I'm going to level with you. Intrepid Media is a mess. When I started this party, four years ago to the day, I imagined it would always be small. Small enough so that no one would notice when it eventually unraveled into a wheat and blue mess with the lead column permanently dated from 2000 because I was too insane to keep publishing, but too proud to lapse paying the registration fees.
But now, we're officially medium sized. And we've got all of the headaches of a medium-sized company without the cool stuff like profits, benefits, and wild-eyed investors with a lot of cash who like seeing their name in 8-point Verdana.
Maybe. Just maybe. That's all about to change.
In September alone, we've got our Fourth Anniversary Spectacular, culminating with a blowout weekend in Las Vegas, the release of our first book, the short story collection Let the Evolution Begin, the release of the first single from our first band, and somewhere in there my first emotional and physical breakdown.
On top of that, we're still not taking ads, we don't have a killer app to propel us into something as nifty (and I say that with just the right amount of irony) as Friendster or Flash Your Rack. We'll never have the gravitas of Slate, the precociousness of McSweeney's or the flat-out genius of The Onion.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.
If you'll indulge me, as I ask you to do every year, I'd like to take a look back at a selection of some of the highlights from this wonderful, ugly, glorious year.
It's in the Numbers
This was the year we hit 500 members (July 18th). In fact, this was also the year we hit 400 members. We're growing at a clip I never would have expected, almost 200 people joined Intrepid over the last twelve months. We get close to 800 people reading a total of over 3000 pages per day. In fact, since we opened for business, you've all downloaded nearly 2 million pages with over 4 million hits. We're big in Italy. We don't know why. There are over 60,000 posts on our messageboards.
Of course, last year's big anniversary news was that Intrepid Publishing had come to life. Based on the same model as the magazine, IP will offer an alternative to alternative in books and records. One year, one short story contest, a bunch of bands contributing free tracks, and a lot of prodding and pushing and nagging of the staff by me and Jael, and we've got a release worthy of your time and your money.
Seriously, go get the discount coupon now, because you're going to want this one.
We're Intrepid, Baby, With an Intrepid Baby
The first Intrepid baby, one Brendan Quinn Carr, was born back in November. Russ, the big daddy, couldn't be prouder. I'm still having trouble getting Brendan to commit to a hard monthly deadline.
All the Elves
Freak December ice storm, freak accident, and all of a sudden staffer Roger Striffler lost his house and all his stuff to a fire. But the tragedy was eclipsed by the generosity of yourselves, the Intrepid community, and I watched in awe as you all contributed over $1600 to help restore some of those belongings and provide for one hell of a Christmas. This, by far, beats the writing-a-good-column high.
The New Kids
By cracky, I remember the olden days when it was me and Jael and Michelle and Adam cranking out column after column on onion skin and we couldn't use double-entendres or irony because of the blue laws. This year, we added Erik Myers and Heather Millen, taking us to 16 staff writers and rounding us in just about every facet.
We're Everywhere Like Gary Coleman
Staffers and contributors alike blew up this year, with appearances in local, regional, and national publications - and not just a few, but many. From readings at Boston bookstores (Michelle Von Euw) to columns in print and online mags (many) to online and offline movie reviews (many) to being voted via the BBC as being the best new short story writer in all of England (Louise Arnold), you couldn't swing a cat this year without hitting an Intrepidite byline.
Oh Yeah, That Little "Best Of" Deal
Then there was the time when Writer's Digest named us a 2003 Best Website for Writers. Man, that was cool. We had no idea, we just like to spout off a lot.
Some Experiments Work, Some Don't
Holy smoke, Karma Factory. Just. Did. Not. Work. An attempt to put some formalization around the critique process fell historically flat and ended up frustrating more than helping. It looked so good on paper, plus the technology was pretty cool. But in the end, no one wanted to use it. It will always be remembered lovingly as our Segway.
On the other hand, publishing a new feature every day in June, while it killed me and Jael, worked surprisingly well. And it's something we will try again. It would not have worked, however, if we didn't luck into a SLEW of awesome pieces in the gallery.
Which leads to me to my point, my reason for being, and my heroes. You. The person reading this column, when you could be browsing anything from stock tips to free porn, you're the one who makes this all work. You have my utmost and sincere thanks. As do the staff writers, who are consistently the most talented and dangerous writers on the web, the contributors, who take this site as seriously as we take them, and a last special thanks out to Jael McHenry, our EIC, without whom this year (especially) would have been a colossal mess, instead of just a hip, kind of lovingly distressed mess.
Now, hey, it's time to party. I'm not going to sell you but...
Check out Let the Evolution Begin.
Welcome The Contenders.
And maybe, we'll see you in Vegas.
Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
9.1.03 @ 3:01a
Bravo, boss. Bravo.
michelle von euw
9.1.03 @ 9:24p
Huge kudos to you for all the hard work. You keep us all going, Boss, even when we're past deadline and struggling with our pronouns and fighting over Buffy. You've given us an amazing outlet to practice and perfect our craft, and I, for one, appreciate it more than anything.
9.1.03 @ 9:41p
I appreciate it, too.. but I don't know if I appreciate it more than anything. I mean.. there's beer.
These are huge strides, Joe. You should be damn, damn proud.
9.1.03 @ 9:41p
9.1.03 @ 11:11p
9.1.03 @ 11:19p
As proud as you are of everyone, we are all insanely proud of you. Just to be on your idea train is a thrill. As long as you're drivin', I'm ridin'.
[/big smooches] to be placed wherever deemed appropriate.
9.2.03 @ 8:40a
Dude, I'm blushing.
You're the man! You're the superman! We love you.
9.2.03 @ 11:51a
You gave me a place to be Penny Lane. I love you guys!
9.2.03 @ 2:51p
I've tried writers' group after writers' group. This is the only one that's ever lasted, and what's more, has actually grown. Looking through the gallery lately, there are more and more unfamiliar bylines each week. It's heartening to see that so many people are excited about their writing, and brave enough to share it with the world through Intrepid.
Oh, and if I can have ten minutes at the next staff meeting, I'll share my ideas on bringing in a larger share of the "free porn" crowd.
9.2.03 @ 6:28p
And another thing, Joe: I'd really like to see "Free Pants."
9.2.03 @ 7:38p
Russ, when you feel the love, you have to share it. Hope it works. It's old.
Speaking of love, thanks everyone, I really appreciate it. You made a huge bright spot in an extraordinarily crappy day. But this really isn't about me. It's about the people who take the time to read this and about the people who make it worth reading.
That's you. And you.
9.2.03 @ 8:54p
And you. And you...
And now ALL of us has the love of "Free Pants." Although I'm still trying to figure out how to feel about that.
Uh, yeah, it works.
9.2.03 @ 8:55p
That was frickin' brilliant.
9.3.03 @ 10:15a
I'm so happy. About both things.
Next we need free goo.
9.3.03 @ 11:56a
9.3.03 @ 12:40p
9.3.03 @ 12:46p
9.3.03 @ 1:40p
Don't let my recent absence make you think I'm not appreciative either. You kids ROCK! And Joe, geez...what can I say. We love you so much that if you ran for governor of California, I'd stop you.
9.3.03 @ 10:10p
I just got here and cannot stop running off at the mouth for my love for this place. Finally, a place where angry sarcastic young black Christian writers can be heard! But seriously, here's to many more great years. I'm going to try to get to Vegas. But I'm a newlywed so I may not make it past the front door.
9.4.03 @ 4:16p
Congrats and you still suck at Madden 2004.