“You Don’t Want to Know”

Long-time Panera regular comes by to shake my hand and wish me good morning. Says Shalom because she knows we’re both Jewish. Cups my right hand warmly with both of hers and smiles, then moves on to next table.

Makes the rounds greeting regulars and first-timers: old couple sitting side by side eating oatmeal and drinking coffee, four concerned citizens parsing the week’s events.

“Where have you been?” the old man asks. “We missed you,” his wife adds.

“You don’t want to know,” she answers, then adds, “You missed me like a cold.”

The First to Know

She studied so hard under the watchful guidance of her tutor. Math was a stickler subject but so was science. She prepped for her grad school exams, took her grad school exams, and failed her grad school exams. She prepped again, took them again, failed them again. Then she prepped for them once more.

In time we became Panera friends and I learned that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother and become a scientist. I became a source of encouragement.

Today she approached me quietly but excitedly. I felt her approaching presence and looked up from my screen. She whispered, “I just wanted you to be the first to know: I passed.”

She hurried off to the restroom as I called, “I’m proud of you.”

Crack Team of Digitizers Preserving Music History

Do you miss those cutting-edge hip hop and rap magazines from the eighties and nineties?

Does your favorite academic library have incomplete runs of your favorite rock and folk music magazines and the pages are torn or missing?

For the past seven years, I have been on a crack team of digitizers at sister companies Reveal Digital and NA Publishing who are creating amazing collections of exact digital reproductions of important political and cultural newspapers and magazines from the nineteen fifties onward (with a few that dip into the forties). I’m the guy who figures out who the rights holders are, then researches how to contact them or their heirs and invites them to include their publications in the collections.

Our goals are to preserve these publications, which too often yellow around the edges and crumble as they age; and to make them accessible to current and future readers, for whom if it isn’t in electronic form it doesn’t exist.

Underground Press

Our premier collection was the landmark Independent Voices, which, when it is finished, will include some 1,000 underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties, encompassing the Civil Rights and Vietnam era antiwar and liberation movements.





Rock Music Magazines

Our current series is of music magazines. The Rock collection is complete with minor exceptions, including sourcing of a few remaining issues of CREEM.



Folk Music Magazines

Folk, including Sing Out!, Broadside, People’s Songs Bulletin, and others, is smaller than Rock but scanning and digitizing continue and it is growing. We’d still like to add a few titles.




If you loved the music, check out the magazines in our collection that covered it:

username: sales@napubco.com
password: Seeger

Hip Hop and Rap Music Magazines

Next is Hip Hop and Rap. We’re still in the crucial rights-gathering stage. Current and former hip hop and rap editors and publishers:

  • Would you like your magazine to be digitized at no cost to you?
  • Would you like to receive keyword-searchable digital files to put up on your website at no cost to you?

Then email me today at ken@azenphonypress.com and let’s talk.

I look forward to hearing from you.



Survivors of Clinton Defeat Meet at Panera

Survivors of Clinton defeat meet at Panera, still stunned after week but determined, waiting for lunches to arrive.

First declares week long enough to mourn. Time to assess what went wrong and move on. “Our resolve, our courage, our love all are being tested,” she says. “If love is politically correct, then let’s celebrate political correctness, not run from it.”

Second reflects on mood of country and concludes: “Hatred and cowardice won this time around, even though love had more votes. Let’s find strength in that fact.”

First imagines good folks who worshipped Trump when they realize he used them to get what he wants and doesn’t need them anymore: “They’re going to be real disappointed.”

“How can we do outreach to them on issues where we share common ground?” asks second. “That’s our challenge as we build new coalitions and a better community.”

Floor staff person brings lunches, soup and salad for her, soup and sandwich for him.

I Felt a Shiver

Dateline Ann Arbor, Temple Beth Emeth ballroom: I arrived at 6:35 a.m. I was the thirteenth in line. Seven more followed immediately behind me.

I felt a shiver as I waited and it wasn’t from the cold and I recognized it as being either because I was going to vote for the first woman president or because I was going to vote against the first possibly certifiable lunatic. As a country, we’ve got our work cut out for us after the election no matter who wins.

When the polls opened at 7, sixty voters stood behind me. By the time I left, the line extended around the hallway toward the sanctuary.

Relief that it’s over. How can we best prepare for the next phase?

Rock, Folk, and Hip Hop/Rap Music Fans, This One’s for You

I’m pleased to introduce you to NA Publishing’s new digital collection of ROCK music magazines, the first in NA Publishing’s new Music Magazine Archive (MMA) Series.

Rock Music

MMA: Rock is a cutting-edge collection of keyword-searchable exact digital reproductions of rock music magazines from the latter half of the last century onward, scanned and digitized from the originals in partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Bowling Green State University’s popular culture library with support from a growing team of sourcing libraries.

