All of this is pretty cool, but there's some good nuggets in the oral history stories.
- "It was a woman who said she was disgusted by what she had seen in our newspaper and that we were not welcome here: "You used foul language, there are ads for hookers in there, and you're going to harm my children." And I said, "Look, I've got children. This paper isn't meant for them." She said, "I know you've got children. I know where your son plays ice hockey." And I paused for a moment and said, "Are you really threatening me?" She said, "You can take that however you want." And she hung up. And I thought, "Wow, fuck." That's how it started."
- "Five weeks into it, I wrote a cover story about the OC Democratic Party, "They Eat Their Own." It so enraged the people at the Swallow's Inn, where the chairman of the party used to hang out, that they tore a rack of Weeklys and threw it into the street. I think it was then that I knew I was doing the right thing."
- "After he lost the [first] race, he said, "I'm not threatening you, but I'm going to have both your kneecaps broken." But to show you how times change, a couple of years ago, he and his wife sent me a Christmas card with the sweetest message. And I asked his son, Mark, "Are they going senile?" He said, "No. They kind of respect you now. You were the only guy who never gave up."
- "When I first met Will, he made me think of Christian Bale in American Psycho. There was something almost replicate-like to the guy, but as I got to know him, I realized what an amazing, genuine person he was."
- "Every Thursday morning, [the ad staff] would grab our coffees and read through the paper and make sure we didn't have any issues that would create blowback from our advertisers. When Will ran the ship, he really kept it church and state. So we generally were never given a head's up as far as what stories would be running. I remember a story that was critical of a band that played the House of Blues, and we almost lost their account, and they were advertising a lot. So a lot of reps would get pissed and threaten to quit and this and that. Or they'd cry, and there'd be all kinds of drama: "I can't believe they'd do that. I work so hard to get the accounts, and then editorial slams them. What the fuck?""
- "This is probably everything you need to know about the Weekly: Donald Bren builds the Irvine Spectrum. He says this is what he's most proud of, this is who he is. At the same time, it comes out he has two love children and hasn't been supporting them. So Will says to me, "Go out to the Spectrum, walk around and see if anything comes to you." So I walk around and happen to notice there are a lot of phallic-looking things out there. Obelisks, columns, all this kind of stuff. And I say, "There's seems to be a lot of penis out there, man." He says, "Write it." So I write a piece called "Don Bren's Phallus Complex," but because the Spectrum was new, they were advertising everywhere, including the Weekly. They had a huge budget with us, and I can't tell you how fast they pulled their ads."
- "Every couple of weeks, in the office, I'd run into the poor lady who had that account, and I knew she wanted to stab me in the head with a plastic fork. My little piece cost her thousands of dollars; she probably had to pull her kids out of private school."
- "Later on, Tori Richards, Don Haidl's PR person--how many rape defendants get a press person, right?--introduces me to Haidl as we ride down on the elevator. We get out, and I'm walking away, and Haidl stops and yells my name, "Hey, Scott!" I turn around and he says, "Nice to meet you, buddy," then points his finger like this [mimics shooting a gun]. And I was like, "Ahhh, dude, you have no idea. I'm not going anywhere. I'm living here."
For five and a half years, I was on that case. To this day, I could probably talk about everything in that case more than any other journalist. I wanted to know everything. I read every brief, attended every hearing. No other journalist did this. And I discovered a man who bribed his way into that job, who just wanted the cachet of having the badge and the title and the power. And these are the people who have control of us in some of these agencies, warped people like him. I give him that he was a legitimately caring person, gave a lot to his family and friends, but even that turned into trouble with [his son] Greg, since he clearly didn't have any boundaries. "Daddy will rescue me, no matter what."
- "There were constantly people trying to bring in subpoenas for Will and Scott to try to get their sources. Just like I dealt with every other crazy person who came into reception, I'd tell them to have a seat, and an hour later, I'd tell them, "Oh, I'm sorry; they're not in the office." I wouldn't even leave my chair."
- "Then "Mission Accomplished," which came out the Thursday after the [presidential] election. The one with Bush on the cover flipping off a camera. When we published it, I thought, "This is why I work at the Weekly"--because we can do shit like that. But, oh, God, we had so much fucking blowback: angry phone calls, angry letters, racks being stolen. It was crazy."
