Given the fact that we did the photo shoot last freakin’ Sunday afternoon, I didn’t think the story was going to run until next week or the week after, so you can guess my surprise when I saw myself and the other faux-militarized contributors to the cover feature of this week’s Los Angeles Alternative weekly staring back at me from the stack:

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Cool. The backstory is that when Ryan McCracken (second from right; of the awesome Losanjealous blog) conspired with me to eat at and then dual-review the risky-weird L.A. Chinese Food place on Sunset Boulevard just east of Parkman (my opinion is here on Blogging.la; Ryan’s is here), it caught the eye of L.A. Alternative’s Michele Knapp (that’s her in the center) who commented that this was just along the lines of an idea she had for a cover story group-reviewing dive eateries — especially those on the low end of the health inspector grading scale. When she asked if I’d be interested, I said hell yeah why not!

A bit of time went without hearing anything else and I figured the concept died on the vine, until right before Susan and I were leaving for Memorial Day weekend in Death Valley and I got an email from Michele seeing if I was still in or not.I wrote back in the affirmative telling her I was going to be out of town for the holiday weekend and she responded that she had been hoping to get everything and everyone finished up by then but maybe next time.

Which was just fine with me and Susan and I go to Death Valley and have a phenomenal weekend and when we come back I find a semi-frantic email from Michele telling me that she wasn’t able to get all the restaurants covered and would I please-pretty-please be able to turn one around on really short notice. Of course I could, I wrote in my reply and dared to inquire what I might be able to count on in terms of meal reimbursement and payment.

At first I hoped she was joking when she said that any slim chance of getting paid for my writing services and/or reimbursed for my expenses was dependent on a main advertiser paying its bill. Yikes! And though I could have played hardball and written back that I only work for free as a blogger, I wasn’t really in the mood to play hardball and instead took one for the team last Thursday and went down to a dubious kabob restaurant in the fashion district called Nayeb, had lunch, didn’t get ill, wrote about it, filed it, and even took a bit out of my Sunday afternoon to go up into Elysian Park and participate in the group photo cover shoot. All gratis.

To top it all off, they couldn’t even find room to give me the brief bio I requested: Will Campbell is a writer and photographer at work at play all around L.A. and on the web at wildbell.com. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. Still, there’s no real sour grapes. I may be out a ten-spot for the meal but I’m on the cover of a weekly, and most of what I wrote made its way into print inside. I’ve worked cheaper.