This Is All on Me

This is my Eighth Anniversary Issue of The Syncopated Times, and I suppose I should be eating cake or something. I find myself preoccupied with a number of different matters (some of which are not fit for print) and I doubt I could actually taste cake at this point. Still, it is an accomplishment to have got here.

I have no desire to recount once again the story of how I got here. It frankly all seems a blur, though that may just be my floaters. To some on the West Coast, I am still “those people” who took over The American Rag. I know some are nostalgic for that publication and its style, but I consider any changes I’ve made to be for the better.

Red Wood Coast

Staying in print continues to be a challenge. Our non-profit status is near completion; a few formalities remain. In the mean time, USPS rates increased again in January; each morning dawns a glorious, brand-new day where everything costs slightly more.

This issue was itself a challenge for me to put together, and I admit that I’m tired. For much of the past month I’ve been dealing with a heckler who has worn me down by throwing my tendency for drive-by compassion back in my face. I was unable to offer more than a heartfelt sympathy while self-immolation was expected. By not sacrificing myself and my publication to Truth (from the heckler’s perspective) I was showing myself to be venal. “Wouldn’t want to let morals get in the way of profit,” he wrote. And I had the biggest laugh I’ve had in months.

I already started this column once tonight and discarded the first one because I did not like where it was headed. It’s heading the same way (since I have to write something) but perhaps not as treacherously.

Hot Jazz Jubile

Seriously, after all this time, what do I owe you? I’m publishing the best periodical it is within my power to produce, and I strive to report things as accurately as possible, but I’m not going to print allegations in order to be anyone’s Sledgehammer of Retributive Justice. Nor is this a scandal sheet. I’m here to support what seems to be a dwindling (though passionate) community. “Muckraker” is not part of my job description. Woodward and Bernstein can go home. There’s nothing to see here—at least nothing that would make the situation any better.

I’m a sitting duck for sad stories, the Bartender of the Universe. But the bartender doesn’t offer to shoot your wife after you complain that she’s been cheating on you. No, the bartender just listens, offers condolences, lets you get as drunk as you have to be, and takes away your car keys. Yet the aggrieved party may call the bartender bad names for not agreeing to pull the trigger. That is part of the territory, and I should be used to it by now.

I’m plagued with empathy, just as others are afflicted with shingles. Over the course of what seems like a long life, I have been all-too willing to believe others and take on their outrage. The hilarious thing is that when I fail to adequately take on that burden, others may rise to the occasion and pick me as the new target. And that, of course, is something I certainly brought down upon myself.

I don’t mean to play the victim because my wounds are entirely self-inflicted. Even taking over The American Rag was a lop-sided, bleeding-hearted act on my part. The tiny music community of which I am a part deserves a dedicated publication, which is why I am still here tonight after ten hours in this chair. I could not let it disappear. It’s not now nor has it ever been about the money, though after the non-profit goes through The Syncopated Times might begin to break even.

Sometimes, in a dim light, a Labor of Love is indistinguishable from a Labor of Loathe. Certain factors may skew that distinction one way or the other: Did I get enough sleep? Did everyone get their stories in by the drop-dead deadline (as opposed to the stated deadline)? Are there troublemakers and hecklers gnawing at my ankles? Does the world look like it’s going to end today (while I still have to do this)?


I cast a sideways glance at my profusion of unread books and unplayed musical instruments, convinced that everybody else is having all the fun. I assume there are roses that everyone is stopping to smell. I can’t see them, of course, but I am assured they exist. My radio program continues to be something I promise myself I’ll get back to, while hundreds of new (to me) records accumulate in crates on the floor. Maybe next year; maybe never. Pleasure feels too much like work.

This is all on me—all eight years of it. Which is to say it’s my treat—but also that the universe is having a laugh at my expense. Nevertheless, I take pride in my work and look with satisfaction upon each completed issue of The Syncopated Times—of which this is the ninety-seventh.

I often say that I never have feelings that aren’t mixed. Passion can swim in the same head with obligation and even resentment. I never trust people who say they feel just one emotion. Perhaps society (or its keepers) would prefer it that way—especially if the emotion is rage. I’m burnt out on anger. All I have left is love—baked into a delicate puff pastry of resigned weariness.


It’s not cake, but it suits me just fine.

Andy Senior is the Publisher of The Syncopated Times and on occasion he still gets out a Radiola! podcast for our listening pleasure.

Or look at our Subscription Options.