For a while the FC Blog was the place to go when you wanted to vent about local issues. And because of this it had become just about the most influential blog this side of Los Angeles. References and quotes from Foothill Cities could be found all over the Los Angeles blogosphere, and it looked like there was nowhere to go but up for Centinel.
But then bad things happened. First the FC Blog was hit by a vast invasion of destructive dirt cutouts who were there only to engage in abusive flame wars with some of the other habitues of the place. Centinel found this to be extremely stressful as he didn't have the time to do the kind of maintenance necessary to control the more offensive stuff. This led him to begin curbing some of the content of his writers in hopes of diminishing the hubbub. An unfortunate decision that led to bad feelings and a sense that the site was losing the freshness and spontaneity that made it so popular. A few of the more prominent contributors began to walk away.
Something that was of even more importance to Centinel was the declining reputation of the blog itself. His ambition had been to create a site that could hold its own with some of the big Los Angeles blogs such as LAist, L.A. Observed, and L.A. Streetsblog. But what he got for his troubles instead was a website known for being little more than a place for brutal and bizarre flame wars. The brand suffered a significant reputation decline.
And then one day the FC Blog disappeared, with no explanation given. Rumors swirled. One had it that Centinel had fled the state because, like his associate Aaron Proctor, the powers that be in Pasadena had grown sick of all the guff and had sicced their dogs on him. Others claimed that Centinel's obsessive need for secrecy had somehow been compromised, and rather than risking a career threatening exposure, he pulled the plug and went into seclusion. And others surmised that he'd merely grown sick of the abuse and just gave it all up. What nobody guessed was that the FC Blog shared its database with another blog, and that its less responsible partner crashed the site, in the process losing everything that had ever been posted on the site. Years of material were lost.
Several months ago Foothill Cities made what appeared to be an attempt at a comeback. After months in limbo a new look blog was unveiled, and Centinel seemed quite upbeat about the future of his site. Some of his old contributors signed back on, and things began to take shape again. But then something happened, and nobody seems to know what that was.
I was corresponding with Centinel at the end. I had informed him that I had started my own blog, and that I was looking for him to review it. This he agreed to do, and even set a date for the notice to appear. But it never posted. In time I e-mailed and asked him what happened. The answer that came back was short, cryptic, and kind of eerie. "Life happens," is all it said. And I've never heard from him since.
Today the FC Blog is a pale shadow of its old self. Only the Monrovia mainstays, Frazgo and Robert "C. J." Parry, remain. Probably because they're the only ones left with dashboard access. And if the affairs of that town aren't what gets you out of bed in the morning, then I'm afraid you won't want to spend much time there. The posts are now infrequent and decidedly parochial.
So we're offering a 6 pack of beer for news on the whereabouts of Centinel. If he isn't going to run his blog, that's his business. But at least we should all be filled in on how the story ended.