Next week, I’m packing it up and leaving Philadelphia. For many reasons that are my own. I’m off to Richmond, Virginia, where my wife and I will be taking in a new city and a new state, focusing on my family and publishing career.
It’s been nearly a decade running this scrappy little blog, which started as a crazy idea by two bored college students, me and Tim Quirino. I was in graduate school at Arcadia University, working as Uwishunu’s editor at Visit Philadelphia. Tim was wrapping up his undergrad at Drexel and building up tons of design experience that would eventually land him working with some of the best people here in town.
We had no idea what we were getting into when we launched the blog, the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2007.
Launching Geekadelphia and then a few years later, the Philadelphia Geek Awards in 2011 (the site was originally hosted on my personal blog and crashed a million times), would have earth-shattering effects for our careers and personal lives. I went on to get hired at a publishing house, land a book deal, and now I’m working as a literary agent and prepping for my fourth book to come out in 2017. And I represent four authors with books debuting next year. It’s my dream, and I owe a big piece of it to this site and community.
Tim, he was brought on at places like P’unk Ave here in Philadelphia, before he went off jet-setting the world, as a lead designer at Facebook out in California. His work there has been absolutely incredible, and I’m so proud of him that my heart aches every time I get an update. He left the blog, our awards, and our city back in 2014. You can read his farewell here.
And now, it’s my turn. And I’m having a lot of feelings. Because it’s not just about saying goodbye to a website or an awards show. It’s about saying goodbye to friends.
But editor, associate editor, co-founder… those are just silly titles.
They’re my friends. My dear friends. People I talk to almost daily, no matter the coast. Who I’ve celebrated holidays with, laughed with, cried with, had too much to drink with in Tattooed Mom on South Street.
When Mikey and Allie were married last year, I read at their wedding. When Technically Philly’s Christopher Wink and Billy Penn’s Shannon Wink got married earlier this year, I read there too. When Jill Sybesma Lim, our co-founder of the Philadelphia Geek Awards, married Brian Lim (who once ran Philly’s Footspotting chapter), got married last year, we danced the night away.
There were the early parties at Indy Hall, when Alex Hillman’s coworking space was just a baby. When Adam Teterus made Horse eBooks t-shirts, and we immediately became good pals. When contributor Kevin Seidman was introduced to me on Twitter, and began writing with me every single day. When the editors and contributors of the since-gone Phillyist, Jill, Steve, Allison, came into my life, and became people I hang with frequently. When the editor of various Philly sites, Marisa McClellan met me at Ten Stone, and later became my coworker and good pal. When a young Chris Urie was introduced to me as a possible writer, and became our associate editor and the younger brother I always wanted but never had. Look at his first post. He was so young, so precocious. Before I proposed, Dustin Johnson, one of our contributors, created the illustration on the book that I would use.
But again. Silly titles. Actual friends.
I’m not sure if I’d have become as close to some of these people if it wasn’t for the website. I don’t know if I would have ever met Jill, after the Academy of Natural Sciences brought me in to talk to her about Mega Bad Movie Night. I would have missed out on that fake rivalry with Technically Philly all these years, which has brought me so much joy. I’m missing a lot here, but you get the point. This janky WordPress install full of broken plugins that sometimes delete posts when we’re halfway finished with them, or skips publishing a post even though we scheduled it… it did something magical.
It didn’t just make a new place feel like home… it made it home.
There have been a lot of questions regarding the future of the site and the Philadelphia Geek Awards. I’ll say this. The awards are definitely going to keep going without me, thanks to some good friends who are stepping in to keep them alive. Look for a post on that soon from Mikey. As for the blog, we’re still looking into that, but it’ll stay up and running through the summer. If someone scoops it up, it’ll stay live. If not, we’ll be closing up shop. I’m sure this will disappoint a lot of people, but we had a good run.
Ideally I’ll find a new home for Geekadelphia. Because I have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to my time in Philadelphia, and a lot of that is tied to this little website.
And since this is a blog, I feel like a BuzzFeed-style list is probably the most appropriate way to recap my favorite moments with Geekadelphia and the Philadelphia Geek Awards.
Geekadelphia’s First Television Appearance
Shortly after launching, then new journalist Nicole Brewer reached out to me and Tim about being on a segment on CBS3. This was during a weird transition period for me, when I was crashing in my college pal’s apartment (thank you Katie!), but it still happened, and it was delightful.
