Arthur magazine: back from the ashes but still looking for a lifeline
By Jennifer Maerz
Published: August 8, 2007 – SFWeekly
Arthur may have a low print run of 50,000, but its influence is unquantifiable. The lefty counterculture magazine has been ground zero for antiwar activists, psychedelic drug enthusiasts, and, most importantly, weird-ass music. Arthur has been an early enthusiast for aberrant strains of exciting, adventurous artists, from the bone-quaking drones of SunnO))) to Devendra Banhart’s mystical folk and international beatmakers Delia Gonzales & Gavin Russom. The free publication carries with it an unflinchingly anti-corporate, anti-soundbite attitude, running rants and expositions on the far-flung subjects captivating its writers. And even when you didn’t want to slog through, say, a 10,000-word feature on magic mushrooms, it was good to know that there was a publication so forceful and singular in its vision and so timelessly relevant in its musical taste.
Arthur championed its unique tastes regardless of the publishing date of a new release or its place on Billboard, and created an international following in the process. In June, London’s Sunday Times wrote, “[Arthur has] its finger on America’s eccentric and softly anarchic countercultural pulse,” and the New York Times has lauded it as an important leader in the new folk movement.
So when trouble hit Arthur’s ranks in February, it seemed we were witnessing the loss of a significant voice in tastemaking music journalism. Citing irreconcilable differences to the press, publisher Laris Kreslins left Arthur, and editor Jay Babcock told the Village Voice his publication was dead. As we reported here in March [“Rest in Peace,” March 7, 2007], Babcock tried to buy out Kreslins, but their inability to come to agreeable terms locked Arthur’s credit line and put the magazine on indefinite hiatus.