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Paste (Print Publication) is Dead! Long Live Paste!

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris[at]nextbop[dot]com / @retronius

Anyone who has been paying any close attention to Nextbop would know that I am an avid lover of [Paste Magazine]. When Seb and I began talking about the direction Nextbop would go, I based many of my ideas for the site on Paste’s business model. When we opened up our page to open submissions (and we still welcome whatever content you’d like us to publish, my email isn’t in the heading of these pieces for nothing), I wrote our [writer guidelines] based on Paste’s [writer guidelines]. When I think of everything a publication should be that covers different kinds of music, not because it’s popular but just because it’s good, I may have [initially compared Nextbop to Pitchfork] (for that added buzz factor), but I really strive for us to be like Paste.

That is why when I read the news last week that [Paste was shutting down], my heart sank. When I learned just an hour (and a rather disheartening bus ride) later that it was [Paste’s print division that was ending production], I felt some relief. (Upon reading that all at Paste is not lost, I tweeted, "I'm seriously having a bigger emotional reaction to the continued life of @PasteMagazine than to the #Lost finale. So this means @joshjackson touches me more deeply than @CarltonCuse and @DamonLindelof." ) Over time, Paste has become my favorite publication. It was the only magazine to which I felt obligated to pay money for a subscription instead of just reading all its content online like I do everything else. It was home to a true collective of writers whose work I truly appreciated and felt compelled to support.

In college, I applied at least once (if not twice, unless my memory is failing) to intern for them. A good friend of mine (and [occasional Nextbop contributor]), Alexander Brown, did in fact intern for Paste. Another group of friends of mine are in a [soul punk band] (it’s sort of hard to classify them, but they’re awesome, I assure you) in which a former Paste editor is managing them. And while I probably could look it up (but I’m just a little too lazy to do so, you folks have enough hyperlinks on your hands), I’m pretty sure one or two Paste’s news items and columns have been linked here in the past. The connections I have with Paste are quite extensive, and many of them are rooted in the love that I have for it.

In the four or five years (of of their decade of work)in which I’ve been reading Paste, I have witnessed a publication that loves everything about culture. I can recall agreeing with Sean Gandert about most of his reviews of Futurama while thinking he was being a little too harsh on this latest season of 30 Rock. I looked forward to Mondays specifically for Rachael Maddux’s latest “Listen Up” column. (Maddux practically wrote everything I ever dreaded a couple of weeks ago in her column when she wrote about the problem of [being a music journalist who can’t play music]. I am exactly the same way and constantly feel guilty about it as it relates to Nextbop. I need to get back to playing the piano, a skill I’ve forgotten since I was 12.) In the last few months, they even started reviewing more jazz albums, something that put a bit of a smile on my face to know a major magazine is giving this genre some due attention. (They liked Jason Moran’s Ten!) Although, one could also point fingers at this being yet another premonition about the death of jazz if a multifaceted publication dies the moment it started giving some positive attention to [Allen Toussaint].

Paste was a magazine that cherished everything about popular culture. It was unapologetic about its views pertaining to music, film, books, internet culture, or anything else having to do with media. Even now as it strives to find its footing once again, only in the online form with which I am still very familiar, the quality of its work has not diminished, even when the size of its highly talented staff of writers has.

Even in light of these developments, my role model still hasn’t changed. Josh Jackson (the soft-spoken non-douchy hipster dad with a modest dream to spread taste to the masses, not [the supercool, award winning jazz radio producer extraordinaire of WBGO Newark]) continues to make Paste the best it can be, whether in web or print form. It continues to produce news stories about what’s going on in various industries, create [cool ideas on the web] just for the sake of them being cool ideas, and explore what’s new and interesting in media culture, no matter the topic. It’s an auspicious goal, sure to face bumpy roads, but it certainly makes for damn good entertainment. I’m willing to follow those footsteps and take what works from it, and I’ll throw a little of the paltry amount of money I have to help it out when I can. That’s what one does for a role model.

If anything, it’ll show me that if Paste can continue to press on through this storm, Nextbop can press on as well.

Anthony Dean-Harris is a contributing writer for [African-American Reflections] and hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on [91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio]. More of his writing can be found at his blog, [In Retrospect] and you can also [follow him on Twitter].