Titles on board so far include The Bob, CREEM, Fusion, Jazz & Pop, Maximum Rocknroll, OP, Option, RayGun, Royal’s World Countdown, Slash, Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press/Trouser Press, Under the Radar, World Countdown.

If you know rock music, you know these magazines.

You won’t find a more dynamic collection anywhere with the exception of—no, there are no exceptions. This is it.

Here’s all the information you need to know to sample it for free for the next month, until November 18:


username: sales@napubco.com

password: Stones [updated password through 2016: Seeger]

Enjoy it and share it widely. Our goal is to go into complete open access, which means anyone can search it at any time of day every day from anywhere in the world using any search engine.

But we aren’t there yet. First we have to cover our costs. Are you a librarian with an interest in music and an open access consciousness? Write to me at ken@azenphonypress.com and let me show you how you can support this amazing resource.

Folk Music

FOLK music fans, your collection is next.

Titles on board so far include Americana Rhythm Music Magazine, Broadside (Boston)/Broadside of Boston/Broadside and the Free Press, Broadside (New York), The Canada Folk Bulletin, Come All Ye, Dirty Linen, Fairport Fanatics, FolkWorks, Hootenanny, HOT WIRE: The Journal of Women’s Music and Culture, The Little Sandy Review, Old-Time Herald, Paid My Dues, People’s Songs Bulletin, Sing and String, Sing Out!/Sing Out Bulletin, and Singalong!

Again: most dynamic; no exceptions. If you’re a Folkie, you know what I’m saying.

Hip Hop and Rap Music

Now we’re working on our third collection in the Music Magazine Archive Series, this one of Hip Hop and Rap music magazines from the 1980s to the present. We need help. (Karmically, the Beatles’ “Help” just began playing on Pandora as I was typing the word.)

HHR editors, publishers, and owners, we’re just getting started but it’s easy to tell from a casual Internet search that your fans are hungry for past issues of their favorite titles. You can make it happen but you have to contact me so you can give me permission. We won’t include your title otherwise.

I describe MMA: Hip Hop and Rock (HHR) here. Learn the rewards you receive for coming on board. Then email me at ken@azenphonypress.com. Let’s make it happen.

Vietnam Era Underground Press

My background is the Vietnam era underground press. I saw these papers being disappeared from history after the war ended and was inspired to compile the four-volume Voices from the Underground Series. Then, working with Reveal Digital, NA Publishing’s sister company, I created Independent Voices, a digital collection of over a thousand underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties.

HHR friends, MMA: Hip Hop and Rap is equally as important for your generation as Independent Voices was for mine. I am impassioned by that belief.

If you agree and can give permission for your magazine to be included or introduce me to someone who can, email me today so that I can answer your questions and extend a formal invitation.

I look forward to hearing from you.



What journals do you recall fondly or still read?

Would you like to be able to view

  • exact keyword-searchable digital reproductions
  • of their complete runs
  • for free on the Internet
  • anywhere in the world
  • at any time of day
  • every day of the year
  • from any search engine?

You Can Make It Happen

You can make it happen but I need to hear from you.

An emerging cutting-edge, open access, digital collection of hip hop and rap magazines from the mid-eighties to the present is now in the rights-gathering stage at NA Publishing. Who do you know who used to or still does publish a hip hop or rap magazine that is significant to you?

Please introduce me to them so that I can invite them to become part of the collection.

The initial collection will consist of 75,000 pages of exact keyword-searchable digital reproductions of the originals. The number of titles that represents will be determined by

  • which publishers take advantage of the unique opportunity to have their complete runs scanned, digitized, and posted on their websites for free;
  • the total number of pages in the complete runs of those titles.

Hip Hop and Rap is the third collection in NA Publishing’s new Music Magazine Archive Series. The first two are comparably sized and each has 13 titles:

  • Rock: including arguably the most significant rock music magazine of the sixties and seventies: CREEM.
  • Folk: going back to Pete Seeger’s People’s Songs Bulletin and Sing Out!.

Upcoming collections will feature magazines devoted to punk, jazz, soul, rhythm and blues, teen music, and other genres.

Make It Happen

To learn more about how you can be part of Hip Hop and Rap, send me your email address today to @KenWachsberger or ken.wachsberger@revealdigital.com so that I can send you more information and answer your questions.

Join Kristi Lynn Davis and Me at This Year’s Kerrytown BookFest

Don’t miss Ann Arbor’s upcoming Kerrytown BookFest, which will be held this year on Sunday September 11 from 10:30 to 5 at the Farmers Market in Ann Arbor. I don’t remember how many I’ve attended as an exhibitor—I missed last year’s to attend a family wedding—but it’s part of my regular fall adventure schedule. Authors and publishers from throughout Michigan exhibit along with entrepreneurs from other sectors of the book publishing community, including book coaches, booksellers, artists, printers, and others. Speakers throughout the day talk about timely and historical topics, read from new books, and demonstrate related skills.


