Jay Babcock Responds to his "Psychic Death Hole" Interview, and LA Weekly's Reaction to It
Earlier today I posted a response to Arthur Magazine founder Jay Babcock's interview with August Brown on the LA Times Soundboard blog. In the interest of fairness, I am reprinting, with Babcock's permission, an email he sent to me in response. (He addresses my post point by point, with excerpts from my piece in quotations, followed by his rebuttals.)
"I for one, think it kind of sucks that he chose to go on this tirade."
The tirade is a fiction of an LATimes writer looking for hits on his
blog so he can keep his job. He took stuff out of context, rearranged
quotes, fabricated questions, and left out all the positive stuff I
said about L.A. The Q & A as appears on the website is
"and announce his move to New York after he appealed a month ago to
the general public for help getting his publication out of debt. If
he felt so strongly about his hatred for everything LA represents,
why not put it out there with the appeal and be honest about his
intentions: "I'm moving to New York and need help getting a fresh
start with the magazine -- And LA sucks."
But Randall, that wasn't my intention. We got in financial trouble
when Uber pulled their deal with us for Arthur World Service the same
week that our bill was due to Bellwether for the Living Theatre DVD,
and one week before we were to fisnih paying the printing bill for
Arthur 29 so that we could go to press with Arthur 30.
"(A magazine that re-launched, ahem, less than a year ago.) Nice to
know that so many people, presumably at least a few Angelenos,
generously dug into their pockets to help Babcock retire his debt so
that he could start anew in New York."
Again, that's not what we did, that's not what they did, and we are
not starting "anew." I moved. That's it.
"From a purely financial point of view, what he said was insane. A
big chunk of Babcock's readership is in LA, and not a few of its
Factually untrue. Randall, 20 percent of our printrun goes to the
L.A. area. 25% goes to New York. Almost all of our advertising
dollars come from outside Los Angeles.
"He wants me, who loves his magazine, to get enthused about
supporting the endeavor when I'm among the masses he so obviously
counts as loathsome."
Randall, I wasn't talking about you. I'm talking about Rick Caruso,
Sam Zell, the New Times owners, etc. Please.
"(Literally: he dissed the Weekly.)"
I said it wasn't good as it used to be. I'll stand by that assertion.
I've been reading the thing since 1988.
"I'll read his free publication, and no doubt continue to buy stuff
from the labels that advertise in Arthur, but am less interested in
actively helping to get his cultural bandwagon out of its rut."
It's also important to acknowledge that during Arthur's fundraising efforts of last month, Babcock and I swapped voice mails with the intention of speaking about the future of Arthur. I left a message for him, he returned my call and left a voice mail in which he explained he was calling from Brooklyn. He most definitely was not trying to hide the fact that he was on the east coast. For various reasons, we never connected. If I insinuated that in any way he was fundraising to use the money for his move, that wasn't my intention. But as I told him in an email response, sometimes the appearance of impropriety is as damaging as impropriety itself.
Anyway, I'm trying to track down August Brown of the Times right now to get his point of view on all of this.
UPDATE: This morning I spoke with August Brown of the Times, who says: "I stand by my notes and the editing thereof." Brown also posted a follow-up, lifted from Arthur Magazine's website, of Babcock's long list of people and places in LA that he's going to miss. It's actually a good primer on cool LA things.