Monday, April 19th, 2010

Staff Memo: Some Plans For Year Two

To: All Awl Staff
From: Alex Balk
Re: Year One And Beyond

We sure dib!!!One year ago today exactly we were all giddy with anticipation for the launch of The Awl. (I was also giddy with liquor, which continues to be the case even up unto this moment.) I can recall the mixture of pride, anxiety, and perhaps a bit of arrogance as we gathered together around that Herman Miller conference table in Meeting Room B of the Awl offices and prepared ourselves for the endeavor we had pledged to undertake.

We were younger men, then, a bit more naive and excitable, but we were men with a dream: a dream that the world was ready for-nay, craved-a smart, well-crafted website that refused to pander for traffic. We all earnestly believed that there was a readership out there hungry for the kind of intelligent takes on New York City, politics, knife crime, bear videos, gay gripes and corrupt Italian prime ministers which they were not at that point being served. One year on, has that dream been realized?

Well, how would we know? Because we built this site instead. But I am happy to pretend that all our dreams have indeed come true. And while this project has been remarkably successful from a financial standpoint, thanks to our unbearably sexy audience of city-dwelling professionals with graduate degrees who Tivo at least 4.5 hours of TV a day and screen more than 40 movies a month, I am tired of David holding up the conversion of the diamonds and rubies with which we are paid by our fine Brand Partners™ into cash.

Sure, our extreme awesomeness hasn't come easy. The site is a work in progress, and sometimes we've veered off course. Sometimes we have been guilty of the same traffic-baiting we decry in others. (I am thinking particularly of our coverage of the foliage of Washington Heights.) We have occasionally been too passionate about certain subjects, fraying our own relations with each other, which have resulted in fisticuffs (Choire) and crying jags (me). And the frequency with which we turn down David's exhortations to be more esoteric and focus less often on issues that might appeal to those under 23 has caused him, I know, much hurt and distress.

Even though we have suffered those tribulations, I feel as though we have earned the right to point to this site with something somewhere between "shame" and "glee." This is in no small part due to the efforts of our contributors, whose generous offers of free content have kept the site humming during those moments when Choire and I were at each others' throats over whose turn it was to not mention that famous golfer who got in trouble with his wife. I'm especially thankful to Dave Bry and Maura Johnston for picking up the page and putting it on their shoulders, as well as that traitorous crazed wonder-skank Mary HK Choi who ditched out on us for her dream job, but this has indeed been a group effort for which its two main editorial staffers can claim only but a small bit of the blame and/or credit.

As we move forward into Year Two of The Awl, what changes should we be looking at? I've been hard at work coming up with several verticals to expand both our demographic reach and topic selection. They are, in no particular order, as follows:

Awlchick: Our female-skewing vertical will lean heavily on stories about menstruation and makeup. I mean, more so than the main site usually does. There's a lot of advertising out there that I want a piece of. Plus, you know how the broads like to yak. Pageviews are gonna skyrocket!

The Awlple: All Steve Jobs, all the time. Can't miss!

AwlBall: Our sports vertical. All we need to do to make this work is find someone who knows anything about sports. Can you feel it?

AwlBalls: A site written from the perspective of testicles. This will both help us make further inroads in the male demographic and prove the perfect solution to the knotty problem of My Cock being considered the intellectual property of Gawker Media.

NotAwlForWork: Boobies, blowjobs, you name it. Nudity. There is money to be made in porn, especially if we add the same nontraditional take we bring to the subjects we approach on the main site each day. Let's see if Chris Lehmann is up for a column called "Jizz People Things." I see possibilities.

In fact, I see so many possibilities that I am more encouraged about the success of this project than ever. I only regret that I will not be there to see it through with you both. That's right, suckas, I am OUT OF HERE. I'm gonna put on a dress and stealth-market personal data devices to unsuspecting drunk dudes. Good luck with your esoteric little blog posts, schmucks! It's Balk Time now.

