A Link to the Past
In the 1960s and 1970s, there were limited ways one could source a kind of underground quality that today rings as the clanging and bleeping of trending snippets, that junk that defines much of the Internet. Then, you would hold in your hand a newspaper every day or stack up a magazine every week, and it would allow you some linear, albeit organic, way to feel what you were reading. It was understood. It had a beginning, middle and end--and some of us complained about the neat trick that was printed media--that Time magazine or Newsweek would artificially encapsulate something a piece of history, while, say, the Village Voice, could define an organic trend or subset of a counterculture. In all our Morrissey-attitude eye rolling, we may have taken for granted the organized way in which information was fed to us. Everything published went through an editor, who was presumably highly educated, hard working, hard drinking and opinionated about the balance the news source was trying to strike. There were meetings in which people agreed, disagreed, and abstained, when and if they weighed in. Of course, these meetings still exist, though drowned out by the sheer noise which is internet click-grabbing copy, which is why some of us still support and care about established press and veteran journalists.
Having said that, we are not in that camp. In 2002, at The Bagel in Chicago. I met with with a friend of many of my talented friends. This disenfranchised singer, songwriter, filmmaker and novelist had been contemplating moving to LA at a time I was thinking of moving back to Northern California. What I appreciated and have always appreciated in Steve is his generational angst and energy that truly translated into a passionate advocate for the arts, and music and movies in particular.
I have identified several people like this over the years, and Steve and I will be letting them into this experiment if they, at any point, become curious or interested. The idea is this: crap culture has taken over, but it has not take US over, and there are plenty of US out there. In fact, in the last few years I have become acquaintances with writers and artists who are out there with only local or immediate recognition while other non-artists take up a high percentage of the media attention. This experiment is for them. They have put everything on the line to do the great and the good, which makes our world tolerable.
The beginning of the end may have been in the late seventies. I have no proof for this, and no editorial staff is compelling me to pull this bold overstatement from my piece. But that's when the clear became unclear. In 1990, I had a boss at a legal magazine publisher, with a my-way-or-the-Gary-Indiana-Skyway Chicago attitude. He told me, boastfully, that he "put Waylon Jennings on the cover of Down Beat magazine" which was, for some who don't know, a jazz magazine. He was smug because he knew that being so wrong felt right. He wanted to stir controversy and felt Jennings, like many in the day, used improvisation in his live concerts. But hard core Jazz fans dropped their subscriptions in a frenzy and with a flourish of angry letters, and that editor parted ways with Down Beat for a better opportunity in the manner that I parted ways with him 6 months later. In hindsight, this disorienting and attention-grabbing mistake is a precursor of 2014 normal. With a random slideshow such as the Internet, we cannot ever really know what we are about to read topic-wise and quality-wise. And only when we are compelled to stop, pause and rant are we prevented from moving on. Reading our morning junk is an ongoing chase for the finish line with several wonderful exceptions. Our goal is to develop Journola into a digital locus that you can trust. Enjoy your time here--we're just moving in so please forgive the cobwebs and the dust--and let us know your thoughts.