Friday, May 19, 2017
Sleeping in Van Cortland Park, running wild with wild newfound friends on the winter beach at night at Coney Island. New York people, the ones I met, were crazier and freer, because of the all-night subways, and whatever, so many young people in a world of their own, it was a place were you didn't have to go back to your dorm or your mother.
And it was a place where you could do things. It was in New York that I started my magazine.
I was bored y'know, like the man says, bored and restless and lonely, I couldn't do the schoolwork or get it on with the Swarthmore scene, and it made me feel very insecure, Id build myself up from terrible inversion with people in seventh grade to a certain self-confidence & reluctant fluidity based completely on my output, the high school extracurriculars and the science fiction magazine I published on the side and so forth, the stuff I was doing made me feel sure of myself which in turn made it possible for me to run with, have fun with, other people. Which reached a peak in the fall of my senior year, I was accomplishing things left and right, I had the respect of the young women I worked with in the dramatics club and then even the attention of a few of them, I was writing a lot and I even tried briefly to study guitar, a whirlwind of energy and though still shy inside I hardly had time to notice -- and then there I was in college, at Swarthmore, unable to open a book or even write a story for the newspaper, hanging out, doing nothing... Doing nothing! A total disaster for one whose ability to function in the world was based solely on his pride in the things he was doing, I needed desperately many things including that holding and being held but most of all I needed something to do, my inability to do anything at college was bringing me face to face with the most horrible self-doubt I have ever experienced.
So finally when the idea came or came back to start a magazine about this rock music I was so in love with, arriving in my head complete with a plan as to just exactly how I could do it and what to do first and what would happen, it was a godsend -- a tremendous gift of energy -- my salvation.
And it married me to New York -- though I didn't consummate the marriage and move there till much later, eleven months later, December of 1966 -- because that was where the rock music business was on the East Coast, that was the place I needed to go simply to do the very first thing, which was obtain some new records so i could review them.
I conceived of the magazine as a weekly, believe it or not, which would review new albums but especially singles, intelligently rather than with the usual hype, as a service both to music lovers and the music business. I knew about the trade magazines, had been into them since I started listening to rock a year earlier (and even in the sixth grade I'd been addicted to top-40 lists, actually bicycling into Belmont Center the hour that I knew the sheets would arrive in the local record store because I couldn't wait to see what the positions would be this week, I was a pest, a fanatic), but I felt the trade magazines were inadequate because -- just like the "fan" magazines from eh opposite side -- they didn't take the music seriously. I knew that the earnestness which my friends and I felt wasn't being expressed in print.
And something else -- it wasn't just love for the music -- I wanted to start a magazine. And I'd read in a "fanzine", an amateur publication from the science fiction underworld, an article by James Warren, publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland and Help! , in which he talked about how to start a magazine; he said that what you need most of all is a subject that a lot of people are into that nobody is doing a magazine about. I read that & I believed it & even mentioned to some people in Cambridge in the summer of 1965 before I went to Swarthmore, when a folk music paper called Broadside was the best-read publication in town, that somebody ought to start a magazine about rock n' roll. I couldn't do it 'cause I was about to go off to college and get involved in that, but whoever did pick up the idea would meet with certain success.
And I forgot, and then got ever deeper into rock via the college radio station, and then was standing in the town of Swarthmore, a tiny commercial district beyond the great lawn of the college, standing in a drugstore reading a story about the Yardbirds in a fan magazine and when I read that both they and the Rolling Stones had got their start in a club in Richmond, England called the Crawdaddy Club it just hit me out of nowhere that that would be the name of the magazine and I could do the first issue in New York during the four-day intersession after exams and mimeo it at Ted's (Ted White a jazz music journalist and science fiction fan-clb) house and then.... I paid for the fan mag and walked back across the tracks to the campus very excited and completely lost in a truly enormous daydream.
Paul Williams, Heart of Gold, published 1991
Today, May 19th is writer Paul S Williams birthday.
He was born in 1948 and died in 2013.