We had no idea this would launch a near-decade long friendship with the news reporter, who would go on to present at the Philadelphia Geek Awards and hang out with Tim during the Fiesta Movement (more on that later).
It felt like our first big step into this being something more than just a blog we were running for kicks. Maybe it could be something bigger. Maybe we could do some bigger things.
Geekadelphia’s Three Year Anniversary Sponsored by HP
This might go down as the most bizarre Geekadelphia event, but when we were turning three, HP reached out to see if we’d be interested in doing some kind of event with them and their products. Me and Tim agreed, because why not, and maybe we could tie it into our anniversary party we were thinking of having.
The result? HP sent us a bunch of money, we bought a ton of printers and misc. gadgets, took over the second floor of North Bowl, and had a crazy party with HP logos everywhere. We had a DJ. There was a step-and-repeat for photos, that had the HP and Geekadelphia logo. We gave away like five printers and donated a bunch of gadgets to local non-profits.
In the end… it was very weird. HP never partnered with us again.
But it set a precedent of us trying to give back whenever we could.
Every Single Event at Tattooed Mom
Dear Robert Perry,
Thank you. For every time you let us have that upstairs. For the drink specials. For the endless generosity. For the free platters of snacks. For the epic prizes. For always being so unbelievably cool and hip. For saying yes to every single crazy idea. For being a supporter of the blog when we launched the Patreon. For being you.
Over the years we’ve hosted scores of parties at Rob’s legendary South Street mainstay. From the Halloween bashes with Indy Hall to nerdy poetry nights with Apiary to my book release parties for Inked to video game launch celebrations… the list goes on.
Geekadelphia never had an office. Never had a physical space. But I consider Tattooed Mom our home. Absolutely.
The Unreleased Secret of Manayunk Day
Why did we never post this anywhere? I have no idea.
One day in 2009 I had the ridiculous idea to go around Manayunk with print outs from Secret of Mana, the old Super Nintendo game, and call it Secret of Manayunk. We were going to do a ridiculous website and everything, but never did.
For some pure joy, visit Dan Tabor’s Flickr page.
Winning Best of Philadelphia 2015
Here’s the thing about running a blog (and an awards show), you guys. It’s a largely thankless experience. And that’s okay! You don’t do it to get thanked. You do it for the joy of elevating others.
But when people notice, it does feel good.
Philadelphia Magazine awarded the Philadelphia Geek Awards a Best of Philly last year, for best party in town. It’ll be one of the first things I frame in my new home in Richmond. Well, that and my wedding photo, of course.
Awkwardly Appearing on NPR with Mikey
It was 2014. The year that The Geek’s Guide to Dating had come out, and year four, I think, of the Philadelphia Geek Awards, I was invited to appear on NPR’s Radio Times with Marty Moss Coane. This was a huge honor, to come on and talk about Philadelphia geek scene, my book, and the Philadelphia Geek Awards.
Mikey came with me, and we were awkward as hell. I am particularly fond of this photo. But really, I can’t imagine anyone else I’d have rather had at my side.
That Time We Brought Cory Doctorow to Indy Hall
I’d love to say something like “I don’t fanboy often” but anyone who has ever attended a publishing / writing conference with me, has seen me cry meeting an author. I can’t help it.
When Tor emailed me in 2012 about helping find Cory Doctorow a place on his book tour as he passed through Philadelphia, I almost passed out at my computer. He’d been a hero of mine for years. He edited a geek blog! He wrote YA! We were meant to be best friends. It made sense to have him come on out and visit Indy Hall, a hub of geekery in Philadelphia, with fellow superfan Alex Hillman. We roped in friends from Whipped Bakeshop (they made that hilarious cookie), NextFab, Hive76… all the geekiest places. The result was one delightful evening.
But my favorite part was seeing the look on Alex’s face the whole night.
Indy Hall has been a key part in Geekadelphia’s life. We’d done our first event with them, and countless others. Halloween parties. They helped with the awards. Other author readings. We covered all their First Fridays. So being able to help make this happen, and see that joy… well, it made me very happy.
I’ll miss you and that passion, Alex. Thank you for letting me be an unofficial part of your coworking community all these years. Richmond won’t feel like home until I find people like you and Adam.
Watching Writers Grow
One of the greatest joys of running this blog, was watching bloggers rise up from it to do amazing things. And not just writing. Some of them made games, some made movies.
I still can’t believe people like Ben Gilbert (who you’ve seen on Joystiq, Engadget, and Business Insider) and Joe Osborne (who has been everywhere, but you can find him at Tech Radar these days) cut their blogging chops with Geekadelphia back in their college days here in Philadelphia. Hell, Joe even wrote for me when I was at Uwishunu. Crazy.
