No Way Out But Forward Go
"Where shall you seek beauty and how shall you find her except she
herself be your way and your guide?" Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
It's funny sometimes when I stop to think about it. Four years ago I was happily ensconced as the music editor for a small skateboard 'zine. The rag was looking for someone to build out its music side, and I thought, "Er...why not?" -- having no clue whatsoever on how to go about getting the work done, or what that "work" actually was, other than maybe writing a review here and there about whatever music happened to be catching whatever fancy I had at the time. What I did know was that I was mad crazy about music. I used to spend hours making compilation tapes of different music for friends (when I wasn't trying to drag those same friends out to shows with me). My goal was not to try and show them what musical acumen I did or did not possess; I was simply trying to turn people on to sounds, songs, and ideas that excited me. After only a few short months, what began as a small musical outlet in a skateboard magazine -- with writing contributions first from "Stevie Ramone" Weatherholt, and then Marky Mark Teppo -- grew and diversified until we realized it was time to create our own vehicle of inspiration.
Earpollution started out as, and continues to be, a misfit group of questionably eccentric friends whose eclectic tastes in music runs as deep as it does wide. And now four years later I'm looking up at a map of the world that's tacked on my wall next to my favorite black and white photo of Joey Ramone (thanks, Meg!) and staring at all the X'd out countries showing Earpollution readership (there's 128 of them...countries, that is), scratching my head thinking, "Who the fuck in Zimbabwe reads eP?!"
Life is strange in some very beautiful ways.
That's not to say it hasn't come without a price. My favorite quote from an ex-girlfriend goes something like: "If your magazine is a labor of love, then where's the fucking love?" Indeed. Even with having readers in Zimbabwe -- and Zambia, Brunei, Greece, and Iceland, to name but a few -- after publishing 37 issues of eP non-stop on a monthly basis, for some time we all had been feeling the strain of being in a relationship that had come to feel dyslexic at best, suffocating at worst. Writing for fun became writing for deadlines, and it seemed like you would just catch up only to find yourself pushed back under again by still more deadlines. Friendships became strained, free time became non-existent, motives were questioned. It was time for a much needed respite.
And so for the past three months all of us here have been enjoying a rather nice hiatus; warming our feet in the sand, drinking some lovely margaritas, and generally ignoring any work that came through stamped with a lowercase "e" and an uppercase "P." Crazy enough, while we've been away readership has actually increased! And more correspondence than ever has made its way to our doorstep from some distant corners of the world (including some of mom's long sought after homemade chocolate chip cookies!). Which sounds odd until you consider the fact that time stands still on the Internet. Really. You see, for someone first coming across a review of Garage Shock '99, an interview with Mike Watt, or a profile of militant rapper Paris, it's fresh. It's three years old for me, but it's present tense for them. So taken in context, it makes sense. Earpollution could cease publishing altogether and still remain a viable web presence.
That's when the itch started. Small at first, then growing larger and more needy by the day. It was an anxious rash to get back to what had been such an integral part of my life for the past few years. The realization that in the midst of all the corporate hoopla that has enslaved the greater part of the music world, something existed that had genuine heart...which seems to be a bit of a rare commodity these days. Besides, I didn't know what to do with all the free time I now had. I was getting seriously bored! Corresponding with the other eP misfits, I discovered that I was not alone.
So we've returned. And we've made some design and publishing changes to accommodate our need for balance -- a very human need. Switching from a monthly publishing schedule, our intent is to update reviews on a weekly-to-bi-weekly basis, with feature articles on a four-to-six week basis as they become available. Our links list still remains absolutely massive, and all of the content from the first three years of Earpollution is still available in its original format, with no plans afoot to change that...ever.
One thing that hasn't changed is our ethic, which I'll quote in part: "As fans of music first, our goal and desire is to share these passions with our free thinking readers in a non-commercial, non-obtrusive format. While our opinions are as varied as our music, we feel strongly that our credibility as a magazine is directly linked to the respect we have for our readers' intelligence. As such, we are committed to offering honest commentary on music and other related topics in an independent format devoid of the advertising and other flashy gimmickry that tries to make consumers out of readers. We view both our firm DIY ethic and our diversity as individuals as strengths, and combined with the passion we have for our music we look forward to maintaining a viable web presence."
That fiercely independent approach is something which I think we've managed (or mangled) to do rather admirably. What we may miss in finesse we make up for in heart, and what we may lack in skill we accomplish with determination. Four years ago I never thought I'd still be sitting at my old, worn desk, typing away into the late hours as Joey kept watch on the wall. Four years from now, I can't imagine doing anything else.
Simply put: No way out but forward go.
Editor-In-Chief (or so they keep insisting)
Necessary Vices to Survive Earpollution's Redesign
Grilled cheeses, endless pints, and deep glasses of Bushmills from the Tin Hat
Sun Tzu The Art of War / William Blake Poems and Prophecies
Dave Sim / Alan Moore "Correspondence From Hell"
I Hate Music
Remastered versions of Love and Rockets' Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, Express, and Earth Sun Moon
John Coltrane Interstellar Space
Syd Barrett (lots of Syd Barrett -- lots and lots of Syd Barrett)
Joey Ramone "What a Wonderful World"
The Osbournes television show
Coffee (lots and lots of coffee)