It is with a heavy heart that we must announce Aaron Brown, Jalopnik’s indomitable social media editor, beloved car teen and maker of some of the worst vehicle decisions ever committed to internet print—and around here, that is saying a lot—is leaving us. Again. We will miss Aaron dearly, but as is tradition, we must roast him first.
Aaron is heir to a great Jalopnik tradition: getting poached by Road And Track Magazine. It seems the people who run that storied publication are “getting serious” about “this Internet thing,” and as such, they have selected Aaron to run their entire goddamn website and not just their Snapchat account this time.
They couldn’t have chosen better because Aaron is a top-notch journalist and car enthusiast, and we wish him the best of luck. Before he leaves us forever (probably to come back again, let’s be honest), let us share our favorite Aaron memories with you all.
Aaron’s one of the good ones. He’s one of the nicest, hardest working people I’ve ever known, a journalist with news judgment beyond his years, a good soldier in the struggle as a member of our editorial union’s bargaining committee, and someone who inexplicably still wants to be in this industry despite stints working for Insider, Time Inc., Univision and private equity. It’s hard for me to drag him, honestly.
But I’m going to anyway.
A few years ago, Aaron was on a road trip from New York to Laguna Seca (for a track day, as one does) and back with Brian Silvestro in the latter’s Ford Fiesta ST. They stopped by Austin, and my wife and I took them to dinner. Black Sheep Lodge, if you’re curious. I don’t think either of them were old enough to drink yet.
Anyway, on this trip, they insisted on sleeping in the Fiesta ST pretty much the whole way. This was stupid, and it probably smelled horrible. After dinner, I learned they were going to hit the road again and sleep in the car when they got tired. I said, listen, car teens—this is bad and dumb! We have a house! Come stay in our spare room! You can use our shower! I’ll make you motherfuckers pancakes in the morning.
No, the teens said. We are committed to the Road Life. We must never abandon the beautiful Fiesta ST. So, off they went, and I think they passed out somewhere around Bastrop a few hours later. In the car. What a bunch of goons.
But this commitment to doing fun things in cars has deeply defined Aaron’s life and career, and it, along with his big heart, will make him uniquely successful at R&T.
Godspeed, Aaron. We’ll miss you every time we have to use SocialFlow ourselves because you aren’t here to do it for us.
Also, fuck your LinkedIn profile.
I have known Aaron Brown for my entire online career, from when we slacked each other as the two youngest staff members working for Jalopnik back in 2015, through that time we met up on my first visit to New York City, where I was supposed to sleep on his dorm room floor before he got me extremely drunk off of vodka shots and subsequently abandoned me at 3 a.m. after [redacted], through his time at Business Insider making listicles about McLarens while I was still at Jalopnik, through his time at Road & Track making too much money servicing the Great Snapchat Media Scheme while I was still at Jalopnik, through sharing a hallway and then a dark closet office with him when he came home to Jalopnik a year ago or whatever.
It’s been a long and tough journey. We’ve driven our friends far out of the city to buy smoked salmon from some guy who lives in the woods (how they didn’t think we were going to murder them, I don’t know, but they should have better judgment), we’ve raced rally cars, I’ve winched Aaron’s rally car onto a trailer with a busted fingernail that took a month to heal after, sweating through my clothes while he sat off to the side and tweeted about crashing, we’ve sang “Say It Ain’t So” at karaoke together more times than I can count, and yet he still stops talking to me for a few weeks every time I decide not to go out in a torrential downpour to “play it by ear” at a horrible bar like Union Pool.
Through all of that, I know most of the Jalopnik staff is looking forward to not having to stress about Aaron turning up dead after riding his motorcycle straight into heaven, but I know I’ll still see him extremely frequently, so I feel nothing.
All I’ve taken away from the experiences I’ve had with Aaron is this detailed collection of photos of him not knowing how to smile, which I will now share with you. Send it.
Approximately four gin and tonics into the evening, I looked around and suddenly realized where we were: The Standard. The fucking Standard, right off the High Line and indisputably one of the worst bars in all of New York City.
How did this happen? Who led us here? Aaron Brown, of course. That damn teen.
The things you largely find at establishments such as The Standard (overpriced drinks, shitty people, noise) don’t seem to bother Aaron; either because they are his natural element or he has adapted to them, I cannot be sure. Regardless, this was a bar I avoided like the plague, yet, somehow, one that I found myself at once more.
But the evening turned out to be quite fun, despite my longing for a quiet pub. This is where Aaron’s teen spirit shines the brightest, in half-empty, dark bars with very loud music. He hasn’t yet been bent by the hatred for all that comes with old age, and indeed he might never be. We carved out a corner for ourselves and spent the rest of the evening having a drunken shouting conversation I’m sure nobody remembered in the morning.
I can’t say I understood all the memes in teen slack, but Aaron’s public contributions here are undeniable. He’s great with a camera, spends far too much money on cars and was fun on Car Time (RIP Car Time). And it was an honor to serve with him on the GMG Union bargaining committee.
Maybe now that he’s a fancy magazine man, he’ll stop buying so many cars. It’s just selfish at this point.