- "¡Ask a Mexican! was purely meant to be a one-week thing. We'd sometimes do these random, absurd columns for a week, like Ask a Nuclear Physicist. In fact, the week Gustavo's ran, we also had one called Ask a Canadian, since we had an intern from Canada."
- "The future seemed limitless at the end of 2004. If this were a Ken Burns documentary, you'd hear some foreboding music right about now."
Reading this made me miss journalism again.
- "It's hard to celebrate 10 years of the Weekly when you're busy hating the president."
- "One thing they always told us is "We'll never sell you guys to the New Times." We had heard all these horror stories about the New Times. A big part of it was Lowery and Wielenga had worked for New Times Los Angeles and had horrible experiences. And the two chains seemed to hate each other. They seemed bitter rivals. [David] Schneiderman always said, "Don't worry. We'll never sell you to the New Times." So what happened? They sold us to the New Times."
- "I don't how many times I heard the phrase "We run a cookie-cutter operation." The publications needed to look the same, and we were different."
- "I was horribly jealous, horribly jealous. I'm the voice of the paper! Me! I burst into tears to the point where the tears came out of my eyes horizontally like laser beams, and I said, "It's not that I'm not happy for him; it's just that I'm so totally not happy for him." It took me a minute of insane jealousy, and then I was so glad for him and said, "We have to get some champagne for when he comes back," and I meant it. But what he heard through the grapevine was "Rebecca's not happy for you," and no one ever bothered to tell him the second part."
- "That story stands out because it was us alone for a long time, for years, while other journalists mocked me. They were afraid to take the sheriff on. When I was covering the Haidl case, I started learning about issues with the sheriff. They just kept mounting and mounting. And at some point, I said, "I'm going to learn as much as I can about Mike Carona, and if at the end of it, it's bullshit, then it's bullshit. But if it's not, I'm never going to leave him alone."
The thing about Mike is, he's like anybody else. He's not a monster. There's some great parts to his personality. But even when he knew I was looking at him, he told me, "You're never going to win this." He told me this to my face. And I was, "You know what? It doesn't matter. I'm not going to stop."
- "When they got around to me, they asked, "What can we do to keep everyone here?" I said, "Just leave us alone. Let us maintain this paper the way it is. We have a great crew."
- "The reality is that newspapers develop their own culture. It didn't matter that [New Times] won every award there was to win in journalism or we knew how to put out a good newspaper. That doesn't matter to the people on the ground working for a paper that is being absorbed. There's a lot of fear. And it is disruptive and disturbing. It doesn't matter how good you are or how much better papers have become under your leadership. People give in to their imagination."
- "All the people who we had worked with and cared about and were used to were suddenly gone, and we had to keep doing what we do in spite of the emotional trauma."
- "But in retrospect, I would say that guys at [Village Voice Media] should be absolutely fucking grateful in one respect: In a year and a half, they would have to slash payroll dramatically, and the people who had left made it that much easier for them."
- "Duvall apparently had no idea his dais microphone became live beginning about a minute before the start of a cable-televised committee hearing as he detailed an ongoing extramarital affair [with a lobbyist whose client had business before a committee he sat on]. The married father of two mentioned his mistress' unmentionables ("little eye-patch underwear"), how often they had made love ("a lot!"), how much he enjoys spanking her ("Yeah, I like it"), what he told her about why he spanked her ("Because you're such a bad girl!") and other intimate details ("She's all, 'I am going up and down the stairs, and you're dripping out of me!' So messy!")."
Mostly this just makes me glad I got booted out of journalism early (the previous recession) before this shit went down.
- "We were the second outlet to run the photo [of Thomas' battered face, which quickly went viral], and I remember Vickie said we should put it on the cover. I thought it was a great idea, but Ted said no. I can't remember his objection, but he did not like sexual or violent images. But imagine the frickin' impact it would have had? Will would have done it in a heartbeat. I would have done it. But Ted said no. And I'm thinking, "Fuck, man. What the hell is going on?" That, in my mind, was the turning point when he lost us. It's not something he did. It's something he didn't do."
