I first became aware of The Village Voice in high school, when my older brother, Brett, used to go the Beloit, Wisconsin, public library to peruse its political investigations and music coverage. We were both discovering punk rock, watching Patti Smith on Saturday Night Live, and we could read about the newest bands from CBGB’s in the Voice. Later, in college, I got assigned to write about it in my one and only journalism class. Within a few years, I was copy editing and writing there, ultimately becoming a senior editor in charge of music. It was a crazy, difficult, exciting place, and the work I did for them — “discovering” Paul Beatty and the rest of the ’90s NYC lit scene bubbling around the incredible Nuyorican Poets Cafe, traveling to New Zealand to write about music, covering Rent as it moved from Downtown to Broadway and beyond, interviewing John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, the creators of a new musical called Hedwig and the Angry Inch; writing about punk drag artists such as Justin Bond and Miss Guy — still defines me. And then there was my one and only cover story, the first major interview with Patti Smith after her husband Fred died and she returned to the stage — an incredible encounter with the woman who made me want to be a rock’n’roll critic, and move to New York, and dive into the sea of possibilities. RIP Voice. Say hi to Aretha.
Tag Archives: Paul Beatty
In honor of America’s first Man Booker Prize winner, I’m reposting my 1990 Village Voice feature on Paul Beatty, back when he was still a poet.
I’m trying to find a tape of my circa 1990 interview with Ellen Willis. Haven’t found it yet, but here’s some of what I unearthed: interviews with the entire original cast of Rent, Paul Beatty, Patti Smith, Kathleen Hanna, Mary J. Blige, Stephen Trask, Carrie Brownstein, Bjork — the list goes on and on. One cassette is labeled “Missy/Moby.” Is this my legacy?
In honor of his win of the National Book Critics Circle Award and Throwback Thursday, here’s my 1990 Village Voice story on Paul Beatty. We had dinner last night and I’m happy to report he’s as modest and flat-footed as ever.Paul Beatty 1990
When I opened my browned Paul Beatty manila file folder to prepare to interview the writer once again, I realized that it had been 25 years since I first introduced myself to him after seeing him read at the Poetry Project in the East Village. He was a great writer then, albeit of poetry rather than prose. He’s a brilliant novelist now. I caught up with Paul again to discuss the ribald satire of his latest book, The Sellout, for the Los Angeles Review of Books.