I’m going to start answering hypothetical questions people might ask me about this book along with questions people have actually asked me about the book and we’ll all puzzle out which ones are real and which are fake. Ooooh… it’s an experiment.
Q. Why this this book called Slanted and Enchanted?
A. As most of us who are over thirty and went to college in the 90s know, once upon a time there was a very popular indie band called Pavement. They were originally from Stockton, California, notable mostly for being an utter shithole. Their first album was called Slanted and Enchanted, and it is a classic.
Since I am utterly awful at naming things I’ve written (seriously — when I wrote for and edited Kitchen Sink Magazine and had 2-4 essays and short pieces in each issue, I always had to ask my fellow senior editor Jeff T Johnson to name my pieces for me. Sorry, man.), when it came time to send the book proposal off to auction, my agent asked me to brainstorm a list of potential titles. I came up with one, and it was a rip on a line by Frank O’Hara, one of my favorite poets who I write about in the first chapter of the book. It’s a good line and a great poem, but unfortunately, it doesn’t make a good book title, so as usual I begged people for help. The original subtitle was “Indie Culture in America” (this later changed to the broader “The Evolution of Indie Culture”), so I asked friends for suggestions of snappy phrases to precede that. Stefanie Kalem, genius writer and snazzy dresser, suggested Slanted and Enchanted, my agent liked it, I liked it, the end (yes, Stefanie gets thanked in the book).
This is not to suggest the book is entirely about Pavement; in fact, only 1/2 of one chapter really talks about that band, and my attempts to contact Stephen Malkmus for an interview wound up being fruitless. So the chapter is about the parallels between Pavement and the Silver Jews, because I did talk to David Berman, and the parallels between Matador Records (Pavement’s label, and the biggest indie label in the US), and Drag City (the Silver Jews’ label, and a much more modest operation). Anyway, this has caused some confusion for potential readers who think it’s a book strictly about Pavement and the 90s (like I said, only 1/10th of the book is about Pavement, and only three chapters take place in the 90s, and only about a third of the book is strictly about music). So, just to clarify, no, it’s not a book about Pavement, although they do play a pretty big part in the evolution of what we call indie today.
I really wanted to call it The Hobbit, but that would be even more confusing.
Causes Kaya Oakes Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center
Call to Action
Human Rights Campaign
Berkeley Food and Housing Project