The Austin Chronicle

R.I.P. 'Arthur'

By Audra Schroeder, February 27, 2007, 2:06pm, Earache!

What started in 2002 as a magazine skewed toward underground and experimental music and politics printed in the spirit of the Sixties free press, free love rags had finally found its stride. What used to be a black-and-white publication had slowly added color over the years, and its last issue featured lengthy articles on Joanna Newsom and the history of pornography by comic artist Alan Moore. Thurston Moore and Byron Coley had a regular column, "Bull Tongue"; T-Model Ford had his own advice column; and Editor Jay Babcock's politically charged back-and-forth with Godsmack singer Sully Erna sparked immediate controversy last year. This was not Spin or Blender's flashy, tastemaking colleague. More like its anarchist brother.

Alas, Arthur Magazine is no more. At least according to Babcock. "It's been a good run on Arthur, or at least as good as I could do given the pretty difficult circumstances," he said in an e-mail. "Time to move on now; can't sit here feeling betrayed forever. That's it for me in magazines, though."

The difficult circumstances involve a financial breakdown between the Los Angeles-based Babcock and publisher/co-founder Laris Kreslins, who owns the paper's Maryland-based Lime Publishing company. Kreslins, in a posting on the magazine's Web site last Friday, said Arthur is just on "indefinite hiatus."

In addition to featuring decent writers and dissenting voices, interviews with everyone from Brian Eno to Brother JT, and fleshy pieces about the 1967 exorcism of the Pentagon or psychedelic witch doctors in Peru, Arthur was a free publication. Even if this is the end, they've still left an admirable chunk of visionary muckraking and alternative journalism. I remember the feeling during their day party at Church of the Friendly Ghost in 2005. Yes, it was during SXSW and everyone was drunk by 2pm, but whatever frequency they were working on, it certainly sounded good.

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