arthur, america's best and boldest magazine, folded on friday.
arthur launched in 2002 under the fearless leadership of jay babcock (one of my best friends from college). the concept was - and is - novel: long feature articles about art, culture, and politics written by some of today's best writers. oh, and the magazine was free.
back in 2003, as america crept towards war and americans kept silent, arthur published "arthur against empire," a loud and bombastic and fearless fuck you to the forces of war. as americans tuned out, arthur turned on, featuring articles about smoking pot, about shamanism, about transcendence. as americans spent more and more of their time logged on, arthur suggested logging off, and featured some of doug rushkoff's best work about technology and stepping away from it.
arthur told us about devendra banhart years ago, when most of us were like, "devandra what?" arthur put brightblack morning light on the cover followed by joanna newsom. arthur featured a 12,000 word essay (12,000!) by alan moore (v for vendetta, the watchmen) on 25,000 years of pornography. arthur featured articles about how to ciphon gas from SUVs, about the powers of almonds and sprigs of mint, and about how a significant portion of NBA players play stoned. arthur featured a hilarious and horrifying interview between jay and the lead singer of godsmack about the band's music being used for army recruitment.
arthur challenged almost everything horrific about our times - the war, the war machine, a violent everyday culture, capitalism run amok, the corporatization of everything, mass produced culture and mass produced imaginations, and the utter lack of curiosity that plagues our country. when faced with the horror of our times, arthur was something you could actually believe in. and did i mention it was free?
if you're in LA, consider attending arthur's wake. free giveaways and readings by molly frances, oliver hall, and peter relic. the wake goes down thursday, march 1, at 7:30, and takes place at the family bookstore at 436 n. fairfax ave (across the street from canter's deli).
in my world, the word visionary is used too often. these days, any kid running a dot.com that sells out to google for a bazillion dollars is called a visionary. but visionaries, true visionaries, have something to give, something that is deep and wonderful and scary and enlightening. true visionaries give us something that make us better people - a rare and special something that makes us more sensitive, wise, curious, and engaged. jay's a visionary and i'll be eager to see what kinds of visions he works on next. but in the meantime, it sure is sad to see this one fold.
update: for a taste of the inside scoop, check out the village voice's coverage.