Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why Media Bistro Opposes the ULA

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.


frantic said...

your paranoiad megalomania is kicking in again.

media bistro don't "oppose" ula. two mentions on one blog hosted by mb cannot be translated (by a sane person anyway) into a generalization about an entire organization's outlook or policy.

i would bet that scarcely anyone involved in media bistro has ever heard of you guys, and if they actually do come here and read your stuff, they won't give a flying fuck two minutes later. they will think, "look at those kids playing in their pillow fort! oh wait, you mean those are adults? well that's pretty sad. oh well."

it's probably a good thing for whatever remains of weclas' mental health that i show up to make fun of him from time to time. he probably thinks i am, like, dave eggerbeaters or one of those guys he has the hots for -- that i'm part of the big conspiracy or something.

actually i am just someone who thinks it is fun to watch you build the pillow fort. i sure don't "oppose" you. if you weren't around there would be nothing to laugh at, now that the onion isn't funny any more.

the MP said...

Makes sense tho that they'd call their incestuous gated castle clique a "Guild" as it is a clever sniggering way to slip in the idea of the "Gilt- ed Age" which is their way of stroking the brand of capitalist totalitarianism they all swoon for a return to (despite the fact that this age of ours is getting close to being as rotten if not even worse) and the idea of "guilt" which is the dynamic behind the "rule- ing" classes' degree and magnitude of cruelty, indifference, and even shamelessness, but especially cruelty. They'd never consider the label UNION or for that matter ALLIANCE as those suggest the down and dirty working concepts of cooperation, human bawdiness, gritty disclosure, and real liberty (Knowing and acting upon the facts of diversity in unity). The King is right on in conjuring up Blake to hit home his point. I knew that great super-average craftsman personally and he and his wife and myself spent many an idyllic evening in the small backyard of their super- modest working class London home naked and relaxed as the day we were born sipping bread- fruit (cap'n' Cook had recently brought this exotic bounty from the Pacific) health shakes in innocent metaphysical banter. He suffered terribly at the hands of the British Crown on trumped up sedition charges but never lost sight of the bigger picture-- the people and the spark of the spirit in all things. They couldn't break him as that same host of slave-drivers and their ass kissing servitors can't break the ULA now. Maybe they're envious of the secret societies of the Over- Dogs that they serve and like hack monkey's in the Central Park Zoo are mimicing the dirty deeds of their masters. Or should we say, Secret Service Societys?

frantic said...

it is so nice that they let you learn to type during your stay in the asylum, walsh.

the MP said...

Arkham's to be exact Fanta. How incitfool of you. Now that I have a good idea of what you are it will be easier to ignore you.

Adam Hardin said...


1. Maud Newton will get her first novel published with a good advance.

2. The novel will gather much hype in the media.

3. Blurbs will start to leak out about how this is a "major voice of her generation."

4. The novel will probably be about a southern girl who quits being a corporate lawyer and goes to New York to become a writer, and starts her own blog.

5. The novel will fucking suck.

Steve Kostecke said...

---it is so nice that they let you learn to type during your stay in the asylum, walsh.---

Hilarious. No offense, Frank.

But exactly what you'd expect from those towing the Party Line, incapable of comprehending what nonprepackaged, nonpreprocessed, unadulterated artistic expression is all about.

Commissar "Frantic": why don't you show some real balls and stop hiding under your bed of anony-mouse-ity??

frantic said...

yeah right. i've heard how you guys in the Bitter Schucks Club hassle people who get in the way of your little "underground" fantasy by sending them obnoxious e-mails and otherwise acting like a bunch of assholes in a cult.

sure, i'll post my real name and address and let you come after me, too. no problem!

maybe not. looks like you guys are about to start obsessing over maud newton. what's the matter? did david eggbeaters actually get that restraining order?

what a bunch of losers.

Jimbo said...

for some reason I suspect that you yourself are either the Dave or someone close to him. Am I crazy too? Probably, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

frantic said...

you are wrong. i dislike pretty much everything eggers has been involved in, and really despise some of it. but i'm not obsessed with him or his friends. i just think they are lame and leave it at that.

that eggbeaters and company are crap doesn't change the fact that ula is pathetic. most people can grasp that.

- Leopold said...

no you're just obsessed with the ULA.

frantic said...

i'd guess there are maybe five or six bizarro little cults of the seriously deluded on the web whose sites i look at from time to time. you guys aren't the strangest, just the most pathetic.

trust me, nothing could be easier than to ignore you. but as long as you keep posting incredibly silly shit -- such as this bit about how "media bistro opposes the ula," as if you're something of concern to anyone not so easily amused as moi -- well, why should i deny myself the easy laugh?

okay, i'll be vewy vewy quiet now. you kids have fun in the pillow fort!

