By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
I opened my tablet for today’s news and found my name in a headline, an unaccustomed experience.
My name appears in the paper a lot, especially since I dropped the official fiction (one that the editor of Zyngaville.com still hides behind) of using “Staff” for news and Ryan Gierach for editorials here on WeHo News.
Well, as I said, I opened my tablet this morning to find that I am moving to Long Beach.
I’m glad that’s been resolved, because finding a new apartment is stressful.
I wonder if Henry Scott, who wrote the article, could share our new address with my spouse and me? Marcus and I would like to know where to send the furniture.
And he had better have secured the way for WeHo; he’s more family than I am, certainly more responsible than me.
Mr. Scott seldom misses an opportunity to reach out and punch me, or John Duran, or anyone else he dislikes. All would be well and no one would take issue with him if he fought with actual facts and truth, but, as the reporters he has driven from his publication say, Mr. Scott changes the published “facts” that disagree with his whims and agenda.
I’ve been writing about West Hollywood since 1999. In those nearly 17 years I’ve written thousands of magazine or news articles (publishing over 8,000 here on WeHo News alone) and two books.
My greatest fear and the one part of writing history and journalism that I make my primary concern is getting it right. Never have I published something saying it is so when it is not so. After all, if I am supposed to faithfully relay newsmaker’s thoughts, ideas and actions and betray them, what happens to my credibility – and with it my ability to gain access to those people again?
Elected officials, business leaders, consultants, sources on and off the record – anyone who has ever pointed out a problem with a quote of theirs or with how their thoughts get characterized get immediate attention and, if it’s the right thing to do, I modify the copy. Ask John D’Amico, John Duran, Jeffrey Prang.
When Mr. Scott breezed into town he made an offer to purchase 50 percent of WeHo News and act as this paper’s publisher. But just as the deal consummated, with only a matter of a small down payment on the purchase to be made (one that would have saved my husband’s and me from homelessness in 2012) Mr. Scott told me that he would never enter into a partnership with me.
He said in early 2013 he would never operate a web-based newspaper without also opening a hard copy publication (something I have always dreamed of putting out, a simple broadsheet with mobile links to get the whole story). In September, he opened a web-only publication with a Zynga game title promising to provide – “for the first time ever,” went the PR fluff n’ stuff – a professional news publication.
As you can see, I learn a great deal about myself reading his publication. Things I never knew or even imagined.
Mr. Scott also has a way with the insidious accolade. By wrapping my acknowledged meth use (in the last century) around my recent struggles to quit drinking so damn much PBR (I wonder what Henry Scott can tell me about that experience?), he conflates the two well-distant periods into one to suggest that I have been a practicing meth head until, well, he hasn’t told me when I used last.
He makes no mention at all of my chief demon, the reason I self-medicated for decades, my Bi-Polar disorder. I’m pretty sure that’s what my friend Henry had in mind – explaining my illness as narcotics use.
Yeah, I’m crazy, my brain doesn’t work like most of yours does (I know, that I’ve made evident). I suffer (well, actually, my loved ones suffer) through manic periods of intense creativity and productivity. Norms who witness it use lots of adjectives along the lines of “amazing” and “incredible” when they discover that WeHo News, the photos, stories, images, videos, web design, ad sales and office administration, was my responsibility and mine alone.
Those phases go get me into trouble, because I am pretty zealous during those times, and zealotry is looked upon as suspect. But I’d rather be manic than depressed.
My depressions last for days and weeks. I’ve been known to take to my bed and refuse food for as many as five days at a time. People who care for me urge me to do something about it, “snap out of it,” and I can’t tell them how many times I’ve said that to me, how many times I’ve tried, how many ways I’ve tried.
I read a piece last week in the Washington Post, or maybe the Atlantic, in which a woman who had heard those words from her family and replied, “That’s like telling someone to stop having cancer.”
Well, so much for this morning’s education.
To the commenters who got through the censor (many people seem unable to get their comments posted) on Zyngaville.com, thanks for your kind words.
Here’s an item I tried to comment on over there at Zingaville but failed.
Mr. Scott, loathe to mention me as the city’s historian, published an article a little while ago about the trains in old Sherman, WeHo’s former name. My book, “Images of America: West Hollywood”, details Moses Sherman and Eli Clark’s creation of the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad from an amalgamation of others and its main rail yard located here in West Hollywood.
Mr. Scott and his historian, a Bob Bishop, wrote, too, about the creation of the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad and its world famous “Balloon Route,” except they used as background research a book about Sherman, Texas, a town formed by a Sydney Sherman that once also had a trolley.
They even made Linda Ashby, still Sherman, Texas’ city clerk, into a West Hollywood “local historian.”
Mr. Scott did not take down the example of journalistic and historic malfeasance after I commented on its inaccuracy (a history professor would have thrown the dude out of class for cheating like that). He took it down only after Linda Ashby sent him a cease and desist letter from Sherman City Hall.
Here is the passage: “The Balloon Route embodied all that was good about the early days of electric-powered streetcars. The excursion’s heyday lasted until 1911, when a major merger of numerous railways sent the route to former rival Southern Pacific. Under its new owner, the Balloon Route “suffered ignominious neglect and eventual death,” writes Linda Ashby, the local historian.”
So, in these two incidences, what have we?
In the first, a news story gets published that states without equivocation that I am moving to Long Beach – even before I know it.
In the second, Mr. Scott’s animus is such that even when publishing articles about this city’s history, he refuses to use my book or name, instead cheating by substituting another book from another author about another city.
Commenters on his site mentioned that I am sometimes hard to get along with. You bet your ass I am, especially when faced with this type of thing, this dishonesty and lack of integrity. Walking a line of true honesty, with oneself and others, maintaining one’s integrity, hurts people’s feelings because most are unused to being called on their lack in that regard.
So maybe I will go live in Long Beach. I lived there once before; I still recall clearly the night almost exactly 30 years ago when two escaped prisoners approached me on Broadway at Orange as I walked home from a night out at Chuckee Cheese’s with a friend and her toddler. The escapees shouted profanities and homophobic insults, were ready for a fight.
Had I not seen the bright glint in the dim light as it slashed at my throat and had I not jumped a few inches back and up, the five inch scar I carry today across my chest would have never become a scar at all, it would have slit my throat.
As it was, I came very close to death through blood loss, as they left me in the street to die.
I lived, though, to tell that tale and others about the oppressed and the dispossessed. I now tell tales of over-reach, about how dangerous our world can be to those without necessary life skills. I tell stories steeped in history to show that the daily difficulties we all experience are not unique to us, our location or our time.
I will always tell the truth as I see it, and where truth needs to speak to power or the villainous, I will be part of the chorus.