Best, etc.,

111 Comments / Post A Comment

mathnet (#27)

Well, ride the gay taxi!

deepomega (#1,720)

Jizz People Things is actually a rather surprising hand in Scattergories.

deepomega (#1,720)

(If you put up a place to do so I will give you guys money! Or maybe I would buy a TheAwl-branded glassing-proof pint glass?)

Bittersweet (#765)

Yes, we need some serious Awl merchandise – hyper-designed t-shirts with wry sayings, highball glasses, stuffed Cats and bears, Awl-logoed covers for our new iPhones that look like Zunes, etc.

For that we would need the long-awaited logo, no?

OuackMallard (#774)

Balk and Choire bobble heads…

Balk and Choire rockemsockem robots

sigerson (#179)

THE LOGO!? What happened to THE LOGO???

Remember when Choire first suggested the idea to you, Balk, at the tailors, standing there in his underwear as his pants were pressed? That's a memorable moment, to be recalled years hence in an overly long article that unfortunately will make this exciting time of yours sound boring as hell.

bassknives (#2,903)

SprAwl : real estate
AwlYouCanEat : restaurants
AwlSystemsGo : science fiction
Awlternator : cars

Mindpowered (#948)

Awlful: Food.

Matt (#26)

Yes Yes Y'Awl: hip-hop

Mindpowered (#948)

The QuAwlity: News from British Tabloids

Matt (#26)

Awl My Friends: Pavement b-sides

jolie (#16)

AWWWWl: Baby videos

hockeymom (#143)

BAwl: Where the sad stories are.
GAwl: Anything Palin related

Mindpowered (#948)

CAwlt Memebers: Commenters

Me-awl: Cat videos. Alternatively, Me-awl!!: catfight videos.

HiredGoons (#603)

Awl Over the World: Gossip From the Jetset.

jolie (#16)

Content submission to Awlchick: A monthly column called MenstrAwl.

jolie (#16)

Wawl Street: Gordon Gekko Fan Fic

Pop Socket (#187)

PAwlitics: Thieving bastards.

deepomega (#1,720)

LawlsAngeles: West Coast feed

HAwllelujah: Leonard Cohen 24/7.
Public ApAwlogies (edited by Bry, natch).
The end of April 2010. (Repeat as necessary.)

HiredGoons (#603)

PersonAwl Ads?

Mindpowered (#948)

SeminAwl: Popes etc.

Mindpowered (#948)

Et Awl: Other things

ComradePsmith (#4,477)

The Wonderful and Frightening World of the FAwl: Constant Mark E. Smith news

brad (#1,678)

beawlulf. all bears, all the time.

punkthis (#243)

L'Awl and Order: hosted in-house by Awl legal eagle commentators.
Fai-Awl-Blog: a weekend social roundup highlighting staffers private lives. (Redundant?)

punkthis (#243)

Squawl: Weather/International Yachting Playboy news.

Eureka Street (#1,349)

Fawl Fashion: Mary guest stars.
Awl Things Considered: Meta-enabled content. Also, memos.
Instawl: Tech corner. Cho.
Mauled: Bears. (Obvs. Not sure how to work "awl" into that one, though.)

wiilliiaamm (#225)

Sh'Awl: A listicle featuring the latest in ghetto birth names.

libmas (#231)


Matt (#26)

Awl in the Family: The difficult subject of race

kneetoe (#1,881)

Astrologicawl: future predicting

garge (#736)

Apostle P'Awl: the overtly religious messages

Flashman (#418)

GötterdämmerAwl: opera gossip

cherrispryte (#444)

Awl the Single Ladies: Dating Advice!

Mindpowered (#948)

Alex's Obloquy: Alex Balk heaps derision someone. Probably you.

The Cho Show: No, the other Cho. But a Lesbian all the same.

Choire's Californication: I have no damn idea, but it scares the shit out of me.

Jolie's Jests: The world's number won WASP wins
welcomes with these world class witticisms.