I got to watch Dan Tabor go from reviewing the occasional movie to hosting huge film screenings that got covered by the local press. He went from writing reviews of DVDs to filming his own short movies, entering them in film festivals.
I saw Nicole Kline go from a video game reviewer on our site and others, to winning massive awards as a tabletop game designer and publisher. Her amazing card game, RESISTOR_, utterly destroyed her Kickstarter’s funding goal, and she’s been traveling the country showcasing her work. Keep an eye out for her, world.
Chris Cummins went from the occasional blog post, to being the editor of Philebrity, co-hosting Philadelphia’s branch of Science on tap, and writing for major outlets like Den of Geek. Maanvi Singh, who wrote for us for a short time, is now a rockstar at NPR. Chris Urie went from writing on Geekadelphia to freelancing for gaming sites like Arcade Sushi for quite a while. I watch these writers float through my social media feeds, and my heart is always full.
That Ford Fiesta Movement, Mural & Adventure
The year 2010 was an interesting year for Geekadelphia. In addition to that awesome anniversary bash, there was this, The Fiesta Movement. When a representative from Ford emailed me to ask if we might be interested in it, I laughed, because I don’t drive. But there was this guy Mikey I’d been hanging with a lot lately, and he really liked cars. And Tim liked cars. So…
Mikey and Tim took on the Fiesta Movement with Ford, were given free cars, and went on some insane adventures. They designed a car. They shot a commercial that was shown in a movie theater. They were given computers and swag. They had a MURAL PAINTED IN PHILLY.
This isn’t just the story of Mikey’s first post on the blog. It’s practically an origin story for our friendship. Thanks for bringing us closer together, Ford. You had no idea what you were doing.
Philadelphia’s Foursquare Badge
Remember Foursquare? Sure you do. A lot of us used it back when it was popular, before it split off into a bunch of different things. I’m not sure what it even does now.
Back in 2012, Foursquare held a contest to create a badge for your city. If you could get a ton of people involved, you could win it. It could happen. And Allie Il decided she was going to take this project on, and the results were incredible.
She rallied the Internet, wrestled with people who complained about it online (Foursquare had some BIZARRE rules), and eventually helped win Philadelphia an official Foursquare check-in badge. We didn’t “win” the contest, despite having a HUGE portion of those votes. But they asked her to curate a list for a Phanatic badge. And I don’t think she ever got the credit she deserved for all this. So here I am. Allie. You were awesome.
I was so proud of her. Who knew that years later, I’d read at her wedding. That her husband would be my groomsman. That I couldn’t imagine a day without talking to the two of them.
The Philadelphia Geek Awards
When I think about the Philly Geek Awards and the past five years we’ve run it, I’m always stunned. The initial idea was to have it in a local bar, and somehow it spiraled out of control into a black tie event at a museum, that sold out and got covered everywhere from NPR to the covers of local newspapers.
But the accomplishment of the awards isn’t in the event. The fancy outfits, the glimmering trophies, the moving speeches, the owls passed around at the museum… I’ve loved all that. All the glitz and glamour. But what the Philly Geek Awards let me do, was shine a spotlight on a community that needed it.
The Philly Geek Awards helped us get press from outlets that might have missed out on the people we were highlighting. Major news outlets, local newspapers, huge mainstream blogs… they were suddenly talking about our local comic book scene, our creative artists, the people who don’t get thrown on a stage and given a trophy.
For me, it was never about the party. It was about the people. Making them feel special and wanted. I hope we did that.
6,200 blog posts. 7,390 comments. 15,000 followers on Twitter. 5.9 million website visits. Those numbers are lovely. I’m proud of them, sure. But the one thing you can’t track with analytics, are the friends I’ve made here because of this website.
Because I’ve never counted you. I’ve never been interested in analytics or community tracking or any of that buzzword nonsense. Over the years, I’ve counted on you. You’re more than numbers. More than followers. More than the little icon I plucked off of Twitter and Facebook.
Maybe we met because of the Philly Geek Awards. Or an event. Or because of Twitter. Or maybe because Mikey introduced you to me at some point, because he does that a lot. I made this collage looking at our mutual friends, and there are so many more of you. But you know who you are.
Whatever the case, thank you.
It’s been an awesome nine years, Philadelphia. I look forward to visiting.
(Originally published June 27, 2016)