I’ve never lived in New York City. The current state of my income ensures that I probably never will, either. But like a lot of creative types with aspirations of “making it” at some point, preferably before the flab and nonsexy sadness kicks in, New York has stood out as not just a place to be, but the place I have to be if I want to get somewhere. Or L.A., depending on the kind of there you’re looking to get to and the coastal allegiance you have.
The thing is, I don’t know that I ever fully committed to the notion that those East/West metropolises were the only options. The books I’ve read and the shows I’ve watched have hammered that home, and the friends I’ve seen head in either direction reiterate that belief like alarm bells that are simply programmed to do nothing else. But I grew up on the road, my family modern nomads, jumping from place to place on a near yearly basis right until I graduated high school. I’ve never felt loyalty to any specific city or region or continent, if anything I buy into the concept of shark survival, life sustained by constant movement and the certainty that stopping is basically death.
At the moment I’m typing this at 4 a.m. in Austin, TX, a hot water mecca for nomads everywhere, built around excuses for the surrounding territory that is sustained by a not-so-secret nasty edge that telegraphs this message in blinking red letters: don’t move here don’t move here don’t move here but if you do don’t win. We are hundreds of thousands of fuck-ups, lost boys and girls unwilling to court traditional ideas about success and victory and achievement. We are basically the anti-New York, not necessarily anti-intellectual, but fiercely devoted to successful failure and creative immaturity and though I don’t personally fully buy into the philosophy of ATX, there’s something about it that’s seductive and intoxicating and more in tune to my generation’s specific take on life than the bill of goods NYC or LA put forth.
What I do believe is that Austin isn’t alone. I’ve lived a lot of places and most of them have been wholly distinct, prey to certain foibles and appealing in various aspects and while none of the others have stood out as somewhere young people dream of travelling to en masse, they nonetheless function as totally serviceable or even ideal habitats. Austin, however, has some kind of weird cache that enables it to stand out as maybe the first true opposition to New York and LA as a Place To Be, emphasis on the capitalization. I honestly don’t care about the feasibility of that, but I do think there’s potency in the symbolism. Or to be clearer, I think Austin the Idea is more important than Austin the Place. And Austin the Idea is Loser City.
We want Loser City to be the New Yorker for the generation that generally doesn’t give a shit about the New Yorker. We want this to be a nebulous all-purpose cultural magazine that travels wherever it feels like travelling and covers whatever ground suits it, that doesn’t believe you have to be in a certain place to achieve whatever aspirations you have, or to gloriously fail at those ambitions. We are fuck ups and malcontents and wanderers and perverts and assholes and weirdos, snobs and lowbrows and fetishists and introverts and lunatics and slackers. We are a generation raised without borders, with access to too much knowledge and art and not enough time to consume it and the state of things as we’ve known them has guaranteed our loser status is more or less permanent. And that’s okay.
Welcome to Loser City, where everyone’s a winner.
Morgan Davis sells bootleg queso on the streets of Austin in order to fund Loser City. When he isn’t doing that, he plays drums for Stickers and makes fun songs about horrible subjects with a Chinese opera vocalist as Pontypool.