WOW. What a crazy week.

To quote my friend Dennis, “This city just got a lot smaller.”

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Our site was down overnight, sorry. But it’s your fault so please bear with me while I ramble for a moment here. We had so many visitors yesterday that it crashed the server and everything had to be migrated elsewhere. It blows my mind. I can’t say I expected this week… I mean, I’d hoped one day this site would catch on and a little LA love would be spread, but I truly underestimated just how starved many Angelenos have become to focus on the positive around them and explore the deeper details about where they live and/or grew up. I’ll admit, this week’s turn of events have put me in a bit of an emotional daze… and since I’m on super tight deadlines for my day job right now, I was already a bit dizzy.

wowHiddenLA was born early last summer during a scary transitional period in my life and career… I figured it was a positive way to utilize my skills and interests and occupy my unemployed, idle hands and somewhat depressed little brain. I’d never designed a blog before, knew nothing about CSS, and so I shuttered myself in my apartment for two weeks trying all sorts of things until something eventually stuck to the wall. When steady work showed up again, it was tough to focus on this project but a balance has been found over time, and one day a Facebook fan page was created as an experiment. What the heck, I thought… Facebook’s kinda fun.

When this site earned 200 Facebook fans by the end of Fall it was pretty exciting. (There were names of people who weren’t my friends! Wow, progress.) It was pretty cool early last week when our fans were almost 3,000, too! So imagine the surprise to be able to say that sometime within the next few hours HiddenLA will greet its 60,000th Facebook fan. 60,000 PEOPLE!!!! That number feels really impossible for me to wrap my brain around. (Hell, I haven’t even got any ads up here yet… but if every Facebook fan gave me a buck, I’d be totally debt-free!)

All of that said, honestly what has really gotten to me the most is seeing how the wall of the HiddenLA fan page has turned into something that has to be seen to believed. It’s like a constantly shifting confessional… a real-time digitally rolling wailing wall for people who are *bursting* to share in a whisper or a scream the things they hold dearest within the confines of these 498.3 square miles of LA County: the burger joints, the blues clubs, the romantic spots, the places to hike, the local amusement parks they remember from their childhoods and haven’t been able to talk about to anyone for decades… the list of topics is infinite.

It’s as if when you click on that page you’re instantly vaulted back into the “I Love LA” 80s… before the 90′s scarred us with riots, earthquakes, fires and floods… and the 2000s when crotch-flashing fish-lipped celebutards moved here from the East Coast and began to insert themselves as our city’s unsolicited, horrible mascots. We’ve put up with a lot and to paraphrase a comment made by one of our Facebook fans this very morning, it’s time to take our hometown back into our own hands. The life of your average Angeleno has absolutely *nothing* to do with the public image the world sees of Los Angeles, and that’s a horrible shame. No place is perfect, but Los Angeles is an amazing place to experience if you take a moment to look beneath the media-painted surface. Plus it’s filled with some amazing people. Yeah, there are some jerks too but just ignore them… if you keep giving them attention, the terrorists have won.

Call me a sucker, but to say that the Facebook fan comments have often touched me is an understatement. There is just so much heart in so many of the posts, I find it overwhelming. Quite a few people have mentioned that the site has enriched their lives… without money to travel, people are starting to rediscover their communities. People have e-mailed me to say that the skid row series has changed their perspective on the homeless problem here and they’re planning to volunteer. Another person posted that they decided to try a burger at Bill’s Burgers in Van Nuys based on a HiddenLA recommendation, and not only was the burger good but they sat next to another HiddenLA fan who had found it the same way. I literally kinda mist up when I read these things. It’s just awesome. Yes, I’m a giant, sentimental sap… but this whole community-building experience is really touching my heart. It’s more than I’d hoped for.

For all of you, I’m going to do my best to keep this site and community growing for the long term. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Los Angeles has a heart. It’s you. So thank you all. For everything.

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11 Responses to “WOW. What a crazy week.”

  1. soccerboy says:

    So, where do we donate? I like this whole “every facebook fan giving you a dollar. I can afford that. And I’d happily give you a dollar because not only do I appreciate this site, but I wonder what you could really do if the idea of debt wasn’t weighing down your mind…

    Thanks for being her. :)

  2. jill savage says:

    you don’t mention the inadvertent economic stimulus you’re generating with your site. how about those two people (probably more) who went to Bill’s Burgers in Van Nuys – and any of the other joints people have commented on…what a nice ascending line on the graph for income at those places. nicely done.

  3. debbie says:

    I am so happy I found you! Can never have too many friends! Thanks for what you’re doing! As soon as I can I will join in a group meeting. I LOVE LA!

  4. Kelle S. says:

    I will second that initial suggestion to donate! Not only is this a beautiful well crafted well written site, I too am touched at how many people are kindly interacting with complete strangers in the name of “sharing” what we love about our L.A. All of this made possible by an individual who clearly put not only heart and effort, but time and soul into what is clearly a labor of love not necessarily monetarily driven. The authors sincere astonishment at her own rapid success is most touching of all! Just wait until mainstream gets a hold of this (almost) overnight success story…get ready for another crashed server! Congratulations, it is truly a joy to watch this fabulous spectacle unfold!

  5. Debbie says:

    I agree with soccerboy. Where do we send the dollar? I recently moved here with a great purpose in mind and heart, and am touched to find so many natives that are still in love with their community. I came from a small area where everyone knew and supported each other, and took pride in the community. I would love to have that here in So Cal too! Call me naive but I think it might just be a possibility.
    Thank you for the site!

  6. mandyman says:

    I figured it was a sign that this was blowing up when facebook started telling me that my non-internerd friends were becoming fans of your site. Congratulations!

  7. cicilia says:

    this site ROCKS! i love LA! THANK YOU!!! :)

  8. Patsyfj says:

    Hi — you are GREAT! And I’m in on sending the buck. You’ll be out of debt before you know it.

    You know what I find amazing — that I’m seeing people post on your wall on FB that I already know!! But I didn’t know they knew about HiddenLA and I haven’t told them. This really is a small town wrapped in a very large town aura.

    I’ve only been here 6 years, but it feels like home to me! Thanks for all the good tips and the wonderful memories. I’m a native New Yorker — and people have always told me I wouldn’t ‘get’ LA, but I’m staring to now. And I LOVE it.

  9. julia says:

    i was intrigued because so many of my FB friends had become fans, so finally today I decided to check you out. And I was psyched (no pun intended) to become a fan. Until I saw all the postings from the Church of Scientology. Eww. I am not crazy about over-prescribing of psychiatric medications, but I find the Scientologist attack “PSYCHIATRY IS DEATH” as a regular presence there on the calendar -it’s more than weekly; is it daily?- creepy.

  10. Awesome superb post bud. I’ve had a blast reading your posts and have found them awesome. Keep up the posting!

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