I Had One Story Rejected By Four Jalopnik Editors And I Still Can't Tell It To You

Illustration for article titled I Had One Story Rejected By Four Jalopnik Editors And I Still Can't Tell It To You

I’m afforded an astounding amount of creative freedom here at Jalopnik. Compared to pretty much everywhere else I’ve ever worked, it’s an absurd amount, and I absolutely adore it. I’m completely spoiled. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t limits, and I found them. With four different editors.


Before I talk about what I wasn’t allowed to write about, let me just remind you of the manner of shit I am allowed to get away with, on any given day:

• What cars would be like if squids ruled the earth

• How cars would be if they had biological organs

• Fakery, rampant fakery: faked magazines, faked car models, faked car ads


• Tedious obsessing over lighting equipment that would make most rational people weep


• An experiment to see how well ham works as a bumper guard


• Cars with Steve Buscemi’s eyes


• Ridiculous celebrity-edition cars, including a fucking Dianne Weist Jeep


• How cars would be different if people had tails


Terrible truck ideas


... and on and on and on. You get it. My leash here is long and supple, and, again, I am deliriously thankful for it.

That’s why having one of my ideas rejected out-of-hand was so surprising, in some ways.


I pitched this particular idea early in my career here at Jalopnik, to an editor-in-chief named Ray Wert. He reacted with disgust and dismay, and forbid me to write about it. Eventually, he left, I believe to pursue his dream of being the first man to make love to a copy of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret on an elevator. Based on that, GM hired him, if I recall.

Then came the lovely Matt Hardigree. I pitched the idea to him, and he made me get a full battery of tests from HR. Also, he said no. Then came Travis Okulski—sweet, simple Travis Okulski—who actually wept openly when I explained the idea. Travis is a sensitive soul, which I believe is why he’s doing so well now at Road & Track, long considered to be the e.e.cummings of motor journalism outfits.


And now we’re under the benevolent dictatorship of Patrick George. Patrick is a hard man (some say cruel, but not me) and I figured if anyone could deal with this idea, it’d be him. His spine is made of tempered steel.

When I pitched it to him, over our secure CCTV link system, I actually saw him vomit. Since a medical condition forces Patrick to swallow his food whole, like a snake, this was bizarre to watch, as he had a foot-long sub for lunch, which just sort of slowly crawled back out of his mouth, and landed right on his plate. It was like I turned back the clock on lunchtime.


Anyway, his answer was no. And his condition for this article was that while I could write about the idea, under no circumstances was I to reveal what the idea was.

So, since I adore my job and its rich, dangerous freedom, I’ll agree to these rules. But I will give two hints:

1. It involved a Chevrolet Chevette

2. It involved a sort of “what if” scenario.

and, one bonus hint:

3. It makes everyone who hears it really, really uncomfortable.

I get why. And I don’t even really mind not writing about it. I thought it was interesting, but it’s not worth pushing. I’m sort of more delighted about how universally it’s been rejected, across four eras of Jalopnik leadership.


So, what the hell was this terrible, terrible idea? With a Chevette? What sort of nightmare had my depraved mind concocted?

You know what to do. Guess away! This should be fun.

This has been a post from Senior Week, a celebration of Gawker Media as a purveyor of independent journalism. Thank you for your continued support.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)


Patrick George