Aaron is more delightful than he has any right to be. He’s also too savvy for his age, which I attribute to him growing up in Manhattan, a place where all children lose their religion at age 10. If you are interested in any of the above qualities, I believe he is single.
Almost one year ago to the day, when I was a freelance NYC transportation reporter, I received a Twitter DM from someone I had never interacted with before named “Aaron Brown” who identified himself as “a senior studying journalism at The New School in Manhattan.” He said his capstone project was focused on the city’s transportation and was wondering if we could meet to he could bounce some ideas off me.
Aaron, in a gesture of camaraderie, offered to pay for my drinks, a move that will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever met or interacted with him, as he is approximately The Nicest Person On The Planet.
Now, this was a mighty tempting offer. You will be shocked to learn that freelance local reporting is not the most lucrative profession, and one of my rules of thumb was to accept any and all offers for free shit, especially if that free shit would allow me to enter into a mental stupor temporarily alleviating the malaise of local reporting in the internet age. I was particularly in the mood to drink my worries away, as the publication I wrote for the most, The Village Voice, shut down about six weeks prior, and I frankly had no idea what I was going to do.
That being said, I may not have had money, but I still had the shriveled remnants of pride. I wasn’t about to let some college kid buy me drinks when I’m a Grown Ass Man. So I showed up to the bar having every intention of nursing a solitary drink for as long as I possibly could.
As we made small talk, Aaron mentioned his “job.” Job, I inquired? Oh, that, he brushed aside. In addition to his studies, he happened to also have a full-time job at Jalopnik. Had I heard of it?
I decided to take him up on that drink, and by the end of the night, I was the one asking him for advice. Kids these days.
After we chatted for about an hour—I was probably of no help at all—I told him to send me his capstone project when it was done. He never did.
I’ll admit that, since I’m a remote employee, I don’t know Aaron as well as the rest of the staff does. But I’ve seen his deeply flawed Honda S2000 and his electrical gremlin-ridden motorcycle. Between those and the BMW rally car I’ve read so much about, it’s become clear that he and I share a deep affinity for complete automotive shit-cans. I know this is supposed to be a roast, but if I made fun of Aaron for owning junkers, I’d be the biggest hypocrite on earth, so I’ll just end with this bit of advice: Never stop buying soulful, mechanically questionable vehicles.
Trust me, Aaron, when I say these rotten carcasses can bring only joy to your life. (Camera zooms out showing me with a headlight strapped to my head, covered in grease in a set of torn up coveralls, typing on a mountain of rotten Jeeps. Angry neighbors make up the perimeter of the scene, and a calendar hangs on the window of my postal Jeep showing 29 days filled with the text “Fix cars” and the 30th day filled with “Date...JK, fix cars.”)
Seriously, just trust me on this one. You’re headed down a promising path.
I cannot roast Aaron. He is a genuinely nice person who brightens my day, takes show tunes seriously at karaoke and is very good at them, and tolerated me when I was afraid of reading a subway map. (I’m still somewhat afraid of reading a subway map. Fine, very afraid of reading a subway map.)
Godspeed, Aaron, at that Street and Racing Facility (sp?) place you’re going to. I think I’ve heard of it.
Even working at Jalopnik, I have never met someone that loves cars as much as Aaron Brown does. I think if he could date his rally car, he probably would have (before he killed it at least).
I’ll truly miss having to break up arguments between him and Justin Westbrook in the old office and seeing him mope around the office muttering “whatever” to me after asking him what’s wrong.
He truly was our lovable car teen. But now he graduates to becoming a car man and I for one am very proud to have been able to know and work with an extremely talented and aspiring person like him. Good luck Aaron!
My favorite AB moment:
To add, Aaron Brown is also the only person I know who would decide we needed to drive four hours outside of NYC for “good roads.” Was he wrong? not necessarily. but was it excessive?
When I first met social editor Aaron Brown, I was informed he had owned something like 14 cars. I also learned he was an Avril Lavigne stan who had self-appointed himself as the king of karaoke. I was very confused. Nevertheless, I was also impressed. Especially with his car knowledge, passion for local crime journalism and our mutual appreciation for pop singer-songwriter, Charli XCX.
Over time Aaron and I ended up working on some great videos together, including the biggest video success story of all time, but especially in all of Jalopnik’s—no, G/O Media history: Car Time.
An internet talk show about cars that ran very smoothly from its inception and never had any non-editorial, executive meddling whatsoever. Zero. And as a matter of fact, Aaron’s ideas were never vetoed, and no elements were added or removed from the show with the sole purpose of steering it away from his original intent (think variety show about cars with a fun set) and into profitability internet heaven, straight out of the gate, without a chance of finding its audience.
Most of this, is, of course, a lie. But public-facing Aaron navigated the whole process like a champ. Privately, who’s to say.
But one thing is for sure though, it all ended up working out in the end. Because Aaron Brown is finally driving into the sunset (at another automotive publication, but still). I salute him. He will be missed.
As a known car expert and massive Jalopnik fan, nothing would make me happier than lobbing a lemon (get it?) into a rival publication. And I’m pleased to announce that that’s exactly what’s happening here. Yes, people of Road And Track, this has all been an elaborate scheme to take you down from the inside.
