I was taught to never bury the lede, so I won’t.
Last Monday, after months of communication with some good folks, I was presented with a serious, generous offer for DaBearsBlog. The deal would have added five figures to my checking account balance, while moving ownership of this entire platform to people not me (and Noah) for the very first time. They wanted to keep me involved and pay me for that involvement. They wanted my voice to remain with the site and Twitter feed. But neither would be mine any longer.
On Friday I respectfully turned that offer down.
A Bit of Personal History.
Years ago I took a temp gig at the Corcoran Group real estate office on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. After being there a few months, and not being particularly good at the gig, Barbara Corcoran (before becoming a television star) called me into the office. “Jeff,” she implausibly said, “Would you be interested in taking over as office manager here?”
“Are you serious?” I asked. A lot of people say something like that out of a sense of jubilation or faux humility. I legitimately thought she was joking. Two days earlier, after a way-too-late night at the Dublin House on 79th Street, I’d fallen asleep twice at my desk. When I got called into the office, I thought she was canning me.
“Yes,” she said, laughing. “The job is all about making the brokers happy and the brokers all tell me they love you.”
This was true. The brokers did love me because I went drinking with the brokers almost every night. I slept on a few of their couches and in one of their beds. I’m good at drinking with people.
The Office Manager gig paid $65,000 a year with full benefits. At that time I was living paycheck to paycheck and the paychecks were small. I told Barbara I would let her know the next day and she was cool with that.
That night I went to one of my favorite bars, Druids in Hell’s Kitchen. I wanted to think about it over my favorite pint of Guinness in the city. I ran into my buddy Geoff Cohen, with whom I’d worked closely on the team that started the now-defunct New York Musical Theatre Festival. The festival was getting ready to launch a week and a half later.
“The festival is fucked,” he told me. “Two of our house managers on 45th Street quit.” I had been in the room when the festival was conceived, in the room when the shows were selected, in the room when these spaces were chosen. I felt I owned a small part of the thing.
The next morning I told Barbara I was going to house manager for NYMF and get paid $2,000 for the month. No benefits. No long-term prospects.
She looked at me and said, “I knew I liked you for a reason.”
The decision to spend those 32 days living in NYMF theatres led to every serious connection I’ve made in the theatre. It wasn’t financially prudent. It wasn’t safe. But it was true to me. It was, for lack of a better word, right.
This is not the first time someone has tried to acquire DaBearsBlog.
The Athletic wanted us in their early stages. Those inane conversations included one of their editors telling me, “You can be DaBearsBlog but you can’t call it DaBearsBlog.” I’m still not sure what that meant. Was it metaphysical?
The Sun-Times inquired. We famously made our ChicagoNow mistake. Almost every single large-scale blog network has reached out at one time or another, but none of those relationships made any sense to me. There were two earlier purchase attempts but neither, quite frankly, was as impressive as this one. I never considered them seriously. I did in this case.