I Always Wanted to be a Newspaperman

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I always wanted to be a newspaperman. My first article was a scathing review of my family’s table manners I wrote for Home, our local newspaper. And I mean really local: the circulation amounted to my parents and sister. My brothers would also get a copy, but they were too young to read, so they’d mostly turn it into paper airplanes or color it with crayons. They say those in power fear a fair and free press, and my parents were no exception. After one too many negative reviews of Sunday church service at 8 am and op-ed pieces on the psychological dangers of grounding, the paper eventually closed due to declining readership.

I continued to expose injustice during my high school years by going undercover to observe and report on conditions in detention. The only problem was that I was a good kid. I would never commit an offense so egregious as to warrant detention, so I asked the supervising teacher to add my name to the roll call. She thought the request unusual but agreed when I told her it was for an article. When I arrived, many of the “bad kids” that I expected to see in detention were there—and they looked shocked to see me. I realized this assignment had an added perk: I looked like a total Bad A! I now had a shred of street cred. They asked what I had done to end up there. My answer: What had I not done? Graffiti with invisible ink, crashing AP courses, burping without saying “excuse me”. I told them I had a rap sheet longer than a grocery store receipt (you know the ones: where you only bought a loaf of bread but the receipt is four miles long). Luckily, the clock struck three, and detention officially began before they could interrogate my claims. Talking was prohibited in detention, as was using electronic devices—but to my delight, reading was not! I could finally finish Watership Down without my siblings nagging me or my parents making me do after-school chores like picking rocks up from the lawn (The lawn is the earth! It’s all rocks! This is a Sisyphean task!). In my review, I gave detention a B- rating. Although the quiet environment was a bookworm’s dream, I found the hard wooden desk seats and the lack of complimentary light refreshments to be dealbreakers. I would not be returning for another session voluntarily.

At SUNY Buffalo, I wrote reviews for the arts desk at The Spectrum. I was both a lover of the arts and a broke college student, and I liked the idea of free tickets to movies, concerts, art exhibits, and spectacles like Cirque du Soleil. But I soon found writing the reviews equally enjoyable, especially when there was a chance to have a little fun with the article. I was influenced by the “gonzo” journalism style of Hunter S. Thompson, in which the author is not simply an observer, but an intrinsic part of the piece. My first hate mail letter arrived after I lampooned a well-known guitar virtuoso for making gratuitous “groovy-pouty” expressions throughout a performance. Apparently, one of our readers was a big fan of the guitarist and was incensed by my review. But my fellow columnists loved it, and so did my editors. They started sending me on high-profile assignments and then asked me to become an editor the following year. Having an opinion and a dash of humor made my columns fun to read. Many people would prefer to attend a stand-up set rather than a lecture on the same material. This makes comedy a potent medium for highlighting social issues. How something is said can be just as important as what is said. My only regret at the time was the limitation of writing reviews. I often wished I had chosen to work for the news desk, and wondered if I would ever get another chance to do some real reporting.

It appears now I will get that chance, as I join WEHOonline in West Hollywood. I’ve worked in WeHo for the past couple of years and plan to move here as soon as the opportunity arises. From day one it felt like coming home. I knew it was a special place. I live only four miles away, but it can feel like an ocean between here and there (and not just because of LA’s all-day rush hour traffic). If I want to wear my hair in pigtails that day, I wait until I get to WeHo, because it’s the only place where I feel completely safe and free to be myself. It’s the ultimate no-judgement zone. Yes, I know LA is a liberal city. But when I’m in areas that aren’t WeHo, I sometimes worry about making myself a target, especially while walking on the sidewalk at night or riding public transit. Perhaps I need to be more courageous, but to suggest that seems almost like blaming the victim. A married couple who lived in New York City for nine years before moving to West Hollywood told me they knew within the first week that they liked it better here (and not just because of the weather). It would seem West Hollywood is unique, a beacon of freedom and hope with perhaps no equivalent anywhere in the world. The friends and acquaintances I’ve made in WeHo are the kindest, most supportive, thoughtful, fun, and real people I’ve ever known. We often catch ourselves talking positively about friends behind their backs. Maybe I just got lucky. Or maybe like attracts like. Or perhaps a bit of both. I know West Hollywood isn’t perfect, but everything in life, from exercise to housecleaning, requires constant maintenance. If something is not a work in progress, check for a pulse. From what I’ve seen in my short time here, WeHo is a wonderful place to be, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Brian Hibbard is the Director of Marketing for WEHOonline.    He is also the manager of the YMLA WEHO store in West Hollywood.

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Old Timer
Old Timer
10 days ago

Fun read and good luck! We need more of you and less of the bullshit that goes on in this city !

Keith Kaplan
Keith Kaplan
12 days ago

Welcome to WeHo Brian! It is great to have a fresh new voice and perspective.

:dpb
:dpb
14 days ago

Welcome! You will love it here, indeed.

Last edited 14 days ago by :dpb
Steve Martin
Steve Martin
14 days ago

“If something is not a work in progress, check its’ pulse”. What a great line with wonderful insight. Brian will bring new perspectives and a refreshing style to West Hollywood.

Larry Block
Larry Block
14 days ago

Brian, thank you. You made my day begin a smile. You’re a great person, Welcome to the team.

Jonathan
Jonathan
14 days ago

Lets create the housing here so 1000 more of you that have the desire have the opportunity to live here. $1000-$1500 per month max apartments ..Think of all the college students at USC or UCLA or FIDM that would like to live here rather than campus. The mix of youth and wisdom can bring real life back to the street side cafes. It does not need to be only a 10pm -2 am city. I wish you the best on pursuing your passions and finding your home here soon.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
14 days ago

You’re gonna be fun to have around!

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