In the print media world, there's never a dull moment. Stasis is shunned--in a good way. Magazines are all about grabbing the moment, the attention genie. Today we have a play with three scenes. Don't look now, but the ULA is at the door. Attempting to break up and shout down writers reading at recent New Yorker and McSweeney events, the Underground Literary Alliance is demanding to be heard. Taking aim at "millionaire" authors who sit on funding panels and give grants to their wealthy, connected friends, the organization is most upset with Dave Eggers, Rick Moody and Jonathan Lethem.
"The ULA is creating a literary movement. The goal is to overthrow the literary establishment and get access for real writers. Put populists on funding panels. Publish about real life. Support our starving real writers. This is not a writer's group," reads the ULA's mission statement. Through their website ( www.literaryrevolution.com) the group coordinates "zeen" distribution, fan news, protests, and "celebrity writer" bashing.
Noting the parallels in the independent breakthroughs in the music and movie industries, the ULA waves its flag, "Music and movies can only go so far if writing is held back. Writing leads. When it suffers, everything does."
A pair of premiere Raleigh arts venues chose self-published magazines to celebrate and document their impacts. In each case it has been considerable.
Antfarm Decade, a 10th anniversary catalog designed by Horse and Buggy's Dave Wofford, coincides with its exhibit at N.C. State's Gallery of Art & Design (the show runs through Sept. 28). The catalog is beautiful, clean, emotional, witty and very personal, and features a "timeline" that reads like a hip soap opera.
23HOURS, the zine, documents the recent month long arts celebration at Raleigh's Bickett Gallery. "Editors in Cheese" Lee Moore, Nicole Welch, and Karen Kletter serve up a stew of art projects and snippets of history from inside the town's music/film/writer/art underground. Seeing the curated punk era covers of Straight Magazine and Blind Boys Gazette made me long for one more weekend of those Secret Service/H-Bomb/X-Teen glory days.
Undeterred by a desolate economy and volatile political times, two local magazines have stepped it up this month. Raleigh Eco News editor and publisher Sue Sturgis writes "Please consider supporting my madness!" Her passion these days is a fresh source of local news on the natural environment, a new free monthly web zine, covering upcoming elections, tours of unique gardens, up to date campaigns about environmental news, and an eclectic calendar of events. The magazine offers free weekly e-bulletins of local news and happenings.
Published by Duke University Press, the South Atlantic Quarterly's Fall 2003 issue is already getting national notice. Palestine America is an effort "to untie the knot" of Palestine according to special issue editor Mohammed Bamyeh. He writes, "The tragedy of modern Palestine is not a political view or a moral perception, it is instead a historical fact." Trusting that peace will come from a condition of openness, a lessening of cultural barriers, South Atlantic Quarterly has boldly used its magazine as a forum for essayists, scholars, and activists to keep talking, keep provoking.
Contributing writer John Valentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org