Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ask the ULA

Dear ULA,

Why pick on THE NEW YORKER? They have some great journalists.

ANSWER: THE NEW YORKER, aka the home of the Top Hats (so much a part of the past), is a fine magazine for trust-funders and rich people; for well-bred dowagers in Upper East Side Manhattan or the Hamptons who wish to be well-informed or pretend they're well-informed. Concerning prosists and poets the Top Hats present System Writers Only proven adept at jumping through plastic hoops like little pet dogs dressed in clown costumes. We oppose the demeaning display and hope to someday free the minds of these sad captured costumed writers performing on estate lawns showing they know every stiff practiced officially approved move-- but we realize most are beyond hope.


(Send your questions to the ULA c/o me at the e-mail given on this blog. Put "Ask the ULA" in the heading.)


Anonymous said...

Alot of the underground has garbage writing by punk rockers high on coffee, and yet Mr. Wenclas seems to indiscriminately praise the underground, lumping them together as great writers, and lumping all the published writers together as mediocre. This hurts his case.

Mr. Wenclas further believes that bookstores will not carry his magazine because of its anti-eggers association. The truth is that they will not carry your magazine because it looks like it was put together by a sixth grader in his parents basement. Why put it on the shelves will no one will buy it next to the glossy magazines full of color pictures and long articles by respected journalists. This hurts his case.

Mr. Wenclas further believes that Wild Bill Black Olive is a good writer. No he is not. He is as mediocre as any writer in America and just because he lives in the woods does not make him Thoreau. Just because he appears bare chested on his books does not make him any better a writer than a writer in a bow tie. Wild Bill's writing is average. This hurts his case.

Mr. Wenclas does not want to admit why he is not published and why his underground is not published.The ULA has no great writers. And so all the publicity is wasted on a bunch of amateurs. While the claims Mr. Wenclas have made against contemporary literature are true, Mr. Wenclas gives readers no real alternative. This hurts his case.

Anonymous said...

The ULA has no great writers??? Have you ever read anything by the Urban Hermitt or Jack Saunderz?

As for zines looking jacked up, i agree with this in some cases, but only if the zinester intentionally slops it up just for effect.

The underground is fucked up too, but it's still a thousand times better than the NYC gloss world. The underground (individually and as a whole) has xciting crazy talent and enormous potential. The establishment is what it is...are you satisfied with it? I'm not.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the question mention journalists? I figure the author of the question might be a fan of Hersh. You have to admit that the New Yorker did do a good job exposing the atrocities at Abu Ghraib.

douglas lan

Anonymous said...

Didn't the question mention journalists? I figure the author of the question might be a fan of Hersh. You have to admit that the New Yorker did do a good job exposing the atrocities at Abu Ghraib.

douglas lain

Anonymous said...

Journalistz? Don't get me started. Any snoopy, agenda-driven person can "expose" whatever they want to "expose." As for Abu-Grab, yeahhh that was some twisted crazy shit, but isn't it funny how the mainstream media totally ignores the atrocities that go on in our U.S. prisons every single day? Beatings, rapes, murders behind bars, does the New Yawkah stick its nose into that mess? Hell no.

Evil Journalista

Anonymous said...

Great writers. No the ULA has none. Jack Saunders has a strong quality about him I can not place. I would agree that he is your strongest representative. Jack Saunders would rank well above Mr. Eggers, but I do not know if Mr. Saunders is publishable.

Mr. Wenclas hypes his writers to be geniuses. It is not so. In this way he is no different from the mainstream publishing conglomerates who do the same.

I would like it to be as you members of the ULA believe. I would have liked to stumble onto your organization and discover great new writers as I have read through a great deal of classical literature. You do not have the talent. Neither does Eggers and his friends.

Bill Walton

Anonymous said...

A good example of how blatant literary marketing has become is the way in which La da winky code is being pimped on AOL France. Usually they have a couple subjects on their welcome page but now theirs only this trashy book. Is it somehow more important than everything else going on?

Jeff Potter said...

I'm a member of the ULA and am interested in what folks think of our writers. (I'm also a zeenster and DIY publisher who's been in the trenches for 20 years now. My titles run in the black and sell by the thousands so I haven't screwed up yet. See http://OutYourBackdoor.com.)

I need more from the critics in this thread. You can't just say the ULA has no good writers. That's lame, even for a blog. You have to say who you DO think is a good writer, so we know where you're coming from. See? Ya gotta give us something to chew on, some meat, something real and useful. (We want these blogs to be as good as any mag, right? Better even. Always push the bar---that's the way!)

OK, so far it caught my eye that someone thought that Jack Saunders was a good writer but that they didn't really know what to think about him. That's about as good as it gets. If a writer can avoid pigeonholing, they're on their way. I didn't know what I thought of him for the first year of reading him. I leaned to 'waste of time' and dropped him, but his style kept coming back to me over the next year. I think this might be how real writers work on one. It ain't a quick trick. How able are we really to accept (much less deal with) a truly new writer?

My suggested quick'n'easy criticism method is to always let the writing/writer lead. I mean, who cares what WE think? So when you want to criticize a writer just answer these questions for us and you'll be on your way:

1.) Does the writer have a stated or identifiable goal? Is it worthwhile? Does he attain his own goal or at least make progress?

2.) Is there another writer out there who does similar work? Is there room for both? Maybe one makes the other irrelevant, etc.

3.) Mention a few of your own faves or aims in reading. Obviously, not every writer is for every reader. (The ULA aims for Populism, but doesn't deny that MFAism appeals to a few.)

So how's that for an easy criticism How-To? Am I missing anything essential? One can post an awfully brief review that can be very helpful just by using the above 3 questions. It's easy! Enjoy. --JP

King said...

I'll be addressing many of these questions in future posts. One of our contentions is that literature has had too much of "respectable" literature. You know what? It's failed-- it is NOT connecting with the American public.

The establishment too insular and corrupt? Yes, without doubt. As I've said, even by your own standards, of what YOU determine to be "good" writing, you've failed. I've given you the examples of Lawrence Richette and Phillip Routh. I invite you to read their novels. There is no way that these guys should have to use Xlibris, when marginally talented posers like, yes, Eggers and Zadie Smith and the rest, are widely praised and hyped.

One of the ULA's slogans is, "Our Bad Writers Are Better than Your Bad Writers"-- and it's true. We have energy and life, and an uncorrupted perspective. Blackolive at his best is a wonderful writer-- a true undiscovered authentic gem. Of course, to ask a group of 30-some writers and a few dozen fellow travelers who are all broke to compete on even terms with the billion-dollar conglomerate publishing world with its hundreds of feeder colleges-- its truly massive investment-- is asking a lot. But that we can make the case says a lot. For all the expense spent on the establishment puppets, what great writers have they produced??? Eggers? Franzen? That idea is truly laughable.

(The ULA's future is in our young writers, like Hermitt, Marissa Ranello, Emerson, and others. Stay tuned-- we've scarcely begun.)

As always, good to hear a peep out of the demi-puppets, who are usually too timid, inarticulate, and slow to contend with us.

p.s. Don't miss tomorrow. Some good stuff is coming.

King said...

p.p.s. regarding our publications. It's funny that Tower records has had no problem in carrying them. I know that here in Philly they had many copies of both SLUSH PILE #3 and LIT FAN #1. Both sold out within a few weeks. (Just as I sold most of my stock of ULA zeens at this summer's Philly Zine Fest.) I question why a few stores which do carry zines will not carry ours. Should I start naming names?

(Proponents of the glossy, slick, and overpriced certainly are representatives of the status quo-- demi-puppets through and through!)