Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Ben Apatoff

Perhaps interesting to readers: I went to college with Ben Apatoff but never met him until he was at Erica Quinn's housewarming, several years after we had both graduated.  Ben is the author of two books, a freelance writer, and the creator of Apatoff for Destruction, a metal blog.

Ben Apatoff, photo by Sarah Anne Wharton

Who are you? That's a good question. I love people, music, books and movies.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? I've published two eBooks on Amazon, A Metal Fan's Notes and The Perks of Being a Campaigner. I also co-host a podcast (Duke and Duke) and run a metal blog (Apatoff for Destruction). I've been pretty bad about updating it this fall, and have been posting more videos than essays, but I've gone through periods like this before and I'll get back to full essays every morning soon. In the meantime, I've been writing and editing stories for Electric Literature, and I've been interviewing some of New York City's coolest artists for The Deli Magazine. My first cover story for them is out this month.

My writing is probably more about fandom than anything else. I don't write for metalheads, or for political buffs, but I hope that someone who doesn't care about either of those things could get caught up in the passion. When someone tells me they don't like metal but they like my writing, or that something I wrote inspired them to go canvassing, I know I've done something right.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I've written in one way or another for almost as long as I can remember, but when I left college and stopped writing papers I felt the need to stay in the habit. I was reading a lot about music, and I was usually disappointed with how little coverage went to my favorite artists, and how poor the writing was, even in major publications. So I started a blog.

Why do you write? It feels right to me. I'd rather be a great guitar player, or the undisputed world middleweight champ, or Vice President of the United States, but when I get home from work or a party my first instinct is usually to update my blog.

Ben drawn by the kids at PS 290

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Axl Rose's influence is probably most obvious, from my blog title to my publishing company name (Nightrain) to my essays on Guns N' Roses to my performances in my band, Eat. He's not my favorite writer or the person who's had the greatest impact on me personally, but no one has inspired me to write as much as he has. Having overanalyzed him to the ends of the earth over the past 20 years, I've come to understand a lot of things through him and his music.

I think of that Václav Havel quote about how Lou Reed's music wasn't political, but it was revolutionary, and that was enough to inspire Havel to lead a peaceful overthrowing of Czechoslovakia's Communist regime with the Velvet Revolution. Not that my accomplishments are anywhere near Havel's, but I like the idea that someone who isn't necessarily a writer or an activist can inspire those things with their art.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? My first thought was Tulum, Mexico. Even though I was just there last summer, one of my best friends lives down there and I always have a blast when I visit. But if I were to pick someplace I've never been, I've always been intrigued by Australia. Initially from reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but now because I'd like to see the land that spawned AC/DC and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.

What is your favorite place on earth? It's got to be Virginia, home to George Washington and GWAR. A great place to spend your adolescence, and a great place to inspire adolescents to run off to Brooklyn. Plus, the state flag has a lady stabbing a tyrant, which is the most metal thing I can think of.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Call your friends on their birthdays.

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