Art Made Me: On Yay! LA’s Return

0 Comments 16 April 2017

Good to be home.

by Daniel Barron



“Previously on Yay! LA Magazine….”


Be open.

That’s the simplest way I can sum up what I’ve learned in five years and change. Be open to exploring, creating, listening, experiencing new things, meeting new people, taking risks, saying “yes,” being wrong, making an ass of yourself, getting hit in the face, making it weird, getting arrested. Maybe not that last one. But the rest I feel pretty solid about. Art matters for many reasons, but chief among them is its ability to be an ambassador between generations and cultures, offering the world infinite perspectives of life.


I wrote that in October of 2016 in what was fully intended to be an epitaph on nearly six years of my life. Yay! LA officially launched on February 15th, 2012, but since I was writing, researching, and conducting interviews for a full year in advance I tend to round up when describing it. The truth of the matter is, the publication solved the problem it was designed to fix long before it folded. I was a shy shut in need of an outlet, and Tony Manero found his dancing shoes in spelunking the minds of others. Yay! LA was conceived as an all-terrain vehicle that could travel wherever I wanted to go to whomever I wanted to meet. There’s no way I could have possibly conceived of where it would eventually take me, that I would meet my heroes and that some of them might have even heard of me (!), that I would be exposed to eclectic experiences that would have otherwise passed me by, that I would acquire the best friends of my life, or that my entire personality would get a major systems upgrade. But hey, falling with style, right?


That said, the brand’s ever-fattening obligations began to show their wear and tear on my mental health by the summer of last year. My partner, Evan Senn, and I had been striving to transform the magazine into a legitimate source of revenue since the beginning of the year, but by mid-July it became clear that the realities of blog economics coupled with the time and commitment required to make that leap just weren’t feasible. So I had the good grace to pull the plug on the dream. There was no hesitation about it, the most shameful thing would have been for me stubbornly try to make it all work and have those ambitions become the source of my demise. It shouldn’t be regarded with such disdain for people to recognize their own limits. And fuck making lots of people work hard for little or no compensation just so that I can look cool with my sexy-but-not-that-lucrative job title.


So I closed shop. Then next month the election happened.


It hit me kind of hard.


Like many, I got t-boned by reality, and like many the amount of shit that went down in my personal life over the following weeks was downright concussive in nature. If I hadn’t already shut down Yay! LA, it is inconceivable that I would have had the slightest interest in maintaining the site. In fact, I felt so broken and my PTSD symptoms were so malignant that I pretty much lost the impulse to create for months. I think most artists have been neck deep in their own personal crisis of faith post-45.

That very quandary, and the factors surrounding it, are now central to Yay! LA‘s revival, which I am making official here and now. Intolerance now lingers in our visors and the current administration has flagrantly denigrated the value of the arts. Who needs culture when our tax dollars can pay to nuke it? And yet, as I stated months ago, art can be an invitation, folded into paper planes and bridging oceans that separate emotional islands.


Or, as Michael Chabon  eloquently writes in collection of essays Manhood for Amateurs:

“Every work of art is one half of a secret handshake, a challenge that seeks a password, a heliograph flashed from a tower window, an act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing…Art asserts the possibility of fellowship in a world built entirely from the materials of solitude. The novelist, the cartoonist, the songwriter, knows that the gesture is doomed from the beginning but makes it anyway, flashes his or her bit of mirror, not on the chance the signal will be seen or understood but as if such a chance existed.”

I started Yay! LA because I felt alone, and in its conception found meaning and purpose by exploring communities, telling their stories, and bringing people together. It’s the kind of exercise that really helps clear the bats from the belfry, and if there’s a constant (or near constant) in my journeys through the worlds of visual art, music, comedy, film, and beyond it’s that for most creatives their lives chose them. They dug, they clawed, they barked back against the ravages of existence. They are the flowers that sprout from the cracks to defy the pavement. It’s an Earth’s Mightiest Zeroes kinda thing. Coming to terms with these realities, and understanding who I am and am not through my experiences with art in its many forms helped nurture my emotional intelligence and ultimately remade me. Art made me.

Reading the room and feeling profoundly moved by the feedback from within and beyond the community I cultivated the decision became emphatically clear. Reports of Yay! LA‘s demise were 100% factual, but just as LCD Soundsystem had the shortest band retirement in history or J.K. Rowling was “finished” with wizards or Sean Connery said “never again” only to Never Say Never Again, the online arts & culture magazine you know and love is BACK and it will be what it was always intended as: fun. No pressure to be this machine that sustains me, but oiled by passion and a vigor to learn. Perhaps more can come of it, and that would be fantastic. But I think I can settle for it giving me a family, unforgettable experiences, a platform for work I am proud of, and changing my entire identity. It will be a bit different than before. As Editor-in-Chief I will be refocusing my attentions towards producing bi-monthly themed “issues,” the first of which, “Myth,” will be outlined in another post very soon. The stories and features for each of these issues will explore an elastic concept, theme, or idea allow a greater sense of unity to the content. This alteration will also be more useful to potential contributors in terms of giving them a clearer idea of what kind of submissions we want. There will be no doubt be a bit of a debugging period as we work through this transition and what that means for the material I will not be steering, but it should be exciting for me, the ever-growing team, and you, the reader.

Passion in relationships ebb and flow. Time for Yay! LA to slip into a sexy negligee.

Lordy, what to do when the romance begins?


Faithfully yours,
– Daniel A. Barron



Photo: Daniel Barron, Mural: Cecilia Romero

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- who has written 424 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Rudderless college graduate Daniel Barron founded Yay! LA Magazine on a love of writing, passion for the arts, and a firm belief that people really like talking about themselves. He contributed to a number of publications, including LA Music Blog and the defunct The Site Unscene, before deciding to cover arts and entertainment the way he wanted to read it. He works as a freelance writer and digital PR consultant in his current home of Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @YayDanielBarron.

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