Losing your job is never an easy proposition. When your job involved writing and editing for the ever-shrinking print media landscape, it can be even more troubling. Yet when the editorial staff of LA-based GOOD Magazine were let go en masse, they didn't spend much time drowning their sorrows. Just over a month later, the crew has banded together with a fully-funded Kickstarter and a dream: to put together one last project, on their own terms and in their own voices. Dubbed Tomorrow Magazine, the one-off issue plans to focus on the future, in all its iterations. Several members of the group -- Ann Friedman, Cord Jefferson, Zak Stone, Megan Greenwell, and Amanda Hess -- sat down with us at KCET to talk about what lies ahead for themselves as well as Tomorrow Magazine. Then we talked about burritos.
Farley: So now that you're a few weeks in, how are things going for Tomorrow Magazine?
Cord: I'd say they're going very well. We've already doubled what we wanted to make and we still have a couple of weeks to go. We've gotten a ton of great press. A ton of interesting, talented people want to be a part of it. I think things are going as well as they could be right now.
Farley: How much reaching out have you guys done to other people?
Ann: There are lots of people reaching out to us, and we will definitely strategically reach out to others.
Cord: I think that's been the nicest thing, seeing how many people want to be involved with this. Media is going through a lot of shit right now, and so many people are going through the things that we've been going through. It's unbelievable how many people have reached out and said that we're an inspiration, that we've turned a terrible situation into a really great situation.
Farley: You really have managed to stay extremely positive since being let go.
Amanda: I think because we're doing this. One of the things I dislike about being a freelancer is that I don't have all of these people to work with anymore. So, the opportunity to continue to work with them has been really helpful to me, emotionally and professionally.
Megan: The saddest thing about losing our jobs was losing these relationships with all of these people that we'd been working with. So to be able to keep that and keep working and hanging out together has made it a lot less terrible. It's weird, because we're all going through the exact same life process at once. It's bizarre and fascinating and really nice to have someone else sharing these experiences.
Farley: I assume you're all still actively looking for work elsewhere.
Ann: We are.
Cord: It's definitely a problem to juggle all of these different things, but nobody is shouldering a burden that they can't handle. I think all of us are really committed to working on getting this project done before we all jump in a bunch of different directions. It's been nice to have something to do. It's easy to get fired and then start waking up at 1 o'clock and not doing anything.
Cord: It's been nice for me to have something that forces me to get up at 8am and keep working.
Ann: I don't think you can speak for everyone on that.
Farley: Wait. Has everyone just been taking a lot more naps lately?
Ann: That's the thing, no one's been napping.
Amanda: I do sleep at really weird times. Cord's been eating weirdly.
Cord: I eat weirdly when I have a job!
Farley: What does 'eating weirdly' mean?
Megan: Raw potatoes with BBQ sauce.
Cord: A lot of my days have just been spent eating raw vegetables and doing push ups.
Megan: We caught him in the grocery store aisles wolfing down a pack of Tofurkey once.
Amanda: We were like, 'Cord, did you pay for that'?
Farley: I love how into each other you guys are. I wouldn't necessarily know that a coworker of mine eats frozen Tofurkey in the aisles of the grocery store.
Ann: I mean, we love each other.
Amanda: We're also all of similar age and many of us moved here at the same time.
Cord: That's not hyperbole, either. I legit love all of these people.
Megan: We use the word family, and it's really true.
Farley: As the story goes, you guys hatched Tomorrow Magazine at a bar on the night you got fired. So what happened?
Cord: We went to Edendale. Who was there? Me, Megan, Tim [Fernholz] ... there were several of us there, and some former colleagues who still work there, just hanging out. We just said, screw this, let's make one last thing together.
Amanda: I was set to go to New York when I got fired, so I had to go in early just to get let go.
Megan: I had to take her in, then drive her to LAX, then sprint back in my car as quickly as possible so I wouldn't be late to get fired myself.
Cord: Don't be late to get fired!
Amanda: After five hours on the plane, I turned on my phone to all of these messages from people throughout my career, but also messages from all of these people. And those were the best ones.
Ann: I just feel sorry for everyone that didn't get the chance to get fired with us.
Farley: So what happens if you make, say, $50,000 from your Kickstarter? Do you make a second issue?
Ann: No. Honestly, I don't foresee a world in which we can fairly compensate everybody for their time and work. $50,000 doesn't even do that. That means all of the hours that we're all putting in, plus the contributors and illustrators and designers. It cost a lot of money to put out a magazine. $15,000 was an amount of money that we put on Kickstarter to simply not lose money, but also to not pay anyone, including ourselves.
Cord: If we do make $50,000, which we're on way towards, it would be fantastic. It would allow us to make something that we were super happy with, even if we did it just once. I would have been totally happy with $15,000, and put my heart and soul into it. But to be able to pay people something and put out something high-quality that's well produced... that's fantastic.
Farley: So by all accounts Tomorrow Magazine is still planning to be a one-off issue?
Amanda: Yeah. The Kickstarter has been inspiring to a lot of people, but it's not a sustainable revenue source. The only eventuality that would allow us to continue would be if some angel investor wanted to give us a ridiculous amount of money to make a magazine. Otherwise, we make just one.
Farley: Without bosses, how are you approaching a magazine that's entirely funded by the people who choose to read it?
Zak: I think we're excited to just broaden the scope of what we cover. The brand at GOOD was really fun, but in a way it was only about certain things and we're interested in all sorts of things. We had a lot of creative control there, so in that sense it's not like we had to worry about who was paying us.
Megan: At GOOD, it was all in the service of a brand that we did not define. Now it's up to us.
Farley: OK, one food-related question, since we're at Malo: does anyone at this table have an opinion on lettuce in burritos?
Cord: Love it. I'm all for it.
Ann: Ew, hot lettuce? Kinda gross.
Cord: As long as it maintains its crunch.
Ann: Does it make me kick that burrito out of bed? No. But it's not an optimal burrito situation.
Cord: French fries in burritos are the only thing I can't stand.
Farley: Oh, you can't do the San Diego-style California burritos?
Ann: I gotta get to San Diego! I gotta try that.
Megan: That sounds good to you?
Ann: I don't know, French fries in everything sounds good to me.
Cord: When I lived in New York, they had the worst Mexican food I ever had. I'm from Arizona, and when I would order a vegetarian burrito in New York they would have, like, squash and pumpkin in them. Awful.
Ann: I once had a burrito in New York that had canned green beans in it.
Amanda: Yeah, that's one of the big downsides of maybe leaving LA.
Zak: Now there's this thing in New York where people say 'we actually have good Mexican food.' And then people take you and it's still really bad.
Amanda: Just don't try, New York.
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[photos by Jon Mackey]