And others…

PropSword (#2,870)

AwlYourBase: Memes

kneetoe (#1,881)

Gawlker: can't say

HiredGoons (#603)


kneetoe (#1,881)

I'm from East Tennessee, so I go with Dawlywood.

sigerson (#179)

Awl the Young Dudes – a blog about Mott the Hoople and NOTHING ELSE.

Awl's Well That Ends Well: classic literature.
Awl the Pretty Horses: modern literature.
The WAwl: classic rock.
The Kids in the HAwl: sketch comedy.

hugesunglasses (#2,696)

That's the best one.

Ronit (#1,557)

Hurray! Happy birfday Awl!

beatrixkiddo1 (#2,988)

Hmm I think you are exactly the right amount of passionate about glassing. Its why I rely on The Awl for all my yob and asbos related news!

barnhouse (#1,326)

Bravo, gentlemen. The future of journalism is safe in your doubting hands.

C. Gervin (#4,476)

No vertical on cats????? Come on, guys!

Awl Can Has Cheezburger

NinetyNine (#98)


jolie (#16)

Balk, you jerk – you're drunk and depressed on your anniversary? I imagine that Choire is two-stepping around the ApartOffice singing "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" to Cat.

Alex Balk (#4)

The anniversary is tomorrow, actually. But I'm gonna try to stay drunk and depressed all the way through, just for consistency's sake.

jolie (#16)

I was wondering about the 4/20 tag. I didn't want to make things worse by pointing out that it's still the 19th.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

Can I have your number?

Too soon?

Mary HK Choi (#1,469)


missdelite (#625)

I remember when The Awl looked like chicken scratch printed on used toilet paper. Pretty sure it gave me glaucoma. Ah..the memories.

And this: You ain't goin' nowhere, Mister. Sit yo ass down!

LolCait (#460)

Wait, that sounds just like where I work!

"All Awl Staff" expanded is just Choire, Cho, and Cat, right? And Cho always has the "out of office assistant" turned on.

Congrats on your first year and an exiting future.
I'm most interested in expanded weather commentary and an awards dinner that can be flogged for two months in and one month out.

Aatom (#74)

Wait, Balk's a dude?

TheStarterWife (#4,478)

Happy Birthday!

I cannot wait for Awlsploid or possibly Awlsploidions in the Sky.

(Someday I'll figure out how to login with my normal login.)

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

What about Awlmodo? Or Jawlopnik? Or AwlseeU, a certified University online!

Only kidding. I have an iPhone 5.0GS someone dropped hear the High Line. Gimme $100 bux and it's yours!

punkthis (#243)

I experience a similar mixture of glee and shame in many of my endeavours. I can't decide whether I should call it "shlee" or "glame".

kneetoe (#1,881)

Dear Sir: Under Awlchick you write :more so than the main site usually does." I believe you mean "man site." Please correct. Other typos follow.

cuiveen (#370)

How does one pronounce Choire, again?

Matt (#26)


Patrick M (#404)

(No homerow.)

sigerson (#179)

just like the church choir

C_Webb (#855)

Gawker may own Balk's Cock, but perhaps we might hear from Balk's BAwls? (Or maybe just your wang?)

missdelite (#625)

"Balk's BAwls" is the name of my fave new garage band.

Matt (#26)

I would just like to point out that there is a Diesel ad running on the main page with the the tag line "BE STUPID" right now, on your first anniversary. Synergy!

Patrick M (#404)

"AwlBall" is also what Koko the Gorilla named her cat, so I think there's a lot of unexplored synergy there?

keisertroll (#1,117)

As the winner of The First Annual Awl March Madness Bracket Challenge (or something like that), I'd be seriously willing to use my Aspergian knowledge of sports minutiae for AwlBall. I'm the only one who knows which Baseball Hall of Famer was born in the same town as L. Ron Hubbard.

keisertroll (#1,117)

In AWL Seriousness, Happy 1st Birthday. Only twenty more years until this site can get drunk.

And the answer was Richie "Whitey" Ashburn.

Wait, I was supposed to NOT mention Tiger Woods?

