A Look Back Through the Ages by The BEAST's former Editors.

100 BEASTs of Gratitude
A brief note from the asshole in charge.
Al Uthman

Father Knows BEAST
A few unkind words from our founder.
Matt Taibbi

Outrage 101
A BEASTly education.
Paul Salamone

Me & My Buddy The BEAST
Chris Riordan

Viva El BEAST!
Recollections of an undocumented BEAST Staffer.

The Truth About our Intentions
The very 1st BEAST Editorial.

The BEAST Government Kids Page Review
Ian Murphy

Murtha's My Lai
Stan Goff

Call me Old Fasioned, but I Think the President Should be Killed
A BEAST Reader Opinion
by Gengis Khan

The BEAST Page 3 Deposed Nepalese Despot

Kino Korner
Da Vici Code, Poseidon, Just My Luck, See No Evil.

BEAST-O-Scopes
Your cosmic fortune...
in insult form.

[sic] - Letters
Judge Punch, toilet reading, and Moses in denial.

Still Scum, Still Sucking
Our local Rep, Tom Reynolds.
Paul Fallon

A Prank of Two Cities
The incredible true story of how we propositioned the mayor’s wife and rigged the NHL playoffs.
Paul Jones

Top 10 Signs of the Impending Police State
Hey America, freedom's just around the corner... behind you
Allan Uthman

A Preview of this Issue
...By Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret!

I Know More Words Than You
An editorial of verbose contrivance.
Paul Jones

 
 

Outrage 101: A Writer's Education
By Paul Salamone

Those who fancy themselves "creative writers" today usually go the route of the M.F.A. program, where they may perfect their inconsequential drivel in the comfort of the writer's workshop. I had a similar aspiration in the fall of 2002 when I got into Naropa University's creative writing program in Boulder, Colorado. I was going to be a poet, crafting untold heaps of free verse meaninglessness in the comfort of a lily-white institution, until I got a call from The BEAST.

M.F.A. programs are a scam, plain and simple. If you want to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in debt while writing work completely alienated from the real world, then by all means, join an M.F.A. program. Though they hold the lofty goal of giving aspiring writers a free space to perfect their craft, in practice they exist first and foremost to perpetuate the M.F.A. system. After spending two-three years learning to write in the "literary" style, submitting short stories and poems to any of thousands of low-paying "literary" magazines, the aspiring writer has little choice but to take a job as a writing teacher in order to pay off the debt accrued in a writing program. Thus, the cycle continues.

The BEAST gave me a way out of this lifetime of debt servitude. I was brought on as Art Director, but soon found myself as Editor-in-Chief when the founders took off for more promising waters. Overnight, I was in charge of a biweekly news organization with a circulation of 10,000, and I had never taken a journalism class. To say The BEAST was a learning experience is an understatement.

First and foremost, I learned what it meant to be accountable. The BEAST of 2003 was basically a Matt Taibbi / Mark Ames fanclub, and my cohorts and I (Brian Sek, Gabe Armstrong, Chris Riordan and others) used it as a platform to flaunt our complete disregard for journalistic responsibility by printing libelous rants on everyone from the anti-war movement to Kirk Cameron to the After Six nightclub magazine. I don't think an issue went by without us receiving a torrent of hate mail, a cease-and-desist order, or a tearful call from newly-departed girlfriend. It got so bad that Taibbi, by then working for The New York Press, had to send me a personal email reminding me that "a newspaper is like a loaded gun” and that I was pointing it in all the wrong directions.

Yet each overstep was in service to the real task facing every writer: to do something interesting. As an M.F.A. writer, the most I could have hoped for was a few colleagues noticing a short story I wrote for Glimmer Train. But to have my words appearing every two weeks on the free newspaper racks of every bar and restaurant in a city of 600,000 gave me direct access to the literary opinions of the common, and often drunk, man. Feedback became an addiction, and each issue saw us pushing the bounds of what we could do with the printed medium. In response to the war, we ran an editorial calling for a pre-emptive strike against a rival newspaper. To call attention to the plans for a downtown casino, we got drunk on malt liquor and stormed the Seneca Niagara. In response to the Critical Mass police riot, we did an Artvoice send-up and covered the incident as though it were piece of performance art.

Which brings me to a third point: relevance. I sat in on a number of workshop classes during my M.F.A. search, and I was often struck by the amount of self importance each writer gave their dithering works-in-progress. One girl had spent an entire semester on a short story comparing her mother to Greta Garbo. Another student was working his way through a poetic cycle on backpacking in Europe. Yet a third was making odd comparisons between Fruit Roll-Ups and the UV lights at Target. Though each sentence was finely wrought, each observation dazzled the senses, and each character bloomed on the page, the ideas these writers contributed amounted to about six drops of semen on a dead clown’s stomach.

Cultural critic Camille Paglia has been outspoken in her denunciation of M.F.A.-style writing. As she said in an interview with The Morning News, “[T]o be a good writer you can’t just study writing. You have to live, OK? That’s the problem. The best writers have drawn from actual experience… What experiences do people have any more?”

Needless to say, The BEAST was just such an experience. Through the fights we caused, the minor celebrities we met, the pranks we pulled, and the Bar-Dak nightclub marathons we embarked on, the paper functioned as a virtual experience-generating machine for everyone involved. As such, it provided a crash course in writing which no ivory tower could ever supply, an ad-hoc M.F.A. scrawled in red and black on the back of a bar napkin. That it continues to publish is testament to the fact that American letters will survive, with or without the stagnant air of academia.

Paul Salamone is a writer, blogger, and graphic designer living in Boulder, CO (though he avoids Naropa like the plague). He will be moving to Austin, TX this summer as part of his ongoing “field study” of drug-addled hippies living in liberal college towns.

 

BEAST Blog

Idiot Box by Matt Bors
Big Fat Whale by Brian McFadden
Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch
Bob the Angry Flower by Stephen Notely
Deep Fried by Jason Yungbluth

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Guide to Post-9/11 Opportunism
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