I started Ellavon in order to read more writing, to see more photographs, and to gather more thoughts from people whose work I admired. On a fine sunny Vancouver day I was walking with my brother when it hit me that if I had an ezine I would have a reason to collaborate with these people, should they be willing to do so. It has worked out very well so far. The response the ezine has brought from readers has been gratifying, but even more gratifying, for me, is the opportunity I have had to work with Ellavon's contributors and interviewees.
As I noted on the homepage, several people have told me they thought "ellavon" was the name of some mood-enhancing drug. If *I'm* in a mood, I say, "No, were that so, the word would have a single *L*, as in 'elevate.'" The ezine's name actually means to reflect its focus on basic, available culture and aesthetic pleasure, by honoring my two favorite singers, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, whose voices stopped me in my tracks, as the expression goes, when I first heard their records.
Another singer whose voice stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it was Mary Lou Lord's. I had announced earlier that I would be writing a feature piece on her; I had even planned on interviewing her when she came into Vancouver on her tour. Through a mutual friend, Stephen Silbert, who plays guitar on "Lights Are Changing," I had met Mary Lou in San Francisco three years ago, and I found her to be very bright, graceful, sweet, and funny. Nonetheless, I scuttled the interview idea for two reasons. My original idea was that an interview would help promote her new CD, the absolutely wonderful "Got No Shadow," but I found to my then-happy surprise that her album would need no help in that area from me, as Spin, CMJ Monthly, Rolling Stone, and even Time Magazine ran features on her. (She was also well served on the internet — check out http://www.epiccenter.com/EpicCenter/custom/903/frsetBbs.html and http://pages.nyu.edu/~rkb200/.)
In addition, it belatedly occurred to me that I had never interviewed someone I hadn't at least some small beef with before, and that I had no idea how to do so. Friends offered not-too-serious suggestions: "Ask her why she wears that wig." "See if she can convince Juliana Hatfield to become your best friend." I'd feel more comfortable interviewing my nineteen-month-old niece, Jade.
Her show in Vancouver (the music part of it) was enchanting. Otherwise, her in-between-song banter seemed to go on too long, and it was hard for me to follow it. (This banter is a normal part of her performances, and when she performs solo it can be poetry.) And she looked frightfully skinny. I left Vancouver's Starfish Room feeling a bit dispirited, relieved that I hadn't interviewed her, and cross with myself that I was relieved.
Within days of the show, rumors appeared on the newsgroups that Mary Lou had entered rehab for drinking (or heroin) problems; her tour was canceled; after about a week, her record company announced that she had indeed entered rehab, for her drinking, as it turns out. It is clear that her record company wanted her to hit a home run with her first full-length record, and *that*, plus the grueling requirement to play in *bars* several nights a week, must have caused indescribable anxiety for a woman who was used to measuring her success, as a busker, by quarters and dollars. (Her mentor and friend, Shawn Colvin, who used to drink in her younger times, was allowed by her label to build an audience over a period of ten years.)
Today I received an email from a friend of mine who'd just seen The Bevis Frond, Nick Saloman's psychedelic band. Saloman wrote or co-wrote a number of songs on "Got No Shadow." My friend wrote, "Saloman mentioned Mary Lou in his introduction to 'Lights are Changing.' He said she was trying to make a hit out of it. 'That would be nice,' he said, 'or maybe it wouldn't be.' It was scathing."
Mary Lou, everybody at Ellavon hopes you get your gyroscope back on the string, and that when you start playing again, you can do it at your own pace. *Peace, sister.*
I am still trying to track down Jim Goad, editor of *Answer Me!*, perhaps the greatest zine of the nineties, and author of *The Redneck Manifesto*, published and then abandoned by Simon and Schuster late last year. We talked briefly on the phone twice, and he agreed to the interview, then he promptly changed his telephone number and made it unlisted. I know about where he lives in Portland, Oregon, but I can imagine the headlines: "Ezine Editor Becomes Stalker: Killed by Favorite Author."
Now, *his* book really could use the publicity. While he apparently received a $100,000 advance on a two-book deal, his publisher has let the book die. There was not a Canadian single bookstore west of Toronto that had it in stock. It is not hard to see why: Goad's book is a foul-mouthed, and well researched, rant in which he argues that the so-called "race problem" is actually a cover employed by the wealthy to draw attention away from what is in fact that country's *class* problem. His history and analysis of "white trash" are brilliant, upsetting too. Buy the book from http://www.amazon.com, and pick up *Answer Me! The First Three* at your local alternative comic-book store. The fourth *Answer Me!*, the notorious "Rape" issue, is exceedingly hard to find and provoked Oregon authorities to bring obscenity charges against Mr. Goad.
Here is my Jim Goad interview in its entirety, omitting the brief opening pleasantries well-mannered people exchange at the beginning of a telephone call, and Jim, despite his reputation, has old-fashioned manners in many ways:
Ellavon: Jim, your book . . .
Mr. Goad, my favorite writer, summed it all up . . . before I could suss out the details.
-- Bob Basil, 21 April 98
Write "Ellavon" at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Released: April 21, 1998