The keyboard sequence I use to shut down my modem is alt-x. That's what brings me back to the real world. It's no coincidence that Alt-X, a new electronic magazine or "e-zine" on the world wide web, should have the same effect.

Alt-X's publisher, Mark Amerika, is neither punked out nor iridescently glazed as you might expect a cyberpublisher to appear. In order to appreciate Amerika, you might want to meet him in person. He's a humble fellow who looks like an untenured faculty member from a small, liberal, private college. He's an affable man with a steady, clear, confident language. We spent an afternoon gabbing about media, social crit, likes and dislikes as we browsed and sipped through underground bookstores in Chicago's toney Wicker Park.

Alt-X (short for "Alternative-X") was Amerika's original attraction for me. I browsed his web site on the lead that his magazine had an interview with Avital Ronell. I was delighted to discover it also featured novelist and poet Dennis Cooper. Amerika accumulates interviews of writers' writers and thinkers' thinkers in Alt-X. He embellishes each edition with an essay or two of his own, ranging from politics, to media criticism, to art theory and recent enhancements on the idea of "avant-pop" in his "Amerika On-Line" column.


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