"I wish I was dead," deadpans Alexa Stevenson, the publicity director of the new Twin Cities literary magazine Ache, untying the white handkerchief that's covering her face. She and collaborator Margaret Wander have just spent the better half of a Tuesday night spray-painting and stamping sheets of what they thought was Con-Tact paper with the word Ache. Now, instead of 200-some stickers, they have 200 useless window decals marred with a reversed logo: "ehcA."
The startup of a new magazine is no easy task, especially if you're broke and in your early 20s. Publications like the Arts Journalism Collective's online culture weekly Object Magazine and recent U of M graduate Bryan Keogh's short-lived campus newspaper the Campus Observer learned the hard way that it takes more than good content and ideals to keep a paper afloat. But that isn't stopping the launch of four new Twin Cities publications this August and September by University of Minnesota students and recent graduates.
Late last year U of M students Christopher Ruen and James Delong found themselves frustrated by the lack of writing opportunities on campus. The difficulty of getting on staff at the Minnesota Daily and the recent hiatus of the Campus Observer were just two motives for the two friends starting the Wake, a campus weekly offering everything from restaurant and music reviews to local and national politics.
"The Campus Observer shutting down really bummed us out," recalls Ruen. "But then we thought, 'There could still be another paper. Why can't there be another paper?'" Copies of the Wake's debut issue are set to hit the University in mid-September and will cover the campus and national feelings a year after September 11.
Getting one's words into print is an almost universal aspiration among writers, and it was the guiding force behind the formation of the collectively run literary quarterly Ache. "The prose editor, Brian Bieber, and I were looking around for a place to publish our work," explains local poet and managing editor Rob O'Brien. "And we just weren't seeing any local publications that we really liked; nothing fit what we wanted to publish." Taking its title from the verb "to ache"--what one contributor identified as "one of the most versatile human emotions"--the first issue of the journal was released a few Sundays ago at a party at Patrick's Cabaret in Minneapolis. Now that 5,000 copies of the magazine--which features poetry, spoken word, prose, and visual art--have been distributed, O'Brien hopes to see Ache catch on as an organization, fostering relationships with other writing collectives (like the one the publication has with Minnesota Spoken Word) and sponsoring free workshops and readings.
Where artsy folks seek a venue to reveal their feelings, political gadflies just want a soapbox and a megaphone to drown out someone else. When speaking about the Minnesota Daily, junior Martin Glen Andrade, double-majoring in psychology and political science, lays into what he sees as its liberal rhetoric and biased coverage. "It's definitely left-leaning and could be construed as a leftist rag," Andrade says, mentioning the paper's use of the word anti-abortion over pro-life, and the op-ed page's liberal columnists.
So Andrade and fellow student Anthony Reel, backed by a staff of likeminded conservative students, have started the Minnesota Patriot. This 16-page biweekly campus newspaper, Andrade says, will regularly feature a selection of conservative columns, two or three investigative-journalism pieces, and a news section. The first issue is set to debut September 9 with a presentation of the conservative view on abortion.
As with the Wake and Ache, the spark for Mark Baumgarten's monthly music magazine, Lost Cause, began with a conversation. "[Film programmer] Nate Johnson and I were drinking at the Dinkytowner, and I started to talk about this idea of having a local music magazine. According to Nate, I said, 'Ah, it's a lost cause.'"
Baumgarten hopes to see the monthly, whose pilot issue hit the streets of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and St. Cloud early this July, become an "artifact for local music" among people on the local scene. "There's a vacuum of information out there," adds Baumgarten. "There's a lot of people who the media are choosing not to cater to, so why not start up four publications? If you've got four, one them has got to succeed!"