Brain Dead, Made of Money, No Future at All

I spent all last week at work cooking up designs for the annual UCLA Restaurants coffee mug.

Today, my boss presented the marketing department's collective designs to the higher-ups and they chose a design featuring a vector art rendering of the arches on our student union that my co-worker Kevin threw together in the morning.

Apparently, the higher-ups liked my designs but deemed them "inappropriate."

I heard the head of ASUCLA (which oversees UCLA Restaurants) say in front of my face that he liked my designs.But they're "inappropriate."

two samples:
black mug design
white mug design (my boss asked me to rework a design of his that featured words with the prefix "re")

—I like his designs, but my secretary would never buy these mugs.

God, it's so frustrating.

My mother called me and told me that she found a job for me. Her friend's daughter is an assistant editor at a national magazine currently looking for writers.

Sweet, I thought.

—What magazine?


I can't see myself writing for a home and garden magazine. For one, I don't know jack about anything home- or garden-related. Moreover, editors would probably deem the work I do submit "inappropriate."

—I like this article, but it's not conventional enough. Many of our readers won't "get it."

If I was Sunset, I wouldn't hire me. But hey, it's a lead, and I like to travel and Sunset has a travel section.

I wish I knew how to write a resumé.

My friend Jose looks down on the internet. He writes for the Style (arts and entertainment) section of the Washington Post and believes that if a piece of writing isn't published in a newspaper or a magazine, then it's not worth reading.

He once told me: "Jon, you're a good writer, but I'm published."

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

I practically lived out of the Oracle room in high school. I spent more time in there working on the school newspaper and yearbook than I spent at home. Lunch, after school, production nights, in-service days.

Near the end of senior year, on a bus ride to an orchestra competition, Daniel Clemens asked me if I planned to write for the Daily Bruin at UCLA and I said "of course."

Then controversy erupted over my final issue of the Oracle, all of it attributed to me. How could you write that? How could you publish this? Libel! Betrayal! Sexual harassment! Terrorism!

"They" thought I went too far. I thought "they" overreacted.

In the end, the school administration deposed my journalism adviser and suspended me indefinitely five days before graduation.

My actions were, well, deemed "inappropriate," despite the fact that some people (including faculty) liked what they saw and read.

I fell into a period of severe guilt and depression. The whole incident soured me on dealing with organized journalism. I didn't feel like writing for the Daily Bruin anymore.

I still wanted to write, only without creative regulation, for better or for worse. This website resulted.

Four years later, I don't have anything to show for all the time I've devoted to this site. I don't have any clippings post-high school that I can present to potential employers or graduate journalism schools. If I give them selections from the Adam Riff™ archive (see sidebar), they'll likely scoff like Jose does. The internet is the movie adaptation of a newspaper or magazine's book.I really fucked myself over.


One quarter of school left. Time is running out…

In addition to regular assignments, Jose's editor at the Washington Post assigned him a mini-beat covering video games. I mention this because he's a gay man whose primary interests are politics, figure skating and whoever's on the cover of Us Weekly. His most recent mini-beat assignment was an article on Madden 2005 ("Madden NFL Scores Again," 08.12.04). Hahaha.