- "We're sitting in the conference room, and out of the blue, Ted says, "I want you news guys to give me all your confidential sources, their telephone numbers, their addresses, their cell numbers, their office numbers." And if you know me at all, I have FBI agents, federal judges, prosecutors. I've got confidential sources--could you imagine? I said, "Okay, let me play this out. You're going to call a federal judge, and you're going to say what? 'Hi, I'm Ted Kissell?' And he's going to go, 'Who the fuck are you, and how did you get my number?' You're going to call FBI agent so and so? 'Who the fuck are you?'" It was a ridiculous request.
I get home, and he writes me an email, and it says, "Because you were the most"--whatever word he used--"you were the biggest asshole, you're going to give all of them to me first . . . and Nick, you're next tomorrow morning." Dude, can you imagine the email I wrote back? I can tell you right now it had so many cuss words and "f-you"s in it. I was furious. Think about the relationships I developed. To have a confidential source called by your boss whom they don't know, not even know your name? You're dead in the water; they're going to say to you, "Dude, I gave you my home number, and you're going to give it to this dickwit?"
- "I go into my office, and Ted comes in and says, "You've got to get them on my side. You're not one of them anymore." And in my mind, I'm thinking, "Who the fuck are you to tell me I'm not one of them? Sure, I have the title of managing editor, but we were here long before you, and you don't know the sacrifices we had to do to keep the paper up as much as we had." Then he walked out, and he was mad. First time he ever got really mad at me. A few weeks later, Ted resigns. And, holy fuck, I'm the editor of OC Weekly. From sarcastic letter-writer with no experience in journalism to editor in chief, Arellano's trajectory was complete."
- "I could tell we had a change for the better in morale immediately once I came in. I think they knew that I could not be bought--they knew I was on their side, and more important, they knew I was going to work my ass off as much as I was asking them to work."
- "The people we have today are more buttoned-down than the old guard. There's no Rebecca, no Lowery, there's no Dave. There never will be. I'm not seeking to re-create the past. The past is past, and it will never be re-created. What I've always sought to do is to make what we are today an extension of that, to still be part of that family tree, to have that DNA from the past in the present day."
- "So I thought, "Let's do a cover package on the lack of African-Americans in Orange County." But how would we do it? We can't be too serious about it. Dustin came up with the idea to make the cover a Where's Waldo? kind of thing."
- "The story comes out, and it's just craziness. People start calling the paper, thinking we're ridiculing black people, threatening to kick my ass. It's one of my favorite issues we've ever done. I also think it was one of the most hated issues we've ever done. People started hating. "Why do you have to talk about the lack of black people in OC? Black people don't live here because Orange County is too good for them." The comments were obnoxious."
- "We're in a meeting talking about our  Summer Guide, which had the theme "Barely Legal." And everyone is pitching ideas on how to get away with things that are illegal or barely legal, and someone pitched how to make absinthe, which is illegal in the U.S. And I was real quiet. Then it was my turn. And I said, "I believe in being a good Samaritan. I don't think we should be writing things that will give people ideas." And Gustavo said, "Write about your hesitation with this issue." So I did."
- "All I have to say about Kushner is that me calling him the Stuart Smalley of print journalism was nothing but truth. And gracias for winning me two LA Press Clubs awards for Best Business Story for my stories on him!"
- "But for a paper that is as great as the Weekly, it's all about writing your own chapter, and you can't get mired in the past."
- At the beginning of 2015, word came down that the Weekly was up for sale. Again.
Kristine Hoang, clubs editor, 2015: The week after I got hired, I found out we're going to be sold. It's been a great learning experience, but there is an air of not knowing what's going to happen.
Arellano: It's tough. In this modern era of journalism, you don't know what's on the horizon. I told my crew, "This is the reality of the situation. I'm not going to stand by and weep and moan. Sure, it's scary times, but if you want to quit, you go in my good graces, and we'll give you a send-off at Memphis Cafe. But if we're going to go, we're going to go out in a blaze of glory. And if you stay, you're going to work your ass off, just like me."
And I'm not calling this the end times. This paper has a future. We remain as vicious and funny as always because we're the Weekly. It's like that Kinks song, "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains": We're going to remain who we've always been until our dying day. When that dying day is, I know don't, but as long as I'm the editor of the paper, that's how we're going to be."
- "Simply put, the Weekly saved Orange County from itself."
Good luck surviving, guys.