Clarey recalls what he learned in 2007

by Brian Clarey

The publication of this issue marks three full years of YES! Weekly, which began as a gleam in Publisher Charles Womack’s eye and came to fruition on Jan. 4, 2005, the date of our very first issue and my own debut as an executive editor.

We’ve done more than 150 of them since that first paper, and for that I am extremely proud. Get behind the numbers and it’s really staggering – this is my 156th edition of Crashing the Gate, for instance. We’ve had 156 Page Three models, run 156 cover stories, reported about 500 news stories and covered almost a thousand bands, artists, events, restaurants, entertainers and hot spots in the last 36 months.

As for me, I think I’m starting to get the hang of this job.

But every year I learn something new and add it to the cumulative store of knowledge that I keep in my brain, along with what my first apartment looked like and the phone numbers of everybody I hung out with in high school (746-0491 – you hear me Scully?).

This year was a good one for learning.

Media hoaxes are hilarious. Last spring, in the BeThere section at the front of the book, we reported that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were going to play a free concert in Greensboro’s Center City Park. We, of course, made the whole thing up, and we thought the date of the show, April 1, was a dead giveaway. Apparently not. Someone with the city eventually put a sign up in the park revealing our ruse, but in the meantime we got dozens of calls from people trying to verify the show. About half of them laughed when we told them about the prank; the rest did not. We even had some dude come down to our Adams Farm offices and insist that his mother was flying in for the show and that we should reimburse her for her plane tickets. He was, he said, willing to take cash. The whole thing was, in a word, hilarious.

I swear a lot. Where I grew up, everybody does. But the ways and mores of Long Island do not always enmesh with how things are done “’round here.” Honestly, I never really noticed it until my kids starting calling each other “assholes” and wondering, “What the fuck was that?” I have resolved to do better.

It is fun to stand up to cyberbullies, angry bloggers and internet trolls, but I probably shouldn’t do it. Case in point: This year I got into it with blogger Ben Holder, who presides over, calling his credibility “for shit” (sorry, kids) after it was revealed that he wore wire to assist the Greensboro Police Department in gathering evidence. It was, I thought, a serious breach of journalistic ethics on his part, and also kind of slimy. I said so on Ed Cone’s blog, I shouldn’t have done it – not because it didn’t need doing, but because we later decided to run a story about the affair on Page 1, and my stated opinion about this guy put me in kind of an awkward position. Months later, when Holder offered to put his foot in my ass in the comment section of his blog, I should have shrugged it off. I did not.

In no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em, when you’re drawing to a hand after the flop, take the number of possible cards left in the deck you need to make your hand and multiply by four; that will give you a conservative estimate of your chances for making that hand. After the river, multiply by two. This is the single best piece of poker advice I’ve gotten all year, or, at least, the only one I’m willing to share with you.

Vacations are important. This year my wife and I took our first vacation together since 2000, a Caribbean cruise, and we had a grand old time. For one, travel is important, an investment in yourself. For another, it’s good and necessary to get away from the things that make up your life at least once a year, especially if you can bring your wife.

It’s important, in journalism and in life, to hear the whole story and to question its sources. Reality is filtered through perception, and like, uh, elbows, everybody’s got their own point of view.

And finally: I have learned to be thankful. For my family, for our health and happiness, for my job and my community, for the things I’ve got and the things I hope to achieve in the coming year. And, of course, for my dear readers, without whom I’d be just another chump with fast typing fingers and a magazine habit.

Thank you all for a great year. For a great three years. I’ve loved every bit of it, and I’m looking forward to more.

For questions or comments, email Brian Clarey at