The Baffler offices have been destroyed in a fire.
May 2, 2001 3:55 PM   Subscribe

The Baffler offices have been destroyed in a fire.

From their frontpage: "[W]e have no computers, no contact lists, no rolodexes, no desks, and no desk lamps." Those of you familiar with The Baffler, or their book Commodify Your Dissent, know that they are a great source for acute cultural criticism. If this fire deals them a fatal blow, the world will have lost one of its finest publications. (Follow the link for information on where to send donations.)
posted by jbushnell (11 comments total)


Please no remarks on the irony of my providing an link for a book called Commodify Your Dissent; I'm not in the mood.
posted by jbushnell at 3:56 PM on May 2, 2001

Does being cultural critics mean you cannot buy insurance? Perhaps it also means you cannot learn to do critical data backups to an offsite storage location...more highbrow elitists out of work...perhaps I am too cycnical...
posted by slackbash at 5:20 PM on May 2, 2001

Where did you get the idea they had no insurance or data backups?

A small irony:

A brief article on the fire.
posted by dhartung at 5:52 PM on May 2, 2001

I am not familiar with Baffler. But can't anyone say something nice for someone who tries? Easy as all get out to be jaded, cynical, ironic, and clever.
posted by Postroad at 5:59 PM on May 2, 2001

On second thought, that prob'ly wasn't wise/nice. Matt, can you make that an HREF instead of an IMG?
posted by dhartung at 6:20 PM on May 2, 2001

Amen, dhartung.

Images inside threads are icky.
posted by silusGROK at 6:24 PM on May 2, 2001

Now, if I were even more cynical than normal, I'd suggest that there was an curious symbolism to the fact that the arch critics of "corporate-sponsored transgression" have succumbed to the flames at this point in time.

Good luck to them, though.
posted by holgate at 7:39 PM on May 2, 2001

Where did you get the idea they had no insurance or data backups?

Probably from the article that said they had no insurance or data backups. Well, they had backups, but they kept them with the computers, which is about as useful as not having backups at all. (This is from Inside's "Inside Dope" column. Items therein scroll off and die within days, so I'll just cut-and-paste it here.)


Wednesday, May 02 02:46 p.m. - There's an anarcho-marxist magazine in Chicago that's in trouble, and it needs your help. The Baffler, the much-beloved journal of pop culture and its discontents, lost its offices and most of its archives in a fire that destroyed its building April 25. The staff has set up a temporary office in the house of publisher Greg Lane, and is busy putting the final touches on issue 14, which luckily was sent to the printer just days before the fire. The subscription list is also likely to be saved from the slightly charred hard drive in which it is resting, Lane says. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but Lane says the Baffler was not insured and all computer backups were unfortunately kept onsite. Founded in 1988 by editor Thomas Frank, the magazine became a springboard for Frank and writers like Tom Vanderbilt to critique the culture industry while name-dropping Theodor Adorno and punk rock in the same articles. Its offices on Chicago's south side, Lane says, also became part of an elaborate web of artists and writers passing through the building, including the studio of acclaimed artist Dan Peterman. "That building was the home of a close community of culture producers," says Lane. "That was the biggest injury -- not so much the physical injury but that loss of what we do." The staff's ambition, he says, is to be back in the old office by the time issue 15 rolls around. Anyone interested in donating to the Baffler Recovery Fund should send e-mail to
posted by aaron at 9:31 PM on May 2, 2001

It doesn't take a great leap in logic to conclude that "cultural critics" would eschew practical things such as insurance and data backups...when you're perfect enough to criticise all others you have no need for such things, your arrogance is your shield against all evils.
posted by slackbash at 8:11 AM on May 3, 2001

Oh, please. The definition for "critic" from the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition:
1. One who forms and expresses judgments of the merits, faults, value, or truth of a matter. 2. One who specializes especially professionally in the evaluation and appreciation of literary or artistic works: “a film critic; a dance critic.” 3. One who tends to make harsh or carping judgments; a faultfinder.
Slackbash, I suppose you're thinking of definition 3 here, but identifying someone as a "cultural critic" is generally meant to invoke definition 1. Being a scholar/student/examiner of culture does not necessarily entail considering oneself "perfect enough to criticise all others." "Critiquing the culture industry," the (quite accurate) characterization of the general Baffler project cited in the article Aaron quotes above, generally involves a fair amount of introspective attention to one's own participation in the very industry one is attempting to critically examine. Why would such an enterprise particularly tend to attract people who are too arrogant to take practical precautions against disaster? I'm inclined to attribute the lack of foresight to some combination of the sterotypical absent-mindedness of academics or other small-press types and the general lack of fiscal solvency generally associated with those groups.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:59 AM on May 3, 2001

It doesn't take a great leap in logic to conclude...

You're right: it doesn't take a great leap in logic to reach your conclusion. In fact, your conclusion doesn't rely on logic at all! (Unless you're working with a definition of logic that includes broad generalizations ("all cultural critics behave in x fashion") and gross oversimplifications ("the Baffler criticises all others").)
posted by jbushnell at 10:17 AM on May 3, 2001

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