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the Chicago Tribune

The Baffler Returns: First New Issue of Thomas Frank's Chicago-Based Leftist Journal Slated for November

Christopher Borrelli

Did The Baffler peak too soon? Did that left-leaning, Chicago-based journal of cultural dissent -- so diligent in its sneer at anything that smacked of fake rebellion and corporate posturing that it once called the MoonPie a work of "post-industrial malaise" -- pick the wrong decade for its heyday?

"The real question," said co-founder Thomas Frank, "is what does The Baffler have to say now about where we are? I think this is our moment, exactly the moment to come back. The orthodoxies of the last 40 years have been shattered; the [financial] system has discredited itself so fantastically in just the past year.

"The funny thing is, when we were saying this stuff back in the '90s, a lot of people just took offense and disagreed."

Published from 1988 until 2003, The Baffler is slated to return in November. The big targets remain consumer and business culture, "the bubble of the moment," as it once put it. Frank will be the editor, and it will be published in Chicago -- twice yearly and with more regularity, Frank says.

The publisher will be Conor O'Neil, a former intern in Barack Obama's Senate office who as an undergraduate founded the non-profit Clio Society at Northwestern University in 2002.

"It having a Midwestern attitude is important," said Frank, a Missouri native who co-founded the journal with Keith White (now publisher of Congressional Quarterly) when Frank was a graduate student at the University of Chicago.

Frank, author of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" and a Wall Street Journal columnist, now lives in Washington.

"In my little imagination, I never really felt like The Baffler went away," he said. "I mean, I just got back from the hardware store. I went to buy grass seed. The name of the seed? 'Rebel'! It's like there's almost no point anymore to the word!"

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