Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My name is Leo McGovern and I live in New Orleans. I haven't always, but I've always been close. I grew up ten minutes southwest of New Orleans, in a city called Marrero. I've always been well versed in the city, since my father grew up Downtown and, as a kid, we always took the long route to my grandparents' house in Chalmette, which was through the CBD, up Canal to Rampart, and Rampart to St. Claude, St. Claude to Judge Perez.

About two years ago I finally moved from my parents' house into my own place, a small shotgun in Lakeview. After eleven months my girlfriend and I moved in together after we found a perfect place in Mid-City, the bottom left part of a fourplex.

It sounds like the beginning of an online personal ad, but I've always loved reading and writing. I grew up on comic books and the hobby grew into a passion as I grew older. At the pinnacle of my collecting I had around 40,000 comic books and graphic novels. I'm a huge fan of alternative and independent comics and music, and that was a huge motivation when it came to me creating the Alternative Media Expo in June of 2003, and AntiGravity in June of 2004.

The AME was inspired by shows like the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco and sidewalk arts and crafts markets. It featured mostly New Orleans artists displaying their wares, everything from homemade clothes to web design to comics. AntiGravity was a natural extension of that. It started as a sixteen page magazine featuring interviews with and write-ups on local and national bands supplemented by reviews of comics and albums, the comic strips Too Much Coffee Man and the K Chronicles, and that's about it. In under a year and a half it grew to thirty-two pages, added comic strips by local cartoonists, movie reviews, and features on local independent businesses like coffeeshops and bookstores.

If you think an alternative monthly would be difficult to finance, you'd be correct. I saved a bunch of money to front the first few issues, worked hard selling advertising to make it work, got lucky...and it still didn't break even. My day job is in the healthcare industry. I work with people with disabilities, taking them out of their houses and into the community. One of my clients has mild developmental problems, one is half-paralyzed, and one has Down's Syndrome. After bills, extra money went into the magazine.

In August 2005, everything, as good as it was, was going in an even better direction. The September issue was the first set to turn a profit, and AG was primed to double its print run in October for Voodoo, a New Orleans music festival that attracts tens of thousands of people. The October issue promised to be the biggest yet, expanding to forty pages due to an unprecedented influx of advertisers. We opened our new office in early August, above Handsome Willy's, a fairly new bar/restaurant, after working out of my house the previous 14 months. To celebrate the new office we had a party on the 20th, a last opportunity to party before September deadline crunched us and things got even crazier with the October issue.

During the next week, one of the owners asked me if I heard about a new hurricane about to hit Florida. I said I hadn't, and he said that it was expected to hit Florida and head up the Eastern coast.

"Ah, I'm not worried about it, then," I said.

And then came the weekend, and with it the possibility New Orleans would be no more, and that at least the city would never be the same.
eXTReMe Tracker