Well good news, I found out with a little effort, this place is fantastic! Not dead at all, there are all kinds of great people here, and it's reminding me why I always loved livejournal... I'm writing about my life, reading about other people's lives, I get comments that are more than just "like", there's advice and bonding and debate and everything fantastic.
So here's what I did.
1) Join friending communities - I started friendquest2015 myself, but then found add_me which is also very active with new people looking for friends. There's a whole related ecosystem of add me related communities too.
2) Join active communities - Surf down the top communities to see if anything catches your eye. Unjoin the old dead ones you're in, unless they really mean a lot to you.
3) Pay attention to the livejournal homepage. Find that "hide community" button on the right side of posts to filter out communities you're not interested in seeing there... we all have different interests, don't let anything you're not interested in flood your homepage.
4) Liberally check out your "friends of friends" page. You've got a connection with these people, if you comment and say how you found them, they might be open to getting a new friend.
5) I like the idea of surfing interests (ie, http://www.livejournal.com/interests.bml?int=books) but apparently not everyone is so open to be friended based on interests, as that's how I got the now infamous please unfriend me request. So I'm sure it works great for some interests, just be sure to leave people comments.
6) Checking the friends pages of your favorite communities is a good way to find common interests. Just add "/friends" to the end of any community URL to find new public posts by members - even if the community itself is no longer updated.
7) Pay attention to who else is leaving comments in your friends journals, maybe they aren't that active in their own journals so they might not contribute a ton to your friends page but hey, commenters!
8) Browse the top journals, starting at not page 1. The page 1 people are too busy for you.
9) Post public entries! I mean sure, when I'm posting about work or other real people stuff I'll occasionally f-lock it. But if I'm writing about how I hate bananas or whatever I think that can be public. And if you do have a "comment here to be friended" post, refresh it to show you're alive. If it was posted in 2009 you look dead.
10) And finally, occasionally talk about how you're open to friends, that way if anyone does happen by your journal they'll feel encouraged. That "when in doubt, friend!" feeling we all love. Talk about why you love livejournal. Be positive. Tell people you are here to stay. Get your own friends to put some energy into it. Talk about why facebook sucks ('cause it does, you know that right?). Spread the love!
I'm going to lean back a bit on these efforts now and get to know the people who've joined my list, but I'm still welcoming anyone who finds me, and anyone who's got the same philosophy I have going on about livejournal friending. Do we need to be "the hottest" network with millions of new members every month? Nah. I need like four comments on an entry to be happy. If I get more, bonus, but it's not about the numbers here, we're past that. One more reason to stick with livejournal.