I found a half-eaten bag of pistachios in a desk drawer. They have pandemic years. Left here in this midtown snack when the world fell apart.
The San Diego Magazine office – with a view of Petco Park, the ghost of Horton Plaza, the majestic comma of Coronado Bridge – remained almost black for two years. For decades, this 11th floor has been a buzz of creative people, sketches, stories written on the walls, local chefs whipping up tacos in the kitchen, bartenders whipping up drinks in the conference room. And for more than 700 days, this culture was dispersed.
This morning, I hear it start to growl again. In the office next to me, I hear the caffeinated voice of New York radio from Gillian Flynn, our new chief creative officer. Gillian — whose father was vice president of Random House, who spent her early years as a hard-nosed AP reporter, who can walk into a room and immediately identify 35 stories, who has an enviable taste for vintage clothes — is a whirlwind of ideas. It was her, along with my wife, who helped me see the vision of turning San Diego Magazine in a modern media dynamo.
I wake up every morning to a handful of messages from her sharing new ideas – sketching out the future of SDM. A few hours earlier, part of that future came into our office – Jeremy Sazon, a filmmaker, on his first day on the job. For 74 years, San Diego Magazine told the stories of amazing local people with raw words and stunning photos. As of today, we are also a video production company. We make short films about food, drink, art, homes, events, the city, its people and culture, and the brands that partner with us.
David Martin is in the other office next to mine, creating a text-based editorial initiative, moving us “to the cloud,” editing our Happy Half Hour podcast, while also listening to a baseball podcast. Down the long hallway, I hear the contagious laughter of Veronica Graham, our bookkeeper and core strength for our creative group, who can sometimes float around like kites.
I hear that inspiring buzz of creative people tinkering in the same physical space. It is a benevolent form of mass hysteria. Anyone who’s ever experienced it knows the rush when one idea piles up on another, then on another until, my God, we’ve found it. The idea.
We create our own frontier here, much like the characters on the cover of this real estate issue, embarking on a great migration from city life to the long-ignored hills of San Diego County.
It’s been three months since Claire and I took over the management of SDM, and it’s been everything we expected: wild, experimental, chaotic, exhausting, inspiring, heartbreaking, uplifting. We work 16 hours a day to create remarkable, artful and incredibly lively media for the city we love. I have never felt so creatively awake. Every night I am completely drained; every morning I am intensely alive.
We turned on the lights. We found old abandoned snacks. We walk through the halls of SDM and see the whole history of a city on the walls and in the library. Reading those old words and seeing those classic photos, it’s pretty easy to find “the reason” for it all, the vital necessity of storytelling.
This issue you start to see some of the changes manifest with amplified artwork and illustrations and vivid writing. We launched a mini-avalanche of online content on sdmag.com. We tinker with “TV” series live on social networks. It’s all thanks to the creatives we admire, who congregate in small spaces and are obsessed with stories.
Many, many more to come.