I like to keep most of my weekends pretty calm, usually reserving all of the chaos for when there’s a fatal shooting or three-car crash during my shift (usually Sundays) as duty beckons me to the scene.
This past weekend, however, began and ended with another type of chaos: journalist parties!
If you know journalists, then you know some of us are a crazy bunch who like to test limits and explore boundaries to provide accurate, detailed reporting on issues like… the consequences of consuming certain beverages (I’m looking at you, Asia Morris).
Thursday night was one of those occasions. The Long Beach Post launched its new arts and culture section, the Hi-lo, with the coinciding art gallery, The Hi-lo Gallery, at our Downtown office. We invited 250 people to celebrate the launch, more than 300 showed up from the local arts community as well as a healthy dose of our fabulous readers and supporters.
We had an art show, a zine-making space, a queer, liberated puppet giving unsolicited advice—”just become a lesbian”—an artist doing insta-portraits a DJ, a jazz violinist and a local grassroots theater group performing choreographed fights.
Still, one of my favorite quotes of the night came from one of our own, Hi-lo editor Steve Lowery, who explained, kinda, what this evening was about: “Screw Los Angeles and screw Orange County, this is the Hi-lo.”
If the event is any indication of what to expect from this section, then Long Beach is in for a treat. Hats off to the Hi-lo team for a helluva night, that went longer for some than others.
About that, here’s arts and culture reporter Asia Morris:
I’m going to ignore my dear friend and Quidditch enthusiast’s comment about my drinking and shift your attention to the Post’s expert beard grower and website builder Dennis Dean, whose great idea it was to bring out what became the bane of my pitiful existence the day after the Hi-lo launch party—a bottle of Jeppson’s Malort liqueur.
Did you know that Malort means “wormwood” in Swedish; the bitter herb that this foul tasting liqueur you can only buy in Illinois is made from? The Russian translation is “Chernobyl,” as in the liquid that, after an evening of terrible, borderline dangerous decisions, including a terrible night’s sleep, became the uncontainable explosion in my stomach whose fallout I was forced to deal with the following morning.
Okay, okay, Malort may have been named after the fields of wormwood that grew in that area, not the radioactive meltdown in the back of everyone’s minds (thanks HBO!), but this was just one of the 14 facts I read in a Thrillest article during my feverish attempt to figure out how one swig of that substance had turned my innards into outters.
— Asia Morris (@hugelandmass) June 28, 2019
Never, ever again.
In Dean’s defense, he’d handed me the bottle at that pivotal point in the evening where most people had left the Hi-lo party and those remaining, mostly Long Beach Post staff, were still celebrating what everyone has so far deemed a successful launch of our new vertical and, most importantly, the arts community.
Creatives from Hi and lo (see what I did there?) turned out Thursday night; a smushing together of graffiti artists, zine makers, doodlers, singers, trumpet players, DJs, fine artists, theater performers and chefs to mingle with supporters, from those asking to buy works from the first show in our newly established Hi-lo Gallery, to longtime arts advocates including members of the Arts Council for Long Beach.
It was like every artist I’d ever interviewed or connected with through my arts coverage at the Post was all of a sudden meeting each other for the first time, sort of like when your exes meet except there was way less anxiety or lingering glances, and this was an overwhelmingly good feeling.
Unlike drinking the Malort.
Back to you Steph!
The weekend was bookended Sunday night with what’s becoming an annual trek for the Post to the LA Press Club awards in Downtown Los Angeles.
There, we became fast friends with Henry Winkler (apparently so did every other attendee because he’s just that nice of a person) and celebrated the amazing work of fellow journalists—including our own team, which won multiple awards.
— the Hi-lo: Long Beach Arts & Food (@theHiLoLBP) July 1, 2019
It was also a night in which we discovered that the youngest member of our news team didn’t know who Kobe Bryant was (insert face palm emoji here). I’ll let her tell you all about her experience at the adult table!
Sunday was a night of “where do I know that guy from?” And probably the closest I’ll ever get in degrees of separation to Amy Poehler, aka Leslie Knope. Meeting Henry Winkler for a brief moment in time was one of mine and, I’m sure, everyone’s highlights—he’s the nicest man in television!
We saw outstanding journalists honored for their hard work and celebrities, in video tributes and in speeches, say nice things about everyone’s favorite sportscaster, Jim Hill.
Asia Morris also now knows just how uncultured I am, since I turned to her during one video tribute and asked, “What’s that guy’s name again?” To which, with a slightly horrified face (Malort?), she answered, “Kobe Bryant?!” (I knew that, I swear. I just couldn’t think of his name.)
The best part is that awards galas like these aren’t just a bunch of journalists getting together to dress up pretty and pat themselves on the back. These things highlight important work that even as an avid news consumer, I’m not always aware of, like Nima Elbagir of CNN with her amazing work as an international correspondent.
The stories we see displayed at these galas—and the reporters that I lose to in my category—then challenge me to work even harder and do better to write impactful stories like them. Not to mention the reporters on my own team at the Post who placed against national outlets and continue to inspire me every day. I couldn’t be prouder of them.