Author Archive

A Conversation With…John Lee

July 16, 2020

“Crispus Attucks-First Patriot Killed in Boston Massacre, March 6, 1770” by Herschel Levit

It was 2000. The tech-bubble was swelling. I was working at a print magazine. And my co-workers were leaving in droves to internet startups: UBO. Volume. 360. Hookt.

The web was the future! Print was dead! Come to the internets or you won’t have a job!

I resisted. I like the feel of magazines in my hand. Still do. Although the internets have me publishing more content in the past sixty days then I have in print in the past year. But that’s another story.

One day, someone told me to log onto a website:

Someone with inside information was throwing up stories about the new urban websites and the print media as well.

And it wasn’t pretty.

The tone was scathing (and sometimes, downright mean). The stories were packed with inside information on what was happening at all of the urban media sites and magazines. And there was a uniform way of posting photos of subjects as disembodied heads that made everyone they covered look weird and goofy:


What really struck me was that all of urban media’s secrets were being exposed. The things we talked about in bars at night over drinks. The things we whispered about in staff meetings. The juicy gossip: who was getting fired; who was sleeping with whom. Which magazines were being shut down. All of that was being published, on a website, using people’s real names.

It set off a maelstrom.

People couldn’t figure out who was behind the site. But it quickly became addictive. If you worked in the industry in the year 2000, you know you logged on to urban expose every single day—twice a day. Or more.

After a year, it was over. The man who posted as Crispus Attucks revealed himself to be John Lee, a former hacker from Brooklyn.

I never knew anything about Lee or why he started the site in the first place. I spoke with him recently to get some insight.

Lee’s complete story was new to me. I didn’t know that he was the first Black kid on the cover of WIRED magazine, in a story on his hacking crew. I didn’t know he’d served time for hacking. His life before urbanexpose is fascinating.

I spoke with John Lee aka John Threat about his backstory, why he looked at urban expose as “an experiment” and how much urbanexpose was worth at its height…

Happy Crispus Attucks Day…


July 23, 2017



If you know anything about me and my writing classes, you know I’m very serious about the importance of keeping your blog up to date.

Welp, While I’m out in the world creating and teaching and such, I’m working on a new and improved web presence.

I shall return!


Click HERE to learn more about me!



December 2, 2009

The designer forgot my middle initial.

And my name and the word “novel” will be a bit bigger.

A little tinkering will go down between now and July 4th.

But for the most part, this is what we’re working with.



Dear Aliya: They accepted my story. Why won’t they publish it?

December 1, 2009

From my In Box:

Dear Aliya:

Your site is a great resource for new freelancers. Thanks for offering your advice and experiences. I have a query. I’m still a student, but starting my career as a young journalist based in New York. I have a regular gig with a prominent website, but recently I had my first foray with print. I wrote up my pitch and sent it in (to a national weekly). Call it beginners luck but they bought it soon afterwards. I know things can move slowly with a magazine and that editors can sit on stories for as long as they want. They can even enact the dreaded kill fee. I recently filed the story and to be honest, I don’t know anything about its current status. Is there anyway to know if a story is being sat on? or whether its death is being contemplated?

Thanks much, I hope to hear your advice,



What I love about my blog is that when I hear from new freelancers, they are going through the same things I’m going through, even with ten years in the game.

My response to Alex:


Is My Husband The Boss of Me?

November 30, 2009

You're wearing WHAT?!

Note before I begin:

TH is not a supporter of this blog. I mean, he supports everything I do. But he doesn’t read the blog. And he expects to not be mentioned–ever. For the unitiated, TH stands for The Husband.

So, I mention him only when necessary. That’s fair.

I had to ask for special permission to write this post. And my permission was granted–grudgingly. So I ask that if you know him, pretend you didn’t read this post. If someone tweets him or shoots out an email to him, teasing him about this post, my blog will be shut down forever.

Okay, so here’s the thing.

I’m one of those neck-swiveling wives. I’m not meek. If I think he should wash the dishes, I’m nagging. If I don’t like something he says, he’ll know it. My pointer finger has been known to be in the near vicinity of his face.

My husband is unflappable. When I’m giving lip, he ignores me. When I’m nagging, he nods and smiles and goes back to watching Meet The Press.

But when it really goes down and I need him, he’s there for me. Unwavering.

We’re both self-made hustlers. We chin-stroke often and try to figure out how to take over the world. If we ever joined forces and did a blog or a radio show or a book–we’d be dangerous. For real.

But we don’t get down like that.

It’s almost like when we leave the house, we morph into different characters—Clark Kent and Lois Lane, giving each other a sly smile from across a crowded industry party.

Damn. I’m digressing like mad.

My point:

I am a fiercely independent, hear-me-roar kind of woman. If TH says something I don’t like, maybe something like how long are these dishes going to sit here. I might snap back and say, until you wash them.

You know. That kind of thing.

One thing I’ve never given much thought to is how my look is perceived by TH.

I’m a jeans and flats kind of girl. A Little Black Dress when I have to. I do like a sky high stiletto. But that’s about as far into fashion I go.

And TH is on the same level with me. Rugby  and denim during the week. With the occasional fly blazer combo. And cleans up very nice when necessary.


This weekend was his class reunion.

Y’all know what I was thinking. What the heck am I going to wear?

My shallow side took over. My husband was popular in high school. Cute girlfriends. All that. I was a mousy geek whose hair was rarely done. And I’m just coming into my own as far as confidence and fashion sense.

So, I looked in my closet to see what I would wear. I wanted to look exceptional. Not just nice. For once in my life, I wanted to make an entrance. I wanted people to nudge each other and say, who is that?

Did I already mention that I understand that I was being shallow? Okay. Good. Cause it gets worse.

Here’s the dress I pulled out of my closet: