at a Virgin Atlantic shop.
After my little cruise of LA I went back to the USC campus (I had driven by it after leaving the airport just so I knew where it was) and ditched the car in a parking lot. I was giving my little chat at the Annenberg School for Communication building (having wandered the campus I do have to say it would have been neater to be able to say I gave my talk in the George Lucas Instructional Building or at the Johnny Carson Television Stage instead.) Since I was an hour early Josh and I walked over to a cafeteria and talked a little bit (This was the first time we had talked in person and since I really didn't have any planned remarks the chat became a little interview session and hence Josh need some background if to know where to take the discussion.) This almost made us late for the class and we quickly ran on back so he could start the class. Since his class is a three hour evening class (oh, how I hated my three hour classes in college) He had the class session divided in two. The first hour an a half or so was Patrick teaching the class on Cascading Style Sheets and then it was Josh and I talking about my experiences working on my personal site, things I do for C2Net Software as well as some of the comments and work I've done in relation to webzine.
Afterward Josh and I went out to eat a late dinner and chat some more. Then it was on to his home where I crashed for the night. The next morning, I cleaned up, kept from checking my email (I had checked it the night before and knew I'd drag myself into a crap load of work before I got a chance to get home and really focus on work.) So off I went. I stopped by Universal City and Burbank to look around. Then it was up US-101 and homeward bound. When Highway-1 started I picked that up and found Vandenberg Air Force Base which has a rich aerospace history. I almost stopped, but I wasn't sure if they had a Visitor's Center and I planned on getting into San Fran. around 5pm to at least return the rent-a-car.
About 100 mile south of Monterrey Hwy-1 was closed which was a pain since I wanted to checkout the area. So I had to double-back to US-101. I didn't get back home till about 9pm, to late to return the car, and a lot later then I had planned. But none the less and fine time indeed.
I'm teaching a Web "design" class at USC this semester and I'd like to dedicate a section to Webzines. I'm having plenty of for profit representatives come and talk about what and how they do their do, but I'd really like to have some people come and talk about the nether side of the Web -- the side that, for me at least, makes the Web enjoyable. And, hell, I'd like to encourage these students to *not* look at the Web as a get rich alternative.
Anyway, I'm looking for someone (or ones) to come and do what we did at Webzine, basically, just talk about why you do that thang you do.
Journey into the Surreal. (aka Yes, this IS LA! aka, WE LOVE IT!)
Last night Paul saved my ass from a mob of angry graduate students. Talk about generous. He drove all the way down from SF, (well, Oakland actually) to come to the class and talk about Zines, conflict-of-interest issues and life as a database engineer. As it happened, it was one of the most interesting classes yet -- at least for me. (I have to say, I still feel more interested in the guests than the students are. But, maybe that's just me.) Anyway, the students asked more questions than normal, which was great. And, they asked interesting questions.
I took him out for dinner for his efforts. Tried to get into the local watering hole in Marina Del Rey called, "Rock" -- although Rock hardly counts as a hole because its pretty fucking nice. But I know the owners and they always greet us like old friends. And you gotta dig that feeling of being known in a fru-fru establishment like that.
Well, Rock was closed -- nothing in LA is open after 10, which I always find pretty insane -- and so we ended up at Jerry's Deli, across the street. I'm not a huge fan of Jerry's, the food there can leave me with that toxic feeling. But, anyway, we headed on over. My interest was piqued because, heck, this was one of, say, three 24 hour food joints in LA.
Once inside the experience verged on the kind of clichéd, straight-out-of LAStoriesSwimmingwithSharks/ ValleyGirlClueless/ DebbiedoesHollywood kind of scene. Right off we see three women chock-full of silicone in designer "vintage" clothing. Love that expensive used chic look. Freaks me out. Then a battery of men in black with dark sunglasses. The image was made all the more delicious by the fact that they looked remarkably like Neil from The Young Ones. Except, if he had gotten rich or something -- which he probably did not get from his days as a teevee celebrity.
Anyway, it was such a rich tapestry of people and it was all at around midnight on a freaking Wednesday night. I knew then and there that I was having, what "they" call an LA moment. Gotta love this place. Thanks to Paul for making it all possible.
May I offer you some silicone with that pie?