Fuck, I just did it again.

A great year, and a great memo.

As for Year 2 … how about more memos? In fact, why not bring back the Shift Memo?

sigerson (#179)

And those fucking great emails from Choire about some Chelsea pizza shop he went to on a date. Also.

Hamilton (#122)

Hard to believe it's only been one and a half years since the endless media hype surrounding the Unnamed Choire/ Balk Internet Project began. I am very proud of you fellas.

Happy First Birthday! This has been the first site I've ever really grown to love. You guys (and gals) were cool enough to run with my Awl March Madness idea, which was a highlight of my year so far. I feel smarter for reading you and have met a lot of extremely awesome people in the comments. Thanks for everything and best wishes for year two. And please tell me when I can buy a damn Awl hoodie (pref. before Fall).

keisertroll (#1,117)

Correction: you mean "before FAWL".

hman (#53)

One year in, who would you say are your favorite commenters? You must have favorites, right?
Happy birthday and congratulations.

sigerson (#179)

BALK, HOW DARE YOU NOT THANK JOE MACLEOD??? That man taught you everything you know about this journalism biz and you turn your back on him. Cold, man. Just cold.

cherrispryte (#444)


laurel (#4,035)

Gawd, it's like the Awl is a Dawn Powell novel. Go ahead, put the chrysanthemums in the bathtub. It's charming.

maebefunke (#154)

I miss the videos where it's all windy and Ken Lane is in a barn talking to Choire about babies.

I love it when Awl Day falls on a Tuesday. Four Day Weekend!

Six Day Weekend!

happy birthday sainted awl

thank you editors for the totawly awlsome year

and to the haters? fuck awl yawl!

Liz Colville (#4,486)


MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

On behalf of the trees and flowers of Washington Heights, congratulations! (And damn is it nice out in New York today…srsly, who wants to take magic mushrooms and sit in the park?)

At what time of the day should I picture you two giving birth?

Thanks for the best year of the Internet ever! Xoxoxo

jolie (#16)

Happy anniversary! Now go buy Choire flowers and some chocolate.

"I think you mean 'WITH WHICH THAT CRAP IS MADE?!?!?!?!' Choire."
"I'll never leave you. Now get me a drink," Balk intoned monotonously.

(Sorry, I couldn't let the occasion pass without a small bit of Choire/Balk fanfic.)

garge (#736)

I can't wait until the fanfic gets its own daily newsletter–

brianvan (#149)

It'll come out before the Awl's newsletter reappears! Which will be never.

jolie (#16)

@garge: I could be convinced to make this happen.

garge (#736)

@jolie, I wouldn't take much convincing to begin a campaign, especially if I were to contribute the fan art! (Amy Jean Porter's shadow is a cold, cold place)

Crantastical (#4,127)

Happy Birthday! (sorry I'm a day late, you have permission to forget mine)

HiredGoons (#603)

You're late!? Congratulations!!!

kneetoe (#1,881)

(and congrats!)

Bittersweet (#765)

Indeed. My sentiments exactly.

sox (#652)

Yay! Now go stick your faces in some cupcakes in between the bourbon and smokes!

Miles Klee (#3,657)

if the other contributors write for free then i think it's only fair that you stop charging me for column space

Jasmine (#8)

Cheers! A year in and this is STILL one of the only blogs whose posts I'll star to go back to when I have time to make it through the reader.

Oh yeah, If you start truncating your feeds I'll cut someone.

brent_cox (#40)

Is this the anniversary thread? If not I can just, I, um. Hey lookit that cat! Isn't he cute.

biggyshorty (#4,492)

ok, i have been reading you guys for a long time since that fucking kickass piece on the office. i just want to say, PLEASE do not backslide into today's Gawker-brand Gawker, as your "drink thru allergy season" and "ipad mugging" posts today scared me. you continue to actually have intelligent and sophisticated, and inebriated, things to say about popular culture without the faux-anti-intellectual, superficial americanapparel-ism gawker has become.

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