- Leopold said...

You hang around a bunch of sites you dislike? Boy, you just go up and up in our estimation.

I'd bet you couldn't ignore us if you tried.

frantic said...

wow, you are borderline illiterate, looks like. who said i dislike them? there is something very entertaining about a geek show.

- Leopold said...

Which is exactly why we even bother replying to your comments, flaccid.

Jeff Potter said...

Fran, you're weird. So you LIKE the five or six deluded cult websites? Weird.

You're worse than Puckets, but that's a sad race to be in.

Everyone sees that neither you nor Puckets have ever stated a single thing that you think on your own. Neither of you have ever mentioned a single piece of literature that you like.

You're a loser's loser. But so was Puckets. Again, a pitiful contest to even attempt to win, or sink lower than.

Oh, and you're also a liar.

You have NOT "heard" about us. We would treat you in private like we do in public---which is our rule for all our actions and our history. No one can say they've been stalked or untowardly hassled by us---not in any way we haven't done in public, at any rate. We sign ALL our work. So you lie. That is NOT why you don't say who you are. It is NOT why you give ZERO information about where you're coming from and why. You are simply a zero. Literally nothing else can be deduced about you. Our opponent is a zero. Great. Where do they get them?

Actually, we can deduce one thing. You've made one assertion (other than that you like deluded cult sites and that "you laugh"). And that is that your fake name is "frantic." That is a self-humiliating name. A loser's name. Frantic is what people stay away from.

And of course the converse of your lie is true---as you show. People all the time anonymously attack us against all rules of civil interaction. Heckling in a bar is acceptable. Anonymous web-sniping to no point is not. You lose. We win. See? Try to find a proof to the contrary. And of course we get plenty of threats and obscenity.

So, there's no demonstrable reason to be afraid of us other than being wrong. But obviously no one would trust someone like you an inch.

As a rule we treat our opponents with respect. Sure, we'll scrap. Sure, we kick their butts any way they like, but we owe them that much. They are free to pick the setting.

As a rule our opponents are worms.

We appreciate encountering the exceptions. Let us have em as good as they get!

These wretched losers who write with their "poopy" and their "I laugh, I laugh" are worthless ciphers.

One guy did give his name---cool---never did say which writers he thought were better than ours, nor did he give his view on what method he thinks will work better than ours to revive literature and break it on thru to the respected indy status that indy film and music have, though.. So he was sadly weak.

These are the only burdens our opponents have. It shouldn't be tough. But, no, they choose the cipher path. Or the weak one.

By the way, I sent my first national book catalog ("catazeen") to the printer a few days ago. In a couple weeks thousands will go out to bookstores nationwide announcing new ULA book titles. Then I'll follow up with phone selling. Putting the bricks under the dream.

Laugh all you like: it's NOTHING. If you want to see something, you don't have long to wait. In the meantime our writers are waiting at and elsewhere (easy to find them) to be shown up, if anyone can do it.

Our hands are played. Cards face up. Laughing obviously doesn't even make the ante.

the MP said...

There's evidence in franticide's ping pong commentary that it is following a script. But he's misread the word "cult" for "occult" ( come to think of it maybe the word was supposed to be "cult- ure" and the Secret Service Overdog dictating the script was swinging a dead chicken over his cowled head mid sentence and distracted the temp agency typist-- nah that's too far fetched!). See the ULA is a bunch of "occultists": writers who try to open people's eyes. Some sort of eye specialits, "better health through reading".
Seriously I divine that this current (or better yet former) goad and gadfly is hurt
or was hurt in his recent past (all indications are that he's still with puberty)he's lost himself in himself. Look if ye feel that way about Eggers (whom honestly I've only read short bits of but enough to know I had read as much as my sensibility could stomach) then a little common sense and extrpolation could have told you that Karl is not obsessed with Eggy at all but that his abuse of power and intentional cruelty should be exposed and stood up to. Frantic don't take your gut feeling for granted (not doing so is what makes for good writing among other things). You cannot get outside of yourself and sink your teeth into the world of experience until you witness and advocate for the discriminated against, yes, corn or not-- the oppressed. Com-passion sympatico is all about eliminating cruelty besides the pedestriam pat significances of the word and that means bringing down a fat cat like Eggers and esides for his own good too! Watch that old Howard Hawkes classic based on something of Hemingway's, "To Have And Have Not" with Bogey as main character or even if you can watch it with new eyes, "Casablanca". And see what I mean.
The fact that you my poor poppetti where going to come clean and then changed your mind proves my point even if you were joking. Come out of the closet. Admission is half the cure. I for one am waiting for you openly armed in the back alley.
Hey, Steve, by the way I thought that was funny too. And there was no offense taken at least unless I have a relapse.

frantic said...

well, Potty, i don't talk about literature here for one good reason, and that's that you people have no interest in it. just in being aggrieved.

the fact that everybody laughs at you bothers you guys a lot. one year from now...two years from now...ten years from now, you'll still be selling each other your kinko's pamphlets and talking about how scared everybody is of you and how you are going to lead a literary revolution.

you aren't kidding anybody but yourselves -- and deep down inside, you probably aren't even doing that very well.

okay, i'll come back in a couple of years and see how scared of you everybody is. have fun! you have a really neat pillow fort!