My Azenphony Press table will be #92. It’s easy to find on the site map. Or ask any of the helpful volunteers who set up, tear down, and do everything in between to make your time there pleasurable. I hope you’ll come by and say hello.

This year the organizers asked me to describe what I do as a writer, publisher, and book coach. This is what I wrote:

The books that I publish cover an eclectic range of interests but they all are about people who have found strength through the power of writing. As an author and an editor, my gift is my ability to help them to clarify and expand their stories.

While being interviewed by me, Bernard Mednicki (Never Be Afraid: A Belgian Jew in the French Resistance) broke through layers of forgotten World War II memories to reveal a trauma that he had suppressed for over forty years.

Writing Your Partner Has Breast Cancer helped me to keep sane while acting as my wife’s support person.

Transforming Lives: A Socially Responsible Guide to the Magic of Writing and Researching shows people how to write their own stories through the I-Search paper.

At this time in my career I’ve begun helping others as a book coach. Long Legs and Tall Tales: A Showgirl’s Wacky, Sexy Journey to the Playboy Mansion and the Radio City is Kristi Lynn Davis’s hilarious adventures as a former dancer with the Rockettes and Playboy’s Girls of Rock & Roll. Look for Kristi to be at the booth from 12:00-1:00 p.m.

All of these books and others will be available for sale. If you’re anywhere near Ann Arbor, I hope you’ll stop by, say hello, buy a few signed books, learn how I can coach you through the often-intimidating process of writing a book, and take a selfie with me by my table, which will feature my new Azenphony Press table covering, thanks to the artistic work by my friends at Signarama in Ann Arbor. (Thank you, Megan Yu.)

And don’t miss the opportunity to meet the funny, inspirational, incredible Kristi Lynn Davis from noon to 1 p.m. at table #92.

The Reward System Works

The reward system is part of the process of writing, and it works.

RewardSystemWorks_TVAs a book coach and writer, my message to you is that we need to set modest goals along the way to our finished products. When you achieve any goal, give yourself a reward: a half hour of TV without guilt or a phone call to a friend after writing three pages.

I’m reminded of a lesson I learned around the reward system when my son David was seven-years old. The year before, we had bought him his first two-wheeler for his sixth birthday. It was a bright red bike that said “Team Murray” on the side and he loved it. He showed it off to all the neighbors. The only trouble was, he never rode it, at least not after his first few falls. He just refused to try. He even attempted to convince me—and, hence, himself—that he didn’t want to ride his bike.

I was reminded of how I used to suck my thumb when I was around his age. My dad couldn’t get me to stop and he didn’t know what to do. Finally one night as he was tucking me into bed he said he would buy me a baseball glove if I could go a week without sucking my thumb. I never sucked my thumb again.

Of course, to this day I bite my nails.

Anyhow, David was into Nintendo by this time so I promised him I would buy him any Nintendo game he wanted as soon as he learned how to ride his bike. He was riding it in one day.

The reward system works.

[This piece was adapted from a sidebar in Transforming Lives: A Socially Responsible Guide to the Magic of Writing and Researching.]

What’s Your Writer’s Space?


My supervisor at a college where I once taught said to me one day as I was freewriting in my journal, “Ah, the life of a writer. Sitting along the bank of a river, leaning against a tree, feeling the breeze in his hair as he writes.”

Well, maybe that was his ideal writer’s space. (I was actually sitting at my desk in a cramped office at the time.) It’s not mine, as idyllic as it sounds.

As I grew to maturity as a writer I always found myself attracted to restaurants when I wanted to write. Sometimes it was a restaurant where a friend worked. At others the attraction was the food.

But more often than not it had a booth where I could spread out my books and papers, the wait staff and management welcomed me no matter how long I stayed or how little I spent, and they kept my coffee cup or iced tea glass full. After I purchased my first laptop, an electric outlet became necessary. Anything else—air conditioning, good music, herbal iced tea, a booth by the window, real cream instead of ersatz, cleanliness—was a bonus.

In years past, my favorite writer’s spaces have been IHOP, Big Boy, McDonald’s, and Panera. They’re chains more by accident than by design but the conformity of branches around the country makes me feel at home wherever I travel.

My current favorite writer’s space is a Panera two miles from my home on the main street that connects Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and leads to the freeway. It’s clean. My table is all the way in the back where the windows don’t reach, so on a good writing day I don’t know what the weather outside was that day until I go home in the evening.

But it’s got an electric outlet on the wall next to it and it’s by the iced tea and the restroom. Music lacks the energy and drive of the fifties, sixties, and seventies songs that inspired my writing at a past favorite McDonald’s but the staff welcome me as family no matter what time I arrive and several of them have bought my books. With my cell phone and my laptop, I long ago made it my official office.

If only I could get my accountant to let me write off my meals under “Office Expenses” or “Rent.”

What’s your writer’s space?

[This piece was adapted from a sidebar in Transforming Lives: A Socially Responsible Guide to the Magic of Writing and Researching.]