I have had the distinct and relatively rare pleasure of experiencing Creative Loafing from a wide variety of perspectives over the last two decades and change. As a casual reader. As a dedicated reader, a fan, a supporter of the community CL represents. As a member of the editorial inner circle. As a guy who used to work there. And, currently, as a freelance contributor — a member of the editorial outer circle with privileges, you might say.
Like a lot of young Bay area musicians, I first got in the habit of picking up the paper in order to see my band’s name in print. A decade later, when I picked it up in order to see my first byline in its pages, CL was a deeply entrenched element of my identity — for me, the alternative weekly wasn’t a holdover from the countercultural explosion of the late ‘60s; it was a very current guide to everything creative, disruptive, independently active people were doing.
It was weekly reinforcement that I need look no further than my adopted hometown for inspiration, for entertainment, for provocative political discourse. That fuck New York, look what the hell is going on right here, right now.
And it still is.
To me, that’s what’s missing from all the new media they say will finish killing the alt-weekly tradition any minute now. I mean, sure, I can find out about new local bands and the latest civic scandal on the Web. And the best content out there is leading curious, bored and intellectually thirsty readers to great nonfiction, great arguments over local politics, great causes, and great local art and artists, just like Creative Loafing did, and continues to do, for me.
But, holy crap, there’s a lot of other noise to filter out. Local and regional content on the Web are à la carte choices. An alternative weekly is the entire menu.
(Plus, letters to the editor in any newspaper are alternately funny and infuriating because there are only, like, six of ‘em, and people obviously put in the effort. Comments on websites are alternately tedious and depressing because there are six million of them, and they require all the effort — and public exposure — of taking a dump at home, flushing and then forgetting it.)
Of course my fervent hope that Creative Loafing is still around 25 years from now is predicated on selfish motives. It’s what I grew up with. It’s comfortable. It’s what helped define me on myriad levels, from the personal and philosophical to the professional. It’s a report on and a glorification of my people, my interests, my scene.
It’s also a publication out of which I’m fairly sure I’ll be able to wheedle a little space to publish, and a little coin, even another two-and-a-half decades down the road. I suspect I’ll still be hanging around, asking for an opportunity to inform or annoy.
No place else feels quite as much like home.
In the meantime, happy anniversary, Creative Loafing. Thank you for all the information, enlightenment, friendships, exposure and work thus far. Like many, I’m in you’re debt.
Probably more than most.