Ok, ok, let me “pump the brakes” on this. I’m truly very happy for Aaron and his new role in the “driver’s seat” at Road And Track. The best thing about him is that he just dives right in and puts the “pedal to the metal” if you know what I mean. Aaron’s a great team player, he’s not a “my way or the highway” kind of guy. He’s got everything you look for in a great hire, including lots and lots of “drive.” I really hope to work with him again sometime “down the road.”
Ok, I’m done. Thank you for your time. Aaron....congrats! <3
I’ve known Aaron for years now; he’s a good friend of mine. I think he’ll do a great job at R&T, though I do have some concerns.
While working at Jalopnik, he’d often brag about never having to go into the office, instead electing to work from home (something that you can just do whenever you want there, apparently). He’d occasionally send pictures of himself to me (through Snapchat, usually) in bed during work hours, usually playing video games or just waking up from a nap.
I’m convinced he didn’t actually do much, but it seems his work impressed our boss Travis enough to hire him. It’ll be nice to have him around the office if he ever manages to readjust to a normal commute schedule.
Aaron Brown and I met in 2013, shortly after both of us interviewed to become Jalopnik’s Editorial Fellow (a polite term for “intern” after a bunch of former interns sued Gawker, god rest its soul). He was interning at Classic Car Club—and still in high school, I think?—and I was studying at NYU. One summer day, CCC brought a bunch of cars to an art gallery in SoHo, and I popped by, since I was in the neighborhood, and desperate to hang out with car enthusiasts. A quick chat revealed neither of us got the job. (It went to Andrew Collins.)
Since then, Aaron has been a fixture of my automotive life. I ended up getting the Jalopnik job after Collins was promoted, and when I left, Aaron took my spot. I’ve always been impressed with his abilities as a writer and reporter, his skills belying his age.
I’ve always been impressed by his capacity for terrible decisions, too. The man has owned a parade of awful cars. From the first 944 to the hysterically unsafe Subaru RX, and the obnoxiously loud M5. And wasn’t it, like, last week when he rode back from DC in the rain with his rear tire covered in oil? Seriously?
It’s this bizarre duality that makes Aaron special. I don’t know anyone else like him, and I know, at least, six people. I look forward to working with him at R&T, where, presumably, he and social media editor Brian Silvestro will say “sick” to each other ad infinitum, and he’ll rant on and on about why Subaru is the only good car company.
I had originally planned to write a long, nice note about how Aaron is one of the kindest and hardest working people I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending an office with, but then I remembered that last night he told me that his fallback job for when private equity overlords eventually replace us all with robots is to become a State Trooper (and fuck it, this is supposed to be a roast.)
Instead I will say: ACAB, Aaron. Go directly to hell (also known as Columbus Circle), and enjoy your time at Butt & Crack Magazine.
You may know Aaron as the carboy, the Jalopnik social editor, or my union co-rep for the social team for the past 70 years (GMG years are like dog years). Here are some other things to know.
1. He loves karaoke.
2. He is actually a good driver (while upstate with him doing 60 on hilly backroads, I only feared for my life a little bit.)
3. His taste in music is awful, except for his love for Charli XCX (write for Jalopnik!) and deep devotion to Avril Lavigne and her clone.
4. Did you know Aaron loves karaoke? Are you free for karaoke this weekend?
5. Aaron and I first bonded over Bojack Horseman, which should tell you some things about both of us.
6. He added me to a Facebook group called “For me, it is the mcchicken. The best fast food sandwich” for some reason.
7. Our friendship hinges on Charli XCX and asking each other if we’re in the office in order to be enabled to get lunch or a $6 coffee.
8. He once complained about the bar scene in LA not being “Bushwick enough.”
9. The Jalopnik team loves me more than him, and rejoice every time he is out so I can cover.
10. He just wants to know if you think you can make it to karaoke tonight. It starts at 11 and there are $6 beer/shot deals, it’s really not bad.
Anyway, fuck you Aaron. Fuck all the way off to your new job 10 blocks away, forcing me to choose a new coffee spot so we can continue spending all of our income on overpriced milk foam. See you at Karaoke.
Aaron, what you lack in age you make up for in heart. Alas, you still lack in height.
You always have a smile on your face. I’m not too confident that it’s natural, but if it’s not I feel some type of way that you didn’t share your stash. Not only are you short, but you’re selfish.
This should come as a surprise to no one. We will miss your horrible taste in music, your knowledge that starts in 2005, and most importantly your positive attitude. Ok, that last part was a lie, but I had to say something nice to get into heaven.
Good luck on your future with the cars!
Thank you to Aaron for teaching me why posts with the word “Supra” in the headline always do so well (I still don’t get it), and for being an incredible union rep who helped get us a killer contract. I can’t believe he’s only 14 years old.
One time Aaron Brown told me Tokyo Drift was the best Fast & Furious movie to exist. It was then, that I decided Aaron Brown needed to be kicked out of Jalopnik. I am glad the day has finally arrived. (2 Fast 2 Furious for life!!!!!)
Aaron this is like your third time working at this place you’re just going to be back in two weeks how many times do we have to do this