The reason is that we're polar opposites. The ULA is free, independent, Do-It-Yourself; representing unstoppable forces of literary change.
MediaBistro symbolizes a bureaucratic past. It consists of careerist conformists eager to find their places in obsolete monopoly hierarchies.
The MediaBistro people aren't artists-- there's scant mention of, or regard for, art or literature on their site. Instead they're technicians. Or really, mechanisms, mere interchangeable parts, like robot welders in an automotive assembly plant. Note how Bistro'ers have the aspect of robots. Their last trace of independent humanity was at age four, before being entered into FastTrack day care, and FastTrack nursery school, and FastTrack kindergarten, directed by ambitious parents onto machine paths toward the prestigious schools which fill their ever-present resumes. Career. Career! Forever in their lives this has been their goal. They're still consumed with career, which has led for all of them, in order to get ahead, to an unquestioning mindlessness. In long lines, carrying briefcases, they vanish like drones into the giant monopoly castle. The very idea of the existence of rebels to the System is outside their experience.
These kind of folks make decisions about status quo literature. They enforce the standards of the castle, applauding writing (like McSweeney's) which fits the codes and nuances of their particular well-screened castle-ensconsed group. Resemblance to the world outside happens by accident. It's not their concern-- only what aids their rise within the rotten structure. They value not clarity, authenticity, and truth, but style and hipness; a yuppie brand of fake sophistication; the superficial sounds of conversation at a Manhattan bistro. For them, seeing America means journeying to Brooklyn.
In-crowd winks and nods: THIS is what we get from the mandarins and flunkies of contemporary literature. Conversation within the cattle pen; among the herd. For each step of the process which processes them, they line up bovinely to have their foreheads stamped, "Establishment Approved."
Not that they don't carry certain illusions as gloss on their world. This is shown in MediaBistro head Laurel Touby's desperate attempt to add glamor to her glorified want-ad section. She talks of creating a Guild of publishing workers. It's an MFA-- or MBA-- mentality, the goal to create an exclusive class of lit-folk from which those without proper certification are left out. Snobbery in place of independence. "Aren't we special?" is the attitude.
A restrictive Guild might be fine for some crafts; for glass-blowers or stone masons; but literature, its inspiration and creation, isn't a craft, but an art. It's more than that-- it's the basis of freedom and democracy; of expression and thought. And they seek to professionalize it!-- to narrow its scope-- when writing and publishing by right belongs to everyone.
Laurel Touby's statement of purpose on the MediaBistro site is more ridiculous when you realize she misinterprets the notion of guild workers of the Middle Ages and beyond. After all, those craftsmen-- William Blake a notable example-- turned out finished products they could put their name on, and look glowingly upon as every bit THEIRS, the true, full expression of their talents. The publishing Dilberts Ms. Touby speaks for are nothing like this. Their job, in the gigantic monopoly-capitalism organism, is to do one repetitive task; one tiny step of the overall production; creativity stifled; identity subsumed. One might be a proofreader. It's a necessary job. It pays the bills. It puts one close to the essence of literature as it's known in this inhuman era. All else about its importance is illusion.
Zeensters, by the way, are closer to the ideal Ms. Touby in her clueless way is groping toward. Zeensters do every step of the creative work themselves. I write my zeens; proof them; design the layout of words on the pages; type them; add photos or drawings (often my own) if necessary; add graphics; design the covers and color them myself; make copies and put the issues together; then I mail them and promote them. My promotional abilities alone are the equal of anyone in the established lit-biz (consdiering what few resources I work with), but this is only one of the skills I've developed through doing everything myself. No wonder that from my viewpoint those inside the machine-System appear stunted.
The trade-off is that, like William Blake, I make little money from what I do. Making money isn't my goal. To me, that's not what life is about.
Look at the MediaBistro leader and it's clear her perspective is the opposite. Her version of being an entrepreneur is to find new ways of fitting comfortable INTO the System. Standing apart from the pack has never entered her head. Not once! She has her career and affluence to think of; her credentials; her resume. She reminds me of when I lived in Detroit, where there were two kinds of saloon one could step into. One, in the heart of the Cass Corridor, was filled with starving artists, with ex-seamen, with fugitives from the law, with Vietnam vets; with rat-race dropouts, rock-star wannabes, anarchist punks, and street-wise prostitutes. The conversation was always varied and often amazing-- talk of whorehouses in Rotterdam; about Hemingway or even Dostoevsky; about art, religion, civilization, society, and when the clock grew late and everyone was melancholy and drunk, outpourings of the heartache of the soul.
The other kind of saloon was a mile away but it could have been a thousand; filled with phony-faced professionals in power suits talking obsessively about possessions, investments, or the minutiae of the office job; drinking not simple shots and beers, as in the other bar, but fancy Spanish-coffee-whipped-cream-topped expensive liquered drinks representing in showiness the meaningless showingness of everything about this crowd, by which they judged all others. I'm not making this up! Their opinion of you was determined by how you dressed, not what what was inside your head. The standard question wasn't "Who are you?" or "What do you think?" or "What do you know?" but, "What do you DO?" What's your "position," in other words; your profession. Give us your finely-detailed resume showing ever corporation worked for, every official certification, every elite school.
MediaBistro represents the shackles of well-paid (often not even that!) wage-slaves; servants to the giant monopoly our entire civilization has become.
The Underground Literary Alliance stands for true art, rebellion, and freedom.