BECAUSE most of us were fairly poor, living from paycheck to paycheck, in the calling room I worked in for a few years recently raising money for an environmental group, we callers never asked for as much as we should have. A psychological barrier held us back-- the idea of contributing even fifty or a hundred dollars was nearly inconceivable to us, much less more than this. (Five or ten bucks we could better understand!) Few people when asked would give more than a hundred, even though as we were told the median income of the people we phoned was $80,000 or more. (The organization had similar thinking; anyone giving more than $100 was considered a "high donor," and bothered/marketed more thoroughly, until of course they gave nothing.) I was one of the best callers through most of my stay, yet can't remember once raising $1,000 from anybody, though I raised $400 a few times, $500 once, $600 on several occasions.
I give this as background for having spotted "Gawker" blog overseer Choire Sicha's name on a list of donors to Bomb magazine in the $1,000 to $2499 range. Quite a lot for a casual donation-- on the order of zeensters giving ten or twenty dollars to the Cullen Carter Benefit Fund in 2003. One can conclude that Mr. Sicha comes from money. He certainly isn't struggling.
Which doesn't matter, except that it throws light on Sicha's remarks in the Dec/Jan Bookforum.
Sicha isn't a fan of the Underground Literary Alliance. A while back he got into a heated debate via e-mail with Michael Jackman and myself over rich author Jonathan Franzen's acceptance of an NEA grant, which, if I remember correctly, Choire Sicha thought was okay. (Grant money in this country often goes to those who least need it.)
This is why Choire Sicha's Bookforum remarks are surprising. Sicha calls for new cultural radicals, "--an outrageous, stylish, unself-conscious and unironic art movement." Yet he rejects the ULA's new literary movement. (I know; he's talking about "art.")
The word "style" may disqualify the ULA from approval by such stylish folks. For Sicha's set, "revolution" is just another style; another pose to adopt or ensemble of clothes to wear. The ULA has often been asked about our style. We've had trouble answering the question, because we represent anti-style: authenticity and roots; culture's foundations-- not the foppish trappings of fashionable segments of a corrupt civilization.
The problem Sicha had with the ULA about Jon Franzen had little to do with style, but with our mention of money-- a taboo area. Otherwise Sicha might've been friendlier. Overdogs prefer revolutionaries who are predictable, controllable, and safe; cute beribboned show dogs who can be kept in a cage or on a leash.