Steve Kostecke said...

---what a bunch of losers.---

Again: how easy it is to lob shit at people when you're able to scamper towards your closet and slam the door.

"Frantic" -- your words are worthless if you don't have the strength to back them up with a true identity.

Just another fucking complainer.

Steve Kostecke said...

---what a bunch of losers.---

Again: how easy it is to lob shit and then quickly scamper towards the closet door and slam it shut.

"Frantic" -- your words are worthless unless you've got the strength to provide a true identity.

You're just another complainer with no action of his own.

Jeff Potter said...

Ouch, Fran, you don't mind looking THAT bad? The mentality of a Lurk is a scary thing indeed.

"i don't talk about literature here for one good reason, and that's that you people have no interest in it."

That's thoughtful of you, Fran, but like everything you post: it doesn't matter. Do you write only what others want you to write? Pitiful. The only thing that matters in a post that comes from you is what YOU think. Why is this so hard for you? C'mon, you must have views on literature that you don't care who knows them. A view that isn't an anonymous secret. A stand you're willing to take. Something real.

"...just in being aggrieved."

Well, we do have an interest in busting crime, which we've succeeded at a few times now on a national scale. But that's not us being aggrieved but literature and national values---which is why the nation is interested in our efforts. No one likes being ripped off. We expose rip-offs. Not too tough, but no one else dared to do it with literature until we came along. The rest of the time we promote our writers and other writers worth reading, classic and contemporary. No grief there.

"the fact that everybody laughs at you bothers you guys a lot. one year from now...two years from now...ten years from now, you'll still be selling each other your kinko's pamphlets and talking about how scared everybody is of you and how you are going to lead a literary revolution."

It all depends on whether our next projects work as well as our previous. Also if the corporate/academic hacks keep putting up such easy targets. Our campaign is needed and a very good bet (or you wouldn't be hanging on) but the loser stunts they pull are a no-brainer to shoot down for anyone who cares about lit. I presume we, or someone, will keep it up no matter what. More power to 'em! The dandies are goin' DOWN.

"you aren't kidding anybody but yourselves -- and deep down inside, you probably aren't even doing that very well."

I think we're pretty sincere. We read what's out there on the mainstream shelves and we see how weak it is. We read what the zeensters do and notice how strong and relevant it is, we see the thirst, we see the readers who need the encouragement that lit can offer, we see the untapped markets, we see the laziness of the mainstream, we're hustlers who know a good thing, so we push the zeensters. Works for us.

"...pillow fort!"

That and "I laugh"---keep it up! You make our case.

King Wenclas said...

The truth is that the MediaBistro crowd does watch what we're doing-- (curious how Galley Cat didn't have to explain what "ULA" was). MB Editor-In-Chief Elizabeth Spiers used to spar with us regularly, and mention us on every occasion. Now she's been put into a straitjacket, with a gag over her mouth.
Maybe she stopped reading us. Maybe when she went to work for MB she was given a list of sites not to read. "Funny," she thinks, looking around the MediaBistro office in New York City. "The windows are painted over with black paint. We're not allowed to even look outside!"

King Wenclas said...

Regarding persons being fearful to give their names. Curious, isn't it, that the ULA will openly take on even the CIA! and we're not afraid.
I was outside the National Book Awards with a couple signs this winter, alone. The lit-establishment could've ganged up on me! Smudged their black ties and filly dresses a trifle. Instead, typically, they were running away. From one modest guy! From my camera and my request for them to answer a few questions. (Did sic security on me.)
What they fear IS the truth and the introduction of new ideas to their closed and clubby little world.

King Wenclas said...

p.s The Laurel Touby bio on the site is truly hilarious. It reads like a caricature of these people. Read about the initial cocktail party at "Jules Bistro" in the East Village attended by "like-minded people." (That last phrase says everything: they all think alike.) Now they have 4,000 of the best media talent on their e-mail list. Imagine! 4,000. Media talent. All standing helpless in the face of the ULA.
Just an overburdened rotting collapsing structure housing thousands of fakes.

Tao Lin said...

you say that during readings your main thing is to entertain the audience

you also say that you represent true art

so true art is entertainment, then

only at readings?