Thursday, February 27, 2003
Paul Jacob and Lindsay Bentz are so smart, talented, ambitious, creative, driven, environmentally conscious and, yes, good-looking, one is tempted to dislike them.
Jacob, 27, graduated from college in San Francisco with an M.A. in Writing and Consciousness (whatever), spent five years on the road in Europe and across the U.S. funding his poetry performances by bartending, and then hooked up with Bentz-a young (she''s now 24) self-taught designer/graphic artist. The two pooled their bar tips and waitressing money, moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and started a four-color, alternative travel magazine out of their home office-two weeks after 9/11.
The magazine-first called Places, recently renamed Modern Nomad-takes almost no advertising and is supported by nearly 80,000 subscribers. It''s filled with smart, first-person writings about travel-real travel, not tourism-from the viewpoint of Nomad''s target readers, people who, in Jacob''s estimation, "are dedicated to the idea of travel as a way of life and a vehicle for promoting cross-cultural understanding."
The mag spawned a movement-a bunch of like-minded twenty- and thirty-something ecologically conscious, politically active, cultural creatives who subscribe to and write for the magazine. And the movement is spawning a festival: the first annual Modern Nomad Festival, scheduled for June 6-8 at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur.
The three-day gathering will feature Beat poet Neeli Cherkovski (with whom Jacob studied in college), jazz singer Jenna Mammina, DJ Tom Thump, Golden Pen award-winner Lisa Teasley, singers K.P. Devlin and Pamela Wyn Shannon, and a variety of other live bands, spoken word performances, writing workshops, short films, and open mic readings. Tickets go on sale midnight Feb. 28, and just 350 will be sold-that''s all the library lawn can safely hold.
Jacob says he''s not surprised that the magazine has found a niche following. "Most of our readers are 21 to 39, but it''s not just for younger people," he says. "We''re for anyone who is open-minded, who likes to travel and who likes to live. There''s enough crap out there. We have a responsibility to give a voice to this subculture."
Jacob claims the mag doesn''t take political sides ("We''re not Democrat or Republican," he repeats), but they''ve come out vocally against the war in Iraq, and if environmentalism ain''t political, then what the heck is Earth First! all about?
Modern Nomad is, above all, a great read, written more like a literary journal than a mass-market travel magazine. "We don''t ''continue'' stories, it''s all one thought, like jazz, one story flowing into the next," Jacob says. "We provide a salon for an old-fashioned discussion of ideas." Modern Nomad also features poetry, writing contests, interviews with unknown artists, comments about out-of-the-way restaurants, and a lively readers'' letters section.
The most recent issue included a piece about New York''s historic Chelsea Hotel, a beautiful musing on Kerouac and Miller in Big Sur, an "idler''s guide" to Madison, Wisc., and a photo essay by Jacob and Bentz from a 5,000-mile cross-country road trip they took last year. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who may attend June''s festival, has written for the mag. So have people with no writing credentials. That''s part of the ethos.
Ironically, Bentz and Jacob don''t own a car. They moved to Chapel Hill because, Jacob says, "it''s cheap and the buses are free." The two have sunk all their savings into Modern Nomad, and they do all the work on the magazine themselves. The June festival in Big Sur is a benefit for both Modern Nomad and the Henry Miller Library, and tickets are available according to a sliding scale-from $50 for self-proclaimed "struggling" nomads, to $150 for "livin'' large" nomads, capping off at $200. "Just be honest," Jacob asks.
For festival tickets, visit www.modernnomadmagazine.com.