In case you're wondering about the word "e-zine," you need only cross the related parts of "e-mail" and "underground zine" to get the general meaning. The e-zine is a new force in publishing, which Amerika curates in Alt-X with twin agendas: one traditional and one avant-pop.

"The first comes from the traditional book publishing industry, the literary magazine phenomenon that was big at the beginning of the century [and] helped launch a number of modern poetry movements," explains Amerika. "What was essential in the development of [that writing] was what we call editorial vision, or in traditional book publishing what they'd call an imprint. Of course, what's happening now in the mainstream publishing industry is this multinational conglomerizing. So now editors are just as likely to be publicists as they are anything else, coming from sales and marketing departments. Their decisions are based strictly on what sells as opposed to some integral vision they have as an editor, some inner need they feel to bring something out that might not otherwise find an audience."

"The first strand I associate with the avant-garde lineage and small press," Amerika adds. "It went on for a while with abstract expressionism and beat poetry, but we did tend to lose track of it in the age of Reagan, in the eighties.

"The second strand that one cannot help but be connected to -- I wonder if Thoreau could have avoided it even if he wanted -- is the digital pop culture, the mass media, the broadcast media. And so, the thing that changes when you get into network publishing, as opposed to small publishing, is that all of a sudden you're experiencing the first ever text-based broadcast medium in our culture. Just when you thought nothing new would happen, this thing evolves."


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