Minneapolis, MN; and the rest of the world
1990 - 1991
It almost stands to reason that the most valuable phase of my writing career would have come from a publication I didn't even want to work for in the first place, eh?
Fact of the matter was, I didn't want to write for anyone else; I had my own little 'zine, The New Puritan ReView, and I was happy to be doing that. As it turned out, people actually read my 'zine, and one of 'em, Peter Davis, wanted me to come to work for him.Read more or less
I first met Pete when he first moved to Minneapolis, before he started Your Flesh; he even played for a brief time in a band with some friends of mine, Red Meat, although he would later tell me that he had felt he could do a lot more for underground culture through the media than being just another guy in a band. In those days, it seemed like everyone was in a band, and it was all loud and angry, and some variation of Mid-Western punk rock. Not exactly my thing at the time, but then again, it wasn't exactly the summer of love, either.
Pete and I were as different as night and day, in many respects, and I often felt that I was out of my element, working with this particular niché of truly alternative culture, as it was. At the outset, I didn't know who most of these bands were, and there seemed to be an underlying current of hip machismo running through the attitudes of many of the staff writers that I strongly disagreed with. Pete responded to my concerns by suggesting that another voice would add a broader perspective—possibly a rebuttal, or a point/counterpoint—as opposed to censorship. That philosophy was something I definitely agreed with. Freedom of speech isn't about telling someone to shut up because you disagree with the sentiment of their ideas. The irony of that principle became apparent on more than one occasion, when various printers threatened to delay publication, because they took personal offense at some part of the content in a particular issue. That might present an interesting comparative analysis of censorship vs. capitalism, I suppose, but that's another story for another time.
Pete was good at what he did, and he wasn't shy about promoting it. In fact, promotion was what this business was all about - whether it was Your Flesh, or the magazine's sister agency, Creature Booking, which I also assisted with on occasion. Hey, I got to write the very first bio for an up-and-coming band called Helmet, and hobnob with the early AmRep bands who made up the majority of the roster. It was kind of a bonus that I got to learn a few things about the business of booking bands, but the magazine was what really kept me busy—writing reviews, interviewing bands, proofreading, assisting with layout—in fact, Peter Davis is almost single-handedly responsible for turning me into the computer geek I am today! He was the first person to show me the ropes of desktop publishing, and my life hasn't really been the same since.
Although he took me on as a contributing writer, Pete changed the position to Assistant Editor for most of my tenure with the magazine. The name of the magazine and that title on a resumé has raised more than a few executive eyebrows in my day, but it was a credible, if not invaluable bit of experience, and perhaps more professional in many ways than all the corporate contracting jobs I've had since. It just goes to show there's a lot more to living the rock and roll lifestyle than meets the eye. It's as much of a business as any other. And business is good.