The 114 Most Important Lessons I've Learned at The Village Voice (Or: "2010, The Year I Ruined Your Media Outlet")
After a 285-day stint, I am abdicating my post here at The Village Voice. I'm going to work for Esquire.com, so I may -- as one commenter noted -- continue my work as a "a twentysomething angel of death." Yet, while I was here, I learned some very important things, and had some very memorable moments. I will never forget the following:
March 2010: The Wall Street Journal spends $100,000 a year on coffee, which really isn't that much, though it's sweetened by the blood of Avatar profits. Handicapping the resignations of New York politicians is a fruitful endeavor, especially if you put money on it. People don't like it when you call Carlos Slim a "Shady Mexican Dude," but they're generally okay with you gifting Rupert Murdoch with cancer and a cat named "Meow Jones." The word "Hipster" is great for pageviews. Tiger Woods' sexts make for great free verse poetry. The guy who owns the Knicks doesn't like it when you talk about his penis. Finally, when you walk up to your editor-in-chief and tell him you've received your first legal threat -- from the guy who owns the Knicks, no less -- it's best to get his approval before proceeding at full speed, because it's more difficult for him to fire you when you cost them more than you're ever going to probably make for them in your first month. Finally, one man's firing is another man's scoop.
April: One bad picture in the New York Times and your friends will never forgive you. Talk about Michael Wolff's penis and he'll call you up and tell you to read his book about Rupert Murdoch. Gawker Media learned that they should probably just "leak" their own memos, which they've now started to do. Threatening to push your air conditioning unit on the feral cat in your backyard might be funny to you, but cat people won't think so. [Ed. Luv u Screechy.] Old age and treachery never fails, even at the New York Times. Boobs never fail, anywhere, especially on The Internet, especially if you're the first one to see them. For Nick Denton -- who also has lost his iPhone in a bar -- the public interest is "above my pay grade."
May: Costing your business $1M will take up most of your time, as I was diagnosed with an ulcer and broke up with the girl I had briefly dated at the time, on the same day, no less. Could be worse. Nobody gives a shit about an epic fight between two newspapers, but the dumbest drinking game in the history of civilization? Pageview gold. People appreciate it when you write nice things about nice things nobody else will write about, even if those things are bound to die. Everybody hates Sex in the City, especially New Yorkers, which restored my faith in New Yorkers. Protests: Stupid. Vandalism: Awesome.
June: Write about Nikki Finke and she'll email your bosses asking you who the fuck you are and when they're going to skullfuck you out of a job, or something. But call her before you write something about her and she'll be sweet as a pea! Again: Boobs, boobs, boobs. Boobs and cats = Internet Success. The New York Post sounds like a shitty place to work. Nothing gold can stay. Michael Wolff: Still an asshole. Jersey Shore: Basically gay. I feel for New York Times writers, who are just as unfairly scrutinized as they otherwise fairly are. In New York City, we stab people in the face. In Washington DC, they stab you in the back. So will old journalists scared of young people taking their jobs. Pussies. In Soviet Russia, Boobs On Internet stare at YOU.
August: It's best you don't jump on the subway tracks. Sometimes, a newspaper profile is just a newspaper profile [I regret the phrasing of that post more than any I've written to this day.] We have famous readers! Why fire interns when you can just plant them as sources and take a vig of their equity? Page Six is shady. Cults are scary. So is the rest of America, especially when they get angry about New York City. Tao Lin, you so crazy. New Jersey is no longer "retarded" despite existential demons whose existence offers evidence to the contrary, and you may no longer choke someone out in New York. We're just as bad about that "hipster" bullshit as anyone. Ira Glass is my favorite New Yorker, the New York Observer is a "shitshow" and the Washington Post hates the Internet. There are Americas in a Muslim World, bugs in your water, Blacks in your Jews, chocolate in your peanut butter, and bullshit in your Howard Kurtz.
September: Okay, the New York Post might not be the worst place to work. But seriously, fuck those guys. And the New York Times? Surprisingly thin-skinned. Ads about 9/11: Not cool. Even Fidel Castro thinks Jeffrey Goldberg is a dick. Look for the patterns, but when you point them out don't expect anyone to like it. You know what the Jews have up their asses? Drugs. HBO used the New York Observer to write Bored to Death. Lemons make for great lemonade. Hate mail from America's Racists make for great blog posts.
October: Assclowns get assclowned. MFAs are Ponzi Schemes. Eliot Spitzer did not fuck that hooker (while wearing black socks), okay? Brett Favre's penis: meh. The New York Observer is not likely to offer you a job if you are reporting on people quitting their paper five minutes before you're interviewing with them for a job. Sometimes the best advice comes from the most unlikely of sources. When you work at an alt-weekly, you get sent the weirdest shit. Interns are there to be screamed at. My doctor is a shady drug dealer. Fuck the Harvard Club. Journalism is the best job ever, basically, especially when you get paid to write about hotels to do blow in. Jokes about Budd Mishkin's dick will make everyone at NY1 laugh, including Pat Kiernan, who deserves to go down in the pantheon of Great New Yorkers. You know who doesn't? People who own press outlets so they can further their own mediocre celebrity. Fuck the New York Post, but okay, their iPad app is pretty great. Gawker editor Remy Stern thinks I should call my lawyer, but in situations like these, it's best to tell Remy to suck your (blue)balls if he's not busy explaining to his sources how they were just outed by you. Also, to brush up on his Andrea Dworkin.
November: Black dudes are funnier than white dudes, unless said white dude is just a penis joke or 23 in-waiting. Smart people do drugs, but don't hire them to be your elections liveblogger, especially when they're on drugs. Which goes without saying: you will have regrets! Also, disclosures. Also: lists of videos with cats. The Yakoff Smirinoff joke never gets old. New York Times is probably too powerful of a journalism institution sometimes for their own good. Don't blog when you're angry. Dudes fake orgasms because we can. Jobs at Hearst may lead to awesome and totally innocuous promotions. Maybe I should look into that? You have a responsibility as a member of the press. You will probably discard it at some point. Not every party in New York City will make you more cynical than you already are. Some will restore your faith in New York City parties. Patti Smith: nice lady! Everyone has worked or will work for Rupert Murdoch. Or MediaBistro.
December: Except for me, because I'm going to Hearst to try and work my way up to the NYC Department of Education. Call Michael Wolff an asshole enough and he might try to set you on fire. Drugs are best purchased in New York City at Columbia University, where they are cheap! Yet, when all else fails, you should probably just go drink on someone else's dime, especially Village Voice Media's. You will no doubt have an excellent time: