The arts writer Carly Schorman said she didn’t much feel like celebrating. It was the 11th anniversary of YabYum Music and Arts, the culture blog she and her husband, Mark Anderson, operate. Instead of throwing a party or writing a career retrospective, the couple and their colleague Garret Bowers put the publication on pause.
“Rather than celebrating this week, we’re pulling down the rest of our content,” Schorman announced on Facebook, “because we feel the focus should be on those actively engaged in social justice reform right now.”
Making a statement with silence felt right, Schorman said. “Lately, there’s been a lot of conversation about the appropriate action that allies should be taking. While we figure that out, we decided we shouldn’t be talking about the five singles you should be adding to your playlist, or whatever.”
Arts are important, she believed, particularly during times of social unrest. “But as a white person of Jewish descent, I realize that perhaps my voice is not the one that should be heard right now. It’s time to take a step back and let other people have a conversation and listen to what’s being said.”
Schorman had lived here most of her life, leaving for four years to attend grad school in the Bay Area and returning to the Valley in 2008 to finish her thesis.
“So, I was supposed to be an academic,” she explained. “My degrees are in religion and philosophy. I was going to be a librarian or a professor or something stodgy and bookish. But I got very sick with an unusual seizure-related condition, and then I got divorced. I couldn’t continue on to my Ph.D. I came back here because my doctor is here, and so is my family.”
In Berkeley, she’d been involved in the poetry scene and became interested in the thriving local music community. “I was covering music for college papers, little zines, things like that. When I came back here, I saw a lot of disconnection within the art scene. It was hard to find out what was going on.”
She and Anderson launched YabYum in 2009 on a whim. She thought they might do the blog as a hobby for a short time while Schorman finished her thesis and looked for a treatment option for her seizure condition.
“I wanted a way to share the art and music things I was discovering, and create a connectivity between them,” she remembered. But YabYum caught on. It’s evolved over the years, first covering only Arizona music and art, and later expanding to include regional creatives.
“Now, we’re pretty organic,” Schorman admitted. “We’ve had to be because there are questions. Like, if a band gets started here but moves to Portland, are they still an Arizona band, or are they a Oregon band? Can we cover a singer who wrote a really great song about Phoenix while they were here on tour?”
Her favorite example of this is a musician who wrote to ask if YabYum would cover her new EP because she’d recently been in Phoenix and had gotten a tattoo of a cactus while she was here. “She asked if that was a good enough reason for us to write about her,” Schorman laughed. “And we were like, ‘That is definitely a good enough reason.’”
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The name of the blog was inspired by Schorman’s studies in American Buddhism. “Also by Jack Kerouac,” she said with another laugh. “It means mother-father, wisdom and compassion. Kerouac used to talk about this principle with girls to get them into bed. I thought that was hilarious.”
It felt good to laugh about something, Schorman said. She’d felt conflicted about her choice not to publish any content last week. YabYum had lost an advertiser as a result, which was a big deal for a small publication.
“But it’s a unique moment in history,” she insisted, “and I’m not the voice of this protest. We should be supporting younger voices who will be leading the charge.”
One artist who’d been counting on coverage last week was especially unhappy. “He was a person of color who said his new music had a message that supports this movement,” Schorman said. “I was like, ‘I get it, but this is an all-or-nothing thing. And you’ll be the first one up when we come back. I promise.”