I think he meant more than just "don't let success go to your head." I think he meant that life is a continuum, and that the values instilled in me early on would inform my decisions later in life; that honoring those values would give me character and integrity.
I've been thinking about where we've come from, as a newspaper, and where we're heading. As we celebrate this 25-year milestone, I can't help but think back to those halcyon years. Bruce Schimmel and I have been reminiscing a lot lately, recalling 15-year-old stories like they happened just the other day; comparing the past and the present. Bruce has been around all 25 years. I've been here more than 20.
So much has changed from the early years. Back then, we lived by the seat of our pants. Our handbook was six pages. There were no job descriptions, no organizational charts, no formal budgeting process and precious few resources. There really weren't even any formal work hours. We got to work at 9 or 10 a.m., worked until dark and then went out every night promoting the paper. We sponsored events, attended parties and threw parties of our own. We staged fashion shows, music awards shows and art exhibits — we tried anything and everything to get noticed. We went everywhere together, in a pack, and we had a ball. We figured that if we made enough good decisions and made enough friends that exciting things would happen. And they did.
No room for storytelling in this short piece. Suffice to say the early years were wild, and at times reckless. Mistakes made. Goals exceeded. Feelings hurt. Bonds established. Trust earned. Friendships formed. Scoundrels exposed. Lawsuits filed. Projects completed. Schedules ignored. Expectations met. Victories celebrated. Losses mourned.
People have come and gone over the years: writers, salespeople, designers. But the current staff of City Paper embodies some of the same spirit of the early years. Perhaps a little more health-conscious, thankfully, but just as hard-working, creative, passionate and willing to mix it up.
Now, in our 25th year, City Paper enjoys a solid position in the market, a large and loyal readership, a terrific advertising customer base and the respect and appreciation of some of the most influential people in the city. We're also hated by more than a few folks, too. Goes with the territory.
And yet, somehow, today, I can sense the same exuberance that I felt when we were just starting out.
That alone is cause for celebration.
As for what you can expect from City Paper in the future: As a reader, expect to have more access, to our writers and to the stories themselves. Expect more new voices and new features. As an advertiser, expect more innovative ways to reach new customers.
Above all, expect the unexpected.