The Fader: Why do Arthur again?

Arthur Founder Jay Babcock on the Magazine’s Return to Print
STORY BY: Emilie Friedlander

Jay Babcock, founder of Arthur Magazine (for which I once interned), made a surprise announcement last week that the longrunning music and culture periodical, perhaps best known for its dual embrace of psych-folk and radical lifestyle politics, is coming back into print after a four-year hiatus. Among other factors that made the magazine’s return possible, Portland, Oregon’s Floating World Comics is coming on board as a publisher, resurrecting the glossy of yore in the form of a broadsheet, part black-and-white, part color newspaper, which is available for pre-order for the very reasonable price of $5 of issue and hits homes on December 22nd. Babcock jumped on the phone with us from his desert home in Joshua Tree, CA to tell us why Arthur is coming back, and how, even if print may seem a risky prospect these days, the medium is kind of the message.

“A: How do you make the best of the analog? How you do what can’t be done in digital? Why do analog if you can just do it in digital for cheaper? Well, do something that digital can’t do, something that takes up a big field of vision. We’re doing Arthur as a newspaper but a newspaper with only ads on the back, so that each page is gigantic, and each two pages is a spread. When you put that in front of your eyes, it’s much, much bigger than a computer screen. The art director gets to take full advantage of that space. We can have things that are suitable for putting up on the wall, which is another thing you can’t do with your computer. And when you’re done with it, you can compost it.

Q:Or you might want to save it, right?

A: Yeah, if you want to save it, it’s easily saved. It’s not going to disappear when Google fails. It’s not going to disappear when the power goes out because of a climate change hurricane. It’s there as long as you can keep it physically near you. With Arthur, we acknowledged that we live in a world that is being overrun by technology, and we use that technology for our own purposes, but we want to have as little to do with it as possible in everything we do. We use every tool that the tech world has put there, but you the know, the tech world has been a really bad thing for the culture. I’m forty-two years old; I watched this happen in my lifetime. I watched [as] the tech nerds and the capitalists behind them always claimed, Just wait. Journalism would come back, everything would resolve, and they were completely wrong. Everything they destroyed has not come back. And that’s in all fields. That’s in journalism. That’s in art. That’s in music. That’s in every single artistic or cultural field you can think of. The internet nerds and the venture capitalists behind them, they said all the destructive work that they were doing was going to get rid of the gatekeepers and open everything up. What’s it’s done is replace the old gatekeepers with new, worse gatekeepers called Apple, Google, Facebook. Worse than ever.”

Read more: The Fader

Excepter on Arthur Radio, Transmission #6

Sunday was a very special day for Arthur Radio. We never thought that co-host Hairy Painter would return to Brooklyn after spending a month building Mardi Gras floats and dancing to “sissy bounce” music in Nola, but he surprised us at the station door — out of breath, suitcase in hand — right when we were about to go on. And we never thought we would be able to cram one sound engineer, one baby, five DJs, half a dozen synthesizers, and all six members of Excepter inside the Newtown Radio studio, but somehow we pulled the whole production off without a hitch. Following the release of their new double album Presidence on Paw Tracks last Tuesday, (“Presidence Day observed”), Excepter graced the Arthur airwaves with a set so on point it caused unnoticed seismic shifts beneath a 24-hour techno-rave in Istanbul. Emilie Friedlander (Visitation Rites) engaged Jon Fell Ryan in a wobbly Q&A, and Ivy Meadows and Hairy Painter piled on layer upon layer of elliptical wax to set the scene…

Stream: [audio:

Download: Excepter on Arthur Radio 2-21-2010

This week’s playlist…
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Sunday, February 21st – live set by Excepter on Arthur Radio

John Fell Ryan (otherwise known as “JFR” of Excepter) on his ink drawings (shown above – click on view fullscreen to enlarge):

These are all from the Spring of 1998. I was living alone on the corner of Metropolitan and Driggs in Williamsburg, trying to merge cartooning and abstract design with concepts of American Folk mythology and Jungian sex magick. No real art world aim in mind; these were done for reasons of personal development.

Last week on Presidents’ Day, Excepter dropped their new album, “Presidence.” Two days later, a show of drawings by band member JFR came to a close at Fingered Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In light of these seemingly aligned (and undeniably cosmic) events, Arthur Radio is excited to announce that Excepter will be performing an unbridled freeform transmission, including a live interview session with Emilie Friedlander (Visitation Rites), this Sunday from 4-6pm EST on Hairy Painter and Ivy Meadows will be there, and we’re all invited to come along for the ride…

Excepter – “Teleportation: KAL” (Presidence) [audio:

Arthur Radio #5: Amor Apocalíptico, with live set by Wish

(Above: Collage featuring in-studio photo by Anna Gonick and artwork by Wish)

This past Sunday, Emilie Friedlander (Visitation Rites) joined Ivy Meadows in the depths of the Newtown Radio caverns to celebrate the first day of the Year of the Tiger. Zeljko McMullen of the music/visual/art collective Shinkoyo played us a live set via his solo musical vessel Wish, and we all took a moment to reflect on the dazzlingly multidimensional, many-mirrored, endless maze that is love…

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Download: Arthur Radio #5: Amor Apocalíptico 2-14-2010

This week’s playlist…
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Arthur Radio Voyage #3: Live set by The Holy Experiment

This past weekend Newtown Radio shut down in order to prepare for its big move into a more spacious studio (with improved recording facilities) within the same warehouse in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Since we weren’t able to broadcast live, Hairy Painter and I decided to set up a makeshift recording studio in my living room. We invited musician Brooke Gillespie of The Holy Experiment (who also happens to be my neighbor) to join us there as our very first guest to do a live session. We are now happy to share this performance with you, in all its warmth and beauty…

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Download: The Holy Experiment live on Arthur Radio 1-31-2010

Arthur Radio Transmission #2: The Retro-Future Episode

Psychic happenings appear to be abundant on Arthur Radio…this week we focused our psychic energies on a matter that is very pressing for all of us: the future. Friends Emilie Friedlander (Visitation Rites) and McGregor (Chocolate Bobka) joined Ivy Meadows and Hairy Painter to discuss Chocolate Bobka’s forthcoming music publication The Report (which will include contributions from Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance, among and many other musician-writers). After a space-time bending hour of churchy-psych strangeness, we gathered together to play some retro-futuristic songs, dance very slowly, and attempt to visualize other realities that could have come about in 2010 if things had gone a little differently in the 80s and 90s…

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Download: Arthur Radio 1-24-2010

Saturday, November 14th – DEVIL'S TRUMPET @ Perfect Wave in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

A candlelight music show in celebration of the crepuscular descension of fall, featuring nebulous electronics combined with classical components and an element of the barely perceptible unknown… hot cider and whiskey will be served, binaural beats will be played live on didgeridoos between sets.

Musical performances by


ABLEHEARTS (Tom Arsenault)

LA BIG VIC (Emilie Friedlander + Toshio Masuda)

$5 at the door

Saturday, November 14th, 8:30pm
Perfect Wave Gallery
184 West St. #2 / Brooklyn, NY 11222 (See map.)