Option Magazine Suspends Publication

Publisher Scott Becker pulls plug after 14 years, promises periodical will be back in some form.

After serving the music community for 14 years, the highly respected

underground magazine Option has closed shop and indefinitely

suspended publication.

Publisher Scott Becker said shutting down the magazine's operations

after the July/August issue will afford him time to step away from the

periodical, which gained a solid reputation for helping bring attention

to some of today's most innovative artists, such as Stereolab, the Orb

and A Tribe Called Quest.

Saying he lost interest in the business end of the magazine, Becker said

he also plans to use the time to reassess his motivation and the

direction of the publication, and look at options for making a comeback

somewhere down the road.

"The drag was always running the venture as a business, however

progressive we tried to make it. I never forgot that we had to operate

in the real world," he said. "I just don't care for it very much."

Although expressing his frustration with the financial end of putting

together a magazine intended as a forum to share his enthusiasm for

music, Becker promised that the periodical, which he started out of his

bedroom in 1984, will return in some form.

"Our break is open-ended, but the magazine will still be called

Option when we return," Becker wrote in an e-mail. "This pause

represents a chance for me to do some thinking, sleeping, traveling,

chilling, recharging and f---ing off. It's a vacation for my head."

Option, based in Santa Monica, Calif., was the underground music

periodical readers could buy at most any local magazine shop. If you

wanted to find that limited-edition Merge 7-inch (only available on

vinyl) and didn't know of a store more exotic than Tower Records,

Option could tell you where to go.

It served as an invaluable resource for collectors, music-industry

insiders, college radio station staffers and garden-variety rock fans.

Longtime reader Windy Chien, co-producer of this year's eclectic

Terrastock music festival and owner of Aquarius Records, registered

surprise at the decision to shut down operations at Option.

"Option's been around for so long," Chien said. "It seemed like a

real alternative to Rolling Stone and Spin, but it played

on the same level. It was always glossy so it carried the same weight of

respectability. They turned me on to a lot of different bands,

especially because they always covered jazz and world music."

Option began with the idea of serving as an outlet to discuss

lesser-known bands, labels and types of music. Over the years, the

magazine's cover featured artists as diverse as hip-hop trio A Tribe

Called Quest, indie-noise rockers Sonic Youth, jungle music innovator

Goldie, electronica trailblazers the Orb and gritty punk-rocker Patti

Smith.

"The whole point, from Day One until now, was to share my enthusiasm for

music which might otherwise be ignored," said Becker, "or to have a

forum where we could view interesting cultural trends or artists in a

new light."

Although the September/October issue of Option will not be published,

Becker plans a possible return to the magazine business, with more

immediate projects including a planned alt-rock book anthology, "We Rock

So You Don't Have To," slated for a Sept. 1 release by Incommunicado

Press.