By Caitlin Donohue
I can’t believe this post is not all about how AHDM4U just won our first major award: a Best of the Bay from 48 year old alt weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian. That’s because a few hours before I heard about our win, I found out the Guardian, the paper that gave birth to my career as a writer and editor, has had its plug pulled by its corporate warlord, the borg-like San Francisco Media Company. Editor Steve Jones has mentioned the paper might find new life past this, but its prognosis at the moment is super uncertain.
First, this admittedly exciting thing.
Find the whole issue here, including Kelly and his party Swagger Like Us’ obvious win for Best Hip-Hop Party in the SFBG’s last citywide readers poll. FYI, it’s just the pdf of the print version, the bastards shut down operations before staff could upload the paper the to Internet.
This calls us, “the coolest thing to happen to San Francisco media in a long time,” just to be clear. That’s extremely flattering, but it’s not entirely outlandish that someone would say it because the AHDM4U team — our columnists, our partners, our parents, our friends, and all the glittering people who keep us in the know about their exciting new projects — is easy to freak out about. (To the crew: We promise to keep going, and to keep getting bigger. This feels like a moment.)
We’re also sad this blurb is the one of the last things we’ll read in the Guardian. San Francisco was so utterly sad yesterday when the news was announced that otherwise sane people had to organize a “community group hug” at the Pilsner Inn so that people could feel okay about things. There’s been too much bad change in the Bay Area recently, and now we’ve lost our most important media source for radical politics and fuck IT, that sucks.
I started working at the Guardian when I was an unfortunate but well-meaning 24 year old blonde hippie who had just moved back to the city she’d grown up in. The Guardian taught me how to be a San Franciscan again. It introduced me to the queer community, taught me about the concept of sex-positivity. It made me be a writer, empowered me to be an editor, encouraged me to be a feminist. It was the second alternative weekly in the country after the Village Voice, and stayed independent much longer than the Voice managed to.
Sigh. But in the midst of mourning a death, let’s celebrate a life. I feel like there are a lot of stories out there about the wild and crazy Guardian that was. I thought I’d share mine and I’m stoked to read everyone else’s in the weeks to come — and that means moments remembered by contributors, staff, people who found their 15 minutes of fame in the SFBG’s pages or grew up reading the thing or had the facts of their lives brutally butchered in its pages, whatever. (Leave yours in the comments section if the mood strikes.)
– For my first cover story, in the run up to the terrible 2010 election that instituted the sit-lie law, I got to embed with homeless kids on Haight Street for three days. I’ve never been offered so much 4Loko, or hung out with more generous, troubled San Franciscans. I fell in love with this blue-eyed weed dealer named Corey and resolved to NEVER be an objective journalist.
– In a booming medical cannabis market before that 2012 spate of federal government fuckery, I was told I would be writing a weekly column in the paper about weed, starting almost immediately. I strongly advocated for the possibility of the paper paying the fees for my 420 evaluation, a request which was granted.
– An office climate that has trained me to swear always, talk loudly about drug use and the amazing party I went to last night, and reserve my most withering scorn for any mention of professional dress code.
– A panel discussion on Bay Area feminism that I moderated opened my eyes to the many ways women construct their feminism. It changed my outlook on the world forever. Afterward, a middle-aged gentleman contacted me to say he’d felt “unsafe” during the event. Win?
– When I did red carpet interviews at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas for the 2012 AVN Awards. In pursuit of the same article, a cover shoot with fat queer pornographer Courtney Trouble, who photographer Molly DeCoudreaux captured hitch-hiking in the nude — Madonna-ishly — on the corner of 18th Street and Castro. Later, Courtney’s vag is edited from the cover of the newspaper, but still makes it onto an inside spread (GET IT.)
– Interviews with Rosanne Barr, Sam Mooney, Annie Sprinkle, Ana Tijoux, Sandra Bernhard, Dita Von Teese, Jonathan Safran Foer, Meghan McCain, Wavy Gravy. Helping boychild navigate the cubicles/normies en route to a Cindy Sherman-themed photoshoot in our new corporate digs after we were bought. Reporting on the rodeo, music festivals, newly discovered strains of hallucinogenic mushrooms, bike culture in Buenos Aires, street art in Baltimore.
There’s so many more, but I’ll save them for my memoir. Thanks for all of them, Guardian. On AHDM4U’s part, our eyes have been open to our responsibilities in the matter, so we’re going to be looking for ways in which we can give our lil’ empire the light it deserves, both in the Bay Area and beyond (because let’s face it, I already moved to Mexico City like five months ago.) Everybody read 48 Hills and all the other actually cool publications. We’ll all help each other if we can remember to support local media, and that corporate weeklies still suck, forever.