Please, Let Me Be Forgotten: My Letter to Los Angeles Magazine
Today, I emailed the following to Maer Roshan, editor-in-chief of Los Angeles Magazine. The point I make is about more than my own story — it is about so many of us in the Internet age, particularly those of us with children.
Dear Mr. Roshan,
I write to ask to be forgotten.
Failing that, I write to ask to be remembered differently.
If you Google my name, this 2014 story from Los Angeles Magazine is the first thing that shows up. It ranks ahead of my Wikipedia page and all other articles about me.
The journalist who wrote the story, Mona Gable, wrote with the information she had – much of it from my own mouth. Every interview I did with her in 2013, in person or over the phone, was while under the influence of heavy medication. I was also eager to paint myself in the worst possible light, hoping to perhaps create a legacy so damning that it would push everyone away – and I’d be able to kill myself at last. Fortunately, that didn’t work.
I am still here, and grateful to be, but it remains a very damning – and very harmful -- article. It is the article that my children’s friends wave in their faces. It is the article that makes my daughter contemplate changing her name.
I am not a public figure anymore. Since 2017, I have worked full-time for Trader Joe’s. I do a little freelance writing on the side, almost none of it under my own name. I am an ordinary father, trying to raise his kids in this city we all love so much. I am a father haunted by my past, and the article in your magazine is the single most-cited reference for what I once was, but am no longer.
I am writing respectfully to request that the article be taken down and rendered inaccessible online. I understand that is an extreme request – but these are extreme circumstances. I am asking on behalf not only of myself, but my 12-year-old daughter and my nine-year-old son, who do not recognize the man described in Mona Gable’s piece, and who deserve to grow up unshamed and unmocked for their father’s failings.
If that is not possible, I would like to suggest a follow-up article, documenting what it’s like to lose everything (a common thing in this “cancel culture” era) and somehow, someway rebuild without being restored to what one once was. From the pages of the Atlantic and a tenured professorship to homelessness and stocking shelves is a story that might interest some. If there must be things about me online, I’d like them to be more reflective of who and what I have become in recent years.
Such an article would be my second choice, sir. My first choice would be to have this particularly painful piece of my history, a piece that does real harm to my beloved children, taken offline permanently.
Thank you for your consideration of this unusual, but heartfelt request.
With best regards,