Erik Caplan, former Managing Editor of Rockpile Magazine, Praises on the Ocassion of Our 10th Birthday!

Erik Caplan Bear Suit

“I first made Gail’s acquaintance while I was the managing editor of a small-but- growing music magazine in Philly. One of my duties in this position was to seek, manage and coddle our semi-talented, semi-literate and semi-paid staff of writers and contributors.

One day, as I wept and plodded through yet another round of edits of the current month’s crop, I got a call from a fast-talking, but highly personable woman from New York who, for some inscrutable reason, was interested in writing for my crappy rag. She sounded confident and experienced, had a great sense of humor, seemed flexible as an interviewer and, most importantly, lived in New York City.

NYC Travel Mural

Truth be told, the last of these attributes seemed most attractive. See, while having a magazine based in Philadelphia is a boon for rent concerns, it’s a bit removed from the action when it comes to the music industry, and trekking to New York was a pain in the ass for a lot of our local writers (not to mention a great excuse to ask for too much travel/expense loot!) So, to be fair, I figured, “Hell, even if this Worley chick is a lousy writer, she seems responsible and cool… and at least she’ll get face-to-face interviews with people. Even if I have to punch up her work and ask for re-writes, it’ll still be worth it… after all, she’s willing to work for our paltry wages.”

I honestly forget what happened next – either Gail pitched me a story or I gave her some kind of assignment. It doesn’t matter, really, because the end result was that she e-mailed me something that needed no punching-up – hell, it was actually really good and full of solid research, good questions and insight. In short, it was damn good rock journalism… and she sent it to me on time! Amazing.

As time went by, I gave her a column, and I grew to depend on Gail’s hard work, honesty and all-around good nature for the magazine and my sanity. I called her “Gail The Snail,” and she called me “Air-Wick.” It was love. OK, not love… it was… professional courtesy, respect and a form of affection for a compadre. I can’t begin to count the number of times I called Gail (or vice versa) to talk about an assignment, but wound up commiserating about the horrors of being over-worked, seriously underpaid and having wayyy cooler hair than anyone else in the room (which wasn’t difficult in my case or Gail’s, but hey, we were still cooler.)

And, yes, I did eventually meet the lovely Gail one magical night when my old band was on tour. In mid-tour, we played a show at Don Hill’s in SoHo, and Ms. Worley was kind enough to accept my invitation to the gig – guest-listed, of course. One of my long-lost prized possessions was a photo us from that night: me strangling Gail with my hair. Things were good.

Time passed, like the magic trick it is, and things got a bit rough at the magazine. Long story short (“Too late!” I’m sure you’re thinking–shaddap)… I was phased out. My boss hired two interns to do my job and got two younger, hipper dudes to do the job of one old dude for less money. I remember sadly going about the task of letting my favorite contacts know the awful truth about my imminent departure.

Now, maybe I am painting Gail with too much of a saintly brush, but I sorta remember her telling me that she’d quit writing for the magazine after I was gone from the masthead. I naturally appreciated her show of solidarity, but I insisted that she retain her post and fight the good fight to keep cool music in that increasingly snobby, by getting quick loans without credit check process for financial stability of indie-rock rag. OK, so maybe she didn’t offer to split – it’s my frickin’ memory, and if I wanna make it all sweet and lovely, I will. Bastards.

Anyway, she stayed on for a while after I left, but I’m pretty sure she never loved those interns-turned-editors as much as she loved me. In fact, I know they did something unspeakable to her. Aw, hell, I’ll speak of it – they changed her words and ruined something she wrote. Uncool. Just for the record, if I ever changed Gail’s words, she never noticed, and that’s because I never would dare to touch the meaty parts of Gail’s writing – the place where her voice lived and rang out. Messing with that would have been like tugging on Superman’s cape. It’s a respect thing, and I had that for Gail in spades. I still do.

At any rate, Gail was one of the few people who would still message me on AIM after I left the magazine, and she was always the same to me – supportive, kind and, well… Gail.

So, for what it’s worth, that’s the ballad of me and Gail. We don’t speak too often anymore, and I know she stays busy. However, I’m pretty sure I could hit her up tomorrow and get the same cheery “Hey Air-Wick!” as always. And that’s worth something to me. Horns up, Gail The Snail!”

– Erik Caplan, former Managing Editor of Rockpile Magazine, musician, writer, over-eater, dreadlocked Jew and keeper of the rock faith.

*For those of you who are Jew-impaired, being a “mensch” means for a person to be a gentleman or a stand-up guy… neither of which, by the way, have been common descriptions of me in recent years.

One thought on “Erik Caplan, former Managing Editor of Rockpile Magazine, Praises on the Ocassion of Our 10th Birthday!”

  1. Eric, this is Jody from Black Death. I played a show in April 1998, at Upstairs at Nicks and there was a film crew there that night from time that filmed that show. Do you know where I can get a hold of that tape?

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