Back in the late '70s and early '80s I held the title of social welfare editor for Uncle Jam, a tabloid published irregularly (whenever we had enough people in one room to do it, publisher Phil Yeh used to claim) via the Cobblestone Gallery, a popular hangout for writers, artists and general societal misfits in Long Beach, CA.
The magazine covered arts, travel, books, health and author interviews, so I was given wide leeway in what I could write about. I mean really wide. My friend Chris Statler and I covered such activities as a Grand Prix wet T-shirt contest, floating in a sensory deprivation tank, and the Beatles tribute band, Rain. I wrote about Jackie Sorenson's aerobic dancing classes, and a Phillip Marlowe tour of downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica sponsored by a San Fernando Valley mystery bookstore. I interviewed the late Alduous Huxley's spouse, Laura, about her Project Caress. I attended novelist Carolyn See's three annual literary conferences at Loyola Marymount and interviewed such writers as Herbert Gold, A. Scott Berg and Alice Adams. I wrote about New Year's Eve in New York City, seeing in the '80s, what we wrongly predicted would be the "New Renaissance." I covered my first trip to England, and seeing the ghost of Dr. Samuel Johnson. I even had a ball writing about how, from a child development stance, balls are the perfect toy choice for toddlers.
Not long ago, Phil resurrected this publication as a glossy full-color quarterly. I'm pleased to have rejoined the crowd, contributing such pieces as how to prepare to attend the University of Cambridge International Summer School, an interview with Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, and, for the 100th issue, online soon, why I love to sip cider in Somerset.
Last night Phil sent me a message on Facebook to let me know that the next Uncle Jam would be devoted to steampunk. Would I be interested in writing about its roots in Victorian literature? You bet. So I'll be revisiting H. G. Wells and Jules Verne...full steam ahead.
Uncle Jam 99 has been posted on line, and UJ100 will be coming soon:
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