Day 408

Whenever I think of LA, rarely do I think about the creative community here. Sure, we all know this place is full of actors, directors, musicians and many others with a 9-figure bank account. But, how often do we take the time to remember there’s a vast network of animators, writers, bloggers, comedians, set designers and chefs out here too?

As my friends continue to show me around the LA area, I’m becoming more and more familiar with just how tight-knit these tertiary players truly are. These are people whose names fall at the end of a credit reel. They’re the award winners whose categories never make it to air, if they’re even honored at all. They don’t live in giant hilltop mansions, nor do they drive around town in Bentleys and Porsches. Yet, the role they play in media and culture is irreplaceable. That’s why you’ll find many of them banded together, working as one to help each other succeed.  

A prime example of this is Meltdown Comics in Hollywood. Owned by comedian, Chris Hardwick, this comic book store boasts its own performance space (known as NerdMelt Theater), recording studio and even a classroom. While you won’t find any of these in a typical comic shop, they all play rather important roles here.

The classroom welcomes students looking to learn the ins and out of improv. The recording studio is often used as the backdrop for some of the Internet’s favorite podcasts like Nerdist, You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes and Dining with Doug and Karen. And the performance space allows students and professionals alike to take the stage and delight audiences each and every night.

The reason this all works is because Chris is a friend to the comedians and podcasters that grace the space. He wants to help them succeed, so he’s created a space that allows them to test material, reach new fans and even try out new mediums. In turn, these friends provide programming for his store and are able to improve their material as a result. It’s a simple case of friends helping friends helping friends. And it’s just one of many similar ecosystems I’ve discovered in the past week.

There are bars here where you can find dozens of writers helping one another with plot points, storylines and script revisions. There are hole-in-the-wall restaurants where you'll find animators scribbling their ideas onto napkins, just to get feedback from others at the table. Hit up a local coffee shop and you might even see a few comedians working on new punchlines. 

It’s extremely fascinating to see such cultures come to life, because these are the creatives we don’t often associate with the glitz and glamour of LA. Really, the only downside to it is that this city is so hard to get around in without a car and often people tend to cluster amongst each other as a result. If they had better public transportation here, I bet all these little ecosystems would mingle more often and create stunning works of art. Yet, I hear some people barely see each other, because of how bad the traffic can get. So, for all the wonderful things I’m uncovering here, I’d have to say that’s the one downfall to it all.

Traffic is the worst, am I right?

-Steve-

From the Rails 6 (The Final One)

Well folks, I’m on my way to San Francisco. That means from here on out, I’ll be located in California until the trip has come to an end. On a similar note, this is actually the final train ride of my journey, as I’m hopping a plane to LA and then another back to Cleveland. Am I nervous about it all? Of course. Am I just as equally excited? Absolutely. But that brings me to what I wanted to write about today, as I stare off into the west coast’s endless tree-covered hills and snow-capped mountaintops.

When I first embarked on #TGAA, I scrambled to gain as many online followers as I could. I was so sure that I needed to amass as many likes, retweets, links and mentions as possible. What I’ve since learned is that I had the whole thing backwards. This project isn’t about any of that. Sure, I utilize the Internet to tell the project's story and spread the word about what’s going on. But at its core, #TGAA is about connecting people in the real world; showing people what’s possible; and proving there are opportunities out there you may have never thought to consider—places you never thought to go.

The gravity of this project is not lost on me and neither is my unique position to help others. I may not broadcast all of the things we’ve done along the way, but my hope is that there are now plenty of people out there who can sing their own personal praises for the project. That’s because, whenever I find a line I can help connect, I jump on the opportunity to do so. And I truly believe these are the things that help measure the overall success of our project. I’ve connected musicians with labels, job hunters with headhunters, agencies with apps, writers with artists and individuals with publications. These real world connections are an element that has grown out of #TGAA over time and that—to me—is magical.

While I do my best to open a window into the ever-changing world I’m currently living in, there are limits to what I write about. That’s because the last thing I want to do is cheapen the interactions I have with people along the way. I’ve had drinks with executives, lunches with entire creative teams and picked the brains of musicians, authors and artists alike. Yet, aside from adding their names to the ‘Great People’ page, I’ve elected not to mention many of them in the blog. I feel the anonymity that comes with knowing our interaction is off-the-record helps people relax and be themselves. In turn, this creates more meaningful conversations. Plus, the last thing I want is for someone to think I’m only talking to him or her, just so I have content for the blog.

Of course, the information I gather does make it to everyone in many other ways—even if it’s not attributed to anyone in particular. Every piece of advice—every tidbit of information—has been shared in one form or another. Whether it’s the topic of a blog, through an on-campus Q&A, a one-on-one chat with a junior creative or in response to an inquisitive email, I strive to share everything I learn on our journey. So, trust me when I say, I’m not hoarding any of this newfound knowledge. Most of it is already out there. And as always, if there’s anything you want to know, just ask. This project has always been an open book and that’s what it will always be.

-Steve-