Welcome to The Stopgap

Welcome to The Stopgap

Meet your editors.

Jo Livingstone: Hi! You’re here. I’m so happy to see you.

Danny Lavery: I’m so happy to be here with you! I should mention that I’m eating a really tremendous sandwich with the leftover bread from my earlier experiment with housemaid’s coffee. This is what’s known in the industry as a callback.

JL: Extraordinary timing, because I’m eating a bodega BLT. Good for us. Now, if we were on television, this would be the moment where we cease talking to each other from club chairs on the stage and turn to the cameras to say, oh, hello, thank you for joining us.

DL: I should begin with a correction—since this is running before the housemaid’s coffee piece, it can’t be a callback at all, only foreshadowing. At any rate, I’m enjoying my usual 5.15 PM dinner, which is the best time for dinner. Spirits and the sun are still running high, so you capture something of the remaining momentum of the day, and it also frees up the rest of your night to do whatever you like instead of cleaning up after dinner. Everybody ought to eat dinner at 5.15 PM. This is the sort of cheerful, earthy wisdom readers can expect from The Stopgap, and at no additional cost to them, the consumers.

JL: I eat dinner at 7.30 PM. But I agree with you that no consumer will be put out by reading The Stopgap. It’s a blog! It’s free, a person navigates to its URL to read, that’s the long and short of it. But if by any chance somebody comes to this site who has never seen a blog before, but has read this far, they know what it is now. We can just type anything and nobody can do a thing about it.

DL: You’ve always been a cultured, cosmopolitan person in that respect. I should say that while I personally believe it is the moral duty of every citizen to eat dinner at 5.15 PM, I have no quarrel with your type. In many ways I believe you are my superior. It is the 8 PM-or-later crowd that is the real blight. I do not know if they can be corrected or if we should simply drain them for nutrients, liquids, protective eyewear, et cetera. I am open to discussion on that front; I am not a closed-minded man. Is it closed-minded? Or close-minded? I don’t know anything about sentences, I should say. I never learned what an adverb is, or diagrammed a sentence, or anything like that. Which is why I have a tendency to glom onto sophisticates like yourself, to balance out the gaps in my education, and why I’m very excited to be working on a website with you after a six- or seven-year hiatus. Seven years, almost, I think, since my last website!

JL: It’s not my fault I’m European. Here’s a Google ngram demonstrating how it changed to mostly “closed” from “close."

Danny, the thing is, I’ve got sentence diagrams crushed but I’ve never tried to make anything with popular appeal before. It’s a lot easier to be a critic than a guy who is smart and stylish and everyone loves, because if you’re a critic and people hate you it means you’re doing the job properly. This stuff? I don’t know. Frankly, you’re a living content legend and one of our era’s best writers despite having not even interned for ten years at a dust-encrusted literary magazine run by baby Mussolini which is how I thought you had to do it. I’m a bit nervous.

DL: “Love him or hate him, you’ve got to admit, that boy can blog”! Perhaps somewhere between professional criticism and trying to be the guy everyone loves there is a field where we might flourish together. Shall we talk a little bit about what we’d like to write about, what readers might expect from the Stopgap in the coming months, and what we’re hoping to do? You go first.

JL: I don’t think you’re trying to be the guy everybody loves, you just are. And of course there’s a middle ground—we’re standing on it right now.

Here’s what I want from this blog: Amateurism and enjoyment. Nothing good comes of professionalization in writing in its current form, I think, except sometimes better editors. And only sometimes!

I hope that older internet citizens will recognize this format from their sprightlier years, and want to try it out again, and that younger readers who missed Blog 1.0 can get a taste of what it felt to put anything you pleased onto the internet with no apology and no appeals to the uninterested.

Readers will soon be able to sign up for an account that lets them leave comments, but that's it for bells and whistles. Readers will also be able to tip guest writers directly, but we’re not paying ourselves or anybody else. My hope is that this setup will let the blog morph and rumble and spit out surprises, and somewhere in there we’re going to meet a real new writer. We have at least one iconic musician signed up to write—I love crossovers. You can’t stop me posting my little drawings. Maybe I'll blog my whittling tips. There’s no downside. What could be better?

DL: I’m not sure what my opinion is about professionalization in writing, but I do value amateurism (as distinct from amateurishness) and enjoyment immensely, and share your sense that they’re worth championing. We’ve talked about this in a few interviews, so I don’t want to belabor the point, but after seeing so many websites disappear/fold/lay staff off over the last few years, I’ve found the internet a more dispiriting, less interesting place than it had been. And for all its problems, I’ve liked the internet very much, and built almost all of my career here.

I didn’t even know that you could draw! I can’t wait to see them. And I’m glad you brought up that part about our not making any money from this, because in a recent interview someone asked us why we weren’t paying writers, and I was briefly horrified that anyone else might, if only for a second, think we were paying ourselves and not anybody else. I don’t know how to make money from a website! It’s a relief to simply throw up my hands and not even bother trying, instead blogging for the sheer love of the game.

I don’t think we’ve ever decided on a formal, final number of posts we’re running in a particular week. What sounds good to you? Twice a day? Thrice?

JL: What if we had a baseline of one proper piece a day, then if we miss one or have a bunch more it’s just a fun surprise?

DL: I love it. In which case we’ve already gone over for the next few days. What a wonderful surprise! I do love clearing a bar. We can save our biographical rundowns for when we attempt to interview one another a little later on. Do you have any final thoughts or words of welcome for anyone joining us today?

JL: I guess I want to say thank you to our computer friends Joe Bernardi and Daniel Shannon, who helped us to see that enough stuff has changed in this sector that we can get a lot done for free that used to be very overpriced. And thank you to you—as you know I’ve been unemployed for a while and this is the kind of, gosh, you might call it a stopgap, that gets a person through.

To our readers: Viva blogs, death to shitty media corporations. We all deserve better.

Danny, any parting sentiments?

DL: I do like that we started a site with ourselves. A Daniel and Jo(e) in every pot!

JL: Doppels get an unfairly bad rap.

DL: Merely unseelie! Not necessarily portentous. I hope people will email us with any little scraps or detritus that interests them, or that they’d like us to talk about; I hope our business plan of “make it 2009 again through science or magic” works out in the long run, and I hope to have another sandwich as good as this one again soon.