In Dance Dance Dance, Haruki Murakami describes the work of being a low-level functionary in a journalistic apparatus as "shoveling cultural snow." The shivering metaphor and its implication of programatic drudgery was a favorite of mine in the seven years that I toiled as the Freelance Listings Editor at the LA Downtown News.
In the course of writing nearly three-hundred-and-fifty Don't Miss Lists for weekly editions and many thousands of individual event descriptions, I earned a new appreciation for the sort of knife fighting that comes with small-scale writing.
Downtown Los Angeles was quickly becoming a center for culture--including theatre, lectures, major concerts, classical music, world class museums, and municipal happenings. All of which became fodder for my pen and its nasty habit of turning the straightforward into the cosmic.
Over seven long years, the experience of providing piece work for a paper covering a blossoming cultural mosaic drove my ambitions and pushed me into the longer form that would become my calling card. Cities are powerful creative catalysts. With the right eyes, you begin to see questions nearly everywhere you turn. Answering those questions in a public forum makes for interesting journalism.
This cover story on Line of Duty death markers in DTLA was a finalist for the CNPA Awards in 2016.
Some of my favorite work (and the most beloved) involved bars -- the true skeleton of any city center. Here I mourn the loss of a neighborhood dive and wax eloquent on the best new bars to emerge that year.
Yearly bread and butter included standard pre-music festival round up coverage and post-festival commentary.
The lowest hanging fruit for me was music. By this point I had done time on the PopMatters review staff and interviewed artists like Alessandro Cortini and Eric Hilton for now defunct QuitMumbling. At the DT News, I used my press credentials to sneak in to concerts that became red meat for my writing trade.
I was fortunate enough to witness and cover the release show for The Epic by Kamasi Washington. I saw Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Jarobi and Phife Dawg with the Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief in a redux of the 1996 Tribe Called Quest tour. So too, I saw Drab Majesty close out their Demonstration tour-cycle with a Halloween show at a goth club for a story that (**waves proudly**) is used as attribution on the Drab Majesty wikipedia.
If the listings editor shovel left some callouses and the snow got tiresome at times, it was still well worth shoveling off the cultural sidewalks for that special seven year interval in DTLA.