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Eddie Velosa

T he other day, I stumbled upon an email written by a former LA Times colleague. We’ll call him Fred. I’m posting it here because it made me want to start writing again. Not just ad copy and headlines—real storytelling.

You see, Fred brought a certain kind of charisma to the office. Sure, there were quirks: the unheated canned soup lunches, the occasional raid on my leftovers. In his defense, he claimed to be “twice the man,” so naturally, he had to eat twice as much food.

This made sense. He is 6’8″.

Fred was an eccentric character, but his talent was undeniable—as was the tattoo of Old Ironsides on his forearm. Yes, nothing says “literary genius” like a naval warship permanently inked on your skin.

The self-proclaimed ‘Spleeman’—a moniker shrouded in mystery—was a cultural phenomenon, or rather, an abominable one. Still, his distinct je ne sais quoi permeated the hallways with an unmistakable, albeit unsettling, bordering on unbearable, charm.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see him off, but I was lucky enough to receive his infamous farewell email—another classic Fred moment.

In a move that perfectly encapsulates his endearing absentmindedness, he encouraged everyone to remain in touch via his LA Times email address which, of course, he’d no longer have access to. Brilliant!

So, here’s to you, Old Ironsides—the guy who always answers my calls with a text saying he’s at the movies. May your future endeavors be guided by the fearless spirit of Magnum PI, and may you always find a new waste basket to raid.

My friends,

I came to the Los Angeles Times in 1860 after 40 years spent as a trapper in the frigid northern reaches of the Yukon. It was warm here. The people were friendly. The journey south had been arduous, and I had been forced to eat my sled dogs. I was pleased to find that the Times had a cafeteria. I was not pleased that I had to weigh my salad.

My early days at the Times were hard. Back then we made the paper from scratch. Each day. Out of wood pulp. We couldn’t afford a printing press, and so I wrote each copy of the paper by hand. This was before the letter “W” was invented, so it was difficult to write about some things. Like the Civil War. And Woodrow Wilson.

When the papers were dry, I mounted my tame wolf, Night Eyes, and delivered copies to each of our three million subscribers. The climate in Los Angeles was much different in those days. On a cold day, temperatures could reach 600 degrees. On a warm day, my bundle of three million newspapers would simply burst into flames and I would return to the Times to start over.

As Los Angeles grew, so did the paper. By 1900, we had 45 million subscribers but just one reporter: Night Eyes. He was, if I’m honest, a terrible journalist. Most of his headlines involved meat or eating meat, or finding an animal and killing it and eating its meat. I couldn’t bring myself to fire him. Not after we’d eaten all those sled dogs together.

These were tough times for the paper. By World War II, or, as we called it, orld ar II, circulation had increased to 60 million subscribers and I was doing most of the work. Night Eyes joined the fledgling Army Air Corps and was shot down over Riverside. He was a terrible pilot.

To my surprise, Night Eyes survived, though he was never the same. In the 1950s he embraced McCarthyism wholeheartedly and I confess I wasn’t monitoring his headlines (“Don’t Eat Red Meat!”) as closely as I should have been.

He mellowed out in the Sixties, largely due to a quaalude addiction that I mistook for chronic sleepiness. Despite the quaaludes – or perhaps because of them – we transformed the L.A. Times into a truly world-class paper. We would win – and later misplace – nearly 300 Pulitzers over the next ten years.

The 70s and 80s were a blur. Circulation was so high that we were forced to hire a second reporter, someone Night Eyes recommended (and who later turned out to be a shoe).

In 1993, following a disastrous three weeks during which Shoe renamed the paper “Shoe” – someone invented the Internet. This was good and bad for us. Good in the sense that we could now ask Jeeves almost anything. Bad in the sense that Night Eyes and I didn’t know how to type. Or plug things in.

Things were looking bad. Bleak, even. Then I woke up one morning in a puddle of ink and whiskey, and what did I see? You. All of you. I didn’t know why you were here or how you got into the building. I only know that these last years would have been miserable without you.

Now, as I take my last breaths, I know that I leave the paper in phenomenally capable hands. I will miss you awfully. Or, as we say, afully.

Please keep in touch.