Monday, May 12, 2014

A New Masthead, A New Era for the Quilt

by Quilt staff

May 12, 2014 marks the beginning of a new era in the long, storied Canoga Park Quilt history. With today’s edition, we have replaced our much-loved but controversial header with the one you see at the top of the page today. 

Our beloved former masthead had been with us from day one. File photo.
Costly, Ongoing Litigation
Why?  Many reasons, but mainly to avoid costly, ongoing litigation - sadly a reality in the field of 21st century journalism. When we launched, our webmaster used a free Blogger template called “Half-Assed Online Hometown Newspaper” that features a header using small, inset, replaceable thumbnail images - emphasis on “replaceable.” Unfortunately, someone either in the web design department or the art department neglected to change out the default image of the toilet and left it up there, presuming (erroneously or not) that it was just a normal, everyday sight one might see while strolling along the sidewalks of scenic Canoga Park. We apologize to the original photographer, the owner of that convenient curbside toilet, and most of all, to Google for the mistake. As a consequence of this, we immediately fired our entire web design staff and all of our graphic artists.  

These iconic feces have be-
come synonymous with the Quilt.
Similarly, through his attorney, we heard from one Ernie “Nalgas” Holvik, who lays claim to the human excrement on our original masthead as both his intellectual and actual property, part of a suite of artworks titled “Squatting In An Alley [‘Cause They Don’t Let You Use The Bathroom at Jack-In-The-Box Unless You Buy Something]” from his larger masterwork “Indigent in the SFV.”  We have since resolved this issue with Mr. Holvik and as terms of the settlement, have agreed to let him paw through the refrigerator in the lunchroom on Friday afternoons before Charlotte Rudnick throws out any unclaimed food. In a gesture of good faith, we have further arranged for him to sleep outside by the Dumpster in a fort constructed of the pallets used to deliver the huge rolls of bandwidth we need to publish the Quilt.

Out With The Old, In With The New
That explains giving the old masthead the heave-ho. But what of our new design? Editor Owen Smouth’s all-too-public battle with cheap 5-Hour Energy knockoffs has been well-documented elsewhere in the relentless tabloid press. While he was overcoming his addiction at Reseda’s renowned treatment center Overpasses, he had an epiphany:  “I was lying in my bed, with an itchy, drab institutional blanket covering my cold, cold feet. And then it came to me: Why not re-do the header to reflect the name of the site? Also, the puzzle in the bonus round on Wheel that night was ‘Patchwork Quilt,’ so maybe that had something to do with it, too. Jesus, I don’t know - I was in a [expletive deleted] daze in that [expletive deleted] hellhole. The nurses made me lay in my own mess for hours at a time while they watched Queen Latifah and that asinine talk show with Darlene from Roseanne and that cackling, red-haired witch with the British accent. Christ Almighty, the review I’m going to leave on Yelp...!”

Eh...Where Were We?
Building on Smouth’s brainstorm, Quilt staff approached local organizations to bring the new masthead to life. The Canoga Park First-Wednesday-of-the-Month Women’s Club, the Canoga Park Senior Center, Canoga Park High School’s Future Homemaker’s Club and The Canoga Park Chapter of the Religious Society of Friends’ Ladies Sewing Circle in a show of community-based unity unanimously agreed: They wanted absolutely nothing to do with us nor the project.

Undaunted, we redoubled our efforts when staff reporter Blythe Moorcraft came up with a brilliant plan: “Make it a fund-raising effort, and encourage residents, organizations and local businesses to ‘Sponsor a Stitch’ on the new banner!”

With that, we hit the ground running and through hard work and determination, we eventually raised over $68,000 - more than enough to cover the costs associated with creating the new header image. With everything over expenses to be earmarked for local charities, the new masthead project is just one of the many ways the Quilt gives back to our community.

A Group Effort 
Raising the money was truly a group effort - everyone on staff pitched in and “sponsored a stitch” themselves as well as canvassed their own neighborhoods getting pledges from areas as far away as Camarillo. (Indeed, most of the money raised - 99.7% - was from communities other than Canoga Park. And generosity knew no bounds: Many contributors couldn’t get out their wallets fast enough when told about the project. “Awww, Canoga Park, tch tch tch - of course I can help,” became a frequently heard response.)

Turning A Dream Into A Reality
Next, we had to find someone to turn Smouth’s dream into a reality. Using local Canoga Park-based seamstresses was out of the question since we wanted to surprise the community with the finished product. So we approached a large, LA-based apparel manufacturing company, but were concerned those working on the banner would be groped by the company’s owner, and not wanting to tacitly endorse such behavior nor have the Quilt be the center of any negative press, we began to look elsewhere. Soon we realized we had to widen our search internationally and eventually contracted with Busy Little Fingers Garment Manufacturing Company to create the banner. Located in an enormous, sprawling and charmingly antiquated building in Palangkaraya, Indonesia, Busy Little Fingers gave us by far the best price (and quickest turn-around time), ensuring even more of the money raised could go back into Canoga Park. 

Because everyone here worked so hard raising the money and became so invested and inspired by this important project it was decided to fly the entire staff of the Quilt over to Indonesia to ensure the creation of the new header went off without a hitch. And while there were a few snags (no pun intended!), it did: The result was an amazing, one-of-a-kind piece of textile art.

Via crowded public transportation, our HR Department heads over to the garment factory from
our hotel for another stressful day of supervising the creation of the new Canoga Park Quilt mast-
head in Palangkaraya, Indonesia. We think the result was worth all the headaches. Staff photo.
Out of Napkins
Ten days later we returned - but where was the header? Turns out Elaine in Display Ads had been carrying it and the last any of us remembered seeing our new masterpiece was when we all had pizza at Sbarro in Terminal 2 during that layover at Ninoy Aquino International in Manila. “I remember wiping my mouth with the corner of it because they were out of napkins,” she recalls. “I guess I just ended up throwing it out with the other trash on my tray. Oops - my bad!”

International food service leader Sbarro offers travelers on-the-go many
delicious options, from pizza pie to Deluxe Carrot Cake. Photo: Sbarro.
All was not lost: We emailed our contact Lou (or Lu or Liu or maybe Loo - we never really found out) at the factory and he got his employees back to work on a new banner immediately; we received it via overnight mail the next day. If it’s possible, the new one is even better than the first. (Though it’s hard to tell, because no one can really remember - they sell this crazy, high alcohol beer in the Philippines and our flight was delayed five hours.)

A Soon-To-Be Familiar Sight
While the header will soon be a familiar sight at the top of this website from now on, the actual art will be on permanent display in the lobby of the Canoga Park Quilt editorial offices located here on Nordhoff Street (at Independence Avenue in the industrious Nordhopendence warehouse district), along with a legend identifying its many donors and the specific stitches they paid for.

Our Sponsor-A-Stitch fundraiser allowed the community to literally be a part of the new mast-
head for between $100 and $250, based on the length of the stitch. But for those who gave
$1000 or more, a limited number of deluxe stitches, such as the one shown here (sponsored
by the West Hills Neighborhood Council), were made specially available. Staff photo.
Drop by and see it for yourself, and maybe Carmen in Reception might even open the petty cash box and let you gaze upon the remainder of our fundraising efforts after banner-creation, airfare and hotel accommodations were deducted: $2.74 - as promised, to be given back to the community.*

 *Probably in the form of a tip for the delivery guy the next time the office orders lunch from Miller’s on DeSoto.

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