History, Orally Speaking

That harrowing composite of a toad and the internet meme Pepe was created by former Weekly art director Dustin Ames.
Jesse LaTour of the Fullerton Observer asked me to share whatever thoughts I might have rattling in my head about the untimely demise of the newspaper that I spent nearly half my life writing for  and  no one can say no to Jesse, so I did. You can read it here.

The process reminded me, for about the 100th time in the past month, that I will never find a publication more  suited to my particular skill set as a writer of journalistic fare than  OC Weekly.  Now, I can’t define that skill set–and no one would give a shit anyway–but I would  guess it has something to do with feeling like you have the creative freedom to, say, use the word motherfucker 14 times in a review. Or feeling encouraged to speak your truth and trust your instincts, and to give a glowing review to an actor portraying a megalomaniacal film director enduring hallucinations  and on the verge of mental collapse, an actor who, and I quote,  “captures the  angst of a man staring into the abyss of his own being and seeing his own frailty. ” Good thing that notice didn’t result in anyone losing their head and yes I should be ashamed for even thinking of typing that but it’s been hardly a month since I  lost the best friend a writer such as myself could ever hope of having, so fuck it.

Obviously, trying to figure out something remotely interesting to say about the Weekly’s sudden death also got me thinking about my favorite subject: me. Or, I should say, the oral history of OC Weekly, which then-editor Gustavo Arellano asked me to cobble together for the 20th anniversary issue in 2015. Each of the five parts is posted at the bottom of this thing, so feel free to skip the rest of this rambling nonsense.

I was assigned a 20,000-word piece in late May of 2015, which Arellano
increased to 30,000 words and that eventually clocked it around 36,000 words when it published in late August.  In between, I interviewed more than 70 people,  and when all was said and transcribed, I had about three days worth of audio and 170,000 words–which is right around how long the New Testament would be if we were all Catholic UPDATED AT BOTTOM:***

Whatever the case, hacking those 170,000 words into a paltry fifth was no easy feat. That is why I will floss my ass with barbed wire before I allow one single word that survived the purge and made it into print to dissipate into whatever digital graveyard awaits content if the plug is ever pulled on a website. (At the moment, the Weekly’s website is still functioning, even if there seem to be an awful lot of dead pages; but who knows if the Boating Magazine king of Orange County—who shut the paper down the day before Thanksgiving thank you very much—will keep the site active or sell it off as part of the Weekly’s brand or whatever),

So, along with the hyperlinks to the the story on the website, I converted each of the parts into PDFs and am including them here—but I have no idea what I’m doing in regards to converting things to PDF and posting them on a website; I gave it a  quick look and there are lots of formatting errors,  and they’re probably way too big and will crash your computer and give your phone the measles but I spent way too much time on this story five years ago, and I am posting it here purely for posterity and also because my heart’s more than a little broken right now and, yes, i do need to hang on to a memory of what was just a little bit longer.

***FROM FOURTH GRAF Upon further review, this snide comment is FALSE. Silly me, I have thought all my life that the Catholic Bible did not include St. John’s fevered delirium on the Isle of Patmos. I guess you can chalk that up to being baptized Seventh Day Adventist and being inundated with anti-Catholic propaganda, chiefly how the the Catholic Church was the AntiChrist foretold in the Book of Revelation.  Why would they want it in their Bible if that were true? Alas, another childish dream dashed. Kind of a silly notion anyway. We all know the Antichrist is Barack Obama, regardless what his minions want you to believe.

 

An Oral History
of OC Weekly

Two decades of bare-knuckled, hilarious, scandalous
journalism that saved Orange County from itself

PROLOGUE

Jim Washburn. the sage and moral conscience of the Weekly wrote this cover piece midway through its first year.

PART I

In which a ragtag crew of seasoned pros and newbies create an alternative weekly in America’s most conservative county, help topple a political machine, get people freed from jail, unveil a commie, raise a lot of hell, tell a lot of stories, and print fuck a lot

The issue that came out two days after Dubbya won a second term in 2004.

PART 2

In which the OC Weekly establishes itself as the paper of record in the county, tells more stories, gets fools tossed in jail, exposes corruption, discovers a Mexican, raises even more hell and still prints fuck.

Part 2 PDF

Scott Moxley wasn’t the only reporter exposing “America’ Sheriff” as a fraud. But he was probably the one most feared. Don’t know who did the art, but it’s damn fine.

Part 3

In which an ownership change sparks a mass exodus and a turbulent transition, a sheriff gets taken down, stories are still told, some hell is raised, and printing fuck suddenly doesn’t seem so fucking important

Part 3 PDF

Gustavo Arellano’s idea (a series of profiles of OC pioneers who were member of the Klan, Jack Gould’s photo, and Brandon Ferguson in the not-so-tighty whities.

Part 4

In which the helm of the weekly returns to the hands of some O.G.S,. new voices with new stories to tell arrive, much hell is raised anew, and while fuck is still printed, pendejo now reigns supreme

Part 4 PDF

I was part of the team that covered Trump’s 2016 rally at the OC Fairgrounds. The entire thing was so absurd I wound up interviewing a duck. Lalo Alcaraz did the cover.

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