Posts Tagged ‘MediaBistro’

A Farang In Paradise

November 24, 2010 4 comments

Here’s an old one from way back in mid-2003, when I was first attempting to get my freelance foreign correspondence career off the ground. This story was reported during my first-ever trip to Bangkok, and at the time I didn’t even realize how obsessed I was by creative entrepreneurial types. But when I discovered Farang magazine and Cameron Cooper, the expat publisher responsible for it, I knew I had to write about both. Jesse Oxfeld edited this one, by the way. He left about a year later for Editor & Publisher before moving over to New York magazine. He’s now executive editor of Tablet, an online Jewish culture publication. (Not to be confused with the now-defunct alt-biweekly newspaper from Seattle.)



Bangkok’s Farang magazine–a snarky and useful montly aimed at backpacking kids–and Cameron Cooper, the swashbuckling expat publisher who created it.

By Dan Eldridge – September 8, 2003 |

It may be the desk-jockey journalist’s most popular fantasy: pack a suitcase in the dead of night, call a cab to the airport at the break of dawn, and upon arrival in a previously fantasized about exotic locale, commence romantic reinvention from bored newspaper hack to swashbuckling foreign correspondent.

Admittedly, Cameron Cooper’s own transformation from daily scribe to editor-in-chief of Bangkok’s Farang magazine–a monthly travel title aimed at the thousands of world-wizened backpackers who pass through Southeast Asia on gap years or round-the-world treks–didn’t happen quite like that. The story of his introduction to the world of expatriate publishing, in fact, is even more colorful, and filled with over-the-top anecdotes and a string of traveler’s tall tales that he was all too happy to share with me over cups of instant coffee and an endless stream of cigarettes when I recently visited Farang headquarters, a tidy, three-story office overlooking a sweatshop on an almost hidden side street in Bangkok’s sensory-overloaded Banglampoo district.

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Incidentally, I have no idea what Cameron Cooper is up to now, although I suspect he’s still living and working in Bangkok. The last time I saw him was maybe three summers ago, when I was in Thailand to research a guidebook for Lonely Planet. Cameron had since changed the name of his magazine from Farang to Untamed Travel, and he mentioned that the publication was up for sale, and that he had another creative entrepreneurial venture in the works.

Unfortunately, he didn’t share any details of his new business plan with me, and I don’t know if it was a publishing effort or something entirely different. If you’re out there, Cameron, I’d love to hear from you. And if anyone reading this happens to know if Cameron is running a new business in Bangkok, please get in touch–or even better, tell us about it in the comments section below.


The Return of the Labor Party

February 20, 2008 Leave a comment

homeowner-mouse-is-home.jpgWell what in the hell do you know? The Labor Party is officially back in action. How nice. My sincerest apologies for the recent lack of posts, by the way; I’ve been busy with a seriously extreme load of never-ending labor myself lately, and so unfortunately, fun projects that for whatever reason don’t result in actual cash-money have been pushed, every so slightly, onto the back burner. But never mind all that: We’re posting again, we’re keeping strict tabs on the wild, wild world of unusual entrepreneurship, and all is therefore right with the world.

And just in case you’re curious to know exactly what sort of labor has been keeping me so busy as of late: Well … as it happens, not too terribly long ago, my fiancee and I went and bought ourselves a very large house, smack dab in the middle of a relatively large city. And as any of you fellow homeowners out there are already very well aware, being a new homeowner can sometimes be a bit of a pain in the ass, and it can also sometimes feel like a part-time job. Which is to say, it keeps you eternally busy, even if sometimes you can’t really account for exactly what it is you’ve been doing with your time. 

Still, it rules. To wit: As I sit here at this very moment and write, I’ve actually got a contractor and his young lackey hard at work in my basement, three floors beneath me, doing some sort of complicated sealant job that I personally can’t even begin to imagine understanding. So that’s the fun part of being a homeowner: acting all grown-up and serious and shit. And so that’s that, essentially. Welcome back, readers. (Real posts with actual entrepreneurship-related information coming soon. Promise!)      

OMG! I almost forgot: Want to know what it was that actually inspired today’s re-awakening of the Labor Party? Sure you do. It was a totally kick-ass essay by long-time internet writer and current Deadspin editor Will Leitch about how the concept of writer’s block is absolute bullshit if you’re a professional blogger, as he is. (Or if you’re simply a serious writer with a big pile of real work on his/her desk, as opposed to an artiste who can afford [literally and metaphorically] to bitch and moan about how terribly hard it is to fill that horrifyingly blank page with precious prose.) 

Deadspin, by the way, as far as I’m concerned, is an absolutely genius sports blog, and this is coming from someonegodsave.jpg (me) who has absolutely, positively no interest in sports whatsoever. Deadspin’s schtick, as far as I can tell, is that American sports journalism is complete horseshit, and needs to be overhauled entirely. The thing about it is, I just can’t think of too many blogs out there that are as instantly addictive as Deadspin — and I’m talking about addictive in the same way Gawker used to be addictive before it started to suck — and once again, let’s not forget that I couldn’t care one lick about any sort of professional sport. So, there’s my little pitch for Deadspin — go check it out.

Will Leitch’s essay about writer’s block being an entirely false construct of trustfunders and other lazy fucks who don’t care to actually work for a living is here, on the Publisher’s Weekly website.

Seriously, if you’re a writer, please do yourself a favor and read this one; it may actually give you some much-needed inspiration, as it did for me. Leitch makes a great point about journalism — and for that matter, about writing in general — that I have always agreed with: What we do is a craft, and it is a job. It’s not art. It’s never art. As Leitch says in the PW essay: “Writer’s block is the luxury of those who have no one expecting to hear from them today.” (Amen.)

Finally, if you like Leitch’s PW essay and if you happen to also be a Mediabistro AvantGuild member, take a look at this Q&A between Leitch and MB’s Noah Davis, which was posted today, and in which Leitch talks about how he finished his new book, God Save the Fan, in five months, while also working full-time on Deadspin. (If you’re not an AvantGuild member but you really, really want to read the interview, go ahead and send me a really convincing e-mail, and I might just send it your way as a Word doc. If you’re nice. And if you’re lucky.)